[CLZ News] Coming up: Version 15.0 for desktop, version 3.0 for mobile!

CLZ Alwin here, with an important heads-up on the upcoming big updates for ALL our software editions, Windows, Mac, iOS and Android.

Please do not skip this newsletter!

I’ll try to keep it brief and “easily digestible” :-) Here we go:

Coming up soon:

  • Version 15.0 for all 5 Windows editions.
  • Version 15.0 for all 4 Mac OS X editions.
  • Version 3.0 for all 5 iOS apps.
  • Version 3.0 for all 5 Android apps.

ETA: we’ll be launching all book related editions on all platforms within 3 weeks, then all movie ones, etc…. All products should be live in about 2 months.

So what’s new? -> CLZ Cloud Syncing 2.0!

For the past 8 weeks, most of the CLZ Team has been working on a new cloud syncing mechanism, updating the server code and *all* software products for all platforms.

The benefits of CLZ Cloud Syncing 2.0 :

  • Easier: One button that syncs up and/or down as needed.
  • Faster: Sync your additions and changes within a few seconds.
  • Scalable: Transfer very large databases without problems.

The new system will make it much easier to:

  • Transfer your database between devices, e.g. desktop and mobile app.
  • Update your public collection list on the Cloud.Collectorz.com site.
  • Always have an online backup of your database (!!).

Are these updates Free or Paid?

  • For Windows and Mac:
    Even though v.15.0 is a new major version number, there will be no extra fees for these updates. Just make sure your have a valid Update Plan and you will be able to download the update.
  • For iOS and Android:
    All v3.0 mobile app updates will be free for everyone who already owns an earlier version.

Some quick notes about sync compatibility:

  • The old and new system sync with the same cloud data.
  • So you can mix and match between the two, e.g. :
  • Sync up to the cloud using an old-skool desktop version …
  • … then sync down from the cloud using a modern mobile app.
  • However, you can only enjoy the Sync2.0 benefits if you use a Sync2.0 compatible version on both ends, meaning v15 on PC/Mac and v3 on mobile.

Version 15? What about Cobalt?

Okay, I admit it. Calling the current major version of our desktop software “version Cobalt” was a stupid idea. In the past 16 months it has caused a lot of confusion. We should have just called it “version 12″, which it what it was called “under the bonnet” anyway.

So we’re back to good-ole version numbers!

And to make it even simpler, we’re going to link the version numbers to the year, so that’s why the upcoming major version is going to be “version 15″, as in “2015″.
(We couldn’t resist giving version 15 a cool nickname though: “Carbon”.)

In other news:

A quick overview of the releases of the past month:

Four big updates for all Mac editions

In the last 4 weeks all 4 Mac editions have received a huge Cobalt.9 update, with:

  • Easier adding and managing of person fields (Artist, Authors, Cast, Crew, Creators, Characters, etc…
  • Fully adaptive layout of all Edit screens
  • Improved Tools / Manage Pick Lists screen
  • New “First Letter” folder options
  • More consistent Core / Cloud terminology
  • Many fixes for reported problems

To get the new Cobalt.9 version, make sure your Update Plan is still valid, then just use the Check for Updates command from your program’s menu.

CLZ Games 2.0 for Android

The fourth 2.0 update for Android, CLZ Games!

  • Now a fully stand-alone video game cataloging app.
  • Add games to your app database, by Platform & Title or by barcode.
  • Scan game barcodes with your device camera.
  • Edit your game entries right there on your Android device.
  • Added multi-panel tablet layout (next to phone layout).
  • Two-way synch data between devices through the free CLZ Cloud.

One left to go: CLZ Music. Although it looks like there will never be a CLZ Music 2.0 for Android, we’ll probably jump straight to version 3.0 for that one :-)

Keep an eye on your inbox for the v15 and v3 announcements!

EP14: I want candy

Best kick in the pants podcast yet!

7 days ago, Carl and Justin set off on an adventure to build a unique WordPress plugin in one week.

Also - kids or no kids?

This week's project

The inspiration for this project came in August, after I launched my course. The course platform I was using was expensive. I was being charged $130 / month + 4% of course sales + transaction fees! Since August I've had to pay $1,288.00 to that service. If I'd used Productify, I would have paid only $39. ;)

What I really wanted was to host my course myself on WordPress, but sell it using Gumroad.

When I shared the idea with Carl Alexander he had an idea of how he could build it (without using a SaaS backend). So we did!

"This is the product I'm most excited about. I want this. I have told so many people that I want this kind of product." - Paul Jarvis

We shipped it!

Download the plugin now

As a podcast listener you get 20% off: buildandlaunch.net/plugin

Check us out on Product Hunt!

Sad news and good news

This is supposed to be the last episode of Season 1. But you folks have been so awesome of joining this journey, and sharing your journey, so we're going to keep this going.

While I get ready for Season 2, we're going to do two Q&A episodes:

  • Tuesday, March 3, 2015
  • Friday, March 6, 2015

Ask your questions by sending me an email, or getting me on Twitter.

Season 1 launches

  1. The Build & Launch podcast
  2. The Product Hunt Handbook
  3. Network Effects: a web app for notifying groups via SMS
  4. Irresistible Podcasting
  5. Productify: sell your WordPress content using Gumroad

Show notes

Podcast hosting and stats provided by Simplecast.fm.

Episode 84: Funnel Power

Brecht and Scott return (again) to talk about the importance of sending people email once you have them on your list. What's the point if you only send them one message a year telling them to buy your stuff?

Did you know things can happen and be right, even if you're not doing them? It's a wonderful thing once you have systems in place and make the right choice in hiring.

On another note, It seems that all the snow has been funneled into Scott's little corner of the world, which is fine because he loves to shovel.

How Customer Expectations Can Affect Your Conversion Rate

Richard Lee McNair was a convicted murderer.

He’d just broken out of federal prison and was on the run. Police were everywhere, and he needed to get out of sight fast. He ran for a few hours, until he was stopped by Officer Carl Bordelon.

For most prisoners, this is where the story would end, but McNair wasn’t your average prisoner.

McNair understood expectations and the role they play in selling.

He knew Officer Bordelon would have questions; but, more importantly, he understood the expectations behind the questions. He used those expectations so well that Officer Bordelon let McNair go within 10 minutes.

You and McNair have something in common.

Customers need you to manage their expectations. These expectations determine whether they’re satisfied with you (or not).

Satisfaction has a huge impact on your conversion rate and average order values. The more satisfied your customers are, the more they’ll buy. Yet, most of us are clueless when it comes to customer expectations.

Customers Have Fuzzy, Implicit, and Unrealistic Expectations

Customers come to you with expectations floating around inside their heads. The trouble is they don’t usually tell you about these expectations. They just assume you already know.

And, it gets even worse.

They hold you responsible for these expectations. That’s right. They expect you to already know how to keep them satisfied, and they’re unhappy when you don’t. Here’s the problem: a lot of businesses don’t know much about their customers’ expectations, which means their customers are chronically unhappy.

An important study defined the differences among these customer expectations:

1. The Fuzzy Expectation

Your customers expect a change but they have no idea what that change looks like. They’ll know it when you find it, buuut they can’t seem to tell you how to get there or what they expect.

Let’s say your customers have a fuzzy expectation they don’t bring up, and you don’t find it. They’re likely to feel (and believe) that your product or service was a letdown or unsatisfactory.

You know what happens next.

When you ignore their fuzzy expectations (because you didn’t know), your customers stop buying. Your average order values plummet. Customers switch providers, and then bounce around until they find someone that meets their unspoken expectations.

Example: A Fuzzy Expectation

Most businesses go through some kind of logo or brand design process. And, almost inevitably that process starts with fuzziness.

The startup or retailer wants to choose the right logo for their business. But, almost as often, they have no idea where to start. Many of them go through a process that’s a lot like this:

Fuzzy-expectations-clients-from-hell

In this example, it’s presented as the customer’s fault. But, it’s actually the designer’s fault.

It’s your job to discover and anticipate your customer’s expectations.

2. The Implicit Expectation

Implicit expectations are things your customer believes to be “obvious” or “self-evident” when they are anything but. It’s all the general, yet unspoken, assumptions a customer makes when there’s familiarity with you, such as:

  • “You already know/have everything you need to give me what I want.”
  • “I’ve done this before so the process should be shorter, faster, and easier.”
  • “You know my business well enough that you don’t need to ask me to participate in the process anymore.”

Here’s the thing about implicit expectations: they become explicit when they’re ignored. As soon as customers figure out that you can’t read their minds and haven’t given them what they want, they’re unhappy. The expectation is treated as if it were explicit from the start.

That means – you guessed it – they find someone else.

Example: An Implicit Expectation

Vitamin retailer Vitacost had a problem. Customers wanted to order the same vitamins over and over. Normally, that’s great news, right? But, it came with an implicit expectation.

Customers expected Vitacost to save their orders and make it easy to re-order. (Vitacost sells lots of variations. Customers didn’t want to hunt for the same bottle of vitamin C each and every time they ran out.) Vitacost figured that out and came up with two options:

Implicit-expectations-Vitacost

  • Vitacost saves customer orders as-is. When customers run out of vitamins, they can reorder the elements they need, without going through the hassle of “checking out.”
  • Customers can sign up for Vitacost’s “set and save” program, receiving the vitamins they order on a regular schedule.

Meeting customers’ implicit expectations increased Vitacost’s average order values.

3. The Unrealistic Expectation

Unrealistic expectations are expectations you’re either unable or unwilling to meet. Here’s the dangerous part about unrealistic expectations: they can be fuzzy or precise, implicit or explicit.

Customers could quite possibly be holding you responsible for something you (a) don’t know about, (b) can’t fix, and (c) wouldn’t fix even if you could.

These expectations make it tough to keep your customers. How are you supposed to make your customers happy when their expectations are so unclear?

Example: An Unrealistic Expectation

When we go to an offline outlet store, we understand certain things:

  • Retailers always offer deep discounts.
  • Products we see are on a first come, first serve basis.
  • When it’s gone, it’s gone.

But, most of these understandings go out the window online. Customers shopping at a store like THE OUTNET see deep discounts, but they’re a little foggy on the when it’s gone part, which frustrates them.

When shoppers find a great deal, they buy it. Then, they tell friends and family about it. Their friends and family rush online, money in-hand, only to see… This product is sold out.

Unrealistic-expectations-the-outnet

If you’re a first time customer, this leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. Maybe you’re willing to try again with some encouragement, but most customers are gone, never to return.

These customers have unrealistic expectations. THE OUTNET should make that explicitly clear to customers.

Figure Out Where Customer Expectations Come From

Do you want to keep your customers? Then, figure out where their expectations come from.

How does that help?

The “where” shows you the questions you’ll need to ask. Customer expectations typically come from four places:

  1. Word-of-mouth: Someone recommends your e-store or SaaS app. Positive word-of-mouth creates high expectations that your customers bring with them when they visit for the first time. If you’re not prepared, your conversion rate will be terrible.
  2. Past experiences: Has your customer been burned before? Are they an experienced customer? Which sites (from their perspective) are doing things well? Is their overall experience positive or negative? If your customer has been used and abused by a competitor, you need to know.
  3. Marketing communications: Customers pay attention to your marketing, and everyone else’s. What are your competitors promising? What sorts of things do customers believe about your industry, product, or service? Are those the sorts of things you’re willing to commit to?
  4. Personal needs: Customers may be aware of their problems, but that doesn’t mean they know how to solve them. Fuzzy expectations, remember? Expectations develop around personal needs, so it’s a great place to start.

Discussion and follow-up questions change fuzzy expectations into precise ones. Revealing implicit expectations immediately makes them explicit.

Suddenly, it’s a whole lot easier to identify customer expectations.

Now, you’re ready to talk.

Get a few of your ideal customers together. You’re looking for customers that behave or spend the way you want. These aren’t the customers you accept just to pay the bills. They are the all-stars you love working with.

You want to focus your attention on a select few. You can’t meet customer expectations if the needs diversity is too broad.

Ask them about each of the above four areas. Get a discussion going. Use conference calls, Skype, Google Hangouts, it doesn’t matter. The goal here is to drill deep. Use these ideal customers as the basis for your changes.

Drilling deep gives you what you need to stop the free fall in your conversion rate.

Next, you have decisions to make.

Do you accommodate, edit, or reject these expectations? You’ll need to lay out a clear plan for each one.

If you accommodate a customer’s expectations, how far do you go? Where are the boundaries?

What if a customer’s expectation needs changing? How do you go about doing that? How do you handle it when customers don’t like the proposed change?

Then, there’s rejection. Some expectations shouldn’t be met. They may be unrealistic or difficult. Maybe the customer wants customization and/or options you’re not willing to give. How will you handle that?

Use the Right Tools to Shape Customer Expectations

There’s more than one way to shape customer expectations, and the method you choose depends on the results you’re looking for.

Let’s look at a few examples:

Shape Expectations with Process

Lenda-process

If you’ve purchased a home, you know the process can be tedious and miserable. Lenda shares their process with you, reminding you about how much the traditional process sucks.

Then, they show you how their process eliminates those headaches:

  • You don’t have to visit the bank.
  • You won’t be harassed by telemarketers or sales people.
  • A refinance with Lenda has 3 steps instead of the usual 80.
  • They’ll show you every cost and fee, and explain so you understand!

Lenda has taken a horrible, sometimes nightmarish, process and made it hassle free.

Shape Expectations with Punishment or Reward

Allstate-Safe-Driver-Rewards

Auto insurance can feel like a money pit. You toss your money into the pit because it’s the law. You know you’ll never see it again. It’s no surprise that some customers hate paying for car insurance.

Allstate uses their Safe Driver Rewards program as a carrot to motivate their customers. They reward good drivers with checks and discounts. It’s a win/win.

They can always use the stick for bad drivers that cost them money.

Shape Expectations with Framing

People tend to avoid taking risks on things that are presented positively. What’s weird is that those very same people will suddenly take risks when marketers present them using a negative frame.

The Five Four Club understands a man’s expectations. They use negative framing to sell men on their solution to three very common, yet very manly, problems:

  • Men don’t have the time or energy to shop for clothes.
  • Men aren’t sure about what to buy.
  • Most men hate shopping.

Five Four Club to the rescue. They rub their customer’s face in the problems I mentioned. Then, they present their service as the solution to those manly problems. Win!

These are great, but they might not work for your business, which is okay. There are lots of ways to shape, guide, and nurture customer expectations. The important thing here is that you flush them out. It’s a whole lot easier to meet expectations you know about.

While you can’t really control your customers’ expectations, you can manage them. Use the right tools to show your customers that you understand their problem and that you have the solution. Give them a clear path and easy instructions to follow. Then, let them choose.

What If You Fail to Catch an Expectation?

How do you know you’ve caught everything? What if you miss something? It hardly seems fair to be held responsible for things you didn’t see coming.

This is where your target profile interview comes into play. Conducting interviews with your ideal customers enables you to start off on the right foot. Periodic interviews down the road keep you on track.

What if you’re caught off guard? Acknowledge that, and let your customers know how you plan to fix the problem. Then, fix it. Permanently.

Conclusion

Richard Lee McNair knew what Officer Bordelon expected. He tailored his story, managing his customer’s expectations, and he got away.

Manage your customers’ expectations, and satisfaction becomes automatic. Increased conversion rates and average order values are all but guaranteed.

About the Author: Andrew McDermott is the co-founder of HooktoWin.com. Are missed expectations hurting your conversion rate? Download The Expectant Customer: Satisfaction on Auto Pilot to find out (no opt-in required).

The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Killer Explainer Video

When you land on a website, do you end up reading all of the text on the page? The chances are, you don’t.

So why not put an explainer video on your site? It could be an easy way to convert more visitors into customers.

When we added one to Crazy Egg, it helped us make an additional $21,000 in monthly income.

So, how do you create an explainer video that will increase your conversion rate? In order to help you out, I’ve created an infographic that breaks down the process of creation of the perfect explainer video.

Click on the image below to see a larger view:

The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Killer Explainer Video

Click here to view an enlarged version of this infographic.

Conclusion

As long as you follow the four steps to creating a high converting explainer video, you’ll be fine. But if you don’t, you’ll find yourself creating an explainer video that doesn’t boost your conversions.

And if you don’t have a video production bone in your body, you can always do what we did. You can hire companies like Demo Duck, Switch Video, or Sean Duran if you are on a budget… Just make sure you provide them with the script based on the template above.

For your voice-over person, check out Mike O’Brien… He is good and affordable.

So, when are you going to make an explainer video?

Embed This Image On Your Site (copy code below):

Hey, Could I Ask You a Few Questions? The Art of Surveys (FS094)

Hey, Could I Ask You a Few Questions? The Art of Surveys (FS094)

So many answers to current problems are in talking to your customers. That’s why we make guides and courses on defining your target market one of the first orders of business here at Fizzle.

And yet, it’s a weapon even successful entrepreneurs forget to use.

Recently Corbett and I helped Scott Dinsmore with the design of a new website. The first step for me in a project like this is to figure out the heart and soul of his business. So we sent Scott off to record some interviews. I wanted to hear it from the horses’ mouths.

In all honesty, he set out on that task dragging his feet. “What should I say? What do we need to get out of these?” I gave him some guidance and forced him to dive in.

When he did, when he started hearing the stories of his audience members he got hooked:

“These conversations you made me have were probably the single most important thing I did last year!”

We’re huge fans of talking to customers to get your next big idea or figure out how to better execute your current plan.

In this episode we talk about a specific way to hear from your customers: surveys. We’ve conducted a massive NPS survey with our customers recently and we wanted to share how to do something like this with your own audience. Enjoy!

It’s better to listen on the go!    Subscribe on iTunes 


Before you survey your audience next: listen to this!

Show Notes

The One Number You Need to Grow – HBR“The CEOs in the room knew all about the power of loyalty. They had already transformed their companies into industry leaders, largely by building intensely loyal relationships with customers and employees.”

Promoter.io | Net Promoter Score Software & Customer Loyalty Management“The easiest and most effective way to capture actionable customer feedback”


Show Notes

What Fizzlers Accomplished in 2014“HERE’S A LIST OF WHAT YOU DID IN 2014.”

The One Number You Need to Grow – HBR“The CEOs in the room knew all about the power of loyalty. They had already transformed their companies into industry leaders, largely by building intensely loyal relationships with customers and employees.”

Promoter.io | Net Promoter Score Software & Customer Loyalty Management“The easiest and most effective way to capture actionable customer feedback”

The Music Entrepreneur – Claim Your Untapped Potential — Thanks for your intro today, Andrew!

29 Common Google Analytics Data Errors And How To Fix Them

With the Ecommerce Foundation quoting B2C eCommerce figures of $2.2bn worldwide for 2015, it seems that if a business is not focusing efforts online then it’s falling way behind the current trend.

Doing business online these days IS doing business, and the trusted means by which to measure our results is Google Analytics.

“If you can not measure it, you can not improve it” – Sir William Thomson (First Baron Kelvin)

Rolling out and implementing Google Analytics can be a tricky big process for most businesses and often specialist assistance is required to get things running correctly.

However, even with the most skilled of talent, errors can occur in the data that can throw out results, often unknown to the analytics team.

Customizing the Google Analytics code is a team effort and will require constant measurement and evaluation to get things humming.

During the refinement process you are likely to find some of these errors occurring. Here’s 29 of the most common errors, likely causes and ways you can correct them. I’m assuming you are using Universal Analytics analytics.js:

Before we begin: Did You Know, there are two [Google Analytics] methods for gathering user data from your website? Use either Universal Analytics or Tag Manager, and be careful not to use both.

  • Note 1: Both are using the same JavaScript code to gather data, it’s only that Tag Manager makes it easier to customize the code with additional tags.
  • Note 2: We are only going to touch on Tag Manager issues in this post. Tag Manager has a lot of elements that we could get into but would be too extensive for this post. Tag Manager Errors deserve a post all to themselves so maybe I’ll hit that one for you guys next time.

Campaign Errors

Errors associated with setting up both your online and offline your campaigns.

Error #1 – Custom Campaigns Not Being Tracked

A Custom Campaign is a means of uncovering how referred traffic arrives to your site. Using this data you can understand more about the most effective ways to attract visitors to your content.

By using the Google URL Builder Tool and the Mobile URL Builder Tool (for mobile applications) you can add “Parameters” (little extensions) to your campaign URLs that lets Analytics identify where your visitor came from.

Example:

You’re running an advert campaign on Facebook. To track visitors specific to this campaign you would do the following:

  • Go to the URL Builder Tool
  • Add your unique URL
  • Add “source” “medium” and “name” (These are required)
  • Add additional parameters “content” and “term” if you wish to further identify the campaign.
  • Hit “Submit” you’ll then receive your custom campaign URL to use in your Facebook Advert.

There are several reasons why a custom campaign would not be tracked correctly, but most will be due to manually adding parameters incorrectly in one way or another. Here’s a couple for you to digest.

Solution A – You’re a smart developer and you like to build code into your projects manually but this time you got it wrong. Not so smart right? Keep it simple and your manager off your back; use the URL Builder Tool.

Solution B – You’ve copied/pasted the modified URL incorrectly. Solution- Run your URL through the builder tool again and check against your advert.

Solution C – You were in a hurry, or someone distracted you and you used the wrong URL in the builder tool so a different landing page has been used to build your custom URL. Solution - Go get the correct landing page URL for your advert and run it through the builder tool again. Check it against the modified URL you used for your advert.

Solution D – Your Facebook Advert is seen by Analytics as a “Referral” source. Looks like you didn’t add parameters to your campaign URL before building your advert. Go and run your URL through the builder tool.

Error #2 – Offline Campaigns Not Being Tracked

An offline campaign is a magazine or newspaper advert for example, and not tracking these bad boys is the hole in your analytics bucket. Offline can be very difficult to track completely but there are means to do so with some structured thinking.

Example:

You’re running a TV or magazine campaign for a digital product sale. It’s likely to bring lots of new visitors to your site. This Dell magazine campaign is an example. You and your team didn’t consider how to track traffic and now you’ve got a flood of additional visitors to your website creating a spike in traffic and you don’t know exactly where they came from! Total bummer….

There’s only really one reason why you got this big traffic spike and it’s because you didn’t add a discount code or other means of recording the visitors to your website that were exposed to this campaign.

Solution A – Add a discount code or vanity url that is exclusive to that particular campaign which will bring visitors to a specific landing page on you site allowing you track traffic.

Solution B – Better again, redirect the vanity URL that you’ll use in your campaign to a “Custom Campaign” with campaign parameters mentioned above, that you can create with the URL Builder Tool.

Also, make these vanity URLs permanent redirects!

Error #3 – Cross Domain Tracking Errors

Errors resulting from poor implementation of Google Analytics spanning multiple domains or subdomains can spell disaster for your data results. Where your sales funnel covers several domains you need to carefully consider how you are going to track your visitors activity.

The process is known as “Cross Domain Tracking” and it can help you to see visitor activity on related websites correctly.

Haven’t upgraded to Universal Analytics yet? here’s an article than can help you with Cross Domain Tracking with ga.js

Example:

You have a blog located on “blog.yoursite.com” and on the blog you have posts that lead your visitors through your sales funnel on “yoursite.com”. Your sales funnel also takes your visitor away from your site to a third party shopping cart. If your Cross Domain Tracking has not been carried out correctly across all domains involved, then your Analytics Reports will have holes. You will likely see “Self Referrals” which trigger new sessions where there aren’t new sessions. You can see how this can result in all sorts of errors in your data.

Solution A - One way to handle cross domain tracking using Universal Analytics is to utilize the autoLink Plugin. Very simply put, the autoLink Plugin allows GA to see links that include a domain/s you specify. Any clicks on links that contain that domain/s are included as cross domain traffic.

Check out how to install the necessary parameters to your source code on Google Developers.

Solution B – Google Tag Manager may prove easier for you to roll out Cross Domain Tracking. It provides two ways for you to implement Cross Domain Tracking.

  • Link Click / From Submit Tags allow Analytics to know when a link is clicked or a form is submitted respectively.
  • Auto Link Domains utilizes cookie values and is the easier option for setting up Cross Domain Tracking in Tag Manager, however, it is less flexible than the Link Click / Form Submit approach.

Check out the step by step process for correctly adding Cross Domain Tracking in Tag Manager instructions.

Code Errors

Error #4 – Errors From Locally Hosted analytics.js Code

Locally hosting the analytics.js code is in 99.9% of cases unnecessary, and more hassle than it’s worth in my opinion. Clever developers like to experiment, and some consider it a good idea to locally host the Google Analytics code on their own server for faster delivery, speeding up website rendering in a browser window. Google doesn’t recommend it and either do I.

Example:

You have your own dedicated server environment where your website is hosted and you wish to implement GA. Rather than relying on Google to deliver the analytics code from their servers, and incur the small delay in the process loading your website, you decide to host the analytics code on your own server to speed things up a tad.

There are any number of reasons why this may fall down, and I just don’t know why you’d want to do it in the first place. There’s loads of ways to effectively speed up a slow site and for the sake of a few milli-seconds I wouldn’t risk it. Not to mention having to set up additional instructions (Cron job) on your server so as to retrieve updates from Google when they are made.

To make this work you will need to setup a Cron Job on your server. This is scheduled task, designed in this case to update the locally hosted analytics.js code whenever Google makes changes to the .js.

  • Your Cron Job has not been set up properly and can not retrieve the updates to .js from Google.
  • Unlike Google servers, your server is local i.e. close to where most of your traffic is likely to come from (you think). But if your site is targeted internationally then users on the other side of the world won’t benefit from your few milli seconds load improvement. They might even suffer increased delays.
  • Older browsers may have older versions of the analytics cached and not deliver analytics the correct data

Solution – Don’t locally host the Google Analytics code.

Ohh for the love of God! why bother making all this work for yourself. Just use Google to deliver the script! But if you want to here’s an article from Bjorn Johansen on how to do it.

(Please comment below and let me know if there is one good reason why you should locally host the analytics code that is without risk of error, because I just don’t got one for ya!)

Error #5 – Results From Other Property Showing In Data

You’ve setup GA on a client’s site and 24 hours later data is showing in reports, Happy days right? However, on closer inspection you see it’s the wrong data. Not so happy days, it’s a good job you caught it early.

If you manage multiple accounts, or properties on the same GA account it’s a possibility that you’ve copied the code snippet from the wrong “Property”.

Solution A – This one is very easy to sort out. Just log in to your account and go to Admin >> Account >> Property >> Tracking Info >> Tracking Code to view your code and check if it matches what you’ve installed on your site.

Solution B – If you are using a WordPress Analytics plugin such as Analytics by Yoast, go to your WordPress Dashboard >> Analytics >> Settings >> General, and check your ID, re-authenticate, and save your settings.

It doesn’t really matter what means you are using to deploy your code snippet, if data is showing in reports for the wrong property you’re gonna need to replace it with the right one. This could mean a lot of work for you if deployment was manual.

Error #6 – Bounce Rate Extremely Low (Under 20%)

A typical bounce rate for a given site depends on the site but it’s not unusual to see something like 60% to 80%. So if your bounce rate is very low, or has suddenly dropped to single digits then your alarm bells should be going off.

Example:

A very low bounce rate appearing in your reports can happen for a number of reasons and can relate to multiple instances of the same Analytics code with the same property ID installed.

Adding multiple instances of the Universal Analytics Tracking code (analytics.js) to a web page/s is generally not a problem, but you’ve got to modify the snippet for each property you are setting up to view the data.

Solution A – Check that you haven’t got two instances of the exact same code snippet for the exact same property installed on your site. This can happen in WordPress for example, due to an Analytics plugin with the same property ID added as the code snippet added in the theme settings. Remove either one or the other, or modify one of them to suit different users in your GA account.

Solution B – Check that you’ve not installed Google Tag Manager along side a stand alone instance of the GA code. If you have Tag Manager running and you have the code snippet installed on your site also, then you’ll get two triggers.

Solution C – You may have a popup or chat window activating on the same page. These can send another trigger to Analytics. You’ll need to set these and any other “events” as “non-interaction events”. See more on Events and how to set them up here.

Error #7 – Conflicts With Other Scripts Running On A Page

It is fairly common that a website may have other JavaScript code running on a page/s. It is therefore very important that you ensure that existing code variables are not the same as that which Google uses. If it does, you’ll have problems.

See Advanced Analytics setup for Developers for info on this.

Example:

JavaScript conflicts can break either or both conflicting scripts running on a page. For example you may have Google Analytics installed and an application such as a third party event registration page loading on your site.

The problem may not even be completely obvious to you. Cookies that are held in a visitor’s browser may be rewritten by other applications rendering a false or unrecorded session or page view by Google Analytics.

Solution - When the default GA Script is installed on your site you may not experience any issues, however issues may become apparent when you roll out customizations to the basic tracking code.

Check the code installation on any page by installing the Analytics Debugger for Chrome.

When Debugger is installed, go to the webpage you want to check hit cmd + alt + j (on a mac) or, ctrl + shift + j (on Windows or Linux) and you’ll get a Java Console popup at the bottom of your screen which will show any errors on the page.

If this is a bit beyond you, disable or remove the third party code and engage your friendly neighborhood developer!

Tag Manager Errors

As I noted in the introduction, there are many errors that can be registered by Tag Manager (Tag Assistant) so I’m only going to touch on a couple here that are common to setting up Tracking.

If you’ve implemented Analytics on your site for the first time and you don’t see any data after 24hrs (this can be less than 24 hours in many cases) then it’s likely you’ve one of the following Tag Manager related issues present.

Error #8 – Tag Manager Container Not Published

In Tag Manager you can add an Account for all the websites you manage. Check out this setup guide for creating a new Account in Tag Manager.

After creating the Account, you then need to create a Container. A Container in Google Tag Manager is where your code and associated tags will be held.

After creating your new Container you need to add Tags for specific functionality. See this article on adding, editing and publishing Tags. Justin Cutroni is the Google, Google Analytics guy, here’s what he says about publishing Tag Manager Container (amongst other things).

Errors tend to be experienced where edits have been made to Tags in a Container and the new version has not been published. You must publish your Container with it’s new Tags or edited Tags, before the edits will take effect.

Error #9 – Tags Not Firing

In Google Analytics, a Tag is a small piece of JavaScript code that sends specific user information to the Google Analytics servers from the digital environment where it resides. From the Tag Manager Interface, you get to add Tags to your code snippet as required without having to manually add the changes to your code. Check out this comprehensive help article on Tags for more information.

There are a couple of possibilities why your Tags are not firing. Let’s have a look at those and their possible solutions.

Solution A - You added a new Tag and you didn’t publish your edit. Every time you modify your Container, you need to publish it. Like when you add a new Tag or edit an existing one. Click the publish button on the top right hand corner and you’ll get the following window.

Solution B – You’ve assigned a URL rule to a Tag that’s too specific. Your URL rule says fire for domain “http://www.yoursite.com. Your Tag will not fire for “https://www.yoursite.com” or “http://yoursite.com”. Go back in and edit your Tag to allow the required domain variations fire your Tag. Don’t forget to re-publish!

Solution C – It may be that the Tag Manager Container (which contains the tracking code) was incorrectly added to your site. Tag Assistant for Chrome should be able to help you find the cause of the problem. However, if you see this, then it’s not installed at all!

Go check out Tag Manager Previewing & Debugging for further assistance.

eCommerce Errors

Note: Did you know that the eCommerce Plugin should not be used along side the Enhanced eCommerce Plugin? Well you do now.

Error #10 – eCommerce Data Not Showing For A “View”

The “eCommerce” function within Google Analytics is a specific segmentation that allows you to setup, view and analyze data specific to visitors purchases on your website or application.

Use it to track what people bought, how much they bought, how long it took a customer to buy and other transaction information.

Here’s an introduction to eCommerce, and here’s a good article on eCommerce, both from KISSmetrics blog.

So long story short, you’ve firstly enabled eCommerce and then set up eCommerceTracking (for web) and an associated “View” to refine your data, but no data is showing.

It may be that you have a snippet issue as mentioned above, but if your code snippet was working before you decided to activate eCommerce then it’s likely that you’ve merely failed to enable it correctly.

There is also the possibility, if you are looking after a significant number of sites and associated views, that you were looking at the wrong “View”.

Solution A – Go back and check that you have selected the correct “View” before clicking on the Reporting tab.

Solution B - Surprisingly, this is perhaps the most common error made, but is the easiest to fix. Simply go into your account Analytics >> Property >> View >> eCommerce >> Toggle switch “ON”. You can also enable advanced eCommerce features in this window.

Find out more about Advanced eCommerce features here.

Note: Did you know you can reverse an eCommerce transaction in Google Analytics? Find out more about this process here. That brings us to the next error on the list…

Error #11 – eCommerce Data Does Not Match 3rd Party Cart Data

You have a website with products or services for sale. You have these products and services located on your own website and your shopping cart is done by third party.

This complicates things for you just a tad when it comes to Analytics tracking. You need to ensure your “Cross Domain Tracking” is set up, as mentioned above, and that similar attributes of both services match.

Example:

You’ve a website set up for your bakery business. It’s mainly an information site with a blog attached and there’s no eCommerce element. You want to sell and deliver to local businesses and allow them order online – so you set up an eCommerce site with a third party provider.

Someone clicks on a fancy cake on your main site and they are brought to your eCommerce site to order and pay. All good so far…

You’re making sales, but when you view your analytics data it does not correlate to your shopping cart data. There are a number of reasons why your shopping cart may have different data to that in your GA reports. Let’s have a look at these:

Solution A – Date & Time settings don’t match. This is an easy error to fix but one that can screw your data if you’ve got it wrong. Make sure that both your main site and shopping cart have the same data and times set up. Watch out for time-zone also.

Solution B – Remove non-alpha numeric characters in the data. Non-alpha numeric characters in the number fields (such as price field) can screw up your data!

Solution C – You have a process that spans several domains and you have not setup Cross Domain Tracking correctly. See Error #3 above.

Adwords & Analytics Linking Errors

Error #12 – Adwords Clicks & Analytics Sessions Don’t Match

The error here is that you think they should match. They don’t necessarily and here’s why:

When you combine Adwords and Analytics data, you can view the data side by side. Adwords records the amount of times your visitors click on your ads. Analytics records the amount of times visitors come to your website and what they do while they are there and when they leave.

An Adwords click is a very basic action on behalf of your visitor and is recorded by Adwords servers. It’s a simple metric. Analytics sessions are much more sophisticated and include several layers of data.

Adwords Click = Click >> Metric Recorded

Analytics Session = Pageviews, events, social triggers, multiple domains etc >> Metrics Recorded

So you can see, with an Analytics session there are multiple touch points for the user and Analytics to record. With Adwords it’s simple, it’s only one click.

Solution A- Put very simply; You must understand the difference between Adwords Clicks and Analytics Sessions. One of the key things to note is, Adwords Click/Analytics Session Ratio can be affected in a number of various ways.

Sessions in Analytics may not be recorded due to server latency, redirects, users clearing their browser cache etc.

Check out this article for more on discrepancies between Adwords and Analytics data. Here’s another article that can assist you checking Clicks Vs Sessions data.

Error #13 – eCommerce Data Duplicated in Reports

This error is a total disaster for accuracy of reporting if not identified early. Imagine having a bunch of transactions duplicated in your Google Analytics reports every day for a month?

Not good! And hey, guess what…you can’t reverse it. So getting it right first time is a must.

What generally happens behind duplication of transactions is that a customer refreshes a thank you page or receipt page and sends the same data to Google a second or multiple times.

I understand that Google has the ability to filter out duplicate data in a single session, but if that data is resent a week later when a customer revisits the same page via a bookmark, that can create a problem.

Solution A – Set up a report to catch duplicate transactions. Once you have enables eCommerce in your Property, you can head over to; Property >> View >> Customization >> New Custom Report and set up a report to catch duplications. You should do this at the very least.

Solution B - You can’t stop a visitor hitting the back button or revisiting a page in another session but you can seek to find these and filter them out. Jon Meck on a post over at Lunametrics recommends a couple of solutions and goes into great detail on how to avoid this scenario.

  1. Use of a transaction ID – Cookies can record all kinds of user data but can be deleted or updated and you lose 100% certainty.
  2. Use of a time stamp – A time stamp allows you to see when the page was sent to Google Analytics.
  3. Use server side code – I’m not a server dude so I’m not going to attempt detail, but as I understand it, you can filter duplications out via the back end of your site. See your local friendly developer for advice on this.

Check out Jon Meck’s post for further details on setting this up.

Error #14 – You’ve Only One Property For All Domains In Your eCommerce Setup

If you have multiple websites, subdomains, third party shopping cart etc you’re gonna need to set up a property for each website… that’s if you want to segment the data correctly.

Setting up each site with it’s own property under a single account allows you view data for that property (website) in isolation, and means you don’t need to add a bunch of filters to an “all websites combined” data set to do so.

If you’ve got one property for all sites then adding filters to the data in order to view individual sites may get messy for you. This is where mistakes are made, and remember- GA can’t reverse filters retrospectively.

Solution – Set up an account for your customer (or you). In that, set up a property for each website in the process from first engagement through to final purchase. Then, set up a property for the entire bunch of websites.

This way you get to see traffic for each site separately and all sites together. Don’t go for one property for all sites with filters!

Here’s a good article explaining the process.

Error #15 – Adwords CPC Data Is Not Being Collected By Analytics

A common issue that arises in Analytics reports is where Cost Per Click (CPC) metrics are not collected. This issue is related to Adwords/Analytics linked accounts and more specifically refers to a situation where redirects are set up in an Adwords process.

When Adwords is linked to Analytics, it automatically adds tracking parameters like this one to your campaigns using auto-tagging. (Adwords >> Home >> Settings (Cog icon) >> Account Settings >> Preferences >> Auto Tagging >> Tracking (set to “Yes”).

Here’s what the parameter extension looks like:

?gclid=1234-abcd

Google says it’s set automatically when you link accounts but mine was not, so go into your Adwords account as shown above and check it.

Solution – Now if you’ve gone and set up redirects from your landing page to another webpage on another domain for example, then it’s possible you’ll lose that trigger. The tracking code on the advert landing page needs time to trigger in GA, so setting a delay before the redirect occurs is good practice and should solve your issue here.

Here’s an article that might assist you further.

Error #16 – Analytics Sessions Coming From Inactive Adwords Campaigns

There are a few situations where deleted or otherwise inactive Adwords campaign clicks may show up in Analytics reports.

New Sessions in Analytics can continue to show for a given Adwords campaign whether the Adwords campaign is completed or not, throwing out your analysis of data and causing inaccuracy.

Example:

When Auto-Tagging is enabled in Adwords it adds a specific parameter to the destination URL (as explained above in Error #15). If a user who clicked on your advert then grabs the URL with the parameter and shares it with another person, the second person will trigger another session. Even if the advert is no longer running, it will show up in reports.

Another Example:

Visitors to your site who clear their browser cache regularly may show in Analytics as a new session. This happens when the user bookmarks your Adwords landing page and revisits the page later, after the campaign has finished.

Solution – You can try Segmenting your data between New and Returning visitors, however it may not be totally successful. There are a few holes in the Adwords/Analytics linking bucket and it boil down to being unable to fully control what a visitor does with a link after visiting your site.

If you guys have any better suggestion of how to handle this please comment below.

Error #17 – Adwords Data Missing From Analytics Reports

The most likely scenario here is that you don’t have your Adwords destination URLs tagged and it’s easily sorted. I’m stating the obvious now for many, however, if your Adwords landing pages and other destination URLs are not tagged either manually or automatically, then hey presto! no data in your reports.

Solution A – Enabling auto-tagging in Adwords allows Analytics bring in Adwords data automatically. Having this functionality enabled allows you to see what your visitors do after they click on your adverts.

To check if auto-tagging is enabled in your Adwords account go to: Adwords >> Home >> Settings (Cog icon) >> Account Settings >> Preferences >> Auto Tagging >> Tracking (set to “Yes”).

Solution B – Manual tagging is a real pain. It’s so time consuming and has real chances of you entering the same parameters twice to different campaign URLs, or mis-typing a parameter, but there are circumstances when you may need to do it, such as if your server rejects URL parameters and returns 404 errors.

Find out more about Manual Tagging here.

Error #18 – Adwords Campaigns Returning 404 Errors

404 errors are not cool. If I arrive at a 404 page after clicking a link I’m generally very disappointed and a bit annoyed that the juicy piece of info I was about to land on is not there. It leaves a sour taste.

When 404s show up in your Analytics Data it’s just a downright nuisance to say the least. This can happen for a number of reasons including not pasting a link properly into an Adwords campaign, however, you should be aware that some server environments don’t allow the URL extension parameters like Analytics uses to identify your user. In this case you’ll get a 404.

Solution – Check if your site can work with auto-tagging with Chrome Developer Tools. You’ll find all the instructions you need to check if auto-tagging works on your site right here. If it does not, get in touch with your server host to enable it. Failing that set up manual tagging.

I’m not a server guy, so if any of you have suggestion how to rectify server non-recognition of Analytics URL parameters please let me know in the comments.

Filter Errors

Error #19 – Filters In A Given “View” Not Working

You’ve set up a new “Property” and the associated All Website Data “View” (automatically created for you when you create a new Property) in your Analytics Account and have decided on some filtering you want to apply to your data set.

You go ahead and apply a Filter and wait patiently for your filtered data to show in reports. 24 hours later, nothing. 48 hours later, nothing still. Whatever the reason for the problem, your data for that View (from the time it was created) is not recoverable, and in fact, you’ve actually made a double boob.

  1. You didn’t set up a “Test View” for applying new Filters
  2. You didn’t verify your new Filter before applying it.

Solution - This is a Belt-and-Braces approach to protecting your data from dodgy Filters.

  1. First, set up a “Test View” in your “Property”. Test Views allow you see the effects of new Filters before you apply them to live working Views. Once you apply a Filter to a View, the data that is returned to that Property cannot be retrospectively adjusted. Once it’s done it’s done, so before you apply that new Filter see step #2.
  2. Verify your new Filter before applying to your “Test View”. Filter Verification allows you to see the effects of your new Filter on Analytics Data before it’s activated.

Filter verification works by applying your filter to a cross section of your existing data, 7 days data as I understand it. This way, you can see if your new Filter works, but it’s not a cast iron guarantee. That’s why you need a “Test View”.

Filters also, take as much as 24 hours to take effect according to Google, so testing first lets you see immediately the effect.

Here’s how to Verify a Filter

Go to: Google Analytics >> Admin >> Account >> Property >> View >> Filters >> Create a New Filter >> hit “Verify This Filter”

IMG019

Here’s a good article that covers Filter Verification.

Note: At the time of this article Google does not provide support for previews for advanced filters and location-based filters (e.g. IP address, Country). tut tut….

Error #20 – Too Many Include/Exclude Filters

When you set up a Property in Analytics, it is automatically assigned a View called All Website Data. Don’t edit this view.

Create a new View by going to; Account >> Property >> View >> Create New View.

Once you set up your new View, you can add Filters.

One of the key things to remember when setting up Filters is that Analytics will, or will not, return data according to the Filter you set.

In other words if you set an Include-Filter, Analytics will return data according to that Filter. If you set up an Exclude-Filter, Analytics will not return data according to that filter. Comprendé?

Here’s what Google has to say about it.

Too many Filters

Too many Filters will banjo your reporting. I’ll not get into the multitude of scenarios here, suffice to say that if you apply too many Filters to a View, then the View will be made redundant. The biggest problem with filtering data is you can not reverse it retrospectively.

Solution - All Analytics data sent to a given Property will be visible in all “unfiltered” Views created. The correct procedure then, is to add more Views with a only a small number of Filters as required. This way your data is not over filtered to the point of it being useless.

Example:

You have a number of websites that span Worldwide. You set a Property up for your European site. You might then add a View to allow only traffic from Spain and associated Filters for “Store location”, and another View to allow traffic from Germany and associated Filters for “Store location”.

Find out more about Filters here.

Error #21 – The Order Of Filter Is Incorrect

I’ll say it right off the bat; Filter order counts. The order in which you set up your filters effects the final data output.

The trouble with setting up too many sequential filters is that once the first Filter triggers, Analytics delivers only data that satisfies that Filter, so there’s only a refined dataset to work with going forward.

Example:

You have an online business and you set up a Filter in a View data from “Facebook”. Then you set up a second filter from “Twitter”. The problem is that Analytics filters out everything except “Facebook” according to the first filter, so when the second Filter activates there’s no “Twitter” data to filter through to. Comprendé?

Solution – Set up a combined Filter to retrieve “Facebook & Twitter” then a second Filter to retrieve “Facebook” or “Twitter” only.

IMG021

Note: Did you know you could reorder the sequence that your Filters follow?

Go to: Google Analytics >> Admin >> Account >> Property >> View >>Filters >> Assign Filter Order, to edit the Filter order sequence.

IMG021a

Here’s an article that may help you further with Filter order.

Try verifying your filter before you apply to a view.

Reporting Errors

Error #22 – Raw Data Missing From Reports

What I mean by Raw Data here is basically the data that is returned by Analytics in the default View “All Website Data”, after you initially set up a new Property.

This data View is your gold and should never be filtered or edited in any way. This data View is the fallback when you need to understand the relationship between a smaller filtered data set and your entire data set View.

It is akin to taking a panoramic view of the landscape to gauge the accuracy of your direction, versus taking a more focused view of the ground under you feet.

DO NOT ALTER “All Website Data” VIEW!

Did I say that too loud?…..

If you have happened to modify the “All Website Data” View and have no other “All Website Data” for the same website in another “Property” then you will not be able to modify the data already returned by analytics for that “Property”. Analytics can not be applied retrospectively to data already filtered.

Yes I’m afraid you’ve bummed out.

Here’s a resource that will help you better understand “Views” and how to set them up.

Here’s an article by the world famous Lars Lofgren on Raw Data Profiles in Analytics.

Error #23 – Duplicates Of The Same Page In Analytics Reports

A real thorn in the side of the data analyst is the appearance of duplicated data in reports. Once it appears there’s no reversing it, so what you can do is prevent it from reoccurring.

Example:

A visitor to your website manually types in your website URL and includes uppercase characters instead of lowercase – easy to do right? They will in most cases be brought to the same page but Analytics will record the URI (URI is the extension on the end of your domain URL that differentiates pages on your website) as it appears in the users browser.

So you get something like this in your reports:

/fruitveg/fruit/Apples

/fruitveg/fruit/apples

/fruitveg/fruit/APPLES

Each URI case variation, creates a new line in Analytics reports. Thankfully there is a way of getting around this.

Solution – Create a “Custom Filter” that will force all URL to lowercase. Here’s how you do it:

Go to: Google Analytics >> Admin >> Account >> Property >> View >>Filters >> New Filter.

Next select: Create Filter >> Filter Name “Force Lowercase” >> Filter Type “Custom” select “Lowercase” >> Filter Field “Request URI” >> Hit “Save”

You will have the option to verify your Filter before you hit save and I would recommend you do this.

Error #24 – Internal Traffic Showing In Reports

If you are just getting started with Analytics then there is a good chance that you have not considered this common oversight.

When it comes to analyzing traffic to your site, you don’t want your organization’s activity on the site included. Also to consider is any other third party such as web design company, or marketing consultant etc that is spending time on the organization’s website.

These guys and girls need to be filtered from the data gathered or you will have data that will be rendered pretty much useless in my opinion.

Solution A – The first solution I’ll offer is this Google Browser Add-on. I’d suggest that this may work fine for a small organization with a couple of people, but for larger businesses one of the other solutions will be more suitable.

When you download and install the Add-on in your browser it instructs the Analytics JavaScript to stop information going to analytics servers. It works with ga.js, analytics.js and dc.js version of Analytics JavaScript. Find out more about the Addon here.

If you have a medium or large organization then this will not be a runner. Imagine having to install the Add-on on all those machines! Forget it, it’s not practical.

With this Add-on you are relying on your browser to continually play ball and that may not be the case where browser updates take place, so best to use Chrome with this Add-on if you are going to use it at all.

Solution B – Set up a Custom Filter to exclude IP address or range of IP addresses. A practical and reliable solution me thinks.

Here’s how to do it for a single IP address:

Go to: Google Analytics >> Admin >> Account >> Property >> View >>Filters >> New Filter.

Then do this:

Here’s how to do it for a range of IP addresses:

Go to: Google Analytics >> Admin >> Account >> Property >> View >>Filters >> New Filter.

Add your filter: Select “Create New Filter” Radio Button >> Name your filter >> Select “Custom” >> Select “Exclude” radio button >> Select “IP Address” or “IP Address Range” as Filter field >> Enter Field Pattern according to “Regular Expressions” rules >> Hit “Save”

Note: See this article on “Regular Expressions”.

See this resource for more on excluding internal traffic from reports.

Error #25 – Self Referrals Showing In Reports

A Self Referral is where your own website domain shows up in reports. More specifically in Reporting >> Acquisition >> All Traffic >> Referrals Report.

There are many possible causes for Self Referrals and in some cases where you have multiple domains and sub-domains a small degree of self referrals may be expected.

Example:

If you have set up your Analytics account structure with a single Property for multiple domains and subdomains then you’re gonna have self referrals. To get around this you need to set up filters to ignore these.

Solution – Check the Referrals Exclusions and if none are set up then set them up.

Go to: Google Analytics >> Admin >> Account >> Property >> Tracking Info >> Referral Exclusion List. Add domains you wish to exclude from your traffic reports.

Here’s a comprehensive article from Google on dealing with Self Referral issues.

Error #26 – Redundant Views Alerts

Analytics Diagnostic Notifications are returning a “Redundant Views” message. This generally means that you have Views set up in your Property that are similar or the same.

This can happen if you’ve copied a view that you wanted to modify and didn’t, or possibly one of your team has set up a similar View. Views that are the same should be deleted so as to keep your data clean and as readable as possible. This is just simply good practice and avoids conflicts in reports.

Notifications appear in the top right hand corner of your Analytics Dashboard. The icon looks like this.

Solution – Delete the duplicate View.

Go to: Google Analytics >> Admin >> Account >> Property >> View (that you want to delete) >> View Settings >> Delete View

Error #27 – Traffic Reports Inflated By Spam & Other Bots

Robots can inflate and distort your real traffic numbers, so it’s important to know how to filter this traffic out. Google made some changes last year which allow filtering known bots out of your traffic reports.

Here’s their post on G+ announcing it last July.

It’s funny how product owners always dress things up to sound super cool isn’t it? The reality is it won’t stop spam bots or unknown search engine bots from inflating your traffic. There are ways however of refining your data to see where spikes come from.

Dave Buesing does a nice job of going through the process of filtering spam from your traffic. Check out his article here.

To activate the bot filtering in your Analytics Dashboard do this:

Go to: Google Analytics >> Admin >> Account >> Property >> View >> View Settings >> Bot Filtering (tick the box).

Error #28 – Site Search Not Showing In Reports

Site Search Reports are a great way to see what people are actively searching your site for. It applies to your site if you have a “Search Bar” for visitors to explore your content.

If you have not selected to activate this function then you won’t get any results in your report.

Go to: Google Analytics >> Admin >> Account >> Property >> View >> View Settings >> Site Search Tracking (turn it on, set the query parameter, tick the “strip query parameters” box)

Finding the “search query parameter” for your site is simple enough to do, but might be a bit of a challenge for non-techies. There are a couple of resources already available to help you complete this setting so I’m not going to repeat it here.

Here’s an article from Google that will assist you.

Here’s an article from Search Engine Watch and another from LunaMetrics that are better still.

Error #29 – Website Pages Missing From Analytics Reports

The main and basic reason that your web pages are missing form Analytics Reports is that they are missing the code snippet. However there can be a number of reasons why you are missing the snippet from pages. Here’s one reason related to using WordPress (and may be applicable for similar).

Example:

Your site is built on WordPress and your theme has a facility for you to add the Google Analytics Code. You’ve a third party plugin that delivers your landing pages and those landing pages are not showing up in your analytics reports.

The trouble with third party applications is that you can not guarantee that they will see the code snippet that you’ve added to your theme. Plugins such as Analytics by Yoast are much more reliable at rolling out your script across the entire site, but still there’s no cast iron guarantee.

Another likely cause is that your landing pages are on another domain and you’ve not added Analytics parameters to those domains. See Error #3 “Cross Domain Errors”.

Solution A- Check the Diagnostics already built into your Analytics Dashboard. This scans your site regularly and delivers issue notifications via the “notification bell” icon in the top right hand corner of your dashboard.

(Users with edit permissions will only have access to this notification).

Solution BVerify your setup with these tools.

Check your Real Time Reports which will help you see real time data. If you can not see any data here it may mean you’ve just got not traffic! but it may also mean your code is not installed properly.

Check the Tracking Status in your “Property”. You’ll be able to see if it’s working correctly or install the Google Analytics Debugger for Chrome in your browser. This debugging tool is probably not the perfect solution for more advanced installations of Google Analytics.

Note: If you are using the Tag Manager method of deploying Analytics then you’ll have access to comprehensive notifications on it Dashboard.

Conclusion

There’s no doubting it, Google Analytics is a valuable tool allowing business people better understand their customers’ and site visitors’ interactions.

But, identifying and rectifying errors when they occur, is not a simple black and white process. Every Google Analytics deployment is unique and it can be time consuming and difficult to resolve issues especially where a business process is complex.

One thing is certain, whether you are a business owner directly employing Google Analytics or a developer working on client sites, you’re gonna have some serious learning to do.

And although the above may well assist you in solving some common Google Analytics Data Errors, it is certainly not a silver bullet.

Doing Your Research

You’ve simply got to “know” Google Analytics inside-out in order to make it work as seamlessly as possible and return the data results you need to make informed business decisions.

Be careful also when searching online for answers, a lot of the articles online on the first couple of pages in Google are out dated by a couple of years so do a date filtered search.

I’m not suggesting you won’t find an answer for your problem, but Google Analytics is updated regularly and what you are reading may not be relevant any longer.

Q. Have you guys seen these errors arise on your installations and what steps have you taken to resolve?

Q. What other data errors have you seen come up and how did you go about solving them?

I’d love to hear your experiences, let us know in the comments below.

About the Author: Larry G. Maguire is a Businessman, Blogger, Digital Marketing & Analytics Consultant, and general all round Technology Nerd. He has been in business since 2001 and specialises in assisting businesses clarify and roll out an effective Digital Marketing Plan. Find out how Larry can help you make Digital Marketing easy. Follow Larry on Twitter and read more at Larry’s Blog.

Kalzumeus Podcast Episode 11: Bootstrapping vs. Raising Money

Keith and I are joined by special guest Jay Winder, CEO of MakeLeaps, in this 11th episode of the podcast.  We talk a bit about doing business in Japan, raising money vs. bootstrapping as a SaaS company, how AngelList is going to eat the world, and the usual eclectic mix of topics.

[Patrick notes: The transcript below has my commentary inserted like this, as usual.]

What you’ll learn in this podcast:

  • Why you should negotiate from a position of strength and abundance.
  • How to raise a round of funding through AngelList while not being in Silicon Valley.
  • Why AngelList Syndicates are the future of seed stage fundraising.
  • How to manage relations with investors when you have lots of them.
  • How running a bootstrapped SaaS company is different than one which has raised early investment rounds.
  • How the SaaS market is different in Japan.
  • A bit about Jason’s new project, Sales for Geeks.

A brief announcement: Keith and his co-founded Rachel launched a new product recently called Segmetrics.  It’s Baremetrics, for InfusionSoft — gives you actionable, one-look insight into which of your InfusionSoft segments (e.g. traffic sources) are producing results for your business.  If that sounds relevant, make with the clicky-clicky.

Podcast: Customer Onboarding

MP3 Download (~60 minutes, ~59.3 MB) : Right-click here and click Save As.

Podcast format: either subscribe to http://www.kalzumeus.com/category/podcasts/feed in your podcast reader of choice or you can search for Kalzumeus Podcast in the iTunes Store.

Transcript: Bootstrapping vs. Raising Money

Patrick McKenzie:  Hello, everybody. Welcome to the 11th episode of the Kalzumeus podcast. I’m Patrick McKenzie, here with my noted co‑host, Keith Perhac and our good friend, Jay Winder as CEO of MakeLeaps here in Tokyo.

Keith Perhac:  I’m Keith. Welcome to the 11th episode. I can’t believe that we got this out, literally one week after our last episode.

Patrick:  This is downright scary.

Keith:  This is scary.

Patrick:  It’s almost like we have an actual podcast.

Keith:  I don’t think so. All right. Cool. Welcome, Jay.

Jay Winder:  Thank you. Hello. I appreciate the welcome. I was looking at you guys doing a podcast behind a thick Plexiglas window and I think, “Geez, that looks really warm and cozy inside that little podcast igloo”, so thank you very much for inviting me in. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Patrick:  We’re happy to have you from outside in the cold.

Jay:  Well, we have an air‑conditioner right here.

Keith:  Hopefully you guys cannot hear, otherwise our editor is going to be very, very mad at us.

Patrick:  Very, very angry at us.

Keith:  In fact…

Jay:  Should we turn it off?

Patrick:  We were testing a little bit ago and it sounded OK.

Keith:  You couldn’t hear it.

Patrick:  Alright, so we’ll be talking about a few different things this time. Jay has a SaaS business called MakeLeaps. Why don’t you just give us a little bit of background on what that is for people to have some context, and then we’ll talk about recent MakeLeaps adventures.

Jay:  The best and shortest way to describe MakeLeaps would be a FreshBooks for Japan. It’s essentially an online platform that helps Japanese freelancers and businesses more easily create and send their invoices, whereas right now pretty much everybody in Japan uses Excel and they do it all manually, which is crazy, and we’re on a mission to fix that.

Patrick:  As of a couple months ago, you guys are funded out of a few Silicon Valley movers and shakers. You want to tell us a little bit about how that came to pass?

Jay:  Sure. Around one year ago, I had the good fortune to meet Naval from AngelList, who’s a good friend of my friend. The first time I met Naval, he asked me a series of questions about MakeLeaps because he’s interested in the Japanese startup ecosystem. I answered all of those questions and at the end of that conversation, he very generously offered to be an advisor, which was very nice.

We thanked him for that and then the next time he came to Tokyo, I got a chance to see him again. He said, “What’s happening with MakeLeaps? Where’s everything going?” I said, “Oh, it’s great. We’ve got this traction and we just hired this guy and we’ve got this partnership and this deal and blah‑blah‑blah.”

He looked at me and said, “Can I ask you a few more questions about MakeLeaps?”

I said, “Sure, of course.” For about 30 minutes, he asked me a series of about 20 rapid‑fire questions, which I found very fun. They were all on point and interesting, so I responded.

Then at the end of that conversation, he said, “Wow. That all sounds pretty interesting. If you would be open to it, I would really be interested to invest in MakeLeaps.”

Up until that point, taking funding and investment had been an amorphous idea, we’d read about it in TechCrunch, but actually having an offer from one of the top most well‑known people in Silicon valley, offered to invest in MakeLeaps, kind of like Michael Jordan saying, “Hey, would you like a game of basketball?” It’d be crazy to say no, even if you like basketball a tiny little bit.

That began a process where we started thinking deeply, myself and my co‑founder, Paul. What do we want to do with MakeLeaps? How do we want to manage it? Do we want to take on investors?

That was quite a complex discussion we had over quite a long time. The more that we thought about it, we realized, “Well, if we really want to build a big important meaningful business, it’s going to affect a lot of people in a meaningful way, funding is going to be critical” is what we ended up realising.

I realized that, the Bootstrapper method is absolutely legitimate, and we did that for four years, so, I am not detracting from that at all. That’s a great way to go, but we had a situation where we could get some well‑known people onboard our team at MakeLeaps.

We decided that, it would be a great idea. We went ahead and did the funding round of $750,000 that closed a few short months ago.

Patrick:  Some of the participants for that, were Naval, Dave McClure from 500 Startups, Hiten Shah, a few others. It’s funny, these days, there’s a mechanism called a “Syndicate” on AngelList, which might be new to some of you who are listening to this.

Typically, in the days of yore, three years ago, a funding round for seed stage investment like this would be done by some of the collection between a 5 and 10, or 5 and 20 angels. Typically the minimum for an angel investment is about $25,000, below which, it wasn’t really worth everyone’s time in putting the deal together. Between $25,000 and then, say $100,000 on the high‑end, you would put together $250,000 to $500,000 like that.

One of the emerging models on AngelList is that, various smaller angels who don’t want to do deal flow management for themselves, which means they don’t want to go out in the world finding people who are like Jay, convince them that they should be allowed to invest in the company.

They want to outsource the deal flow management to somebody else, outsource a lot of the vetting of the deal to somebody else that they trust, and be able to invest some money in the startups that person invests in.

They can follow them on AngelList, in a way that is not like following somebody on Twitter. They make an informal commitment to invest in startups that the syndicate lead invests in. Collectively, this is called a syndicate, and then, some magic happens. I am not sure what the magic is, but my understanding is that AngelList makes some sort of vehicle where the syndicate can each put money into the vehicle, or is it AngelList just brokers the arrangement and the angel invests directly in your company?

Jay:  The way that it works in practice is there’s a person that has a syndicate, like you say. There’s maybe anywhere between 2 to 100 people that are following a syndicate. Then the syndicate lead will say something like, “OK, guys. I’m going to make an investment into this company. Here’s what it looks like.” At which point, depending on Angel List settings, and I’m not sure about this, it’s either opt‑in or opt‑out.

If people want to opt into the deal, they can say, “Yep. We agree with this deal. It looks great. I’m in,” or if they want to opt out, they can say, “You know what? I’m not interested in this space” or something like that, they can opt out. With that in mind, it’s actually kind of interesting. You don’t actually know, if you’re leading a syndicate, the amount of investment money that you can get until you actually decide to lead a syndicate investment and see how many people join.

Any person that’s running a syndicate who’s fairly well known that says, “OK, we trust these guys and we want to invest into them,” that’s a very strong signal. As Patrick said, if you’ve got some spare cash sitting around from Google stock share sales or something like that, you can say, “I’ll throw in behind all these people.”

Then what actually happens is if you’re an entrepreneur on the other side, you perhaps might start to trend on Angel List. Then you start get a lot of attention and people start to follow you and people might start to say, “Hey. Can we hop on the phone for a call?” at which point you lose a tremendous amount of sleep if you’re living in the Tokyo time zone…

[laughter]

Jay:  …because they all want to call either very late at night or super‑early in the morning. You’re a bit of a zombie for a little while. Hopefully, you can close enough deals on the phone or you can get enough people interested in investing that you’re ready to go. You can pull together your funding round.

We got very lucky. We set out to raise $400,000 and in the end we ended up almost double oversubscribed at $750,000, which would not have been possible without AngelList, especially because we’re trying to do this remotely. There are already some difficulties, where somebody can’t drive from Sand Hill or wherever they happen to be living in San Francisco to come visit you guys in Japan.

That’s a little bit difficult, so there’s a little bit of extra, I would say, latitude that we have to spend a bit of extra time and effort in trying to assure people that we’re good people. Sure, we’re doing this in a foreign market, but it’s B2B SaaS. It all looks similar. The numbers are similar. The market is huge and exciting and all the rest of it. You close a syndicate deal and then what happens is there is a single line on the cap sheet in respect of that deal.

All the angels invest into a holding company and that holding company actually makes the investment into your company. You get a single wire and a single name on the cap table and that’s it. You’re done. You don’t have to chase people to sign agreements or do any of that kind of stuff. All of that is done and fully managed by AngelList, which makes having 60 investors a cakewalk.

It’s simple. All of a sudden, you get a big wire of cash and a single entry in your cap table and that’s it. You’re completely done. That was transformative for us. Moving forward it’s not going to make sense to raise money using something other than AngelList. It just makes it so easy and straightforward.

Keith:  That’s a glowing recommendation if I ever heard one.

Jay:  Yeah, it was great.

Patrick:  This is particularly true for folks who might be raising from smaller angels or angels who don’t have a strategic profile to them. For example, if you’re someone who previously has some successes as an angel or as an entrepreneur and is known to have the capability to open doors, then a startup like MakeLeaps or another startup would be crazy to not jump through any hoop you put in your way to getting a check.

Well, given that it’s a relatively reasonable process. If you require a custom document ‑‑ a custom negotiation of the terms of the agreement, as long as it’s something reasonable, there could be founder time invested into getting a $25,000 check from you.

If, on the other hand, you’re J. Random product manager from Google, you don’t particularly have any successes behind you. Your main capability of contributing to a business is the ability to contribute a check full of a meaningful amount of money, but not a gigantic amount of money, then startups, particularly startups in demand, don’t really have a lot of reasons to spend huge amounts of their time on the phone with you, when they could be spending huge amounts of the time on the phone with either a better‑known angel or with their customers or employees trying to move the business forward.

Moving the amount of pain, the transaction costs of doing business with you down opens up more deals to you, which is probably one of the reasons that AngelList is going to eat large segments of the angel fundraising market, particularly on the low or less‑established end.

Jay:  Absolutely. It’s either “click, click” and you’re done, or “click, click, phone call, send a document, get somebody to sign it. Did they sign it? Oh well, they went on a holiday for three days. Try to call them again, but they’re not around. You need that document to close your deal,” or “Click, click, you’re done.”

It’s very clear that “click, click and you’re done,” the way that AngelList has made this very possible, and simple, and easy, it’s great. I can’t recommend it enough.

Keith:  It’s also easier for the investor, as well, because you don’t have to jump through all the hoops, as well. You don’t have to vet it as well as you would if it was a one‑on‑one.

You have other people. You have that social proof working for that, as well. It’s a lot easier for people now to invest, as well as be invested in.

Patrick:  Right, and we’re not trying to convince anyone out there in podcasting land to become an angel investor because the mathematics of it are exceptionally unfavorable unless you already know what you’re doing and you have lots of money to burn. Be that as it may, even knowing that the underlying math was difficult, the actual mechanics of doing angel investing two to three years ago were a little painful.

I have two very small angel investments, and because there’s actual contractual language involved we have to run it by a lawyer. Let’s say that I spent a high portion of my very small check size on having a lawyer look over four pieces of paper and make sure that I wasn’t giving up the general store in those four pieces of paper.

That wasn’t really something that I wanted to do. It wasn’t something that the startup wanted to do.

It’s like, “OK, we’re both professionals. We both have different bases of IP, which we want to mutually know is not going to cause problems for anybody, so the lawyers will be involved.”

With AngelList, if everyone is using substantially the same paper, which has been vetted by AngelList’s presumably top‑tier, VC, yadda, yadda legal firms in San Francisco, then there’s less legal risk involved with that paperwork.

Jay:  Very true. What’s interesting about the whole process is you can choose the set of documents that you want to use.

If you’re raising, say, $400,000 on AngelList, people will see that as, “OK, they’re raising 400k, they’ve got over 50 percent committed, and they’re using, let’s say, Y Combinator SAFE documents. Oh, OK, that’s a very clear, very easy to understand structure. It all makes sense.”

There are all kinds of different SAFE documents, so you can pick the kind that you want, and say, “OK, here are the base default documents that we’re asking everybody to sign. That makes things easier, as well. When we did our round we had an investor or two say, “Listen, the terms are good, but we’d like this favorable term,” or something like that.

When you’re doing an AngelList syndicate and you’re already almost double overcommitted, it becomes very easy to say, “OK, we appreciate that you’d like to be involved. You want this favorable term, however, we’re already double overcommitted and everyone has signed documents that do not include this favorable term. If you’d really like to be involved we’d love to have you involved, but the documents are the documents.”

It becomes very easy and straightforward to say that. Negotiation becomes very simple because everyone signs the same documents, and away you go.

Patrick:  What Jay’s saying about favorable terms is important. Traditionally in angel investing there is a few axes that the deal can move along.

One is fairly simple, “What’s the price this deal is being done at?” is something, which is fairly uncomplicated, which has not always been true.

You can imagine, using very simplified math, if I’m willing to buy 10 percent of the company for $10,000 that puts the value of the company at $100,000, which is much lower than any company would actually be valued at, but simplified math.

Those two numbers, which sum up the price of deal, are one way to evaluate the deal. There’s other terms that might be involved with exactly how the math works out in the event of an acquisition, or a down round, or various other things in the company, like, say, whether you get liquidation preference.

A liquidation preference is typically in the interest of the investors, not really in the interests of the firm. Certain liquidation preferences are borderline abusive.

Which doesn’t mean that they were never signed.  A few years ago there was not the understanding in the entrepreneur community that a 3X liquidation preference is not a market term.

Also, supply and demand. People were saying, “I will only give you my money if you include a 3X liquidation preference.”

Like Jay said, if you’re oversubscribed and the funding round is happening with or without someone’s particular $25,000 check, you can say, “Look, the term that we’ve negotiated with everyone is,” for the sake of discussion purposes, “a 1X liquidation preference, ” or “no liquidation preference, and that’s kind of the deal. You can choose to do this deal or not do this deal, but we’re not going to negotiate consequential terms like that with you.”

Jay:  The way that we ended up saying it was, “Listen, for us it’s very important to keep good relationships with all of our investors. If they found out later that one investor got preferential terms over everybody else, then that’s kind of a big, serious issue.”

There was a point that I needed to make that was fairly important, and that was the way that we ended up responding to people who asked for preferential terms. “Listen, we’d love to have you involved in this, but we don’t want to make a situation where the other investors feel like they got a bad deal or any one particular person out of 20, 30, 40, 50 people didn’t get that same deal.

“In the interests of keeping good relations between MakeLeaps and all of our investors, we’d really love you to sign the standard documents. That’s very simple, and easy, and then you can be involved, and that’d be great. If that’s difficult for you, completely understand. No problem at all. Please let me know what you’d like to do,” is the way that we handled that.

That was very smooth, and successful, and an easy way to explain what we were doing and why without treading on anyone toes.

Patrick:  This is, incidentally, something which is useful, not just in negotiating investment, but in negotiating all sorts of contracts. It’s something that your vendors will occasionally do to you.

A, if you’re selling, say, SaaS where there is an actual, physical contract in play, and it isn’t the standard contract of adhesion ‑‑ presuming you’re selling on the several thousand dollars of services every year [inaudible 17:35] companies ‑‑ you should probably have a template agreement, which you give to all of your customers.

Your first negotiating position can always be, “Well, our standard offer is…” blah. If they say, “Well, we would really prefer….” some term in there, “…which is more favorable to us than what you have right now,” you can say, “Well, this is the standard thing we offer to all of the customers at the level of service which you’re currently willing to sign for.”

“If you want to upgrade to our super‑duper platinum enterprise thing, we could discuss individualized contractual language with you. But, at the $1,000‑a‑month level of service you’re at, the $2,000‑a‑month level of service, we really encourage the use of our standard terms.”

Maybe you win that deal, maybe you don’t. That’s a negotiating tactic that you can do, which is fairly low‑risk.

Jay:  Exactly. If you’re speaking from a position of strength where you have other customers signed up to that same deal, you don’t need that deal to make your rent payment, or something like that, then it’s very easy to do.

Say, “Listen, here’s the deal that’s available right now. If you can sign it, great, if not, no problem. Best of luck, and hope to run into you again in the future,” is a very strong negotiating position to be taking.

Patrick:  I had this once for Appointment Reminder, where I’m trying to get business associates agreements, a particular type of paperwork, signed between Appointment Reminder and all of our medical customers. Many of them had already signed it, but some of them were waiting on it.

I have gone out to the folks who were still on the not signed state and said, “Look, we have a standard BAA ready. I’ve prepared it for your company. Please sign it immediately.”

Some of them are saying, “Well, we have to run this by process A, process B, and process C.” Most of these are not large accounts.

My position has been, “You have neglected signing this contract for a while, which puts us both in technical violation of some regulations, so this really needs to get done this week, rather than being done after the lawyers get through with it. Our current documents work. We know they work. We’d highly encourage you to sign the correct document.”

Keith:  What I find a lot, especially in consulting, is what you said Jay. It’s talking from a position of confidence, and power, and “OK, I’m going to be able to make my rent this week, do I really need this contract if they’re asking for all this stuff?”

What I’ve really found is that the more concessions you make, the lower your status becomes, the more power the client has, and the more things that they’re going to demand of you. In many cases, not all of them.

I think always working from a position of power, and from a position of, “OK, this is standard. This is the way we do things,” and, like Patrick said, “If you want extra things, it’s going to cost this much for adding that on.”

What a lot of people don’t realize, negotiation is a two‑way street. It’s not someone telling you what you’re going to do. You need to work out what’s beneficial for both of you, so that you’re both on the equal footing.

Patrick:  The magic words for negotiation are “mutually beneficial agreement.”

Keith:  Exactly.

Patrick:  Like Keith was saying, sometimes people who are maybe a little closer to us in mindset hear the word “power” and they get a little bit scared about it. Maybe we could think of it less of it being a power relationship and more about you having a mentality where, “This is one deal out of a universe of many abundant deals that are going to happen over the course of your business career.”

Given that, you do not need this deal to close. You’re in a position to hold out for terms on the deal that make sense to your business and to say, “OK, if the terms of the deal that are being offered right now don’t make sense for the business.” Then we will shake hands, we’ll part as friends, and maybe we’ll do business in the future, but not under terms which don’t make sense for me in the present moment.

Jay:  Of course, the classic negotiating idiom is two people want an orange. One person wants the skin of the orange, and one person wants the inside of the orange.

[Patrick notes: There are many SaaS negotiations like this, where e.g. the buyer sincerely wants the software to be maintained and the SaaS company sincerely wants thousands of dollars, and neither realizes that the other would grant that request in a heartbeat rather than it being a key point of contention.]

Then somebody cuts it in half and says, “OK, you both get half,” where both people could get 100 percent of exactly what they want if they talk about it a bit more, and understand each other’s goals, and what they’re trying to do in trying to divide an orange.

“Just buy two oranges,” is what I think actually listening to that idiom again.

[laughter]

Jay:  From that position, I think it’s always good to understand your negotiating position against somebody else’s, but let’s not get too far into negotiating theory and all that kind of stuff, though it’s interesting.

Patrick:  One thing I want to ask is you’re a Japanese company. You’re completely founded in Japan.

You’ve been running in Japan. You’re towards the Japanese market. Why Silicon Valley for funding?

Jay:  Good question. I suppose the best answer is because Silicon Valley came calling. Naval from Silicon Valley came over, got to know us, met us, found out a lot of information about us, and offered to invest.

From that perspective, we could have gone out and aggressively looked for Japanese angels and done an angel round that way. However, the Japanese angel ecosystem is not one percent of what it is in Silicon Valley.

I recently had a trip to San Francisco and I checked into my Airbnb. I walked outside and literally ran into a MakeLeap investor, completely randomly on the street.

[laughter]

Jay:  I’d only actually met him via video chat. We had two video chats.

He walked past me, and I was like, “Oh, man, I’m pretty sure that’s Tom.” But I was like, “Do I go over and accost him, and say, ‘Hey, do you know who I am?!'”

[laughter]

Jay:  Of course, that’s what I did. I’m Australian. I can’t help it.

I went over, and I said, “Hey, do you know who I am?” and of course he responded as if he was about to be mugged. He took a step back, and I was like, “No, no, no. I’m Jay from MakeLeaps.”

He’s like, “Jay.” I’m like, “Yeah, Tom.” He was like, “Ahh.”

That is the sort of thing that you can experience in Silicon Valley. [Patrick notes: People have come up to me on the street in Silicon Valley and asked “Excuse me — are you patio11?!”  Craziness.] If you walk outside in Tokyo, you will have to throw a lot of rocks before you hit an investor, [laughs] or an angel investor. It’s not so common here.

As Dave McClure says, “Angel investors are the limiting factor to any startup ecosystem,” and I agree with that. The value that you get from an experienced angel investor to give you advice, and capital, and point you in the right direction is really super‑invaluable.

We found that, once we did the syndicate round through AngelList, a lot of people became interested in Japan and the Japanese market, as well they should. Japan is still 15 percent of the entire world’s GDP.

It’s still the third largest economy in the world, full of affluent businesses and consumers. It’s a really exciting space, so people see this opportunity, and it’s rare that a company, especially run by foreigners, is aggressively focusing on focusing on and targeting the Japanese market.

[Patrick notes: I am perennially annoyed when people — inside and outside of our industry — treat Japan like its an also-ran whose time has faded, or are unaccountably surprised when Japan proves to have a lot of money.  One common article in the business press about e.g. iPhone penetration rates could be titled World’s Third Largest Economy Discovered To Contain Money.]

I guess, because of that, we also got a little bit of interest from people who’ve always been interested in Japan and wanted to find a way to get into Japan a bit more. We became that opportunity for them.

Patrick:  The understanding of investing investors, VCs, angels, service providing firms, companies, entrepreneurs, et cetera, our ecosystem is really important because all these things are interconnected.

For example, not only does Japan have fairly few angels who have operating experience in technology companies, it has few enough…Technology companies in the sense that we mean the word technology companies.

There are many tech firms in Japan. Most of them are not SaaS firms. In fact, I would have difficulty naming five Japanese SaaS firms.

Jay:  It’s not a common model in Japan.

Patrick:  Not a common model yet, so there aren’t people who have successful exits at these firms, who then turn into angels and start giving money to the next generation of entrepreneurs. Even though that’s the probably the same generation of the actual people. There’s not the sort of established best practices here for people who can….

There’s understanding in the market in Silicon Valley that a SaaS firm that has a particular metrics ‑‑ “A churn rate of two percent is really, really good amongst most SaaS,” for example. That there are probably on the order of 20,000 people in San Francisco who could tell you that off the top of their head, where in Japan you could probably go to a lot of professional angel investors here and ask them to define churn rate and have them be unable to answer that question.

Jay:  I agree with that. Yes, that’s true.

Patrick:  The three of us all have high hopes for Japan over the next short period and in the long‑run on both having successful exits, having this information percolate through the various channels, both Japanese and Japan‑resident foreigners, and hopefully having the market mature a little bit more here.

Keith:  I’m the only one in the room who doesn’t live in Tokyo.

Jay:  We’re working on that.

Patrick:  We’re working on that.

Jay:  I got one of you guys to come to Tokyo.

[laughter]

Jay:  It’s just a matter of time, Keith.

Keith:  Yeah, I’m number two, right?

[laughter]

Patrick:  It’s true. I’m in Tokyo largely because Jason is here. He and I have been good friends for the last four years.

Keith:  Also, it’s Tokyo, so it does have a lot of benefits over Ogaki

Patrick:  Tokyo is not Tokyo for everybody, although Tokyo is Tokyo for me now, darn it.

[laughter]

Patrick:  Darn it, Jason, you were right.

Jay:  That’s deep. That’s deep, Patrick.

That’s true. I’m so glad you think that.

Keith:  I think you need another drink.

[laughter]

Keith:  I did want to ask, me being not in Tokyo, not as much in the scene, when I think of a Japanese startup, what I’m really thinking of, and what I see a lot of, are Japanese megacorps who have that SaaS division.  [Patrick notes: Many Japanese companies have an empire-building complex.  In the US, Salesforce has essentially one product.  Dropbox has essentially one product.  Basecamp has essentially one product.  Their Japanese analogues own domain registrars, web development agencies, and — in many cases — restaurants or hotels.  I kid you not.]

I’m thinking of a lot of companies that…like Recruit. Recruit has a ton of SaaS companies, divisions.

Jay:  “Intra‑preneurs.”

Keith:  Exactly, and they’re very different than a bootstrap or a SaaS that’s going to be invested in because they’re owned by a giant, multibillion dollar company, right?

Jay:  Right.

Keith:  It really changes the landscape, so there are fewer investors. Companies do not buy SaaS here like they do in the States.

Jay:  Yes, there’s definitely a lot less exits and acquisitions in Tokyo, much to the chagrin of all of the angel investors, especially foreign angel investors.

You will see a company like Recruit say, “OK, we’ve identified a need in this market. Let us build a solution for that market, rather than acquire the established current leader of that market that’s going really, really well.

“Then we’ll put $20 million behind their marketing campaign and, boom, now we’re number two,” or three, or one, depending on the market and the company, which is not great. Then again, you don’t necessarily want to look towards giant companies in Japan to really support the startup ecosystem.

Keith:  Not at all.

Jay:  It’s not a good strategy.

Keith:  I work with a lot of marketing companies, especially in [inaudible 28:35] area. For the last four years, I’ve been really pushing for A/B testing, and analytic testing, and stuff for marketing tools in Japan.

I was talking to, literally, the largest digital marketing firm in Japan. I was like, “Yeah, you know they have all these great tools, Visual Website Optimizer, Optimizely, all these things, Crazy Egg, that you can use to test.”

They’re like, “Yeah, we know. We’re really pushing hard to create our own platform to help our customers.’

I’m like, “Why don’t you just help your customers by…”

Jay:  “Introducing a tremendously successful thing that already works right now?”

Keith:  Yeah, it’s like, “Why do you want to build…?” I understand why they want to build the competition, but it’s like, “You could be helping them now and build that on the side.”

It’s like, “We’re not going to touch A/B testing, we’re not going to touch marketing, until we build this tool.”

It’s still not built. That’s four years ago.

Jay:  Sure, of course. Of course, yeah.

Keith:  That’s what happens, so now they’re late to market, and…

Jay:  Of course. People underestimate complexity in software endemically, especially in Japan. It’s like, “Oh, it’s software. Just somebody build it. Easy, done.”

Especially for invoicing. A lot of people will have their own solutions, or a lot of people will be considering, “OK, do we go with MakeLeaps or do we build our own solution?”

[Patrick notes: The build-versus-buy decision for anything at a SaaS company which isn’t something you actually sell should come down to “Can I do this before lunch?”  If yes, build.  If not, buy or adopt OSS.]

The way that I look at this is very similar to, let’s say, an infrastructure question where somebody says, “OK, well, Gmail looks pretty good with your 500 of the most qualified engineers on planet Earth 100 percent focused on this 24 hours a day, but I really want to be able to control my own infrastructure.”

It’s like, “OK, so what would you like to do?” It’s like, “Well, instead of using an established platform run by literally the smartest people on Earth, that are qualified to do this exact kind of thing, I want my own server.”

It’s like, “Great, so when there’s a problem at 2:00 AM, 500 of the smartest people on Earth are not focused on your problem.”

[laughter]

Jay:  “They’re eating free lunch because today’s Mexican day at the Googleplex. That’s great for them, but you’re screwed because your email server’s offline for four days and your business stops. It makes obvious sense to start…”

Keith:  Japan has a huge thing about “not built here.” The thing is, we have a ton of smart people, and we have a ton of smart people who love solving hard problems.

They love solving hard problems, and that’s not a bad thing at all. It’s a great thing, especially for new IT companies in Japan.

The problem is that a lot of people would rather be solving those problems than using a solution off the shelf that solves the issue, that solves the business need, right?

Jay:  Right.

Patrick:  I find, in dealing with larger Japanese companies, that when they’ve identified an intrapreneur and said that, “OK, this person has put in 20 years at the company, they’re a known quantity. We’re going to stake a few million dollars of the budget to build a competitor to Optimizely or Visual Website Optimizer.”

They don’t think of what Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer were when they started, something put together by one person or a very small team, thrown together in six weeks, and then exposed to the market for feedback.

They think, “No, no. We’re going to try to escape to where they are today,” and with several tens of person‑years of engineering effort involved.

“OK, well, if it takes 50 person‑years of engineering effort to get to where this is today, that’s all right. We will hire 25 engineers, and we’re going to put them on a project for two years.

“In two years from now, we will be where Optimizely is in 2015.

Jay: “We will release our unmarketable product.”

[laughter]

Patrick:  Aspirationally in 2017, they’ll be almost where Optimizely is in 2015 as experienced by someone who doesn’t really understand the product because they never actually used it in anger.

Keith:  I think a lot of people are listening right now are like, “Oh, no. It’s not as bad as you say.” I have had literary three Japanese clients last year that this was exactly their problem. They would not MVP it. The contract was for an MVP. We worked out a thing.

It’s like, “Take this to your client. Start selling it and then we’ll start building the next one.”

They’re like, “No. No. We have to have all the features. It has to be complete. It has to have the bells and whistles, invoicing and all this stuff before we even show it to our potential customers.”

Jay:  Here’s an interesting theory on this that I heard recently which I kind of agreed with and I think it’s fascinating.  Typically, Japanese companies and people approach software the same way as they have successfully in the past approached hardware.

Keith:  We’re a hardware country.

Jay:  Exactly. You can’t show someone hardware that’s 20 percent complete because that’s zero percent complete. Hardware is binary. It works or it does not work for its intended purpose. People have tried to apply that same idea to software and it doesn’t work in 2015 now. I almost said ’14 but it’s ’15 now. It makes sense to roll out something that works to fulfill the purpose that it’s built for and then you iterate from there just like software.

Keith:  There are two comments I want to make. The first one is that there’s this great Dilbert cartoon where the boss is saying, “Measure twice, cut once.” Dilbert’s response, “Well, when thinking measured is infinite and the cost of cutting is zero, it makes more sense to measure once, cut once and then iterate quickly.” It doesn’t work with hardware.

I keep telling this to all my American friends or my western friends in general. They’re like, “Oh, Japanese IT, software must be so amazing.” I’m like, “No, it’s not.”

You think Japan, you think electronics. That’s true. Electronics are not software. Electronics are hardware. You look at all the hardware, all the electronics that come out of Japan that have been amazing and they’re all hardware based, the Walkman, the CD, the CD‑ROM…

[crosstalk]

Jay:  …PlayStation.

Keith:  PlayStation. Oh, my god. PlayStation.

[laughter]

Keith:  Word processors, the toilets. It’s all hardware.

Jay:  Magic toilet. Oh, god. I love my toilet.

[laughter]

Keith:  It’s all hardware.

Jay:  That’s very true.

Keith:  The software in Japan…You look even at a simple website, it’s horrible.

Patrick:  With exceptions for maybe embedded programming and video games.

Keith:  That’s about it. This is interesting. We built an OS back in, I think, ’85, I want to say, that is the kernel level OS for pretty much 90 percent of ATMs in the world, but it’s so low level. There’s no user interface. There’s no nothing. It’s built on top of…We built tools. We’ve built hardware. We built things.

Jay:  When you say “we'” you’re referring to Japan, which is interesting.

Keith:  I’ve been here for 12 years. Almost my entire business career has been in Japan. I worked at an internship, then I worked at a startup job during my college years in America, and then I moved out here.

[Patrick notes: Keith cofounded an RPG company.  His comment on that: “Want to know how to make a small fortune in RPGs?  Start with a large one!”  It’s a horrible, horrible business to be in.]

Jay:  Your formative years in Japan.

Keith:  I know. I wonder if it’s hurt me. People tell me I have a very different thinking about business than western…I like it. I think it’s a good way of thinking.

Jay:  We all bring our own unique experiences to our work in all of this in much the same way. I came to Japan when I was 19 to originally study martial arts. Now, I’m running a SaaS business. Japan has been an interesting country for us both to grow in because you’ve been here for 12…?

Keith:  12 years.

Jay:  How old were you when you first came to Japan originally?

Keith:  I was at 22.

Jay:  Interesting. How about you, Patrick? You’ve been in Japan also for a long time.

Patrick:  Yup. About 10 years and change now. I think I came out three months after university ended. I’ve been here, essentially, for the duration ever since. All of us have careers has been shaped by our time in Japanese organizations or in foreign organizations that were operating in Japan.

It’s a pretty fair statement to say that if you took a look at the a day in the life of one of our businesses, it would not exactly look like it would if we had grown up in Tulsa, Brisbane or yada, yada and have the business grow up with us there.

Jay:  That’s true.

Patrick:  Or San Francisco.

Jay:  One thing that kind of blew my mind was I had to return to Australia for a five‑month period. This was maybe coming back like seven or eight years. I had to run a business from Australia and I had to do some business in Australia. What struck me was how simple everything was. It was so straightforward.

Keith:  [laughs]

Jay:  I needed to do something. I make a phone call and I have the thing that I need. I needed a contract. It’s like boom. “Here’s what we want to do.” It’s like, “All right. We’ll sign here and…”

[crosstalk]

Keith:  No huge back and forth and all that.

Jay:  It’s like, “What the hell is this? I have like two things to get done today. It’s 10 AM and I’ve done three things now.” It kind of blew my mind.

Keith:  I had a client who would not discuss anything over the phone or email. It had to be in person.

Jay:  That sucks.

Keith:  We cannot come to an agreement on things except by meeting and talking. There’s no way to come to an agreement over email or a phone call.

Jay:  That the magic of SaaS business.

Keith:  [laughs]

Jay:  When every single of your customers is paying you $20 a month and somebody says something like that to you, you can…

Keith:  Delete the account.

Jay:  Exactly. You know what? That sounds great. I’d love to spend the next six months talking about your $20 a month account, but no. [chuckles] No. No. No. No.

Running a Low-touch SaaS Company In Japan

Patrick:  That’s an interesting segue. Like we said earlier, there’s very few SaaS companies in Japan operating at any sort of scale. Most of them that are US transplant like Salesforce does very, very good numbers here. Many US enterprise companies do good numbers by merging the traditional enterprise sales culture of the US with the stuff that works in Japanese market.

On the low touch end of things, there’s not that much. What have you done with MakeLeaps that’s been successful with getting thousands of paying customers on the lower touch end of things?

Jay:  Well, one thing that’s kind of interesting in Japan, I would say, is an incredibly high level of customer support. In Japan, it’s table stakes. That does not set you apart from any of the other companies in Japan that also have an incredibly high level of support.

Patrick:  Can I jump in with an anecdote there that happened to me today? I go to a hair salon. I’ve been there maybe twice since moving to Tokyo. The young lady who cut my hair both times is moving to a different branch of the same hair salon in Tokyo.

She sent me a two‑page, honest to God, handwritten letter thanking me for coming in, visiting her twice and getting my hair cut. Giving instructions that I can give the next person that cuts my hair and directions to the new hair salon where I can find her if I want to travel 15 minutes out of the way to get my haircut.

I will be getting on that train to get my haircut, obviously.

You can imagine this is somebody whose per-visit value is what, 50/ 60 dollars for a salon haircut here. That’s a level of care that most SaaS companies that have account values the $5,000 a year range do not send handwritten letters to their customers saying, “Hey, we’re just dropping you a line because we like you.”

Keith:  If you do want to send them, I recommend MailLift.

Patrick:  MailLift?

Keith:  MailLift is a handwritten letter by API.

Jay:  Does it work in Japanese?

Keith:  It does not work in Japanese, but a great SaaS idea for anyone who wants to start a handwritten API.

Jay:  That’s a good point. There’s actually a bit of a problem in Japan right now, I think, where older workers are not able to assimilate into a lot of the newer roles that are being created as certain sections of industry are phased out.

Something like that would actually be interesting idea to look after the rapidly growing section of Japan, which are the older seniors. As we all very likely know, recently, adult diapers finally began to outsell baby diapers in Japan, which is terrifying.

[laughter]

Keith:  It’s only going to get worse.

Jay:  That’s very true. That’s only the start of the trend. There are a lot of potential business opportunities for older people in Japan for sure.

Keith:  I think it’s interesting though. I’ve wondered about doing a MailLift version in Japan. The thing that convinced me against it was that why would a company not get their OLs or their, I guess, window watcher is the best English term for madogiwa. Why would they not get them to do it?

Patrick:  Well, there’s actually companies…They don’t have the API piece. API piece is what scares them because you would have to convince companies on integrating an API to get business, which is not something many Japanese companies are very keen on.

Jay:  Considering that they don’t understand the word API. [chuckles]

Keith:  You could say integrates with Salesforce.

Patrick:  There are even at least five of these in Ogaki where the company is typically a printing shop or something where they have the traditional mass-scalable printing equipment there.

They also have, essentially, little ladies who will handwrite documents that you take to them with the idea being that certain classes of documents in Japan can’t really be printed and still have the kind of heft to them, personal letters, certain forms of certificates and whatnot. These require a bit of skill with Japanese calligraphy, which the little old ladies have. If you don’t, if you are the poor, semi‑illiterate graduate of the modern Japanese educational system [Patrick notes: sarcasm tags] who can only type, then you’d go and pay a little lady $20 a page to handwrite your customer facing documents.

Jay:  Very true. That’s a good point, but the other thing that I find a little bit concerning and perhaps another reason to not start this one particular business is sometimes, in Japan, the act of doing something because it is time consuming, ridiculous…

[crosstalk]

Keith:  Don’t even get me started on that.

Jay:  …and all the rest of it. The act of doing that is what’s valuable. If you were to outsource that to somebody else for $20 a page, that act, essentially, becomes meaningless. It’s a concern that I will have.

Keith:  We talked a little about this in the last podcast where we were talking about getting the busy work done feels good. It’s an extension of that where taking the time, putting the effort even though it’s not what is the best for you or the company, it feels good and it feels right.

Patrick:  Also, seen from the perspective of the customer, I think Jay is right. That sometimes the conspicuous expenditure of resources as a way to signal commitment, that’s something you see in all societies. There are rituals for it everywhere. It something that Japan embraces a lot.

Jay:  Very much so.

Patrick:  For example, in Japanese politics, if the ruling parties is having difficulties, they send out the equivalent of US congressmen to stand at stations in Tokyo outside of the gate. They get on a soapbox and say, “This is the Liberal Democratic Party. Please support us. We want to work together for a bright vision of Japan’s future. This is the Liberal Democratic Party. Please support us.” The person is basically on loop for three hours.

Keith:  I do work with political candidates as well for marketing and stuff. They actually have people whose job is to repeat a speech on a megaphone as they drive around the city for eight hours a day.

Jay:  This is one of the areas where I take issue with Japan. I love everything about Japan. I love the people, the food. Everything about it is great. Noise pollution laws, where are you on this one Japan?

Keith:  [laughs]

Jay:  What the hell is going on? I say this without doing any research, the only civilized country that has zero noise pollution laws.

Keith:  We do have noise pollution laws.

Jay:  Really?

Keith:  Oh, yeah.

Jay:  When you say “we do,” you mean Japan.

Keith:  Japan has noise pollution laws. I looked this up because I have a noisy neighbor. I think it’s 80 decibels or something like that. It’s ignored for many, many things.

Jay:  I see. Keith, as difficult as I’m sure your situation is with your noisy neighbor, I’m a little more concerned about the people who are driving around with megaphones on Sunday morning!

Keith:  No. It’s horrible.

Jay:  For me as well. I’m a foreigner so therefore I cannot vote in Japan. However, if there was a candidate that said, “You know what? I’m against noise pollution. I’m going to make noise pollution laws in Japan.”

I would totally support them even though that support would be meaningless. The problem is that person could never be elected because he could never announce his platform to all the people to put him to be potentially elected.

Keith:  It’s going to change because this was the first year. This last election was the first year. I don’t want to get too much in the politics so let’s kind of cut it.

Jay:  We’re leaving out sex and religion. Let’s go into politics. Go for it.

Keith:  This is the first year they could do commercials. If you went on YouTube during elections, there were tons of political commercials. For the first year they’re actually allowed to do social media.  They were allowed to do blogs before but they had to actually write them themselves. You could not hire a marketing firm to do it.

Jay:  For $20 a page. [chuckles]

Keith:  You could have a marketing firm tell you what to do and then you do it but you had to actually physically do it. Those laws are changing. I helped a political candidate. I’ll be helping another one with their social media platform this coming election in…When is it April or whenever.

Patrick:  That’s probably something to nail down prior to taking politicians on as clients.

Keith:  There are a lot of business opportunities in Japan. In Ogaki, there’s very little. It’s pro bono. This is totally a, “Hey, you’re a friend of my wife. We hang out. I’d love to help you out. Let’s do some social marketing for you kind of thing.”

Patrick:  That makes sense.

Keith:  I haven’t done Abe’s — the Prime Minister’s — marketing campaign.

Patrick:  You would probably have to know when the election is if you’d be doing that.

Keith:  There’s snap elections. You don’t know.

Patrick:  That’s right!  We could schedule elections like a week from now.

Keith:  They did do that.

The Difference In Bootstrapping And The Venture Track

Keith:  We are kind of getting long on time. I do want to be conscious of everyone’s listening time because we have had complaints that three hours is a long time for a podcast. had always been bootstraped and it was a big decision for you to take funding. How has taking funding change the way you’re doing business from being bootstrapped?

Keep in mind people who are listening. This is not like, “Oh, I got $5 million of funding.” It was a sizeable funding amount but it’s not like you’re going off and buying Lamborghinis tomorrow.

Jay:  If I could find a Lamborghini that I could buy a number of without causing problems for my bootstrap, then I’d consider that. It’s $750,000 of funding that we have to use in a really good way to either, I suppose, build in the features set that is very compelling and that enables us to get to the next level of the business.

We have to use that funding to, essentially, get us to a point where we’re totally happy and ready to go out and do a Series A funding round, which we’re on track to do within three to six months from now depending on how it all goes.

Your question to how did the tenor of the business or how did the atmosphere change before funding and after funding is a really important one and a good one. It’s tremendously important to have good mentors because I have a lot of very dumb questions that I needed answered. “Well, if I sign this, does that mean that I don’t run the company anymore?” Kind of level of questions like that.

Of course, I’ve done a lot of reading. [Patrick notes: Jay recommends Venture Hacks and pg’s blog on this topic.]  I’ve done a lot of learning and I’ve gotten a lot of advice from people. When you do funding, it comes down to two things, economics and control. The extent to which you understand both of those is very critical when it comes to negotiating those kinds of deals.

For me, I was more concerned actually about the staff and how MakeLeaps staff would feel about…Suddenly, we have a lot of investors because that’s kind of confusing. They would ask all the questions that I needed to ask to understand really what was going on and how it was going to affect things.

I made sure to talk to everybody and say, “Listen, we’ve done very well up until this point. We’ve managed to get many, many users, many, many customers. It’s all very exciting. We’ve come to the point where people are interested to invest money into us.

At this point, you have to know that I’m not getting to let some person who could be destructive or cause problems for MakeLeaps into an area where they could potentially cause problems for us. We’ve been successful up until this point by doing what we’ve done. It’s not in anybody’s interest for us to radically change things like completely different in a crazy way when we’ve achieved really great growth up until this point.

For me, it was critical to, number one, understand the impact of investors coming into MakeLeaps. What would they expect? How they could offer value and how they could help us get into the next level? It’s important for the MakeLeaps staff to understand that it’s not going to change the tenor of the business.

In fact, if it has changed things in a very serious way, that’s my fault as CEO. I haven’t done my job well enough.

Number one, I want to find the right people. Number two, I want to explain the process and how we’re going to do it. Of course, we have the MakeLeaps vision — where we want to go and how we want to get there. That needs to be clearly communicated to both staff and investors.

One of the things that I’ve learned is…Well, there’s actually a great film. I think it’s called “The Watchmen.” There’s a particular character in that film. His name is Rorschach. He’s like this crazy guy. He gets caught and sent to jail.

This sounds like a sidetrack, but it gets really relevant in a moment.

Keith:  [laughs]

Jay:  Essentially, he ends up having to go to jail. In the jail, there are many of the criminals that he himself put into the jail. He’s standing there and they can’t wait to get their hands on him, beat him to death and all that kind of stuff. He looked at all the people that are standing in the jail and he says “You know what? I’m not stuck in here with you. You’re stuck in here with me.”

That’s what I realized about investors. It’s like I will talk about MakeLeaps for literally 24 hours with anybody who wants to talk about it. I’m very, very happy to discuss and talk. When people say, “You know what, I’ve been thinking for MakeLeaps. How about we do something like this? What do you think of this kind of idea?” I’m very happy to discuss anything with anybody about that kind of stuff. It’s my passion.

I sort of realize, “Well, hang on a minute. We’re getting with AngelList syndicate 60 people that are now financially interested in MakeLeaps and they’re intelligent because they’re investing in MakeLeaps.

Keith:  [laughs]

Jay:  They’re clearly cut above the standard person.

Keith:  They know what they’re doing.

Jay:  They know what they’re doing. They’ve had plenty of experience. For me, it was actually all positives. We never had any issues or problems because we had really great mentors. We had great lawyers that put together the deal well. We communicated what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it.

Typically, when it comes to relationship breakdowns, it’s just a lack of communication about what everybody is thinking [Patrick notes: In business and in life!], so we made it a priority to communicate as much as we possibly could. We send out very regular investor updates on what we’re doing and how and current progress and all that kind of stuff.

I would say that we’ve been able to expand a lot and be able to do many different things with more resources. The core that’s got us to this point that’s been successful remains unchanged and that’s a good thing.

[Patrick notes: Seen from the outside, I’d identify the core of what makes MakeLeaps tick as a willingness to walk the line between being a natively Japanese company and a tech startup, Jay being the most force-of-nature CEO I’ve had the opportunity to meet, and a great willingness to just grind things the heck out.  Anybody can say “Try going to where your users are.”  Most people don’t sell $20 a month SaaS software by knocking on the doors of substantially every accounting firm in downtown Tokyo.]

The Benefits Of Raising Money

Keith:  I want to ask something a little more specific and you’re free to not answer this if you don’t want to. Where did you find that you had the most success with that funding? Is it building out your staff? Is it being able to do more marketing? Is it doing more events?

Jay:  I’m going to tell you guys something that you might not be happy to hear. It’s the same way for all bootstrappers. We bootstrapped for four years proudly. We’re happy we’ve gotten into this point. We’ve done very well.

We’ve received, I would say, slightly less recognition because we weren’t funded, and we weren’t in the media as much with things like funding announcements. As soon as we got funded, about a week afterwards, this one person I’ve known for a long time was like, “Oh, you got funded. Great. We’d love to do an interview with you.”

It’s like literally nothing has changed between now and when the money in our bank one week ago. Why are you interested to interview me now?

Keith:  It’s the social proof.

Jay:  Exactly. There’s social proof in that. There are certain things that have gotten easier and better as a result of getting funding, especially from well‑known people, but, as a bootstrapper, it’s always frustrated me. It’s like, come on, we are doing as well as these guys. In fact, better in many ways, but they are getting more press because they are funded.

Keith:  I do see that a lot with the bootstrapper community, especially some of the communities I am in. I don’t want to say, incestuous, but it is a closed circle. The people we know who are famous, they are famous within our circle, but if I was to talk to someone like at a newspaper, or someone in the larger startup community, they’d be like, “I have no idea who that is.”

It’s really interesting, because as soon as you get that funding, apparently, it’s this open door to, “Hey, we are a real company. We are a real boy now.” It’s frustrating, like you said. Nothing has changed.

Keith:  There’s an extra digit in our bank account now, but other than that, at that point, you haven’t even used that money yet.

Jay:  It’s a little bit frustrating, if you are operating a business, and people are suddenly interested in you, now that you’ve gotten funding, but that’s part of the game. At the end of the day, you have to figure out, how to make it work with your particular environment, the way that you have set things up.

If you can be successful and grow your business, and get plenty of media attention without getting funding, more power to you, that’s great. In Japan, people tend to respect social proof very much so…

Keith:  Did I ever tell you about the optical fiber guy, who came to my door, and try to sell me optical fiber?

Jay:  I heard this story, but it’s a good one.

Keith:  It’s a good story. I like this one. I had actually had optical fiber at this time, not through that company. He comes to my door, and he says, “You know, you are the last person in your neighborhood who has not had optical fiber installed.”

I thought about that, I am surrounded by grandmothers. I am the youngest person in my neighborhood. The three people on the side of me, I know for a fact, do not even own a computer.  They have no idea what a computer is, most likely.

He is trying to tell me that I am the last person with optical fiber, which I already have. This is interesting, because I know this works in the US as well. It is a very time tested proven strategy. It’s so effective in Japan. It’s not even crazy. I told this to my wife, and she’s like, “Oh, we should get optical fiber.” We have optical fiber!

[laughter]

Keith:  No one in the neighborhood has optical fiber but us.

Jay:  Keeping up with the Joneses.

Keith:  Exactly. It’s huge.

Patrick:  I am just realizing now, I bought optical fiber after hearing that pitch.

[Patrick notes: Seriously, I did.  I thought they were going to drop connections to the ASDL lines in the neighborhood or something.  What can I say, I’m a software guy, not a network guy.]

[laughter]

Keith:  It works.

[crosstalk]

Patrick:  Crying about it…

[crosstalk]

Keith:  Get optical fiber. There’s no…

Jay:  Not have it.

Keith:  Exactly.

Jay:  Absolutely, get it right…

Patrick:  Great reason for all you geeks to come out to Japan, you can come to Ogaki, where we have slow, slow one gigabit Internet…

Jay:  Two.

Patrick:  Two gigabit Internet, yeah, I am sorry. We upgraded in Ogaki. We’re where in Tokyo was in like 1997. [chuckles]

Keith:  What’s your speed right now?

Jay:  I’m not going to share how fast my Internet connection with you guys. [chuckles]

Keith:  No. I want to hear. How fast is your Internet connection?

Jay:  Oh, geez. I’ve been meaning to upgrade it one gig, which would be simple, painless and straightforward, but I think I’m still like 300 megabits.

Patrick:  Oh, man.

Keith:  Oh, god. That’s horrible. You’re almost American.

Jay:  I know and I’m Australian. What the hell.

Keith:  I was talking to a friend who was interning at Gawker. He’s like, “Oh, man. I’m so happy to be at Gawker because we have a 25 megabit connection.” I was like, “Since I moved to Japan, I’ve never had a connection that low.”

[laughter]

Keith:  12 years ago, when I was on a ADSL, it was faster than 25 megabits.

Jay:  Exactly. 10 years ago when I had like a wireless PCMCIA card, originally it was slotted into the laptop.

Keith:  It was still going at 350…

[crosstalk]

Jay:  …Of course. [laughs]

Patrick:  Anyhow, do you think we should be wrapping this up?

Keith:  I think we’re wrapping this one up.

Patrick:  Jay, do you have anything else you want to tell us?

Jay:  I suppose. Aside from the confusion where my name is Jason, but now pretty much everybody calls me Jay. I’m right in the awkward spot of transition my name from Jason to Jay. There’s still a bit of Jay, a bit of Jay all over the place but I answer to either.

Keith:  Should I go for Jay?

Sales For Geeks

Jay:  You can go for whatever you want. Honestly, if you make a noise in my direction, I will answer. However, even if you say Jay or Jay that’s fine. Speaking of which one thing that I’m pretty excited about that I should mention that Patrick has been helping me with a bit is I’m working on a new course called “Sales for Geeks.”

As a geek myself…I mean, people describe me as technical, but I can’t code very well. However, I’ve built and grown two IT businesses, one on the infrastructure side and one on the software SaaS side, so I do know a little bit about sales, communication and social skills to a degree.

Keith:  I want to mention that Jay is a force of nature when it comes to sales, networking or any sort of talking to people.

Patrick:  I’ve said for the last couple of years that Jay could probably get a meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister simply by showing up at his residence and refusing to be told no by any of the people in there. Four years ago, I said that like it was a joke. As I’ve become more friends with Jason, I think, it’s probably literally accurate.

Jay:  At this point, I should probably just do it to prove Patrick true.

Patrick:  [laughs]

Jay:  The Japanese, sometimes, if you’re being polite and friendly and you’re saying, “I need five minutes of the Prime Minister’s time.” It might be potentially possible.

At the same time, I also have a sales course to get out. Priorities I suppose. It’s very nice of you guys to compliment me in that way. As an Australian, I do struggle with compliments and accepting them in general.

Patrick:  What’s the name of that course?

Jay:  The name of the course, Patrick, is Sales for Geeks. You can access more information about this course at salesforgeeks.com.

Keith:  It’s such a deal!

[laughter]

Jay:  Order now and get a free set of steak knives. There’s no steak knife. Sorry. Order now, though.

Keith:  You’re doing it as a text course, an audio course, a video course, or…?

Jay:  I’m thinking video might be a good way forward, because in a lot of sales stuff a lot of it is quite visual. There’s a lot of body language. That factors into sales meetings in general. A video course would be a good way to do this.

Patrick:  We’re looking forward to seeing what you come up with. You can go to the website right now and start to get Jay’s advice delivered over email about this as he gets the course put together, and then you hear about it when it comes out.

Keith:  No commitment required.

Jay:  No credit card required. Sign up right now.

[laughter]

Jay:  Salesforgeeks.com if you’re interested at all in learning how to sell better. It would be great to have you onboard. I’ve got a bunch of stories, sales anecdotes, and interesting things that I’ve learned in a career of 12 years. I started my first company when I was 20. I’ve got a lot of stuff to share. If that’s useful or interesting to anybody, that would be great.

Keith:  I hate to talk Jay up this much. Actually, what am I saying? I love to talk Jay up this much.

[laughter]

Keith:  But, really, you’re up there with the three best salesmen that I know personally. I consider you, Ryan Delk, and Steli Efti definitely hands down.  [Patrick notes: Agreed.] If the three of you got into a room, either it would cause a singularity, and it would explode, or you would take over the world. It’s one or the other.

Jay:  Interesting. That’s very, very nice of you to say. All I can do is do my best to toil in the efforts of becoming the person that you both seem to think that I am.

[laughter]

Jay:  I appreciate both of your faith in me. I thank you.

Keith:  Jay, thanks very much.

[crosstalk]

Patrick:  We appreciate you guys being here with us for the long, long, long haul.

Jay:  It wasn’t that bad. It was about an hour and 10 minutes?

[crosstalk]

Keith:  …Yeah.

Patrick:  I was thinking more like the three years, which it took us to…

[crosstalk]

Keith:  Four.

Patrick:  Four years?

Keith:  Four years to get up to episode 11.

Patrick:  We ship babies and products faster than we ship podcast episodes, but it’s changing. We actually got up two in a month. Oh God, this is a regular thing to happen.

Keith:  This will be great.

Patrick: Drop either Keith or I an email about this stuff anytime, if you have ideas for what we could cover on the podcast.

Keith:  Ping us on Twitter.

Patrick:  Or you can ping us on Twitter.  Keith is harisenbon79, I’m patio11, and Jay is @JasonWinder.

Keith:  Suddenly, I feel like we’re on NPR. I don’t know why.

Keith:  “Thank you for listening to this edition of ‘This American Life.’ [laughs] This your host, Ira Glass.”

[laughter]

Keith:  Great show, by the way.

Patrick:  Great show, by the way.

Keith:  Thanks very much, guys.

Patrick:  Thanks very much.

Jay:  Thank you. Cheers. Bye‑bye.

Patrick:  Bye‑bye.

Operation Camouflage: How to Hide Your PPC Ads from Competitors

The benefit of hiding your PPC (Pay-Per-Click) ads from competitors is pretty obvious.

PPC advertising is extremely competitive. You compete not only with your direct competitors but also with big-budget advertisers like Amazon and Ask.com who seem to bid on every term under the sun.

Which is why hiding your ads from competitors is a great idea—so they can’t copy your ads and so they won’t be able to study the latest PPC strategy you’re testing.

Once you’ve found a headline, ad copy, and display URL combination that works, you don’t want your competitors being able to study what you’ve done and reverse engineer your ads or new landing page strategy. It takes time and money to find a winning combination, something you don’t want your competitors to copy simply by studying your ads.

So it’s obvious why businesses would like to hide their ads from competitors. The more difficult step is figuring out how to hide your ads from the competition. Sure, everyone would like to do it, but how do you set things up so your direct competitors can’t see your ads. Is it even possible?

The answer is yes, and this post explains two different ways to do it.

Option #1: Use Geotargeting to Hide Your Ads

The first option is to use geotargeting to hide your ads. The upside is that this is the easiest option to implement, the downside is that it’s not quite as effective as option #2.

To use geotargeting, you first need to know where your competitor’s office is located, something you can easily uncover by going to your competitor’s Contact page and making a note of where their office is located. If it’s in Seattle, for example, then you know to focus your geotargeting efforts on Seattle.

Next, you need to change your geotargeting settings so your ads won’t show up in the city where you’d like to hide your ads. You can do this by clicking “Settings” at the campaign level, and then scrolling down to locations, searching for the city you’ve chosen to target, and then clicking “exclude” as seen in the screenshot below.

joe-p-picture-1

Once again, the upside with this option is that it’s easy to implement and can be done in a matter of minutes; the downside is that it’s not quite as effective as option #2 and you’ll miss out on potentially valuable clicks by customers who live in the same city or region where your competitor’s office is located.

This means you’ll need to do a Risk vs. Reward analysis to see how important it is to hide from your competitors. If you’re in a highly competitive industry, it may still be worth it, but if you can’t afford to miss clicks from the area you’re targeting, then you’ll need to either use option #2 or possibly consider not hiding your ads at all.

But just in case option #2 is a better fit, let’s go ahead and move on to that now.

Option #2: Blocking Your Competitor’s IP Address

For the next option, you’re going to exclude your competitor’s IP address so they can’t see your ads.

At some point, Google created IP exclusion so advertisers can block specific IP addresses from seeing their ads. The purpose for this feature is to block addresses that may be costing a business a lot of clicks without generating conversions or might be coming from a malicious source. The good news is that this feature can also be used to also block competitors from seeing your ads, so long as you know their corporate IP address.

Here’s how it works: First, you identify your competitor’s IP address. Next, you enter their IP address into AdWords to exclude the address from seeing your ads. The result is that your competitor’s can no longer see your ads from their office.

This ends up being more bulletproof than option #1 and means you don’t have to sacrifice showing your ads to an entire city or region just to block your competitors from seeing your ads.

So how do you get your competitor’s IP address? This is where it gets a bit tricky…

One way is to send an email to someone at the company and then to record the outgoing IP address from the reply. There’s a good chance that the IP address matches the corporate office, but it’s also possible that the IP address is from the email provider. Either way, go ahead and exclude it just in case it is the competitor’s office IP address.

The next thing you can do is look at your website server logs and match visits to your site from IP addresses that originate from where your competitor’s corporate office is located. This takes a little bit of time and is more imprecise, but if there are a lot of pings over the course of a year from the same IP address in the city that matches your competitor’s corporate office address, then there’s a good chance it’s from someone from their office checking out your website. You might accidentally block a customer, but you’ll definitely block fewer customers than you will with option number one.

Once you’ve recorded the IP addresses you believe belong to your competitors, click on “Settings” again, scroll down to IP exclusions, and then add the IP addresses you’d like to exclude as seen in the screenshot below.

joe-p-picture-2

Bonus Tip: Blocking Competitor’s from Specific Campaigns

Another option is to only block competitors from campaigns where you’re bidding on their brand name. This means they won’t see your strategy for bidding on their branded terms, but you won’t block everyone from a certain city from seeing your ads.

In the example below, Volusion uses a comparison landing page while bidding on the term “shopify.” They then go on to explain how their customers earn on average four times more than those who sign up for Shopify.

joe-p-landing-page

(You can see the full landing page here.)

This is the kind of page or campaign you’d want to hide from the competitor who’s brand term you’re bidding on.

To do so, simply set up an AdWords campaign for a single competitor or for all of the competitor terms you’ll be bidding on. Next, follow the steps from option #1 above to hide your ads from your competitor campaigns without cancelling all of your ads for a particular city.

Should You Take the Time to Block Competitor Ads?

The answer to this question depends on your business and your industry. If you’re in an extremely cut-throat industry (think companies like Geico and Progressive or Volusion and Shopify), then it’s definitely worth the effort. It will take a bit of time to get things set up, but being able to hide your ads from the competition will pay off in the long run.

It also makes sense if you’re a small company going up against a large corporate advertiser. Hiding your ads at the outset means you won’t wake a sleeping giant at the point when you’re attempting to gain as much market share from a company with nearly limitless resources.

Sun Tzu also teaches a valuable lesson about hiding from your enemy in the Art of War where he says, “Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”

You still need to figure out how to optimize your AdWords campaigns so you can “fall like a thunderbolt,” but hiding your ads gives you the advantage of testing new campaign variations so that your plans are “dark and impenetrable as night.”

What will you do? Will you hide your plans from the competition, or do you not think it’s not worth the time and effort it takes to set this up? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

About the Author: Joe Putnam is the VP of Marketing at iSpionage where they make it easy to download competitor keyword lists and also are the only company to offer landing page surveillance which saves screenshots of competitor PPC landing pages for easy review and an endless stream of new A/B testing ideas for PPC marketing managers and teams.