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+.

    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, […]

    Physical Goods vs. Software: The Key Differences That Will Change Your Strategy

    Kosta Gara , Founder & CEO of Vionic, talks about the differences between a traditional consumer-product environment (like cosmetics or energy drinks) versus a B2B software company. We cover everything from product development to sales, marketing and growth.

    *Show Notes:*

  • Kosta Gara
  • Vionic
  • Intro Song by Alex Koch of Digital Dust Studios
  • Outro Song: Imagined Herbal Flows - "Waves" (feat. CYN)
  • 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.

    Photoshop-Keyboard

    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.

    2-funnelenvy

    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?

    Conclusion

    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