Oct, 8th, 2015

The missing piece to your digital strategy is your customer

Published by under Digital Strategy,Only AU

Focus on your customer

The customer experience component of any brand simply cannot be ignored. Gone were the days wherein online marketing was relatively straightforward where you simply had a good enough website and a basic email marketing strategy in place to survive in the marketplace. However, the proliferation of devices and online platforms have radically changed the way customers interact with your brand.

Today’s digitally empowered customers go through multiple touchpoints and complex paths to purchase. As the customers’ journey becomes increasingly complex, managing customer experiences across multiple channels and devices is a big challenge for most brands. While most brands recognise the need for customer-centricity – not all understand what that actually means.

What does it mean to become customer focused?

A brand that focuses on the customer builds a business model around a deep understanding of its customers, what they value and the contribution each makes to growing the bottom line. This entails:

  • Fostering a culture that places the customer at the heart of the decision-making process – you need to ground your brand’s value proposition firmly on your customers.
  • Maintaining an active dialogue with customers and responding to feedback – following the customer journey from pre-engagement to post-purchase, constantly listening to, and learning how, different customers interact with your brand can unlock new ways to interact with customers.
  • Developing strategies and processes that recognise the needs of different customer segments – integrating multiple data sources and continuously refining customer segmentation approaches can identify and serve the customer segments that matter to you.
  • Providing a positive and seamless customer experience at every touch point across the customer’s journey – engaging customers across multiple channels, devices and platforms, gaining deep insights, and seamlessly acting on them can create differentiated customer experiences that build your brand, gain market share and competitive advantage.

The next question is: “How can you leverage your digital platforms to better engage with your customers – better and faster than your competitors?”


Harnessing the power of digital

Data analytics has become integral in designing a seamless end-to-end customer experience. It is important for you to understand what drives customer satisfaction for every customer segment. What attributes of their experience (price, accessibility, availability, response times, etc.) will have the most impact on providing a positive experience. Similarly, you need to know what is not driving value, to make the needed changes and improvements and effectively reduce cost.

For true omni-channel success, brands need a 360-degree view of the customers’ interactions across all channels, devices and platforms to monitor channel preference, customer behaviour and journeys from the customers’ point of view. Much of the analysis can now occur in real time, giving you actionable insights at the right moment.

Below is a diagram from Smart Insights that shows six steps that put the customer at the heart of every stage of your digital strategy. The article starts by emphasising the importance of understanding who your target customers are, how they interact with your brand and what they want from you. It then explains the steps you need to ultimately change how you do business.

Customer-centric marketing

Most customers want access to a mix of online and personal interaction throughout the customer journey. Digital is a critical driving force to deliver the experience customers want. As pointed out in the diagram, an effective integration of channels across marketing, sales and service activities is important in providing a positive, brand-building customer experience at every touch point in the customer relationship journey. As digital channels continue to grow in importance, you need to define a strategy for integrating these touch points as part of your brand’s overall business model.


Any strategy, digital or not, is driven by your customers’ needs. Smart business decisions are made by looking through the customer experience lens. Since digital experiences are becoming the primary type of experience for most customers, it is imperative to drive investment in getting the needed data, insights and technologies to connect brands and customers more intimately.

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Oct, 2nd, 2015

How Google Analytics can boost your marketing efforts [infographic]

Published by under Google Analytics,Only AU

Google Analytics is one of the widely used and best free analytics tool for tracking your website’s performance.

There are 29,635,742 live websites using Google Analytics. Chances are you own one of those sites.

With a comprehensive set of features and functionalities, Google Analytics can provide you with the fresh data and insights you need to optimise your marketing efforts. But are you using this powerful tool correctly?

80% of retailers are using Google Analytics incorrectly.

Unfortunately, most marketers don’t use Google Analytics to its full potential. Looking at traffic stats, sources and pageviews doesn’t give you the whole picture of what you need to improve your website’s overall performance, generate good content, fine tune your SEO structure, and convert your visitors into paying customers.

The primary result of spending time looking at dashboards and statistics is an actionable change to improve your overall marketing strategy. Below is a good infographic from Quick Sprout that walks you through how to take the data from Google Analytics and make adjustments to your site to get more traffic and conversions.

How to improve your marketing with Google Analytics data


By using Google Analytics correctly, you can dig deeper into your marketing data and gain valuable insights you can use to meet your business goals, understand your customers’ behaviour on your site and provide a seamless end-to-end online experience on your site.

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Sep, 28th, 2015

16 tips to increase your email open rates with smart subject lines

How to write smart subject lines

Even though the subject line is a small part of an email, it is the first impression you have on your recipients. If the email subject line doesn’t catch their attention, you won’t go any further.

Subject line writing has truly evolved over the years. Today, people need quick and easily digestible content. With the overwhelming amount of content online trying to get people’s attention, a good subject line can make or break your email content.

Some interesting numbers for you from Neil Patel:

  • 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy
  • But only 2 out of 10 will read the rest
  • A writer should spend half the entire time it takes to write a piece of persuasive content on the headline

We all know that writing email subject lines is not an exact science. There are so many factors that can affect your open rates. Below are 16 tips on crafting a click-worthy email subject line that will increase the number of people who will actually read your email.

Let’s begin!

Tip #1: KISS – Keep it Short and Straightforward

Most people quickly scan subject lines to decide if they’ll open or ignore the email. Keep your subject line to 50 characters or fewer. Some fun facts:

  • People scan headlines – take in only the first and last three words
  • Less to read so higher chance of retaining attention

I would go on and recommend to write concise and no-nonsense email subject lines. If you’re email has a specific purpose then your subject lines should be specific as well. Be careful not to go overboard with promotional and cheesy phrases.

Tip #2: Give it a sense of urgency

Using deadlines like “5 Hours Only” or “24-Hour Giveaway” will encourage your reader to act now, instead of putting it off until later when there’s a chance of them forgetting it. Email subject lines that use this scarcity appeal compel people to act or make a decision because of that inherent fear of missing out. This is a particular human behaviour most evident back in the days where people were always on survival mode. Hang on, on second thought, that’s also evident in today’s times.

A word of caution in using this scarcity appeal, make sure what you’re offering in your email is something that your recipients care about, otherwise, the time and availability limitation would be irrelevant to them.

Tip#3: Appeal to your audience’s interests

Tailor the subject lines to connect on a more personal level with your target audience. This is pretty much one of the guiding principles of online marketing. By knowing your audience, you can cater to their specific needs and tickle their fancies with the right style and tone in your subject lines.

For example, let’s say you have two primary segments in your email list – Marketing Managers and Business Owners. Each segment has different goals, interests and challenges. When you send out emails to them, make sure you use different subject lines that best appeal to their interests or address their challenges.

Marketing Managers are interested more in how-to guides and specific tactics, while Business Owners are interested more in the end result – the ROI. Here are two different subject lines that show this concept:

Marketing Manager: “Five ways to improve email open rates by writing better subject lines”

Business Owner: “Improve email marketing ROI by understanding how subject lines affect email engagement”

Tip#4: Use personalisation

It’s said that a person’s favourite word is their own name. By adding the recipient’s name, you make the person feel connected to your business. It’s a good way to start building the relationship. Say something like this: “Hi David, don’t miss out on our latest analytics update…”

Additional tip, if you’re not comfortable using names, use “you” or “your”. This gives them a feeling of being addressed directly.

Tip #5: Use localisation

You don’t have to end with incorporating the recipient’s name into the subject line. You can try personalising a message with location-specific offers and language. MailChimp research suggests including a city name is even better.

If you’re an eCommerce business, sending emails that promote discounts and deals based on the recipient’s local area or based on past purchases would be a great way to attract more opens. Generally, it’s always good practice to know and understand your target audience to be able to use the right language and offers that best resonates with them.

Tip #6: Don’t make false promises

You don’t want people clicking on ‘Unsubcribe’, right? Best way to do this is to deliver on your promise in your subject line.

For example, you created an email workflow for people who download files from your website. If your email subject line says, ‘”Your download is ready”, better make sure there is a clickable link inside where they can access what they downloaded from your website. Sounds pretty standard right? But there are still some who make false promises just to get their emails opened. Tsk… tsk.

Additional tip, say something along the lines of, “Access your case study now”, instead of a generic “Thank you”. This goes back to being concise (Tip#1); make it clear that something is inside the email waiting to be accessed.

Tip #7: Consider how your recipients will benefit from your email

Make it clear how your email will benefit your recipient. Given that you’ve done your homework of understanding your target audience – interests, goals and challenges, write a subject line that best communicates the value of your email to them. Below is an email I received from Quick Sprout that illustrates my point.

Sample of Quick Sprout's email subject line

 Tip #8: Use questions

Asking a question in your email subject line can also draw your recipients in. These types of subject lines arouse a sense of curiosity to know more about the subject and see whether it applies to them. By asking questions, you engage with your recipients in an instant dialogue and make them more likely to open your email.

Possible questions:

  • Are your landing pages converting?
  • Is your website providing the best user experience?

Tip #9: Use numbers and lists

People just love numbered lists. Similar to using questions, these types of subject lines make your emails stand out and create curiosity. Email subject lines with numbered lists make your recipients feel that the content of your email is a quick and easy read.

Tip#10: A/B testing

Heard this a million times? Improving email subject lines is a process of testing and optimising. I can’t emphasise this enough. A/B test everything, especially your email subject lines.

Tip #11: Avoid spam words

Avoid words like: Free, Bonus, Discount, % OFF, because they trigger spam filters. These words are overused and commonly associated with sales pitches. Though some may not trigger a spam filter, many recipients will choose to ignore them.

Tip #12: Don’t overuse capitalisation.

More caps does not equal more email opens. Best to capitalise your letters following grammar rules.

Tip #13: Use free subject line testing tools

Most email marketing systems have their own built-in tool for testing subject lines. SubjectLine.com is helpful when it comes to testing your subject lines. It’s a free subject line rating tool. Simply type in your subject line and click submit. You’ll get a rating for your email subject lines and a breakdown of the results. Below is an example of a subject line I tested.

Sample of Subject Line scoring email subject lines

Tip #14: Emoji or not to emoji?

Using symbols or emoji in subject lines isn’t a new idea. However, now that many of us have emoji-friendly mobile devices and regularly read our email on them, it’s become an increasingly popular tactic for attracting attention in crowded inboxes.

Word of caution though, if a character isn’t supported in the email provider of the client, the recipient will see a ☐ (empty box) character instead of the actual emoji or symbol.

Try using emojis and symbols in your next email subject line and test! Sometimes images are better than words in grabbing people’s attention.

Tip #15: Add preview texts

Preview texts provide your recipients a glimpse of your email content. Don’t underestimate the preview texts’ power to improve your open rates. Treat them the same way you treat your subject line. Below is an example preview text from one of our newsletters here at FIRST.

example preview text from one of our newsletters

Tip #16: Use negative words

In his Infographic, Patel notes that negatives tap into our insecurities. The words “No”, “Without” and “Stop” lead to more shares.


As I mentioned in the beginning of the post, there are several factors that can affect your open rates. Other factors could be:

  • Email list segmentation – have you properly qualified and segmented your email contacts database?
  • Sending frequency – how often are you sending emails? Make sure you’re not being too annoying.
  • Sending time and day – are you sending your emails on the best time and day of the week? That would depend on your target audience’s time zone, industry and background. Check this post on the best time to send email newsletters to get an idea.
  • Purpose for sending – do you have a clear grasp of why you are sending out emails? In the case of a newsletter, does you business even need one? Find out the why before the how.

As more and more content is created everyday, each piece trying to grab your audience’s attention, combat this noise by making your subject lines brief, concise and interesting to your audience. You might not come up with the perfect subject line straight away. It will take ongoing A/B testing to find out what works best for your unique audience. As you get a better understanding of what works, you can optimise your subject lines for better performance.


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Sep, 21st, 2015

Google Partners Masterclass 2015 insights part 7: Uncovering (not provided) keyword data in Google Analytics

Uncovering not provided keyword data in Google Analytics

Previously, we took a closer look at Google AdWords’ latest enhancement to Dynamic Search Ads (DSA). I also shared with you some best practices and tips on how to make the most out of this new enhancement. For the seventh and last post of the Google Partners Masterclass 2015 series, we’ll dive into cracking the (not provided) keyword data in Google Analytics (GA) so you can enable better SEO performance reporting and find out what’s working and what to improve on.

Not provided final

What is (not provided) in GA?

In October 2011, Google changed the way it delivered keyword data to website owners in its move to make search more secure for users.

What does this mean? This means goodbye keyword data.

All searches made by users in Google, are encrypted and referral data relating to the searches are hidden. This includes information such as the keywords used in the searches. Whether you are logged in to your Google account or not, browsing incognito mode, your searches in Google will be conducted over SSL encrypted search and you’ll be redirected to the https:// version of their chosen Google domain. No keyword data will be passed to website owners from encrypted Google searches.

What does this mean for my site? Sadly, this means a whole lot of things.

You won’t be able to track site visitors or users by their keyword searches. It will be harder to segment them by the keywords they use within your Google Analytics (GA). Additionally, this missing information makes it difficult to have a complete and clear picture of the ROI of certain keywords in organic search and to properly determine SEO budget allocation.

Note that only organic search is affected and the ‘not provided’ data is not applicable for paid search results. Google AdWords users will still have access to the keywords.

I see some eyebrows raising there…

Lots of speculation around this, but for now, let’s focus on how you can work around it.

What now

David shared some steps on how to get back your (not provided) keyword data in Google Analytics. In the next section, we’ll go through the steps with additional insights and inputs from our in-house Senior Consultant, Rattandeep Singh.

How to uncover (not provided) keyword data in Google Analytics? 

Step 1: 

Mine your Google Analytics data for user’s behaviour on your website with the Landing Pages Reports.

Go to Reporting > Behaviour > Site Content to find Landing pages report and apply the Segment for Google Organic Traffic (see no.4 in image on how to create custom segment). Select the right metric for your goal if you want to include conversions data.

1 landing page report ga filter

Also, add “Page Title” as a secondary dimension to the report, we will need page titles in coming steps:

2 page title URL terms

Select “Show rows” to 2500 or as appropriate to include all of the pages as per your data at the bottom of the report and export all the landing pages as a CSV from Analytics.

Step 2: 

Luckily, we have search traffic data available for keywords from Google Webmasters tools (GWT), now known as Search Console.

If you have linked your GWT to Google Analytics, you will be able to get search queries report within Google Analytics in “Search Engine Optimisation” tab under “Acquisition”. If not, you can go to Search Analytics in GWT and apply filters there to get non-branded data or do it in Excel after exporting the data.

We highly recommend using Google Analytics for this step, that way you’ll be able to add more precise filtering.

3 GA query filter brand

Export this data to Excel with maximum rows selected at bottom of the page to include all queries in the export.

Step 3:

Put your Excel hat on, ‘coz now is the time to play with data!

Put together the data in one Excel file in different sheets that you have exported from GA & GWT/Query Data from GA.

landing page step 3 data

Step 4:

Extract the terms from URL, titles or H1 tags of the landing pages. You can use Page titles if you have keyword details in titles. See Step 1 on how to get this data from Google Analytics. You can also use some SEO / Analytics plugins for Excel to pull data directly.

Then, table-ize the data.

landing page data GA Excel step 4

Step 5:

Load Search Query Data in another worksheet on the same Excel file

query data search console step 5

data tab GWT step 5.2

then, table-ize the data.

Step 6:

Download and install the Fuzzy Lookup extension for Excel.

Fuzzy Lookup Plug-in will help you in finding similar data in Excel. Once installed, you can then assign values in left & right table and select the columns from each data set (GA & GWT) in a new worksheet, you can call it “Output” or any other name.

Step 7:

Generate report from the data.

You will get a similarity score in the output for each column in the output tab and then you can filter out the one that has more than 0.8 similarity score.

Step 8:

Query & Performance

Now you are ready to look at the performance by keywords in your report.

Step 9:

Group Landing pages

Find duplicate landing pages in the report and group them together to find, which key terms are sending traffic to these pages.

For more information, check out the articles posted by Chris Liversidge and Avinash Kaushik.


Until next time…

FIRST team at the Google Masterclass

(Left to Right) Cindy Li, Eamon Hoolihan, David Neubauer, Grant Osborne, Zharina Pelea, Katherine Steffensen, Mike Child and Rattandeep Singh

Overall, I had an awesome first time experience at the Google Partners Masterclass with my teammates at FIRST who attended the event. A chance to be in the company of talented digital peers and to learn a huge amount from David Booth and the rest of the attendees. Events like this help everyone be in the cutting edge of the analytics and web tracking scene. Can’t wait to see what the next event brings!

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Sep, 17th, 2015

Google Partners Masterclass 2015 insights part 6: Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) overhaul

Manage campaign with Google

In our previous post, I presented six possible solutions on how to get rid of referral spam from Google Analytics (GA) as discussed at the Google Partners Masterclass 2015 event. Although, there is no foolproof solution for this problem, implementing those will help you report on cleaner and more accurate GA data. In this post, we’ll talk about Google’s latest enhancement to Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) that can help you reach your customers better with more targeted ads, focus on the campaigns that are most important by automating the ones you don’t have enough time for and overall optimise and improve on your paid campaign workflows, especially in the set-up phase.

New and improved DSA

Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) was recently overhauled and now has tools and features for those with huge inventories of landing pages (i.e. e-commerce advertisers). Aside from crawling your website, DSA now sorts your website content (i.e. products and services) into recommended categories and saves you time by targeting your ads based on those categories. With DSA, text ads are automatically generated by Google for inclusion in an auction based on website content. Google also creates the headline and ad copy and chooses the relevant landing page on your website.


A closer look at DSA

Although DSAs are a good way to propel a low performing e-commerce site forward, David cautioned everyone not to use this as a primary way of managing campaigns. For control-freak advertisers, the downside of this is the lack of control on what ads are being displayed and where you are driving people to. Another issue would arise if your website contains not optimised title tags or H1 heading tags which would make the search query matching of the ads with your online product or service quite difficult.

Some helpful tips for you

Tip #1

Best practice would always be to manage your keywords, ads and bids yourself. Be wary about anything Google does on autopilot, especially when it comes to keyword selection and bids (which directly impact spend and, therefore, Google’s profits).

Tip #2

A good tip, from David, is to manage most campaigns manually but use DSA for covering all your bases on the large number of low search volume long-tail keywords or in cases like where you have a huge number of location-based keywords. So kind of use it as a “Catch All” for anything you’ve missed. Also suitable where you have thousands of landing pages, such as e-commerce advertisers with thousands of products in stock.

Note in the case of above, normal bids take precedence over DSA bids, so your manual campaigns will show first.

Tip #3

You can use DSA for harvesting valuable keyword data, for cases where the Google Keyword Planner tool doesn’t provide information for extremely specific terms.

Tip #4

Recommend ensuring you have a good list of negative keywords, as DSA will pick up very broad traffic otherwise.

Tip #5

Also, I recommend regularly running search query reports to pick up any high cost, low performing keywords.

Is DSA right for you?

DSA is a powerful way to reach your customers, spearhead remarketing and display campaigns and guide your landing page creation, but is it right for your business?

It really depends, but we can help!

One of the benefits of partnering with FIRST is that we can help you sort the wheat from the chaff and make sensible decisions about how to use a tool like DSA for your business.

Give us a call at +61 2 9339 6747 or email us at <a href=”mailto:info@first.com.au”>info@first.com.au</a> so we can get in touch with you and have a chat around your specific needs.


Up next…the last of the series

For the seventh and last post of the Google Partners Masterclass 2015 series, our next article will cover Google’s (not provided) keywords data in Google Analytics. David presented the process developed by Chris Liversidge on how to match keyphrase data from Webmaster Tools to their landing page URLs and how to workaround Google’s (not provided) keywords for better SEO performance reporting.

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