What You Need to Know About the Shift to Google Analytics 4

computer showing google analytics

 

When Europe updated its privacy and security laws in 2018 aka GDPR, Universal Analytics (UA)
essentially became illegal. Many other countries followed suit in updating their privacy
legislation including New Zealand, Japan, Brazil, and even the state of California. This change in
policy resulted in Google announcing the rollout of Google Analytics 4, offering up increased
privacy, security, and control over your data.

What is Google Analytics 4?
Google Analytics 4 (or GA4) is a completely new version of Google Analytics replacing the
current Universal Analytics. It measures website and app traffic together, instead of being
tracked separately.

How is GA4 different?
GA4 and UA differ in how they view and track page views and screen views, user sessions,
content groupings, custom dimensions, and more.

Google Analytics 4 vs Universal Analytics: What’s Changing?

Data collection
With the advent of omnichannel e-commerce, GA4 collects data from both web and apps to let
businesses see unified user journeys and customer life cycles across different platforms.

Event-based tracking
UA measured users by tracking sessions on platforms and devices. This resulted in missed
opportunities and data loss when switching devices. Now, GA4 uses an event-based data model
to track user behavior. Using user IDs and unique Google signals, it’s much easier to follow
users along the customer journey.

With the shift to event and parameter tracking, GA4 introduced engagement metrics such as
engaged sessions, engaged time, and engagement rate. This is a big shift from how you were
able to track metrics in UA.

Data control and privacy
In the wake of data privacy laws such as GDPR and CCPA, GA4 offers new data controls for users
to keep their privacy. These data privacy options include the user's ability to:

● Control how their data is collected, retained, and shared.
● Decide whether the data collected can be used to deliver personalized ads.
● Delete Analytics data by submitting a request to Google.
● GA4 only stores data for 14 months and doesn’t carry over historical data from UA.
When you switch to Google Analytics 4, it only collects data going forward, so
transitioning early is critical.

No IP Collection
Unlike its predecessor, GA4 does not collect IP addresses or store cookies.

Machine learning
GA4 applies machine learning technologies to fill in data gaps versus first and third-party
cookies with UA. Predictive analytics finds trends in user behavior, allowing you to provide
more intelligent insights and create forecasts.

In-depth Reporting
GA4 introduces Explorations, which lets you access data and analytical techniques that aren’t
available in UA’s default reports. These features give you a more in-depth look at your data to
answer complex questions.

Expanded integration
GA4 was designed to work better with other products such as Google Ads, and Google Data
Studio.

I need help making the switch to GA4.

The Digital Team at AW has been hard at work transitioning our clients to GA4 to ensure
historical data is recorded and future data collection is started early.

If you need help in making the transition, ArachnidWorks is here to help. Contact us today!

Why Your Website Needs a Blog and How to Start One

woman on couch working on laptop

Let’s cut to the chase––you need to start blogging.

Blogs are not just for those ranting because the sour cream was missing from their grocery order. Starting a blog doesn’t mean you must spill the tea on why you will never wear parachute pants again, but we’d love to read it if you do (#welovethe80s). Blogging is one of the most powerful marketing tools business owners can wield to grow their audience, boost sales and establish a brand voice. By the way, all kinds of fabulous content can help you stand out from the crowd. Yet, for this piece, we’re covering the OG.  

At ArachnidWorks, we know a thing or two about blogging. You’re kind of reading one now, right? 

Right! 

So, we gathered our collective marketing brains to share why your website needs a blog. 

Three Little Letters: SEO

A quality blog can boost your entire website’s SEO ranking. Here’s how. 

  • Content & Keywords – Blog posts are a form of content. Content adds keywords to your site. Search engines crawl through your site and read your content to determine what your business offers. That helps search engines find your website over others. Nice, right?
  • Relevancy – Blog posts are a deep dive into a topic. They help you gain traction and position your content in front of more eyes, leading to more conversions. And with Google’s latest algorithm update, there is a heavy focus on intent––your relevancy––which provides value for the posted content. 
  • Tag, You’re it! – Categories and tags are metadata mysteries that are not so mysterious. They tell search engines where to find your website and drive users to it.
  • Stay Awhile – A quality archive of material keeps people roaming your site longer. Extra dwell time on pages tells search engines people loved hanging out with you because your content was on point and fabulous. 
  • Internal Links – Links, links, and more links within a blog to your previous posts equal more clicks on your content. It’s all a part of strategic thinking to help users find your brand and message. 
  • Share & Share Alike – Think of it as the more the merrier. Internal linking in posts means more opportunities for other websites to find and link back to your site. The more websites linking to you as a source, the merrier, right? Right! And when you tag and repost your blog on social media, you tell two friends, and they tell two friends, and so on, you’re going to have more eyes on your content. 
  • Where the Heck Are You? – Tagging locations to your post is a must for location-based businesses. For the local donut shop that needs those eclairs to fly out the door, you want donut-lovers to know where to snag the best in town.

If You Write it, They Will Come

You want to set yourself apart as an expert in your lane. It helps customers get to know you and build trust. It’s not a matter of just writing content for content’s sake. You want to give the masses material that solves a problem, gives them actionable steps, and shows them YOU are the one who feels their pain (points). 

Who Are You?

You have a brand to define for the masses. That starts with creating a voice people recognize. You immediately know when you see that circular, green sign that it’s calling you toward caffeine. That smirk on a cardboard box? Something special is on your doorstep, right? These companies have defined their brand to the point that you don’t even need a name on their logo to know who they are. You know their voice, identity, and how they improve your life with their services. You can get there too! It starts with becoming an industry expert who builds rapport and connects with others.

My People!

You can’t grow your audience without content, and content helps you grow your audience. You want traffic to be bumper-to-bumper on your site to generate new leads. These leads mean you’ve found your people! A great way to keep the interaction alive on your site is to include a call-to-action (CTA) that offers them a little something. You know what we mean by CTA. Things like: 

  • But wait, there’s more!
  • Free gift just because you’re fantastic!
  • Act now. Space is limited! 
  • Sign up today, and you’ll receive an invite to my virtual bad holiday sweater party! 

Other CTAs we love include:

  • Free eBooks
  • Downloadable whitepages 
  • Fact sheets
  • Video lessons or webinars
  • Free trials
  • Donuts. The ones with sprinkles.

Okay, maybe not the donuts, and it’s obviously sugar-rush snack time at ArachnidWorks HQ, yet you see where we’re going with this. Anything you can offer users to jump into that funnel and start a relationship can drive long-term results. 

Ready to start that blog? Awesome! Want to turn to the Frederick, Maryland, marketing pros who can help you get it done? Even better! ArachnidWorks is a multi-disciplined design collective dedicated to bringing clients strategic marketing, top-quality design services, and SEO strategy that gets businesses noticed. Let us help you make some crazy-cool content. Reach out, and let’s get started!

5 Signs Your Website Needs a Refresh

Bouncing is good for rubber balls and inflatable castles, but when it comes to your website? Not so much. If you’re finding high bounce rates and low conversions on your site, it’s time for a change.

Here are five things that could be holding your website back:

 

1. Navigation Nightmares

User experience (UX) is a crucial factor in website design. If your potential customers can’t find what they want on your site, they’ll leave and most likely never return. An effective website is optimized for the user experience, whether it’s on desktop or mobile.

Part of this experience is page loading times. Customers expect a seamless website experience with a loading time of two seconds or less. A recent survey found that half of all visitors will leave a site taking more than six seconds to load. If potential customers can’t find what they need on your site or leave before it loads, you’ve already lost them.

 

2. Do You Need Pest Control?

Bugs aren’t popular, whether they’re crawling on the ground or invading your website. If you find you’re spending too much time fixing issues, or if visitors are complaining about crashes and other issues with the site’s functionality, it’s time to upgrade to a new site.

 

3. Google Doesn’t Like You

If your site isn’t showing up in the search rankings on Google, it isn’t optimized properly. The best-performing sites are on page one. If you don’t see yourself listed there, consider it a sign that you need to step up your game.

One of the most important parts of a professional website upgrade will involve technical SEO audits and optimization.

 

4. Old Site, New You?

Some businesses evolve over time, whether it’s through their audience, culture, or the goods and services they offer. If you fall into this category, make sure your website evolves with you.

Some signs that you’ve outgrown your site can include:

  • Inquiries about products you no longer carry
  • Inquiries that are not related to your current business model
  • Google lowered your rank
  • You’ve taken no actions to align your business and site since a major change
  • You’ve seen a drop in sales and conversions after rebranding

 

5. Your Website is Unappealing

Like it or not, browsers are judging you by your website. If your website screams “1990s,” it may be time for a new coat of paint (and probably a look under the hood). Updating graphics, changing fonts, improving the UX, and streamlining navigation are all ways to make a website more appealing to browsers.

 

Is it Time for a Website Redesign?

We’re marketing experts with a personal touch; we listen to your needs and align your website design solutions to your business. It’s not one-size-fits-all, it’s a personal and highly customizable journey for each of our clients. Ready to take your business to the next level? Contact us now and let’s get started.

Top 7 Things to Avoid When Sending Email Newsletters

email newsletter on laptop

Sure, you may have worked for days on your newsletter content, and it looks great, doesn’t it? The truth is, a newsletter is only an effective marketing tool if it’s opened. How do you avoid “trash,” “unread,” or even worse, “reported as spam?”

Here are some of the top things to avoid:

 

1. Making Your Newsletters too Generic

Your newsletter is your chance to appeal to not just any audience, but your audience. A great way to do this is by list segmentation, the process of creating smaller, more targeted email lists for special news and events. Once you do this, you can create the content that each segment will want to read rather than generic content that doesn’t focus on any targets at all.

2. Accidentally Triggering Spam Alerts

On a personal level, you know the words that make you delete emails unopened, or report them as spam. These words include “free,” “promotional,” and “buy now.” To make things even more complicated, Gmail has a tab that specifically filters messages containing certain trigger words into a “Promotions” tab. It’s a pretty sure bet that your Gmail readers rarely, if ever, open this tab. You can bypass these disastrous results by avoiding the common spam trigger words and encouraging your readers to whitelist your email to keep it out of spam or promotional folders.

3. Ignoring The Wonders of Modern Technology

It’s estimated that over half of all users access email through their smartphones. If you haven’t designed your emails with these users in mind, they won’t engage with your content. Designing emails for mobile devices includes formatting to fit screens, compressing images, and using shorter, more pointed subject lines.

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The Top 7 Digital Marketing Myths of 2021

digital marketing on computer screen

Marketing is constantly changing, evolving to meet new technologies and audiences. One thing remains constant, however: digital marketing holds the key to a business’ success or failure.

If you’ve been researching your own digital marketing strategy, chances are you’ve read a lot of misinformation that will make even the best plans ineffective. We call these marketing myths. Here are the top seven digital marketing myths of 2021.

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Top 5 Logo Mistakes to Avoid

logo mistakes on paper

Remember, first impressions count. Your logo is the first thing your potential customers and clients will see.

Here are the top five logo mistakes to avoid when designing your masterpiece. 

 

1. Poor Font Choices

Remember that each font has a personality, and it’s all about choosing the right “persona” for your brand. If you are a stockbroker, for instance, using the Comic Sans font for your corporation’s logo probably isn’t the best way to project trustworthiness and reliability. A party supplies company, meanwhile, may not want to present their customers with a dark, heavy font.

Match the style of your font with the style of your icon to avoid competing with it or overwhelming it. For a better selection of fonts, choose professional font foundries such as MyFonts rather than free website versions.

Choosing a font is more important than you probably realize. It’s setting the tone and the expectations of your business. 

 

2. Contradictory Messages and Unclear Intentions

The second fatal logo mistake is when it sends an inconsistent message about your company or brand. This emotional perception of your message is a combination of your font, colors, and images.

Since customers will associate your company with your branding, the messages and emotions you want associated with your business need to be immediately apparent. Remember, first impressions count. 

Let’s revisit our stockbroker. This is a profession that requires trustworthiness, reliability, and expertise. A bright design featuring a clown, for instance? Not the best choice. Our party supply company, however, will send a clear message of “fun” with brighter colors, lighter fonts, and maybe even our stockbroker’s unused clown.

 

3. Too “Busy”

If there is visually has too much going on, it’s forgettable. This logo mistake will also undermine the importance of your message and lessen its impact.

Your brand will be recreated in a variety of applications for your business, from digital to print. Keep in mind that a busy, complex design will lose its detail if its size is reduced. A simple, clean design will be far more versatile than a complex or “busy” design.

Stick with a few simple elements:

  • Your business name
  • Your icon
  • Your tagline
  • No more than two fonts
  • No more than three colors

 

4. Too Reliant on Colors

It’s tempting to want to make your logo really stand out with bold, bright splashes of color. If you’re too reliant on color, however, you will lose its efficacy when it’s reproduced in black and white. Too many colors also confuse the eye, making your branding appear “busy” and sloppy.

If your brand can’t stand on its own in black and white, it’s not a strong one. Create your initial concept without using colors, shadows, layering, or other design elements. Once you’ve created something that can stand out in black and white, it’s time to choose your colors.

Remember to keep your design under three colors, and choose them widely. Color, as we talked about above, play a large role in your logo’s intent. Certain colors convey strong emotions, such as red or black. 

If your colors clash with each other, overwhelm your icon, or don’t match your intention, your logo will be far less effective.

 

5. Neglecting Visual Hierarchy

We’ve all come across words painted on the road near an intersection that read “stop here,” with the word “here” overtop the word “stop.” The idea is that you theoretically should read the words in the order that your car approaches them, reading “stop” before “here.” The majority of people, however, will read the words painted on our theoretical road from top to bottom: “here stop.” But why?

We are all programmed to visualize things in a certain way, seeing bright colors or large, bold writing before noticing smaller writing or duller colors. This programming creates a logical way to consume information. Visual hierarchy is a design element that uses this logic to encourage a viewer to read or notice important information first.

Think about visual hierarchy. What part of your design catches your eye? Does the flow make logical sense? Are the important pieces being overshadowed by bright colors or other strong design elements? 

 

Want to avoid these common logo mistakes?

Whether you’re thinking of a complete overhaul or simply giving your existing one an update, ArachnidWorks has talented creative teams ready to help. Let us help you design your next logo to help you stand out from the competition.

AW President & CEO Monica Kolbay Participates in Digital Marketing Webinar

As we return to more normalcy after a year of pandemic-enforced restrictions, we’ve noticed that many of our clients are asking us to help them embrace more aspects of digital marketing. Obviously, digital marketing has been trending upward for the past 10 years or more, but recent factors have caused interest to skyrocket.

Our President & CEO Monica Kolbay recently joined two other thought leaders in the digital marketing field in a one-hour webinar entitled “Banking on Digital Marketing with Stories That Connect.” Jay Sedgwick, Banking Industry Specialist of WebbMason Marketing, led the webinar.
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Top 5 Post COVID-19 Digital Marketing Trends


Call it a quarantine, lockdown, shelter-in-place, or a “safer at home” order, unprecedented public health measures forced by the global pandemic drove millions of people around the world into virtual seclusion. During this time, apps and platforms that were once used entirely for entertainment and personal connection have been hijacked for use by digital markers to reach consumers.

However, as the number and severity of COVID-19 cases begins to trend more positively, and some countries and US states are beginning to open back up, these same digital markers are wondering: how different will things look over the next year? Will things go back to normal? How has the novel coronavirus affected consumer behavior? And how will that affect digital marketing attempts to reach a society of consumers that have made significant changes in many areas of ordinary life?

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Advertising & Marketing in the Time of COVID


It would be hard to find a segment of American life that has not been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic—and sales and marketing are no exception. Influencer Marketing Hub (IMH), a US-based marketing strategy company, recently surveyed 237 brands of all sizes to see how they the coronavirus public health crisis has affected them, and combined those results with additional COVID-related sales and marketing statistics to create an overall snapshot of lessons and trends.

General Findings

• Some industries have been and will continue to be more affected than others. Luxury, travel, and service-related companies are struggling to survive, while business that have been classified as “essential” are struggling to meet demand.
• Companies that rely on “old media” are especially at risk. Prestigious publishers have already ceased publication of well-known, long-running publications, with more likely to come.
• Both small (less than 50 employees) and large companies (more than 1,000 employees) surveyed express significant concern over the coronavirus’s impact, and are strategizing carefully about how to market their way through the economic downturn.

Findings from the IMH Survey:

Ad Spends

• 69% of brands expect they will decrease their ad spend in 2020. Many companies indicated that there is either a high likelihood that they will be decreasing their ad spend this year, the majority from regions still in lockdown.
• 25% indicated they will increase their ad spend during the latter half of 2020.
Whereas the majority of companies indicated that they have switched to survival mode, it was interesting to note that one company out of four indicated that it would increase marketing activities.

COVID-19 has had a massive impact on the media, but this impact has been very uneven. There are clear winners and losers:

• Winners:
o There has been increased interest in news. This sector saw a 52% increase in ad spending from before the global impact.
o Other areas to have seen rises in ad spending in that timeframe include hobbies & interests (31%), technology & computing (14%), and education (13%). Notably, these are all activities that can be consumed at home.
o e-Commerce companies doubled their ad spending in the four weeks between February 17 and March 9—a trend that has continued. Ad spend from e-Commerce sites doubled from $4.8 million for a trailing four-week period starting on February 17 to $9.6 million for the week of March 9. Brands that operate both an online and physical presence have moved their marketing to the web.

• Losers
o Of course, many sectors have cut back on their advertising activity. At 72%, the most significant drop in ad spending is for law, government, and politics
o At a spending slowdown of 65% is the travel sector, making it the most significantly affected private-sector group.
o There were also noticeable drops in ad spending on sports (40%), science (26%), and family & parenting (24%).

Social Media

Especially in places that experienced strict lockdown, people turned to social media in increasing numbers for information. They have also used videoconferencing and messaging apps to remain in contact with families, friends, work colleagues, and clients.

• In March when stay-at-home orders began, nearly three quarters of the firms surveyed reported having slowed down their social media posting after closing or slowing down activities. This number rose significantly after social media managers settled into working from home.

• Early in the pandemic, IMH’s research indicated that 34% of respondents indicated a shift in social network preference from Instagram to Twitter, presumably because of its focus on news. A significant number of respondents reported increasing their Facebook usage, although this may have been more to check in on their family and friends than for work activities.

• Facebook has seen a definite surge in the use of both Messenger and WhatsApp over the last few months, reporting 70% more time spent across their apps and a doubling of live views in a week. They saw messaging increase over 50% and time in group calling (calls with three or more participants) increase by over 1,000% during March. The countries with the strictest lockdowns have seen the highest use in messaging apps.

Email Campaigns

A possibly surprising stat relates to email open rates during the time that consumers stay at home.

• Email open rates have risen by up to 25% week-on-week in retail. Clearly, people have more time on their hands at the moment and can devote more of it to opening and reading their emails.
• Daily email open rates are generally increasing by 5-10% each week.
• Email opens and resulting interactions have increased more on desktop than mobile. Clearly, more people are working at home on their laptops, which they use to check their emails, rather than their smartphones, as they have previously. Reading email communications on the desktop provides a less distracting browsing experience than on mobile devices, and consumers are taking more time to read longer content.

A study by Pattern89 has noticed a shift in the types of imagery used by brands in social media ads during the pandemic. They found 27.4% fewer images showing models hugging or shaking hands in ads on Facebook and Instagram. According to the study, images and videos displaying water splashing, hand/face washing, or cleaning have risen at six times the regular rate.

Last week, despite the prediction that the global ad market would shrink by 7%, or $42 billion, a new study from Viamedia shows marketers are quickly adapting. According to the study, 83% of US businesses have overhauled their marketing strategies for a post-pandemic world. (Viamedia’s findings are based on a survey among business owners [59%] and advertising agencies on behalf of businesses [29%], conducted between May 15 and May 27.)

The study found that despite the economic downturn, there remains a strong need for advertising—45% of business owners from various industries say they’re seeking creative incentives for advertising. 40% of respondents also reported an annual marketing budget of at least $75,000—over half of which was allotted to advertising.
More than 46% of respondents say they’re offering incentives and promotions to drive sales and continue operating during the downturn, while 10% have shifted to digital operations, and 9% plan to expand. Still, 28% report that they are looking for guidance on how to change their marketing strategy to weather the pandemic.

This latest study reports that many respondents expressed optimism over their post-pandemic futures, with 36% saying they felt their business would be the same as it was pre-pandemic.