Someone once told me that there are two things that will drive change in your life – the people you meet and the books you read. I freely admit that when it comes to running a business after 12 years there are still a lot of questions I am looking for answers to. These six books I read in 2014 helped make this list a bit shorter. They are all available on Kindle.

 

The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

Ben Horowitz

The Hard Thing About Hard Things

This book was a quick, fast and enthralling read. Ben tells the raw story of his time as a CEO of a tech startup that ended up a success but diced with disaster many, many times along the way. Ben is now a partner in one of Silicon Valley’s prime venture capital businesses. It ended well. But his honest description on what worked well and what didn’t make for great reading.

 

Joy, Inc.: How We Built a Workplace People Love

Richard Sheridan

Joy, Inc

Who doesn’t want a business people love to work in? Richard Sheridan explains how this seemed like an impossible task for his Software Development Company at the start and the steps he took to make it work in the end. Now people come from around the US to tour his company to learn what worked and why.

 

Problem Solving 101: A simple book for smart people

Ken Watanabe

problem-solving-101-a-simple-book-for-smart-people-1-638

How do you go about solving problems? Or do you hide from them, hoping they will go away? This book is ideal for those who hide or those without a reliable method to solve whatever comes their way. Originally written for Japanese children, it has gone on to become a business book classic.

 

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Greg McKeown

essentialism

This book challenged my belief that everything in business carried the same level of importance. That belief was replaced with the concept of the “The Vital Few” – those limited pieces of work that produce the maximum amount of difference. I wrote a review that digs into more detail. You can find it here.

 

Zero to One: Notes on Start Ups, or How to Build the Future

Blake Masters, Peter Thiel

Zero_To_One

Peter Thiel was a founder of PayPal who cashed up when the business was sold and then decided to back a relatively young company called Facebook. He is worth squillions. His writing is deep, clear and worth the time to work through. This book covers some interesting theories on the merits of competition and what the business owner can do to avoid it at all costs.

 

Work The System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less (Revised third edition, 4th printing, September 1, 2014)

Sam Carpenter

work the system

Yes, I admit the title is not short of hype. Add to this a structure that seems at times to meander and things are not looking good. However, cut through all that and you’ll find gold in here. First you need to believe that a successful business is a series of successful systems, rather than a magical mix of good intentions with staff who take action based on gut instinct. Get the system correct, and the rest falls into place. Not an easy read, not that compelling, BUT apply what he suggests and the title could become a reality.

 

 

Conversion Attribution Model Comparison Tool

Conversions > Attribution > Model Comparison Tool

Credit should be given where credit is due. This report ensures you can achieve exactly this when it comes to allocating Goals / Revenue with the right traffic sources.

First, let’s step back a bit. Most people think their visitors convert in a linear fashion. They see your paid search ad, click it, read your website’s content, and either become a lead or purchase a product.

For sure, there will be some websites and website visitors that do operate like this. But many other visitors take a very different pathway to conversion.

For instance, they may click on paid ads, leave the site, then come back by clicking on an organic listing, then leave the site again, and – finally – convert to a sale after visiting the site by typing its name directly into their browser address bar.

By default, Google Analytics attributes the desired action to the last channel of traffic. This is called Last Click Attribution.

There are a few attribution models you can pick from. This report makes it easy to swap between them and see how each changes the appeal of your traffic streams. To make it simple, the illustration below shows the difference between Last and First Click Attribution (in other words, the channels responsible for starting the sale compared to those responsible for closing it).

 

MCF Report

Here you can see that organic traffic was by far the largest traffic stream that started the sales process – the leader in the First Interaction list, and direct traffic was the largest stream that completed the sale. Paid search and social media also started more than they finished, which could make them more appealing than if you just viewed them through the Last Click model.

These models are just two of the many that Google Analytics makes available. Picking the right model to suit the way your prospects may decide to purchase is part of the challenge ahead. Let us know how you get on.

The holiday season is just around the corner but does your marketing need to hit pause too?

Here are a few tips to keep your online marketing working while you don’t. Yep you read correctly. It toils away doing all that you want, while you enjoy sun, sand, sea and, of course, the mandatory socialising.

Keeping in touch with those that matter is first up. By using email as the medium and any effective software solution as your tool (options for automation are aplenty). Let’s start with keeping your prospects updated.

Few sales people convert everyone they present to. To keep prospects thinking, how about a regular series of polite messages with a friendly gap between each and a sizable dollop of valuable content in them all? Nothing too wordy – just enough to keep them really thinking about your proposal as opposed to everything else that has since arrived on their desk.

Just staying in touch keeps you ahead of the pack. For “bonus points” and the bits to put you into the top 10%, why not also monitor who opens your messages and then further customise your content to suit those who are engaging a lot or very little. (For super bonus points, why not fire off a task to the sales person of the prospect when they click on a link and visit your website for a sizeable amount of time.)

Staying in touch with your customers over the break could be worthwhile too. Perhaps those who have purchased for the first time and need to be schooled in the hows and whys of what they have purchased. Again, small snippets of content with a way to track engagement is a smart way to proceed here.

Now let’s move up the sales funnel. What automation can your lead generation take? Google AdWords can help here. For instance, advertising campaigns can be built and scheduled to start or finish at predetermined dates to coincide with when someone is around to answer the phone.

You can also configure AdWords so that two search ads run against each other, with the winner picked based on its engagement performance. So while you sit back and enjoy the break, your advertising is getting smarter and smarter. Sound nice?

Another option is to let Google AdWords count people down to an offer that ends on a fixed date – for instance, shipping deadlines or Boxing Day sales. In each case, some recent ad copy automation enhancements could be handy. See the example below, which show some smart ways to incorporate this into ads. Set the date and let Google alter the ad copy until it ends, after which it will switch out the ad with another that’s best run when the date either ends or starts.

Christmas Countdown

Remarketing is another “set and forget” piece of Google AdWords marketing that’s ideal for your holiday plans. A quick recap for those new to remarketing: This is where people arrive on your website and then either do or don’t do something that interests you. (Say they don’t purchase but do look at your latest online catalogue.)

By meeting certain criteria they are placed within advertising “audiences” which you then set up to be advertised to through banner ads placed around selected internet sites (like the NZ Herald or Youtube, for example). Once the rules are set up, those who qualify as your audience begin to see your banner based advertising without any involvement from you.

Finally, let’s talk about improving your natural rankings within the Google search engine while you enjoy the sun. Sounds great doesn’t it? Well, unfortunately this one is impossible. Improving your SEO requires deliberate work.

All I ask is if you want to change things here is that you spend a few moments of your well earned break brainstorming what new pieces of content you or your team can produce in the New Year. Sometimes hard work is the only way forward – and this is one of those situations.

BUT don’t forget the points I’ve raised here. There’s a good few in here that will keep things moving while you are are doing the opposite over the holiday period.

From all us here at Ark Advance, have a good break.