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August 24 2012

How to Make Money From YouTube


YouTube recently announced that its users upload 72 hours of video per minute. Although mind-blowing, such an astronomical number could potentially discourage YouTube fame-seekers.

When you pair that number with the 4 billion hours of video we watch per month, it's clear that entertaining and valuable content is in high demand. And now that the YouTube Partner Program is open to everyone, monetization is actually more feasible than ever.

Even if you never reach Justin Bieber status on YouTube, you can join the plenty of people who successfully make a living off the platform. Just know that it requires the right preparation, execution and equipmen…
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More About: How-To, Social Media, Video, YouTube, features, monetization, youtube partnership program


August 22 2012

August 16 2012

Google Maps: 10 Handy Tricks You Should Know


1. Save Your Home and Work Addresses




Head to "My Places" on the top-left of the Google Maps page to save down your home and work addresses for easier directions and nearby searches.

Click here to view this gallery.


Google Maps is a fantastic free tool, but we're guessing you don't have much spare time to play around with the service.

That's why we've gathered 10 useful tips to help you get more out of Maps. We'll teach you how to better visualize directions, personalize your experience and mine maps for more useful information.

SEE ALSO: 12 Mysterious Google Maps Sightings

Take a look through our Google-tastic gallery above for more handy hints. Let us know in the comments below about any other Maps-related shortcuts you use.

More About: Google, Google Maps, How-To, features, software, tips and tricks, web


August 12 2012

August 08 2012

July 30 2012

10 Tips for a More Beautiful and Functional Home Office




If you work from home, you owe it to yourself to set up a proper office space. It's vital you have somewhere to concentrate that's separate from your home life -- and is hopefully a nice space to spend time in. A good working space is even more important if you operate your small business out of your home.

To help you out on this rather specific front, we have pulled together some useful tips from experienced home-workers and chatted with home office expert Lisa Kanarek, founder of WorkingNaked.com. Also keep in mind that having a home office can entitle you to certain tax breaks, so your investment can end up right back in your pocket.

SEE ALSO: 10 Awesome Accessories to Organize Your
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More About: Bootstrapping Business Series, Home office, How-To, features, mashable, office accessories, tips and tricks


May 10 2012

February 28 2012

How Startups Can Build Lasting Relationships With Journalists


Dmitry Dragilev is the marketing lead at ZURB, the interaction design firm behind ZURBapps, a suite of apps that helps people quickly design great products through rapid prototyping, iteration and user feedback.

It’s a week before launch and you’re hoping to score some awesome traffic from a well-known publication. Here is what usually happens: You send a PR release to a bunch of publications, you pay big bucks for PR agency representation, you tweet the day of the launch, and you hope your story gets picked up.

Be honest — how well did this approach work for you the last time you tried it? Lots of effort, but my guess is you were probably disappointed with the return.

Instead, approach reporter interactions as you would an actual relationship.


1. Date Before You Pitch


Most of us decide to pitch journalists right before a product launch launch or announcement, shooting out a press release and hoping to score great articles. This is the worst thing you can do. Don’t expect to pitch someone who doesn’t know you or your product, in the hopes that person will understand the story and details just right — all in a few days.

Instead, build a strong relationship that benefits both of you — it’s the only way you can ensure great news coverage of your product launch.

After all, you don’t pitch a VC or angel investor cold, expecting to earn funding, right? These days, you don’t apply to a job cold and expect to get hired. As you know, relationships are everything when you are trying to build a company. A strong relationship with the press is just as important as maintaining relationships with your investors. Before you can even pitch to a reporter, you’ll have to spend months of hard work, maybe even years, building a strong relationship.

Here are some specific tips on how to build genuine relationships with journalists.


2. Courting


First, you need to have a good idea of who your paying customers might be, where they tend to gather on the web. Which news publications/blogs do they read? Look at the comments on articles and figure out which publications you want to target.

Once you determine the correct reporters/publications, build a relationship with reporters almost exactly like you would build a relationship with a potential spouse. Research what catches the reporter’s eye, both personally and professionally. Have at least three points you want to genuinely talk about, none of which relate to your product. Reach out and give the reporter something first (e.g. send in a story tip, for instance) before asking him for anything. Remember, you aren’t looking for a “one night stand;” you are courting for a long-term relationship.


3. Dating


This isn’t an “adult” friend finder service; this is eHarmony. Develop your reporter relationship over months: Help him out and show your interest in his beat. Show how the reporter can benefit from your help: Bump a reporter’s stories to the top of Techmeme, tip him off about breaking news, talk to him about his articles, respond to his questions in articles and via social media.


4. Getting Serious


You’ve already built a solid and genuine relationship with your reporter. By the time you ask for coverage, you should have helped him out a number of times. You’ve initiated multiple discussions that cover a variety of topics. You’d be comfortable meeting up and grabbing a drink with your reporter.

From here on out, you need to be extra careful. Around the time you’re attempting to seal the deal, your actions are critical to achieving awesome results.


5. The Actual Pitch


By now, you can determine your reporter’s interests and beats. Your pitch should be connected with at least two articles the reporter has written. If it doesn’t, you’re pitching the wrong person.

Your story must have a hook; in other words, it must relate to current trends or events. Most bloggers and news sites won’t be interested in a product that’s off-trend.

Stay super simple. Practice your pitch and wording before you talk to people. Think of it this way: Would your grandmother be able to understand what you’re taking about? Remember, you’re competing with a million other things that might grab a reporter’s attention. If you aren’t crystal clear, a reporter can get distracted or bored with what you are saying. Connect your product to trends and show how it stands out from others in this area.

You should be able to pause after the first sentence of your pitch, confident that the reporter already partly understands what you’re talking about. It’s good if the reporter asks a question back. If you receive a confused response (or none at all), you probably need to make it simpler.

Here are a few sample pitch sentences we used when launching our app.

  • App X helps you see if ads are getting in the way or if content isn’t getting read.
  • App X is a another tool to supplement surveys, feedback forms and chat.
  • App X can help you test landing page performance — it’s a guerrilla marketing tool.
  • App X helps you determine if your brand is headed in the right direction.

6. Ongoing Relationship


Your relationship with a reporter or blogger doesn’t end after the pitch. You want it to be in it long-term, like a marriage. Like a real spouse, you’ll have to invest in the marriage, maintaining it over time. After all, you’ve spent months and months courting this reporter — you don’t want to toss him aside once the story is published. Keep the lines of communication open, and you won’t be without a date the next time you launch a product.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, wellphoto, Flickr, thinkpanama

More About: contributor, features, How-To, Marketing, Media, pr

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February 27 2012

How to Turn Social Feedback into Valuable Business Data


Joshua March is co-founder and CEO of Conversocial, a provider of integrated social CRM and marketing software for Facebook and Twitter. He resides in London.

You’ve set up your company’s Facebook Page and Twitter account, pulled together a social media team to start generating engagement, and now you’ve got a decent audience involved in conversations about your brand. Great, but where’s the real value?

It seems most companies understand that they need to take advantage of social feedback; however, many aren’t doing anything about it. In fact, 85% of marketers think that customer insight is the best potential advantage of using social media, but only 6% of businesses are actually using social media to collect customer feedback, according to a late 2010 survey.

Why is social insight so valuable? For starters, it’s real and organic; marketers can escape the barriers posed by contrived feedback methods, and get direct access to their customers’ real opinions. The more conversations you have, the greater potential you have to learn something, but the data can be difficult to extract.

My company looked at the different messages retailers receive on Facebook and Twitter.

Between 50 and 75% of messages that companies receive on Facebook and Twitter don’t need to be actioned in any way — they’re just noise. Isolating relevant messages from general chatter is time-consuming, especially while you’re trying to stimulate conversation and engage with your fans and followers by the thousands.

The real challenge is to identify and learn from different, valuable lessons based on just one message. You’ve found it, it looks interesting, but what can it do for you?


1. Shed Light on Perceptions of Your Brand


Over a third of messages posted on social networks tell you something about how customers perceive your brand. Your fans and followers will say what they think of you without being prompted. Got any preconceptions you’re trying to shake? Trying to establish a certain brand personality? Social media tells you if it’s working — directly. Your social conversations can help determine whether not just your social strategy, but your entire brand strategy is working out as intended.


2. Peek into Your Customers’ Heads


Want to really understand your customers? What are they talking about, and what does that say about them? Conversations that form around your brand can give insight that you may never have considered. Chatter around a product announcement could reveal feedback that, next time around, you can tap into. Community managers’ conversation starters can provide more than just engagement for engagement’s sake. Have you considered directly asking things about your customers? For instance, what new trends are they loving right now?


3. Understand Which Products Resonate the Best


When you promote a new product on your Facebook Page, do you listen to what your fans have to say about it? Do they love it, or have you gotten an underwhelming reaction? Are your customers calling out for changes or other things they’d love to have? This is valuable feedback for your product team, and can be achieved within minutes of posting a new product. And if you receive complaints of disappointing purchases, respond and make necessary changes. Crowdsourcing doesn’t have to be a sophisticated process; it’s just making the most of what your Facebook Page or Twitter account already knows.


4. Learn from Major Customer Issues


Complaints and questions on your Facebook Page or retweeted across the web are social media managers’ nightmares. But the only way to really stem the flow is to track the complaints that surface time and time again — and to do something about it. Be prepared to deal with these issues (pre-emptive action may help in the future), and let the rest of the business know the most serious service problems it faces.


5. Construct a Social Media Customer Conversation Plan


How do you join the ranks of those leading companies that effectively learn from their social media communities?

Here are a few starting steps to get on top of diverse and jumbled social conversations, and to make the move toward effective research and analysis.

  1. It sounds simple, but work out what it is you’d actually like to know. Categorize messages that would benefit your company (complaints, product feedback, categories related to certain product lines), then create a checklist. When you’re next working your way through conversations and find something interesting, record it.
  2. Have a conversation with every team member involved in your social channels, and establish who needs to know what. If your product team has nothing to do with social media just yet, you may have some lobbying to do. Start collecting your own data, and show them all the insight you’ve discovered. They’ll soon sit up and listen.
  3. Mark customer sentiment on your Facebook and Twitter messages so you understand customers’ satisfaction levels around specific products or marketing messages you’ve sent out. It’s a really simple way to understand opinions.
  4. Group all relevant messages by the categories you’ve defined. This will make it easy for you to look through and analyze customer sentiment by product or service. Keep in mind that uncovering real insight relies upon representative data. If you’re working at any scale, you’ll need a tool to help you extract and categorize information.
  5. Put it all into a weekly report to share with your colleagues.

Social media insight is something worth capitalizing on. If you have a social media presence, you’re already generating valuable, organic data. The next step is to prevent it slipping through the cracks.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, TommL

More About: contributor, customer service, features, How-To, Marketing, social data


February 11 2012

January 23 2012

How to Register Your New Business Name


You’ve brainstormed, polled your family and friends and conducted some kind of focus group testing. You’ve come up with a cool domain name. Finally, you’ve crossed one of the trickiest hurdles for any new business — finding the right name for your new brand.

But not so fast. Before you unleash your name on the world, you’ve got to dot a few administrative “i’s” and cross a few legal “t’s.” There are three key legal steps in the naming process.

  • Make sure the name is available.
  • Register the name with your state.
  • Register your property (a.k.a. the name) with the federal government.

Keep in mind that trademark law is complex. While this is a brief introduction to the steps involved, there are specific situations that may vary.

SEE ALSO: How to Pick the Right Name for Your Business


1. Make Sure the Name Is Available to Use


Before you start ordering letterhead and marketing material, you need to make sure your name is available in the state where you are planning to conduct business, and also nationwide. No one wants to find themselves on the wrong end of a trademark dispute. First, there could be punitive damages and legal fees to pay. And even more costly, you could be ordered to rename your company immediately — putting you back at square one in terms of brand recognition.

  • Before you incorporate or register your business with your state, check the state’s database of company names.
  • At this point, you should also conduct a free trademark search to check if your business name is available to use at the federal level. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) offers a free search tool to see if your name is available to use nationwide.
  • It’s also important to know that you can still infringe upon someone else’s mark even if they’ve never formally registered it with the USPTO. For this reason, you’ll also need to do a comprehensive nationwide trademark search into state and local databases (beyond just your own state). This should include common law and county registrars. You can find affordable online services to simplify this task for you by performing a comprehensive search into state and local databases.

2. Register the Name With Your State


When you incorporate or form an LLC for your new business, the name is registered with your state’s secretary of state. Before approving your application, the secretary of state’s office checks that your name is distinguishable from all other business names registered in the state (just in case you didn’t search yourself in step one). Once approved, the business name is yours, and yours alone, to use within the state. This act protects anyone else from using your name within your state, but it doesn’t offer any kind of protection in the other 49 states.

If you’re not planning on incorporating or forming an LLC, you can still register a business name using a DBA (Doing Business As), which is also known as a Fictitious Business Name. It’s the easiest type of registration, and can be completed through your county government offices.

If you’ve started a business that’s physically tied to your state — such as a hair salon or a restaurant — and have no plans to expand into other states, registering your name with the state or county might be enough brand protection for you. However, if you’re planning to conduct business outside your own state (i.e. you sell a product or provide services to clients who live elsewhere), you should look into trademark protection.


3. Register a Trademark with the Federal Government


You’re not actually required by law to register a trademark. Use of a name instantly gives you common law rights as an owner, even without formal registration. However, as mentioned above, trademark law is complex. Simply registering a DBA in your state doesn’t automatically grant you common law rights; in order to claim first use, the name has to be “trademarkable” and in use in commerce.

Registering a trademark offers a few advantages:

  • Trademarks registered with the USPTO enjoy significantly stronger protection than “common law” marks, or unregistered marks. When you register a trademark, it’s exponentially easier for you to recover your properties — for example, if someone happens to be using a close variation of your domain name or is using your company name as their Twitter handle.
  • A trademark is property — it has value and can be sold as a corporate asset.

To register your business name, you’ll need to file an application with the USPTO. Expect to pay approximately $325 per class in application fees that your mark would fall under. Once you submit your application, the process can take anywhere from 6-12 months, so it’s smart to perform a comprehensive trademark search before starting the application process. If your selected name is not available, your application will be rejected. You’ll lose your application fee, not to mention any time invested in the application.

While the process of registering a trademark is more involved than registering a DBA, rights to your name will be enforced by both the federal and state governments.


Take the Right Steps


As you’re getting your company off the ground, make sure to take brand protection seriously. You’ve spent untold hours deliberating the ideal name, and you’ll be spending even more time cultivating brand recognition. Your name represents your brand and business, so take the right steps up front to protect your identity.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, shironosov, Flickr, thinkpanama

More About: features, How-To, LLC, registration, Small Business

For more Business coverage:


January 19 2012

Teach What You Know: How to Make a Living on Skillshare


Nate Cooper is an independent academic and co-organizer of Reboot Workshop, an un-conference for nontraditional workers.

Skillshare is a platform for instructor-led, in-person classes. You can search for classes to take or propose to teach a class topic.

As the name implies, Skillshare is a community of experts and entrepreneurs; therefore, the best teachers are some of the most intrepid students. And if you set your mind to it, teaching on Skillshare can actually help sustain your livelihood, without the traditional overhead of an institution. Here’s how.


1. Teach What You Know


Before teaching, choose a class title and write up a description that will entice students. Skillshare students are a savvy bunch; people are willing to spend money if they know the class is worth it.

Then propose a class topic based on what you know. You may already charge a certain fee for consulting or corporate training, but keep in mind the average Skillsharer is just like you. What would you pay — out of pocket — for a marketing class?

As an instructor, you may be more than qualified (and may have even taught your subject at NYU for $800 per student), but in the Skillshare world you have to build a separate reputation based not only on your resume, but also on your personality. Skillshare recommends keeping prices low (less than $20), but some classes sell with a price tag north of $100. The secret is value: How long is your class? How many dollars per hour is a student paying? Are you providing refreshments? My class is $75 for three hours ($25 per hour) and I always provide fresh fruit and snacks for my weary, after-work crowd.


2. Research


As with any major project, you’re going to want to look at the current market — not only on Skillshare, but also in places like traditional colleges and community teaching spaces. There are thousands of classes out there. What makes yours unique? What makes you unique?

The more you’re able to hone your skills into a focused outline, the easier it will be to understand your content and what makes it special. You’ll need to organize your thoughts on your subject in a way that makes sense to you and your students. For me that meant writing a book-length outline of notes and thoughts. I kept fleshing it out until I had addressed all the questions and conclusions to which my students would logically arrive.

I spoke at the WordPress NYC Meetup and started my own meetup group. This served two purposes: First, it kept me in good practice for public speaking, and second, it helped me understand student questions surrounding my topic. The questions help to inform my notes, which are now lengthy enough that I’m collecting them into a full book to be published.

My method and advice is to practice, practice, practice, write. Then speak about what you’re writing about. Write about the questions you get and then speak some more. This type of creative cycle helps to perfect your content so your course is that much better.

Lauryn Ballesteros, who teaches the Skillshare class Hustle 101: Get More Clients & Close More Deals echos this sentiment. “Be generous. Most people worry about money in the beginning, when they should really be concerned with influence,” she says. “Give tickets away for free, encourage people to bring friends, etc. You want and need credibility in the beginning. Money comes in time.”


3. Build Your Audience


The meetups I spoke at and organized also helped me to build my audience. While Skillshare is a great platform for gathering buzz around your topic, the task of actually selling class tickets is yours. That means you have to engage people. Encourage them to sign up for your mailing list or follow you on Skillshare. The service’s commenting system is a great way to engage students and watchers alike.

Ballesteros says, “Tell people about it. Tweet, Facebook, email friends, anyone who has the attention of a 100 people or more you should reach out to. The bigger the better, but the important thing is that you start.”

It also helps to partner with existing organizations. I partnered with New Work City, a co-working space, so that I could have a home for my class and also meet people in various groups. New Work City has also promoted my class in its newsletter. People in the co-working space provided me constructive feedback about my work and teaching, and also introduced me to Skillshare in the first place.


4. Manage Your Economics


By now you might be wondering how to make Skillshare a significant part of your income. For some, it means doing series of classes. This can take up more of your time, but will provide you a reliable estimate of your monthly income. You can also work with your venue to receive discounts if you are doing groups of classes.

Another way is to monetize other areas around your classes. For example, one class might be an entry-level introduction to you as a consultant. Some of my students have hired me for on-site training, for which I charge an hourly rate.

I also hope to turn my book into a resource for other income, and make it available to students of the class. Think of the class as an advertisement for your brand. The trick is to vary up your offerings.

Between high- and low-ticket classes, books, speaking and consulting, you’ll be able to make Skillshare a cornerstone of your income. Ticket sales for classes occur throughout the month, so if you are offering up a few, it’s way to income generation that doesn’t happen with regular consulting alone. It may not pay all the bills every month, but if you freelance as well, it helps round out your skills by simultaneously networking and advertising while making money.


5. Share


A good Skillshare instructor is a good Skillshare student. You’ll want to take as many classes as you teach. Your role as a teacher is never complete, as you must update your content regularly. If a student has a suggestion or question, incorporate it into the next course.

If you’re alert and you keep your mind open, your audience will grow organically and you’ll receive great comments on the class Skillshare page. Positive feedback leads to more students, and once you have a student base attending your classes, you’re on your way to becoming a professional teacher — all on your own.

Images courtesy of Flickr, nomanson, Official GDC

More About: contributor, education, features, freelance, How-To, skillshare

For more Business coverage:


January 16 2012

How to Pick the Right Name for Your Business


Abstract or dead simple? Clever irony? Cute and playful? There are endless paths to take when brainstorming your new business name. But for many small business owners and entrepreneurs, the naming process is fraught with uncertainty and doubt.

Yet, the stakes couldn’t be higher. A business begins with a name — the cornerstone of company identity that shapes branding, company tone and first impressions. Whether you’ll be name-brainstorming yourself or have hired a branding firm, here are a few tips to help you pick the right name for your new business.

1. Set the tone. Your business name sets the tone for all that follows. Think about what’s important to you and your business. What’s the first thing you want a customer to think in regard to your business? For example, a young company breaking into the financial advising field may be more concerned about credibility, and thus forgo the edgy, attention-grabbing name. Your own tone can be playful or academic, edgy or professional. Just make sure it reflects what your business is and what you want it to be in the future.

2. Simple is strong. A powerful name is easy to spell, pronounce and remember. After all, what good is word-of-mouth if your customer tells a friend, “You really should look up my caterer for your next event. I think their name begins with an A…”

If you need to explain a business name, you’ve failed to make an impact. One creative marketing consultant selected a variant of the name Agora for her business, loving the connection to the ancient Greek word agora, meaning marketplace. She quickly abandoned the name when a colleague’s first reaction was “I get it. Sometimes I feel agoraphobic when I’ve got a big project too.”

3. Do not use initials! We all know the business landscape has an affinity for acronyms, but try to avoid using initials for your company name. A random collection of letters doesn’t inspire an emotional connection. And you can run into legal and branding headaches by juggling two different business names (the initials and the name spelled out).

4. Opt for a descriptive name. A descriptive name helps frame your company better than a generic one. For example, consider Speedy Electronics vs. Speedy, Inc. Adding this qualifier instantly tells potential customers what your business is all about.

5. Don’t box yourself in. While descriptive is good, you don’t want your name to be too descriptive, in case you end up expanding your offerings down the road. Imagine if Target still went by its original name, Dayton Dry Goods Company. You need to consider where your brand is today, as well as where you want to go in the future.

6. Watch out for language pitfalls. A word in English may have a negative meaning in another language or culture. And enthusiastic business owners can be blind to awkward puns and double entendres. The best way to avoid creating an embarrassing or damaging brand situation is to test your name on your target audiences; they may see something you missed.

7. Give any new name time to sink in. It can take some time for a new name to feel right, and you may need to use your name for several months before it starts to feel natural. This is particularly true when a name is off the beaten path, which is often the case for some the industry’s most memorable and impactful names. Just imagine the initial reaction to the name “Google.”

Along these lines, a strong brand or product can overcome a potentially ill-conceived name. When Apple first unveiled its tablet, I was skeptical of the choice in name. I was far from alone. Yet fast forward a few years and the word “iPad” is a natural part of my daily vernacular (and I never think of feminine hygiene).

8. Don’t finalize too soon. The most important lesson is not to get too attached to any one name during the brainstorming process. When inspiration strikes, it’s all too tempting to start envisioning your company logo, web design, signage, business cards, etc. But you’ve got to make sure that perfect name is legally available for you to use — no one wants to be on the wrong end of a trademark dispute.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, DNY59

More About: Business, features, How-To, Launching, mashable, name, Startups

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January 12 2012

January 06 2012

10 Ways to Refresh Your Digital Life for the New Year


1. Do Some Twitter Maintenance




When was the last time you gave your Twitter account some attention? The New Year (and the arrival of the Twitter's new look) is a great opportunity to do a little maintenance.

You can weed out inactive accounts you follow with Untweeps, take a look at who is following you with no follow back via Tweeter Karma and get your lists in better order with Formulists.

While you're at it, why not refresh your avatar, make sure your bio and web link are up to date and check that only the applications you actively use have access to your account?

Click here to view this gallery.

The New Year offers a fresh start. It’s a fantastic time to reset your goals, aims and ambitions. In addition to making positive changes in the real world, it’s also a great opportunity to refresh your digital life.

Here are 10 suggestions for revamping “digital you” in 2012. From starting good habits like backup and computer maintenance to de-cluttering your gadgets, our tips will help you launch into the New Year as a more organized and efficient person.

Take a look through our gallery. Share in the comments any tips, tricks and tools you will be using to get in good shape digitally in the New Year.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Rachael Towne

More About: features, Gadgets, How-To, software, Tech


January 05 2012

How to Get the Most Out of Google Analytics


After we published a primer for using Google Analytics, readers said they were hungry for more.

Google Analytics has since revamped its design, giving it not only a cleaner look but also updated data sets. You can now find everything from real-time stats to details about which mobile device your site visitors come from.

Though the data possibilities seem endless, Google Analytics product manager Phil Mui says the design reflects three core metrics: acquisition, engagement and outcome. Let’s take a closer look at what these numbers mean and how you can track them with one of the most widely used web analytics platforms.


Acquisition


The lowest-hanging fruit of web analytics is counting metrics. This data encompasses the number of visitors that come to your site and can be filtered to show what sites they’re coming from and how many of them have or haven’t been to your site before. In Google Analytics, this is described as “Visits.”

SEE ALSO: 10 New Google Analytics Features You Need to Start Using

The tool has long provided information about where your visitors are coming from (geographically and on the web), what language they speak, how often they visit your site and what computers and browsers they use to get there. More recently, Google Analytics released mobile reporting. As people increasingly access the web from smartphones and tablets, this information is key to optimizing your site for those looking at it from a mobile device. This and most visitor-specific information can be found under the Audience tab. On report pages, the Visits metric can be found in the upper-left, while New Visits — the percentage of visitors coming to your site for the first time — is second in from the right.

Measuring how many people are coming to your site is the most cut and dried — but it’s only one piece of the metrics pie.


Engagement


These numbers consider the quality of your site traffic. Once visitors come to your site, they’ll do one of three things: read the page they came to, click to more pages beyond their entry page, or leave. Engagement metrics focus on these actions visitors are taking once they get to your site — and how good you are at keeping them there.

The three key engagement metrics in Google Analytics are:

  • Pages per Visit: This is the average number of pages a visitor views when coming to your website. The more engaging your site is, the more inclined visitors will be to continue clicking beyond the entry page.
  • Average Time on Site: This refers to the typical amount of time visitors spend on your site, despite whether they continue to stay on the page they came in on or navigate elsewhere within your domain.
  • Bounce Rate: This represents the percentage of single-page visits to your site. It gives you a sense of how many visitors left your site from the entrance page rather than clicking further into your site as compared to total visitors. Like Pages per Visit, Bounce Rate can help you determine the performance of your entry pages based on the actions visitors take (or don’t take) after they’ve arrived on your site.

Engagement metrics are especially important for reports created in the Traffic Sources and Content tabs. On report pages, Pages per Visit and Average Time on site are located at the top middle of report pages, while Bounce Rate is at the far right.

So, how do you know if your site is “engaging?” Ask yourself: Is your site user-friendly? How simple is it for a visitor to click to the next page? Is there interactive content in which your readers can participate? Does landing page content match the keywords in its title? Considering these questions when designing your site is a surefire way to improve the quality of your web traffic.


Outcome


The Goals area is where your data tracking can really help you make a difference. These outcome-oriented metrics help you dive deeper into your site performance and learn whether you’re achieving what you want with your website.

The first step is defining your business objectives: Are you driving visitors to make online purchases? Getting them to view a specific piece of content? Aiming for more newsletter signups? Once you’ve pinned down your site goals, make sure your site administrator enables Goals in Google Analytics in the Account Settings page. Then you can choose one of four Goal types to track:

  • URL destination: This metric is best if your goal is to get visits to a key page of your site, such as your homepage or a post-purchase message page.
  • Time on Site: If you’re looking to measure engagement, this will track visitors spending a defined amount of time on your site.
  • Pages per Visit: Also important for engagement, Pages per Visit will keep tabs on a defined number of pages visitors view in a session on your site.
  • Events: Released in the most recent version of Google Analytics, Event Goals allow you to track specific actions visitors are taking on a page. This includes anything from downloading a PDF to watching a video.

Goals reports can be found under the Conversions tab, which will provide information about goal completions and conversion rates. You can opt to track goal value and abandonment rates (the percentage of visitors who fail to convert on the goal) as well.

If you’re an online retailer, it may make more sense for you to set up Ecommerce in Google Analytics, which allows you to track transactions and order values. It’s a more complicated setup process, but will provide more actionable metrics for visitors’ purchasing behavior on your site. For Google Adwords users, linking your account to Google Analytics goals can help you keep a closer eye on your marketing campaigns.


Other Noteworthy Features


One problem with the analytics industry, Mui says, is that tools give users so much information — but they’re not as good at telling users what they need to know. That’s why Google Analytics improved its Intelligence product in the most-recent update. It searches your site traffic for anything out of the ordinary and then alerts you to the anomaly. You can see all your alerts in a simple graph, where you can drill into and annotate specific events.

If you’re running a dynamic website that frequently publishes new content, Google Analytics Real-Time helps you understand what content is working best and what sites are sending you the most traffic at any given moment. It’s less useful for providing more long-term actionable insights.

For more useful v5 products, check out our top 10 features of the new Google Analytics.


Conclusion


While your level of interest in these key numbers and features may differ depending on your role and organization, these data points have become the standard for web analytics today. Whether you’re strategizing for a massive corporation or bolstering your personal web presence, understanding acquisition, engagement and outcome metrics is a must. “If content is king, then context is queen,” Mui says.

Which of these metrics and features are most important to your business? Has tracking them helped you improve your site? Tell us in the comments below.

More About: features, Google, google analytics, How-To, web


December 30 2011

HOW TO: Move Your Domain Name Account


Dec. 29 is also known as “Dump GoDaddy Day.” The initiative to move domains hosted with GoDaddy to other domain registrars was started spurred on by reddit user “SelfProdigy,” in the wake of GoDaddy’s public support for the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA).

Even though GoDaddy has since reversed course, the company has continued to face backlash from users across the web.

Anti-SOPA reigstrars such as Name.com and NameCheap are encouraging users to spread the word about SOPA — and are even donating funds towards anti-SOPA groups such as the Electronic Freedom Foundation.

Unfortunately, the process for moving a domain name from one registrar to another is way more complicated than it should be. We wanted to help shine a light on the domain transfer process. Although this gallery focuses on GoDaddy, the advice for DNS, email and web hosting are applicable to any registrar.


Step 1: Go to "Domain Management"




Login to your GoDaddy account and head to the "Domain Management" section.

This will open up a page that allows you to manage your various domain names.

Click here to view this gallery.


The Transfer Process


Before transferring a domain name, make sure that you match the following conditions:

  • The domain name is more than 60 days old — if you just registered a new domain, you’ll need to wait until 60 days have passed to transfer to a new registrar.
  • The domain is unlocked. By default, registrars lock domains. This prevent nefarious parties from transferring items away on your behalf. Before transferring to a new registrar, you’ll need to unlock the domain with your current service provider.
  • The domain name isn’t within 7 days of expiration. If your domain is almost up for renewal, you’ll need to renew with your existing registrar, then move.
  • Your admin contact information is correct. If you pay for registration privacy services, this may mean you need to cancel those services before initiating a transfer.

Dealing with DNS


The biggest potential hassle of transferring a domain from one registrar to another is the downtime you’ll experience if you host email or your website’s nameservers (DNS servers) with your registrar.

If you are using the nameservers of a third party, transferring your domain from one registrar to another should have no impact on your site. Likewise, if you use a service like CloudFlare that handles DNS records, transferring to a new registrar shouldn’t effect your websites uptime.

NameCheap.com has a great guide to minimizing downtime when switching to a new registrar. In NameCheap’s case, because it offers free DNS hosting, it suggests you transfer your DNS addresses for your current websites from your current registrar to NameCheap before you move domains.

After the DNS changes are made, you can move your domain over without having to worry about any downtime.

If you are unable to change your nameservers in advance, be aware that you may experience a few hours of downtime once the domain is transferred from one registrar to another.


Dealing with Email


Lots of domain registrars also offer email hosting. As with changing your DNS information, this is something you need to deal with in advance.

My advice would be to avoid hosting email with a registrar or webhost. Instead, opt for something like Google Apps. The free edition of Google Apps allows users to create 10 different accounts (as well as “catch-all” accounts) for a domain name.

Google will provide you will mail servers that you can then give your new registrar. Some registrars, such as NameCheap, even offer easy-setup for Google Apps email accounts in their settings control panel.

Google Apps is great because you can use the Gmail web interface, Google Docs and other Google tools. You can also use the mail account with stand-alone IMAP friendly email clients like Outlook or Apple Mail. I’m the rare person who is NOT a fan of the Gmail web interface, I use Apple Mail myself, but 4 of my domains have hosted Google Apps accounts.

If you’re looking for a slightly more reliable (and ad-free) solution, Fastmail.fm is a well-regarded provider that offers external domain support for $40 a year.


Other Resources


  • Glenn Fleishman at Macworld wrote an excellent guide for users looking to transfer their domains from one registrar to another that is worth a read.
  • Name.com put together this video showing the transfer process and getting users setup to use Name.com as their new registrar.

More About: domain registrar, features, godaddy, How-To, SOPA

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