Entries from 2012
Amazon uses Animated GIFs in their email marketing
Last night I received an email from Amazon that I viewed on my smartphone showcasing their upcoming Black Friday deals. It looked fairly standard in presentation, with a television, a computer and a tablet showcased in the email. Being in marketing, we see hundreds of presentations, blog posts and emails that have similar pictures. We are in a multi-device world, blah blah. But what made Amazon’s email different was that the image on all 3 of the screens displayed in their email were animated GIFs! These images rendered beautifully on my phone, with the animations seamlessly working with little noticeable effect on download time. When I got home, I noticed the same thing in my Mac mail client. Beautiful animation. Even though the email is simply an enticement for me to go to Amazon’s website and purchase, I have kept it in my inbox so that I can constantly refer back to it as a good example of inviting emails. That is something that almost never happens for email marketing campaigns.
Are Animated GIFs the future of Email Marketing?
This remains to be seen. While both animated GIFs and Email Marketing are more than 15 years old, I rarely recall seeing them working in harmony in email marketing campaigns. I am guessing this is for a few reasons:
- Not all email clients can render animated GIFs – it may even be that the majority of email clients do not render them properly (we’re talking about you, Outlook)
- It takes much more time to create them – While many marketers work off an editorial calendar, rarely do you have the time needed to plan out, animate and code an individual emails
- Creative, strategy and delivery teams are not coordinated – Creative may be in a different department (or different agency) than strategy and delivery, and they may not talk to each other during the email creation process
- Fear of Change – Maybe companies are just afraid to implement something so radical?
Because the cycle of planning and sending emails is often date driven and under the gun to get out on time, it becomes very difficult to add extra frills to the campaign. Animated GIFs add extra time that many people simply do not have available. Amazon is able to do this because they likely have a tightly integrated team who is able to plan out these executions. As is the case with most E-commerce innovation, Amazon is clearly a leader in email marketing for e-commerce as well.
How do I get Animated GIFS in my Email Marketing?
Try starting with a full service agency that has creative, strategy and delivery services under one roof. Three Deep has developed all of these core competencies into our email marketing team, our teams sit right next to each other, and we would love the opportunity to take on your groundbreaking and challenging email marketing campaigns!
When it comes to marketing in the home improvement industry, it can be hard to understand the importance of getting your business online. The value of an online presence for a home improvement contractor is invaluable and research proves it. To highlight this, Three Deep has been hard at work visualizing data about how internet users search for home improvement services online by creating this home improvement infographic. Take a look!
Continue Reading Home Improvement Infographic →
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If you search on Google for a famous person, you may see something that looks like this:
This box, located in the right hand corner of a search results page, is what Google calls a Knowledge Graph, and is an attempt to answer common questions without needing to leave the search results page. In most cases, the Google Knowledge Graph trumps any ads from displaying on that page, making their search results a purely organic experience.
As a daily Google searcher, from almost its inception, I am so accustomed to seeing the old format that I am still surprised each time the Knowledge Graph pops up. Even though it’s not a major change to the way search works, I’m left scratching my head pondering the question “is this bad, or just different?”
The design snob in me can appreciate the way that Google stays on brand with a consistently uniform results page across multiple platforms (mobile, desktop and tablet results are consistent across devices).
But aside from the aesthetics, what is really going on here? Why is there so much space left below the Knowledge Graph? As a digital marketer I’m wondering why Google is going about this going completely ad free for these results pages? Only time will tell.
While Google’s Knowledge Graph may not provide many answers for the time being, they are clearly making plenty of room for it in their design. They are also incorporating knowledge graph in an audible way on certain mobile device searches.
How will all of this affect Google’s main source of revenue (advertising)? Only time will tell, but I for one am looking forward to the day when Google creates a knowledge graph for me.
What have been your experiences with Knowledge graph? All positive or missing the mark? Let us know in the comments.
Google Analytics Announces Major Updates
Last week, Google made major announcements about upcoming changes to how Google Analytics will function and contribute to the future of digital marketing measurement. At Three Deep, we view all of these changes as improvements to the program, but it should also be noted that a few changes may affect how people currently have Google Analytics configured.
The first major announcement of the week was Universal Analytics, which is a version of Google Analytics that allows us to move away from a session based tracking paradigm over to a user based tracking method. This allows marketers to measure activity by users across multiple computers, devices and mediums. With the proliferation of mobile devices, tablets and multiple computers, this form of measurement is becoming more and more important. It’s also important that Google Analytics adjust to measure the world outside the web, because otherwise the tool is in danger of being left behind for new tools that do a better job of measuring activity in these new mediums.
Without getting too technical, Universal Analytics is achieved by minimizing the reliance on cookies to track visitors, replacing cookies with server-side processing of visit data to increase speed and flexibility. When you send data to Google’s servers, you can also attach a user identifier to that visit that will be used to match up visitors across devices, which is then matched up by Google server side to create a unified picture of how your users interact with various touchpoints.
If you want to learn more about the announcement and get more detail, I live-blogged the Universal Analytics announcement last week, complete with screenshots and explanations from the event.
Import Cost Data from Third Party PPC Programs
The AdWords reports in GA are among my favorites, because they allow for end to end analysis right in the tool (you know how much you spent and how much you earned, allowing for an ROI). One of my pet peeves with this report has been that you only can do this level of analysis with AdWords data, and you would need to download data and match up details in excel to do this analysis for Bing, Facebook or LinkedIn.
Now this is something that you can do by uploading your cost data into Google Analytics using the API or an application provider like Next Analytics (an excellent tool and friend of Three Deep).
Read Google’s announcement on this integration here.
Dimension Widening and Offline Measurement
With Universal Analytics, we will now be able to import external data into Google Analytics to be used in measurement. This external data can be turned into dimensions that we can use to further enhance our reporting capabilities within the tool (for example, we can create a dimension such as gender or age).
You will be able to create up to 20 custom dimensions in a free GA account. This will give significantly more flexibility than what can be achieved currently with Custom Variables. It will also eliminate the need to code each page with custom variables, allowing for retroactive data matching since all dimensions will be based on the data you import.
You can use dimension widening to better understand activity that is happening offline, outside of your standard website metrics. Does your website generate a lot of leads and phone calls? You can now import lead status and sales data into Google Analytics for complete online/offline customer measurement.
Websites must have universal analytics configured to take advantage of Dimension widening and Offline Measurement, because this data is tied to the Unique ID that you assign to your website users.
Implications on Cookie Integrations
One of the things that we should also address is that some of these changes by Google to a virtually cookie-less tracking solution will take away our ability to do crazy integrations with cookie data. This may mean that some integrations will be phased out in their current form (like pulling data out of cookies and pushing into your CRM system, and phone call tracking replicating cookies). For lead generation sites that rely on these integrations, this is a drawback and a loss of functionality.
However, the good news is that these will ultimately be replaced by a simpler method for achieving the same effect (integration between your offline and web analytics data). It also paves the way for many more advanced integrations and mash-ups. The long term benefits of moving away from cookies outweigh any minor setbacks we may see along the way. I wouldn’t be surprised if phone call tracking solutions begin to tout their improved Google Analytics integration in the near future.
Exciting Times Ahead
As someone who is fascinated by web measurement and passionate about unlocking insight from website visitor data, I am very excited about what we have in store for the future. Google Analytics has long been the leader in making web measurement easier to grasp and now they are helping marketers measure activities well beyond the screen.
Whether you are just learning about web analytics or have been measuring for years, these announcements and product upgrades will only help bring measurement to the forefront of the decisions we make as marketers in the future.
Are you as excited about these advancements as we are?
From my experience, productivity tools that live in a browser also tend to die in a browser. For me, this is because I have so many tabs open that I tend to forget to go to the many persistent tabs I have open for Google+, the web version of Tweetdeck and even blogs that are powered by WordPress.
Over time I simply stop using them or look at them as a nuisance rather than my gateway to sharing my thoughts with the outside world.
In the past 6 months, I have started to try and find desktop application replacements for services that normally live in a browser, and it has made a big difference in my productivity. Here are a few of my favorites.
Productivity Tools for a Business Blogger
The first tool I started with was Evernote, and I already shared my success with using Evernote for increasing my writing productivity. I use Evernote to jot down quick ideas wherever I may be via my phone, iPad, laptop or desktop computer. These ideas are synchronized seamlessly between devices and I can use Evernote to write a draft of a blog post before loading into WordPress for final revisions.
Next, I use Skitch to capture images and screen shots, as well as add little notes or arrows to them. I can even blur out sensitive information from screenshots using their very simple brush tool.
Best of all, it’s completely free and synchronizes with Evernote (Skitch was acquired by Evernote earlier this year).
3) Desktop WordPress Editors
While I love Evernote for getting an idea started, I have become more frustrated over time using the tool to create finished blog posts. This is for several reasons, especially:
- The tool adds unnecessary HTML markup and formatting to the text that then messes with the formatting of the post in WordPress. This takes a lot of time to clean up
- If I insert an image into the Evernote draft, I still need to upload to WordPress later
- There is no way that I know of to post a draft to WordPress directly from Evernote
Because of these deficiencies, I started to explore desktop software for drafting blog posts and placing directly into WordPress. While there are many available, I have two recommendations:
MarsEdit for the Mac (Free Trial, then $39.95)
Windows Live Writer for Windows
While I have not personally used Windows Live Writer, I have read that it is a top notch program – the best for windows.
As for MarsEdit, I am using it to write this post. In fact, I have used it to write every post on all of my blogs for the past two weeks. My personal blog, my marketing analytics blog and my travel blog all use MarsEdit – and now so does Three Deep!
What I like about MarsEdit is that I can paste pictures directly into the post window from Skitch, give it a filename and have it upload directly to WordPress (this saves about 5 minutes per image posted). I also like that it allows me to easily format posts, add categories and tags, modify the post slug and upload directly to WordPress as a published post or a draft.
The coolest feature is that if you want to add a hyperlink, it automatically adds whatever link is in your clipboard!
The only thing I really don’t like is that when I upload a draft, the post date is set at that time, and if I don’t pay attention, the post will show up as something occurring in the past vs. in present time.
4) WordPress SEO
The last tool I use for productivity is WordPress SEO by Yoast. This plugin makes SEO easy by helping you make sure that your blog post conforms to a minimum set of SEO standards. Basically, all you need to do is tell the tool your preferred keyword and they will do the rest, letting you know how well your post is adhering to a common set of on page SEO standards.
No longer must you guess as to whether you are on the right track – this tool tells you that right in your post view.
If only this could be integrated directly into Mars Edit, I wouldn’t need to post to WordPress as a draft – I would publish directly from my editor. One can still dream!
No More Excuses!
With these tools I mention, you should be able to take your ideas to execution in a matter of minutes. If you have a good idea, you should be able to turn it into content for the web in 30-60 minutes, all while saving yourself at least that much time through gained efficiencies.
Is there anything I missed? Let me know in the comments!
Three Deep is proud to announce today that they have received a partner certification with Google Tag Manager. Google Tag Manager is a newly launched tool from Google that is free of charge, and consolidates your website tags with a single snippet of code. It also lets you manage everything from a web interface, so you can add and update your own tags, with just a few clicks, whenever you want, giving you greater flexibility, and let your webmasters focus on other important tasks.
With a variety of tags, rules, and macros, marketers now have a wide spectrum of tag options for all of their campaigns, including AdWords, Doubleclick, and remarketing campaigns. As a Google Analytics Certified Partner, Three Deep was among some of the first to try out this product in Beta. We are very excited for the potential that this will bring to new clients and current clients alike. If you’re a current client of Three Deep, we are excited to work with you on this new tool, and look forward to improving your campaigns with this new tool. If you’re interested in learning how Google Tag Manager and Three Deep can work for you, please contact us
! To find out more about Google Tag Manager, we invite you to check out the official blog post from Google.
A few weeks back, I received two emails back to back in my inbox. This is a regular occurrence of course, but both of these were promoting two different social analytics tools. One was for Instagram, the other for Pinterest. If you subscribe to news from any of the various social software programs, you’ll discover that they are quick to innovate a new way to track metrics for the latest social network. This is great if you’re already paying for a software subscription, and it’s added free of charge, but what if it’s not?
Before you pull out your company credit card to place an order for the latest social analytics software, take a second to think about what you’re going to measure. Are you going to measure the trend of new “likes” or followers? The total amount of repins that each of your new products gained when placed on a company Pinterest board? Be sure to determine what your objectives are in measuring your social efforts. It often has something to do with the value of social referrals to your website or to the value of your greater social community.
The Value of “Like” on your Website
Do you ever link to your website from your social accounts? If you have some basic website analytics software, such as Google Analytics, Adobe Omniture, or WebTrends, pull it open, and see what sorts of traffic each network has generated for your website. Do you see a big spike in your Facebook-referral traffic after hosting a big fan competition, or a decline from Twitter when you took a vacation and no one bothered to send out a tweet or two? Mark down what dates you saw spikes or dips from your social networks, and any rationale for why you think it may have happened. If you track conversions, or purchases that users make on your site, check to see if they mirror the same spikes and dips that your social traffic experienced.
Social Value from the Network
If you don’t particularly care about traffic to your website from social networks, think about how your company generates revenue from social itself. Is there an app that they use to download coupons, or make purchases right on a particular network?
If you find yourself saying “we just use that social network to build community, not generating revenue”, that notion is completely fine. But then ask yourself: Is it worth spending money on a software for a social tactic that doesn’t usually generate additional money for your company? Are there analytics tools that you can use for free to track community growth? Facebook Insights provides some great baseline metrics, and tools like Crowdbooster can give you weekly emails on how your Twitter follower count is doing.
Digging Deeper into Social Analytics
This past week, I attended an event with the Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association (MIMA) presented by Adam Singer of Google. He showed us that there are even more options than just tracking referrals from social media, you can see some of the conversations that are happening on certain networks in Google Analytics. If you haven’t checked out this option, I highly suggest that you do!
He also mentioned Justin Cutroni’s social dashboard, which I quickly added to almost all of our client accounts in GA. Why? Just check out all the data!
Here, not only you can tell which social networks are getting you the most traffic, but which ones are actually making you money. You can see how it compares in generating new visitors to your website, and finally, how much traffic your site generates from mobile.
If your social efforts are purely based on building community and gaining the largest number of “likes” in your industry, then certainly check out those special analytics tools geared toward particular networks. But if you want to get down to the details and tell your CEO why you should stick with social because it will make you money, then I’d definitely make sure you have Google Analytics properly configured on your site and get started analyzing some results!
Contractors, are you showing up on the first page of Google searches for prospects looking to buy your product in your area?
One of the most frequently asked questions we get from small business owners is “How can I show up #1 on Google?” The answer to that question is very complicated, and changes almost daily. With the Panda and Penguin updates Google has made it increasingly difficult for small business websites to rank highly organically, without creating a steady stream of fresh, useful, original content on their websites, (such as this blog.) Paid Search is a great way to insure that a company has a first page presence, by placing ads on their most relevant keyword search terms, but the costs can be intimidating to business owners unfamiliar with PPC and unless these campaigns are properly managed, businesses can literally hemorrhage money and generate few if any leads. One of the best, quickest and most cost effective things that a small business owner can do to show up locally is claim their local listings on Google (through Google+Local listings) and the other search engines. Surprisingly, most business owners aren’t even aware this free opportunity is available to them and have taken advantage of it. Have you claimed your listings? If you have no idea what I’m talking about read on!
Continue Reading Only 15% of Small Businesses Have Claimed Their Google+Local Listing →
This week I am “working from home” out of an apartment in Washington D.C.
For those of you who have been here, you know that DC is an easily accessible town, and you can get to most places by simply walking or taking the metro.
You may also know that DC is a “foodie” town and there are many awesome places available to eat around every corner. I have seen or eaten at restaurants from most sovereign nations in the world, including Mozambiquan and Ghanan.
The food is very good, and each time I visit I am looking forward to a new experience.
For lunch today, I decided to hit up the food truck court at Franklin Park (13th and K streets).
A particular truck caught my attention called Basil and Thyme, which specialized in Lasagna. They had a decent sized line, so I knew it must be good!
While waiting for my lasagna, the truck operator announced to the line that your meal (up to $15) would be completely free if you signed up for a mobile payment service called LevelUp. All you had to do was download a mobile app, link your credit card and scan a QR code and lunch would be yours.
I figured “why not” and went to their site www.basilthyme.com and clicked on the link to download the LevelUp app.
The app downloaded within about 2 minutes. I entered my name, created an account, and linked a credit card within 2 more minutes.
I showed the food truck the QR code that the app generated, they scanned it and I was all paid up (intentionally blurred QR code). Notice how they have a tip slider at the bottom? That’s pretty slick!
And I had some amazing lasagna to bring home with me
And a receipt showing that not only was my meal free, but I still have a discount for another round
This was a great experience all around, and I hope that LevelUp has success in many cities – makes my life easier and is a great alternative to cash for small businesses.
What does this have to do with marketing? Potentially everything. With mobile payments, you can understand immediately if your offer was redeemed, capture information about the people who made the purchase and continue to market to them. You can also have new users seek you out as a vendor that accepts mobile payments. Mobile payments can bridge the gap between online and offline marketing, and hopefully make both more accountable.
Certain businesses will benefit more from mobile payments than others, but CPG marketers and restaurants in particular should be very excited for the possibilities.
If you’ve been paying attention to any of the recent social media news, you’ll be certainly aware that there’s a new program that helps you to detect your “fake”, or spam followers on Twitter. Of course, I wanted to see how Three Deep was performing in this area. As I suspected, we’re doing just fine.
Ahh, not too bad!
That wasn’t the account I was worried about. Having once on a whim, followed a friend’s advice and placed a Fiverr order for a bunch of followers to my personal (@dianekulseth) account, I wanted to see how much impact my temporary lapse of judgment affected my “score”.
Apparently, a lot.
What to Do With Your Spam Followers
Only 34% of my Twitter followers are legitimate? Not good! While this tool has been great for identifying accounts that are loaded with spam followers, it leaves nothing for those of us recovering one-time black hats. After a bit of perusing, I have come up with three options for those of us who have a bunch of fake followers.
1. Wait it Out
So what if you have a majority of spam followers following your Twitter account? Does anyone REALLY care? Not to mention, it will make you look legitimate to have more followers, right? Not if tools like StatusPeople continue to gain awareness in the social media industry. If it’s this easy to discover how many fake followers a user has, it’s very likely that this tool will become more mainstream. Maybe Twitter will continue to cut down on spam and your follower accounts will slowly decrease on their own. It’s really your choice.
2. 100% Manual Removal
When you first got your Twitter account, you probably looked at all of your Twitter followers. Maybe you still do. At some point, you likely removed someone by blocking their account from following yours, because you saw it to be spam. You can do the same. It’s a tedious process but it will help you cut down on your percentage.
Note: Twitter currently allows for only 1,000 unfollows a day.
How to detect a spam follower (Disclaimer: Many legitimate followers can have some of these criteria, use with caution):
- They don’t have an avatar
- Their avatar is usually a duplicate of another account, or could be considered Not Suitable for Work
- They follow significantly more accounts than they have followers
- They have no bio
- They rarely tweet
3. Assisted Manual Removal
After determining I wanted to remove the bulk of my spam followers, I discovered TwitBlock. It discovers spam followers based on the criteria listed above, and provides a measure of the probability of the account being a spam account. You can then choose to block the account from the TwitBlock interface. Be warned that they only take a sample of 3,000 followers, so you will have to conduct this multiple times to identify all of your spam followers if you have a lot. This program is integrated with Twitter via OAuth, so the 1,000 unfollows a day still applies.
Wait, there’s no easy solution?
Sadly, for those of you who were looking for a quick fix to this issue, you will not find one. Removing spam Twitter followers is certainly more difficult than it is to add them. It just takes a lot of patience and effort, but your spam percentages will decrease (as will your overall followers). The challenge awaits!
What percentage of your Twitter followers are spam? Are you going to do something about it, or allow your account to sit? We’d love to hear your thoughts!