More to Come

Collin’s Senior Project at True

image2For the past two weeks, True hosted a high school student for his senior mentorship project. Here’s a recap from Collin about his time at True! 

My first impression of True Digital Communications was not one of nervousness or intimidation. As I walked through the door and looked around I thought I would see a stereotypical office environment. I saw the exact opposite. Right away I felt welcomed and that my thoughts and ideas were going to be considered. True Digital Communications was the perfect place to do my Senior Mentorship Project. Before I started my work week I had a variety of criteria I was hoping to reach by the end of my two weeks. I reached and exceeded the goals I had established and took away much more information than I could have ever imagined.

At my first day at True Digital Communications customer service was a huge factor. The members of True are constantly thinking of the absolute best way to market or launch their client’s products or services. Constant monitoring of website analytics and client websites keep the members of True busy. Being exposed to a variety of different marketing techniques gave me a full range of different ideas and concepts that I had never been exposed to.

The moment for me to declare my degree is rapidly approaching. I was already going to decide on marketing as my field of study, but after this mentorship I am sure this is the type of field I want to be involved with. I aspire to work at a company like True for a variety of reasons. The first being that these team members give the utmost respect to their clients. Another reason is how the company will change its approach to fit the customer’s wants and needs. The last is that every day isn’t the same work day. It is always changing and the companies that are successful are changing as well. All of these points are just some of the reasons why I would like to get into marketing. My excellent experience at True has made me excited for what the future holds. I am beyond thankful for the opportunity Chris Baldwin and his team gave to me and I have absorbed as much of the information as I could.

Thank you True for making my Senior Project an exciting and pleasurable learning experience.

True Digital Communications Managing More Than $1 million in Digital Advertising Programs

We are pleased to announce a milestone in our business and value for our clients. True is now managing more than $1 million in digital advertising programs including Google and Facebook. Perhaps even more important, True is now a recognized Google Partner because of our long-term success with the Google Adwords and Analytics platforms. We invest in our people and their ongoing education and success to ensure we provide valuable insights and performance for our clients.

Our experience, knowledge and insights are producing great results for our clients. Talk to us and we can do the same for you.PartnerBadge-Horizontal

You’re a Marketing Professional – “Excel” Like One


Knowing how to click the green icon and open Excel is one thing. But sorting, tagging and synthesizing data to deliver real insight that affects strategy – well that’s something else entirely.

Excel offers tons of tools and functions a mile long for pros that take the time to learn the software. My motto is: If you think Excel can do it, it can. But before you can go full data sorcerer, there are a few building blocks that will make you smarter, better, faster, stronger.

Use Tables

Any data that will (1) have columns added or deleted, (2) be sorted and/or (3) be kept long-term, immediately create a table. It’s two clicks. Highlight the data, and create a table. This will make your life easier in two ways:

  1. Easy data manipulation through sorting and filtering tools
  2. Your rows will always stay true through sorting and filtering

Two is especially important. You have to tell Excel that all your rows of data need to stay consistent. Tables are a signal that all those relationships are important.

Tip: If your data already has a header row, bold the header values. This indicates to Excel that these values should be column headers. Otherwise you might end up with new row titles for Column1, Column2, etc. and your actual header will be included in the data set.

Renaming cells (less commonly used tool)

For templates and other sheets that are often reused, you can identify a name for a specific cell. Instead of “B4” you can refer to the cell as “total.” The same naming can be used for columns and tables.

To name cells:

  • Highlight the cell, column or table you would like to rename
  • To the left of the function toolbar, you will see a value (likely the cell location – i.e. B4)
  • Rename the value


Tagging is the most efficient method for categorizing data. Some people use color coding or bolding or character strings like “REMEMBER THIS” to tag or call attention to specific information. The problem with these methods is there is no standard way to interpret the notes as the data is used in other tools and Excel features like pivot tables.

A common method, like creating new tags for each element of categorization, will keep your whole team on the same page and make the data easy to work with. At True, we use a common practice when we create any new report that will be saved long-term:

  • Insert 2 columns at the beginning of the worksheet
  • Fill in headers if you know how you are tagging data
  • Use Tag1 and Tag2 if you don’t yet know the designation of the column head

Note: If your tag columns are in a table you can quickly sort by any value in the table to quickly tag a whole subset of data.

Cleaning data

No need to sugarcoat it. You have to spend time cleaning up your data. Extra characters, misspellings, duplicate data, unnecessary information and other junk are always an issue. But the following three tools can save you a lot of time. 

  • Remove duplicates
    • In the “data” tab, find the “remove duplicates” button
    • Choose a column or columns in which Excel should look for duplicates
    • Complete process
    • Tip: Removing duplicates one column at a time makes it easy to manage the process
  • Find and replace
    • Use the dropdown next to the search box in the top right of the screen
    • Choose the replace options
    • Replace text with new text in an effort to create consistency
    • Replace text with no text to simply delete


  • Text to columns – delete columns
    • Often there is a single character that separates important info from info you would like to remove (i.e. a column of image names with different file extensions – .png .jpg. gif). This feature allows you to quickly separate info you want to delete
    • Create new columns for as many fields as you intend to split the data
    • In the “data” tab, click “Text to Columns”
    • In the first box choose the “delimited” option and click next
    • Choose the character Excel will use to identify column widths. Use “other” for other characters
    • Click next and review your new columns structure
    • Complete the process
    • Delete the columns containing information you don’t need

Bonus Tip: Keyboard shortcuts

If you spend any time in Excel, these keyboard shortcuts will save you loads of save.

  • Command + Shift + [arrow key] – highlight everything from point of orientation to the last cell containing a value in that direction
  • Command + [arrow key] – go to the last column in the series with a value, or skip to the new column with a value
  • Command + A – Select everything in the table or all cells in the series with a value
  • Function + Delete – Clear values in all highlighted cells

Author: Tyler Norris [Google+]




Chatbooks- My Latest Obsession

Chatbooks-White-and-Green-400x246Do you love taking photos and sharing them on Instagram? If you follow me, you know that I post at least once a day, if not more! And with all of the social media platforms available today, I can honestly say that Instagram is my app of choice.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a really awesome app called Chatbooks. Chatbooks is a service that links to your Instagram account and every time you share 60 photos, a new Chatbook is produced and sent to your home. The best part- the books only cost $6 and the shipping is free! You also have the ability to remove certain photos you may not want printed in your Chatbook- and you can also see the date, location and caption if you choose!

Chatbooks are great not only for individuals, but could also be a fun way for your clients to share their photos. You can also add contributors to your Chatbooks, which would be great for getting multiple perspectives at big events. At True, we have several clients who use Instagram as part of their social media strategy, documenting daily happenings, big events and posting inspirational photos. What better way to showcase a brand than with Chatbooks containing your own photos?

We want to know: What’s your Instagram strategy? Could you see yourself (or clients) using Chatbooks?

Author: Allison Ewing[Google+]




With Social Media, Aim for Quality Over Quantity

In November, Facebook eliminated “like-gates,” the practice of requiring users to “like” a page in order to participate in a contest or access exclusive content.

In December the “Instagram Rapture” removed millions of fake accounts and sent the follower counts for the heaviest users – including Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian – plummeting overnight.

Most recently, Facebook took steps to remove voluntarily deactivated or memorialized accounts from pages’ “like” counts, causing a smaller scale drop in likes for many brand pages, including several pages we manage.

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 12.07.52 PM

Facebook’s change makes sense; after all, it’s meant to take users who no longer use Facebook out of the equation and it’s an extension of policies already in place that remove likes and comments from inactive users from individual posts.

It seems like every time a social media channel announces a clean-up effort, the changes prompt an online uproar from social media managers who live and die by their follower counts, along with an outpouring of articles on how to survive under the new rules. Want our advice? Stop worrying about short-term shifts in the numbers and instead focus on building a quality social media following.

Cleaning out inactive accounts– and certainly fake, spammy accounts – makes it easier for marketers and social media managers to build a profile of their true followers and engage with people who want to hear from their brand. It makes targeting tools like Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences more accurate. And, frankly, it makes social media more enjoyable to use when you’re not constantly monitoring your accounts for computer-generated comments and spammy posts.

So if all the social media housecleaning had a major impact on your online following, give us a call. We’re happy to talk about long-term strategies for building an audience that will stick around to hear what you have to say.

Office Yoga

Let’s face it: work can be stressful sometimes. Add that on top of sitting at a desk all day, and you have a recipe for stiff muscles that are begging to be stretched. This past January, I completed my 200-hour yoga teacher training program. I could go on and on about the benefits of yoga: increased flexibility, decreased stress levels, increased muscle tone and so on, but I’ll save that for another day. However, you may be thinking, “How does yoga relate to a marketing blog?” Let me explain.2015-03-12_0001

How many times during your 9-5 job do you move in an hour? Not a lot, right? It’s easy to get caught up in emails, media pitches and social media posts and before you know it, it’s noon and you haven’t stood up for 3 hours. If this sounds like you- keep reading!

What better way to combat excessive sitting for long periods of time? You guessed it: yoga! Doing the following easy moves at your desk will keep your muscles happy and will probably help your mood throughout your day!

Gentle Twist: What better way to keep your spine happy then with a nice, gentle twist. Use your chair to help you get into the pose. With each inhale, lengthen your spine and with each exhale, see if you can’t twist just a little bit deeper!

Backbend: Inhale your arms up high, clasping the hands together and interlacing the fingers if possible. This is a great counter-pose for the hunched back we tend to deal with when typing at the computer all day. Keep breathing!

Forward Fold: This can be done seated or standing- whichever you prefer. Either way, fold forward over your legs and let your head and neck hang heavy. Feel free to rock from side to side if that feels nice! Also, if you’re standing, but find your hamstrings are tight, go ahead and bend your knees as much as you need to!

Supported Headstand (Bonus Pose): Please note that you MAY get funny looks from your co-workers when you randomly break into a headstand at the wall. But, if you can get past the stares, the benefits to this pose are certainly worth it.

So, there you have it! Five simple yoga poses you can do throughout the work day to help make you feel great!



Google Analytics Cohort Analysis; Overview and Offline Conversion Tracking

You may have noticed the new Cohort Analysis report in Google Analytics recently. Most of our clients have access to the new feature, but it looks like Google is still rolling it out to all users. We always get excited for shiny new charts, but this one could have a much bigger impact on your reporting and Google Analytics’ overall reporting power.

Google Analytics Cohort Analysis

So what is cohort analysis? It’s not just a report that Google invented. It’s been used in marketing analytics for a while as a way to look beyond sessions and conversions, which can sometimes be one-dimensional, and see trends in how a user interacts overtime. The standard, textbook definition you’ll commonly read is: the behavior of a group of users defined by a common attribute and represented by a common metric.

So what can we do with that? The cohort analysis report defaults to user retention (metric) by day (size). Right now the only “Cohort Type” is “Acquisition Date,” which is a fancy way of saying the date of the first visit. This chart and graph show the percentage of users who return to your site one day after the acquisition date, two days after, three days after, etc., etc. This can be a very valuable report if your website is heavily content driven. How many people are coming back for new blog posts, webinars and white papers? You can change the metric to see how session duration and pages per session change with visits over time. This version of the report also makes a lot of sense if you’re a SaaS provider, tracking an app or generally provide a web-based solution. How many people come back, reengage and continue using the service? You can filter these users by specific channels or content types (using advanced segments) to get a measure of where your best customers originate.

But there are also some pretty interesting ways you can use the tool to uncover new info on your conversion funnel.

Shed light on offline conversions

We work with a non-ecommerce site that uses a free sample request as a primary call to action. Users get the sample and then go to a dealer to make the final purchase. Because most of the resulting steps happen offline, it’s difficult to tell which users are purchasing and which drop out after receiving a sample. This is where cohort analysis comes in. We can filter our cohorts by converters (by adding an advanced segment) to see when and how often these converters come back to the site and reengage. In other words, this can tell us how long it takes a user to research and narrow their consideration set.


We found found large clusters of users returning to the site after three to five weeks. It may seem like a long time, but the product is a relatively significant and expensive B2B purchase with multiple SKU options and several internal and external audiences who consult in the final decision. When you add all these factors to the shipping time, it’s not unreasonable to assume it takes roughly a month to narrow a consideration set or make a decision.

Cohort analysis alone is not the solution. We need to combine this info with other Google Analytics reports to tell the whole story, but it uncovers part of an ongoing mystery about our offline conversions. Now, we can take a deeper look at how converters come back to the site, what pages they view and what indicates they’re moving closer to purchase. More importantly, this can inform other parts of our marketing. We can find the best time to email users who requested samples or adapt our remarketing program to ensure we’re displaying the right message (based on pages users view when they return) at the right time (when they return). We can even redesign sample packaging to provide more relevant information when the package arrives, shortening the overall time to purchase.

What does this say about Google Analytics?

When Google made the switch to Universal Analytics, we knew the user-based approach would have a lot of benefits. Cohort analysis is one of the first reports to lean heavily on the tool’s ability to accurately track users. As the tool moves out of beta, we hope to see more cohort types and other user-based reports. So be on the lookout for new reports and tools!

The Science of Copywriting

Let’s talk about your copy. Search, display, social, email, landing page – doesn’t matter. First of all, I’m sure it’s great. Your copywriter knows the audience and the writing is effective. But here’s the question… could it be better? If not, return to Facebook and go about your day. Now, if you feel there’s some room for improvements, let’s talk.

What could be better?

Could you use a more engaging tone? Are your key messages effective? Are you asking users to read too much or do they want to know more?

There are a lot of variables at work. Most marketers view copywriting as a left-brain activity, but when we isolate these individual factors, we can introduce a touch of right- brain that connects your copy to your goals. So what’s the answer?

A/B testing.

I know, I know. Calm down and let me explain; It’s more than a buzzword. Marketers generally have one of two thoughts about A/B testing.

  1. Crippling fear of numbers
  2. Passive nodding because you get it and you’re a pro

I say to both of you: A/B testing can be incredibly easy and incredibly easy to overcomplicate. For us, it comes down to three considerations: Isolate, tag and test. Remember those three things and you’re well on your well to better conversion rates.



When you look at copywriting as a sacred, creative process that must be organic, it’s hard to isolate. And it makes sense – like colors and brushstrokes in a painting, all these factors work together to make a final product. But when you take a step back, it’s still just brushstrokes and colors. What if this stroke was broader or that color was brighter? Pick one area that may be weak, and try something new.



Naming convention is crucial to testing. As campaigns get more and more complex, we need short-hand to keep track. Your ads, emails and pages all have a lot of elements. For example, you have email campaigns that address several audiences and you want to test a call to action (CTA). Try something like:


Now we can test the following CTAs and clearly determine the winner. More importantly we can test as many CTAs as we want over the next year. As long as we are consistent, we always have clear data.

  • 078-WestCoastDealers-Spring2015sale-BuyNowCTA
  • 078-WestCoastDealers-Spring2015sale-LearnMoreCTA


This can be the tricky part. How do you implement the test. For landing pages, Google Analytics has a tool that will automatically serve your test pages. Some email systems link MailChimp and ExactTarget have the feature already built in. And any good ad platform allows you to ad and test a lot of variations.

Social media can be a little more difficult to run a test because we don’t want to post the same thing over and over again. There are ways to adapt your content calendar to test a single variable over time. More on that another time.

One last caution: sample size. The goal is a sample large enough for statistical significance. I know audience size doesn’t always allow for a large enough sample. So when you’re dealing with smaller numbers, tread lightly. Feel free to reach out for more on that one (don’t want to bore all these copywriters with too many numbers).

But for now – go forth! Isolate, tag and test!



How Are Those New Year’s Resolutions Coming Along?

newyearIf your New Year’s resolutions have already fallen by the wayside, you’re in good company. Every year, 45% of Americans make resolutions and 92% of those fail to keep them. If personal improvement seems like too lofty a goal for 2015, why not apply a few of the most common resolutions to your blog instead?

Resolution #1: Lose Weight/Get Fit
Getting rid of the extra weight on your blog will help your pages load faster and create a better user experience. High resolution images and WordPress plugins are two of the most common causes of slow page load. Trim the fat by reducing image size and resolution before you upload, rather than relying on HTML scaling to display images at the proper side. Take a look at your list of plugins and remove any that aren’t absolutely necessary, and look for plugins that can do double duty.

Resolution #2: Get Organized
If you’ve been adding categories and tags to your blog posts without any real strategy, chances are you’ve created quite a bit of content clutter in the process. Take some time to clean house. Decide on a manageable set of categories that encompass the types of content you typically write and consolidate posts into those categories. Clean up tags, too. If you have multiple versions of the same tag with capital letters, no capital letters, plural versions and singular versions, decide on a tag strategy and weed out all the stragglers.

Resolution #3: Reduce Stress
Developing a content calendar is the number one way to avoid spending 20 minutes staring at a blank screen because it’s 4 p.m., you need to write something and you’re fresh out of ideas. Plan ahead. Use that list of categories you cleaned up in resolution #2 and brainstorm post ideas for each one. Set up a tentative schedule for at least a month’s worth of content and try to build up a cache of finished posts, whether that means working a week or two ahead on your calendar or creating a handful of “evergreen” posts that you can rely on for blogging emergencies.

The year is still young. Take the rest of January to make a plan and implement a few changes, and you can join that smug 8% of resolution-makers who actually succeed!

Free Kittens – What’s in a title? Everything.


Pictured from left to right: Molly & Vito- Allison’s adorable kittens!

In our ADD-stricken lifestyle where we can’t be bothered to read more than a smartphone screen’s worth of information, a good title is more important than ever before. While titles have always needed to be attention grabbing to pull readers into an article, it was Twitter that really changed the game. Twitter forced us all to step up our creative game since the title or lead is the only words that show in Twitter.

I’m seeing the trend continue on Facebook where headlines are all competing for my time and attention. Here’s what’s on my Facebook feed right now:

25 Hilariously Awkward Texts Only a Mom Could Send from Distractify – I wonder if any of my mom’s text messages made this list? Probably.

10 Habits that are Killing your Productivity from Business Insider – I’m guessing that reading Facebook and getting sucked in by the headlines is one of them.

11 Health Problems Hidden on Your Face from The Weather Channel – Okay, the headline didn’t get me as much as the source. Why is the Weather Channel reporting on health issues?

Why are you So Damned Scared of Nipples from Huffington Post – Is it wrong to admit that I’m bummed this is a podcast and there are no pictures? I never thought I was afraid of nipples. Must find out why I am now.

Who needs pick up lines when you have this sweater from Awkward Family Photos – I don’t even have to read; just look at pictures? Sold!

Beagle siblings team up to fight a toy snake from Mashable – Don’t get me started on puppies. Only possible better headline would be Pug Puppies or cats, which of course rule the Internet. I just can’t say no to a cute, little puppy.

So the next time you’re working on a blog post or article, spend time on your headline and include attention-grabbing words. Remember, you had me at “kittens.”