AUTHOR’S POST-PUBLICATION NOTE: As of April 2022, I no longer support or recommend the use of Google Analytics and for details as to why that is, check out episode 53 “Why I Un-Installed Google Analytics (And Why You May Want To Follow My Lead”. For analytics software options I do recommend, there’s episode 54, “How To Ethically Track Your Visitors”.
This is episode 33 of Season 2 for the OMGrowth podcast.
Some of the most tried and true strategies of the online business world are about to be tired and played out… and I don’t think that going to be a problem for you!
In our first 2 episodes on this series about all the shifts that are happening with personal data and information and how it’s impacting the way you are able to market yourself online, we talked about why it’s happening and what strategies we can take to move through and adapt, so if you haven’t listened to episodes 31 and 32, I would suggest you go back and start there before leaning into this episode.
Because today, we’re talking about what you’re going to have to do – or at least shift – if you want your online business to be relevant 2 years from now. The writing is on the wall – and it has been on the wall – and these are some strategies you’ve been having to rely on less but it will become increasingly difficult for you to hold onto.
I’m not a legal professional and I’m not going to give you legal advice on this matter but I’m happy to point you towards affordable professionals who can.
American-based resources can be found here and Canadian-based resources can be found here.*
But as an online business owner, you have a legal obligation to inform your visitors what information you are collecting, using, storing and sharing. And if you’re saying “Lanie, I don’t share personal information”, you ARE if you have anything like the Facebook pixel on your site because that pixel is essentially allowing Facebook to collect, use and store what is happening on the site you’ve installed it on.
Same deal goes for your opt-ins: don’t act like a gross, grope-y frat boy stereotype in a bad 80s movie, fondling anyone checking you out. Get consent to people opting into your email list. Even if you don’t live in the EU, getting GDPR-compliant is a smooth move that will most likely make you data-compliant once privacy laws ARE enforced on you… which, as we’ve discussed, is inevitable.
Not sure if you are GDPR-compliant? I’m certain your email marketing provider has documentation on this available to you so check that out.
UPGRADE GOOGLE ANALYTICS
If you’re using Google Analytics, another “must-have” is the new version of Google Analytics called GA4. If you’ve been online for a minute, you probably have the version called Universal Analytics installed but at this point, you want to have BOTH versions of Google Analytics installed on your website and its asset like your sales pages.
Why? Because these are different data models. Which is a fancy way of saying they’re not even measuring the same thing and you will not be able to transfer the data – your past website visitor information – from one platform to another.
The difference between Universal Analytics and GA4 is the equivalent of planning a road trip where one person is counting in hours and the other person is counting in miles or kilometers; it’s similar but you’re talking about and measuring two totally different sets of information.
And the difference is that while Universal Analytics is focused on “hits” and pageviews – like, if you remember those like pageview counter from back in the day of your Geocities account, these metrics are exactly as out-dated as that! – so we’re moving towards those engagement metrics we talked about last week where things like clicks and events are being prioritized.
Now, the Google powers that be are still working on GA4 – there are still a lot of improvements and features being worked on at this point – and most analysts are still using the Universal version for reporting; but the benefit of installing GA4 on your website now is that when it is ready for its close-up, you’ll have all kinds of retroactive data collected because you had the sense to install it onto your website early.
FOCUS ON TRENDS OVER NUMBERS
Now, I mentioned those old school pageview counters we used to slap onto our websites to essentially provide new visitors with social proof that our stuff is worth seeing. Those vanity numbers used to matter – like, a lot! – but everyone and everything is moving away from attributing value to those numbers. I mean, even social media platforms like Instagram – arguably the pinnacle of fronting social proof! – doesn’t show the number of likes anymore.
Using your numbers to identify trends is more meaningful than the value of the numbers.
Your online performance is not like your accountant or bookkeeper; the accuracy and specifics don’t matter nearly as much as gearing that information towards increasing engagement and decision-making.
I mean, we still have a version of those old school pageview counters, right? You’ve seen them where you visit a sales page and there’s this modest little pop-up saying “Sally from Syracuse just signed up for this thing” and a second it’s “Mona from Milwaukee just signed up for this thing”.
Social proof is no longer built through likes and hits; your social clout now gets built through creating connections between yourself and other people.
If you’ve been playing it where you’ve been prioritizing your online business as “a numbers game”, consider asking yourself how you can humanize the experience you’re offering to those said numbers because your relevancy in the very near future will depend on it.
Which brings us to how you’re targeting people – and yes, even though we tend to use less flattering words like “users” or “conversions” or “leads”, it remains that what we are talking about here are PEOPLE – and those who start acting like it will reap a bigger slice of the pie.
Expect to see ON-SITE RETARGETING become a bigger deal. You can use services like Opt-In Monster to track your on-site behaviours – and this uses first-party cookies so this is totally legit – and you can target and engage your visitors based on how THEY are engaging with your site.
Say someone is looking at your Thanksgiving decorations post or video, you could target someone who is 30 seconds into that engaged activity with a pop-up that says, “hey! Since you’re digging this, maybe you want to join us for our holiday dinner prep workshop next week.”
You can apply similar strategies with on-site bots and intercoms. And yes, of course everyone knows these are automated tools, but when they’re used efficiently and intentionally, they can be used to build that clairvoyant “I know what you’d like next” feeling… but the sun is setting on the days of pay-and-spray days of generic mass advertising.
Let’s summarize today’s talk with a checklist because even though I’ve gone on for the last 10 minutes or so validating the importance of making these shifts, it’s just a few boxes for you to check off so let’s summarize and frame it as such, shall we?
- Make sure you’re GDPR compliant in the way you’re collecting email addresses. You can inquire with your email marketing provider to ask how you can do this using their specific systems so there doesn’t have to be any guesswork involved. Again, there are an ever-increasing number of international data compliance laws being implemented every single week, but GDPR was the first “big gun” out there and it’s robust enough that if you’re complying to it, you’re likely going to be in line with anything else being put out there.
- Add GA4 TRACKING to your site and its assets as soon as possible but keep Google Analytics’ Universal Analytics on your website in the meantime. I have videos guiding you through how to do and verify this over at omgrowth.com but this is kind of like how people say they wished they had invested in Apple in 80s or in Bitcoin when it was $1; GA4 is the future of every data-driven decision you’ll soon make so set yourself up for that success now.
- Focus on and value TRENDS over numbers. Because when it comes to analyzing your online performance, the numbers themselves carry way less weight than WHAT the numbers are telling you about your online performance. If you haven’t already, let this be your reminder that vanity metrics aren’t anywhere near as valuable as growth and engagement metrics.
- And finally, remember WHOSE NEEDS COME FIRST… and the answer isn’t you! Yes, you want people to revisit your sales page, you want people to sign up to your email list and you want people to look at and share your content…. but it’s up to you to personalize their experience and give them a reason – and connection! – to your brand.
I know change means more work but frankly, we as human beings need this work. You deserve to be protected and treated like a human being, even online. And that’s what all these changes are about.
Consent is never an ugly word.
I encourage you to reframe these changes as an opportunity – your opportunity – to be a champion for human rights, consent and behaving ethically in the online business world.
And if there’s anything I can do to support you, leave a comment on an Instagram post or slip into my DMs @omgrowth because while I like to say I’ve always got you, I’ve got your back extra hard on this one!
Subscribe to the podcast, share it with your friends and next week, oh, we’re answering one of your most burning questions…. “What exactly do I do on a CEO Day?” Get your bossy pants dry-cleaned and pressed, boss, because we’re wearing the heck out of them next week but until then, you know how to reach me and I hope you do – talk soon, baiieeee!!
*This post contains affiliate links for products I know, use and recommend.i