Month: December 2015

5 Reasons Why Slack Is the Tool You Need for Business Communication

Slack has been all the rage for companies and employees over the last year, but now that 2015 is wrapping up it’s making headlines as one of the hottest startups of the year worth $2.8 billion, and it’s expected to see an even bigger reach in 2016. While it may have started as a tool employee’s use on their own, there are ways that you can bring Slack into your company officially and help improve communication and collaboration. Check out how it works below and how you can use it to your advantage.

The Basics: How Slack Works

Slack is actually considered a “messaging app” and is completely free to use. The idea behind Slack is to make communication easier between coworkers with a few advanced features to also improve collaboration (more on this in the last section). Below is a sample screenshot of the dashboard of Slack:

Screen Shot 2015-12-20 at 2.47.04 PM

As you can see, it is structured similarly to a social mean stream while keeping tabs separated on the left-hand side. This means that each person will have a potentially different looking Slack dashboard based on the channels they are a part of or created. It offers three basic features:

  • Channels. This helps you organize conversations within that Slack team in what they call “open channels.” When you make a channel, then everyone can see what is going on in that channel. This means it’s a good idea to create channels for different projects, topics, or a conversation between certain team members.
  • Private Channels. This is the place where you want to include confidential information with just a few team members.
  • Direct Messages. This works just like email. Reach one coworker quickly and directly. The screenshot above is showing a Direct Message.

In addition to the three basic features above, you also have a few advanced features to work with that can help take businesses to the next level:

  • You can drag, drop, and share your files within Slack conversations. This includes images, PDFs, spreadsheets, etc. You can add comments, star to reach later, and search for these files.
  • Paste the link for your Google Drive spreadsheets or Dropbox files and that document will then be in sync and searchable right away.
  • Setup integration between Slack and your other apps so you don’t have to switch back and forth and so that you can get notifications within Slack. This makes it easy to use Slack as a one-stop platform.

Keeping things in sync is probably what Slack does best and why Slack is becoming so popular. Not only is everything archived and therefore searchable, but it’s also compatible with iOS and Android so you have the information with you wherever you go.

Getting Started with Slack

To get started you visit the website and type in your email address. You are then sent through a series of webpages to get started that include:

  • Name your team, which refers to the overall Slack account.
  • You’re then given a custom URL that you and your coworkers will use to sign in to Slack.
  • Pick a username so that coworkers recognize you.
  • Look in your email to setup your password.

That’s all there is to it to get started. You will then be asked to send invitations to your coworkers so that they can be a part of your slack conversation. Once members get your email invitation and join, you can start talking and using the features mentioned above.

5 Ways to Use Slack to Improve Communication in Your Business

So it’s clear that Slack is all about communication, but how exactly you organize your Slack conversations/ channels can help you make sure you’re taking full advantage of the benefits. Consider some of the ways you can use the tool below:

Create a Channel for Blog Posts to Discuss Social Promotion

This is usually where businesses start. Sometimes it’s tough to get everyone in your company on the same page when it come to content, but even your IT professionals can benefit from sharing and knowing what’s happening with the blog. Use this Channel as a way to add links to most recent content that has been published and ask others to help promote on social. Because it can sync with Buffer, this makes it easy for the Channel owner to urge others to share right then and there.

Integrate Slack with Google Drive

By integrating Slack with Google Drive you can truly keep everything in one place. We use this as a way to keep track of the links we earn, which makes an SEO audit much easier. Because everyone can collaborate, it’s easier to make sure you cover all of your bases.

As discussed above, Google Drive isn’t the only app that you can sync with Slack, in fact far from it. Visit this link to see a list of all the apps that are compatible with the tool. They even break up the apps by category, so you have choices from Customer Support to File Management to HR, Productivity, Social, and much more.

Take Advantage of the Open API

This essentially means that Slack is made for developers. The tool makes it easy to add other tools to a developer’s user stream so you can use Slack for payroll, Intranet, advertising, structure management, and more.

Build a Referral Network

According to an Entrepreneur article, freelancers are among those who benefit most from using Slack because they can use it as a way to build referrals. They say that freelance workers make up about 34 percent of the workforce in the US, and 81 percent of freelancers refer work to fellow freelancers. On top of that, 52 percent hire fellow freelancers to collaborate on projects. This makes Slack the perfect place to organize this network and keep the freelance work flowing faster and easier than ever before.

Extra: What Are Slack Credits?

You’ll notice that when you sign up for Slack you can take a survey to earn Slack credits (usually $100). Although Slack is free and has an unlimited free option that is most popular, they do offer a paid option for $6.67 per user per month. This has features such as guest access, priority support, longer archives of messages, and more, which you can check out on their Pricing Page. If you choose to go for a premium package, Slack uses your credits toward your payment until they run out.

Does your company use Slack? What strategies does your company use to help keep things moving in the right direction? Let us know in the comment section below.

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6 Ways SEO is Like the Grinch

So we all love SEO in the end, but it can be a rocky road to getting the results you want. This holiday season looking back on everything SEO, it’s amazing how easy it is to compare the industry to The Grinch. And so in the spirit of the holidays, check out five ways that SEO is just like the Grinch below.


In order to steal all the toys from the Whos down in Whoville and pose as Santa the Grinch had to be sneaky, and we all know that in the SEO world sneaky changes and updates happen all the time. Remember when (not provided) data was removed? Or when the Phantom updates were released? And there’s a lot more where that came from.



Lives up on a hill in a cave.

When it comes to SEO in regards to Google, the rules are above us all and are not reachable. We’d like to think that we have some sort of idea what’s going on up there and we have some sort of control, but when it really comes down to it SEOs are at the mercy of those sitting up on a hill in what may as well be a cave.

Takes away from you unexpectedly.

The Grinch of course spends the better part of Christmas night taking away toys and stockings and decorations from all the children in Whoville without giving any warning (which was really the point). Google does this often. Sometimes we hear about an impending algorithm update happening in the next two days, but sometimes their changes and new features and announcements come out of nowhere. It can cause a company to have to change their strategy or stop what they’re doing to learn more about the update which can take away time, and usually this wasted time is therefore completely unpredictable.



Just as the Grinch was irritated with the cheerful spirits of those down in Whoville, Google, users, and businesses alike get bothered by spam, poor quality content, and above all else link building for the sake of link building (as opposed to writing for readers). Google is constantly looking for ways to make sure that those trying to improve their SEO are not scamming the system and trying to push out keyword-rich anchor text and unnatural content all for the sake of rankings. Again, we’ve seen this with their introduction of the disavow tool, penalties for using keyword-rich anchor text, penalties for buying directory links, etc.

Has a change of heart.

The Grinch saw a change of heart when he saw the Whos down in Whoville celebrate Christmas even with no gifts, which of course is where he discovered the real spirit and meaning of the holiday. Even though it may seem like Google and the other search giants are out to get us, they listen to their users. It may take them a while to come around, but they have the best intentions in the end. They work hard to make sure that the web is fair and you have to really put out great content in order to see a great ranking, and although this may mean more work for SEOs in the end, it’s worth it. This may not necessarily be a “change of heart” from Google’s standpoint, but SEOs attitudes toward Google often come around time and time again.


Has potential to save the day.

It was the Grinch that saved the day for the Whos by brining them back all of their presents. In the SEO world, it’s all of your efforts that can help save the day when you feel like your business is having a bad quarter or year. If you really put in the time then SEO will deliver, you just have to be patient. Before you know it you will climb up those organic rankings, have a website full of relevant content, and have built a community for your brand.

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4 Steps to Tracking Print Ads with Google Analytics

In digital marketing we understand the importance of tracking. We spend money getting people to our site with hopes they’ll do what we desire them to do and that we’ll learn something about how to improve our digital marketing efforts. While we’ve seen a consistent trend of print spend be allocated to digital spend, we often forget that print is still a channel worth understanding.  In fact, one study shows that print ads are more likely to engage users and prompt action. This begs the question, if print can be a strong channel, why don’t companies invest in it?

The answer is likely because companies are now used to understanding what their dollars are doing. When print, TV and billboards were the primary ad spots, attribution was not an easy task, but today companies have built a habit of understanding how much revenue is generated by their ad spend dollars thanks to the Internet and Google Analytics.

Currently when print ads list the website on the actual ad in the hopes that users will check out the company at home on their desktop, users usually do just that—they’re likely to type it into their browser. This would then mean that the traffic is classified as Direct, which is not a fun traffic source to analyze or understand in Analytics. Or maybe the user does a Google search for the brand and clicks on one of their pages in the search results, which would classify the traffic as Organic Search. Unfortunately, both of these metrics are wrong. The print ad should get the credit for bringing the user to the site. So how can we track these print ads digitally?

To help make sure you can track your print ads digitally in Google Analytics so that you can better analyze the success of your ads, here is the easy four-step process:

Decide on a vanity URL

Most print ads include a domain name or URL, but if you want to know which website visitors saw this ad you’ll need a vanity URL. Vanity URL’s are unique, short and/or simple URL that demonstrates the brand or ad campaign. For example if the company EntoBento, a San Diego based dog treat company, ran a promotional ad in Time Magazine, the vanity URL might be “”. You can learn more about creating a vanity URL here.

Create and apply UTM parameters to the landing page URL for the ad

UTM parameters are tracking codes appended to the end of a URL that allow you to customize your tracking sources. You can use the Google UTM builder to create the tracking URL for the ad in just a few minutes.

Continuing with the previous example, the tracking URL for EntoBento’s ad might look like:

We got this URL by using the UTM builder mentioned above. We simply plugged in the URL of our website and the tool generated this new URL with UTM parameters for us.

Redirect the vanity URL to a URL with custom UTM parameters

This part is a little technical.  A developer will have to create a redirect to send traffic from your vanity URL to the tracking URL. This means, taking the example from above once again: would redirect to

Check Google Analytics real-time reports

After the redirect is setup, paste your vanity URL into the browser to test the redirect and that the UTM is working properly.  Open Google Analytics and navigate to Real-Time reports on the left side. Select traffic sources to confirm you see the tracking. Below is a screenshot of what the report looks like:



Why It Matters: The Benefit of Tracking Print Ads Via Google Analytics

By implementing print ad tracking you’re reducing the amount of traffic that is wrongly classified as Direct or Organic search and gaining insight into how your different print efforts are working. With this practice you will be beyond most companies who do print advertising with little understanding of how their ad performs.

Extra: This same process can be applied on your business cards, handouts, fliers, billboards, stickers, or your banner at an event / tradeshow. Wouldn’t that be interesting to see how much handout traffic you get? Or what the bounce rate is on your business cards? Get creative. If your business is using print, don’t be scared to track it digitally.

Do you have experience with tracking print ads through Google Analytics? Let us know if you have any questions or thoughts in the comment section below.

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