The Mobile Commerce Chicken And Egg Conundrum

The Mobile Commerce Chicken And Egg Conundrum

This was a big week for shopping.

Unless you have been living under a rock in North America, we had both Black Friday and Cyber Monday take place this past week. Beyond the riot police and YouTube filming of customer stampedes, fisticuffs and people behaving badly, these two days act as a key indicator as to how the holiday shopping season is going to roll out. Obviously, this is even-more closely monitored, as it also provides a peek into the wealth of nations. Just how much people are spending is directly related to the overall economy and beyond. 

Well, we’re spending… but how are we buying?

As a business professional, who gets up in front of large audiences to talk about consumers and their shifting buying habits, there is some data that points to a large opportunity, wrapped in one of the biggest consumer shifts in buying that our world has ever seen. Let’s put this all into context. AdWeek published the news item, Cyber Monday Sales Totaled $3.45 Billion, Which Set a New Ecommerce Record Up 12% year-over-year. Adobe stated that $3.45 billion was spent online for Cyber Monday alone. This is a 12%+ year-over-year spike. Impressive. The same report from Adobe also stated that for the first 28 days in November, that four-week period showed closed to $40 billion in digital sales. In fact, only one day this month generated less than $1 billion in online revenue.

Billion is the new million.

It’s true. We toss around the number "billion" like it’s any other "million." These amounts are staggering. Period. Full stop. Still, this is not where it could be. The number could be a lot higher. For years, I’ve been on a "mobile-first" rant. In short: your mobile experience should be better than your desktop experience (think about Instagram, Snapchat, Tinder, Uber and beyond). It also means that your mobile experience should not be a less-than experience from your desktop. It’s an area that brands are failing at. It’s an area that is costing brands huge revenue. If brands are ever going to actualize their true market opportunity, the time has come (and, maybe, passed) to ensure that your mobile experience is not a watered-down version of your desktop website, or a responsive design without the usability and experience that mobile does provide. Your consumers are used to apps and smartphones and more. They’re living it. Your brands are falling them.

The argument against mobile-first.

Too many brands believe that mobile traffic is not significant enough for them to make the full-on mobile-first leap. That, for some reason, their consumers are different. Their consumers don’t follow the macro trends, growth, usage and penetration of smartphones. Hey, it’s your head and your sand, if you ask me. MediaPost published the news item, Cyber Monday Breaks Records, Hits $3.4B in Online Revenues, that boasted similar numbers from the AdWeek piece. Still, the quote that we should all pay attention to is this one:

"Mobile drove 47% of visits to retail websites, about 38% came from smartphones and 9% from tablets. Smartphones also drove purchases with 22% share, compared with 9% from tablets. Conversions were well above holiday averages, with smartphones at 2.8%, tablets at 5.1% and desktops at 6.3%, compared to holiday averages of 1.3%, 2.9% and 3.2%, respectively… The average order value (AOV) on iOS smartphones came in at $141, which remained slightly higher compared with Android smartphones at $128."

TL;DR: Smartphones were used in one out of every three purchases. That’s staggering.

Many would see this as a massive sign. Mobile continues to grow in marketshare. Mobile still has a long way to go, until it can catch-up and surpass desktop usage. That’s not the sign it signals to me. Mobile is not being given a real chance to shine and prove its dominance. And that, dear brand people, falls directly on our shoulders. Yesterday, Research Brief published, Mobile Smartphone Shoppers Struggling With Navigation. Guess what? Mobile devices accounted for one-third of every sale on Cyber Monday, and according to a comScore report, they also accounted for 20% of the $84.3 billion in US digital commerce spending in Q3 2016. 

What’s happening here?

e-commerce is shifting. Big time. It is moving from desktop to mobile devices, but brands are woefully unprepared. So, the numbers look worse. The numbers don’t look as impressive. Why? According to the Research Brief article: 

"Mobile devices could be even more influential… if some user experience problems were taken care of. Recent research from Monetate indicates that only around half of e-commerce site visits come from mobile devices. Mobile’s smaller share of actual sales is a result of lower conversion rates relative to desktop and smartphones, as mobile users struggle with navigation, difficulty with checkouts, and security concerns. These problems lead to lower shopping cart conversion rates, with just 1 in every 6 shopping carts on smartphones turning into orders, as opposed to 1 in 4 on desktops."

In short: brands must wake up and start removing all of this friction that their mobile experiences are providing.

From pinching to touching the wrong part of the page and from checkout process and product information, it’s a struggle. Think about it this way: your consumers can hop over to Tinder and find someone to mate with in a fraction of the time that it takes them to add one of your products to a shopping cart and purchase it. Ugh. The data will tell you that mobile is not everything, so you should take your time with. The data will tell you that your consumers are mobile-first, but struggling with your mobile experience, so they’re just not bothering. This makes no sense in our "customer at the center" experience world, that each and every CMO in the world leads off their brand presentations with. 

So, which comes first? Your amazing mobile experience or your belief that most of your consumers are not on mobile, because your analytics don’t speak to how bad your mobile experience currently is?

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Why High Cognitive Load Is Costing You Conversions (and How to Reduce It)

Why High Cognitive Load Is Costing You Conversions (and How to Reduce It)

The best UX is the one you’re not aware of, the one you don’t even notice. That’s what makes a site truly intuitive.

Each time UX falls short of intuitive, cognitive load increases. As cognitive load increases, your conversion rate begins to suffer.

What Is Cognitive Load (and Why Does It Matter)?

Cognitive load is “the total amount of mental effort being used in the working memory.” Cognitive overload, then, is the need for an excessive amount of mental effort.

The Psychology

Cognitive load theory was born from the research of John Sweller in the 1980s. He argued that the way in which something is taught can influence cognitive load in learners. He also broke cognitive load down into three categories: intrinsic, extraneous, and germane.

To summarize…

  1. Intrinsic – The inherent difficulty of the concept.
  2. Extraneous – The complexity added by the way the concept is presented.
  3. Germane – The construction of patterns, models and associations.

Measuring Cognitive Load

By nature, of course, people differ in cognitive processing capacity. An expert would have a lower cognitive load than a beginner because she is more experienced and knowledgeable, for example. Some studies suggest those with a lower socioeconomic status experience higher cognitive load.

While research has been done on how to measure factors that contribute to cognitive load, it’s not easily applicable to the average optimizer. We can’t rely on task-invoked pupillary response to tell us how our sites are being processed cognitively. Similarly, we can’t use rate pressure product.

The Impact of a High Cognitive Load

Nicholas Carr wrote The Shallows, an incredible book on what the Internet is doing to our brains. In it, he discusses the impact of cognitive overload…

“NicholasNicholas Carr, Author:

“When the load exceeds our mind’s ability to process and store it, we’re unable to retain the information or to draw connections with other memories. We can’t translate the new material into conceptual knowledge. Our ability to learn suffers, and our understanding remains weak.”

Basically, here’s what happens when cognitive load increases…

  • The likelihood of errors and/or interferences with the task at hand increases drastically.
  • Stereotyping and attribution effect kick into high gear, disrupting rational thought.

Why This All Matters

Perhaps you’re reading this thinking that cognitive overload isn’t something you should concern yourself with as an optimizer. Well, Reuters conducted three business-focused studies and released a report called Dying for Information. Here are some of the findings…

  • 43% of respondents thought that decisions were delayed and otherwise negatively affected by “analysis paralysis”.
  • 2 out of 3 respondents associated information overload with tension with colleagues and loss of job satisfaction.
  • 42% even attributed poor health to this stress.

The scariest part…? That research was conducted all the way back in 1996.

A lot has changed in 20 years and amount of information the human brain is asked to process each day has grown with the rise of smartphones, remote teams, push notifications, eCommerce, and everything in-between.

Needless to say, a site that adds to an already high cognitive load is not good for conversions.

Neal Cole, an optimization consultant, explains it well…

“NealNeal Cole, Optimization Consultant:

“The danger here is that cognitive strain creates sufficient uncertainty and negative feelings about a site (i.e. friction)  that visitors will not feel comfortable enough to sign up or make a transaction. It is human nature to avoid uncertainty because it makes us feel uncomfortable.  This is partly why site security and trust is so important to website visitors.

On the positive side cognitive ease can assist conversion by making content appear more familiar and so visitors are more willing to consider signing up or making a transaction.” (via Conversion Uplift)

How Design and UX Add to Cognitive Load

While this list could go on endlessly, here are some common factors to consider.

1. Instruction overload.

Steve Krug, author of Don’t Make Me Think, explained it best…

“SteveSteve Krug, Advanced Common Sense:

“The main thing you need to know about instructions is that no one is going to read them—at least not until after repeated attempts at ‘muddling through’ have failed.” (via Don’t Make Me Think)

If your user experience is truly intuitive, you don’t need instructions. The next step is obvious.

So, if you have instructions written out for something (outside of your support documentation), remove them and focus on improving the UX to the point where those instructions are no longer necessary.

If the instructions are absolutely necessary, at least reduce them as much as possible.

2. Breaking prototypes.

Prototypes exist for a reason. Here are just a couple examples. See if you can guess the nature of this site…

Autopilot Blog

Yep, that’s a blog. The Autopilot blog, to be exact. Now try this one…

Contactually

And this one…

Holstee

And this one…

National Post

SaaS, eCommerce, newspaper. I’m willing to bet you got them all right because they’re using protoypes that are familiar to you.

Steve addresses the UX and cognitive issues that arise when you depart from these prototypes too drastically…

“SteveSteve Krug, Advanced Common Sense:

“Faced with the prospect of following a convention, there’s a great temptation for designers to try reinventing the wheel instead, largely because they feel (not incorrectly) that they’ve been hired to do something new and different, not the same old thing.

Not to mention the fact that praise from peers, awards, and high-profile job offers are rarely based on criteria like ‘best use of conventions.’

Occasionally, time spent reinventing the wheel results in a revolutionary new rolling device. But usually it just amounts to time spent reinventing the wheel.” (via Don’t Make Me Think)

Be aware of the prototypes that exist for your industry (e.g. B2B, SaaS, agency). Then, use conversion research to better understand the prototypes your specific audience might be borrowing from other sites they commonly visit.

Be cautious and deliberate about departing from those prototypes.

3. Option overload.

We’ve written an entire article on whether more options really does decrease conversions. Here’s what you really need to know…

  • Often, too many choices does decrease conversions.
  • Often, too many choices does not decrease conversions.

The trick is finding the balance between limited options and overwhelming options. When you get too close to the “overwhelming” end of the spectrum, conversions drop. Similarly, when you get too close to the “limited” end of the spectrum, conversions drop.

This is true of online “clutter” in general.

Here’s what you can do to find that balance…

  1. Define your goal for the page.
  2. Watch session replays and conduct user testing to see how real people respond.
  3. Test the number of options you provide based on the research to see what actually works.

Generally, you want to aim to provide what is necessary and nothing more.

4. Clickable confusion.

Have you ever visited a site and tried to click something that wasn’t, in fact, a link? Of course you have.

“SteveSteve Krug, Advanced Common Sense:

“Another needless source of question marks over people’s heads is links and buttons that aren’t obviously clickable.

As a user, I should never have to devote a millisecond of thought to whether things are clickable—or not.” (via Don’t Make Me Think)

Typically, this issue arises due to stylistic inconsistencies, which can pop up in other forms as well. For example, a change in the tone of your copy, different font, unusual colors. Minor mistakes like this pop out at visitors, making it impossible for the UX to truly feel “invisible”.

Here’s an example

Streamlabs

The top yellow “button” is not actually a button. Rather, it’s a benefit. But because it looks so similar to the green button below, it creates confusion. Also, it is rather unusual as far as prototypes go.

This is why heatmaps can be so valuable to optimizers, to uncover unclickable elements that visitors perceive to be clickable.

5. Subtlety and ambiguity.

Subtlety and ambiguity are the enemy of clarity, which is essential for conversions. We’ve written an entire article on how you can improve clarity, so I recommend reading that before you continue.

Of course, a lack of clarity can manifest in many ways…

Speaking of confusing value propositions, here’s an example. Or rather, a lack of one…

Sunshine

That’s the site in its entirety. I don’t know about you, but I had absolutely no idea what it was. (It’s a weather app, according to Medium, but still no indication of why it’s better than every other weather app.)

We released a study on how best to present your value proposition, but the most important part is that it is clear, both in terms of copy and visual presentation.

In addition, Steve addressed subtle visual cues in his book…

“SteveSteve Krug, Advanced Common Sense:

“Too-subtle visual cues are actually a very common problem. Designers love subtle cues, because subtlety is one of the traits of sophisticated design.

But Web users are generally in such a hurry that they routinely miss subtle cues.” (via Don’t Make Me Think)

We released a study on effective visual cues, which can help guide you away from subtlety.

In summary, choose clarity over being clever, over aesthetics, over everything.

How Copy Adds to Cognitive Load

Cognitive overload can also manifest in copy. Why? Perhaps because we create sites with the notion that visitors will dive deep into each page, reading every word carefully, soaking up every detail. In reality, that’s just not how it goes.

In fact, Steve once wrote, “Get rid of half the words on each page, then get rid of half of what’s left.”

We’ve already written a detailed article on writing simply, reducing paragraph size, choosing clear fonts, etc. So, I won’t rehash the entire article.

Just remember…

  1. Use short, simple sentences and paragraphs (3-4 lines maximum). No more than 80 characters per line.
  2. Use clear subheadings and/or content blocks with different background colors or images.
  3. Use sans serif, 14-16px font in a high contrast color. Aim for a 24px space between two lines of text.
  4. Use familiar words and phrases, limit jargon and industry speak, limit complex words (the average American reads at a 7-8th grade level).

How to Audit Your Site for Cognitive Overload

When trying to reduce cognitive load, your focus should be on extraneous and germane load. There are two goals…

  1. Reduce extraneous load.
  2. Increase germane load by encouraging cognitive processes that result in the creation of schemas.

Like anything in optimization, it’s best to follow a systematic process. When looking at your site to identify elements that might be adding to cognitive load, follow these three: analysis, ideation, implementation.

1. Analysis

Start by going through your site page by page.

  1. Make note of everything you read.
  2. Make note of anything you’re asked / expected to remember.
  3. Make note of any decisions required.

You’ll end up with a spreadsheet that looks something like this…

Cognitive Load Audit

It’s also wise to make note of how many clicks away visitors are from completing your most wanted action on every page. It shouldn’t be more than one or two.

2. Ideation

Now, you must decide whether to remove the elements increasing cognitive load or brainstorm alternative solutions.

If you can remove the element without compromising usability or your value proposition, opt for that. If not, create a hypothesis and use that to brainstorm new, low load ways to present the element in question.

3. Implementation

Since you looked through every element of every page of your site, you now have a long list of…

  1. Elements to remove.
  2. Elements to change.

Go ahead and remove anything on that first list right away.

When it comes to the elements on your change list, you’ll need to decide whether the element is worth testing or if you should skip right to implementation.

Yes, in an ideal world, you would test every change. But where we are simply dealing with hypotheses to reduce cognitive load, there are many things you can go ahead and implement with minimal risk, allowing you to avoid wasting valuable testing traffic.

After all of those quick implementations are finished, you can run user tests and session replays again to see if the impact was positive overall. If there were negatives, keep brainstorming and try again.

If it’s worth testing, use a prioritization model like PXL to help you decide which hypothesis to test first.

Conclusion

When working memory is strained, rational thought and cognitive processes begin to suffer. As a result, so does your conversion rate. Arguably, so does brand recall, brand association and more.

Here’s what you need to remember about cognitive load…

  1. Instructions shouldn’t be necessary if the UX is truly intuitive. Remove, or at least reduce, them where possible.
  2. Be careful about breaking away from expected prototypes too much.
  3. Find the balance between limited options and overwhelming options. Provide what’s necessary and nothing more.
  4. Use heatmaps to understand what visitors think is clickable (and look for other stylistic inconsistencies).
  5. Aim for clarity and avoid subtlety and ambiguity at all costs. Think about your visual hierarchy, navigation, visual cues, value proposition, etc.
  6. Use an systematic audit to identify elements that are adding to cognitive load.

The post Why High Cognitive Load Is Costing You Conversions (and How to Reduce It) appeared first on ConversionXL.

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Answering Featured Snippets Timely, Using Sentence Compression on News

Answering Featured Snippets Timely, Using Sentence Compression on News

A couple of Augusts ago, I went to a Semantic Business and Technology conference where the head of Yahoo’s Knowledge Graph, Nicolas Torzec, discussed how updates took place to the knowledge graph when some earth-shaking event took place. He told us that they were manually editing information in that knowledge graph. Upon hearing that, I thought it seemed like an area that could have used a machine learning element to it, to automate it to keep it up to date.

Another place that would benefit from machine learning would be generating featured snippets that answer questions people might ask at Google, and it appears that they thought it might be useful there, too. A Wired Magazine article from Monday describes how those featured snippets might be generated:

Google’s Hand-Fed AI Now Gives Answers, Not Just Search Results

At the heart of this approach is the crawling of a data store of news articles and other sources, with the help of a “massive team of PhD linguists it calls Pygmalion”, and the use of algorithms that are referred to as “sentence compression” algorithms that might generate answers to questions from sources such as that news source.

Curious, I went in search of patents from Google that used “sentence compression” algorithms, and I found one:

Methods and apparatus related to sentence compression
Inventors: Ekaterina Filippova and Yasemin Altun
Assigned to: Google
US Patent 9,336,186
Granted: May 10, 2016
Filed: October 10, 2013

Abstract

Methods and apparatus related to sentence compression. Some implementations are generally directed toward generating a corpus of extractive compressions and associated sentences based on a set of headline, sentence pairs from documents. Some implementations are generally directed toward utilizing a corpus of sentences and associated sentence compressions in training a supervised compression system. Some implementations are generally directed toward determining a compression of a sentence based on edge weights for edges of the sentence that are determined based on weights of features associated with the edges.

The patent doesn’t mention featured snippets, but it does mention paraphrasing sentences in a data store of titles and sentences from a news source:

The documents from which the set of headline, sentence pairs is determined may be news story documents. In some of those implementations, for each of the headline, sentence pairs the sentence is a first sentence of the respective document.

Determining the set of headline, sentence pairs of the set may include: determining non-conforming headline, sentence pairs from a larger set of headline, sentence pairs; and omitting the non-conforming headline, sentence pairs from the set of headline, sentence pairs. Determining non-conforming headline, sentence pairs may include determining the non-conforming sentence pairs as those that satisfy one or more of the following conditions: the headline is less than a headline threshold number of terms, the sentence is less than a sentence threshold number of terms, the headline does not include a verb, and the headline includes one or more of a noun, verb, adjective, and adverb whose lemma does not appear in the sentence.

I had hoped to find more that discussed how this algorithm might be used in the generation of featured snippets, but it didn’t provide many details on that aspect of how these algorithms might be used. It does appear to be based on natural language processing. and I went looking at Google whitepapers to see if I could find more. I found a paper that looked related. On a Research at Google page for the paper Overcoming the Lack of Parallel Data in Sentence Compression they tell us is “A subset of the described data (10,000 sentence & extracted headlines pairs, with source URL and annotations) is available for download.”

That data for download includes sentences from news articles that have been tagged as different parts of speech. It looks like a lot of work, but it appears to be done in a way that does take advantage of automate processes that can keep such information up to date.

This appears to be how terms such as “sentence compression” become relevant to what SEOs do.


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How Fitbit Keeps Its Customers Moving in Social Media and Online Communities

How Fitbit Keeps Its Customers Moving in Social Media and Online Communities

Fitbit, a global leader in wearable fitness technology, has made it easier and more fun for millions of people to live a healthier life. And they’ve done it by focusing on the experience.

“Customer experience is really paramount to everything we do here,” says Allison Leahy, the director of community at Fitbit, adding that in the online space, “Fitbit is trying to be everywhere you are and more”.

The company employs a bilateral approach to online customer care, focusing separately on social media and communities, though both groups report up through the same department. While Leahy considers the two channels “different disciplines” with different tools (and hence different agents), one similarity is that Fitbit does a lot of customer listening in both. The team has a system to “incorporate all of our great customer feedback into the products and services we develop,” she adds.

Community platforms are used “as a way to organize information around emerging issues and to troubleshoot and gather information from customers who may be experiencing a certain type of issue so that we can get a good assessment and bring that back to our engineering teams,” says Leahy. Weekly reporting shares quantitative and qualitative feedback to the product and engineering teams, and the most popular ideas get integrated into future product releases.

One recent such example was “Reminders to Move,” a buzzing reminder on the Fitbit device that encourages the user to get up and take some steps. Users in the community forums had self-titled it “Idle Alert,” but the core idea was the same.

A blogger for much of her career, Leahy was an early supporter of communities. “It was really through blogging that I started to notice the power of online comments and user engagement and develop an interest in the psychological aspects of online community,” she said. “In particular, what happens when you carve out spaces for debate and self-expression and even support spaces for brands and companies online.” She helped Fitbit launch its first customer-centric community platform.

“Customer experience is really paramount to everything we do here.”

                                                                                                — Alison Leahy, Director of Community for Fitbit

Here’s how Fitbit approaches social media and communities differently, according to Leahy:

Social Media: “In social care our key practice revolves around fully resolving all customer inquiries, doing some of that broad social listening, providing customers with a little bit more delight from the brand, and giving customers a really fast support experience.”

Communities: “Community is really where we have more time and attention from users. It’s also more of a one-to-many platform and our community forums are really rooted in a peer-to-peer support philosophy. So we’re constantly impressed with the wealth of knowledge and expertise our users bring to the table… they’re often the best suited to answer each other’s questions and motivate each other to get the most of their Fitbit experience.”

Fitbit promotes both community and Twitter support on its Contact Us page, alongside telephone, email, and chat support. Leahy says that social media is “definitely a high CSAT [Customer Satisfaction] channel and it’s a great channel from a business standpoint because cost per contact is a little lower than some of the other channels”. But when questions can’t be answered completely in social media, the other service channels come in handy.

Leahy joined me for Episode 44 of the Focus on Customer Service Podcast, sharing Fitbit’s best practices for being successful in both social care and online community management.

Here are some of the key highlights of the episode and where to find them:

0:38 Allison talks about her background and Fitbit’s social media philosophy

3:45 How social care and community care operate together

6:50 How Fitbit uses customer listening to improve its products and services

12:07 How the Fitbit social media and community service teams are organized

16:09 How digital customer service integrates into traditional customer service

18:13 Allison shares some memorable customer experiences

22:50 What Allison has learned along the way and her advice to others

 

 

More episodes of the Focus on Customer Service Podcast can be found on iTunes, Stitcher, and Soundcloud

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3 Tips for Conducting a Social Media Audit

3 Tips for Conducting a Social Media Audit

3 Tips for Conducting a Social Media Audit | Social Media TodayWhether you’re working with a new client or doing a yearly analysis of your own social media channels, conducting a social media audit and coming to an actionable conclusion can be tough. For starters, you might be wondering which metrics are the most important, or how to get through all of your data.

Here are a few tips to keep you on track.

1. Go In with an Open Mind

If you’re looking to prove certain metrics right or wrong or tell a specific story, you may find yourself ignoring data that tells a stronger tale.

Because of this, it can be helpful to tackle an audit in two parts: Have one team member pull and aggregate the data into a usable format, and have another start the analysis. This keeps one person from having tunnel vision and getting stuck on the minutia. 

2. Plan Check-Ins

This is very important, particularly if the conclusions you are coming to about the success of your social channels aren’t positive.

Check in with clients or team members so they’re not taken aback by the results or feel attacked if their role has not contributed to social success. The point of an audit is to find a starting place and continue to move forward, regardless of the success of current strategies. While you may not be on par with your competitor or aspirational pages, there’s always something you’re doing well comparative to the rest of your page.

Be sure to highlight the positives as well as the negatives you’ve made in strategy.

3. Stay Focused in the Present and Past Happenings

When conducting an audit, it can be easy to get sucked into thinking: “Okay, we aren’t doing this right, so here’s what we should do instead.” You need to paint the full picture of what is or isn’t successful before you can make informed strategy decisions. Once your audit is complete, you can take the next steps forward to build a strategic future plan.

Bonus Tip: Don’t sweat a mistake in one small post. If it’s not a pattern, pull back and see if that little thing impacts the bigger picture. If it doesn’t, drop it.

Completing an audit can be difficult, but keeping your mind open and trying to stay focused on the bigger picture will make the process go more smoothly.

This article was originally published on Likeable Media’s blog.

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5 Growth Hacking Case Studies From Amazing Startups

5 Growth Hacking Case Studies From Amazing Startups

5-growth-hacking-case-studies-from-amazing-startups

Startup marketing can be a challenging journey, especially if you are starting from scratch. With so many digital channels to invest in and thousands of experts offering you multiple strategies, it is hard to make an informed decision.

The difference between startups and established businesses is the fact that the former is highly concerned with customer acquisition and retention more than anything else.

An established business might have the budget to burn cash for awareness and branding, whereas a startup’s major concern is more likely paying customers that can be generated without that cash burn.

A popular article in Huffington Post reads:

A lot of entrepreneurs get too excited or maybe they just don’t have clarity of direction yet. On the other hand business owners that do have an overall plan and get all of their strategies pulling the same way, are thriving.

I couldn’t agree more with the above statement.

Sean Ellis, the first marketer at Dropbox coined the term growth hacking, with an entire science behind it focused towards technical startup marketing.

This post talks about how popular startups understood the startup marketing funnel and applied successful hacks at every level to reach where they are today.

Understanding the startup marketing funnel

The marketing funnel for startups is based on the AARRR model. Here is what it stands for:

understanding-the-startup-marketing-funnel-for-growth-hacking-case-studies

Image Source: Growth Rocks

Let’s dive into them with some more details:

  1. Acquisition: For startups, this would mean how you can gain the necessary awareness in order to see results from your marketing efforts.
  2. Activation: Once people know about your business, why should they convert? This step talks about how to move people further from the awareness stage.
  3. Retention: Why should someone keep using your product or service when there are multiple options available in the market? Retention explains how to keep your customers for life.
  4. Referral: Nothing is better than word of mouth marketing. This stage talks about how to get more customers out of your existing customers.
  5. Revenue: Finally, after executing all the above steps, understanding how your business will maintain a positive cash flow and growing profits is the key here.

Now that we are clear with the different steps of the startup marketing funnel, I am going to illustrate all these stages with examples from popular startups.

1. Acquisition: How Airbnb generated the right awareness for their product

After raising some initial funds for their business, the founders of Airbnb Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, started to analyze better ways of scaling their business other than paid acquisition.

They narrowed down their market research to one question.

Where does the target audience that looks for something other than a standard hotel experience hang out digitally?

The answer was Craigslist.

In order to get more traction for their listings, Airbnb decided to give an option to their site visitors for sharing their listing on Craigslist as well.

With a smooth marketing message, they encouraged people to share listings on Craigslist as well.

The results?

Using this hack, Airbnb received the attention of thousands of users from Craigslist, and since their listings were much more attractive with better descriptions and photographs than Craigslist, this led to a viral growth cycle.

he-result-for-growth-hacking-case-studies

Image Source: Growth Hackers

2. Activation: How PayPal activated users

Paypal was one of the most successful startups of the late 90’s.

Their phenomenal growth story involves going from 1 million users in March 2000 to 5 million users in summer 2000.

They started activating users by paying them to sign up. With every sign up, Paypal paid you $20 to sign up (and also $20 for a referral). As the value of their network grew, they reduced the bonus to $10, $5 and eventually nothing.

This was a classic example of activating users by giving an incentive.

Paypal tried a lot of advertising but this method achieved them the lowest CAC.

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Image Source: Quora

3. Retention: How Groove reduced their churn rate by 71%

A major problem SaaS companies face is high churn rates.

Churn rate is the percentage of people exiting out of your subscription based business.

One such company that was struggling with churn rate was Groove.

Groove is a simple help desk software for businesses which comes at $15 per user.

Despite a healthy flow of new users, Groove’s 4.5% churn rate was making the business model unsustainable.

The folks at Groove analyzed the difference between users who stayed for more than 30 days and the ones who quit before that.

They divided people in the following categories:

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After a lot of analysis, Groove decided to send targeted emails to people who spent less time on the platform and were likely to opt out after 30 days.

People with sessions under 2 minutes were sent this message:

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Image Source: Kissmetrics

Someone who logged in fewer than 2 times in the first 10 days was sent the following message:

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Image Source: Kissmetrics

The results?

Using this conversion optimization strategy, Groove was able to reduce churn rate by 71%.

Key Takeaways

Understanding where people might be struggling with your product/service and addressing the same could get amazing results.

4. Referral: How Dropbox fueled their growth with referral marketing

Dropbox is probably one of the most popular tech startups. The success behind it’s viral growth is referral marketing.

With paid marketing, Dropbox was spending $250 per customer for a product that was priced at $99.

“Dropbox went from 100,000 to 4,000,000 users in 15 months”

Here are the steps Dropbox used to boost their growth…

Every friend you referred to Dropbox will earn you 500 MB more storage. You can earn up to 16GB of free space using the strategy.

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Image Source : Referral Candy

They also made sure that inviting friends was easy to do .

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Image Source : Referral Candy

The key takeaway from this story is that word of mouth marketing is one of the most powerful strategies.

If you can incorporate referral signups/purchases in your business model with a valuable incentive for customers, it can be a strong driver for growth.

5. Revenue: The growth engine of PicMonkey

PicMonkey is a startup in one of the most competitive spaces – photo editing.

However, building a great product with a freemium model has done really well for them.

Millions of users join every month and billions of photos are edited.

People can access basic filters for free. For advanced filters and tools, people have to pay $4.99 on a monthly basis.

And hundreds of thousands of users pay that subscription price.

revenue-for-growth-hacking-case-studies

Image Source: Fortune

The company makes millions and the CEO mentioned that the growth is 40% year over year.

The major takeaway from this is about building freemium models.

If you offer a part of your service as free, users will learn how good your product is.

This will help them understand the value they could get once they purchased your product or service.

Going freemium with your products or services can do well for business growth.

Wrap

As a startup, you need to understand which part of the AARRR funnel does your business lie in.

Maybe you are at the initial stages and awareness is most important to you.

Maybe you need to improve customer retention and focus your energy there.

Whatever be the case, evaluation of your current scenario and taking action based on that is something that will drive substantial growth

Guest Author: Shivankit Arora is a growth hacker and the founder of a startup marketing agency, MarketingMasala.com. You can connect with him on Twitter  to know more about growth hacking and startup marketing.

The post 5 Growth Hacking Case Studies From Amazing Startups appeared first on Jeffbullas’s Blog.

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4 Proven Methods to Turn Your Social Media Followers into Raving Fans

4 Proven Methods to Turn Your Social Media Followers into Raving Fans

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Your social media followers like your posts, comment on your content, and even click on your links from time to time.

What they don’t do, however, is tell their friends about your brand.

You have a problem faced by so many businesses across the world: you have followers, not fans.

Fans will voraciously devour your social media content. They’ll rave to their friends about your new updates. And they’ll cheer your every move, in business and outside it.

So how do you turn your social media followers into fans?

I’m going to share a few tactics with you in this post.

1. Align Your Brand With A Mission

There’s a very good chance millennials make up your biggest (and growing) customer base. After all, there are more than 75.4M millennials in America alone today. According to Pew Research, they are also the largest generation in the workforce.

Millennials are also overrepresented on social media – 93% of them are on social networks and 90% own smartphones.

If you want to attract this massive consumer base, you have to associate your brand with more than just a product; you have to associate it with a mission.

A study of millennials by Gallup found that millennials are mission driven, not money driven. They want to care about things and even change the world.

Brands that are able to align themselves with a narrative larger than themselves (or their products) frequently win big on social media.

Take a look at Dove. Instead of just selling soap, Dove is on a mission to redefine beauty. From its Facebook updates to even its Twitter bio, virtually everything about the brand signals to millennials that it is here to change things – for the better.

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Even B2B brands can benefit from this mission-focused work. HubSpot, for example, frequently talks about how it’s on a mission to change marketing and “spark a movement”:

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This mission-focused work spills into its social media marketing as well where HubSpot frequently hosts events that resonate with younger audiences. For example, it recently held a LGBTQ intern social at its Boston offices and shared the news on social media:

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This is a powerful branding tactic that goes beyond capturing customers. It helps you create a compelling brand that turns followers into ardent fans.

Plus, it’s also great for attracting top-tier talent.

2. Give Your Followers A Sense Of Ownership In Your Brand

How do you inspire followers to become more than just followers?

Giving them a sense of ownership in your brand is one tactic that works spectacularly.

Case in point: GoPro.

GoPro’s social feeds are essentially curated from its customers’ content. GoPro highlights, shares and spreads this user-generated content widely, essentially positioning its social accounts as being operated by its users.

If you hop by GoPro’s Instagram page, for instance, you’ll see a bio description asking users to share their updates with the #GoPro hashtag:

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This is a great way to use UGC to give your customers a sense of ownership in your social activity and by extension, your brand.

3. Leverage Influencers

Top influencers often have social media following numbering in the millions. And because their content is individual-focused, instead of brand-focused, their followers are usually highly engaged and loyal.

By associating your brand with an influencer, you essentially help turn over some of these followers over to your side. If your content resonates with them, it’s very easy to convert these followers into fans. After all, you already come with a recommendation from someone they trust – the influencer.

There are several tactics you can use to do this.

The simplest tactic is a tacit endorsement from the influencer on his/her social feed. You’ll likely see this on Instagram where influencers ask their followers to “follow their friend(s)”:

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Another tactic is to collaborate with an influencer for a “social media takeover”. With this tactic, the influencer usually takes over a brand’s social media account and shares content he/she likes.

It works very well as a cross-promotion. The influencer gets access to your followers, you get access to theirs.

For example, Birchbox collaborated with Christina Zilber, founder of JOUER cosmetics. Christina took over the Birchbox Instagram page, which helped promote both the brands.

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Instead of a simple takeover, you can also create co-branded products. Birchbox did this with beauty and fashion blogger Emily Schuman of Cupcakes & Cashmere. They created a co-branded product which was then cross-promoted on both Birchbox and Emily Schuman’s social channels:

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4. Focus On Solving Customer Problems

If you drop by the Royal Dutch Airlines’ Twitter page, you’ll see this as the cover image:

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KLM uses its social platforms largely to support its customers. And it’s so good at this that it even boasts average support time at the top of its Twitter page.

Supporting customers on a public platform such as Twitter goes a long way towards establishing loyalty. Remember that a customer complaint on social media isn’t just visible to you; it’s also visible to the public.

This is double-edged sword. On one hand, any mistakes you might make are visible to everyone. At the same time, any steps you take to remedy the mistake are also visible to everyone else.

If you establish yourself as a brand that regularly takes extraordinary steps to solve customer problems, you’ll win yourself a lot of followers and fans.

For example, Microsoft maintains a separate Twitter account just to answer customer queries for XBox. Since 2009, this account has sent out 2.62M tweets.

This account solves customer problems in minutes on a medium they prefer. Quick resolution frequently earns praise from the customer, as well as the customer’s followers:

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If you’re running a consumer facing brand, focusing on customer support can go a long way towards turning more of your followers into fans.

Over To You

Your customers demand more from your social media than just tired memes and recycled content. They want to feel that you’re truly there to solve their problems, to engage them with exciting content, and to show that you are there for a mission, not just the money.

The four methods outlined above are great for showing your followers that you care about them, their problems and their ambitions.

Here’s what you should take away from this post:

  • Showcase your brand’s mission very clearly and support it with your social media content.
  • Focus on solving customer problems as quickly and effectively as possible through public social channels.
  • Use UGC to give customers a sense of ownership in your brand.
  • Work with influencers to give your brand a wider reach and access to a more loyal following.

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* Adapted lead image: Public Domain Dedication (CC0) Public Domain, pixabay.com via getstencil.com

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Google Adding More GMB Notifications?

Google Adding More GMB Notifications?

Google has published a detailed Help Page: Manage your notifications:

You can choose which kinds of Google My Business notifications you receive on your mobile device and in your email inbox. Notifications can help in a variety of ways, like letting you know when customers leave photos or reviews for your business listing, alerting you to product news from Google, and reminding you to keep your listing up-to-date.

Manage email notifications
To manage the Google My Business notifications you receive via email:

Sign in to Google My Business.
Go to http://ift.tt/2g1gLYm.
Check the box for each kind of notification that you want to receive.
These settings apply to all listings owned or managed by the account that’s signed in to Google My Business. To see which account you’re currently using, tap the menu icon at the top left of the screen, and see which account is listed at the top of the panel that appears. To set notifications settings for another account, sign out, then sign back in with the other account.

Regardless of your notifications settings, you may still receive important updates about your account from Google.

Manage mobile notifications
To manage the Google My Business notifications you receive on your mobile device:

Open the Google My Business app. (If you don’t already have the app, you can download it for Android or iOS.)
If you manage more than one listing, select a listing that’s owned or managed by the Google account whose settings you’d like to manage.
Tap the menu icon > Settings > Notifications.
Check the box for each kind of notification that you want to receive.
These settings apply to all listings owned by the account that owns the listing you’ve selected in Google My Business app. To set notifications settings for another account, repeat the steps above.

Unfortunately the feature does not yet appear to be generally available. Or at least it’s not available in either my mobile app or my GMB dashboard. Is it visible in yours?

Whether it is rolling out or just in final testing I am not sure. I will ask Google and let you know. When the feature does become fully available it will be a welcome way to monitor your listing.

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