Category Archives: education

Google Analytics Certification Tips from Around the Web

By | education | No Comments

Google analytics certification

Are you planning on taking your Google Analytics Individual Qualifications Exam? Check out these resources from around the web to help you train and prepare. While it’s possible to pass the exam without paying for help, a few of the resources I’ve listed below require a fee. Some people can cram studying into one day and pass the test, while others need time to digest and review – whatever works best for you as long as you’re able to keep the information and don’t dump it right after the test (we’re not in college anymore!).

Resources from Google:

Practice tests:

Free resources, tips, tricks, and advice:

A Weasel’s Guide to Passing the AdWords Exam

By | education | 8 Comments

I recently passed Google’s Search Advertising Advanced Exam and I feel pretty good about it. I am happy with the test process Google put forward – despite my anger with the company for dealing Google Reader a death blow (similar to what UNLV will put on the East this March Madness – Grandmama’s spirit remains!). As someone passes Google’s tests regularly people often ask for me for some helpful hints. However, I think hints are less helpful than learning how to weasel. I present: 3 weaselly tips to pass the Google AdWords Exam.

Weaselly Tip 1 – Google Wants You To Pass the Test

Use the mindset that Google wants as many certified experts as possible. Google makes most of their money from PPC advertisements, and it is in their interest to have as many certified experts evangelizing their products as possible. If a person spends all their time studying Google’s system and becomes a certified expert, it is unlikely that they will then jump into Microsoft’s poorly designed AdCenter (Microsoft’s zombie version of AdWords). With this in mind think of how Google wants to be perceived, and generally pick  the answer that reflects Google in the best light. This is like that jerk witch in Snow White who asked “Mirror Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” she only got the answers she wanted because she asked the question. Google wants to be the fairest of all. A few ways that Google wants to be perceived include:

  • The system is fair for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you are a big or a small advertiser. Google wants to be known for caring about relevancy.
  • There are a variety of settings that Google allows. Know these settings, but also know if Google asks if a setting is possible during the test – it probably is.
  • It is less formal than Ask Jeeves.

Weaselly Tip 2 – Use Practice Tests

You wouldn’t run a PPC campaign without all available information, so why take the test without all available information? There are a variety of practice tests online, and many of them have the actual questions from the test on them! Booyeah! The questions on the practice test that are not actually on the Google  test help you start to think about the type of questions Google asks. Here are two good practice tests:

Weaselly Tip 3 – Use Multiple Computers

When taking the exam Google blocks out your whole screen so you aren’t able to Google search the answers on your same computer. However, if you have another computer, iPhone, iPad, or Tiger Electronics Watch you can search the answers on a separate device. Take some serious notes in an easily searchable interface such as Evernote when you are studying and take the exam using these notes.

Adam Lundquist is the office weasel.

Connect with Adam on Google+.

Why you should take the Google Analytics Individual Qualification Test

By | education | One Comment

Whether you think you are already a Google Analytics Ninja or if you have no idea what you’re doing, taking the Google Analytics IQ Test will help you set yourself on the true path to enlightened analytics. Not only will you learn fundamentals of analytics, interpreting reports and in-depth analysis, but so much more. Below are just a few of the topics and tactics you will become efficient in if you study and pass the Google Analytics IQ Test!

  • Learn how which traffic is converting the most and change your marketing promotions
  • Find out what page of your site has the worst bounce rate and change it
  • Track your promotional efforts with clicks, events, conversion or goals
  • Utilize multi-channel funnels to find out where the best path to conversion really is
  • Learn about how long people spend on your site and where they are spending the most time
  • Back your decisions with data-driven information
  • Become more responsive to the behavioral shifts on your site with real-time analytics

Do all of this and more while being viewed as an expert and helping your peers, clients and company succeed. So join me as I begin to study and prepare for my Google Analytics Individual Qualifications Test. Good luck!

Visit the Google Analytic page here.

Get Google AdWords Certified With Me

By | education | No Comments

There are many tests in life ranging from correctly entering the code in Contra (up,up, down, down, left, right, start) to the SAT’s. My test right now is to pass the AdWords test. Here at Digital Operative we set goals per quarter, and my goal this quarter is to get re-certified in Google AdWords. I received my certification about a year and a half ago but – like the yogurt in my fridge – my certification has expired. In preparation for this test I use Evernote to take notes while I read, “Advanced Google AdWords” by Brad Geddes. Though this book is a little dry in that it is like reading a 500-page technical manual, it is also a good reminder of the many aspects of Google AdWords. Geddes goes out of his way to provide interesting ideas in a boring way as how to better use Google AdWords. Along my journey I will be offering my insight from reading the book in my aptly named monthly series: Things I learned by reading ‘Advanced Google AdWords’ in preparation for my AdWords exam recertification.

1. Don’t serve up ads, serve up answers.

Geddes suggests that people do not pay attention to ads, they pay attention to answers. He provides the example of driving along the freeway where a driver sees billboard after billboard and pays attention to none of them. The reason for the driver’s lack of attentiveness is because he sees the billboards as advertisements and his mind is not looking for the information they are offering. However, part of the way into the drive he begins to get hungry and wants to stop and eat, at this point the driver begins to notice the billboards. The billboards have ceased to be advertisements and instead have become valuable information (delicious places to eat). This is how Geddes suggests AdWords ads and landing pages be thought of – they are answers to questions. Geddes states that it cannot be an ad, if it provides valuable information.

2. Align your goals.

Unlike the LA Lakers, advertisers in the AdWords ecosystem work together. Each part of the AdWords ecosystem has a unique goal, but all parts work together to make this one of the most efficient advertising systems ever created. Geddes suggests it is important to think of all parties’ goals when creating the advertising campaign.

a. The User

The user has a question that needs to be answered. The user goes to Google and looks for a specific answer. Whether the answer comes from organic search or a paid ad, the user will be happy if their question is answered. The user supports Google’s goals by searching on Google as well as by clicking on the ad. The user supports the advertiser goals by going to the site and completing a conversion.

b. Google

Google’s goal is to supply the user with a good answer to their question so they will keep coming back. If Google supplies a good answer then the user will return. Google only gets paid when someone clicks on the ad, as such it is important for Google to serve up ads that a user will want to click on. Lastly, Google supports the user’s goals with an answer to their question and supports the advertiser’s goals by sending a potential customer to the site.

c. Advertisers

Advertisers want to deliver ads that answer the user’s question and the advertiser’s goal is to get users to convert on their site. This is the advertiser’s chance to get traffic to the site and hopefully make a conversion. The advertiser will want to serve up an ad that is relevant as well because the advertiser has to pay for every click. There is little point in getting irrelevant traffic to the site. The advertiser supports the user’s goals by giving them the answer that they need and supports Google’s by paying for the click and providing a relevant answer that will make the user happy.

Adam Lundquist plans on getting re-certified….soon…

Connect with Adam on Google+.

7 Tips I Learned from Avinash Kaushik’s Web Analytics Course

By | education | 3 Comments


After spending 6 weeks taking the Market Motive Web Analytics Course, instructed by the great Avinash Kaushik, I have received my Certificate of Completion in Web Analytics Practitioner Training. I have to say this was a great course. It taught me not only the fundamentals but tips of the trade that would have taken me years of experience to come up with on my own. This course really puts you on the fast track to producing exceptional reports and provides different methodologies for analyzing web data. I would recommend this course for those who are just starting out or who want to expand their knowledge of marketing into web analytics, no matter if you use Google Analytics or another tool.

Check out 7 interesting tips I learned from taking the course:

  1. Create a segment to exclude Visitors who stayed on the site for less than 5 seconds. The key here is to separate out those who did nothing on the site, so they won’t skew your data. Focus on those who stayed on the site, navigated around and actually saw your content.
  2. KPIs should be revisited every quarter; 25% of them should die annually and be replaced with new ones. As business objectives change throughout the year, so should your KPIs and in turn, your reports should also reflect these changes. Your weekly, monthly, quarterly reports should really only include actionable data. If the data isn’t representative of information that is meaningful, it is just a waste.
  3. Value microsegments, those smaller segments which are producing the most revenue or generating the most action on your site.  For example, one microsegment could look at visitors who came in the morning, from search, and visited more than 4 pages.
  4. Determine your “Visitor Orbit Strength”. Look through your Visitor Overview section in your Analytics tools. Segment out New Visitors and find out what your most loyal visitors are doing on your site. Check your Visitor Recency Report and find out how often they are coming, how long they are staying and how deep they are searching.
  5. Include a “Change Report” which quickly and easily displays what has risen and fallen since the last report. This allows anyone who is viewing the report to instantly see what is improving or failing.
  6. Don’t waste time on trying to find one magical path to conversion. In the end most of your visitors will not follow A,B,C,D; they will go back and forth A,C,B,C,D. Only really rich or structured experiences will take a visitor through one flow. Plus, you wouldn’t want to make decisions based on a path that less than 2% of your visitors actually follow.
  7. Always include Voice of Customer. Whether it’s an opt-in survey near the bottom of your site or pop-up survey after attempting to leave the page, there are 3 main questions you always want to ask:
    1. What was the primary purpose for your visit?
    2. Were you able to accomplish the task you came to site for?
    3. If not, why?

San Diego: Firmly on the Map for Digital Marketing

By | digital marketing, education, events, interactive marketing | One Comment

Location/Time:  San Diego Hilton Bayfront, June 15th

With coffees still close at hand, and having just settled into their seats, the waking 2012 San Diego Interactive Day (SDID) audience was asked to stand up to prove a point.

“Now, all first year attendees, please sit down”.

Over 400 then sat down (including myself), revealing that apparently the San Diego digital marketing community has undergone a baby boom of sorts.  (Digital Operative’s rapid growth over the last year would validate that notion.)

The individual paths through SDID were many.  With awesome speakers lecturing across eight sleek lecture rooms and an ongoing Shark Tank pitch contest, everybody who attended all five sessions absorbed nearly seven hours of spoken content.  The sessions I attended were intimate, casual and fun.  Speakers did not seem to read from a script, rehash prior addresses or stick closely to the agenda, but rather tailored their content to a relevant audience of interested marketers.  Although the stage could have easily been used as a soap box for their company, the great majority of speakers were more interested in sharing about the process rather than bragging about the results.

These were some of the largest ideas presented:

  • The audience is the media.  Involve them in your marketing story.  (Robyn Freye and Eujin Hong)
  • Gamification of the User Experience – Use the Carrot, Not the Stick. (Steve Patrizi)
  • Small brands led by individuals need to just be themselves first to gain lasting social success. (Ryan Berman and panelists)
  • The conversation is the canvas. (Steve Pietsch)
  • Earned Media is the way to go.  It’s cheaper and does more for your brand. (Rand Fishkin)

I’m not going to regurgitate the content that I heard, after all that’s what Twitter is for – just kidding (but not really).  I will say that it was all very exciting and relevant to what we do here at Digital Operative.  I think what I enjoyed most about SDID 2012 was the fact that behind all the brilliant ideas and the lofty titles, whether onstage or off, the tone of the event pointed to a thriving San Diego community of talented and dedicated digital marketing professionals loving what they do and appreciating what each other are producing.  It really was a cultural thinktank event more than a professional money-making event.  And when school was let out, and Happy Hour broke open, the connections and camaraderie were glaring.

Coming away from SDID 2012, I am left thinking about the importance of cultural fit in the digital marketing business world.  What values does your company’s culture rest on?   Here at Digital Operative, I would say some of those values are openness, a passion for knowledge, creativity, iterative processes, innovative technology, getting results and Mexican food.

Sound like a fit?  Contact us today, and we can explore relationships with your business.

Also check out this 360 degree tour of the conference online.

Fixed Navigation in Web Design and 10 Innovative Uses From Around the Internet

By | design, education, user experience | No Comments

There is a relatively new practice that is starting to appear on the web more often each day. This user experience/user interface trend is referred to as a “fixed” or “sticky” navigation although I like the term “weightless” for its floating characteristics. This label is given to any top navigation (or sometimes side navigation) that stays at the top of your web browser at all times, even while scrolling down the page. Now I say trend only because it is still a new practice that is being used on a frequent basis, sometimes just for the novelty. People often associate trends with practices that are not helpful or logical, but only implemented for the “cool” or “fresh” factor. The reality is that in some cases a trend can become timeless if it is effective, purposeful, and logical. This is how I look at fixed navigation if excecuted properly.

Some people might not even realize how many sites they use everyday utilize this type of navigation. Some popular sites that use this navigation are Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, and Pinterest to name a few. Being someone who is very aware of web practices, even I forget that sites like Facebook use this navigation. Noticeability is an effective way of judging whether the navigation is successful or not. The weight and prominence of your nav bar needs to be balanced to avoid distraction. There are certain websites that utilize this navigation, but unlike Facebook, the bar is too large, dark and/or overpowering. Not only can these be overwhelming to the point of claustrophobia, they actually remove the attention away from the content and direct it to the navigation bar instead. This is exactly what you want to avoid.

How to properly use a fixed navigation bar

In order for this type of navigation to be effective there are a few guidelines that I believe should be followed. These are obviously not laws or rules but general practices.


As I previously mention, the weight of the navigation bar should be heavily taken into consideration. If the navigation bar is coated with strong saturated colors or bold/ dark colors such as black or dark grey, the bar will need to be fairly thin. There have been plenty of times where this navigation bar is too tall, taking up too much valuable real estate. When scrolling down pages with these “tall” navigation bars, I feel like I am missing important content while feeling trapped. Mind you this is on a 27” monitor, cit is hard to imagine what it would look like on a 13” MacBook. On the other hand, sites like have a fixed navigation bar just as tall as this one, but still work . This site has a sticky navigation bar within certain store product pages that allow you to navigate through types of products. The reason why this one works well is because the bar is very light and even slightly transparent. The light color doesn’t anchor your eye at the top, and the transparency allows you to see the content flow past the browser window. Additionally, even Gmail uses a 110px white and light grey fixed nav and there is a good chance you never even noticed because of its soft, light presence. uses a fixed nav in their product sections so that users can easily filter product types, colors, sizes and more.

Aardvark Brigade uses a tall, heavy sticky navigation bar can get in the way of content and distract the user. The actual links in the navigation bar are minimal and might not be worth the amount of pixels the bar fills.

When to use a fixed navigation bar

It is easy to want to turn every navigation you build into fixed navigation because of the novelty. The navigation should add value to the site and not detract from it. In the early days of the fixed navigation one could argue value was added as a result of any fixed nav just from an impact standpoint. This novelty will clearly not last for long. I give it 6 months before we are all sick of it.(If you aren’t already) Save the fixed navigation for when it is necessary or for when it will actually improve the user experience. Flier websites won’t need it, application promotional websites probably won’t need them, and agency websites probably won’t need them. (Although it wouldn’t hurt if it works. This might be the only place where using it just for the novelty might be suitable.)

The best sites to use it on are the ones with heavy content and a few main areas of navigation that are frequently used. If a user is ever lost they can quickly reference the navigation. Also any site that has a user profile page with a “home” type of news feed and additional user options would be a good candidate. Websites for companies that are trying to sell you their products would also be an effective usage. These sites often have a cart and potential for a user to be logged in. The fixed navigation allows the users to access the “cart” as well as any product or category in the shop at any time. Web applications are also a good place to use the fixed navigation bar  so that the user gets the feeling of being within an application. Finally, “Single Page” sites with long vertically scrolling content would definitely benefit from a fixed navigation bar so that the user can easily navigate to desired areas of the site without scrolling through data that might not interest them.

Functionally, this type of nav bar seems to make a ton of sense for a good portion of websites. Why not keep the means of navigating through the site right at the fingertips (or mouse pointer) of the user? It seems that this will open up navigation possibilities for the future, such as hidden navs that pop-out or open up out of an icon or tab that stays with you as you scroll down the page. Why limit the navigation to just the top bar? How about two levels of fixed navigation? Maybe even three levels? Okay that might be overkill but hey, it could work.

This site uses a two tier fixed navigation that was implemented purposefully to improve usability because of the tall, vertically scrolling content.

This site uses a three tier fixed navigation system that seems to take up a little to much of your screen. The second grey bar only has three links that don’t seem to warrant the amount of space given.

10  Innovative and Well Executed Examples

CSS Piffle

Suit Up or Die

Made in Haus




Acumen Fund

Electric Pulp

Why SOPA Sucks and Why You Should Care

By | education | One Comment

SOPA sucks, so does internet censorship

Today is a new day for the color black. Today it drapes itself across some of the most visited websites across internet to oppose something called SOPA. According to, it states “The Internet blacklist legislation—known as PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House—invites Internet security risks, threatens online speech, and hampers innovation on the Web.”

What companies went black today?

  • Google
  • WordPress
  • Wikipedia
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Amazon – supporting with black banner to right
  • Boing Boing
  • Nicekicks – I like this site and it shows penetration of support to smaller players as well

How can you support this and take action?

It’s all about education at the end of the day and knowing that the form you fill out, the petition you sign or that tweet you send matters.

What I Really Learned in College (about Social Media)

By | blogging, digital marketing, education, facebook, interactive marketing, social media, twitter | No Comments

Everyone is using social media to get their message across; people use it, businesses use it, celebrities use it, and now even universities are using it. The use of social media by higher education institutions is an obvious choice – the main users of social media are young adults, specifically college aged students. These institutions have so much potential to connect with students and really speak to them in an environment where they spend a good portion of their time. The opportunity to attract new students is the most appealing aspect of social media usage by universities. In a study put together by, 77% of questioned universities said if they were to have a Facebook account it would be targeted toward prospective students. This account would provide a place to ask questions, get an informal feel for the school, and communicate with the school staff as well as current and alumni students. Twitter is also used in the same manner. Like businesses, colleges want to create leads and meet potential “customers” in real time. On Twitter, institutions can promote their school and track what people are saying about them. Through social media, colleges can create a buzz about events, send out important information, post photos, videos and articles directly to where students are spending most of their time online.

More recently as colleges are discovering the importance and power of utilizing social media, different departments at these institutions are creating their own Facebook and Twitter pages. Thus becoming more specific to reach an exact audience within the student community. For example at San Diego State University many different offices and organizations have their own Twitter accounts such as: the Admissions Office @SDSUAdmissions, the Athletic Department @GoAztecs, general campus news @SDSU_NewsTeam, the Bookstore @SDSUBookstore, the Library @sdsulibrary , the dinning services @SDSUDiningServ, the student governing body @as_sdsu, campus events @AztecNights, etc. With each account having their own audience, the buzz around San Diego State University grows. More information can be distributed and students have the option to connect with exactly who they want to talk to. Social media platforms are quick and easy ways to get the word out.

Social Media 101:

1. Don’t jump in blind. Make sure you research and explore what people are already saying about your school and where you stand in the online world.
2. Combine marketing efforts. Be sure to include urls and information to find your Facebook and Twitter on printed material. A consistent message is important. Make sure everyone is on the same page.
3. Remember to be social. There is a person behind every user, if you don’t interact like one you will be considered spam. This is not a hard sell, but a way to give information about the school in a non formal setting. Be genuine.

Magento Coming to San Diego for Ecommerce Forum Series – Hosted by Digital Operative

By | ecommerce, education, events, magento, partners, social commerce | 3 Comments

Magento San Diego event - partner

Our good friends at Magento asked us if we were interested in hosting one of their Ecommerce Forum events in San Diego this year. Why wouldn’t we? So next week on May 19, 2011 from 8am to 10am, we’re hosting the first ever Magento ecommerce forum at the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego complete with all of the following ingredients:

  • FREE entry … if you’re ready to register go here
  • FREE catered food … Hard Rock doesn’t disappoint
  • A Magento overview from one of their team members
  • An in-depth demo of the Magento Enterprise ecommerce platform
  • Networking – Talk to Magento reps, Solution partners and other folks interested in everything ecommerce from current customers to potential customers
  • Other perks include – $20 valet for hotel, sweet David Bowie room, perks if you decide to stay overnight


If you have any questions about San Diego, Magento or the event please contact BJ Cook at our office – 619-795-0630

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