Saturday, July 30, 2011

Start Date @ Malloy Incorporated Approaches

On August 15th, 2011 I will begin my new career at Malloy Incorporated in Ann Arbor, MI. I am super excited about starting this position for a couple of reasons.

The Traditional Book Printer

Malloy Incorporated is a book manufacturer that has been around for more than 50 years. The company is actually still located in the original building in which it was started although they have grown significantly both as an entity and in square footage. One of the reasons that I am so excited to be a part of Malloy’s mission is that they are not a company that traditionally offered web or search marketing positions. In fact, I never would have thought to look at the company for these positions as opposed to the Pure Visibilities, PWB’s or Fluency Media’s that make Ann Arbor the web marketing hub that it is. My instructor Bud Gibson turned me on the opportunity Malloy was offering and when I interviewed for the spot, I saw a company that is a survivor in it's industry. A company that is well aware of the changes that are taking place in the print and online worlds. Also, a company that knew it must make moves to embrace these changes. And so I feel incredibly honored to be the one chosen to take on the task of building Malloy’s brand online and perhaps offering suggestions for its future in book and content production.

The Many Hats Of Malloy

As I moved through the interview process at Malloy, I realized that everyone in the company I came in contact with had worn different hats in the time they had been there. Some had come in with a particular background and took on other roles at the company. Each person there that I met was very dynamic and well rounded. I found that I had a lot in common in this respect as my background isn’t one of just sales, or just customer service or just web marketing. I have a degree in criminal justice and one in business administration. I have a growing background in web and search marketing as well as many technical talents to compliment these skills. I am also a talented writer and I think that all of these things combined will help me to thrive in the dynamic culture that Malloy and it’s people have created.

As my start date approaches, a flurry of ideas races through my head of the ways Malloy can develop a web presence and translate that into growth for the company. I feel like the business has nowhere to go but up and the opportunities for development in the online world are infinite. I only hope that I can help build on the success, perseverance and stability that Malloy has achieved throughout its history.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Visitors Using Embedded Form On Parc Pointe Website

The first users of the embedded form on the Parc Pointe Apartments website have submitted information. It’s good to know that people are actually using the form to schedule a time to come in and take a look at what is available. The entire process is credibly simple and much easier than building a form page, linking it to a CGI program (which has its own set of steps for implementation) and monitoring an email account.

All you have to do is create the form in Google Docs. Fields range from simple text boxes to multiple choice radio buttons or check boxes. You can generate a lot of them and I’m not quite sure if there is a limit. The best part is that you can make all the fields a requirement for users to fill out to ensure you are getting all the data you need. For a sales application this is critical as the more information a sales person has from the outset of a cold call or follow-up call, the better positioned they are to make a sale.

My next step is to set up a separate Google account for the apartment community as the current form is sending information to my account. This way people at the office will be able to log on every day or set up email alerts to be notified when a new user has submitted information.

On another note we have also had more visits from new regions of the country! Add Florida, Georgia, Wisconsin, Alabama, Illinois, Connecticut and the District of Columbia to the list!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Dream Catcher's July 25th presentation

Our presentation for Dream Catcher’s this week was a great one. I felt we really hit on some key points about the site that should be addressed in order to decrease the overall bounce rate and improve the overall user experience on the site. We also had some success in implementing our goal of tracking donations on the site. Some of the most notable issues with the Dream Catcher’s site are the usability ones as far as clutter, organization and landing pages.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Analytics Email Reports

I love the email reporting feature that can be accessed from within analytics. I just used it for the first time today when showing my boss the traffic we have been getting at the Parc Pointe Apartments website from around the globe and also from within the continental United States. I used the PDF option and also had a copy sent to myself. The interface is extremely user friendly. You can enter in multiple email addresses or just one, in the description field you can type your message to the recipient such as a summary of what the graphics and data mean and then you select the file format for it to be sent in. The PDF is nice and the data/graphics appear just as they do from within analytics except without all the other links, help menus and account data. You can also set up recurring email reports which are great so you don’t have to remember to email the same people over and over. Very nice Google.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

More Regions Taking Notice Of Parc Pointe Apartments

Data is really picking up on the Parc Pointe Apartments website. There are a total of 66 visits since the site’s inception a few weeks ago. There have been 58 visits from 9 states within the lower 48, 1 visit from Canada (Toronto to be specific), 3 visits from India and still 1 from South Korea. The site has seen the most popularity on the floor plans and features page where visitors can view apartment layouts. Still no information captured in Google docs for showings but it is still early. It may take some form of advertising campaign to really get info pumping through that page yet the complex is at capacity during this time of year so perhaps early on next year there will be more online requests for showings.

One thing I am going to work on is getting style features to show through in Internet explorer. Currently, most traffic arriving at the site is using that browser and subtle design features of the site are not showing through. Particularly border radius properties applied to borders on several portions of the site. This gives the effect of curved corners in Firefox, Opera, Safari, Chrome and other browsers but internet explorer does not recognize this code. I am still looking for an easily implemented alternative so IE users will have to look at boring straight rectangles and squares until I find a change.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Donations Goal Collecting Data

We are officially collecting data on the donations goal we have implemented for the Dream Catcher's site. Out of 12 visitors to the page over the past 30 days, one has gone on to click the PayPal donate button. Our made up naming convention (/vpv/outbound/) which was named for Virtual Page View and installed on an outbound link, is showing up in the report successfully. The screen shot below shows the funnel visualization report.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Installing Analytics On Parc Pointe's Website

I couldn't help myself and installed analytics on the website I created for Parc Pointe Apartments. So far there have been 26 visits from 5 states with over 500 page views on different parts of the site. Visitors are spending a lot of time (avg of 2 minutes) on the contact us page which is a good sign. That page features a contact form for prospective residents to fill out if they are interested in touring an apartment or want more information about the site. There isn't a ton of data yet but it looks like things are off to a good start.

Originally I built a custom form using a combination of HTML, Java and CSS and tried to figure out a way to have the form information submitted to an email address without using a CGI program. Turns out that is a lot easier said than done. Thankfully Google Docs offers a service where you can create custom forms and embed them on a website. When users submit the information it is sent to the corresponding gmail account that was used to generate the form. The data appears in a nice little spread sheet that is easy to read and organize. It can also be exported to a third party application such as Excel.

Another task that I am working on is getting the site to appear higher in organic search results. Currently I can get it to show up on the first page but not near the top. I have replaced some of the text in page's title tags with common search terms that people might use such as "apartments in Ann Arbor" or "Ann Arbor Apartment complexes". I have also linked to the site from outside sources such as this blog.

Monday, July 11, 2011

I Built My First Commercial Website!!!!!!!!!!!

I have officially published my first commercial website! The apartment community which I work at part time needed a website and I took the liberty of building one for them as a school project. The site sat on my computer (and Eastern Michigan University’s server) for months until one day I mentioned it to my boss. She loved it and was born.

Follow the link above and let me know what you think. Future suggestions for improvement that I have been thinking about include: icons for associations and accreditation such as BBB, links to social networking accounts (which they also do not have), online application features (would need some major security reviews before implementation), additional pictures (which should be added by this weekend), virtual tours of apartments, and perhaps rates and features of lease contracts although that will have to be ok’ed by the boss, among other things. Any design comments would be welcome as this is really my first crack at a commercial web presence and site.

Week 9 Dream Catchers For Abused Children Presentation

Here is the most recent Dream Catchers presentation. This week we focused on creating additional profiles within Google Analystics in order to create filters for data. Up to 50 profiles can be created within analytics so that the original account data can remain intact and filters can be applied to other profiles which serve as copies of the original.

We also created a goal for our donation campaign where we are tracking visits to the site and when visitors click on the "donate" button. We had to install code to track a virtual page view because the donate buttons take visitors to the Paypal secure site in order to enter their donation information. This URL is separate from the Dream Catcher's site. It should be interesting to see just how many users are coming through that landing page from our ads and how many are actually donating.

The donation ads continue to perform well with over a 1% CTR (click through rate)so there should be sufficient traffic to the donation landing page to start gathering some actionable data.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

First Articles Submitted To Logbud

I have Logbud set up and have submitted two articles so far. One is about SEO and the other is about how to set up a website of your own using common steps or blogs. So far I have a few impressions in Adsense but there is much more work that needs to be done. In order to generate any real income of off ad impressions, I will need to write more. My goal is to have at least 100 articles in the system by September. Making them popular is another trick to drive traffic. Currently I am back linking to the articles through this blog which is also connected to other sites.

Using the Google keyword tool I am able to see what search terms and phrases are most popular on the web. For instance in a one month period there were over a million searches on the phrase What is SEO?. My next projects will be more how-to articles or just information based ones describing a process or product. New product reviews are also very popular such as ones for Apple products or electronics in general.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Tracking For Google +1

Google has added tracking for the +1 button in Analytics reporting tools. Elements such as Facebook likes, +1's, and other user web endorsements are quickly becoming the trick that makes pages rank higher in organic search results. Every time a user clicks the +1 button or likes something, they are publicly endorsing that page, image, or other content and letting their entire network see it.

Now website can track the +1 clicks in Analytics. In Google Webmaster tools you can see how traffic is affected by the button. For instance you can see if users stayed on your site longer in correlation with clicking the button. Traffic that has clicked the +1 button is denoted by a +1 annotation in reports. A separate activity report shows how many times the +1 button was clicked on your own site and on other sites as well as in Google search results pages or other SERP's.

Many of the metrics that are already on Analytics such as geographic and content data are also applied to the +1 metric. This would be a great tool for identifying content that users like which is a large determinant of time on site. Now there is a way to track exactly what content visitors are finding appealing so that is can be spread around to other areas of a site or enhanced in order to make pages more sticky.

You can read more about +1 tracking on the Adsense Blog.

Last LA2M Of The Season

I attended a very informative LA2M last Wednesday and it was the last one of the season. The speaker was Derek Mehraban of Ingenex Digital Marketing. The topic as digital leadership and how businesses and individuals can use digital media such as social and professional networking sites as well as other forums like blogs to promote their brand.

I thought the stats he brought up throughout his presentation were very interesting. Most are listed below.

Mehraban talked about the battle among digital giants for the time on site top spot.

    In May 2011, 180 million people visited Google sites compared to 157.2 million that visited Facebook.

    Although Google had more visitors, visitors to Facebook looked at 103 Billion pages and spent an average of 375 minutes on site compared with 46.3 Billion Google pages viewed with an average time on site of 233 minutes.

Some questions come to mind when I hear these numbers and knowing a little about the businesses that Google and Facebook are in. For instance Google is a search engine and users are starting out with the intention to have the site find another site for them. It is not surprising that a user would not spend a lot of time on a Google results page if they have been shown results that are relevant to their query.
This assumes that these statistics are not including other Google web properties such as Youtube, Buzz, Gmail, and any of the other services that Google runs. It seems that Facebook would be even further ahead based on these statistics.

Facebook on the other hand is a social networking site that people come to in order to accomplish tasks such as communicating with friends and family, viewing images, playing games, modifying their accounts, and a lot of other things that will take much longer than sifting through search results. These statistics do point out one very obvious fact, that content is what will make people stick to a site and not bounce away.

More interesting stats

    Websites with a blog attached generate 55% more traffic than those without one.

This one isn’t surprising as search engines love to index new content with lightening speed. Blogs are one of the easiest ways to update fresh content on a daily basis which is a factor in how a website ranks in search results.

    74% of consumers rely on social networks to do research before making a purchase.
    It wasn’t clear if these consumers were doing research online and then going offline to make their purchase or buying off of the internet or some mix of the two. At any rate it is pretty astonishing that this many consumers are using social networks to read reviews on products and otherwise ping their networks for information.

    41% of B2B and 67% of B2C companies have acquired new customers through Facebook alone.

Overall social networks and other web properties are merely another channel for businesses to connect with consumers. Many of these customers may have very well still bought from the same business had they not been on Facebook or some other social network however by being present in the online world, these companies included in the stat were able to connect or get in front of their potential market in yet another place.

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