The coming of the New Year always brings both big expectations and reflections on the year that was. While planning out this year’s blog, I thumbed through our posts from 2014 and found some exceptional posts that definitely stood out. With each addition that we make to the team, our knowledge gets more diverse. Marketing theory, organic, content and web development… we’ve come a long way from blogging about how to change a keyword to exact match.

Without further adieu, I give you the best DRA posts of 2014!

Engaging digital content! 

 

The Importance of Having (and Using!) Conversion Tracking Series

OK – some of it wasn’t in 2014, but some of it was, so I’m counting it. The amount that I end up thinking about conversion tracking waxes and wanes month-to-month. As soon as I decide that everybody has it mastered, bam – I talk to someone spending five figures per month who has never turned it on. They don’t know all the good stuff they’re missing out on!

I recommend starting from the beginning, as Zach Mandelblatt takes you step-by-step through the philosophy behind tracking everything you want to track, accompanied by the nitty-gritty set-up instructions. If you think your tracking is all figured out (careful now), go ahead and start with section three, which covers branding metrics that all businesses, regardless of ROI goals, should be tracking. Part four, which covers Google Analytics, is the real sweet stuff, as good Analytics set-up instructions can be hard to find.

Ad Rotation and A/B Split Testing Series

One of the reasons that AdWords became so wildly successful over the past decade is that you can track just about everything that your money produced. In terms of data tracking, there is just no comparison between AdWords and traditional methods like radio or print. The other benefit, which advertisers often seem to forget, is that you can actually use that data to make more money. AdWords delivers data in such a way that taking action on it can improve your ROI this week. And then the week after. And the week after that.

Nick Rennard’s series on A/B testing shows you how to use that data to run small-scale tests within your account. Rather than take a quarterly look at returns on newspaper ads or TV spots, Nick walks through applying real-time data to incrementally improve your returns. If all that you get from the series is that you should be testing, that’s a win in itself; however, he goes much deeper into advanced theory, user psychology, and other awesome things you should be thinking about as you bank more money week-after-week.

Mobile Websites vs. Reponsive Websites

“The year of mobile” has become a cliche in digital marketing. It was supposed to be 2009, then it was 2010 again, and has maybe-kinda-sorta been every year since. I have an improvement. I’m of the belief that every advertiser has a tipping point when mobile traffic becomes so important that they must focus on it.  This point is different for every business, but sooner or later it happens to everyone. “The day mobile reckoning” seems like a sweet name (I’m sure you can come up with something better).

When an advertiser reaches that point, some serious decisions need to be made. Not the least of which is whether to build a mobile website. Arin Adamson’s piece walks through attributes that should guide that important decision, what people mean when they say a website is “responsive,” and why you should care. Making the right investment is key here, as the importance having a mobile presence won’t be going away. I don’t foresee a “year of desktop” in the near future, which makes Arin’s walkthrough all the more important.

Writing a Fluff-Free Content Article

I’m an English major, and I like to think that I’m well trained in saying what I mean, and deducing meaning from what other people say. Perhaps it’s for that reason that I find so much of the internet’s content to be, for lack of a better word, extraneous. Here’s the point though: Google has been taking English classes. Its robots are getting better at critical reading, and they know whether you’re bringing the goods or whether you’re just typing words. Your SEO performance depends on it.

That’s why Jason Cigan’s point, saying what you mean and meaning what you say, is so important. He details some guiding principles from George Orwell that will help make what you write clearer and therefore more meaningful. Beyond being important for humans (remember them?), now that Google can judge your writing level and your intent (!!), your content’s clarity and meaning are more important than ever.

Is PPC Management a Perfect Market?

I spoke the other day with someone at a traditional marketing agency about how they chose a PPC vendor to work with. Their response? “PPC’s all the same, it depends on who sends me a bottle of wine.” First, that’s an amazing insight into the value of sales for any business. Second, I hear that every PPC agency is the same all the time, and you’ll never believe it, but I disagree!

In this piece, I outline just how many complex, advanced skills are required to be a good PPC manager. Between creativity, psychology, design, coding, reporting & analytics, and everything else… it’s not just Excel anymore. Evaluating managers on hard skills, like the ability to do VLOOKUP’s, will never go out of fashion, but the industry is moving so fast that I’d argue that soft skills are becoming exponentially more important. You can have a great PPC manager, but if they don’t possess a “willingness to learn” or a “proactive approach,” what’s going to happen when Google changes the rules next?

There you have it: the best DRA posts of 2014. Content, testing, proper set-ups – we covered it all last year. Stay tuned in 2015 as we hope to make our blog even better. Happy New Year!

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