Smart Insights Digital Marketing > The Marketing Strategy Blog Thu, 31 Jul 2014 15:03:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Do you talk to your customers or talk to your customer? Thu, 31 Jul 2014 15:00:42 +0000 Creating more relevant personalised communications

Talk to all your customers

Receiving messages from a company you have never spoken to can be annoying and intrusive at best, often referred to as spam. Therefore, gaining permission to speak is a critical element in building a relationship with your customers, but using this right to broadcast the same communication to all customers will eventually turn your message to “noise”. Having a conversation is not a one way speech, but an interactive communication which listens and speaks to, not at the customer.

Within the travel and tourism industry the need to provide the personal touch is a key differentiator of single and smaller hotel chains, with the service and attention to detail making the experience memorable and distinctive. This unique and distinguishing service is often carried across to the digital world, with some very elegant, evocative images and presentation utilised to extenuate the quality and level of service offered.

Using this content to speak with all customers in the same voice and dialogue can often detract from the personalised service, as the same message is received regardless of:

  • Known person details;
  • Activity (purchase and non-purchase);
  • Length of relationship;
  • Location;
  • Engagement level across multiple touch points (facebook, twitter, newsletter subscription, membership, accommodation, restaurant, spa, etc.);
  • Preferences.

Utilising this knowledge of your customer will enable a true conversation with your customer that speaks to them with specific pertinent interactions and not general mass broadcasts to all customers.

Talk with your customer


The successful use of segmentation can be highlighted by Moorland Garden Hotel in Devon, where Jo Dicarlo (Marketing Manager) has seen a 200% growth in their marketing database, with recent communications achieving a 25+% unique open rate and ~10% response rate (actively engaged with hotel through click-through, booking enquiry, actual booking, etc). These above average interaction rates for the Travel & Leisure industry (Unique Open Rate ~ 15%, Unique Click-through Rate ~ 2% according to the 2014 Silverpop Email Marketing Benchmark Report) have been achieved through the utilisation of:

  • Targeted communications for a given event of customers who have expressed an interest or previously engaged with this type of activity.
  • Communicating to engaged customers. Using current activity and communication responses to ensure the marketing database is a living pool of customers, with only those customers who are new or have engaged with Moorland Garden Hotel in a defined timeframe communicated with on the monthly newsletter.

Talking with and not at your customer is therefore a key deliverable for any marketing solution, with the benefits identified above a clear indication and incentive on why this is a must have.

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Reviewing and improving your digital capabilities Thu, 31 Jul 2014 08:12:29 +0000 What’s New in Marketing? July 2014 roundup

How to achieve Digital Transformation in businesses has been a hot topic through 2014 and this month we have focused our advice on this.

To help get focus and review current use of digital we created this roadmap so you can summarise where you are now and where you need to be in future. It’s taken from our new Digital Transformation guide for Expert members.

Strategy and planning

Our strategy and planning posts also focus on transformation:

Social media and content marketing

Search marketing

User experience, analytics and conversion optimisation

This month we have focused on recommendations to improve sales on Ecommerce sites by CRO to coincide with the launch of our new Ecommerce design patterns guide. We have also featured 3 new tools relevant to all Google Analytics users.

3 new Google Analytics tools

Email marketing and CRM

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Facebook ad clickthrough rates – new research Wed, 30 Jul 2014 08:01:00 +0000 New report reveals the effectiveness of different Facebook retargeting options


Recommended link: Facebook ad research

With the continued decline in organic reach in Facebook, opportunities for brands to get visibility for their brand page status updates is getting severely limited.

According to this Social@Ogilvy report, the organic reach of brands’ posts may soon reach zero, meaning that brands will no longer be able to reach their Facebook fans at zero cost. They recommend advertising as one option, which begs the question of the clickthrough rates and costs of Facebook ads. This new report from Facebook retargeting service AdRoll provides useful data for brands to make the case for investment in Facebook advertising.

The research shows that overall clickthrough rates of both News Feed targeting on desktop and mobile were significantly better than general web retargeting according to the report, with desktop having 8.1x higher CTR and mobile having 9.1x higher CTR. The report also shows how incremental impressions, clickthroughs and impressions compare to standard web retargeting.


The report also considers desktop and mobile ad clickthroughs and costs separately. The study demonstrates that the CPM cost of News Feed ad impressions on mobile is 57% lower than News Feed impressions on desktop, and mobile ads generate a 10% higher CTR. This results in a 61% lower
CPC for ads in the News Feed on mobile compared to the News Feed on desktop.

Although actual Facebook ad clickthroughs rates aren’t given in the report, the benchmarks from this report suggest investment in these Facebook ad retargeting options could be worth testing if you’re not already using these techniques.

The free report also has a useful introduction to different Facebook ad formats and retargeting options such as URL-based Web Custom Audience retargeting (WCA) and FBX.

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How to simplify the website localisation process Wed, 30 Jul 2014 07:52:51 +0000 How to simplify your website localisation project

geotargetingA decade or two ago the extent of most business’s online strategies would have been whether or not to bother having a website. Now there are all sorts of things to consider, from social media marketing to optimising for mobile and, if you are looking to reach an international audience, localising your website.

Localisation can be a huge project but there are ways to simplify the process. It can also be hugely important when it comes to reaching new markets. The World Wide Web theoretically puts the whole world at your fingertips but in practice there are cultural and linguistic barriers to overcome.

There’s a temptation to think that a single English language website will suffice but numerous studies have shown this is not the case. A survey by Eurobarometer found that only 18% of EU internet users who visited foreign language (typically English) websites said they would frequently buy online in a language other than their own. A more recent survey by independent researchers Common Sense Advisory, meanwhile, found that more than half (55%) of international consumers only bought from websites where information was presented in their own language. For some nationalities, such as the Japanese, this rose to 70%.

Design with localisation in mind

It can greatly simplify your future efforts if you design your website with localisation in mind from the ground up. Keep the bulk of your content relatively simple to allow for easier translation later. This includes avoiding specific cultural references, humour and images that would not necessarily translate. This doesn’t mean you should stay away from such content entirely – you want your site to be engaging to whichever audience is viewing it – but these elements should form the peripheries to a simple core message.

In design terms, some tools are better suited to adapting your website at a later time. Using cascading style sheets (CSS), for example, allows you to keep your design elements separate from your content. This means you can switch out translated content without having to redesign each page from scratch. You will also need a flexible character encoding tool such as Unicode UTF-8, which can handle non-Latin scripts such as Hebrew or Arabic, as well as incorporating ‘non-standard’ Latin characters such as the German Ä, Ö, Ü and ß.

If you already have an English language website it can be just as time-consuming to internationalise it retroactively. Creating a single versatile template can save you time and effort in the long run however. Even if you are only looking to localise for one or two target markets initially, an internationalised main site can give you the flexibility to expand to new markets in the future.

Choose your markets

Full localisation is a major undertaking and it usually makes sense to limit your efforts at first. Google Analytics can let you see the geographical spread of your existing visitors but thorough market research is also essential before making such a commitment.

It’s worth noting that some languages can help you make inroads into several different countries and territories. French, for example, is used by large populations in Canada, Belgium, Monaco and Luxembourg, as well as former French colonies in Africa and Southeast Asia while Arabic is widely used throughout North Africa and the Middle East.

It’s possible to target your efforts by language but there are usually linguistic and cultural differences between individual countries, even when they share a common language. Targeting individual countries through Google Webmasters Geotargeting will allow you much greater freedom to tailor your content and specific keywords to those particular markets. You can also boost your SEO and give your localised site a more genuinely local feel by hosting it on a country-code top level domain, such as .fr for France.

Localise your content

The most important part of the process is to make sure your website is useful, relevant and engaging to your new target market. If the bulk of your original content is kept relatively simple and universal the translation process will be simplified. Working with native speaking translators you should also be able to add a more local feel to your website, including cultural references where they are relevant. Good translators can also help you to avoid any unintentional cultural faux pas and make sure that the whole website scans naturally for your audience. You should also ensure that elements such as currencies and time and date formats are correct.

Your localised websites do not need to mirror your core English language website exactly. They need to provide the visitor with everything they need but some content is more luxury than necessity. You might feel it important to have your company history, mission statement and a ‘meet the team’ section on your main website but you might not need to recreate these pages on multiple localised sites.
Identifying influencers can be a lot of hard work, especially as new influencers constantly appear while others fade away. But it can be worth the effort, as reaching out to a relatively small group of key people could have a major knock-on effect to your marketing campaigns.

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15 of the Best Mobile Apps for Marketers Tue, 29 Jul 2014 10:15:01 +0000 Mobile apps to manage your digital marketing life

Mobile Apps for Marketers

The modern marketer can reap massive benefits from the mobile app revolution.  Useful marketing software is becoming increasingly available in app form, making tools and data readily available on the go.  From uploading blog posts to tracking campaign metrics, apps allow marketers to access information at their fingertips quickly and conveniently.

But of all the apps available, which are the best for the marketer, and particularly the digital marketer?  I’ve put together a list of the apps I find most useful, both to keep up-to-date personally, but also to manage company social network activity.

The Best Social Media Management Apps


Founded back in 2008, Hootsuite is a popular social media dashboard that enables you to post, monitor and measure your social media sites. Hootsuite gives you instant and convenient access to all of your social media channels as well as providing analytics to help you best increase your following and traffic.

Hootsuite is available to download on iOS and Android devices.


Hot on the heels of Hootsuite, Buffer allows you to manage and monitor your main social media accounts at once.  Instantly schedule content for your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts and analyse statistics on how your posts perform.  Set your own updating schedule for each account and create buffering patterns for different times throughout the week according to audience.

Buffer is available to download on iOS and Android devices.


Recently rated one of the top CRM platforms on G2 Crowd, Nimble was created to help professionals build better online relationships amid all the multi-channel noise that can deafen consumers.  Nimble allows users to track and engage relationships by unifying contact information, social media profiles of important connections and online conversations in one location, simplifying digital communication.

Nimble is currently available to download on iOS from Apple App Store.

Best RSS News Reader


Feedly: Blogs, RSS News Reader is a website aggregator that enables you to access information from all of your favourite sites and blogs in one place.  All tailored content is delivered directly to your smartphone or tablet allowing you to catch up with a wealth of websites quickly and conveniently.

Feedly offers a variety of helpful features, including a ‘Popular’ section at the top of each feed to ensure that certain content isn’t overlooked as well as a Custom Sharing preference which allows pro members to send articles straight to their chosen clipper.

Other useful RSS apps include Reeder and The Early Edition 2.

Feedly can be downloaded on both Android and iOS.

The Official Facebook App


The official Facebook app is the long reigning, most downloaded social networking app on both Android and iOS.  Geared toward giving users the same experience of using Facebook on their mobile devices as on the website, the Facebook app makes it easy to stay connected and share information with colleagues on portable devices.  This is a handy app if you’re using Facebook as one of your main social media channels for your business as you can share status updates and content with your followers on the move.

The Facebook app is available to download on both iOS and Android.

Twitter and Google + also have their own social media apps.

Best Blogging Apps


Wordpress-iconWordPress is the most popular blogging tool for personal and business use. With its easy to use apps, you can update your blog via smartphone or tablet, upload and edit posts as well as manage user comments on the move.  Wordpress can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play.


Blogger, one of the original blogging tools, but less in vogue today  makes blogging on the go simple.  Update your blog from your smartphone or tablet, upload and edit posts as well as manage user comments on the move.  Uploading photos from your device is easy and location services allow geo tags to share your location.  Blogger can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play.

The Official LinkedIn App


The LinkedIn app gives you a useful communication tool that will keep you up to speed with your professional network.  Stay up to date with your LinkedIn connections; follow industry influencers to receive regular insights and professional content and search for fellow LinkedIn users, companies and groups and access your LinkedIn messages.

LinkedIn is an effective platform for maintaining professional relationships and posting content, such as recent blog posts, that draws attention towards your business or service.  The app is available to download on both iOS and Android.

Best Apps for Keeping Up With Digital Developments


Mashable delivers the latest news on technology, apps, mobile information, social networking and general internet-related news.  Multiple tabs allow you to see a complete breakdown of channels that you can search by category, tag or by author.

The app alerts users to the most read pieces and works across smartphones and tablets, adapting the content to the size of the device.  The articles have a simple, clean layout and are easy to read and navigate.  If you click on an external link within a selected article, the link will open in the app’s own browser, allowing you to go right back to your original article without leaving the app.

Mashable is a must-have for those who want in on the industry news before it breaks, to stay ahead of developments and never be left in the dark.  It is available for download from Google Play and the Apple App Store.


The TED app presents talks from some of the world’s most fascinating people: education radicals, tech geniuses, medical mavericks, business gurus and music legends.  There are more than 1,700 TEDTalk videos that are updated on a weekly basis and delivered in high or low res formats based on your network connectivity.  You can set up your own playlist to watch later, even when you don’t have data or WiFi access.  The entire TEDTalks library is at your fingertips that you can sort by recent or popular.  Find something by tags, themes, or related talks.

With this free app, videos are optimised for viewing on your iPhone or iPad and are categorised to make searching for your next inspirational presentation that much easier.  As an added feature you have the option to share your favourite talks with friends.

TED is available for download from Google Play and Apple App Store.

Best Digital Marketing Reference Apps


Quora is a great platform for marketers looking for information from reliable sources.  Users can ask a question and get real answers from people in the know as well as the option to post blogs.  The app invites users to aid each other by contributing and sharing their own knowledge.

You can download Quora on Android and iOS.

Quick Win

Quick Win Digital Marketing Lite is a useful app that provides answers to the top 100 digital marketing questions.  Based on the book by Annmarie Hanlon and Joanna Atkins, the app is designed in five sections so you can dip in and out seeking answers to questions as they arise:

  • Digital Essentials, an introduction to digital marketing techniques and tools (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) and how your business can use them
  • Digital Toolbox, practical advice on how to d specific things using digital applications
  • Digital Marketing, how you can use digital marketing techniques and tools to promote your business/products/services
  • Branding Online, a critical topic for all businesses of all sizes
  • Managing, Measuring and Money Making online, where it all comes together.

Quick Win Digital Marketing Lite is available for download from Apple App Store.


Best Project File Sharing Apps


DropBox allows you to store, sync and share folders online on a straightforward interface.  Use the DropBox app to store photos, videos and documents and access them anytime and anywhere with an internet connection.

You have the option to share DropBox files with colleagues and other contacts, allowing file sharing for remote marketing teams.  DropBox is available for download on both Google Play and Apple App Store.

Google Drive

Many digital marketing agencies now use Google Drive in place of DropBox.  Like DropBox, you can sync Google Drive with your phone and you can share documents with colleagues.  The app gives you access to all your files on any mobile device as well as being able to invite others to view, edits or comment on any of your stored files.

DropBox and Google Drive are available to download from both Google Play and Apple App Store.


Evernote is a digital notebook with a difference.  Not only can you instantly capture notes, they immediately sync with all of your devices making sure no matter which one you pick up you’re immediately accessing the latest version. Use Evernote to write notes, capture photos and documents and share notes and notebooks across a variety of devices.  A very useful tool for keeping your To Do list close to hand and for sharing notes with your team without having to repeatedly save and share updated versions.  You can download Evernote on both Android and iOS.

Best Analytics Apps


AnalyticsPro 2 allows you to view 61 reports organised into eight sections: Summary, Visitors, Traffic Sources, Content, Goals, E-Commerce, App Tracking and Social.  Optimized for the iPhone and iPad, you can authenticate the app to access more than one Google account and effortlessly switch between them.  Reports can then be emailed as a PDF file and the app allows you to export data to a Text file.  Use AnalyticsPro 2 to identify trends and get the most out of Google Analytics on the go.

AnalyticsPro 2 is available to download for £4.99 on iOS from Apple App Store.

Earlier this year Google launched the official Google Analytics app, allowing you to access all web and app data on the move.   The app is now available to download from both Google Play and App Store.

This list of apps is not conclusive and we would love to hear which apps you find useful when it comes to running your day-to-day digital life.  Please post any apps or links below and make sure to take part in our poll!

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The 4th wave of content marketing Tue, 29 Jul 2014 07:25:23 +0000 Is Content Marketing Headed for a Tech Revolution?

Are you ready for the fourth wave of content marketing? According to Scott Brinker:

“the fourth wave of content marketing, now emerging, is the proliferation of interactive content with responsive web marketing apps.”

In Scott’s ebook, The New Brand of Marketing Scott argues that marketing is now a technical discipline where art gives way to code. Whereas that might sound like a huge leap, it’s got to be worth hearing out and this article introducing it is a great read, I’ll summarise and expand on this below.


So what are the three waves preceding this?

We know content marketing is pretty popular and interest in it has grown dramatically in the last couple of years….


So what’s the story of the first wave? If we agree to share the waves view that in the chart above? The first wave is the birth of owned media, at least from a digital perspective. Companies essentially publish as much as they wanted on their websites, and pretty quickly evolving blogs, basic online media platforms and of course social media. But let’s be clear about the “first wave” we might credit much as originating much earlier, that wave being 118 years old and credit John Deere (yep, tractors) with its media publication The Furrow – the truth is things change, but they’re not as radical as you might think. Imagine The Furrow in 1895 – a branded journal “for the American Farmer.” Now that was new. Either way we might agree that the first wave, all 118 years of it, was largely text. Eventually the same text Google made currency in the late 1990’s. Giving way for that text to underpin search engine optimisation, link building and inbound marketing.


The second wave? You might guess in light of the popularity of YouTube and infographics is rich media including videos, graphics, slideshares and crafted ebooks. I concur with Scott that rich media is behind the success of branded content in social media marketing and a slow move away from relying on search engine optimisation – our content needed to get smarter – shorter, more visual and less taxing to take in. We’ve certainly witnessed a pursuit of crass re-tweets, comments, shares and Likes – very often for the sake of vanity.

The third wave, the current wave according to Scott – shares a common fact with the first two in that it’s still passive, the audience still consume it, the third wave is around personalisation, the focus now is helping audiences to combat the sheer scale of noise that now fills social media, indeed the Internet. Programmatic marketing (which more often means advertising) or personalisation holds much promise, and it requires data about prospects in order to make educated guesses about which content is right for them, is that data that enough brands have? We’re more likely to have that at the bottom of the sales funnel (customers) than at the top (prospects).

The 4th wave: Consumer Experience & Marketing apps

Which leads us to the fourth wave – where ‘marketing apps’ will create interactive experiences with programmatic flow and logic. Do you agree?

  • Participatory not passive
  • Interactive and responsive
  • Think: assessment tools, calculators, quizzes, game-like, interactive ebook, real-time polls, adjustable data visualisations


What I like about Scott’s idea is that what was passive content is brought alive – it becomes interactive – we might have the same content but re-worked, smarter, so that it provides a values add for the user. We have long since referenced such tools in our content marketing matrix here:


We have seen this already – of course, the popularity of marketing quizzes, assessments and polls is some distance from new. Look that the tech companies, like Wildfire, that flourished on the Facebook platform.

There’s no question that apps can be powerful lead tools, my own experience of a ‘freemium quiz’ for consumers looking to teach English abroad was created whilst working within TUI Travel in 2008, 6 years ago. The bespoke built ‘TEFL Taster’, as it became known, enjoyed consistently high completions rates and delivered lead volumes way about that of standard downloads and passive content. It was, and I understand still is, the marketing team’s most powerful lead tool because it added value to prospects – it delivered the most rich and immediate experience of the service and delivered a tangible reward for minimal effort.


 ‘Experiences’ is it all about tech?

Whereas I’d agree with Scott about the evolution of content marketing and a heading towards creating consumer experiences – I am not convinced that experiences means tech, necessarily, or that it’s that linear where a wave disposes of its predecessors to easily or must even build on its predecessor. We might say that Lego has only this year done the most successful piece of marketing ever with the Lego movie? And, before them Red Bull with the Art of Flight, amongst other epic ski and snowboard films. Do they not provide experiences, and what of the events industry – again let’s stick with Red Bull on the slopes of ski resorts the world over that gave rise to the X Games? These are rich brand experiences – no app in sight.

Content marketing: It’s horses for courses

The point though is sound, as our poll showed, content marketing is growing, ever more popular and arguably – as Seth Godin once said – marketing’s last stand.

I do agree with Scott that users demand experiences – this is the opportunity for brands. It’s our duty to dial up the production quality – I don’t feel it’s purely about technology at all. Tech is one powerful tool. Humans still enjoy passive, to ‘veg out’ in front of a great movie, to just watch and be entertained. To feel. Marketing apps becoming important and more affordable – absolutely no question – but they’ve got to be fit for purpose, they’re not fit all. And underneath it all – as Scott says “observing prospects interact with marketing apps can feed valuable data into personalisation algorithms to better tailor other content offers to them,” this is the key insight to promote investment in your team – marketing apps have to walk a very careful line of serving the marketing function through data capture, and serving the consumer through improved experience, and ideally the latter comes first.

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Introducing Pigeon: A new Google algorithm [@SmartInsights alert] Mon, 28 Jul 2014 16:33:41 +0000 A Google update affecting local searches

Value/Importance: (for local marketers)

Recommended link: SearchEngineLand announcement

Well, Pigeon would seem a logical follow-on from Google’s Hummingbird update. There seems to be an avian connection and it could change the search “pecking order” (sorry)…


Note that while Hummingbird, like Panda and Panda and Penguin, were terms coined by Google, this isn’t an official term. Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Journal has introduced the term to explain it on the Search Engine Land article above since Google haven’t given a defined name yet.

What do marketers need to know about Google Pigeon?

  • This algorithm update will only be relevant if your business targets local searches for a product or service in a location, for example through a store or office
  • It’s a major change which Google told search Engine Land, links:

“deeper into their web search capabilities, including the hundreds of ranking signals they use in web search along with search features such as Knowledge Graph, spelling correction, synonyms and more.” It also has better accuracy over distance and location rankings“.

  • It affects searches in Google Maps and in Google web search which are related to a location either including a location name or implied by the type of product as in the example below
  • It’s currently only rolling out in the US English. We will alert you when it is released in other countriesIn the meantime, see this article for examples of the types of changes that can be expected.
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A new Page Analytics Chrome Extension for Google Analytics Mon, 28 Jul 2014 10:00:00 +0000 A review of the in-page Chrome extension for Google Analytics


Recommended link: Google Analytics InPage Extension for Chrome

This tool came out at the end of June, so it’s not brand new, but we think it’s still worth an alert since although it has been released for a month, it’s had fewer than 60,000 downloads – not many considering the number of people that use Google Analytics… Maybe this is because it doesn’t add much to the existing Google Analytics In-Page Analytics feature which you access from the bottom of the “Behaviour” menu in Google Analytics.

How to setup the Page Analytics Chrome extension

To setup the tool simply:

  1. Download the Chrome extension and enable the extension by clicking on the button in your toolbar.
  2. Make sure you are signed-in with the relevant Google Analytics account with a profile for the site you want to review.
  3. Load up the page you want to review clicks for into your browser.

You will then see this panel and bubbles overlaid over your page showing the number of clicks on each link.


What does the new tool offer?

The tool offers convenience as an extension if you use this type of function often, but I don’t think most will. However, there are a couple of new ways of filtering the data which aren’t available in the standard In-Page analytics. These are:

    1. Show certain segments only e.g. New visitors
    1. Select date ranges and compare date ranges
    1. Show real-time users

Limitations of the tool

The tool shares limitations with the existing In-Page analytics:

  • It only shows the Number and % of clicks on each link – not value or conversion rates from links unlike tools like Adobe Analytics (Omniture). The In-Page tool does enable you to select Revenue or transactions, but it has never updated the report for me – frustrating! Let me know if you have got this to work!
  • Doesn’t show where visitors are clicking, especially where there isn’t a hyperlink – tools like Crazyegg can shows you this
  • Doesn’t show clicks wrapped in Javascript or any which aren’t wrapped in a standard HTML “<a href=”link””>
  • Doesn’t show difference between links to the same destination page (although this can be fixed if you upgrade your tagging to use advanced link attribution)

I hope this alerts a few more people to this tool – do share this post if you plan to download the tool, or to help spread the word about this handy tool.

I think anyone who writes copy or who specifies or designs page templates should make the time to use this tool to make their pages more persuasive!

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Facebook organic reach. Have we found discovered something about the algorithm? Mon, 28 Jul 2014 07:15:01 +0000  

Are Facebook Admins not paying enough attention to the data behind their Reach figures?

I’ve been digging down a little deeper into Facebook Insights of late trying to get a handle on the organic reach issue with the current incarnation of the algorithm. I had this theory that whilst a lot of Page Admins were breezily talking about how their reach had not been throttled in recent months and were still regularly reaching over 50% of fans, that in fact they were reading their data wrongly.

I’ve watched really popular posts of mine in recent months and a cursory look at the Insights data does indeed suggest that some posts are reaching an awful lot of people. Here’s our top performing Facebook post of recent months (it used to drag an image through but I imagine the original link author has since removed it).

Top performing Facebook Post


You can see that this achieved a reach of 23,296 people. Pretty impressive given that our fan numbers at the time were just 8,135. We appear to be reaching 286% of our fans!

Of course the reason for this huge reach is actually viral reach. This piece was shared 138 times. The organic reach (to our actual fan base) was in fact pretty standard. 2,328 of them were served the piece (only 28.62%).

This got me thinking about the new algorithm and I’ve been watching my data closely ever since. I’ve found it is almost impossible to achieve more than 35% reach of your fan base. But getting at this data takes a bit of digging and a little bit of maths. Here’s another, more recent, example.

Does engagement alone result in high reach?

Last week the Church of England Synod finally voted for women bishops. Clearly a relevant piece of news for my audience (Christian musicians). So shortly after the announcement was made I found a reasonable news article on the topic and linked to it. You can see the post (and the top level Insights data) below:

Facebook post Insights data


Now I was well aware that for a proportion of our audience, this is actually a pretty controversial topic and sure enough it wasn’t long before we received a pretty strong comment. I’ve screen clipped the comment so you get the gist of the story (you’ll see in the first part that the user later edited what he’d said):

Comment history


The post is here if you want to read further (welcome to my somewhat interesting and diverse community….)

As you can see from the greyed out area, this anti-women bishop comment inflamed a pretty passionate debate. I sat on the sidelines keeping an eye on the comments to check nothing got too out of order and watched what I assumed would be reach go stratospheric.

I was disappointed. Organic reach of fans hit just under 35% and viral reach was a meagre 9%. Why so poor when the article had attracted 22 Likes and 72 Comments? Well it hadn’t attracted any Shares and Shares are pretty key to viral reach. People will share a Top Tips article or a well written piece of content but they are a lot less likely to be sharing a slanging match between opposing theological viewpoints (no real surprise there then!).

So to answer my question, engagement will result in Facebook sharing content to a reasonable proportion of a Page’s fans – on this data alone likely a max of about 35%. But if you want higher reach than that the engagement needs to be very specific. It needs to include Shares to hit respectable viral levels. Sure friends of fans will often see stories of someone’s interaction with a Page without Sharing but real virality only happens when the item is widely shared.

Facebook organic reach vs viral reach

If you are still with me let’s take a look at a deeper dive into the data. First we need to look under the hood of the usual dashboard Insights so hit the Export button and choose to export Post level data:

Export Insights Data

You’ll then be served a big spreadsheet with lots of columns. I’ve hidden lots of these in the screen clip so that you can focus on what is important in terms of us understanding the organic vs the viral reach of this post and the complexity of the algorithm.

Facebook Insights data

Firstly, note that there was no paid reach on any of these posts.

Secondly, let’s look at the post with the highest reach (it’s in blue). It’s got the best reach but that’s due in part to viral reach. Look how 2544 of the people that saw the post were not fans – this is the number of people who saw the post in a story from a friend (likely via the Share button). But what is reported in the top layer of Insights is the Total Reach number – 5528. So most Page admins will be simply making the assumption that they’ve got this organic reach business cracked – 65% reach. But as the calculations below show, organic reach of fan base was just under 34% and viral reach was responsible for over 30% of the impressions.More Facebook Insights data

Facebook served this content to roughly the same number of fans but the fans were responsible for pushing the reach virally of the “blue” piece.

When we look at the yellow (women bishops) piece it had 22 Likes, 74 comments and no shares but the blue piece had 12 Likes, 3 comments and 20 shares.

Now viral reach is obviously great. You’re getting free additional coverage and it *may* result in new fans (I don’t generally find a big increase with these viral pieces though). But the point I’m making here is that the algorithm is complicated. This is reinforced by the content piece I’ve highlighted in pink. It enjoyed a far higher PTAT score than anything else yet it’s reach was far smaller. Why? Well it was a photo, and photos are not afforded good Edgerank at the moment – too many brands posting photos of cats and spammy memes are likely to blame. They get engagement but Facebook doesn’t like them so punishes all photos accordingly. I’m a little embarrassed about the photo really. Sure it’s sort of relevant (it’s a photo of a man in a guitar shaped boat) but it’s silly season in the US at the moment where most of our fan base are so I figured a music and holiday themed photo would go down well.

The Yellow (article about in-ear monitors) piece was clearly incredibly engaging (more so than the blue women bishops piece) but as I’ve said, the women bishops debate wasn’t something people wanted to share. It was something controversial that they wanted to make a point about whereas the blue piece was an informational piece of content that they felt their friends would like to see.

So what is Facebook’s likely max for organic reach of your fans?

Facebook appears to end up treating both pieces relatively equally. Both are clearly considered quality pieces of content but I think I’ve found the throttle limiter. I’ll stick my neck out on the basis of this and other similar experiments I’ve done. Facebook throttles organic fan reach at about 35%. If you’re seeing more than that it’s likely to be viral reach.

Can you do some similar calculations? What’s the best reach you are finding of your fan base?


A little plug for me if you’d like some help with Facebook marketing

Along with a number of others I’ve recently set up a digital agency called The Digiterati. Facebook marketing (and training in Facebook) is one of the services we are offering. The 2-day Facebook and Power Editor training course includes a critical (and hopefully super helpful) look at your own Facebook activity. Please get in touch if you’d like any more information.



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What Makes Great Ecommerce Websites Great? Part 1. The Home Page Thu, 24 Jul 2014 10:45:45 +0000 5 examples of retail home page good practice

Great ecommerce websites are likely to be based on personal preference. But many would agree there are common practices for persuasive design that should be tested, if you’re not using them already.

In this post, I take a look at a range of less well-known small to medium business ecommerce websites where I have deconstructed the practices to suggest a shortlist of ‘must have features’ for the homepage. It’s part one of a series of posts, next I’ll be looking at category pages. Of course, in a blog article there is a limit on what can be sensibly covered. See the relevant Smart Insights guide for more details.

Home page feature 1. Clear Navigation covering sufficient product categories

Browsing is a core user activity on the home page. So your site menu / navigation should be simple enough to be clear to the user, yet allow them a more comprehensive choice of browsing than top-level categories alone. For example has a very clear top level navigation – womens, mens, kids etc. It then breaks out the top categories into sub-category options along a left hand menu. In addition there are clear navigation options for the advertised sales products, so allowing the user a wide choice in how to navigate the site. home page

Home page feature 2. Ensure On-Site Search is prominent and sufficiently sophisticated

Search is another key home page behaviour. Users today are less patient than they ever were, particularly if they are in the ‘Hunter’ stages of the conversion path i.e. ready to convert. Ensuring that they can get straight to the product they want with no confusions or diversions can mean a large difference in conversions therefore ensuring that your search box is a clearly visible navigation option as soon as they hit your site is a good call!

However it’s not just the visibility that’s important- it’s also the functionality. Providing a search option that churns out 200 results with no further way of filtering adds complexity and reduces conversion rates. So ensure that you take steps to make your search more user friendly through predictive search suggestions and filtering options on search results pages as seen below on

lifeandlooks on-site search from home page

Home page feature 3. Define strong Value Propositions and personalised customer service messaging

Many great home pages are now using personalisation to really ‘hook’ their customers- this is back to old school sales techniques. If you can build a rapport with your customer, you are more likely to achieve a sale. And if you can show the customer what it is that they are looking for (right time, right place) even better! The likes of House of Fraser welcome you by name when you arrive on their site – and if they don’t know your name they have a likable ‘Hello Stranger’ quip.

Smaller ecommerce websites are continuing to increase their usage of customer service messaging nicely too. In the below example some small customer service touches such as detailing free delivery and returns work well. Remember it is a customer that converts, not a web page!

customer service messaging on home page

Home page feature 4. Use distinct Calls to Action for primary paths

Too many website designs rely on customer interpretation of their prompts rather than having a very clear call to action. Customers are not mind readers! Make your call to action so clear that it leaves them no choice but to understand the message and then the visitor will need to resort to the menu less often. I came across this nice example recently from uk website MoodByMe- a website that allows you to customize your very own cashmere clothes, which they tell us clearly on the home page. Multiple times:

moodbyme homepage calls to action

Your home page is one of the most important pages on your website to get right. Not only is it your ‘shop window’ it is also a high footfall area. A snapshot of 10 Ambition Digital ecommerce clients shows that on average 17% of a websites’ page views will be concentrated on the home page. So show your home page some love and ensure you create a better ecommerce website!

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