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February Q/A Roundup
Hey it’s Opossum here! Welcome to my free monthly Q/A Roundup. Today’s post is on some of the best questions in the last month. Each week I write about a new topic or analyze a new digital business. If you’re not a subscriber, here’s what you missed this month:
Is there a limit to how annoying the website could be can be before there is a negative effect on retaining users and google ranking? (Email subscription popups, autoplay autoscrolling videos, ad bloat, etc)
Yes. One popup is not a big deal. If you’re making your user click 2-3 X’s to even look at the full screen of your content or your site loads drastically slower, I guarantee you you’re losing users.
The below image is for ecommerce but the concept can be applied to non-commerce sites.
Forget about the magnitude of the numbers below. Every different site design, product, brand, customer base, copy, etc. is going to cause different metrics for a site.
The important part is the trend that you see on every single site. The longer your site loads, the less people convert and the more they bounce.
It’s not just site speed. You’ll see this same trend the more you disrupt the user experience on your site.
An important aspect of these popups/ads/videos/etc is how disruptive are they to the user. Is it difficult to close? Do they have to close 3 boxes to get the full screen?
I’m not saying not to use these ads and tactics on your site. I’m saying to not overdo it and make sure it’s easy to bypass. A few things to watch out for.
How many clicks does it take for the user to be able to use your site. A cookies banner and email capture popup is 2. That’s about the max you want.
Are the popups easy to close out? Does the X get covered or is difficult to click on any mobile device. This is the quickest way to get someone to back out from your site. If they can’t actually see the content and can’t close the popup, what other choice do they have?
How much does it affect Core Web Vitals? If the ads drastically lower your score, you will take a small SEO hit from it.
How bad is the Cumulative Layout Shift? The CLS tells you how much your site structure or ads causes your site to jump around as a user scrolls. This can cause people to lose their place while reading or to accidently click an ad. Both cause frustration to the user and increases their chance of bouncing.
If you have a video that autoplays sound. Screw you. I hate you from the bottom of my heart. That’s the most annoying shit ever. Nothing like your default sound from blasting music coming on without your notice to play an ad.
Is the site mostly ads. Is your ad network so aggressive that there’s an ad between every 1-2 paragraphs.
Anything that disrupts the original intent of getting the user to your goal. IE - capture email, affiliate link click, purchase etc. Will lower your goal conversion. The question is by how much.
You may not notice a 2% decrease of goal conversion with the amount of traffic that you have.
There’s a reason why big boy affiliate sites don’t have too many ads. IE- Healthline
Would you advise a beginner to buy digital real estate?
Generally the answer is a hard no. There is some nuance though.
I would personally advise against someone buying a website if they've never built one.
You don't know what you don't know and it's difficult to "fix and flip" a website if you don't even have the knowledge from building/running one. Much more likely to screw something up and tank the entire thing.
If you know software or are technical, it's less likely that you'll tank a website but the risk of a slow bleed is still there. The slow bleed risk comes from knowing nothing about SEO. If you don’t know how to write/rank an article, what are you going to do to improve the site?
If you have some knowledge/experience of running a website (but not building one), then I'd definitely be more apt to saying yes to your above question. However, this is without context on the cost.
If you do buy a website as a beginner, I'm not totally against it as long as it's in the 5-10k range and the money isn’t a big deal. If the money is going to hurt you if you lose it, then I advise against it.
Can you provide an example of how you visualize Google Tags, Analytics, and Search Console working together in relation to a site? Not fully seeing the interconnectedness between them all.
Also if I have an affiliate site, what do you recommend I setup to centralize tracking of clicks to the different offer sites e.g. Amazon without having to reference the dashboard on each? Perhaps setting up a GA goal?
Think of it this way. You may have to read it a few times for it to click.
Search Console is just a UI that tells you how you're doing in the SERPS. This data can be passed to Google Analytics via the integration to make viewing the data a little easier.
GTM is just a JS tag that is used to deploy any code on your site with *no development work*. A central place to manage most everything. When that tag fires, it will deploy (load) GA, pixels, events, anything that you put in the GTM container.
It is there to inject more code onto a site and make it easier to manage with a better UI and less visual code.
The real benefit of GTM other than it being a centralized repository of your tags lies in the fact that you can build custom events and tracking for Google Analytics that would normally take a front end programmer to build.
Instead of trying to code the events and tracking, it uses a simple UI and builds the code for you.
Part 2: You can use goals, but I personally use events. Setup an outbound link event that tracks clicks on URLs that aren't the main domain. Your event category will be "Click", Event Action will be domain or URL clicked, and your Event Label will but page URL where the click came from.
An example below from bowtiedopossum.com. I have the trigger set to “links containing go” instead of “domain not equal to bowtiedopossum.com” since all my affiliate links first go to “/go/specific-affiliate” then get redirected to the said affiliate.
This makes it easy to change out affiliate links on your site. Instead of searching every link on your site, you can change the url in one place. I use the plugin “pretty links” to do this.
Using those three event labels, you'll be able to get a rough idea of what articles/pages are driving your affiliate commissions and by using segments of those events, you'll be able to see what acquisition channels are driving the revenue.
I was interested in your analysis of selling on a .com vs Amazon. Is there a downside to having a .com and linking a "shop" page to an amazon/etsy shop?
Everything is “it depends”.
I've been involved in a business doing just that. You're going to want to be careful with running media at the .com since there's another step to purchase that is going to cause people to drop off in your funnel. Doable but shouldn't be your main acquisition strategy.
You might actually be better to just have the purchase happen on a Shopify and have the order fulfilled by Amazon.
Have to run/test the calculation on the conversion drop off with the Amazon fee vs the Amazon fulfillment services fees (which are going to be higher than some fulfillment services).
My guess is you’ll make more money having the user purchase on a Shopify site and having Amazon fulfill for you.
What are common goals (that can be measured in analytics) for each part of the funnel e.g. impressions, multiple page views onsite, email sign ups, add to cart etc? Anecdotally speaking, when I use Facebook to spy on competitors' ad campaigns, none of them really seem like the goal is awareness.
Part 1: I rarely use goals. Events are much more flexible if you know how to use segments properly. Sure you'll miss some info in the conversion report but if you know how to build custom dashboards in Google Data Studio with segments, you can dive much deeper into the data.
Part 2: Again not using goals so I'll answer your question of common events I track. Everything. Every click is tracked with a click text and URL as the click action and label.
This really depends on the size and need of the website. For Opossum, I only have outbound links tracked. For my company's website, every click. From there, I can build segments to parse any path/action I want.
You'll have to balance this more with the sampling downfall of segments when on the free version of GA (which I am not on).
For a simpler setup that's not enterprise, I definitely track different PLP/PDP views as events, each step in the cart and checkout, outbound link clicks, submission form clicks, scroll depth, social steps for social pixels, JS errors showing up in the user's browser (if I think there's a problem there), affiliate links containing "go" as that's how I tag them. Really depends on what your goals are for the website.
Events + segments are much more powerful than people realize.
Part 3: On the competitors' lack of awareness campaigns. This is more seen in larger businesses who already have brand awareness and need top of mind awareness.
There's also a very strong argument (proof) from media mix models/regression models that a certain level of awareness marketing strengthens your middle/lower funnel marketing.
Users will convert at a higher rate. The cost of doing the top of funnel is lower than the revenue gained from the increase in conversion of the lower funnel tactics.
This is an investment that smaller firms cannot make due to lack of money, lack of knowledge, and lack of marketing horizon. Larger companies are optimizing their media mix over years as opposed to days/weeks/months.
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Disclaimer: Nothing written here should be construed as legal for financial advice of any kind. These are opinions and observations, written by an anonymous cartoon Opossum, built up over years working in e-commerce & affiliate marketing.