How and Why to Blog: Strategy & Tips for Business Blogs

How and Why to Blog: Strategy & Tips for Business Blogs

I often get asked ‘what can I do to boost the SEO of my website?’ Or ‘how can I rank for our main industry keywords?’

For a business lead generation website, the answer is simple: create more content.

Creating more content really means blogging. Sure, you can make more service pages and other landing pages. You can even make more content about specific areas you serve to hit those keywords or create more content specific to your company’s culture, values and team. However, the most impact will probably come from the blogs you write.

silver wireless keyboard on top of table

Tracking Button Click Conversions for Google Ads

Below I offer a step-by-step process for setting up conversion events in Google Ads & Analytics – specifically element (button) clicks.

Why button clicks?

They’re a common element used in CTAs (lead call-to-action) as well as form submissions (think, “apply now”, “learn more”, “get a quote today!”)

But before you read any further you might be asking yourself, “what the heck are conversion events and why should I care about setting them up?”

Good question ma’ams and sirs. Here’s the answer:

Conversions are your bottom line.

They’re the end result you’re trying to produce with your marketing campaign.

These are the events that you’re paying the big bucks for.

While Google Ads automatically generates metrics for your Ads like impressions, clicks, click-through rates and cost-per-click, they won’t tell you which Ads are generating leads. This requires a custom setup and is absolutely essential for creating and measuring a successful campaign.

You need to set conversions up (or have a professional do it for you).

There are 2 very important reasons you need to configure conversions:

#1 – The first is more obvious than the second. To measure campaign effectiveness (What’s your ROI & ROAS) and on a more granular level, how effective each specific Ad Group, Ad and even keyword is.   

Without conversion events set up you might (scratch that…probably WILL) be misled.

You’ll have to rely on impressions, clicks and click-through-rates.

Sometimes these metrics can be a decent proxy for actual leads and sales, but often they’re not (you ever hear anyone say, “I’m getting tons of clicks to my website but no leads!”)

#2 – The second reason might be less obvious but it’s just as important.

When you initially set up a Google Ads campaign it is auto-configured to adjust bids for clicks.

In other words, it automatically changes bids and places ads that maximize clicks to your site.

This isn’t ideal (although sometimes it can be a good place to start a campaign while you collect initial intel)

You want to bid for conversions.

If you don’t have conversion events configured in Google Ads you won’t be able to do this.

If you’re not bidding for conversions you’re paying good money for clicks that could very well be irrelevant, unengaged or otherwise have a very low chance of converting to leads.  

So without further ado, a step-by-step process for deploying the magic of Google Tag Manager to help you set up and measure conversion events in both Google Analytics & Google Ads.

Before Starting  

A) Make sure you have a Google Tag Manager (GTM) account and container set up for your website. (it may also be helpful to have Chrome Tag Assistant installed)

B) Make sure you have Google Analytics & Google Ads accounts set up

In Google Tag Manager 

A) Configure Variables

  • In the container workspace click on “Variables” on the left hand side. 
  • Click “Configure” on the Built-in Variables screen and select all the Click Variables.

B) Set up a generic click trigger

  • In container workspace click on “Triggers” on left hand side. 
  • Click “New” –> Name your trigger (I called it “generic click”) 
  • Click “Choose a trigger type to being setup…”
  • Choose Trigger Type Click –> Just Links –> Leave “All Clicks” bullet selected –> Save

C) Click the “Preview” button on the top right hand corner

On Your Website

A) Test that the generic click trigger is working

  • When you open your website (make sure to open a tab in the same browser window as your GTM workspace!) a GTM console should automatically open at the bottom of the page. This means you have GTM installed. (make sure you are also in “preview” mode in GTM)
  • Next, click on the button or buttons you want to measure. On the left hand side you should see “Click” or “Link Click”. This means the generic trigger is working and GTM is “listening” for clicks. 

B) Find the Click Variables for the button you want to track

  • Click on the button you want to track 
  • This button should now appear at the top left of the GTM console summery (as above it will show as a “Click” or “Link Click”). Click on this then select the variables tab. 
  • Scroll down and note the Values for the Click Variables that were transferred to GTM. Some of these will have values and some won’t – depending on the element or button that you click. 
  • Choose a value for one of these. The value should be unique. In this example I’ll choose the “Click URL” variable value as I know this is the only button that contains this URL. Copy the value (and I recommend pasting into a note or word doc just in case!) 

In Google Tag Manager

A) Turn generic trigger into specific trigger

  • Go back to GTM –> Triggers –> Select the generic trigger you created earlier
  • Change the name (To best suit my button I’ll change to “2019 Apply Now Button Click”
  • Click on the Trigger Configuration box and change trigger fire from All Clicks to Some Clicks. 
  • Choose the variable you had determined earlier and set a filter for it. In this example; “Click URL” “Contains” and then paste in your value that you copied earlier from the GTM console on your website. 
  • Save the trigger. 

**If you want to measure as event in Google Analytics:

B) Set up a Tag 

  • In container workspace click on “Tags” on left hand side. 
  • Click “New” –> Name your tag (exp. “GA Event – 2019 Apply Now Button Click”) 
  • Click the top box “Tag Configuration” and select Google Analytics 
  • Choose “Track Type” as Event. Set “Category” as “Click”, Set “Action” as “Apply Now Button”
  • On “Google Analytics Settings” if you already have a Google Analytics Settings Variable you can choose that. If not you can click the “enable overriding settings in this tag” box and enter your GA tracking ID. 

C) Connect Your Tag to a Trigger

  • Click lower “Triggering” Box. 
  • Choose the “2019 Apply Now Button Click” specific trigger you set up in the previous step. 
  • Click “Save”
  • Back in GTM workspace click “Refresh” on workspace preview mode tab

On Website

A) Check to see that specific trigger fires

  • Reload website page
  • Click on button 
  • If your Trigger is working properly you’ll see on the Summary under “Tags Fired On This Page” that your event tag has fired. 

In Google Analytics 

A) Check to see that your event is being measured 

  • Click on Realtime –> Events –> Select “Events (last 30 min) and your Event Category & Action you sent up in GTM should be showing! Success!
  • After approx. 48 hours you can analyze in Behaviour –> Events –> Overview

**If you want to set up as Google Ads Conversion

In Google Ads

A) Get Google Ads Conversion ID & Conversion Label 

  • Tools & Settings –> Measurement –> Conversions 
  • Conversion Actions –> + circle –> Website
  • Select Category (In this instance I selected Lead) 
  • Conversion Name (I’ll call it 2019 Apply Now Button Click) –> Value (For this I used same value of $10)–> Count (For this I selected “One” as it’s not a purchase. 
  • Create & Continue
  • Select “Use Google Tag Manager”
  • You should see your Conversion ID & Conversion Label

In Google Tag Manager

A) Set up Trigger

  • You can use same trigger above. 
  • If you’re starting with Google Ads set up trigger exactly as above. 

B) Set up Tag

  • Tag –> New Tag –> Name (I’ll name it: Google Ads Conversion – 2019 Apply Now Button Click)
  • Choose Tag type as “Google Ads Conversion Tracking”
  • Enter your Conversion ID & Label from the previous Google Ads step
  • Save

C) Finally, Publish Version to Google Tag Manager!

  • Select “Submit” on the top right corner
  • Name this version (I called it “Added Apply Now Button Click Tracking for Google Analytics & Google Ads) 
  • Click Publish button

*To Make sure this Tag is also firing properly head over to your website and click on your outbound link button. 

Should I Join BNI My Experiences With BNI

Should I join BNI? (Candid Case Study with Numbers)

Article updated on September 21st, 2020 with new numbers.

Find out about my experience with joining a new chapter of BNI in North Vancouver.

Told with numbers and honesty…

1. What is BNI?

2. Growth of New Chapter, BNI Shoreline in North Vancouver (With Numbers)

3. North Shore Digital’s Results from BNI (With Numbers)

4. Personal Benefits of BNI

5. BNI Expectations

6. Should I Join BNI?

7. Happy Ending?

My journey with BNI began with a voicemail left for me at the beginning of September 2019. It was a guy who I’d never met before who left a message in a reassuringly Ozzie accent that went to the tune of:

Are you looking to increase referrals for your business and do you want to join a networking group of business professionals in North Vancouver?

The timing was impeccable. I was at a crossroads…

I was looking to get more clients but was stuck in a freelancer’s mindset of simply doing the tasks without fully developing a team to help drive business.

1. What is BNI?

I called back the dude… Enter Mr. Nicholas Cox (from Childlife Financial). He told me he was a founding member of BNI Shoreline, a new chapter in Vancouver based on the North Shore.

I’d never heard of BNI before so he rolled off a few impressive numbers:

  • BNI has been around since 1985
  • It operates in 74 countries
  • It has 8,968 chapters and counting
  • It is the world’s leading referral business networking organization
  • It has a structured approach to generating business for members
  • Groups often meet early in the morning so as to not interfere with typical business hours
  • Each chapter has one seat exclusively available per specialist profession e.g. website designer, plumber or lawyer

I was intrigued. Was this a cult or some kind of pyramid scheme? I had to find out…

I signed up as a guest to the BNI Shoreline launch event at the Pinnacle Hotel in Lower Lonsdale.

BNI Shoreline The Worlds Leading Business Networking and Referral Organization
BNI Shoreline – Part of The World’s Leading Business Networking and Referral Organization

2. Growth of New Chapter, BNI Shoreline in North Vancouver (with Numbers)

My first impressions of the group were great. The people were super friendly and I was invited to sit with a group at one of the tables.

This seemed like a group of ambitious fresh people not some stale old boys club passing around worn business cards.

What struck me was how structured the meeting was. Also, how many referrals were given and the amount of business in dollars that members receive.

Without wanting to give away a spoiler into how BNI has been working out for me, here are some of our group’s numbers.

BNI Shoreline was launched on Wednesday 4th September 2019.

In less than 3 months, these are the figures for BNI Shoreline:

  • $200,045 generated in business revenues for its members
  • $6,453 is the average seat value for its 31 members
  • $658 is the average value of a referral
  • 304 is the total number of referrals between members
  • The group has grown from 25 founding members to 31
  • 4 kick-off meetings held originally at the Pinnacle Hotel
  • 8 regular weekly meetings at the Winter Club in North Vancouver, Wednesdays 7-8:30am.

April 15 2020 Update: (even allowing for COVID-19 the numbers are looking good)

  • Total thank you for closed business within BNI Shoreline chapter is over $430,000 since September 2019.
  • The average referral value is $730
  • This means approx. 600 referrals
  • 84% present rate for all members to our weekly meetings.
BNI Shoreline Member Count
BNI Shoreline Member Count after 6 months

3. North Shore Digital’s Results from BNI

At first I was a bit wary of BNI as it can come across a bit culty. Everyone is pretty chipper and everyone stands up in turn and declares their roles.

Being a data-driven marketer I’ve always been a little skeptical of referral groups as a method to drive sales and supplement marketing efforts.

I wanted to see numbers…

I’ve heard the average seat value of a 50 person chapter is $80,000-$100,000 and a 25 person chapter is around $40,000-$50,000 per year.

Since it costs $2480 in your first year when counting new membership application fees ($300), yearly membership ($680) and then ongoing fees of $125 per month, these figures in return sound fantastic.*

*This is revenues, not profit. If your margins are solid this is still a great return on investment. Also, these are the costs in Canadian dollars for our specific chapter, BNI Shoreline. Please check with your local chapter about pricing as this may differ.

After a couple more guest appearances at the weekly meetings, I decided it was worth a go. I’d only realistically need one good client from the year to at least cover costs. I then did an interview with two of the leadership team. Thankfully, they let me in…

Upon joining and doing the MSP (Member Success Planning) module on goal setting (yes, they have a ton of resources and apps to help improve your networking and business skills), I worked out the following for North Shore Digital:

  • The average lifetime value of a client guesstimated at approximately $5000
  • My average closure rate of referrals should be around 50%
  • 20 referrals per year would mean 10 new clients and roughly $50k in average lifetime value to North Shore Digital
  • I’d only need 0.4 referrals per week or 1.6 per month to reach this goal

These numbers look rosey. What do the numbers actually look like after two months of being onboard?

Let’s take a look…

  • 3 referrals received
  • 2 out of 3 have become clients
  • Closure success rate is 67%
  • Average referral per month is 1.5
  • Business revenues from the referrals is $7,117 so far

April 15 2020 Update: (even allowing for COVID-19 the numbers are looking rosey)

  • 10 referrals received
  • 8 out of 10 have become clients
  • Closure success rate is 80%
  • Average referral per month is 1.42
  • Business revenues from the referrals is around 30k

Conclusion… So far, they line up pretty well with my goals… Everything’s honky dory.

It’s going to be interesting to check in on these numbers and see if they keep pace. Obviously this is early days and a small sample data size. I’ll update this article here when I have new figures.

More than just the numbers though, these two clients are exactly who I was looking for. They are local business professionals who are fun to work with.

One of my goals of joining was to develop closer business ties with our awesome community on the North Shore in Vancouver. It’s the main reason why we’re called North Shore Digital. We live and love it here!

4. Personal Benefits of BNI

It’s not just all about business in our chapter. I like it for the social connections and personal networking. For people who like people, it’s a great excuse to get out and meet with people from different walks of life.

However, if it is primarily business you’re interested in, you need to work out the numbers (like I did above).

But it’s not just the revenues that you can count that are the benefits, here are some others I’ve found:

  1. BNI forces me to get into sales / business development mode
  2. I’m more confident with my sales pitches (even though I suck at sales)
  3. You get better at communicating the value of what you do
  4. I’ve made videos out of some of my 1-minute pitches to the group
  5. I’m getting tips and expertise from experienced business owners
  6. I have a team of experts to ask questions to, in fields as diverse as property, construction, accounting, cuisine, fitness, and law
  7. This team of experts is also learning about websites and SEO and then telling others about it

I’ll give you some random examples of things I’ve learned about:

  • A great app to document your receipts and invoices called Office Lens by Microsoft from the bookkeeper in the group (Marcellus Wiejesinghe from Digits & Decimals)
  • What it costs for snow and ice management for a strata building from the commercial landscaper (Chris O’Donohue from Great Canadian Landscaping)
  • What constitutes a legal document from the notary (Kyoko (Kay) Manabe from Senju Notary)
  • How to install chargers for EVs in your home or condo building from the electrician (Dave Clauson from Cove Power)

I’ve also signed up for a bunch of services I needed help with: funds for our children’s lives, making wills, accounting, mortgage financing, opening business bank accounts

We’ve only been going for 3 months and we already have experts in so many fields.

5. BNI Expectations

Okay, I probably sound like a BNI nutcase disciple…

Maybe, but there are some potential drawbacks for some people to join…

It is pretty intense when you join. I definitely was not ready for it.

Let’s talk about the BNI expectations:

  1. You can only miss 3 of the weekly meetings per 6 months
  2. You can send a sub to represent your business 3 times per 6 months
  3. You have to generate 1 referral per week for a member
  4. You should average 1 121 meeting with another member per week (for a 50 member chapter this would mean meeting everyone once per year for an hour get-to-know-you)
  5. You bring 1 guest per month – if you’re interested, send me a message, and I’ll invite you through the app – I need help with this one 😉
  6. You have to complete the MSP (Member Success Program) on joining – gets you aligned with expectations and indoctrinates you in BNI 🙂
  7. You have to input your weekly figures in the BNI app so the chapter keeps track of progress (similar to a business being accountable to its numbers)

6. Should I Join BNI?

Well, you probably guessed that I’m positive about my experience so far with BNI…

But ultimately this comes down to you…

  • Do the numbers work for you?
  • Are you focussed on developing local business ties?
  • Can you meet the expectations?
  • Do you have the time for it?
  • Is the timing right?

Some things to consider here are:

  • The total cost of year one is $2480. What is the average value of a referral to your business and how many could you get per year through BNI?
  • Are your services a necessity or luxury? BNI works best for in-demand regularly needed local services.
  • Are you too busy to give up 5 hours per week to BNI? (90 minutes for the meeting, one hour for a 121 and then another 90 minutes for generating referrals, inviting guests, and doing the CEUs – Continuing Education Units = podcasts, lessons etc.)

If you can push past the cultish vibes and the 90s graphics and branding, this may be the opportunity you are looking for.

Even if you’re unsure about becoming a member, be a guest and visit a local chapter.

You can be a guest twice before being asked to become a member. This is perfect for businesspeople looking for local connections or jobs. Or just to come out for a buffet breakfast and meet some awesome people.

7. Happy Ending

Here’s something of a shock… I left BNI after 11 months.

Joining BNI was one of the top 3 decisions I’ve made so far for North Shore Digital and I love this group.

It’s been amazing to kick start my business… out of 50 clients we currently have, 20 came from BNI.

It’s been worth over 30,000 in business revenues.

However, for the following year we’ve decided to streamline and focus on other strategies.

We’ll let you know how it goes.

What do you think about BNI? Do you have any experiences you can share in the comments below.