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Why is Sharp Ahead sponsoring MeasureCamp?

By John Woods  |  May 12, 2022

The MeasureCamp unconference

Sharp Ahead is proudly sponsoring the MeasureCamp unconference in London on 15th May 2022 https://london.measurecamp.org/.

MeasureCamp is an “unconference” – free to attend and self-organising – for the digital analytics community.

It’s an amazing event with around 300 digital analytics practitioners expected to attend, many travelling from overseas. The presentations will range from deeply technical (such as how to manage the upcoming switch from Universal Analytics to GA4), to quirky (like my own, on the relevance of WW2 photographic reconnaissance to the management of digital analytics!).

But why is a B2B digital marketing agency like Sharp Ahead sponsoring a digital analytics event?

It’s personal…

Many of you will know me as a pioneer from the early days of digital analytics industry. And in fact the digital analytics company I founded, Site Intelligence/iJento, was a sponsor of the very first MeasureCamp, in London in September 2012. Here’s a terrible 2012-era phone photo to prove it:

So it’s a nice symmetry for me to be a sponsor again in the tenth anniversary year. And I’ve benefitted so much from MeasureCamp over the years – making new contacts and friends, honing my technical skills around digital analytics and conversion optimisation, sparking new ideas – that it is great to give something back to the MeasureCamp community.

…but it is also business

It is true that I have two decades’ experience in digital analytics, and I still work in part as an analytics practitioner, but my work these days is much more broadly-based. When I co-founded Sharp Ahead in 2014 I had a vision that analytics skills and techniques could be put to use in an agile way, in combination with a more general commercial and marketing skillset, to design and optimise digital activities for specialist B2B companies.

That vision came true, I guess! Today, Sharp Ahead actively uses digital analytics every day as one of many techniques to design and improve digital marketing campaigns. I’m one of the team’s analytics experts but several of my colleagues are pretty handy with analytics technology as well. We also work with PPC, SEO, content marketing, marketing automation and CRO, amongst others, to help our clients achieve cost-effective results. Our team also includes designers, copywriters and website builders.

Sharp Ahead looks to work with smart generalists who enjoy using a range of skills to find the best ways to grow our clients’ businesses. I’m pleased that digital analytics still plays a big part in our work, but just as excited about the other elements of expertise that we are able to blend together in our clients’ projects.

We’re growing and looking for new clients, new team members and new partnerships. And we know that the MeasureCamp event and the community around it will be a great place to find them.

Check back on our blog soon for a report from the event. And whether you are attending MeasureCamp or not: if you know of B2B companies who might benefit from our skills, if you know of smart digital marketers looking to work in a great B2B agency, or if you have other ideas how we might work together I’d love to hear from you. Or we can just chat about WW2 photographic reconnaissance!

You can find me on LinkedIn linked.com/in/jwoods or fill in our contact form.

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Google Analytics 4: what you need to know today

By John Woods  |  November 5, 2020

In October, Google announced the introduction of Google Analytics 4, their first major change to Analytics in almost 10 years. The move formalises the beta version of Google Analytics App plus Web with a new interface and machine learning.

Here’s what you need to know:

The first thing you’ll notice when entering Google Analytics 4 is a sleek and modern interface. The redesign makes it easier to use and more accessible than its predecessor, Universal Analytics.

Behind the design, GA4 introduces a major expansion to the machine learning capabilities in Google’s analytics offering. While it is still too early to fully understand GA4’s potential, it’s an exciting addition.
GA4 also sees a complete re-haul of the data collection architecture.

With more apps, web apps, ecommerce stores, and complex websites circling the Google-sphere, GA4 looks to plug the hole in Google’s offering by collecting data on the complex user journeys in apps and highly interactive websites with minimal set up.

The clunky Goal Tracking in Universal Analytics has been removed to make way for simple-to-set-up Event and Conversion tracking. This allows user behaviour such as logging in or browsing products to be recognised easily.

But there is a catch.

GA4 is so fundamentally different to Universal Analytics that it requires adding a new tag to your website. And with it, a fresh start on Analytics.

Google has made finding the new tag super easy, but when you add it to your website, your GA4 dashboard will be blank. You’ll need to start afresh collecting data from the moment you set up the new tag.

Thankfully, adding the GA4 tag to your website doesn’t stop Universal Analytics from working – the two run in tandem. But with GA4 eventually looking to replace Universal Analytics entirely, and with no clear way to migrate data (yet), we recommend adding the GA4 tag soon so you can build up historic data when the change does come.

We don’t currently know when Google will start decommissioning Universal Analytics, but with historical data being a pivotal factor in how useful analytics is, you’ll need to prepare.

What to do next:
  • Add the GA4 Tag to your website
  • Recreate your remarketing audiences in GA4 so they can start to build up
  • Add event and conversion tracking
  • Set up Google Tag Manager (not required but best practice)

In the meantime, we’ll keep an eye out for more information on GA4 and the future of Analytics. Please follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter to stay in the know!

summer holidays
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Preparing for the Summer Holidays

By Jennifer Esty  |  June 30, 2017

Despite the weather outside, summer is nearly here, and you may be looking forward to a break abroad, or even taking your chances here in the UK (with umbrellas and cagoules at the ready).  But who is looking after your digital marketing while you’re away?

If you have an agency helping you out, you might not be too worried. However, if you’re looking after it on your own, or with a small team – some of whom are also on holiday – there are a few things you can do to make sure all the hard work of the past few months isn’t compromised by a week or two away…

Using AdWords?

If you have Google AdWords campaigns running, download the Google AdWords app (not AdWords Express). This handy app gives you top-line campaign information including:

  • Stats
  • Bids and budgets
  • Real-time alerts and notifications
  • Call a Google expert
  • Act on suggestions to improve your campaigns

Schedule Your Content

Not all of your potential customers will be on holiday, so don’t let your content go stale while you are away. You can schedule content for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media platforms.

There are loads of tools you can use, including HootSuite, Sprout Social and TweetDeck.

Also, make sure you’re promoting an appropriate CTA—don’t offer a free trial sign up if there aren’t enough staff around to actually set up the free trials!

Using Facebook

With Facebook Pages Manager you can view and respond to comments and private messages from your phone (as well as see Page Insights), and Facebook Adverts Manager allows you to edit your ads and budgets, get notifications of when ads are finishing and keep an eye on your spending.

(I’ve yet to find a good app for managing LinkedIn advertising, please get in touch if you find one!)

Still Send Emails

Most email platforms will allow you to send emails scheduled for a specific time. Marketing automation platforms also allow you set up automatic email sends based on user behaviour. So you don’t need to stop your lead nurturing over the holiday period whilst you’re at that barbecue or lying on the beach…

Think About Your Website

As with email, most content management systems (CMS) have an option to schedule content. Nothing screams ‘I’ve gone on holiday and don’t care about you right now’ like outdated seasonal content on your site.

If your website CMS doesn’t have a schedule function, consider putting your best performing content on the homepage whilst you’re away, or at least don’t leave up information about an out-of-date event during your break.

Budgets

Use the budgeting functionality on your paid media platforms to ensure you don’t overspend while you’re away. If your business is seasonal, have a quick look at last year’s performance; and if it’s not, a quick look at last month’s, to determine your maximum exposure.

The main platforms all have daily budgets as part of standard set up, but AdWords and Bing also offer decent monthly budgeting functionality for those longer holidays.

Analytics

Google also offers a Google Analytics app which is reasonably good for basic monitoring and will allow you to at least get a high-level view of your activity, especially useful for answering ‘quick’ questions from your MD whilst you’re away.

Again, keep in mind seasonality and remember many sensible people like you will also be on holiday so volume (though hopefully not performance) may dip.

Finally… Check with Your Sales Team

Make sure there is a plan in place to deal with inbound leads. If you have a small sales team who are also on holiday, make sure someone will be monitoring the group email address and the phone won’t be going unanswered.

If unfortunate scheduling means there will be days when no one can manage calls from prospects, or customers for that matter, consider enlisting the help of a call handling agency to get you through the holiday season.

lead generation
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Lead generation CRO for niche B2B propositions: how to shoot in the dark

By Jennifer Esty  |  February 21, 2017

Join Sharp Ahead’s very own Dr John Woods at Conversion World 2017 on March 10 at 17:45.

John joins a stellar lineup of CRO specialists during the two day virtual conference.

He will be discussing how to optimise your B2B marketing when you’re targeting a niche audience, including:

  • Why b2b and b2c optimisation are different
  • How to succeed at b2b optimisation
  • How web analytics can still be relevant for b2b

Register for Conversion World 2017

Attending the event is free and places are still available. Register here.

If you can’t make the event but would like us to send you a recording of John’s talk, just let us know.

london
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Speaking at eMetrics London 2016

By John Woods  |  September 23, 2016

I’m thrilled to be a speaker at eMetrics London 2016. eMetrics has been running since 2002 and is one of the most prestigious digital analytics conferences. I’ve been an attendee before and my former company Site Intelligence was a sponsor of a number of the early events, but this is my first time as an invited speaker!

eMetrics London is part of a wider Data Driven Business conference which also covers conversion optimisation, email innovation and other topics.

The subject of my talk is “Lessons from history: what can WWII photographic reconnaissance teach us about how to manage digital analytics in a modern organisation?”. It’s a little quirky…

Please say hello if you come to the conference.