Career
Why I Love the Digital Marketing Community
March 17, 2018
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I spent most of last week trying not to cry in front of the digital marketing community…

Last week I spoke at SMX West in San Jose, my first speaking gig back after recovering from burnout, beating cancer, opening my own firm, and returning to agency-side from a few years spent brand-side. I was incredibly nervous to dust off my personal brand and jump back into the digital marketing community as a thought leader and now, an agency owner.

Speaking after a 2-year hiatus is nerve-wracking, the last time I spoke at a conference was at HeroConf Portland in 2016. In addition to participating in the Mastering Social Advertising workshop, talking about Facebook ads that convert, I took a gamble and put together a presentation about CRM campaign tracking that I delivered during the Multi-Touch Attribution Models that Move the Needle panel. Attacking the attribution conversation from a completely different angle then I’ve ever seen covered in the past. On top of this change in topical focus, I was also representing my own venture for the first time ever, having formally announced HDC Digital to the world only a month prior to SMX West. So yeah…I was nervous.

Heather Cooan - SMX West 2018 - Multi-Touch Attribution Models that Move the Needle

Old Friends – Warm Welcome Back

Turns out, I didn’t really need to be nervous after all. What I got when I arrived at SMX was the warmest welcome back ever. All of the regular speakers I used to network with (and even some folks who had seen me speak in the past) not only remembered me, but were so happy to see me. I was met with lots of bright smiles, long hugs (hense the trying not to cry all week) and lots of excitement and curiosity about my restored health and new direction. Even turned out that several of my old ad friends are now CEO’s of SaaS companies serving the advertising community and can use our demand generation services.

New Friends – Enthusiastic Introductions

I made lots of new friends and contacts. I met people I had never met in person but knew about from the online digital community. I didn’t realize many of them actually knew who I was!

We geeked out on all the digital things, heckled each other during presentations, and had awesome lunch conversations and shenannigans.

Mastering Social Advertising - SMX West 2018

Attendee Feedback – Positive Experiences

I also got lots of love on Twitter and from attendees about my presentations. Attendees seemed to be excited about the different angle I took on attribution and got a lot of value out of the material. Folks in B2B were happy to see someone talking about their day-to-day struggles in attribution.

Twitter Love

The digital marketing community is an incredibly supportive and inclusive community. Full of intelligent, innovative, and positive energy. I definitely left the conference completely exhaused with a very full heart. I’m so lucky to have the opportunity to be part of such a vibrant network of professionals in a super fun and engaging space.

I’m so happy to be back and excited to keep the momentum going!

Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to an amazing week at SMX West! See you at the next one!

 

Book Reviews
Year of Yes | Book Review
March 7, 2018
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I love this book. I love Shonda Rhimes. I love everything about this story. I loved the way the book made me feel while I was reading it and the motivational hang-over it left me with. I rarely re-read books, but this is one I will pick up again for sure!

Year of Yes Book Review

This book is so ballsy. Shonda puts it all out there in Year of Yes including her flaws, insecurities, and crazy internal dialogue. Talk about vulnerable. She takes a stand and chooses herself first in this wonderful accounting of her year of yes.

Shonda transformed herself into a whole new person in one year simply by saying yes. Yes to her health, yes to her success, yes to getting uncomfortable, and yes to valuable and fulfilling personal relationships.

The story is wonderful and the personality of the writer is great. The writing is a bit rambly in places, but the pacing is pretty good.

I highly recommend this to all women. It’ll change your perspective and remind you of how awesome you are and easy it is to let your life slip away from you.

Year of Yes Synopsis

The mega-talented creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal and executive producer of How to Get Away With Murder chronicles how saying YES for one year changed her life―and how it can change yours, too.

With three hit shows on television and three children at home, the uber-talented Shonda Rhimes had lots of good reasons to say NO when an unexpected invitation arrived. Hollywood party? No. Speaking engagement? No. Media appearances? No.

And there was the side-benefit of saying No for an introvert like Shonda: nothing new to fear.

Then Shonda’s sister laid down a challenge: just for one year, try to say YES to the unexpected invitations that come your way. Shonda reluctantly agreed―and the result was nothing short of transformative. In Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes chronicles the powerful impact saying yes had on every aspect of her life―and how we can all change our lives with one little word. Yes.

Career
HDC Digital Launch Announcement
January 31, 2018
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I’m starting off this year in an amazing place!

Today I’m announcing the launch of HDC Digital, a digital and demand marketing agency revolutionizing the way companies think about and approach growth.

After years of working both agency-side and brand-side with awesome people and brands, I’ve decided to open my own firm!

The impetus for this change comes out of a period of self-renewal…

You see, I was born with an incredible drive to achieve. It’s core to who I am and is just part of my construction. Over the years of climbing the corporate ladder, that drive morphed into something unhealthy – my job had become my identity and I was literally working myself to death.

I was diagnosed with both lichen sclerosus, a rare autoimmune skin condition and rare cancer in August of 2017. You can read about my journey in detail if you’d like, but that’s a separate ball of worms.

I am proud to be cancer-free (no evidence of disease on my latest scans). As part of my journey back to health I had to re-learn how to manage work and stress. I left my last full-time gig with Virtuous in mid-November to focus on healing.

That hurt. I love the Virtuous team and everything the company stands for. But I had to finally make a deliberate choice to take care of myself and undo the damage that I had done to my body, and as it turns out my mind and soul, through years of only focusing on work.

Since then I’ve been focused on healing my mind, body, and soul. Changing nearly every aspect of my life, and working to get HDC Digital built up from a long-standing side hustle into a real marketing agency.

I’m so excited for the future, there are some really awesome things to come and we’re officially open for business!

Cancer
Mammogram Ruptures Tumor – Breast Cancer Patient Dies
January 1, 2018
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Damn…did you know that mammograms can rupture tumors and spread malignant cells?

One of the gals at my cancer clinic passed away last week. She had breast cancer, diagnosed in January 2017.

She went the conventional route for treatment initially including radiation therapy. The conventional treatment didn’t help and she started treating naturally at the clinic I attend where I was able to get to know her during our IV treatments together.

When she started treatment she looked healthy and young. I was shocked to learn that she was in her early 50’s, she looked like a young 45! She was so strong and had a great chance of living a long a healthy life.

She took a turn for the worst when she went in for a mammogram to check the progress of her treatment. The compression of the mammogram was so powerful, it ruptured her tumor causing her cancer to spread into the pleura of her lungs. Since she had also had radiation therapy her lungs were damaged and weeping fluid. The combination caused fluid to build up in her lungs and difficulty breathing. Over the last couple of months, she has been on oxygen and was going in every 14-19 days to have her lungs drained of fluid.

In early January she stopped her natural treatments and the doctors could no longer find any fluid in her lungs. However, she still had difficulty breathing. She was hospitalized and two weeks later passed away.

Mammography can Rupture Tumors and Spread Malignant Cells

Not only do mammograms hurt like hell, but they can cause serious issues if you have cysts, breast implants, or tumors.

Mammography involves compressing the breasts between two plates in order to spread out the breast tissue for imaging. Today’s mammogram equipment applies 42 pounds of pressure to the breasts. Not surprisingly, this can cause significant pain. However, there is also a serious health risk associated with the compression applied to the breasts. Only 22 pounds of pressure is needed to rupture the encapsulation of a cancerous tumor (14). The amount of pressure involved in a mammography procedure, therefore, has the potential to rupture existing tumors and spread malignant cells into the bloodstream (15). Source

Mammography Radiation May Increase Risk of Breast Cancer

The radiation involved in mammography screening can cause cancer and women are usually not informed of any of this prior to their medical professional ordering the tests.

The cumulative effect of routine mammography screening may increase women’s risk of developing radiation-induced breast cancer (11). The current recommendations for mammography screening have led women to start screening at a younger age and also to receive more frequent screening; this has amplified the amount of radiation to which the breasts are being exposed, and the effects are not trivial. In addition, women who are exposed to radiation for other purposes or women who are carriers of the BRCA (breast cancer susceptibility) gene are at an even higher risk of experiencing adverse effects from mammography radiation (12).

While not a direct reflection of the impact of mammography on breast cancer risk, other studies examining the effect of diagnostic chest x-rays on breast cancer risk have found that medical radiation exposure increases breast cancer risk (13). Source

One patient at Nature Works Best that I sat through IV’s with was a radiation nurse who had a crack in her steel apron. She developed a tumor directly under the crack. Coincidence? Yeah, I don’t think so.

Research used to develop recommendations for mammography screening is biased and is not a true representation of the efficacy of mammography for reducing breast cancer mortality. The data is tortured to suggest whatever outcome the stakeholder are interested in, and as I’ve learned through my own journey, this is a very common issue in the business of treating cancer.

Unfortunately, due to the rampant fear of cancer, it’s been extremely easy to use biased research to drive millions of women to subject their bodies to this torture every year.

Mammography Alternatives

Think twice before going in for that mammogram. There are great alternatives for screening including ultrasound and thermography. Safer and less invasive. No flat green boobs involved.

Ultrasound

Ultrasound is the original screening mechanism for breast cancer. However, it is not used on its own for screening since mammography became the standard of care. You can, however, ask for an ultrasound only at independent imaging facilities and through a naturopath or functional doctor

Ultrasound is an imaging test that sends high-frequency sound waves through your breast and converts them into images on a viewing screen. The ultrasound technician places a sound-emitting probe on the breast to conduct the test. There is no radiation involved.

Thermography Breast Screening

Thermography

The use of Digital Infrared Imaging is based on the principle that metabolic activity and vascular circulation in both pre-cancerous tissue and the area surrounding a developing breast cancer is almost always higher than in normal breast tissue. In an ever-increasing need for nutrients, cancerous tumors increase circulation to their cells by holding open existing blood vessels, opening dormant vessels, and creating new ones (neoangiogenesis). This process frequently results in an increase in regional surface temperatures of the breast. Screenings use ultra-sensitive medical infrared cameras and sophisticated computers to detect, analyze, and produce high-resolution images of these temperature variations.

Rest in peace Deidra, you will not be forgotten.

Career
Joining Virtuous Software!
October 5, 2016
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Three months ago I left Infusionsoft with a bad case of burnout. I’ve spent the last three months healing and enjoying peace and quiet and no stress! Just a long restful recharge.

Personal Sabbatical

I read a ton (all non-work fiction of course), watched the Food Network, enjoyed the monsoons, smoked cigars, colored, sketched, drank wine, and tested new recipes. I napped in the middle of the day, enjoyed facials and spa treatments, and caught up with old friends. I joined the gym, tried Zumba, and cleaned out the freezer. I cuddled with my cats, detoxed allergen foods (I have a gluten and dairy allergy), watched movies, and reconnected with my love.

It was absolutely wonderful and very much needed. Now that the three months are up, what’s next?

Joining Virtuous Software

I’ve accepted an offer to join Virtuous Software as VP of Demand Generation starting on October 17th. This cool little start up is my next adventure. The product is stellar, the team casual, and the mission awesome.

Confession, after Infusionsoft I was convinced that working in the SaaS arena was not for me. The two years I spent helping Infusionsoft leap to the next level of evolution and growth definitely took it’s tole on me. It was hard as heck! But then something interesting happened. All kinds of SaaS companies started to reach out to offer opportunities and I realized that my particular experience and skill set was in high demand. So I figured, “what the heck, I can at least talk to them”. So I started to chat with founders, boards, CEO’s, and other marketing leaders in the SaaS & tech community.

I found that not all SaaS companies share the same challenges. There are a lot of similarities in terms of the business model, growth trajectory, etc. But each company has it’s own culture, values, and challenges. I decided I could give it another go at a company that was better aligned with the number one thing I personally struggle with…work life balance.

When Virtuous reached out I looked over their corporate values. The very first value listed is Team & Family! Wonderful, they understand and value the importance of taking care of yourself first so you are healthy and can give to others.

The corporate values plus the amazing purpose to create good in the world by helping nonprofits
inspire generosity and increase their impact was enough for me. I’m stoked to start fresh and see if I can use all that I’ve learned over the years to build a demand generation engine from near scratch and scale it.

Here goes nothing!

 

Advertising Facebook
New: Facebook Ads Archive Feature
September 11, 2014
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Does your Facebook ads account look like this…tons of old campaigns that make it hard to navigate and find what you need?

FB_Ads_1

If you refresh your Facebook ad campaigns as often as you should to keep ahead of ad fatigue/mortality in this channel then you probably have a cluttered account full of old stuff like we do.

Facebook Ad Campaigns

This is a bit of a pain when trying to pull reports. Facebook has been kind enough to add filters to allow us to sort through this mess and find exactly what we need but I find that I often have to try more than once before I’m able to get what I need.

I’m super stoked to see the announcement in my account this morning that Facebook is rolling out an archive feature.

Facebook Ads Archive

Soon we’ll be able to archive this old stuff. You could always delete it, but every good ad manager is an ad history hoarder. This way we’ll be able to move it out of the way while we’re working on active campaigns, but still keep it for later reference, data included.

Facebook has even issued a best practice for archiving Facebook ad campaigns:

Best practice: Delete archived ads 28 days after their last date of delivery to ensure stats will no longer change. Note that if you delete an archived ad, it may still track impressions, clicks, and actions for 28 days after the date of last delivery. For example, if you have an ad set with two ads within it and delete one, the stats for the ad set will include stats for both ads, but you won’t be able to access the one you’ve deleted.

I think this is a fantastic new feature, thanks Facebook! Will you archive your old campaigns and clean up your view?

Career
My Next Chapter: Infusionsoft
August 1, 2014
5

Sometimes opportunities just fall in your lap…

That happened to me when Infusionsoft, an amazing company on a mission to help small businesses succeed approached me about leading their advertising efforts.

Infusionsoft

Infusionsoft Core Values

I mean, with core values like these, who wouldn’t be stoked if Infusionsoft approached them! What an incredible compliment.

  • We empower entrepreneurs.
  • We listen, we care, we serve.
  • We do what we say we’ll do.
  • We practice open, real communication.
  • We face challenges with optimism.
  • We check our egos at the door.
  • We innovate and constantly improve.
  • We do the right thing.
  • We believe in people and their dreams.

My Career Progression

Until now I’ve always been a hardcore agency gal, and never really gave much thought to going in-house for a brand. I really enjoy the variety that comes with working with many different businesses as a vendor and I love sitting on the bleeding edge of the ad space. But I think it’s time to move into a pure strategy role. Untitled

I see myself following in the footsteps of Joanna Lord, who I look up to immensely. Joanna referred to herself as a growth marketer in her most recent announcement of her move to Porch.com. As I was reading the post, I could identify with everything she said…

I am a growth marketer, driven by solving the hardest problems with testing and data. I believe in viral marketing as a practice not a fluke. I believe in using our channels to activate and unlock growth at every turn. I believe that today’s best marketers have the platforms, and the guts required to build bold, beautiful experiences that catch fire and add real value to the consumer.

I think that description fits me as well. I have definitely been feeling the itch to get closer to brand, social, and big picture growth strategies. I’ve been driving growth for the agencies I’ve been a part of and for the clients I’ve worked with. Now it’s time to try my hand at driving growth for a brand.

Transitioning

So, I’ve accepted the offer at Infusionsoft and today is my last day at Clix Marketing.

Over the last year and a half I’ve had the pleasure of working with the small but mighty team that is Clix Marketing. This agency employs some of the most incredible digital advertising talent there is, and I’ve had an absolute blast working with all of them!

This little agency is poised for incredible growth, they’ll do amazing things and I’m honored to have been a part of their team.

My next chapter starts Monday and I’m totally freaked out. I’m scared, nervous, excited, hungry, and ready to see how this new chapter unfolds.

Big thanks to everyone who has been so supportive and an even bigger thanks to those who have pushed me as hard as they have. It means the world to me that you care enough to push as hard as you do.

Cheers to more cool stuff in this incredible space!

Facebook Socia Media
Train Your Facebook Feed
July 10, 2014
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Lately I’ve heard a lot of chatter about Facebook’s news feed algorithm from both sides of the advertising dollar. Advertisers have been complaining about the increased loss of organic visibility to users and users are complaining about the increased loss of control of the content in their news feeds.

It’s an interesting conversation. While I find that brand seem to forget that they’ve entered into a social network and they must be social and participate in valuable conversation if they expect to organically gain visibility and build relationships with their potential customers. I also find that users are unaware of all of the bells and whistles available to them to customize the information that surfaces in their personal news feeds.

One awesome example of user control on Facebook is the ability to train your Facebook feed. Yes, you can now take control of the content in your feed and train the edge rank algorithm to surface content that you want to see in your news feed.

How To Train Your Facebook Feed

The new setting is Make News Feed Better and it lives in the drop down associated with any given post displaying in your news feed. You can find it by clicking the arrow in the top right hand corner of any post in your feed as pictured here.

Train Your Facebook Feed

 

Once you click this option you will be greeted with an alert that you are about to engage in a post rating session.

Facebook Feed Training

 

Then Facebook will show you a series of posts from your news feed and as you to rate how strongly you agree with the statement “I want to see more posts like this on Facebook”. By rating each post you are training Facebook to prioritize content surfaced in your feed at your preference.

Rate Facebook Posts

As for how well this actually customizes your content, I’ve found it does an OK  job and does actually surface the content you’d like to see and suppress the content you’d like to skip.

So then, the question is…

Will Visibility Even Harder For Advertisers?

Yes and no.

I do think that users who are just plain not interested in brand pages messaging will absolutely train their feeds to filter out content from pages they’ve liked. But I do think that brands who do a good job of engaging with their customers and building true community around their brands in this channel will do well.

Users will train their feeds to include content they feel is valuable, so as per usual the key to organic visibility on Facebook comes down to building true relationships with customers and providing value to the conversation.

What do you think? Do you like to engage with brands on Facebook? Will you train your Facebook feed to keep them?

 

Commentary Marketing
Target Audience Expansion with Dollar Shave Club
May 27, 2014
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By now, everyone knows about Dollar Shave Club. You know the guys with the viral F**king Great razors ad.

Dollar Shave Club knows what it takes to make a great ad. They know how to use just the right mix of sarcasm and off the wall humor to apparel to their target audience. Now they’ve taken it a step further and switched gears to target a completely new audience, women.

Makes sense to me, I bought a Mac III razor when they first came out and have used men’s razors ever since. Simply put, men’s razors perform better than women’s razors. Sure, companies like Venus and Gillette have since come out with similar technology in the razor space that rivals men’s razors. But they were way behind this curve and many women that I know are in the same boat I am, they’ve just been using men’s razors for years.

So when I saw this ad on in my Facebook News Stream, I thought it was a great way to extend their target audience and boost sales!

Dollar_Shave_Club_Women

 

“You don’t need a pink razor to get a badass lady shave.” I love this!

Just goes to show that you can always think outside the box and find new audiences that may be interested in your product.

Can you expand? Market to an audience you never thought appropriate before?

Business Coaching
My Favorite Productivity Tools
April 16, 2014
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Working in the digital atmosphere means keeping up with a lot and keeping out a lot of distractions. Staying organized, on track, and focused can be a challenge.

Here are a few of my favorite applications that help me stay on track on a daily basis.

Chrome & Chrome Canary

Chrome is my favorite browser. It’s fast and cleanly laid out. Not to mention I can use it to manage multiple Google accounts at one time. Now that there is an additional version with Chrome Canary, I can work across several Google accounts at the same time without much hassle.

Producteev

When it comes to task management I’ve searched high and low for the perfect tool. I’ve tried Google Tasks, Remember The Milk, Wunderlist, and a whole host of other apps.

I need something that I can use easily on the go with my mobile devices, keep notes in, mark priority with different numbers, set dates and reminders in as well as simply capture tasks and sub-tasks. I thought I had hit the jackpot when I tried out Asana after some colleagues raved about it. It almost did the trick but not quite.

Then I found Producteev, similar to Asana but a little more robust. It does everything I need it to do and it’s accessible across all of my mobile devices. I luuuurrve this app!

Google Drive

Google Docs, Google Drive, whatever.

Everyone has this baby on their list and I’m no different. Google Drive makes it so easy to collaborate on docs without overlapping changes and it’s just so easy and constantly accessible.

Hootsuite

When it comes to social media I’m a longtime user of Hootsuite. Many have tried to get me to switch to TweetDeck or Buffer, nope I’m a hardcore Hootsuite girl!

Hootsuite is a web based app and includes a browser plug in and mobile apps. This tool is so robust. It connects with Google Analytics, allows for content scheduling, and so much more! They’ve even got an open source app community that makes additional plugins for all kinds of cool things.

Feedly

I’ve been using Feedly since the death of my beloved Google Reader. I loved Google Reader so much, it was the king of feed readers.

I’ve grown to really enjoy Feedly though, it’s well laid out, easy to use, and works seamlessly across my android phone and tablet.

Evernote

Another evergreen tool that is on everyone’s list, the best note taking tool evar!

Evernote has so many uses and so many plugins, the mobile app is amazing, and…well, there is no other note taking option in my book.

These are just a few tools that help me stay productive and on track during my workday, what am I missing? Share your faves in the comments!

Business Coaching
5 Steps to Stress Relief
April 2, 2014
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,

How do you react when things don’t go according to plan?

Do you roll with the punches or does anxiety keep you from enjoying life?

To a great extent, our personality determines how we deal with stress in our lives, but here are 5 things to help keep your stress under control:

Sleep

Do you get enough sleep? I doubt it, it’s becoming increasingly more common for folks to  exist on less than 6 hours of sleep a night. The old rule of thumb is at least 8hrs/night.

Sleep is so incredibly important, not just to rest our bodies, but to rejuvenate our minds. “Tired” and “cranky” absolutely go hand in hand, so avoid waking up on the wrong side of the bed by getting adequate sleep each night. Don’t use your bedroom to watch the news or finish up work from the office. Instead, make your place of rest a place to relax and escape the day. Have a hot cup of tea, take a warm bath, or read a paperback (not an eReader with a back-lit screen that will mess with your circadian rhythms) to help you unwind.

Meditate

Practicing a short meditation in times of stress can give you a sense of calm, especially when the situation is one you really have no control over.

Natalie MacNeil of She Takes on The World has some great videos outlining a simple meditations that will help you let go of stress and feel empowered to mow down your work day.

Turn it Off

In this age of technology and instant gratification, we must learn to manage our devices. The convenience that mobile devices like mobile phones and tablets have added to our lives can actually be a double-edged sword. We depend on them so much it seems we can’t live without them.

This increased accessibility means not only can our loved ones reach us at any time, but so can work. If your employer or client legitimately needs to reach you during off hours, make sure you set clear limits on what you are willing to accept during those off hours and stick to your guns! Of course there are emergencies and exceptions, but your personal time is precious. While you’re at it, invest some time to learn how to manage your email more efficiently so it doesn’t run your over. 

Take a Break

Always make room for down time. It doesn’t have to be a fancy vacation resort or require travel away from home, just some time for you to mentally get away and re-charge.

A day at the beach, or an afternoon at the park will do. Just anywhere you can be and not think about bills, work, or whatever tensions you may have. It’s important to take time for yourself, so do it! You’ll feel better with a fresh outlook.

Treat Yourself

Find a small way to treat yourself each month or a few times a week. Take the dog for a walk, go sit in the sun, sign up for a yoga class at your local gym or community center, read a chapter in a fiction novel, take a friend to lunch. There are a million little treats that will brighten your day and take some of the edge off. Indulge in these small pleasures on a regular basis and you’ll find your days are easier to get through!

Stress is unavoidable. But what we do about it is up to us. Experiment with these stress relief suggestions and see what works for you!

I’m always looking for ways to reduce stress, what works for you? Share in the comments!

Commentary
2014 Professional Goals
January 1, 2014
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Whelp…it’s December 31, 2013. The very last day of 2013 is here and it’s time to reflect on the closing year and think through goals for the New Year.

I don’t really do the New Year’s Resolution thing, but I do sit down each year and create personal growth goals. Things I’d like to accomplish over the next year in both personal and professional categories. This year there are two things I’d like to accomplish.

Here they are, my 2014 professional goals:

Content Calendar

This goal is more of a desire to develop a positive habit. I am horrible about creating content at the very last minute. It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s a blog post, a video, a presentation deck, etc. I always end up scrambling at the last minute to get things done.

This year will be different!

I have already put in motion the makings of a content calendar. I’m using the template made available by Vertical Measures last year in their Developing Your Editorial Content Calendar For 2013 post over on MarketingLand.

This template is so great. I’ll be able to keep track of industry events, pitch and deck deadlines, blog deadlines, as well as other content creation deadlines for videos and publications. The goal is to be so organized that I can easily stay at least 30-days ahead of myself in terms of completed and scheduled content.
Of course, part of my problem is procrastination so wish me luck on this one…I’m gonna need it!

Excel

The second thing I’m working on this year is continued excel mastery. I am constantly amazed at how much easier my job would be if I had John Gagnon level excel expertise.

…I’d be unstoppable…

iStock_superhero

Really though, the amount of time spent analyzing data would be cut in half and I’d be able to answer complicated questions much easier if I could master this tool.

In 2013 I mastered the pivot table and figured out vlookup. This year I want to be quicker at my recall of how to answer questions with excel. Half of my problem seems to be trying to figure out which feature or command to use before I even get started.

So here is the start of my “Master Excel Resources List”.  I’ll be dedicating two hours each week to reading and practicing with the help of these links. If you know of others please let me know!

By this time next year I will be able to hang with the John Gagnon’s of the world when it comes to excel.

What are you working on this year? I’d love to hear where you plan to grow professionally. Good luck with your goals and Happy New Year!

Commentary
Ladies in Tech Who Inspire Me
December 11, 2013
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One of my female colleagues at Clix Marketing sent me a super cool article in AdWeek about a recent ad campaign from Pantene Philippines done by the guys over at BBDO ad agency, and I love it.

If you haven’t seen the ad, I’ll include it here:

I’ve worked in the digital agency space for several years and I have to say this business is still very MadMen and these perceptions are still alive and well. Having been on the receiving end of some of these perceptions, I completely agree with my girl Sheryl Sandburg when she calls out how poignant this ad campaign is in illustrating how men and women are received differently when their actions are identical.

ssandberg_quote

Women in business are a growing voice, especially in tech, and in order to break through these barriers we need strong role models. I thought I’d take a minute and introduce you to some of my favorite ladies in tech. These gals inspire and motivate me to be the best I can be, no apologies or excuses, to lean in!

First, I’ll start with the obvious…

Sheryl Sandberg – Chief Operating Officer at Facebook

Oh Sheryl. *gush*

To say I have a girl crush (woman crush?) on Sheryl Sandberg is an understatement. I love this woman and everything she stands for. I love that even though many women would be way too afraid to speak out about this very topic she has wrapped her arms around it with a big warm hug, embracing both the positive and negative sentiment that comes with calling out society and demanding we do better. All the while admitting her own shortcomings and leading by example.

Marissa Mayer – Yahoo!, President & CEO

Marissa…what can I say about Marissa. This gal makes bold decisions and apologizes to no one. I think this is the best attribute a woman in her position can have. I’ve second guessed myself more than once, over analyzing things I’ve said and how I’ve said them and then kicked myself later for even worrying about it. Not Marissa.

Oh! And she’s a big ol’ nerd as evidenced by her quote in an interview in Vogue Magazine’s Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer: Hail To The Chief piece published earlier this year where, looking stunning of course, she talks about her age in terms of numbers.

“I really like even numbers, and I like heavily divisible numbers. Twelve is my lucky number—I just love how divisible it is. I don’t like odd numbers, and I really don’t like primes. When I turned 37, I put on a strong face, but I was not looking forward to 37. But 37 turned out to be a pretty amazing year. Especially considering that 36 is divisible by twelve!”

Joanna Lord – CMO at BigDoor Media Inc.

Joanna Lord is so introspective. I highly recommend you give her personal blog a follow. She talks a lot about entrepreneurship, her journey through her career, and shares quite a bit of herself in the process.

Back in October she posted a blog entitled Know Thy Work Self where she talks through our need to figure out where we fit and to make sure we’re doing just that. This article really resonated with the ‘super sensitive mal content’ in me. I’m never satisfied with the status quo and I have an overwhelming need to always drive for better. To progress in some way. Which means I need to know me and how and why I am who I am and how I can benefit a business.

I have often described myself as unmanageable, and if you’ve worked with me or tried to manage me, you’re nodding your head violently in agreement. I can’t be managed, I have to be motivated to give 100% for the organization I work for. This often means barriers have to be removed and people/process need to get out of my way. Joanna seems to be similar i this regard and I just love reading her insightful posts.

Then, maybe the not so obvious…

Melissa Mackey – Search Supervisor at gyro

Melissa Mackey has a voice, that’s for sure. Her brain is slanted more toward PPC and I love her straight forward, just slightly snarky attitude, and her boldness to address topics that others may be too timid to broach. If you follow her blog, Beyond The Paid, you’ll see just what I mean. Definitely a read worth bookmarking and actually reading!

Merry Morud – Social Advertising Director at aimClear

There’s one word that comes to mind when I think of Merry, quirky. She’s got that aimClear flair, the kind of uniqueness that comes with brilliant minds like Einstein. She marches to the beat of her own drummer and we just have to sit back and watch as the brilliance emerges. If you get a chance to work with Merry on anything social, make sure and soak up every minute!

There are so many amazing women role models out there, these are just a few of my top picks. Please share the gals you follow in the comments, I’m constantly looking to learn from other ladies in tech!

AdWords Consumer Shopping Engines (CSE) eCommerce Pay Per Click (PPC)
Google PLA SERP’s Changes & Why I’m Pissed About It
December 6, 2013
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Before we even get started, I must warn you…this post is rant-heavy about the recent Google PLA SERPs changes.

Ok, so many of you may have noticed the cool new yellow Ad labeling happening on paid search ads in the SERP’s this week on Google.com making paid search ads stand out more prominently on the page. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, Bryant Garvin put up a good summary of the change with his Breaking – Google Changes the SERP – Images are King and PPC Holds the Key to the Kingdom post over on Search Engine Journal.

PLA_SERP_Placement

Unfortunately this inevitably means higher competition, higher CPC’s, higher budgets, and lower visibility for some unlucky advertisers.
Let me explain what I mean and why I’m pissed about this change:

PLA Competition Will Heat Up & Increase Costs

PLA’s will be moved to the top of the page above the paid search listings for all searches. Yes, all searches. Bryant’s article says the change will be complete by December 4th, but my Google team has confirmed the roll out to be complete by December 9th. Either way, soon we will see PLA’s take their new spot at the top of the page on all searches.

This means it’s more important than ever for advertisers running PLA’s to get their products to surface in the abbreviated Google Shopping snippet pulled through into the SERP’s on Google.com. There’s only room for five listings in this space, so the battle for these top spots will heat up even more than they already are. Competition for this space is about to get really hairy. I mean, it’s already hairy, but it’s about to go DefCon 1. I don’t know about you, but I’m not interested in getting into a bidding war with big boxes like Home Depot or Target.

Increased competition leads to increased CPC’s and of course increased budgets to support the increased CPC’s. Way to go Google…you’ve just given yourself a raise. I guess I better buy more Google stock before the 9th!

Top Ad Position Competition Will Heat Up & Increase Costs

PLA placement at the top of the SERP’s means all other paid placements get pushed down one ad position. So, ad position three gets booted over to the right side of the page. Along with screwing up all of my ad position data, now I have to bid higher for the only two available ad spots at the top of the page if that’s my transactional sweet spot.

Competition will get even hairier for these two top ad positions and CPC’s will rise and budgets will need to rise to accommodate those higher CPC’s. For all you apparel vertical advertisers that have been able to get anywhere near break even or positive return on non-branded terms…pfft, those days are over!

Overall CTR Loss

Yup, I’m already seeing CTR’s come down due to this change. With PLA’s overshadowing everything else on the page, we’re going to inevitably lose out on clicks on regular search ads to these eye catching images. To recover the lost CTR we have to boost bids to move up in ad position now that we’ve all been pushed down one ad slot and so begins the CPC inflation ripple. Are you seeing the trend yet?

Advertisers Without PLA’s Lose Out

I happen to work with at least one advertiser who does not have an eCommerce website due to the extreme customizability of his products. He’s going to have an even harder time getting his ads visible over his competition, since they do have eCommerce websites and run PLA’s.

Advertisers in this situation will see their traffic and conversion volumes fall even further and will need to battle for top ad positions. Bigger bids, bigger CPCs, bigger budgets.

So, as you can tell I’m not super excited for this additional stress right in the middle of the holiday shopping season. I’m going to have to put my brain cells to work to figure out my combat strategies. No worries. I’ll share with you once I’ve got some ideas. I think a focus on quality score along with cleaning up product feed and keywords inventories to ditch any low ROAS products or terms may be a good place to start.

I don’t know, what do you guys think? Am I over reacting? Do you have an action plan to head off some of this potential damage already? I’d love to know what you think!

eCommerce Omni-Channel
Old Navy Omni-Channel Retailing Success
October 25, 2013
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I was perusing the Old Navy site last night in an attempt to find a pair of jeans on the cheap. I hear rumors that Old Navy and Gap sell gateway mom jeans, but I’m sure I can make them work for $19.99 a pair!

While shopping, I found a blouse that I really liked. Something I could wear to work and be comfy in, as I was checking the sizes available I moussed over a size that was not in-stock on the website. Once my mouse hit that size red alerts popped up to not only let me know that I could not buy the item in that size on the website, but that I could check store availability if I wanted to continue my shopping experience for that particular item off-line.

Old_Navy_Use Case

Cool! I don’t know about you guys, but I’m super annoyed when I see items listed on eCommerce sites for sale just to find out they are for sale in-store only. I’m a hardcore internet shopper and I don’t like stock that I can’t buy in my way. Given my personal preference, I do think that retailers need to pay attention to more customers than just yours truly and it’s important to allow customers who are interested in seeing all items offered both online and off-line on the website. This is the way to do it. It’s inconspicuous and out of my way, but still gets the message across to those who may venture in-store after they have shopped the site.

What’s even cooler about the way Old Navy has things set up is that they take the experience an additional step forward and let you check in-store availability so you can find a store that has the item in-stock in your area and go in and pick up the item. Old Navy also has this option available for not only items that are out of stock online but for all items they carry in-store.

Good job Old Navy! This is a case of Omni-Channel retailing success.

Consulting
Difficult Clients & How To Deal
September 23, 2013
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stress_memeAre you afraid of your clients? I’ll admit, sometimes I am…

All consultants have been there, dealing with a super intimidating client. Whether it is a whale of an account that you are stressing to keep happy or a micro-managing client that’s driving you bananas, there’s usually at least one in your book of business.

I have found that clients fall into three main buckets and you have to deal with each bucket a little differently in order to save your sanity, your consultancy, and your self-respect.

Here’s how I deal.

Bully Client

This client tends to be the most difficult; the client that likes to threaten you. You know the type, “If performance doesn’t increase, I’m going to have to find someone else”, type client. This client relationship is particularly stressful in that the threats, whether empty or not, can send us into a spiral of anxiety and fear of lost business.

There’s nothing worse than an unhappy client, let alone one that is ready to leave.

How to Deal

The biggest thing in this scenario is to take a step back and breathe. This client needs to be heard, and needs to know that you are actively working to fix whatever it is they are unhappy with. The worst thing you can do in this situation is ignore the threat. The bully client is quick to jump to conclusions and you must Manage with Cold, Hard Facts and document everything.

These clients are the most damaging because they get us all worked up over losing business that we can’t clear our heads enough to do our job. Often this causes us to make heavy handed decisions that lead to additional damage down the road. Our main goal here is to stay calm and focused. Find your Zen and do not let the threats get to you. Beyond that, let the chips fall where they may…there is plenty of business out there!

Once you’ve found perspective and focus, communicate to the client that they are heard and that you are working diligently to solve the issue(s). Make sure to gently set realistic expectations on turnaround time of performance and then get to work on a plan. Once you have a plan, communicate that plan, then communicate as the plan is implemented as well as how performance changes and how your action plan changes in response.

Chaotic Client

These clients are just plain all over the place. They’re often dealing with chaos and lack of resources internal to their organization that bleed into your consulting relationship. This often means lack of direction, rapid changes in goals, KPI’s, and direction, as well as quick decisions made with little data.

How to Deal

This client needs a hug. They need to feel supported, like they can count on you to help take a bit of the load off. That means two major tasks for you:

  1. Be patient
  2. Be organized

Dealing with a client contact that is being pulled in a multitude of directions means often answering the same questions repeatedly, lots of gentle reminders and check-ins, and clear communication at all times. I prefer to communicate in email as often as I can with this kind of client so they always have a point of reference. Prepare yourself to deal with longer time lines on implementations and set up a system that allows you to remain present in the conversation while accommodating these longer timelines.

Know –it-all Client

You might know this client as the micro-manager, or the client that “knows just enough to be dangerous”. This client has a clear interest in what you do, why you do it, and how you do it. They may just find your art fascinating or they may be trying to figure out how the system works so they can help. Don’t get me wrong, it is true that in some cases they’re trying to figure out how they can do this themselves and save some cash by cutting you out of the equation or they just have a hard time letting someone else spend their money. But more often than not, they’re just curious.

How to Deal

This client needs to feel like they’re involved.

I’ve found the easiest way to deal with this kind of client is to work on building your relationship with them, to share, be honest and friendly, and to over communicate. It really is just that simple. You will need to be patient and willing to train and educate this client. Above all else, do not get into a power struggle with this client, this will only agitate the situation. Instead, set boundaries and let them help where appropriate.

No matter what kind of difficult client you’re dealing with, it is important to try and sniff out these quirks in the initial sales and discovery phase of your engagement and Identify Succubus Clients ahead of time. This way you can bake in additional costs to cover the time you’ll need to appropriately deal with these clients.

Sometimes these difficulties will not be easy to spot, so it’s super important to have a thorough investigative conversation or several prior to engaging in a contract with any client. Really focus on learning about their need, their previous challenges, etc.

How do you deal with difficult clients? Share your tips in the comments!

Google Analytics Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Web Analytics
Use Google Analytics To Find Your Most Valuable Landing Pages
November 28, 2012
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PPC account managers regularly tear their hair out trying to find landing pages that convert. I’ve been there and it can be really tough to get those conversions and Google Analytics can help!

You’ve done everything you can think of to optimize the paid search campaigns for relevant, high-quality traffic, your account structure is pristine, your keyword inventory has exhausted all terms closest to the conversion, your ad copy is spicy and definitely catching eyeballs, but those clicks just aren’t converting as well as you expected.

What’s the problem? Well…are you sending that traffic to your most valuable landing pages? Do you know which pages are the most valuable? Have you built campaigns around those high-value pages?

When it comes to traffic, especially the paid variety, you want to get that ROI as high as possible. I know I do, as a consultant I spend other people’s money and it’s important that I see a return on that investment or I haven’t done my job.

This is where I need to dip into my toolbox and look at what’s happening on the site because no matter how much money I put into my ads, if the pages aren’t sealing the deal I will get nowhere.

How I Find Those Valuable Landing Pages

If you’ve been following me for any length of time you know I drank the “gool-aid” years ago, so my go-to tool for this time of insight is definitely Google Analytics.

Google Analytics, or any good post-click analytics tool is aggregating this information for you along with a ton of valuable information. All you have to do is look!

Ecommerce tracking has been installed. The metric you’re looking for is Page Value and you can find it in your content reports. Google Analytics automatically logs this metric for you under two circumstances:

  1. Ecommerce tracking has been installed.
  2. Your goals have been given values.

If neither of these conditions are met, you will not see any data reported under this metric. I’ll address additional metrics to look at if that is the case in another post.

Once there is a value to track in Google Analytics, you’ll start to see page values.

I like to take a look at All Pages, this way I’ll be able to dig up the most valuable pages on the site regardless of the type of traffic going to these pages. You’d be surprised how many times I find a random page that is not being used as a landing page that converts like crazy.

Once selected, All Pages should land you on the Explorer tab by default where you’ll see the Page Value column at the end of the score card.

Google describes Page Value as follows:

The average value of this page or set of pages. Page Value is ((Transaction Revenue + Total Goal Value) divided by Unique Pageviews for the page or set of pages)).

Google is essentially handing you the pages with the highest transactional or goal value, as it related to page views…bam! For you old school analysts this metric used to be $ Index.

Now all you have to do is sort the pages by Page Value to uncover the most valuable pages. You may find pages that you never thought to focus on. You may uncover some pages that you thought were winners that maybe need some work. You’ll probably find some pages that are worth testing against each other.

All in all, Page Value is a very insightful metric when optimizing your website and your traffic acquisition strategies. I highly recommend keeping an eye on this metric when performing landing page tests, it’s good stuff!

AdWords Pay Per Click (PPC) Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Webinars
Webinar: AdWords’ New Display System, Keyword Contextual Targeting
November 26, 2012
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Heather_Cooan_Webinar_Archive

Just in case you missed my latest SEMPO webinar on the recent changes to the AdWords contextual targeting engine that took place in October of 2012, you can check it out here:

Big Changes: AdWords’ New Display System, Keyword Contextual Targeting

You must be a SEMPO member to access the archives.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
5 Quick SEO Tips To Get Website Traffic Fast!
July 10, 2012
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SEO Can Be A Rollercoaster!

Online, one of the most significant keys to success is getting website traffic. The more visitors you have, the better your sales and profits. Presumably you have a niche and you know your keywords, and regularly conduct keyword research to stay on top of what’s popular. Based on those assumptions here are five quick and easy tips to get website traffic fast!

Tip #1 Make sure you’re actually tagging your keywords.

Do you spend a lot of time optimizing your content and then neglect to tag them on your webpage? Tags are where search engines look and if there are no tags they’ll pass right by your web pages. Here’s a quick brief on tags.

There are a number of tag types including,

  • Title tags. Title tags are quite possibly the most important place to situate your keywords. Here’s what they look like -Primary keyword phrase here. Your title tag is where you place your primary keyword or keyword phrase. The sentence will describe your business in less than 90 characters.
  • Header Tags. Header tags are next in order of importance to search engines. There may be multiple header tags and they are numbered in order of importance related to each other.
  • Meta Tags. Meta tags provide the small descriptive text found underneath the title tag on the search engine results page. Like title tags these should be kept brief, informative and up to date.
  • Alt Tags. Alt tags are used to provide a text description of a graphic. Each graphic on your site should have a description and an alt tag.

Tip #2 Add content to your site regularly

Content is essential for traffic and a top search engine ranking. Content is what search engine spiders look for and index – without it there’s nothing to index or rank. Give visitors and search engines a reason to visit and index your site. Make a commitment to provide fresh, optimized content and your traffic will soar.

Tip #3 Procure valuable and relevant incoming links

The more websites which link to your webpages the more valuable search engines perceive you to be, though not all links are created equal. Search engines give more leverage to links from sites which are popular and credible and from sites which are relevant to your website topic.

There are different types of links.

  • A direct link looks like a basic website address, for example, www.yourwebsite.com
  • A text link occurs when the webpage address is embedded in the text. Readers simply click on the link and are redirected to a new website page.
  • If the link is to an internal web page, for example an article published on a website, rather than the home page, it is called a “deep link.”

You can encourage linking to your website by:

  • Adding content to your site.
  • Submitting to article directories.
  • Publishing press releases.
  • Blogging and participating in social networking forums, chat rooms and social networking sites.

Tip #4 Be Social!

Now more than ever before, internet marketing is about building a community. Whether you offer a forum on your website or you participate in social networking sites, social networking is a valuable traffic generating tactic. Sites like Facebook and Twitter can be powerful tools for generating links and traffic to your site – create a profile and then post comments, links to your site and ideas which generate conversation.

Get involved – many chat rooms and forums are industry specific, find those which cater to your industry, and begin participating. Speak to and connect with a highly targeted audience.

Tip #5 Advertise for more exposure and traffic

Advertising, when handled strategically, can be used to promote your content and products or services. PPC advertising is often the tool of choice because you control the advertising budget on a daily basis and have the tools to test and track your advertising efforts. Once you’ve honed your PPC ads the return on investment can be phenomenal in terms of traffic and purchases.

For maximum results, create a traffic and SEO strategy. Outline your plan and your goals and then take the necessary action. Take advantage of these five traffic and search engine tips to boost your business.

Socia Media
What Not to Put in Your Social Network Profile
February 27, 2012
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Online social networks have rapidly increased in popularity, especially over the past couple of years. Social networking websites are popular because they easily allow you to find, connect with, and develop friendships with other internet users, often ones that share the same interests as you. To find those individuals, you must join a social networking website and create a profile. It is often advertised that your social networking profile is the key to making and finding friends online.

As previously mentioned, your social networking profile is important when it comes to meeting other internet users. This is because, in most cases, internet users are looking to chat with someone who has the same goals, views, beliefs, and interests as they do. Without a personal profile, it would be difficult or impossible to tell what your interests are. That is why social networking profiles are not only important, but they are needed.

When it comes to social networking profiles, a lot of focus has been placed on what you should include in your profile or display on your profile page. It has been said that pictures produce the best responses, as well as detailed personal information. Although a picture and detailed personal information may help to increase your page views, you may be getting views that you do not necessarily want. Despite what you may believe, most social networking websites do not have restrictions on who can view your personal profile. In fact, internet users, even those that do not belong to your online community, can easily see profile.

Since anyone, literally anyone, can see your social networking profile, on most social networking websites, you are advised to be cautious. Essentially, this means that instead of focusing on what you should put in your online profile, you should be focusing on what not to put. This is one the best ways to protect your safety, both on and offline.

As previously mentioned, pictures are often recommended with social networking websites. If you are interested in positing a personal picture of yourself in your online profile you can do so, but you are advised to carefully choose that picture. While you will want to look your best, you are advised against posting a picture that is too revealing or seductive in nature. Most internet users can look at these types of pictures without feeling a thing, but for others these types of pictures spell danger.

If you make the decision to post a picture of yourself in your social networking website profile, you need to be careful about the rest of the information that you post. Although you may not necessarily think about it, a picture is just a picture, but combined with your name and address, it could be a deadly combination. You are advised to only post your first name in your profile. This will make it more difficult for anyone to try and contact you off of the internet.

It is also advised that you carefully choose your location. A large number of online social networking sites require that you select a city, as well as a state. If it is allowed, you may only wish to list your state and not the city. If you are required to list the city and the state that you live in, you may want to think about using a nearby city or town, especially if you live in a small town. If an internet predator wanted to contact you and you lived in a small town, it could be fairly easy for them to find you. That is why it is advised that you carefully select the answer to the location question.

In addition to the above precautionary measures, it is advised that you do not post detailed information on your children, the location of your home, your income, or when you will be leaving for vacation. By keeping these and the above mentioned points in mind, you should be able to enjoy online social networking without having to always look behind your back.