These Digital Marketing Tips Can Jump-Start your School’s Enrollment

In a recent survey, 51% of those between the ages of 18 and 29 said they could not imagine living without a smartphone. In a separate survey, 78% or high school students said that websites influence their perception of a school. This accentuates the changing landscape and hints toward the future of marketing in the Higher Ed space.

With an increasingly competitive environment, schools are becoming more and more creative when attempting to lure prospective students. We not only need to use our digital marketing budgets carefully, we need to use them creatively, too.

I’d like to share with you just a few ways in which colleges are leveraging digital marketing and social media to successfully jump-start their school’s enrollment.

3 Proven Ways to Boost Enrollment

Social Media can be a great tool for brand awareness and enhancement. That’s just the half of it. Social media can improve retention throughout the admissions funnel as well as to curb “summer melt” (accepted students who never enroll).

Through Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram, prospective students can stay on top of the application process. You can inform them of important deadlines and answer application questions. Since the vast majority of students use these platforms on a daily basis, social media can make a real difference in improving student yield.

Blogs are a great way to get the word out on deadlines, too. More than that, it’s a place to share information with all your target audiences including faculty, alumni, athletic boosters and the surrounding community. The reason a blog is desirable in addition to social media is that your content lives here. It is indexed by Google and matures, improving your position in organic search rankings.

It’s important to be constantly adding new content. Make use of this content on your social media channels as well so as to get the most from any new content you create.

The National Student Clearinghouse. This one is more of an overall tip but has digital marketing implications. Purdue University’s Office of Enrollment Management took a closer look at students who chose to attend elsewhere. Through information made available at the National Student Clearinghouse, the enrollment management team was able to identify where these students eventually enrolled. This enabled them to better understand who their competitors are.

Some students are predisposed to attend college in state. There are various reasons for this. However, by examining the behavior of students who have the means to attend anywhere, a school can hone in on its primary competition.

Break down your data, perhaps by state or region. What patterns emerge? The good folks at Purdue were able to determine that students on the East coast were more likely to attend out of state institutions. This was just one of many insights gained through PU’s research.

It’s Our Niche

Beacon has been recognized as one of the top Higher Ed web design and digital marketing firms in the country. If you’d like the kind of insight into student behavior that 20 years of Higher Ed website design provides, we’re here to help. Feel free to contact me with questions regarding your institution’s admissions goals or call a member of the Beacon digital marketing team at 1.855.851.0109.

 

 

Kent Dickinson
Kent Dickinson joined Beacon as an Account Executive in May 2017. Kent is a veteran sales executive with more than 25 years of experience in business development, strategic planning, operations, and sales management. He has worked in a variety of industries including digital printing, book publishing, educational textbooks, direct marketing, consulting, and financial services. Kent earned a B.S. in Business from Wake Forest University, and his MBA from the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. Kent is an avid college sports fan, an occasional golfer, and bedtime reader. He also enjoys travelling and considers himself an adventurous foody.
By | 2017-11-08T13:43:37+00:00 November 15th, 2017|Digital Marketing, Higher Education|0 Comments

Effectively Market Your School with Social Media

There are prospective students in virtually every age group. Each has unique needs and wants. This should be reflected in your social media content strategy and PPC advertising. Your message needs to be specific to be effective.

For the sake of discussion, we’ll break this down into three main groups or demographics. There are those under the age of 18, often referred to as Generation Z. For obvious reasons, this group is very likely your main audience. In the middle, we have millennials, those between the ages of 18 and 32. Finally, we have Generation X, the parents of Gen Z.

Marketing Your School to the Gen Z Student

For most of us, our success will be significantly impacted by how effectively we appeal to this group. Gen Z students are the next crop of up and coming undergraduates. Digital ads are second nature to them. They respond quickly but their attention spans are short, so don’t make them jump through too many hoops or they won’t engage.

Credibility is everything with this group. Twitter and Instagram are very effective marketing tools, particularly when the message comes from a contemporary.

Millennials Are Looking for More

When millennials look to further their schooling, they may be working and attending classes at the same time. They have more debt than their parents and don’t make as much, so cost is a pain point. Flexibility is important. As a result, they are more receptive to night classes or online education.

Facebook is HUGE with this group. In fact, over 30% of Facebook users are millennials. In your Facebook ads, stress flexible class schedules and learn at your own pace models, if you have them.

Targeting Parents with Social Media

Some Gen X’ers will look to attend classes for upward mobility or self-improvement. However, most of this group have significance for a far different reason. They’re footing the bill for the aforementioned Gen Z’s. With the significant cost of tuition, they look at their children’s schooling as an investment.

Just as with millennials, their main concern is value (albeit for a slightly different reason). Again, Facebook becomes a valuable tool for marketing to this group. Stress value in your Facebook ads and online marketing.

Targeting Alumni

Since this last group also include alumni, discussion of social media marketing is incomplete without mentioning its application to fundraising. Facebook can effectively supplement direct mail and phone solicitation efforts.

Beacon’s Social Media Experts

Got questions about your digital marketing strategy? At Beacon, our social media experts focus on the Higher Ed space.  Our age diverse team mirrors that of your audiences, giving us a unique insight into what makes them tick. Contact me directly or give a Beacon team member a call at 1.855.851.0109. Or if you prefer, leave a comment and share your thoughts below.

Kent Dickinson
Kent Dickinson joined Beacon as an Account Executive in May 2017. Kent is a veteran sales executive with more than 25 years of experience in business development, strategic planning, operations, and sales management. He has worked in a variety of industries including digital printing, book publishing, educational textbooks, direct marketing, consulting, and financial services. Kent earned a B.S. in Business from Wake Forest University, and his MBA from the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. Kent is an avid college sports fan, an occasional golfer, and bedtime reader. He also enjoys travelling and considers himself an adventurous foody.
By | 2017-10-23T09:46:56+00:00 October 26th, 2017|Digital Marketing|Comments Off on Effectively Market Your School with Social Media

Setting Conversion Goals for your College or University Website

More than likely, you’ve installed the required Google Analytics tracking code on your website. You already peruse the monthly totals for visits, session duration and bounce rate. You have an idea what pages are most popular with visitors. However, unless you’ve set up the right conversion goals, you don’t really know which pages lead to a request for more information or even more importantly, an application.

Once you begin tracking this information, you can start asking a whole host of important questions such as:

  • What content is most likely to lead to a conversion?
  • Do mobile visitors convert at a better rate than desktop?
  • How can I get more conversion?

Setting Large and Small Conversion Goals

Your goals will depend upon the type of landing page it applies to. For example, for an admissions page it would likely be an application submission. By contrast, a request for a course catalog may be more appropriate for a program page.

Set both large and small goals, not unlike the way a football coach sets team goals for first downs as well as total points. After all, little successes often lead to bigger ones. This is particularly applicable for Higher Ed as the application process has so many touch points and each suggests an increased level of commitment.

A video view or email inquiry regarding a sporting event may be considered a small goal. A PDF download or request for a catalog suggests greater interest and may lie somewhere in the middle. An application submission is a more significant goal, obviously. Knowing what drives the earlier goals may very well provide you with the needed strategy to lead visitors to an application submission.

At a minimum, consider setting up conversion goals for:

  • Video Views
  • From Submissions
  • Virtual Tour Views
  • Requests for Campus Tours
  • Emails to Admissions Office and Faculty
  • PDF Downloads
  • Applications
  • Class Registrations

Higher Ed: PPC and Conversion Goals

If you spend a dime on PPC and don’t have the proper conversion goals in place, then you must have a money tree outside your office.

It goes without saying that 99% of those who visit your website don’t complete an application. However, many have converted on a lesser level. You’ve invested a significant portion of your marketing dollars in PPC. The information you gain from the smaller conversion can help you direct these same people through the conversion funnel and eventually, to an application. Why would you ever let these leads evaporate into thin air?

How ‘Bout Remarketing?

The enrollment funnel is longer than that of normal sales funnels. This gives students ample opportunity to leave for a variety of reasons. Remarketing keeps your ads in the front row and your school in the consciousness of the prospect.

Here’s how it works. The student’s initial visit generates a cookie which triggers your ad after they’ve left your site. Your ad may appear once again when they visit similar or competing websites. Conversion rates are generally much higher for these types of ads as the prospect has already expressed some kind of interest in your school.

The Bottom Line

At Beacon, we’ve been helping marketing professionals in Higher Ed effectively grow their digital presence for more than 20 years. If you have any questions regarding your school’s Google Analytics conversion goal set up, I encourage you to email me or call a Beacon team member at 1.855.851.0109. We’ll help clarify the admissions funnel and get you on the road to increased enrollment in no time.

Kent Dickinson
Kent Dickinson joined Beacon as an Account Executive in May 2017. Kent is a veteran sales executive with more than 25 years of experience in business development, strategic planning, operations, and sales management. He has worked in a variety of industries including digital printing, book publishing, educational textbooks, direct marketing, consulting, and financial services. Kent earned a B.S. in Business from Wake Forest University, and his MBA from the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. Kent is an avid college sports fan, an occasional golfer, and bedtime reader. He also enjoys travelling and considers himself an adventurous foody.
By | 2017-10-12T08:24:19+00:00 October 10th, 2017|Digital Marketing, Higher Education|Comments Off on Setting Conversion Goals for your College or University Website

Improve Your Site Search with These SEO Principles

While just about every e-commerce website I’ve worked with optimizes for Google search, it amazes me how many underestimate the value of effective internal site search. If you’re not dedicating some effort to improving your internal search, you’re losing business.

Conversions aren’t the only thing impacted by a properly optimized site search (although it certainly is the most important). Internal site search can provide clues that have implications across the board and help you effectively manage your bricks-and-mortar business, too.

Here’s a short list of SEO principles that, if employed, will help you get the most from your internal site search (and boost conversions!):

Set up site search tracking in Google Analytics. It’s simple and you can do this right inside your current Google Analytics account.

Step One: You need to determine the query parameter your site search is using. Simply perform a search, any search, on your site. Look at the URl of the results page and identify the designation immediately following the question mark. For the example below, I went to a popular outdoor clothing and equipment site and did so.

As you can see, it’s a “q” in this case.

search-query-parameters

Step Two: Go into your Google Analytics account and click Admin, View Settings and scroll to Site Search Settings.

google analytics search query parameters

Step Three: Under the heading Site Search Tracking, simply click the slider to the “on” position. Look for the heading Query parameter and add the character that designates a search in your URl. In this example, it was “q”. Click the Strip query parameters out of URl button and save.

This will enable you to view the terms visitors searched on your site within Google Analytics.

Add often searched query terms to your keyword research. Once you know what people are searching while on your website, you’ll not only gain insight into ways to optimize your search terms for products and/or categories but you’ll get great ideas for new products.

NoIndex your search result pages. If someone performs a generic Google search hoping for a quick answer and lands on your internal search page instead, it may not result in a good experience. Google thinks it is less likely to. That being the case, it makes sense to block them.

Never display “No Results Found”. It serves no useful purpose to you or the user. If the item they’re searching for is out of stock, consider displaying related products. If the term is completely unrelated to any of your products, serve up a list of your best selling items with a blurb that reads “We couldn’t find the item you’re looking for. Perhaps you’re interested in one of the best sellers below.”

Don’t pass up a chance to ask for a sale. Proper use and optimization of your internal site search has been done to dramatically improve, even double in some cases, conversions. A designated Google Analytics Partner since 1998, the digital marketing team at Beacon has a wealth of knowledge regarding internal site search and ways in which it can be leveraged to improve your bottom line. Questions? Email me or call a Beacon team member at 1.866.585.6350. We’re ready to discuss ways in which we can help y make your online business more profitable than ever before.

Logan Ray
With a B.S. Degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Logan Ray joins Beacon as a Digital Marketing Specialist. Outside the workplace, Logan’s interests include spending time with his wife and dog, board sports and outdoor adventuring.
By | 2017-09-01T09:55:13+00:00 September 13th, 2017|SEO|Comments Off on Improve Your Site Search with These SEO Principles

PPC Tips and Strategies for Increasing Student Yield

While one may or may not think of a college or university as a business, there is no arguing that those involved in student enrollment mean business. The playing field is more competitive every day. This is evidenced by the fact that more and more schools use PPC (pay per click) advertising as part of their appeal.

Since many more in your target audience communicate through digital channels than in the days when you and I went to school, it goes without saying that it doesn’t pay to stick with just traditional means of promotion. Besides, at the rate that the enrollment landscape is changing, PPC almost qualifies as traditional.

PPC Strategies for Higher Ed

Unlike large, profit generating entities, most colleges have limited budgets to work with. This means that while one may encourage ones students to experiment, to “find themselves”, you don’t want your marketing people to have to do so, too.

Make sure you have a clearly defined strategy going in. Higher Ed keywords are generally very expensive (again, the Higher Ed space is VERY competitive), so it’s essential that you use your marketing dollars efficiently. That having been said…

Branded Campaigns Don’t Work for Higher Ed

Many businesses use branded campaigns to make sure their competitors don’t pick off shoppers who are looking to pilfer their customers. However, your audience differs from most. With a college website, many students, alumni and faculty use the website as a constant resource.

Since you’re already at the top for a branded search, you don’t want to waste your money paying for those who choose to access your site through a PPC add. That’s a sure way to burn through your ad budget and see minimal return.

Higher Ed Remarketing Ads Do, Though

The enrollment funnel for Higher Ed is protracted when compared to other competitive spaces. That being the case, a conversion rarely happens as part of an early touch. This is true across the board, unless your brand is so big that you don’t need to advertise. That’s a very exclusive club.

Remarketing ads follow visitors from their initial visit to your site (or mobile App). As they visit other competing sites, your ad will pop up, keeping your school fresh in their mind. It’s a great way to maintain a familiarity and nurture the process. These remarketing ads can include periodic offerings such as a limited time discount on an application fee in exchange for contact information.

Get even more granular by using Google’s RLSA’s. You can target users based on their behavior, which page on your site they visited and how long they stayed. So, if they visited the page for your dental school, they’ll receive remarketing ads specific to that discipline.

Higher Ed PPC & Mobile

Make sure the landing pages for your PPC ads are responsive. Recent surveys indicate that roughly 80% of high school seniors and their parents view college websites on their phones. If your site is mobile friendly, you’ll also be able to take advantage of Google’s new Expanded Text.

You’ve spent the money to get your visitors to your website. Don’t blow the experience now.

And that’s Just the Beginning

Want to know more about how you can pull more candidates into your school’s enrollment funnel? Beacon is recognized as one of the top Higher Ed web design firms in the country. We’ve been helping colleges and universities with PPC marketing for over 20 years. Feel free to contact me with questions regarding your institution’s admissions goals or call a member of the Beacon digital marketing team at 1.855.851.0109.

Kent Dickinson
Kent Dickinson joined Beacon as an Account Executive in May 2017. Kent is a veteran sales executive with more than 25 years of experience in business development, strategic planning, operations, and sales management. He has worked in a variety of industries including digital printing, book publishing, educational textbooks, direct marketing, consulting, and financial services. Kent earned a B.S. in Business from Wake Forest University, and his MBA from the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. Kent is an avid college sports fan, an occasional golfer, and bedtime reader. He also enjoys travelling and considers himself an adventurous foody.
By | 2017-09-01T09:28:27+00:00 September 6th, 2017|Higher Education, PPC|Comments Off on PPC Tips and Strategies for Increasing Student Yield

Higher Ed: Understanding Digital Marketing’s Role in the Admissions Funnel

An institution’s mission is to educate students. By extension, its relevance is dependent upon the quality and quantity of enrolled students. Without students, you cease to exist.

If you’re charged with marketing your college or university, you carry a position of great responsibility. You’ve been asked to be a caretaker of sorts. Your mission is to steward your school into a position of added prestige and reputation. You can affect both enrollment and endowment.

Education is a business. Without treating it as such, one risks becoming a footnote in the annals of Higher Ed history. Understanding the admissions funnel is step one in ensuring you’re remembered as having been a worthy steward for your school.

Understanding the Higher Ed Admissions Funnel

While the admissions funnel shares certain similarities to a typical sales funnel, there are distinct differences. Understanding those differences can be key to your success.

The admissions funnel is deeper and more involved than the normal sales funnel. More levels require a longer time duration and greater deliberation. It could be a year or two from the moment your candidate enters the admissions funnel until they eventually enroll. A protracted process means more opportunity to abandon the process.

The better you understand the admissions funnel, the easier it is to use it to your advantage.

The Opening: Attracting Prospective Students

When marketing to the prospective student, content and the delivery of said content is of paramount importance. Methods include the more traditional (education fairs and school visits) as well as digital advertising (PPC, Social Media, etc.). And one cannot emphasize enough the importance of sound SEO practices for Higher Ed.

Prospective students break down into two sub-sets, those who already have a familiarity with your institution as well as those who may not have previously known who you are. The approach is similar for targeting both.

Use videos, photos and interesting copy. Prospective students respect and trust content provided by their peers. Emphasize content provided by your current students. Your goal is to get a prospective student to request more information. That’s the next step in the sales funnel.

The Inquiry

When we discuss those who inquire into additional information, the numbers drop precipitously. But that’s OK. The good news is, the remaining prospects represent significant opportunity. They’re still considering a few schools and their pain point tends to be simple. Generally, they want to know at which school they best fit in.

Appeal to this group through both traditional means (personal calls from students, events and printed materials) as well as through social media and PPC campaigns.

PPC remarketing campaigns can be a great way to keep your brand in the minds of prospective students. In short, remarketing ads are the google ads that follow you after you visit a website. It targets those who have expressed some level of interest already.

The objective here is to steer the student into the application process.

Getting the Application

Anyone who starts the application process is already highly engaged. At this juncture, the personal touch can be most effective. Events are great. There is nothing more effective than a face to face meeting.

It’s also a good time for email marketing campaigns. Emphasize personalized emails from admissions counselors or administrators.

Some will recommend personalized phone calls. Personal experience tells me otherwise.  When my children were looking for a school to attend, they never answered the phone. Texting is the preferred method of communication for this generation. They avoid the phone like the plague.

Attention & Intention Mean Retention

The final group you need to appeal to are those who have been accepted and/or have confirmed their intention to attend. This group may include individuals who have been accepted at several schools. They may be still deciding or waiting to find out which school will provide the most financial aid.

While not all will eventually enroll, this is the time to welcome them into the “family”. The more personal your communication, the better. If this student interacts with other accepted students through social media, odds of retention increase considerably.

Consider sending branded items such as tee shirts or coffee mugs.

Avoiding Summer Melt

While it may seem unethical, some students will place deposits down with more than one institution. Others will lose interest while awaiting financial aid. Some will simply be overwhelmed with the process of finishing paperwork and buying books.

In fact, a recent study suggests that between 10% and 40% of students will “melt away” between the time of their acceptance and the first day of classes.

Engagement from here must be genuine and personal. Consider holding webinars with instructors who can help individuals get to the finish line. Administrators can send personalized emails offering assistance and answering frequent questions. Bottom line: Keep it as personal as possible.

How Beacon Can Help

Recently recognized as one of the top Higher Ed web design firms in the country, Beacon has been helping colleges and universities with admissions marketing for more than 20 years. Together we can develop and implement a digital marketing plan to address your specific objectives. Feel free to contact me with questions regarding your institution’s admissions goals or call a member of the Beacon digital marketing team at 1.855.851.0109.

Kent Dickinson
Kent Dickinson joined Beacon as an Account Executive in May 2017. Kent is a veteran sales executive with more than 25 years of experience in business development, strategic planning, operations, and sales management. He has worked in a variety of industries including digital printing, book publishing, educational textbooks, direct marketing, consulting, and financial services. Kent earned a B.S. in Business from Wake Forest University, and his MBA from the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. Kent is an avid college sports fan, an occasional golfer, and bedtime reader. He also enjoys travelling and considers himself an adventurous foody.
By | 2017-08-21T11:10:17+00:00 August 21st, 2017|Digital Marketing|Comments Off on Higher Ed: Understanding Digital Marketing’s Role in the Admissions Funnel

SEO & Your Redesign: Don’t Be a Flintsone

If you’re reading this article on your desktop monitor, guess what. You’re a dinosaur, my friend. More than likely, there are far more people reading this article on hand held devices. Particularly those between the ages of 18 and 29*. But, since there are still holdouts like yourself, any website needs to account for this audience as well.

With that in mind, it’s time we talk about responsive website redesign. So, put those rocks down and follow me.  We’re going to cover a lot of ground in just a few words. We’ll look at some major SEO considerations with an added emphasis on mobile redesign factors.

Structured Schema Data & The Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes

A redesign is a great time to give your new website an organic visibility boost. By adding structured or schema markup, you can give search engines a little bit more help with interpreting your pages, thereby improving the quantity and quality of your traffic. Think of it as the secret handshake of Lodge brothers. You establish a familiarity on a higher level – it’s an engagement booster. And when better engagement metrics follow, so do better search rankings.

HTML tells the user’s browser how to display the information in the tag. Using a microdata format, schema markup tells the browser what the text within the tag means. There are markup types for different business categories, entertainment types, articles & review sites, products, and events. And those are just a few types of schema. You can see why schema markup is a great way to showcase your website content.

Yabba Dabba DON’T forget about page speed.

Page speed has always been important. With mobile devices, page speed is absolutely critical. Consider the numbers given earlier regarding mobile users. They’re young. Very Young. That means the average mobile user has an attention span similar to that of a common house fly.  Factor in questionable mobile connections and it doesn’t take a genius to figure it out. There is no such thing as too fast.

Make sure you address page speed. If you can’t get a straight answer from your design partner regarding site speed, use Google’s Mobile Friendly Test to find out for yourself. It will measure mobile friendliness and compare the load times of your site on mobile and desktop. Additionally, the tool will suggest improvements. Take this handy little report and give it to your design partner.

CSS, JavaScript & The Great Gazoo

In the Jurassic days of website design (last Thursday), it wasn’t unusual to use JavaScript to ensure that your design renders as intended. Page speed was not as great a factor in the Google search algorithm as it is today and page speeds didn’t have to account for mobile use.

However, side by side analysis suggests overuse of JavaScript and CSS can be a big mistake. Recent split tests indicate that if one were to strip the JavaScript from a page and use CSS to render it instead, performance would improve. In fact, if one were to split test the JavaScript pages versus the pages not reliant on JS, the latter sees roughly 5% more organic traffic.

Like the character in the cartoon, CSS and JavaScript mean well but they they’ll likely create more problems than they solve.

They don’t use Flash down at the quarry anymore.

There are some good things about Flash. It’s great for course animations and online presentations. Now, let’s list a few of its limitations.

  • It’s not supported on iPhone.
  • Or Anything, really.
  • Google has trouble crawling and indexing it. That means lousy search visibility.
  • It isn’t easily updated. If you have very, very deep pockets, this isn’t a problem.
  • It’s proprietary so Adobe can hold you hostage.

With the changing technologies, Flash simply should not be used any longer. Flash isn’t supported on mobile devices. If your redesign partner insists on using Flash in your new redesign, run for the hills.

Bold choice, Mr. Flintstone! You’ll go far in this company.

While all of the above must be considered in your redesign efforts, it all starts with your choice of a forward-thinking design and development partner. That’s where Beacon comes in. If you have any questions regarding SEO and your upcoming redesign project, I invite you to email me or call a member of our digital marketing team at 1.855.847.5440.

*According to the Pew Research Center

Logan Ray
With a B.S. Degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Logan Ray joins Beacon as a Digital Marketing Specialist. Outside the workplace, Logan’s interests include spending time with his wife and dog, board sports and outdoor adventuring.
By | 2017-07-31T12:52:45+00:00 July 26th, 2017|SEO|Comments Off on SEO & Your Redesign: Don’t Be a Flintsone

How to Export your Google Data Studio Report to PDF

Google Data Studio is a great tool for those who need frequent, consistent and timely reporting, but there is an important feature currently unavailable in Data Studio — “PDF exporting.”  But do not fret, my fellow Google Data Studio users. There is a way to take that multi-page Data Studio report and export it as a single PDF file!

Google Data Studio PDF Export

If you have Google Chrome, you can export all of your Google Data Studio Report’s pages into a single PDF by downloading the free Google Chrome Extension ‘Google Data Studio PDF Export’ by Mito Studio.

How to Export a Multiple-Page Data Studio Report to PDF

Step 1.  Click the link below to be redirected to the Google Chrome web store installation page for the Google Chrome Extension ‘Google Data Studio PDF Export’ by Mito Studio. ~ if the link is not working, copy and paste the link at the end of this post into your chrome browser. 

Click here to go to the extension

Step 2.  Reload (or open) the Data Studio Report you wish to Export to PDF and there will be a new option in the report header.  The picture below is a comparison of the task bar without the chrome extension (top image) and the task bar with the chrome extension (bottom image). ~ Note: you must be in the ‘view mode’ in order for the option to appear.

Export to PDF option in Google Data Studio

Step 3.  Click on the ‘Export to PDF’ option to begin exporting your report, wait a few seconds per page as each page downloads. The time it takes to begin exporting varies, but  if the report does not begin to export, click on the thumbnail icon in the chrome extensions area of the toolbar but instead of selecting ‘Export to PDF’,  select ‘Clear Cache’ the option (pictured below), then try exporting it again.

GDS Export to PDF solution

Step 4.  After the document has been downloaded, a pop-up window will appear with a black and white version of the report—the report’s color will be restored after changing the destination. In the window, change the ‘Destination’ of the file to ‘Save as PDF’ (pictured below). Save Data Studio Report as PDF

Step 5.  Click Print to save the report to a location of your choice.

Chrome Extension Link: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/google-data-studio-pdf-ex/cmbgpgjhibpioljmaaocdommnggpecje

Luke Pajer
Luke Pajer is a Digital Marketing Analyst with a M.A. in Management Degree from Wake Forest University, and a B.S. in Geology Degree from Baylor University. Luke is passionate about data analysis, which combined with his published research experience in the realm of geoengineering brings a unique perspective to the beacon team. Outside of work Luke enjoys spending time with his wife and two dogs, reading, playing ice-hockey, and watching football.
By | 2017-07-19T12:10:28+00:00 July 19th, 2017|Digital Marketing|Comments Off on How to Export your Google Data Studio Report to PDF

WFU Selects Beacon to Teach Graduate Level Analytics Course

Last year, when I discovered that Wake Forest’s Business School was starting a Master’s Program in Business Analytics (MSBA), I had to see how I could help. After all, it’s my alma mater AND analytics – two of my favorite things! So I was thrilled when our many discussions and planning sessions led to Wake selecting Beacon to teach its graduate level course in Digital Marketing Analytics this Spring.

Farrell Hall at WFU Analytics has been a critical component of Beacon’s offering since almost the day the company started back in 1998. It’s why Beacon is one of the longest active Google Analytics Certified Partners in the country.  The entire Beacon Digital Marketing Team is involved with this class, led by Gus Kroustalis, Beacon’s Lead Analytics Strategist and Andrea Cole, Beacon’s Director of Digital Marketing.  The team meets regularly internally to carefully plan each class around important topics, crafting in-class and homework assignments that expose the students to real world tools and thinking.  For most companies nowadays, their website is the centerpiece of their marketing strategy.  So this course emphasizes Google Analytics and walks the students through 7 intense weeks that includes

  • Key Metrics for the Web
  • Consumer Targeting
  • Engagement Analysis
  • Channel Analysis (SEO & Paid Search)
  • Attribution Models
  • Conversion Testing

The demand for critical thinking skills with respect to analytics data is enormous in today’s business world. Students that have tangible experience will hit the ground running and be able to provide immediate value to their employers.  Certainly, technology and the widespread availability of data are drivers, but it’s also about “brain-power”, the ability to analyze data with all the available tools to gain insights, formulate strategy and communicate well-founded recommendations that will improve ROI and/or decision-making.

Companies are clamoring for critical and creative thinkers. Graduates of Wake Forest’s MSBA program will certainly fill this demand.  The students will experience a rigorous, hands-on course that exposes them to actual live data from several of Beacon’s clients that have graciously agreed to participate.  Although they will learn many different tools, the emphasis will be on stimulating their business minds to develop intelligent insights, drive creative ideas and improve business.

It’s exciting that Wake’s MSBA students have the opportunity to work alongside Beacon’s recognized experts in Digital Marketing to get first-hand experience and knowledge. It will certainly make their resumes stand out.  Likewise, my DMS Team is equally excited to collaborate with, and learn from, the high-caliber students for which Wake Forest University is known.

Beacon's Gus Kroustalis Teaching

Mark Dirks
Mark Dirks is the CEO for Beacon Technologies, but claims that Senior Web Business Consultant is more fitting. With a Masters Degree from Kansas State in Information Systems and a BS from Wake Forest in Mathematics/Computer Science, his passion is helping clients get the most out of their website and internet technology. Mark co-founded Beacon after spending a couple of years with RJ Reynolds and 13 years at AT&T. Outside of Beacon, he is an avid racquetball and softball player, while also coaching youth baseball and football.
By | 2017-08-15T16:00:39+00:00 April 21st, 2017|Beacon News, Digital Marketing, Google Analytics|Comments Off on WFU Selects Beacon to Teach Graduate Level Analytics Course

Questions to Ask Your SEO Partner

Unfortunately, there are some companies in the SEO trade that are damaging the reputation of the entire industry. Over time some local businesses and medium-sized companies avoid paying for SEO management services for fear of being ripped off. Or, they have been led to believe from past experiences that SEO isn’t effective. This is unfortunate because when done right, SEO can be a great equalizer throughout a variety of industries.

There’s no way of knowing if even larger SEO companies will fulfill their SEO guarantees. However, here are some questions you can ask to probe the legitimacy of your current SEO partner.

Let’s Get Started

Ask your current SEO partner if they outsource work or if they have a dedicated internal team. The last thing you want to deal with is an SEO company outsourcing work to other countries with poor SEO tactics. Unfortunately, not every Country where SEO is popular follows best practices. For example, freelancers in other Countries may auto-generate articles, buy links or spam websites.

Paid Backlinks

It should go without saying but buying links is not a viable strategy. Nor is publishing auto-generated articles a feasible content creation strategy.

Duplicate Content

Consider This ……

The web is 25-30% duplicated content according to Matt Cutts. It’s no wonder search engines prefer unique content that provides value.

Bottom Line: You want to work with an SEO agency that does their work in house and holds their team accountable.

Next, link building can be a great SEO strategy when done appropriately. However, if done in a manner that causes Google and other search engines to raise their eyebrows there will be problems or penalties. If you engage in any sort of link building with your SEO agency ask them what their approach or strategy is. Even if it is passive link building where they reclaim links and monitor your brand. It is smart to have a rough idea of the type of link acquisition strategies they may be employing.

If you hear any of these terms thrown around then it is time to switch SEO partners:

  • Link Exchange
  • Blog Networks
  • Widget Backlinks
  • Advertorials
  • Buying Links – Paid Links
  • Article Directories
  • Hidden Backlinks
  • Auto-Generated Backlinks

 

Bottom Line: Link building can be a good strategy when done correctly. Ask your potential SEO partner what their approach is and see if they mention any of the terms above.

Finally, ask your current SEO partner what their content creation strategy is. What you want to find out is are they writing unique content or regurgitating keyword stuffed content.

Also, when it comes to targeting keywords in content pieces be aware of diminishing returns. There is a point of diminishing returns when it comes to using keywords within your content. Add a few keywords and you start gaining rank. Add some more and it doesn’t really make any improvements. If you keep adding keywords then you start to see some declines in rank. I am not saying you shouldn’t have keywords within your content but it is important to add variations and use related keywords.

Bottom Line: You want your SEO partner to go easy on the keywords while providing relevant content.

Side Note – You also don’t want them creating a bunch of pages that are only targeting one keyword either. Instead, it should be a good mix of related terms.

Hopefully, this will help you when researching SEO companies or deciding if it is time to switch vendors.  If you have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out or get a Free SEO audit to see how you currently stack up.

Happy Rankings!

Jordan Lowry
Jordan is a Digital Marketing Analyst in SEO, PPC and Social Media. He recently graduated from UNC-Greensboro with a strong business background running a start-up.
By | 2017-07-20T09:21:37+00:00 January 12th, 2017|Digital Marketing, SEO|Comments Off on Questions to Ask Your SEO Partner
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