How do you say Creeper in French? (Launch Week)

In this episode we hear what Justin's family thinks about this crazy experiment. Also: why is Justin standing in a completely dark closet?

Launch stats

I promised that I'd share all my launch stats for each project I release.

So far, in the last 24 hours, here are the stats:

Question & Answer

  1. What do you use for podcasting stats + hosting? - they're great!
  2. What do you use to record audio interviews over Skype? You can use Skype Call Recorder or Audio Hijack Pro. I use ScreenFlow, which is screencasting software, but it works really well for recording audio as well.
  3. Where do you get your theme music? You can get theme music from Premium Beat and Audio Jungle. I got my music from someone local.

Want to help make Build & Launch a success? Subscribe, and leave a review in iTunes!

Once Build & Launch starts it's official season on February 5th, 2015, Justin Jackson will launch a new product every week. Listen and learn from his wins and misses, and get motivated to ship your own SaaS, mobile app, ebook, or other digital project.

Launch week: How to make a podcast

  • Episode 1: Choosing a topic
  • Episode 2: Record your first episode
  • Episode 3: Podcasting equipment (yesterday's episode)
  • Episode 4: Recording, interviewing, editing (this episode)
  • Episode 5: Launching and promoting

Show notes

Nine Overlooked Techniques for Instagram Popularity

We all want to be more popular on our social media profiles. As marketers, we need to be more popular. It’s kind of our job.

So we do all the typical stuff: Read articles, use Buffer, follow best practices…whatever else we’re supposed to do.

In my recent experiments with Instagram, I figured out a few new techniques that not many people are using. Try these overlooked ideas, and watch your Instagram audience explode.

1. Do keyword research on hashtags.

It’s not enough just to use the hot hashtags. Your goal is to use the most relevant and highest traffic hashtags. Does this sound a little bit like SEO? There is a lot of similarity. Hashtags are the Instagram equivalent of keywords, so you need to find out which ones your target users are most likely to click on.

You’ll get the highest amount of engagement if you use at least 11 hashtags, according to research by TrackMaven:


Image source

And the best hashtags to use are those that will get relevant traffic.

If you choose the wrong hashtags, you won’t get the level of engagement that you’re looking for. Here is an example. Jawbone, maker of a fitness tracker, tried to use the power of hashtags on Instagram. They chose the hashtag #knowyourself, because it matched the theme of their marketing. Unfortunately, the #knowyourself hashtag was too generic. A lot of people were already using it, and those who were interested in clicking on #knowyourself didn’t engage with the theme that Jawbone was pushing.

If you pick the right keywords — relevant and targeted — you’ll gain a lot more popularity in the ways that count.

2. Inspire your audience.

People feel good when they are inspired. When someone feels inspired, they like the person who inspired them.

That’s what #nitishdhiman, a social media marketer, does with his account. His Instagram keeps up a steady output of inspirational quotes for marketers:


3. Give away gifts. Nice ones.


Some of the techniques for becoming insanely popular on Instagram are definitely not free.

Some of my biggest costs were giving away prizes. I gave away nice stuff, which really caught on. Obviously, however, I leveraged my giveaways to get more followers. A single giveaway could score me a few thousand extra followers, which turned into more popularity later on down the road.

4. Show lifestyle pictures.

Dan Bilzerian’s uberpopular Instagram account is a bit NSFW, but he sure does know how to post lifestyle pictures.


And when it comes to lifestyle, few people live as extravagantly as Bilzerian. That’s part of his secret to success. He lives like a king, and has more Instagram followers than some countries have citizens. Maybe that’s why he’s earned the title “King of Instagram.”

The new wave of lifestyle marketing is extremely appealing. We’re curious about how other people live, especially if we want to live that way ourselves. Of course we can’t live that way, so we live out our dreams through them. Celebrities, rich people, entrepreneurs, world travelers, extreme athletes, and fashion consultants can easily feature such lifestyle pictures on their Instagram, racking up tons of follows and likes.

But what about the rest of us who live more normal lives? We’re not exactly parachuting every day, or tooling around in a Lamborghini. So what? Lifestyle pictures don’t need to be extreme in order to be appealing. They just need to be basic lifestyle pictures.

Even Taylor Swift, who has her fair share of glam, posts normal lifestyle events — like a birthday party. It’s not exactly photoshopped. Just some normal people having a good time.


For brands looking to use this play on Instagram, think of Dos Equis and the “Most Interesting Man in the World.” Here you have a brand personality that serves as a great example – where this lifestyle technique can really hit a home run. Who doesn’t want to see a daily look into the life of this guy?

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 10.10.50 AM

His selfies are done on canvas.

Does your brand have a personality that would do wonders on Instagram? Even the office dog might serve as a great start :).


At KISSmetrics, Olive would be the perfect fit!

5. A few selfies are okay.

One of the reasons why Instagram is so popular is because it provides a close look at people’s everyday life — what they look like, how they act, what they do.

Some people have a thing against selfies, as if they are some narcissistic iniquity. In actuality, selfies are part of the personal self expression in the digital age. It’s okay.


Perhaps we all have a curiosity or tendency to snoop. Instagram gratifies that desire. If you’re a beautiful celeb, people expect a lot of selfies.

But even if you’re not endowed with the same physical attractiveness, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. People want to see you. Go ahead and snap a selfie or two.

You might even be able to get away with hundreds of selfies like mrpimpgoodgame, “the [self-proclaimed] leader of the selfie movement.”


6. Comment on other people’s photos (don’t just like them).

When I first started using Instagram, I thought it would be enough just to like other people’s pictures in order for them to follow me and like my photos. As it turned out, I got way more interaction when I commented on other users’ photos then when I merely liked them.

There’s a reason for this. On Instagram, there are 575 likes every second, but only 81 comments. People like photos 609% more than they comment on photos. Obviously, it’s easier to double tap a photo than it is to tap comment, and then think of something creative to say. When you go to that extra effort, people like that. They’re more likely to tap your profile and follow you.

Instagram guru Emil Pakarklis has nearly 50,000 followers. Here is his proven advice for getting more followers:

You can also get a lot of exposure by leaving meaningful comments on the photos of other people. When you leave a thoughtful and positive comment, there’s a good chance that the author of that photo will become curious to check out your profile. And if your profile is good, you’ll get a new follower.

Other power users do the same thing. Richard Lazazzera ran a test to find out which types of engagement got the most amount of return. When he followed users, 14% of them followed him back. When he followed and liked other users’ photo, 22% of them followed back When he followed, liked, and commented, 34% of them followed him back. That’s not a bad ratio — more than 1/3 — for minimal output of energy.

Programs like IconoSquare will help you become a more powerful Instagram user in this regard, because you can post comments easier.

7. Target the hottest hashtags

Most people know that using hashtags is an easy way to get more exposure…but which hashtags should you use?

Many people simply smother each post with a huge variety of hashtags like #bestofig or #likeforlike, hoping to get more likes. This can work. But a more powerful method of getting quick and easy likes is to use the Top 100 tags.

Websta keeps a running list of the top 100 tags on Instagram. Check this list regularly in order to use the tags that most other people are using.

8. Post more photos.

Who wants to follow an account that has just a few photos? When a user clicks on another profile, they see three different metrics that will help them to determine whether or not they want to follow.

  1. Posts.
  3. Following


All of these numbers are important, especially the first two, posts and followers. You can’t necessarily control the number of followers you have, but you can increase your posts. This is the first thing that you should work on in order to create an Instagram account that is worthy of popularity.

You can work hard early on to make sure that you build up a good portfolio. After that, keep your posting to a maximum of four per day.

9. Consider buying an Instagram account that already has a big audience.

One of the toughest parts of becoming popular on Instagram is just starting out. How do you drum up thousands of followers from scratch?

You don’t have to.

The best way to boost your popularity is to start with an account that already has a few thousand followers.

In my experiments, I bought an Instagram account that had 131,000 followers. I just changed the name and took over.

What happened next was really interesting. I lost a few followers — a few thousand actually. I dropped from 131,000 to 21,000 in a few weeks. The followers dropped by as many as 3,000 a day. It eventually slowed down, and I started gaining more than I was losing.


Image from Quicksprout.

As I continued with my regular posting, I eventually got more followers than the account originally had.

Of course, the tricky part is finding an account that has an audience that will somewhat seamlessly mesh with your take over. For companies, a good example would be if you operate an online shoe store. There are plenty of “sneakerheads” and “shoe fashionistas” out there operating popular Instagram accounts. You could either approach them with an offer or partner with them. Think about it carefully, but it might be a great way to boost up your Instagram power over night.


These aren’t the only techniques for boosting your Instagram followers. There are plenty of other ways such as interacting with your followers, commenting on photos, hashtagging your photos, etc. All the conventional methods are successful, and they have their place.

If you’re eager for getting an edge and growing your traffic even more, then one of these techniques may work for you.

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

How to Ensure Your First 2 Sales Reps Actually Work Out

A long-time reader, first time caller recently wrote in to ask a question that pretty much everyone asks some variant of:

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 2.16.45 PMIf you had to force rank these items in terms of what we should primarily be looking for in these first sales reps, how would you rank them?
- has sold SaaS before (as opposed to selling media/ads, or some other product)
- has sold something of a similar size ticket/ACV (ours is high..$150k-350k ACV)
- has sold something to the same kinds of companies we are going after
- has worked in a startup situation before
Thanks again, have a great weekend.”

These are the right questions.  You can’t have it all, not only in your first reps, but in any of your reps, really.  What do you look for?

Well, later, you can look for a lot of things.  Once you have some help, a VP of Sales to do the hiring.

But over dozens of SaaS start-ups that have churned through their first sales reps, I’ve boiled the key criteria down to Just Two.  Here’s all you need to know to qualify your first two sales reps:

  • waitingphone#1 — Would YOU buy from this rep?  Later, as you add reps 3-300, you’ll find it takes a village.  And in fact, you’ll find you end up with lots of reps that you wouldn’t personally buy from.  Some are too slick.  Some are too aggressive.  Whatever it is.  And that can work — later.  But not with the first reps.  Because the thing, these early leads, they’re precious.  If you wouldn’t buy from the rep — it will never work.  You’ll never trust her.  And when it’s hard, you won’t know why.  But if it’s someone you’d buy from — you’ll know what to do.  Just help.  Be a great “middler” and let her close.  But if you’re second guessing your first 2 reps, there’s about a 93.4% chance they’ll fail.  There’s just too much uncertainty, and you’ll never let the leads go to a better place.  To a place where they can close at a higher, faster rate.  Don’t let yourself believe sales is some sort of mystery, that some rep you don’t understand knows how to practice.  You know how to sell, at least you know how to sell your product.  You just aren’t great at it.
  • #2 — Does he or she have at least 18-24 months of experience selling SaaS products successfully — on quota?  Later, you can hire all types.  Later, folks that haven’t sold directly before, you can hire them into entry-level roles or SDR roles.  Later, folks that have sold, but not SaaS, you can take some risks there if the rest of the package is strong.  But not in The First Two.  Because the thing is, you don’t know.  You don’t know how to sell SaaS products, not really.  So you simply cannot hire reps that don’t have at least some quota-carrying SaaS experience here.  Later, when you hire a VPS, he or she can mix it up here.

>> So what do you give on then?  The reality is, what you’re probably giving on is The World’s Best Closers.  You may hire very good reps … but not absolute top of the pack.  

And that’s OK, in early days.  Because hiring someone that is Good, that You’d Buy From and Trust, That Has Been Trained in SaaS Sales … is going to work.  Better than the world’s best closer that you wouldn’t buy from, that you don’t fully understand.  As long as they are a good closer, that’s probably much better than you.  Most founders-serving-as-VPS are great middlers, great demo’ers, but mediocre closers.

You haven’t been trained to ask for the check.  And you don’t like to Hear No.   And you’ll leave (lots) of money on the table just to close the customer.

A good rep, that you trust, that you’d buy from, with at least 18+ months of experience — will do better.  They’ll ask for the check now, this month.  They’re ok hearing No.  And they don’t leave as much money on the table.

Boom!  Revenue per lead goes up.  You learn more.  Do this up to $1m ARR, then hire your VPS.

But without #1 and #2 — it’s too risky.  They’ll fail, you won’t trust them or understand them, and you’ll be back to Square One.  You can’t afford that.

An interview with marketing mentor, Ilise Benun

I recently interviewed Ilise Benun of Marketing Mentor. Ilise has worked with creative professionals for over 25 years and offers fantastic insight into the thought processes of creative folks like you and me. In our audio interview we focus on proposals and the importance they play in our businesses. Ilise tells us; What makes a great proposal great, and how can you skip the newbie mistakes that so many of us have made. Check out the audio recording or if you prefer we also have the interview transcribed below. Nathan: Thank you so much for joining me today Ilise. I...

La entrada An interview with marketing mentor, Ilise Benun aparece primero en Nusii: Proposal software for creative professionals..

Why You Can’t Afford to Be a Generalist

Why You Can’t Afford to Be a Generalist

If you consider yourself a generalist, here’s the good news: doing great work in the future will require the skills of a generalist, especially if you work independently or on a small team.

And more and more of us are working independently these days. 40% of American workers will be freelancers by 2020 (and according to Freelancer’s Union, 33% of us already are) and freelancers need to be generalists to be successful. You have to know a little bit of everything.

Company founders need to be generalists too. Running a business requires wearing so many hats!

But here’s the problem: you can’t afford to just be a generalist. People get hired for a specialty or a small set of deep skills. Products get purchased for the specific problem they solve. Businesses get built on concrete expertise.

If you’ve been wearing the generalist title proudly, you’re making your life hard. I know because I used to carefully craft my resume to paint myself as a jack of all trades. When I decided to brand myself first as a software developer, then as a project manager, and later as the traffic guy when I went on my own, that’s when things got good and everything became possible.

Where does a generalist apply for a position on the job boards? Where is the “generalist needed” section in Craigslist? How does a founder with only shallow skills get her first prototype off the ground?

The motivation for being a generalist is understandable. It’s fun to learn new things. It’s great to know a little about a lot. The rush of diving into a new topic is something you can count on.

But this is also a cop-out. The easiest learning comes in the first 20 hours. You can learn a lot when something is fresh and exciting. But can you learn a skill that’s sellable in 20 hours?

Becoming a generalist happens to people like us who get really excited about a new thing and can’t help but learn everything we can… until we get bored and move on to the next thing.

Being a specialist is about discipline, and generalists find this kind of discipline hard to come by.

But you have to be an expert in something, or a handful of things, if you expect to charge top rates, land the coveted jobs, or create the next hot product.

Gary Vaynerchuk dropped this little gem yesterday: Stop Asking Me About Your Personal Brand, and Start Doing Some Work. Generalists have the right idea: you need to know about a lot of things to succeed in this world. But you have to start doing the work it takes to be an expert and a generalist at the same time.

Otherwise it’s all branding and no skills. An inch deep and a mile wide.

Forcing yourself to be solely a specialist isn’t the answer either. Specialists have to rely on other people too much and bear too much risk that the market might change.

The intersection of the two is where the magic happens. Become an expert and a generalist at the same time, and you’ll be unstoppable.

And here’s the ironic part: once you become an expert at something, your generalist skills will be more valuable than ever. The expertise gets your foot in the door. It makes you valuable and opens opportunities. Once you land the opportunities, you can embrace your generalist nature all you want.

The trick is figuring out what to become an expert at, and how to find the discipline you need to stick with it.

Those are the two questions you should be asking yourself. Instead of “what should I learn next” ask yourself: “what skill is valuable and interesting enough for me to become one of the world’s best at?” Then ask yourself where you’ll find the motivation and create the habits to follow through.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Share your take on being a generalist in the comments below.


You have to start doing the work it takes to be an expert and a generalist at the same time.
  or copy + Facebook

The Shark Tank Effect

Evan Mendelsohn, Founder of TipsyElves, talks with us about his experience appearing on the show Shark Tank. From the effects on his business to the relationships developed with their investor Robert Herjavec, it's a really interesting look into the effects of exposure.

Show Notes:

  • Evan Mendelsohn
  • TipsyElves
  • Shark Tank
  • Robert Herjavec
  • Intro Song by Alex Koch of Digital Dust Studios
  • Outro Song Laura Mvula - "Green Garden"
  • The dream forms over time

    In my recent travels around Asia, I’ve had the great opportunity to meet a lot of local founders and aspiring entrepreneurs.

    One of the things that seems to come up many times is that people will ask me “what triggered you to become passionate about company culture and transparency” or “how did you know you wanted to build Buffer to what it is today”. One of the most memorable moments for me was when a super smart lady who is having a lot of success at a large company, who longs to work on something more meaningful, told me about her friend. She said to me:

    “My friend has her own fashion startup and is doing well. She is so passionate about what she is doing. I want to do a company in fashion too, but I don’t feel like I have the same level of passion as my friend. What should I do?”

    I think there is a lot of advice out there that says “you must be super excited about what you’re working on, otherwise you won’t stick with it”. I think there is a lot of truth in that.

    At the same time, if I look back on my own journey, I don’t think that’s how it worked. It would be easy (and incorrect) for me to say that I always imagined creating a company with full transparency and no managers from day 1. Or for me to say that I had a vision to build a SaaS startup that helps companies solve all their social media struggles and reach 30,000 customers and $5m in annual revenue.

    The thing is, 4 years ago when I started the company, I didn’t even start a company. I just had a side project. I had to work full-time for clients to pay the bills. It was almost incomprehensible that I could dream about those things, I had much more immediate needs.

    But I did have a little dream. My goal in the earliest days was simply to build something that truly solved a problem for people and make money online with a product. My earnings had always been tied to my time, doing contract and freelance work. I was passionate about moving from that to creating a product which someone would pay for.

    Back when I started, having someone pay $5 for my product was as big as the dream got. It didn’t involve having a team, creating a movement around transparency, raising funding or building a unique workplace.

    What happened was that once I achieved that first dream, my horizon became much clearer. It’s like the fog lifted and I could see ahead and the next dream came into my head. After the first customer paid $5 for Buffer (in the first month we had total revenue of $20), my next goal was to make $1,000 per month so that I could drop my freelance work and focus completely on Buffer. This was the dream I pursued for the next few months.

    The dream forms over time. It’s okay if you don’t have a world-changing vision from the beginning. The key, in my mind, is to follow that tiny dream. That little spark, the idea in the very back of your mind. Once you pursue that, you are on the path to your most meaningful and fulfilling work.

    Photo credit: Aristocrats-hat

    How to Find out What Marketing Campaigns are the Best for Acquisition, ROI, & Retention

    What marketing manager wouldn’t want to see exactly how their campaigns impact ROI? The better you understand what works, the more likely you are to deliver the growth your company needs to reach the next level.

    In this post, we’ll be discussing how to track your campaigns in KISSmetrics. We’ll discuss how to set them up so you can track them correctly. Also, we’ll use reports in KISSmetrics that will help you identify which campaigns are the best for customer acquisition, ROI, and customer retention.

    Let’s begin with an explanation of how KISSmetrics tracks campaigns.

    A Quick Rundown on UTMs

    As a marketer, you are likely running a few dozen online campaigns. You might have a paid search campaign, an email campaign, various content marketing activities (webinars, PDFs, etc.), and a paid campaign on a social channel. How do you keep track of all these campaigns and differentiate one campaign from another?

    Enter UTMs.

    A UTM (urchin tracking module) is a snippet of text added to the end of a URL. They are used for tracking marketing campaigns.

    You may have seen them around the web. They look like this:

    There are five variables, also known as parameters, in a UTM:

    • Campaign source (utm_source) (required) – Used to identify a specific source within a channel, such as AdWords, Facebook ads, or Twitter ads to distinguish paid ads.
    • Campaign medium (utm_medium) (required) – Used to identify a marketing channel like email, paid, etc.
    • Campaign term (utm_term) – Records the keywords used in paid search.
    • Campaign content (utm_content) – Used to differentiate ads or links in the same piece of content.
    • Campaign name (utm_campaign) (required) – Used to identify your campaign, such as your website, a specific sale, etc.

    In our example (shown again below), we used three variables:

    Source – In this case, “Facebook” is the source.

    Medium – This specifies that it is a paid link.

    Campaign name – This is an ad for an ecommerce company offering people 10% off their first order.

    UTMs have become the standard since Google Analytics uses them to track campaigns. We deliberately structured KISSmetrics so that it could take advantage of the same tracking. This makes it very easy for you since there is nothing to change. KISSmetrics will grab the same campaign data.

    How UTMs Work in KISSmetrics

    When a person visits from a URL that contains the campaign source (utm_source), KISSmetrics will automatically record the event Ad Campaign Hit. All the variables in the UTM are recorded as properties. Take a look at the following URL:

    If a person visits from this URL, KISSmetrics will trigger the event Ad Campaign Hit and record the following properties:

    Campaign source: newsletter

    Campaign medium: email

    Campaign name: Jan_deals

    Variables are recorded as properties in KISSmetrics. And, when these properties are recorded, you can use KISSmetrics to track a campaign’s effectiveness in acquiring and retaining customers.

    In this post, we’ll use an ecommerce site as an example, but you can use UTMs for anything. They aren’t limited to ecommerce.

    We’ll run through four separate campaigns:

    • Email
    • Paid search
    • Social
    • PDF

    We’ll track them from the start of creating a link all the way through to revenue. Let’s begin with email campaigns.

    Using UTMs with Email Campaigns

    Many email marketing programs allow you to track links, but only as far as which links get clicked. To track links all the way to revenue, you’ll need to use KISSmetrics.

    Let’s say we’re an ecommerce company selling nutritional supplements. We run an email newsletter that people can sign up for on the website. We usually send health tips in the newsletter, but the next email will announce our 20% off campaign. The newsletter will go out to all subscribers, and the sale will apply to everyone, whether they’re a customer or not. The sale will last five days.

    We’re going to keep the email simple, with the subject line mentioning the sale. The body of the email will contain links to three of our best selling products. These links will have UTMs attached to them.

    To create a UTM, we’ll use Google’s URL builder and enter the following variables:


    We can add this UTM to all the links in the email. Now, let’s see how we can track this with a funnel.

    Tracking Purchases from This Email Campaign

    To see if this email converted readers into buyers, we’ll set up a basic funnel report to track people who visited the site, placed an item in their cart, and purchased:


    To track the email campaign’s effectiveness, we’ll need to segment people by campaign name. Keep in mind that this email campaign used five_day_sale as the campaign name variable.

    Here are our options for segmentation:


    We’ll choose “campaign name” at the time of “Purchased.” This tells KISSmetrics to segment people by the campaign name they had when they purchased. Now, we’ll see all the people who have purchased and which campaign they came from:


    This report shows us all the campaigns we’ve set up with the UTM variable “Campaign name.”

    Our most recent campaign had the variable five_day_sale. This campaign can be considered a success because the conversion rate is solid, with nearly 24% of those who visited the site converting to purchase. This is nearly double our average conversion rate.

    Using UTMs with Paid Search Campaigns (AdWords)

    The most popular way to import your AdWords data into Google Analytics is to enable auto-tagging. This places a parameter called gclid in URLs. It looks like this:

    This gclid information is only for Google Analytics. No other tool, including KISSmetrics, has access to that data.

    When you use KISSmetrics and a person clicks on a URL containing the gclid parameter, an event called Ad Campaign Hit will be recorded. But, KISSmetrics (and other analytics tools) will not be able to get any information about which campaign the link is from, which keywords were used, etc.

    To get that information into KISSmetrics, you’ll need to use a UTM. You can use gclid and UTM parameters at the same time without issue. Google Analytics will read the gclid data, while other tools (including KISSmetrics) will read the UTM data.

    Going back to our previous example of an ecommerce company, we also have multiple ads through AdWords. We use gclid parameters to get that data into Google Analytics, but we also want to track the ad campaigns in KISSmetrics. We’ll set our UTM variables:


    This UTM will tell us that people who click on this link are from an AdWords campaign. They will click on a multivitamin offer, and our main messaging in the ad is that we are the only ones selling this product. The campaign medium tells us that it’s a paid channel.

    For this funnel report, we’ll test keywords against each other. We’ll segment people by Campaign term.

    At the end of the month, this funnel report shows us a list of all the paid keywords that have brought us traffic:


    Most of these keywords have a solid conversion rate throughout the funnel, with an average conversion rate of 11.2% from Visited Site > Purchased.

    Raw sales numbers are great, especially when you’re tracking campaign effectiveness. But, to really judge these paid campaigns, we’ll need to know how much revenue they’ve brought us. For that, we’ll use the revenue report.

    When segmenting people in the revenue report, we’ll look at the first ever Channel: Origin. The channel property groups people into seven channels based on their referrer or campaign. Channel: Origin displays the specific referring URL or campaign name. It’s the next level of segmentation into the channel.

    Here are the seven channels people can be grouped into:

    • Direct – Visits from direct referrers, or typing the site into the browser, or bookmarks
    • Organic – Visits from search engines
    • Referral – Visits from 3rd parties
    • Email – Visits from emails
    • Paid – Visits from paid sources
    • Social – Visits from social networks/sites

    One of the channels is Paid. When we attach the gclid parameter to our URLs, KISSmetrics automatically categorizes that traffic into the Paid channel and assigns them the AdWords origin. Here’s our data:


    We’ve received over $275,636 from this channel, and we have a large volume of customers, with over 12,000 coming from AdWords.

    To know if this is a profitable channel for us, we’ll have to look at our AdWords spending. Lifetime value (LTV) is also an important metric. It’s only an estimate, but the revenue report calculates that each customer coming from Paid will spend around $900 during their lifetime. Churn rate is factored into our LTV calculation, so if we can keep it low, we’ll maintain a strong lifetime value. Ideally, our LTV needs to be high enough to cover the cost of acquisition.

    To get a deeper analysis of retention, we’ll use the cohort report and track repurchase rates. To do that, we’ll set the two events to “Purchased.” This tells the cohort report to find the people who have purchased, and then track them to see how many purchased again.

    The event “Purchased” is triggered when a person makes a purchase on our website. This event is not automatically tracked in KISSmetrics, so you’ll have to set it up yourself.

    Here is the Report Configuration:


    Now, here’s the data:


    I’ve highlighted the cohort we’re focusing on. We see that many people repurchase a few weeks after placing their first order. This means that we’re likely getting a good ROI on our AdWords spending. It would be advantageous for us to continue this marketing channel.

    Using UTMs with Social Campaigns

    UTMs are used everywhere on social media. Go to your Twitter feed, click on a few links, and you’ll likely come across at least one that has a UTM. This makes sense because the people who shared the link want to know more than just how many times it was clicked or the total traffic they get from a particular social platform. They want to be able to tie campaign data to it.

    Continuing with the ecommerce example, we can create a UTM for each link we share. It may look like this:

    We’re using four variables. Our source is Twitter, the medium is social, the content is the name of the product, and the campaign is a product launch. The content name, fish_oil, is important here because it distinguishes itself from the other products we share on Twitter. The campaign name, product_launch, is assigned to tweets that announce a new product we sell.

    Using UTMs to Track PDF Campaigns

    Many ecommerce and SaaS companies use PDFs to garner prospect leads, generate interest, and show thought leadership in their space. Ecommerce companies offer product catalogs in the form of downloadable PDFs. SaaS companies use PDFs to explain which problems their product solves and why people should try their solution.

    A big issue with PDFs is that they have no referrer. If someone downloads a PDF, clicks a normal, non-UTM link in the PDF that takes them back to your site, and then they purchase, the PDF doesn’t get credit for the sale. Fortunately, we can track the effectiveness of these PDFs by adding UTMs to every link.

    If we’re an ecommerce business, we may create a product catalog that links to hundreds of products. We can use UTMs to track which products garner the most interest. If we’re a SaaS company describing our product, we may link back to a features page on our site using a UTM.

    For all sources that don’t have a referrer (such as a PDF), we’ll need to use UTMs to track where people come from.

    Measuring All Campaigns against Each Other

    Measuring one campaign is great, but to find the campaigns that lead to the most growth, we’ll need to compare them against each other.

    We don’t need to use any reports other than the ones we’ve already used. We can get all our data with a funnel, revenue, and cohort report. The funnel report will give us acquisition metrics, the revenue report tells us the money we’ve received, and the cohort report tracks retention.

    Let’s get started with the funnel report.

    Funnel Report (Track Customer Acquisition)

    We’ll be segmenting people by their first ever Channel. To set this, all we have to do is click on the gear icon and select first “Channel” ever:


    This will sort people by first touch, meaning we will show the channel that drove a person to your site the very first time, even if their first visit came before the start date of the funnel. People will be placed in one of the following seven channels:

    Content – People who came from a PDF or any other content will be put in this channel.

    Direct – People who came without any referrer will be put in this channel.

    Email – Those who came from an email campaign will be put in this channel.

    Organic – People who came from a search engine will be placed in this channel.

    Paid – Any people who came from a paid link will be placed in this channel.

    Referral – Anyone who came from a 3rd-party site that is not social or paid will be put in this channel.

    Social – If people came from a social media site, they’ll be put in this channel.

    We’ll run a funnel report that tracks people who visited the site, placed an item in their cart, and purchased. We want a large amount of data, so we’ll make our date range six months:


    At the top of the funnel, we see that Direct and Email both bring us a solid amount of traffic. These are good channels for us because the traffic is free. Both have given us a good number of customers as well.

    The Paid channel is a high performer because it brings a lot of people, many of whom went on to purchase. Social brings a good amount of traffic, but has one of the lower purchase rates. Only about 6% of those who visited the site went on to purchase.

    Content is a good channel and has a solid conversion rate throughout the funnel. Much like Direct, Organic is essentially free traffic for us. During our six month time frame, 935 people who came from an organic search converted to purchasing.

    Revenue Report (Tract ROI)

    To track the money we’ve received from each of these channels, we’ll load the revenue report and sort people by first ever Channel:


    One of the strongest channels here is Direct. It brings in a lot of customers and revenue, has a good churn rate, and a high lifetime value. Paid is another solid channel. It brings in a lot of customers and has a good lifetime value. We’ll have to look at what we’re spending to know if this is a profitable channel for us.

    Email also has a large customer base that brought revenue in the six figures during our date range. Since it’s a low cost channel, we’ll continue to work on getting more subscribers on board.

    The other four channels bring us solid revenue and a healthy dose of customers. Social brought over 4,000 customers during our time frame. This is a good channel for growth.

    Content brought a good amount of revenue; we’ll have to see if we should ramp up our efforts to get more growth out of that channel.

    Referral has brought the least amount of money and has a low average revenue/person metric, but it has strong lifetime value due to its low churn rate. If we can get more links back to our site, this channel has the potential to become a better performer.

    Cohort Report (Track Customer Retention)

    Now, we’ll run a cohort report looking at repurchase rates for each campaign. We’re grouping people based on the campaign they came from, and then tracking the ones who purchased to see how many purchased again:


    In every campaign, about 10-16% of customers repurchased within the first week. That drops off in the following weeks; but after 12 weeks, we see that about 4-10% of customers repurchased. There’s a lot of parity with these campaigns, but the best ones for repurchases are Direct, Paid, and Email.

    The Four Takeaways to Remember

    Please remember at least these four things from this post:

    • UTMs allow you to track campaigns – You can build UTMs using Google’s URL Builder and track them in Google Analytics, KISSmetrics, and many other tools.
    • Use the funnel report to track customer acquisition – This report will show you how many people came to your site and what percentage of them converted to purchasing.
    • Use the revenue report to track ROI – This report shows you how much money you’ve received from each campaign. The amount is especially useful if you know how much you’re spending on each campaign, because then you’ll have a better idea of which campaigns are profitably bringing you growth.
    • Use the cohort report to track customer retention – To thrive, ecommerce companies need customers to repurchase and SaaS companies need customers to stick around for a while. To track how well you’re doing in these retention efforts, you can set up and track your data in a cohort report.

    Also, with all these reports, you’ll be able to compare your campaigns against each other in KISSmetrics.

    To discover which marketing campaigns are delivering the best ROI, login or sign up for a KISSmetrics account now.