## #Inbound and #ABTesting

Dearest DigiMarkists:

I write this as I glance across your furrowed brows while you complete the Google Analytics IQ certification exam (sorry the keyboard is so loud). The nice thing is that you just completed the hardest part of the course, besides the AdWords exam, that’s really tough, and the bi-weekly blogging, which I grade more critically as the quarter progresses. Anyway, congratulations. 

Next week we’ll have our first of many discussions around inbound marketing, pretty much the backbone of digital marketing, particularly in the B2B space, where many of you will eventually end up. What is inbound marketing? It’s the radical idea that firms shouldn’t waste money BROADcasting their promotional messages to people who have no interest in their products or services. With inbound marketing, firms create an ecosystem that encourages potential customers to actively insert themselves into the firm’s sales funnel. A good introduction to inbound marketing is this graphic I once received from noted WWU alumnus @andrewdumont.

BId4avRCAAEN_34.gif-large

Like it says, inbound marketing is “all the FREE ways to earn traffic”. For class, there are a few things I’d like you to read about inbound. First, read this new blog post from Marketo   on the “Efficacy of Inbound Marketing”. Was it convincing?  Next, make sure you have a free log-in from HubSpot and watch the three videos from the first unit of HubSpot Academy “Essentials of an Effective Inbound Strategy”  Finally, here is a Harvard Business School case on HubSpot. (It will cost you $3.95 to download. Considering I’m not making you buy a textbook, I don’t think it’s that big a deal. You’ll have to register with HBS Publishing to access it.) We’ll discuss all of this on Tuesday.

On Thursday, we’ll review the concept of A/B Testing. Why is A/B testing so valuable in digital marketing? For one reason, we take the guess work out of our decisions. What should our website look like? What content should we publish? Where should we invest our paid media dollars? Should the sign-up button be green or red? It’s no longer a decision based on the HiPPO, we let our users decide. One of the leaders in the A/B testing industry is a company called Optimizely and like any good digital marketer, they’ve created educational content as part of their inbound marketing strategy like this guide that you should read for Thursday “What is A/B Testing?”. Digging a little deeper, please review the case studies from the Optimizely site. You should read a few that you find intriguing, but in particular look at the headlines and write about in your blog what are the common marketing objectives that Optimizely and A/B Testing help marketers achieve. In class we will discuss these case stufies, as well as other examples of A/B Testing that you discovered in your research for your blog. Finally, we will chat with Brian Boyd, a DigiMark alumnus who uses A/B testing today in his job as a digital marketer. Have a great weekend.

Your Obedient Servant,

M.Stat

P.S. I was listening to this as I walked to Haggard this morning.

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Welcome to DigiMark 4.1. I hope you are enjoying the holidays (if you are the type of person who likes to be ahead of the game) or that you enjoyed the holidays (if you are the type who doesn’t want to think about classes until the last possible minute).

This blog is where you will get your readings for the following week’s classes. Any blog post that has two hashtags in the title (like this one) will be the required readings. I may post other stuff that I think are interesting, but not required. One of the nice things about this class is there is no textbook to purchase. (You’re welcome.) Today’s post will cover the first two weeks of class (Tuesday, January 5th; Thursday, January 7th; Tuesday, January 12th and Thursday, January 14th) Generally, I will post the following week’s readings by Wednesday evening. Here is a preliminary schedule for the quarter:

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 11.58.45 AM

For the first class, Tuesday, January 5th, we’re going to do a general introduction, talk about what you want to learn, what I want to teach you and how the course will be run. Additionally, we’ll discuss these three readings:

Knowledge and Skill Requirements for Marketing Jobs in the 21st Century

Forrester Digital Marketing Forecast 2014-2019

State of Digital Marketing Talent

You will need to do a few things before class on Wednesday:

  • Start following me on Twitter: @DigiMark_WWU (This is the best way to contact me and the best way for you to learn about the readings.)
  • Create your WordPress blog (please, have your name somewhere in the URL – like I did. Don’t be the person who tries to have something generic like “digitalmarketingWWU.wordpress.com”.)
  • Publish your first post! For this blog you should:
    • Introduce yourself
    • Explain why you are taking the course
    • Describe what you would like to learn
    • Write about the three assigned articles, critically. Don’t just summarize them to show that you read them. Add your $0.02 about what you think is important.

You will be blogging before every class and the quality of your blog will determine 1/3 of your grade. Each blog will be graded on a 0-5 scale.

0 = You didn’t publish your blog before the start of class.

1 = You wrote something, but not particularly relevant to the day’s topic.

2 = You summarized some, but not all of the assigned readings.

3 = You summarized all the readings, but didn’t add any personal critical analysis.

4 = You analyzed all of the articles, but in a boring, rote way and didn’t add any additional materials.

5 = You analyzed all of the articles in a thoughtful and engaging manner, AND you discussed examples of companies or people using the tactics of the day in additional, non-assigned articles and posts to back up your arguments.

To help you with that first blog post, check out this lesson from HubSpot Academy on the Fundamentals of Blogging. (You’ll need to register for HubSpot for free to access it.) Make sure you come up with an engaging title for your blog post. “Introduction” is not engaging, btw.

After you post your blog, tweet the URL to me @DigiMark_WWU and that way I can start following your blog.

After our day of introduction, we are going to do a two-day deep dive into the world of Google Analytics. Digital marketing is superior to traditional marketing in many ways and one of the ways is its ability to use math to uncover the effectiveness of particular campaigns. Google Analytics is the easiest way to do this. For Thursday, January 7th, first read this report by Forrester about the different vendors for Web Analytics, then check out the Google Analytics Home Page and answer the question “Why Google Analytics?” Finally, fgo through the six units of the Digital Analytics Fundamentals course. For Tuesday, January 12th, you will study the four units of the Google Analytics Platform Principles.

You will blog about what you’ve learned for each class, and again, this is preparation for the GA Individual Qualification exam you will be taking, Thursday, January 14th. There are a lot of blogs out there with tips on how to pass the exam, but please note that they recently did a major revision of the test so look for blogs published since January 2015.

One last thing. As some of you may know, I wasn’t supposed to teach DigiMark this quarter as I was scheduled to teach two sections of Marketing Strategy for the MBAs. A couple of students actually started a petition to get me and the department to offer the course, which was very flattering. I look forward to working with you this quarter.

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## Monday MOBILE; Wednesday WRAP-UP

The more I teach this class, the more I realize how much it is a “survey course”. We call it “Digital Marketing” but it really should be “Introduction to Digital Marketing”. We go over a lot of stuff, but every topic has a lot more to it than we discuss. A good example of this is mobile marketing. We could have an entire quarter on mobile marketing. Instead, we’ll do it for a day. Sorry about that.

First, let’s look at a white paper from comScore entitled “U.S. Digital Future in Focus 2014″. Please review the whole thing, but the discussion for class will center around the first 14 pages. Next, check out this nifty interactive white paper on marketing in a multi-screen world.

Here’s another white paper from comScore this one about the US mobile app market. The whole thing is pretty interesting, but my favorite part is the second chart on page 7, which, while I wouldn’t go so far as to say contradicts everything else in the report, made me pause. Also, check out this white paper that our friend @randfish tweeted out this morning.

Speaking of apps, a couple of months ago WWU’s SMA invited Ryan Currie who does digital marketing for Starbucks. If you are like me, you are pretty addicted to their app. Read this recent article from the Washington Post about their app and consider how other businesses could use a similar mobile strategy. (But don’t forget, it certainly helps app usage that the main product Starbucks sells is literally physically addictive.)

Finally on the topic of mobile, consider how often you Google things on your phone. Mobile SEO is incredibly important and, as you probably would have expected by now, MOZ has some great tips. What are some important differences between mobile search and desktop search that marketers should understand and consider?

For Wednesday, the undergrads will write your last blog of the quarter and you should title it, “What I can do for you as your digital marketer.” (But the “I” will be you and the “you” will be a potential employer/client.)

At the end of your post, please report some data, specifically, how many words did you write in total across your blogs (I’d copy and paste everything into a Word doc.) and then using the very rudimentary WordPress analytics, let me know how much traffic you earned, if there were any topics that you noticed had more traffic than others.

The MBAs should prepare to discuss their recommendations for Allsop. If you want to do a Powerpoint, that’s great, but whatever you are most comfortable doing is fine with me. (MBAs don’t need to do a final blog post.)

Thanks for a great quarter. See you Monday.

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## Monday (Come back from Sasquatch); Wednesday CODING!

Alright, alright, alright. It’s nuts to think we are heading into the home stretch of the quarter. We don’t have that many classes left together (sniff). So, let’s finish it strong!

A couple of years ago, I saw this blog from Wade Foster about what it takes to be a “Full Stack Marketer”. Some things have changed, but I think most of it is still relevant. Scroll down to #17 and Wade writes:

A marketer who can get their hands dirty will be much more effective than one that always has to lean on a developer. Being able to edit the copy directly via HTML {or} reposition an element on the page via CSS will let a marketer iterate quicker without distracting the development team.

I’m still not entirely sure what “iterate” means there, but whatever, it sounds classy.

Coding is becoming a big deal and coding instruction is becoming a big business. Read this article from Bloomberg Businessweek that was published earlier this month about the rise of coding boot camps. The tuition price might seem extraordinarily high to you. Think about why it might actually be a pretty good deal for the students.

Now, I think that you guys have experience with some programming in your MIS classes. What I would like for you to do for Tuesday is try out two platforms that help people learn to code. First, go to Codecademy, sign up and register FOR FREE. When you get to the learn page scroll down below the fold and find the section entitled “Language Skills” and click on “HTML & CSS”.

Codecademy HTML and CSS

When you start, take a screen shot that shows the time. (If you don’t know how to do this … figure it out.) After two hours stop, then take another screen shot of the time so we can see how far you progressed.

The second thing I want you to do is go to Squarespace (should be familiar to you thanks to all of their native advertising), sign up FOR A FREE account and spend half an hour creating an e-commerce page. For inspiration check out the website of my former student Christina Fagan, who quit her digital marketing job to become founder and Chief Knitting Officer of Shit That I Knit, and built the page on Squarespace. In your blog, include the screenshots from your Codecademy, the link to your Squarespace page and write answers to the following questions:

  1. Why do you think coding is a good skill for a beginning digital marketer?
  2. What was the experience like using Codecademy?
  3. What are some of the positives and negatives you found using Squarespace?

Have a great long weekend, think about those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for the country and have fun coding. See you Wednesday. (And don’t be the person who asks me if there is a blog for Monday. There isn’t.)

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## Monday – Google AdWords Exam Prep; Wednesday Programmatic and Native Advertising with @wwujasonwilson

Okay, we’re going to talk on Monday about the AdWords certification exam that you are going to take during exam week. Here are the basics. To be Google AdWords certified you need to pass the “AdWords Fundamentals” examination and one more of the other four (“Search Advertising“, “Display Advertising“, “Video Advertising” and “Shopping Advertising“). Which one of the four additional ones should you take? I dunno. Which one looks most interesting to you?

The “Search Advertising” pdf is 427 pages long, “Display Advertising” is 125 pages, “Video Advertising” is 80 pages and the Shopping one doesn’t have a pdf download but it looks much shorter. While this data could help you with your decision, if you plan on using your Google AdWords certification to help you find a job and you don’t do the “Search Advertising” exam, make sure have a better answer to the question why you didn’t than, “Um, it was super long.”

I know from prior experience that passing these Google and HootSuite certification exams help people get jobs. But does passing the Google AdWords exam make you an expert. Some people say “No“.

Here’s a practice test, I found for the AdWords Fundamentals exam and check out this interesting Twitter account @iPassExamPPC. One more thing, Taylor Phillips today mentioned as one of her go-to resources for PPC was a site called PPC Hero. Last month, they posted a blog entitled, “Taking a Look at the New Adwords Fundamentals Exam“. Some good tips in there. For your blog on Monday, write about what you’ve learned in studying the three modules of the AdWords Fundamentals and how you would apply this knowledge for a client.

On Wednesday, we’re going to talk more about paid advertising, but going away somewhat from the PPC/SEM stuff we talked about this week. Specifically, we’re going to talk about programmatic ad buying and native advertising. First off, what is programmatic ad buying? Did that make any sense? Would you rather have it explained to you as if you were 8? Or how about a dummy? And check it out comScore is involved! Why do people think this is such a revolutionary thing?

The other part of paid that I want to talk about is native advertising. It’s the theoretically seamless integration of advertising into editorial content. Traditional publishing used to call this “advertorials”, but it’s getting a lot of buzz now in digital marketing. It’s a tricky subject, that can sometimes confuse the reader and even embarass the advertiser. Check out this screenshot I took of a native advertising piece about friend of the class Aseem Badshah.

Native advertising problem screen shot

As they should, Geekwire identified the piece has having been sponsored by Comcast. But check out the headlines on the left hand side of the page. Kinda weird, right? Makes everyone look bad, imho.

Podcasts are an interesting vehicle for native advertising and this article from the prestigious Columbia Journalism Review talks about it’s use in a new podcast called Startup. I’m a big fan of this podcast, it’s excellent. I recommend you listen to it from the beginning. But, for class on Wednesday, please listen to Episode #9 – “We Made a Mistake”. It really illustrates one of the major potential pitfalls for native advertising.

So for your blog on Wednesday, write about where you think paid advertising is going. The thing I find most interesting about this is programmatic and native advertising seem completely opposite. As more and more “premium” advertisers migrate their ad dollars to digital, what would you recommend they do?

Whew, that’s a lot. Have a great weekend and see you Monday. I’m going up to Vancouver tomorrow to see U2. I’ll be the middle-aged white guy wearing khakis.

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## Monday SEO (@nickmarvik); Wednesday SEM and PPC (@TaylorP263)

I know we’ve been dancing around the topics of Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing for most of the quarter. In many ways they are the most important tools in a digital marketer’s toolbox, since we all spend so much time on Google (and Bing. Don’t forget Bing!). And now that we’ve gone over the inbound lessons, it seems like now is the time to really do a deep dive.

Thankfully, there are two excellent resources available from Moz that you should review for class on Monday. Their “Beginner’s Guide to SEO” is literally a classic. I’ve met many people over the years that were introduced to the concept of SEO from this eBook as undergraduates and then went on to work in the field of SEO after college. As a follow up, last year they published the “Beginner’s Guide to Link Building”. After you read both you will be well on your way to understanding the importance of and the technology behind Search Engine Optimization.

But what is Moz, besides one of the best companies to work for in Seattle. (Seriously, they’ll send you flowers and pizza when you are home sick. Who does that?) They aren’t an SEO company. In fact, they used to be called SEOMoz and then a few years ago just went with MOZ. For your blog on Tuesday, write about basic principles of SEO and Link Building and then also what does Moz do.

On Monday, we will be talking with WWU alumnus Nick Marvik. Who not only works for one of the world’s leading SEO companies, Distilled, but on the side has turned his love of snow sports into the custom clothing company nwt3k . You should prepare some questions about SEO or Distilled prior to our chat.

On Wednesday, we’re going to talk about Paid Search, also known as PPC, also known as Search Engine Marketing. I know most of you take the attitude, “Pfft. Like I would EVER click on a sponsored search result!” But a lot of people DO click on those links and it’s a pretty big business. In fact the it’s the whole reason why Google is a multi-billion dollar business. Here’s the Google Adwords exam study guide, you should familiarize yourself with the topics. And I’ve downloaded for you and linked to the entire Google Adwords Fundamentals binder. Read the first fifteen or so pages, and then skim the remaining 350. (Quickly). Looking for other things to read, I found this eBook from, you guessed it, HubSpot. Additionally, you should read this blog from Search Engine Watch.

During the second half of class, we’re going to chat with Taylor Phillips, WWU and DigiMark alumna SEM Specialist at Adpearance in PDX, where she is a member of their #nerdherd. (That’s what they call themselves and it looks like they are hiring!) She is passionate about Search Engine Marketing and an all around excellent person. Prepare some questions about the life of an Search Engine Marketer.

(In case you were wondering, I learned about the Deflate-gate report during class this morning, but was able to be professional about it. We know that the NFL was in control of the balls in the Super Bowl when Tom threw those fourth quarter TDs and Russell threw his pick. Go Pats!)

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## Monday UX/UI and Landing Pages; Wednesday email marketing and inbound sales with @aseemb

Nice job with the HootSuite certification everyone. I just checked the list of HootSuite certified professionals. Let’s see where Bellingham ranks with other cities?

HootSuite Professionals

The “City of Subdued Excitement” is a social media industry hub. Eat it, San Francisco!

Turning the page, next week is packed with all sorts of DigiMark goodness. On Monday we’re going to talk about UX (“User eXperience”), UI (“User Interface”) and Landing Pages. Read this article from Fast Company (the magazine for hipster businesspeople who love Amy Schumer) on what is the difference between UI, UX, graphic designers and motion designers. And this article from last month’s issue of UX Magazine on “4 techniques of successful UX executives”.

But webpages can’t just be “elegant”, they must also be effective and lead to conversions. This leads us to a discussion of landing pages, the first pages that our traffic hits as a result of our digital marketing efforts.  Mashable published a quick, nitty-gritty post with a few tips on creating an effective “initial point of contact”. Our friends at Copyblogger wrote a more detailed guide to creating landing pages. Also check out HubSpot Academy’s Class 6 The Anatomy of a Landing Page and Class 7 Perfecting the Conversion Process. For your blog, what are the most important things to know about UI/UX design generally and landing page design specifically? And what are some examples of elegant and effective landing pages?

On Wednesday, we’re going to talk about email marketing and inbound sales. I’ve always had a lesson on email, but I became a lot more interested in it after chatting with @ameliashowalter and listening to Serial last fall. If you didn’t listen to it (but you totally should now), you didn’t hear the ad for MailChimp, which in a weird way, made this email software provider a cultural phenomenon. (My sister-in-law back in Boston does marketing for Constant Contact and is super pissed about how big the Serial sponsorship was for MailChimp.)

But back to email. Isn’t email dead? No!  Check out these tips on connecting with “email-fatigued” prospects. Read this ebook on email marketing essentials from Constant Contact and view Class 8 from Hubspot How to Send the Right Email to the Right Person.

The second half of class on Wednesday, we’ll discuss inbound sales. What do you notice when you Google “inbound sales”? Pretty interesting source for the top results, don’t you think? What’s going on here?

If it seems like inbound sales is only a HubSpot thing, it’s not. A lot of companies are preaching about how to better align inbound marketing with a more traditional salesforce. (Some people, like HubSpot call this “Smarketing”.) Here’s an excellent eBook from an inbound marketing shop in Vermont called New Breed Marketing (@NewBreedMktg). Their slogan is #getshitdone.

Back to HubSpot. Since we are not doing the Inbound Certification Exam in class, we don’t need to go over all of the lessons, but do check out Lesson # 9 on “Smarketing” and Lesson #10 on Inbound sales.

Finally, we have a special guest Hangout-er. Aseem Badshah (@aseemb), Founder and CEO of Seattle-based Socedo (@SocedoApp). Here’s a profile of Aseem and Socedo published in 2013 on Geekwire. Check out the video where he describes what a date would be like with Socedo. He’s really smart and interesting and the CEO of two companies and I think he’s only 27. Good guy to know.

Sorry that there’s a lot of stuff this week. It’s a function of the smaller number of class sessions this quarter and I don’t want you to be short-changed. Have a good weekend.

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