Category Archives: For the Sales Team

Thought provoking ideas that cause the client to realize the expertise an agency brings their business.

Proving Digital Campaign Performance to Client Objectives

Proving digital campaign performance changes the agency go to market strategy

Three main ingredients for proving digital campaign performance to meet client needs are Tag Manager, Google Analytics, and UTM parameters. If you’ve ever heard it said, or maybe you’ve even said it yourself a few times, you cannot turn a big ship on a dime, think tugboat. It has become a manager’s crutch, this comparison of the large ship turning to the company improving its quality service. They all cling to the analogy when defending the inability to affect change in the business traditions and routines. One small but powerful little tugboat can intercept the bow of the ship and turn it. It can turn that huge ship at will, and take it however far it needs to set the ship on the right path.

My tugboat runs on Tag Manager variables for fuel, it uses Google Analytics for establishing the bearing (navigation), and UTM parameters as its engines. When all of these ingredients are working, I can drill down to the granular levels with my data aggregator and show a client precisely what segment, from which source, converted each specific goal. Not only can I drill down and show it to the client, but the client can later, when they get back to the office, verify my results and my recommendations with their own Google Analytics data. It’s time to say goodbye to presenting disassociated data results and embrace the client’s data wrangler of choice, Google Analytics.

The first thing I want to show the client when proving digital campaign performance is the actual events that have taken place on their web property from the beginning of the campaign to the present.

proving digital campaign performance event tracking

These events are built out in the Tag Management System (TMS) as needed using regular expressions, java, javascript, and custom html. These events result from visiting with the client’s web property. I comb through their website, page by page, following every link (internal and external) to discover what it is the client is asking visitors to accomplish when they come to the site. IS the client selling products, services, or generating purchase transactions? Do they provide downloads, videos, and are their forms to complete and submit? Are there links for social networks, click to call, the web-developer, or the BBB, etc.? I make a note of every possible engagement with the visitor and then I code those events in the TMS. When I later research the client’s industry I look for relevant revenue data such as IRS, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Small Business Administration to find as much insight for the revenue data as possible. From that research I can estimate the value of each event. It is very important to estimate value. Even though it is not accurate, it is close and as you will discover later, close is not just good enough, it is perfect.

Besides identifying the website and user engagement events, I look for goals. Goals are different than events. Goals identify conversions of purchases, and registrations or form submissions. The key element here is the so-called thank you page. The thank you landing page provides a conversion point that signals the user required input was successfully accomplished. In other words, we have a successful conversion. This is the place for PPC conversion tags, and where I can also use the TMS to register a goal conversion. When it comes to providing statistical results for attribution models, budget optimization by channels, etc. there is no substitute for goals. Events are valuable, but goals are the better source of fuel for the tugboat.

proving digital campaign performance to specific goals

My data aggregator can put the goals in a heat-map table like the one shown above. This provides at-a-glance insight to not just where the client is at right now, but where they are going too. Is the channel improving, or is the channel conversions running lower? You can also begin to see the value of the channel in real dollars and not just a total number of completions figure. All clients enjoy seeing revenues, especially when revenues are increasing. Not like the example above where the Goal Value revenue is down 40% for the period. Oh my… that’s a different article topic altogether — “What to do when a channel falls 99%?” (See the google/cpc row above) Anyway, I will stay on the tugboat here, and go fix that catastrophe after posting the article.

Another of the aggregator dimensions proving digital campaign performance is to see the conversion by page performance as shown below.

proving digital campaign performance by locations

There are many insight stories that can be discovered when using these two primary dimensions together. In the channels data I can easily identify that there is one channel that has driven the revenue down in the period. I can identify that there are significant increases in conversions from all other channels, and just two channels with a drop in conversion rate. This helps me to narrow down which copy, or creative needs attention and obviously, in this case, the PPC budget dried up. In the locations dimension I can see how the engagement copy performed. At a glance I can see that something happened to blanford and meritage in the builders section and mountain-bridge in the community section. Perhaps the lost PPC campaign was primarily focused on these conversions? At the very least, we can see the impact and know where to address immediate changes.

All of the data processed by my aggregator comes directly from Google Analytics (GA) data repository. It’s simple task to link the TMS to a GA account. Once linked, all of the conversions are set up in GA and all of the events data are sent to the GA account too. While you can ask the client to share their existing GA account, I find it more valuable to generate my own – fresh data collector – GA for each client. I’ve never seen a single client with the attributions models built out, or to have goals and goal values correctly built in their accounts. It is even rarer to find the client filtering out spam bots, or to have developed their branded keywords filters. the priority is proving digital campaign performance, and there are a few dozen, or more, administrative and reporting setups and customization that I require and the clients do not provide.

With that, the TMS and GA are linked and working together, we have the fuel and we have the bearing, now we need to add the engines. The UTM parameters are the tugboat engines. By adding these to the links of the client campaign you can cause your entire agency to change the way it goes to market with digital advertising. These UTMs are a true eureka experience for a data scientist proving digital campaign performance. I’ll warn you though, if you’re working in one of those organization that has convinced itself that it’s too difficult to turn a big ship, your tugboat may need to be a patient but persistent little boat.

Tag management systems plus google analytics and UTM parameters are tub boats

Tugboat assisting a large tanker ship in to or out of port

What’s so special about these UTM parameters when proving digital campaign performance? In one word, reports. But, I would really say it better in two words, analysis, reports. By adding just 5 UTM parameters to the campaign link you add 120 additional variations to data mining and insights gathering — per link. All of this additional analysis without needing any pixels placed, without needing to touch the client’s website at all, no special database creation or sophisticated application development. Sounds almost impossible, doesn’t it? One last thing that has to be mentioned too is that every last little bit of the information shared in the campaign reports can be 100% verified by the client using their own Google Analytics account. The only difference is that most clients do not have the scientific background and knowledge to know how to use their data beyond the out-of-the-box standard charts and tables provided by Google.

Proving Digital Campaign Performance Parameters


Here’s how you set up your advertising to track and provide the deepest level of true-click-through performance analysis. I’m going to use the project I am currently working on as an example to better illustrate the method. The UTM parameters that can be tracked with a GA account are:
  • Source
  • Medium
  • Content
  • Keyword
  • Campaign
Source: This should be the advertising agency. If you are managing the advertising for the company you work for then the source would be your company. Even if you are purchasing the advertising from a vendor, the source is your agency/company. This will help you filter the advertising results from all other sources of traffic in the aggregator.
Medium: For this parameter I track where the advertising was published. Sometimes the publisher is a network and the actual advertisement may be seen on multiple websites, but for the analysis I want to use this parameter as a means to evaluate the publisher in aggregate and not the granular effect of each website in their distribution lists.
Content: This parameter provides the analyst with the ability to discover how the actual ad copy, creative, call-to-action, etc. performs. Sometimes the content is a text ad, sometimes it’s a banner, and sometimes the content is a video. I can get even more granular with this parameter. For example if I am experimenting with three text ads I can use this parameter to identify each one e.g., text-ad-1, text-ad-2, text-ad-3. This parameter can identify the specifics that your analyst will need so they can answer with precision and accurately, when you ask, “How many conversions did that monkey driving the Tundra through the jungle video get?”
Keyword: If you are fortunate to work with an SEO and PPC provider who will use your UTM standard (I envy you) this parameter can contain the keyword, the adgroup name, the modifier such as keyword-phrase-someKeyWordorPhrase-exact-match, etc. This can be very insightful when used in combination with conversion tracking and attribution models. Think budget allocation by return on add spend.
Campaign: Sometimes I chose the client expectation (coupon redemption, form registrations, white paper download, etc.) and sometimes I use the experiment name (click-to-call-1, click-to-call-2, graphic-1, copy-2, etc.), and sometimes it’s seasonal (superbowl, friends-day, thanks-giving, etc.). I’ve found that the campaign parameter when placed in a table sorted with the Source and by Medium can be a powerful way to reinforce the performance of the agency so I make the campaign name carry the significant communicator the client will resonate to.

When used correctly the UTM parameters can produce quick reference to analysis of the advertising performance. As shown below, the aggregator created table is filtered to Source/Medium (Your Agency/Publisher) and the Goal tracking is filtered to show results for Goal Set 4. For this client, Goal Set 4 is any add to cart user action. This table includes the site summary information to the goal set proving digital campaign performance. Alternatives to the site summary are site-usage, goal sets, and ecommerce.

proving digital campaign performance by agency and publisher

A line chart is also available or viewing the graph above the table information. These charts can be designed to color code a date or date range for specific events such as the day(s) your client ran radio, TV, or print ads. The line chart can visually identify significant lift from any events that have been set up in the event-calendar including known changes to Google Algorithms, site down times, etc.

proving digital campaign performance with keywords

These three components, Tag Management system, Google Analytics, and UTM parameters combined will prove the advertising performance the agency produces to meet the client objectives. They allow the analyst to easily filter and illustrate the specific data to the conversion goals, site metrics, and campaign summary reports. Setting the conversions and events is accomplished with the TMS and GA, the performance metrics are established and measured in the data aggregator. The reports are eye-candy and brand the agency. Perhaps the best achievement for using these three components is that the client can verify all of the charts and table data with their own GA accounts. Never again will sales have to outwit and over justify reports from third party vendors and publisher provided programmatic reports.

  1. Clean and repeatable data
  2. Deep data mining and additional insights
  3. Performance directly attributable from each campaign to client objectives
  4. Clear and insightful analysis, charts, and tables
  5. Verifiable results the client can access from their own account data

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Competitive Analysis

The Digital Competitive Analysis is the second step of the business prospecting strategy. Step 1, the Site Audit was covered in a previous article and video. The typical business development strategy involves planned steps to fill the sales pipeline for staying in touch with the prospect every week. In general, the person (or team) in charge of business development will identify and create partnerships that enable leverage for driving revenue, distribution or that enhance the product. This is different from sales, which focuses almost exclusively on driving revenue. According to OpenForum, winning new business can take 3 months to two years with a strategy, and seldom to not at all without a strategy. Providing a Digital Competitive Analysis or more appropriately called — Performance Analysis — is both strategic, as well as conversion enhanced. What company doesn’t want to know what their competition is doing? With the simplified and powerful Insights and Analytics data wrangling program the revelation of what the competition is doing is just the tip of the ice-berg. The analysis further shows – with pin-point-accuracy – where the competition is successful, where they are weak, and where they are failing in their digital advertising. Watch this short video to see how Insights and Analytics simplified digital sales: The Performance Reports are set up to automatically deliver to the sales team, and are already strategically filtered and ready to set the appointment. The Insights and Analytics team has done all of the heavy lifting of translating the data from 30 key Social, Site, and SEO elements at the local, national, or global level. The analyst has identified the strengths and weakness and discovered the right steps for the prospect to take market share. The analysis summary is simple and easy to read and readily reveals how to sell the solution. The only thing left for sales is call the prospect and set the appointment. Just like before, when they called the client to show them the Site Audit analysis, the prospect will be excited to set the appointment and to see the competition’s strategy and the right actions to grow their business. Early projections suggest that 8 of 10 prospects will agree to an appointment to review the Performance Analysis and 75% of those will purchase the solution in the first visit. The Insights and Analytics program has made selling digital as simple as 1, 2, 3.
  1. Call the prospect and set the appointment
  2. Present the analysis and solution
  3. Close the sale
Request a competitive analysis from Insights and Analytics.

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The website that provides the best click through for display ads.

One of the most common questions that I’m asked about display advertising centers around choosing the best website for getting the highest click-through on an ad. Most of the prepared marketing reports and data analysis that aim to answer the question focus on the metrics of the website such as the daily volume of users who visit the site, the page views per visit, and time spent on the website. Demographics are also used to illustrate the age group and gender categories, and sometimes the marketing reports include user location and in-market segments to illustrate user interest profiles. But in all of these reports and metrics there is still no concrete answer to what websites produce the highest click-through on display advertisements. The problem isn’t that it is difficult to calculate the click-through on the ad. In fact the ability to track, measure, chart, calculate, statistically analyze and model everything in online advertising industry is the problem. Advertising online has become so focused on the analysis, mechanics and sophistication of the platforms, and application programs for positioning, optimizing and controlling the ads that the questions about advertising results are all wrong. The metrics and statistical analysis have become so much of the concern that we simply end up with wrong
The dangers of asking the wrong questions.

The dangers of asking the wrong questions.

thinking about ads and it leads advertisers to asking the wrong questions. In response to the focus on the mechanics and metrics of digital advertising the ad agencies are hiring every available data scientist they can find, and hiring product managers who define and design the next greatest display methods (fingerprinting, native databases, segmented session cookies, etc.), and the advertiser/business owners are demanding the ad agencies provide more data reporting, more transparency and easy to understand dashboards. The technology and the optimization of the technology based on the data work together to obscure the true measure of display advertising results.   I love analytics and I love data science. The more data I can collect and have access to, the better equipped I am at being able to provide clients with breakthrough changes for their advertising campaigns. What I enjoy most in my work is identifying and communicating those breakthroughs that will produce huge increases to the client’s revenues. So when I hear the question (one more time) about which website produces the best click-through, I cringe. I cannot help but scowl a little and then – I frown. There is no click-through calculation based on the website, the click-through is based on the standard – age-old – marketing mix. Remember the marketing mix? Right Product + Right Offer + Right Location + Right Time = click-through. It’s the ad that gets clicked, not the website. You cannot take a poor performing advertisement from one website to another in hopes of getting a better result. The only reason you would choose one web site over another website for a display ad is for targeting reasons. For example, you develop a branding advertisement for a wedding chapel and you have a choice between
Display advertising marketing mix.

Display advertising marketing mix.

running the display on a website dedicated to cage-fighting and a website dedicated to couples and romance, you would hopefully choose the later.   The focus on digital advertising is increasingly ignoring the basics of the advertising industry: it’s about the right ad not the technology and the metrics. Advertising is a constant and ever changing experiment of product, offer, pricing, and reach. The digital advertising venues provide more capability to tracking, measuring, and calculating the advertising experiment, but if the advertisement is a poor performer, there is very little improvement to changing from one website to a similar but different website. For example, running a display ad on a local information and news website and then running the same display advertisement on a competitive local information and news website will not increase or decrease the click-through. The volume of daily visitors to one website maybe significantly higher than the other website which would then provide a difference in the number of clicks. That is, the site with significantly more visitors will provide more reach which obviously means more clicks, but the click-through rate will be statistically the same. That’s the focus on “Right-Place.” More focus and strategy needs to be dedicated to the other three factors of the marketing mix. Using the data from digital advertising metrics to test and evaluate the effect of scientifically prepared and controlled experiments is a means to identify the right product, right offer, right time, and the right place. Methods for selecting the website with the best click through Let’s say that your agency has produced a revenue making, competition busting, consumer loving advertisement and the question is how to choose the right website for increased reach without sacrificing click-through. Or you’re an agency and need to expand your ad space for select over-sold segments and are investigating acquisition of ad space. Oh! Now those are questions any data scientist would love to hear. I’m immediately wondering if I should use R or Python for this analysis. But let’s not go too deep. Not just yet anyway. What we want to do is evaluate “buying an audience” and not just buying impressions and inventory. Let’s call this audience, “Premium Segments.” What we need from our marketing team now is: audience data. Not all data are equal and traditional measures of audience are meaningless to the digital world. We need to build the Premium Segment Quality of Audience Data Evaluation Matrix.
Criteria Good Better Premium Score
Source 3rd party 2nd party 1st Party
Mechanism Cookies Fingerprinting Native Database
Methodology Modeled Inferred Declared
Freshness Old >30 days Recent <30 days Fresh < 7 days
Cost High > $5 CPM Low < $5 CPM Free
To learn more about these metrics and how to evaluate these criteria see the article on Marketing Land: 5 Ways to Evaluate the Quality of Audience Tracking the results to a client website I’ll use Google Analytics to illustrate how to see the results of the various Premium Audiences. We need to use click tracking methods for this. Hopefully you are always using click tracking on every campaign not just your display ads. I’m an optimist so I’m not going to define and provide details on the method that I am certain you already are familiar with. I’m going to use an example for a preroll advertisement that has been tested and optimized and is now producing a solid earth shaking, client pleasing — 17% click-through. I want to add 3 new websites to my market reach experiment.
  • Website A
  • Website B
  • Website C
My link tracking is set as:
  • http://myclientwebsite.com/?utm_source=WebsiteA&utm_medium=Preroll&utm_content=17percentCTR&utm_campaign=branding
  • http://myclientwebsite.com/?utm_source=WebsiteB&utm_medium=Preroll&utm_content=17percentCTR&utm_campaign=branding
  • http://myclientwebsite.com/?utm_source=WebsiteC&utm_medium=Preroll&utm_content=17percentCTR&utm_campaign=branding
In Google Analytics I set up the Premium Audience tests by adding a new view to the account, and then define either a new filter or add segments.
Adding the new view to your Google Analytics account.

Adding the new view to your Google Analytics account.

From the Admin console select to add a new view. Select website or mobile app as applicable to the campaign and name the view. Click the Create View button.
Creating a new view in Google Analytics

Creating a new view in Google Analytics.

Back on the Admin console we now select the Filters menu for the new view we just created.
Creating a new filter in Google Analytics

Creating a new filter in Google Analytics

Now we can create a new filter that will only collect traffic from our three test websites.
Adding the filter in Google Analytics

Adding the filter in Google Analytics

When you return to the ‘Reporting’ console the reports will only show data that meet the criteria of this view filter. That is, you will only see reports for the three websites in this experiment to increase the advertising reach. Alternatively we can add new segments rather than adding a filter view. When creating the segments you must use the same arguments you assigned in the link tracking or your segments will not work.
Adding the new segment to your Google Analytics account.

Adding the new segment to your Google Analytics account.

Once the segments have been created and saved. You can return to the reporting console to put the new segments to work. From any of the report menus select to add a new segment to the report. Scroll through the list to select the segment (s), up to four, to add in the report information. Select the apply button and you can now see the results of the new websites in your experiment to increase the advertising reach.
Adding the new segment to your reports in Google Analytics.

Adding the new segment to your reports in Google Analytics.

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