SPI 300: Meet the Mastermind Members in “The Green Room”

Today we’re talking about The Green Room, a six-member mastermind group that I’ve been a part of for years. Leslie Samuel, Michael Stelzner, Cliff Ravenscraft, Mark Mason, Ray Edwards, and myself—we get together to hold each other accountable, set goals, meet those goals, and be brutally honest with each other. Today I’m celebrating my 300th episode by sitting down with each of them!

A massive, virtual hug to everyone who’s made the road to Episode 300 possible. We started in July 2010, and here we are in Episode 300. I’m so excited!

Today I’m going to be talking individually with each of the members of this group to find out what they’ve been up to, what they’ve learned, and what their plans are going forward. Think of this episode as a best-of from my mastermind. It’s a roundup of wisdom, viewpoints, and advice from a fascinating and successful group of people that I’m proud to be a part of. If you’re curious about what a mastermind group is and why you should consider joining one—this is the episode for you. This is an insider’s view of what goes on in a mastermind, and will show you why masterminds can be such a transformative experience.

This episode is saturated with great information and inside views that you can apply back to your own business journey. Strap in, and let’s get started!

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes or download our mobile app.

Special thanks to Leslie Samuel, Michael Stelzner, Cliff Ravenscraft, Mark Mason, and Ray Edwards for joining me this week. Until next time!

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The Stage is Getting Bigger! My Biggest Keynote is Happening Next Month

I know I can make an impact on people through my blog, podcast, and video channel on YouTube, but when you’re on stage and people can see you in person, you have the capacity to affect them on an emotional level. That’s why I’m so excited to announce my biggest keynote ever!

The Stage is Getting Bigger! My Biggest Keynote is Happening Next Month

My Biggest Keynote Ever

Just this past November, I spoke in front of an audience of 3,000 people—the largest number ever for me—at Christy Wright’s Business Boutique event. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

Everything is amplified in a room with that many people—from the applause to the laughter and even the silence. When you’re on stage, by yourself, standing in front of an audience of that size, all the senses are heightened. It’s both electric and magical.

And guess what? I’m going to do it again. But this time . . . even bigger!

This coming March, on the final day of Social Media Marketing World (SMMW), I will be giving the closing keynote speech in front of an estimated 5,000 people!

I’m stoked, I’m nervous, and I’m ready for this. I’d also really love to see you there. I will also be having a meetup on the first day of Social Media Marketing World, and I’ll share more information about that later. If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you’ll hear about it!

You should be attending Social Media Marketing World, even if I wasn’t going to be there. It’s an event that takes place each year in my hometown, San Diego, and it’s run by the awesome Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner. Michael puts on an amazing event with showcases, an opening-night party, sessions designed for networking with your peers, and the most thoughtful and helpful content you can find on the topics of social media marketing, content creation, video production, blogging, podcasting, and more.

This year I am especially grateful to Michael and the Social Media Marketing World team for having me give the closing keynote speech. You guys rock!

My Speaking Journey

I started doing speaking events in 2011, mostly as a favor to a friend. I knew it was something I should do eventually, but I honestly never thought I’d do it that soon—it really scared me.

I actually recorded a podcast episode about my speaking journey:

The episode doesn’t mention an audience size quite like the projected 5,000 at SMMW, but it does go through the journey and share a glimpse of some of the first presentations I’ve done, what went wrong, and why it was so bad—but also why I’ve kept at it, which is this:

The real reason why I kept speaking on stage, and continue to speak on stage, is not for the adrenaline rush of it while I’m on stage. It’s because, when I’m on stage sharing my story, sharing my knowledge about online business and podcasting and blogging, it’s the place where I feel like I can make the most direct impact on my audience.

That’s a feeling I never want to give up.

I know I can make an impact on people through my blog, podcast, and video channel on YouTube, but when you’re on stage and people can see you in person, you have the capacity to affect them on an emotional level. There’s so much power in that face-to-face human interaction. I get to go on stage in front an audience full of people, right then and there, and teach them something of value they can use to move forward with to improve their lives. There’s really nothing like it.

And, to know that I’ll be speaking in front of potentially thousands of people in a couple of months at SMMW, makes me excited and grateful to think about all those people and the impact I can make on them.

Have I made it sound like speaking on stage is easy? It’s not. I struggled with it early on. I practice a ton. I have trained. I even hired a professional speaking coach once. And I’m always studying how to get better.

The process reminds me of marching band—when you work on a piece of music hard enough to have it memorized before you even head out onto the field in front of the football team and massive crowds. I’m at that point now when I’m speaking on stage, because I’ve rehearsed so much and because I practice and because it has become a honed art for me, it feels like I’m in another zone. Something takes over, and by the end of the presentation I kind of come back into my body and I’m suddenly meeting and greeting with the audience. It’s just one of the coolest feelings ever.

Speaking Today

Initially, when I first started, I spoke at events for free because I wanted (and needed) the practice. Now, because I’ve been doing it for a while, I get paid to do it. Since 2011, I’ve spoken at over a hundred events. It’s been so fun, and I hope to continue to do more. That being said, now that more people are asking for my time on stage, I can be a little bit more picky about where I want to speak. I can speak in front of bigger crowds. I can speak in front of different crowds.

It’s sad for me to say no to potential speaking gigs, but lately I have been saying it a lot more because I don’t have the time. I’m fortunate that a lot of presentations and events are in San Diego, but for the ones that are outside of San Diego, it’s a big thing. It’s not just the day to speak. It’s the travel, the preparation. I have to weigh how much that time is worth versus what I might be able to get back—in terms of the connections that I can make, who will be there, who am I speaking in front of, how might that turn into a long-term relationship.

All of that plays a role in my business, obviously. I want to always grow and challenge myself, and I do that by being more strategic about when and where I speak. Speaking on stage definitely helps me grow my audience. I usually see noticeable upticks in my subscriber numbers and in my social media follows after speaking engagements.

As for the future, I don’t plan on stopping. I want to continue to make bigger and more meaningful impacts on my audience. As my name gets a little more reputation behind it, maybe someday I’ll speak in front of an audience of 10,000. That would be exciting! But the point is that speaking will continue to be an important part of my business strategy, as it allows me to grow, learn more, and be my authentic self.

Social Media Marketing World

So, about the audience of . . . wait for it . . . 5,000! I want to see you guys there, not just to benefit from my keynote, but to benefit from the event as a whole. In the past, the price point for SMMW has been an obstacle for some. I get that. But this year, they’ve done a great thing and created different pricing tiers for different levels of access to the event.

Just go to SmartPassiveIncome.com/smmw and click on the Register button at the top to learn more and buy your tickets!

[Full Disclosure: I’m an affiliate for Social Media Marketing World.]

I’d really love to see you there. I want to host a meetup too, so we can have more time with each other. Look out on social media for more details about that coming up!

And again, you can get your tickets to SMMW and be there in attendance for my closing keynote at: SmartPassiveIncome.com/smww.

See you there!

SPI 299: The Humble Beginnings of Hmong Baby

The road to beginning a successful online business is full of hard lessons. I’m kicking off the new year with a story about learning, making mistakes, and succeeding anyway. I’m sitting down with the founders of Hmong Baby, a couple who, after experimentation and validation, were able to have enormous success with their products. Welcome to 2018!

Hmong Baby is a brand that helps bring the Hmong culture together, spreading and preserving that culture by teaching kids about it. They started out with flashcards, and they recently launched their first board book. Awesome!

I’m super stoked to introduce Mykou and Touger to you. They’re going to talk about how they got started with this business, why, after a number of failures, they landed on this idea, and what inspired them. They’re sharing the ideas behind some of their recent launches and campaigns, what apps they used to boost their success, and more. This might give you some ideas of possibilities for expanding your business and growing your brand, so listen close. I’m so excited to kick off the new year with you—let’s get started!

I’ve got a couple of quick announcements today too:

The machine of SPI has been well-oiled and running smoothly for the past couple years, but I know that in order to grow you need to be proactive, not reactive. This year’s theme is Higher Value, and we’re going to shake things up a bit. I’m going to dive deeper with the questions I ask, to find out what helps people find success, or to help them through my coaching process, or teach you something more in-depth if I’m doing a solo episode.

The AskPat Podcast will be changing format when it comes back in February, going from a daily show (five days a week) to a weekly coaching call so that I can get more specific, one on one, with my guests. Learn more by listening to AskPat Episode 1000, or by visiting AskPat.com, where you can apply to be on an AskPat 2.0 coaching call!

I’m also boosting my presence in the YouTube space. Why? (Besides the fact that there are people in that space who I’d like to reach.) The people on YouTube who are teaching similar things that I teach . . . I don’t like the way they do it. I don’t like the way they teach, the way they bait people into paying for the information they need. Somebody needs to step in and teach the information freely so that people can get some quick wins down before they realize that they need to invest time and money into their businesses. I want to go in and be the top search result for things like “passive income,” “how to build a business,” and “how to work from home.” Head over to SmartPassiveIncome.com/youtube to subscribe. I’m going to be launching five videos a week, starting in February. See you there!

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes or download our mobile app.

Special thanks to Mykou and Touger for joining me this week. Until next time!

Start. Stop. Continue. Making Real Progress in Your Business

Here’s a simple metric to help you identify where to spend your time in 2018.

Start. Stop. Continue. Making Real Progress in Your Business

I once heard a phrase that has stuck with me for years, and has become one of the most important phrases for my business:

“You can’t improve what you don’t track.”

It’s a simple idea, yet so easy to forget, or just ignore. This phrase has been an essential part of my planning and building of my business, and it’s helped me understand, as the CEO of my company, that I need to track metrics in order to fully understand how to improve.

If I don’t track the data, how can I possibly understand what’s working and what’s not working? How can I improve? There was a time when I didn’t track data, which, in retrospect, is sort of mind boggling. I just kind of based efforts on a general feeling or on costs/dollars alone.

But not anymore!

Now, I track data. Lately, I’ve been more strategic with the numbers related to subscriber counts, website traffic, and conversion rates. I implement A/B testing in email marketing. I think about placement of links on SmartPassiveIncome.com. I try out multiple types of calls-to-action for online course sign-ups, and I pay attention to the numbers, one way or another.

And with that, I’ve seen a noticeable improvement in the business overall. That’s great, but I am always mindful of the fact that each one of those visitors, each one of those subscribers, each one of those students is a human—a human with value and capacity for reason and love. When we’re talking about data tracking and analytics, it’s easy to forget that.

They are humans, they are part of your audience, they are cherished members of your community. Treat them that way!

Another important lesson I’ve learned recently is this:

“You can’t progress when you don’t start, stop, and continue.”

Now, hopefully we all have goals for our businesses, goals that are defined, goals that we can measure and take action on. But to achieve those goals, there’s always a necessary component of change—starting, stopping, and continuing until we figure out the right path.

Another quote I think of (broadly attributed to Einstein) is:

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Doing the same thing is likely only going to produce the same results, again and again. To better and more clearly define the different things you should be doing, you need to start, stop, and continue.

So, what does that mean exactly? What does it mean to start, stop, and continue?

Start, Stop, and Continue

I’ll give you an example. You have a big project launch coming up. In order to make the best out of this big project launch, you take time to determine what your goals are. After figuring out your goals, you look at your process. You figure out what you start doing to meet your goals, what you need to stop doing, and what you should continue doing in order to launch strong and achieve your goals.

That’s start, stop, and continue.

  1. You start doing the things you determine you need to do to accomplish your goals.
  2. You stop doing the things that get in the way of the achievement of your goals.
  3. You continue doing the things that align with those goals.

By dividing your efforts into those clear steps (start, stop, and continue), you are able to clearly define the new actions you should take, and the changes you need to make going forward.

Start, Stop, and Continue Origin Story

As always, business is a learning process, and this is the best structure that I found for understanding exactly how to take the next action. The origin of this start, stop, and continue process came out of a team meeting in San Diego. Matt and Mindy, of Winning Edits and part of Team Flynn, flew into town, and there, in a hotel room, the light bulb switched on.

What we arrived at, is that in order to achieve our goals, we needed to have a plan that would be reflective and welcoming of change.

On the hotel room window, we started by placing Post-It Notes with our goals and plans for the coming year.

(Side note: I love Post-It Notes! I’d gleefully frolic hand-in-hand with Post-It Notes if, you know, Post-it Notes had hands.)

We wrote each of our thoughts on a Post-It Note and slapped it onto the window. One idea per Post-It. After a while, we asked ourselves: “Okay, in order to achieve these goals, what things do we need to start doing? What should we stop doing? And what should we continue doing?”

Pretty soon, we had a pretty extensive list of a) what we needed to start; b) what we needed to stop; and c) what we needed to continue doing. When we saw all of this laid out, it became very clear to us what actions we needed to take over the next year.

What I love about this exercise is it creates boundaries. It’s like the saying, “if you say yes to something, you’re also saying no to something else.” Or, like the coaching strategy I learned recently, which is: when you’re coaching someone, you need to help them understand what they should be doing, but you also need to help them understand what they should not be doing. This is a great way to self-coach yourself into the actions that you need to take and hopefully get the results that you want.

To help you understand why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Start, Stop, and Continue: The Exercise

The great part about the Start, Stop, and Continue exercise is you’re going to find holes. You’re going to find areas that you didn’t realize you missed, or weak spots in your process. That’s a good thing! The exercise enables you to work backward to fill in those holes, and understand more clearly what the next steps should be.

A book I highly recommend that goes perfectly with this strategy is The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan.

Check out my review of The One Thing on my YouTube channel:

If you haven’t subscribed to my YouTube channel, please do. I’ll be doing a lot more video in 2018. Subscribe to my YouTube channel here!

So, to get back to the Start, Stop, and Continue exercise, after you go through it, there may be many things you’ll realize you need to fix, fine-tune, or add. And, yes, that can be overwhelming. But the key is to take it one step at a time. Determine what your priorities are, and use that information to decide which ones need to be tackled first.

That’s the Start: the the things you determine you need to start doing.

As for the Stop, you also need to understand what to stop doing. This is just as important to the process, and where a lot of the magic starts to happen—but it’s also one of the most difficult thing to do. Ask yourself, “Of the things that we’re doing, what things shouldn’t we be doing anymore?”

How the Start, Stop, and Continue Approach Has Impacted Me

When I was going through this process with the team, we decided to place a lot less emphasis on creating written-only blog posts (as opposed to blog post content that originates from videos or podcasts). A lot of what we are doing now is focused on YouTube and other platforms. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always going to be like that but, for right now, in order for us to meet our 2018 goals for YouTube, the podcasts, and our courses, we’ve had to stop creating blog posts that don’t originate from videos or podcasts.

Now, this year, instead of Monday being my writing day, Monday will be my filming day. I thought critically about the Stop in order to Continue with a strategy that helps me better achieve my goals in 2018.

Knowing that gives me the brain space I need to Continue—to fully focus on and commit to my goals of making video my number one focus this year.

This also happened back in 2014 when AskPat was created. In order to make a five-day per week podcast work, I figured out that I needed to Stop actually editing all of the podcasts myself. So I built out my team to take over that responsibility so I can focus on making the podcasts as good as they can be. I couldn’t reasonably do that if I am spending all my time in podcast production.

(By the way, be sure to check out AskPat 2.0 where I have 20-25 minute coaching calls with listeners! Subscribe and apply to join a coaching call with me at AskPat.com.)

In addition to The One Thing, I also recommend checking out the book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. In it, Greg shares an exercise that’s very similar to the Start, Stop, and Continue approach.

The essentialism approach asks you to rank the things in your life from 1 (least important) to 10 (the most important), which is important because our brains need that structure. Our brains are good at coming up with ideas, but not great at quantifying or grouping them. Writing them down and assigning values based on a number scale allows us to see things more clearly.

When it comes to your business, are there things that you’d rank 1, 2, or 3? If so, those are the things you should Stop doing. The things in your business that may be ranked between 4-8, this is where the real progress happens.

These might be tasks in your business you really love doing, and tasks that are important to your business, but maybe you need to find a better system, or find a team member to take over that task so you can focus on bigger things, the things that are 9-10.

For a quick “essentialism” reference:

  • 1-3: These are the least important aspects of your business; the things that aren’t contributing to, or helping you achieve your goals. Get rid of them.
  • 4-8: These are the things you really like doing for your business. They are important things, but they may not make sense for you to continue doing them the way that you’re doing them. Does it make sense? Does it align with your goals. Or can you assign to someone else?
  • 9-10: These are the essential, must-haves for your business. They are aligned to your vision and will help you achieve your goals.

Making Real Progress in Your Business

The One Thing. Essentialism. Start, Stop, and Continue. Each of these are methods to help you achieve real progress in your business. This is what I want for you. This is what you deserve.

It’s the beginning of the year, a perfect time to make strategic, forward-thinking assessments of your business. A perfect time to ask yourself:

  • What’s really important in your business?
  • What are your goals?
  • What should you stop doing?
  • What should you continue doing in order to meet your goals?

Start to think deeply about your goals for this year. Work backward. If you find that you are doing things in your business that don’t help you reach those goals, maybe they need to be let go.

How to Create the Perfect Facebook Ad in Minutes

It’s easy to get confused with Facebook advertising. From behavioral targeting to pixel tracking, Facebook offers a bewildering number of targeting options, advertising best practices, and ad formats.

In this article, you’ll learn the five elements of successful Facebook ads. I’ll walk you through each step. These lessons are based on things we’ve learned at Hootsuite running paid social advertising campaigns.

1. Create a simple CTA with one clear action

The perfect Facebook ad is clear about the action it wants the prospect to take.

Every campaign or ad format in the world can be boiled down into two types: ads designed to engage your prospect’s attention and ads designed to drive a direct action such as sale, app install, or lead.

In a perfect world, your campaign does both. But in most cases, you’ll either get one or the other. Brand awareness is valuable. It’s a smart strategy that builds your business over the long-term. But too many campaigns try to mash brand awareness and direct response together. Unless you’re a marketing genius, it rarely works.

As such, creative brand awareness campaigns are better served with CTAs related to content consumption such as following your Facebook page, subscribing for more content, or collecting email subscriptions. And direct response ads are better served answering common buying objections than trying to engage or entertain.

An excellent example of a direct response ad comes from the company AppSumo. As you can see below, the ad has one clear goal: get you to immediately buy the product.

Perfect ad for Facebook

The ad doesn’t waste time—it tells what the product is, what the deal includes, and uses a timed offer to give you a compelling reason to buy right away.

Mailchimp is the undisputed champion of brand advertising. Their genius is that they let brand awareness campaigns simply build the brand. Their Facebook ads never try to get you to watch one of their weirdly brilliant videos AND sign up for a free trial. It’s not that Mailchimp doesn’t do product-specific ads, either. Lots of their ads aim to drive sales or get customers to try a new feature. But they keep these two worlds—brand awareness and direct response—completely separated.

Conversely, an ad that tries to do both is is likely to fall flat. If you have ad copy that speaks to the core value of your product (brand awareness), don’t ask people to buy or sign up right away. Instead, use your CTA to encourage people to take a smaller, more location action such as “watch a video to learn how the product works.”

Decide on one simple action you want people to take. The easiest way is to focus your ad on one section of the purchase funnel. Pick one from Hootsuite’s social media marketing funnel:

  • Awareness, affinity, and consumption: stick to first handshake CTAs such as boosting followers, reading other pieces of content, or subscribing to your email.
  • Conversation: focus on engagement metrics such as boosting shares, increasing comments and tagging, or generating positive mentions.
  • Intent: focus on next step CTAs such as “learn more” or driving content downloads.
  • Conversion: focus on actions that lead directly to revenue such as adding products to a cart, requesting a sales demo, downloading an app, or signing up for a subscription product.

2. Use an audience targeting strategy that helps you refine over time

The perfect Facebook ad doesn’t blindly combine audience targeting. It uses testing to refine targeting precision over time.

Facebook offers an endless list of audience targeting abilities. It’s easy to get confused. And even easier to just give up, adding random interest and behavior categories and hoping that Facebook will magically match you with customers.

You can save a lot of money and time by being intentional in your audience targeting.

The trick to audience targeting is to improve your insights into what works over time.

Here’s a simple path to start.

Begin with a lookalike audience.

Lookalike audiences are powerful because you can use existing data (such as people who purchased a product from your website) to target similar prospects on Facebook. This gives you a solid platform to start testing and refining your audience targeting.

How do you create a lookalike audience in Facebook? In your favorite Facebook ad tool, follow these steps.

  1. Navigate to the Audience section of your ads manager.
  2. Click Create a Lookalike Audience.
  3. Choose create custom audience and then choose customer file.
  4. You can then add an Excel file of customers—for example, your email list or a list of customers from PayPal.
  5. Choose the country where you’d like to find a similar set of people.
  6. Choose your desired audience size with the slider.
  7. Click Create Audience.

If your goal is to target the most potential lead prospects, you should create lookalike audiences targeting one to two percent of a country’s population, instead of aiming for 10 percent. And for best results, don’t forget to exclude custom audiences of people who have already converted.

If the steps above confused here, here’s an article with more information on how to create a lookalike audience in Facebook.

Later, refine with nuanced targeting.

After you run your first campaign, you can then adjust your audience targeting strategy by adding the tweaks below. Add these one at a time to see if they make an impact. This article from AdEspresso by Hootsuite explains how targeting works in Facebook.

First, choose target location. Then add on interests. Then demographics. Narrow your audience by adding required categories—such as the user must be interested in X and also must like Y or Z. Experiment with behaviors as well.

Under behaviors you can target specific device owners, people who are having an anniversary within the next two years, for example, or users who have recently made a business purchase.

Another approach is to start by testing broad audiences, and then adding more specifics as you go, getting a more refined and higher converting audience every time.

3. Write a clear and conversational headline

The perfect Facebook ad doesn’t annoy people with boring benefits or wordy sales pitches. Use a conversational tone and relax on the sales tricks.

At Hootsuite, we’ve found that headlines work best when they’re clear and conversational. This minimizes annoying people with overt advertising in their personal feeds.

Sometimes a good headline is a clever phrase. Other times, it’s a straightforward product benefit. There are no true hacks to writing headlines. And even the old advice that headlines must contain benefits—not features—is as the British say, rubbish.

My recommendation is to follow brands that really have mastered the aesthetic and social codes of Facebook and Instagram. A few personal favorites: Chewy.com, MVMT, and <>. You’ll notice these brands tend to have a much conversational approach to headlines, rather than traditional benefit-focused copy.

As an aside, your headline in a Facebook ad is typically the “text” field in the ad builder, not the “headline” field. Zuck and I see eye-to-eye on many things. But it’s clear that engineers—not copywriters—built Facebook ads.

As you might have noticed in Facebook’s ad builder, the ‘headline’ appears in the third position in the ad under the image. This would make the headline the second thing you read in the ad—so not a headline at all.

If you enter copy in the “text” field, treat this as your headline. It’s the first thing your prospects will see and the “headline” functions more like a subhead for additional information.

4. Use an image that has creative tension with the headline

The perfect Facebook ad has a clever or creative tension between art and copy.

Amatuer advertisers on Facebook make a predictable mistake. The image and the headline do not have any creative tension. For example, if the headline is “make money in your sleep,” you’ll see a stock image of a person in pajamas, holding handfuls of cash. Or if the headline says “become a social media jedi” you’ll see a social media manager dressed as a jedi.

Here’s a helpful rule for stronger art direction. If the copy is literal, make the visual playful. If the visual is playful, make the copy literal. This creates contrast and interplay between the art and copy.

Perfect ad for Facebook

For example, Slack’s famous campaign has an abstract image. The headline is copy is straightforward, explaining the metaphor. This would be a much different campaign if the image was also straightforward and literal such as a person in an office getting a high-five. It’s the tension between the image and headline that makes the ad interesting.

Another example comes from Zendesk. Imagine how horrible the ad below would be if the image was replaced with a smiling team of support agents. A literal headline and a literal image that makes for lifeless advertising.

If you need to be visually inspired, you can use AdEspresso’s free ad tool. It lets you spy on competitors and find successful examples of Facebook ads.

If you can’t afford a custom photoshoot, here are 21 free stock photo sites.

5. Use the description area to remove friction for your CTA

The perfect Facebook ad knows that asking people to complete an action always creates buyer anxiety.

Your final step is to write the description for your CTA. This is the News Feed Link Description. Use this space to anticipate common buying objections.

For example, if your CTA is “Download your report” a common objection might the audience questioning the value of the report.

As you can see below, the Dollar Shave Club uses the description area to answer common objections to their subscription package.

Perfect ad for Facebook

So you can add some specific details such as a teaser of the content. If you’re asking for a direct sale—such as adding a product to a shopping cart—you can mention free shipping or return policies.

Join our webinar bootcamp series on Facebook ads

We’ve launched a complete (and free) Facebook advertising bootcamp series. Each 30-minute tutorial covers different aspects of building successful Facebook ad campaigns. You’ll learn advanced tactics and targeting best practices from real advertising pros.

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6 YouTube Channels Your Social Team Can Learn From

YouTube is a great platform for social media education—you’ve got interviews with the best in the business, tutorials on the latest gadgets, and experts who breakdown otherwise-complicated social media strategies in detail.

To save you time, we hunted down the best YouTube channels for social media marketers. Let the learning begin.

1. Moz: for SEO tips and strategy

Moz is a search engine optimization (SEO) consulting company, so naturally they specialize in using SEO for business. For those who don’t have the time, the software company’s YouTube channel offers “The Moz Daily SEO Fix”—quick one to two minute tutorials on topics like how to identify keyword search opportunities and SEO tips for images.

You’ll also hear from Rand Fishkin, Moz’s CEO, who hosts a “Whiteboard Friday” video each week. With a friendly demeanor, Fishkin goes through otherwise complicated concepts and serves up actionable tips.

2. Unbounce: for better conversion rates

Unbounce sells software that helps businesses build landing pages—no coding necessary. Their YouTube channel shares educational videos on conversion: A/B testing, how to optimize conversion rates through design and content, and what you need to know about creating a proper call-to-action.

Unbounce’s channel also features speaker presentations from their renowned Call to Action Conference. You’ll hear from industry experts like “the Queen of Facebook” Mari Smith and Sprint.ly CEO April Dunford, about how they get their content to convert.

3. Likeable Media: for advice on running a business

Likeable Media is a social media agency based in New York. They’ve helped brands like Verizon Wireless and JetBlue curate, create, and connect through digital branded content. Here, you’ll find some of the best tips about social media marketing and how to navigate the workplace from Likeable’s CEO, Carrie Kerpen.

Kerpen shares the latest on industry trends and also discusses what it’s like to be a working mom, for example. As a female CEO, Kerpen interviews other women in tech like Lisa Clyde, global head of consumer and retail investment banking for Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

4. Video Influencers: —for ways to win with social video

Spending on social video advertising grew 130 percent in 2017 with no signs of slowing down—it’s also one of our social media trends for 2018.

Video Influencers is your go-to source for tips for social media marketing with video. Videos are hosted by Sean Cannell and Benji Travis, who both have backgrounds in video: Cannell runs Think Media TV and Travis is married to YouTube beauty star, Judy Travis, and often appears in her videos.

This channel digs into YouTube and video marketing strategies, reviews the latest in video gear, and features interviews with social media leaders like Gary Vaynerchuk.

5. TED Talks: for inspiration

TED Talks is your source for ideas and innovation, as presented by experts in a wide variety of industries. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, but today, speakers discuss anything from human existence to what’s it like to be a prisoner in North Korea.

With such a broad range of topics—delivered by powerful presenters—TED Talks is one of the best places to get inspired. If you’re looking for the top TED Talks for social media marketing, here’s a list of our favorites.

6. Hootsuite: for social marketing tips, strategies, and advice for any skill level

Hootsuite is where you’ll find social media education for beginners to expert social media practitioners. For example, if you’re just starting to use social media for business, we offer an introduction video course:

We also cover more advanced social media tactics, like social selling and social advertising.

Our channel is also chock-full of customer success stories, Hootsuite dashboard training, and shorter videos that break down social media tips for you to easily watch when you’re on-the-go.

Above all, our YouTube channel is here to help you #KnowYourSocial.

Learn the social media marketing skills you need to advance your career with free training from Hootsuite Academy. 

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Social Ad Targeting: How to Reach an Audience that Converts

Every year, businesses spend billions of dollars advertising on Facebook and Instagram, and it’s no surprise that social media spending in the U.S. alone is expected increase to $17.34 billion in 2019.

A primary reason why social media is the perfect place to advertise for any business, is that it gives the advertiser complete control over audience targeting, making it easier than ever to ensure an ad is seen by people most likely to convert.

But with more control comes more thinking. Advertisers should be prepared to think harder about who the ideal audience is and what strategies will work best for reaching them.

In this guide we’ll teach you how to use advanced ad targeting tools on the major social networks to reach your target customers.

Step 1: Create audience personas

Audience or customer personas are an important tool for gaining knowledge about the attributes of the people you’ll be advertising to. Some organizations will already have detailed persona documents built out, but if not, creating these resources yourself will be well worth the effort.

If your organization already has customer personas built out, pick the one that directly aligns with your campaign goals. Using existing personas not only saves time and energy, but helps ensure your campaign is in line with broader organizational strategies.

If your organization hasn’t built out these resources, and you need to create your own, begin by picturing your ideal customer and brainstorm what challenges they face, what positions they may hold, and the ways in which they’ll interact with your company’s product or service.

Expand your persona document by adding specific data that will inform ad targeting. For example, be sure to include demographic information such as age and gender, as well as personal interests, and communication preferences, such as the types of devices they use. Other items that may be relevant include education level, location, and income.

Now that you’ve got a firm understanding of the customer persona you’ll be targeting, take the time to think creatively about other, less obvious attributes this group might possess. In particular, consider what interests your target audience might have that intersect with the problem your product or service could solve.

Take your customer persona farther by brainstorming lists of their likes and preferences, such as any similar brands that your persona may be interested in, popular authors in your industry they may follow online, or other relevant books and media. Information like this goes a long way toward making your targeting efforts more precise once you begin identifying targeting options on the social networks.

Step 2: Know which network and targeting options are best for reaching your audience

While your ad campaign is built around one goal, it’s important to note that you will need a unique targeting strategy for each network you advertise on, to suit the different purpose of each network. For example, a LinkedIn user reading an article about productivity will likely be in a different mindset than someone scrolling through Instagram. Use these differences to your advantage when targeting.

When it comes to the differences of the targeting options available on social networks, there are two main categories to consider. Facebook and Instagram provide the most available targeting options, and focus on all the data contained within a user’s personal profile, as well as the people and groups they interact with.

Twitter and LinkedIn, on the other hand, focus less on profile data, and instead provide opportunities for targeting based on keywords, user handles, hashtags, and conversations happening within the networks.

Keep these network characteristics in mind as you form strategies for each. For example, when targeting a budget conscious family on Twitter you might hone in on hashtags such as #NeedAVacation, while on Facebook you might instead focus on your target persona’s age and family structure.

Get creative by targeting based on deeper data, such as people who have expressed an interest in or like pages related to your competitor, or who have liked relevant or complementary products and services to your own.

You can also target based on upcoming events. On Facebook for example, you can target people who have friends with birthdays coming up, or people with anniversaries in the near future. This can be a great strategy for companies with ‘giftable’ products. Or, if you’re in the travel and hospitality industry, look for upcoming events and conferences, and target individuals who will be attending from out of town.

To ensure your campaign sees a good return on investment (ROI), you’ll want to avoid putting your ad in front of people you know won’t convert. This is where excluding audiences comes in. By excluding an audience, you’ll ensure you’re not spending your budget reaching people who have already converted, or who are existing employees.

Don’t forget that you also have the ability to target based on the type of device being used. To identify the type of device most likely to lead to conversions for your ad, keep in mind your target audience and the devices they would be most likely to use based on their age and other preferences.

Step 3: Optimize and build off of your existing audience(s) to maximize ROI

Once you’ve seen success with audiences you’ve created, you can use data from past campaigns and pixels on your website to create remarketing and lookalike audiences, which help surface more individuals who are likely to convert in future campaigns.

These methods are precise ways of targeting people based on data gathered from relevant sources. Unlike creating an audience from scratch, remarketing and lookalike audiences generally have a higher likelihood of success, thanks to the data they’re based on.

Remarketing is also great for transitioning smoothly from brand awareness to a performance campaign, by using data gathered to target an engaged audience and drive customers further down the marketing funnel.

Remarketing audiences on Facebook can be created in many different ways, but one thing they all have in common is the use of proprietary data to refine an audience. Some excellent data sources for remarketing are visitors to your website (which can be gathered through the use of pixels), email lists, customer data (gathered from your organization’s CRM), or platform data of users who have interacted with your pages on social.

The type of data you pick for a remarketing audience should be influenced by your campaign goals. For example, if your goal is to alert existing customers to a special offer, consider using the email addresses of people who have previously purchased your product or service.

Proprietary data can also be used to narrow down your audience by excluding people you know won’t be interested, or who have already converted. For example, if you’re trying to build brand awareness, you could use pixel data to prevent people who have already visited your website from being served your ad. That way you can ensure your ad budget is going toward reaching new leads.

Another way to use remarketing is for cross device optimization. For example, if you are a software as a service (SAAS) company with a desktop product, consider targeting everyone who visited your website on mobile in the past month with a desktop ad featuring a persuasive call to action (CTA). When your audience is on the optimal device, they’re more likely to convert.

If you’re finding that one of your custom audiences is performing well, and would like to build on that, using the targeting information to create a lookalike Audience. This can be done by taking a well performing custom audience, and allowing your network to use that data to pull a list of similar users.

You can base Lookalike audiences off data gained from conversions from past campaigns, as well as any available lists, engagement and pixel data, or social media followers. Using lookalike audiences has two main benefits. First, it allows you to reach new people beyond your current customer list and fan base, and second, it ensures your ad is shown to people who are likely to engage with your brand.

Want to learn more about building and targeting the right audience on social media? Check out the advanced social advertising online course from Hootsuite Academy and become a certified professional.

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CES 2018: Google ramps up Assistant with smart displays, native podcasts, recipes and news

Amazon Echo and its voice assistant, Alexa, might be the current market leaders in voice-activated smart technology, but recent announcements from the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show have shown that Google fully intends to challenge Amazon for that crown.

The past few days have seen some big developments – and a couple of even bigger teasers – for the future of Google’s smart assistant, the imaginatively-named Assistant.

On Tuesday, the first day of CES 2018, Google published a post to its official blog announcing partnerships with more than a dozen electronics companies to produce Google Assistant smart speakers – some with a very significant upgrade.

The blog post also highlighted the breadth and depth of “Actions”, the name given to built-in apps and integrations for the Google Assistant. At the same time, Search Console users began receiving notifications that their podcast, recipe and news content was eligible to be included in a new “Actions directory”, which is being rolled out over the next few days.

This appears to be part of an increased focus on what can be accomplished with Assistant, shifting its emphasis from finding information (Google’s long-time speciality) to carrying out tasks.

There’s a lot of news to unpack, so let’s look at what exactly these developments involve, and what they mean for SEOs and the wider industry.

SEOs using structured data are first to the Google Assistant party

While a comparatively smaller development than the flashy revelations of major electronics partnerships and smart displays, Google’s introduction of native support for podcasts, recipes and news to the Assistant is nevertheless big news for SEOs.

I owe a hat tip to Aaron Bradley of SEO Skeptic, whose post to the Semantic Search Marketing Google+ group first tipped me off to this development. In turn, he was tipped off by SEO consultant Dan Shure, who tweeted about a Google Search Console alert he’d received inviting him to “improve discovery” of his podcast in the Google Assistant:

Google is gradually rolling out a browsable directory of Actions for the Google Assistant, allowing users to more easily discover what the Assistant is capable of.

Podcasts, recipes and news will be the first wave of content added to this directory – though only content published with AMP, or marked up with structured data such as Schema.org, will be getting the nod.

This means that webmasters and SEOs who have been marking up their content with structured data are already ahead of the curve in making that content available via voice – while those who haven’t must hop on the structured data (or AMP) bandwagon if they want to be eligible.

Structured data has long been touted by its fans as a great way to get search engines to better surface content from your site, particularly in the form of things like rich snippets or Quick Answers. But it can be time-consuming to add and maintain, and the immediate benefit isn’t always so obvious.

This new use case, however, shows that there is a huge potential advantage to “future-proofing” your website by adding structured data markup. If Google continues to make Assistant a primary focus going forward, then this could be the key to content optimization and discovery in a voice-driven world.

Hey, Google – look what I can do!

As discussed, Google is clearly keen to shift the focus of its voice capabilities away from information discovery towards actions.

To this end, it’s heavily promoting “Hey, Google” as the slogan for the Google Assistant, placing it in huge letters on top of its CES installation, and creating a #HeyGoogle Twitter hashtag (complete with a unique Assistant emoji) to accompany their Assistant-related updates.

But wait, you might be thinking – isn’t “OK Google” the wake phrase for the Assistant?

Yes, Google has been a bit unclear on this point, but it seems that “Hey, Google” has been an alternative wake phrase for the Assistant for a while now. In late 2016, the website Android Police reported that the Google Home responds to both “OK Google” and “Hey, Google”, but Google voice search (e.g. on mobile) responds only to “OK Google” – making it possible to differentiate if you have multiple devices within earshot.

Now, as Google moves its focus away from search and towards actions, “OK Google” is out and “Hey, Google” is in.

Compare the messaging in Google’s tweet above with this video which introduced Google Assistant in late 2016:

While both videos show what can be done with the Assistant, the 2016 video emphasizes “finding” things, linking the Google Assistant directly and visually with the Google search bar, and positioning it as “your own personal Google” – like a search engine for your life.

By contrast, Google’s new messaging focuses on the many things the Google Assistant is capable of, emphasizing the availability of “over a million Actions”.

We in the industry have known for a while that Actions were the Google Home’s answer to Amazon Echo’s Skills, but this is their big debut to consumers, with Google writing that “Since the Assistant can do so many things, we’re introducing a new way to talk about them. We’re calling them Actions.”

This is not to say that Google has abandoned searching via Assistant, however; it made sure to develop powerful natural language search capabilities as its first order of business, with CEO Sundar Pichai demonstrating their potential at Google I/O in 2016. But now, Google is getting serious about challenging rivals Amazon, Microsoft and Apple for dominance of the smart assistant and smart device arena.

If Google continues to make either structured data markup or AMP a prerequisite for content being discoverable with Assistant, then this will mean SEOs must invest in either one or the other if they want to be competitive in this space.

Smart displays: coming soon to Google Assistant

Finally, we have the very exciting news that Google has partnered with a range of electronics manufacturers including iHome, LG, Lenovo and Sony, to produce Assistant-powered smart speakers – some of which will include a screen.

Google has put out the following video to showcase what a screen-enabled Assistant will be able to do:

This is Google’s response to the Echo Show, Amazon’s new smart speaker with an inbuilt touchscreen, which was released in the US in June 2017.

Crucially for Google, it will be able to make use of its YouTube ownership to one-up Amazon, after withdrawing YouTube support on the Echo Show and the Fire TV late last year. Google’s smart display speakers will also offer video conferencing via Google’s video calling app, Duo.

Conclusion

In short, the key takeaways from the last few days are that Google is going all-in on its bid to be Amazon’s main competitor in the smart speaker space. What this means for marketers and SEOs in the long run mostly remains to be seen, however.

In the short term, it will be interesting to see how marketers with podcasts, recipes, and news get on with Google’s new Assistant Directory. Google is keen to get their opinions as well, with John Mueller tweeting that he would “love to hear any feedback on the process”.

Have you had any Search Console notifications about content being included in the new Assistant Directory? Will you be investing in structured data or AMP, if you haven’t already, in order to be eligible for Google Assistant? Leave a comment with your thoughts on the latest developments.

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The 2018 guide to B2B Sales, Part 1: Demand gen and demand capture

If you’ve ever made the switch from B2C or ecommerce to B2B marketing, you know there’s a world of difference.

B2B offerings are generally much more expensive, with a very long lead-to-close time, and marketing needs to be addressed in a different and strategic manner.

In B2B marketing, you must reach users at every point of the funnel – and keep educating them in stages along the way.

Through a series of blogs, I will discuss strategies for how to generate demand, drive qualified leads, master content delivery, and essentially close the sales loop via paid media. In part 1 of this series, we’ll talk about how to generate new demand and capitalize on the intent that already exists.

Let’s jump in.

Use both search and social to get in front of the right audiences

You’ve got more than a few powerful levers to pull to get in front of qualified buyers. I recommend you start with your two biggest: paid social and paid search.

Paid social allows you to get in front of relevant audiences and let them know you and your product/service exist. This is a demand generation play – reach highly targeted audiences who would likely purchase your product/service, educate them on your brand/product/service, and ideally drive them to your site to push them into the funnel.

Paid search capitalizes on the intent that already exists. People are searching for what you have to offer, so leverage paid search to ensure you are capturing that interest.

Paid social strategy

For paid social, I would recommend the following channels and strategies:

Facebook

  • Make use of lookalike targeting! Take your customer list and, rather than uploading the entire list, segment your top (highest-LTV) customers and create lookalikes based on that group.
  • Use Facebook’s native targeting capabilities to segment and address audiences based on different titles, companies they are employed with, etc.
  • Use 3rd-party data companies (e.g. Axciom and Datalogix), which allow you to target businesses of different sizes, specific roles, decision makers, etc.

LinkedIn

With LinkedIn, you are able to truly hone in on your target audience by leveraging a mix of the right industries, functions within those industries, seniority type, and company size. LinkedIn’s CPCs are considerably higher than those of other channels, so you must be willing to pay a premium price for the first click to bring the user onto your site – this way you can introduce them to your brand and educate them on your offerings.

After the leads are in your funnel, you can market to them through other channels, significantly cheaper channels to push them through the funnel (which we’ll address in another post).

Twitter

Twitter is another great social platform to find relevant audiences. Although volume is not as large as that of the other platforms, you can still leverage some of their targeting capabilities to get in front of the right eyes.

  • Lookalikes: very similar to the strategy used on Facebook
  • Targeting by followers:
    • Build out conquesting campaigns to target users following your competitors
    • Target followers of industry thought leaders and publications

Paid search strategy

Paid search is expensive – but extremely effective. Users looking for your brand, product, or service are already exhibiting intent that positions them closer to sale, so these are users you must target.

Our paid search strategy at 3Q has two main components. The first is to implement the Alpha Beta campaign structure, based on single-keyword ad groups and a mixture of negative, exact, and broad match that allows you to capture and control your top keywords while testing new keywords. If you need a refresher on how the Alpha Beta campaign structure works, a quick Google search should help fill you in.

The second is to develop competitor conquesting campaigns that capitalize on the intent that our competitors have built. Note: if your competitors are bidding effectively on their own brand terms, you’ll likely pay a pretty penny to compete, but it can be a very effective shortcut.

Use landing pages strategically

For both paid search and paid social, it is crucial to segment the audiences and keywords appropriately to be able to send these different audiences and appropriate keywords to the most relevant landing page/piece of content.

For prospecting campaigns, you need to get a sense of what each audience is looking for and serve them content that not only gives them an overview of what your business is at a high level, but also offers them value and true insight into your business – this may be a whitepaper, a demo, etc.

Think about the keyword or the type of audience you are targeting. For example, if you’re targeting audiences from specific industries (e.g. finance, retail, food and restaurant, etc.), send them to landing pages specific to that industry if available.

If you’re targeting more senior-level executives, think about the right content to deliver to them, something more high-level discussing key impacts to the business, value props, etc., that your service or offering would bring. If you’re targeting those whose job this would directly impact, highlight the more technical specifics.

The goal is to truly cater content towards the individuals you are targeting; this will make the clicks you’re driving much more effective.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this series, in which I’ll discuss building audiences, smart segmentation, and leveraging the right content for mid-funnel remarketing and your overall nurture.

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How the latest Google Analytics updates will benefit marketers

Google has announced a range of significant new updates to its Analytics product, all of which should help marketers to understand their individual customers at a deeper level. Below, we assess the impact each of these four enhancements will have on search marketing analysis. 

The ongoing implementation of machine learning into all Google products has benefited GA, with the addition of Analytics Intelligence a particular highlight from the last 12 months.

Simultaneously, Google wants to provide site owners with insight into the impact of their marketing activities across all channels. This has always been the aim, but it is a challenging one from a tracking perspective. The partnership between GA 360 and Salesforce is a reflection of Google’s willingness to work alongside other companies to achieve this goal and ensure it keeps its dominant position.

The four latest updates to GA all exhibit some elements of these trends, with machine learning and user-level analysis never far from the foreground.

Users in standard reports

The underpinnings of the standard report dashboard have been adapted to include more insight into user-level behavior.

This is a significant shift from the historical focus on sessions, as an individual user could have multiple sessions even within the same day. The implications of this hierarchical system (User>Session>Hit) were discussed in a previous post, where we assessed some common GA misunderstandings.

Marketers will undoubtedly welcome the default option to analyze users alongside sessions and we should expect Google to continue improving the accuracy of user-level data. As it does so, more options for assessment and targeting will follow.

How marketers can use this feature:

  • Go to Admin > Property Settings in your GA account, then select the option for Enable Users in Reporting.
  • Combine with other (relatively new) features like Cohort Analysis to get a clearer picture of how groups of users arrive at – and interact with – your site.

User Explorer: Lifetime metrics and dimensions

User Explorer, which allows marketers to isolate user behavior down to the session level, has huge potential as an analytical tool. It is already available in all GA accounts and draws its data from the lifetime of a user’s cookie.

Google has recently revamped this feature with the addition of lifetime metrics and dimensions for individual users.

As can be seen in the screenshot below, this is displayed in a dashboard that contains a variety of information about past, present, and predicted future behaviors.

Taken in isolation, this level of granularity may appeal to little more than our curiosity. However, the ability to scale this and identify patterns across a large set of Client Id numbers could reap significant rewards for marketers. Once we group together similar users, we can tailor our marketing activities and messaging, both for prospecting and remarketing.

How marketers can use this feature:

  • Identify patterns in the channels that lead valuable clients to arrive at your site. This can be of use when prospecting for new customers who share the same attributes.
  • Maximize the value of current customers with a high projected lifetime value, through remarketing and tailored messaging.

Audience reporting

This is a logical and much-needed update to Analytics, making it a particularly welcome addition. Users can now create audiences within GA and then publish them within the platform for analysis.

Up to now, we have been able to create audiences and publish them to other Google properties, such as AdWords. This has been very useful for remarketing, but it was not possible to create a report for these audiences within GA.

This new feature uses ‘Audience’ as its primary dimension and permits users to compare performance across different segments.

For example, we could create an audience for customers that have purchased more than 5 times in the last 6 months, and compare this group with visitors that consume a lot of our content but do not make purchases.

How marketers can use this feature:

  • Create audiences based on the behaviors that matter to your business and monitor their interactions over time. These can then be compared to derive insights about the characteristics of our most valuable customers.
  • Given that these same lists can be uploaded to AdWords, we can draw a more direct line from analysis to action. If we notice trends within specific customer groups that we would like to enhance or reverse in our GA reports, we can do this seamlessly by targeting that same audience group through AdWords.
  • Use audience lists as the basis for conversion rate optimization tests.

Conversion probability

This is perhaps the most exciting of the four updates and has the highest potential to have a positive impact on marketers’ ROI.

By analyzing your site’s historical data and automatically identifying the patterns between variables within sets of high-value customers, Google can identify the recent site visitors with the highest probability of a future conversion.

This has been achievable in the past through a variety of means, notably through the use of Google Analytics Premium data, logistic regression analysis, and Google BigQuery. Many paid media management platforms also employ this type of machine learning to help with bid management, as does Google AdWords.

However, by incorporating this technology into the standard Google Analytics platform, a much wider user base will now have access to predictive analytics about their customers.

Combined with the updates listed above, we can see how this fits into the broader picture. Google uses machine learning to identify future customers, which site owners can then use to create audiences for analysis and remarketing.

This feature is rolling out to all accounts in beta over the next few months, so it is worth looking out for.

How marketers can use this feature:

  • Identify the quality of traffic that is driven by your marketing activities. The ‘Average % Conversion Probability’ metric will reveal this within your Conversion reports.
  • For remarketing, Google offers a few pointers of its own:

The advantages are clear: Marketers can create remarketing lists that target users who have a high likelihood to purchase and then reach those users through either advertising campaigns in AdWords and DoubleClick or site experiments in Optimize.

Viewed together as a group of updates, the key takeaway here is self-evident: Google is at pains to use its machine learning capabilities to create a deeper understanding of individual users. The field of predictive analytics can be a particularly profitable one, especially for a company with targeting technology as effective as Google’s.

The latest enhancements to GA should see these capabilities extended to a much wider audience than ever before.

Related reading

Stock photograph of a golden key unlocking a wall of puzzle pieces.