I work with a company that has fourteen equity portfolio companies, and most of them are small to medium-sized businesses. When I started working with each of them, the number one question I got was “When is the most effective time to send emails?” As usual, I pulled out a ton of research on the best open rate times so we had a starting point. Most of them recommended the same times, before or after lunch time, and between 5 and 7pm.

The reason I say they are a starting point, is because the best data is your own data. You have to look at what your email lists are doing. Different industries and customers behave differently. They are on their computers or phones at different times, and certain messages mean more to them than others.

If you want to discover the best times to send emails, TEST! TEST! TEST! I cannot stress enough the importance of A/B testing. Most email clients have this function available, and it can be your best friend in database marketing. Take the same email and split the list so half will get the email at one time, and half at the other. You can also do A/B testing to test out subject line performance, but I suggest only having one variable when trying to measure marketing performance. Continue doing A/B testing for 3-6 months before you do analysis. After this time period you will be able to determine when your email list is more likely to look at your email. You can also tie in email rates to website usage to see if the two times coincide. It can help you determine when to stagger promotion of a new marketing campaign. The only data that matters is your own!

Visualizing data can be tough, even for those who work with analytics every day. Whether you just installed Google Analytics, or you have been working with it for years, you need to start using custom dashboards in your account.  These dashboards provide a way to look at the metrics and dimensions that you need to fully understand what is going on with your site.

The best thing about custom dashboards? You don’t need to create them on your own!  There are dozens of custom dashboards you can import into your Google Analytics profile with just a couple of clicks. There are a ton out there, but here are three I have been using lately:

1. Site Usage/Quality Dashboard 

I use this dashboard with one of my company’s wholesale clients. B2B is changing rapidly, and the buying habits of B2B customers are beginning to be similar to those of consumers. One way I use this dashboard is to track what browsers and mobile platforms people are using to access the site. Since our wholesale company is a small company, they didn’t have the resources to look into mobile, but thanks to tracking data I have been able to get the company to make it a priority in the next year and given them a strategy of how to approach it.

You also want to track site usage and quality because it will determine search engine positioning, traffic, and the amount of time people spend on your page that you have available to convert them. Not quite as effective as Crazy Egg, but it might also help point out which content and design is most effective for converting visitors. This custom analytics dashboard measures:

  • bounce rate by browser
  • the top mobile devices people are using to browse your site
  • page views and bounce rate for your top content,
  •  goal sources and completions, browser quality and exit pages.

Custom Site Quality Google Analytics Dashboard

Get the custom dashboard here.

2. Social Media Dashboard  

Measuring social media performance in social media is still a big issue, even though we’re so many years into using the various platforms. Even newbies are getting old. Twitter was founded in 2006, that’s 7 years ago!! I use this dashboard with our portfolio companies to investigate social presence online and establish where we are having an impact, what’s driving that impact and how to improve. This dashboard was developed by my favorite data blogger, Justin Cutroni.

Google Analytics Social Media Dashboard

You can download the custom social media dashboard here. The dashboard will measure things like;

  • traffic from social sources
  • actions taken by social visitors
  • how many new visitors are coming from social
  • shared content
  • content value
  • which social networks are driving the most traffic
  • which mobile devices using social are coming to your site
  • revenue

3. Blogging Dashboard 

One of our clients has built an amazing blog presence over the past five years, but recently bounce rates have increased while conversion rates are getting lower and lower. I used this dashboard, along with market research and usage trends, to develop a strategy on how to better target customers through different content. By tracking what content was most effective, compared to what people were looking at and creating across the web, we were able to infiltrate new segments and niches of our industry.

This information is a goldmine for bloggers, because you can find out:

  • what you should write more about
  • which sites most of your traffic comes from
  • how your site looks to the people who visit
  • which search engines and sites are most important in your network

Blogging Dashboard

You can download the custom blogging dashboard here.

For the past three years I have had the pleasure of taking pictures for the Annual Networking Reception at Villanova University hosted by the Graduate Program in Human Resource Development. I love the folks over at Villanova, and the event is always informative. Although my main focus is on all things communication related, hearing the issues that human resources is facing always gets my brain spinning. If you are in the Philadelphia area, or plan to be in the area next March you should mark your calendars to attend.

To see some of my pictures from the 16th Annual Networking event visit the Villanova HRD Blog!

16th Annual Networking Reception