Inspire – Design – Create

This post is about getting set up with two incredibly useful tools; Google Calendar, Google Docs and gmail.

Google Calendar allows you to have a calendar that syncs with most mobile phones, can subscribe and share event information with other calendars, sends reminders and notices and is completely free.

Google Docs allows you to create and manage documents online, including spreadsheets and forms, you can share them with others and it keeps a complete revision history.  Again all free.

GMail is old-hat these days, but when combined with these other two, it allows you to connect contacts to appointments, sync contacts to your android phone and desktop automagically, and Google has been adding new features.

The first step is to create a google account to use calendar, docs, etc…this also has the benefit of giving you access to google analytics (as discussed in our getting started with Google Analytics article).

Here’s what you can do with a Google Account:

  • Access free Google products (i.e.  iGoogle, Picasa Web Albums, Blogger, orkut, Google Groups, and so much more)
  • Add a Gmail address to your Google Account (does not affect your existing account but adds features)
  • Use Google AdWords and Google Checkout

This doesn’t have to be a gmail account, but those are free, easy to forward to another box, and make a few things easier, so the instructions on those are below as well.  The link to create a new google account is:

That form is pretty straight-forward.  You do not need a gmail account to create a google account, you can use your current email.  Fill in the form, you’ll get an activation email sent to the email address used.

Once you get the activation email, and click the link in it, you’ll be able to add your mobile number if you like – that’s useful especially if you have a Droid phone!  Either click “Manage my account settings.” on that validation page, or just go to to sign in to your account with your email address and password.

You will see the Google account services window:

Google Account Interface

We are going to set-up Google Calendar and GMail first – remember that although you already have an email account, having GMail will allow you to use GMail contacts, which will sync with your android phone automatically (as will calendar).

Google Calendar

Click on the link on the bottom that says “More” – that will take you to the huge list of free Google Apps you just got for yourself.  On the right-hand side there is an area entitled “Communicate, Show & Share”

Google Apps List

We will talk more about all of these tools, because they are incredibly useful, but for now, on the right hand side, click “Calendar” which will lead you to the first of the Calendar set-up pages:

Google Calendar CreationFill in your name fields, location, and DO select the right time zone, that’s important for getting appointments right and sharing across calendars.  The next screen you see will be your calendar.  We will do a separate post on using Google Calendar to highlight some of the features and settings, for now, you are set-up.  Try clicking on a date and time – that will let you create your first event.

Configuring GMail for Contact Use

Ok, now lets get GMail set up for contact use, so you can add contacts and link them to appointments.  To keep this simple, click on the word “Mail” on the upper left:

Click on "Mail" to get to GMail

Which will take you to the GMail setup screen.  Again, its a form, pretty straightforward – but here, I highly suggest you click the “Check Availability” button to save yourself some time.  You’re going to have to pick something that is unique.  For example, “” is already taken.

Click "Check Availability" when signing up with GMail.

The password field should be filled in with the Google Account password you just set-up.  The next step is an account verification step where you can get a phone call or a text message to verify.  Email allows too much fraud on free accounts, so tolerate this with some pride knowing Google’s at least trying to provide good anti-fraud practices.

Oh, and you will have to enter the verification code they give you, so if you pick phone call, grab a pad and pen.

Once you enter the verification code, you will see an entry-way page to your new GMail account.  You can spend some time with those videos and instructions, or just click “Show me my account” and get going.

Now, as promised, here is a quick note on how to forward GMail to your original address, so you can just use contacts and don’t have to check GMail separately.

  1. On the upper right side, click on “Settings” to open the settings window
  2. Towards the center, in the first yellow/orange area, click on “Forwarding and POP/IMAP”
  3. Click the button that says “Add a forwarding address”
  4. Enter your original address into the pop-up field and click “Next”
  5. You will get a confirmation email, go click on that link
  6. Go back to the settings page and reload it
  7. Now you will see your forwarding email
  8. Check the box that says “Forward a copy of incoming mail to” and tell gmail whether you want it to keep a copy or not
  9. Click “Save Changes” down at the bottom
Forwarding Gmail in Settings

Forwarding GMail Steps 1-5

Ok, now anything that goes to your new GMail account will forward to the original email, you don’t have to check both accounts.  To be sure you got it right, send the GMail box an email from your other account and see if it comes back to you, if it does, you got it, if it doesn’t, go back in and try again, or give us a call and we’ll help.

We will get more into using and configuring Google Apps in future posts, because its a lot of great and free functionality for small businesses and non-profits!

So I promised a post that would summarize the past few months of marketing strategy, Facebook pages and analytics. This is that post; it will give an overview and link to the other posts.  As usual, if you want help with any of this stuff, just contact us – we work in small, reasonable chunks of consulting and development.

Web Marketing Strategy

The point of the few posts on this are to devise a relatively high-level strategy to get folks started on good marketing. The point of good marketing is communicating clearly and effectively. That’s it. Good marketing isn’t to trick people into anything, its to help them understand what you offer. So, here’s what you should make clear:

  1. What problem you solve
  2. How you solve it
  3. What is special about the way your solve it

You also want to make sure that you understand your audience and what appeals to them.  In many cases this means designing your website to speak specifically to types of people or market segments.  For more information, stay tuned, and check out the posts tagged as Web Marketing.

Analytics & Tracking

The really key thing for analytics and tracking is to make sure that you are running a package that tells you:

  1. Who referred people to your site.
  2. How many of them came.
  3. What they did on your site.

From those 3 things you can tell what interests people have, what sites and phrases are bringing them to your site, and what they are trying to find when they are there.  Google analytics does this perfectly – for more information check out the posts tagged Web Analytics.

Facebook Pages and Social Media

You can (and should) set up a Facebook Page for your business to keep it separate from your personal profile.  You should be conscientious about what you put in the public arena (you are what you publish) – you wouldn’t expect to run around naked in public without consequences, and you shouldn’t run around the web that way either.  For more information about setting up a Facebook page and connecting  a blog toFacebook and  Twitter, or on social media strategy.  Check out those posts tagged Social Media.

Ok so there’s the over-view.  We will get back into using analytics, technical tricks, great open-source packages and more in the future.

So the girl “Jenny” quitting her job was a hoax. Check out

How interesting. What I find most interesting is that this still illustrates my point. In this case actress Elyse Porterfield has become that HOPA actress who did the hilarious skit on Chive. She has over a million Facebook friends and has probably created career opportunities for herself as an actress – so long as she’s willing to leverage this image. She didn’t know what the stills were for when she took them.

Illustrates the point. In this day and age, you are what you publish on-line. If anyone out there has publications that haunt them, I would like to hear from you. I want to start a consulting service to help clients clean up past publications that cause them troubles – and good service starts with understanding the problem well. Give us a call or an email.

I am going to reiterate this idea from a post last month because of something my wife just showed me.

In the modern age of social media, we are what we publish. If you apply for a job, its common practice to research you on the ‘net.  So, I give you the case of a girl, Jenny, who quit her job yesterday morning by emailing a series of photos to everyone in her company.

Over 30k people know how Jenny quit her job, more to come, and when bloggers find out her last name, these series of photos could easily come up connected with her on a Google search.  So, when Jenny applies to her next job, this is what could easily come up when the HR manager checks her out on Google before bringing her in for an interview.

Not that Jenny is in the wrong.  Sexual harassment is a serious HR issue, and if she had a boss who yelled at her and made inappropriate remarks, she needed to deal with that, or quit.  The problem here isn’t that Jenny was wrong to quit; the issue is how she quit.  Granted its funny, but lets look at the impact on her career opportunities.

If you owned a firm and had somebody like this fellow Spencer managing it for you, would you want to know from an employee about their concerns directly?  Or would you rather read it on Facebook? As an HR manager, would you rather present a candidate who has a quiet, professional history to a hiring manager, or a HoPA who reacted bitterly and quit without notice in public forum?  Would you rather have a quiet level-headed broker working for you, or someone who reacts unprofessionally to unprofessional situations?

Here’s another note to think about; when you post something that someone else did online, you wield a great and terrible power over their life.  Jenny sent this to her office, which wasn’t well thought through, however, somebody in her office posted it online for her, which was simply cruel and may have affected Jenny’s career for years and years to come.

Remember that Star Wars Kid video?  Funny, yes.  In interviews that kid said the video haunted him for years and ruined his adolescent life…and somebody else posted that for him.

Again; with great power, comes great responsibility.  Having the power to post to the Internet and get the immediate attention of millions is great power.  If you use it irresponsibly, then, eventually, that is how you may be known…if you use it responsibly, it can have great impact on your life.

Next up, we will do a summary review of analytics, Facebook pages and marketing strategy, going over the posts for the past few months to put them in context before moving on to building traffic.

We talked about marketing basics; know your audience, what you offer and say it clearly in a way that your audience understands.  In the future we will go deeper into online marketing strategy.

Bottom line: unless you can read the analytic information that tells you who is coming to your site and what they are doing, you are flying blind on any marketing effort you use to try and drive traffic to your site.

There are analytics besides Google analytics, but GA is free, easy to integrate and gives most of the data you want, so we will use Google Analytics as a basis.  If you want help with other packages, contact me or wait until I have a chance to cover them.

First, log in to your analytics account at  If you haven’t created one, see the previous post about getting started

You will see an overview of all accounts that gives basic information:

Google Analytics Select "View Reports"

Select "View Reports" from your list of websites

Once you open your reports, you will see the dashboard specific to that site.

Lets talk about what is on that page, a lot of it is self-explanatory, but some of it uses some terms that may be unfamiliar to those not involved in the web industry specifically.

  1. In the upper left are buttons to export or email the report
  2. On the upper right is the date range.  You can change this by clicking on it and selecting a start and end date.
  3. The first graph shows your visits during the date range selected.
  4. Next row are some summary stats.  I will discuss these below.
  5. After the stats we have some summary charts.  Again, below.
Site Dashboard for Google Analytics

The website dashboard shows summary information.

First, lets talk about some terminology:

  1. Visits: The number of people who came to your site.  Google Analytics tries to track “visits” which is a single user, instead of “hits” which could be multiple connections from one user.
  2. Bounce Rate: A bounce occurs when a web site visitor only views a single page on a website, that is, the visitor leaves a site without visiting any other pages before a specified session-timeout occurs.  There’s no standard formula for “bounces” – the concept is that it represents someone who came in and said “whoops, this isn’t for me.”
  3. Page Views: The number of times a “visitor” loads your pages.  Page views represents the pages that people looked at on your site.
  4. Avg Time on Site:  This one is fairly self-explanatory.  It means what it sounds like it means.  The time someone spent before leaving.
  5. Pages / Visit: An approximation of how many pages a visitor looked at while wandering your site.
  6. % New Visits: The percentage of the “visits” that are from new, unique web addresses.

Google Analytics does its best to track actual visits, and its one of the applications on-line that uses cookies, a unique numerical value that gets assigned to a browser when someone connects to your site.  So, if a user with a cookie comes back in a day or two, that’s not new.  We’re not after understanding the deep technical concepts behind these terms, just the basics of how you might interpret them related to your web traffic.

So, if you launch a new program, and your visits goes up, and the % New Visits shows 35%, that is a good thing.

Now lets talk about those graphs:

  1. Visitors Overview: This shows the number of visitors per unit of time (since you can change the time scope, the unit might change from day to week, to month).  If you mouse over the small points, they will show you how many visitors per unit.
  2. Map Overlay: Shows you where in the world your visitors are from.  Darker colors mean more visitors.
  3. Traffic Sources Overview: YES!  This is what we want to get into, and its our next blog post.  This shows where your visitors are coming from.  Direct Traffic is when they type in your address, that’s most informative to find out who’s trying to get to you without any other resource, these are people who already know you and type in your address.  Referring sites are places that mention you online, like partnership sites that mention yours.  Search Engines refer to places that people search for key phrases, like Yahoo or Google.  If you are working hard to run a key phrase improvement campaign, this is really important.  As we get more into Traffic Analysis we will talk about sources in more detail.
  4. Content Overview: Shows the content that various visitors to your site loaded.  Again, future posts will talk more about what this means to you.

That’s it to get us started.  Go install Google Analytics on your site, start collecting some data, take a look, and come back here in future weeks for other posts!

Thanks!  Please feel free to comment and make suggestions.

Recent versions of Mozilla Firefox have had serious memory leak issues.  If yours is running slow, try this add-on to clean up some memory leaks.  It did very well helping my Firefox, which gets very heavy use.

Coming up soon – the basics of reading Google Analytics (and all analytics really).

Google Analytics provides a wealth of information about website traffic; how many visitors are coming, where they comes from, and what they do while on a site. We will set-up Google Analytics, show how to install trackign code into a page, WordPress or Joomla, and talk about how to read the information.

First, you need a Google Account. Analytics is accessed through a Google Account, so if you don’t have one, sign-up for one.

To start with Google Analytics, log-in to with your Google Account.  If this is your first Google Analytics account, you’ll see the sign-up screen:

Analytics Sign-Up ScreenClick on the “Sign Up” button.  Fill in the address of your website, name your account (you can call it whatever you like) and pick the appropriate time-zone (make sure you do, so the reports are properly configured).

Sign-up For Google AnalyticsThe next few steps are pretty straight-forward; contact name, country, agree to the terms of service…and then you get your tracking code:

<script type="text/javascript">

 var _gaq = _gaq || [];
 _gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-17149732-1']);

 (function() {
 var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true;
 ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https://ssl' : 'http://www') + '';
 var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);


You want to keep that code.  I would suggest selecting it, and pasting it into a notepad text file or an email to yourself (not a word doc, do not use word to store web code).  At the bottom there is a button “Save and Finish” click that and you are done creating the account.

Now, to add this code to your website, either you use a text or html editor and paste this code right over the tag that says </head> in your html file, as suggested by the instructions Google provides.  Or, you install a Word-Press or Joomla plugin and put just the account number into the plugin.

The part you need for that out of the code above is the account number that starts “UA” – so this; “UA-17149732-1” – everything else is standard code, so your WordPress or Joomla plugin will create the code for you.  I have a favorite WordPress plugin but there are a great many, if you search for “Google Analytics” on either or within the plugins section of your WordPress interface, you will find many options.

As usual, if you have trouble, you can contact Techivity for help.  Next up; getting into Google Analytics, the basic information.

You ARE what you PUBLISH. Think about that.

In this Internet world, so many of us are interconnected through social media and I want to encourage my clients and friends to think about what they publish online. Publish what you want to publish, I am not suggesting that you censor yourself. I am making the radical assertion that you want to be responsible and conscientious about what you publish.

With the flattening of communication so we all have the power to reach hundreds, if not thousands, most of us are suddenly and irrefutably accountable for what we publish on-line.

For example, I was reading on Facebook a note from one of my former youth (I was a youth adviser for a while) that was a rant, full of 4-letter words about something they thought was out of line. Even if their Facebook settings publish that only to their friends, maybe one of those friends has a feed out to other sources. Its hard to control where information on the Internet winds up.

Think about it. Its not uncommon for employers and HR folks to go to Google or Yahoo and type in the name of a candidate, their city, and a few keywords. Right or wrong, its common practice, and since the information is in the public domain, its fair game. Try this interesting exercise. Go to Google, type in your name, city and something about yourself that you might put on a job application and dig around a bit…

Even if your various profiles are not public, when you write status, share thoughts, comment on-line and publish videos, you are publishing to the largest interconnected, grass-roots network the world has ever known. One of the most beautiful things about the ‘net is that information is free – so no, you don’t get to control where the things you publish wind up.

The power at your fingertips is immense, humbling and staggering. “With great power, comes great responsibility.”

Yes, I will continue to write technical posts for every-day people on this blog. Next we’ll get into the basics of reading analytic data. I am also going to provide some coaching and reflection about wielding this great power that we all suddenly find in our fingertips through Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, WordPress, Blogger, Google Connect, Yahoo Groups and more!

So, when you next click “Publish” – remember, the great power the Internet offers is a mighty double-edged sword.

“With great power, comes great responsibility.”

Next up, free options for web analytics.

I consider this to be the most important strategy book in my library. Robert Cialgini defines six ways humans influence each other. It is the best perspective I have ever read on how we influence each other’s decisions and attitudes. Just read it.

If you work with other people at all, in any capacity, it will provide tools and resources to help you. Or, if you want to understand how other people influence your own choices, it helps there too.

Here’s a link to order a copy at Amazon.

A knowledge of the six “weapons of influence” is useful not only in a proactive way, but is also helpful to improve our awareness of when the principles are influencing our own choices.

Influence discusses the six “weapons of influence” and how they impact our decision-making.

  1. Reciprocity: People tend to return a favor, thus the pervasiveness of free samples in marketing. We feel obligated to return good deeds. Examples include the influence of business lunches, small favors and how reciprocity influences negotiation.
  2. Commitment and Consistency: If people commit, orally or in writing, to an idea or goal, they are more likely to honor their commitment. Even when the original incentive or motivation is lost, people try to honor an agreement.
  3. Social Proof: People do things that they see other people are doing. For example, in one experiment, one or more confederates would look up into the sky; bystanders then look up into the sky to see what they were seeing. The experiment was so effective, it stopped traffic and had to abort…
  4. Authority: People tend to obey authority figures, even if they are asked to perform objectionable acts. Cialdini cites incidents such as the Milgram experiments in the early 1960s and the My Lai massacre.
  5. Liking: People are easily persuaded by people that they like. For example, friendship and social connections increase sales, its why network marketing works. People are more likely to buy if they like the person selling it to them.
  6. Scarcity: Perceived scarcity generates demand. For example, saying offers are available for a “limited time only” impacts a decision to purchase.

I highly recommend this book to anyone in business or who is trying to collaborate and work with clients or peers (so pretty much everyone).

Part II of a basic overview of online marketing and tracking.  This segment is a high-level overview of the concepts involved in lead-generation marketing.

  1. Craft a message (basic brand marketing is important here)
  2. Find an audience (adjust message for audience)
  3. Reach out to the audience (call this a “program”)
  4. Track your responses (Analytics is a MUST for this)
  5. Gather contact information
  6. Close sales

If you are interested in basic branding and marketing ideas, check out Part I.  As with Part I, this is only an over-view.  Most of these steps and topics could be multiple posts on their own, but I think it helps to have a high-level perspective in place first.

These 6 steps are not necessarily linear, especially in the case of the later steps, #5 and #6; you may gather contact information and make a sale later, or you might make a sale and then gather contact information.  Also, steps 1 and 2 could be reversed, the point is that these are the basics to cover for web marketing.

The most important thing about lead generation marketing is to track responses.  There is no point spending money on a marketing campaign if you cannot tell how many people came to check out your business from it, or whether you made any sales from it.  If you have an advertising, or a marketing opportunity that doesn’t offer tracking, like print advertising, then create a way to track, such as a coupon, special offer, or unique web address.  Make a way to track the program.  Don’t ever compromise on that.  Ever.  If you cannot find a way to track the program, don’t spend the money, or even better, contact me, and I’ll help you find a way.  Just do not spend precious money on lead generation programs you cannot track.

You deserve to know who is responding, how many there are, and if the program earned you any revenue.

Steps 1 & 2. Crafting the Message and Finding an Audience

I mention that brand marketing is important to crafting your message for a program, that’s because to effectively appeal to people, you need to clear state what you can offer them.  The reason that steps 1 and 2 sometimes might be reversed is that sometimes for a program, you’ll select your audience before revising your message to appeal to them.

Crafting a Message

The basic idea of crafting a message is to as clearly and concisely as possible explain what you can offer someone.  Its always better when  your message is specific to an audience, for example, lets say you have a software product that allows listings on a website, like classifieds.  It also has some cool features, like being able to pull from the real estate MLS database easily, so if your audience for a particular marketing program is real estate agents, whom you know are always pressed for time, you can state “Add real estate listings to your own website in minutes by pulling directly from MLS.”  Those unfamiliar with the real estate industry won’t even know what you mean, so if you don’t know your audience, you probably want to say “Create new listings in minutes easily using existing online databases.”

Ok, so maybe that example was technical.  Lets try one less technical.  Lets say you have a better cake pan that cooks cakes with electricity, never burns the cake batter, requires less fat and oil and comes with 5 shapes.  Your message needs to say what your pan does for people.  Good key points might be; Never burn a cake, Cook 5 different shapes, and Make better tasting healthier cakes.

As an example of tailoring message to audience; if you plan to market your cake pan on a website about health, you probably want to stress that the cakes are healthier over that they never burn.

I hope you get the idea.  Feel free to post questions or contact me for help.

Finding an Audience

This is a whole topic in and of itself.  There are all kinds of ways to reach an audience, like purchasing an email list (make sure you get opt-in people, people who asked to get emails, spamming is bad for business), purchasing banner ads, social networking ads (like Facebook ads), reaching out on Twitter, using Google Adwords with key phrases and more.

So, since there are so many options here, there’s just a few general things I’ll say about finding an audience.  You want to look for an audience of people who have self-selected, which means they asked for information.  This can mean that you’re using key words in search marketing, that you purchased an opt-in list, or even that you’re purchasing advertising in a print magazine with an appropriate audience.

Steps 3 & 4: Reach out to the Audience & Track Responses

This is the part where you actually craft your program.  You’ve clarified your message, have your audience selected, and have hopefully adjusted your message to appeal to the audience.

What’s next is putting together your marketing pieces and deciding how you are going to track responses.

If you are using an electronic advertisement, you can track responses through an affiliate software program, by analytics, or through an account management interface that might be provided where you advertise.  The specifics of tracking is left for another post – perhaps the safest thing to do is make sure that you have a good analytics program and know how to read the traffic sources report.

If you’re dealing with print advertising, or any kind of live promotion, you will need a coupon code in your store system, or a special offer to track your promotions.  Its not perfect, but offering something free to register, or offering a limited time discount is a must to know if a live event or print advertisement generated any business.  Following the principle of no program without tracking, do what you can…

Again, marketing program design and planning is a great topic to cover, but we’re not going to cover it all here.  The gist of it is that you want to get your message clear, present it clearly and get it in front of people who might want what you offer.  Be clear about the problems you can help them solve.  Later on, I’ll share some books and materials on the subject.

So, in future posts we’ll talk about reading analytics and what the various reports mean, focusing on Google Analytics since they are free and easy to set up.

Steps 5 & 6: Gather Contact Information & Closing Sales

At the very least, you want contact information from anyone who comes to your site.  Give them a quick and easy way to get in touch with you.  Get a web form, not just one of those you@mail.address links because robots can pull that email from your site, unless you do some slick javascript stealth stuff and keep it current.  With WordPress, Joomla, or any similar system, there are numerous web form components.  If you are not running a system to manage your site, you should probably consider it, but even so, there are plenty of hosted email form systems ranging from free systems that show a small ad, to and/or similar customer relationship management system (yes, we will talk about those in the future as well).

Make your web form simple, prominent, and minimize the required fields (name, email and permission to contact them are the standard).  If you plan to contact people with any frequency instead of just once, make sure you ask them if you can do so, and respect that.  You want customers, not one-hit wonders.

If you are running an e-commerce site review the steps between product selection and checkout carefully and make them as simple as possible.  As few steps as possible.  You want your clients to actually get all the way through check out.

If you can set-up funnels for google analytics (yep, another future post), they are great – they let you tell how many people fell out where in the checkout process to help determine if you have any issues.

Well, that’s about enough for an overview – not like this was a short post of anything.  And remember, feel free to contact me with questions.