Last Chance for Summer Sale Prices

Post by Sarah Milstein & Eric Ries, co-hosts for The Lean Startup Conference

At this year’s Lean Startup Conference, we seek to answer the difficult questions you face as an entrepreneur. To give you a sense of how we’ll do that, we’re introducing you to three of our speakers—all of whom are appearing for the first time at The Lean Startup Conference, and all of whom have advice you can put to work today. Note that summer sale pricing for the conference ends on Monday night, so register now for the best deal possible.

Herewith, our introductions.

Ben Horowitz, Andreessen Horowitz. Frankly, Ben doesn’t need a ton of introduction. A well-known startup innovator, he’s co-founder of the leading VC firm Andreessen Horowitz and author of a new book, The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building A Business When There Are No Easy Answers, which brims with unusually direct, useful advice for new and seasoned entrepreneurs alike.

Among the questions we’re seeking to address at this year’s conference is: What does the culture of a high-performance, high-growth team look like? In his book and on his blog, Ben tackles that question. We particularly like this post, Hiring Executives: If You’ve Never Done the Job, How Do You Hire Somebody Good?, in which he guides new entrepreneurs of growing companies through one of the more vexing challenges you’ll face, what he calls making “the lonely decision.” He starts with sharply observed pitfalls and offers specific steps you can take to avoid them, staring with a process for defining what you need in a new hire and then moving on to this step:

Write down the strengths you want and the weaknesses that you are willing to tolerate. The firs step is to write down what you want. In order to ensure completeness, I find it useful to include criteria from the following sub-divisions when hiring executives:
  • Will the executive be world class at running the function?
  • Is the executive outstanding operationally? 
  • Will the executive make a major contribution to the strategic direction of the company This is the “are they smart enough?” criteria. 
  • Will the executive be an effective member of the team? Effective is the key word. It’s possible for an executive to be well liked and totally ineffective with respect to the other members of the team. It’s also possible for an executive to be highly effective and profoundly influential while being totally despised. The latter is far better. 
  • These functions do not carry equal weight for all positions. Make sure that you balance them appropriately. Generally, operational excellence is far more important for a VP of Engineering or a VP of Sales than for a VP of Marketing or CFO.
Ben then gives more detail on how to turn the criteria into a real hire. At the conference, Eric will dive deep in an interview with Ben, asking him hard questions about hiring during growth and other shoals of entrepreneurship.  

Melissa Bell, Vox.com. We’re really pleased to have Melissa join us. Vox.com has been one of the most closely watched media launches of the year, and as its Senior Product Manager and Executive Editor, Melissa was responsible for leading a lot of its success. One of our questions for this year’s conference is: How can we get products to market faster? So we were particularly intrigued when we learned that Melissa and her team took just nine weeks to develop the high-profile site; other Vox Media properties had taken eight months to roll out.  

As explained in this post from Michael Lovitt, Vox’s VP of Engineering, Melissa and her team expedited their launch by sacrificing perfection and focusing their goals narrowly. Instead of spending months fine-tuning the website before presenting it to the world, they chose to “fail fast and iterate.” That phrase gets tossed around a lot these days, putting it in danger of losing its meaning. But Melissa backed it up with real processes, and rather than calling the unveiling of the site a “launch,” she instead wound up referring to it as a “deploy, the first of many.”

The team also worked with an ethos that would trust their MVP, which had two foundational pieces. Michael explains:

In order to meet our expectations for what a new Vox Media site must be, we would focus on two big things: the important early and foundational branding and visual design work; and a new, still-to-be-figured-out product feature for helping readers understand the news. By limiting the new big things to only those two, we could free ourselves to throw all of our creative energy into them, and do them well, and rely on the work done by our past selves to carry the rest of the site.
Once everyone agreed to this plan, in every conversation about scope and the prioritization of site features, we were able to stay grounded by our shared sense of what was important to get right for launch, and what could wait for now.
 
At The Lean Startup Conference, we’ll learn more from Melissa about how her team hewed to its early goals, what worked in developing the site, what she’d do differently next time, and how they’re tackling the site’s current growth and new challenges.

Seppo Helava, Nonsense Industry. We’re proud that The Lean Startup Conference brings you not only high-profile speakers and leaders from high-growth companies you already know about, but also excellent presenters you aren’t yet aware of. Indeed, we consider it our job to find relatively unknown people with great advice and experience to share. Seppo is one such speaker.

An accomplished game developer and company founder, Seppo has worked hard to figure out how to keep employees invested and productive—particularly in an environment where you’re running lots of experiments that don’t lead to profitable products. His application to speak at this year’s conference addressed this question: How can we keep up team morale when experiments invalidate a lot of our ideas? and he hooked up with his deep understanding of the problem and tangible ways to maintain co-workers’ enthusiasm.

Seppo laid out clearly something we all see pretty often: when you constantly test your ideas, you find that a lot of them don’t fly, and so you have to throw out work all the time. He went to talk about the natural attachment that employees feel to their projects, particularly those they’ve polished carefully, and the resulting struggle to move on, even when those projects aren’t proving out. That dynamic generates a fear of experimentation—the opposite of what you want on your team.

At the conference, Seppo will talk about how his company now works to answer a question, rather than develop a product for presentation. He’ll discuss not only their approach in terms of training, teamwork and communication, but how’s it’s played out over a period of refinement.

To see these speakers and a slew of other entrepreneurs with incredible lesson to share, register today for The Lean Startup Conference. Prices go up on Monday night!

PS. The second and final round of our call for proposals closes on Wednesday night. If you have advice or experience to share, consider applying!



We’re hiring a Content Marketing Intern (with a twist)

Hi all, this post is an ad for an upcoming opportunity at WP Curve. This isn’t your typical job ad, so if you are entrepreneurial and interested in working with Alex and I to build WP Curve and your own business, then read on.

Who is WP Curve?

WP Curve is the fastest growing dedicated WordPress support provider in the world. We’ve gone from scratch to a team of 19 staff, 500 customers and $35,000 / month in just over a year.

We’ve built up a business through our honest and obsessive content marketing.

What is the opportunity?

We are looking for a Content Marketing person, under an internship-style arrangement for at least 3 months.

We are also passionate about helping other entrepreneurs, so we’re looking to find someone who is keen on starting their own business. We will help you get started and after 3 months you can have the option to leave and run with your business.

We’d like someone to understand our audience, and take our content to the next level.

The opportunity will suit someone who wants time with us in order to build their own business. It’s a bit experimental for us, but we think this will be a great outcome for WP Curve, and for the right candidate.

We heard about the idea of doing this through Dan Andrews, and have also seen it work well for Justin and Joe from Empire Flippers and Travis from Supremacy SEO.

Here’s a quote from Elisa Doucette who has just launched her business after working on one of Dan’s internships.

elisa“When I pitched a content marketing and editorial position to Dan and Ian at Tropical MBA, I had big visions for the potential in their company. Working with them to see that potential change from vision to reality is easily one of the most fulfilling experiences of my career and business. There’s nothing like being a part of something special.”

The main difference here is you won’t come out and work with us on location, unless you choose to. More on that below.

Where will I be based?

You can work from wherever you like. This is not an office job.

Cheesy lifestyle business shot. This is me in the Philippines working on my last business.

Unfortunately Alex and I live in very expensive places (Gold Coast, Australia and San Francisco) where that wage would barely cover rent and noodles.

We have a network of entrepreneurs around the world, particularly in major low cost entrepreneurial hubs, we can connect you with.

Or if you want to stay where you are, that’s cool. Alex and I have actually never met face to face and with our internal systems that still works quite well.

You won’t have to be on call all the time, but you’ll be expected to be online enough to be part of the team. The hours are flexible, as our business runs 24 / 7, however we’d expect you to put in about 40 hours a week and meet certain deliverables.

How much will I get paid?

We will pay you $2,000 / month USD. Plus you’ll get:

  • Access to our team to work on your own business.
  • Access to our network to help build your own business.
  • Unlimited access to Dan and Alex for advice and help.

What will I have to deliver?

As the Content Marketer for WP Curve, you will essentially take over Dan’s job at managing WP Curve’s content. This will include:

  • Creating content yourself for our blog around the topics of entrepreneurship, startups, online marketing and WordPress.
  • Either do the podcasts yourself (if you are comfortable), or organize guests for Dan and Alex to interview.
  • Producing and uploading the podcast.
  • Build on our 1 person contributor team and manage the guest writing process (organising, helping with ideas, editing and reviewing etc).
  • Edit the content produced by Dan and Alex (Dan doesn’t know how to spelll).
  • Draft our weekly email out to our 12,000+ subscribers.
  • Working with our team member Ness on content promotion.
  • Contribute to bigger pieces of content like email auto responders, ebooks, downloads and infographics.

We are flexible about how we deliver our content. If you are keen on graphics we can do infographics, if you are a keen writer we can do more written posts. If you like to talk, you can do more podcasts.

We’ve found our best content is long written content, often more personal entrepreneurial stories like our monthly reports or in depth actionable marketing guides.

How do I apply?

Email dan@wpcurve.com with a brief background on who you are, and why you think you are suitable. We will not reply to every person who emails in however if we think you are potentially a good fit, we will offer you a paid trial to do a piece of content for the WP Curve blog.

Please do this by the closing date of next Friday 5 September.

If you have any questions please let us know in the comments or email Dan at dan@wpcurve.com.

The post We’re hiring a Content Marketing Intern (with a twist) appeared first on WP Curve.

What is the Difference Between Google Analytics and KISSmetrics?

One of the most common questions we get from people is how KISSmetrics is different from Google Analytics. We understand the curiosity. Both services are in the analytics space, so it’s easy to think they’re the same tools.

However, there are a number of differences between the two services; for example, how they handle tracking, what use cases are best, and what you can and can’t do with each tool. We’ll get into all that in this post.

As a matter of clarification, we’ll be discussing the differences between Google’s Universal Analytics and KISSmetrics. Universal Analytics is the next version of Google Analytics and will soon be what every Google Analytics account uses by default.

How Google Analytics and KISSmetrics Track People

At its core, KISSmetrics analytics is focused on people. As you’ll soon see, every visit to your website gets tied to a person. Google Analytics added people tracking as a feature. It is not at the core of the product. Most people use KISSmetrics to track individual people, while most people who use Google Analytics will never touch that feature.

When tracking people, you need two things to verify their identity:

User Identification – Your analytics tool must be able to identify users when they tell you who they are.

Signing In – Users must be able to sign in and identify themselves on each of their devices.

But, even if an analytics tool helps you identify users as they log in, they all handle it a little differently.

Let’s go through how KISSmetrics and Google Analytics handle people tracking.

1. What Happens to Session Activity Prior to Registration or Logging In?

When a person visits your website for the first time, both KISSmetrics and Google Analytics assign an anonymous ID to that person.

For Google Analytics, the visit and registration must take place in the same visit session. If a person visits your website, leaves, and then comes back 10 days later and registers, only the last session is tied to the user ID. The first session is lost. Google Analytics connects data from only the session in which the user was identified. The only way around this is to find a way to identify people during as many sessions as possible.

KISSmetrics customer ID assignment

With KISSmetrics, all data from a person’s previous sessions is assigned to an alias.

That’s the core tracking summary of the two. But, they can differ depending on the situation.

2. What Happens to Data from Sessions after Someone is Identified?

Joey visits your site, registers, logs out, and closes the browser. He comes back a week later and doesn’t register or log back in. What happens to the data from the second visit?

With KISSmetrics, all this data still gets tied to Joey because his device was cookied.

Google Analytics isn’t as simple. You’ll need to send the user ID every time there’s a Google Analytics hit. So every piece of Google Analytics data needs a user ID attached to it. There is session unification that will stitch together any other hits that happen in the same session. But, every session needs a user ID defined in order to connect that session to a person. In Joey’s case, Google Analytics would assume that his second visit was a different person.

3. What Happens to Session Activity from Several Devices?

1) Anna registers on your site from her desktop.

2) A week later, she visits your site on her iPad but doesn’t log in.

3) Later that day, she visits your site again, this time logging in with her iPad.

With KISSmetrics, all the data from her desktop gets assigned to her alias once she registers. When she visits on her iPad, KISSmetrics assigns her a new anonymous ID. KISSmetrics doesn’t know this visitor is Anna until she logs in on her iPad. Once she logs in, all the sessions from her iPad are tied back to the ID she originally created when she registered on her desktop.

KISSmetrics user assignment

user assignment google analytics

Anna registered on her first visit, so the activity from that session gets tied to her newly registered User ID. Since Anna’s second visit was on a new device and she didn’t log in, that data gets lost.

All her sessions going forward (on the same device) will be correctly assigned to her. The same goes for when she visits on another device. Once she logs in on a device, the data from that same session gets tied back to the User ID that was assigned when she registered on her desktop.

Remember that Google Analytics connects data only from the session in which the user was verified.

4. What Happens When Multiple People Use the Same Device?

Brenda is looking for tickets to a show tonight. She visits your site via a hotel PC, doesn’t find any tickets that she likes, and leaves.

Steve also is looking for tickets. He visits your site using the hotel’s PC, finds tickets that he likes, and registers and pays for them.

How do KISSmetrics and Google Analytics handle this?

With KISSmetrics, the data from Brenda gets assigned to Steve once he registers. So, all previous visits to your site from that same computer get tied to Steve. There is no technical way around this.

On the other hand, Google Analytics will report the correct data in this case. Since Brenda visited the site but didn’t register, her session is lost. Since Steve registered on the same session as his visit, that data gets correctly tied to him.

5. What Happens When Multiple People Are Logging in on the Same Device?

Let’s go back to the previous example with Brenda and Steve using the same device to access the same website.

This time, Brenda logs in, looks at a bunch of tickets, and then logs out. Steve comes by later that day and registers.

How does KISSmetrics handle this?

When Brenda visits the site and logs in, all the data gets correctly tied to her.

But, when Steve visits and registers, KISSmetrics still thinks it is Brenda visiting the website. Anything that Steve does before he registers gets tied back to Brenda’s customer ID. Once Steve registers, KISSmetrics sees this as a new person and connects all future data to his customer ID.

With KISSmetrics, you can do a clearIdentity call. This would clear Brenda’s ID once she logs out and assign a new anonymous ID when the next person visits from that computer. Then, once Steve registers, all the data from Brenda’s logout to Steve’s registration gets tied to Steve’s customer ID.

You will be able to do this only during logout events. You won’t be able to reset all named ID’s after each visit.

Google Analytics handles this correctly. When Brenda visits and logs in, all the data from her session gets tied to her ID. Then, when Steve visits and registers, all the data from his visit gets correctly assigned to him.

Tracking Summary

Analytics need to make one of two assumptions when tracking users:

  • Each visit from the same device is coming from the same person.
  • Each visit should be treated as a new person until they identify themselves.

KISSmetrics assumes that activity on one device is coming from the same person. If one of your users visits your site on their desktop, tablet, and phone, KISSmetrics will recognize them once they sign in and tie them back to their customer ID.

Google Analytics assumes that each visit is from a new person. The only way around this is to identify people in each session in order to see everything that person does.

Use Cases

KISSmetrics is not a replica of Google Analytics. Yes, they both are analytics tools, but they each have their own use cases. Let’s run through some common use cases and which tool is a better fit.

Tracking Visitors and Visits

If this is what you want to track, go with Google Analytics. While KISSmetrics can track visitors, it doesn’t make sense to use it if that’s all you want to do.

Tracking Bounce Rate, Time on Page, and Exits

Use Google Analytics for these metrics. You cannot currently track these in KISSmetrics.

Funnels

You can set up funnels in Google Analytics, but there are a few disadvantages:

  • When you set up funnels, you can view data going forward only. You will not be able to view data that happened before the funnel was set up.
  • You can track consecutive steps that people go through only if they are on the same visit. So, the data is gone if people complete a process over multiple visits or drop out of the defined path. If you want to track only sign-up flows or e-commerce checkout (you won’t be able to track the number of people who put an item in the cart), you can go with Google Analytics. You won’t be able to build your entire customer acquisition.

By contrast, the KISSmetrics funnels are able to retrieve historical data. So, you can set up your sign-up funnel and view how it has been performing over the months that you’ve been tracking. And, it doesn’t matter if someone visits your website today but doesn’t complete the funnel until six months later. KISSmetrics retains all their data.

Conversion Tracking

Some people may want to get a little more advanced with their analytics and begin tracking conversions. By tracking conversions, you’re looking at the percentage of people who have done some important action on your site, such as signing up for your newsletter, downloading a white paper, or placing an order.

With Google Analytics, you’ll have to set up goals. Also, there is a 90-day limit with conversions. By default, conversions have to happen on the same visit. This is useful if you’re testing and want a conversion to happen right away, such as signing up for a trial. But, if you want to go deeper, it’ll get a little more challenging. The only way around this is to use multi-channel funnels. You’ll have to use a specific report and be careful about which conversion data you’re looking at.

In KISSmetrics, you’ll need to set up a funnel report to track conversions. A common funnel report is tracking the number of people who have signed up or placed an order. Here’s how it might look for a SaaS company:

conversion funnel report

Here, we are looking at people who have visited the site, signed up for a trial, and then converted to paying for a subscription. For an e-commerce company, a sales funnel might look like this:

conversion funnel KISSmetrics

In this funnel, we’re tracking the number of people who visited the site, placed a product in their cart, and then proceeded to purchase.

A/B Testing

In Google Analytics, you can set up content experiments to act as your A/B testing tool. To run the test, you’ll have to build out two separate URLs (i.e., www.example.com/control and www.example.com/variant1). This can be challenging if you’re testing your home page, as there may be hundreds of backlinks to one URL. You’ll be able to get around this if you have developers on your team. But, it’ll be more difficult if you’re left to your own devices.

Another downside is the conversions must happen on the same visit. If people leave your site between steps, they won’t get counted.

With KISSmetrics, you can integrate with an A/B testing tool like Optimizely and connect that data to the A/B test report. All your data gets connected back to actual people. Here’s what the report looks like:

ab test results KISSmetrics

You can view people by clicking on a number under the People column, which shows you all the people in the variation. Or, you can view only the people who converted by clicking on a number under the Conversions column.

Cohort Reports

People can be divided into groups, or cohorts, based on actions they took. A prime example of this would be tracking login retention over time. With a cohort report, you would track people who logged in during a specified time range (typically a day or week), and then you would see how often those people log back in (by day or by week) after that specified time range. Here’s what a report like that would look like in KISSmetrics:

cohort report KISSmetrics

You can’t get anywhere close to this with Google Analytics.

Using Google Analytics in Conjunction with KISSmetrics

Google Analytics can provide a world of insight into how visitors interact with your website. Nearly every website you visit uses it, including the blog you’re on now. We also use it on our main KISSmetrics.com page.

Many of our customers use Google Analytics alongside KISSmetrics. We use Google Analytics to get session data, view a general engagement on a page (time on page and site), and check referral data. We use our own product for our web app to get insights into how our customers are using our product, discover our customer acquisition channels, track our acquisition funnel, document our A/B tests, and gather data that can help us make better decisions.

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

The One Metric Dashboard Helping SumoMe Reach 1 Billion Users

A few weeks ago I was hanging with Sean Work of KISSmetrics, drinking hippie gunpowder tea in Venice, CA. I mentioned our company dashboard for our free tool that is used to grow email lists at SumoMe.com, and Sean was blown away.

Sometimes simple is better.

Here’s what our dashboard looks like:

sumome dashboard

So what’s going on?

1. One Company Goal

We have only one company goal for the year – one billion unique visitors at SumoMe.com.

Rationale: As we aligned the company around one priority, it became much easier for all of us to be on the same road traveling in the same direction. We noticed that, during the times we had a common goal everyone was aware of, we were much more focused and likely to achieve it.

This is what Mark did when I worked for him at Facebook. A simple test (I call “the focus test”) used to find out if a company is aligned is to call any employee and ask if they know what the number one goal of the company is. If not, then the goal is not clear. People need clarity for something they can all rally around.

2. A Motivating Sound

We play the sound of an airplane flying overhead every time we reach a goal of 10,000 unique visitors. Click here to listen.

Rationale: While sitting at our computers all day, we lose track of progress, so the audio queue of a flight sound helps us recognize, non-visually, that we are progressing. It gives everyone a chance to cheer. One of the guys on our team was a bit bummed when SumoMe was getting only 10,000 unique visitors a day. I felt the same. But, small wins and the feeling of momentum are powerful motivators that make us want to get more of those wins.

This is something Jeff Bezos did at Amazon where a bell rang for every online order. Eventually, there was too much ringing so they had to stop.

3. Real People

As people subscribe on List Builder at different websites, it’s good to be reminded that we’re dealing with real people.

face of sumome subscriber

Rationale: At Facebook we had a dashboard and we were growing 50,000 new students a day. What this neglected to take into account was that these were real people using our product. Too often, online, we see only the email address, the analytics, or the money that comes in from our customers. The more we can personify those email addresses, the better we can empathize and create better solutions for our customers.

4. Daily Targets

The bottom / second number is our daily target. It gets reset at midnight, and it helps us clearly and visually see how we are doing in real time.

It’s displayed on our wall while we work:

AppSumo Office Wall

Rationale: Our goal is one billion unique visitors this year. That seems like it’ll never happen, which is discouraging and demotivating when times are tough. Since that is the case, we mapped out a daily level of numbers we need to reach. Knowing we are on track on the daily helps make the macro seem more digestible.

Why We Do This

We used to track everything, literally. It was RAINING metrics:

raining-metrics

This made us optimize toward too many different goals. It was like trying to cook four dishes at once. We’d start optimizing for the number of orders per day, but then revenue per order would go down, so ultimately, we were spinning our wheels. Therefore, choose just one main metric to target and display on your dashboard.

A good way to think about your dashboard with your team is how actionable the information is. If you saw you were down today, could you instantly make an impact with that information? For us, knowing traffic is low one day motivates us to evaluate what’s off on that day.

Then we evolved to having one goal of 3,333 memberships at Monthly1K.com. So we created a dashboard to reflect that:

dashboard

Yea, real simple. This is what it shows:

  1. Total goal
  2. Percentage of the goal we have reached
  3. Our daily sales

At a high level, your dashboard should reflect the fact that you have united everyone with a common goal and clear alignment. So, set your company goal, clarify the strategy to get there, and then lay out tactics to accomplish the goal.

Goal -> Strategy -> Tactics

What You Can Do for Your OWN Company Today

1. Don’t worry about developing your own dashboard. We always start with a Google Spreadsheet to set our goal and track it on a daily / monthly basis. There are companies like Geckoboard that do this as well. Here’s our current spreadsheet:

current spreadsheet

2. Pick one goal to target for one year. Anything more is too much, and less is too soon. At AppSumo, we like to choose goals that seem hard to accomplish but are significant. A billion people sounds like a lot and is a motivating number for all of us to strive for. Last year’s goal of 3,333 for Monthly 1K reflected that it would be a million dollar product at that number. We wanted the product to go “platinum.”

3. Remember, your goal has to be something you genuinely want to accomplish. Align everyone on your team around that goal so they are motivated to perform their particular role in order to help achieve it.

4. Break down your goal daily, make sure it’s visible regularly to everyone on your team, and evaluate your progress toward that goal on a weekly basis.

About the Author: Noah Kagan is the Chief Sumo at SumoMe.com, which has free tools to help you grow your website. Grab his free strategy for exactly how he grew his email list to 50,000 in 12 months.

Avangate scholarship winners for Business of Software Conference USA 2014

Avangate announced the recipients of its 2014 Business of Software Conference Scholarship today.

The three winners, CloudPress, Effective Computing and Pivotdesk, will receive complimentary passes to the Business of Software Conference USA taking place in Boston September 15-17, as well as the opportunity to attend an Avangate networking dinner with software industry leaders.

“As the new services economy continues to grow, it’s more important than ever for software and online services companies to continue innovating their products and services and their delivery model,” said Michael Ni, CMO/ SVP of Marketing and Products at Avangate. “For several years, we’ve supported promising new software and online services companies with this scholarship, connecting them with the people and resources to help them succeed. We’re excited about the winning companies this year, and we look forward to tracking their success as they grow.”

Reflecting Avangate’s commitment to the new services economy, this year’s scholarship winners focus on providing innovative services.

  • CloudPress, a SaaS product of Extend Studio, offers a set of tools and services designed to eliminate coding and server tasks for WordPress sites.
  • Effective Computing developed VoiceShortCuts, a voice command system that reduces the stress and limitations of computer use, enhancing productivity.
  • Pivotdesk is an online service that is changing the way people find office space: an office sharing marketplace that helps companies offset costs by sharing their excess office space with smaller companies and entrepreneurs looking for a place to grow their business.

It’s always a delight to have Business of Software scholarship winners at our conference. These companies are selected by Avangate in a competitive process and winners have come from all parts of the world over the years. We are excited to have them at Business of Software Conference in Boston as we are always interested in learning and bring fresh ideas to our sessions. Congratulations to the winners.

In addition to connecting these companies with new insights at the conference itself, Avangate is coordinating a networking dinner in Boston on the evening of September 16th where participants will have the opportunity to share ideas with other emerging software, SaaS, and online services industry peers and make valuable connections. To join the Avangate Boston networking dinner, please RSVP on the event’s registration page.

See you in Boston!

6 Advanced Steps for Doubling Your Activation Rate

Imagine you’re living the marketer’s dream.

You’re acquiring hundreds, even thousands, of customers every day because your product and marketing are just that awesome. Your team, spouse (or Tinder match), and family are excited as your company gets more valuable by the day.

However, all this means nothing if you ignore one key metric – activation.

Activation is one of the most important metrics for any SaaS company. It’s a measure of how many users take a specific action to get value out of a product. In Twitter’s case, that action might be following 6 other accounts or sending 2 tweets. In KISSmetrics’s case, an active user probably is one who installs KISSmetrics and runs one report on their data.

This graph shows what happens when you are crushing user acquisition but failing to activate users:

Viddy

From Andrew Chen’s post Retention is King

Viddy, the formerly popular video sharing app, grew rapidly by getting users to sign up using their Facebook accounts and then sharing Viddy with all their friends.

However, Viddy never nailed activation. Many of the users who signed up never came back. Thus, when Facebook put a stop to their friend-blasting user-acquisition approach, they went into a tailspin from which they haven’t recovered.

This activation problem only gets worse as you venture beyond consumer products. In fact, according to Intercom, 40-60% of users who sign up for a free trial of software will use it once and never come back again.

In today’s post, we’ll cover 6 advanced steps for activating users and customers. But first…

Why is Activation Important?

Most companies are (rightly) concerned with user acquisition but fail to pay adequate attention to activation. What few realize is that activation plays a major role in user acquisition itself.

Imagine that you (and your competitors) can spend $10 on Facebook to get one user signup, and that you make $20 for every customer you have. Let’s also say that only 50% of your prospects who sign up for a trial will activate.

Overall, you’re breaking even on your marketing expense: $20 x 50% activation = the $10 you spent on Facebook. If you can boost activation from 50% to 60%, your marketing channel will suddenly become profitable: $20 x 60% = $12.

Nice work! The increase (thanks to improved activation) means you can – profitably – spend more on advertising, acquire more users, and get more traction! So…

Step 1: Start Tracking!

Set up proper analytics. I highly suggest using a tool like KISSmetrics to track the actions users are taking in your product. Google Analytics just doesn’t cut it when it comes to activation.

Step 2: Map out Your Ideal Customer Flow

At my last company, the first thing we did to improve our lagging activation was measure the actions our most successful customers took.

Airbrake is an error-tracking tool developers use to capture errors that might occur in their software. So, in order for a customer to get maximum value out of the product, they had to track their errors!

This wasn’t just a hypothesis. After looking at the data, we saw that users who captured an error were about 300% more likely to remain customers than those who didn’t. Once we figured this out, we retooled our activation flow to get as many people as possible to capture their errors.

In the ideal customer flow, the user:

  1. Signs up for Airbrake
  2. Indicates which programming language they use (Ruby, Python, PHP, etc.)
  3. Installs and deploys a few lines of code in their app
  4. Captures their first error
  5. Marks their error as resolved in their dashboard

To get an idea of what this looks like for another product, let’s take a look at the example of Bingo Card Creator, a tool that helps teachers create and download customized bingo cards for their lesson plans. Bingo Card Creator’s ideal customer flow looks like this:

Bingo Card Creator

From Bingo Card Creator

In this case, the ideal customer signs up, hits their dashboard, creates a list, customizes their list of bingo cards, schedules a print run, and then downloads the cards.

Take a minute and map out the ideal flow for your customers. What actions do your most active customers take? After looking at your analytics, what is the step with the highest customer drop-off?

Once you figure out where people are struggling to activate, it’s time to find out why.

Step 3: Learn!

Activation can be broken into multiple steps, which lets you figure out the exact areas that need the most work.

In the case of Bingo Card Creator above, you can see that the greatest drop-off occurs when users try to go from creating a list to customizing one. Only 82% of users complete this step, compared with 86%+ across the rest of the funnel.

Why is this?

At this point, you have 2 options. You can either blindly test different onboarding flows and other triggers to improve this activation step, or you can talk to people (gasp!).

Personally, I’d go with the second option and ask users why they’re struggling to create their lists. You can get this data in a few different ways:

  1. Call people who haven’t finished a key step. (Bribe them with gift cards if you have to. You’d be surprised how well a gift card or a t-shirt works for people making $100k+ a year.)
  2. Set up a survey tool like Qualaroo.
  3. Watch users go through your onboarding process. Do this live (if possible), or use a tool like UserTesting or CrazyEgg.

Let’s say you talk to 15 people who have created lists of bingo cards but haven’t customized their lists. You find that 9 of them couldn’t think of how to customize a list and planned to finish it “later.” That’s a huge insight. It means that by showing users how to customize their lists, you should improve your activation.

Step 4: Make Things Simple

To improve your activation, make things simple. Often, this means reducing the amount of friction a user encounters in your product. Common causes of friction are:

1. Unnecessary Form Fields

Compare these 2 forms:

badform

vs.

pinterest

2. Visual Friction

Compare Bonobos vs. Lings Cars. Which one is cleaner?

bonobos

lings-cars

To see/hear LingsCars in full effect, you’ll need to visit the site

Here are a few more ways to make things simple:

Cut down the number of steps users have to take. For example, if you allow new users to import contacts from Facebook so they don’t have to manually enter their friends’ email addresses, it would make the process a lot easier, which would make it more likely users would complete that action.

Clarify language. Is it possible for you to say what you want to say in fewer words when writing copy on your website? Language should be clear, action-oriented, and concise.

Improve site performance. Load time, scrolling, and page performance all matter, both for SEO and for users.

For more ideas, check out this massive Slideshare on activation.

Step 5: Re-engage Users

Re-engaging users after they’ve fallen out of the funnel is another way to get them to activate.

Email is a great way to do this. Going back to our Bingo Card Creator example, you could send an email to all users who create a list but don’t customize it. The email would show users how to customize lists and cover the reasons why someone would want to do this.

Here are some tools you can use to engage users:

Amazing support. Good support is huge for improving activation and building customer goodwill. One useful trick is to tag users who’ve signed up in the last 30 days and make sure they receive priority support. Not only does it lead to a great customer experience, but it allows you to learn common problems customers run into during their first 30 days. Then, you can write documentation that addresses such common problems.

Automated welcome emails. Colin Nederkoorn of Customer.io suggests sending a personalized email from the founder within an hour of a user signing up. In the email, just ask how you can help or if they’re confused about anything. This gives new users the ability to ask questions, and it gives your team an understanding of the problems new users face. Some companies take it a step further and try to call every new user who signs up. Often, these conversations are great times to discuss why a user signed up and what they’re hoping to get out of your product. You also can get a sense of how likely they are to upgrade down the road.

Onboarding flow. Creating a first-time-user onboarding tutorial can significantly improve your activation rate. Twitter is a great example here. Your experience when signing up for a new account is completely different from the experience you have the rest of the time you are an active Twitter user.

Lifecycle emails. We touched on this above, but lifecycle emails that introduce new features to a user – especially if you can base them on actions a customer has already taken in your app – are huge for improving your activation rates. These are the kinds of emails you’ll get if you sign up for Twitter but don’t follow anyone. Twitter knows the number of people you follow is a key activation metric, and they will send emails suggesting individuals you may want to follow.

After reducing your product’s friction and setting up systems to engage users who fall away from your product, you’re ready for the last step!

Step 6: Rinse and Repeat

Well, that’s annoying. You see, improving your activation rate is an ongoing battle, but one with huge dividends. After rolling out a new onboarding flow, implementing an email lifecycle sequence, or testing simpler language, be sure to measure and see what’s working (and what’s not). If activation has gone up, roll out the improvements, and begin another test!

There you have it – the 6 steps for improving your activation rate. Hopefully, after reading this post, you’ll start improving your activation, thus helping thousands more customers fall in love with your product.

I’m sure I’ve missed some great ideas for ways companies have improved activation. What are your favorites? Let us know in the comments below.

About the Author: Justin Mares is the co-author of Traction, a startup guide for acquiring customers. Get the first 3 chapters free here.

Bootstrapped, Episode 48, “Gabriel Weinberg of DuckDuckGo”

We chat with special guest Gabriel Weinberg of DuckDuckGo. We cover the full gamut from bootstrapping, VC, competing against Google, Perl, privacy, advertising, remote work, finding customers, biz dev and Gabriel’s new book Traction.

 

Discuss this episode on the Bootstrapped forum

 

Behind the Scenes of Behavioral Advertising

Today we’re going to look at some of the little known details and services surrounding the world of behavior advertising. And just in case the term “behavioral advertising” is confusing to you, let’s define it real quick:

Behavioral advertising is a technique used by online advertisers to present targeted ads to consumers by collecting information about their browsing behavior.

Several pieces of data may be used, such as:

  • The pages browsed on a website
  • The time spent on the site
  • The clicks made
  • The recency of the visit
  • The overall interaction with the site

All this data creates a user persona or profile that can be used to segment the audience into certain types. People with similar online behavior can be clubbed together into one segment. Then, these segments are shown ads that cater to their interests.

According to a survey by the Network Advertising Initiative, conducted with 12 advertising networks, targeted advertisements based on user behavior converted 6.8% compared with non targeted ads at 2.8%.

How Behavioral Advertising Works

Lots of platforms work by inserting a cookie into a visitor’s hard drive. Advertising networks have a larger demographic of users at their disposal. Being able to serve different sites, they can easily divide the populace into segments.

The first step in serving behavioral ads is tracking who the users are and what they do online.

Tracking refers to the process of collecting and processing data, while targeting refers to using that data to offer personalized solutions or advertising.

In order to understand how tracking works, we need to define a few terms:

HTTP request: Generally a tracking pixel or JavaScript sends client information to the ad serving company.

The user is identified with the help of a cookie in which unique IDs are stored.

Furthermore, combining HTTP request headers with UserAgent strings can lead to even more precise User Identification.

Flash Cookies: Flash allows advertisers to place Flash cookies known as local shared objects with the ability to store client information. The Information can range for preferred volume settings or even unique identifiers.

One of the notable advantages with Flash cookies is that they are outside the browser. They persist even when the user closes the browser, and they carry through when he/she opens another.

While standard HTML cookies store 4kb of data, Flash cookies can store up to 100kb.

There are mechanisms which keep track of the user even when he/she deletes the cookie. For example, say cookie named 144587 is attached to my IP. Imagine that I delete the cookie. The next time I log in, the server attaches a cookie with a different name, say 8654977, but the software knows that both cookies relate to the same person. This is called cookie respawning.

Etags: Etags are a feature of the browser cache. The cache saves a previously visited website in the memory, and if a visitor is inclined to visit the site again, the saved site is shown. Advertisers use the cache to store unique identifiers pertaining to the user.

Etags are difficult to remove because deleting the cache would make browsing slower.

HTML5: HTML5 makes use of a cookie called HTML5 local storage. Even if the user closes the browser, the cookie persists until deleted willfully. Compared with Flash and simple HTML cookies, HTML5 cookies can store data up to 5 Mb.

It is preferred because users don’t need any plugins like Flash to run it.

The EverCookie: The EverCookie uses the combined features of HTML5 cookies, Etags, Flash cookie, etc. If a user deletes one identifier, say Flash cookie, then the other identifier, say Etags, is enough to activate the EverCookie.

AOL has explained it beautifully with images of Penguin. When you visit a sports site or gourmet site, for example, an ad company sends a cookie to your computer. Later, when you visit some other site, the ad company reads the cookie and displays an ad related to gourmet or sports.

AOL penguin explanation

Online Behaviors That Advertisers Use

Let’s go into more detail on two pieces of data that advertisers use to create targeted ads:

IP address & geolocation: Targeting your audience by where they live is one of the most basic segmentations you can make. You can show discounts and sales targeted to a specific region. You also can blend urgency into the messages, such as: “This offer is only for Utah readers and expires in 10 hours.”

There are even more metrics you can add, like the person’s country, state, region, and city.

Verve, after comparing data from its 2,500 mobile targeted campaigns, found that mobile ads that are geo-aware performed 50% better than the rest of the campaigns.

In another study, Central Market saw a 4.1% click-through rate location based targeting.

Recency of visits & whether repeat visitors or new visitors: A repeat visitor can be shown related content based on what they searched for in the past.

You might have seen yourself that, when you visit some sites to search for certain things, you later see ads of those sites elsewhere.

Amazon does this. They even email users based on the products they browsed earlier.

Personyze is a platform that offers real time personalization based on user data.

How does that happen? It’s called retargeting, and we are going to learn a bit more about it.

How Advertisers Use Retargeting

When a user visits a site, he/she is expressing interest in the site. Later, the user can be shown ads related to the site.

Let me clarify with an example. I was searching for a company called IfeelGoods on Google. Minutes later, I logged into Facebook and found this ad from IfeelGoods in my news feed.

ifeelgoods

It doesn’t end with that. Days later, when I am reading a random piece on Salon, right there before me is an AdSense ad of IfeelGoods.

salon advertisement

Here are a few KISSmetrics articles that go over retargeting in detail:

Tools for E-commerce and SaaS Businesses

Here are a few tools that e-commerce and SaaS businesses can use for behavioral targeting:

RichRelevance: RichRelevance has served more than 1 billion personalized product recommendations. It has delivered more than $10 billion in attributable sales to its retail partners like Walmart, Target, Sears, Best Buy, etc. It’s the perfect solution for e-commerce site owners.

richrecs

You can sign up for RichRelevance here.

Related Products Management by CommerceStack: This is a Magento extension that integrates user data into the shopping experience by generating relevant up-sells, cross-sells, and down-sells. It’s currently free.

The below examples show you how the Products Manager can be used to add related products and manage them with a few clicks.

magento admin panel

8-magento-admin-panel

Visit the CommerceStack installation page here.

Personyze: Personyze is a behavioral targeting tool that collects and analyzes information on the user and makes real time recommendations. It can display targeted banner ads from a range of data like the keywords used for search, click behavior, etc.

An example of a site offering personalized recommendations with Personyze is shown below.

Personyze personalizes the webpage for each user, as follows:

  1. Greets the user with his/her name, “ Welcome Brian,” as you can see
  2. Products shown based on previous searches
  3. Down-sells and cross-sells
  4. Up-sells
  5. User guides
  6. Reduced prices to attract customers

monkey gadget

You can sign up for Personyze here.

Intelligent Cross-Sell by CNET: This tool is a boon for those in the consumer electronics industry. CNET has partnered with RichRelevance to help merchants optimize their cross-sells. The tool taps into CNET’s database of 5 million digital goods and comes up with relevant recommendations.

The example below shows a product comparison table powered with the rich data base of electronic products on CNET.

e-storesite product comparison

Get started with Intelligent Cross-Sell here.

CoreMetrics Intelligent Offer by IBM: The tool generates product recommendations based on past purchases and business rules. It delivers smoothly across email, mobile, and web platforms.

11-dynamic-recommendations-emarketing-spot-integration

12-dynamic-recommendation-storefront

Get Started with CoreMetrics here.

Magiq Dynamic Personalization Software: Magiq builds and maintains long term customer behavior records which can be used to offer personalized content. Magiq records key user behavior like the place they are from, whether they have registered on the site, search keywords used to reach the site, etc. It also categorizes active customers as “ready to buy,” which means if the sales team pitches them with an offer, they probably will buy the product.

Swimshop.co.uk was able to achieve a 61% conversion on cart abandonment emails with Magiq.

Whenever a user abandons his/her cart, a trigger is fired. The trigger can either send an email offering a 15% discount or show the banner ads of the products on subsequent visits to the site.

Here is a video that shows the entire process of remarketing via Magiq:

Sign up for Magiq here.

Facebook interest based targeting: In a post here, Tommy Walker talks about how a True Value ad got into his news feed. In his own words: “Well … I’m 27, I’m married, I’m a male, I’m a father, and I’ve Liked the pages Saving Money, Super Coupon Lady, and DIYnetwork, among other things that would signal I’m a responsible adult living on a budget and like to take care of things around the house.” He also suggests the perfect tag cloud to target people who’d be excited about a $5 True Value coupon.

facebook interest based targeting

Get started with Facebook Advertising here.

On Facebook, people enter a lot of data that makes it easy to target them with highly personalized offers. They like pages, so that indicates their interest in certain products or businesses, they mention where they live, and so on.

Have You Tried Behavioral Advertising?

As you can see, behavioral advertising helps you provide consumers more personalized offers. It helps you get into their shoes and understand what they need. You can use the tools to better serve your customers. How have your experiences been with behavioral advertising? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

About the Author: This article was written by George Mathew.

10 Things Every Marketer Should Know About A/B Testing

As customer attention spans are shrinking and online competition is expanding, Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is a must-have skill for marketers.

CRO is one of the most important aspects of your digital marketing strategy because conversion rate is the only measurable metric that actually correlates with ROI.

Even if a customer “conversion” on your website is something other than a purchase (such as a newsletter signup), the rules of CRO still apply.

Unfortunately, when it comes to implementing a CRO plan, you can get completely lost in a sea of online resources that tell you to do things like change the colors of your buttons, add social proof, shorten your web copy, include gamification… Stop the madness!

Before jumping into tactical fixes, there is only one thing you need to do to optimize conversion rates on your website, and that is what today’s blog post is all about – A/B testing.

While a leap of faith worked for Bruce Springsteen in 1992, it won’t bring you success in the future. So, rather than take a leap of faith on a set of tactics, use web analytics to get a ton of insight based on real-time user feedback. The data can be used to optimize any area of your website based on the real-life behaviors of real-life customers. What could be better?

Of course, you may already have a hunch about what your users prefer and how they consume content, and that brings us to…

A/B Testing Rule #1: Forget everything you think you know about your customers.

forget about what you think about your customers

It is tempting to make assumptions about your audience based on things like age, gender, location, or income. Resist the temptation when possible! There was a time when customer profiling was the best way (the only way) to target customers; and, yes, it still has its place in marketing.

However, in the digital era we have so many more options! No longer do we have to rely on segmentation to deliver hyper-personalized experiences. We now have the ability to leverage every digital touchpoint as an opportunity to learn about our customers’ preferences on a one-to-one basis.

A/B Testing Rule #2: Always establish a baseline.

Increasing conversion rates is your immediate goal, and if you’re like me, you’re in a hurry. But, before jumping into a high stakes A/B test (or even a low stakes A/B test), it is important to budget time up front to establish a current baseline to measure against. If you don’t know what your current conversion rate is, how will you know if your future tests are successful? (More on that in Rule #5.)

A/B Testing Rule #3: Just because it worked for someone else, does not mean it will work for you.

If CRO were a repeatable process that worked the same way for every website every time, there would be no need for testing at all. Marketers would know the way all e-commerce websites perform, and everyone would follow the same rules.

Unfortunately, this is not the case (and a world full of sameness would be rather boring anyway), which is why you must perform A/B testing on your own unique content with your own unique audience. Sure, you can borrow ideas from other CRO-ers, but don’t expect the same results.

For example, let’s say Company ABC sells shoelaces and Company XYZ sells enterprise software applications. Clearly, the buying cycle looks completely different for these two companies, even if they have customers in common. Company ABC may find that changing its primary call-to-action (CTA) button to green instead of red increases sales by 75%. But, it is not likely that Company XYZ would experience similar results.

A/B Testing Rule #4: Test one thing at a time.

This one is pretty self-explanatory but worth mentioning because it’s important. When performing A/B testing on your website, test one variable at a time so that results are readable at the end. If you change your headline at the same time you change your navigation, how will you know which one of the variables contributed to the most conversions?

Pro tip: If you run a headline test, be sure your test headline works with the rest of your digital touchpoints throughout the sales funnel. Consistency builds credibility.

A/B Testing Rule #5: Do not call a “winner” until statistical confidence is reached.

dont call a winner

In A/B testing, statistical confidence refers to the likelihood that the same results can be expected if the same test is run again in the future. In other words, it tells you how confident you can be of the results of your test.

For example, let’s say you perform an A/B test on your shopping cart page where “A” is the use of radio buttons and “B” is the use of dropdown menus. Let’s also say that “B” produces a 75% lift in conversion rate. Obviously, B is the winner, right?

Not necessarily. There are three more facts to consider:

  1. Sample size: Using the example above, if your sample size is 4 people, that means only 3 people prefer dropdown menus. Sure, it’s a good start, but the likelihood of the results remaining true in a sample size of 1,000 is extremely low; therefore, this test result has a low confidence level.
  2. Percentage: The accuracy of your A/B test results also will depend on your margin for error. If, in a sample size of 500, 99% of customers convert when shown dropdown menus, you can be fairly certain that your margin for error is low. If, on the other hand, only 51% of customers convert when shown dropdown menus vs. 49% who are shown radio buttons, random chance gives you a larger margin for error, and you should continue running the test until a higher confidence level is reached.
  3. Population size: If the size of your entire audience is 250,000 and your sample size is 25, again, this will yield a test result with a low confidence level. To calculate your recommended sample size, check out Raosoft’s Sample Size Calculator.

A/B Testing Rule #6: Walk before you run.

This proverb is true in many aspects of business, and A/B testing is no exception. As customer perceptions and expectations evolve, CRO has always been and will always be a moving target. You will make mistakes. You will learn from your mistakes. With practice, you will become an A/B testing master.

A/B Testing Rule #7: Get a second opinion. Or a third. Or a fourth.

User testing has never been more important, nor has it ever been easier! Even if you do not have the luxury of a User Experience (UX) Department on hand, there are a number of free and low-cost services that offer usability testing on the fly, such as:

Peek User Testing: Peek is a super easy and quick way to gather qualitative feedback on your website.

  • The pros: Feedback is generally unbiased, detailed, and free!
  • The cons: It doesn’t always make sense to test an interface outside of its intended audience. Also, it is difficult to gather a large quantity of feedback using this method due to its time-consuming nature.

Amazon Turk: Amazon Turk allows you to gather feedback from thousands of real-live people in a short period of time through the use of quantitative research methods such as surveys.

  • The pros: Generally inexpensive, scalable, and quantitative, and you can pre-select qualifying criteria for your testers.
  • The cons: This is generally performed via a survey engine, which can introduce artificial filters.

The bottom line: any feedback is better than no feedback!

A/B Testing Rule #8: User behavior data and customer survey data may conflict.

Surveys certainly have their place in marketing, but realize they may not always provide honest feedback the way behavioral feedback captured via your web analytics can. This is because surveys introduce human biases in a way that raw behavioral data does not.

For example, imagine that you are in a hurry to print out important documents on your way to a meeting and, 3 pages into your print job, you find that the ink cartridge needs to be changed. Now, what if I ask you how you would handle this particular situation?

Before reading any further, please pause and think about your honest answer.

You probably said you would change the ink cartridge and continue printing your documents. If this were a survey, I would accept that as your answer.

In a user-testing environment, though, I would note that you kicked the printer 4 times, cleared a paper jam, and hit the cancel button 7 times; and then you changed the ink cartridge. While sorting your documents, you spilled coffee all over your shirt, got frustrated, and had to re-schedule your meeting.

In the survey setting, you didn’t outright lie about what you would do in the situation. You did change the ink cartridge, after all. But in the survey setting, I would have missed out on all the extra behavioral data that happened before and after.

A/B Testing Rule #9: Clearly define your success metric.

Never lose sight of your ultimate success metric. CRO is about conversions. It is not about open rates, click-through rates, tweets, shares, or pins. Unless, of course, tweeting and pinning is the “conversion” on your website. In that case, go crazy with it.

The bottom line: have a goal in mind and optimize your content around that goal. Everything else is a key performance indicator (KPI).

A/B Testing Rule #10: Don’t test whispers.

dont test whispers

This saying dates back to the days of direct mail, and it still holds true for online marketing. Avoid testing miniscule elements that have little chance of driving significant change. Use your common sense, trust your intuition, and focus on high impact tests. For a list of 485 real-life test ideas, check out Which Test Won.

Bonus Hacks

CRO is not just about getting more people to click your buttons. It’s about delivering the right content to the right audience and encouraging them to click the right buttons at the right time. If you’ve A/B tested your entire website, optimized based on the data, and your conversion rates are still lower than you’d like them to be, perhaps you are measuring the wrong set of metrics.

For example, let’s say you own a gourmet cupcakery and your website has a 2% conversion rate. In this example, a customer placing an order for cupcakes is the “conversion.” Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  1. Is the 2% conversion rate based on all web traffic, or is the 2% conversion rate based on only those who click through to the “How to Order” page?
  2. What are the traffic sources of those who click through to the “How to Order” page?
  3. What are the traffic sources of those with the highest bounce rates?
  4. What are the behavior patterns of those who ultimately convert? Did they watch a video? Browse your photo gallery? Read customer testimonials?
  5. Last and most important question: how can I use this data to better qualify prospects?

By slicing and dicing your web analytics in this fashion, a couple of things may happen:

  1. You may uncover areas of your website and/or your search strategy that need improvement.
  2. You may find that your conversion rate is better than you had originally estimated.

Either way, this exercise will help you prioritize your A/B testing calendar.

A Final Word

Outside of basic functionality like site speed and mobile optimization, there is no single truth or secret sauce to CRO. The only way to know for sure what works with your audience is to run a set of A/B tests and then be willing to implement changes based on the data.

About the Author: Nicki Powers is a Digital Marketing Strategist located in Saint Louis, Missouri, who loves to engage customers and drive sales through the use of emerging technologies. You can follow her on Twitter here: @nicki_powers.