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Take-Home Exam - Due April 30

The following is your one and only exam for the semester!! Please complete and email me your responses by the end of the day on Tuesday, Apr...

WEEKS 15 & 16: Learning Google Analytics, StatCounter & Web Analytics Tools/Final Projects & Social Media Marketing Plans

SUMMARY:

For the final weeks of the semester, we will:
  • Learn about website analytics tools (such as Google Analytics and StatCounter) that enable a better understanding of site/campaign traffic, referral and behavior patterns.
  • Learn about Google Ads, Google AdSense and Google Ad Manager.
  • Finish our semester-long campaign website and related social media channels.
HOMEWORK:
  • Work on your final exam (available here), due no later than the end of the day on Tuesday, April 30.
  • Continue to work on your Social Media Marketing Plan, due Tues., April 30. (Note: Please see the syllabus for a rubric that includes criteria on how this is evaluated).
  • Continue to Facebook and Twitter updates frequently (several times this week) and attempt to build a larger follower/fan count by outreach to friends and family, as well as activity on like-minded social media pages. (Note: Please see the syllabus for a rubric that includes criteria on how your website and social media campaigns are evaluated).
  • OPTIONAL: Read Chapter 8: "BrandYou"

Understanding Google Analytics

Would you like to know more about the Web traffic click-through patterns and keyword referrals on your site? Google Analytics is a free Web-based tool that will give you rich data on how people interact with your Web site content.

Visit Google Analytics to learn more.



With Google Analytics, you can even get "real time" reports of what is happening on your website:

REAL TIME REPORTING




In addition, you can track the following type of website activities:

AUDIENCE
 


ACQUISITION



BEHAVIOR



NOTE: For Wix.com accounts, you must upgrade to a paid account with a unique vanity domain name in order to connect Google Analytics tracking to your webpage. A free alternative that does work with Wix.com is StatCounter.

Additional Resources:

There are several online resources that you can help you better understand and analyze the data that you get from the various Web analytics services.


Adding Google Analytics to your Wix site -- and a free alternative option: StatCounter

Wix only allows accounts with a connected domain to add Google Analytics. If you have a connected domain, then use these instructions to get started.

No custom domain? There are also free alternatives to consider, such as StatCounter. Here are instructions for installing the tracking code on Wix.

Semester Project Overview

For the duration of the semester, we will be creating fictional brands that the class will use to generate original social media, PR and advertising campaign elements. Rather than use “real” brands or services for each campaign, you will orchestrate your campaign around a single fictional brand that you create.

The types of fictional products or services will vary, but some examples of categories include:

  • Non-alcoholic beverage (e.g. soda pop, sports drink, coffee, etc.)
  • Energy Pill
  • Airline
  • Internet-based music company
  • Shampoo or Hair Grooming Product
  • Stylish clothing line
Each student may identify other brand categories to be considered, but the above is only meant as a starter list for consideration. For each of the above soon-to-be-created brands, each student will research varying brand names and logo treatments as they consider the competitive positioning of the brand in the presumed marketplace.

When naming your brand, it is important that students NOT use any existing or "real" brands for these projects. However, you will use a trademark search engine to investigate whether your suggested brand names already exist. You may also use Adobe Photoshop or, alternatively, a free online tool to generate an original logo for your "fictional" brand.

Your campaign prep work also includes user persona research and a SWOT analysis to help determine brands strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Remember: You are inventing the brand and the attributes that define it! This is the perfect chance to examine the competitive landscape of your product to identify "opportunities" or under-served niches that you can aim to reach with your campaign. It's a clean slate!!!

Your initial research helps to define your brand, messaging, audience and its position in the marketplace. This is all essential to the second phase of your campaign: the actual social media marketing, advertising and public relations outreach that will help bring awareness of your campaign to the masses.

Over the duration of the semester, students may create some or all of these elements:
  • A social media marketing plan
  • An SEO-optimized campaign website
  • Social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
  • A performance marketing campaign
  • A targeted e-mail campaign
  • and more!
Examples of Previous Semester Campaign Sites:
Examples of Previous Semester Social Media Marketing Plans:

    What should be in your social media marketing plan?

    Your final social media marketing plan should include the following sections and elements:
    • Executive Summary/Overview
    • Social Media Presence
    • Competitive Analysis
    • Goals
    • Strategies
    • Target Market
    • Tools & Implementation
    • Monitoring & Tuning
    • Budget & ROI
    In addition, your Social Media Marketing Plan should include documentation of the research and planning of your campaign, including:
    • Branding research (logo/name survey results)
    • User Personas
    • SWOT Analysis
    • Wireframe(s)

    SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING PLAN RUBRIC

    Using elements of a “Research, Writing, and Creativity” rubric – your work will be evaluated using the following criteria:
    • Research and Preparation: Student demonstrates thoughtful preparation and research
    • Content: Meets all the criteria for the assignment. All content is in the students’ own words (or cited appropriately) and is accurate.
    • Complete and Thorough: All aspects and sections of the assignment are completed in full with no holes. Demonstrated the ability to research to complete all tables, templates or outline requirements
    • Creativity: Students demonstrate creativity and innovation in completing the assignment content and any layout or design elements. The final product is unique, powerful, effective, and compelling.
    • Conventions: Document is easy to read and all elements are very clearly written, labeled. The document has no misspellings or grammatical errors. All template elements or outline sections are complete and thorough.

    Take-Home Exam - Due April 30

    The following is your one and only exam for the semester!! Please complete and email me your responses by the end of the day on Tuesday, April 30.

    There are only two written response questions on this exam (both valued equally in scoring).

    1. For this question, you will first need to identify and select any current web-based advertising or PR promotion for a national brand or organization that uses multiple social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Then, once you've made your selection, give a brief (minimum 3-5 paragraphs) analysis and critique (good or bad) of this campaign. Be sure to cite specific examples, if appropriate, of how the campaign aligns to some of the guidelines and "best practices" cited in class and/or in our lectures.

    Please do NOT use an existing example cited on this blog, in class, lecture notes or in the blog.

    Things to consider:
    • How effective do you think it is at reaching its intended target audience?
    • Are they engaging in a one-way or two-way conversation? How?
    • How would you characterize the general voice/tone in their messaging?
    • What data might they use to quantitatively or qualitatively determine if the campaign was a success? Are there any publicly-available resources that might tell you how well the campaign is doing? If so, what did you find?
    • Is the campaign optimized for search engine and social media discovery? How?
    • Does the campaign have the potential to go viral? Why or why not?

    2. We've talked quite a bit about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and even Social Media Optimization (SMO). Thinking about your semester-long project and website campaign,  please share your thoughts on specific strategies that you used (or should have used) to improve its organic search rankings in Google and other search engines -- as well as your social media presence on Facebook and/or other outlets.
    • How is your campaign site or social media presence doing in organic search on Google? (Does it show up at all?)
    • What, if any, specific techniques and tactics did you use?
    • What other things might you do to help with your search engine optimization and presence?
    • Please provide specific examples that are applicable to your project.
    That's it! Please email your responses to your instructor (Brett Atwood at batwood@wsu.edu) no later than the end of the day on Tuesday, April 30.

    Introduction to Google Ads

    OVERVIEW: WHAT IS GOOGLE ADS?


    In mid-2018, Google announced a rebranding of its various ad initiatives. The company now has multiple connected platforms including Google Ads, AdSense, the Google Marketing Platform and Google Ad Manager.

    For this class, we will focus primarily on Google Ads -- since that is the program most likely to be of use to aspiring professional PR and advertising students.

    Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords) is an advertising service that enables you to create your own ads to appear on relevant Google search results pages, as well as on other Google Ads-enabled websites. Thus, companies that want to promote their services would use Google Ads to advertise for acquisition of new customers.

    WHY GOOGLE ADS?



    With Google Ads, you can create ads that are eligible to appear on Google within the search results. Your ads are also eligible to appear on some Google Ads partner sites.

    Unlike some traditional forms of advertising, you only pay when someone actually clicks on your ad! Thus, your ad will generate lots of impressions - but your ad costs are linked to the "click-through rate" (CTR), which is what ultimately matters in driving traffic to your site.

    How do you determine what each ad will cost?

    In many cases, you will bid on "keywords" that are matched to the types of search engine queries that people make. There are branded and non-branded searches.

    What is the difference between branded and non-branded searches?

    BRANDED SEARCHES: If the customer already knows your brand name, they will likely type that into the search engine or they may already know the website address and go directly to your site. If they type your brand name into the search engine, this is known as a "branded search."

    A good starting point is to do a general search for your brand on Google. Does your brand show up? If so, how high does it rank? Be aware that people might misspell your brand name -- do typos and variations of your brand also show up prominently?

    Branded searches include any searches that originate with an attempt to search for your brand -- including typos and variations.

    For example, branded searches for the 3D virtual world Second Life would include "Second Life," "2nd Life," "Second Life game" and even typos (e.g. "Secund Life").

    NON-BRANDED SEARCHES: What about searches that happen when people don't already know your brand name? Maybe your potential customers are looking for a type of product or service, but are completely unaware that you even exist! A "non-branded search" encompasses searches for general descriptors and phrases that relate to your brand without actually including your brand name.

    For example, popular non-branded searches for Second Life might include "virtual world," "3D virtual game," "avatar game" and "virtual life."

    How does Google Ads work?

    Non-branded searches present a huge opportunity to acquire new customers and/or website visitors! You can use Google Ads to place "bids" on ad placement on searches for both branded and non-branded searches. However, chances are pretty good that other companies are also targeting non-branded searches - so the prices may vary dramatically for your ads based on how in demand your keywords and phrases are. You have lots of options on how to bid and spend your money. You can use Google Ads to pay a higher amount for prioritized placement among ads -- or distribute your costs more evenly so that your campaign budget lasts longer.

    Here is a video that further summarizes how keyword bidding works on Google Ads:



    One thing to note is that Google rewards you for relevancy over the long-term. To deter companies from bidding on popular phrases that have nothing to do with their brand or service, Google will actually factor in the accuracy of your ad copy and keyword bids into its algorithm that determines where your ad is placed. Thus, you don't want to "spam" or "bait and switch" potential customers with ads that are irrelevant to their searches.

    Will my ads only be displayed on the search results pages on Google?

    Not necessarily. You have the option to place an ad only on Google's search pages and/or the Display Network of partner sites. If you choose to include the Display Network, your ad can appear across the Internet on numerous sites that match the theme or topic of your campaign. These ads can include images, interactivity and even video.



    For Display Ads, you can either import in your compliant ad or build a new Display Ad right inside the Google Ads Display Ads tool. 

    How do I get started with Google Ads?

    Looking to get started using Google Ads?

    Sign up for your free account. Although you don't necessarily need this for class, here is a link for a free $75 (when you spend $25) in starter advertising for first-time Google Ads users.

    Once you are logged in, you can start to write your ad copy and then use the ad creation tool to identify the keywords that you want to bid on. You can also target your ad for placement in particular geographic regions and other variables.



    How can I learn Google Ads?

    Google has a self-paced online learning platform that is free to use. Academy for Ads is a great way to learn everything you need to know to get up-to-speed on Google Ads!

    Visit Academy for Ads >> 

    There are also several tutorials available on the official Google Ads YouTube channel.

    How Do You Measure Success in Google Ads?



    Other Useful Tools:

    • Use the Keyword Planner to find new keyword and ad group ideas, get performance estimates for them to find the bid and budget that are right for you, and then add them to your campaign.