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Your website sharing statistics are fibbing

Analytics misses out most of what is shared

Some business people spend hours trawling through analytics data in a bid to find out exactly how people are using their online presence. The idea is that by understanding this information a business can tailor-make a more precise web experience for visitors, thereby increasing the likelihood of sales. It makes sense.

Well, it makes sense if the data you get from analytics is true. A lot of the time it is not.

As anyone who has used dual analytics systems in a bid to compare things will tell you, the data from one system is often at complete odds to the information coming from the other. Most people trust Google Analytics – even though there are 14 reasons why Google Analytics could be wrong.

Much of the data businesses are analysing is false – either because they haven’t set things up correctly, or because the system is failing them.

New research now shows up another potential failure.

Businesses are keen to know how their material is shared, where it is shared, who shares it and when. Several studies have shown that most material is socially shared on Facebook, hence businesses are piling in their resources to get more of their content shared on that social network. The problem is, that for businesses on Facebook the company limits your potential reach to just 9% of the people who have liked you – their aim is that if you want to reach the other 91% you have to pay for it through a sponsored post.

All around the world, businesses are looking at their potentially false Google Analytics reports, getting amazed at the amount of sharing via Facebook and then spending hours on producing Facebook content for a mere 9% of their target market. Madness.

New research shows that three-quarters of everything that is shared is done in the “dark social” sector – sharing that is hidden from analytics, such as email or instant messaging.

Chart showing amount of social sharing

It means that if you are trawling through your analytics to see how you can get more stuff shared you are only looking at a quarter of your information – and then you are probably using that 25% of data to feed just 9% of your potential market.

What this data really suggests is that we need to find ways of ensuring that people can share our content using email. You might have sharing buttons on your website for Twitter or Facebook, but it looks like you’ll do much better as a business if you have an email sharing button too.

Categories: Internet Marketing

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Save this page – boost your memory

The simple act of saving a document can enhance your memory skills

Business concept male finger pointing save to cloud key on  a metallic keyboard

Scroll down to the bottom of this article and you will see a button allowing you to save it as a PDF.  Using it will help you boost your memory, according to recent research.

Researchers from the University of California have found that saving documents actually helps us remember subsequent information. In the study participants were given two documents to read and were tested on their memory of the second document. The people who were asked to save the first document after reading it were able to significantly improve their memory of the second document compared with the people who did not save the first document.

It appears that the act of saving appears to free up some of our brain processing power, allowing us to more easily remember the next set of information we face.

This could be an important finding because we are being faced with an ever growing amount of information to process. It took several thousand years for all of human knowledge to double by the 19th Century. A hundred years after that it doubled. In the past two years alone the amount of information ever known by humans has doubled. Estimates are that in 2015 it will double between January and August. Never before have you been required to remember so much material – and our brains are not coping well.

The simple act of saving each document – even if you are never going to open that file – appears to help you remember the next thing you do. So, pressing a “save button” on all the information you need is a good idea. It appears it will boost your memory in this information-rich age.

Categories: Internet Psychology

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Personalisation is not working

Businesses are using the wrong kind of personalisation

Dear First Name…..you’ve had an email like that, I am sure. Some hapless email marketer fails to enter the right data and you end up being called “First Name” or some such bland tag.

The trouble for most internet marketers is that they haven’t got much to go on. Often, all they collect is your name and your email address. The only thing they can use to make any emails personal is your name. However, even though we all love being called by our own name, it turns out that it is not perceived as “personal”.

The fact is, we expect to be called by our own name when someone is writing to us. So it isn’t “personalisation”. Indeed, new research shows that in terms of return on investment using a person’s first name is towards the bottom of the list of effectiveness.

Chart showing effectiveness of different kinds of personalisation

Indeed, the research shows that using someone’s name is the most popular method of personalisation, but it is one of the least effective methods of achieving a return.

Much better at gaining business is using purchase history or personal preferences. In other words, you make more money out of deeply personalising than you do if you are merely superficial.

What this research implies is that you have to collect more data about your website visitors and then use it to provide them with something that is centred upon their personal interests. Amazon is a great example of this. Log in and what you see will be different to every other person who has logged in. Amazon uses your behaviour, your purchase history, your wishlists and other expressions of interest to deliver something much more personal than merely saying “Hello First Name”.

It all points to the need to collect more data about people other than just their name.  However, if you are collecting information using an online form, the more fields you have the less likely people are to fill it in. So you need to be able to collect information in other ways.

You can:

  • Manually add data after phone calls or face-to-face meetings
  • Integrate CRM data with your web data
  • Track logged in people using analytics

Alternatively, you can narrow your niche so tightly that everything you provide is already deeply personalised to a subset of people sharing the same interests. Frankly, this is the easiest way to go for many businesses. Plus it has search engine benefits too.

For instance, if you provide accountancy services to small businesses a website describing what you do is of general interest but not personalised enough to attract people. But what if you have a website for accountancy services for independent florists? That is much more personalised to their needs. Those florists won’t even care that you have a pretty similar site on accountancy services for independent shoe shops, or another for independent funeral directors.

There are two ways to achieve deep personalisation:

  1. Sophisticated and complex data systems
  2. Highly specific niche websites

For many businesses the niche route is going to be the easiest and the most cost effective.

What this new research shows, however, is that you cannot ignore the personalisation route. The more you make what you deliver focused on the precise interests of your visitors and email recipients, the more you will get a return.

 

Categories: Internet Marketing

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Online publishers told to STOP running adverts

Annoying advertisements costs websites more money than they bring in

Online AdvertisingOnline advertising is a feature of many websites. They are a cost-effective way for companies to sell their wares because they do not pay for the advert until someone clicks, or until they reach a certain number of views. Unlike print advertising, where your advert may never be seen, online advertising can be much more easily measured. As a result, advertisers are keen to use digital advertising as they can see the impact of their campaigns as well as target people more individually.

The problem for advertisers is that most online advertising is ignored. Even if we are aware of it, we don’t usually act on it. Less than 10% of users of Google, for instance, click on a sponsored link. Several studies of online display advertising have shown that the average click-through rate is less than half a percent of all visitors. The fact is, almost all of us ignore online advertising most of the time.

But the advertisers are not worried. Firstly, they are not paying if we do not click. Secondly, even if we do not click we have awareness of their brand or product. Advertisers are perfectly happy if we do not click because they are increasing their brand awareness – for free…! What could be better than that?

Well, what an advertiser really wants is an advert that is seen and acted upon and which boosts their brand all at the same time. They also want their advert to have an air of respectability – they spend a long time selecting the right outlets for their adverts, making sure that the website has the right target visitors, for instance.

But new research shows that this is the crux of the problem. It appears that people are failing to recall websites when they contain annoying adverts. The very thing that advertisers are seeking – positive association with good websites – is being destroyed by those adverts.

Worse than this, the authors of the research, published by the American Marketing Association, are suggesting that website publishers which run annoying adverts run the risk of reducing their income overall. The money raised from publishing the adverts does not outweigh the loss of income from annoyed readers. In other words, it is more costly to run adverts than not to run them.

Coming from such a major and respected organisation that is a powerful message. Being told that as publishers you run a massive financial risk if you carry annoying adverts is going to mean that many will stop carrying such material. And that will mean an issue for brands and the advertising industry.

The research does define “annoying”, though. It suggests that animated adverts, those from companies with a poor reputation and adverts with  poor design were all annoying. But if you ask people they find most advertising annoying.

What does this mean for website owners? It means you are likely to make more money overall if you stop carrying adverts. Besides, almost none of your visitors look at them anyway.

 

Categories: Internet Marketing

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Stop checking your email – it stresses you out

Checking email regularly increases workplace stress

Full inbox - email overloadHow many times a day do you check your email? More than 44% of people check their email at least 11 times a day, according to one poll. Another survey shows that we use our mobiles to check email more often than any other device and that we access our mobiles an average of 221 times a day. Seven years ago I wrote a blog post about a study showing that some people checked their email system 40 times an hour…!

One of the reasons we do this is reward. Getting an email, seeing another message, triggers our mental reward system. That helps us feel good about ourselves. When our reserves are low, we head over to our email inbox and check to see if there is a message awaiting. A new, unread message, triggers that reward system and that improves our mood and self-evaluative systems. When you had only physical post, you only got one “fix” a day. Now you can get as many of those reward fixes as possible and hence people are constantly going back and forth to their email, “just in case”.

Email is actually a productivity reduction system. Far from improving our productivity, it is reducing our ability to work well. It is not the miracle of communication we sometimes think. I even suggested that email caused the recession. Every time you check your email, your brain has “attention shift”. Each time you shift attention from the task in hand it takes about 15 minutes to get back on track with what you were doing. Writing a report that should take you an hour, could take you two hours if you check email four times an hour – which is common for some people.

Now, a straightforward study of email usage shows – once again – that checking email regularly increases stress. Far from easing worries, checking email more than three times a day, is a stress inducer says the study from Canada.

The reward system of our brain lulls us into a false sense of security. By giving us a mental pat on the back it makes us feel as though checking email is good for us. We even logically prove it to ourselves by suggesting that email has solved a communications problem.

However, our stress hormones are getting increased the more times we check our email. That’s because as we seek more and more rewards, our body starts to think we are in danger if we do not get our rewards. And it starts pumping out those hormones in response.

The answer is simple. Check your email once in the morning, once at lunchtime and once in the evening. Then forget it. You will become more productive and less stressed.

Categories: Email

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