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Transitioning to GA4: Is this the Right Analytics Move for Your Team?



How to Identify Whether Your Increased Traffic Is Spam

The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

Back in March, Google announced that the current version of Google Analytics Universal (commonly known as Universal Analytics) will be deprecated as of July 1, 2023, in favor of the new version, GA4.

As a part of this transition, Google will be dropping support and tracking for Universal Analytics (UA), which has been the standard reporting tool for millions of websites since 2012. According to Google, historic data from Universal Analytics will be accessible for “at least six months” after the July 2023 retirement date. Keeping it ambiguous, Google adds:

“In the coming months, we’ll provide a future date for when existing Universal Analytics properties will no longer be available. After this future date, you’ll no longer be able to see your Universal Analytics reports in the Analytics interface or access your Universal Analytics data via the API.”

While 2023 may seem like ample time to prepare for this transition, the truth is you need to check a few boxes sooner rather than later, especially if there are important year-over-year (YoY) metrics that need to be tracked without disruption. In short order, capturing data for next year’s YoY metrics means that your business will need to take action before the end of summer 2022 to ensure:

  • Seamless tracking

  • YoY reporting (including access to historical data) – the full functionality you want/need from your data and analysis toolset

  • Your team is prepared to use the new tools (regardless of what new solution you choose)

Though Google “strongly encourages” users to make the transition to GA4 “as soon as possible”, we’d argue that – given the scale of the change and the work/resources it will require to properly transition to GA4 (as outlined in more detail below), now is the right time to pull up and evaluate your data tracking stack.

It’s too easy to make assumptions about needs and requirements being met based on “what we’ve always used,” and end up backed into a corner.

Instead, let’s explore this in detail and consciously select the right platform for your needs.

How is this different from the last GA platform change?

The transition from GA Classic to Universal Analytics was simple. All you needed to do was update the tracking code on your website. Your data was the same. The interface, metrics, etc. – all largely the same. That’s not the case this time around.

How are GA Universal and GA4 different?

Google made some big changes in GA4 that may take time to adjust to. This has many implications, including large differences in:

  • the interface for navigating and setting up the reports

  • the base skills/knowledge set needed for people using the new platform

  • the data set itself (GA Universal data is not compatible with GA4 data)

  • your ability to access and use YoY data

  • access to certain (well-loved) functionality, and even some metrics. Some will no longer be available OR require a thorough setup to access.

In short, GA4 is quite literally a re-imagining of how to track and measure website interaction. Much like the transition from USB to USB-C, this means changes to systems/processes, tools, skills/training, and potentially your annual budget, to ensure a smooth transition.

1. Reimagined reporting interface

The most glaring difference between Universal Analytics and GA4 is the reporting interface.

Compared to Universal Analytics, GA4’s interface is more simplified and streamlined. This is because some of the metrics, views, and reports you see in Universal have either been removed or replaced.

The updated interface looks much like Google Data Studio in the way analytics are presented. So if you’re familiar with Data Studio, then navigating GA4’s interface may be more intuitive for you.

The Universal Analytics reporting dashboard.
The new GA4 dashboard.
The new GA4 reporting dashboard.

Still, changing from what’s known and normal always comes with some level of pain and processing. Even for those who are well-trained in the world of Universal Analytics, adjusting to a new reporting interface will come with some confusion – and perhaps some roadblocks and resistance.

2. Evolving terminology

Once you start perusing the new interface, you’ll notice that Google has changed some of the terminology. “Behavior” is now “Engagement”, “Segments” have become “Comparisons”, and “Channels” is now “User Acquisition”. The “All Pages” reports have been renamed as “Pages and Screens”.

Google has also reorganized the “Audience” reports, and the information that used to be in the “Audience” reports are now in other sections, including “User” and “Acquisition” sections.

Navigating GA4 won’t necessarily be a frictionless experience, especially for those who are regularly immersed in Universal Analytics.

Sidebar menu reorganization.
Access to reports have been reorganized and renamed. Compare UA on the left, and GA4 on the right.
New GA4 exploration feature.
The new GA4 exploration feature.

3. Updated measurement models

Universal Analytics and GA4 use different measurement models. While UA relies on a session- and pageview-based data model, GA4 stands on an event-based model. With GA4, any interaction can be recorded as an event.

The somewhat confusing thing about this change is that, in UA (and all previous versions of Google Analytics), an event has an action, category, label, and its own hit type. But in GA4, there is no action, category, or label.

ALL hits are events, and events can contain parameters.

…They don’t have to, though.

For example, in GA4, you can have an event called page_view, and this event can contain parameters: page_title, page_referrer (previous page URL), and page_location (current page URL).

Events in GA4 are grouped into four categories:

  1. Automatically-collected events: You don’t have to manually activate these events. GA4 automatically tracks them when you install the GA4 base code. Examples include first_visit, session_start, and user_engagement.

  2. Enhanced measurement events: GA4 also collects these events automatically, but you’ll need to enable (or disable) enhanced measurement settings in your Data Stream depending on your website functionality. These events include outbound clicks, scrolls, file downloads, and site searches.

  3. Recommended events: These events are not implemented in GA4, but Google recommends that you set them up. If you need an event that’s not collected automatically or is not a part of the enhanced measurement events, you can check for it in recommended events. Examples of recommended events include sign_up, login, and purchase.

  4. Custom events: These are events that you can create and implement by yourself. You should only use custom events when you need to track an event that you can’t find in the first three categories. You’ll need to write and design custom code to implement the custom event you want to track. Fortunately for the less code-savvy, Google has rolled out a tool to assist in importing custom events from Universal Analytics to GA4.

Overall, this approach actually allows more flexibility and configurability to WHAT is measured on your site.

However, with more flexibility comes more set up and forethought, so having a documented measurement plan is HIGHLY recommended for GA4.

4. New BigQuery functionality

If you use BigQuery, then you’ll be happy to know that GA4 connects natively to it. With Universal Analytics, the only way users can export data from GA is through the enterprise version (GA360). But with GA4, users can export data at no additional cost.

Keep in mind the way data is structured in GA4 is different from how it’s structured in Universal Analytics. So you might need to remap your GA4 data before you’ll be able to move it into BigQuery (we find this GA3 to GA4 tool helpful in formatting historical data to align with GA4.) Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to run SQL queries more easily.

The BigQuery integration is available, so we definitely recommend setting it up ASAP. Why? Well, GA4 only stores data for a maximum of 14 months (and default settings are only two months), so for accurate YoY comparisons, you’ll need to rely on this year’s BigQuery datasets you gather now or suffer the losses.

Screenshot with blue arrow pointing to new BigQuery integration.

5. Removed functionality

Some existing features like views, custom metrics, and content groups will no longer be supported. If your team relies on these existing features, adapting to GA4 will likely involve figuring out how to fill certain measurement gaps. And if the transition becomes too compromising and painful, keep in mind that there are alternatives.

As you’ve likely gathered, moving from GA Universal to GA4 is not a light undertaking. Between adapting to GA4’s new reporting and measurement models and learning its revised labeling and terminology, it’s going to be a heavy transition no matter what your situation entails. Consequently, now is the time to verify that the outcome of all this work will in fact meet your needs.

What does this mean for you and your company?

All users of Universal Analytics (that’s close to… well, everyone, really), will need to start planning for how and where to continue measuring your website performance.

You’ll also need to take action to save your data for 1) posterity and 2) YoY reporting, given that the data set is NOT compatible, nor will be available to you (if you don’t take steps to preserve it). AKA: we also need to plan for when this needs to happen.

In terms of the how and where, ultimately, there are three primary options (four if your team takes a hybrid approach of combining options 2 and 3), each of which is outlined below.

1. Adopt GA4 and update any current measurement programs

The first option is the big one on most people’s minds. That is, opting to use GA4 and taking the proper steps to preserve data integrity and seamless measurement.

If you determine that GA4 is the right fit, the major boxes to check involve identifying measurement gaps and revising KPIs (or measurement protocols) to fill these gaps. You’ll also need to start collecting data (now) for later YoY reporting needs, as well as ensuring your team is up-to-speed on the new GA4 interface.

Given that the interface in GA4 is considerably different from the interface in Universal, any teams currently using the latter will likely require additional time and training to adapt to the new structure.

2. Move to a different hosted analytics platform

Due to some of the identified gaps, we’re exploring options for both free and paid alternatives to GA4 for our own team. Among the free analytics tools worth considering are Clarity, Clicky, and Mixpanel. While the free versions of these tools are great, some offer upgradeable paid options for more robust capacity/capabilities.

Some businesses may find that their requirements are better met by moving to paid tools or premium versions of certain analytics products. Of those worth exploring are Matomo, Adobe Analytics, Heap, Kissmetrics, Heap, and Woopra. The latter two offer free plans but, in our experience, they’re highly limited.

Keep in mind that not all of these analytics tools offer the same level of utility and features, and don’t forget about privacy and security to support GDPR and CCPA regulations, a growing concern for many brands.

While any new tool would require onboarding, many of them offer training as part of the client onboarding process. Most of these analytics options also offer a free trial, so you can vet a platform hands-on before committing to it.

3. Implement an on-premise/first-party data tracking solution (enterprise solution)

On-premise/first-party enterprise solutions can deliver greater utility, privacy, and compliance, depending on how they’re leveraged. Platforms like Matomo and Countly do offer on-premise implementation, meaning that your company would own ALL of the user data, instead of being passed through to Google Analytics (or any other third party).

If you have other owned digital platforms, coupling an on-premise analytics suite with solutions like Looker (owned by Google!) or PowerBI can allow you to access data across different teams and properties easily.

Please note that the implementation of this approach requires fairly heavy dev/engineering collaboration.

How should you evaluate alternative analytics tool sets?

When exploring alternative analytics options, there are many important considerations you’ll want to evaluate. Here are several key factors to help get you started:

  • Data ownership: Who actually owns the data? This can be a much larger conversation for companies in regulated industries where more than just marketing stakeholders are involved.

  • Privacy concerns: More than data ownership, where is the analytics data being hosted? This means the physical location of the servers where this data is stored. If you require GDPR-compliance, this is essential to know—and get right.

  • Accessibility: Will you have access to raw data? How long is data retained? Some analytics platforms will vary.

  • Native reporting: What sort of native reporting capabilities are there, and does the platform integrate into your company’s preferred reporting tools (e.g. Google Data Studio, Tableau, PowerBI, etc.)?

  • Attribution modeling: How are certain events like conversions determined and assigned across user touchpoints and channels? Does their model align with your attribution definitions? Think about last touch, first touch, etc., across the entire user journey.

  • Event & transactions tracking: What out-of-the-box event tracking is available? How do you add user ID tracking, and is it still secure and compliant? E-commerce stores and affiliate marketers may have unique challenges here, especially when it comes to communicating with your web platform, e.g. Shopify.

  • Campaign tracking: How does the system report on custom campaign metrics? These include things like UTMs and tracking URLs you get from the various ad platforms you may use.

  • Custom tracking: Is custom tracking an option? Does the platform provide their own tag manager, or can you use the tried-and-true Google Tag Manager (that’s probably already installed on your website)? Are there server-side tracking options?

  • Cross-domain tracking: Is the analytics platform capable of tracking user activity across more than one domain that you own?

  • Data importing: Can you import your old Google Analytics data, seamlessly or otherwise?

  • Cost: More than just ongoing monthly/annual fees to use the platform, what set-up fees, implementation costs, and ongoing maintenance efforts are required of you and your team?

There’s clearly a lot to consider when weighing various analytics alternatives. The thought-starters above offer some of the most important considerations to keep in mind. But deciding which data solutions will check the most pertinent boxes for your business can be a time-consuming undertaking in and of itself. To help make this vetting process a bit easier, you can make a copy of this Google Sheet template: Data Solution Option Vetting, which already lists several alternatives.

When should you make the transition from Universal Analytics to GA4?

In the case that you and your team decide to make the transition to GA4, you’ll need to get your ducks in a row sooner than later. The summer of 2023 may seem like ample time to prepare, but your team should start to take prompt action in:

  • deciding on a measurement solution,

  • preserving historic data, and

  • potentially implementing this solution prior to the end of summer 2022, and certainly prior to year’s end.

“Potentially” because some solutions – #3 from above – will simply require more time to implement.

Your data is safe for now: Google will not be removing/deleting your Universal data until the end of 2023. However, to reiterate, if you want to preserve your ability to do YoY reporting, you should take action sooner versus later.

There are some paid solutions to aid this process, but no one is really leading the pack on this one yet. This tool mentioned above can be helpful, however, a complete data export is still a necessary heavy lift.

For now, you can certainly export any of your favorite Google Analytics reports to Excel or Google Sheets using the Export function within the Google Analytics interface. Currently, only GA 360 users have seamless options for exporting their Google Analytics Universal data.

Moving forward

While many current Universal Analytics users will naturally default to GA4, hopefully by now, you’re well attuned to your options. It’s one thing to follow the herd, but it’s another thing to understand the features and limitations of GA4, as well as other analytics platforms, and how those considerations align with your needs and potentially those of your clients.

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How Does Success of Your Business Depend on Choosing Type of Native Advertising?



How Does Success of Your Business Depend on Choosing Type of Native Advertising?

The very first commercial advertisement was shown on TV in 1941. It was only 10 seconds long and had an audience of 4,000 people. However, it became a strong trigger for rapid advertising development. The second half of the 20th century is known as the golden age of advertising until the Internet came to the forefront and entirely transformed the advertising landscape. The first commercial banner appeared in the mid-90s, then it was followed by pop-ups, pay-by-placement and paid-pay-click ads. Companies also started advertising their brands and adding their business logo designs, which contributes to consumer trust and trustworthiness.

The rise of social media in the mid-2000s opened a new dimension for advertising content to be integrated. The marketers were forced to make the ads less intrusive and more organic to attract younger users. This is how native advertising was born. This approach remains a perfect medium for goods and services promotion. Let’s see why and how native ads can become a win-win strategy for your business.

What is native advertising?

When it comes to digital marketing, every marketer talks about native advertising. What is the difference between traditional and native ones? You will not miss basic ads as they are typically promotional and gimmicky, while native advertising naturally blends into the content. The primary purpose of native ads is to create content that resonates with audience expectations and encourages users to perceive it seamlessly and harmoniously.

Simply put, native advertising is a paid media ad that organically aligns with the visual and operational features of the media format in which it appears. The concept is quite straightforward: while people just look through banner ads, they genuinely engage with native ads and read them. You may find a lot of native ads on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – they appear in the form of “in-feed” posts that engage users in search for more stories, opinions, goods and services. This unobtrusive approach turns native ads into a powerful booster for any brand.

How does native advertising benefit your business?

An average Internet user comes across around 10,000 ads a day. But even physically, it is impossible to perceive this amount of information in 24 hours. So, most of them use adblockers, nullifying all efforts of markers. Native ads successfully overcome this digital challenge thanks to their authenticity. And this is not the only advantage of native advertising. How else does your business benefit? Here are just a few major benefits that prove the value of native ads:

Better brand awareness. Native ads contribute to the brand’s visibility. They seamlessly blend into educational, emotional, and visual types of content that can easily become viral. While promotional content typically receives limited shares, users readily share valuable or entertaining content. Consequently, while you incur expenses only for the display of native ads, your audience may go the extra mile by sharing your content and organically promoting your brand or SaaS product at no additional cost.

Increased click-through rates. Native ads can generate a thrilling click-through rate (CTR) primarily because they are meticulously content-adaptable. Thus, native ads become an integral part of the user’s journey without disrupting their browsing experience. Regardless of whether your native advertising campaign is designed to build an audience or drive specific actions, compelling content will always entice users to click through.

Cost-efficient campaign performance. Native advertising proves to be cheaper compared to a traditional ad format. It mainly stems from a higher CTR. Thanks to precise targeting and less customer resistance, native ads allow to bring down cost-per-click.

Native ads are continuously evolving, enabling marketers to experiment with different formats and use them for successful multi-channel campaigns and global reach.

Types of native advertising

Any content can become native advertising as there are no strict format restrictions. For example, it can be an article rating the best fitness applications, an equipment review, or a post by an influencer on a microblog. The same refers to the channels – native ads can be placed on regular websites and social media feeds. Still, some forms tend to be most frequently used.

  • In-feed ads. This type of ad appears within the content feed. You have definitely seen such posts on Facebook and Instagram or such videos on TikTok. They look like regular content but are tagged with an advertising label. The user sees these native ads when scrolling the feed on social media platforms.
  • Paid search ads. These are native ads that are displayed on the top and bottom of the search engine results page. They always match user’s queries and aim to capture their attention at the moment of a particular search and generate leads and conversions. This type of ad is effective for big search platforms with substantial traffic.
  • Recommendation widgets. These come in the form of either texts or images and can be found at the end of the page or on a website’s sidebar. Widgets offer related or intriguing content from either the same publisher or similar sources. This type of native ads is great for retargeting campaigns.
  • Sponsored content. This is one of the most popular types of native advertising. Within this format, an advertiser sponsors the creation of an article or content that aligns with the interests and values of the platform’s audience. They can be marked as “sponsored” or “recommended” to help users differentiate them from organic content.
  • Influencer Advertising. In this case, advertisers partner with popular bloggers or celebrities to gain the attention and trust of the audience. Influencers integrate a product, service, or event into their content or create custom content that matches their style and topic.

Each of these formats can bring stunning results if your native ads are relevant and provide value to users. Use a creative automation platform like Creatopy to design effective ads for your business.

How to create a workable native ad?

Consider these 5 steps for creating a successful native advertising campaign:

  • Define your target audienceUsers will always ignore all ads that are not relevant to them. Unwanted ads are frustrating and can even harm your brand. If you run a store for pets, make sure your ads show content that will be interesting for pet owners. Otherwise, the whole campaign will be undermined. Regular market research and data analysis will help you refine your audience and its demographics.
  • Set your goals. Each advertising campaign should have a clear-cut objective. Without well-defined goals, it is a waste of money. It is a must to know what you want to achieve – introduce your brand, boost sales or increase your audience.
  • Select the proper channels. Now, you need to determine how you will reach out to your customers. Consider displaying ads on social media platforms, targeting search engine result pages (SERPs), distributing paid articles, or utilizing in-ad units on different websites. You may even be able to get creative and use email or SMS in a less salesy and more “native”-feeling way—you can find samples of texts online to help give you ideas. Exploring demand side platforms (DSP) can also bring good results.
  • Offer compelling content. Do not underestimate the quality of the content for your native ads. Besides being expertly written, it must ideally match the style and language of the chosen channel,whether you’re promoting professional headshots, pet products, or anything else. The main distinctive feature of native advertising is that it should fit naturally within the natural content.
  • Track your campaign. After the launch of native ads, it is crucial to monitor the progress, evaluating the costs spent and results. Use tools that help you gain insights beyond standard KPIs like CTR and CPC. You should get engagement metrics, customer data, campaign data, and third-party activity data for further campaign management.

Key takeaway

Summing up the above, it is time to embrace native advertising if you haven’t done it yet. Native ads seamlessly blend with organic content across various platforms, yielding superior engagement and conversion rates compared to traditional display ads. Marketers are allocating higher budgets to native ads because this format proves to be more and more effective – content that adds value can successfully deal with ad fatigue. Native advertising is experiencing a surge in popularity, and it is to reach its peak. So, do not miss a chance to grow your business with the power of native ads.or you can do digital marketing course from Digital Vidya.

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OpenAI’s Drama Should Teach Marketers These 2 Lessons



OpenAI’s Drama Should Teach Marketers These 2 Lessons

A week or so ago, the extraordinary drama happening at OpenAI filled news feeds.

No need to get into all the saga’s details, as every publication seems to have covered it. We’re just waiting for someone to put together a video montage scored to the Game of Thrones music.

But as Sam Altman takes back the reigns of the company he helped to found, the existing board begins to disintegrate before your very eyes, and everyone agrees something spooked everybody, a question arises: Should you care?

Does OpenAI’s drama have any demonstrable implications for marketers integrating generative AI into their marketing strategies?

Watch CMI’s chief strategy advisor Robert Rose explain (and give a shoutout to Sutton’s pants rage on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills), or keep reading his thoughts:

For those who spent last week figuring out what to put on your holiday table and missed every AI headline, here’s a brief version of what happened. OpenAI – the huge startup and creator of ChatGPT – went through dramatic events. Its board fired the mercurial CEO Sam Altman. Then, the 38-year-old entrepreneur accepted a job at Microsoft but returned to OpenAI a day later.

We won’t give a hot take on what it means for the startup world, board governance, or the tension between AI safety and Silicon Valley capitalism. Rather, we see some interesting things for marketers to put into perspective about how AI should fit into your overall content and marketing plans in the new year.

Robert highlights two takeaways from the OpenAI debacle – a drama that has yet to reach its final chapter: 1. The right structure and governance matters, and 2. Big platforms don’t become antifragile just because they’re big.

Let’s have Robert explain.

The right structure and governance matters

OpenAI’s structure may be key to the drama. OpenAI has a bizarre corporate governance framework. The board of directors controls a nonprofit called OpenAI. That nonprofit created a capped for-profit subsidiary – OpenAI GP LLC. The majority owner of that for-profit is OpenAI Global LLC, another for-profit company. The nonprofit works for the benefit of the world with a for-profit arm.

That seems like an earnest approach, given AI tech’s big and disruptive power. But it provides so many weird governance issues, including that the nonprofit board, which controls everything, has no duty to maximize profit. What could go wrong?

That’s why marketers should know more about the organizations behind the generative AI tools they use or are considering.

First, know your providers of generative AI software and services are all exploring the topics of governance and safety. Microsoft, Google, Anthropic, and others won’t have their internal debates erupt in public fireworks. Still, governance and management of safety over profits remains a big topic for them. You should be aware of how they approach those topics as you license solutions from them.

Second, recognize the productive use of generative AI is a content strategy and governance challenge, not a technology challenge. If you don’t solve the governance and cross-functional uses of the generative AI platforms you buy, you will run into big problems with its cross-functional, cross-siloed use. 

Big platforms do not become antifragile just because they’re big

Nicholas Taleb wrote a wonderful book, Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder. It explores how an antifragile structure doesn’t just withstand a shock; it actually improves because of a disruption or shock. It doesn’t just survive a big disruptive event; it gets stronger because of it.

It’s hard to imagine a company the size and scale of OpenAI could self-correct or even disappear tomorrow. But it can and does happen. And unfortunately, too many businesses build their strategies on that rented land.

In OpenAI’s recent case, the for-profit software won the day. But make no bones about that victory; the event wasn’t good for the company. If it bounces back, it won’t be stronger because of the debacle.

With that win on the for-profit side, hundreds, if not thousands, of generative AI startups breathed an audible sigh of relief. But a few moments later, they screamed “pivot” (in their best imitation of Ross from Friends instructing Chandler and Rachel to move a couch.)

They now realize the fragility of their software because it relies on OpenAI’s existence or willingness to provide the software. Imagine what could have happened if the OpenAI board had won their fight and, in the name of safety, simply killed any paid access to the API or the ability to build business models on top of it.

The last two weeks have done nothing to clear the already muddy waters encountered by companies and their plans to integrate generative AI solutions. Going forward, though, think about the issues when acquiring new generative AI software. Ask about how the vendor’s infrastructure is housed and identify the risks involved. And, if OpenAI expands its enterprise capabilities, consider the implications. What extra features will the off-the-shelf solutions provide? Do you need them? Will OpenAI become the Microsoft Office of your AI infrastructure?

Why you should care

With the voluminous media coverage of Open AI’s drama, you likely will see pushback on generative AI. In my social feeds, many marketers say they’re tired of the corporate soap opera that is irrelevant to their work.

They are half right. What Sam said and how Ilya responded, heart emojis, and how much the Twitch guy got for three days of work are fodder for the Netflix series sure to emerge. (Robert’s money is on Michael Cera starring.)

They’re wrong about its relevance to marketing. They must be experiencing attentional bias – paying more attention to some elements of the big event and ignoring others. OpenAI’s struggle is entertaining, no doubt. You’re glued to the drama. But understanding what happened with the events directly relates to your ability to manage similar ones successfully. That’s the part you need to get right.

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.


Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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The Complete Guide to Becoming an Authentic Thought Leader



The Complete Guide to Becoming an Authentic Thought Leader

Introduce your processes: If you’ve streamlined a particular process, share it. It could be the solution someone else is looking for.

Jump on trends and news: If there’s a hot topic or emerging trend, offer your unique perspective.

Share industry insights: Attended a webinar or podcast that offered valuable insights. Summarize the key takeaways and how they can be applied.

Share your successes: Write about strategies that have worked exceptionally well for you. Your audience will appreciate the proven advice. For example, I shared the process I used to help a former client rank for a keyword with over 2.2 million monthly searches.

Question outdated strategies: If you see a strategy that’s losing steam, suggest alternatives based on your experience and data.

5. Establish communication channels (How)

Once you know who your audience is and what they want to hear, the next step is figuring out how to reach them. Here’s how:

Choose the right platforms: You don’t need to have a presence on every social media platform. Pick two platforms where your audience hangs out and create content for that platform. For example, I’m active on LinkedIn and X because my target audience (SEOs, B2B SaaS, and marketers) is active on these platforms.

Repurpose content: Don’t limit yourself to just one type of content. Consider repurposing your content on Quora, Reddit, or even in webinars and podcasts. This increases your reach and reinforces your message.

Follow Your audience: Go where your audience goes. If they’re active on X, that’s where you should be posting. If they frequent industry webinars, consider becoming a guest on these webinars.

Daily vs. In-depth content: Balance is key. Use social media for daily tips and insights, and reserve your blog for more comprehensive guides and articles.

Network with influencers: Your audience is likely following other experts in the field. Engaging with these influencers puts your content in front of a like-minded audience. I try to spend 30 minutes to an hour daily engaging with content on X and LinkedIn. This is the best way to build a relationship so you’re not a complete stranger when you DM privately.

6. Think of thought leadership as part of your content marketing efforts

As with other content efforts, thought leadership doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It thrives when woven into a cohesive content marketing strategy. By aligning individual authority with your brand, you amplify the credibility of both.

Think of it as top-of-the-funnel content to:

  • Build awareness about your brand

  • Highlight the problems you solve

  • Demonstrate expertise by platforming experts within the company who deliver solutions

Consider the user journey. An individual enters at the top through a social media post, podcast, or blog post. Intrigued, they want to learn more about you and either search your name on Google or social media. If they like what they see, they might visit your website, and if the information fits their needs, they move from passive readers to active prospects in your sales pipeline.

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