Tag Archives: technology

How To Build Your Own Action For Google Home Using API.AI

For the holidays, the owner of (and my boss at) thirteen23 gave each employee a Google Home device. If you don’t already know, Google Home is a voice-activated speaker powered by Google Assistant and is a competing product to Amazon’s line of Alexa products. I already have the Amazon Echo, and as Director of Technology at thirteen23, I love tinkering with software for new products. For the Amazon Echo, you can create what are called “skills”, which allow you to build custom interactions when speaking to the device.

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How To Build Your Own Action For Google Home Using API.AI

Web Development Reading List #183: Comedy In Design, Security Checklist And The Life As A Nobody

When was the last time you took some time to reflect? Constantly surrounded by news and notifications to keep up with and in a rush to get things done more efficiently, it’s important that we take a step back from time to time to reflect our actions and opinions.
Reflect if you are working the way you want to work, reflect if you live your life as you want it to be, but also everyday matters.

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Web Development Reading List #183: Comedy In Design, Security Checklist And The Life As A Nobody

Web Development Reading List #158: Form Usability, Vue.js, And Unfolding Critical CSS

These days, I’ve been pondering what purpose we as developers have in our world. I’m not able to provide you with an answer here, but instead want to encourage you to think about it, too. Do you have an opinion on this? Are we just pleasing other people’s demands? Or are we in charge of advising the people who demand solutions from us if we think they’re wrong? A challenging question, and the answer will be different for everyone here.

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Web Development Reading List #158: Form Usability, Vue.js, And Unfolding Critical CSS

Making Marketing Analytics as Simple as 1, 2, 3

Google Analytics reports

Every smart marketer on the planet gets just how important data is in marketing.

But answer me these questions, and answer them honestly: Do you know how to analyze your marketing data? Do you know how to use your analyses to improve your results?

During his presentation at Call To Action Conference, co-founder of Orbit Media, Andy Crestodina, revealed that many data-driven marketers are not getting any value from their analytics. They tend to admire data charts rather than analyze the data and act on it. Unfortunately,

Pretty charts don’t actually do anything for you unless you take action.

Crap. Who else thought that looking at a few neat graphs in Google Analytics was enough?

Analyzing data can be as easy as 1 2 3

To increase traffic and conversions, marketers need to know how to interpret their own data and turn data insights into action. Andy debunked the myth that you’ve got to be Einstein to analyze your data. This is jolly good news for those of us who break out in cold sweats at the mere thought of number crunching.

He laid out a fool-proof three-step approach to help marketers analyze their own data and turn their analyses into action. It involves using the ever-trendy (but actually invaluable when you know how to use them) Google Analytics reports: Audience, Acquisition, Behavior and Conversion.

Here is said approach:

1. Turn ideas into questions

What do you want to find out?

2. Find answers

Look for a report that can help you validate or reject the idea.

3. Take action

Take what you’ve learned and use it to optimize your marketing results.

By using these simple but effective steps, you can find the answers in Google Analytics to some of your most pressing marketing questions. You’re going to learn how to decrease bounce rate, rank higher in Google, boost reader engagement and increase conversions. Trust me, this is game-changing stuff.

Make sure you’re logged into Google Analytics and on the Reporting page. Let’s do this!

Audience reports

Google Analytics Audience reports don’t just tell you who your users are, they also show you how sticky your website is. If you want to find out how well your website is working across various devices and browsers, this report is your new best friend.

Example: How to decrease your bounce rate using Audience reports

Sometimes bouncier can mean better, but this is definitely not the case in marketing. If you have a high bounce rate (whether on your website or blog), then it’s likely that your content isn’t very relevant or user-friendly.

For smart marketers, the aim of the game should be to get bounce rates as low as humanly possible.

Using Google Analytics Audience reports, Andy shows us how to find out our website’s bounce rate across different browsers.

1. Ask a question

“Is your website working well in every browser?”

2. Find the answer

Click on Audience reports > Technology > Browser & OS. This will give you an overview of the bounce rates for users of every browser.

Audience report Google Analytics

All these numbers look pretty similar. So now what? Let’s go one step further by clicking on the Comparison view. This option pitches the site average for bounce rates for each browser against each other to give you a clearer picture of which browsers your website is working on.

Audience report Google Analytics

Bingo! It seems the poor souls visiting Andy’s website from an Android or Opera browser were having a particularly tough time. Which browsers have the highest bounce rate on your website?

3. Take action

Don’t stop now that you’ve identified any problem areas. It’s time to take cold, hard, remedial action. Why are the bounce rates for users or certain browsers higher than others? What can you do to find out? Simple. You can start by testing your website pages on these browsers to see why people aren’t sticking around on your site. You could check out page loading time, browser responsiveness and usability. And then, if necessary, optimize your pages for these browsers.

Acquisition reports

In other words, where are your website visitors coming from? Are they arriving at your website via Twitter or Facebook, or are they landing on your pages directly from Google? An Acquisition report gives you a detailed view of your traffic sources, so you can work out where you need to ramp up your marketing efforts.

Example: How to rank higher in Google using Acquisition reports

For Andy, people who arrive on your website through search engines are much more likely to convert than those who reach you via social networks. In fact:

Search traffic converts into leads 600% more than social traffic.

Holy cow. So when your goal is to drive conversions, focus on optimizing your website for search engines rather than driving traffic from social media. Andy suggests that you can creep up the search engine ladder by finding out how you currently fare in Google and turning your findings into action.


1. Ask a question

“What phrases are we ranking for?”

2. Find the answer

If you haven’t already, activate Search Console in your Google Analytics settings. Then go to Acquisition > Search Console > Queries. You will not only get a list of all the phrases you rank for (under Query), but also how highly you rank for them in Google (under Average Position).

Acquisition report Google Analytics

Andy recommends that to be even more cunning, you should find the phrases you rank for on page 2 of Google.

It’s not that hard to move up a tiny bit in your rankings. If a tiny bit means going from page 2 to page 1, trust me you’re going to quadruple traffic next week for that page.

Do this by adding an advanced filter. Select Include > Average Position > Greater than and enter the value of 10.

Acquisition report Google Analytics

These are Andy’s results:

Acquisition report Google Analytics

What about yours?

3. Take action

Now it’s time for you to search for these phrases in Google, confirm the rankings and see which web pages you’re dealing with. It’s down to you to improve these pages to push them further up the Google ranks. You could for example create longer pages, add more detail or add video. If you’re short on ideas, Hubspot gives you a few in a post on how to improve your website’s user experience.

Behavior Reports

These reports show marketers what people are looking for, engaging with and doing on their websites.

Example: How to boost reader engagement using Behavior reports

It’s every content marketer’s dream to create content that people want to engage with. Andy kindly shows us all how to use the Behavior reports to find out which of our blog posts people love the most.

1. Ask a question

“Which of your blog posts are the most engaging?”

2. Find the answer

Go to Behavior > Site Content > All pages.

Search for “/blog” in the filter field to view posts on your blog page only. Then organize the results by the Comparison view.

Behavior report Google Analytics

Select “Avg. time on page” from the drop-down list in the third column. This shows you which blog posts your readers are engaging with most compared to the site average.

Behavior report Google Analytics

Look for similarities between the most engaging posts. Do they talk about the same subject? Are they the same type of post (e.g., a how-to or a guide)? In the example, the posts with the highest engagement all cover Google Analytics. Hey, what a marvellous topic for a blog article!

3. Take action

The actions are pretty obvious. Once you know which posts your readers dig, you need to deliver more of the good stuff. Invest some time in promoting these posts. Create and publish more content on the same or related subjects.

Conversion Reports

If a marketer’s ultimate goal isn’t to convert, then what is? Conversion reports give you valuable insights into which of your website pages or posts push people to convert. It may not be rocket science. But it certainly is pure 24 carat marketing gold.

Example: How to increase conversions using conversion reports

1. Ask a question

“Which blog posts inspire action?”

2. Find the answer

For this one, you need to have goals set up in your Google Analytics account. If you haven’t, there’s no time like the present.

Go to Conversions > Goals > Reverse Goal Path. This shows you which pages your converters were looking at before they completed an action, or goal.

Select the goal from the “All goals” drop-down list. In the example, Andy selects “Newsletter subscribers”.

Conversion report Google Analytics

This shows you which pages people were on before subscribing to the newsletter. Now click on “advanced” to add a filter:

Conversion report Google Analytics

And then filter as so:

Conversion report Google Analytics

Voilà! A list of the blog posts your visitors were reading before subscribing to your newsletter.

3. Take action

With this valuable info under your belt, you can now focus your efforts on driving traffic to the posts that convert the most visitors. Andy recommends promoting these posts using social media, email or even showcasing them on your website’s home page. You could also publish more content on your highest converting topics.

From passive marketing to active marketing

There we have it. A whole host of great examples — based on asking questions, finding answers and taking action — that we can all use to perform our very own analyses and improve the results of our marketing efforts.

Andy taught us that analyzing our own marketing data is fundamental to improving our marketing results and that anyone — dataphile or dataphobe — can do their own seriously valuable data analysis. All you need is a Google Analytics account and a no-nonsense approach.

As for the most valuable takeaway of them all? Inspiring marketers to not only act on their data, but also to adopt a culture of analysis, reflection and experimentation. Now you’ve got the tools you need to become an active data-driven marketer, the rest is down to you.

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Making Marketing Analytics as Simple as 1, 2, 3

The History of Content Marketing [INFOGRAPHIC]

In recent years, the buzz around “content marketing” has grown. Content marketing-specific jobs are springing up everywhere. More than ever, businesses understand that without a detailed content strategy, they’re as good as dead.

Have a look at this steep slope from Google Trends:


But content marketing isn’t new. Certainly not as new as this graph would suggest.

Businesses have been producing content to create hype and desire for their solutions for a very long time. What’s new is the technology and channels we use to distribute this content.

Content marketing has a rich history, and the folks over at Content Marketing Institute have put together this gem to tell the story (BTW, they even made a documentary too).

It all starts in 1732 with a man you may have heard of: Mr. Benny Franklin.

History of Content Marketing 2016

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The History of Content Marketing [INFOGRAPHIC]

Why You Should Consider React Native For Your Mobile App

Like many others, I was initially skeptical of Facebook and Instagram’s React. Initial demos of React’s JavaScript language extension, JSX, made many developers uneasy. For years we had worked to separate HTML and JavaScript, but React seemed to combine them. Many also questioned the need for yet another client-side library in an ocean full of them.

Why You Should Consider React Native For Your Next Mobile App

As it turns out, React has proved tremendously successful, both on my own projects, and with many others around the web, including large companies like Netflix. And now with React Native, the framework has been brought to mobile. React Native is a great option for creating performant iOS and Android apps that feel at home on their respective platforms, all while building on any previous web development experience.

The post Why You Should Consider React Native For Your Mobile App appeared first on Smashing Magazine.


Why You Should Consider React Native For Your Mobile App

Improving Reviews And Testimonials Using Science-Based Design

Reviews, testimonials and word of mouth are winning the war in branding. A sea of research is out there about social proof and what to do and what not to do about soliciting customer reviews. It’s overwhelming to read and digest it all, let alone to know which nuggets are gold and which are fool’s gold. For a designer or business owner or marketer, knowing who or what to listen to can be difficult.

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Improving Reviews And Testimonials Using Science-Based Design

Breaking It Down To The Bits: How The Internet, DNS, And HTTPS Work

Smashing Magazine is known for lengthy, comprehensive articles. But what about something different for a change? What about shorter, concise pieces with useful tips and bits that you could easily read over a short coffee break? As an experiment, this is one of the shorter “Quick Tips”-kind-of articles — shorter posts prepared and edited by our editorial team. What do you think? Let us know in the comments! —Ed.

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Breaking It Down To The Bits: How The Internet, DNS, And HTTPS Work

Making A Service Worker: A Case Study

There’s no shortage of boosterism or excitement about the fledgling service worker API, now shipping in some popular browsers. There are cookbooks and blog posts, code snippets and tools. But I find that when I want to learn a new web concept thoroughly, rolling up my proverbial sleeves, diving in and building something from scratch is often ideal.

Making A Service Worker: A Case Study

The bumps and bruises, gotchas and bugs I ran into this time have benefits: Now I understand service workers a lot better, and with any luck I can help you avoid some of the headaches I encountered when working with the new API.

The post Making A Service Worker: A Case Study appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

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Making A Service Worker: A Case Study

How Mobile Transformed PPC Marketing in 2015

As users spend more time on mobile devices, the way we advertise to them has to change.

In the world of pay-per-click marketing, the past year has been as eventful as it’s been rocky. There’s been a litany of new advertising features released from big players like Facebook and Google, but the health of PPC advertising has felt uncertain.

In his State of PPC in 2015 presentation, WordStream CEO and PPC genius Larry Kim revealed that cost-per-click on search advertising is at an all-time high, and searches on desktop have been trending downwards for years. What’s going on?

A slide from Larry Kim’s State of PPC in 2015.

All of the huge changes happening in PPC right now can be traced back to one thing: mobile. Below, we’ll explore how the continued shift from desktop to mobile is affecting digital advertising – and the technology behemoths that enable it.

The year of mobile, now and forever

Pretty much every year since 2009, it’s been declared that whatever year it was must certainly be the year of mobile!


The truth is that pretty much every year since the iPhone came out, it’s been the “year of mobile” in some way, be it mobile devices becoming more sophisticated and more usable, an increase in the amount of mobile-optimized content, or increase in the success of mobile ad campaigns.

But 2015 proved that mobile isn’t just important, it’s dominant. In May, Google confirmed that mobile searches overtook desktop searches in at least ten countries including the US and Japan.

The bottom line is that if you haven’t started optimizing your campaigns for mobile visitors, your visitors are already looking elsewhere. Thankfully, there are plenty of steps you can take to start earning leads on mobile pretty quickly.


For example, the “click to call” button introduced to Google AdWords in February allows prospects to connect with you over the phone without having to click through to another page, making the conversion pretty much instant.

That’s not going to always be an appropriate call to action, particularly in circumstances where you want to nurture your leads and guide them down the purchasing funnel. Thankfully, making a fully-fledged campaign landing page work on a mobile device is pretty easy, too; Unbounce, for example, automatically generates a mobile-responsive version of your landing page for you.

No matter what steps you take, remember that from now on, every year is the year of mobile.

From now on, EVERY year is the Year of Mobile.
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The spectre of ad-blockers

While mobile has introduced plenty of new advertising opportunities, those opportunities are severely endangered on desktop devices as the proliferation of ad blockers continues.

Pagefair, a company that allows marketers to present unobtrusive ads that circumvent ad blockers, collaborated with Adobe to produce The 2015 Ad Blocking Report. Not unbiased sources by any means, yet still, their findings were staggering: there are 200 million users worldwide using ad blockers, up 41% from 2014. Worse, they’re costing advertisers an estimated $22 billion a year in revenue.

While mobile – and iOS, in particular – have often been considered by advertisers as safe spaces where ads cannot be blocked, this changed with Apple’s introduction of “content blocking” in iOS 9.

While iOS doesn’t block ads itself, it enables developers to build and release apps that block types of content delivered through Safari. And this doesn’t just mean ads: cookies, images, pop-ups, autoplay videos and a plethora of other content types can be theoretically blocked in Safari if the developer and user choose so.

Many publications have sought to level with readers who are using ad blockers. Tech publication Wired entitled their piece covering the new functionality: Please Don’t Block Our Ads. Here’s How to Block Ads in iOS 9.


Interestingly enough, the ad asking users to subscribe to the print edition of Wired (outlined in red above) only appears if you have AdBlock enabled. And the URL it leads to? “wired.com/go/failsafe.” Clearly, this ad is a last-ditch effort to make some money out of what’s otherwise a negative-revenue scenario.

Even maker of popular web browser Firefox has entered the content blocking foray, having just this week released Focus for iOS 9, which solely blocks trackers – ads sans tracking mechanisms get through just fine, although most ads in the year 2015 come with tracking baked-in.

Content blocking hasn’t taken off yet on mobile, with publications reporting that only “1 or 2 percent” of their mobile users are using ad blockers. But considering their success on the desktop, combined with the fact that ads on mobile devices are generally more interruptive to the user experience, it’s a threat that marketers everywhere should take seriously.

The good news for advertisers: content blocking extensions only work in Safari, meaning native advertisements – ads delivered within an app, and not the web browser – are unaffected.

And consumer habits have long since shifted away from the browser on mobile devices: in 2014, Nielsen found that mobile users spent 89% of their time within apps versus browsing the web.

In this scenario, there is no company in a stronger position than Facebook.

The war between Google and Facebook

Facebook’s move to the public market was considered “disastrous” when it happened back in 2012, but that was also the same time when Facebook started offering mobile ads – a product they were in a unique position to take advantage of, being the destination app for hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

Since then, mobile ads have pretty much been far-and-away the most important part of Facebook’s business.


Back in October, I wrote about how the ongoing ad between Facebook and Google was leading to great new advertising products from both companies:

  • Google gave us the Customer Match, which allows you to upload a list of prospects’ email addresses and target (or exclude) those prospects in your campaigns – functionality Facebook has offered for some time

  • Google also introduced the ability to target audiences that it deems similar to the list you uploaded, another feature Facebook already offered; however, in Google’s case, this works only on Gmail and Youtube, and crucially, not search

  • Meanwhile Facebook opened advertising on Instagram to all marketers, along with new features like 30-second videos (compared to users’ 15-second videos) and image carousels

And recently, Facebook introduced detailed targeting, which gives marketers more flexibility in targeting their campaigns by letting them target particular combinations of factors, and letting them exclude other factors. Like so:


This graphic from Facebook shows how basic and detailed targeting combine to form a final audience:


But Google isn’t resting on their laurels in the face of the stiff competition. Days ago, Google introduced a new format to AdMob, its in-app ad network. Trial-run ads allow marketers to embed 60-second app demos directly into the ad. And I don’t mean videos – I mean real, functioning apps.

Trial Run Ad gif for SGN
A demo of Candy Crush Saga being played within an ad.

They also announced interactive interstitial ads, another in-app ad format that can be used to make interactive advertisements with HTML5.


From TechCrunch:

“For example, early tester Zalora, makers of a fashion shopping app, built an ad that allows users to swipe to discover an exclusive offer. Other app marketers could create ad formats like “scratch off’s,” or use the ads to create swipeable image carousels. They can even use live app content to create real-time ad formats, says Google.”

While both of these ad formats are in beta and won’t be available to all advertisers for some time, it’s obvious that this tit-for-tat between Facebook and Google, centered almost entirely around who will own advertising on mobile devices, is leading to great developments from both sides for advertisers.

The early bird gets the click

TL;DR: PPC in 2015 has been awesome, but also terrifying.

There are countless opportunities being enabled by the proliferation of mobile, but those opportunities come at the cost of abandoning safe, time-tested tactics.

Where do we go from here? I’d have to defer back to Larry Kim:

Don’t fret the loss of old features – be the first to use new features.

The Law of Shitty Clickthroughs dictates that the clickthrough rate of any ad format trends towards zero over time. At first, users respond highly to the novelty of the format, but as humans learn to recognize the patterns of each ad format, they subconsciously tune them out.

So embrace new formats as quickly as possible. Start testing ideas and collecting data immediately. Optimize your campaigns before your competitors even begin looking at the format. The first-mover advantage is real, and it’s huge.

Embrace new ad formats as they come; the first-mover advantage is real and huge.
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How Mobile Transformed PPC Marketing in 2015