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Today using funnels for conversions seems like a vital part of marketing your products but so much of that is thanks to our guest for today, Russell Brunson. Russell is the CEO of Click Funnels, a SaaS product that provides everything you need to market, sell, and deliver your products and services online through funnels. Click Funnels is approaching $200 million in revenue and they haven’t raised a cent in venture capital, so our conversation with Russell today is mostly about the funneling strategies they use to make this possible. First up though, Russell tells the story of Click Funnels’ conception, which involves his initial entrepreneurial ambition of selling DVDs containing instructions for making potato guns. After learning about sales funnels through this venture, and then developing Click Funnels, Russell found that nobody even knew what sales funnels were. We hear from him about how this problem led him to write all his books, which both act as instruction manuals for using and optimizing funnels but also behave as funnels for his company. This leads Russell to speak about the other clever ways he converts people into customers and keeps Click Funnels growing, such as webinars and challenges. Other interesting tidbits from today’s episode are the stories of how Russell made $3.2 million selling Click Funnels to the audience of Grant Cardone’s 10X event, and how Apple completely blocked his number one podcast. As you’ll find out in this episode, Russell’s love of storytelling is a key feature of his success, so make sure you catch this interview. 


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The Best SEO Tool to Grow Your Business

People like to say, “SEO is dead. SEO isn’t going anywhere. Google’s market share is declining.”

As of today, SEO is still really relevant. It’s just that a lot of people have started to move away from it, especially those who have poured all this money into it and want a pretty quick return, which makes sense. Comparatively, when you put money into paid advertising, you’re going to get returns faster versus SEO.

With venture capitalists, typically they want things to go, go, go, but if you’re building a business for the long-term, you can really operate at your own pace and using SEO is a good way to go about building a brand. When you combine SEO with content marketing you’ll eventually get a lot of traffic, maybe a couple million visits a month, and then your SEO becomes conversion rate optimization.

Learn More: Effective SEO Techniques that Work in 2017

The Best SEO Tool: Ahrefs

My favorite SEO tool is called Ahrefs.


If you listen to my podcast Marketing School at all, you’ll hear Neil Patel and I mention this tool quite a few times. If you want access to it, you can just go to (it’s an affiliate link).

So I’m going walk you through some of the features that I really like, and you can use it for your own purposes.

Take the website Lucky Gunner, for example. When I type in a domain name, I can already see that it’s ranking for 147,000 keywords. It has 2,600 or so referring domains and over 1.4 million backlinks. What I’m interested in looking at is the link velocity rate. How many new and lost referring domains and backlinks are coming in and going out?

Ahrefs LuckyGunner domains

Ahrefs shows you how well a site is doing. You can see top-level domain distribution for .com, .net, .org., etc. What’s the anchor text cloud and what does it look like? What are the anchor phrases? For Lucky Gunner, you can see that they actually have a lot of links saying “ammo” and “ammunition.”

How to Identify the Most Promising Keywords

Just by clicking on the top pages for this domain in Ahrefs, I can see all the top keywords as well. “Cheap ammo,” “ammo for sale,” “ammo” and “ammunition for sale” are the top four keywords.

Ahrefs LuckyGunner keywords

What can I do to emulate this? I could export this data and do more analysis around it. What I like to do is look for keywords that rank in the top 5-30 positions, the low-hanging fruit, and try to push them to shoot up my traffic.

If I can get a keyword, “Sig P320” for instance, from a number five position to a number one position, the click-through rate may double or triple. If the CTR rate is at 5-10% right now, that’s 2,500 clicks. If I can get it anywhere between 20-40%, that’s 20,000 clicks—a massive difference.

You can also look at organic keyword movement and see how that’s fluctuating. You can track different keywords. You can use the keyword explorer tool to see how many links you need to have in the top 10 for a certain keyword. You can see PPC keywords. You can even look at the content gap.

Ahrefs keyword explorer tool

What Is a Content Gap?

Ahref lets you see what other sites rank for that your domain doesn’t rank for—this is called the content gap.

It gives you high-priority content ideas that will let you get in front of audiences you didn’t even know you had.

You can see that Lucky Gunner is not ranking for keywords like “AR-15,” for example. So maybe Lucky Gunner should be writing about AR-15s, right? There are a lot of different things that can be written about that are content opportunities.

I also like the content explorer. I can type in a keyword and look at the top shared content. I want to look at pieces that are most linked to, and then see who’s linking to them. Those are the people I’m going to reach out to when I create an even better piece of content.

Ahrefs content explorer

Ahrefs is good for everything from rank tracking to PPC competitive analysis. There’s an alerting feature that you can set that lets you look at new links that your competitors are getting. So I can look at new links coming to my site to build relationships and look at keyword movements for my site.

Learn More: 20 Ways to Grow Your SEO Rankings

There’s a lot that you can do with this tool. It really is the complete SEO tool that I’m looking for. This is an affiliate link which means that I will get a commission if you do actually purchase it, so thanks for your support! It truly is my most recommended SEO tool, so hopefully it is helpful to you.

This post was adapted from Eric’s Facebook Live videos: Growth 90 – DAILY live broadcasts with Eric Siu on marketing and entrepreneurship. Watch the video version of this post:

Why You Should Double Down on What Works and Ignore the Rest

Let’s talk about why you should double down on what’s working and ignore all the noise around you.

The Next Shiny Object Syndrome

With marketing or any kind of business, you’re always interested in looking at the next thing. I was just actually looking at a thread in an online entrepreneur’s forum yesterday, a Facebook Group, and one person brought up a good point. She said:

As entrepreneurs, how do you control yourselves from moving onto the next shiny object?

I think a lot of entrepreneurs are on the ADHD spectrum, myself included. They always want to start new things. There’s a shiny object here, another one over there, and look at that one right there!

It’s the next, big opportunity that excites us. I think that’s how we all are.

From a marketing perspective, when you look at your business, I think it’s important to look at what has been working for you and double down on that.

I’ve seen some people trying to jump on these new channels whenever they pop up. They’re on Snapchat. They’re on Instagram. Whenever the next big social media channel pops up, they’ll be on it like gravy. It’s fine when you’ve nailed down one thing and maxed it out, but a lot of people are just trying too many things at once.

Related Content: The Marketer’s Guide to Snapchat

I’ve certainly fallen victim to next-shiny-thing syndrome in the past. I’ve reeled it in a little bit over the years. Now, from a marketing perspective and a lead-gen perspective, I only think about what’s actually working for Single Grain.

What’s Working for Single Grain

It’s always been one thing: content. It’s always been about adding value and educating people. Whether it’s through podcasts or videos or blog posts, content has always moved the needle.

Single Grain blog

It’s the same thing for SEO. You have to look at all the content you’ve been writing. Right now, we’re increasing our traffic by just upgrading our content. Again, it’s all about education. What can we do to continue to educate people and double down on the types of content that are working? Then we say to ourselves, “X type of content has clearly been working. Now let’s layer paid advertising on top.”

That is, in effect, doubling down on something instead of trying to do all this other crazy stuff. You could think about making funnels and things like that down the road. That’s also educating people, but first you have to think about what works for you.

Content Is Still King

I always like going back to the example of Apple in the early days. They just focused on the personal computer they had, the first Mac. They doubled down on that first product of theirs for years and years until Apple was finally a household name.


From a marketing perspective, look at what’s really been crushing it for you. At Treehousewhere I used to work, YouTube Ads did really well for us. We went all in on that and then we started diversifying into other forms of marketing.

Learn More: A Step-by-Step Checklist For a Successful YouTube Ad Campaign

The important takeaway is that you shouldn’t be guesstimating anything. Look at the numbers and the data and make good, sound decisions based off of that. The mistake a lot of smart people still make is they don’t look at what’s actually working and try to double or triple down on it.

How Successful People Became Successful

When Warren Buffett and Bill Gates were asked, “What leads to your success?” they both had the same answer: focus.

I find that whenever I start focusing more on the agency, things just blow up in terms of growth. This year, we’ll probably do 2.5 to 3x more business than we did last year, and I don’t see it stopping anytime soon. I think it’s just going to continue to stack. And it’s because I’ve decided to focus on what works: content that educates our best leads.

So double down on what works for you. Look at your analytics. Look at your search console. Look at how your paid advertising is doing. Look at what truly is providing the most impact.

I would even say take it one step further and ask yourself: How much is a lead actually worth to you? How much is a customer actually worth to you? If you can figure out that number then the sky’s the limit because then you’ll know exactly how much to pay for advertising to acquire the optimal number of new customers each month.

For us, it’s all about educating with our content.

This post was adapted from Eric’s Facebook Live videos: Growth 90 – DAILY live broadcasts with Eric Siu on marketing and entrepreneurship. Watch the video version of this post:

3 Competitive Analysis Tools Every Marketer Should Use

Let’s talk about some simple ways to do competitive analysis. I’m just going to go through a couple of marketing tools I often use.


First and foremost is Ahrefs, which I use all the time. If you want to get access, just go to

Let’s put Nike into Ahrefs, as an example. You can see that their domain ranking/domain authority is scored on a scale of 1-100. Nike has 73, which is great. They have over 105,000 referring domains pointing to their site. They ranked for over 500,000 organic keywords, which means that they drive over 8.8 million visits per month.

Related Content: Analysis of 1 Million Backlinks: Dollar Shave Club (Part 6/10)

Ahrefs Nike Competitive Analysis

Now, these are by no means exact numbers, but it does give you a realistic range in terms of where Nike’s at and how many keywords they’re bidding on. You can start with organic keywords and see the keywords they’re ranking for, the volume they drive, which pages they’re ranking for, and go from there.

Ahrefs Nike organic keywords

You can also see what features they have for specific keywords. Do they have site links? Are they in the image pack? Are they in a knowledge panel as well?

If I were to search for Nike right now, just to show you what I mean…

Google Nike

…they have an ad showing. Then they have a link right there. They have images. They have the knowledge box, as well, and so on. 

I also like to look at ads (to see what types of offers and images they’re using), as well as top pages (to see what I or my client can emulate). With Nike, there’s obviously a lot of Nike-related branded keywords, but we want to see what else they have that’s not tied to Nike specifically.

I can filter by position, from 5 to 30, if I want to look for low-hanging fruit keywords. Like “marathon training” for example or “half marathon training schedule.” Ahrefs shows me the types of low-hanging keywords that Nike is ranking well for, and then I just click on the page and ask myself, “Well, what I can do to emulate that? What can I do to beat this page?”

Alex Morgan, the soccer star, is ranking 14 for it. “Nike size chart,” “10K training plan,” I can see all these different keywords right here.

Obviously, for the brand-related keywords, they’re going to do well on those almost always. But I can get some ideas from their other top pages and see how I can emulate those. 

Ahrefs can also help you see the content gap, which is just great. For example, I can type in,, Reebok, etc. By doing this, we can see all the things that Nike and Adidas rank for, but that Reebok does not rank for.

Ahrefs content gap

Now let’s look at marketing blogs. Let’s look at Neil Patel, Quick Sprout, and Single Grain. This will give me some content ideas. We can see that Quick Sprout ranks for all the expected keywords: they’re #7 for “online marketing” and #12 for “marketing automation.” A lot of great keywords that can help me (if I were a competing marketing blog) come up with great ideas for the types of content I should be creating.

Learn More: 7 Tips to Creating Killer Blog Posts that No One Else Is Writing

Ahrefs keywords Quick Sprout

Then I can just export this info, maybe select 1,000 rows, for example, and hit export.

We can also look at PPC keywords. Going back to Nike—what are they bidding on, exactly? What’s the URL? We can look at their top landing pages, too. All this will help us get an idea of what they’re doing.

So, there’s a lot that we can do with Ahrefs. Just go to


Another great tool that I use is Adbeat.


Adbeat gives me a deeper look at how certain companies are spending, what ads they have, and where they’re spending. Let’s take Jet for example. Let’s say they spend $121 million. You can see that their ad spend is actually increasing over time. Most of their spend is going towards Google, and to Direct Buy as well.

Adbeat Jet

Then we can look at the different kind of creative stuff they’re running, and how much spend went towards this creative component. We can also look at their newest campaigns. We can look at competitors, too. And, just as we did with Ahrefs, we can export all this Adbeat info and make it into a PowerPoint presentation. That’s a lot of actionable information at my fingertips.

One thing to keep in mind is that usually the spend amounts on these kinds of tools are incorrect. Same thing with a traffic map. I would say take the traffic or the ad spend with a grain of salt.


Finally, let’s look at SimilarWeb, another tool I love to use for investigating competitors.


Let’s go back to Nike and look at how they’re doing. We can see that this is their traffic trends over time. It’s saying that they get 54 million visits a month.

SimilarWeb Nike

Category rank for shopping and sports, they’re number one. It shows you the different mobile apps that they have for Google Play, App Store as well. Lot of different stuff going on here. You can see their traffic by country and where the bulk of their traffic is coming from and where their referrals are coming from. It’s search, and then direct, and then you have referrals, too.

You can see keywords plus which are paid, their social and how they’re doing there. You can see their distribution and then display advertising. Their sub-domains, too. You can also dive deeper and look at certain categories.

So, with these three great competitive analysis tools, there’s a lot that you can see.

This post was adapted from Eric’s Facebook Live videos: Growth 90 – DAILY live broadcasts with Eric Siu on marketing and entrepreneurship. Watch the video version of this post:

Why You Should Consider Buying an Existing Website

Quick post today to show you how to outrank your competitors fast with SEO.

But first and foremost, in a recent Growth Everywhere podcast I interview the cofounder of Crush Empire, Bryce Welker. He talks about how he acquired 80 million customers (50% through conferences and 15% through cold calls) or got them to take an action, and you should definitely check it out.

And on the Marketing School podcast, we talk about how to outrank your competitors with fewer links. All good stuff for marketers.

Why We Recently Bought a Website

For one of the projects that I have, we ended up buying another website. We went around searching for sites that looked like they were kind of dead by using Ahrefs. Some people were looking for millions of dollars for their sites, but we were able to get one fairly cheap.


A lot of sites in this niche are fairly outdated so we looked at what keywords they were ranking for and basically all we did is just redirect traffic. And, quite frankly, traffic is really up.

Just look for expiring domains in a target niche and look at what tends to rank well and what hasn’t been updated in a long time. Reach out to the webmasters and see if they’re interested in getting rid of it.

Related Content: 3 Things We’ve Learned From Ranking For Competitive Keywords With Viral Traffic

One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure

In this case, the webmaster was simply not interested anymore. He wanted to go pursue other things. As they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Once you have the site, you can either take it or you can redirect the traffic. We opted for the latter.

If you want a quick fix, and an SEO booster shot, this is one way to go about it. After we used Escrow to complete the transaction, it was smooth sailing.


This post was adapted from Eric’s Facebook Live videos: Growth 90 – DAILY live broadcasts with Eric Siu on marketing and entrepreneurship. Watch the video version of this post:

GE Here’s Why Focusing Too Much on Conversions Can Actually Hurt Your ROI

This post originally appeared on Single Grain, a growth marketing agency focused on scaling customer acquisition.

Creating a lucrative and scalable revenue model can be difficult, especially if you focus on the wrong end goals.

Brands often fail to generate a decent Return On Investment because they are too hung up on specific elements of their sales funnel. A preoccupation with certain types of conversions is just one of the reasons that your ROI can collapse.

Don’t Become Obsessed With Conversions

Andrew Baird wrote an insightful LinkedIn post about the pitfalls of focusing too heavily on conversions. He asked a client for financial details, which apparently took the client by surprise.

“‘Why do you need to know my financials? Don’t you just need the conversion stats?’ the client asked.”

Baird pointed out that conversions themselves didn’t necessarily mean much if they failed to generate money. You can suffer a negative ROI if you are selling low-ticket items or can’t turn many of your leads into sales.

“Increasing conversions when every sale makes you very little (or loses you money!) won’t help,” Baird writes. “Equally if your conversions are at 75% [then] starting with conversions won’t give you the biggest bang for your efforts.”

Conversions are essential events in your revenue model. However, a specific conversion is useless if you view it as the ultimate end goal.

Learn More: LeadPages CEO Clay Collins Talks About How To Ramp Up Your Conversion Rates (Up To 75%!)

How Valuable Are Your Conversions?


Do you know what your conversions are really worth? There’s no point in prioritizing them until you know, because determining the value of them is necessary to estimate your ROI.

It’s important to remember that most of your leads will never translate into sales. According to research from Marketing Sherpa, only 7% of leads turn into paying customers. Of course, this is a rough estimate, and conversion rates vary by industry and company. But it shows that the vast majority of conversions never generate any revenue.

Here is the equation you must follow to calculate your lead value:

Lead Value = Lead Conversion Rate * Average Sale from a Conversion

ROI = Lead Value / Average Cost of Generating the Lead

The math behind this model is simple, but these equations can be difficult to apply in real-life situations. Remember that some leads will convert to sales more easily than others. Also, some leads are more likely to convert into higher-paying customers.

You need to understand how certain types of traffic convert and how many of those leads will turn into paying customers.

For example, let’s assume that you are setting up a Google AdWords campaign. You bid on one keyword for $0.40 a click and another for $0.30 a click. You might find that the conversion rate (possibly an e-mail opt-in) on your landing page is 20% for both of these keywords. However, the lead-to-sales rate is 10% for the first keyword but only 5% for the second keyword.

The average revenue from leads generated with the first keyword is $30 and $20 for the second keyword.

In this situation, you’re paying 33% more for every lead that you generate with the first keyword that you’re bidding on. However, you are generating three times as much revenue from each lead with that keyword. This means that your ROI is over 130% higher by bidding on the keyword with the higher CPC.

If you were focused exclusively on generating as many conversions as you could for the lowest possible cost, you would actually be generating a much lower ROI.

Read More: Here’s How to Use Web Analytics to Boost Content Marketing Performance

Why Is an Obsession with Conversions Problematic?

There are several reasons that a preoccupation with conversions can actually be counterproductive. Here are some issues that you need to be aware of:

Conversions are arbitrarily defined

You could consider any action that a user takes to be a conversion. Subscribing to an e-mail list, submitting a quote request, or simply visiting your website are all examples of conversions. Unfortunately, none of these actions by themselves yield revenue.

You could easily increase your conversions just by setting lower goals when defining conversions. For example, instead of counting quote requests, you could focus on the number of users that show any interest in one of your products (such as asking a question about the product).

You’ll probably have a higher number of conversions, but you haven’t improved the effectiveness of your marketing funnel.  

Free Bonus Download: Get this handy checklist of 15 simple and actionable ways to increase the numbers in your sales funnel. Click here to download it free.

Lead quality varies

Some conversions are much more valuable than others. You might encourage 5,000 people to subscribe to your e-mail list, submit a quote request, or take some other action, but few of those leads will ever pan out. Your lead-to-sales conversion rate might be especially low if you make the following mistakes:

Some brands are tempted to make these mistakes because they want to pad their conversion numbers. This can be particularly problematic if you’re relying on a marketing team that’s compensated based on the quantity rather than the quality of your leads. This is why many brands with affiliate programs compensate their affiliates for sales rather than leads.

Better Sales Funnel Planning

So, if you shouldn’t worry as much about your site’s specific conversion numbers, what should you put your energy into instead? The following suggestions will help you better create and optimize a fully-functioning funnel:

Determine which conversions matter most

As mentioned above, conversions are arbitrarily-defined concepts. If you truly want to make your sales funnel work effectively, you’ve got to isolate specific conversion cases and determine exactly which conversions mean the most for business.

Following the description above, opting in to an e-mail list, submitting a quote request or taking other actions (from downloading case studies to making sales) all constitute conversions. And if you focus exclusively on boosting conversions, you’d treat all these options equally, even though — from a business standpoint — they don’t all make an equal contribution to your bottom line.

The point of this article isn’t to convince you that tracking conversions is useless — far from it. The goal is to help you recognize that you need to be more exacting with your measurements. It’ll take some time and effort, but it’s crucial that you identify what a given conversion means to your business in terms of dollars and cents so that you can focus your marketing efforts on the conversion types that move the needle most.

Plan strong TOFU, MOFU and BOFU content

If you aren’t familiar with these acronyms, here’s a breakdown:

We aren’t just talking vegan protein sources here — we’re talking about the content that’s needed to guide website visitors through all stages of your buying process. Each piece of the puzzle is important, and yet TOFU and MOFU content is often set to the side in favor of a focus on conversion-driving bottom of funnel content.

Take a critical look at the content on your website. Can the pieces you’ve created be used to attract a larger audience, as good TOFU content can? Do they help visitors get familiar with the features and benefits of your product or service, as in the case of effective MOFU content? If you’re all about the CTAs and getting viewers to take that last step (BOFU), it may be time to build out your content strategy.

Read More: How We Instantly Raised Average Order Value by 10% [case study]

Invest in proper attribution

As you’re expanding your content approach, take a careful look at how you’re attributing your conversions. In that rush to drive conversions and figure out what contributed to them, many marketers give full attribution to the last touch — the final blog post that was read, the final CTA that encouraged action or some other far-down-the-funnel variable. And why wouldn’t they? It’s by far the simplest approach.

That said, it’s a woefully inaccurate way of assessing the value of each piece of the funnel. Instead of putting all your emphasis on encouraging and tracking conversions, give at least some of that energy to the process of investing in and implementing multi-touch attribution technology. Doing so becomes more essential every day in this omni-channel, omni-device world.

Free Bonus Download: Get this handy checklist of 15 simple and actionable ways to increase the numbers in your sales funnel. Click here to download it free.

Don’t Neglect Your Sales Funnel

Generating leads is essential if you want to earn sales down the road. However, even the most targeted leads don’t turn into customers on their own. You need to carefully nurture them before a sale is made.

If you want to have a workable sales funnel, then you must execute every step correctly. You need a strategy to engage your leads and encourage them to take the next step. This process can take months, so make sure you’re committed to your goals. Keep track of your leads, define how you acquired them, and split test different variables in your marketing funnel to make it as effective as possible.

Have you found that focusing too much on conversions has hurt your ROI? Feel free to share your comments below.

Image: Wikimedia CommonsFlickr

GE - Outsourcing The Passive Path to Growing Your Business

This post originally appeared on Single Grain, a growth marketing agency focused on scaling customer acquisition.

The beauty of an online business is that it tends to be easier to scale than most traditional business models. However, in the case of Software as a Service (SaaS), some owners may find it difficult to both maintain a quality product and keep up with day-to-day operations.

Successful business owners know when and how to delegate to third parties. That means identifying areas of your business that don’t need your personal touch, and then finding the right person, agency or service to do it for you.

Here are three typical SaaS business operations to consider outsourcing:

Outsourcing - The Passive Path to Growing Your Business(1)1. Marketing

You built your business based in part on a brand identity designed to attract your target audience. “Build it and they will come” may work for a ballpark in a cornfield, but not so much in a SaaS business. You need marketing experts to create and promote your content to generate customer interest and increase sales. This expertise is easily outsourced either to individual freelancers or agencies.

It’s not just that it frees the business owner from hands-on marketing execution; it also brings in an outside, expert perspective from those already highly skilled in such areas as:

Read More: Timeless Optimization: Future-Proofing Your SEO

Outsourcing marketing functions is fairly typical among startup companies, particularly when you consider that the cost for a full-fledged marketing team with the necessary skills and knowledge can easily run into six figures. As pointed out in Forbes, smaller and newer companies also find it difficult to acquire top-notch, in-house talent because competitive opportunities elsewhere are just too plentiful.

Free Bonus Download: Get ready to receive more actionable info on timeless SEO! Click here to download it free.

2. Development and Product Maintenance

Whether or not to outsource product development and maintenance is a little more problematic than something like marketing or administrative support, particularly when deciding whether to go offshore.

Typically, routine IT development activities are outsourced overseas to take advantage of lower labor costs. While you are losing some direct control, off-shore developers are significantly less expensive than local contractors, not to mention direct employees.

The argument against outsourcing is that “hired hands” have much less invested in the company and therefore are less motivated to go “the extra mile” to achieve superior results. This might be exacerbated by offshore outsourcing where contractors have even less direct connection to you and your company. Potential cost savings may be offset by gaps in communication, performance lapses or poor quality of work that can result from hiring people who lack first-hand knowledge and experience about your company.

This is an area that has a direct bearing on your products and services. Perhaps the best rule of thumb here is what many manufacturers have learned: Offshore outsourcing can save you time and money when it comes to basic repetitive tasks that don’t require independent thinking or unique expertise. In those cases, you want someone closer to home, and possibly in-house.

That said, there are always certain skill sets you need for only a short time or for a particular project. Then it’s almost always best to outsource.

And keep in mind that the counter argument here is that contract employees are highly motivated to please you in order to retain you as a source of work, precisely because they are not guaranteed a set amount of hours.

Read More: The Statistical Case for Company Culture [infographic]

3. Customer Service

There’s a similar problem with whether to outsource your customer service. Quality of customer service can make or break a SaaS company (some estimate that as many as 90% of customers who experience poor customer service become ex-customers), so this is definitely not an area where you should cut corners. Take certain proactive steps first and consider outsourcing as a last resort, for special situations only.

Outsourcing - The Passive Path to Growing Your Business(1)

If customer support is a time-consuming task for you or your team, first examine your support tickets closely to identify any bugs, as well as missing, hidden or confusing features on your website. Take a look at any consumer data you have that can tell you what your users are searching for on your site. For instance, keyword searches can be insightful, as can content page navigation. Once you identify the most common issues, update your FAQ page to address them, and consider upping your in-app support.

Self-service is the most cost-effective way to provide customer support. Indeed, most of your customers are not only used to working out issues themselves, they prefer it—according to a Pew study, 91 percent of those surveyed favor referencing a knowledge base over contacting a company.

Pew Research Center study via Zendesk

The time you spend developing an easily-accessible and understandable knowledge base more than pays off in reducing your customer service. Moreover, the time you spend fixing bugs and problems not only reduces the strain on providing customer service, it results in a better product.

There will always be times, of course, when customers need to speak directly to you, whether by voice or an online chat. The last thing you want to do here is contract offshore because language and accent differences can be frustrating.

Free Bonus Download: Get ready to receive more actionable info on timeless SEO! Click here to download it free.

If you absolutely cannot spare your technical people to provide customer service, make sure contractors are thoroughly trained in your products—there’s nothing more annoying to a customer who has to wait for an answer while a rep is obviously scrolling through help pages. This does not inspire a lot of confidence in your brand. Still, that may end up costing you just as much as hiring in-house staff, so it might be best to reserve outsourcing customer service for slow periods only, or consider using automated voice and chat systems for those times.

How to Make Outsourcing Work

Whatever you’ve decided to outsource, you need to make sure it actually saves you time and money. Here are some things to consider:

Whether to hire a firm or an individual

Independent contractors can be less expensive, if only because you aren’t paying an agency’s overhead. Individual contractors carry certain risks, however, particularly if they work on-site. There are strict IRS rules for determining if someone is in fact an employee, regardless of whether or not you’ve hired them as a contractor. If you provide the contractor with equipment and office space, pay an hourly wage or weekly salary, and require a certain number of hours per week, the legal argument is that you are treating these people as bona fide employees, and thus are responsible for providing the same benefits as you do to regular workers.

Given that the whole point of contract workers is to eliminate employee overhead costs, it’s best to use a third-party agency to avoid such a contention. However, if the project is short-term and work is performed off-site, the independent contractor who has the precise skills you need could be the better option.

Where to find vendors and freelancers

Finding the right talent can be time consuming and overwhelming. A great way to start is to reach out to people you know who have outsourced their work before. Referrals are generally reliable and provide direct experience from a previous employer. Posting an ad on job sites like Indeed is always an option for freelancers to find you. There are also online platforms, such as Upwork, specific to connecting remote professionals to companies. If these options don’t work for you then signing up with an agency will connect you to their already established network of talent.


Making sure you feel comfortable

Check for references, industry experience and customer service levels. Ever hire a carpenter who doesn’t show up as expected because a bigger project came along and your small remodeling efforts got put on the back burner? Outsourcing firms can be guilty of the same. There’s always a certain level of trust involved when working with new people, but the more up-front due diligence you do means less time managing them later, never mind the possible aggravation if things don’t work out as planned.

Defining the terms and length of engagement

Though it’s much easier to end an outsourcing relationship than dismiss an employee (or reconstruct an internal organization), it’s always better to set clear expectations and the consequences if they are not met.

Particular things to keep in mind are the handling and control of customer data, as well as vendor responsibilities to manage the termination of a project and/or transition of responsibilities to other entities. This can help you avoid termination fees, as can limiting the contract to a fixed-period—it’s easier to say goodbye at the end of a six-month contract, as opposed to trying to terminate an open-ended agreement.

Free Bonus Download: Get ready to receive more actionable info on timeless SEO! Click here to download it free.

Final Thoughts

Outsourcing is more than a way to cut costs—it’s how to efficiently run a business.

If you are about to sell your business, of course you want to make your bottom line as attractive as possible. Outsourcing is one way to achieve it. More importantly, it’s a way to run your company efficiently and achieve your goals from start to finish. In advance of a sale, a buyer will look favorably at a passive business model and an owner who has made strategic choices about which operations to outsource.

Of course, reducing the amount of time you spend on your business is just one step toward developing a business exit strategy. You’ll need to examine the whole picture – including traffic, finances, technical, operational and legal – to determine what’s needed in order to set yourself up for a successful sale.

This post originally appeared on Single Grain, a growth marketing agency focused on scaling customer acquisition.

The Ultimate Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization

As marketers, we’re always trying to get more leads for our businesses.

But the problem is that all the traditional paid traffic channels are only getting more expensive. The average cost per click on Google Adwords is around $1-$2, with the most expensive ads costing $50 or more.

This means that the average small business spends over $100,000 on AdWords alone each year.

Facebook ads are still relatively underpriced, but they’re rising quickly: average CPC is around 40 cents worldwide, an increase of about 10 cents from 2015.  

With the rising cost of paid traffic, it’s important to hit all the “low-hanging fruit” when it comes to boosting your lead generation — and conversion rate optimization is the best way to identify and fix problems that already exist.

By making your conversion flow more efficient, you’ll increase your numbers without spending any extra money, which means that you’ll see a higher ROI on your existing investment.

In this post, we’ll show you how to run conversion rate optimization (CRO) tests on your website, what tools you should be using, and show you a few CRO case studies.

Getting Started with Conversion Rate Optimization

The first step to getting started with CRO is auditing every step of your marketing funnel. Without gathering data, you’re just guessing on what changes you should make, which means that you’ll waste time and effort on tests that don’t get you more leads instead of learning something that will boost your ROI.

Single Grain marketing funnel

What you want to do is gather data in a both quantitative and qualitative way.

Quantitative data helps you break down the numbers at each step in your funnel and figure out where the leaks are, while qualitative data can give you some deep insight into the real pain points of your customers. This can help you refine your marketing copy across the board and boost conversions.

Learn More: Step by Step Guide: How to Build a High Quality Marketing Funnel

Here are some ways you can start measuring qualitative and quantitative data:

Using Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a simple way to figure out how many people are dropping off at each step of your funnel and where the biggest leaks are. By measuring the data around your funnel, you can get better insight as to the cause of confusion for your customers at certain steps.

But first, you’ll need to set up conversion goals and funnels in Google Analytics.

Your conversion funnel in Google Analytics will show you what “flow” users go through on your site. Here’s an example of what this might look like if you’re trying to measure your order flow:

The Ultimate Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization

In the image above, users first add an item to their cart, move to the billing page, then to the payment page, then to the order review page, and finally to the sales confirmation page. It’s pretty easy to see that the largest drop off here between the “add to cart” stage and the billing page.

When it comes to optimizing conversions, you can see that it’s pretty straightforward: you’d focus on reducing cart abandonment. No guesswork here.

Learn More: How to Set Up Goals and Funnels in Google Analytics

Using Customer Surveys

One of the biggest wins you can get when it comes to CRO is optimizing your marketing copy. By making your copy more targeted to your audience’s specific pain points, you’ll increase the likelihood that they’ll stay on your site longer — more so than if you just made design changes.

Surveys are a great way to understand how to optimize your marketing copy. You can use tools like Qualaroo (to survey your website visitors) or SurveyMonkey (to survey your audience from your e-mail list or another source).

For example, here are some survey questions that we asked our audience  (via SurveyMonkey) to see how we could improve our marketing course, GrowthVault.

We matched each survey response to demographic categories with the following questions:

What revenue range does your business fall under?

How many employees does your business have?

These questions are designed to elicit open-ended, story-like responses. From there, we can pick the right stories and write compelling copy to get more customers.

Usability Testing

Usability tests are great to see what barriers prevent users from placing orders or completing a specific call to action on your site.

You can get a group of “test” users who are part of the same demographic as your ideal customer and give them a set of tasks to perform on your site — such as going through the process of placing an order. You can either watch them or have them record their screen as they’re going through this process and have them “think” out loud as they’re figuring out what to do.

Chances are you’ll find that certain areas of your site are hard to navigate or have unnecessary friction.

A quick way to conduct usability tests at once is by using a site like UserTesting.

UserTesting has a wide range of testers from different demographics. To make sure that you’re getting the right people looking at your site, you can create filters and screener questions. For example, you can have people answer what industry they work in before they go through your website.

The Ultimate Guide to Conversion Rate OptimizationSource: UserTesting

You can also set your demographic filters by criteria like age, gender, country, and even what device they should use.

The Ultimate Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization

Source: UserTesting

Setting Up Your First Landing Page Test

Depending on how much traffic you’re getting to your site, a small increase in conversion rates could result in massive amounts of revenue.

For example, Brookdale, a senior living solutions website, was able to boost their monthly revenue by $106,000 just by replacing the home page banner video with an image when they realized that their target audience was not as likely to watch video.

Just by changing the copy of their CTA, Lifeproof was able to boost their monthly revenue by 16%.

Conversion rate optimization is one area of marketing where small changes can result in huge boosts in revenue over time. In this section, we’ll talk about how to run an A/B test.

A/B Testing Tools

There are variety of tools out there today that let marketers run A/B tests without needing to know how to code. Here are some examples:

Which tool you use isn’t as important as being able to run a large number of tests as fast as possible.

What Tests to Run

According to Instapage, here are some major page elements you should consider testing when running landing page tests:

1) Headline

One of the biggest mistakes that marketers make is trying to be clever instead of being clear in their copy. This is especially true for headlines. You only have 10-20 seconds to attract users with your headline, so while you might think that being clever will make your post sound more interesting, it actually just adds more complexity — and complexity reduces conversions.

By making their headline more clear, Movexa, a supplement company, was able to to boost their conversions by nearly 90%.

Their original headline copy looked like the following:

The Ultimate Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization

The headline said “Natural Joint Relief.” The hypothesis was that if they added the word “supplement” to their headline copy (so that it said “Natural Joint Relief Supplement”), it would add more clarity to what the offer is and what the company does.

Once they tested this hypothesis through a variation page, they found that it did indeed beat the control by 89.97%. This just goes to show how even a small amount of vagueness in the headline can reduce your conversions drastically. Be sure to optimize for clarity over cleverness or design.

2) Call to Action

Adding a well-placed call to action is a small tweak you can make on any site to increase conversions.

For example, Consolidated Label, a food label manufacturer, tested a new web page design with a prominent call to action. Their original web page didn’t have a clear call to action:

The Ultimate Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization

They tested a variation page with a more prominent call to action, which asked visitors to request a quote:

The Ultimate Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization

If users can’t tell what they’re supposed to do once they get to your page, then it’s likely that your call to action isn’t prominent enough.

Once Consolidated Label tested this variation, they noticed a 62% increase in conversions.

Learn More: How To Create CTAs that Actually Cause Action

3) Copy Length

Most marketers think that short copy is better. We’ve had it beat into our heads that people don’t have long attention spans, and that the only way to get anyone to take action is by keeping all your copy — landing page, e-mail copy, etc. — brief.

The truth is, shorter copy isn’t always better for conversions. In some cases, longer is better. For example, if you’re selling a high-priced product, then you’ll need to build a longer, deeper relationship with your users before they can trust you and be willing to transact with you.

Even your headline copy can benefit from lengthier rather than shorter.

Check out these two versions of a landing page:

The Ultimate Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization

Version A

The Ultimate Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization

Version B

Most people would think that Version A resulted in higher conversions because of the cleaner design and shorter copy on the hero image.

However, version B increased conversions by 38%. The reason for this is because the additional sub-heading highlights key features of the product in bold lettering, which makes the features easier to see. Reading “let urgent e-mails cut through the clutter and find you instantly” is more compelling than “let us find your urgent messages.”

At the end of the day, of course, the more clear and direct you can make your copy, the more compelling it will be, no matter the length.

4) Form Length

The more friction that stands between users completing an action, the less likely they are to complete that action. Requiring unnecessary fields on a form is one of the quickest ways to reduce the number of conversions you get on your site.

You can also increase conversions by allowing users to check boxes instead of entering text, since this takes less effort.

For example, this B2B company boosted their number of leads by 368.5% just reducing the amount of text users had to enter and changing their button color on the form.

The Ultimate Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization

Version A

The Ultimate Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization

Version B


What works best on landing pages isn’t always obvious.

There are many competing factors that determine whether people convert or not. Simplicity matters (which you can get through short copy), but clarity matters, too (which might require longer copy).

Giving users the information they need about your business is important (i.e. through an explainer video), but it’s also important to reduce the number of options that are available on the page.

The best way, overall, to get better conversion rates is to figure out exactly what your audience wants, be as clear and compelling as possible, and then test it.

What are some interesting CRO test results that you’ve seen in the past? Let us know in the comments below!

This post originally appeared on Single Grain, a growth marketing agency focused on scaling customer acquisition.

It’s enough to strike fear into even the most experienced of marketers and bloggers. It can seem like torture by tedium. It’s often the stuff of nightmares. What is this unholy monster?

The content audit.

A well-executed content audit done on an annual basis can deliver big insights into your website’s blog and content marketing strategy that far exceeds its ho-hum reputation.

Too often, we post something and then never go back to it again. Years later, it’s outdated, stale, and completely irrelevant. Good practice demands that we return to our content periodically to ensure that everything is as fresh and beautiful as the day it was released to the world.

A content audit involves taking a look at all the content on your website and assessing its relative strengths and weaknesses in order to prioritize your future marketing activities. It’s a qualitative assessment and evaluation based on the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that you select beforehand.

The Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Content Audit

This process should not be confused with a content inventory, which is simply an accounting of all these different assets. In other words, it’s a quantitative collection. Although a content inventory is part of the audit process, the audit itself goes much further in depth. The Content Analysis Tool (CAT) can make content inventories a snap. When you start off on the right foot, the rest of the journey is that much easier.

When performed correctly, a good audit will help you to answer questions about the content pieces on your site:

An audit will tell you where you need to focus your future efforts in terms of both an SEO and content marketing perspective. And it can even give you insight into potential changes that will improve your lead generation, sales, and marketing processes.

Before Beginning Your Content Audit

If you’re struggling to understand your visitors’ behavior on your website or why your current marketing initiatives aren’t working, a content audit is easily one of the best things you can do for your business.

But before we get into the step-by-step process of conducting one, you need to answer a few questions.

Why Am I Conducting a Content Audit?

There could be any number of reasons. There’s no one correct approach for conducting a content audit – the exact steps you’ll take will depend on your reasons for undergoing the process in the first place.

Typically, content audits are conducted for two primary reasons:

Of course, there’s no reason you can’t do both. While you’re digging through your SEO metrics, it’s easy to jot down your content marketing data as well. Or you might be approaching your content audit from a slightly different perspective. Whatever the case may be, being clear about your intentions ahead of time will help to streamline the process and minimize extra effort. Know why you’re doing before you start doing it.

What Resources Do I Have Available for My Content Audit?

A good content audit is a time-consuming process. If you’re currently swamped with other priorities, undertaking such a massive project may not be the best use of your time or energy. If you can’t devote the proper resources to it, it’s better to wait until you can.

But if the project must be done, keep in mind that you do have options. Instead of undertaking the entire audit process by yourself, delegate some of the data-gathering steps to another employee in your organization or to an outsourced worker hired through sites like Guru or Upwork.

The Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Content Audit

You also have the option of completing only small sections of the audit at any given time, or paying for tools that help to automate parts of your research process (gone are the days of having to manually sift through everything yourself!). More on this later.

What Do I Hope to Get Out of My Content Audit?

Before you begin, be clear about the reason you’re conducting a content audit in the first place. If you aren’t going to take action based on the data that your audit produces, you might as well skip the process altogether. An audit for the sake of an audit is a waste of time and resources.

Any of the following are potential content audit goals. You may have others that are not on this list, and you’ll likely have more than one in mind as you go through it.

That’s the theory. Now let’s put it in practice.

Meet John, Our Hypothetical Business Owner

To help illustrate how to do a content audit, we’ve created John, a business owner with a heart of gold. He runs a small software company that’s developed an SaaS budgeting tool.

The Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Content Audit

He’s invested in content marketing for about a year, but he isn’t sure whether all the time he’s spent blogging, creating videos, and releasing infographics has paid off. As a result, he decides to conduct a content audit to see how his individual content pieces are performing and what – if anything – he should do differently in the future.

Because John only has five employees – all of whom are busy wearing multiple hats already – he decides to take on the audit process by himself. Because he’s a busy guy, he keeps the scope of his audit small, checking only the content he’s created in the past year and tracking only a few variables that indicate success to him.

Remember, the size and scope of your audit is completely up to you. This is not an all-or-nothing scenario. Do what you can when you can do it.

We’ll revisit John a little later on.

The Content Audit Process

If you’ve finished your homework (you did answer the questions above, right?), it’s time to get started. Try the following three-step process to complete your website’s first content audit (and feel free to amend it for subsequent ones):

Step #1 – Create a Spreadsheet of All Your Content Assets

Unsurprisingly, the first step in completing a content audit is to find all your content. You have two different options for doing so:

The Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Content Audit

Enter or import all the URLs you find into an Excel or Google Docs spreadsheet, leaving plenty of columns for the data you’ll gather in Step #2. Or, if you’d rather not reinvent the wheel, you can add your links to any of the following freely-available content inventory and audit templates:

The Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Content Audit

Most audits use a spreadsheet to organize the data, but it’s not the only way. If you despise Excel for some reason (no judgement), you could opt for the WordPress Content Audit plugin. This tool allows you to create a content inventory directly in the Edit screens in WordPress. Set a few conditions, and you’re good to go.  

The Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Content Audit

Just go with whatever you’re most comfortable with. Set yourself up for success by using the tools and methods that work for you.

Which brings us back to John, our savvy business owner from Seattle. Because his site is small and he’s pressed for time, he uses Screaming Frog to create the URL list pictured below:

The Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Content Audit

To upload your CSV file into Google Sheets, go to File > Import > Upload and select the saved file from your computer. Easy-peasy.

John is well on his way with a handy list of all his URLs. Step 1? Check!

Step #2 – Gather Asset Data

Remember those columns I mentioned earlier? Now’s the time to set them up and fill them out.

The exact data points you’ll want to gather will, again, depend on the goals of your audit, as well as the complexity you want to achieve. Although the lists below may look daunting, it isn’t necessary to collect data on every possible variable. In fact, you may be able to achieve the goals you set for yourself with only a handful of possible data points.

Potential SEO data points to gather (many of these are automatically generated by Screaming Frog):

Potential content marketing data points to gather:

Other items to track:

Once you’ve selected the data points you’ll measure as part of your content audit, label a column in your spreadsheet for each one.

Now comes the fun part time to do the heavy lifting of data collection (and yes, “fun” is subjective)!

Let’s get back to our pal John…

Since his primary goal is to determine what’s working with his current content marketing strategy, he decides to evaluate the following metrics:

While he could track other pieces of data as part of his audit – and probably glean additional insights from doing so – analyzing only this limited number of metrics makes it possible for John to complete his content audit while juggling his other responsibilities. The way he looks at it, he can always go back and add more to his analysis if he has the time down the road.

To find the data points he’s decided upon, John uses the following resources:

The Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Content Audit

The Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Content Audit

The Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Content Audit

The Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Content Audit

Learn More: How to Set Up Goals and Funnels in Google Analytics

Once John is done gathering this data, he goes back through his list and assigns a score to each page on an “A – F” rating scale of his own creation.

Pages that receive “A” scores are his cream-of-the-crop, top-performing pages, while those that earn “F” scores are ones he’s embarrassed to find on his site. He also adds a note to his spreadsheet showing the date that his audit was created for the purpose of planning future audits.

And even though John didn’t do this, you could also head over to the Google Search Console to pull even more conveniently organized data. Click on Search Analytics, select Pages, and check Clicks, Impressions, and CTR to get a quick snapshot of how individual pages are performing.

The Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Content Audit

There’s a “Download” button at the bottom of the page if you want to export the data as a CSV file and add it to your ever-expanding spreadsheet.

Step #3 – Analyze Your Data

If your site is large, expect the data-gathering process to take a long time. It’s not uncommon for audits to take days, weeks or even months to complete, depending on the size of the website and the organizational resources that are available for the process.

But even if your content inventory is completed quickly, you’ve still got another important step to take – actually putting all your information to use.

To be sure you’re getting something substantive out of your content audit process, you need to establish a set of recommended actions you’ll take once the audit is complete. And in order to do that, you need to dive into the data you’ve collected in order to draw conclusions.

It could be as simple as adding one more column to your spreadsheet: “Action.”

Here, you make the call as to what should happen to each individual content asset, like:

Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules that say, “If your content data indicates [this], do [that].” Instead, you’ve got to look at the data you’ve gathered and see if you can identify any trends that could inform your eventual recommended actions.

Take a look at John’s spreadsheet below and see if anything jumps out at you:

Here are a few observations you might have made:

After further exploration, John decides to take the following actions after the completion of his content audit:

An audit might focus on content quality, the customer experience, content performance, or any combination of these.

Use the results of your content audit to come up with 5-10 actions you’ll take after completing it, based on any patterns that emerge from your data.

Then, set deadlines for yourself in order to put these actions into play and block out whatever time you’ll need to do so on your calendar. Add a deadline right into your spreadsheet (when it comes to columns, you can never have too many!).

Analysis Paralysis: What It Is and How to Avoid ItOne important thing to note here. When you’re staring at the mountains of data your content audit may generate, it’s easy to find yourself struck down by analysis paralysis. Basically, there are so many conclusions you could draw and so many things you could do, that you wind up doing none of them. Don’t let yourself fall into this trap.

Content marketer Pawel Grabowski offers many helpful suggestions to combat analysis paralysis, such as focus on what’s most important, break decisions down into bite-sized steps, and don’t worry about being perfect!

As long as you’re tracking your metrics and regularly revisiting the content audit process, you’ll see these shifts occurring and be able to remedy them long before they become big problems plaguing your site’s performance.

Taking Your Audit Further

If you’ve caught the auditing bug while going through the content analysis process, you can always take the skills you’ve learned to expand your audit beyond the borders of just your website.

Look at Your Competitor’s Websites

So now you know everything there is to know about your own content. But unless you have a truly unique product or service, you’re not the only show in town. You have competition for customers.

The performance of your content will always be tied, in some ways, to the content that your competitors put out. Even if their pieces don’t directly prevent visitors from seeing yours, there is a limited number of consumers out there and they all have a finite amount of attention. If they’re using all their energy focusing on the competition’s content, they may not have enough mental focus left to pay attention to yours.

Conducting an audit of your competitor’s content is similar to assessing your own, but with a few limitations. There are a few metrics that you may not be able to pull without having direct access to your their website and accounts. Bounce rate, average time on page, and conversion rate are three in particular that are difficult to discover without accessing the site’s Google Analytics profile or marketing automation account.

But that said, there are still plenty of different things you can track. You can evaluate the number of links pointing at your competitor’s content pages using tools like Majestic Site Explorer or BuzzSumo’s Backlinks.

The Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Content Audit

You can measure social shares by looking for a share counter on the post itself, or entering the post URL into a service like BuzzSumo to see a detailed breakdown with their Most Shared feature. It might not be a complete audit, but even conducting this limited level of assessment will give you plenty of actionable data on areas where your competitors are currently outperforming your site.

The Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Content Audit

What works for them? Can you improve on it in some way (the Skyscraper Technique is a fabulous way to bring in oodles of traffic)? Which sites are linking to them that might potentially link to you if approached with a powerful piece of content or a fantastic guest post idea?

Track Offsite Content Performance

Another way to expand your content audit is to include your off-site content assets (if they’re relevant to your audit goals). For example, if you’re assessing the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts, you’ll want to include as much data as possible on any infographics, slide decks, or other external content pieces you’ve released to promote brand recognition and viral sharing.

Again, your ability to track the metrics listed above on these content pieces will vary based on the sites hosting them. Gather what you can, but also look for other types of data that are unique to external content sources.

As an example, looking at your Google Analytics account should show you the number of visits that each external piece sent to your site. Comparing referred visits across external content pieces can be a great way to determine the direction of your next big content release.

Check out Reporting > Acquisition > Channels for a general breakdown of traffic by organic, direct, referral, and social (and select Referrals if you want to see the specific points of origin).

The Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Content Audit

And if you utilize custom URLs with UTM parameters, for example, you can instantly see what content is sending the most traffic your way from offsite.

Expand the Audit Process to Other Marketing Channels

In addition to assessing your offsite content pieces, you can apply the audit process to your other marketing channels. If you run print ads in trade publications, try to determine how many inquiries you’ve received from each ad (hint – this is easiest to do if you record the source of your first touch with a new prospect in your CRM after your first conversation).

Or take a close look at your e-mail marketing campaigns. Is the content in your autoresponders still up-to-date? Do you have some messages that have a higher open rate than others? Services like MailChimp and AWeber have robust analytics at the ready.

Read More: 5 Ways Cold Emailing Can Help Generate Backlinks

In Summary

When it comes down to it, a content audit isn’t just a one-off process that you conduct once in a blue moon. It’s a mindset that you should apply to both your website content and the other marketing channels you use.

By carefully inventorying your existing content pieces and assessing the data you’ve gathered for each item, you can make informed marketing decisions that will help you to save time, cut costs, grow your brand, and improve your overall advertising ROI.

And remember, there is no one-size-fits-all solution here. Content audits can take many shapes, routes, approaches, and scopes. It all depends on your needs and your goals.

What content audit tools do you use to make it go a bit smoother? What insights did your last audit reveal?  

This post originally appeared on Single Grain, a growth marketing agency focused on scaling customer acquisition. 5 Ways to Track Your Revenue with Google Analytics Consider this: every 30 seconds, online businesses make just over $1.2 million: e-commerce in real time It’s a small reminder that there’s a massive amount of money to be made on the Internet. If you’re already receiving even a small piece of that 30-second money, congratulations. But once you start making money, something’s going to happen: you’ll start thinking about where your money is coming from and how you can get more of it. Then you begin calculating your ROI and you realize something: you don’t know exactly where your money is coming from. The truth of the matter is that ROI is a lot more complicated than most people make it out to be. That’s not to say that the average person can’t understand the basics of Google Analytics, but measuring marketing ROI is a lot more complicated. It’s determined by all the unique channels that drive traffic to what you’re selling. So how do you track your website’s revenue accurately? By asking better questions. Yes, you’re accruing money from your website, but why? (And if you’re not curious enough to ask “why?” then you’re not thinking like an entrepreneur.) Which part of your website is drawing the most attention? What part are people skipping over? Can you place a dollar amount on any random visitor who happens to come across your site? Once you start to ask these questions, your business will grow and you can start looking at your online presence through a more objective lens, which will allow you to:

In this post, we’ll go over the different methods for tracking your website’s revenue with Google Analytics.

1) Track Revenue from E-commerce Transactions

If you’re selling a product (whether physical or digital), you’ll want to track it and the best way to do that is through the use of custom code embedded in your shopping cart. This type of tracking will allow you to determine a few things:

In essence, you’ll discover which parts of your website are most effective for your sales funnel – and which ones aren’t doing you much good. You might find, for instance, that one of your landing pages is leading to a 20% conversion rate while another is underperforming at 5%, in which case you might want to reconsider how you built that landing page. Knowing the proper steps to building – and testing – a dynamite landing page can be transformational for your conversion rates. Learn more: 5 Important Landing Page Elements You Should Be A/B Testing But before you can play with the data, you’ll first need to enable e-commerce analytics by logging into Google Analytics and switching the “E-Commerce set-up” radio button in the Main Website Profile Information from “Off” to “On.” How to Track Your Website’s Revenue with Google Analytics The next step is a little more complicated. You’ll need to add a customized tracking code to your shopping cart system that reports when and how purchases occurred. Depending on your hosting and shopping cart providers, this may be done through a server-side inclusion, a separate module through your content system, or through hand-coded HTML. For more details on how to finish this integration, check out Google’s E-commerce Tracking documentation.

2) Track Revenue from Non-E-commerce Sites

Now, suppose you don’t sell any products on your site, but instead use your page to generate leads for an offline business. In this case, every visitor to your site has a monetary value, although this isn’t determined by the number of sales that result from a traditional shopping cart system. Ideally, the revenue generated from the time and effort you invest into promoting your website should increase over time. To track whether or not this is the case, you’ll want to make use of “Goals” within Google Analytics. To do so, log into your Analytics account and navigate to “Conversions” > “Goals” where you’ll have the option of setting up new Goals. How to Track Your Website’s Revenue with Google Analytics Although you have several different Goal types you can play around with, Event Goals (goals that aren’t tied to arrival on a specific site URL) make the most sense for tracking revenue from non-e-commerce sites, as they allow you to set a custom event value for each circumstance you define. On a basic level, your Goals will evaluate every visitor that comes to your site by using a simple equation. Take the amount of money you’ve made and divide it by how many new (unique) visitors have come to your site. That will tell you how much each new visitor is worth. But that’s just scratching the surface. If you want to truly understand your sales funnel, Goals can help you track much more specific data. For example, say you generate leads using a free white paper on your site. You’ve already determined that the average value of a visitor who contacts your company in this manner is worth $20. Now, you can set up an Event Goal accordingly. This lets you track how potential leads move through your site so you can optimize your site structure for maximum conversions.

3) Integrate Analytics with AdWords

Tying your Google Analytics account to your AdWords accounts can give you some very valuable information about the efficacy of your PPC campaigns, including which keywords result in conversions, what AdWords visitors do once they land on your site, and much more. Google AdWords Read more: 13 Quick Tricks to Increase Conversion Rates that You Can Do Right Now The best part is that setting up this integration is incredibly simple. If you use the same e-mail address to log into both your Analytics and AdWords accounts, all you have to do is open up your AdWords account, navigate to the “Reporting” tab, and click on “Google Analytics.” Select “I already have a Google Analytics account,” then choose the correct account profile from the list. In the next section, you’ll have the opportunity to select and deselect a number of checkboxes – including one that gives you the option of turning off auto-tagging. For most beginners, we recommend leaving auto-tagging on. This is an easy way to tie your keywords to your campaign links (otherwise you have to manually add tracking variables to every link in your account). You’ll also want to take the time to import your cost data from AdWords, as this will allow you to analyze the ROI of all conversions and sales on a per-keyword basis. To do this, follow these steps, as laid out by Google Support:

  1. Log in to your AdWords
  2. Select the Reporting tab and click ‘Google Analytics.’
  3. Click ‘Edit’ next to the profile that you would like to edit.
  4. Click ‘Edit’ in the upper right corner of the ‘Main Website Profile Information’ box.
  5. Check the ‘Apply Cost Data’ checkbox.
  6. Click on the ‘Save Changes’ button.

For those who are more visual, here’s a short how-to video:

4) Integrate Analytics with AdSense

As with the Google AdWords/Google Analytics integration described above, pairing Google’s website statistics manager with your AdSense account can result in several types of useful data, including the ability to view earnings based on user visits (rather than just page impressions). For instance, if you’re blogging (and you should be), this is a fantastic way to analyze the trends in your blogs to see what’s working for you. You can view:

Finding out this information allows you to open up channels for additional revenue or see what is actually helping your website to convert. And those are just some of the things you can discover. You’ll also be able to view click data based on user location, browser type, and referral source – all of which can help you refine your content-based ad monetization strategy. It can even help you discover which areas require growth. If, for example, you see that the majority of your web traffic comes from New York but the majority of your sales come from Los Angeles, you can rethink your strategy to compensate for a specific region. How to Track Your Website’s Revenue with Google Analytics To connect your Analytics and AdSense accounts, look for a link inviting you to do so in the Overview or Advanced Reports pages of your AdSense account. If you aren’t yet eligible, keep checking back to take advantage of this feature in the future.

5) Use Google Analytics to Measure the ROI of Different Traffic Types

One final way you can use Google Analytics to track website ROI is to break out revenue stream by traffic type. Most webmasters advertise their sites in a number of different ways, including PPC ads, content marketing, social networking, forum marketing, etc. However, since it’s likely that not all of these activities result in the same ROI, it’s a good idea to break them apart to see which traffic source results in the most income. This will help you determine how to best allocate future promotional efforts. To do this, you’ll need to set up Advanced Traffic segments, which allow you to break out visitors based on referral sites to see which types of traffic are converting best for you. Start by clicking on the “Advanced Segments” tab under the “Standard Reporting” tab of your Google Dashboard. You’ll see that some default segments have been included, but you can also use the button in the lower right-hand corner to create your own segments based on specific sites or types of sites. How to Track Your Website’s Revenue with Google Analytics A few potential traffic segments you could create include:

Once these segments are set up, filter your Goal conversions by segment to compare which traffic streams are most profitable for your site.

Transforming Your Revenue Streams

If this is your first time attempting to track your revenue through Google Analytics, it might seem daunting. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, just remember that these techniques can and will contribute to your bottom line:

Even if you aren’t actively tracking your website ROI, keep in mind that your competition sure as heck is. These tools are helping them acquire new clients that you could be getting! That’s why knowing how to properly measure revenue and conversion rates can help you stay ahead of the curve. Remember: online businesses make $1.2 million per 30 seconds, or about $3.5 billion per day. How much of that are you taking home? Need help tracking your revenue with Google Analytics? While other agencies love to talk about “ad spend,” at Single Grain we’re all about the ROI.  [sg_alert type=”success”]Get a free consultation right now to see how we can help grow your business![/sg_alert]

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