Wellspring Digital Chats – Alan K’necht, Canadian Search Awards Judge, Speaker, and Analytics Wrangler

It seems silly to say that 20+ is a very long time but in terms of the Internet, it is. Alan K’necht was working with search and analytics before there was a Google and even a Yahoo!

It’s important to understand the history of search because it gives us insight into the motivations of the search engines as well as some context for why things are how they are.

My guest on this installment of the Wellspring Digital Chat series is the above-mentioned Alan K’necht. Alan is a principal at K’nechtology, a public speaker, an award-winning author, and a corporate trainer (SEO, social media marketing & web/digital analytics).

In this episode, I ask Alan…

  1. What is a winning SEO campaign?
  2. Are Page Views a relevant KPI?
  3. What are some common mistakes clients make with their websites?
  4. Does he have any Google Analytics pet peeves?
  5. What does the intersection of marketing technology and analytics mean for marketers?

Let’s do this…

Digital Transcription (Edited for Readability)

Introductions

Jon-Mikel Bailey: Hi, I’m Jon-Mikel Bailey, and welcome to Wellspring Digital Chats where we interview marketing experts, dive into their brains, and we swim around a little bit, and try to extract some knowledge to share with you. So today we have a Canadian search awards judge, a popular keynote speaker, and analytics Wrangler, Alan K’necht. Alan, if you could take a moment and introduce yourself to these good people.

Alan K’necht: Hey, everybody, I’m Alan and I work for my company called K’nechtology. We’ve been around since 1998. I started in this World of Internet Marketing, way back in the mid-1990s, where I volunteered on a couple of international builds. So I started learning HTML. From there, I started becoming a web builder. And when I built my first website and started trying to market it, anybody coming there?

At that time, there were no good quality tools for measuring anything. You could put little counters on there. And I’ll go into some stories later. But I want to know what people were coming from. From there, I progressed, I started working for a company, we started working with real analytics tools.

And I started and marketing which led into the world of search engine optimization, when the sites that I was building for companies, were doing well in the leading search engines at the time. And of course, that led me down the path of becoming an SEO. But no matter what I did, I always wanted to measure the success, what were we doing wasn’t working was not only driving eyeballs but were those eyeballs converting, generating benefit to my clients.

And as the world progressed, I got involved in social media marketing. And once again, always with analytics on the end. These days, my company is primarily focused back on original, there’s a Doctorate of analytics heavy, we still, you know, dabbling in SEO, we have some very high-end SEO people working for us.

And also it comes to social media marketing. I don’t know on roll up my sleeves in the world of SEO and social media marketing, but I’m so well versed in it, I know what’s going on. And that led me into being a judge for the search awards. And as you can tell from my background, my big Humphrey Bogart fan, Love it.

Jon-Mikel Bailey: Love it. So when I think of, you know, OG SEOs and just, you know, internet pioneers, I definitely put your name on that list. And I’ve been following you for years reading your stuff. And I’m really excited to talk to you about SEO, specifically about analytics, and auditing and data, and all that fun stuff.

What Is a Winning SEO Campaign?

Jon-Mikel Bailey: So let’s just jump right in. So, Karl Hindle, our CEO was a head judge for the US Search Awards. So I haven’t really talked to him much about that. And so I figured, I’m curious about this, you know, what do you judge when you judge search? You know, what’s a winning SEO campaign in terms of the US or the Canadian Search Awards criteria?

Alan K’necht: All right. Well, I was only a judge for the Canadian Search Awards this year, I’m going to be on it for a few other countries as well. I didn’t want to bite off more than I could chew. So that’s a great question. Because that was a question I asked them, the people running the awards, what am I supposed to be judging?

How am I supposed to be judging, and they said, “we’re gonna send you campaigns based on the categories you say you’re interested in. And we’re gonna leave it to you to review their proposals, review the results and decide was that an award-winning effort,” and basically, you read it.

There are typically five judges that view the specific category, review all the good things, and then we compare notes, and the scores we gave them in front, and then they add up the total scores unless we want to change it, and then the one with the highest overall score becomes the winner.

And of course, when we have our discussion, sometimes, “Oh, I missed that.” Or “Oh, that’s an interesting point.” So when it came down to me, as I said, even when I started building websites back in the early 90s, and through the 2000s, and right up into you know, 2021, I’m involved with companies and their websites and working with their back end developers, and their marketing teams and their SEOs and whatever. I always look at the numbers first and foremost.

Yes, there are a couple campaigns I saw where they had wonderful visuals. Okay, maybe I liked it. But did that resonate with your target audience? Because I might not be your target audience. And that’s, I think one of the things. Some judges say, “Oh, I loved their ad, that was so creative.” And I go “Yeah, but look at the numbers.”

So that’s part of where I look. So I look at in their proposals, what were their key performance indicators, their KPIs, what were they? How are they going to measure their success? If all they cared about was driving people to their website, because they just wanted to create brand awareness, that might be a reliable and valid goal.

But then you better get Tell me, how many eyeballs are you getting today? And how many eyeballs did the campaign generate? What happened after the end of the campaign? Did it drop off immediately? Was it sticky? Was it so forth?

And in other ones, it was what we wanted to drive lead generations. Others it was we wanted to drive sales. So we really need to look at what their KPIs were. Were they objective? Were they subjective? How are they actually measuring this? Were they using Google Analytics? Are they using Adobe Analytics? We’re using some other analytics tool?

Were they merely counting revenue, that while we ran our ad revenues about 25%, our goal is to have a 10% lift in revenue. Wow, fantastic. And that’s the type of thing that we look for both in their proposal, and their proposal better say what their goals were, not just what they were going to measure, but what they expected to achieve. And then I looked at their results.

Jon-Mikel Bailey: I think that I gave my votes. Yeah. I think that’s kind of universal. I think most companies should be focused on the KPIs and, and not you know, the vanity metrics, which, which really leads me perfectly into my next question, which I appreciate.

Are Page Views a Relevant KPI?

Jon-Mikel Bailey: You wrote an article for Digital Summit, (I love Digital Summit, I’ve spoken at some of their events) about waving bye-bye to page views as a KPI. So can you talk a little bit about that and other metrics that are maybe losing importance yet still being focused on by marketers? You know what? These vanity metrics? Are these unimportant metrics that these marketers still are obsessed with? For some reason? Can you speak to that a bit?

Alan K’necht: Oh, I’d love to, this is one of my favorite topics, believe it or not because I’ve been talking about this subject for over 20 years now. And 11 years ago, I put out a book called The Last Original Idea. And I put in a piece of analytics about this. So I’m going to take you back.

Here I was, trying to remember about 1997, I was working for a software startup, I was a low teen of their employees. And at some point, before I left, they were actually like employee number 50, or something like that, you know, that was in that span of less than a year. And I remember building their website, I didn’t have the title webmaster, you know, Master, you know, jack of all trades, routed analytics.

And the boss came to me with a press release from a leading competitor, talking about their performance of their website, which talked about how many hits their website was getting. And I also remember, at the same time, YouTube went public talking about how many hundreds of 1000s of hits they were getting, they never even talked about pageviews, they were talking to hits because it was the easiest number back then to get from your analytics.

You used to have what’s called an access log, used to count the number of lines in an access log. The president of a company, I would say, that’s I mean, he wouldn’t listen to what he says, “I don’t care. I know that company is bigger than us. I don’t expect you to make those numbers.” You know, I pulled up my printer reports that I ran once a week, which included a hits number.

“But I want to plan by the end of the week, how are you going to raise our hits, you know, 30 40% within the next three months,” all right, whatever. And whenever I had my meeting, I think it gave me a week or two weeks to prepare the report. I came with my latest analytics printout. And they said, “Oh, yeah, so what’s your plan?” I said, Well, you know, we’re already up 20% in hits, here’s the latest report.”

He goes “Wow, How’d you do that?” I said well you know the website you notice that there are now two new icons appearing one on the left one on the right because, “yeah, I really like that.” Well, each one of those is a hit. And we added two graphical elements to the 10 we had on the page. So now we have 20% more elements per page.

He goes “hold on,” and then he said, “What should we be measuring?” And at which point I said here’s what we should be measuring. We also have a fill-out questionnaire survey. And because we promise people you would get a gift if you filled it in, everybody who filled it in we mailed out something out depending on their answers determine the quality of their product if they were a likely buyer of this very expensive software. They got a really nice gift mail that to them.

If you were like I got a free one and now you’re not the decision-maker. You don’t meet her you got a gift but you know, you might have gotten, you know, a bookmark and a pen. And you know, the good people got a set of coffee mugs to take the thing. But we started understanding that it was more important to evaluate what people were doing while they were on the site?

And he understood that, what could we do to drive more lead generation. And that is part of it. And that’s part of where pages come in. There are “clients who pay” is a meaningful statistic. If you’re a senior CNET, who I used to write for back in the late 90s, and early 2000s, and they make their revenue by ad displays, you know, so much per 100 ads or per 1000 ads, you know, that’s what you’re bidding on, or paying for, then yes, pageviews is a meaningful statistic, because it’s directly related to your revenue.

But if you’re a bank, who cares about pageviews? If you’re doing a “click on my ad and get our free report on X,” because you’re just trying to drive leads because they have to give you their first name, last name, and email address. I couldn’t care how many pages. I care how effective that ad is, is filling in that form.

I also then want to know, what’s the conversion rate of the people who actually filled it in? And that, so it’s more than one is, you know, you could be running A|B tests, and that’s great. And I just gave this example yesterday to a client, you have running two ads, both, you know, one drove 100 people to your site for the X dollars, and one only 1251, generate 100 leads, one generated 50 leads.

Wow, we’re gonna run that ad that gave us 100 leads for the money, you know, for the spend, but of those 100 leads, you only have a 1% conversion rate, right? For the 50 leads, you were having 4% conversion rate, which means for the same money, you get two leads versus what you know, one conversion, so which ad should you be running?

And this is where companies mess up big time. They are not looking at the proper key performance indicators, or multiple key performance indicators, those KPIs are critical.

And we couldn’t care less about page use for one of my clients. They do a lot of SEO efforts, because it’s all about literally pages because they don’t sell anything. They are a medical information site. And it’s what do you consider a successful visit? Well, really marketing for our clients content about their pharmaceutical products about the treatments available for it, because obviously in the article about the treatment, they mentioned, the brand name of a particular medication, whatever it is. Great.

So it’s how many people made it to a certain distance down your page? So pageviews are meaningless because you’re looking at your one of their spends on SEO. So how many people came from SEO? And how far did they read if they look at the first page, you know, headline and leave, that wasn’t a successful SEO effort.

And so we started setting up scroll tracking. And then we have a goal of maybe at least 70% way down the page. That is a success matrix. If they only read the first paragraph, and most of the stuff is fairly long. It’s useless. Right? And that is part of understanding, you know, and marketers have to understand that. It’s not always just about driving eyeballs, it’s by driving quality eyeballs and quality engagements and defining the KPIs that define those qualities.

What Are Some Common Mistakes Clients Make with Their Website?

Jon-Mikel Bailey: So to sort of flip it a little bit you Your, your company offers auditing services at Connect ology your company? Yes. So when you’re doing these audits, and you’re looking at the coding side and the website side of things, you know, what are some of the usual suspects you’re seeing during these audits? In other words, what are what are some common mistakes businesses make with their websites from an from an SEO standpoint, or even a KPI standpoint, in so far as building it out?

Alan K’necht: Well, I would say that at least 9 out of 10 audits that we’ve done, the number one issue that these companies have is they don’t have a measurement plan. What I mean by a measurement plan is they have to start with the corporation’s vision statement or objectives.

They need their marketing department’s objectives, what is our goal? Why are we a marketing partner? What is our goal? And then from that, how are we going to what, how would we measure success in meeting our goals and not the corporate, the marketing department’s goals have to support the corporate goals?

It’s all built, and you want to think of it as an inverse pyramid. And that goes into defining the key performance indicators. And then how do we extract that from a user engagement in our website and that is why their usual break starts with. And if they don’t have that, I can go and audit things.

And I can tell them,  almost 200, over 100 items that we check when we do our audits. Yeah, this was good, this was good, this is bad, but it doesn’t support what you’re trying to measure. And so that becomes the first point, then in certain products. So you need your goals and make sure that your analytics are tied into your website.

That becomes part of the problem. And that’s where you end up working with the developers to make sure that, you know, a common thing that has happened in about five, six years ago with, essentially with the expansion of WordPress and how forms are done. There are no more thank you pages at one time used to measure thank you pages.

Right now, everything’s done in a data layer, you get this nice form, you fill it in, you get “Thank you.” An out-of-the-box analytics tool doesn’t pick up that Thank you because the page hasn’t changed. What do you need to do in your analytics tool or in your web development tool, that would set a trigger that says that form was filled in if that’s important?

And that is how we start doing it, then we have another common mistake. And so without that, you can’t check all that. And that leads to out-of-the-box analytics. I don’t care if you’re using Adobe, Google, or any other analytics tool, if you’re just sticking it on your site, you’re wasting your effort.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone in, and they just have the default, Google Analytics, as most organizations it is the most widely installed, one, have all website data. It has no filters, nothing. Well, we put it in, we put this little snippet of code on our header developers put this on every page and we’re getting data. Great.

But what about your internal traffic, are people in your office using your website, they’re using your website differently than your external customers? Oh. So things of that nature become, so now you would say and so that becomes another mistake because they haven’t set up different views of their data.

So obviously, having a raw all data view is fantastic. It helps you dig down and do different things. But you should probably, at a minimum, separate out external versus internal users. And you probably want a fourth view set up for your developers/testing. So that doesn’t get extracted out.

So as your developers are putting in things that you’re asking for, you can evaluate whether they’re working. So those are really some of the most common ones. And I like to always warn people about this one because I caught this, probably about three out of five times, maybe not a little less, it all depends on things, is personally identifiable information, PII.

The amount of developers who don’t think about this and use things like email addresses as parameters when people log in and transfer that over and gets picked up by your analytics. Under both Canadian and US law, definitely under EU legislation, you cannot store personal identifiable information on a third party server without expressed written permission of the user, Google Analytics is a third party storage.

And the amount of people times I’ve caught where they have their email address, I’ve seen phone numbers being captured and stored. It is mind-boggling.

And that is something I warn everybody, the easiest thing is to go to your analytics tool where it has all those lovely URLs, type in an X symbol, and see what comes in typing it leaving area code, see if that’s showing up. Even type in somebody’s name, like pics, you know, most commonly typing in a Bob, whatever, Sarah, whatever it is, you will find sometimes, and it’s mind-boggling what’s being stored in that and you’re breaking the law, and you got to stop it right away either through filters or get your IT people.

And the sad part is you can never get your data erased at Google. You can set it so it’ll eventually be purged. But that’s about the level you are so you have exposure.

Does Alan K’necht Have Any Google Analytics Pet Peeves?

Jon-Mikel Bailey: So to kind of continue on with that. So you’re working in analytics quite a bit. You know, you’re training people on analytics. What are some of your biggest pet peeves? You spoke about storing data, you spoke about not tracking things properly in analytics. What are some of your other biggest pet peeves both from a Google Analytics side of things, and from a customer usage of it side of things? This is a safe space.

Alan K’necht: Yeah, I appreciate the safe space. As I said, mentioning the pet peeve is where, I see this more in large organizations, doesn’t exist in small ones, where the IT people and the analytics people don’t really talk together. So there’s not proper QA being done on analytics.

And you got to get the QA people involved because I did some work with banks. And they have a department just doing quality assurance testing. But they didn’t do quality assurance testing when some new part of the website’s being released. They didn’t check the analytics.

And the developer says, “Oh, well, you figure it out. That’s not my problem. It is your problem.” If the bank can’t, or the company can’t properly report on successful marketing of the website, everybody’s jobs at stake. And that is part of it. And I’ve seen all sorts of issues with it.

The best companies are where everybody talks and everybody understands, and even sharing the impact, you know, as a product with developers, because I don’t understand why you want this because nobody ever explained it to them. I log into the analytics and I show, by the way, this is what we’re trying to achieve. And “Oh, that makes perfect sense. Okay, I’ll have three by the end of day.”

It’s little things like that is, you know, everybody is trying to protect their turf, as opposed to the turf being the company. And that is, you know, a personal pet peeve as the consultant. I come in, yes, they pay me usually a lot more than the people on the floor. And that does garner some respect, and I can get some things done.

The other piece is, and this drives me nuts and this is at the executive level. And I’ve worked a few places where the executives caught on after I talked to them. And they stopped accepting. Here’s a printout, you know, or whatever, emailing a PDF of our web, you know, our marketing departments performance last month.

And no training your executives to dig into the data. Yeah, they’re only looking for a sound bite, they’re looking for the numbers. But just don’t spoon-feed it to them, educate them on what it means. You know, it’s an old marketing thing.

You know, the best customers and educated customers, the best boss understands what you’re doing. They have, they can intelligently do this. And they can evaluate your external marketing partners. And that’s one of my biggest pet peeves. And I get this all the time with usually mid-sized clients, where they’re working with a third-party marketing company, who’s running their AdWords is doing your social media.

“Oh, wait, they haven’t. They’re running our analytics for us. They’re doing that at no charge. And look at the lovely reports they send us. And I look at those reports ago.” This is BS, right? They’re bragging about how many eyeballs they drove to your site, once again, goes back to that third party, that data saying where they got quality eyeballs.

And one of the most offensive things I ever found from an audit. I was brought in because somebody was suspicious of this marketing company, who kept sending in reports and would not give me access to their analytics. “Tell us what report you want to let you know, I want to be able to explore the data.”

“No, no, we can’t do that.” “I need to go in and see the admin, the admin side of your system.” “No, no.” I managed to get them to send me some information. And then I reverse engineered it. They were sending in all sorts of lovely data, but how effective the marketing was. But when I asked for certain reports, which gave me a geographical breakdown, I realized most of the traffic was coming from one city.

So then I asked for a certain report, at which time, you could easily be able to get the IP addresses. And they were reluctant. And so I said, “Oh, can you just send me these files from your server?” And they obviously had no idea.

All the traffic was coming from one specific IP address. I did the reverse engineer that IP address found out it was a company in the same building as they were located. And guess what it was a subdivision of that bigger company. And they were driving all these eyeball clicks.

Remember when I showed it to the client? “Oh, no, we have to go every day and test every ad that the links are still working.” I said, “Hey, that should have been filtered out.” Right and B if you set up the ads properly, and the site hasn’t changed, the links in the ads aren’t going to change, right?

And all of a sudden about 80% of the traffic they were reporting was bogus and that’s part of where if you are harming third party agencies, now I’m not casting all agencies in that mess that is an oddity most have been caught now and most have cleaned up their acts right you know.

I go back with years of experience, do you not give them 100% control of your analytics, you need to maintain it and ensure that. This is one thing in my company when we set up analytics for people, we make sure that they have full admin access for at least somebody in their organization.

And we clearly state that they are owners of the data. I’ve seen too many marketing agencies, if you’re talking to Google Analytics, I’ll use the terminology they create a property for your company. And then they say, “Oh, no, they didn’t write that they will never release it.” So if you change agencies, you lose your data.

Jon-Mikel Bailey: Yeah. It’s crazy.

Alan K’necht: And that is a pet peeve, everybody, please go look at your agreements with your agencies. If you don’t have explicit ownership of the data, get it in there. Now, even if it’s a great agency, I’m sorry. They’re lovely, great agencies that do things like that. They’re not trying to be mean, that’s just how they operate. Make sure there is a way to transfer the data to you after the fact. So please, go out there and make sure that you get clear ownership, that the data is your data, not the ad agencies.

Jon-Mikel Bailey: Amen. Amen.

What Does The Intersection of Marketing Technology and Analytics Mean for Marketers?

Jon-Mikel Bailey: So my final question is I want to dive into tools. We live in a world of tools, dashboards, software, apps, blah, blah, blah. So, you know, with all these tools, can you talk about the intersection of, you know, marketing, technology, and analytics, you know, is in terms of using data to better understand what’s going on? And how to deliver better marketing to customers?

Alan K’necht: All right? Well, I’m gonna use the old adage, the most important tool out there is the one between your ears. So, obviously, use your brain first and foremost. Tools, it’s, I always use the example of carpentry or something like that. I can give you a saw, I can give you some nails, and I can give you a hammer, it doesn’t make you a carpenter.

And that is the thing, people are going out and spending a lot of money on tools or getting all these free tools. And then they implement it, but they don’t know how to use them. Part of this answer is to get training on how to use these tools effectively. So that’s the first and foremost when it comes to SEO tools.

Yes, you know, SEMRush, Authority Labs, they’re all great. They’re all great tools, I’m not going to pick one or the other, you got to find the one that fits your needs. And there are other ones out there. You know, right now I’m drawing a blank on some of the names. But there are great tools out there. Including analytics, but don’t invest in analytics, unless you’re going to use the data that comes out of them.

But one of the problems that we’re now running into, and this is where the intersection is and you need to start preparing for this, is most of these tools that are tracking users, whether they’re running Facebook ads, and you’re looking at your Facebook analytics, which you can’t export to anything else, because that’s proprietary to Facebook, right?

You’re running your Google AdWords, okay, at least you can easily bring that into Google Analytics. But if you’re running Adobe, it doesn’t come in the same way. You need to start realizing most of those tools use persistent cookies. And if you don’t want cookies, search my name and cookies, you’ll find articles I wrote 20 years ago about this problem.

Sure, yeah. But the EU as of a few years ago, you know, you have to now ask users, “hey, we use cookies, do we have your permission, yes or no?” And if they say no, you either can’t set the cookies, or you can kick them off your site.

And as well, Apple has now put out things with their Safari and their iOS, it has more security settings on blocking cookies, impacting if you’re selling apps on the store, how long you can track things back. So there are more, there’s an assault on the use of cookies. I’m not gonna get into what whether that’s good or bad. It’s just the reality of it.

But as these cookies get blocked by more and more people from your analytics tool, the quality of your data drops, there’s no cookie, there’s no data. And you do not really get a good sampling. You know, yes, you lose 1% or 2%. Nobody cares. But I’ve seen some clients where it is getting their heavy, targeted iPhone users.

And I’m seeing a really good steady drop in the use of cookies. Because we know we can see the behavior of through other ways of what’s going on through the app and on the site. But we don’t get the user accounts. We can look at other log files and see what’s going on. So you need to start getting yourself ready on that impact for your data and how is that going to affect your marketing efforts.

Apple put out an email last week about what changes are coming through. And the one thing that I would suggest to all these people, and this is really going to be impacting all the remarketing or retargeting cookies, we’re setting, this is where it’s going to really first hit you. Yep, that people will not.

Yes, you can get your user behavior stuff, different ways off your website. But if you can’t retarget what is that impact going to be on you and things of that nature. It’s huge. So one of the things if you’re running a website, or app, and using analytics, that requires a user login, so you have, you know, coming to your registered a user site.

Now, it’s not appropriate for, you know, most sites, it’s probably 20% sites have some requirements, you know, a user registration process, even many newspapers now. And I’m getting more and more convinced, it’s not just that they want to know who you are, but they want you to log in to be able to read their content, even if they’re going to be giving away for free.

This is the reason that they are moving this way for the online newspapers, you can start tracking people by a generic user ID, so can’t have any, you know, personally identifiable information, the user ID, you know, can be number 1234, etc. But you can start tracking those users by that instead of by cookies, which brings up the quality of data better.

It allows you also then to do cross-device tracking of how many people are using their phone and a tablet and a desktop, where are things going. So understanding that that is sort of where the future is going to be and start preparing for that. And if it will not work in your business model? Well, you got to prepare yourself for it, as well.

And this is where the intersection is starting to go. And people don’t understand why it’s called GA 4, Google Analytics, for now, is in beta, you have to remember, there was the original Google Analytics. There was a second version more or less, then they came to what’s called Google Universal, which is really Google Analytics three, and there’s a paid version, Google 360.

Now there’s the beta Google Analytics for it works entirely different than every preceding version of Google Analytics. And it’s being built on the concept that you’re going to have a big data warehouse in the background. And they even give you an option to have a free big Google BigQuery account if your site doesn’t generate too much traffic. And that’s where things are heading.

It’s, and once again, this goes back to, you know, not measuring page views, it’s not about pageviews. It’s about trackable events, what people are doing on your site, not what pages they’re reading. So that’s important. If you’re a content site, “what’s our most read content? What type of content do people like the most?”

But it’s understanding what people are doing and how they’re interacting with the site, it allows you to start stitching data together. Reviews and data warehouses, and, you know, SQL queries, and you got to start getting your brain around it. I’ve heard reports that GA 4 is going to replace Google Analytics, you know, by the end of 2021. I don’t buy it, I think it’s going to probably be at least another year and a half, if not a little bit longer.

But start getting yourselves your head around it. Get yourself to understand what data warehouses? Do you want to use the free ones? You want to look for third-party ones, what are you going to be doing? How are you going to do it, start playing with the beta version, getting the data captured?

And start understanding where this is going to take you? And how is it going to interact with these third-party marketing tools? Because a lot of the third-party marketing tools ask for access to your Google Analytics. So talk to them, are they aware? Do they already have a plugin for GA 4 and so forth? And most of them do not. But they’re working on it.

And they’ll probably be tying into BigQuery or whatever your data warehouse is to pull the data that they’re going to need to help analyze your traffic.

Jon-Mikel Bailey: We’re in a crazy time. We could call these the cookie wars. We’re in the cookie wars like the Clone Wars and Star Wars, Clone Wars.

Alan K’necht: Well, the irony is this is going back. I’m telling you, I’ve been in this industry for so long. I remember when cookies first came out, back in the late 1990s. And there was the first uproar about them. I have to write an article to explain cookies too.

I was writing for the computer world at the time. Why cookies aren’t a bad thing, per se. They were benign bits of code. It should be a unique, randomly generated number. The problem back in the late 90s, and I’ll pick on developers, you have to always pick on somebody who was lazy.

They were eCommerce sites that used to click a button. Oh yeah, I remember my name my address my credit card number great. These are stored on your computer. Yep. And okay, idiots. People didn’t understand that. Well those people who are not on the internet back in the mid-90s, late 90s, even into the early 2000s, didn’t realize most people didn’t have internet connections at home.

They might have had them at work. But many people are going to libraries and these things called internet cafes. And one of the big things that crooks were doing, they were going to internet cafes sticking in a floppy disk drive, not even a USB, thumb drive at the time, and downloading everything in the cookie directory.

And stealing credit card and personally identifiable information that way. And of course, that’s what first created the big uproar over cookies. And that part of what led to the EU decisions. The other part is people going just because I was on Amazon yesterday, and I happen to look at I know, I’ll tell you when I was just looking at UPS, right? Yeah. All of a sudden, I’m on Facebook, and I get all these ads for you uninterrupted power supplies.

How does Facebook know that Facebook doesn’t know Facebook ads? No, because they have cookies, and they’re working with Amazon is running ads, and they’re saying, hey, if they have this cookie, and we know that your email address from Amazon, so we’re gonna retarget this, that’s still going to happen because they’re tracking you by your email address.

So as long as your email address is the same one on Amazon is on Facebook, they know who you are.

Jon-Mikel Bailey: That’s where I think the little guys are gonna lose out. In a lot of this is they don’t have that kind of access. I think your point about you know, gearing up for that is smart, you know, start figuring that out. That’s your future.

Alan K’necht: That’s the future. It’s right now, we’ve all been relying on putting our Facebook pixels or AdWords pixels at our smart goals within Google. Great. But that in two years is not going to be viable anymore. So how are you going? If that’s part of your marketing strategy today, and I don’t care if you’re, I’m sorry, if the mom and pop businesses, they’re gonna get slaughtered all the time, because of changes in technology.

No, but you could be midsize, you could be a big business. If that is a marketing department, that’s what you’re relying on. Get ready for a wake-up call, start looking into it, start talking to your IT, start talking to senior executives, and get a plan in place for embracing the future of analytics of marketing.

You know, this goes back and I, I’m not that old, but Nielsen ratings used to really start with understanding what people were listening to on the radio. And initially, they used to have a little ticker in people’s radios that signed up. And they would check what time you turn it on what station you’re attuned to.

And they would come by and pick up things and they send out paper logs for people to record what they’re watching, then they put TV top boxes. And, and people are spending, you know, Nielsen ratings drove advertising revenue for TV shows because they assume that that small sample was quality data. And sometimes they were way off.

Because how much did they spend on Superbowl ads? Because Yeah, you have all these marketers? And we know over the years, people spend a fortune on advertising for the Superbowl, which, you know, I know you’ll be watching this, but right now it’s in less than two weeks. And then, you know, companies sit there, and some companies, their servers would die because they were promoting a website. You weren’t ready for other ones that nothing?

Jon-Mikel Bailey: Yeah, millions of dollars.

Alan K’necht: Millions of dollars. I always think of pets.com way back when they had the puppies, they were all geared up for it and everywhere. How much am I gonna pay, I forget these guys. And the company spent all their marketing on the 30-second ad that did nothing.

But all the ratings and the things and so understand, do your marketing smartly. Look at your tools. If you’re investing in SEO, it’s an investment, it’s not going to give you an instant payback. Those days are long gone. But invest, understand what users are looking for in user analytics accordingly.

And then make sure you’re prepared if you’re also having to spend money to drive traffic to your site for conversions for revenue generations. What are the tools you’re currently using, and start looking at how things are going to change and get ready for that?

Jon-Mikel Bailey: That’s really my message to everybody. Which is a great message and a great place to leave it with you Alan, I really appreciate you coming on. tons of great information here. And just thank you so much for doing this.

Alan K’necht: I really appreciate it. My pleasure.

Jon-Mikel Bailey: Stay safe everybody. We are out.

Alan K’necht: All right. Fantastic.

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Jon-Mikel Bailey is the Chief Development and Marketing Officer for Wellspring Digital, a full-service digital marketing firm specializing in SEO, PPC, Marketing Automation, and Content Marketing. He has been published in MarketingProfs, Business2Community, SpinSucks, {Grow}, Social Media Today, and more. He has spoken at the Digital Summit Series, MarketingProfs, ITE, Grant Thornton, and others.

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