Nashville IT Services

When ‘tech rage’ threatens, here are 6 ways to keep your cool

Tech Rage

By JJ Rosen, Atiba Founder & CEO. This article originally appeared in The Tennessean

Frustration has set in.

After nearly a year of pandemic-life, it’s understandable why anyone would be at their wits’ end.  Trapped at home, worrying about everything from work to school to whether it’s safe to go to the grocery — it’s enough to put all of us on edge.

That’s why I wasn’t completely surprised when I walked into our home office to find my normally easygoing wife having a serious argument with our laser printer.

After half an hour of rebooting, downloading new printer drivers, and reciting tech-god prayers, she was no longer messing around.

No matter how much she chastised the machine, it refused to budge.  With its blinking red lights and random beeps, it seemed to almost take joy in taunting her as it held its ground.  She was fuming as she demanded that it print the one-page document she needed.

When tech behaves badly

“Tech rage” has always been common, even in more mellow times.

Whether it’s cursing your computer out or physically assaulting it, who among us has never felt their anger boiling over when a piece of technology fails?

As an IT consultant, I have both witnessed tech-rage and suffered from it myself here and there.  Much like its more notorious cousin “road rage,” tech rage can summon up intense feelings of anger that we all know are illogical, but nevertheless are very real.

What Banks Need to Know About Cybersecurity

banks and cybersecurity

To some, cybersecurity sounds like something that only the military or top-secret organizations would handle. In reality, cybersecurity affects many businesses and institutions of all sizes around the globe.

The banking and financial sector should be extra concerned about the threats of cybersecurity. As more and more of the banking world goes digital, this opens up the online door for potential attacks and security risks. Cybersecurity should be a top priority for banks if it isn’t so already.

Having solid and effective cybersecurity programs is vital and incredibly important.

Today, we’re going to run over the basics of cybersecurity and banks. We’ll answer some important questions while talking about how your bank can secure your network and prevent cyberattacks.

Cybersecurity and Banking

As a bank or financial institution, you know that one of the most important aspects of client relations is trust. Holding, protecting, taking care of money, and helping people make financial decisions is probably a large part of your mission statement and message.

Banks have become a larger target for cybersecurity attacks, attacks that are becoming increasingly more prevalent and sophisticated.

The world is moving to a cashless society, something that has been in the works but sped up by the COVID pandemic. Suddenly, banks have become more digital faster than they originally thought.

Banks have been protecting money from thieves since the days of the Old West, but now there’s a greater emphasis on protecting everyday transactions. No rough and tough cowboys with 10-gallon hats are kicking down doors. It’s all about preventing unauthorized access to one’s financials.

People aren’t just using their bank cards to withdraw cash or make a deposit. They’re relying on your bank to buy gas, clear off their Amazon wishlist, or go to the movies. That presents more and more opportunities for consumer data to be put at risk.

If your bank suffers a data breach, personal data may have been uncovered but you also lost something that can’t be bought back: consumer trust. Customers are looking for an institution they can trust to keep their money and information safe.

While you may be able to put back the pieces after a breach and recover any data, building back customer trust will take much longer.

For many banks, that’s just something you can’t afford.

What methods do hackers use?

hacking methods banks

When it comes to cybersecurity, what should you be looking out for? There are a number of attacks ranging from everyday, basic attacks to more sophisticated ones.

Phishing

Without a doubt, phishing is one of the most common cyber attacks that affect both clients and staff members. Even though it’s common and relatively basic, it shows that cyber attacks don’t always come from hooded individuals behind 900 screens.

These phishing attacks usually come from emails, phone calls, or other forms of communication.

There are a few types of phishing attacks to be aware of, the first of which is spear phishing. This is when a hacker goes after a particular individual of an organization in hopes of implementing malware or trying to discover confidential data.

Whale phishing, on the other hand, is when hackers go after a high-level employee such as the CEO or CFO.

Web Attacks

There are several various web attacks that hackers use. Cross-site scripting, also known as XSS, is where an attacker will implement malicious scripts into trustworthy websites. The attack occurs when the attacker uses a web application to transmit malicious code to a separate user.

The end-user doesn’t know that the script is malicious and will execute it, infecting their browser. Since the script appears to come from a trustworthy site, the code can now access everything from cookies to sensitive data.

This type of code is typically sent in Javascript but can be used in other languages as well.

An SQL injection, or SQLI, is another attack that works on the backend. This code is designed to manipulate databases and extract information that is not meant for the public eye. An SQLI is often one of the most devastating cyber-attacks a bank can face, as databases can be altered or erased and customer data can be released.

These attacks can either go after an SQL database or a website itself.

DDoS Attacks

Another high-profile attack, DDoS attacks are aimed at shutting down a service or network. Users won’t be able to access the network until service is restored. DDoS attacks often go after high-profile companies or services, like when Amazon Web Services was targeted in February 2020 or in 2012 when six high-profile US banks were attacked.

DDoS attacks are when large amounts of traffic cause a service or network crash, leading to downtime. And downtime can cost your bank significantly. While no personal information or data is lost or stolen, downtime can be devastating to any institution with daily customers.

AI-Led Attacks

Fans of sci-fi movies will no doubt recognize the storyline where a computer program or AI gets “too powerful for its own good” and tries to take over the world. The idea of that becoming reality is pretty terrifying.

But AI-led, or AI-powered, cyberattacks are a real threat that can cripple your bank or financial institution. Machine learning is being used all over the tech world and has been used with malicious intent. Machine learning software is software that trains a computer to perform a task independently.

Much like humans, they keep practicing and practicing this task until they’ve learned how to do it themselves. AI can go after private data, passwords, and DDoS attacks.

What is the average recovery time of a cybersecurity attack?

If your bank or financial institution suffers an attack, when can you expect to make a recovery?

recovery time cybersecurity attack

The primary answer to this is “it depends”. It depends on how well-prepared your financial institution was prepared ahead of time, what you had budgeted for your security, awareness programs, and more. To judge your preparedness, running an IT security audit is always helpful.

According to a study by Certify, highly secure companies took an average of seven days to recover from an attack. Those with low security took more than 90 days to fully recover from such an attack.

After all, the average cost for each lost or stolen record is about $150. The average cost of a cyberattack on a bank or financial institution is almost $20 million, something that many businesses just can’t recover from. Considering that roughly one in four financial institutions have suffered a damaging cyberattack, is your institution ready?

The Pandemic and Cyberattacks

Since the start of the pandemic, more people are working from home than ever. And more people plan on working from home on a permanent or semi-permanent level this year. Many don’t have proper home security, opening up themselves and their business for potential attacks.

Since the pandemic began, banks and financial institutions have seen an increase in cyberattacks as businesses struggle to create safe, digital channels for those working from home. While a bank’s network may be secured in the office, an employee’s home WIFI may not offer the same level of security.

It also makes it much more difficult for security teams to detect cyberattacks. In some cases, it may be weeks before a breach is detected and by then, it’s too late.

Looking forward, many banks should think about their current security policies and how ‘future-proof’ they are.

Are you able to handle more employees working remotely? What if you move your services to a public cloud? Do you have the proper cloud security in place? Although these trends may play themselves out over the next coming months or years, it’s beneficial for your bank to start thinking about that right away.

What can banks do to protect from cyberattacks?

The best thing banks can do to protect from cyberattacks is to take proactive steps to stop an attack before it happens. Spending time, effort, and money to protect your most valuable assets is worth it, even if you’ve never experienced a cyberattack before.

Create a Risk and Security Plan

Banks too often rely on out-of-date IT infrastructure or believing that a cyber attack isn’t likely to happen. Instead of relying on old technology and reactionary measures, banks need to be planning out their risk assessment plans and investing in proper cybersecurity methods.

  • One of the first steps is to identify vulnerabilities and threats. These can be personnel, organizational issues, or network weaknesses. One of the best ways to measure these weaknesses is through penetration testing to patch those areas before they become real problems.
  • Next, you can classify your assets in order of sensitivity and value. These assets are usually data points containing confidential or internal use-only information that shouldn’t be available to the public.
  • Lastly, you should always be analyzing risk. Just because you’ve implemented safeguards and security doesn’t mean that they haven’t become outdated or vulnerable. Monitoring risk should be a constant task to keep your information secure.

You should also regularly be educating employees about the potential threats and dangers of a cybersecurity attack. This involves a few items that are quite manageable.

  • Multi-factor authentication, or MFA, is when a user must provide two or more login credentials to access an account. That can be a mix of PINs, fingerprints, or passwords. MFA is annoying, but it helps prevent a breach if one login is compromised.
  • Security training should be regular for employees to keep them updated on the latest cyberattack tendencies and trends. With proper training, employees can actively and rapidly identify vulnerabilities and security issues.

Some banks or businesses purchase cyber insurance as well. Insurance makes sure your business is financially protected in the event of a breach and can help cover legal expenses as well. Insurance also pays for damaged systems, helps restore compromised data, and alerts customers in the event of a breach.

Create a Response Plan

risk and security plan

You may have everything set in place and a breach still occurs. If that happens, you also should have a plan in place.

This means having a set list of actions that you can immediately refer to if you notice a breach. A 2020 study by PWC showed that only 30% of institutions have such a plan in place. Having a plan ready can help reduce the reputational and financial damage incurred from a breach.

Your plan should involve the following steps:

  1. An IT expert suspects or identifies the problem.
  2. Work to contain the breach
  3. Assess the risk and damages behind the breach
  4. Review the incident
  5. Patch or revise security to prevent future breaches
  6. Train employees or team on additional security measures if necessary

While this is a simplified version of a plan, these guidelines are crucial when having a response plan.

How much do banks spend on cybersecurity?

While there is no solid number on how much banks should be spending on cybersecurity, some surveys suggest around $3,000 should be spent per employee on cybersecurity. A study from Deloitte suggests that around 10% of your IT budget should be spent on cybersecurity alone.

There are certainly budget and financial actions you can take, but many prevention methods are quite simple and effective.

What Atiba Can do To Help Your Bank

As cybersecurity experts, we’ve worked with plenty of banks and financial institutions around the country to help them protect valuable data. We can help your bank or financial institution train employees, run security assessments, implement a response plan, and contain any breaches that may occur.

Working as a third-party service, we can provide a clean, fresh look at your security and advise on the next steps. We’ll work with your bank to help implement a customized plan that adheres to your needs and secures your bank.

If you want to learn more about how we can help your bank or financial institution, reach out today for a free quote. We look forward to helping you.

Mass Email Marketing Tips for Your Email Marketing Campaign

email marketing tips

The average person is well-versed in emails. Sending emails, receiving emails, bulk-deleting emails, we’ve seen it all. According to a recent study, the average person receives 121 emails every day and sends out around 40. That’s a lot of mail!

While it would be nice if a large chunk of those received emails were personal well-wishes or people actually trying to give you $10 billion, most of those emails are marketing emails sent by a company that you purchased one item from years ago. Even though you may delete most of them, they have to do some good, right? If they weren’t effective, then why would they continue to be sent on a regular basis?

For those in business, you’ve no doubt thought about a mass email marketing campaign while weighing the pros and cons of getting a campaign off the ground. Will it bring more business? Will it be worth it? Will people actually open my emails?

Today, we’re going to run over some of the biggest questions and most important tips to ensure you have a successful email marketing campaign.

Is email marketing effective?

effective email marketing

Before you even consider the steps, it’s a good question to ask. Is this whole song and dance even going to be worth it?

The short answer is yes, email marketing is still effective. According to the folks at HubSpot (whom we love here at Atiba), email brings in $38 for every $1 spent. For those counting at home, that’s an amazing 3800% ROI. Not bad!

We have to understand that email marketing is something that’s been around for a while. While many tactics, tools, and software have changed or evolved over the years, this form of marketing has stood the test of time.

Plus, if you look at the raw stats, there’s a lot of encouraging information from the report above:

  • Roughly 51% of the world’s population uses email
  • Almost 50% of users open emails on their phone
  • Almost 80% of marketers have noticed an increase in email engagement in the last year
  • 60% of users say emails help influence buying decisions

That’s a lot of great information. But to take advantage of email marketing, you have to make sure you’re doing it effectively.

What is considered ‘mass email’?

Mass email, also called bulk email, is the act of sending one email to a large group of people at the same time. That email could be a newsletter, special offer, business update, coupon book, eBook, event invitations, basic marketing emails, or even a holiday letter. No matter the type of content, the goal is the same: send an email to a whole boatload of people.

But where to start? Do you start by manually entering each person’s email in the “To” field? Well, you could, but there are much better ways to go about it.

To craft an effective email campaign, you’re going to need CRM (customer relationship management) software, email templates, a bit of creativity, and of course, a theme to your emails. We’re going to be diving into all those in a minute, but let’s go over some important questions first.

Can I send marketing emails to my customers?

Yes, you can. But only if you collect their information ahead of time. And you don’t get their email address as much as your customers give you their email address.

In order to collect their information, they have to be willing to give it to you. This doesn’t mean you have to plead for their email address every time you interact with a customer. Instead, you can collect it through other means, such as:

  • Online forms
  • An in-store form
  • Contest signup
  • Survey completion
  • Email request at checkout

It’s also vital that you adhere to privacy laws and legislation when you acquire email addresses. These laws spell out exactly how you can collect, store, use, and protect this information. Here in the United States, there is no overarching law about how to go about this like there is in Europe or Australia.

email privacyFor example, California has its own privacy law that differs from our laws here in Tennessee.

You’ll also have to create your own privacy policy which lays out what information you’re collecting, why you want to collect it, what you’ll do with it, and more. There are free templates out there to help get you started, but it may not hurt to at least check with legal counsel before you finalize the document.

Now even though you’ve collected their information, the customer may not be expecting an email from you which leads us to a smaller question.

Is Cold Emailing Illegal?

No, it’s not illegal as long as you follow the letter of the law.

Cold emailing is only illegal if you’ve illegally obtained email addresses or are failing to adhere to CAN-SPAM compliance.

In a nutshell, don’t acquire people’s email addresses without them knowing or be deceptive in your emails. Most businesses won’t have to worry about this.

How can I send bulk emails?

We’ll go over both the free and paid route in a bit, but let’s run through the basic steps.

First, you’re going to want to create your email list. If you don’t have an email marketing tool you can always go the Excel or Google Docs route. If you’re not sure if Office 365 or Google Workspace is best for this task, take time to evaluate both options.

The easiest thing to do is to make two columns: name and email address. You put someone’s name and then their address.

Easy.

You can also add more columns just for you, like where they work, how you know them, and what their favorite kind of cheese is.

Once you have your list, you’re going to want to put it in a CSV (comma-separated value) file, where you can separate out names and email addresses.

This file type will be handy no matter what route you’re going as it will allow you to upload your list quickly and easily.

What is the best free email marketing service?

While you could use your regular email services like Gmail or Outlook, those aren’t going to offer you the tools or analytics you’ll need to run a successful mass email marketing campaign. You can send thousands of emails, but how will you know if anyone opens them? Clicks on a link or button?

Short answer: you won’t.

You’re also likely to end up in spam folders quicker. Any bozo with a computer and an email connection can create a Gmail account and chances are, a large amount of those spam messages you’ve received in your life have from Gmail or Yahoo users.

Rest easy, however, as there are a number of free email marketing tools out there:

You probably recognize HubSpot and Mailchimp on this list. They are two of the world’s most popular CRM software and have fantastic email marketing tools built-in that are easy to use and can help you craft some fantastic emails.

As these tools are free, they are going to come with some limitations. Many of these services have a limit on the number of emails you can send per week or month, don’t have all the premium features, and only allow limited users. Plus, they’ll constantly be encouraging you to sign up for their paid service.

If you’re a small business that sends limited emails to a small number of contacts, then going to one of these free services may not be a bad idea. It’s up to you to check the features and limitations of each service to find out if it fits your business.

What are the best paid tools for email marketing?

While all the above tools (and more) have payment options out there, the two that shine above the rest (and that we use here at Atiba) are Mailchimp and HubSpot.

Both Mailchimp and HubSpot come with a bevy of features besides email marketing, so their functionality and additional features may influence your decision. Both are easy to use, can grow with your business, and are built for all types of businesses.

mailchimp vs hubspot comparison

If you’re looking for a super detailed comparison, check out the HubSpot and Mailchimp websites.

What is the most effective email marketing strategy?

A broad question but one that can be answered with some effective email marketing tips.

email tips

Mobile-Friendly Emails

People are using their phones more and more with every passing year. From surfing the web to opening emails, if you’re not optimizing your online presence for mobile then you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

No one wants to open an email on their device, scroll around, or zoom in to find anything important. They’re more likely to delete it and never look back.

Here are the things to do to keep your emails mobile-friendly:

  • Use responsive email design which means the email will fit and adapt to whatever screen it is being viewed on.
  • Keep the subject line and pre-header brief. Make it easy to read and understand.
  • Use small photos, no bigger than 600 pixels wide.
  • Make the call-to-action obvious. Don’t make users go hunt for what you want them to do.

Make your emails mobile-first!

Personalize Your Emails

No one wants to be greeted by a simple “hey” or “hello user” or the dreaded “<insert name here>”.

Many brands skip out on the personalization aspect, blasting the same email to all users. So just by making it personal, you’re already standing out amongst the rest. By putting their name in an email, they’re more likely to open the email, more likely to read the email, and more likely to convert.

Test, Test, and then Test Again

Have you ever heard of A/B testing? A/B testing is the process of sending out emails with some factors changed (subject line, text, the from address, etc.) to see which emails generate a higher opening rate. These two emails are sent to a number of users and whichever email has a better open rate will be the ‘winner’.

Then, every email after that will be using the winning email to communicate with your email list.

By using A/B testing, you’ll be able to see which emails are resonating more with customers and can help you craft effective emails in the future.

Automation is Your Friend

Are customers signing up for your newsletter? Registering themselves on your site? Just made a purchase? Hit them with a ‘thank you’ or ‘welcome’ email. But don’t want until you’re back in the office to crank out a number of emails. Have a template already set up and ready to fire out once a user is registered on your site.

Open rates are much higher for automated messages and can help generate higher revenue and greater profits.

What is the best time and day to send a marketing email?

Daytime vs nighttime? Should it be in their inbox as soon as they wake up? What’s the best time to send mass emails.

Let’s start with the obvious: it’s best to send emails during the day when, you know, people aren’t sawing logs. You should also skip Garfield’s least favorite day, Mondays, as people aren’t exactly primed and ready to be looking through new emails.

The best time and day are mid-week and midday.

best time to send an email

Why?

People are already in a working mood, ready to get on with their week. Midday, between 11 AM-2 PM is seen as the best time. People are in their daily routines, things are going normal, and they expect emails.

How often should emails be sent?

You don’t want to flood inboxes nor do you want to have them forget about you. The general rule of thumb is to send out no more than two emails every month. Many companies stick to just once a month.

While that’s sound advice, it doesn’t mean you have to follow it. Maybe you’ve got a weekly newsletter filled with deals that you want to send out or something else entirely.

But send too many emails, and your recipients are likely to get annoyed and delete them without even opening them.

If you’re of the once-a-month group, you could try sending out more emails over time. But if you notice your open rate or click-through-rate declining, then you should scale it back. It’s all about finding that sweet spot.

How many emails can I send without spamming?

“No, I will not hide in the spam cellar. Ha! You think I’m spammy, huh?”

-Norman Bates’ mother if she were spam.

To avoid ending up in spam boxes around the globe, we need to understand how spam works.

Email services have ‘spam traps’ that are designed to identify and filter out spammers. If your email gets sent to such an address, then you are tagged as a spammer and will forever be relegated to the spam folder. Unless the recipient takes a manual action and tells their email service “no, it’s cool, he’s with me.”

Email services also use spam filters which are programs designed to filter out spam based on certain criteria by looking at the address, nature of the email, etc.

The first thing you want to do is choose a reliable email service provider, like the one listed above. Sending multiple emails from your Gmail account may be one way to end up on a spam list.

Some other important tips are:

  • Respect those that want to unsubscribe
  • Remove emails that bounce (recipient not found) from your list
  • Be professional
  • Use your domain name in the from address
  • Don’t add attachments
  • Offer plain text and HTML options

The last one, which is quite important and one we cannot stress enough, is never buy an email list. It’s likely full of defunct addresses and it’s an easy way to end on a spam filter. You’ll torpedo your email campaign before you even get started.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are lots of things to consider when crafting the perfect email marketing campaign. Getting started can be tough, but it is not impossible. Over time, you should look to grow your email list and through testing, be able to better capture your audience’s attention.

If you’re looking to start a mass email marketing campaign or just need some help, reach out to our digital marketing team. We can help you with your email marketing strategy, get you set up, and start making leads for your business. Reach out to us today!

 

 

 

How to Make a Successful Business Intelligence Strategy

business intelligence strategy

Business intelligence (BI) is often misunderstood in the business world. Of course, you want your business to make smart, intelligent decisions but it also has a deeper significance. Business intelligence is the practice of collecting your data into insights and future actions. While you may want to rely on experience and intuition, business intelligence provides unbiased results using only data.

In fact, more and more businesses are relying on business intelligence to make sound decisions, as 54% of businesses agree that business intelligence is vital to their current and future initiatives.

But where do you start when it comes to developing a sound business intelligence strategy? Jumping into a mountain of data can seem confusing and in other cases, just downright intimidating. Today, we’re going to run over the basics about developing your business intelligence strategy and how you can make the most out of it.

Business Intelligence and Analytics

business intelligence analytics

Instead of jumping into the strategy section, we need to review how business intelligence and analytics intertwine. After all, data analytics has shown to make decision making five times faster for businesses.

The two most common terms that are mixed with business intelligence are predictive analytics and descriptive analytics. Predictive analytics comes after the business intelligence process while descriptive analytics is an active part of business intelligence.

Predictive analytics is based on forecasting the future using past data. Predictive analytics will take a look at a data set and make predictions about what will happen over the next weeks, months, or even years.

Descriptive analytics, on the other hand, is a detailed review of a business’ current outlook, internal processes, and market. Descriptive analytics looks at both past and current data to paint a picture or tell a story. Those typical business meetings of “let’s look at our last quarter performance” involving an old-school projector and a laser pointer is a perfect example of descriptive analytics.

Lastly, prescriptive analytics comes after predictive analytics and is the method of recommending solutions to current business problems and areas. Currently, prescriptive analytics is only available with advanced tools and isn’t considered reliable.

Starting Your Strategy

All good strategies start with a step zero, right?

Before you start collecting data, you need to introduce BI to your staff and any other important figures in your business. Depending on the size of your business, that could be an executive team, stakeholders, or a board of directors.

Here, you can start to lay out a vision of why you need a strategy.

  • What are your main goals?
  • What is your vision for this project?
  • How do these goals align with the overall business strategy?
  • Are you looking back and trying to find out why the last quarter underperformed?
  • Are you gathering data to make changes for the future?

You will also need to ask some practical questions as well, such as:

  • Who do you need to have on your team?
  • How is data currently handled?
  • What will coordination look like?

Let’s run through these questions to help you narrow down your next steps.

What’s your vision?

making a vision for your strategy

Going sort of hand-in-hand with the idea of making a goal, but you should have a direct answer to this question. Not only to keep you and your team members focused, but also when it comes to reporting on your findings. Gathering data for the sake of gathering data isn’t going to turn the needle.

You need to be able to present your findings in a way that has real ROI. Stakeholders, board members, and directors may not be interested in the nuanced statistics but want to know how these statistics and data will help increase company profit and success.

Is your strategy aligned with the overall business strategy?

What is your business trying to accomplish this month, quarter, or year? Are you trying to launch a new service? Grow in a new market?

Making sure these goals align with what the business is trying to accomplish allows you to pinpoint your data and zero in on certain aspects. You’ll also be able to provide more accurate results when the time for reporting comes.

The Practical Side

You’ll have to start building up your business intelligence team and decide who will be a part of the project. This requires planning as you’ll have to think about what data you will need from whom along the way. No one likes to be informed on a random Wednesday that they need to provide a big report without any warning.

Think about who will be a part of your immediate team and who you will need assistance from. There may also need to be training on various business intelligence methods or tools before beginning. Having this all laid out ahead of time will only make your life easier.

You are going to need strong support from your IT staff and someone in an exec role to help oversee the project. You might also have analysts on staff that can assist with business intelligence work, but that can vary.

Look Outside the Scope of IT

Your IT staff will undoubtedly play a huge role in your business intelligence, but remember that business intelligence is more than just technology. IT is likely going to handle numerous areas, such as data transfer, integrity, data governance, and more. But to succeed with your strategy you need support from all over the business itself.

Generally speaking, you want to make sure your strategy covers three main areas:

  • Operational
  • Tactical
  • Strategic

By having individuals that specialize in those areas, you can ensure that your business intelligence reports are customized for different branches. It also helps to give various viewpoints on data collected as multiple people may have different, unique ideas for how to proceed.

Decide to Go Custom or Use Tools

If you’re familiar with business intelligence, then you might be familiar with some of the most popular tools out there. If not, here’s a quick list:

  • Power BI
  • SAP
  • Sisense
  • Oracle Analytics
  • Spotfire
  • Domo
  • Yellowfin BI
  • MicroStrategy

With your vision and goals in mind, it’s going to be much easier to decide what tools you may need for proper data analysis. Smaller businesses tend to go with a set tool (or tools) while larger, enterprise organizations sometimes decide to build their own custom tool for internal use.

Deciding the top tool is entirely up to you and we’ll leave you to do your own research for the best option for you.

If you’re thinking about the custom route, here are some things to consider:

  • Do you have the tools or means to build a custom business intelligence tool? Building the right tool may take time and take members of your IT team away from current projects. You might turn to a custom software development company.
  • Is there a tool out there that adheres to your specific needs? It’s worth checking around to see if there’s a tool for your specific industry before committing to the custom option.
  • Understand the scope of your data. Off-the-shelf tools are fantastic for many small businesses, but will they be able to process a large amount of data for your enterprise-level solution?

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing between a custom solution or a well-known tool, but you should definitely look into both options.

Consider Third-Party Services

Even if you’re not going to develop your own custom BI solution, then you can always go through with a third-party service.

custom business intelligence software

Opting for a third-party service will require you to provide potentially sensitive data, but it could be a much faster, more reliant option. Especially if you haven’t worked with business intelligence, analytics, or tools before.

You will be able to save both time and money on training, tools, and more. It may make sense if you don’t want to spend time trying to formulate your own strategy, team, and documentation. It’s a way to take the weight off your shoulders and put it in the hands of experts.

Build Your Strategy Map

Marketers use content calendars and business intelligence experts have strategy maps. This strategy map is a visual document that lays out the stages of your business intelligence strategy. It can be broken up by weeks, months, or quarters.

No strategy map is created equal and you can lay out large business goals down to very specific instances. In order to create a successful strategy map, you should make it visible to both internal and external users. Internal users being those that are part of your business intelligence team and external users are those you may be reporting to in the future.

It can be hard to bridge the gap between technical terms and processes and make it easy to understand. Those invested in the project will want to see what’s being done and if they can’t understand it, might become frustrated or try to change something.

Having a strategy map will also help you divide tasks and have people complete certain tasks simultaneously, borrowing a bit of methodology from agile project management.

You should also make sure your milestones and deliverables are clearly marked. Not only do they help members remember important dates, but they are important for external users as well.

Document Everything

Running right alongside building your strategy map, documenting your progress and any milestones should be vital. If you don’t document what you are doing or what you are accomplishing, then it’s hard to see any real progress on your work.

Here are some things you should be documenting when for your strategy and reporting.

Sources of Data

Where are you getting your data from? It could be from Google Analytics, your CRM like HubSpot or vcita, your ERP, or some other source entirely. This may cause you to stretch your work over multiple departments, from your marketing team to your web team.

documenting your strategy

Standards

When documenting data and information, you must set standards so your reporting is uniform across multiple departments. That way, you’re not double reporting or missing a vital piece of data due to oversight.

KPIs

Key performance indicators are vital to any business and documenting them with your business intelligence reports is a must. These KPIs, much like your strategy map, can be narrowed down or something broader. These can come from internal discussion or be an offshoot of your larger, corporate goals.

The Strategy Itself

It’s not sufficient to throw a bunch of numbers and figures on a report to turn it in. To make a successful report, you should be planning a comprehensive document that covers all areas of your business intelligence strategy.

Here’s a quick outline/example of what you can do:

  • Top-level summary: much like the thesis of a research paper, the top-level summary is for the executive team members that provide an overview of your strategies and methodologies. It should include the time frame, your KPIs, and more.
  • The BI Strategy and Corporate Strategy: external members will want to know how this aligns with the overall corporate strategy. How does this data and project help with what the business is trying to accomplish as a whole?
  • Processes: it’s time to get to the meat of your work. While not every line may be read completely (much like a research paper), it’s important to explain what you’ve done and why you’ve done it. After processes, we get to…
  • Results and assessment: what did you find? What are you seeing from this mass collection of data?

In the world of business intelligence, it’s always best to leave a detailed paper trail. Because you should also…

Updating Your Strategy

Updates may come every quarter or year, but just because something was effective last year doesn’t mean that it will also be effective in the upcoming year. Corporate strategies change, businesses evolve, and you may be wanting to examine separate data.

One important process of updating your strategy is cleaning your data. Measuring data quality is not easy, but it can help you achieve the best operational activities possible and provide top-level decision-making choices.

Hopefully, with each passing year, you’re diving into a deeper understanding of your business, the important data, and what you have learned. That way, you can find different methods to improve upon, alter, or discard entirely.

Staying with the status quo just won’t do.

Your Business Intelligence Strategy Layout

If you’re looking for a TLDR, then here are the basics of your strategy.

  1. Assessment: You’re going to want to start at the top by analyzing business structure, processes, goals, and overall strategy. Before you can jump into the BI strategy, you need to understand the business first. Ask lots of questions and make all possible preparations.
  2. Team-building: Who is going to be working with you in the business intelligence sector? Outside of the IT team, who are you going to need? Will there be a senior executive member working with you? Or, will you be going with a third-party service?
  3. Tools: Here, many businesses come at a fork-in-the-road moment. Which tool do we use? There are plenty of tools out there and choosing the best one requires plenty of research. Or, you could always go the custom route.
  4. The strategy map: It’s time to lay out what you’ll be doing and when you expect to hit certain milestones. This document should be something that both BI professionals and external members can understand and comprehend. Don’t make it overly complicated!
  5. Document and organization: From here, your goal should be consistent documentation and reporting. Set standards early so you can make sure your team is pursuing the same goals in the same manner.
  6. Get to work: Once you’ve laid out your strategy, it’s time to talk less and start doing!
  7. Updates: Practice makes perfect and you may not hit the nail on the head the first time around. Make sure you’re updating your plans with the overall business goals and any changing parameters.

Conclusion

Many businesses may be interested in diving into the realm of business intelligence and analytics but aren’t sure where to start. That’s where a third-party service like Atiba can come in. As business intelligence experts, we have worked with numerous companies, both large and small, to develop a business intelligence strategy and provide companies with the data they need.

If you want to know more about our business intelligence services or just want to talk about your options, reach out to us today! We can’t wait to help you achieve your business goals.

Google’s Core Web Vitals: What are They and Why Are They Important

core web vitals

When it comes to ranking a website, Google uses a lot of factors. While we don’t have an exact number and may never know, the best guess that the SEO industry has is “somewhere over 200“. Brian Dean, CEO of Backlinko says, “Some are proven. Some are controversial. Some are SEO nerd speculation.”

This spring, Google will be adding something else to the pile of ranking factors: the core web vitals.

Originally, this update was supposed to happen in the fall of 2020 but was pushed back to May 2021 because of the coronavirus and other hardships that businesses were facing.

If you’re somewhat familiar with various Google tools, then you might have seen the core web vitals pop up here and there. But you still might not know quite what they are or what their purpose is. Today, we’re going to run over Google’s Core Web Vitals and talk about why you should concern yourself with them.

Your Rankings and Users Could be At Risk

It’s always important to take ranking factors into account. If you don’t follow Google’s signals, like it or not, you may start to see your organic traffic suffer.

That’s why it’s important to be up to date on what is helping your site rank well and what isn’t. Many people are finding they aren’t prepared for this update and their sites may suffer. We’re going to give a quick overview of the Core Web Vitals, why they’re important, and what your next steps are.

Let’s Talk About Speed

website speed importance

Speed has been a Google ranking factor for over 10 years now, but Google themselves has said that page speed doesn’t carry as much weight as page relevance. It makes sense. If your website is so horribly slow, then why would Google put it at the top of the results page? No one wants to grow old, miss on kids’ birthday parties, and become one with their office chair waiting for a website to load.

The only issue is that it can be a bit difficult to accurately measure speed. After all, internet speed can vary depending on the city you’re in, your home country, the internet service provider, type of connection, type of device, and if you’ve made a sacrifice to the internet gods that morning.

That’s why Google developed the Core Web Vitals to help give Google, developers, and webmasters an idea of their overall website speed.

However, Google isn’t directly referring to the Core Web Vitals as ‘speed signals’, but instead is a part of page experience signals. These page experience signals include mobile-friendliness, HTTPS-security, and safe-browsing.

So are the Core Web Vitals all about speed? Well yes, but also no. The Core Web Vitals themselves measure loading performance (speed) but also come bundled together with several other signals and factors.

But since most of the web already has mobile-friendly websites and HTTPS security (if you don’t, what are you doing?), the big focus has landed on these new signals.

The Core Web Vitals

So, just what are the core web vitals? There are three that make up this signal. If you’re looking for the whole geek explanation, you can get it straight from the horse’s mouth.

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

The Geek Definition: “LCP measures loading performance. To provide a good user experience, LCP should occur within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading.”

The Human Definition: “LCP measures how fast certain elements of your site load. Make sure the largest item on your page loads within 2.5 seconds.”

The L in LCP is important because you’re going to be measuring how quickly the largest item on your site measures. Images, videos, background images, or large block elements are the main considerations.

Let’s say you have a website with your logo, a video, a few company images, and text blocks underneath explaining your business. The video of the CEO jumping on a trampoline firing t-shirts at interns is going to be measured over the company photos or text blocks.

What do we mean by measured over?

lcp example

Websites load in stages. So while the largest item at first may be a text block, it could be superseded by an image, which could be superseded by a video. Therefore LCP will measure how long it takes to get to the last/largest element.

In this above image from Bleacher Report’s homepage, it’s pretty easy to see what the ‘largest element’ is.

Other times, it’s not quite as easy.

lcp example 2

A page with a lot of elements may take longer to load and the largest visual item may not always be the one that takes the longest to load.

 

First Input Delay (FID)

The Geek Definition: “FID measures interactivity. To provide a good user experience, pages should have an FID of less than 100 milliseconds.”

The Human Definition: “Interactions on your site, like clicking on links, need to be processed quickly.”

OK, this one is a bit trickier to understand. While this metric doesn’t measure loading or overall speed, it does take into account how quickly your website will process a task based on a user’s interaction. That interaction could be anything from clicking on a link to pressing a button or clicking on an image to enlarge it.

As mentioned above, the gold standard for this metric is 100 milliseconds. If it takes your website more than 100 milliseconds to begin processing an interaction, then that’s going to lower your overall score.

FID does not measure the time it takes to complete that action. So if a user arrives on your site, clicks a link to your services page, and it takes one second for them to arrive at that page, that’s fine. But, if they click on the services link and it takes your site one second to begin processing that request, then that is bad.

The process looks like this.

first input delay

As you can see, making sure your site is fast once users are there is just as important as how fast it loads.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

The Geek Definition: “CLS measures visual stability. To provide a good user experience, pages should maintain a CLS of less than 0.1.”

The Human Definition: “Make sure elements on your site like images, text, and videos, aren’t bouncing around when your site loads.”

Just over three years ago, Hawaii experienced a false missile alert during the height of US-North Korean tension. Citizens were warned that an incoming missile was heading towards the island and they needed to seek shelter immediately. Sirens blared and recipients of the message sent through radio, television, and smartphones were chillingly warned “this is not a drill”.

Fortunately, it turned out to be a false alarm. It allowed the internet to laugh at its expense.

So what does this have to do with CLS? Watch the GIF below.

cls fail

 

CLS, just like the GIF above, measures how much your content is shifting on your website. This could be due to images, videos, text blocks, or ads.

The formula for CLS can be found here, but just know that the less content shifting you have, the better.

Now, let’s go ahead and contradict that last statement. CLS isn’t always bad such as instances where the user is expecting it. For example, if you have a search box on your website, the box might shift slightly when a user is typing in a query. This shift is minimal and the user is likely prepared for suggested queries to appear depending on what they’re typing.

But if you have huge images distorting your webpage and making it hard to click on anything, you have a real problem.

How to Test for the Core Web Vitals

Besides the eye test, how can you go about testing the Core Web Vitals?

There are a number of tools available for you to use.

PageSpeed Insights

Google’s own tool, PageSpeed Insights will give you a breakdown of your website on both mobile and desktop versions. It is not as comprehensive as other tools are, but it does provide a solid snapshot for your overall website health

page speed insights example

You can see that even internationally-known, huge websites like Amazon fall short of all the metrics. If your site doesn’t hit all those signals, you don’t need to panic but instead should think about what you can do to make changes.

Google Search Console

Google Search Console can also give you some insights into your core web vitals. It will not give you the detailed report the other two tools will, but it can act as an early warning system.

google search console

WebPage Test

This is definitely more of a developer’s tool but can still provide valuable insight to your website. It will give you a waterfall report which can show you the true culprits of your slow website or other issues. Check out the website here.

Is Your Website at Risk?

Your next steps should be checking your website with these tests. Maybe your website passed all the tests with flying colors, yippee! Or, they could be easy solutions. If that’s the case, then you might have an easy future ahead of you.

But you might be seeing some worrying signs with these online tests and while they may not seem like an issue now, you could start to see your performance suffer in the upcoming months. Speed and loading not only affect your rankings, but they could also have a huge impact on your user experience.

To fix these issues, you often need the help of a web developer, web designer, or SEO specialist. Sometimes, all three. If you’ve looked at your reports and need advice or are not sure what to do, reach out to us today for a free quote or just someone to talk to. We want to help make sure your website doesn’t fall.

Employee Spotlight Andrew Massie

As part of our ongoing Employee Spotlight Series, this week we sat down with Andrew Massie, Atiba Team Lead for Network Services.

He’s been with Atiba for a long time and had several roles with the company, but we’re still looking for a way to use his secret skill. Let’s get to know Andrew!

How Long have you been with Atiba and what’s your role?

in 2011 I started as a desktop support tech. I then worked as a network admin. Currently, I’m the Team Lead for Network Services. In that role, I handle a wide variety of duties. I’m responsible for relationships with clients, managing a team of 9 techs & engineers, project management, onboarding new network services clients, and assisting in scoping projects. 

 Andrew Massie and his family

What is your favorite part about working at Atiba?  

My favorite aspect of working at Atiba is flexibility. I’m able to be at kids events and work around life. 

What motivates you to wake up and go to work? 

My family. I have 3 kids – a 7-year-old girl, a 4-year-old boy, and a 6-month-old boy. 

What’s your go-to snack during the day? 

Andrew Massie - Atiba Network Team LeadI always reach for green tea. I try to be healthy & make good choices.  

What’s your home office like? 

I actually have an office built out in the garage. It’s separate from the rest of the house – 10 x 10 space with a standing desk. It’s great to have a quiet area to work away from the family noise. 

Is there a secret skill you have? 

I can juggle. 

With three kids it sounds like you’d have to be able to juggle! Thanks so much to Andrew for sitting down with us for this week’s employee spotlight.

Why is My Website So Slow? The Most Common Reasons

slow website speed

In today’s times, we need everything instantly. Amazon Prime can often ship products on the same day while streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime bring us just about anything we want at the click of a button.

Being able to deliver on time, or earlier, pays. If your business website isn’t keeping up with the speed demand, you’re going to start seeing visitors leave before your page loads and fewer and fewer traffic.

From the outside, it might be hard to figure out why your website is so slow. Truth be told, there are several reasons why your website could be running at a snail’s pace. Today, we’re going to talk about how you can find out if your site is slow, run through some of the top reasons why,  and what you can do to turn it around.

How to Find Out if Your Website is Slow

You may think your website is moving along nicely, especially if you’re frequently visiting it with your own devices. That, unfortunately, is because your cache has all your website’s information stored and ready for when you come back.

A first-time visitor, on the other hand, is essentially going to be starting from scratch. They won’t have any previous data to easily load meaning they could be getting the slow experience.

Why Web Speed Is Important

why web speed is important

Skipping past the obvious points, why should we care about the speed of your website? Does it really matter in the long-run?

In a short answer: yes. It matters greatly.

This spring, Google is making Core Web Vitals part of its ranking factors (if it’s not already). Core Web Vitals are metrics used to measure a website’s speed and interactivity.

It has long been thought that Google is already taking these factors into account, but it wasn’t until this past year that they have decided to make an “official” announcement. Previously, these metrics were supposed to become official last September but COVID delayed the process.

So what exactly are the Core Web Vitals?

The Core Web Vitals are broken down into three parts:

  • CLS-Cumulative Layout Shift
  • LCP-Largest Contentful Paint
  • FID-First Input Delay

CLS is a metric used to measure visual stability. That means you want your images, videos, text blocks, ads, etc. to not affect the stability of a webpage. Have you ever gone to click on a button or link only to have it move at the last second? That would be considered poor CLS and is something you want to avoid.

LCP measures your site’s loading performance. This one is a bit easier to understand. The less time your website takes to load, the better.

The last one, FID (which you will also see labeled as TBT on some tests below), is a metric to measure interactivity or how fast a user can interact with your website.

Now, we don’t know how much value Google is putting into these Web Vitals, but you should make sure that your site is checking all the right boxes. But where do you begin?

Testing Your Website Out

Web Page Test

Web Page Test is one of the best testing services out there thanks to its plethora of options, ability to test in locations, and on numerous devices.

You simply put your website’s name in the blank space, hit enter, and wait a minute to see the results. If the test takes longer than two minutes, back out and try again.

web page test

*Pro Tip: Put the HTTPS version of your website in (https://atiba.com) instead of simply atiba.com*

From there, you’re going to be greeted with two things: grades at the top of your page and a waterfall chart, laying out all the elements that need to be loaded on that page. It will look confusing, very confusing. You may be able to understand some of the items on the page, but to understand them fully and make sense of everything, you’re best handing it off to a professional.

GTMetrix

Another speed test similar to Web Page Test, GTMetrix will provide a lot of the same features and reporting that Web Page Test will. You can also choose certain locations, devices, and more when running your test.

GTMetrix is a bit more user friendly and displays results more understandably. You can also access a waterfall chart and other reports.

PageSpeed Insights

Google’s official tool, PageSpeed Insights is what people sometimes (unfairly) hold as the gold standard. You can check out your speed on mobile and desktop with just a few easy clicks while also checking out Google’s recommendations.

pagespeed insights

Many times, people will often chase after that green marker but that can be unobtainable based on many factors. Generally speaking, as long as your website isn’t hovering in the red for eternity, you’ll be OK.

Going the Analytical Route

If you have access to Google Analytics (which you should), then you can start to get a sense of users leaving your website due to slow loading times.

Whenever a visitor comes to a certain page on your website, that will be registered as a pageview in the analytics dashboard. If they leave before the page is fully loaded, then they will not record a session.

A session is the tracking of a user’s actions on your website. That involves clicking on images, watching a video, moving between different pages, etc.

If you’re seeing a very high number of pageviews but a disproportionate number of sessions, then that may mean that users are leaving your site before your page effectively loads. This could be an early warning sign to potential page loading issues.

web speed analytics

What to Do With Your Slow Website

Checked out the results and found that your website would lose to a dead horse? You might already have an idea based on your recent reports, but what are some of the more specific culprits.

Slow Web Hosting

With many of these reports, you might be looking for changes you can immediately make. Sometimes, however, making immediate changes is out of your hand. You won’t be able to go and fix a slow server.

Servers are dormant objects, lying in wait until someone clicks on your website. When a click is received, the server responds by sending the data over and loading the website.

The easiest fix here is money. If your website is hosted on a free service or one of low quality, then the only thing you can do is upgrade your server which requires forking over more cash.

Large businesses or eCommerce giants have the capital to be able to spend plenty of money on their web hosting services, but what about small businesses? Ultimately, making that decision will vary on a number of factors that your business can decide.

What to do:

First, decide if you want to upgrade your web host. Upgrading your web host can be expensive and not worth it to some businesses. If you do decide to upgrade, you’ll want to talk to your provider and find out the different options. If you’re thinking about migrating servers, you’ll need to talk to a professional.

Large Media Files

Oftentimes the most common culprit, large media files can slow even the best of websites to a crawl. Background videos, large images, or even too many images can make your website take ages to load.

This, thankfully, is an easier fix. If you have a few images, all you may need to do is optimize them. You can either do this manually, through a free service like ILOVEIMG or adding a plugin to your site like Smush.

smush

Both of these, however, have limitations. ILOVEIMG only lets you process one image at a time, not ideal for a site with thousands of images. Smush will let you bulk optimize a website but only lets you optimize up to a certain number before pinging you about upgrading to their paid version.

What to do:

Start optimizing your images right away using your own means or a plugin. If you have thousands of images, you might have to go down the paid route or pay for professional assistance.

Not Using a CDN

A CDN, or content delivery network, is a must for any websites that plan on having a national or global presence. CDNs help websites load faster by storing copies of the website which allows users far away to load a website quickly.

For example, if your business is located in Dallas, Texas, but wants to expand its national reach, it would make sense to use CDNs placed around the United States for quick loading. That way, users in New York or Florida can experience the same speed and service that visitors in Dallas are experiencing.

What to do:

When creating your website, make sure you’re choosing a CDN. If you don’t have a CDN, you will have to contact your web host or a professional to help you choose the ideal service.

Visitor Overload

too many visitors

Have you ever loaded too much stuff into your car? Driving around, you can feel the extra weight on turns and you might find you have to push a little harder on the gas pedal to get your engine revved up.

Websites, much like cars, have a limit to the number of visitors they can have on a website. Those that aren’t prepared for a high uptick in traffic are going to slow down, frustrate current visitors and any future visitors that come to the site.

What to do:

Having high traffic is everyone’s goal, so a quick fix is necessary. The best way to handle the load is by increasing your overall bandwidth. You will have to contact your web host to explore proper options.

Too Many Plugins

There are thousands of available plugins out there that can help you manage your site more efficiently. Some, like the ever-popular Yoast SEO plugin, will help you manage your SEO. Others, like the aforementioned Smush, will help you optimize your images.

There is no problem with having plugins on your website. Having too many plugins can be a problem.

Plugin bloat is a real thing and the effects on your website can be huge, especially plugins that are there to perform the same or similar functions.

What to do:

Whenever you’re installing a plugin, make sure you actually need it and don’t have a plugin that’s performing the same task.

Issues With JavaScript

This scripting language is vital for both the client and the server-side portion of your website. A website without JavaScript will look more like your average Word document than anything else.

“Issues” with JavaScript is a bit of an overarching term because there could be a large amount of possible JavaScript errors that are affecting your performance.

One of the most common, however, is render-blocking JavaScript that will prevent your site from loading quickly. This render-blocking JavaScript can be found in your own code or from external sources, like plugins or certain tools.

Too much code can also be an issue. Here, that’s where you need a proper code audit to be able to find what you need to keep and what you can get rid of.

What to do:

Unless you’re a web development expert, you need to reach out to a professional web developer. They can go through your code, find places to optimize it and provide suggestions for any future tasks you may have.

An overabundance of Ads or Pop-Ups

ads affect web speed

Even though pop-up ads are largely a thing of the past, that doesn’t mean that your website can’t suffer from too much ad bloat blocking your page.

For many, ad revenue is an important part of your site and we’re not saying that you should get rid of ads altogether. Instead, be sure to limit the number of ads and pop-ups you have on your site at a given time.

Ads create HTTP requests which require extra processing time. The more processing time added onto your site, the longer it will take to properly load. By that point, a user is likely hitting the back button and going to a website that isn’t bombarding them with ads.

What to do:

Limit the number of ads and pop-ups you have on your website. Not only does this affect web speed, but it also can affect user experience. If you find that you need to have these ads, speak with a developer to find a way to load ads on a time delay, or reduce the number of HTTP requests.

Your Next Steps to Improving Your Website

Many of the items on this list can be confusing, especially if you’re not familiar with web development. Some of it may have even sounded like a foreign language.

In order to get the most out of your website, you should have a developer and/or web designer take a look at your site. Not only can they go through the audit process, but they can work to optimize your code, improve pages, and make sure your website is loading quickly.

That way, you can give your visitors the best possible experience while also helping out your presence on search engines.

Here at Atiba, we specialize in all the above services. Our web development team can examine your website, find the errors, and make changes. We want to help your website maximize its presence on the web and get out in front of as many visitors as possible.

If you’ve got a web project or just want to ask a few questions, reach out and get in contact with us!

 

Marketing Director Employee Spotlight

sarah enders headshot

How long have you been with Atiba and what is your role?  

I joined the Atiba team in July 2020 as the Marketing Director. Until recently, Atiba had expanded almost exclusively through organic growth since 1992. I was (and still am) honored that they decided to bring me in to focus on marketing.  

What is your favorite part about working at Atiba?  

I love being around such brilliant people. I am constantly amazed at the breadth of knowledge possessed by our team. It’s fun to be somewhere where people are experts in their field. I know there is no tech problem someone at Atiba can’t solve. 

What motivates you to wake up and go to work? 

At Atiba, new ideas are not just heard but encouraged. I find that incredibly motivating. I know that our team wants to do the best job possible and will always work to identify the best solution for the client, even if that means bringing in additional talent, learning a new programming language, or finding new tools. I know that Atiba always strives to deliver an unparalleled customer experience. 

sarah enders marketing director

What makes you a geek? 

I’m definitely a geek. I love Star Wars, board games, and craft beer. I’m also a hardcore podcast junkie. 

What’s one movie quote that you always use? 

“It’s just a flesh wound.” –Monty Python & The Holy Grail 

If you could high-five one celebrity, who would it be? 

It would 100% be Amy Poehler. I think she is one of the funniest people alive and I know it would be a solid high five.  

When you were a kid, what was your favorite cartoon? 

My favorite cartoon as a kid was The Jetsons. I loved all the cool tech. They had amazing robots and devices to automate all kinds of things in their lives. I always wanted a robot-like Rosey to cook, clean, and take care of things around the house. As an adult, my own Rosey the Robot sounds even more appealing.  

Goodbye to 2020 – An Open Letter to our Friends

 We are closing out 2020 with an open letter to our clients, partners, and employees.

We are ringing in the new year with gratitude! 

Dear Friends,  

Despite all of the challenges 2020 brought our way, we are grateful to close out a momentous year. We focused heavily on strategic growth and planning for the future over the last 12 months. Thanks to your partnershipwe were able to accomplish more than ever before. 

What we are most proud of from 2020: 

Examples of fun work we did this year

 

As we look to the future, we plan to continue to build out infrastructure to takon even more robust tech challenges. We will strive to recruit top tech talent. Our desire is to create a geek paradise where our people thrive, as we believe happy people deliver better work for our clients.  

Also, it’s important to us to stay current on the latest tech trends and challenges we see. With this in mind, we plan to expand our offerings around cybersecuritycloud solutions, voice search, team collaboration tools, and digital marketing to better support your business goals.  

Thank you again for your continued partnership. We truly are grateful for our fantastic group of clients, partners, and friends. We know 2020 has been a challenging year for virtually everyone, so we are thankful you chose to work with us throughout this strange year.  

 

JJ Rosen 

Atiba Founder & CEO

 

P.S. – Start the new year off right. Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter for the latest tech trends, news, and announcements. 

How to Set Up Google Analytics for Immediate Success

setting up google analytics

Google Analytics is a neat and nifty tool. If you have a website or app, using Google Analytics is not an option, but a necessity.

It can look a bit intimidating with all the options, tabs, buttons, data, lines, circles, and other pieces of information scattered across the dashboard. Setting up Google Analytics can look confusing, but it doesn’t have to be.

It’s a vital part of any website and is key to understanding your digital marketing or SEO efforts.

Today, we’re going to talk about how to set up Google Analytics quickly and easily to help you find immediate success.

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a free tool from Google that helps website owners, marketers, developers, analysts, and more look at audience data. Google Analytics can help tell you which pages on your site are the most visited, where your audience is coming from, demographic data, how long users are spending on your site, and much, much more.

If you have a website, you need to have Google Analytics set up. If you don’t, you’re missing out on valuable data and analytics that could help take your business to the next level.

Step 0: Check to See if You Have a Google Analytics Account

If you’re not sure you have a Google Analytics account, then you should check that immediately. There are a few ways to check.

The first is to go to your website, right-click, and select ‘view page source’. Or, simply press CTRL+U.

view page source

Here, you’ll be looking at all the code that makes up your website. From there, you’re going to want to press CTRL+F to search for text on the page.

Type in ‘UA-‘ as this is the start of any Google Analytics tracking code. The code will look like UA-00000000-0. If you have that code, then you’re already set up with Google Analytics and need to find the email address associated with tracking that account. You can skip Step 1.

If you don’t see that code, proceed to Step 1.

Step 1: Create a Google Analytics Account

Now that you’ve established you don’t have an account, it’s time to make one.

Start by going to the Google Analytics homepage where you’ll be asked to sign in. The prompts will walk you through the sign-up process which includes adding your tracking code, creating an account name, and putting in your site’s name.

**Right now, Google Analytics is pushing for you to sign up for the new Google Analytics 4. You can use the current dashboard by clicking ‘advanced’ when it prompts you to sign up. There, you can select the Universal Analytics account option.**

From there, you will see your tracking ID and instructions about what to do with a code snippet.

google analytics tracking code

Don’t worry about the code too much. If you have a WordPress site, there are multiple plugins (like Monsters Insights) that will help you connect your site to Google Analytics in no time. For those that aren’t overly tech-savvy, this is a great tool to help you avoid having to mess around with the back-end of your site.

Perfect, now your site is connected to Google Analytics and you’re ready to start tracking data.

Accounts, Properties, and Views

After you complete the initial sign-up stage, you’ll be sent to the dashboard where you’ll be greeted by three columns. At the top of each column, you’ll see Account, Property, and View.

account property and view

What is the difference between these three?

Account is just as it sounds. It’s where you registered your email and allows you to log in to Google Analytics. If you want to add more accounts to your email, you can have up to 100 accounts.

Property, on the other hand, is where you register your site. Perhaps your business has multiple websites or subdomains that you want to track. If you’re running ad campaigns, maybe you have landing pages you want to keep separate from your original website.

This is where you’ll also find any tracking information, such as your Analytics tracking code.

Under each account, you can have up to 100 properties. 

The last column, view, is where you can set up different ways to view your account. You might want to filter certain queries or people with one view, block bots, have unique goals, and more. Under each property, you can have up to 25 views.

Step 2: Add Filters

You want to track data efficiently, but you want to make sure you’re tracking the right data. What do we mean by that?

If you or your coworkers visit your site, you don’t want to actively track that traffic. These visits aren’t going to be a potential lead and if you happen to navigate to a conversion page, that may mess up your data.

The easiest and best thing you can do is filter out your IP addresses for traffic purposes.

First, go to your admin panel. It’s the little cogwheel in the bottom left-hand corner. Next, click on the filters button on the right-most column.

google admin

Once you click on the filter button, you can start to add filters to help maintain your traffic.

google analytics filters

The easiest place to find IP filters is by using the following website.

From that point, it’s just simple copy and paste.

You’re also going to want to go back to that right column and click on View Settings. Here, you’re going to want to scroll down and select the option for Bot Filtering. This will filter out all known bots, from Google and other search engines, and filter them out of your traffic.

If you want, you can create a second view that only filters bots. This way, you can monitor any traffic spikes or dips on your site accordingly. You can see if traffic numbers are connected to bots or there is a larger issue on your site.

filter views

Here, you can alternate between the two views and make sure you’re analyzing data correctly.

If you’ve got a web and an app, you can also separate those views to see which is driving more traffic.

Be careful when you delete a view, however. Once the data is deleted, there is no way to recover it.

Step 3: Set Up Some Goals

On your website, you want to drive people to certain pages or encourage them to take specific actions. Perhaps you’re a car rental business and you want people to sign up for a free quote. Maybe you want them to push a certain button to go to your contact page.

Goals and events can vary greatly from business to business so deciding what they are is entirely up to you.

As you’ll see in the rightmost column, there is a button called “Goals”. Inside that button is an area where you can set up and design your own goals.

Inside each view, you can have up to a maximum of 20 goals, so choose wisely. You can go back and edit or delete goals, but you will still want to make sure you’re choosing the right goals to track.

If you find yourself wanting more than 20 goals, then you will have to create additional properties to track those goals.

Once you click ‘add a new goal’, you’ll see that there are numerous options.

types of goals

From here, it’s usually best to click the Custom option all the way at the bottom. From there, you can select a name and then a type of goal. You have the following four to choose from:

  • Destination
  • Duration
  • Pages/Screens per session
  • Event

You’ll also have to give the goal a name. It’s best to choose something that you can automatically recognize like “Contact Us Form Submitted”.

In fact, that’s usually one of the best goals to start with.

If you have a contact form, get a quote form or something else where users are greeted by a ‘Thank You’ page, you can create a destination goal. That way, whenever users reach that ‘Thank You’ page, your Google Analytics will count that as a goal success.

Step 4: Set Up Site Search

If your website has a ‘search’ option, then users will be able to search for something on your website and find it quicker. While not necessary for smaller websites, it is an absolute must if you’ve got a website with thousands of pages.

If you don’t have a search option on your website, you can go ahead and skip this step.

With the site search option enabled, you’ll be able to find out what users are searching for on your site.

To set it up, head back to the admin dashboard and go to the rightmost column to look at your views. Click on views settings and look at the bottom.

site search tracking

Once you turn this on, you’ll be asked to enter your ‘Query Parameter’. The easiest way to find this is to make a search on your site and see what follows the URL.

query parameter

In this case, the query parameter starts with ‘search’, so you would put ‘search’ in the box.

If you see that people are searching for a term that doesn’t bring them to any page, that could be a great idea for a content piece. Users are connecting some term with your site, but if they can’t find anything related, then they’ll just leave!

Step 5: Test Everything

Once you’ve got everything set up, you will want to test and make sure all your new settings are working correctly.

Note, however, that it usually takes Google Analytics 24-48 hours to start tracking everything. So whenever you’re finished, give it a day or two before coming back and testing.

The first test you’ll want to run is real-time testing to make sure you’re tracking someone visiting your website. Look at the left-hand column and select Realtime.

realtime tracking analytics

Once you click on Realtime, you’ll be presented with a dashboard. On a separate device (one where you’re not logged into your website or a different IP address), go to your website. Within a few seconds, you should see the number of users increase as well as information and where you’re viewing the website from.

You’re also going to want to check out your goals. So if you have a destination goal set up for the ‘Thank You’ page, go ahead and fill everything out. Once the goal is completed, it may take some time before showing up as a conversion. For brand new goals, it can often take 24-48 hours before they’re recorded correctly so don’t freak out if you don’t see anything.

You can check that in the Conversions tab in the same lefthand column.

After going through these basic things, you’re finished! Now you can start tracking data and know more about your website’s visitors.

What About Google Analytics 4?

As of October 14, Google Analytics 4 is now the default option when making a property. You can still use the Universal Analytics property when tracking your sites as Google has not announced an end-life yet.

Google Analytics 4 comes with a bunch of handy new features, such as machine learning and improved data filters. It is far from necessary to implement, but in the coming years, all Google Analytics properties may turn into Google Analytics 4.

If you’re wanting to upgrade or not sure where to go with Google Analytics 4, we can help you with that. We can set up your account and ensure you’re tracking everything properly.

What About the Other Google Tools?

During setup, you might have seen a few other Google tools mentioned, such as:

  • Google Search Console
  • Google Tag Manager
  • Google Ads (not a tool, but you probably saw it pop up)

Each of these are unique tools in their own right and when using properly, can help you better analyze data and track tools. If you do have a Google Ads campaign running, you’re going to want to make sure you have it linked to your Google Analytics account to properly track traffic and conversions.

Setting up and getting the most out of those tools can be difficult. We are experts in GSC, GTM, and Google Ads and can help you connect all those accounts and accurately track data and information with your website.

Conclusion

Even though the graphs, tabs, and various terms can be confusing at first, Google Analytics is pretty easy to understand at the basic level. It does have some pretty powerful and neat features we didn’t get into in this article, but we can help you take control of your Google tools.

As digital marketing and business intelligence leaders, we’ve been using Google Analytics for quite some time. We’ve worked with everyone from small businesses to enterprise-level companies. If you’re not sure how to set it up, want to upgrade to GA4, or need help understanding data, we can help. Reach out to us today for a free quote! We look forward to hearing from you.