Why we have a core value of transparency at our startup, and why the reasons don’t matter

Since the beginning of Buffer, we've always shared all of our learnings and failures. Over time this developed into a more defined goal and principle as part of the values of the company.

Since we defined our value of transparency within the culture as "Default to Transparency", we found many things within the company that we weren't being completely open about, and we put them out there for the world to see.

We've generally found that we are sharing a lot of things which are somewhat taboo or at least unusual to be shared publicly. As an example, here are some of the current numbers and things we share:

  • 1.7m users have registered for Buffer.
  • 165k users are active on a monthly basis (shared at least one post).
  • We have 28k paying customers on the Awesome or Business plans.
  • Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) is currently $4.35m. We're generating around $360k a month.
  • The team is 24 people, spread all across the world.
  • We have a strong focus on culture-fit and sometimes it means firing great people who have different values.
  • That means Revenue Per Employee is around $181k.
  • All our SaaS metrics (LTV, churn, etc.) can be seen at our Baremetrics dashboard.
  • We share the salaries of the whole team in this spreadsheet. My salary is $175k.
  • We've raised $450k in funding and investors own around 14% of the company.

Why be so transparent?

For us, transparency came quite naturally. Myself and Leo always felt very comfortable and excited to share our learnings. It helped us get more feedback about decisions and it was a way to help others who are getting started.

We weren't always as transparent as we are today, our openness grew as the company expanded. We had a vision to continue becoming more open and we've been lucky to find people to join the team who encourage more openness rather than warning and being hesitant about potential downsides.

In the recent months, I've been asked many times why we would choose to be so transparent. If I'm completely honest, it's not something I had given all that much thought. I think being transparent is a little like creating a startup: if you focus on the downsides, you'll probably just never do it. At the same time, I wanted to have good answers and it felt responsible to give it real thought.

Here are 4 benefits I've seen for transparency:

1. Transparency breeds trust

One of the business books that's had a large impact on me as I've started to grow a team is The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. It's a leadership fable which explains five dysfunctions that often exist in teams, and how to solve them in order to become a more effective team.

The first of the five dysfunctions is "Absense of Trust":

In the book, the author describes it as follows:

"Trust is the foundation of real teamwork. And so the first dysfunction is a failure on the part of team members to understand and open up to one another. And if that sounds touchy-feely, let me explain, because there is nothing soft about it. It is an absolutely critical part of building a team. In fact, it’s probably the most critical." - Patrick Lencioni

Lencioni goes on to explain that being vulnerable amongst teammates and being comfortable having debate and conflict is critical to building trust.

For us, we've found that transparency is another great way to build trust in a team. If all the information about everything that's going on is freely available, that helps everyone to feel completely on board with decisions.

Based on my learnings from the Five Dysfunctions of a Team, I believe the following to be true about transparency in relation to trust:

Transparency breeds trust, and trust is the foundation of great teamwork.

This trust extends to customers, readers of our blog and anyone who interacts with us on any level. We believe that being open helps us to build trust and share our reasoning for the features we have, our pricing, what we blog about, and many other choices.

2. Transparency helps with innovation as a company grows

One of the interesting (and exciting) consequences of growing from a few founders to a 20+ person team and beyond, is that the innovation and decision making has to become distributed. It is both a challenge and a joy for me that I will most likely not be the one who figures out our next biggest product improvements and innovations.

That's where transparency comes in. As you grow and you expect your team to make the same decisions you would, they need to have all the details that you have. Keith Rabois put this really well in an article on First Round Capital:

"if you want people to make the same decisions that you would make, but in a more scalable way, you have to give them the same information you have" - Keith Rabois

3. Transparency leads to greater justice

Another key benefit we've seen, which wasn't necessarily our reason for transparency, is one which Whole Foods cares deeply about: eliminating unfairness and inequality.

We have a formula which determines the salaries of everyone in the team. It has a number of factors such as your role, experience and location. As an example, one factor the formula doesn't have, is gender. When you determine salaries in a more ad-hoc way or through negotation, I think a lot of inequality could creep in.

John Mackey, co-founder and CEO at Whole Foods said that with transparency "any kind of favoritism or nepotism is seen".

4. You open yourself up to more feedback

By practicing transparency, we've found that we get much more feedback on our decisions. For us, we try to take in all that feedback and make adjustments based on it. For example, when we shared our salary formula, we had a lot of comments from people mentioning to us that we weren't paying high enough salaries for people in the San Francisco Bay Area, so we made an adjustment to the formula. Now we're in a much better position to attract new team members in the Bay Area.

It's great to get this feedback. It can be a challenge: we've tried to work on ourselves and grow a team which enjoys and embraces the feedback we receive. As we grow, the feedback has increased too, which will become an interesting aspect to handle. It's one of the reasons we have a large customer happiness team and strive to provide great customer support.

In truth, we don't have a reason for our transparency, it's just one of our principles

One of the most interesting business books I've recently read is Joy at Work by Dennis Bakke. Bakke was the co-founder and CEO of a large US energy company called AES, which reached $8 billion in revenues and 50,000 employees. They operated in a highly unusual, decentralized business model and they had a core value of Fun. In his book, he argued that it is dangerous to tie benefits and reasons to your core values.

"I kept saying that our values were not responsible for the run-up in our share price and should not be blamed for any down-turns in the future." - Dennis Bakke

Bakke explained that as soon as you tie your values to performance, it means that you will question them when you hit a tough patch of your journey.

For us, we believe that transparency at its core is honesty, and it's a value that we want to live by no matter what.

It seems that it is very important that you determine good values if you choose to take this approach. For example, your methods should change a lot. Your principles or values should rarely need to be altered.

All that to say, despite all the benefits we see, those are not reasons that we are transparent. They are nice side effects, and there are downsides too, and we are happy with both aspects.

I'd love your thoughts on our approach to transparency. Drop me a note in the comments and I'll try to respond. Also, if you are striving to build a company in a more transparent way too, get in touch! I am keen to surround myself with people who are also embarking upon this adventure.

Photo credit: Farrukh

Four Words of Ecommerce Wisdom That Will Waste Your Time

A lot of ecommerce advice is useless. I’ve experienced an uphill battle trying to persuade ecommerce retailers to forsake these cherished bits of “wisdom.”

You can take these bits of advice, and toss them to the winds. I predict that once you do, your conversion rates will increase.

1. Provide coupon codes.

Actually, don’t provide coupon codes.

Coupon implementation is expensive, complicated, and time-consuming. Worst of all, the end results is a clunky UI that mucks up the conversion process with unnecessary friction.

Here’s why coupon codes are a problem:

  • When the user sees a coupon code form, they might leave the site in order to find a code.
  • When a user sees a coupon code form, it causes the user to feel like they are not receiving a fair price. This may, in turn, cause them to search for a lower price elsewhere.
  • Coupon codes add a layer of complication to the shopping cart process, which increases the risk of shopping cart abandonment.
  • Coupon codes attract a customer type that is fickle or erratic, and who produce a time drain for customer service. These customers are unlikely to be motivated by product quality, and are unlikely to have high lifetime value. Their primary concern is with pricing.

In a study sponsored by PayPal and comScore, researchers discovered that 27% of customers abandoned their shopping carts because they “wanted to look for a coupon.” The average value of those abandoned shopping carts was $109.

A coupon code form in your checkout is a dangerous thing. It is a signal to the customer to flee the page and scrounge for a code. And once they leave, they’re very unlikely to return.

Often, coupon codes are outdated or broken. Because they are often mismanaged by an in-house team unfamiliar with the process, it’s easy to forget to update things.

1-cppoker-coupon-code

Image from everypoker.com.

Unfortunately, coupon codes are also the realm of black-hat spammers and virus-laden websites.

Retailers often attempt to mimic the offline world of coupons, using a redemption model to process coupons. The problem is, there’s not a direct apples to apples correlation between offline couponing and online couponing.

real life coupons

Image from ringcentral-coupons.com

Coupons work. Sometimes. But you’ve got to be extremely careful.

coupons that are orange

Image from sixt.com.

In one study on coupon codes, Eric Graham of Conversion Doctor discovered that one ecommerce retailer was losing a million dollars a year by leaving a coupon code form on their checkout page. Graham also reported that one of his clients improved sales by 70% simply by removing their coupon form.

You can try coupon codes, but make sure your execution is flawless. Couponing your product requires that you pull off a seamless onsite experience coupled with outstanding offsite promotion. Otherwise, you’ll have a coupon experience that leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.

2. Give your customers lots of options.

Actually, give them only a few.

This is one of the most common landing page mistakes:

4-pen-website

This landing page is one of the top three paid results for “buy pen online.” It is displaying 701 product choices.

What’s the problem? Option overload.

Too many choices actually paralyzes the user’s mind. Instead of making one of the many choices, they make no choice at all.

Customers will choose the path of cognitive least resistance. If it is difficult to choose from 701 pens, they will find an easier way to achieve their goal of buying a pen. Usually, that involves leaving the site to purchase from a competitor.

The most famous report on overchoice came in a 2000 study by Sheena S. Iyengar (Columbia University) and Mark R. Lepper (Stanford University). The results of their “jam study” was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. In the study, they offered customers free samples of jams for tasting. They tested the response of customer’s who were presented with six flavor choices, and the responses of customers who were presented with 24 choices.

30% of the customers who sampled from the small selection purchased jam. But only 3% of the customers who sampled from the larger section purchased jam.

pots of jam

Image from sivers.org.

The hypothesis of the study was that “choice is demotivating.”

It’s not just low-cost products like jam where this holds true. WSJ reported that “Auto makers [have] learned the risks in offering seemingly infinite option combinations.” One of those risks is that the customer expects to find an exact combination of a preferred option. When he can’t find that option, he chooses not to buy a car rather than to purchase one that does not meet his expectations.

It happens in the financial world, too. Customers who are presented with too many choices for their investments actually participate less.

more fund less savings

Image from BusinessInsider.com.

Barry Schwartz has become an evangelist against option overload. He has found that too many choices leads to a loss of happiness, and can even produce symptoms of anxiety.

Give your customers more choices is not the path to success. It is, to quote Schwartz, “a recipe for misery” — not to mention, less conversions.

I did not end up choosing any one of those 701 pens.

3. Run a promotion.

Actually, call it a “giveaway.”

Marketers love their promotions — methods of generating leads, increasing conversions, and boosting their sales.

Often, these are exciting. They work. They generate buzz. They increase revenue.

like us for a free bag

Image from smithbrosagency.com.

The problem with “promotions” however, is the word. “Promotion” is jargony and inward-focused. It suggests that the event is focused on the company — promoting themselves — rather than the customer.

Unbounce tested three different terms when they ran a “promotion.”

  • Control word: “Promotion”
  • Variation 1: “Sweepstake”
  • Variation 2: “Giveaway”

The results, calculated in conversion rates, were surprising:

  • “Sweepstake” performed 40% better than “promotion.”
  • “Giveaway” performed 50% better than “promotion.”

incentivibe helps marketers

Image from Unbounce.com.

Feel free to go ahead and run your “promotion.” Just don’t call it that.

4. Focus on the product.

Actually, focus on the user.

Ecommerce marketers have a myopic focus on their product, often to the detriment of their customer.

This effort sounds good, looks good, and feels exciting, but it leaves out the most important part of the process. Take this example. All the technical aspects are there, but one thing is missing.

technical gibberish

Image from Noesissolutions.com.

Once you’ve selected the product to sell, it’s time to shift your focus away from that product and on to the customer. You will only see limited improvement by optimizing the product pictures, listing the benefits, and sharpening your value proposition.

By contrast, you will see a huge improvement if you focus on your user — building your audience, creating a tribe, expanding on social media, and targeting buyer psychology.

“But,” the argument goes, “people come to buy my product!”

Yes, but what should come first? Let me change the emphasis in that statement: “People come to buy my product!”

What happened when Zappos started selling shoes online? Did they create a new shoe? A better shoe? A more durable shoe?

No. They created a raving, frothing-at-the-mouth mass of fans, because they focused on customer service. There was nothing particularly outstanding about the product. This was your typical shoe store of Nikes, Converses, and Asics.

They focused on the user. And look where they are now.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, you could go wrong by following all the “right” advice.

Watch out for these four bits of worn-out wisdom. They’ll hurt you.

About the Author: is the Chief Evangelist of KISSmetrics and blogs at Quick Sprout.

Episode 69: Living Intentionally and Finding a Path

Peak trail Life happens to us.

You grow up, start exerting your independence, push away from your parents and leap into the big world. And it's friggin big and overwhelming. So you cling to defined paths.

Maybe you go to college, maybe you take a job.

You unintentionally follow the guideposts and examples around you, trying to get a grasp on "life"... Hopefully you end up somewhere good.

But what if you lived intentionally? Who made those guideposts anyway? What if there's a better fit somewhere else?

In this episode we touch on Brecht's family's plan to live intentionally, discover alternatives, and pick from a broader palette of possibilities. Also Scott talks about his recent experience in Brennan Dunn's Consultancy Masterclass.

Stuff

Learn Online This Fall

Guest post by Lisa Regan, writer for The Lean Startup Conference.

Boost your entrepreneurship skills withoutgetting out of the building this fall. With an online course from Stanford and a series of webcasts from the Lean Startup Conference team, you can learn a lot from your desk in the coming months.  

First up: We’re excited to announce that Bob Sutton is joining as a speaker at this year’s Lean Startup Conference. Perhaps best known for his book, The No Asshole Rule, Bob was a terrifically popular speaker at Office Optional, and he’s written a number of best-selling business books. His latest, Scaling Up Excellence, addresses a theme of this year’s conference: How do successful companies grow?

Bob and his co-author, Huggy Rao, are hosting a free online class this fall, Scaling Up Your Venture Without Screwing Up. The course lasts five weeks, and the first session was a few days ago—but it was designed for viewing any time, and you can register for the class through this week. In addition to featuring entrepreneurs like Clara Shih and Michael Dearing, the course also includes a session with Ben Horowitz, another speaker we’re pleased to host at this year’s Lean Startup Conference.

In this preview of their course, Huggy talks about the anatomy, psychology, and physiology of scaling your company without screwing it up. An excerpt:

The anatomy of a scaling organization: Achieve the right level of flatness.
Most of us have a love-hate relationship with hierarchies. On the one hand, they can stifle innovation and make people feel powerless. On the other hand, power and status differences within an organization enhance collective effectiveness in many ways. Consider a failed experiment by Google's Larry Page, who got rid of all the company's middle managers and then had to reinstate the old system after trouble erupted. One hundred frustrated engineers were reporting to one overwhelmed senior executive.

The challenge is to weave complexity into a system in a way that does as much good and as little harm as possible. You could take a lesson from an innovative system adopted by Salesforce that struck a balance between placing too much accountability on the shoulders of a few senior executives and spreading accountability too thinly and evenly, as if it were peanut butter. Each of Salesforce's software teams was expected to complete a new software demo every 30 days, but every engineer was free to move to a new team without getting permission, which encouraged leaders to treat people well.

Where else can you learn online this fall? A consistent bit of feedback you gave us last year was that you wanted more webcasts. Heard. We’re lining up a series for entrepreneurs this fall, going in-depth on Lean Startup methods and applications. The first three webcasts start rolling out next week, and we’re keeping our popular format, featuring a meaty conversation between experts, followed by substantial live Q&A with attendees.

The webcasts are free, and you can register for them individually. Here's the initial lineup: 


Next week’s webcast, Lean Startup 101, is a chance for people new to the ideas to get a leg up. Sarah and Janice will explain the terminology of Lean Startup (What’s an MVP? What’s customer development?) and how it translates into practices (Who should use innovation accounting? What’s the story with pivots?).

Sarah is Lean Startup Conference co-host and CEO of Lean Startup Productions. Janice is a leading expert in new product development with Lean Startup techniques. She’s advised hundreds of startups, including founders at companies like Task Rabbit and Lyft, and she’s trained members of the presidential administration in innovation practices. (At this year’s Lean Startup Conference, Janice will give a full-day workshop on Lean Startup 101, with hands-on exercises.)

As a preview of the webcast, here’s Janice giving a basic intro to Lean Startup, including an analogy between creating a startup and choosing a wedding cake:


We also invite you—or your coworkers who’ve wondered what all the fuss is about—to take a look at “Lean Startup 101: The Essential Ideas" an article by Sarah answering a few basic questions about Lean Startup. (As a reminder, we’ve talked before about how you can get buy-in from an organization to implement Lean Startup.)

To catch Janice and Bob in person, join us at The Lean Startup Conference, December 8 – 12 in San Francisco. Our fall sale for conference tickets is the last price break for this year, and it ends on October 31st. Now is a great time to buy, before you loose track and miss the sale price. Register today.

How to Get Users to Share Social Data with You

Another day, another user data controversy.

Facebook’s recent roll out of its new messenger app provoked a flurry of headlines ranging from Is Facebook’s Messenger App Evil? to the more measured Don’t Freak Out About the Facebook Messenger App.

Understanding what Facebook did wrong will help you collect social data and reap the benefits of truly understanding your user base.

So, why did Facebook cause a data stir? Users were alarmed over what seemed to be intrusive permission and data-sharing requirements. Already irritated by having to download a separate app, users disliked granting the app permission to access their camera and microphone, identity, contacts, telephone, location, etc.

Some have declined to download, while others have grumbled as they downloaded.

This, despite the fact that Facebook’s permission and data-access requests are no different from the regular app.

Data gathering – often referred to as “data fracking” or “data scraping” by its detractors – has been greatly maligned. Social data collection, in particular, has attracted a lot of heat. Let’s start with the why.

Why Would a Company Want to Collect Social Data?

Companies want to collect social data in order to accurately understand their users. Data collection has become all the craze in the recent past, but how useful is it if it’s not truthful? According to BlueResearch, 88% of people admit that they have provided false information on a registration form.

So, the main benefit of social data is that is usually more accurate. The data comes right from a user’s social profile, giving companies a much better understanding of their user base.

But, with all this hoo-ha over data collection, we seem to have lost sight of the fundamental rules of engagement. Therefore, this might be a good time to go back to the basics and learn my two “rules of thumb” when it comes to data collection.

1. Consent Is Not “Optional”

There’s an important distinction to be made between two key methods of collecting user social data.

Many consumer data companies trawl the internet and aggregate data from information posted publicly, which they then sell to interested parties.

While this remains contentious and is the subject of much debate, public – that is, published – material is largely considered fair game.

Privacy activists remain concerned that users aren’t well-informed on this and don’t even expect their social network pages to be “scraped.” Others point out that users always have the option to choose the strictest privacy options available.

I’d say the jury is very much out on that, and we should expect continued regulatory interest and a tightening of the rules, even if centered on further educating social media users about what going public means in terms of the activities of third-party data collection firms.

Another way to access user social data is by offering social login on a website. This allows users to register and sign in to sites using their existing social network account IDs, such as for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.

When a user chooses to log in with their Facebook account, Facebook sends a message saying “Company X would like to access your name, birthdate, email, and country (or whatever data points the company would like to access). Are you okay with this?”

The difference between the two methods is that users explicitly consent to share data via social login. The process is entirely transparent, and if the user doesn’t want to share that data, they can back out.

Now, of course, as the CEO of a social login provider, I am nothing less than a total fan of social login, but I’ve always been very clear that it’s a tool to connect with users. It’s not a tool to trick users out of data they don’t want to share.

Users should, rightly, be in control of the information they share. Not only that, businesses must, by law, get consent before they can access data via registration forms, social login, and the like.

Facebook’s mistake wasn’t trying to get access; after all, they wanted to roll out a superior product. Their mistake was failing to communicate why they were requesting permissions and access to data in order to do so.

2. Transparency Is the Key

If users trust you, they will share their information with you as long as you are transparent and upfront about how you intend to use it.

As David Fraser, a leading data protection lawyer and partner at Canadian law firm McInnes Cooper, told me:

“People are much more comfortable living their lives online and sharing information now, but they are much more sensitive to, and demand, greater transparency. You should provide them with everything they want and be transparent about why you want their information, what you will do with it, and, importantly, how it will benefit them – the consumer.”

Often overlooked, companies should see data collection as a two-way street. Of course, businesses benefit by getting their products in front of the right users, but there are significant upsides for consumers, too.

Let your users know you will be using social data to improve your products and services, keep in touch with their expectations, gather honest feedback, engage in one-to-one conversations with them, and, of course, better predict future consumer demands.

If you don’t, you’ll lose out.

“Users are becoming more jaded and cynical and they have many choices these days. If they don’t trust your organization and if you aren’t sufficiently transparent, they have many other places to go. You don’t want lack of trust and transparency to become an impediment to growth,”

warns Fraser.

What’s Next?

What’s next is more data.

Generation Y will overtake Baby Boomers in the workplace very soon, and Gen Y is all about social media. Their understanding of data protection and sharing will be far more sophisticated than that of any generation ever before, and online businesses need to get on top of that now.

Companies also will need to stop asking for large amounts of data in one fell swoop. Instead, build a relationship with the user first by asking for little pieces of data over time.

This isn’t the data equivalent of “wham, bam, thank you ma’am.” Take your time to establish trust.

As I said before, it’s a two-way street, and savvy businesses understand they need users to grant them their data in order to efficiently compete.

In a recent interview for our blog, Jason Keath, CEO of social media education firm Social Fresh, offered his predictions for the future of data collection:

“Companies will continue to invest in data, innovate in data collection and spend money on it. Intelligent monitoring and data – much of which comes from social media and users’ social data – already informs many business decisions, and that’s not going away anytime soon.”

He’s absolutely right, but I’d add one thing:

The companies that will come out on top will be those that gather data in a transparent fashion, get their users’ trust first, and ask for information over time.

About the Author: Rakesh Soni is CEO and co-founder of LoginRadius, the rapidly-expanding social platform provider. LoginRadius is primarily focused on helping companies of all sizes use social login, social data, and social sharing tools to engage, understand, and market to users. They currently serve more than 120,000 websites globally.

NB 010 – Authority success stories (part 2)

In the previous part of this episode we met three talented people – Brandon, Samuel, & Jason. We chatted a bit about their successes with self-publishing and learned how they used my book Authority as a roadmap for creating and publishing their work.

In this episode, we dig deeper into how each of these fine gentlemen came up with the topics for their books, dealt with technical challenges, and got the word out. They also share several ways in which their lifestyles improved as a result of their successes; you definitely don’t want to miss that section.

Hope you enjoy!

Show Notes

Build a Ruby Gem – the book Brandon Hilkert launched after reading Authority
Professional Email Design – the latest project by Jason Rodriguez following the success of his first book
The Elements of User Onboarding – author Samuel Hulick claims to have botched his book launch, but still managed to land some lucrative consulting gigs (and over $37,000 in revenue)
ConvertKit – a tool I built to help creative people get a landing page up faster so they can build their email lists, launch products, and get more sales.

Authority-small

Real people have used the information in Authority to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars selling educational products to their enthusiastic audiences.

Get your copy of Authority to find out how you can too.

Or you can check out what a few people have said about Authority on Amazon.

Doing Customer Research

In this episode, Jordan and Brian do a deep dive into doing Customer Research.  You know, talking to customers, and putting in the time to truly understand who they are, what they value, and how you can leverage that “intel” to better position your product in the early days and beyond.

Updates

Brian’s update:

  • I’m trying to optimize my work day, putting creative stuff in the morning, and emails, calls and other crap in the afternoons.
  • Early-bird tickets for Big Snow Tiny Conf are now on sale, so if you want to join a small group of founders and hit the slopes at Sugarbush, VT in January, reserve your spot now.

Jordan’s update:

  • My mixergy interview got published which was really exciting on a personal level and also cranked up the business side of things
  • The sales funnel course is all done!

In This Episode…

  • Why doing (or not doing) customer research truly makes or breaks a business.
  • Brian’s 8-step process for doing customer research, which he’s done on 3 out 4 of his businesses (spoiler alert:  The 4th one didn’t turn out so well)
  • Which questions to ask when we do customer interviews
  • Jordan’s “Idea Extraction” process that he learned from Dayne Maxwell’s Foundation training.

Links

The post Doing Customer Research appeared first on Bootstrapped Web.

Retargeting Tactics That Unlocked $40,000 in Revenue

Scott Nixon, Co-Founder and CTO of Happy Herbivore, talks about the incredible growth he and his wife have seen over the past few years. He dives deep into the strategies and benefits of retargeting, and shares some staggering numbers. If you haven’t experimented with retargeting before, you certainly will after this episode.

Show Notes:

  • Scott Nixon
  • Happy Herbivore
  • Get Meal Plans
  • Return
  • Infusionsoft
  • Drip
  • Stripe
  • DPD
  • Perfect Audience
  • Scott’s Blog
  • Intro Song by Alex Koch of Digital Dust Studios
  • Outro song: Angel Haze - "New York"
  • The Foundation of Understanding How KISSmetrics Works: People, Events and Properties

    The best way to get started with KISSmetrics is to understand people, events, and properties. People are the actual people (not pageviews) who visit your site, events are any important actions they take, and properties are any additional information about those people.

    In this post, we’ll break down these three types of data. We’ll start by explaining how KISSmetrics tracks actual people. Then, we’ll move on to explaining what events and properties are and how to use them to gather insight-rich data. Throughout the entire post, you’ll see how people, events, and properties all tie in to one another.

    Let’s start by discussing People.

    People

    The cornerstone of KISSmetrics is that it’s a people-tracking platform. Every person who comes to your website gets recorded as a person, not a pageview. Throughout the entire KISSmetrics product, you can view a report and see exactly who took which actions. All the events an individual performs (and all the properties tied to the individual) get connected to a person. It doesn’t matter if the person connects via a desktop or a mobile device. And, with any report you run, you’ll be able to drill down and see each person in the report.

    Our Person Details Report shows all the events a person has done on your website. Here’s how it looks:

    person details report timeline kissmetrics

    Here we are looking at the activity this person has done in one day. It starts at the top, where we see they came to us from Google. As we move on down, we see the exact steps this person has taken to our website. Every time they come to our website, their session activity gets recorded, and we can see all the events they’ve done.

    Why is it important to get this granular with your data?

    Because in order to grow your business, you need to understand people. Throughout the customer lifecycle, understanding how each person interacts with your business is crucial to learning how to improve it.

    Let’s go through pre- and post-purchase customer activities to see how having a deep understanding of people can provide insights to grow your business.

    Pre-Purchase

    A customer acquisition funnel tracks the number of people who come to your site and end up purchasing. The best way to go about improving this funnel is to understand the people who purchased as well as those who did not purchase.

    Why do we need to learn about the people who purchased from us? What do we need to learn about them?

    We need to learn about our customers and the path they took pre-purchase. By understanding pre-purchase behavior, we learn about what they’re interested in, what goes in to their buying decision, and what areas of our website convert visitors to customers.

    Where did these customers come from?

    What areas of our website did they visit before deciding to purchase? Why did they visit those areas?

    What were the pages that led to the conversion?

    What made them decide to buy from us?

    What common characteristics do our customers share?

    When we have answers to these questions, we’ll know more about our customers. We’ll know what areas of our website are the strongest in leading to conversions. We’ll know what to focus on to get more customers.

    Why do we need to learn about the customers who did not purchase from us? What do we need to learn about them?

    Understanding why customers did not purchase from us is just as important as understanding why customers did purchase.

    What were their barriers to purchasing?

    What made them choose to not purchase?

    What was the path they took through our website?

    What was the last page they visited before dropping off?

    Where did these visitors come from?

    What are the differences between those who purchased and those who did not?

    By understanding why people don’t purchase from us, we’ll know what our key barriers to customer acquisition are. We’ll also have some ideas about how to fix them.

    Post-Purchase

    Once we have customers, we need to understand how to keep them and how to acquire more. With KISSmetrics, we can understand how our customers use our products and services.

    Want to know which features customers first discover? Use the KISSmetrics People Search Report.

    Want to know which features are used the most? Use the KISSmetrics People Search Report.

    Want to know which features your best (most loyal) customers use? Use the KISSmetrics Person Details Report.

    Want to know where your customers are coming from? Use the Revenue Report and segment by Channel.

    People are the lifeblood of your business. If you don’t have an understanding of how they use your products or which products they buy, then you’re left in the dark. You won’t know how to grow your business because you don’t know your customers.

    Throughout this post, you’ll see examples of how all your data is tied to people. In each section, we’ll run through reports and show how everything gets connected back to actual people.

    Let’s move on to events and see how they tie back to people.

    Events

    If you run a website, there likely are some important actions you have for visitors. These actions may be visiting a specific URL, signing up for an email newsletter, submitting a form, or placing an order. In KISSmetrics, these important actions are called events. Nearly everything you’ll do in KISSmetrics will be centered around events.

    You track events and then string these events together to gather insights. Let’s run through four examples.

    1. Funnel Reports

    A common use of events is to put together a funnel report. Below is an example funnel report for an e-commerce company. We’re putting together three events – visited site, placed an item in cart, and placed an order.

    Untitled-1

    In this funnel report, we’re tracking the percentage of people who come to our site and end up buying a product. It doesn’t matter if people visit multiple times, they are counted only once. So, if one person viewed your home page 10 times, they are counted as only one person in this funnel report. This allows you to get the actual conversion rate of people who visited the home page, placed an item in their cart, and placed an order.

    We can see there’s a big bottleneck in getting people to actually put items in the cart. With this knowledge, we can run experiments aimed at getting people who are interested in the products to put a product in the cart.

    These funnel reports can be used for anything you want to track. Some common funnel reports:

    • Visited Site > Signed up for Newsletter
    • Visited Site > Placed Order (e-commerce or SaaS)
    • Visited Site > Signed up (SaaS)
    • Opened App > Used Feature (Mobile or SaaS)
    • Visited Site > Filled out Lead Form

    The list is endless. Whatever goals you have for your site, you can set up a funnel report to see how many people actually convert to taking that important action.

    Let’s move on to discussing another useful KISSmetrics report.

    2. Cohort Reports

    A cohort is a group of people who share a common characteristic or experience within a defined period.

    For a SaaS app (or anything that requires a login) you can track login retention over time using the KISSmetrics Cohort Report. Here’s how that would look:

    KISSmetrics cohort

    The Cohort Report puts people into “buckets.” Each bucket represents a group of people who signed up during the same week and logged in during the same week.

    In this report, we’re tracking two events: Signed up and Logged in. We’re tracking people who signed up between March 31, 2013 – June 1, 2013. Then, we’re tracking their engagement with a product during the specified signup weeks (on the left). For the people in the respective weeks, we’re tracking how many logged in again, from 1 week after up to 12 weeks after.

    The biggest benefit for this report is to see how good your app is. It gives you solid engagement and tells you whether or not you really have product/market fit. If logins continue to drop (like they do in this report), people don’t really get much value out of your product. They’ll always drop a bit in the first few weeks, but you should see them stabilize.

    Cohorts are useful for other reports as well. Here are a few ideas:

    • Track how often people open a mobile or SaaS app. This can be tracked by hour, day, week, etc.
    • Track your conversion rates over time. You can group people by the hours, days, weeks, months that they signed up, or any properties.
    • Track how quickly users discover new features in a product. You can set this up by having one event as “Signed Up” and then a corresponding event that triggers when a user tries the new feature.

    And with any report you run, you’ll be able to see exactly who fell into which bucket. Just click on a bucket and select that you want to view the people:

    view people in cohort

    Click on “View the 433 people” and you’ll see a list of the actual people in that bucket:

    list people from cohort report

    You can click on any email address to see details about the activity that person has done on your site. Let’s choose ashley@google.com as an example. We click on that email address and are presented with this:

    person details cohort

    This is our Person Report. Anything they’ve done on your site will be shown here. And you can get this data on any person.

    Let’s move on to discussing our People Reports.

    3. People Reports

    Let’s say you run a SaaS app and you want to find out how many people used a particular feature this month. With KISSmetrics, you set up an event and call it “Used Feature,” or whatever else you want to name it. This event triggers anytime a user visits a particular URL.

    After it is set up, you run a People Search to look at the people who have used your app this month:

    used feature kissmetrics people report

    We get a list of people who have done that event (and the number of times they’ve done it) in the past month.

    You can run this report for any event, whether it’s using a feature, visiting a site, paying you, placing an order, submitting a form, etc. Any event you can think of, you can track with KISSmetrics.

    4. A/B Test Report

    Using the KISSmetrics A/B Test Report, you can set up your tests to run in a 3rd party tool like Optimizely or Visual Website Optimizer, and you can track the tests in KISSmetrics.

    To set up a test, just create a new A/B Test Report.

    Untitled-2

    We first need to select our conversion event. We’ll choose “Signed Up”:

    Untitled-3

    Then, we need to select our experiment. We run a search for the test we’re running in Optimizely:

    Untitled-4

    And we run our report:

    Untitled-5

    The great thing about our A/B Test Report is that you’ll be able to see each person in the test. Just hover over one of the test bars and choose which people you’d like to see:

    Untitled-6

    You can do this with any event. If you’re an e-commerce company, you can run the test with the event “Placed Order” to see how an A/B test actually affects your business. Or if you’re a consultancy that wants people to fill out a lead generation form, create that event and track the results with KISSmetrics. No matter your website goals, just create an event, run a test, and see how it affects your business.

    Now let’s look at our final data point, properties, and see how each person is tagged with various properties.

    Properties

    Properties tell you various additional information about each person. They are primarily useful for segmenting people into groups.

    Remember the e-commerce funnel report from earlier? We can view some of the properties in that report to tell us where our visitors came from.

    Here’s that report, this time showing the referrer property:

    kissmetrics funnel report properties

    This referrer property is showing us the sites that referred visitors to us. It’s the first-ever referrer, meaning these sites drove users for their first visit. Any referrer after that is not included.

    This report is showing us our top referrers. We can see how each referrer performs throughout the funnel. We see that we have a high conversion percentage from Facebook and t.co (Twitter), meaning that our social strategy is very targeted and getting good traction. We also see that our blog sends us a better-than-average conversion rate, so it may be worthwhile to continue with the blogging effort, or even ramp it up.

    One common property is to segment people all together into Channels. This groups all traffic sources into categories. The funnel report below is for the month of June, and we’re viewing the Channels property.

    kissmetrics funnel report by channel

    For a background on how we get this data, check out our Channel Definitions page.

    We can see that we get a good amount of traffic from organic and direct. Organic has a better-than-average conversion rate, while direct has less than average. We also get a good conversion rate from social. With this data in mind, we know that people who come to us from a search engine generally convert well, so adding more content on our website would possibly add more traffic, and thus more customers (if conversions remain the same). We also got 23 orders from social, so it makes sense for us to continue our social strategy.

    We also can view how many of these people are new or returning:

    kissmetrics returning people property

    We see that many of our customers are returning, and we also got a new batch of customers.

    Viewing Each Person Throughout the Funnel

    Throughout each step of the funnel, we can see who converted as well as who didn’t convert. We just hover over one of the steps.

    We want to know where our customers came from. To do this, we’ll first need to look at the people who placed an order (customers). So, we hover over the “Placed Order” step and click on the people who completed it:

    view people in step funnel kissmetrics

    We get a list of people who have placed orders (customers):

    kissmetrics list people

    We want to know which campaign these customers came from. To do this, we’ll need to add a column and add the property “Campaign source.”

    campaign source property

    We select it and press Search:

    campaign source property search kissmetrics

    Clicking on Export Data leads to a CSV file that is emailed to us. (Note that these email addresses and details are made up and not intended to identify any real people.)

    We have customer email addresses, and we can click on a person to view how they’ve interacted with our website.

    Let’s start by viewing courtney@gmail.com. All we do is click on her email:

    person details report kissmetrics 1

    We get a ton of data on our new customer. We can see how much revenue we’ve received from them, how many times they’ve visited our website, and what events they did on each of their visits.

    We can get a breakdown of events and properties by each day. Let’s see what they did on Saturday, June 14. To see this, we click on the “Show details” link. Here’s what it shows us:

    one-day-timeline

    This Person Details Report shows us everything a person did, broken down by day. It starts at the top, where we see that Courtney came to us via a Google search. From there we can see how she moved around through our site.

    By viewing the Timeline, we can see which products she searched for, which products she viewed, which products she added to the cart, and which products she decided to buy.

    We can also view just the Events or just the Properties. Let’s check out Events to see what important actions Courtney took on our website:

    person search event

    Now, when we click on Properties, we see various information about this person:

    people report properties

    We can see this is their second visit, as the Returning property has a 1 value, with an x1 next to it, meaning they’ve returned once, for a total of 2 visits. We know this is the first purchase they made (since we’ve been tracking) as there is only one value in the Order Amount row. If we hover over the x1, we can see when they placed the order:

    properties details kissmetrics

    We can send Courtney an email thanking her for her purchase and offering a 10% off coupon for the next time she purchases. And because we use KISSmetrics, we can set up an event for any time a person uses that coupon code. So, we’ll be able to see when/if Courtney uses the coupon. If we can make her a loyal customer, her Events tab may look like this after a year:

    Untitled-7

    We can get this data for every person. Yes, you can look at every person who has visited your website and see exactly what they’ve done as well as the properties for that person.

    Automatically Tracked Events and Properties

    There are some events and properties that are automatically tracked when you set up KISSmetrics using the JavaScript code snippet. Here’s a list of those events and associated properties:

    Visited Site event

    • Referrer property indicates the URL the referrer came from
    • URL property indicates the URL of the page they started browsing the site
    • Returning property triggers when a person comes back and visits the site

    Pageviews

    • This event is not turned on by default; users can turn it on by visiting their KISSmetrics account settings

    Ad Campaign Hit (Google Ad Campaign)

    Works with UTM parameters; for example, the URL http://kissmetrics.com/?utm_source=semintrotopayperclicksearchmarketing&utm_medium=PDF&utm_term=PPC&utm_content=semintrotopayperclicksearchmarketing&utm_campaign=guides has the following properties:

    • Campaign medium = PDF
    • Campaign name = guides
    • Campaign source = semintrotopayperclicksearchmarketing
    • Campaign content = semintrotopayperclicksearchmarketing
    • Campaign term = ppc
    • These all trigger as properties in KISSmetrics

    Search engine hit

    • Search Engine property indicates which search engine was used
    • Search Terms indicate which search terms were used; since Google encrypts search data, many search terms will return as “Not Provided”

    You’ll want to set some events and properties yourself. A few ideas for e-commerce sites:

    • Product search terms property indicates what search terms were used by the visitor (in the product search bar)
    • Viewed product event triggers when a visitor visits a product
    • Add to cart event triggers when a product is placed in the shopping cart; associated properties can be product added (to indicate the name of the property), variation (to indicate what color, size, or model of the product), and quantity (to indicate how many of that product they placed in their cart)
    • Promo code triggers when a customer enters a coupon/promo code during checkout
    • Order total indicates the total monetary amount that was spent on an order
    • Returned product name triggers when a customer returns a product
    • Price indicates the price of the returned product(s)

    You can check out many more events and properties to set up with our E-Commerce essentials.

    For a SaaS business, you’ll want to consider setting up these events and properties:

    • Signed Up event triggers when a visitor signs up for a free trial (if applicable) or begins paying
    • Plan name indicates the plan the visitor signed up for
    • Subscription upgraded indicates when the customer upgrades their plan
      • Subscription billing amount indicates the new amount the customer is paying
      • Subscription billing length indicates how frequently in months they are billed
      • Subscription plan level indicates the new plan the customer is on
    • Trial description indicates the trial description such as 14-day trial, 30-day trial, etc.

    For more events and properties to set up, view our SaaS essentials.

    Events, Properties, and People Are the Foundation of KISSmetrics

    As you can see, all the insights KISSmetrics delivers come from this trifecta of events, properties, and people. After you get these set up, you’ll be able to build reports that will help you understand the people who interact with your website. And, once you understand these people, you’ll know how to grow your business.

    To get started using people data, login or sign up for a KISSmetrics account now.

    7 Experts Tell You How To Create Winning Marketing Surveys

    All great marketing starts with a deep understanding of your customer. If you don’t have that, it’s nearly impossible to create campaigns that will resonate with your target market. This might seem obvious, but it’s easy to get lost in the daily grind of content creation, analytics and strategy planning and overlook the importance of consistent market research.

    Actually, consistency is key––customer research is not a set-it-and-forget-it kinda thing, as I mentioned here.

    One of the most effective ways to research your target market is through surveys. With so many great survey tools available it might seem easy to cobble one together. But if you want to gather actionable data that gives you deep insights, you need to understand the science and nuance behind creating a good survey (which requires data analysis chops, a knack for psychology and copy skills, among other things).

    The nice thing about surveys is that, once you get good at them and have enough traffic/subscribers/customers, you can automate the process so that you have a constant flow of data coming in––a big help when it comes to being consistent with your research!

    For this post I spoke to seven marketers in order to understand how they create winning surveys. Here’s what they had to say…

    1. Peep Laja, Founder of Markitekt and ConversionXL –– The best online surveys are qualitative

    Peep Laja created and manages ConversionXL, one of the most popular conversion optimization blogs online. He is excellent at crafting blog posts that get shared across the web; he used a specific system to get ConversionXL 55,000 visitors in the first month and, eventually, attract an average of over 100,000 visitors a month.

    I reached out to Peep in order to understand how he designs customer surveys to gain insights that will boost conversions. Here’s what he had to say:

    Survey people who still freshly remember their purchase and the friction they experienced in the buying process. Only talk to your recent first-time customers (who have no previous relationship or experience with you that might affect their responses).

    You want to filter out repeat buyers or people who bought a long time ago. If you ask somebody who made the purchase 6 months or more ago, they have long forgotten and might feed you with false information.

    The best online surveys are qualitative (open-ended questions). Aim to get in around 200 responses, and avoid multiple choice and ratings.

    My experience is that the sweet spot is around 7 to 10 questions. More than 10, and the number of people who take the survey goes down; less than 7, and you might not capture as much information as you could.

    Here are some questions that give you really great insights for conversion optimization:

    • “Which doubts and hesitations did you have before completing the purchase?” → Identify main sources of friction, and address them (or fix them if they’re usability problems).
    • “What’s the one thing that nearly stopped you from buying from us?” → This is about identifying friction again, coming from a different angle.
    • “Which questions did you have, but couldn’t find answers to on the website?” → 50% of the purchases are not completed due to insufficient information. This helps you identify some of the missing information your customers want.

    2. Felicia Sphar, Direct-Response Copywriter and Founder of Instantly Irresistible –– Use surveys to steal words from your customers’ mouths

    Felicia is a direct-response copywriter, coach and blogger. I’ve noticed that copywriters tend to be incredibly good at customer research––they develop battle-tested systems for collecting data about their target audience in order to distill their key pain points and desires.

    While their research methods are intended to support writing killer direct-response copy, the resulting conclusions can shape the messaging and strategy for a company’s marketing campaigns at large.

    I reached out to Felicia in order to understand how customer surveys play a role in writing effective copy.

    Hardly anyone will tell you this, but writing great copy is all about stealing. Literally, stealing the words from your customers’ mouths… which is why asking survey questions is so important. One of my favorites to ask that performs consistently well is: “If you had this information, what would it allow you to do? How would you feel?”  I love to ask this question via email because people really open up, have time to think through their answers, and you’ll find a lot of ‘gold nuggets’ for your copy.

    This is how you get the ‘painted picture’ of what your product actually means to someone––as it’s never about the product itself. You have to uncover what’s ‘under the rug’ in order to move people with any copy you write––and then USE that exact language.

    Thankfully, there are no ‘copy police’ that get you for stealing. You’re only rewarded in sales.

    3. Chuck Liu, User Experience Research Manager at KISSmetrics ––  Use surveys to benchmark visitors’ primary motivation for being on your site

    Chuck Liu is a design research manager who helps companies create great user experiences through gathering key insights. Aside from UX, Chuck has worked in marketing and IT customer support. I loved Chuck’s recent article for the KISSmetrics blog on building effective surveys and wanted to learn more about how he gathers and applies survey data to make better products.

    Here’s what he shared with me:

    Start with broad questions first and get more specific later on. This is so you can measure general satisfaction or experiences with your product or business before you ask about specific scenarios or features.

    Some broad questions that you can start with include:

    • “How satisfied are you?” → This helps you gather feedback about a current product or service. You can also ask the NPS Score question of “How likely are you to recommend <PRODUCT/SERVICE> to a friend or family member?”
    • “What is your primary motivation for using <PRODUCT/SERVICE>?” →This is great if you’re trying to do research on why people are on your site or using your products in general. This is especially useful if you’re a startup and trying to figure out a product-market fit.
    • “What best describes why you came here today?” → This is a great way for you to benchmark the primary motivation and what users are doing on your site. Repeat customers may be browsing while app users may be doing specific tasks you can analyze.

    Here are a few more specific questions:

    • “What is your experience with using X? Please rate your experience on <feature> on a scale of 1-5.” → Dive into questions about specific features or purchases. Ask about what words they would use to describe the brand or company. You could also ask about competitor products/services such as “Have you considered using any of the following products?” in order to gain insight into what competitors come up. If you don’t know competition at all, then ask it this way, “Have you considered using a similar product to <PRODUCT/SERVICE?  List all that apply.”
    • “How satisfied are you with X/Y/Z?” → Amazon and Apple usually ask you how satisfied you are with the professionalism of support staff or technical knowledge.
    • “How would you describe <PRODUCT/SERVICE> to a friend or family member?” This lets customers, in their own words, tell you what they think your business or service is. This helps you write better copy for campaigns or collateral using real vocabulary and language from customers. It also lets you learn if your product/service is being misinterpreted as something else.

    At the very best, you can get a high-level understanding of people’s sentiments and people’s motivation for coming to your business or product. It helps you understand your market and your customers.

    As people go deeper into a survey, you find out more specific details that you can use to optimize your business/product in the right direction or at least pick up some useful information about how you can change people’s perspective on your business.

    4. Meghan Lockwood, Senior Manager of Content Strategy at edynamic –– Before you send out your survey, make sure to have outside eyes read it

    One of the most thorough guides for creating marketing surveys that I found while researching this article is by Meghan Lockwood, a Senior Manager of Content Strategy at a web solutions firm and who cut her teeth at HubSpot and MarketingSherpa. I loved how she dove deep into what it means to ask statistically-valid questions (with concrete examples), the importance of ruthless editing and how to order your survey questions.

    Here’s what Meghan shared with me:

    On how to edit and test surveys:

    My best editorial advice: Keep your surveys as short as humanly possible. No matter how much you want to learn (or how many additions you get from the outside), the fewer questions you ask, the more responses you will get. At Sherpa, we found that with any survey that takes longer than 5 – 10 minutes you watch a dramatic drop-off in response rates.

    Before you send out your survey, make sure to have outside eyes read it. You are shooting for objective questions. And, as much as you might think you aren’t leading the witness, when you live any environment long enough, certain assumptions––like people are doing digital marketing at all––seem self-evident to you when they often aren’t to the larger world.

    On why I believe in surveys:

    With everyone running to “do content” these days, unique data and original insights are the only true differentiating factor you can count on. A lot of people are doing graphic content – it’s almost a table stake. To keep your readers coming back, though, to get them to trust you, you have to get more than skin deep. Give them information they won’t get anywhere else, and you will be the numbers that someone else steals.

    5. Kristi Hines, Freelance Writer, Social Media Expert & Blogger –– Build a big list of topic ideas for your content marketing with on-page surveys

    Kristi Hines is well-known for creating highly-sharable blog content. Her stuff is so good that both Neil Patel and Unbounce’s Oli Gardner have said she’s the best writer they’ve hired. I wanted to know how a content marketing pro like Kristi uses customer surveys to improve her content strategy.

    Here’s Kristi:

    Using surveys as a part of your content marketing strategy can help you really get inside the minds of your website visitors.

    If you use a small survey popup from platforms like Qualaroo, you can simply ask visitors what type of content they would like to see next. This will help you build a huge list of topic ideas – ones that you know people want to read about. If you send out a survey to your blog subscribers via email, you can go beyond fishing for topic ideas. Ask if they’d rather see longer or shorter posts, additional media (video, infographics, etc.), and other questions that can help you refine your current strategy.

    6. Rebecca Corliss, Inbound Marketing Manager at HubSpot –– Use surveys to run successful inbound marketing campaigns

    Rebecca Corliss is one of HubSpot’s original marketing team members, and she now leads HubSpot’s customer marketing team. She specializes in building marketing programs that drive improved product usage, new feature adoption and upsell opportunities.

    I was curious to learn how a company whose co-founder coined the term “inbound marketing” uses surveys to improve their content, so I asked Rebecca to describe the role surveys play in HubSpot’s marketing.

    At HubSpot we consistently use surveys both to make our marketing better, as well as to create content that drives future campaigns. For example, we believe you must truly understand your persona inside and out in order to run a successful inbound marketing campaign. To make sure we have a clear idea of the persona we want to attract, we survey and learn from our current customers first.

    We also use surveys to make future content, and one of the largest surveys we run drives our annual State of Inbound Marketing Report. In this case, we learn from our customers and community members’ experiences with inbound in order to report findings back to our marketing audience. We then use that content not only to attract new leads, but also to support and teach the customers we currently have. It’s a win win!

    7. Sherice Jacob, Writer and Founder of iElectirfy –– Difficult questions can lead your prospect to abandon your survey

    Sherice Jacob is a web designer, conversion optimization expert, direct-response copywriter and contributor to the KISSmetrics blog. She’s also written about improving conversions with surveys, so I was eager to reach out to her for some tips.

    Here’s what Sherice had to say about crafting effective survey questions:

    Writing survey questions sounds easy enough, right? But with a little careful consideration, you can glean many more valuable insights than just a simple yes or no.

    First, your questions need to be simple and to the point––don’t try to double-up questions when there may be two completely different answers, for example “What are your biggest concerns about sales and marketing?” By the same token, don’t offer too few answers either. Give the most likely responses as choices, but always have an “Other” or “Does Not Apply” option.

    Finally, if your survey questions have an answer that’s too difficult for the prospect to recall, chances are they’ll simply abandon the survey. Things like “how many times did you shop for clothes online during the past six months?” may be easier to recall than “How many magazines did you browse for clothes the past six months?”

    The more likely a prospect is to remember the event or number of times a thing was done, the more likely they will be to see your survey through to completion.

    Over To You: How Do You Use Surveys To Improve Your Marketing?

    All of these tips might make your head spin a bit; as you can see, there’s A LOT that goes into creating great surveys and then applying your new insights to improve your marketing.

    What is your golden rule when it comes to creating good surveys? And how do you use the data to build better marketing campaigns?
    We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

    About the Author: Chloe Mason Gray specializes in digital marketing and growth strategy for small businesses and solopreneurs. Be sure to say hi to her on Twitter. You can also follow her on Google+.