Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4: What it Means for Your Website

As the sun sets on Google’s Universal Analytics (UA), a new horizon emerges with Google Analytics 4 (GA4). This shift, while potentially daunting for marketers and data analysts, presents an opportunity to uncover deeper, more nuanced insights into user engagement.

For those businesses who have chosen to embrace this change and continue their journey with GA4, understanding the key differences and new functionalities is essential. The future of your data analysis and interpretation hinges on grasping these crucial changes, enabling you to extract maximum value from your data.

Reimagining Sessions

In the world of web analytics, sessions play an integral role in understanding user behavior. A session in GA4 represents a visit to your site and times out after 30 minutes of inactivity. However, unlike UA, sessions in GA4 can encapsulate multiple traffic sources.

For instance, if a visitor lands on your site from a Facebook ad, goes through Google to login, and then returns to your site, this entire journey is counted as one session, despite having multiple traffic sources. This is a significant shift from UA, where each visit from a new source initiated a new session.

The Emergence of Engaged Sessions

Engaged sessions are a new metric introduced in GA4. A session can be considered as ‘engaged‘ if it lasts longer than 10 seconds, includes two or more page views, or results in at least one conversion.

The shift from Universal Analytics to GA4, particularly the introduction of the “Engaged Sessions” metric, is a response to the evolving digital landscape and user behaviors. Bounce rate, as calculated in Universal Analytics, was a useful measure of site engagement in the past, but with the advent of single-page applications (SPAs) and more complex user interactions, it became less effective. For instance, users could view an SPA and leave without triggering an event, which would be considered a bounce, despite their potential engagement with the content

In contrast, the Engaged Sessions metric in GA4 is designed to provide a more accurate reflection of user engagement.

Understanding Engagement Rate

Engagement rate is calculated by dividing the number of engaged sessions by the total number of sessions. For example, if you have 1000 sessions and 750 of them are engaged, your engagement rate will be 75%. This new metric provides a more nuanced understanding of user engagement levels than before.

In UA, the bounce rate was a measure of site engagement, but its effectiveness has been declining as websites and apps evolved. The bounce rate could show users viewing a single-page application and leaving without triggering an event, which would be considered a bounce. However, in GA4, the concept of engagement has been refined to measure the level at which customers engage with your site or app more accurately​.

While both the bounce rate and engagement rate are valuable in their own ways, the engagement rate in GA4 provides a more detailed understanding of user behavior.

The Return of Bounce Rate

Bounce rate, originally excluded from GA4, has made a comeback. But it now differs from how it was measured in UA. GA4’s bounce rate is the inverse of the engagement rate. Using the previous example, if the engagement rate was 84%, the bounce rate would be 16%.

This significant change in measuring bounce rate can be attributed to the new criteria for an engaged session. Depending on your site’s nature, you may see a drastic impact on bounce rates, possibly seeing a sharp drop compared to UA. However, remember that this doesn’t necessarily mean that your content is more engaging; it’s merely a shift in the measuring methodology.

Defining Users

In GA4, users are only those who have had an engaged session. This is another departure from UA where all visitors were considered users. Total Users in GA4 are more akin to what was defined as users in UA.

Average Engagement Time

GA4 replaces UA’s ‘average time on site’ metric with ‘average engagement time’. This new metric deserves applause, as it gives a more accurate depiction of the time a visitor spends on your site. In UA, bounced sessions were recorded as zero-second visits because no second session would be triggered. In contrast, GA4 measures the actual time a visitor spent on your site, offering a more accurate reflection of user engagement.

The Conversion Shift

Last but not least, GA4 bids goodbye to the traditional concept of goals. In its place, we find conversions. This shift pushes us to reimagine our understanding of conversions and work with this new norm.

GA4 represents a significant shift in Google’s analytical approach, introducing more sophisticated and nuanced metrics. While these changes may seem daunting initially, they offer an opportunity to better understand your audience and website performance. As we journey into this new era of analytics, mastering these new metrics will be key to data-driven decision-making and strategic success.

What are the major 2023 Google Ads Insights For Growth Marketers?

Who’s in Control? Companies Dominating Google Search Results

The Illusion of Choice: Online Edition

Imagine you’re at your favourite supermarket, walking through the cosmetic items row, and you see hundreds of different brands of body lotions.

So many options, right?

But then, something strikes you – despite the variations in packaging and flavours, most of these lotions actually belong to a handful of big companies, such as Hindustan Unilever or P&G. They’ve just packaged their product in different ways to cater to a diverse range of tastes.

In the realm of online search, it’s eerily similar. Have you ever wondered about the companies dominating Google search results?

You might be surprised to learn that less than 20 companies control a major chunk of the web’s content. They own a variety of websites across a broad spectrum, from health to tech, from sports to food.

Unveiling the 16 Companies Dominating Google Search Results

So, how many companies are we talking about? The number is 16. These 16 companies are the puppeteers controlling at least 562 different brands that show up in your daily Google search results.

According to Semrush, a platform that offers online visibility management and content marketing SaaS, these companies together command a whopping 3.7 billion clicks from Google each month. That’s an average of 6.5 million monthly clicks for each site under their umbrella.

List of those 16 Giants

  • Gawker Media
    • Formerly Blogwire, Inc
    • Notable properties: Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Jezebel
  • Vox Media
    • In February 2023, Penske Media Corporation became the largest shareholder in Vox Media.
    • Notable properties: The Verge, SB Nation, Eater
  • Future plc
    • Independent Company
    • Notable properties: TechRadar, GamesRadar, PC Gamer
  • Evolve Media
    • Independent Company
    • Notable properties: CraveOnline, GameRevolution
  • Time Inc.
    • Acquired by Meredith Corporation in 2018, In December 2021, Meredith was acquired by IAC’s Dotdash and became Dotdash Meredith
    • Notable properties: Time, People, Fortune (under the ownership of Meredith)
  • CBS (Paramount Global)
    • In 2019 through the merger of Viacom and CBS, It’s under Paramount Global.
  • Meredith Corporation
    • Notable properties: People, Better Homes and Gardens, Allrecipes
    • Time Inc is actually a part of Meredith Corporation
  • Dennis Publishing
    • Acquired by Exponent Private Equity in 2018
    • Notable properties: The Week, Auto Express, PC Pro
  • Jacobs Media Group (JAC)
    • Notable properties: Not clear from the information provided
  • Ziff Davis
    • Subsidiary of J2 Global
    • Notable properties: Mashable, PCMag, IGN
  • Verizon
    • Notable properties: Yahoo, AOL, TechCrunch (under the brand Verizon Media, which was sold to Apollo Global Management and renamed Yahoo in 2021)
  • Purch (now known as Future US, Inc., a subsidiary of Future plc)
    • Notable properties: Tom’s Guide, Top Ten Reviews, Live Science
  • Conde Nast
    • Subsidiary of Advance Publications
    • Notable properties: Vogue, The New Yorker, Wired
  • DG (Possibly Digital Guide)
    • Notable properties: Not clear from the information provided
  • Scripps Networks Interactive
    • Acquired by Discovery, Inc. in 2018
    • Notable properties: HGTV, Food Network, Travel Channel
  • Hearst Communications
    • Independent Company
    • Notable properties: Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Elle

This phenomenon was first identified in 2016 by Glen Allsopp, who pointed out how these companies, renowned in their industries, leverage their online authority and the reputation of their popular brands to help new brands rank well on Google and generate traffic.

Digging Deeper: CBS Interactive

CBS Interactive, a division of Paramount Global, is a global leader in digital content and a key player in the world of online media.

In India they have a strategic partnership with Network18 Group—a subsidiary of Reliance Industries. Their recent launch in India is Jio Cinemas. Something which is considered as an OTT Predator.

CBS’ diverse collection of websites cater to a broad audience, offering content ranging from entertainment and sports to tech reviews and music lyrics. Here are some of the main websites under CBS Interactive, along with their global ranking, indicating their popularity among internet users:

The All-encompassing Net under CBS

  • CNET.com – Ranked 182 globally, CNET is a leading tech news and reviews website, offering advice on a range of tech products from smartphones to home appliances.
  • GameFAQs.com – With a global rank of 310, GameFAQs provides users with game guides, FAQs, reviews, and discussion forums for video games.
  • Gamespot.com – Ranked 808 globally, Gamespot is a hub for gaming news, reviews, previews, and videos for leading gaming platforms.
  • Last.fm – Ranked 965 in the world, Last.fm is a music discovery service that provides personalized recommendations based on the music users listen to.
  • MetroLyrics.com – Holding a global rank of 1,590, MetroLyrics is a lyrics-dedicated website, featuring over 1 million songs from around 16,000 artists.
  • Metacritic.com – Ranked 1,762, Metacritic aggregates reviews and provides scores for movies, TV shows, video games, and music albums.
  • CBS.com – CBS’s official website, ranked 1,846 globally, offers access to CBS programming, including full episodes of popular CBS shows.
  • 247Sports.com – With a global rank of 2,304, 247Sports offers in-depth coverage of various sports, including news, scores, and recruiting information.
  • ZDNet.com – Ranked 2,779, ZDNet delivers 24/7 news coverage and analysis on the latest tech and business trends.
  • TV.com – TV.com, ranked 2,863, is a resource for TV show episode guides, reviews, video clips, and discussion forums.
  • TechRepublic.com – Holding a global rank of 3,266, TechRepublic helps IT decision-makers identify technologies and strategies to empower workers and streamline business processes.
  • Chowhound.com – Ranked 5,825 globally, Chowhound is a community of food lovers sharing their food discoveries and experiences.
  • Comicvine.com – With a global rank of 16,765, Comicvine is a source for comic news, reviews, and a database of comic characters.
  • Download.com – Download.com, ranked 252,479, is a platform for users to discover, download, and manage software in a safe and trusted environment.
  • CollegeSportsLive.com – With a global ranking of 600,516, CollegeSportsLive is a streaming service that offers broadcasts of college sports events.

If you want to read more about other companies in detail and want to know about their subsidiaries, click here.

How These Companies Dominate Google’s Search Results

Let’s say you want to buy a laptop. You are searching for a 15 inch laptop.

I hope I don’t have to explain much now.

You can do your own research for better understanding. For example, when you search for the parent company of Tom’s Guide, you will get the following result:

Look at the details about Future Plc and the platforms they owned
Look at the details about Future Plc and the platforms they owned

How These Companies Dominate Various Niches

These 16 companies do not limit themselves to a specific niche. Their influence spreads across home, beauty, tech, automotive, cooking, travel, sports, education, and many more.

A report revealed that across 10,000 terms where affiliates are ranking, which cover products in every niche you can think of, these 16 companies ranked on the first page of 8,421 (or 84%) of them. They even claimed five or more of the first 10 organic rankings in 3,999 of 10,000 search results.

This level of dominance is unprecedented and shows the extent of their control over Google’s search results​

Evolution of Digital Dominance: Survival of the Fittest

If you’re wondering whether this state of affairs has been constant, the answer is no. The digital landscape, like any other, evolves over time. Many of the leading websites from a 2016 report are still dominant today, but the companies behind them and how they operate have massively evolved.

For instance, only seven or six of the sixteen companies from the original report are still on the list. Future acquired companies like Purch and Dennis Publishing, and now Fandom and Red Ventures own the biggest sites of CBS. CBS is under Paramount Global. This suggests that to stay dominant, these companies not only have to maintain their own strength but also keep an eye out for potential threats and opportunities in the landscape, much like animals in the wild​.

  • Gawker Media was acquired by Univision in 2017.
    • In 2017, Univision acquired Gawker Media for $135 million. The acquisition stirred controversy as Univision, a Spanish-language media company, took over Gawker Media, renowned for its provocative and often contentious content.
  • Time Inc. was acquired by Meredith Corporation in 2018.
    • Time Inc. was acquired by Meredith Corporation in 2018 for $1.84 billion. The acquisition created a media giant with a portfolio of magazines, websites, and television networks.
  • Dennis Publishing was acquired by Exponent Private Equity in 2018.
    • Dennis Publishing was acquired by Exponent Private Equity in 2018 for $300 million. The acquisition gave Exponent control of a number of well-known brands, including The Week, PC Gamer, and MoneyWeek.
  • Scripps Networks Interactive was acquired by Discovery, Inc. in 2018.
    • Scripps Networks Interactive was acquired by Discovery, Inc. in 2018 for $14.6 billion. The acquisition created a media powerhouse with a portfolio of networks that includes HGTV, Food Network, and TLC.
  • 2 companies are now under the ownership of a larger company:
    • Vox Media is now majority-owned by Penske Media Corporation.
    • Meredith Corporation is now a part of Dotdash Meredith, which was formed when Meredith Corporation was acquired by IAC’s Dotdash in 2021.

This is more dangerous for consumers like you and me. It’s getting more condensed.

Impact on Competition and Individual Decision Making

When such a small group of companies dominates search results, it inevitably impacts competition. Other businesses, particularly small and medium-sized ones, find it challenging to compete with these behemoths.

These dominant companies have established their authority over time and built a substantial online presence, making it difficult for others to rank well in search results.

Moreover, this dominance also influences individual decision-making. When we conduct a Google search, we usually trust and click on the top results, often oblivious to the fact that a small group of companies own the diverse list of websites that appear. This limits the information and options available to us, subtly influencing our decisions and preferences.

Some of the biggest sites these companies are behind, as of May 2023, include MayoClinic (376.7M monthly visitors, owned by Ziff Davis), Healthline (249.1M monthly visitors, owned by Red Ventures), WebMD (223.1M monthly visitors, owned by Internet Brands), and Fandom (753.4M monthly visitors, owned by Fandom)​.

So, next time you read about the side effects of a medicine, there are high chances that all that information is coming from the same source.

This dominance of Google’s search results by a handful of companies raises questions about the diversity and competition on the internet. While these companies are successful and offer quality content, the concentration.

Dear growth marketers and SEO executives, wake up and do more research on niches; otherwise, you may not get heard.

For more marketing insights click here.

How to Optimize Website for Maximum Lead Generation with Google Ads

This is the second part of this series. Here we are going to see how to prepare our website for lead generation with Google Ads. Let’s dive into the specifics and see how you can leverage it too.

Read the first part of this series here.

Keep it Ready: Persona

First things first, knowing your audience is the backbone of any successful marketing campaign. Imagine if you’re a Chetan Bhagat or Amish Tripathi, successful Indian authors, crafting a new novel. You wouldn’t write without understanding your readers’ preferences, would you?

The same principle applies to your business. Your ‘reader’ is your customer. Recognise their characteristics, study their pain points, understand their goals, identify what they read, and determine where they live. This understanding will be the foundation of your Google Ads strategy.

Once you have prepared some personas, let’s move on to the website. Now we are going to modify the website keeping these personas in mind.

Get more tips on Consumer Psychology and prepare a better buyer persona by clicking here.

Making Your Website User-Friendly: On-site Optimization

Think of your website as your digital storefront. If you own a physical store, you would make sure it’s clean, organised, and welcoming to your customers, right? Similarly, your website should be welcoming, relevant, and easy to navigate.

Define Your Landing Pages Based on the Ad

Let’s say you run an online tutoring service, ‘Qrious Minds.’ You need to define the specific pages where you will send traffic from your Google Ads. If someone clicks on an ad about your IIT-JEE preparation course, they should be directed to the page specifically about that service, not your homepage. This is akin to guiding a customer directly to the section of the bookstore that houses their favourite genre.

Homepage & Branded Traffic

When we talk about a company’s homepage, we’re referring to the main landing page for a website. If branded traffic is your major channel, then you should work hard for ‘homepage’.

Branded traffic refers to the visitors that come to a website directly (like typing the URL into the browser) or through organic search results by searching for a brand’s name or specific product of a brand. These individuals already know about the brand and are seeking it out specifically, often indicating a higher level of interest or intent compared to non-branded traffic.

The homepage should be clean enough to guide them towards taking a desired action, like making a purchase or signing up for a service.

One of my favourite example is Dropbox homepage

  • Its sub-headline is simple yet powerful
  • A large and relevant motion graphics clearly explains why Dropbox
  • The more you scroll, the more they build desire by describing different use cases for their tool.

The Art of a Clear Statement of Value

Once your home page design is ready, the next step is the master text.

The website should include a clear ‘statement of value,’ aka master text.

To put it simply, why should a student choose ‘Qurious Minds’ over other tutoring services? Perhaps you have IIT alumni as tutors, or maybe you offer personalised study plans. This statement is your ‘USP’ (unique selling proposition), the cornerstone of your business.

Drafting Your Master Text

Do thorough research and understand why people love your service or product, then highlight it. Most people ignore this part.

In an article I once came across, the CEO of a software company believed that their fast service and competitive pricing were their key selling points. However, a deeper dive revealed that people love them for different reasons. Those were their user-friendly interfaces and local operations in Mexico. Unlike many competitors who operated overseas, their location allowed real-time communication with US clients and facilitated cost-effective, in-person meetings. Moreover, their software was praised for its simplified user interface, offering just the essential features and avoiding overwhelming users with unnecessary functions. By emphasising these strengths in their messaging, they underscored the disadvantages of dealing with distant operations and complex software, effectively reshaping their unique selling propositions.

So think twice before you draft your master text.

Some of my favourite examples are from

  • Grammarly (Short & Sweet)
Grammarly  homepage
  • Getprospect (Nothing fancy, straight to the point, easy to read and comprehend)

The Power of Social Proof

Your site should include social proof. This is the digital equivalent of word-of-mouth publicity. For instance, if ‘Qrious Minds’ has testimonials from previous students who cracked IIT-JEE thanks to your coaching, those reviews would be your social proof.

Aggregating enough reviews takes time, so ask your customers for a review after 30 days of purchase and give them an incentive or reward for completion. Actually, this 30-day time frame is a hack; it gives you at least a few days or weeks to resolve any issues—and get a good review for it.

Mailchimp Website & Its Social proof
Mailchimp Homepage & Its Social proof

Authority Bias and the Culture Code Behind Social Proof

There is even a psychology behind it: Authority bias.

Showcase or mention a celebrity using a similar product or service, and leverage that to your advantage by drawing similarities between your audience and this person to convince them to make the purchase to increase their status quo.

Another rationale behind it is culture; you can classify your audience into two types: collectivist cultures and individualistic cultures. India has a collectivist culture. Individualism is about your personal interests; collectivism is about the interests of the group. This group can be your direct family, but it can also be your company or country.

In collectivist cultures, advice from social groups is generally considered important. So, people are more likely to follow the ratings of other users.

Crafting Clear Calls-to-Action ( CTA )

Imagine being in a bustling Indian bazaar with numerous sellers vying for your attention. Among all the noise, a shopkeeper with a loud, clear voice stands out, inviting you to his shop. Similarly, on your website, amidst the wealth of information, a clear and bold CTA button plays the role of that sales assistant, directing visitors to the next step.

The online retail giant, Amazon, is a prime example of this. Their bold, yellow “Add to Cart” button is highly visible and directs shoppers to the next step of the purchasing process.

Multiple CTAs

Furthermore, your website should have multiple conversion conduits, or Call to Actions (CTAs). This is the digital equivalent of different salespeople for different sections, and eventually they will be guiding the customer to the checkout counter.

For example, after reading about your IIT-JEE course, there should be a clear, visible button that says “Enrol Now” or “Book a Free Demo.”

EXAMPLE OF A clear CTA from Simplified
A clear CTA from Simplified

Blog Section: After reading an informative blog post about the benefits of personalised learning, a CTA could be, “Try Our Personalized Learning Approach! Start Your Free Trial Today.”

QuickSprout CTA from their blog
QuickSprout CTA from their blog

Course Description Pages: Each course description should have a clear and concise CTA, like “Enrol in This Course Now!” or “Download Course Curriculum.”

Contact Us Page: On the contact page, a CTA like “Get in Touch with Our Advisors Today” encourages prospective students to reach out for more information.

Free Resources Page: If you offer free study resources, a CTA might be, “Download Free Study Material Now!” or “Access Free Practice Tests.”

Credits: Hubspot Blog
Credits: Hubspot Blog

Newsletter Subscription: A CTA like “Stay Updated! Subscribe to Our Newsletter” can help grow your email list for future marketing campaigns.

Remember, the goal of each CTA is to guide visitors towards a desired action. A well-crafted CTA is clear, concise, and compelling, using action-oriented language that creates urgency and excitement.

Add Badges, Add Trust & Make it Special

Trust is the cornerstone of any business. Just as a customer feels reassured when they see an ISO certification or FSSAI mark at a restaurant, website verification badges like secure payment, BBB, SSL, guarantees, and free returns can build trust in your online services.

For ‘Qrious Minds’, if you offer free shipping for your study materials or free returns on course enrollments, turn these into badges on your website. It’s like a restaurant highlighting their ‘Hygiene Certified’ status – it provides an extra layer of trust for the customer.

examples of Badges from different websites
Badges from different websites

Companies like Flipkart and Amazon showcase trust badges prominently, which reassure customers about the safety of their transactions. Emulating such practises can enhance the trustworthiness of your website.

Accessibility and Trust: Contact Information on Your Website

Before writing this article, I did my research by visiting multiple websites from different domains. This last point is missing in 90% of the website, and I believe that will impact your service. As a customer, before I make a purchase, I want to ensure that you are easily accessible for after-sale service.

I always prefer Amazon over Flipkart for this one simple reason: it’s easier to reach out to Amazon compared to Flipkart. Secondly, it builds trust. Customers buy from businesses they trust.

Levi Footer with Contact numbers & Email id
Levi Footer with Contact numbers & Email id

A good example of a website that efficiently incorporates contact information in the footer is the Levi.in website. It contains everything a good website footer should have: a logo, links, social network links, and contact information.

This arrangement not only makes the brand easily accessible to customers but also adds to the overall aesthetic and functional appeal of the website​. And their ‘Help’  & ‘Track Order’ buttons are on the right top.

Some Additional Tips For Better Results

  • Product title and subtitle: Ensure these are clear, descriptive, and honest to attract relevant traffic. For example, Amazon uses specific and honest product titles without keyword stuffing.
  • Descriptions: These should elaborate on the specifics of your product or service. For instance, an online clothing retailer might highlight the type of fabric, fit, and special features in the description.
  • Media: Customers are visually driven, so use custom images and videos. Apple, for instance, uses high-quality images and videos to showcase their products from various angles, helping customers visualise the product better.
  • Nested navigation: Clear, easy navigation is crucial. Websites like IKEA use breadcrumbs, enabling users to track their navigation path and easily return to previously viewed pages.

In conclusion, Optimizing your website for lead generation with Google Ads is a multi-faceted process, involving everything from customer understanding to site design, social proof, clear CTAs, and trust-building. By integrating these elements into your strategy, you stand a better chance of converting your site visitors into loyal customers, thereby driving your business growth.

Email Deliverability: How to Land in the Inbox, Not Spam

How to Improve my Email Deliverability? it’s a very common question from many growth marketers. Let’s find answers.

In 2022, nearly 56.5% of all emails were spam, according to DataProt. The amount of spam in email traffic varies from country to country.

India has one of the highest spam rates in the world. According to a report by DataProt, India had a spam rate of 85% in 2022. This means that for every 100 emails sent in India, 85 were spam. In the United States, the spam rate is 84%.

A spam folder representaion

So, there are high chances that your cold email may end up in a spam folder. The good news is that you can easily prevent this if you know why this happens.

In this blog, we will explore why emails end up in spam, outline steps to ensure your emails land in the inbox, and guide you on how to react when your emails unfortunately land in spam.

Why Do Emails End Up in Spam?

Let’s break down the top five reasons:

  • The email appears as spam: This could be due to the visuals or technical elements, like including too many links or irrelevant attachments in the text.
  • Bad list hygiene: This happens when your list contains contacts who didn’t subscribe willingly or have opted out but are still included.
  • Bad sender reputation: This is influenced by your domain and IP reputation.
  • Individual spam filters set by the subscriber: Your email may be caught by spam filters set by your subscribers.
  • A mistake on the email service side: This happens when an email service mistakenly marks your email as spam.

1. Your Email Appears Like Spam

Spam filters will likely flag your email if it closely resembles a typical spam email. The content, including too many links, using shortened links, or attaching irrelevant files, can cause this.

Scammers commonly use these tactics, which spam filters recognize. In our next post, we’ll discuss more about what typical spam emails look like and how to avoid resembling them.

2. Bad List Hygiene

Good list hygiene means having a list with subscribers who are genuinely interested and have consented to receive your emails. On the flip side, bad list hygiene involves keeping subscribers who have clicked the “unsubscribe” link or adding contacts who didn’t willingly subscribe. This practice often leads to your emails being marked as spam, thus damaging your sender reputation.

3. Bad Sender Reputation

Your sender reputation depends on your sender domain and your IP reputation.

For example, if you consistently send relevant and engaging emails to your subscribers, your sender reputation will likely be positive. On the other hand, if you engage in spammy practices such as sending unsolicited emails or frequently being reported as spam, your reputation will suffer.

How to improve Sender Reputation, read more about startegies and tools here.

4. Individual Spam Filters Set by the Subscriber

Ultimately, the recipient of your email has control over whether your emails land in their inbox or spam folder. They can set their own filters which determine which emails should be considered spam. Unfortunately, even if you’ve done everything right, you may still end up in spam because of these personal filters.

5. Email Service Errors

Sometimes, an error on the email service side can result in marking your emails as spam. This is particularly common when your recipient uses their own email server. Even big email services like Gmail and Yahoo occasionally label legitimate emails as spam.

Now that we have examined the most prevalent reasons why emails land in spam, you are one step closer to mastering email deliverability.

5 Must Need Checklists to Pass Spam Filters

  • Design Your Emails Correctly
    • To avoid triggering spam filters, follow good email design principles. Keep text and images separate, use standardized fonts, and avoid excessive use of capital letters, exclamation marks, or phrases typically associated with spam.
  • Use Honest and Clear Subject Lines
    • Ensure that your subject lines accurately reflect the content of your email. Misleading subject lines can trigger spam filters and frustrate recipients.
  • Obtain Consent Before Emailing
    • Only send emails to contacts who have explicitly consented to receive them. This can be done through a checkbox on a registration form or a pop-up on your website.
  • Implement a Double Opt-In Process (Email confirmation)
    • Implement a two-step verification process where users must confirm their subscription to your mailing list. This ensures that your list only contains valid and interested contacts.
  • Include an Opt-Out Link (Unsubscribe button)
    • Include an easily accessible opt-out link, which is a legal requirement. This can prevent recipients from marking your emails as spam.

5 More Checklists to Pass Spam Filters

1. Maintain Your Email List

Regularly remove inactive contacts from your list. Poor list hygiene can harm your deliverability and IP reputation.

There are a number of ways to maintain your email list. You can use a tool like Mailchimp or Constant Contact to automatically remove inactive contacts from your list.

You can use Listclean or emaillistvalidation to improve the accuracy of your email list by identifying and removing invalid or inactive email addresses.

2. Use a Private Domain for Sending Emails

Enhance your credibility and reduce the likelihood of your emails being flagged as spam by sending emails from your own domain rather than public domains (like @gmail.com).

  • It looks more professional. When you use your own domain, it looks like you are a legitimate business or organization. This can help to improve your credibility with potential customers or clients.
  • It is less likely to be flagged as spam. Spam filters are more likely to flag emails from public domains as spam. This is because public domains are often used by spammers.
  • It gives you more control. When you use your own domain, you have more control over your email marketing campaigns. You can choose the type of content you send, the frequency of your emails, and the target audience for your campaigns.

3. Set Up DKIM and SPF

These measures verify that an email claiming to originate from a specific domain is indeed authorized by the domain owner, thereby preventing spoofing.

  • DKIM, which stands for DomainKeys Identified Mail, involves adding a digital signature to an email message. The signature is generated using a private key held by the domain owner. Upon receiving the email, the recipient’s mail server can utilize the public key (published in the domain’s DNS records) to verify the signature and confirm the email’s authenticity.
  • SPF, or Sender Policy Framework, enables the specification of authorized mail servers for sending email on behalf of a particular domain. This information is published in the domain’s DNS records. When a recipient’s mail server receives an email, it checks the DNS records to determine if the sending mail server is authorized. Unauthorized servers may lead to email rejection or spam labeling.

4. Protect Your IP Reputation

Your IP reputation reflects the trustworthiness of your IP address as perceived by email servers and internet service providers (ISPs). It considers factors such as spam complaints, email bounce rates, and the quality of your email list.

Maintaining a good IP reputation is crucial for optimal email deliverability, ensuring that your emails reach recipients’ inboxes instead of being flagged as spam.

By following the previous “5 Must Need Checklists”, you can safeguard your IP reputation and achieve high engagement rates.

5. ESP Matching

Implement ESP matching, a technique used to identify the Email Service Provider (ESP) used by your recipients and send emails from the same ESP.

For instance, if you send an email from xyz@gmail.com to abc@gmail.com, utilizing the same ESP can reduce the chances of your email ending up in the spam folder. Unfortunately very few platforms available in the market offer ESP matching capabilities (Considering affordability).

How to Deal with IP Address and Domain Blacklisting

If your IP address or domain appears on a blacklist, it can significantly impact your email deliverability as email servers may be less inclined to accept emails from you. It is crucial to regularly check for blacklisting and take prompt action if you find yourself listed.

There are two types of blacklists:

  • Blacklists based on the sender’s domain.
  • Blacklists based on the sender’s IP address.

If either the domain or IP address is blacklisted, your mailings might encounter spam filters or, in the worst-case scenario, won’t be delivered at all.

Several factors can lead to your IP address or domain appearing on a blacklist.

For example, your server may have been compromised and exploited for spam sending. Alternatively, you might be dispatching excessive emails, or a significant number of recipients could be marking your email as spam.

If you discover that your IP address or domain is listed on a blacklist, it is essential to take steps to have it removed.

Identifying Your Blacklist: Using Tools to Determine Your Email Status

Firstly, you need to identify the specific blacklist that includes your information. Use tools, such as MxToolbox, DNSBL.info, DNS Checker, Sitechecker, Site24x7, and BlacklistMaster, can help you determine whether a blacklist has your IP address or domain.

To use these tools, input your IP address or domain name into the search field and select “Blacklist Check”.

Requesting Removal: Contacting the Blacklist Operator

Having identified the blacklist that has your data, you must then reach out to the blacklist operator and request the removal of your IP address or domain. Remember, each blacklist has its unique removal process for IP addresses and domains. Thus, you must follow the instructions provided by the specific blacklist operator.

Next, get in touch with the support team of the site hosting the blacklist with your data. Give a detailed account of the circumstances that led to the problem and explain the actions you’ve taken to rectify it. As soon as they verify that you’ve solved the problem, they will remove you from the list.

Keep in mind that removing your IP address or domain from a blacklist might take some time. During this period, you can still improve your email deliverability by adhering to email marketing best practices.

Some more tips:

  • Sending email from a dedicated IP address
  • Sending email to a warm list of subscribers
  • Using a reputable email service provider
  • Do not buy or rent recipient lists
  • Don’t link to disreputable websites
  • Drop shortened links
  • Reduce email size: Some email services, such as Gmail, truncate emails that are over 102KB in size.

Let’s Summarise Our Email Deliverability Tips

Even in 2023 Email Marketing is the cheapest & popular marketing method.

By following all these best practices, you can improve your email deliverability and avoid being blacklisted in the future.

Now, If you believe there’s a mistake, for example, your reputation is low even though you’ve adhered to all the best practices, you can contact the email service directly through their sender contact form and ask for advice.

Contacting Email Provider Support

Provide your information, specify the issue, and wait for a response from the support team. It’s crucial to be polite, clear, and concise when explaining your problem.

Keep in mind that the support team may not respond immediately, so continue aiming for the inbox by following best practices, experimenting with sending tactics, and monitoring deliverability.

Google contact form to fix sender reputation

Outlook contact form to fix sender reputation

Our primary goal is to see your emails landing in the right folder. Don’t lose hope, stay dedicated, and keep refining your strategies. Good luck!

How To Improve Email Domain Reputation in 2023

What is domain reputation and how does it impact deliverability?

An email domain is the part of an email address that comes after the @ symbol. For example, when you send personal emails via Gmail, your domain is gmail.com. If you’re a business, your company likely has a designated domain that often matches the website address.

When talking about email marketing, an interesting analogy often crops up; consider your sender reputation like a credit score. A low credit score might lead to difficulties in securing loans or mortgages. And if you do secure one, you might end up with high interest rates due to the associated ‘risk’.

In a similar vein, a low sender reputation could mean a substantial chunk of your emails land straight in the spam folder, regardless of their content. Email service providers use this method to determine how recipients interact with your emails. Do they move them out of spam or let them stay there? A particularly bad reputation might even hinder your emails from reaching the inbox entirely.

Just like it takes time and good financial practices to improve a poor credit score, it requires consistent, quality email marketing practices to improve a low sender reputation.

However, maintaining a good sender reputation is tricky because each email service provider has its algorithms to assess and calculate your sender reputation. That’s why it’s crucial to take care of your sender reputation, to avoid putting yourself at a disadvantage.

Securing New Domains for Cold Email Outreach

The first rule of thumb in cold email outreach is to use dedicated domains, separate from your main business domain. For instance, if your primary domain is myblog.com, avoid using it for cold outreach. This tactic safeguards your business domain and email reputation from the risk of being marked as spam.

Your outreach domains should be similar to your main one to maintain the brand association.

Main domain: www.akhilpillai.com
Outreach domain: hello.akhilpillai.com or updates.akhilpillai.com

Remember, keep the domain names consistent, recognizable, and avoid using dashes; they’re commonly associated with phishing attempts, leading to potential deliverability issues.

Domain Warm-up Process

Once you secure your outreach domains, you’ll need to warm them up. Domain warming essentially means gradually increasing your email activity over a certain period to build a reputation with email service providers. It’s a precaution against appearing like spam, which often involves a sudden spike in email activity.

Consider this, a new domain, especially if it’s under a month old, raises suspicion among email service providers. To bypass this suspicion, allow your new domain to sit idle for a short while or warm it up very slowly over 30 days. Recommendations from many ESPs even suggest waiting at least 12 weeks before going full speed into outreach.

Some Tools for Email Warm Up

As a dedicated growth marketer juggling multiple channels, it may feel like there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. This is precisely where email warming tools come into play. These services automate the time-consuming task of warming up emails, ensuring you establish and maintain credibility with email service providers.

While you focus on your broader strategy and the day-to-day tasks of running your campaigns, these tools work quietly in the background, building your sender reputation, and maximizing the effectiveness of your email outreach.

When choosing an email warming tool, consider these key features:

  • Appropriate pace: Fast warm-up is desirable, but too fast might raise suspicions.
  • Extensive network: A bigger network assists in building a good sender reputation.
  • Advanced automation: Automated warming simplifies the process, saving you time.
  • Detailed reporting: Tools should provide in-depth insight into your reputation and the warm-up progression.
  • Value for money: Choose a high-quality tool that’s affordable and offers a free trial. Avoid overspending.

Here are some of my favourites.

  • Quickmail.io
    • This is my favourite because they provide a a true free plan. In their free plan, we can send 3000 emails and provide support. I believe no other platform does this.For my personal blog, I am using Quickmail.
  • Warmbox.ai
    • I prefer this because it’s affordable , $15 is what they charge you and you may Get 15% lifetime discount on all their plans with the code WELCOME15.
    • Provide features like: Auto-Remove from Spam, Spam score monitoring, Auto-Reply to emails, Fully custom warm-up.
  • Mailreach.co
    • They claim that they provide a Smart warming algorithm, Multiple ESP warm up (Google, Outlook, etc.), Live blacklists and DNS check ups
    • $25 /email account/ month (Little expensive)

Staying Active: The Human Touch

During the warm-up period, your focus should be on proving your ‘humanity’ to the email service provider. You need to establish that your email address isn’t being used for mass spamming, but for regular, human-like activities.

These activities include sending emails to friends, signing up for social media accounts, subscribing to newsletters, and so on. The idea is to keep the email traffic flowing in both directions – incoming and outgoing. These actions show your provider that your emails are desirable, leading to interactions and replies, which is entirely opposite to spam emails.

Cycling the Crops: Knowing When to Pivot

Just like a farmer rotates crops to maintain the soil’s productivity, email marketers need to ‘cycle the crops’ – the domains. One domain might work great for a month, two, or even three, but eventually, deliverability might start dropping due to various reasons.

How can you tell? Keep a keen eye on your open rates. A significant drop in open rates is usually an indication that it’s time to switch up the email domain you’re sending from. When this happens, it’s advisable to let the original domain ‘rest’ for about three to four weeks. During this resting period, the domain reputation often resets, allowing you to get back on track.


Contrary to what you might think, domain reputation damage isn’t permanent. If you find yourself in a difficult spot, remember that patience and appropriate rest can heal most wounds. With the right practices and careful nurturing, your email outreach can thrive, delivering your emails right where they need to be – in the inboxes of your potential clients.

Stay tuned for more insights from us, and happy emailing!

Google Ads: What You Should Know as a Growth Marketer?

Let’s not waste time by giving an intro. If you don’t know what it is and are looking for something from scratch, do a Google search on “What are Google Ads?” and come back.

This is the part -1 of the series.


Proceed with caution when someone (it can be a YouTube video or Instagram Ad) guarantees specific results with Google Ads. If they’re promising to double your traffic, be sceptical. If they’re promising this overnight, it’s time to block that person.

Understanding Google Ads Varieties

Google offers different types of Ads, each designed for various marketing goals. Understanding these can help you make informed decisions about your advertising strategy.

  • Search ads: These ads appear at the top of Google search results pages when someone searches for a keyword that is relevant to your business. Search ads are a great way to reach people who are actively looking for what you have to offer.
  • Display ads: These ads appear on websites that are part of the Google Display Network. Display ads can be images, videos, or text ads. They can be used to reach a wider audience than search ads, but they may not be as targeted.
  • Video ads: These ads appear on YouTube and other video-sharing websites. Video ads can be a great way to reach people who are interested in watching videos about your products or services.
  • Shopping ads: These ads appear when someone searches for a product that you sell. Shopping ads show the price of your product, as well as your product image and rating. They are a great way to reach people who are ready to buy.

The Influence of Google Ads: Data Insights

Despite the belief that paid results are not clicked on, data suggests otherwise. In fact, 67% of searches with high commercial intent lead users to click on a paid ad. When users are in the research phase, they tend to choose organic search results. However, when they’re ready to make a purchase, they opt for ads.

A study by HubSpot found that paid search ads can generate a return on investment (ROI) of up to 200%. This means that for every $1 you spend on paid search ads, you can expect to generate $2 in revenue.

The Trio Behind Google Ads

Google Ads operates with three key players:

  • Googler (users): This is the person who is searching for something on Google. When they type in a keyword, Google will show them a list of results, including both organic results and paid ads.
  • Advertiser (businesses): This is the business that is paying for their ad to appear in the search results. They can choose to bid on specific keywords, and they will only be charged when someone clicks on their ad.
  • Google Machine (the system): This is the system that powers Google Ads. It takes into account a number of factors, including the keyword bids, the quality of the ad, and the relevance of the ad to the search query, to determine which ads will appear and where they will appear.

What is Google Ads bidding?

Imagine you have a lemonade stand. You want to sell as much lemonade as possible, so you decide to set up a lemonade stand near a busy street. You know that people who are driving by are more likely to stop and buy lemonade, so you decide to bid on the right to have your lemonade stand in that spot. The higher you bid, the more likely you are to get the spot.

Google Ads works in a similar way. When you create a Google Ads campaign, you’re bidding on the right to have your ad show up when someone searches for a keyword that you’re interested in. The higher you bid, the more likely your ad is to show up.

There are a few different ways to bid in Google Ads. You can set a maximum bid, which is the highest amount you’re willing to pay for each click. You can also set a daily budget, which is the maximum amount you’re willing to spend on your campaign each day.

Google Ads will use your bids and budget to determine when and where your ads show up. If you’re bidding high enough, your ad may (stress here, MAY or May Not) show up at the top of the search results page. Or, if you’re bidding on a specific keyword, your ad may show up when someone searches for that keyword.

How does Google Ads Bidding Works

Google Ad Ranks

Google Ad Rank is a number that determines where your ad shows up on Google Search. It is calculated using your bid amount, the quality of your ad, and the competitiveness of the auction. The higher your Ad Rank, the higher up your ad will show.

Imagine you and your friends are playing a game of musical chairs. The first person to sit down in a chair wins. The chairs are like ad positions, and the person with the highest Ad Rank is the first person to sit down in a chair.

Your bid amount is like how fast you run to the chairs. The higher your bid amount, the faster you run.

The quality of your ad is like how well you can sit in a chair. The better your ad, the better you can sit in a chair.

The competitiveness of the auction is like how many other people are playing the game. The more people playing, the harder it is to win.

Big Question: How you determine Quality of your Ad?

Quality Score

Google won’t tell you your Ad rank, but Google tell you the Quality Score. Quality score is a measure of how relevant and well-written your ads and landing pages are.

It is calculated based on three factors:

  • Click-through rate (CTR): This is the percentage of people who see your ad and click on it.
  • Ad relevance: This is a measure of how closely your ad matches the search terms that people are using.
  • Landing page experience: This is a measure of how good the experience is for people who click on your ad and land on your website.

Relevance Matters: Organic vs. Paid Search

Whether it’s organic search results or paid ads, relevance is highly valued by Google. If your paid ad is more relevant to the search, it will rank higher, resulting in a top spot and lower cost per click. Google employs this strategy to build user trust.

Relevancy is the first key to Quality Ads.

In conclusion, Google Ads bidding works by determining the position of your ad on Google Search based on factors such as your bid amount, the quality of your ad, and the competitiveness of the auction. Your Ad Rank, which is calculated using these factors, determines where your ad will appear.

Can Google Ads be Profitable

To answer this question, you need to answer few other questions.

Before you decide to invest in Google Ads, ask yourself:

Can you afford the initial costs?

You’ll want to allocate at least $1,000 – $1,500 per month as a minimum starting point, although I recommend a minimum budget of $2,000. If you can comfortably meet this expense, go ahead!

Identifying Your Business Objectives

Before initiating a Google Ads campaign, it’s essential to pinpoint your business goals. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I know my close rates?
  • Do I understand how many leads I need to make a sale?
  • Do I know how many leads I need each month to turn a profit?

By determining your specific objectives, you can better assess the potential success of a long-term Google Ads campaign.

Assessing Your Website’s Quality and Responsiveness

Your website needs to be fast, mobile-responsive, informative, and user-friendly. Ask yourself if you’re ready to handle a surge in traffic.

  • Can you respond to customer calls promptly?
  • Is your sales team trained and ready to handle inquiries?
  • Is your inventory sufficiently stocked for an increase in orders?

Defining Your Audience

Understanding the size and location of your audience is also crucial. If you operate in a rural area with a small local population, Google Ads might not be the best choice for your business due to the limited audience size.

If you have proper answers for all these question, well, Google Ads will work for you. However, to make your Google Ads campaign profitable, it’s crucial to be prepared for competition unless you have a monopoly in the market.

Success in Google Ads requires a proactive approach to outperform competitors and stand out in the crowded digital landscape.

Gearing Up for Competition: Core Metrics of Google Ads

Before launching our campaigns, let’s explore the core concepts of Google Ads. (Ensure your ad spend is competitive enough to get the necessary clicks; otherwise, Google Ads may not yield the expected benefits.)

Understanding Conversions

In the context of Google Ads, conversions refer to the actions you want your website visitors to take.

  • Fill out a form
  • Make a purchase
  • Download a document
  • Sign up for a newsletter
  • A Call

Google depends heavily on conversions to determine what’s working, and everything revolves around this metric.

If you don’t define what a conversion is for your business, Google can’t optimise your campaign for conversions, leading to ineffective ad spending.

Therefore, you need to track every potential conversion action on your site, irrespective of its significance. These actions serve as predictive indicators of intent.

Remember, the goal is conversions. The focus should be on generating revenue, directly tied to conversion actions.

The Role of Keywords

Keywords are vital in Google Ads. They’re like labels that users use to search for answers and solutions. As advertisers, we use keywords to organise, categorise, and design our ads. We include keywords in our landing pages and use them to signal to Google when we want our ads to show up in the SERPs.

Bear in mind, the words you use to describe your product or service may not be the same as the words your potential clients use.

Therefore, use tools like Answer the Public, Keyword Planner, Spyfu, or Ahref free keyword generator to find out what customers are searching for in relation to your industry.

Keywords and the Sales Funnel

The Google Ads sales funnel is a model that helps businesses understand how potential customers move through the buying process.
It is divided into three stages:

  • Top of the funnel – Discovery: This is the stage where potential customers are searching for information about your industry, or they may be comparing different products or services.
    • Here, the goal is to introduce your brand and generate interest. In Google Ads, this can be achieved through targeted display ads or video ads that reach a wide audience. The purpose is to attract users and make them aware of your offering, planting the seed for future consideration.
  • Middle of the funnel – Intent: This is the stage where potential customers are starting to consider your business as a possible solution.
    • At this stage, the goal is to nurture these prospects and provide them with valuable content that addresses their needs and concerns. In Google Ads, this can be done through targeted search ads that appear when users search for relevant keywords related to your offering. The aim is to capture their attention, provide useful information, and establish your brand as a reliable solution.
  • Bottom of the funnel – Action: This is the stage where potential customers are ready to buy. They may be filling out a contact form, making a purchase, or scheduling a consultation.
    • The goal is to provide them with a compelling offer or incentive to convert. In Google Ads, this can be achieved through highly targeted search ads, remarketing campaigns, or shopping ads that display specific products or promotions. The aim is to prompt users to click, make a purchase, sign up for a service, or take any desired action that leads to a conversion.

Not All Keywords Are Equal: Craft an Offer

Everything you present to your visitor should be an offer. So, you should select your keywords accordingly.

  •  The search terms you bid on should allow you to present an offer
    • For example, if you’re a clothing retailer, bidding on search terms like “women’s dresses on sale” or “discounted men’s shirts” allows you to present offers that cater to specific customer interests or needs
  •  The ad copy you use is an offer
    • For example, an ad for a fitness center might include copy like “Get in shape with our state-of-the-art facilities and expert trainers. Sign up now for a free trial!” This ad copy presents an offer of a free trial, enticing users to take action and engage with the fitness center.
  •  Your landing page should include a very clear and compelling offer
    • For instance, if you’re running an ad for a software product, your landing page could highlight a limited-time offer such as “Get 50% off your first year subscription. Sign up today!” This offer creates a sense of urgency and provides an incentive for visitors to complete a purchase or sign up.

Another thing to keep in mind is don’t stuff your AdWords with “You”.

Too often, we see advertisers essentially introduce themselves in their ad copy and landing pages, rather than inform the user what they will do for them. 

  • What should the visitor do? 
  • What’s the offer? 
  • And why is it valuable?

Your credentials mean nothing without a clear understanding of how you will directly change the customer’s life.

Crafting Your Offer

  1. Make sure your offer matches the search
  2. Always be closing
  3. Value based: cheaper isn’t always better

4. Every step of your conversion process is an offer (moving them toward the next step)

  • Awareness: “Discover the truth about the environmental impact of your cleaning products with our informative articles and videos.”
  • Interest: “Dive deeper into the world of eco-friendly cleaning with our comprehensive guide: ‘Green Cleaning: How Eco-Friendly Products Stack Up Against the Rest.'”
  • Consideration: “Ready to make the switch? Enjoy a 10% discount on your first order of our eco-friendly cleaning products. Use the code ‘GREENHOME’ at checkout.”
  • Conversion: “You’re just one click away from a cleaner, greener home! Add our Eco-Friendly All-Purpose Cleaner to your cart today.”
  • Retention: “Welcome to our Green Home Club! As a member, you’ll enjoy monthly discounts, exclusive content, and early access to our new products. Join today and start saving!”

5. Your core offer isn’t always the right offer (ascension)

  • This refers to the idea that the product or service you’re best known for (your “core” offer) isn’t necessarily what will attract every customer. Sometimes, a customer might be more interested in a related product or an upgraded version of your product.
    • For example, if you sell eco-friendly cleaning products, your core offer might be an all-purpose cleaner. However, a customer might be more interested in a specialized kitchen cleaner or a bundle of multiple products. This is where the concept of “ascension” comes in – you start with your core offer, then you offer more advanced or premium products as the customer becomes more engaged.

Features vs. benefits (features tell, benefits sell)

  • This is a common principle in marketing and sales. Features are factual statements about a product while benefits explain how the product solves a problem.
  • While it’s important to include features in your ads, it’s the benefits that really convince customers to make a purchase. In other words, don’t just tell customers what your product is or does – tell them why it matters to them.
    • For example, instead of saying “Our eco-friendly cleaning products are made without harmful chemicals,” you could say “Experience a cleaner, safer home with our eco-friendly products – no harmful chemicals, just powerful cleaning power.”

This is the first part of this series on Google Ads. To Read further click here.