Choosing New Tech Solutions for Business Growth — 5 Things Not To Do

Illustration depicting an effective workplace. for business growth.

Whether you have been in the workforce for three years or 30, you’ve probably had to adapt and adopt new ways of doing things. Our digital work environment provides new solutions, platforms, apps and hacks at a dizzying pace. For some it is the only reality they know, for others, myself included, it has fostered paradigm shifts in how the office works.

When I first started my career in marketing, the internet and cell phones were not yet in public use. Staying in touch with clients required letters, telephone calls and in-person meetings. Client-centric service was a priority then, as it is now, albeit the expectations were lower. If a client reached out with a non-urgent issue, you typically had a day or two before they worried about a response. Technology has narrowed that grace period to minutes, however it has also provided much more expedient means to stay in contact with your clients.

Here are a few other examples of how technology has impacted sales and marketing:

  • Brand was just as important in those days, though it was typically referred to as reputation or image. Without the immediateness, pervasiveness and expansive reach of the internet and social media, your reputation was a more stable and manageable asset. Easier to manage, but much more limited in its effect — our digitally connected society has given an exponential boost to the effect of brand.
  • Prospecting has always been a factor of numbers. The saying was that the “more doors you knocked on the more sales you could make.” Now, door-knocking has been replaced by emails, tweets, blogs, websites and other online content. The intention being to attract and entice prospects interest via Google search results and strategically designed websites with automated workflows.
  • Referrals have always been a valuable means of growing your business, and the internet has ramped that up with many forms of online endorsement. Being “liked’ has become a major preoccupation for many companies.

As these examples illustrate, the objectives or destinations haven’t changed. As a guiding imperative the overall strategy remains consistent, although the tactics we use have transformed dramatically. Marketers today need to be adaptive and willing to adopt successful techniques.

Learning to work with a new project management platforms, client relationship management cloud apps, marketing automation solutions, etc. can be difficult for individuals and disruptive for organizations. Choosing the right solution makes for a smoother implementation and successful adoption much more likely. With the objective of successful integration and business growth, here are five things to be wary of when considering a new software solution:

  1. Don’t let the solutions dictate what you need

Before you start searching for solutions, consider what you need. Detail the problem or issue you are trying to solve. You may revise this outline as you start looking at potential solutions, but you should have a definite understanding of what you want solved before looking for the solution.

  1. Don’t ignore internal factors

In your basic outline of what you need, consider your processes, organizational structure and culture, staff that would be involved, etc. These will directly affect how successfully the new solution will be implemented, which directly affects your implementation cost and the effectiveness of your solution. Be careful to choose a solution that will work as harmoniously as possible with all factors.

  1. Don’t be fooled by the newest or coolest

We all like a shiny new toy, but look beyond the glitz to see how well it fits. If you find yourself thinking “that is so cool” rather than “that is so efficient/effective” you should consider your initial needs.

  1. There is no free lunch

That is to say, everything has a cost. If the solution doesn’t meet all of your needs, there is either an opportunity cost, or you’ll use more staff time completing the tasks, or you’ll need to invest in additional solutions. Measure all options comprehensively, including internal and external costs.

Similarly, don’t be misled by a free or basic version of a solution. Many solutions offer a discounted version, or freemium, to attract new clients. Consider what you truly need — now and in the near future. If the discounted version won’t meet your needs, then use the premium cost make your decision.

  1. Don’t focus on the cheapest

Much like the potentially beguiling free option, cheap solutions shouldn’t be seen with blinders on either. Consider all relevant costs beyond the direct expense. Often a solution is cheap because that is truly its value. It isn’t technically robust or reliable, it doesn’t sync or work well with other software you use, it provides limited support, etc.

If you have limited needs or a very tight budget, a cheaper solution may be the right fit. Just be sure to consider overall value, not simply cost.

Growing your organization and meeting your clients’ needs requires that you keep pace with innovation, and that you find effective and efficient ways to do so. Don’t let the myriad new solutions confuse you or deter you from your objective. Technology speeding along has dramatically changed our means of getting there; as you continue to shift gears with new and improved ways to brand, prospect and refer — embrace change, cautiously.


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The 4 Best Analytics Reports to Chart Your SEO Progress


SEO is an ongoing process that requires time, effort, and many types of actions. Results often aren’t immediate, so tracking over time is necessary to see how well you’re achieving your goals. Luckily, the tools to do this are at hand. In fact, Google provides them for free. The one you’re likely familiar with is Google Analytics. I’ll show you two different reports that shed light on how organic traffic is finding your site and viewing your content. You may or may not have heard of the other Google tool. It’s now called Search Console, but was previously known as Google Webmaster Tools. It has a very insightful report generator called Search Analytics. It not only has click metrics, it also sheds light on your website’s SEO performance before the clicks happen.

Organic Traffic within Google Analytics 

Landing Page Visits

Google Analytics is no longer any good at showing what keywords brought people to your website from the search engines, but it still allows you to see overall SEO traffic, and how well each of your pages is performing in terms of attracting people to your website. This is valuable information if your SEO activity has been focused on specific pages.

How to Generate This Report

  1. Log into your Google Analytics report.
  2. Choose the date range you wish to view. This is done at the top right.
  3. Click through the following path in the left menu: Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels, then click on Organic Search in the chart.
  4. The numbers at the top of the chart provide the overall numbers. Sessions are the term used for visits. Above the chart, at Primary Dimension, is the ability to select Landing Page. This is more insightful than the Keyword dimension. Furthermore, if goals have been set up, you can select the goals at the right side of the chart in the drop-down box at Conversions.
  5. If you would like an easy way to return to this report, use the Shortcut feature at the top of the page.


The other way of evaluating traffic from the search engines is to look at what content is consumed beyond the landing page. The metric for this is organic pageviews. These are pages seen by all SEO visitors. These people have come to the website through a variety of different pages such as your homepage, a blog article, or an about-us page.When these people find their way to the pages on your website that promote your company’s products, it should be considered a successful outcome because these people are now one step closer to becoming a customer. This is an important part of the story because SEO efforts needn’t always simply focus on your product pages. In fact, you’ll likely find that your other pages are ideal to use for targeting valuable keywords. The organic pageviews reporthelps you reflect these efforts.

How to Generate This Report

  1. Log into your Google Analytics report.
  2. Choose the date range you wish to view. This is done at the top right.
  3. Click through the following path in the left menu: Behavior > Site Content > All Pages
  4. Go to the area above the graph where there are two long rectangles. One is marked “All Users” and the other is marked “+ Add Segment.”
  5. Click on “All Users”, scroll through the list and put a check in the box beside “Organic Traffic”, scroll back up through the list and uncheck “All Users”, and then click “Apply.”
  6. If you would like an easy way to return to this report, use the Shortcut feature at the top of the page.

Search Analytics within Google Search Console

Another method of looking at your SEO progress is by using the Google Search Console. The Search Analytics report within Search Console offers a more in-depth view than Google Analytics because:

  • It provides the extra dimension of ‘Impressions’, which represents the number of times your website appeared in front of someone in the search results. This is regardless of where or not the person clicked through to your website. It also provides metrics such as CTR, the rate that impressions turned into clicks, and Position, the average ranking in the search results.
  • It provides much richer information on keywords than Google Analytics. They refer them as ‘queries’, which are the phrases people typed into Google.
  • It allows you to dig into the various aspects of your search traffic. For example, you can view the most popular queries by country.

Keyword Usage

Many companies are tempted to track SEO progress by tracking the rankings of individual keywords. There is, however, a better way. A more encompassing method of tracking keyword performance can be accomplished through the Search Analytics report:

  1. Log into your Search Console account.
  2. In the left navigation, go to Search Traffic and then Search Analytics.
  3. Select the date range you want. The default is 28 days, but you can look at up to 90 days.
  4. If you do business primarily in one country, locate “Countries” above the chart, click on “No filter”, select “Filter counties”, and select your target country.
  5. Click on Queries. The report will generate a list of queries.
  6. You can add extra metrics to this list, and the chart, by checking the boxes at the top of the report that say“clicks”, “impressions”, “CTR”, and “position”.

Landing Pages

You can also look at all these metrics in term of the landing pages. You do this by clicking on “Pages” at the top of the report. If you’re looking for a particular landing page, you can either scroll through the results until you find it and click on it, or you can use the filter located under the word “Pages”. Selecting a particular page, will provide you with the information for just that page, which can be looked at by clicks, impressions, CTR, and position. You also have the option to click on Queries. The page filter will remain in effect, and you’ll see all the queries people used to land on the page you’re focusing on.

Mastering SEO Analytics

Within these reports are the answers to many of your questions regarding your SEO performance.  The key to unearthing the answers is in learning how to dig down into the data using filters and dimensions. Develop this ability through curiosity and practice, and you’ll soon have ready access to how well your website is performing in the search engines.

Why You Should Use Marketing Automation to Gather and Use Analytics

Analytics. For many business owners and marketers, the word comes with mixed feelings: both excitement at the opportunities it could present, and intimidation, for the seemingly endless breadth of knowledge available on the subject.

First, what are analytics, in the context of marketing for your business?

Analytics: a collection of online data from which meaningful information and insights can be derived that can help you make better marketing and business decisions.

If you’re doing it properly, you’re not just collecting any data, but actionable data. Actionable data is useful, relevant, meaningful information that can be used to make intelligent, real-life marketing and business decisions. This is where marketing automation platforms such as SharpSpring come in.

Analytics-ThinkstockPhotos-473265020 Photo: Thinkstock / iStock / pingingz / 473265020

The Power of Marketing Automation

One of the best ways to not only acquire useful analytics, but to act on them, is to invest in marketing automation. Marketing automation allows you to do so much more than simply accumulate and store analytics and look at graphs, it allows you to take the data and turn it into something useful that will help move your company forward!

For example, instead of simply sending out an e-newsletter to an email list and wondering how they responded to it, marketing automation platforms such as SharpSpring allows you to not only collect actionable data, but they allow you to act on it!

With SharpSpring:

You you get a real-time report on the amount of contacts who open the email and click on specific links, and finally, have the software automatically sort them into lists based on their behaviour and interests (i.e. what they click on)! Now, you’ve learned something about each contact that you can use in a variety of ways. Further, if certain links in the email haven’t performed well, you’ll know, and can adjust your tactics accordingly to improve engagement next time!

Perhaps some of these same contacts have visited certain landing pages on your website, that show further interest in your company and/or specific services you offer – this criteria could be added to your list(s), too!

For example, you might create a list called “People who are Interested in Vintage Fashion” and have it automatically populate with contacts who have clicked on links to blogs about vintage fashion from your e-newsletter and have also visited product pages on your site devoted to vintage fashion.

From there, when it’s time for the next e-newsletter to be sent out, you’ll be able to send each new list a version of the e-newsletter that is tailored to their interests, perhaps with a link to a form with a new offer that they’ll appreciate (e.g. a free resource on vintage fashion). Of course, you’ll be able to automatically track all of this too, and to automatically save it with your contact’s profile. The more you learn about your contacts, the better equipped you’ll be to give them what they want and to continue to nurture them along the sales process.

This is just one example of the many ways in which marketing automation can enhance the value of your analytics and your ability to use analytics intelligently and profitably. Check out our other recent blog on what questions to ask when putting together an analytics report.

Three Questions to Maximize Your Analytics

The importance of monitoring your online properties is not understated. By monitoring, you learn where your ad dollars are going and can see exactly how you’re improving.

However, figuring out what to report on can be just as difficult. Most tools at your disposal have more than you could ever need, and determining what those metrics actually measure can be complicated.

Ineffective reporting is almost as bad as no reporting. When you don’t know what’s going on, you make choices based on incomplete information. Here are three questions to ask about your metrics before writing a report:


Image Credit: violetkaipa / iStock / ThinkStock

1- What Does This Mean?

The single most basic question is often the most important. Even industry professionals ask the exact parameters for every tool they’re working with, on every single campaign.

Each tool measures slightly different things, and they often update their guidelines to reflect changes in the Internet. As a result, this should be the absolute first thing you ask about your monitoring tools.

You can’t have any effective report unless you know exactly what you’re reporting on, and what surprisingly vague word such as “visits” or “unique visitors” are actually measuring. For example, a visit could simply be clicking the page, or it could be when somebody has spent three minutes on the site. You could also have control over the definition, meaning it needs to be set before you get solid numbers.

Once you know what your metrics mean, you can begin to grasp your campaign performance.

2- Why Do I Need It?

Another important question, this one to keep your reports down to a manageable length. There are hundreds of metrics available for your website, and if you implement every single one, you’ll be drowning in data.

Sticking to a few key metrics means you can really drill down on how to improve them. What you monitor should tie in to the goals for your online strategy, with everything else simply being a distraction. If you’re only interested in increasing the number of prospects that visit your site, the number of shares your blog post got is less important than the percentage of new unique visitors.

Asking why you’re measuring something means you only get relevant data, allowing you to spend as little time reading reports as possible, and more time working on your company.

3- How Do I Use It?

In order to get the most out of your metrics, it’s important to know how to get the most out of it. Sometimes each page you’re monitoring needs a tracking cookie, while others automatically gather data. You could need to configure settings for what to include and exclude, to keep out non human users in your data.

Getting at least a basic understanding of what your tools can do is important for knowing what their limits are and what you can expect from reports. It also makes sure you’re maximizing your investments in analytics.

While nobody can tell you exactly what to report, keeping these three questions in mind when you set up analytics helps you get the most out of it. SharpSpring offers quality, simple to use analytics tools that make it easy to spend more time working on your business.

There Are Non-Human Visitors In Your Google Analytics Reports!

Go ahead and panic – there’s a ‘referral spam’ invasion underway!

Actually, there’s no need to panic, but this is certainly an issue for anyone who relies on their analytics to make business decisions.


What’s Referral Spam?

Referral spam is the result of spammers creating computer-generated footprints that simulate actual visitors to your website. This causes the number of visitors that Google Analytics reports to become artificially inflated.  These fake numbers creep into your Audience reports and your Acquisition reports making them less accurate – in some cases much less accurate. Referral spam is most evident in the Google Analytics Referral report, which can be located by following this path:  Acquisition > Overview > All Traffic > Channels > Referral.  Here, the referral spam presents itself as being sources of traffic to your website, but their domains will likely seem strange to you.


Why Are They Doing This?

They’re trying to trick you into visiting their spammy websites.  If you go to one of these URLs, you’ll either get directed to an online store, a marketing scam, or a website that will infect your computer with malware.

Is There A Way To Combat Referral Spam?

Yes, however you may never be able to get rid of 100% of the referral spam.  There are several strategies for combating referral spam, each with its own degree of effectiveness, so implementing multiple strategies is the best solution.

You can attempt to block referral spam from visiting your website in the first placed by either adding code to your website’s html, or by using WordPress plugins. These strategies, however, only help with part of the problem and they could cause unintended issues, for example: blocking beneficial bots, like those who discover your content and share it with others.

The other way to go about combating referral spam is to filter from within Google Analytics.  This can be done because there are some telltale signs that reveal them as fake.  For instance, there’s a portion of referral spam that claims to be triggering your Google Analytics code from a website other than your own.  Therefore, a good step towards reducing referral spam is asking Google Analytics to only report on traffic to your actual domain.  Another sign that that a reported visitor may be a result of referral spam is seen when a visitor’s screen resolution is reported as “(not set)”.  These visits can be filtered out as well. Finally, if you still see referral spam after implementing the first two filters, you’ll need to do hand-to-hand combat with the remaining offenders.  This is done by individually adding them to another filter you create.

Is There A Way To Clean Referral Spam From Past Reports?

Yes.  Similar to using Google Analytics filters, which only effects reports after implementation, you can also create Google Analytics custom segments that reach back in time to help clean up your past reports. Again, these won’t be 100% effective at eliminating the referral spam, but they will go a long way towards improving the accuracy of your analytics reports.

What’s Google Doing About Referral Spam?

Google hasn’t implemented anything specifically to combat referral spam, nor have they announced they intend to.  This is unfortunate. Hopefully they’re actually working behind the scenes to create a solution.  Meanwhile, they do have an existing feature within Google Analytics that may, or may not, help. They have a checkbox which reads “exclude all hits from known bots and spiders”.  This can be found in the Admin section, under View > View Settings > Bot Filtering.  This, however, shouldn’t be relied upon to fix the problem because it seems that nobody at Google is adding referral spam bots to their list of known bots.

If You’re Going To Take Action, Beware

Please be aware that there are best practices that should be followed if you’re going to attempt any of these strategies, so be sure to do your research in advance, or consult experts for help.  We, here at Prosar Inbound Inc., are available to assist you, so feel free to contact us.

Why Marketing Automation?: Eliminate Blind Spots with Smart Lists and Lead Scoring

Your current situation: you have a database with your company’s contacts, leads, including past and potential customers. This database contains a bit of contact information about each one but, have you ever asked yourself: What do you truly know about them? In particular, what do you know about them that is meaningful to your company?

For example, what is their current interest (and degree of interest) in your products/services, and do they have the potential to ever be or should they be considered a qualified lead? These questions might leave you at a bit of a loss.

Lastly, how do you avoid wasting company time on a long list of contacts (by sending out generic bulk emails or cold-calling, for example) that might not be ready to buy, and instead identify and refocus most of your attention on those with the greatest potential?




Credit: iStock / Rawpixel Ltd


Forget Cold-Calling:
Use Smart Lists and Lead Scoring to Automatically Gather Meaningful, Actionable Information About Your Contacts’ Interests and Behaviour

Lead Scoring and Smart List are two features offered by many marketing automation platforms that help you to automatically and dynamically collect valuable information about your contacts’ online behaviour (e.g. what they click on, pages they visit from an email you send, forms they fill out etc.) resulting in actionable information for you and your company. Among other things, Lead Scoring and Smart Lists can let you know who is ready to buy, when they are ready to buy, and will provide you with the information you need about a contact’s behaviour and interests so you can tailor the appropriate message to close the deal.

And, if they’re not ready to buy, lead scoring and smart lists are a part of the marketing automation process that will help you (and the marketing automation platform) identify where they are in the buyer’s lifecycle, so those with potential can be moved closer to a sale.

How it Works

What is a Smart List?

A Smart List is a dynamic list of contacts and leads that self-populates and automatically updates over time based on “rules” you assign to it. If and when these “rules” match any of your contact’s or lead’s behaviour, they are added to the smart list. For example, you might include the following “rules” when setting up one of your smart lists: “Contacts in this list: have visited landing page ‘X’ on my site less than a week ago, and have visited my website’s pricing page less than a week ago.” Now, you can watch the list begin to populate with any contacts who have exhibited these behaviours! Depending on your current relationship with a contact or lead who appears on this smart list, their behaviour might indicate to you that they’re a hot lead who deserves more personalized attention. Armed with actionable information you wouldn’t have otherwise that will help you tailor your message (such as: their interests and stage in the buyer’s lifecycle), you might choose to give them a call or send them a personalized email to check-in on them.

Crucially, Smart Lists will keep you updated on: who you should invest your time in, when to act, and what the message should be, helping to increase the likelihood of closing a sale.

What is Lead Scoring?

Lead Scoring is a points-based system that allows you to automatically rank your contacts and leads based on variety of factors, including:

• Fit – How well a lead aligns to your target audience and ideal customer

• Completeness of Contact Information

• Engagement – # of page visits, # of clicks from emails sent to them, # of forms is filled out

• Specific Page Tracking – If they visit a specific page(s) on your website

You can then assign each factor any positive (+) or negative (-) number value you choose; depending on how important each is to you and your business (e.g. +5 for each webpage page visited, or -20 for people not living in Canada). The total is automatically calculated and updated automatically to make up each individual’s lead score.

You might then create a smart list that will only include people (a) with lead scores over a certain number and (b) who have visited your website less than a week ago.

In this way, lead scoring in combination with smart lists can help you keep track of and sort your “top” contacts and leads – helping you to focus your energy, time, and money on those who are most likely to result in a sale.

Eliminate Blind Spots, Waste Fewer Resources, and Make More Sales by Using Lead Scoring and Smart Lists

Both smart lists and lead scoring help to eliminate “blind spots” you might have in regards to your contacts’ and leads’ behaviour. This previously unknown data empowers you and your sales team to make informed marketing decisions that increase sales and waste less time and money.  

Lead scoring and smart lists are just a couple of the powerful features offered by many marketing automation platforms like SharpSpring. Follow the PROSAR Blog to learn more about inbound marketing and marketing automation.

Recommended Related Reading: 

5 Reasons to Choose Marketing Automation for Your Inbound Marketing Business Solution 

How to Find Your Ideal Client

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