Google Analytics Dashboard Widget Geomap Not Working

Caution Symbol

It appears that the Geomap widgets in Google Analytics Dashboards might have a browser bug. I tried to use the widget on 2 laptops (1 windows, 1 mac) and 4 different browsers.

What happens is when you choose the geomap widget it hangs on “loading…” and this prevents you from choosing a metric.  I did some research on this and found a Google Group discussion here , but there does not seem to be an answer yet.

I hope that Google fixes this soon, or at least informs users what the issue is. All other widgets work, it is only associated to the Geomap widget.

My Take on Social Networking for Business

Social Networking

We all love Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and even LinkedIn, but how does your company interact with these social sites? It’s my opinion that most companies waste time and huge amounts of energy trying to have a social identity. Most of the time people will say things like “we need to be more social” or “we have no social presence” and start creating these company pages that management expects will drive revenue and increase lead generation.

The reality for most companies is that they simply do not realize marketing on a social network is not the same as more traditional marketing channels and the expectations as to what Google+ and the like can really do for a company is really not the same. What I mean by that is if you have a twitter account for your company, what is the primary objective, is it to get a sale, a lead, brand awareness?

This really depends on whom you ask within your own company. From a top down approach an executive is thinking about one thing most of the time, profit and loss, so revenue and the bottom line is what they think it should be most of the time.  Middle management lives in between the weeds and clouds so they are constantly trying to find out how to increase revenue, but also understand that it’s likely going to be an uphill challenge to pull it off.  Non management usually does not have a horse in the game with revenue and goals, as such there is a stronger chance they might see the upside being all about followers and branding which I believe is the actual best approach and expectation for social marketing.

All 3 of these types of people have great intentions, but very different objectives,. This is one reason why most companies struggle with social networking. Misaligned objectives from day one can sabotage a social marketing initiative before it goes live.

There is also the audience factor to consider. These are social network’s and I know when I am on Facebook I am not about business at all. That’s my preference, but I suppose that if I am 1 out of a billion, there are millions that feel the same way. With that said, the behavior of a social interaction is not very conducive for a business unless it’s a staple of a brand or some kind of viral element that gets you known.  There is nothing wrong with being a staple, but most companies are not anywhere near that stage in business and to be blunt, is it really a good business practice to expect a grand slam on a social network when these types of sites are still in their infancy stages? The answer to that one is obvious…  You should be thinking about a steady approach over a longer period of time.  Base hits win games…

These are hard truths that most companies deal with on a daily basis, but there are some that get it right and do not fit the criteria of being a huge staple or having some kind of viral social action.  I am not 100% sure what the category is officially called, but I give it the name of a “grass roots movement”.  I do not have many observed examples of companies having this luxury, in fact only one or two.  I think that just like many other companies this one fell in to the same thought process that executive management initially wanted to increase their bottom line, but what made them different is the expectations shifted to “just letting your guard down” as a company (as much as could be let down anyway) and just integrate social activities with multiple marketing streams. Meaning, forget about any objectives or goals for a while and communicate with people and interact with them for no other reason than that. This develops trust with people and if you have trust, you can eventually reap the benefits later down the road. Let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment, when we make a purchase for a car do we want to know the entire story about what we are buying, or do we want someone to only give us the pitch?

In closing, I think that social networks do have a place for business use, but I think that most companies simply think that cranking out a social page somewhere with some coupons will make millions. I think that you can make millions from social networking, but only as an assisted conversion. It is certainly not the driver, but possibly a contributor to the bottom line.

Cvent – Email Communication is Clunky at Best

cvent email review

I have been using marketing automation tools for years now and while cvent is an event management tool more than anything else, I have to say that the actual ease of use for email campaigns about these events are somewhat clunky and not really the best tool for email communications. 

Granted, they have a series of built-in emails, but I am working with custom HTML and it’s not the best interface for that.

That’s really not so much the issue with Cvent as list building is. I am working with a 100k plus list size and I actually have to break that in groups of 20k each and clone many emails so I can get the email out to everyone on the list.

Now its also important to understand that Cvent is STILL a good tool for event management, but if you are dealing with mass emails like I am, you will be somewhat let down because of the amount of time it takes to get all of the emails out the door. Compared to Marketo or Eloqua, it is much more cumbersome.

Hey Google it’s 2014 Already!

Google placesGoogle places takes FOREVER to update. Seriously, there should be a simple easy and secure way to validate and verify a company. Sending post cards is dated and old. The internet is known for speed and google is the poster child for ease of use and, wait for it….SPEED. But having simple changes to a verified business listing taking 1 week to get a postcard with a pin and then a “several week review” once the pin is submitted is , well dumb.

Google Algorithm Timeline

I had to share this: http://www.tamar.com/thinking/a-digitalhistory-series-the-story-of-google/

Google Algorythm Timeline

 

Where do you fit in the timeline? I got involved right around Florida. The Allegra update was named on Webmaster World by some guy that was posting daily and just pushing that name, he also was pushing an update name of “Polenta Bacon”. Good Times.

3 Reasons to get Tableau now

Tableau

I have been somewhat of a data junkie for years now. In fact, I would say that has helped shape my career in ways that gave me an unfair advantage to others trying do analysis for measuring business statistics.

So when ever I hear about something that makes my job easier and more efficient, I feel the necessity to share this information so others can hopefully get something from it and apply it to their daily routine and become more effective at what they love to do.

Ok, so on to the 3 reasons to start using Tableau now…


1)   Ease of Use

  1. Hands down, this is a simple tool to use for slicing the data a million ways under the sun. You can use a flat file or connect to a data source. No matter what your choice is you can not go wrong, Once the data is imported in Tableau, it is a true drag and drop interface. This means that you can literally import an infinite amount of fields with your data set and simply drag what you want in to the worksheet and voila, it’s done.

2)   Data is Lightning Fast

  1. How many times have you started to connect to a data source, or import files using a business analytics tool only to have to wait forever to be able to start using it? Or when it is imported, how long does it take to create, sort and compile meaningful data? With Tableau the imports are extremely fast and working with that data set no matter what the size is hands down the fastest I have ever worked with. I could import huge data chunks and there is no impact on performance.  To provide an example of what I mean would be similar to other BI Analytics tools being the equivalent of  a dial up modem and Tableau is like a screaming cable internet connection. If time is something you need to worry about (everyone should be worrying about time for reporting) Tableau will not fail.


3)   Visual Representation of Data is Unparalleled

  1. If you are like me, you know that most C-Level and Executives do not have time to sift over data and more often than not your every day pie charts are not really displaying your efforts in a way that is going to “wow” your audience. This is where Tableau shines and stand apart from others. In a very simple, effective way, you can use multiple built-in chart’s that span from line, bar, and pie charts, but there is more to it than that. Provided you have the right data, you can overlay your data on maps, scatter, bubbles, and so much more. For me, I live in a world of national and international reach. So having the ability to measure leads, opportunities, and sales by territory on a geographic map makes my data have that visual representation that most executive want to see. Remember, Executives are very busy and they like data, but the display of that data can almost never be provided to them in a granular way that takes time for them to digest.

    Tableau

    Borrowed from Freakalytics LLC

I have used Tableau in the past, but I am still learning a lot about what it can do for me and I am having fun while doing it.  Yes, I know,  who has fun building reports and crunching huge data sets?

 

FunnelSource – SFDC Opportunity Pipeline Management Tool

funnelsource
I have recently been working on some SalesForce reporting and was introduced to funnelsource. Funnelsource is a basically a pipeline management tool that has some reporting features. All of the reporting is really dependent on 2 things. Close date and the amount field.

Don’t fret, you can drill down pretty deep on opportunities and funnelsource does allow you to create custom views. These custom views are basically pulling in opportunity fields, so if there was something you really wanted to see, it is there.

Learning funnelsource is pretty straight forward and easy to understand what is going on in your organizations pipeline. It is not nearly as robust as custom reports, but from a pipeline management perspective, it is VERY easy to use.

I am not sure if what I was looking at was 100% OOB or not based on the customization in SFDC that I am dealing with, but there are things that any person involved in sales would want to look at:

  • Won Opportunities – This can be a collective team total, or it can be drilled down on a per sales rep basis.
  • Average Sales Price – Very handy if you are looking for the average deal size
  • Average Sales Cycle – This is pulling in the overall average amount of days it takes from opportunity creation to closed won
  • Created opportunities – Pretty descriptive title, but includes all opportunities created
  • Open opportunities  -This is any opportunity that is not closed won/lost
  • Lost opportunities – Closed lost…
  • Close Date Alert – This is a GREAT feature because it allows you to see all open opportunities that are beyond the close date. If used and applied to sales teams the right way you can really refine the pipeline to be more accurate and also allow for better forecasting data
  • Amount alert – This is another handy feature as you can see how many opportunities have a zero dollar amount.

All of the above can be modified by predefined date ranges, but you also have the option for custom date ranges. Those are just eight features that you have, but there are other features that you can take advantage of too.

  • See opportunities that have been pushed out further than the original close date, or even if they were tightened up to close sooner than expected.
  •  Know when stages have “advanced” or “retreated”. This too can be used to more accurately refine the opportunity pipeline as you can use this for bringing a little more consistency to your team with regards to appropriate stage management
  • Amount changes are also tracked and drilled down on. This feature is incredible because if you have moving targets with regards to opportunities, you will love this. Basically you can see how much any opportunity amount has changed and by how much on a per opportunity basis. I have not found a total amount of changes, but a real world example of how this insight can affect pipeline health would be when someone creates an opportunity for 100.00 and next week adds 1000.00; you can see they made that change, but you will also see the amount of that change was for 900.00. This can easily explain ebb and flow with regards to pipeline amounts fluctuating at any given time.

Another excellent feature of funnelsource is that you can make custom edits to the quota for each person that is a part of the report. Obviously this allows you to know the gap they have with regards to Won opportunity + Remaining Pipeline. The pace feature is not bad either, it’s a simple formula paces out your sales or open opportunities based on any date range you select.

In closing, if you are looking for a good and fairly easy way to know what your sales team is doing, and have the ability to take SFDC opportunity data and apply it to back end pipeline management, funnelsource seems to be a very good option regardless of your reporting skills.

UPDATE: Be sure to read my other article about Salesforce funnels and how they can be problematic if you are not careful.

 

Understanding Formulas and Validating Data

Data Validation
This is a quick note, but I am a numbers geek and as such nothing can be more dangerous than populating hundreds upon hundreds of cells with the wrong formula. The only thing more dangerous than this is not validating the data before sending it out to decision makers.  It can really create major issues if one does not take the time to validate their own work because if there are errors in the reports and everyone looking at it takes that data for face value, well…. It’s not good.

Anytime I work on a report, I have a rule of thumb, triple check the work and validate the fx in excel. Validation is a simple thing, its as simple as asking a co-worker or doing a Google search.

If there was any advice that I could offer to people that have to work with data and reporting it would be to make sure you know how to look at the numbers, use the correct formulas, and validate your work.

Google Display Ads Tip – Don’t Expect The Big Payoff

branding

This is one of my favorite things to beat up because in my opinion running display ads is a huge waste of money if you are expecting to make money from the investment in an immediate way, and yes its also a waste of money if you think it will generate quality leads that might eventually lead to a sale.

Back in my earlier days of online marketing when I had a new fresh outlook on all of the possibilities that the internet could offer, I too thought that Display ads would be the most awesome thing in the world, especially because Google had a channel for me to spend money…

Well many years later I am haunted by a ghost of the past who used to tell me point blank “Display ads are a waste of money and nobody clicks on them and they don’t increase the bottom line!” This is now a mantra of mine whenever someone tries to convince me to spend money on these ads because the expectation I have is completely different than the one the person (or people) requesting it in the first place.

What They Expect Out of a Display Campaign

  • Instant Sales
  • A bunch of quality leads
  • Convertible traffic
  • A solution we have not thought of

What I Expect Out of a Display Campaign

  • Branding

Now that we know who expects what, think of how difficult it must be to convince people that their very well though out creative is not going to be anything more than a branding tool.  There is nothing wrong with using display ads for branding; in fact, I would say that if that is the primary call to action, go for it. However if you think that you are going to see money rolling in the door or a slew of leads that a sales team can work, you are sadly mistaken.

There is always room in a budget for display ads regardless of what I am saying because there is some value that is underlying and subtle and that is you have found a cheap way to brand your company. The fact is that if you only expect to use display ads as a branding tool you can sort of justify the spend, especially if you are not able to afford print ads in Magazines. Yes, in my opinion they are not any different than a print ad IF you are targeting the right web sites. Not only are they similar to print ads; they are literally thousand’s of dollars cheaper.

Print ads tend to be tens of thousands of dollars in magazines and require a commitment (unless your picking up remnants). Not only is this expensive, but the tracking can be a nightmare because you need to create things like vanity URLS and phone numbers, not to mention that there need to be a cohesive effort by the design team to create the print ad, landing pages and so on. All of that for so little in the way of tracking might make a case or display ads to supplement print ads, but there is never any time that I can think of when a display campaign in Google, Yahoo! Bing, or any other 3rd party content network ever resulted in anything more than a branding tool. As long as you set the expectation to all parties involved, no matter what they think you will be fine. If you do not set the expectation and allow people to think that it is possible to be something more than branding, you are in for a rough ride.

How Important is a Sender Score Certification?

return path

 

 

Below is the description of what Sender Score Provides email marketers:

What is Sender Score?

Like a credit score, a Sender Score is an indication of the trustworthiness of an email source. Return Path’s Sender Score is compiled through our trusted cooperative reputation network and provides a simplified view into data that is aggregated from 60 million mailboxes at a variety of ISPs, spam filtering, and security companies to determine your reputation. This is the same type of data that mailbox providers use to determine whether to accept or reject email.”

This sounds like a very important service for email marketers to subscribe too, after all this segment of the revenue stream is dependent on having a good reputation to all of the email providers online. Without a good rep, email IP addresses can often be blacklisted if your not careful.

Sender Score is a good way to gauge the health of your email server, but the fact is, they try and get people to sign up for this certification program that is, well stupid and costs thousands of dollars.

Having to pay thousands for a certification on an email service that allows whitelisting to Yahoo, GMAIL, etc is not the problem I have, it is the lack of understanding how companies sometimes use 3rd party services for things like shopping carts and have no control over the carts TOS. As such this results in to paying $600.00 for a non-refundable application fee in the hopes you get approval. Thankfully, we got the money back on the application.

To me, it is a bad business practice to take a company that has multiple clean email servers on multiple clean IP addresses and has been working fine since the 90’s to tell this company they can’t be approved because they use a 3rd party vendor for cart services and this cart vendor will not change their TOS on their (3rd part vendor cart TOS).

How can Sender Score (aka Return Path) think it is acceptable to ask someone who is willing to pay 3k annually to force another company to add a line of text to their TOS? Sounds silly, doesn’t it? Well it is and THANKFULLY they saved me thousands in a certification I never needed in the first place.  This server that I am using was having initial issues because the IP address went Dormant because we were sending 100% of our emails through another service called Eloqua and they use their own IP address. As such, this IP went through a warm up phase and the score was in the 70 to 80 range and I was concerned that we had deliverability issues. As time went by (a few weeks) the sender score retained its original Sender Score ranges (90 – 99). This means that I never needed to get the Sender Score certification.

That does not mean nobody should ever look at the health of their email servers because there are many tools out there that can help identify issues with IP addresses and email content.

Tools for Email Rep Management

End result, Sender Score is a great tool to look up an IP address, but seriously you DO NOT NEED TO WASTE MONEY on a certification. Just use the tools listed above and you will be all set.

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