Author Archive

Mobile-geddon: Have You Run Out of Time to Go Mobile?

Last week Google rolled out a new mobile-friendly search update; this long-awaited and much-hyped update has been designed to boost the search rankings of mobile-friendly pages on mobile search results. Back in November 2014, Google rolled out the mobile-friendly tag on mobile search results, and this new update follows in a similar vein. In their latest announcement, Google described the new update as helping searchers “more easily find high-quality and relevant results where text is readable without tapping or zooming, tap targets are spaced appropriately, and the page avoids unplayable content or horizontal scrolling.”

With only one week passed since the update launched, it’s hard to say how much of an impact the change has had on search rankings. Google has said that the update may take time to reach full effect, but there are a few details we already know:

  1. Google will now use the “mobile friendliness” of a page as one of the signals that are used in search ranking.
  2. The update only applies to searches performed on mobile devices.
  3. The update applies to individual pages, not entire websites. So, if the single page or article is mobile-friendly, it can still get the boost, even if the rest of your site is not.

So, what does this update mean for you?

First, don’t panic if you haven’t yet built a mobile site. There are still over 200 signals other than mobile friendliness that Google uses when ranking pages. Remember, this update only applies to mobile users and doesn’t impact desktop searches at all.

Next, check how your site looks to a mobile user. Google has tools like the Mobile-Friendly Test that can help. Make sure you weigh the potential costs vs. benefits of developing a mobile site. For some, it may only require a few adjustments to current settings or templates, but for others it might mean a completely new site design.

Regardless of how your site is designed, what your market segment is, or what your online strategy looks like, Google is sending a strong message with this update: they view mobile search as a different experience from desktops, and are going to give mobile-friendly sites an advantage.

As the team’s “stats guy,” Luke Schoenrock is our go-to staff member for analytics and reporting—as well as witty remarks.

Posted in Web Analytics


Making Sense of Social Media Metrics

At Christianity Today, we have been gaining a lot of experience in building our brands on social media. In fact, in 2014 we began to realize that more of our audience was discovering and engaging with our content via social media sites than through our traditional homepages. For some, that may seem like a terrifying loss of control, but we have seen it as an opportunity to expand our reach to new audiences. We have even launched a sponsorship program that allows our advertising customers to reach out to our engaged social media community. The consumer has moved the conversation to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest; it’s up to us to follow them, or risk losing them to the brands that will.

The problem we immediately ran into when we started to engage with social media was the data. There was so much data, and so much of it was completely worthless. What we needed was a set of flexible metrics for measuring our social media efforts. Then we discovered four simple metrics, developed by Avinash Kaushik, that help to cut through the noise and find real, useful insights.

Many marketers focus on amassing big numbers on their Facebook profile or Twitter feed. But what does that actually tell you? Does the number of followers I have on Twitter help me determine if my tweets are actually effective at driving people where I want them to go? Or does it simply a measure of my current brand recognition?

As Avinash puts it, “What matters is everything that happens after you post/tweet/participate! Did you grab attention? Did you deliver delight? Did you cause people to want to share? Did you initiate a discussion? Did you cause people to take an action? Did your participation deliver economic value?”

The four metrics below are designed to help you answer those questions, and they can be applied to virtually any social media site or campaign.

1. Conversation Rate: The number of audience comments (or replies) per post.

The conversation rate measures your effectiveness at understanding and reaching your audience. Are you connecting, or just shouting? A lot of marketers approach social media (and, if we’re honest, most of their online campaigns) as though they were using traditional TV or billboard ads: They shout as loudly as possible into the darkness, without even listening for a response. With social media, the response is the entire point of the campaign. Measuring the conversation rate helps you know what engages your audience.

2. Amplification Rate: The number of shares/retweets/repins etc. per post.

This is the magic of social media. Nothing else can spread a campaign faster than the “viral” effect of social media sharing. This tells you what types of content get your followers excited and what connects with them so deeply that they feel like they have to share it with their own network.

3. Applause Rate: The number of likes/favorites/+1s etc. per post.

This one may be the simplest of them all. Like the Conversation and Amplification Rates, Applause helps you gain insights into what drives your audience. They are literally telling you what they like. Interestingly, these rates won’t always coincide. There are certain types of posts that people just feel the need to share with a friend, while others seem to demand a comment. Sometimes the audience just likes what you’ve posted, and that’s a great thing to know. If you can entertain or give free help, you’ll build valuable goodwill and loyalty.

4. Economic/Referral Value: Sum of revenue/goal value from social media segments.

Finally, don’t forget the bottom line! Direct sales shouldn’t be the only reason you engage with social media, but they can still be a factor. Take note of what those social followers do, buy, and subscribe to. Does your site sell products? You can use your website analytics software (Google Analytics is free and easy to use) to segment out traffic from social media sites and see how well your posts drive sales. Don’t have hard sales on your site? Figure out the value of soft conversions: What does increased traffic earn you in onsite advertising or newsletter subscription revenue? What are lead generations worth?

All of these metrics can be pulled together for most social media sites, but there are also analytics tools that can help you. Check out the rest of Avinash’s post for more great tips and tools to help aggregate the data.

To connect with Christianity Today’s own highly engaged audience on social media, take a look at our sponsored posts and contact one of our Account Reps for more details.

As the team’s “stats guy,” Luke Schoenrock is our go-to staff member for analytics and reporting—as well as witty remarks.

Posted in Advertising Tips, Online Advertising, Social Media, Web Analytics


Stop Converting Visitors, But Losing Customers

Over at The Moz Blog, Randy Fishkin and his amazing whiskers have posted an excellent video (below) looking at three key ways that many websites are sacrificing customer loyalty in their attempts to convert visitors.

1. Build long term loyalty and demonstrate your value. Tell me if this sounds familiar: I’m visiting a site for the first time and am immediately pummeled with conversion messages. Free Trials! Try Us Now! Even if I take the free offer, I’m not actually invested or convinced of the value of the product. I have no connection to the brand and no reason to trust them so I’m more likely to abandon the trail and have a terrible customer experience. High churn rates, low retention.

So what should you do? Measure the customer journey, and not just the conversion path. Use an analytics tool to look at what people do after they convert. Are they happy? Do they buy again? Maybe you need to rethink trying to convert on the first visit! Moz found that, on average, visitors who returned 10 times or more before purchasing were much more loyal. Instead of putting all your energy into converting first time visitors, instead try to build a brand first.

 2. Don’t devalue by bundling or misleading. I’m looking for one specific download, but when I try to purchase it I find that I actually have to spend a $99 subscription fee to get it? I’m done and I don’t like your brand anymore.

Are you forcing potential customers to buy products they don’t need to get the one thing they want? Is your packaging too confusing? Studies have shown that people believe the received value of bundles is lower; it cheapens the individual items. Make sure your purchase path allows the customer to actually get the products they’re looking for with a minimum of pain. As Randy says, “you don’t want to cheapen, mislead or bundle without evidence that it matches customer needs.” Validate that the customers actually want what you’re selling them.

3. Educate before you convert. I’m trying to get basic information, but all I can see is conversion offers. I don’t even know what I’m looking for, but I’m already overwhelmed! I may take your free trial offer, but I’m going to drop you immediately because I didn’t understand what I was getting myself in to.

Don’t put conversion ahead of education! Remember, before a customer can use a product, he or she needs education. If you put the conversion before the education you may make a sale, but you’ll likely lose the customer in the long term. Educate before you convert and provide assistance throughout the process, including after conversion. Also, make sure you try to filter out customers who aren’t at the right stage.

Check out Randy’s video below for more tips:

As the team’s “stats guy,” Luke Schoenrock our go-to staff member for analytics and reporting—as well as witty remarks.

Posted in Advertising Tips


Connecting with CT’s Social Networks

Interact with CT’s engaged readership on a personal level with new social media advertising.

How we use the Internet has changed in recent years. Most people now discover, consume, and engage with online content through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. These sites serve as gateways, portals to good content, that are curated by vast networks of friends and family who share quality articles and ideas to their own ever-growing social media families.

Here at CT, we’ve witnessed an explosion in social media visitors, fans and followers. We’re counting over 300,000 Facebook fans and 250,000 Twitter followers and adding more every day. Best of all, these social media fans are among our most engaged readers who love to interact with posts and articles and share content with their own network of friends. Thanks to these loyal fans sharing, commenting, and retweeting, the effective reach of CT’s content is regularly amplified to millions of new viewers around the world.

For the first time, CT is pleased to share this fantastic and growing audience with some of our strategic partners in ministry through Sponsored Social Media Posts. Through boosted postings on Facebook and Twitter, these key voices can reach out to an expanded audience directly through their personal social networks. With pages and profiles targeted to specific audiences like women on TCW, pastors on Leadership Journal, and intellectual and church leaders on Christianity Today, these sponsored posts provide an amazing opportunity to engage with an audience directly and personally. Advertisers will also receive assistance in crafting and reviewing their posts from CT’s prestigious editorial staff, ensuring that the message will match the tone and mission of Christianity Today’s existing social media conversations.

For more information in this unique opportunity, please contact us here and visit our advertising help pages here.

As the team’s “stats guy,” Luke Schoenrock our go-to staff member for analytics and reporting

Posted in Company News, Online Advertising, Social Media


CT Launches New Mobile Banner Position

iPhone-51With the start of a new year, CT is launching a new mobile interstitial banner position to help our advertisers reach the booming mobile market. Over the past year, the mobile web has made itself known as a marketing force that must be reckoned with. As phones, tablets and other devices get faster, cheaper and more prolific, companies can’t afford to ignore the growing number of consumers who are surfing, searching and shopping online from their mobile devices. At CT we’ve seen the number of mobile visitors increase by 100% year over year, nearing the point where mobile visitors will constitute half of the traffic to our sites. CT isn’t alone. Industry wide mobile users are growing, and they have money to spend. On Christmas Day 2013, mobile users made close to 29% of all online sales. We’ve continued to work on new ways to reach this expanding audience. For several years we’ve offered a special 320×50 size mobile banner that is optimized to comfortably fit in the header of pages on the small view screens of mobile devices. This position has consistently had click through rates that outperform standard desktop banners. With the launch of a new mobile interstitial banner we are now able to offer a second mobile advertising opportunity. This ad position uses a standard 300×250 image and appears in between the pages of multipage articles. The interstitial runs in a limited rotation, to avoid inconveniencing the audience and over exposure, and receives a complete takeover of the screen when viewed. In only a few months this new interstitial banner has already out performed most other desktop banners as well as our other static mobile ads. The click-through numbers are truly impressive. When paired with an attractive creative, this position is a wonderful opportunity to reach the new mobile audience.

Posted in Advertising Tips