Did you know content is over 50% of what contributes to a sale?
That producing engaging content is the #1 content marketing challenge?
With expectations of consumers high, and the number of content touch points before a sale on the rise (up to 10.4 touches per customer), content marketing departments are trying harder than ever to deliver premium content experiences. Unfortunately, over 22% of content marketing budgets are wasted on ineffective content.
That is around 3.5 million dollars a year for a medium size company with 550 million in annual revenue.
The most common mistakes leading to wasted budget and ineffective content being rolled out the door are:
Follow these 6 steps to success in content marketing and increase content effectiveness up to 136%
#1) Develop buyer personas:
This is our opportunity to dive deep into the target audience. Skimping on this step is all too common and will leave your content without the customer centric, emotion grabbing sense of urgency we all want it to possess.
It is best to use a structured, research driven approach to developing personas. Using a research team and customer questionnaire is the best way to really find out who your customers are.
Focus on gathering inputs in the following areas.
Core Characteristics > Attitudes & Behaviors > Industry Mindset > Preferred Content Approach
Download this template with all of the outputs you will be looking for in persona creation.
#2) Create a customer journey:
Here is your chance to walk a mile (or just through a sale) in your previously developed persona's shoes. The customer journey incorporates emotions, pain points, touch points, acquisition strategies and more all into one.
It is important to really understand how a customer may move through the sales cycle, as this is the groundwork to creating objectives and strategies for each phase of the selling cycle.
There is no typical customer, nor 1 typical customer journey, but after enough research we are looking to gain an idea of how a large chunk of customers move through the sales cycle.
Download the customer journey template below
Now on to #3, #4, and #5
This is the meat and potatoes of content marketing, and will leave you with an identified content creation plan.
The most important thing to remember is to create content objectives and strategies based on what your persona wants! Do not start to think “oh yes, we have that one piece of content, from that one time, so let’s force it into our plan”
We created personas in step one to develop the most customer centric content strategy there is, and steps 3, 4 and 5 will allow you to isolate what type of content to create, what to talk about, and how to make (or re make) content that is high quality.
#3) Perform a content audit / pre build assessment and current inventory:
All content should be assessed before it is created (and after) on 3 main pillars:
Quality, Design and Relevance.
I've designed a custom content audit excel tool to help me with this process. It includes statements and scoring on items such as: “Title is clearly paid off in the body,” “Adheres to brand design standards,” “Is the appropriate length for the stage of journey.”
It is important (especially in large content marketing departments) that everyone knows what constitutes supreme content. The custom tool helps everyone be on the same page.
For more information or assistance on developing your own custom content audit tool, please contact me @ firstname.lastname@example.org
#4) Create objectives and strategy for each phase of the journey:
Here we focus on developing content objectives and strategies that alleviate pain points at each stage of the customer journey. For B2B technology companies, it is useful to use the 3 phased awareness marketing approach I wrote about in my last blog post.
Download the template below
#5) Determine what tactics and assets you will use
It’s all about the journey, and the journey is all about what topics you present, in what format, and through what medium.
In this step we use the customer persona, the objectives and strategy and have a little fun creating what I call the 3 t’s. Types, Topics, Tactics
Hint: get in a room with all your campaign stakeholders and use the template below, and hash this out. This will turn into your ideal content plan.
Circle what you will create first second and third, and now you will have a ideal content plan. Phase the priority of creation and move on to step 6 for all content you create.
#6) Create a measurement plan for each asset:
The most overlooked step in content marketing is creating a measurement strategy. Time and time again content is being made from scratch, and topics are being generated in isolation.
The goal of a measurement strategy is to amplify the good, re-engineer the ok and retire the bad content. This also creates a system of assessment and investment where best practices are identified and documented. Think about it … your content (and campaigns) keep getting better and better as you build off one another.
The above 6 steps to success in content marketing will unlock potential in your department like never before, and remember do it right and 60% – 136% increase in content effectiveness could be coming your way.
You now have templates for 4 of the 6 steps:
Persona, Customer Journey, Objectives & Strategy and Tactics & Assets.
For help with the other 2 areas:
Audit & Assessment and Measurement Plan
contact me @ email@example.com
Live long and prosper ... \\//>
Business purchasing is more complicated than ever, and the “consumerification” of the process is not helping. Digital marketing has rolled the B2B marketing world and is here to stay. Unfortunately, with digital marketing comes many touch points, and with many touch points comes a lot of messaging (that means more work for you!)
This post will help focus your B2B digital marketing messaging to be more intentional, amplifying your customer experience and increasing lead throughput.
Let’s start with something I have never heard a potential customer say …
“Hello potential B2B business partner … I know … you are awesome, all of your product features are awesome, and everything about you is awesome. Thank you for constantly informing me of how awesome you are. Awesome!” … said no customer ever
But here is what some of my clients are saying …
“We need to shift our upper funnel experience by removing product references to encourage further customer engagement” – SaaS provider
“Removing product references will help us track customer intent signals, and target them through the funnel more effectively” – Cloud storage company
It is so easy to start talking about our products, our brands and how each feature we have developed will benefit the consumer. If we don’t first put the attention on the customer, on their unique needs, and what they want to hear, the above will fall upon deaf ears.
Our problem is not lack of things to talk about, it is a structured intentional way to talk about them.
We need to adopt a rigorous approach to developing: customer journeys, audience profiles, content strategies and measurement plans.
Those that have intentionally focused on the custom digital purchase journey are achieving 2x revenue growth rates, 3x customer growth, according to McKinsey.
Our solution is process, frameworks, and the right talent to set up a customer obsessed, disciplined digital marketing engine.
The way to get there - 3 Phased Awareness Marketing
After proper customer segmentation and audience profiling, we need to keep the reigns of prolific product pummeling (alliteration is always fun) reared in.
The below is called “3 phased awareness marketing” and it has helped clients focus their messaging to better build trust and deliver appropriate messaging, from top of funnel, through bottom. Awareness marketing is the 1st step to delivering high quality leads.
Purposefully, intentionally, and with earnest direct your marketing teams to break their customer journeys out into the following 3 phases at the top of the funnel.
Challenge each content objective and strategy in the top of funnel with the questions provided.
1) Focus on the awareness of the problem
Ask yourself does your content:
2) Focus on the awareness of the solution
Ask yourself does your content:
3) Focus on the awareness of the product
Ask yourself does your content:
If you follow the above, you will be on the way developing a trusting relationship with each audience you have targeted.
Once you have set up the right messaging for each audience, you will need an appropriate measurement strategy for each KPI through the funnel.
To learn a little more about KPI’s and how marketers are consistently misinterpreting them, check out this post.
Stop misinterpreting your marketing KPI’s – Dual slice analysis
This post will show us how to stop jumping to the wrong conclusions on some of our most basic marketing KPI’s. The method we will use can be applied to more than marketing; in fact, it can be applied to most, if not all, KPI’s we use to make decisions.
The method is something I have chosen to call “Dual Slice Analysis” and the premise is simple: The basis for determining if a KPI output is good, bad or neutral should arise from explanatory insight, surfaced by the relevant dimensions it’s sliced by. A KPI should not be judged not from what we think the absolute output should mean, therefore at least 2 relevant slices should be used.
An example of dual slices for a website would be: Who are the visitors coming to the site, and What are they there to do?
Once we approach information in this way, true insights will be easier to spot, and provide us with more actionable next steps.
To show how this works, let’s take a look at some marketing KPI’s and 2 alternative insights which could be drawn from them:
Some marketing KPI’s and insights
Leads are up
Our content is rocking!
Landing page CTR is low
Oh no :( (hey that rhymed)
Same marketing KPI’s yet different insights
Leads are up
We spent 100% more than last month on paid lead generation, but our total leads up went up only 10% … Bummer!
Visitors from a blog post about a recent product bug have increased, they are all looking for the help section of our website … Dang-it.
Landing page CTR is low
We moved the landing page higher in the marketing funnel, where CTR’s are inherently less … OK well yes, no stress (also rhymed)
So what now?
Without knowing more information, we cannot determine which of the above is correct. That’s where the dual slice analysis comes in.
Once we apply relevant slices, we can come to a better conclusion, or start to ask the right questions.
Here is an example of how this works:
Dual slice analysis – A better way
The below assumes equal amount of non paid traffic across campaigns
Let’s take the “leads are up” example
Below we get 100 leads from Campaign A
Once we add “content piece” we see that 60 of those came from a specific piece of content (or theme)
It’s not until we add the “content piece” and the “traffic type” do we see the real insight; that our best organically performing content is not where we are driving customers!
The resulting insight from our Dual Slice Analysis:
We spent all of our money driving leads on our lowest organic performing Content Piece, on our lowest performing campaign! We might want to rethink calling “Content Piece A” our “best” performer.
By taking time upfront to thoughtfully plan out our most relevant and impactful slices for the situation, we will reap the benefits of better decision making on the back end.
Note about KPI’s
It should be noted a KPI in of itself means nothing really, and even further, a KPI with no context of segmentation means even less. KPI’s are meant to be directional indicators, a collection of them should be used when making decisions. By applying 2 slices to all reporting and analysis we aim to deliver the most meaning out of individual KPI’s, yet we still need to consider all relevant KPI’s to when making decisions.
As B2B companies continue to drive sales leads from online channels with content marketing, ROI measurements become increasingly complex. Difficulty arises with attribution, sequencing and understanding which step most effectively drove the sale. Even with our advancement of tracking, tagging and attribution, difficulty of who / what gets credited for the $ is not going away. It becomes even more complex when trying to associate given $ amounts with a piece of content. Was it the content piece that drove the sale? The landing page? The paid media? The sales person's pitch?
Considering the prior, content marketing teams can plan to provide concrete organizational value $ today, through efficacy and rigor around the strategy, creation and deployment of content. As a result, the consumer is delighted with amazing content, and internal efficiencies combined with higher quality work, delivers loads of organizational value.
Below I outline 3 key steps during the content life-cycle which add value to the organization, and create better customer satisfaction both internally & externally.
Value creation: Time efficiency, Decreased redundancy of assets, Customer satisfaction
Approach: Save your organization hours wasted working towards junk content. By having a robust content audit rubric, you can evaluate content before the build stage, and once creation begins have a guiding light for agencies and internal production teams to follow. A robust audit rubric parlays nicely into an inventory system. When you know what you have and how good it is, you know what to create more of, or not.
Helpful hints: Take the time to audit all your content that’s live before implementing this 3 step content deployment model.
Value creation: Internal stakeholder satisfaction, Team goal commitments, Stakeholder alignment.
Approach: Working within your internal analytics constraints, detail a plan to most effectively measure content. This will typically include asset specific metrics leading up to and after an asset is downloaded or clicked on. It is important to determine a consistent strategy for segmenting metrics. A very useful segmentation technique is the tiered technique; everything must have at least two slices of segmentation. For content one of the best segmentation combinations is 3 tired: Source/Campaign/Journey stage. This allows you to review appropriate KPI’s for the stage of the funnel, source and any campaign specific metrics.
Helpful hints: Content performance KPI’s differ throughout the customer journey, the CTR rate farther down the funnel you go will be lower than the initial stage. KPI’s are not universal and need to be thoughtfully planned for each content pieces specific usage.
Value creation: Re-deployed / re-used assets, Increased KPI performance, Customer satisfaction, Efficiency of paid advertising spend
Approach: Use a timely and standard approach for measuring the performance of content. This plan should be infused with the insight of the content marketers, and built with the expert advice of the analytics team. Working together is critical to understand the current and future state of analytics capabilities. Performing assessments is a crucial part of the deployment plan. Using a minimum viable assessment strategy is a best practice, don’t wait to start measuring performance. Analytics will never be perfect, nor are they supposed to be. Analytics are a directional indicator for business decisions, not accounting records. Start getting data and using it, then refine.
Helpful hints: Do not perform assessments without making a best practice and learning guide. Though it may seem cumbersome at the time, the goal of the assessment is 3 fold: promote top content, retire bottom content, and create future learnings. Those learnings can be championed across the organization.
This post is a culmination of some recent thoughts, professional behaviors, past experiences and 3rd party expert information. Its purpose is to give all of us a reminder and insight into how to be more impactful with our work. I am not an expert in the field of organizational psychology, thus do not take this post as I am. I am however, a social person with perspective on this business topic, thus I am sharing.
4 ways to re-energize our work
This post is going to focus on 4 ways to re-energize our work, and surprisingly (maybe not so much) it starts with focusing on ourselves. Putting emphasis on basic things that in most respects are merely tangentially related to performing actual work.
Before I start to discuss the 4 things that can re-energize our work, let me set some context about what has led up to these ideas, and how personally, I became bogged down an in need of fresh perspective.
Recently a dear friend of mine took his life. Consider this portion of my post not only a way to grab your attention, but also a deeply moving impetus for self-reflection, in my life and hopefully in yours. Unfortunately I was unable to connect with him for months leading up to the event. This made me start to think …
Was I there for him enough over the past year? How can I connect with those around me better? Is there a way to live more impactful on a daily basis? Was I really doing what was best for me, for everyone around me?
The answers I came up with in self-reflection were not terribly satisfactory.
As a result I started to intentionally change some behaviors. Below I describe the 4 behaviors I hoped would deliver a better self-reflection on the above questions. After implementing these behaviors I not only saw positive results in my personal life, but at work as well. I make up this is additional impact at work is because we are humans before we are employees. After seeing results I decided to write a business blog post about it.
Life is short, let’s live it (and work it) together.
4 ways to re-energize our work.
1) Health first - get exercise, sleep and play
According to psychology today, the stress hormone cortisol is public enemy #1. This hormone blocks creativity, productivity, interferes with learning and memory, and impacts health issues such as blood pressure, cholesterol and bone density. If you are anything like me then the buildup of stress and cortisol is unavoidable. When this happens our fight or flight response is triggered. To combat this grab a daily release of stress, and your body and mind will thank you. Some helpful ways to reduce stress are, exercise, eating healthy, meditating and interestingly enough playing games at work can help. My current client just published an article yesterday talking about how play can make us more productive at work. So the timing of this post is surely fitting, let’s have fun at work.
2) Have passion – be passionate about things outside of work
It’s been well documented and researched that having passion about work can improve productivity. Researches call the effect of creative triggers combined with passion the flow state where employees can experience 5 times greater productivity. But what about having passion outside of work? How can this help with our passion for work, and performance at that? If you subscribe to the laws of physics they apply here, an object in motion stays in motion, and resulting, a person in passion stays in passion. Research also shows that happiness with life outside of work has a direct correlation with passion and performance at work. So you could say I am connecting happiness and passion to make the above statements as well.
When hours are getting long, and things start to slog along, it may sound counter intuitive but – take a break. Exploring some other passions besides work at these times can actually enhance what we bring to the table.
3) Set expectations - intentionally manage expectations, both upward & downward
There is an entrepreneur James Altucher, whose blog posts I always find informative, poignant and enlightening. I do not know what gives him the credit to say such things, but I longer care about that, I like what he has to say. He wrote a book called “The Power of No.” In this book he proclaims we can take our life back just by saying NO, and I’m inclined to believe him. Instead of being such a “Yes man,” we should start to think about being a “This is why I can (Yes or No) man.” For me personally I know that when I start saying, yes, yes, yes, it’s because I am insecure, unsure, and concerned about looking good. Unfortunately, none of those previous attributes lend themselves to quality work. No can seem hard to say but according to Psychology Today when used appropriately it is a sign of strength, maturity and emotional intelligence.
With the right tact, poise and self-awareness we can all start to say no to each other and yield better returns in the long run.
4) Open up – be open, authentic, and even vulnerable, share yourself
The most overlooked of all the above (and one I will be writing about more). As humans we need to feel connected and valued in order to contribute to our fullest potential. The way to connection is through vulnerability and authenticity. Brene Brown has written prolifically on this topic, her book “The Gifts of Imperfection, How to Live and Love With Your Whole Heart” gives us a guide on how to be intentional in our daily lives. There isn’t a more perfect way to answer all the questions I had after my friends passing then this book. Unfortunately, there is some debate whether being authentic at work is a good or bad thing. I subscribe to the notion that being authentic at any point is never a bad thing. When I open up and share more of myself with others it takes courage, but if I do it for the right reasons it only adds value to an original premise of this post, emotional interaction.
It’s my intent this post is even somewhat a display of the above behaviors. If you have taken the time to read this far, I hope something has stuck out you can take with you.
Thanks to those who have helped me over the years. Look forward to helping each other (whomever that may be) over the next.
Life is short, let’s live it (and work it) together.
The Questions To Answer
How should I organize my website?
What content should I show my visitors?
Is there a logical flow for my site?
How can I optimize content to increase conversions?
These are difficult questions, many times approached subjectively and with “insider” intuition and, all too often, there is no clear ROI on the expected results.
Changing / creating content costs money, and frequently it’s not FTE salary dollars (not sunk costs), instead coming out of project budgets. That’s why it is important to have the following:
-An analytics driven content plan
-A logical business case for the ROI on content changes / creation
The goal is to delight your visitors and increase your conversions and this post will show you how to do just that. I will show you how to use Google Analytics to track content metrics, report out on them, and influence a hypothesis based, data driven strategy to optimize your site's content.
Let's use a real world example, doctored up with some “dummy data" to walk you through the process from start to finish.
Set up proper tracking
Question, hypothesis & test
Report the results
Deliver the "story"
Use results to influence future strategy
1) Set up proper tracking
There are a variety of was to set up tracking. Which one you use will depend on your site’s goal. Let’s walk through an example: (The numbers contained in this post are hypothetical)
Website Type: Life Insurance
Conversion Goal: Lead Generation (quotes)
Secondary Goal: Content Interaction / Site Research (What is it, how much do I need, what types are there?)
We will use Google Analytics Content Grouping, Goal Setting and Funnel Visualization to accomplish the analysis of our sites content performance.
1.a ) Content grouping
In Google Analytics go to Admin -> Content Grouping
Below you will see that I have set up content grouping using rule definitions:
*Note: Content grouping only records from time of inception (<-love that movie by Leo Decaprio btw). So if you change / add URL’s you will need to group them prior to launch for full recording of metrics.
1.b) Goal flow
In Google Analytics go to -> Goals and set up a custom goal.
The key is to turn the" Goal Funnel" on, so that you can use “Funnel Visualization”
Above I set up an intended path from the home page to a Research Resource -> “Calculator.”
I would expect to see people going through the goal funnel: Home page -> Resources -> Calculator
To check if this is happening we will use Funnel Visualization.
In Google Analytics go to Reporting -> Conversions -> Funnel Visualization -> Select the right goal
Above we can see not many users are flowing through the intended funnel: an area of exploration for Content Optimization.
1.c) Use custom reports
Data driven marketers use Custom Reports in Google Analytics. Custom Reports is one of GA's most flexible and powerful features. A clear understanding of all the dimensions, metrics and what filters are possible makes this feature extremely powerful.
For instance: If you want to see a session metric and a HIT level metric like Page Views on the same report, you must use Custom reporting. Remember though, these are Very different metrics and not all segmentation of the data will allow you to display correctly session and HIT together.
In Google Analytics go to -> Customization -> Overview -> New Report
I want to set up a report that shows my site's custom content grouping, with paid traffic excluded.
Side note: Since paid traffic is not sent to the top of the funnel (currently) if I include them in the report below, it will skew how the content is preforming. (i.e. there will be many people driven to the bottom of the funnel from paid campaigns)
Export your results to Excel for analysis and combination with other data.
1.d) Use regular expressions
Always use Regular Expressions (regex) when possible for filters, they are flexible and precise.
Always CHECK your regex prior to implementation.
Use www.regexr.com to check your regex … below is an example of the RegEx which I have used above to get all the Life Insurance related content off our site.
Note: You should have full understanding of all your URL's
2) Question, hypothesis & test
Let’s use all of the above to move through a logical business case:
Question: Are people following our intended content journey from resource pages through to quoting pages?
Test: Use custom content grouping to show the “Flow Through” content ratio from resource to quote , create a custom report (shown above in 1.c Custom Report Section) to test …
3) Report the results
Follow the steps in the 1.c Use Custom Reports Section of this post, export your data to Excel … see below
Develop some proxies for the data above, we will choose to use "Flow Through" content ratio as a proxy, with our ultimate determinate: "Resource to Quote Flow Through Ratio."
Using the 6% baseline (above), we will develop an ROI for increasing this Content Flow Through
4) Deliver the "story"
Now is where your business acumen, logical reasoning and storytelling abilities come into play.
We know that we have a Flow Through to quote of 6% for our Organic and Direct visitors … What else would we need to know to make a business case?
Quote to purchase ratio? … How much is a sale worth to us? … what about "Quote start" to "quote completion" ratio ?
Those sound good ! … Below I have made some assumptions with Dummy Data (THESE ARE NOT REAL NUMBERS FOR MY COMPANY)
So there you have it, above is my business case, laid out simply so that Directors can easily see the value we can provide by optimizing site content …
Now go get the changes taken care of and track the benefit!
5) Use results to influence future strategy
Record the before in after in Google Analytics to test your changes, work with the content team to determine what messaging, style, and overall content strategy was used … record all the analytics about the content performance you can, document it !
Next time you need to make any content changes: site, advertising, collateral etc. you can use this test case to influence best practices in those areas as well …
Have you just joined an agency? Are you an entrepreneur getting serious about your online marketing? Are you already (or soon to be) a marketing professional hungry for all things digital?
If you answered yes to any of these, then at some point you will need to become Google Adwords Certified. This post, will tell you how to do just that!
To keep things fresh, I’ll throw in some mountain bike videos. We all know we can’t stare at a computer screen forever!
First, I suggest following my other blog post and becoming Google Analytics certified. Although you need not understand all Google Analytics concepts for the Adwords exams, the benefits of doing so are:
To be Adwords certified, you need to pass 2 of 6 Google Awords exams. You must take, Google Adwords Fundamentals and then any other of the 5 Adwords exams.
The exams are all about 100 questions and 2 hours long. You cannot press pause on the exam, and you cannot go back and change answers.
The exams are open book; if you have time you can look up answers online.
DO NOT think that you will have time to look up every answer. You MUST study enough to know the core of the material, then you will be able to answer some questions very quickly, and have time to look up the answers for the hard questions.
This guide will give you direction and resources to pass the Adwords Fundamentals exam, and the Advanced Search exam.
Materials and time needed:
Let’s do this!
1st Exam Prep and Pass:
1. Google Adwords Fundamentals Exam – Total time ~ 10 hours
The fundamentals are important to review carefully, but Adwords has a very long standard study guide. I recommend going through the below condensed version first.
The condensed version is for users who are setting up an account, and applying Adwords usage to their small business.
I RECOMMEND MAKING A WEBSITE! .... Tracking, tagging and advertising it.
This site you are reading from, was created with the specific intent for practicing Google Analytics and Google Adwords content. Don't get me wrong, this took me awhile to do, but has been well worth the time and money for the site. It is not that hard, but it helps if you are familiar with HTML and CSS to implement some more advanced tracking concepts, bu a very basic site creator would do just fine.
#1 recommendation: make a site, and follow the condensed study guide version above.
Next, download and print out this copy of the study guide, it is much easier to follow then the entire study guide online, you can notate on it this way.
Now, you need to spend a good hour or two reviewing a past exam. Download the PDF below (it is crudely put together, but will do the trick) of a past exam and study the questions hard, the same concepts will be on the most recent exam
Finally after you have gone through the above, now go to the long study guide below. Study sections in teh guide that you didn’t understand on the practice test
Now ... Take a break and practice some wheelie skills on the mountain bike!
Time to Take Exam #1
During the exam keep the full study guide url and your PDF study guide open. I recommend having 2 screens up, or side by side on a large monitor. If you have made it this far, many parts on the exam will come easily, leaving you time to critically think about, and look up some of the harder questions.
You must log into Google partners to take the exam.
The exam has a 2 hour timer, likely you will finish in around an hour if you have really studied.
The most important concepts are:
That’s it you’re done! I passed with an 85%. Certainly some room for improvement, but still passing!
It took you all day, but now you’re done. On to the next tomorrow…
2nd Exam and Prep and Pass:
2. Google Advanced Search - Total Time - 8 hours
The advanced search exam is much more difficult than the fundamentals, and actually starts to test your strategy and application of principles. Before we even jump into the study guide, here are the absolutely critical concepts (or features) to know for the Advanced Search Exam:
No here we go with the study plan for Advanced Search ....
First download the PDF study guide and review:
Next start to review the study guides on the Google partners site:
There is so much information there; I suggest reviewing the sections you are not familiar with. If you have studied the guide this far, and are proficient in Google Analytics then you may want to only review the following categories:
Next take this amazing practice test, complete with explanations!
Review the practice test thoroughly, print out questions you got wrong, or PDF them and keep them handy during the exam.
Now take the exam … Go to the Google partners page, Make sure you have a browser with the study section and a PDF training manual to look up answers you do not know for sure.
Boom .... now you are done .... print out your certificate, show your friends, call your mom and plaster that right next to your Google Analytics Certification in your cubicle!
Couple things to remember:
Do some mountain biking now, it helps with your mental state to focus attention on hand eye coordination activities, uses a different part of your brain than what you enlisted the past 2 days, I'm pretty sure that's science, but you may have to read some other type of blog to verify that!
Below is my attempt at creating an old Super 8 or 16 mil type video, with that "grainy" look .... I think I'll stick to marketing!
Can’t get the thought of digital marketing out of your mind? … Do you look around the web and all you can think of is opportunity? … Right now, is your top life priority studying for and passing the Google Analytics IQ exam?
If you are still reading … guess what … this post is for you.
This post will take you through the process of studying for and ultimately passing the Google Analytics Individual Qualification (IQ).
Studying for the IQ certification can seem like a daunting task. When you first look online there are many study resources (lots of which are out of date) some people say the exam is very difficult, others say its not that hard. Whatever the case, the exam is fairly difficult, long and full of specific information. But, if you have a weekend to completely dedicate to studying and taking the exam, here is how you do it …
First things first…
Why take the test
The Google Analytics Individual Qualification is a top of the line industry recognized certification that will bring you new job opportunities, provide a catalyst for understanding digital marketing and make you feel like you have really accomplished something. Also, your friends will think your cool and you will even lose weight (no that will only happen if you are nice, funny and work out, just seeing if you are still awake)
About the test
90 minutes, 70 questions. To pass you must score a 80% (if you can't do this in your head, you may want to reconsider this investment) The test is free. You cannot pause the test. The timer will run straight through even if your machine shuts down.
The screen displays a clock that counts down from 1hr 30min when you begin.
It can be helpful to create a table to indicate what question you should be on in relation to the timer (see right)
To sign up for the test visit http://google.com/partners
You will need to sign up for a Google partner account sign up for Google Partners
They offer a test study guide study guide but to be honest I did not use, except once for reference during the exam. The resources in this post are sufficient for learning all of the material
My preparation took two days, Sat and Sun. You will need to plan on anywhere from 16 – 20 hours of total preparation to follow this guide (depending on your level of familiarity with the material)
· 3 monitors (or 3 computers, or some combination of 3 to screens for exam taking)
· Note pad
· Powerade and Hamburger Helper for fuel (no one has time to cook)
· A mountain bike and helmet, helmet important to protect that brain of your (needed for adrenaline breaks ... see below)
· Pencil / Pen
· Internet access
Saturday time commitment: 10 hrs (studying and note taking)
Sunday time commitment: 8 hrs (6 hours of studying, and 2 hours to take the exam)
Make sure that you wake up early, and get plenty of sleep too!
Lets get down to it
1st step is to take Digital Analytics Fundamentals DO NOT skimp on this step. I took nearly the whole 10 hours the first day to go through this course, I did not leave a stone un-turned. I took all of the practice tests, and print screened my answers. I stopped the videos and notated all the way through. This course alone, if you understand it completely, can almost get you through passing the test. Many of the answers on the test we very similar to the practice questions. Since I print screened and PDF’s all my answers, I was able to quickly reference them during the exam if needed.
Make sure that you take a break in the middle of the day to mountain bike, or do some other extreme sport! It helps with the retention of the material. When you are faced with danger, it helps solidify the concepts in your mind. There has to be some science about this.
2nd Step is to take Google Analytics Platform Principles. Treat this exactly like the first section. Take notes, PDF all the practice problems and the final assessments. Really understand all the material. This should take about 3 hours.
Once you are done with this, it’s time to hit some more jumps on your mountain bike. Just visualize your movements, turn off your brain and go for it. Remember hesitation will get you hurt!
Now you are ready for your final 3 hrs of prep before the exam. First go here ....
Take the practice problems. They are ridiculously hard and none of them will be on the exam, but if you approach it as a knowledge building experience you will not be disappointed. Make sure that you save the test in PDF so you can print out / reference later.
Next you will want to review this blog
This is a huge, complicated post! Only read the sections you know nothing about. If you studied hard on the training videos you will know many concepts already. Take notes on the sections you don’t know about.
Now download this summary sheet, review it thoroughly and take notes
Once you have done that, take 25 practice problems from this http://www.googleanalyticstest.com/ They are ridiculously hard and I only got about 50% of them right. Just take it in and try and remember what they are saying.
Taking the test
Before the test, I printed out all of the PDF’s I had made, both online modules from Google all of the practice problems, and the final assessments. I printed out the cheat sheet and had my notes. I went to my office and brought my home laptop so I had 3 screens up. On the two monitors I had the test site on one, and then the resource tabs on the other. I had the following resources open.
IP address range tool
Google Analytics Help Page
Google Analytics Page
Some page I don't remember .. you get the point ... have resources ready (see below)
Above you can see my work station, the space for notes really helped.
On my 2nd laptop I brought up all my note PDF’s that I could search those doc’s if necessary. Last but not least I laid the blastam cheat sheet out in front of me.
When I started the test, I was cooking through the answers. All of them were right on the top of my mind. Literally I got through nearly half the test in less than 30 minutes, with hardly referencing any notes.
Now that I realized I had lots of time left, I wanted to be very diligent. If I didn’t know an answer, I would start to look it up thoroughly. This is when I realized something ..... could probably take this exam without even studying and by using cheats on the internet! I’m not going to provide sites, but know this is possible. If all you want to do is pass the exam and not learn anything, well then you would have even read this far, so it doesn't matter.
Since I had time, to finish up the test I verified ever single answer was correct prior to submitting. When done I ended up with a 95% on the exam. Pheeeew that’s over now … Time to print out your certificate and stick it next to your cubicle!
Learning the material made the test so much easier, I was able to answer so many questions so quickly, it gave me lots of time to research hard questions
Almost every time an answer had the choice, all of the above, that was the correct choice
There was absolutely to regular expression questions, and only one URL tagging question
Build a web site, define your site objectives, identify some strategies and tactics to meet your objectives, determine KPI’s to measure, sign up for GA, tag your site appropriately, segment your reporting and analysis and continually improve your site based on hypothesis data driven recommendations.
Also get ad words certified and start to learn more about paid search!
Please find my google analytics certificate here
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