How We Keep Track of Contributors with CoSchedule

Managing two publications with vast contributor pools used to mean countless emails, constant check-ins and an endless deadline guessing game. It’s tricky, keeping up with creative professionals. No amount of Facebook group chatting or emails can ensure the progress of tasks and muster the level of ownership and responsibility the way working in a brick and mortar office can. Working in an office is a motivating experience, but we recently found ourselves desperate for a way to convey that same level of productivity online.  We dug around the web to find the right tool to bring our team together and stumbled upon CoSchedule, an editorial task management system that doubles as a WordPress plugin.

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Finding What Works
Seeking out the right tool for our editorial needs has been nothing short of a long process. Flip flopping between email, online task lists, and our web platforms opens our process to error. Anyone who knows editorial knows losing momentum can be a post’s kiss of death, and that’s how our staff editors started to feel. With a list of tasks, stories and real weddings ready to assign, we took CoSchedule by the horns and put it to the test.

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What We Use it For
There’s a lot more than meets the eye when it comes to editorial web content. For every post comes a list of tasks pertaining to imagery, written text, editing and sharing on social media. Being able to assign specific tasks to different people on one specific post means our calendar looks cleaner, more organized and well, just plain better. We used our staff interns (the best in St. Augustine, hands down!) as our in house test team, working to improve our productivity while simultaneously teaching them independence in the work place.

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Sharing the Love 
Swapping between social media platforms can seem like an overwhelming process, especially when you’re just trying to push the same content across the web. Double that work load? It can be hard to keep track of. Now, we have simple, color coded reminders to push content to our desired platforms all in one place–the backend of our publication websites.

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Why We Love It
Easily streamlining a lengthy to-do list into a tangible calendar of tasks was our number one priority in testing this system. Since starting our trial, we’ve cleaned up our list of pending submissions from Two Bright Lights for The Celebration Society and assigned new exciting web posts to St. Augustine Social contributors across the oldest city. The use of custom template tasks lists is easily the most time-saving portion of our CoSchedule experience. Though repeated task lists should become second nature, working with new interns every semester and bringing on new contributors regularly means we need to continuously inform individuals of our editorial needs. Assigning written work to writers, editing to editors and general tasks to office personnel simply makes sense! (Plus, checking off a task when it’s complete and seeing the strikethrough is pretty cathartic!)

You can sign up for a 14 day free trial here!

Marketing Instrument Panel: The tools you need to track & maintain your marketing

Have you seen the Adobe commercial where the guy visits a psychic and asks “Is my marketing working?”  and she replies after a long, questionable pause…  “yes?”  People.  Psychics, like emotions have no place in measuring marketing results.

I wrote a post last week about trusting your instruments when measuring the results of your marketing that got me thinking, if you’re new to my blog you may have no idea of the tools that are available to you to track your marketing efforts. So, I’ve compiled the best marketing tracking tools out there for you to build your very own marketing instrument panel for your business.  I cannot stress the importance of incorporating as many of these as possible.  Don’t just do one.

I hear time and time again about businesses owners who choose to advertise with medias because they like the account rep and don’t want to let her down, their friends work there, they want to get the attention of the editorial department, or they cancel their ads because they’re not getting any “love,” they are mad they didn’t get any editorial or “think” they didn’t get anything from their ad.  Oh boy, there are a lot of emotions and assumptions wrapped up in all of those real life scenarios I’ve just listed that can point you and your business down the wrong path.  So… take a gander below and get crackin’ on this… it’s one of the most important systems for your business.

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WEB ANALYTICS PROGRAMS

Your website is your receptionist.  Period.  No longer do people see your ad, scan for your number and dial up right away.  They research you first.  And where?  Your Website!  So, having a bird’s eye view of how people have found your website (it’s not all links from other sites!) and what they look at on your site when they get there are crucial indicators of your offline and online marketing and how effective your site actually is at keeping their attention once they’ve arrived.

Web Analytics programs tracks three different ways visitors get to your website.  Only one of those actually tracks internet referrals from other websites.  Here are the other two best ways to keep track of your offline marketing with Web Analytics…

  • DIRECT TRAFFIC.  Direct traffic is a list of people who have gone to a search engine and specifically typed in your website address.  Meaning… they already knew it.  They didn’t search you or find you on another website, they saw your website address somewhere else (eh hem, perhaps your print ad) and typed it into the URL address box.
  • SEARCH.  Organic (meaning not-paid for) search traffic is two fold.  There are people who search for your business type and people who search for your business name.  Type is true organic search that you can thank the search engines and SEO for.  However, Business Name searches should be attributed to your offline marketing and general brand awareness campaigns. Whenever you see someone search your business name, ask yourself… “How did they know about me to google my business name?”

Here are three web analytics programs I recommend…

YOUR WEBSITE FORMS

Your contact form or request for proposal form on your website is more valuable than you think.  Since your website is your new receptionist, it’s crucial that she is accepting all the necessary valuable information you’d normally have a human ask. Besides the obvious information you need from new inquiries, asking the question “how did you hear about us?” is likely the 2nd most important question to have on the form.

Here are some tips to improve the results you get…

  • Make the question “How did you hear about us” required.  Duh.
  • No open ended questions.  It’s not the job of your new client to track your marketing. Trigger their memory with a list of all the potential places they could have seen you.
  • Use checkboxes for multiple answers.  Once you’ve listed all of the print, bridal shows, websites, social media, friend referrals and even editorial your business is in, use checkboxes instead of a dropdown list so that the client can click ALL THE WAYS they’ve seen you instead of only one.  If studies show it takes multiple impressions for a client to take the initiative to call your company, it’s likely they’ve seen your business in several places.  This will help you get more specific results.

This is a great example of a perfect contact form I’ve found on a venue website…

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Here are form builders you can easily add to your website so you can edit and track the entries without your web developer…..

SOCIAL MEDIA ANALYTICS

Who doesn’t love the feeling of having a bajillion fans on Facebook or followers on Twitter.  But do they really mean anything?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  If social media is an important took in your marketing plan then you need to be looking at the quality of audience you’re attracting and NOT the quantity of audience.  There are tools out there that tell you demographics, engagement, interests, etc.  Before you place any weight on whether social media is “so great because it’s free so I’m going to drop all my advertising because I have a bunch of fans”….  stop, look and analyze the audience.

Below are some social media analytics programs I recommend….

UNIQUE PHONE NUMBERS

By assigning a unique local phone number to each advertising or marketing campaign, you will be able to track all of your phone calls back to the campaign that generated the call. This will allow you to discover exactly which advertising campaigns are generating sales and revenue for your business.

Here are three custom phone number companies I recommend…

QR CODES

QR Codes are another way to track unique urls that lead to your website.  If you run an ad in a newspaper, have a sign up at a local coffee shop or anything else offline… you can place a QR code on the graphic WITH a prompt for the person to scan the code for either a discount, to see a portfolio of your work, or to save your contact information in your phone, etc.  Give them a reason to scan it and they will.  You can then track the unique URL for that QR code through your web analytics program to see how many people are using the code.

COUPONS & PROMOTIONAL CODES

I placed this at the bottom of the list because it’s truly an old school method, however still effective in some cases.  If you’re going to do a direct mailing piece or promotional hand out at a bridal show, tradeshow or ad, use a promotion to get people to pick up the phone or call instead of just a branding piece.  Then, give your promotions unique codes that your management can track when clients turn them in.  If you don’t have a computer system that keeps track for you, create a spreadsheet that your manager can enter the customers into when they bring in the coupon.  Remember, no one is going to bring in your ad/postcard for no reason, they need the incentive like $500 off or a free gift so don’t forget that part.  At the end of the promotion or year tally up the results to see which promotion worked best.

ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE

Why on earth would I add accounting software as a way to track your marketing?  Because your bottom line is the ultimate indicator if your business is growing.  Marketing is intended to drive growth.  If you haven’t tracked any of your marketing this year, but you’re surpassing your goals and new clients are coming in…. that’s a good indicator that your marketing is doing its job.   But don’t rely just on this one step.

* * DISCLAIMER * *

Using only one of these methods will only deliver you a small portion of results.  Because everyone’s buying and researching habits are different, the more tracking methods you implement, the better results you’ll get.  When you start using all these things, you should never have to VERBALLY ask your clients “how did you hear about us” ever again.

Analytics for all and for all a good night!

I’m just going to say it….. if there were a Google Analytics for print, maybe the industry wouldn’t be the target of so much criticism. Not just print even… television, radio, billboards… they’re all being made to be the bad guy because there’s no fancy software to tell you EXACTLY how many people touched, looked, or listened to your ad.

Just because there’s not doesn’t mean that those forms of advertising aren’t effective. Yes. It’s more difficult to measure the traffic generated, but discrediting the effectiveness of them all together is just plain wrong.

Food for thought… When you look at your Google Analytics account, notice two things…

1. Direct Traffic: those are people who have directly typed in your web address. Ever wonder how they knew your URL anyways?

2. Search Terms: if one of your top search terms is the name of your business, chances are that person who was searching your business name found out about you from another form of advertising.

I’m just sayin’…..

What are people saying about your business?

I’ve been meaning to tell everyone about this for a while… Google Alerts. This fabulous tool will make you quite the little media darling staying right on top of what everyone is saying about you business. Sign up for Google Alerts here. It’s Free. Select the keywords you want to track… i.e. your name or your business name and you’ll be updated by emails from Google each time their lil bots come across your keywords.

Who are your clients and where are they coming from?

When you have a website, this is a question you should always be asking yourself….especially if you are doing any online advertising. Tracking referrals, site visits and time spent on your site are all things you can easily monitor with Google Webmaster Tools — like your crystal ball of sorts…that looks into the past. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to set up it, and you’ll be glad you did.

With Google Webmaster Tools you’ll be able to…..
Get Google’s view of your site and diagnose problems
See how Google crawls and indexes your site and learn about specific problems we’re having accessing it. Discover your link and query traffic View, classify, and download comprehensive data about internal and external links to your site with new link reporting tools. Find out which Google search queries drive traffic to your site, and see exactly how users arrive there. Share information about your site Tell Google about your pages with Sitemaps: which ones are the most important to you and how often they change. You can also let them know how you would like the URLs we index to appear.

So now when your clients don’t remember how they found you or referred to your site, you can find out for yourself…..

Happy Business Building!!!