More to Come

Tips for Becoming Google Analytics and Adwords Certified: Part 2

In the last blog post, I gave you the run down and tips for taking the Google Analytics certification exam. This post will give you an overview of the Google Adwords exams and my tips for studying and passing them.

As I said in the previous post, before you can take the exams, you are required to sign up for Google Partners. Google Partners is Google’s free program for agencies and other digital professionals designed to give you access to special events, Adwords and Analytics updates and free certification exams. Once you have registered, you will have access to a copious amount of study materials for both the Adwords and Analytics.

The Google Adwords Certification


  • Must pass 2 out of 6 exams
  • Exam times span between 90 and 120 minutes
  • Exam questions range from 63 to 100
  • Must have 80% passing score
  • Valid for 12 months

Between the Analytics and Adwords certifications, the Adwords certification is more challenging and time consuming to obtain, but extremely beneficial if you manage PPC accounts. In order to become certified, you have to pass two of the six exams offered. You are required to take the Adwords Fundamentals exam and then you get to choose the other. The other exams include advanced search, display, video, shopping and mobile.


Since I manage shopping accounts at True, I chose to get Google Shopping certified as my second exam. Like the Analytics exam, once you start, you cannot pause or skip questions so allow yourself enough time for completion.

Each exam includes a study guide with various lessons and videos to prepare. There are many online resources at your disposal, but Google’s study guides proved most effective. What sets apart the Adwords study guides from the Analytics study guides is there are no practice questions associated with the Adwords study material. Going into the Adwords exams, I felt a little less prepared not knowing what the questions were going to be like. However, Google provides so much information for you to read and study so passing is still very achievable. Once I completed the exam, it instantly told me I passed, but Google says it can take up to 48 hours for exam results to appear.


The Adwords Fundamentals exam is 100 questions in 120 minutes. You will not have enough time to look up every question in the study material as the exam goes on, so I definitely suggest studying as you would in college for an important exam. However, you do have enough time to think about the hard questions, when easier questions become faster to answer.


The questions span the contents of every lesson, but I would focus on the overall concepts instead of intricate facts and details. Many questions in the exam take a concept you learned and asks you to apply it to a potential client situation

The Google Shopping exam is 63 questions in 90 minutes. Of the two exams that I took to become Adwords certified, this one was definitely the easier of the two. Google provides plenty of information in their study guides for you to adequately prepare for the exam.

The questions primarily focus on the “do’s and don’ts” of the Google Shopping platform. Since there are a lot of requirements and rules to be qualified for Google Shopping, the exam places heavy emphasis on the fundamentals and building high-quality data feeds.

Are You Ready?

Go through all of the reading supplements and videos Google provides for each exam and you should have no problem passing. Remember, the majority of the Fundamentals exam questions are on high-level concepts based on the structure, targeting, bids and budget parameters of Google Adwords. Once you pass your exams, you will have the opportunity to print your certifications and display them loud and proud. Good luck!


Tips for Becoming Google Analytics and Adwords Certified: Part 1

*Note: This is part 1 of a 2 part series

Dust off your college pants and put those puppies back on because you are getting ready to take exams to become Google Analytics and Adwords certified. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been in the industry very long, but I thought my days of taking exams ended when college did. However, becoming Google Analytics and Adwords certified is a great solution for brushing up on your digital advertising skill set. Analytics and Adwords certifications denote credibility for yourself as a digital marketer and instill client trust in your agency. In this two-part blog post I will go through an overview of taking both exams and my tips for passing them.

Before you can take the exams, you are required to sign up for Google Partners. Google Partners is Google’s free program for agencies and other digital professionals designed to give you access to special events, Adwords and Analytics updates and free certification exams. Once you have registered, you will have access to a copious amount of study materials for both the Adwords and Analytics exams.

The Google Analytics Certification 


  • One exam
  • 90 minutes
  • 70 questions
  • 80% passing score
  • Valid for 18 months

There are plenty of online resources at your disposal for this exam, but I highly recommend following Google’s study guide. Google provides a four-unit study guide called “Analytics Academy” with multiple lessons, videos, practice questions and they even walk you through creating an analytics account. The lessons go through every stage of Google Analytics:

  1. Planning and principles
  2. Implementation and data collection
  3. Configuration and administration
  4. Conversion and attribution
  5. Reports, metrics and dimensions



The questions span the five stages, with an emphasis on implementation and analytics reports and metrics. Pay close attention to how to set up different views within your analytics profile and what each report represents and how to analyze the provided metrics. Many question focus on platform principles and learning how each component works together to collect and organize data.


Once you start the exam, you cannot pause or skip questions. When you’re ready to take the exam, allow yourself the full 90 minutes, in an uninterrupted environment. Take your time on the questions that require it, as some will be easier and faster to answer than others. As I was taking the exam, I found I had more time than I anticipated answering the challenging questions. Once I completed the exam, it instantly told me I passed, but Google says it can take up to 48 hours for exam results to appear.

Are You Ready?

Whether you’re good at taking exams or not, Google provides ample information for you to get certified in important business practices in today’s digital world. Google will not try to trick you on any of the questions so if a guess is absolutely necessary, using common sense will be your best bet. Stay tuned for True’s next blog post on taking the Google Adwords certification exam.

Good luck and stayed tuned for part two of this series on becoming certified in Google Adwords.


Where Do You Belong?

image1 (9)Several weeks ago, I had the pleasure of heading back to Kent State University (my alma mater) to speak on a panel for PRSSA. Even though I graduated four years ago, it still feels like I was a student yesterday! The topic of the panel was “Where do you belong? Exploring the three different types of PR- agency, corporate and non-profit.” Much to my surprise, the room was packed with students, which was great to see.

While I was only one of the three professionals on the panel, I wanted to recap my main points since I’ve found they keep coming up each time I speak with students and young professionals.

  1. Networking: Networking doesn’t just begin when you start your first real-world job, it starts the moment you step foot on campus. Your professors and fellow classmates are invaluable resources you should treasure.  Get to know them, tell them what you’re looking for and don’t be too embarrassed to ask for help. Attending special events on campus and joining student groups is also one of the best things you can do for your future career. Stand out. Make an impression. And most importantly, get involved!
  1. Internships: PR Kent requires an internship as part of the curriculum, which is fantastic! However, if you have the time, I say go for as many internships as you can. Especially if you don’t know what segment of PR you’d like to work in. I think it’s so important to get a well-rounded internship experience in the different segments. That way, you can truly find what you’re most passionate about!
  1. Be You: Several students came up to me after the panel was over and asked more questions about agency PR and internships. But what really stood out was when I asked them to talk about their passions, where they see themselves in the future and their summer internship plans. Several students also sent thank you emails and followed-up with personalized LinkedIn requests. These things don’t go unnoticed!

I truly love going back to Kent State- it’s definitely still my home away from home. Plus, speaking with students is so rewarding. Do you have any other tips to share? I’d love to hear them.

Sometimes Subtracting Gives You More

When we take over an existing paid search campaign and begin making changes to optimize performance, one of the first things we typically hear from a client is, “But I got more clicks before you optimized!” And a lot of times, they’re absolutely right. So why are we trying to get fewer clicks? Simple: We’re aiming for quality over quantity.

As an example, say you’re a B2B manufacturer that specializes in high speed metal stamping and rapid prototyping. (Yes, that really is a thing. And yes, we’ve developed paid search campaigns for it.) If you use Google Adwords’ keyword tool, you’ll find “metal stamping” has a high volume of monthly searches. If your ad copy and landing page copy contains the phrase “metal stamping” in all the right places, you’ll probably get a decent quality score for that term and begin seeing high impressions and clicks.

But unless you look at the other ad group suggestions Google comes up with related to “metal stamping” or dig through your matched search queries once your ads begin running, you may not realize those impressions and clicks could be coming from searchers looking for:

  • metal letter stamps
  • metal alphabet stamps
  • stamped metal jewelry
  • metal stamping supplies
  • hand stamped jewelry supplies

Google considers all of these to be related search terms for “metal stamping.” Because both are consumer-oriented terms, some of them have high search volume. But the searchers who clicked on your ad without really reading the copy are not at all interested in “metal stamping” as your company defines it. You’ll be generating – and paying for – more clicks but driving fewer qualified visits.

This is where subtracting to get more comes into play. By eliminating not-really-related related terms through the use of phrase match keywords and negative keywords, your campaign will generate fewer impressions and clicks. But the searchers who see your ads will be looking for your version of “metal stamping,” and they’ll spend more time reading your site content, and they’re more likely to become potential customers.

So take a look at your current campaigns and their performance. Are you concentrating on impressions, or generating qualified visits?

Be Our Valentine!

hearWhile Valentine’s Day is still a week away, this blog post is a love letter. It’s not just to one person though; it’s actually to several. And they’re not all in one place either. They’re all over the U.S. and the world.

My love letter is to my partners and friends in the Worldcom Public Relations Group. Business today is more competitive than ever before and in this age of specialization, it’s no longer good business to be a generalist. That’s why having a network of outstanding public relations and marketing communication specialists to call on makes so much sense.

Within Worldcom, we can pull on firms with deep category and industry experience, geography knowledge and relationships and specific skill sets and talents. Worldcom has become a valuable resource for me and my True team members. We work with our Worldcom partners every week as we help our clients in North America and around the world.

So why am I writing a love letter to our Worldcom partners? True Digital Communications turned five years old on February 1. We have come a long way. This is a milestone and is very important to me. We wouldn’t have reached this point if we didn’t have such a great team and clients. I also owe a good deal of support to the other agency principals and management teams at our Worldcom partners who provide me with so much support and assistance as I’ve put together my team and processes at True.

So my Valentine’s wishes go to my Worldcom friends. They have been an important part of our growth and I know we’ll continue to work together into the future. I encourage you to learn more about their firms, or give us a call and we can tell you more about them and why they could be a great asset for your public relations and marketing communications needs.

Happy Valentine’s Day to Stefan, Will and Noemi at the Pollack PR & Marketing Group in Los Angeles; Jill, Craig, Pamela, Johnathon, Grant and the team at Public Communications Inc. in Chicago; Jon at McGrath Power in San Jose; Bill at Nuffer Smith Tucker in San Diego; Melissa at Standing Partnership in St. Louis; Dawn and Sharon at Linhart PR in Denver; John and Chris at Deveney in New Orleans; Amy and Greg at Corporateink in Boston; Hal at Cerrell in Los Angeles; Stephanie and Helen at Phillips Group in Brisbane, Australia; Elizabeth at Bliss Integrated Communications in New York; Scott, Gary and Dave at Dix & Eaton in Cleveland; Scott and Sean at Dick Jones Communications in Pittsburgh; Lisa at Simon PR in Philadelphia; Tim at MorganMyers in Milwaukee; Patrik at PRAM Consulting in Prague, Czech Republic; and Todd and Terry at Worldcom’s HQ.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all!


3 Simple Steps to Up Your Insta Game

Aquicon-InstagramOf all the social media channels, Instagram is hands down my favorite. I’ve used it personally since 2012 and it’s been my go-to app since. This is probably because photos make me really happy- but it’s also a great marketing tool that our clients are starting to add into the mix. Below are three of my Instagram 101 tips to start your account off on the right foot.

1. Take great photos: This may sound like a no-brainer- but it’s crucial! Whether you’re using a professional camera or simply using your phone, picking a great backdrop that’s clean and visually appealing will go a long way. And if you don’t know what type of photos you should take, spend some time thinking about your audience on Instagram and what your brand should look like in photos. What would your audience want to see? Once you have that squared away, you can start taking photos that will resonate with your audience.

2. Use hashtags to your advantage: Hashtags will be your new best friend, but only if you use them appropriately. One thing I’m telling you to NOT do is randomly hashtag words that will provide you with little return. #Some #words #should #never #be #hashtags. Get my drift? Instead, do your research like you would for any other client account. While you’re searching for the most-used hashtags, make sure you check the related hashtags as well. You never know what hashtags you aren’t thinking of!

Tip: For the hashtags you use on a regular basis, make a note in you phone and simply copy and paste them into the first comment under your photo. Not only will the note trick save you time, but putting the list of hashtags in the first comment will make your feed look more clean and will be hidden after you receive several comments!

3. Be social!: Like any social network, don’t just post your own content– engage with others! I try to comment on at least 5-10 photos a day. This will help you build your following and allows you to connect with other accounts that are similar to yours. Also, take the time to respond if one of your followers comments on your photo.

With these three tips, you’ll be an Instagram expert in no time!

Social Media Tips in Time for the Holidays

With the holiday season well underway, social media becomes the vehicle for displaying holiday spirit. In a perfect world, there would be enough social content to avoid cross posting on social networks, however, more often than not my content cache leaves a lot to be desired. Posting the same image across social networks doesn’t always have to result in criticism and unfollows, if you tailor your post to the platform accordingly.

Like many dog moms during the holidays, I took Guinness to get his picture taken with Santa and wanted to share the experience with my friends and family online. Even though engagement metrics only serve as bragging rights on most personal social accounts, I still wanted to practice what I preach as a digital marketer, while posting the same image to three different mediums. To maximize your online efforts, it’s important to adapt your post to the medium. While similar in some respects, each social medium utilizes different features that enhance the platform appropriately.

The biggest criticism of cross posting between networks is the lazy impression it gives to your audience. It’s important to tailor your message to the appropriate channel to not only demonstrate you’re making the effort, but also to prevent using inappropriate jargon on the wrong medium. You wouldn’t tweet a full-length PR story 140 characters at a time or use “favorite” and “retweet” jargon on Facebook, so do not share your content to inapplicable mediums. Instead, speak to the network’s inherent purpose and adapt your content to the proper medium.

So how do you adapt one image to three social platforms?


Facebook: At first Guinness was clearly a little apprehensive about meeting a big, bearded man in a red suit (can’t image why), but he eventually warmed up to the holiday spirit. Merry Christmas, family and friends!

Twitter: Meeting Santa for the first time: the genuine photo vs. the Christmas card. #HappyHolidays #Christmas2015

Instagram: #MRW meeting a complete stranger in a big, red suit…until that stranger bribes me with dog treats and squeaky toys. #Christmas2015 #DogsofInstagram

As you can see, the same message was executed three different ways, based on the platform the image was posted to. Posting your image on different social channels increases the reach of your post and adapting the execution of the image to the channel, increases the likelihood of better post engagement. As much as I love my dog, I’m aware that no one wants to see the same image of Guinness with the same post copy three different times. Switch it up and get creative!

Happy holiday posting everyone!

True –ly Thankful

The older I get the more I appreciate and realize how much I love Thanksgiving Day and the holiday season that follows. It’s not about the physical gifts we give and receive on Christmas and Hanukkah. It’s about the gifts that people give of themselves, their skills, their time and their experience every day.

Personally, giving is very important to me. A kind word, a helping hand and yes, financial support can make all of the difference. It is also part of our culture at True Digital Communications. It’s how we work together and with our clients. It’s also why one of our core areas of expertise is working with not-for-profits. We help them embrace and understand digital communications so they can be successful in supporting their missions. We celebrate in their success too.

I have so much to be thankful for when I look at our team and the success we have enjoyed over the past 12 months and the previous five years. I firmly believe success doesn’t happen by accident and that you often create your own luck. I am very thankful to be surrounded by a team of talented, like-minded individuals who make me a better person and leader every day. I couldn’t do it without them.

Rarely are you lucky enough to work with a great team. It is even rarer to work with a partnership of people found all over the world. I am very thankful for our bigger team of partners in the Worldcom Public Relations Group. This partnership of 143 independent agencies, in 115 cities with more than 2,000 communications professionals working around the world is a big part of our success today and tomorrow. Through Worldcom, we help our clients and support them with services and intelligence we wouldn’t have otherwise. In return, we get to work with topnotch individuals who love what they do as much as we do. I don’t know of another business organization where everyone is so willing to pitch in and help one another or as appreciative for the help we give each other.

My goal for today and to every one who reads my thoughts is to make every day Thanksgiving. Be thankful for what you have. Be thankful for the friends and family in your life. It’s these relationships that truly define who you are and if you’re truly lucky, they will be just as thankful for you and you are for them.




The Season of Giving

Lifebanc_8k8days_FINAL29November is here and so is the season of giving! And with so many wonderful organizations to choose from,  it’s hard to pick where your charitable dollars should go.

This year, the True team has had the pleasure to help one of our clients, Lifebanc, with their year-end campaign. Lifebanc is located right in Northeast Ohio, only several minutes from our office to be exact, and is the non-profit responsible for raising awareness for organ, eye and tissue donation. We feel so grateful to work with a client where we get to help make a difference in the community we live and work!

Last year alone, Lifebanc saved and healed more than 9,372 lives and provided grief support services to 1,374 families in NEO who experienced the loss of a loved one.  Lifebanc also facilitates approximately 589 correspondences between donor families and recipients each year, which offers many amazing stories! Not to mention that Lifebanc staff and volunteers educate nearly 100,000 students and adults each year to help them make an informed decision when asked if they would like to be an organ donor.

Right now, we are halfway through the $8K in 8 Days campaign we created for Lifebanc. With multiple videos and branded graphics to compliment our social posts, we are hoping to receive $8,000 to help Lifebanc continue to serve the community in the best way possible.

So, no matter which organization you decide to donate your money to this year, know that you too can make a difference with even the smallest amount!

Click here to find out more about Lifebanc and the $8K in 8 Days campaign!

Google Adwords Features Make Ads A Bit More Personal

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The search and display advertising landscape is evolving. Simply connecting users to ads with keywords is a start. But as you learn more about your audience, the search landscape becomes more valuable. Google knows this too. Beyond the Swiss-army knife of tools already available in Adwords, there are a few new features to better connect segments of your audience to your message.

Customer Match

Your current customers and leads are often your most valuable assets as a marketer. Google’s customer match is devoted to helping you leverage those groups.

Advertisers can now display ads to Gmail users viewing sites within the Google Display Network (GDN). Facebook’s similar Custom Audience feature has been around for a while now, but Google’s new version comes with a few advantages and limitations compared to the social giant’s offering:


  • You need a big list. Google won’t display ads until you have 100 Gmail users. Even then, once you start applying other targeting (demographics, placements, interests – see benefit below) and factor in click-through rate, your audience can shrink quickly.
  • Google Display Network is big, but it’s not everything. Google claims it covers 90 percent of Internet users, but that doesn’t mean every site they use. So if you want to display on a specific domain, do your homework first.


  • You can reach 90 percent of Internet users! Maybe Facebook isn’t the best way to reach your audience. Maybe you can’t connect ads to a Facebook page to utilize the newsfeed. Customer Match ads won’t cover the whole Internet, but they extend beyond the confines of social media. Think trade media, medical industry, manufacturing. These subjects can be tough to address on social. GDN give much more flexibility in creating relevancy.
  • Similar to Facebook, you can combine your emails with a whole host of other targeting parameters. These parameters aren’t necessarily better than Facebook’s, just different. For example, on Facebook you know a user is interested in a topic, but on GDN you can combine that information with placement management that keeps your ads on highly relevant pages when you’re top of mind.

Remarketing for Search and Shopping

Remarketing for search has been around for a while, but remarketing for shopping users recently came out of Adwords beta test. These search-based tools are a silver-bullet if you understand your audience.

Marketing funnel insight

Users search multiple terms in multiple sessions over a long or short span of time. We’ve always known consistent visibility across the process is important, but we never had much ability to control it on an individual basis.

Full creative control

With search and shopping remarketing, we can apply the same marketing funnel rules from traditional remarketing. A user who added items to a cart should see different ads than a user who only viewed a features page. But there’s one additional layer of control that’s always escaped traditional remarketing: keyword control. With full insight into searcher intent, we call pull individuals through the marketing funnel in a couple new ways:

  • Review-based searches – Connect individuals with pages devoted to customer reviews when they want testimonials.
  • Comparative searches – When users are evaluating your solution against competitors, connect them to a side-by-side comparison. A lot of users will still look for a third-party opinion, but you can remain a part of the conversion.
  • Focus on margin – Specifically for shopping ads, we can now be picky about the users and products that use ad budget. Products with lower margins might receive less remarketing dollars so you can focus on areas with more potential.