GDPR is Here

I'm sure you're feeling pretty annoyed by now. Your inbox has probably received dozens, if not hundreds, of GDPR-related opt-in or "Privacy Policy" update emails. 

As you can probably tell from that flood of emails, the GDPR updates should not be taken lightly. 

With so many security concerns and privacy-related issues in the world right now, I see GDPR as the first step toward a more harmonious way for data to be gathered and for honest transactions to ensue online. 

If you are a consumer, you can use this opportunity to opt-out of any of the email newsletters you don't actually want to receive anymore. You could also strengthen your privacy settings in your browser or move over to the amazing Brave browser. 

If you're a company, it's already a bit too late to start doing something. By now, hopefully you're mostly prepared. Technically companies have until tomorrow, May 25th, to get into compliance with GDPR.

If you have customers or users in Europe, you must comply with GDPR. Many smart forward-thinking companies, though, are taking the approach that they will be GDPR compliant with ALL of their customers, regardless of their geography.

This is in line with the "only do it once strategically" for when these rules apply to everyone on the web eventually. 

My hope is that the US and other countries copy some of the better parts of GDPR, but disregard some of the heavier unnecessary elements of it.

Don't expect your email or inbound marketing revenue to be up for the next few quarters. Customers will have to opt back in and startups everywhere will be sending far fewer promotional emails out. 

In my opinion, that’s a justifiable price to pay for a giant step toward better user rights. Now, let's keep moving in that same direction. 

Not Confusing

"Not dirty" isn't the same as clean. 

Just like how "not light" doesn't suggest dark (or heavy). 

When marketing to the masses, it's tempting to move toward specificities. We hope to create messages that are familiar and easily identifiable. 

When we do this, though, we risk muddying the message for everyone else outside that circle. 

Make it relevant and relatable, but start by working on making everything "Not confusing" first. 

Then, calibrate from there.

Money, Time, and Safety

In every buying situation, a consumer is confronted by choice. There are competitors to audit. There are options that are more convenient to others. And there are the products that make us feel better. 

When you boil down the dozens of variables that arise from these purchase decisions, you'll find that they almost always can be reduced down to three motivators.

  1. Money: How much will it cost me?
  2. Time: How much time will it take (or save me)?
  3. Safety: Do I trust the company? Is the product reliable? 

Now go back to the many reasons you purchase something. Take that reason and ask yourself "Why?" Keep asking why to peel the onion down until you can't go any farther. 

You'll undoubtedly end up at one of the above pillars. 

Perhaps we should be modifying our marketing messages to ensure we encapsulate these three emotional influencers. 

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The Hum

Picture your radio dial. Imagine turning the dial to "1." 

What do you hear? 

Only if the song is extremely recognizable, will you even be able to make out what it is amidst the sounds of your car driving on pavement. 

You hear the radio's frequency more than the content itself.

Now turn it up a few to "3." Can you hear the melody now? 

As you continue to turn the dial to the right, your body begins to feel the beat and you begin to connect with the emotional component of the music. 

The hum is still there, but you can't hear it. Why? - Because you're now lost in the moment. Happily consumed by the melodic chaos.

This is what it's like to grow a business.

Once you get started, you'll hear that hum. It won't be clear until you pay closer attention or amplify your message.

The hum and the business are always there - vying for your attention. 

The trick is to get lost in the music as often as you can. 

Once you hear it, you'll feel it.

Once you feel it, others will follow. 

Nobody will notice that underlying hum.

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Machine Translating Music

With my background in web globalization, I found this article interesting.

If you can look past the marketing gimmick, there could be something here. I foresee interactive music experiences that span dialect. All the audience would have to do is put on their own in-ear monitors that connect directly with the audio feed of their native language.

Now all of the sudden, the entire world can enjoy one concert - all at the same time.

Two Audiences

Generally speaking, there are two audiences for this blog.

There's you (because you're reading this).

And there's me. 

I don't worry about finding my target demographic or saying the wrong thing to the wrong person. 

You're here because you want to be. If you don't, you'll leave and never come back. 

On the other hand, you may enjoy my perspective. In that case, I'm hopeful that you will check back here periodically. 

At the end of the day, though, this is all for me. I'm my best audience because of how writing makes me feel. 

My writing is cathartic, inspirational, and a great way for me remind myself of the importance of showing up.

I'll keep showing up here.

My other audience? Well, that's up to you. 

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My New Content Tri-Fold

I operate much better under a strict regimen. Where another person might incubate their best ideas without constraints and routine, I like to know that I can get something accomplished when I expect to do so.

That's why you see so many episodic assets from me. I may not have kept up with all of them, but they're still exist. They thrive because I am able to establish the cadence and set an item on my calendar for it. 

You may already know about Ask Logan Lenz on LinkedIn, but I am hereby announcing that I will not only be revitalizing the Through the Lenz Podcast, but will also be publishing more video tricks for my LinkedIn audience. I'm calling the video series "Logan & Logout" due to its quick nature.

Here are the 3 rebranded designs that will be launching next week.

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The Sideways S

We all know about the S-Growth curve. It reveals acceleration via a natural form of adoption over time. 

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The "S" shape is obvious in its aesthetics, but what about flipping the diagram on its own axis?

The sideways S considers a start with preexisting adoption, a dip prior to repeating adoptions. The rest of the curves are then reliant on popularity and attention. 

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In other words, it's the ultimate marketing challenge. 

How can we salvage adoption is a unique way to look at growth? Retention should never be overlooked. 

Symmetreat

It's pleasing to the senses when everything looks tidy. Disarray is stressful.

Yet, there is so much beauty in purposeful misalignment.

This observation can be compacted into something like...

What is beautiful to whom is not as beautiful to whomever. 

It's all an art, not a science. 

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September Will Be Lots of 'Phone'

First I start hearing whispers of the new iPhone being released in a month. Then Android releases Oreo the following day. The mobile OS race continues to heat up (pun intended), and I'm enjoying every moment of it. 

I'll give Apple some credit. Potentially disposing of the 7S altogether is a bold move. After all, if you have the upgrades ready, why not release the better product? But I'm skeptical that they're not going to hit it out of the park with this one. Doesn't this whole thing seem a little rushed? - Especially after it was delayed.

I'll also give Google its fair share of credit. Not only is the ad for Oreo gorgeous, funny, and relevant, but bouncing back from recent hardware issues is no simple task. The fact that they're already creating buzz with the myriad of great new features proves they're in the race to win it.  

I'm also teetering between the two. I am, and always have been, an iPhone user. There is a Google-loving geek inside of me that gets jealous of Android customers, though. 

I can't wait to watch this market continue to unfold - especially since there are so many other potential competitors that can enter the space again. 

Sun(k) Costs

As droves of people purchased eclipse sunglasses to prepare for Monday's solar eclipse, vendors raced to meet the spiking demand. I'm waiting on the exact numbers, but just about everyone seemed to be purchasing a pair. 

It makes me think about the eclipse sunglasses market. The chart would look something like this:

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Aside from a few gag purchases, this is a market that goes from zero to millions back to zero in the matter of weeks. 

Then my mind goes to the consumers that arrive home after experiencing the eclipse. Many will repurpose the glasses as a gag gift, makeshift 3D glasses, or save them for a potential Halloween costume as the members of Devo. 

If you're like me, you'll see them as worthless and throw them away. 

It would be very interesting to analyze garbage cans around the world this week. 

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When You Put the Time In

I don't want to hear anyone complain about not earning the outcomes they're striving for without tangible evidence of the hours of effort they put in.

It's a simple formula.

The more FOCUSED time you put into a project, the better it will turn out. While not all project outcomes rely solely on effort, putting forth an undying effort leads to success more often than not.

This was made even more clear to me this weekend when I was searching online for a video for my kids. The search was simple... "moana medley acapella."

Lo and behold - these were the top 2 results:

Not only were my kids quiet and captive throughout these videos, but they even had me thinking "this requires a lot of work."

If you think of either of the above videos as a project, we're talking days worth of combined hours to get to this output. There's costume, makeup, editing, and the incredible fact that each of those squares requires the entertainers to sit through the entire song each time. 

Think about that for a minute.

These entertainers deserve the 3+ and 5+ million views, and I'm glad my search yields these are results rather than the expected official songs and videos from the movie.

Long story short - Incredible talent + Relentless effort can make you an exceptional asset that is much easier to be discovered.

LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms

Maybe you've heard about LinkedIn's progress surrounding their advertising options for businesses. Ever since they were acquired by Microsoft, the network's capabilities have extended and the allure for companies everywhere has elevated greatly. 

One example of this is LinkedIn's new Lead Gen Forms. It's a fantastic way to create lead capture forms natively within LinkedIn, rather than forcing users off of LinkedIn to a third party site. 

We are seeing more of this pop up on websites with strong user bases but LinkedIn's targeting capabilities are what makes this such an appealing advertising option.

To help you with getting started with LinkedIn's Lead Gen Forms, I walk you through the steps that will set you up with your first ads. If you have any questions after reading, please do not hesitate to reach out and ask. 

#1 – Choose The Ad Type

Depending on your goals and KPI's, you will want to select the ad type that will help you meet your goals. Advertisers can select Sponsored Content, Text Ads, or Sponsored InMail as ad types within LinkedIn. 

#2 – Choose Your Settings and Language 

Enter a meaningful name for the campaign and then select the language of your content and what you’d like to happen after someone clicks your ad. Then click “Next >” to proceed with Lead Generation Forms.

#3 – Choose Content You’d Like to Sponsor

There are a couple options to get started. Option one is to select existing content that will appear as “Sponsored Content” and will be shown in newsfeeds.  or create a new post to promote. The second option is to choose “Direct Sponsored Content”, which will send customized messages to your audience segments (you’ll need Company Page Admin permission).

#4 – Create a New Form 

If you haven’t already, you’ll need to create a form template that describes your offer. Simply enter your offer headline and offer a deal. Take the time to ensure that your headline and offer are compelling and speak to the needs of your target audience.

#5 – Identify Your Desired User Information

Depending on what information your team has determined is most beneficial for your campaign, select up to seven pieces of data you’d like to collect from each prospect.

#6 – Create A Custom Thank You Message

You can also determine what message your prospects see after submitting their form. This is a great opportunity to redirect the user to your company website for more information.

#7 – Define the Call-To-Action

Depending on your goal, you may want a prospect to sign up, download or request more information. Make sure that your CTA properly aligns with your ad message.

#8 – Specify Your Demographics

In order for an ad on LinkedIn to be effective, you must target your audience appropriately based on your message. You can select everything from locations and industries to specific job titles and even fields of study or skills.

#9 – Choose Your Budget and Time Period

You can choose to either pay when someone clicks on your ad, or pay based on the number of impressions. LinkedIn will also recommend a bidding strategy based on what other advertisers are doing. Typically, it will be best to start out by using LinkedIn’s recommended bid but you should optimize once you see which ads are performing best.

#10 – Review, Confirm, & Optimize (Continuously)

Keep a close eye on the performance of your ads and form completion to identify what is working best, and which ads to pause. That way you can optimize ad performance to increase results.

Test LinkedIn’s New Lead Generation Features

As you will notice, LinkedIn’s new Lead Generation Forms offer a way to make it easier for targeted audiences to convert based on your offer. By removing a barrier, these one-click conversions can help fill your customer database and encourage participation from targeted audiences.

Fidget Marketing

Call it whatever you'd like, the battle for attention has never been so competitive. Noise has become the white variety, blanketing everything we are presented with a layer of uncertainty. The content marketplace has become more about flair than actual substance these days. 

With such little attention being spent on each item that consumers are inundated with, the opportunity of standing out exists only within a small window of time. 

Create a WOW moment that only takes a few seconds to understand.

For obvious reasons, that's not easy to do. 

So think about the following as you target your fidgeting audience...

  • Does your work draw the eye immediately?
  • Is the gist easily digestible?
  • Are too many actions required to abstract value from the experience? 

This isn't new to folks that live in the world of conversion rate optimization. It's just getting harder and harder to capture attention. 

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5 Lessons Learned About Translating Social Media Posts

As brands globalize online and begin penetrating new customers abroad, they are faced with the immediate struggles of scaling a local market team. While doing so can be difficult in general, personalizing the brand while keeping the company culture can be extremely difficult. 

Here are some reasons why you can't take such a large initiative too lightly.

LESSON 1: YOU CAN'T JUST MACHINE TRANSLATE YOUR ENGLISH POSTS

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Philip Neville automatically translates his tweets from English to Spanish. The unacceptable and embarrassing result can be found in the comment above. 

LESSON 2: GO WHERE THE MARKET IS

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Additional in-market effort is unavoidable when you consider the many different social networks that are specific to any given market. Take China for example (data shown above). Your current social media team may not be able to navigate these sites - and they are what is essential for success in the market. 

LESSON 3: PLAN GLOBAL CONTENT AHEAD OF TIME

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When decision makers at a global company only can understand marketing content in one single language, it becomes imperative for them to know what is happening ahead of time. Us social media marketers are usually trained to work in the opposite way; quickly. For global content outside of a main region, it's best to tiptoe into it and plan out the strategy well in advance to ensure all stakeholders agree with the content and the culture being built in the new markets. 

LESSON 4: DON'T JUST CHOOSE ANY NATIVE SPEAKER

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Just like how you did your due diligence to hire marketers in your primary market, the same type of process should be adapted to fill the chairs in secondary target markets. All too often, companies rely on solely a referral from someone on the team that knows a native speaker. Proceed with caution in these cases. Just because someone knows a language, does not mean they understand customer engagement and content marketing as a whole.

LESSON 5: DON'T MIX REGIONAL MARKETING MESSAGES

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Delta felt this firsthand. As an airline that operates globally, they should accommodate all customers in all languages at all times. In the controversial tweet above, the company tweeted a World Cup reference to Ghana without doing the necessary research needed to know that there are no giraffes in the country of Ghana. Not only does a snafu such as this turn off the entire country of Ghana, but even their English-speaking followers around the world will doubt their knowledge of the markets to which they fly. 

The 5 Factors of International PPC Campaigns

Pay Per Click, or PPC, is an online advertising term referring to the act of bidding on traffic (via a click on the ad). The bidding system itself consists of a myriad of factors and nuances, which makes it rather complicated to configure optimally.

This high level overview aims to assist in the overall understanding of the strategy's architecture and the 5 main factors to consider when running PPC campaigns. 

The framework laid out below consists of five main ingredients: budget, targeting, keywords, positioning and quality score.

1. Budget

Because you are paying every time a user clicks on your advertisement, you must set a budget that amounts to your bid price multiplied by the number of visits you'll receive (via clicks).

Most of my clients will lay out their PPC budget for a certain period of time after their site launches. The most common time frames I'll see are 3, 6, or 12 months in advance. The budget can be further broken down month by month.

While a total budget gets identified, I typically begin helping them structure their campaigns per my recommendations. This is when we use our own benchmark data and market research to apply the necessary filters and variations on top of the campaigns themselves. One of those budget-related variables is how much to spend when, which is when we pinpoint specific days of the week and even times of day to place bids. 

Since I am so heavily vested into the success of my clients' site launches, I ensure daily management of the budget. I do this by logging into the advertising platforms being used every day to confirm that my bid price is optimal and that my daily spend is averaging out to meet the monthly budget. 

Managing the daily spend might seem simple in theory, but both web traffic and bid prices fluctuate on a daily basis - so it becomes increasingly important for us to stay on top of what's happening as often as possible. 

Another example that highlights the need for daily ad management is the ebbs and flows of keyword quality. Some words might perform much better than others. However, the higher performing keywords might be the most expensive. If I declare those to be worthwhile, I can (and should) increase the bid for those keywords. Keep in mind, though, that by doing that, I also may need to lower my bids for other less valuable keywords. 

A best practice for my clients is to house a separate PPC budget by country. That way, your budget aligns directly with the performance of a website you are marketing. As your brand targets more and more markets, you can continue to test the effectiveness of PPC by market and alter the budgets to maximize profit as needed. 

2. Targeting

When you're promoting a single language and market website, you have the luxury of setting up your ad campaigns with obvious segments in tact. For example, there is no reason to target any users outside of Russia when you are setting up a strategy targeting Russian speakers in Russia. 

After several rounds of similar filtering, you result in a very specific target demographic. The more narrow your targeting, the more effective (and profitable) your ads will be. Segmenting targets correctly also allows for greater agility since it will be easier to identify pain points when your performance gets low or your spend becomes too high. 

Pursuing a target also intensifies the importance of laying out an objective. What action would you like this target demographic to take? What will you measure to monitor business performance? 

Measuring the effectiveness of each campaign becomes increasingly different as your performance variables diversify. In the table below, you'll see that 3 keywords are all performing in very different ways. 

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Keyword A has an outstanding Click-Through-Rate and Conversion Rate, but is not driving very much traffic. Keyword C, on the other hand, is driving a ton of traffic, but an educated advertiser would consider the quality of the ad and the traffic to be poor. 

This exaggerated example reveals once again the emphasis I place on ongoing campaign maintenance. Not only do you have to worry about these metrics as a whole, but things become more intense when you dig deeper into the demographic segments (or user targets) that were configured. 

All in all, I'm sort of using "target" in two ways. One is the demographic you choose to advertise to, and the other is the overall objective of your campaigns. 

3. Keywords

If PPC campaigns were the human body, keywords would make up its heart. They are the driving force pumping the blood to all of the levers that move throughout the process. It's the keywords that hold the value for both advertisers and searchers. They reveal the purchase intent of searchers while being the main controller of overall bid prices. 

With keywords at the center of it all, a PPC campaign is structured with ad copy, landing pages, and targeting around it. That said, it's difficult to invent these other items without a clear understanding of the keywords you will be targeting. 

As mentioned earlier, keywords can fall into classifications based on quality. I'll get into quality score later on since it's one of the 5 factors, but at the surface, it's extremely important to monitor whether a keyword is low, medium, or high performing at all times. Knowing this allows you to quickly pivot into finding what works best and which keywords are disposable. 

If you set up campaigns that target more than one region, you'll have to keep in mind that strategies and quality scores will vary by market/target. In other words, you won't see the same correlations in metrics throughout all of your campaigns. I know this based on the many different user behaviors by market.  

4. Positioning

To put it simply, Pay-Per-Click advertising exists in order to allow for webmasters to display their sites at top positions in search engines. This, of course, gives the website more exposure in the short-term. This strategy usually accompanies a longer term way to get to the same goal, which is where search engine optimization comes into play (SEO). 

This obviously makes ad positioning a pivotal part of the PPC process. You probably noticed that there can be several ads displayed at the same time on a single search engine results page (SERP). Haven't you ever wondered how that worked? 

It should come as no surprise that the more competitive a keyword is, the more ads will display. This is based around common supply and demand principles since total search volume of that keyword is driving up the price of ALL available positions on the SERP. If there are more bidders, the search engine can sell the top spots at a premium and discount those that reside underneath. 

So how do we, as advertisers, make sure we're positioned optimally for the keywords we've chosen to pursue? 

Put simply, you must bid higher. And continue to do so. Competitors may do the same, so it often becomes a bidding war pretty quickly.  

Monitoring your positioning means you must constantly assess your keywords to determine how they're performing in which position. You won't want to increase your bid on a keyword that you continue to rank first for, but you also may want to stop bidding on the ones that are sending you traffic that isn't converting. 

Positions overlap most with bid price and quality score. The higher the quality score, the less you might have to spend since search engines prefer to serve more relevant ads over making a few extra pennies. 

5. Quality Score

All search engines treat quality score a bit differently. Google, for example, calls ad positioning "Ad Rank." You can calculate Ad Rank by multiplying a bid price with a quality score. 

Allow me to explain further. 

In a nutshell, a quality score is the grade a search engine gives your ad based on some of the factors aforementioned in this post. Some others are the Click-Through-Rate, the relevance of the landing page to the chosen keyword, your brand's performance history, and more. 

Other search engines around the world use other terms for quality score. Baidu identifies it as "Quality Degree" while "Quality Index" is Naver's preferred terminology. However, what doesn't change much is the way these search engines calculate the quality of an ad. 

Let’s look at another table (shown below) to illustrate how quality score can impact bidding. Assume that keyword Keyword D has a quality score of 5. You place a bid of $10.00 for it and with a quality score of 20, the ad is placed in position 1. Now, let's imagine that your quality score is 10 for Keyword E. You still want your ad to remain position 1 for this keyword, so how much are you going to bid? You know that having a quality score of 20 can place the ad in position 1, so now you just need to place a $5.00 bid, or half your previous bid. 

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The same effect is shown for Keyword F, except in reverse. The quality score went down to 2.5 so you were forced to bid double that of Keyword D in order to fill the coveted top spot in the SERP. 

It is important to note that not only does quality score influence position, but position also influences quality score. This occurs simply because a higher position usually leads to a stronger Click-Through-Rate, which a key factor in determining an ad’s quality score over time.

Conclusion

This high level overview on International PPC Campaigns clearly tells us how important having a dedicated resource is when pursuing such a detailed and nuanced strategy. Always be sure to keep these 5 factors in mind when setting up your PPC campaigns, and try your best to maintain the best balance between each of them. 

I have assisted dozens of clients with PPC campaigns that extend throughout hundreds of target markets. Whether you're looking for some guidance on best practices or a full-time resource, I would love to help position your brand optimally across the web. 

The Effects of Removing a Best Practice from a Website

It's not uncommon for a digital agency to host a portfolio filled with attractive designs and impressive metrics that shout to the world "this is why we're good at what we do." In fact, that sort of flaunting is expected these days. 

You can look through this website to find many examples of us doing the same. And why wouldn't we? We have some outstanding success stories from working with some of the biggest brands in the world. 

But what if we looked performance from another angle? Instead of showing what happened because we DID something for a client, let's display an example that highlights the negative impact NOT DOING SOMETHING has on their website. 

Without further adieu, I introduce to you a table revealing the impact that removing a simple technology has on website performance.

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This table overviews impressions, engagement, and conversion goals in one fell swoop. 

Normally, I wouldn't throw so much data into one table, but this finding was just too good not to hammer home. 

Of all nine line items, every single one fell from 2014 to 2015. This was baffling to me considering that nothing changed on the sites being analyzed - except for the single removal of one single, yet powerful piece of technology. 

So why would I choose to highlight this analysis so aggressively? The answer is quite simple. Not only does adding my optimization best practices and technologies on top of your website experiences lead to increases in the above metrics, but removal of them can lead to a dramatic decrease in KPIs. 

Conclusion

This is another testament to the fact that you should not be relying on website visitors to navigate themselves to worthwhile engagement and conversion metrics. Instead, help guide them to their destination by leveraging best in breed technologies that can improve their overall on-site experience.  

The Secret Powers of Google Tag Manager

Tag Managers exist to manage all of the third party tags in one centralized place. They have made installing and activating tags much easier. It was a logical and necessary evolution for website management.

What I didn't expect to see, years later, is how Tag Managers would become a multi-purpose asset to a website - an asset that would manage far more than just analytics codes. 

Most notably, you can inject Javascript on page load that search engines will be able to read and render. This means you can now embed hreflang markup for multi-language websites, override titles and meta descriptions, and add Schema markup wherever needed.

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There are also dozens of third party integrations that allow for easy implementation of some of the apps you may already be using. This makes setup (and maintenance) that much easier to manage. 

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Below is the general Google Tag Manager video. If you have any questions about how it works, I'd be happy to help you get started with Google Tag Manager.