April 24, 2014

Google Analytics Smart Lists Feature Improves Remarketing Campaigns

analytics smart lists

Google Analytics has done it again, this time with their new featured centering around remarketing. The new feature is called “Smart Lists” and it was created to help the remarketing section of Google Analytics become a little bit more manageable and less overwhelming.

Consumers often find remarketing incredibly annoying, so you have to make sure you have a solid strategy in place so that you don’t fall into that category. Remarketing can work well for all parties involved just as long as you, the company owner, are handling it correctly. Google Analytics Smart Lists will help you do just that.

How Google Analytics Smart Lists Work

Google Analytics Smart Lists is a new option you will have when you are creating a new remarketing list. This option lets Google Analytics know that you want them, Google Analytics, to manage your list for you. Below is a screenshot from the official announcement:

analytics smart lists

Millions of websites have opted in to share anonymized conversion data with Google Analytics, so Google Analytics decided to take this data and use it to power the new Smart Lists. They use signals such as visit duration, page depth, location, device, referrer, and browswer in order to predict which users are most likely to convert when they come back to a site.

Using this intelligence, Analytics can then manage your remarketing campaigns in AdWords by focusing on those users that are “high-potential.” This data is updated daily by Analytics and users are therefore added or removed from a Smart List frequently.

For Sites with eCommerce Conversion Tracking in Analytics

If you’re an eCommerce business owner, there is a good chance you already have enough traffic and conversions that you don’t feel like you need to use this data. In general, this goes for eCommerce sites with at least 500 monthly transactions and/or 10,000 daily page views. However, Analytics has thought of this, too.

If this describes your type of business, your Google Analytics Smart Lists will automatically be upgraded. Google explained this in their announcement:

“Your list will be customized based on the unique characteristics that cause your visitors to convert. Only you will have access to this list, and no new data will be shared whether you use this feature or not.”

Whether you’re an eCommerce company or not, Google also mentioned that making sure your Google Analytics goals and transactions are being imported into AdWords.

What the New Smart Lists Means to You

This is an excellent new feature for those who are new to remarketing. As discussed above, remarketing is something that gets mismanaged all the time. As a consumer there is a good chance that you’ve seen a mismanaged campaign a time or two, so it’s important your company doesn’t fall into that category.

Google Analytics Smart Lists will help give you strong results right at the start, at which point you can move on to a bigger variety or more customized list if you choose.

So what if you’re not new to remarketing? Many companies already have a solid list strategy, but Google Analytics Smart Lists is expected to extend this directly for your current lists as an optimized signal used in AdWords bidding.

Image: Google

The post Google Analytics Smart Lists Feature Improves Remarketing Campaigns appeared first on Small Business Trends.

Lessons Learned From Your 2013 Tax Return

tax return lessons

With another tax filing deadline in the rearview mirror, most people don’t think about taxes until the next year.

However, take a few moments to review your return before you stock it away. This year’s return can provide valuable information on the financial health of your business, as well as show you ways to improve your tax situation in time for next year’s filing.

Tax Return Lessons Learned

1. Do You Feel the Self-Employment Tax Pain?

Do you feel like you are paying too much in self-employment taxes? You’re not alone, especially considering the rate for 2013 is higher than it has been the past few years.

If you make self-employed income, there’s not a lot you can do to avoid this tax completely. However, you can check with your CPA or tax advisor to see if changing your business structure to a corporation or LLC that’s taxed like an S Corporation can help lower your SE taxes.

In addition, the most important strategy for dealing with self-employment taxes is making sure your prices reflect this increased cost of doing business. Employers and employees typically split Medicare and Social Security taxes. But when you’re self-employed, you are on the hook for the whole thing.

This higher cost needs to be factored into your pricing.

2. Did You Struggle With Your Documentation?

To make the most of your business tax deductions, you’ll need accurate, comprehensive records. If you don’t keep track of your business expenses throughout the year, trying to remember every expense and round up every receipt can be a major hassle. Some legitimate expenses are bound to slip through the cracks, meaning you’ll end up paying more in taxes than you should.

If you struggled to prepare your records, receipts, and other documents this year, make a plan to get organized for your 2014 return. Find a method for documenting expenses that works for you.

There are dedicated apps like Expensify for tracking expenses, Milebug for recording mileage, or Shoeboxed for capturing paper receipts. In addition, your accounting program, like Mint, QuickBooks, or FreshBooks will let you record and manage expenses.

You’ll be grateful come tax time next year.

3. Are You Saving Enough for Retirement?

Your tax return can tell you whether you’ve made the most of your retirement savings options. If you haven’t, it’s a good idea to change your habits. After all, when you are self-employed, you are fully responsible for your retirement savings.

For example, if you qualify for a SEP-IRA and didn’t make the full contribution last year, see if you can step up your savings this year. The same advice goes to employees who aren’t contributing their full share to an employer-sponsored retirement plan.

4. Are You Expensing Enough?

What does your Schedule C or 1120/1120-S look like? Does your balance sheet show mainly profit, with few expenses? While most business owners want to keep their company running in the black, it is possible that you are not strategically expensing your costs throughout the year to keep your tax bill down.

Discuss your options with a CPA. Perhaps you’ll need to make a few key technology or marketing investments this year, or expense more travel and entertaining costs.

5. Any Nasty Surprises?

Did you discover that you didn’t put away enough to cover your 2013 taxes? Did your estimated tax payments fall way short? Businesses, including self-employed sole proprietors, are required to pay taxes on a quarterly basis. While this may be the law, it’s also good practice as waiting to pay a year’s worth of taxes in one lump sum can be quite a shock.

If you had to write a big check with your 2013 return, you’ll need to be more disciplined this year. Get into the habit of automatically setting aside a percentage of each payment/revenue for your tax obligations. Then, take stock of your profit/loss statement at each quarter and pay your quarterly bill accordingly. A financial advisor can help you estimate these payments if you need some help.

Remember that paying taxes is a year-long obligation, not just something to think about once a year. Take some time to reflect on your 2013 taxes – the tax return lessons learned will help streamline the process, and potentially lower your tax bill for years to come.

Tax Photo via Shutterstock

The post Lessons Learned From Your 2013 Tax Return appeared first on Small Business Trends.

April 23, 2014

Chris Brogan Is a Proud Freak

Chris Brogan Is a Proud Freak written by John Jantsch read more at Small Business Marketing Blog from Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Chris Brogan

My guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Chris Brogan, founder of Owner magazine and author of The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth: Entrepreneurship for Weirdos, Misfits, and World Dominators

Freaks Chris BroganChris Brogan has embarked on a bit of a mission. He’s proudly telling his story and the story of many others who might not always end up on tidily scripted news shows. Brogan is calling them “freaks” but he’s doing so as a badge of honor, not as a put down.

One of the primary objectives of this mission is to provide some hope and encouragement for those who feel somehow they are different and are struggling to stay on that path as the world tries to push them back to its idea of normal.

He is building a community or place where people can start to believe that maybe there is a place for them. Check out his #proudfreak hashtag to meet some of those people. (Ironically, people who don’t feel like they fit in maybe aren’t the best people to try to corral into a group of some sort, so community might not be the exact term.)

But Freaks is also very much about turning your idea into something that has business value in your very unique way. In Freaks he also shows you how people have begun to find and serve a community and then how they have developed a marketplace around that.

One of the most interesting points in the interview is when I ask Brogan if his treatise is autobiographical. He claims in fact that he wrote this book for his children who he affectionately calls weirdos. In that he means that he never sees them finding their passion in a cubicle and this book just might help them understand why.

In Freaks you’ll meet dozens of other “weirdos” in what amounts to a fun filled romp through what it can mean to own a business these days.

If you feel like you’re a little different, your idea is a little off beat, then dive into Brogan’s new book and you just may find solid evidence that you’re not only right, you’re not alone.

 

Marketing Podcast with Chris Brogan My guest for this week's episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Chris Brogan, founder of Owner magazine and author of The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth: Entrepreneurship for Weirdos, Misfits, and World Dominators Chris Brogan has embarked on a bit of a mission. He's proudly telling his story and the story of many others who might not always end up on tidily scripted news shows. Brogan is calling them "freaks" but he's doing so as a badge of honor, not as a put down. One of the primary objectives of this mission is to provide some hope and encouragement for those who feel somehow they are different and are struggling to stay on that path as the world tries to push them back to its idea of normal. He is building a community or place where people can start to believe that maybe there is a place for them. Check out his #proudfreak hashtag to meet some of those people. (Ironically, people who don't feel like they fit in maybe aren't the best people to try to corral into a group of some sort, so community might not be the exact term.) But Freaks is also very much about turning your idea into something that has business value in your very unique way. In Freaks he also shows you how people have begun to find and serve a community and then how they have developed a marketplace around that. One of the most interesting points in the interview is when I ask Brogan if his treatise is autobiographical. He claims in fact that he wrote this book for his children who he affectionately calls weirdos. In that he means that he never sees them finding their passion in a cubicle and this book just might help them understand why. In Freaks you'll meet dozens of other "weirdos" in what amounts to a fun filled romp through what it can mean to own a business these days. If you feel like you're a little different, your idea is a little off beat, then dive into Brogan's new book and you just may find solid evidence that you're not only right, you're not alone.

April 18, 2014

3 Tips for a Small Business Strategy

But Pubsoft Director of Marketing Heather Wied says small businesses should not spread themselves thin trying to master every social network under the sun. Pubsoft, which helps businesses publish online content, integrates social networking to help customers spread the word about their businesses.

The best social network for you is dependent on your target market, says Wied.

To maximize your time on social media – without losing your mind – check out Wieds three best tips:

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