Internet Marketing Fortune Cookie
We have an exciting main segment today, but before we get into that I want to treat you to a one of the more elusive internet marketing fortune cookies that I’ve had the privilege to deal with in my long career in internet marketing.
As you know, I’m a firm believer that everything you need to know about internet marketing can be learned from fortune cookies. The other day I got this fortune cookie and I wasn’t quite sure exactly what I was going to do with it at first, because I thought maybe this was the exception, this was the case where the fortune cookie was not going to teach me something about internet marketing.
“A crab wonton a day keeps the doctor away.”
I thought this has nothing to do with internet marketing, but then it hit me, this has everything to do with internet marketing and it proves my point exactly that you can learn everything you need to know about internet marketing from fortune cookies.
This statement, “A crab wonton a day keeps the doctor away,” is obviously a play on the very old statement that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. That statement in and of itself dates back all the way to the 1800s in America. Basically the idea is if you’ll do these things that are good for you, i.e. eating an apple a day, it will keep you healthy. You do things that are good for you over and over again each day, that’s going to be good for you, it’s going to keep you healthy, it’s going to keep the doctor away.
You may or may not be familiar with the crab wonton, depending on what part of the world that you live in. The crab wonton is commonly referred to in the United States as the crab rangoon. The crab rangoon is basically this Chinese puff pastry, we’ll address the Chinese part here in a minute, but in American Chinese restaurants you’ll find this puff pastry and it’s usually stuffed with a combination of Philadelphia cream cheese and crab meat with a little bit of onions or scallions in it. It’s absolutely delicious, I love these things. The wonton is usually deep fried, so you have this deep fried crispy wonton with this gooey cream cheese that’s savory because of the onions and stuffed with crab meat. It’s fantastic.
Let me tell you, I’ve been all over China and the rest of Asia, this is not a real Chinese thing. The crab rangoon is an invention of American Chinese food restaurants. Rangoon was the old capital of Myanmar; this has absolutely nothing to do with China.
It’s a fusion of American cuisine – Philadelphia cream cheese – in this Chinese context and it’s invented and placed in that context, it’s new and very successful. In fact, it represents a fusion of American culture and Chinese culture to create something new and great. That explains the fortune.
This fortune, “A crab wonton a day keeps the doctor away,” really means that accepting change in your business and doing new things is really good for you. It also probably means that the stuff that got you to wherever you are in your business may not get you to where you need to be. I’ll give you two examples from my business.
One is this distraction that I told you about a couple of weeks ago where I’m going through the 100K Factory Revolution program. It turns out that the 100K Factory program has an enormous Facebook advertising component. Those of you that know me, I’ve said this many times, I’m not a paid advertising guy. But as big as Facebook is becoming, it’s really not reasonable to be a credible internet marketing resource and not be really good at Facebook advertising. That’s a skill that I need to get better at.
Now, I overstate it. I’ve done Facebook advertising and I have had some success, but I’m not a Facebook advertising guru. After I go through this 100K Factory Revolution program, I’m going to be a lot closer to being that guru. I think I’ll also end up with a new stream of income. I’m going to let you know what happens either way, but I’m going to tell you all about it as this thing goes along.
The point is that’s something new for me and it represents change in my business. It represents growth – mental growth, learning and knowledge – and it also represents some complementary skills that I really need to grow. Like the crab rangoon extends the menu of Chinese food in the United States and it’s good for Chinese food restaurant business, so too is this change in business good for me, and it’s good for you, too, to learn things.
Clearly, you have to be careful about bright shiny objects and you can’t jump on every new thing, but when strategic opportunities present themselves, that’s usually a really good thing for your business.
The other obvious thing where change is really good is around this topic of SEO. The SEO tactics that we were using in 2011 and 2010 that were content poor and crummy link heavy, we were using article marketing and a bunch of stuff that really no longer works and is no longer appropriate, and we were filling up the internet with completely worthless content in an effort to persuade Google to rank our sites higher, we’ve had to evolve out of that.
Accepting that change to a new model where content is more important than it ever has been, links are still important but they have to be really good authoritative links – junky links will no longer help you, in fact they will hurt you a little bit – it’s very important to embrace that change, just like embracing the crab rangoon has helped Chinese food restaurants in America have more success.
That was a close one, but I just want to remind you that my record is still intact and I still do claim that you can learn everything you need to know about internet marketing from fortune cookies. I want to encourage you to strategically and carefully, but enthusiastically, embrace change in your business. That will keep the doctor away.
Demystifying UTM Parameters
Now we’re going to get to an interesting topic that I really like, that is this topic of UTM parameters in URLs. I know you feel like you’re about to go to sleep just at the mention of that overly technical gobbledygook that just came out of my mouth, but bear with me and I promise I will offer you an analogy related to my trip to San Antonio that you will absolutely appreciate and that will help you understand this at the end.
Let’s start with the very basics. What is it that I’m talking about? A lot of times when you click on a link you’ll notice that the link is comprised of three things that you’ll recognize. One is the transport technology that’s being used, usually that’s HTTP or HTTPS, the stuff at the very beginning. Then you’ll see a colon and some slashes, and then you’ll see something else that you’ll recognize, which is the website name, the domain name. That’s where the content lives that you’re trying to load up in your web browser.
So you have the HTTP or HTTPS, then you have the domain name, and then you have some of the stuff after that, which you would usually think of as the post name. A lot of times in WordPress we call that the post slug, but really it’s the path to the file on the web server. It’s telling the web server where to locate the web page that you’re trying to pull up. It’s not any different than if you’re on your Windows machine and you’re digging around on your hard drive where you have some files in nested file folders and it pulls the page up.
Those are the three parts of a URL. Occasionally, and maybe even more than occasionally because this is an incredibly popular technology on the internet, you’ll see that the three parts of that URL that you’re used to looking at are followed with a question mark and then after that question mark you will see a bunch of gobbledygook, ampersands and equal signs and a bunch of names, some of which will be recognizable, some of which maybe not so much.
Usually you’ll see the three letters UTM. Those items that are embedded in all of that gobbledygook are called UTM parameters. UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module. The Urchin tracking module gets its name because back in the early 2000s, maybe around 2005, Google acquired a company called Urchin and they acquired this tracking technology from this company. I have trouble remembering back that far, but I think technically speaking Urchin the software was the predecessor to Google Analytics and now Google Analytics continues to recognize the UTM parameters. The bottom line is Google Analytics understands Urchin tracking parameters, UTM.
So what are these things? The easiest thing to say about Urchin tracking parameters is they are tags that you can put on a URL to help you figure out where the traffic came from. For example, if you are running a Facebook ad campaign you can add these tags to the end of the URL that you use in that campaign, the link that you put in where you say if someone clicks on the Facebook ad you want them to go to this place on your website. You can add these tags so that you know later, and more specifically so that Google Analytics knows later exactly where that traffic came from.
This is absolutely critical and it’s going to be important for me in my work with Facebook and the 100K Factory Revolution to know which ads are sending traffic into my website, because that’s how I’m going to understand which ads I should run or not run, which ads I should stop, which ads I should spend more money on, and so forth is by these kinds of analytics. UTM is the technology that enables all of this.
For you, if you’re sending traffic to your website from anywhere, from banner ads, from Facebook, from Twitter, or even from other pages on your own website, and you want more information about exactly where that traffic is coming from, which ads are working and which ads aren’t, which link placements are working and which aren’t, really important for affiliate marketing, you can use these Urchin tracking parameters (UTM) to help Google Analytics tell you exactly what’s going on.
What’s really cool about this is you can use the conversion goal inside of Google Analytics to really nail down what source of traffic is really creating opt-ins or sales for you on your website.
There are four UTM parameters that I use whenever I do UTM.
One is the source parameter. This is typically used to identify which site sent the traffic. It’s a required parameter. An example would be that the UTM source was Google, or Facebook, or Bing, or Twitter. That’s the source of the traffic that is coming to the URL that you’re tagging.
The second parameter that is often used is what type of link was used, the medium. The UTM medium is usually used to describe the type of advertising medium that you’re using to send the traffic, how the traffic gets to you. Is it from social, is it from banner ads, is it from cost-per-click ads, is it coming from Adsense, what’s the advertising medium that is being used to send you the traffic?
Then there’s a campaign parameter that you can set which campaign this traffic is coming from. Maybe you have a special content campaign or a seasonal campaign, or some kind of effort where you’re trying to identify a group of ads that you’re putting out there for a particular purpose, you can use the campaign parameter. Spring sale or the Halloween promotion would be typical values for the campaign parameters.
The final parameter that is often used is the content parameter. That can help you identify specifically which ad was clicked to bring the user to the site, whether it was a banner ad or a text link. This is often used for A/B testing and other kinds of testing. You might see examples like the logo or text in the ad. Maybe you’re trying to understand the difference which one of those links is sending you the most traffic.
This all sounds a little bit confusing, so let me give you the analogy that I promised you related to my trip to San Antonio. I have to give Jeffrey Krantz credit for this. He was at Overthink, I think he’s still there. He has this fantastic post about UTM that I read quite some time ago and I remember this analogy, it really stuck with me, and I’m going to share my own version of it with you now. This is kind of Jeffrey’s analogy modified for my purposes.
Let’s say that we are going to San Antonio. That’s the URL. We talked about this URL, https://latenightinternetmarketing.com, that’s where we’re headed, that in this case is the URL and in our case for my analogy I’m going to San Antonio. I’ll have UTM parameters after that URL that are going to tell me about that trip to San Antonio.
I’m sending people, myself and my children, to San Antonio, that’s my destination. What’s my source, where am I coming from? My UTM source, where I’m coming from, in this case I’m not coming from Facebook or Twitter, I’m coming from Dallas. My source is Dallas, that’s where I’m coming from, so that’s my UTM source.
What’s my UTM medium? What is sending the traffic from Dallas to San Antonio? I’m going in a car on the highway. I’m traveling by car, that’s the medium. I’m not going by cost-per-click, I’m actually going by car to San Antonio, that’s my UTM medium.
Why am I going there? That’s my campaign. What is causing this, is it a promotion? No, it’s Spring break. My destination is San Antonio, where I’m coming from as my UTM source is Dallas, my UTM medium for getting there is by car, and I’m going there because it’s Spring break, my UTM campaign is Spring break.
Once I get all of this stuff set up in these UTM parameters for my Spring break campaign, I can track my traffic into San Antonio in Google Analytics. It can tell me how many people I took to San Antonio, when they got there, and what they did after they got to San Antonio. In fact, Google Analytics will be able to tell me I went to the Hotel Contessa and I converted that visit into a sale at Hotel Contessa, and then I went to Casa Rio and I converted that traffic from that Dallas source using the medium of car to get to my destination, I was able to convert that trip into enchiladas at Casa Rio.
This is the purpose of these UTM parameters. Now that gobbledygook is totally demystified to you. The next that you see that you can understand, one, there is a marketing person at work who is tracking my click and, two, you can understand what it is that they’re doing.
These URLs are very long and ornery, so if you want to create your own UTM enabled URLs it’s really easy because Google provides a URL builder for you to create these for yourself. You can use them and test them out. You can just for fun as an exercise take a page on your website, go to these Google Analytics URL builder, and build a URL with UTM parameters, you can tweet that out and send traffic to your site, and behold you’ll see in Google Analytics that there is traffic coming in from Twitter, where it came from and what they did. It will give you a whole other level of information inside of Google Analytics.
It kind of goes without saying, if you’re not using Google Analytics, you absolutely should be. If you don’t have Google Analytics enabled on your website, it’s really easy to do. You can just Google how to install Google Analytics and there are a thousand resources out there that will tell you. Basically you create a Google Analytics account, which is free, you get a special snippet of code, and you jam it into your website. It’s super easy to do.
Here’s what I want you to do so that you can remember this. I want you to go to the show notes at LateNightIM.com/131 and I want you to download my handy-dandy UTM Parameter Secret Decoder Ring. That’s a nice one page PDF that includes my analogy for San Antonio. You can have that on your hard drive so when you go to install UTM parameters yourself you have this available to you and it will be there for all time. I hope you enjoy that.
Wrapping Things Up….
That wraps it up for this week. I hope you enjoyed that and I hope that UTM parameter discussion wasn’t too terribly technical. I tried to make it consumable for podcasting.
I am getting ready to go to Social Media Marketing World, I’ll be out in San Diego next week. If you’re going to be out there, I would absolutely love to see you. Come find me. I will be the track leader for the podcasting track. I’m honored to be doing that. In fact, the very first speaker in the track will be my good buddy Cliff Ravenscraft. I’ll be in that track for the duration, so I’m easy to find. Come see me.
I’d love to see you at Social Media Marketing World in San Diego, that’s March 23rd through the 25th. If you can’t find me at the conference, a good bet is the bar at the Grand Hyatt, which is always a lot of fun whenever that’s the conference hotel. Look for me there or in the conference itself. I’ll look forward to seeing you in San Diego next week.
I will have an episode drop on Thursday. Until then, I hope you have an absolutely fantastic week working on your business and delivering the kind of amazing customer service to your readers, your purchasers, and your clients that I saw at Hotel Contessa in San Antonio.