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+.

Episode 202 | Outbound Sales for Startups with Guest Steli Efti

Show Notes Transcript [00:00] Rob: In this episode of “Startups For The Rest of Us” Mike and I discuss outbound sales for startups with special guest Stelli Efty. This is “Startups For The Rest Of Us” episode 202. [00:09] Music [00:16] Rob: Welcome to “Startups For The Rest of Us”, the podcast that helps developers, […]

Work faster in Photoshop with these keyboard shortcuts

When most people think of design they think of using a mouse (or pen if you’re really cool) to move elements on the screen to bring your dream to life. In other words, new designers do 99% of their work with just their dominant hand on the mouse.

If that’s you, you’re an amateur designer. Sorry, that’s just fact. And my guess is your design process is slow as hell.

In order to turn pro you need to get your other hand involved.

About 30% of all my input and commands into Photoshop come from the keyboard rather than the mouse. That means my left hand is constantly in use for switching between tools, modifying the function of the active tool, or just doing commands that would otherwise take a bunch of steps.

Shortcuts I use every day.

I could write a giant list of thousands of keyboard shortcuts, but then you wouldn’t know which ones are actually useful. So this is my short list of shortcuts you’ll actually use. If you have a favorite — or you’ve created one that is particularly clever — post a comment below.


Working with layers

Cmd + Option + Shift + N + E

This is really two keyboard shortcuts in one, so you can do them separately, but together they make the longest shortcut I know, so I just have to include it. Let’s dissect this one to give you an idea of how keyboard shortcuts are created in Photoshop.

(N) looks like it should have something to do with “new”—and it does. Cmd+N creates a new document. Add shift in there (Cmd+shift+N) and it creates a new layer. Unfortunately this also throws up the new layer dialog, which I never use. So by adding the option key in there as well you can suppress that dialog and skip a step.

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 11.51.10 AM

(Go away. No one wants you here.)

So the first part of that shortcut creates a new layer. What does the E do? When combined with Cmd and Option it creates a flattened version of your entire document on a single layer. This is handy for when you want to create a preview or selection of your design or for exporting shapes for the web.

Option + Click

Let’s say you created a texture, but you only want to apply it to a part of your image. You could mask or erase away the part you want to hide, or instead you could just clip it to a layer that has the right shape.

Simply hold down the option key and click in the space between the two layers. The top layer will clip to the bottom one!clip

1,2,3,4… Opacity

Next time, instead of messing with the opacity slider to fade out a layer (which requires using the mouse), use your number keys instead. When your move tool is selected pressing 1 will set the opacity at 10%, 2 at 20%, and so on. 0 will set it back to 100%. If you want something more precise press two numbers quickly. Pressing 4 then 5 in rapid succession will set the opacity to 45%.

Cmd + J

When designing a complicated website or app interface you are going to end up with a ton of layers. Often the quickest way to create that next element is to duplicate your existing shape. You could drag a layer down to the new layer button, but it’s far quicker to just hit Cmd + J and duplicate the layer or group.

Cmd + G

Speaking of groups, even if you name your layers your documents are probably a huge mess. Use layer groups to organize layers and keep all the different sections of your design straight. Cmd + G will create a new group and if you have layers selected at the time, it will place the layers inside your new group.


Colors & Brushes

Brush sizes: “[" and "]“

If you do much work with brushes you need to change the size constantly. You can use your bracket keys to do that on the fly: “[" makes the brush smaller, and "]” makes it larger.

To change the hardness of the brush, hold down shift and press the bracket keys. They work in the same way.

Cmd + delete (backspace) / Option + Delete (backspace)

I never use the paint bucket tool. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve touched it in the last 5 years. Except for right now to check what it’s actually called.

Instead I press Option + Delete (backspace) to fill an area with my foreground color or Control + Delete to fill with my background color. Memorize that and it replaces an entire tool!


How to learn any shortcut

Alright, we’ve covered a few of my favorites—and we’ll have more in a minute — but now I want to show you how to learn them on your own. Anytime you find yourself performing an action a few times in a row or reaching for a common tool, I want you to stop and hover your cursor over it. All of the tools will show you want keyboard shortcut will pull them up.


Source: hongkiat.com

Switching between tools is incredibly common. In fact, V is my most commonly used keyboard shortcut (to access the move tool). Just running down the list of tools and memorizing the key for each one will save you a ton of time.

Then, look in any of the menus for the keyboard shortcuts listed next to each item. If you look for them, the Photoshop interface will tell you the shortcut for just about everything.

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 1.10.24 PM

Shift + Option + Cmd + S

That’s how I found the “Save for web” shortcut. It’s long (Shift + Option + Command + S), but really useful. That’s one I use about 10x per day.

Cmd + f 

That’s also how I found Cmd + F which just runs the last used filter (like a blur). That can be helpful, but it’s made better by adding in the option key. That will bring up the last filter, but will also show you the options dialog so you can make changes before running it again.


How to make your own keyboard shortcuts

This list was meant to just get you started (and to get you thinking about how to use your non-mouse hand more frequently). However, there is so much more that is possible! Most importantly, you can create your own shortcuts.

If you go to Edit > Keyboard shortcuts (or press Cmd + Shift + Option + K) you can create your own set of shortcuts and change anything you like. Just be careful not to accidentally overwrite existing shortcuts (Photoshop will warn you first).

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 1.19.04 PM

Creating actions

Keep in mind, some things can’t be done with keyboard shortcuts directly, but you can record an action instead.

If you do a lot of really precise design work (like icons), you want to turn the “Snap Vector Tools and Transforms to Pixel Grid” setting off and on. I recorded one action to turn this setting on and another action to turn it back off.

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 1.25.35 PM

Recording an action is really simple. You just click to create a new action, hit record do the thing you want to automate (like click the checkbox) and then click stop. You can then assign a keyboard shortcut using Cmd, shift, and any of the function keys (like f1). So you could map Cmd + F1 to turn on ‘snap to pixels’ and Cmd + Shift + F1 to turn it back off.

Want to learn more?

If you like this and want to learn more design, I’ve got a great course just for you coming out next Tuesday. It’s called Photoshop for Web Design and teaches exactly what you need to know in Photoshop. I cut straight to web and interface design techniques that will save you time and skip over everything that doesn’t apply. (Which means you’ll get the best value for the time you spend with the course!)

Go here to learn more about Photoshop for Web Design.


Your Guide to Unleashing Killer Content Marketing on LinkedIn

Content marketing got a major boost with LinkedIn’s publishing platform. Over the past few weeks, LinkedIn has gradually rolled out a way for users to publish their own content. In this era of content-driven marketing, LinkedIn’s publishing platform has enormous potential.

Not every user can use the publishing platform, but LinkedIn promises universal rollout within the next few months.

linkedin publishing platform

Time will tell how this publishing platform will perform in the months ahead, but here are some points of consideration.

The Benefits of LinkedIn Publishing

Those who are already publishing on LinkedIn have noticed big advantages. Here are some of them.

LinkedIn content has huge exposure.

When an article is published on LinkedIn, it gets massive amounts of views. Many writers, even those with no existing platform, were able to gain tens of thousands of article views in just a few hours after publishing. One of LinkedIn’s major advantages is that it reaches audiences with narrow focuses. By delivering content to these niche audiences, writers can swiftly communicate to a targeted audience in record time.

LinkedIn provides top results in Google.

Already, articles published on LinkedIn are getting high results in Google. First page results on longtail keywords are already appearing, even without any “LinkedIn” branding.

I searched for “How to Create an Unforgettable Landing Page,” and this article, published on LinkedIn appeared on page one. An organization called Funnel Envy published an article on LinkedIn with that keyword.


As more content is released on LinkedIn, we will likely see more search results featuring LinkedIn articles.

LinkedIn helps to enhance personal branding.

LinkedIn articles are added to a user’s personal Linkedin page, thus improving his or her profile. Like Google+, LinkedIn publishing lends cachet and credibility to any individual. As Google+ authorship SERP (search engine results page) impact has declined, perhaps we’re seeing the rise of a personalized publishing rival.

One of the biggest values that LinkedIn offers professionals is exposure in job searches. As Ryan Jenkins wrote, “No job or career lasts forever but your professional brand will last a lifetime. How are you investing in it? Today building your professional brand has never been easier with the new LinkedIn publishing platform.”

Job seekers can become publishers of content, thereby increasing their worth in the eyes of potential employers. They can gain followers, build trust, and enhance personal stature. It’s like personal branding on steroids.

LinkedIn has inherent trust.

Already, LinkedIn is a trusted platform. Since its inception, it has been able to maintain its stature as a “professional network.” In this way, people are more likely to have confidence in the opinions, viewpoints, and content published there.

The Risks of LinkedIn publishing.

It’s not all peaches and cream, though. Like any nascent platform, there are some risks that we need to be aware of.

Duplicate content.

We’re still not sure how Google is going to handle the duplicate content issues on LinkedIn. Many authors are simply pasting in LinkedIn the text of their already-published articles. The content is already published on their blog. Some thought leaders are wondering if Google will penalize LinkedIn for this duplicate content.

Low quality content.

Like any publishing platform, LinkedIn stands to erode its quality by increasing its quantity. As it opens its publishing platform to all users, LinkedIn may see a commensurate decline in the quality of its content. As quality spirals downward, people may not have as much trust in LinkedIn as a network. There’s no way that a publishing platform open to 300 million users will have impeccable and high-quality content. What will LinkedIn — let alone Google — do about that?

Linkback risks.

LinkedIn’s content generation allows links. What kind of links? They’re dofollow. Already, I can see the greedy eyes of SEOs eager for link building opportunities. What kind of link juice will this pass? LinkedIn has huge domain authority (near 100). Will there be a heightened spam risk for sites looking to get linkbacks?


I’m all about content marketing in whatever form it takes — as long as it’s strong, legitimate, and authoritative.. LinkedIn holds a lot of promise, but it’s simply unproven.

Content marketers have been trained to be skeptical of viral publishing platforms. Google, meanwhile, has continued to take an aggressive stance against low-quality and spammy publishing platforms.

The best approach is not just wait-and-see. The best approach is go-ahead-and-try. As you do, follow these best practices:

  • If you’re going to publish on LinkedIn, be consistent, just as you would be on your personal blog.
  • Don’t duplicate content. Google has never turned a complete blind eye to duplicate content. If you publish an article to LinkedIn, keep it on LinkedIn only. If you publish an article on your blog, then don’t publish it on your blog.
  • Keep the quality high. Be a stickler for top-tier authoritative content. Even if LinkedIn is not curating the quality of its content, you should be. Publish only something that you want to attach to your name forever.

Have you tried LinkedIn’s publishing platform? What do you think?

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

Episode 68: Should I Jump?

You have a job and it's paying the bills. Maybe it's even more than paying the bills, you are making really good money! Your family is taken care of, you have good healthcare, all of your kids needs are taken care of, and you have money left over to invest, you can even go out on a couple date nights a month. Life is good!

Except... you know this isn't the job for you. You know you're done with it. You will never achieve your life goals in this job. In this job, you work for someone else, you live by their rules, you focus on their priorities...

And then it happens, you see what may be THE OPPORTUNITY to make THE LEAP! But should you?

This week Brecht and Scott field a listener question about whether, and how, to make the leap. We both come at this from different angles, but at the end, we offer up something of a framework (very casual of course) to work through this issue.

Bootstrapped, Episode 49, “A new product from scratch.”

Download this episode, in which Ian and Andrey talk about antisocial haircuts, Joan Rivers, consulting, Scribbleton on Lifehacker, relaxing, doing a product from start to finish on the show, a Userscape update, Postgres, Nightstand, the Oculus Rift, Minecraft, Star Trek Bridge Commander, Wing Commander, Steam.


Discuss this episode in the forums



Surprising Mobile Ecommerce Statistics that Will Change the Way You Do Business

Hang on to your socks. If you care about ecommerce, you’re about to get a rude statistical awakening.

Mobile shopping is huge. And if you’re not doing something about it right now, you’re going to miss the bus. Today, the name of the game is mobile. Not just mobile optimization or mobile search, but the entire mobile experience — from search to conversions.

Get a hold of these statistics, and you’ll never view mobile ecommerce in the same way.

78% of mobile searches for local business information result in a purchase.

One of the most eye-popping statistics from mobile studies is the high percentage of mobile searchers who convert. The percentage of searches that result in a local purchase show mobile winning by a significant margin. Here’s the data from Comscore:

percentage of searches that resulted in a local-purchase

Image from SEL.

Consider how this happens. Three different individuals are looking for “local ice cream shop.” First, there is an individual using a laptop to search. Second, there is an individual using a mobile phone to search. Third, there is an individual using a tablet to search. Which one of these three is most likely to make a purchase at the local ice cream shop?

Answer: The individual on the mobile phone.

Mobile users constitute the most valuable customer segment, because they are most likely to convert. With mobile searching constantly on the rise, it is important to focus on this user segment, and deliver what they need and want.


  • If you have a local business, make sure you are optimizing for local search.
  • If you have a local business, make sure your website is optimized for mobile viewers.
  • Customers who find your local establishment on mobile will be prepared to convert. Consider providing advantages to mobile users, or to capture leads from mobile visits. For example, if a mobile user finds your local establishment, make it easy for them to convert on their mobile device — i.e., exchanging their information for skipping the line, getting a free gift, etc.

Two out of three customers prefer accessing a mobile website than a mobile application.

Most users want a mobile experience without the barrier of a mobile app. When a user has to download an app in order to browse or complete a transaction, this is considered an unnecessary barrier.

consumers prefer mobile websites

Many users don’t want yet another app. They want the lightweight experience of being able to do what they want to do without that extra step.

Native apps have a lot of advantages to mobile web, but users are willing to forego this in order to have the quick-and-easy solution of browsing directly from their mobile browser. As early as 2012, ABI Research predicted that “smartphone users are around the world would be downloading and using fewer and fewer apps,” as reported by CNN.

Mobile users aren’t interested in becoming loyal customers of your brand or store. They are just looking for a good deal. Flurry, a mobile ad agency, performed a comparative study of app downloads over three consecutive holiday shopping seasons. What they discovered is that the number of downloads during the peak holiday shopping has declined year-over-year.

christmas spike in app downloads

Image from Business Insider.

Local businesses and retailers have to decide whether they are going to develop an app or whether they are going to stick to a mobile-optimized web experience.


  • Mobile web developers need to use their creativity and innovation to provide an app-like atmosphere, intuitive navigation, and an easy path to conversion. Customers will make purchases on a mobile website. But they will only do so if it’s easier than downloading your mobile app.
  • Mobile websites need to be conversion-ready. That is, it should be easy for a user to convert on their mobile device without downloading an app.

75% of mobile shoppers have used a mobile coupon.

With the rise of mobile shopping came a decline in paper coupon redemption. Who wants to carry around a bunch of pieces of paper, when you can do everything from a svelte mobile device?

Smart mobile marketers, however, knew that mobile coupons were the next frontier. Humans are wired to love discounts and deals. Why not deliver them on the smartphone? That’s why users love mobile coupons. As a study from Key Ring reported, mobile users — 75% of them — are using coupons.

The story doesn’t stop there: “80.4 percent of shoppers said their perception of a retailer would improve if the retailer offered mobile deals and coupons,” as reported by Mobile Commerce Daily.


Use mobile coupons. Coupons are a strategic way to lure customers in, and an even more strategic way to improve your brand perception. Street Fight Mag shares these five strategies for improving mobile coupon redemption:

  1. Get creative with the discounts.
  2. Focus on the upsell
  3. Use strategic segmentation.
  4. Target shoppers geographically.
  5. Check your offer’s curb appeal.

One third of all ecommerce purchases were made on a smartphone during the holiday shopping season (2013).

Last year’s holiday shopping season was killer for those who capitalized on mobile purchases. Instead of calling it “Black Friday,” Custora dubbed the day “Mobile Friday.” Nearly 40% of purchases on the biggest shopping day of the year were made on mobile devices.

Black Friday is traditionally the day when shoppers wake at ungodly hours, freeze in long lines, and trample one another in an effort to buy big-screen TVs and discounted vacuum cleaners. But who wants to risk life and lose sleep if they can cozily snag a deal in the comfort of their very own bed? Cyber Monday is giving way to a cyberized and mobilized Black Friday.

mobile friday

Image from Custora.

Mobile retailers are taking heed. If mobile is this big, then smart marketers are going to give customers precisely what they want — killer deals for the mobile device.

This is a year-over-year increase of 50%. Given all the other up-and-up mobile metrics, this number is probably going to climb in 2014 too.


During peak shopping seasons, users have shown their affinity for mobile deals. Connect with mobile shoppers, and make it easy for them to convert. Direct Marketing News advised retailers that “ Connecting with these shoppers represents arguably the single biggest opportunity for savvy marketers to position themselves for success in 2014.

Consumers spend more time shopping on mobile devices than desktops.

Online shopping is officially more of a mobile activity than it is a desktop activity, according to Comscore data.

  • 44% of retail Internet minutes are spent on mobile phones.
  • 11% of retail Internet minutes are spent on tablets.

That comprises more than half of all time spent shopping online. The direct of Shop.org made this summary comment on the data:

Since U.S. consumers now spend more than half of their time on retailers’ web sites [sic] using their smartphones and tablets, mobile can’t be viewed simply as an ancillary device or action, it now epitomizes how consumers think and act when they interact with retailers.


Create a shopping experience that appeals to mobile users. It’s statistically more likely for customers to interact with your website on a mobile device than on a desktop.

The easier it is for mobile customers to make a purchase, the more likely you are to make a sale. Although customers like to browse on their mobile devices, they seem reluctant to close on a purchase. The likely reason for this is that the checkout process on mobile devices is cumbersome and difficult. By increasing the mobile checkout process, retailers can improve their mobile sales.


Ecommerce professionals aren’t ignoring mobile at all. Nearly every study, report, statistic, and article that’s published on mobile and ecommerce has ominous predictions about how mobile shoppers are “on the rise!”

We know that already.

The disconnect comes between knowing it, and doing it. How do we respond?

  1. The first action is to optimize for mobile search. Longtail and Hummingbird queries will give you the biggest bang for your buck. Plus, if you’re a local business, you need to ramp up local search more than ever.
  2. The second thing to do is make your web experience designed for mobile. Give users the best experience on the devices that they’re actually using to access your site. This includes the checkout process. It should be simple for shoppers to make a purchase directly from their mobile device.

If the statistics are true — and I tend to believe that they are — then you’ve got to take action.

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

The Top 10 Ways To Re-Engage Dead Email Subscribers

Seth Godin believes that “marketing is a contest for people’s attention.” Unfortunately, it is a contest that most email marketers are not winning. While many email marketers set up permission-based email lists, an average of 60% of the lists are “dead” email subscribers.

This is not acceptable, and it’s something that must be fixed. Below are the top ten strategies email marketing experts are using to curb this disturbing trend.

1. Make Sure Your Emails Are Relevant

Brad Dixon from CC Studio has a traditional approach to engaging email leads.

“I use current news and points of interest to provide my list with relevant information. If all they ever get are sales emails from me, they stop engaging because they know what is coming. Provide great content your readers want to see, and occasionally say, ‘Oh, by the way, we have a solution for that.’”

Consumers are overwhelmed with email these days. Consider a recent study by Email Stats Center that states the average subscriber receives 11 commercial messages each day via email, 9 via Facebook, and 8 via Twitter.

Yet, when done right, the results are tremendous. McKinsey & Company discovered that email returns $44 for every $1 spent. Providing relevant information, based on the interests and specifics your subscribers provided when they signed up, makes a difference in your success rate.

2. Define Inactives

Before we do anything to re-engage inactive leads, we must define an inactive lead on our list. The majority of marketers will gauge Inactives as anyone who has not responded, opened, clicked, or acted on any email sent in the past 6-12 months.

This is a huge issue in email marketing because the average list’s inactive rate is around 60%. This means that a list of 10,000 has only 4,000 true subscribers reading the posts. Considering the huge amount of time online marketers spend building their lists, having 60% of the list not responding after signing up is a huge loss in terms of engagement and revenue.

3. Trim Your Email List

Carol Tice, from the Freelance Writers Den, is a superb email marketer. As a member in her Den, I see the great emails she sends out on a regular basis. However, not all of her subscribers are as interested in her program.

That means she is wasting a lot of money and resources on people who will never convert. For those who do not engage, she removes them from her list.

“I recently cut deadwood from my email list – about 500 names. I sent them an email first that said, “Do I bore you?” and asked if they wanted to stay subscribed. 20 people responded to us…and we deleted the rest of that list.

I loved cutting them…now I have better open rates. I give a lot of free stuff out to my list, so I didn’t want to give free stuff to people who don’t care.”

4. Find out What Your List Thinks of You

Dean DeLisle’s company, Forward Progress, sends out over a billion emails per month for clients and himself. This means a clean list is essential to success.

“Recently, we were working with a mortgage company on re-engaging their list. The bank side had a large database, but they didn’t have a relationship with that data.

The question is how are we going to jump start this data? We look at things that will benefit people in the database. The first thing you need to understand is where the relationship status stands. If the answer is nowhere, you need to reinvigorate.

In this case, we did a survey to find out the relationship. In return, we gave a $5 Starbucks card. The investment paid off, because the relationships came back.

For this survey, 3268 total participants were invited, and 322 total participated. That is about 10%. We’re happy at a 3% level with some re-engagement campaigns, so this was a success.”

These stats belie a significant factor in re-engaging dead leads. You will not recapture all of your prospects, but this is a good thing. The ones who do not respond are not worth your effort. Instead, the bank can now focus on the 10% who care.

5. Re-Build the Relationship

google hangout webinar

Sotiris Bassakaropoulos has a similar philosophy as Dean DeLisle for his internet marketing business. With multiple lists for different businesses, he is constantly re-engaging different lists.

Recently, he re-engaged his email subscribers for his new site, World Internet School. The three lists that he re-engaged have 4,000, 3,000, and 3,700 subscribers, respectively.

“Instead of sending them a sales pitch saying buy this or that, I send them useful information to a Hangout about how to increase their business.

At the end of the Hangout, I pitch my business. 90% of the Hangout is content, and then at the end they can join my business.”

On average, Bassakaropoulos has around 20-30 people attend the webinar, and 100 watch in the next 3 days, with an average 5% conversion rate for the products and/or services he pitches.

6. Include Calls to Action

AWeber’s CMO, Erik Harbison, explained how to get disengaged subscribers back on board.

“Isolate subscribers that have not opened your emails, or clicked on links, in the last three to six months. Send them a series of re-engagement emails.

There are a number of tactics you can employ here. You can send out emails that allow them to change their email preferences or that force them to click a link to continue receiving emails. It’s always important to have a call to action in your emails, but for re-engagement emails, it’s especially critical because you want to ensure that you can separate those who are still interested from those who have checked out.”

Use a simple, clear, and effective call to action like KISSmetrics uses.

start your free trial today

7. Give Subscribers Options

Diana Primeau, Director, Member Services, CNET, discussed at Email Summit 2013 how to re-engage inactive email subscribers.

“Give them two options. One option is do not miss out on breaking news that people get delivered to their email inbox every day. The second is for tech reviews and new products coming out to the market. That part of the email got most of the clicks.”

8. Use Facebook Custom Audiences

facebook custom audiences

With the new Facebook custom ad structure on the Power Editor, you now can upload your entire list to Facebook and have a campaign specifically targeted to your email list. This is a great way to reach out to a retail audience that is active on Facebook, but not on your list.

9. Slow Down, Tiger

Sometimes, as email marketers, we attack email so hard, with so much content, that people just go numb like prey in the jungle being hunted by a tiger. Afraid of being snatched up, they freeze and do not respond to your marketing. You might want to slow down on emails if that is the case.

Most SaaS companies have an email series at the beginning, along with regular webinars that they hold about their services. It sometimes can be too much. Give them a break from your emails, and start back fresh at a later date.

10. Ask Customers to Update Their Email Information

manage subscribers

Rich Fleck from Responsys had this brilliantly humble insight.

“Simply asking customers to update their email information can have surprising engagement results. This tactic gives the customer an opportunity to enter a new email address if hers has changed, customize her email settings, and sign up for mobile or social media updates, if it turns out that’s how she prefers to engage.”

Putting It All Together

The sad truth is that too many of the email marketers I spoke with did not even have a plan to re-engage their subscriber base. The simple steps mentioned above can have a huge influence on your business because most subscribers are interested in how your services will help them. They simply need to be reminded of your business from time to time.

Take that opportunity by dropping them a line, inviting them to fill out a survey, or providing a free webinar so they can connect with your business again. Find out what they would be interested in, and then provide the necessary resources they need in order to help them.

While not all of your subscribers will re-engage with you, it is easier to re-engage dead leads than to market for new ones. Start looking through your list today to find out which of your leads have not opened any of your emails over the past 6 months. Send them a specific email to find out if they are still interested in your services. If they are, give them a reason to stay on your list. If not, remove them. It will save you time and energy over the long term to not have these subscribers on your list.

With that being said, how do you re-engage your dead email leads? Let us know in the comment area below.

About the Author: is the author of the upcoming book Start Up Gap. He is a prolific blogger and freelance writer, creating over 3,000 articles in the past 5 years.

NB 009 – Authority success stories (part 1)

Have you ever wondered if it would be possible to make an independent living selling your expertise? In my book Authority I lay down an end-to-end plan for how to research, write, and publish a book to an excited and profitable audience so you can do just that.

As it turns out, the methods I outline in Authority work extremely well for many people. Luckily I was able to get a few people who’ve had amazing success on a hangout; we talked for a while about their experiences publishing their first books (and earning very impressive revenues from them). Keep in mind that none of these talented folks had big audiences when they started.

This is part 1 of a two part episode showcasing some of our most successful Authority customers. 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 – this breakthrough book by Samuel Hulick landed him some sweet consulting gigs (and over $37,000 in revenue)
How to make a full-time salary from one book – an article I wrote since this recording outlining what I’ve learned from multiple book launches.


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.

Families at Business of Software Conference USA

We are great believers in encouraging the next generation of software entrepreneurs!
Sadly for her, my daughter, Violet has just started ‘big school’ so won’t be joining us this year. She had a brilliant time last year
If you are thinking of bringing your children here are some things that you might like to know:

  • Use hashtag #BoS2014 to connect with other families at the conference.
  • Children, accompanied by parent/guardian(s), are most welcome to sit in on talks as long as they do not distract others.
  • Children, accompanied by parent/guardian(s), are most welcome to sit in on meals as long as they do distract others.
  • If you bring your children to the conference, they are under your care. We are not responsible for their welfare.
  • If they are interested in being more involved in the event, let us know as I’m sure we can find them a useful role to play as an intern.
  • Give you our view of best places for kids and get you tickets through the hotel if you wish.