Low Sales? Here’s How to Read Minds to Close More Deals

People either do what you want. Or they don’t.

And there’s not a whole lot you can do about it.

Except react. Except follow-up based on a new set of rules.

That doesn’t mean you can’t predict it, though. That doesn’t mean you can’t manipulate it. It doesn’t mean you can’t choreograph it ahead of time.

Almost every single customer interaction presents an IF/THEN scenario. They either choose to do one thing, do the opposite, or do nothing at all. And each option means you should react in a slightly different way.

The good news is that you can do it in advance. You can determine what happens, before it happens, so the message they receive next is always the right one.

Here’s how to get this insight and react in real-time to give people exactly what they want, when they want it.

1. Start by setting objectives

Personalization isn’t “Hey $FNAME.”

It’s deeper than that. It’s about collecting various data points so you understand context. So you ‘get’ what someone wants before they want it.

In a Spy’s Guide to Strategy, ex-CIA case officer, John Braddock, says that creating a strategy comes starts with two moves:

  1. Identifying someone’s potential end game, and then
  2. Reasoning backwards to figure out how they get there.

That way, you can see what’s coming. Only when you know where someone is trying to go can you create scenarios for how they might get there.

Content mapping is a perfect real-world example.

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Some people come to your site to buy. But not most. Only a tiny slice ready to hit the Product Tour and Opt-in page before reading “Thank You.”

Others want pricing. Some want insights. And still more want information.

Which is why content mapping says you gotta give all those things to all those people. Make them stick around. Get them to click. Get them to come back.

The trick is to start here. Without determining who wants what, you can’t figure out how to get them there the fastest and easiest.

Marketing isn’t a singular campaign today. It’s not a banner ad or a drip email sequence.

Instead, it’s a series of IF, THEN statements. Conditional statements that show how people get form A->B, and then somehow to Z.

Z is what you want. Z is where you purchase. But people don’t start with Z.

That’s why you break the process down. A->B becomes a micro-conversion. It’s the step between the step. The guy behind the guy. That eventually makes stuff happen.

You start by hypothesizing. You try to infer what someone wants. Then comes the “then.”

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“Then” is when stuff happens. It’s your response.

Product companies are relatively simply. People check out a product but don’t buy. So you follow-up with retargeting efforts.

Easy, right?

Not so much for services. The sales process takes months instead of weeks. It takes nurturing instead of discounts.

Let’s say someone checks out your services. They check out some key pages. But they don’t opt-in.

“Free consultation” time? Not necessarily. That’s also not very inspiring.

So you switch it up. You could try an offer to get them to realize how much they need you. You need to make the pain real. You need them to place a dollar value on it. Otherwise, no sale.

That starts with a 1-1 conversation. It’s a spin on the “Free Consultation.” Except it doesn’t suck. It’s focused on their issues, not your own.

The goal: Get people who checked out our Services into this new 1-1 offer.

Next, you work backwards. You set-up the sequence to determine how someone is going to get from A->B.

Automation workflows can help you map this out. For example, if someone looks at the services page but doesn’t convert, do this next.

“This” could be “send new email.” Perfect.

Now do it again. This email goes out. Do they click on the CTA link?

Yes or no.

If yes, but they don’t sign up for your offer, it’s a no. Or it might as well be. So respond accordingly.

These sequences repeat ad nauseam.

There are no limits. That’s the beauty. And with some iteration, you can automate most of the entire process.

Setting a clear objective like that leads you seamlessly into the next step. Select your segment.

Except, you don’t create these segments out of thin air. Or you shouldn’t.

You should let people tell you where they belong.

2. Segment new leads

How do people get to your site?

They could punch in the URL directly. They could serendipitously run across your blog post on Twitter. Or they could find your aforementioned Services page by clicking on your Google ad.

Each of these are different channels, sure. But they’re more than that. They’re giving you more information than that.

✅ The direct website visit? Brand-aware. Been to your website multiple times before. Probably transitioning from stranger to lead.

✅ Twitter? New visit. Stranger. Needs more info to develop brand recognition.

✅ Google search ad? Also not brand-aware. But problem-aware. Probably solution-aware. Show them why you’re better.

Now, keep them separate. Don’t treat them the same.

Their under-the-radar behavior is already telling you something important. So keep it going by segmenting their journey.

Create different flows. Create different segments for each.

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Sometimes you have control over this. And sometimes you don’t.

For example, if you’re creating an ad, you control the landing page destination.

When you’re writing a blog post, you can control the internal links or other navigation elements they see.

But when someone finds something from organic search? You can’t always control everything.

Once again, marketing automation platforms can tell you the trigger. They can tell you the exact page someone visited. First. So you roughly know who they are or what they’re looking for.

They could leave your site right now and it would be OK. They could get distracted. Bounce. And you’d be fine.

‘Cause you’ve got the same ability to retarget in other places based on individual page views.

create audience custom combination Facebook

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You can see which of the three products they clicked on. You can see which of the five services they expressed the most interest.

That tiny clue adds context. You should know what to follow-up with.

Similarly, someone views your opt-in form but doesn’t convert.

No prob. You can still follow up. You can still tailor the message based on their non-action. You can cycle through common objections until you land on what that sticks.

This is where personas often fail. This is where ‘segments’ often don’t work.

Your decision-making data should come from people’s actions. Not just your own hunches.

3. Nurturing & re-engagement

Eventually, someone opts-in.

Someone finds something like they like and gives you something in return.

On the one hand, it’s great. You’re one step closer.

Except on the other, it changes everything. You need to update things. You need to evolve the conversation.

For example, let’s say someone downloads an eBook. Then your free trial or 1-1 offer. Both good things.

Except, it creates a rippling effect.

For example, you need to work backwards before you work forwards. You need to remove people from previous sequences because their status has changed.

Those top of the funnel eBook nurturing emails worked. Wonderfully! But now that they’ve moved deeper, they need a new sequence. Only after removing them from the previous one.

Bad news, though.

One person moved forward. They went from TOFU to MOFU or BOFU.

But most don’t. Or won’t.

So let’s plan for that, too. Someone downloads the eBook. Maybe they even enjoy it. But after the first few weeks, nothing else happens.

They received the same nurturing emails. But decided against taking you up on the next offer. For whatever reason.

Same objective as the first, but a new segment this time.

What’s happening here:

  1. It’s been at least 35 days since someone downloaded the eBook. The reason? It gives your other campaigns at least four weeks to try and move them down the funnel.
  2. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. The individual didn’t opt into any other offer you threw at them, either. No other forms were filled out.

Cool. No worries. Water off a duck’s back.

IF, you saw this coming. IF, you have a scenario planned out for them.

Typically, you want to get them to ‘reengage’ here. So new emails go out. Each, with different links like this next one.

Those are all unique links. They’re split up by topic. You’re setting a trap. You’re baiting a hook.

For someone’s action to once again tell you how to better segment them.

Let’s say someone clicks on the fifth option down: “Optimizing Your Website.” That indicates they’re interested in, well, updating their website.

Cool. You saw this coming. Savvy marketer, you.

That pulls them into a brand new segment. Seamlessly and automatically.

Now, you can tailor the next few messages better. You can send them website-related tips, instead of SEO ones. You can send them more relevant offers that they’re more likely to take you up on.

Which puts you one step closer.

4. Sales qualification

Ecommerce is easy. Someone buy’s or they don’t. Most customers are ‘good,’ as long as they’re paying.

Services ain’t easy. Most leads and prospects won’t become customers.

In fact, you can take this a step further. A small segment of people will want to work with you. But for a few different reasons, you won’t want to work with most of them.

You want the best customers. You want those that will be the best fit. The ones that ideally also have the longest lifetime value.

Which means you need to qualify. Which means you need to plan for this in advance.

You know many people who fill out your form won’t be a good fit. So you add a couple qualifying questions to the bottom of your form.

“Annual Revenue Range” can tell you a few things. It can tell you, right off the bat, if they can even afford you. Not worth jumping on the phone if they can’t.

But it can also tell you what product or service they might be best suited for.

As does “Biggest Marketing Challenge.” It helps you figure out what solution to line up with their problem.

It also helps you logistically. The person or division doing $100,000 websites will be different than the one doing $1,000,000 ad campaigns. So they need to be routed appropriately, too.

Now, think of your process and workflow. Each little decision or potential answer has another trickle down effect. It influences everything that happens afterward.

You need filters and branches and IF/THEN statements along the way. That way, you can take all of the various possibilities into account.

Before they happen. So you know exactly how to respond. When it eventually does.

Different sequences need to kick off when someone selects “Yes” vs. “No.”

Different people need to be notified. Different tasks and steps needs to come next.


Congratulations. You’ve made it this far.

You’ve sold a new deal. Closed a new account. Brought in a few bucks.

But a new customer isn’t the end of the process, so much as it’s the beginning of a new one.

“Marketing” doesn’t just mean advertising, after all. Onboarding is crucial. Customer service is key.

Keeping that account longer means more money in your pocket. Easier money than bringing in a new deal.

Retention is your job, too.

Which means you’re not done. Which means there are more scenarios to account for. More sequences to create.

Marketing isn’t isolated. It’s not one-and-done. It’s systematic. It’s a process. It’s a series of IF/THEN sequences.

People do what they want. They decide or click or opt-in or don’t. You can’t control that.

You can only control how you react and respond. Or how you lead them to do what you want.

About the Author: Brad Smith is the founder of Codeless, a B2B content creation company. Frequent contributor to Kissmetrics, Unbounce, WordStream, AdEspresso, Search Engine Journal, Autopilot, and more.

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3 Kissmetrics Populations Content Marketers Can Use to Measure Marketing and Retention

Content is basically infinite. Run a Google search for a/b testing and you can spend the rest of your life reading about it.

So in this proliferation of content, it’s retention, attention, and engagement that are key for content marketers. It’s our goal to get visitors to our content, ideally more than once, and eventually get them to convert in some way.

Converting usually starts at the very top of the funnel, by giving eBooks, webinars, email courses, newsletters, content upgrades, etc. Then they’ll be put through a drip campaign to eventually, hopefully, signup or request a demo.

Before we begin, it’s important to be aware of what Kissmetrics Population is, what it does, and who it’s for. This video will explain it:


Now, let’s get into some Populations Content Marketers can set up.

1. Reader Retention

You probably have about 10 websites you visit regularly. Most of them you visit daily, but some others you’ll visit every other day.

I regularly visit Axios, ESPN, the Kissmetrics Blog (of course), New York Times, Drudge Report, Twitter, and ScienceDaily. I’m an engaged visitor on these sites because I visit them regularly. The publishers love a visitor like me because I am traffic, pageviews, and ad dollars for them. And most of all, they get a piece of my attention everyday.

Wouldn’t you love it if your blog was on someone’s “top 10” list? They read your blog posts, download your eBooks, and you’ve become a trusted source for them. Some may call you a “thought leader” (as much as I dislike that term).

Most marketers use cohort reports to measure retention. These reports group people together based on similar attributes and then track their behavior overtime. This can uncover some useful data. There are also “engagement” metrics that can be measured by any actions a reader may take – reading a post, commenting, sharing it on social networks. These can be easily measured with a simple funnel report.

But what about simply tracking the number of people that have visited your blog at least x times during the last week, and then have a graph to see if it’s going up, down, or holding steady?

Populations will do exactly that. You’ll set your conditions (what people have to do enter the Population) and view the graph.

In our case, we’ll set our criteria to people who have visited the blog at least 10x in the last 7 days:

We’ll click View population and get our data:

At the top, we see that there are currently 187 people in our Population. The graph provides us with a week-by-week performance overview. This Population has improved modestly, up about 2% from 90 days ago. It’s ultimately held steady over the last 90 days, staying in the 150-200 range.

What’s important here is to view this in context. Let’s say you have 10,000 monthly readers and your Population holds steady at 1,000. In this case, you know that about 10% of readers are engaged with your content. But if you have 1,000,000 monthly readers, than that 1k Population is less impressive and may signal that you need to create more engaging content that people want to read and consistently check to see what you’ve published.

2. Signups & Conversions

At the end of the day what we want are signups or some form of conversion. A blog that gets 5 million visitors a month but doesn’t convert is about as good as not having a blog at all.

We’re graded not just on traffic, nor on reader engagement, but on how effective our content is at bringing quality leads to our sales teams. HiPPOs care most about this and it’s our job to produce relevant content that brings our target audience in, and then converts them.

You may already be tracking your conversion rate with our Metrics feature, but it’s also useful to use Populations to get an idea of the amount of people that are moving from reader to converter.

Now, the question is what a “converter” is. Each team will differ. Some marketers want an email address so they can convert this reader into an opportunity through a drip campaign. Others will qualify a free trial request as a conversion. E-commerce companies may having adding an item to the cart or purchasing as their conversion.

Regardless of what you’ll count as a conversion, it’s easy to track it in Kissmetrics and Populations.

You’ll notice that in this configuration, we’re looking for the people who visited the blog and then signed up. They cannot visit our marketing site, sign up, and visit our blog because they need to visit the blog before signing up. If they visited the marketing site, the blog, and then signed up, they’ll be included in this Population.

Not good. It’s down 20% from where it was 90 days ago. We need to figure out why this happened.

In some cases, this can be caused by a/b tests that caused a drop in conversions. In other cases a traffic dip will cause conversions to drop. (As long as the conversion rate percentage holds steady). We’ll need to look at our traffic to see if there was a dip that would correlate with this Population drop. If not, we’ll have to dig deeper to see what could be causing it.

3. Visited Blog x Times But Haven’t Converted

Engaged readers are great, but if we’re not converting them to our content upgrades, webinars, eBooks, or even signing up, then we’re not doing a good job marketing our content (or product).

This Population tracks the number of people that visit your blog many times each week, but never convert. It’s simple to set up, just enter your criteria as “people who visited blog at least x times in the last 7 days and have not converted.”

This will do exactly as it says – track how many people are visiting the blog regularly without converting. We can expect this Population to go up with traffic increases, but if it shows a trendline above overall traffic, that might indicate that we’re not converting our readership.

Let’s view our Population:

So about a 22% increase compared to 90 days ago. As in all Populations, these numbers need to mean something in context. If our overall traffic has remained flat, we can try some new tests to get more of our regular readers converting. Maybe some retargeting will help (which would link to a landing page for an eBook) or other tactics that can drive conversions – exit-intent popups, content upgrades, etc.


As a customer engagement automation platform (CEA), Kissmetrics is made to help you analyze, segment, and engage your online audience. Request a demo today to learn more.

About the Author: Zach Bulygo (Twitter) is the Blog Manager for Kissmetrics.

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Timely and Relevant Is The Only Message That Matters

During the 2014 Grammy Awards, musician Pharrell Williams was seen wearing an unusual hat:

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Sure, he may have gotten some funny looks, but it didn’t seem like a big deal.

That is, until a certain fast food chain seized the opportunity to craft a clever tweet:

This was a spectacular feat on several levels. Many brands had been unsuccessfully trying to capitalize on the Grammys, but Arby’s nailed it.

It was also a great use of Arby’s social media persona. The restaurant even gained a funny response from Pharrell himself:

Those two Tweets gave Arby’s a colossal amount of publicity, gaining tens of thousands of retweets in a couple of days.

And they did it all with just eight words and a related hashtag.

Why did it work so well?

This smart marketing move had two important characteristics. It was timely, and it was relevant.

The most successful marketing is timely and relevant, and as I’m about to explain, that’s all that matters.

It doesn’t matter if you have millions of social media followers. It doesn’t matter if tons of influencers are promoting your product.

If your marketing isn’t timely and relevant, it won’t succeed.

It’s getting tougher and tougher to do marketing right. People are pickier about what they consume, and they’ll ignore anything that rubs them the wrong way.

If you throw salesy terms at your customers and pressure them to buy, you’re not going to get a lot of conversions.

But if you can build a connection with your customers, they just might turn into lifetime brand advocates.

You need to reach your customers where they are. That’s why timely, relevant messages are crucial for your brand.

What exactly does timely and relevant mean?

First, let’s define these terms.

“Timely” and “relevant” aren’t just buzzwords. They have real implications for your business, and as it turns out, they’re fairly complex.

Let’s tackle timeliness.

Many marketing campaigns are timely but not relevant. Often, these campaigns fail.

Make no mistake––timeliness is crucial. But you can still fail if you send a message at the perfect time.

Consider the Race Together campaign that Starbucks put out in 2015.

The campaign definitely came at the right time. The coffee giant launched it in response to the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, which had just happened the previous year.

The cases were still in the news, and Starbucks decided to create a dialogue about race. It should have been a match made in heaven, but it wasn’t.

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The campaign flopped quite badly.

The initiative itself was inherently flawed. It didn’t matter that it came at the right time because it just wasn’t the right marketing approach.

The race issue is definitely of intense importance, but the way it was approached was solidly off.

So timeliness is definitely important, but your marketing can’t be just timely. It also has to be relevant.

To be relevant, you have to think about your audience’s current needs, wants, and opinions.

You can’t base your ideas of relevancy off of old trends or data. You have to stay up to date and figure out what your customers want and like right now.

You have to think about what your customers want, where you can reach them, and how you can benefit them.

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If your audience isn’t interested in what you have to offer, they’re not going to listen to you.

If your audience isn’t hanging out in the same places you’re marketing, they’re not going to hear you.

If your audience doesn’t derive any value from your marketing, they’re not going to pay attention to you.

Last but not least, if you want to be relevant, your marketing has to fall in line with your audience’s values.

If you launch an initiative that your customers fundamentally disagree with, you won’t see much success. The same thing will happen if your marketing is insensitive or poorly done.

To sum it all up, relevancy means catering to your customers in as many ways as you can.

When you combine timeliness with relevancy, you get a one-two punch that almost never fails to convert.

The danger of the wrong message

To understand why timely and relevant matters so much, let’s consider some marketing efforts that failed miserably.

One of the biggest marketing fails in recent years has to be Pepsi’s controversial ad that was called “tone-deaf” by almost every media outlet in the world, from the New York Times to USA Today.

The 2017 ad involved TV personality Kendall Jenner taking part in protests and eventually offering a can of Pepsi to police.

Pepsi said the ad was meant to “project a global message of unity, peace, and understanding,” but it fell flat because the ad painted an unrealistic portrait of protests and the interactions between police and protesters.

Like Starbucks’s Race Together campaign, Pepsi put this out at the right time, in the wake of police protests that seemed to divide America, and the company’s intentions were positive.

However, the ad wasn’t relevant. It was far too staged and the situation far too impossible to relate to viewers.

To put it bluntly, the public thought the ad was a ton of crap and spoke out against it. (Pepsi removed the video from their channel, but the re-uploaded version received over 150,000 dislikes!)

The flak that Pepsi received for the ad was more than negative publicity. Pepsi learned the hard way that the wrong message at the right time won’t work, and that was a wake-up call for businesses around the world.

You don’t have to be Pepsi or Starbucks to send the wrong message and alienate your audiences––it can happen to a business of any size.

SaleCycle found that out when its content strategy failed.

The B2B company wanted to produce more content and provide more value to its readers. So far, so good.

SaleCycle started publishing 2-3 pieces of content per week, and their overall content output soared.

However, they focused more on quantity and less on quality.

Even though they had 100 blog posts, just 10 of those posts made up half of their total blog traffic.

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The reason? They were publishing lots of content that their audience wasn’t interested in.

While it may have been timely, it wasn’t relevant whatsoever.

These examples prove that you need both timely and relevant marketing. You can’t just have one or the other.

Being timely but not relevant (or vice versa) is an awkward imbalance. It makes it seem like you’re kind of paying attention to your audience, but not really.

Both the Pepsi ad and SaleCycle’s content strategy were timely, but they weren’t relevant. In both cases, customers felt distanced from the business.

Ultimately, it’s your customers who decide whether or not your message is timely and relevant. That’s why you have to prioritize them.

You have to know your customers

Being both timely and relevant requires you to listen to your customers, get to know them better, and produce content that they want to see.

That sounds simple enough, but how does it play out in real life?

Basically, you have to continually track certain elements of your audience and use customer feedback to improve.

Okay, that still sounds simple. But trust me––there’s a lot to it.

Many businesses think that they can just glance at online reviews or social media posts to create timely, relevant messages.

But here’s the thing – customers want you to know them super well.

But the customer-business relationship is a two-way street. If you’re not doing your part, why should your customers?

So put in the extra effort to build personas, get to know what your audience wants, and cater to them.

Make “timely and relevant” your motto

I hope you’re convinced that timely and relevant are truly the only message that matters.

That doesn’t mean you’re done.

Understanding is only the first step. You have to implement it.

As corny as it sounds, being timely and relevant has to be something you are and not just something you do. (I told you it sounded corny.)

You might tell yourself that you’re being timely and relevant, but if your customers still aren’t happy, then you’re not doing so well.

Pepsi is a perfect example. When it created the disastrous TV ad, it wasn’t trying to deliver irrelevant content to their customers, but they misunderstood the kind of content their customers would connect with.

There’s no doubt that Pepsi thought it was delivering a message that was both timely and relevant.

Just like you probably think you’re delivering the right messages to your customers.

For all I know, you are. But the point is that you can’t ever assume you’re doing the right thing and turn a blind eye to your customers.

If you want to create the most timely and relevant messages, that concept has to be a focus throughout your company.

Everyone on your team should be thinking “timely and relevant.”

Think of Amazon’s mission statement. It’s easy to remember and permeates every level of the company.

Our vision is to be Earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.

Every Amazon employee knows that this is the goal. In the same way, your entire team should live and breathe “timely and relevant.”

That concept has to guide everything you do.

Your social media team should be thinking “timely and relevant.” Your product manager should be thinking it. Everyone from the interns to the CEO should be thinking it.

If everyone isn’t on the same page, then one person’s efforts could get completely lost in translation.


You care about your customers, right?

Obviously that’s a rhetorical question because you do care about your customers.

But be brutally honest with yourself: When you put out your content, run your shiny new marketing campaign, or release a new product, does that attention to your customers still come across?

The Pepsi and Starbucks fiascos proved that intentions don’t always translate into actions. What begins as a good-natured marketing plan may end up taking a nosedive.

As much as it might hurt to admit, you might be ignoring your customers.

And you might be sending your customers the entirely wrong message, which is directly caused by ignoring your customers.

At the heart of the matter, being timely and relevant is all about taking care of your audience.

If you listen to what your customers have to say and understand what they want, you’ll almost never send the wrong message.

You’ll understand your audience’s wants, needs, interests, and dislikes.

You’ll be able to see what kind of content is both timely and relevant.

To make it even easier on yourself, you can take advantage of Kissmetrics Campaigns.


Campaigns was developed with the goal of delivering the right message at the right time. You’re able to send emails based on your users’ behaviors. Essentially, Campaigns is a behavior-based email engine. You find a segment of your audience that needs a nudge, and you create and send your emails in Campaigns.

The engine runs on the fuel of behavioral analytics and segments. Behavior-based emails mean that your emails are much more likely to be timely and relevant to your users.

And instead of relying on basic metrics like opens and clicks, Campaigns digs deep and looks at behavioral analytics.

Is your marketing and content timely and relevant? Have you had issues delivering the right message for your customers?

About the Author: Daniel Threlfall is a content marketing strategist who has helped to engineer the growth of blogs such as NeilPatel.com, increase the international expansion of Fiji Water, and improve the brand reach of Shopify. Daniel is the co-founder of Launch Your Copy, a resource to help copywriters triple their writing speed and blow up their income.

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Real World Growth Hacking: A Guide to Getting Customers for the Unfunded

“1.2 million uniques in 18 months.”

Sounds impressive.

Looks amazing at first blush.

Until you start reading. Until you start listening.

And then you see it. Spot it from a mile away.

“Raised $XX million from Joe Schmo venture partners” in fine print towards the bottom. Like it was insignificant. Like it didn’t change anything.

Immediately you should see red flags. Instantly you should be put off.

It’s not just the money. It’s the access. It’s the network. It’s the one-line email to a friend of a friend that gets you in touch with every top media property on the ‘net.

I’m not hating. Neither should you. It’s just that the numbers and therefore, the article, become farce. Those “tips” they used. Those “hacks” they employed.

Writing “really great content” isn’t the reason they hit 1.2 million uniques in 18 months. Going from $zero to $millions overnight is. Going from from 10 beta users to 10,000 the next day is, too.

Talent starts listening. Prospects start buying. Journalists start taking notice. Instant credibility hits as a byproduct.

All of those things are great. If you can get them. But you can’t. Because you’re un-funded.

So here’s what you should be doing instead.

The Biggest Problem Facing the Unfunded

Raising money isn’t the end goal. It’s also the exception in most cases.

You wouldn’t get that from reading most tech sites. But in reality, out there in the real world, it’s true.

The problem is that if Paul Graham ain’t on your speed dial, you’re gonna need a second approach.

‘Cause the things that work in that tiny, miniscule, subsection of a market won’t work for you. Or me. Or most.

The context is completely different. Which means the strategies, tactics, and campaigns are, too. Or should be, at least.

Here’s an example to make this crystal clear.

Let’s go on a new trip. Pick anywhere at all. New York City sounds fun.

So what do you do first? You don’t go to “Hotel XYZ.” Not initially, anyway. Instead, you go to Expedia or TripAdvisor or Yelp or Hotels.com or Google Travel or wherever.

And what do you look at first, before price?

Names you recognize.

That’s because 59% of people buy from companies they recognize.

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Another study from a different source found the same exact findings.

70% of US consumers look for a ‘known retailer’ when deciding what search result to click.”

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“Brand bias” is way out in front, before pricing for most people.

How about one more for the skeptics out there?

MarketingExperiments.com ran a simple conversion test. They did all the crap A/B tests you hear about on most sites.

They did the headlines the buttons the CTAs the colors and the rest of the junk “experts” say you should be doing.

TL;DR? None of that stuff moved the needle. Not significantly. Not permanently.

One test, however, did.

Except you’re probably not going to like the answer. Not if you’re unknown and unfunded, anyway.

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The test the moved the needle on subscriptions by 40%?

The freaking logo.

“There was no significant difference between any of the treatments. The Boston Globe audience is highly motivated, and putting a button above or below the fold didn’t matter as much as the newspaper’s respected journalism.”

That’s it. All it took was the brand name. Because it’s known. Because it’s respected. Because people can trust it.

Because it’s been established over the past century.

This is the part no one tells you online. This is your biggest problem.

It’s not Skyscrapers. It’s obscurity.

Funded companies (usually) get instant credibility. By association. If they don’t completely suck.

But you gotta get it any way you can get it.

The unfunded doesn’t. There’s no awareness. Which means there’s no trust. Which means nobody’s buying.

Social proof ain’t a gimmick. It’s validation. And you need it. So here’s how you go about getting it.

First, Here’s What Won’t Work For You

All companies have constraints.

It’s time for the funded. They need to go big, fast, now.

It’s money and notoriety for the unfunded. Time? You should have loads of it. You don’t have many customers distracting you, right? 😉

The point is that you don’t have a ticking-time bomb. You might feel pressure to scale to X or hit $Y in revenue in Z months. You might need a certain number to live off. But there’s no pressure to do this by the end of Q3.

Hell, the unfunded has probably never done anything by Q’s in the first place.

So it’s a marathon, not a 5k. And that changes a few things.

❌ SEO is a no-go. Yes, it’s important. But no, it won’t help you in the early going.

Search engines are literally designed to reward entities that have been around the longest, have been cited the most, and already have that big brand name.

All of which you don’t have. And won’t. At least, not in the next few months.

❌ Advertising, too, won’t help you. Yes, it works. Amazingly well if you do it right. Which you won’t. Because you don’t have enough capital.

And even if you did, it probably should go somewhere else, first. Like people. Like design. Like product quality.

Because your product is your marketing today.

So you still need awareness. You still need to build a brand. And you still need customers.

Just realize now, up front, that almost 90% of your options have been eliminated.

Counterintuitively, that’s OK. You can focus now. You can start off in the direction that works with what you’ve got.

1. Align Yourself with Others

You need eyeballs, leads, and credibility.

Fortunately, other organizations already have those things.

So go get them. Even if it costs you a little more.

Example: Who’s the biggest player in your industry?

If we’re talking B2C ecommerce, it’s Amazon. 44% of all searches start (and end) there. They make up almost half of all U.S. online retail sales.

Walls Need Love, a home decor site you’ve probably never heard of, got their initial break through Amazon.

So too, did The Daily Fairy. “Amazon’s been incredible for my business. I started selling on Amazon in October of 2015, and it’s doubled my sales. What that tells me is that there’s a whole slew of people,” according to Emily, The Daily Fairy’s founder.

Amazon is an obvious first choice. But they’re far from the only option.

Walls Need Love also works with marketplaces like Etsy, Wayfair, Touch of Modern, Fancy, and even Urban Outfitters.

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Right off the bat, Walls Need Love looks for marketplaces that have decent terms (nothing longer than net 30, no restrictive shipping policies, etc.).

But next, they’ll look at promotion options.

For example, some marketplaces will give them advertising options to put them front-and-center on their site. Except instead of charging them out of pocket, they’ll do it as a rev-share agreement.

That means they waste nothing on fruitless ads. They’re not paying for impressions or clicks or any other meaningless metrics.

Instead, they’re only ‘paying’ (or giving up a share of the revenue) when a real buyer comes through their doors.

That gives Walls Need Love what they need most: awareness. It gives them credibility. It gives them recognition.

And it also gives them a shot to re-sell or up-sell to them later to make up that cost.

It’s no different in the B2B world.

Same objective, different tactics.

If you sell any kind of inbound marketing, you’d align yourself with HubSpot. They’re like the Salesforce of the marketing industry. The biggest, brightest, most well-known alternative.

That starts with the certifications they offer.

Sure, you and I know these are mostly useless. I’m not saying the information is bad. It’s not.

It’s just that it doesn’t ‘mean’ anything in real life. Except, to prospects. To potential clients. To people who aren’t as familiar with the ins-and-outs of the industry.

The next stop is a partnership.

Most software companies offer something similar.

Unbounce has an official one. Wistia has one, too.

The Moz one is unofficial, but still impactful.

Personally, I’ve never heard of Mammoth Growth. But they’re an official Kissmetrics partner. So they must be good!

See how this works?

You’re not just another nameless, faceless “marketing company” now. You’re a “HubSpot partner.”

You send a cold outreach email on LinkedIn or, god forbid, you meet someone at a networking event, and you’re an “Unbounce partner.”

All of these programs often offer education, too. They can connect you internally to other companies who’ve been where you’ve been and scaled up.

So you can learn. So you can level up. So you don’t go it alone.

At the very least, you barter. You trade time for eyeballs. You trade expertise for eyeballs.

You do whatever it takes to get eyeballs.

Basically, you need early wins that you can leverage for more future wins. Start with legitimacy and credibility.

Because those pave the way for everything else.

2. Now Emphasize Those Early Wins

Here’s how it works in real life.

Someone finds you through a marketplace, a partner, a vendor, a supplier. They find you because you’ve seamlessly aligned yourself with them.

So they check it out. They click and look. You need to reel them in.

Let’s stick with the Mammoth Growth example because they do this better than most.

You hit their website and see this:

Pretty simple and straightforward. A consultation form on the far-right. Some basic copy about what they do and how they can help you.

Now, look over in the upper right-hand corner:

You only get three options.

Home introduces you to everything. It’s the high-level overview.

Case Studies dig a little deeper, showing off the third-party validation earned in the previous section.

Contact is the next step. It’s the thing you need to do next.

And that’s it.

Where’s the corny team page? You know, the one where the agency shows off their “culture” and their “personality” and their “quirkiness” that makes them the perfect hipster crew for you.

It’s not listed. Nowhere to be found.

Instead, the focus is squarely on building credibility.

Scroll down on the homepage and you see more partner badges:

What do these three partner badges tell you? What do these companies have in common?

Mammoth Growth is using these for credibility, sure. But more importantly, they’re subtly positioning themselves.

They have a speciality. They work with specific companies looking for a specific solution. And if you fit that mold, with that need, there’s no one better.

Keep scrolling and you see Testimonials.

Best of all, the people in these testimonials line up with the case studies above. So the work and results become real.

Head towards the bottom of the page and you see more client logos.

Some, again, are the exact same companies. That’s not a knock. It’s clever.

Sports Insights, for example, are featured in a case study, testimonial, and here again at the bottom.

You kill it with five customers out of your first 15. (Let’s be honest, there’s gonna be some losers in the early days.)

Fine! Celebrate those wins like there’s no tomorrow. Highlight the biggest, the best, the most well-known.


Not once are services discussed on the page. Not once do we delve into pricing. Not once do we figure out if there are two people in this company or if there are 500 across three countries.

But that doesn’t matter.

You see Walls Need Love is featured on the following and you know they’re legit.

Third-party validation isn’t the only criteria. It might be the most important. It gets people to recognize and trust you. That’s more than half the battle.

However, there’s still one subtle difference to launch you on your way.

You won’t get overwhelmed with traffic in the early days. No need to worry about servers going down.

But on the flipside, that also means you gotta convert what you get. Mammoth Growth get this right. The entire site experience is first-rate. Here’s why that’s important.

3. Simple, Conversion-Based Design

Things is a task management app from the Cultured Code.

It wasn’t founded by ex-members of Facebook. It hasn’t raised a Series A, B, C, D, E, or even F. It’s not valued at $100,000,000,000 or some other similarly-fake number.

But it is freaking beautiful.

And that matters when 94% of your first impression online comes down to design.

Things has done the first two steps here brilliantly. They’ve leveraged others. Primarily, through their one thing: design.

Literally every single big review they’ve received mentions it:

But how do you find that? How do you know what that “one thing” should be?

You don’t. Your customers (or potential customers do). Which means you should ask them. Interview them. So you can pre-sell the vision to afford actually building it.

Just under the first homepage section on their site is an introduction video.

The reason here should be obvious.

Video is the best way to show off their primary competitive advantage. It’s something they can control. And it doesn’t require a Series A to pull off.

Almost every single stat shows that video produces the best ROI, grows revenue faster, and is preferred by customers.

Scroll down even further to get simple, transparent pricing plans:

A little further for Twitter mentions to also boost credibility:

And… that’s it.

Once again, no superfluous extras. The main menu only squeezes in the essentials:

“Simple websites” often perform better. Simple as that.

You have constraints. Often, it’s limited resources. It’s limited money and people.

That means you need to put the most of what you’ve got behind fewer things. Which means you need to make sacrifices. Which means you can only afford the essential.

The good news is that aligning those things with what’s proven to work can, well, work. No matter how much is left over in the bank.


Every single company is bound by constraints.

Every single decision maker needs to move the needle with a less-than-perfect hand.

Pocket Aces don’t just fall in the unfunded’s lap. You gotta make your own luck. You gotta pull off some bluffs.

Big bets can put you into trouble too early. You can’t afford to lose on big pots.

Instead, you need to win a bunch of little pots before you’re ready to go after the big ones. You need to capitalize on what you’ve got.

That starts with affiliating yourself with bigger players. Ride on their coattails. Do what they want so you get what you want.

Then, you leverage those first few wins. No matter how small. You put the attention on those things so it takes attention of you.

Next, you make what you have the best possible. Even if it’s not a lot. Even if it’s three pages instead of 100.

Make those three pages the best in the business. The best design, the best copywriting, the best social proof, the best video, the best feature/benefit examples, etc.

The funded can afford to diversify. Literally.

You can’t. And you won’t. At least, not for awhile. So don’t even try.

About the Author: Brad Smith is the founder of Codeless, a B2B content creation company. Frequent contributor to Kissmetrics, Unbounce, WordStream, AdEspresso, Search Engine Journal, Autopilot, and more.

Use the Order Button Above and get a similar or related assignment. Contact our live support team for any assistance or inquiry.

4 Data-Backed Conversion Hacks that Cost You Nothing

Conversions are in the toilet.

Traffic is still coming in. But your bottom line isn’t changing.

Sales are slower than ever. People simply aren’t buying right now.

It’s not the holiday season. It’s probably just the “off-season” for online sales.

No need to worry, right? It’s normal for this time of year…

But it’s not. Selling online isn’t only seasonal.

Conversions just aren’t happening for you. But there’s a reason.

Your conversion rate optimization tactics are outdated.

Or you simply don’t have any in place.

Those instant on-site popups aren’t compelling users to buy from you.

Social share buttons don’t lead to buying decisions.

As the online landscape changes and new technologies arise, user behavior changes.

And when user behavior shifts, marketers can’t stick to the same old tactics and fall behind.

If you don’t keep up to date with user behavior, your business and livelihood could be at risk.

Thankfully, there are a few data-backed conversion hacks you can implement that are sure to get you a better conversion rate.

So, what are you waiting for?

1. Include different checkout options

What if I told you that a few simple minutes of work (without paying anything for setup) could net you 44% more conversions?

Would you call me crazy? Maybe a used car salesman? Fair enough.

But let me explain.

Is your website optimized for mobile traffic? If not, is your name Fred Flintstone?

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In all seriousness, if you don’t have a mobile site that’s optimized for mobile sales, you’re doomed.

Why? Because the majority of website traffic is mobile now.

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If you’re not optimizing for mobile, you’re risking tons of conversions.

Mobile intent is big, too.

Think about it.

When you’re on the go, and you see someone wearing a shoe that looks awesome, what do you do?

You probably open up your smartphone and Google it.

You want it now. You don’t want to wait.

Why? Because you saw someone wearing it and you liked it.

Mobile intent is high because people often see something they like on the go. They don’t sit around wondering if they should really buy it.

So, where am I going with this?

You can improve your checkout conversions by up to 44% by incorporating multiple payment gateways, such as PayPal.

Pretty amazing, right?

According to Nielsen research data, PayPal transactions also have a 70% higher checkout conversion rate than non-PayPal transactions.

You need any trick in the book when cart abandonment hovers around 70%.

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Alternative payment methods are especially important on mobile, where people are otherwise forced to whip their credit cards out in public.

Adding other payment options is one of the easiest ways to solve that problem.

2. Use more videos

Video marketing is literally the future.

Research predicts that video will account for 70% of mobile traffic by 2021.

Video is already dominating the landscape of marketing.

HubSpot’s 2017 State of Inbound Report has shown that more and more marketing professionals are investing their budgets into video platforms like YouTube and Facebook Video:

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All of the top content distribution channels are heading towards video.

And for good reason.

Adding videos to your landing pages or product pages gives you a 50x higher chance of showing up on Google searches.

More visibility = more traffic and more conversions.

Even the simple mention of video in your email subject line can increase open rates.

That’s how popular video is right now.

If that’s not enough to convince you, this should be:

Marketers who use video increase their revenue 49% faster than those who don’t, according to WordStream.

If you are struggling to get conversions on your landing pages, consider creating a simple product video to help explain what your product does and why it can help the user.

People don’t like reading text anymore.

The majority of people skim text-based content online. Including that long-form sales page you just put finishing touches on.

People want you to get straight to the point. Video marketing can help you do just that.

If you don’t know where to start, try using a site like Biteable to create free videos for your landing pages.

You can create free business-style videos that have dozens of animated templates.

Plus, it’s free. It doesn’t cost you a cent.

And according to the latest data, implementing videos on your page will increase conversions.

The top companies are using videos on their landing pages right now.

Check out this landing page from Leadpages:

They use an explainer-style video to show how you can benefit from their product.

Seeing a video demo in action is much more compelling than reading a block of text about how great your product is.

3. Increase site speed

If you want to increase your conversion rates, speed is one the best ways to do it.

Why? Because we are impatient people.

Nobody wants to wait ten seconds for a site to load. Seriously: nobody.

Not when there are hundreds of companies out there selling or offering similar products/services.

Google recently released some amazing data backing this all up.

The latest data shows that if your site is slow, your bounce rate is going to increase:

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And an increase in bounce rate means fewer conversions.

Even a few seconds can cost you valuable traffic.

When it comes to an online business, traffic is money.

Walmart found that their conversions dropped rapidly when load times jumped from one to four seconds.

Every second of improvement resulted in a 2% increase in conversions.

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General data shows us an even worse outlook on site speed.

For each second that your website takes to load, you can expect a 7% decrease in conversions.

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Speed has the power to make or break your website. It can truly determine whether or not you find profit and scalable growth.

Even a single second could be costing you money.

According to Google, the majority of websites in any given industry fall way too short:

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The best practice for site speed is three seconds or less. But most of us are taking longer than eight full seconds. That’s bad.

So, what can you do about it? The first step is to diagnose your website with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.

Enter your website URL into the tool and analyze it.

From here, you get your website’s overall speed score for both mobile and desktop.

The great thing about this tool is the free insight that it will give you into how you can fix your site problems.

Most of the time, images are going to be the biggest culprit.

They take up tons of space on your site, slowing your speeds dramatically.

If you can compress a few images, you’ve got a good shot at improving your site speed and increasing conversions.

WordPress has tons of plugins that you can use to automatically compress your images and increase site speed.

Try using Smush It:

It’s a free tool that you can install on your WordPress site in just a few minutes. You can also try TinyPNG or ImageOptim (Mac only).

When it comes to increasing conversions, speed is the name of the game.

4. Shorten landing pages

Long-form content wins the day when it comes to blogging.

Data proves it. The longer the content, the higher chance you’ve got to rank well on Google.

We hear it all the time: the longer, the better (no innuendo intended).

Content is king. Especially long-form content.

But does that same principle apply to landing pages?

Do long-form landing pages convert better?

Well, it makes sense that a long-form landing page would be good right?

You can tell a user all about your product without them having to leave the page to find more info.

Product features, demos, and descriptions are amazing when it comes to pushing a customer to buy.

Every sector of your business can have their featured spot on a landing page. It sounds great when you think about it.

But the data actually shows us otherwise.

Shortening your landing page can increase conversion rates dramatically:

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In a case study, one company reduced the size of its landing page and found a 13% increase in sign-ups and a 35% higher click-through rate to pricing pages.

This isn’t a one-off case study either.

Neil Patel found a 13% increase in conversions on his Crazy Egg site by reducing the content amount by 60%.

Patel also worked with a client on their landing page to increase conversions.

They were using a long-form style landing page, but Neil recommended using a short-form page with video-based content.

They reduced the size of the landing page dramatically.

In the end, the conversion rate for the website jumped by 40%.

Data consistently shows that short-form landing page content converts better.

Why? Because Americans read headlines and not much else.

Typical Americans, am I right?

But seriously, Buffer found that 55% of visitors to your site will only read your content for 15 seconds or less.

If you want more conversions, try shortening your landing page and getting straight down to business.

Slack has one of the best landing pages in the SaaS industry right now.

It’s short-form and gets straight down to business with a clear-cut headline and call to action:

There is almost nothing on the homepage besides a headline, description, CTA, and a bit of social proof.

Bonus Hack: Social proof is one of the best data-backed hacks to increasing your conversion rate in seconds.

Include a few statistics on your site about how many users you’ve helped or big companies you’ve served. Orbit Media increased their conversions by 1400% using social proof.


Conversions are worse than ever.

You’re still driving tons of traffic to your site and product pages. But nothing is budging.

All of that work you’ve put in to bring people to your site isn’t leading to sales.

You’re screwed (kidding). You feel trapped, scared, and worried about your business.

Without conversions, you don’t have a business.

It’s probably just the slow season, right? Wrong.

There is no real slow season when it comes to generating conversions and sales online.

There is just bad conversion rate optimization.

Thankfully, it’s not that hard to fix.

There are actually multiple data-backed ways to increase your conversions for free.

Including PayPal at checkout can increase your conversions by up to 44%.

Want a fast increase in conversions on your landing pages? Include some product explainer videos.

Site speed should be a big focus, too. The slower your site is, the higher your bounce rate will be and the lower your conversion rate.

Try shortening your landing pages. It’s proven to increase conversions.

Getting conversions doesn’t require you to spend thousands on an agency to fix your site. It just requires a few simple tweaks to make it easier and faster to buy from you.

About Kissmetrics

Kissmetrics combines behavioral analytics with email automation. Our software tracks actions of your users across multiple devices allowing you to analyze, segment and engage your customers with automatic, behavior-based emails in one place. We call it Customer Engagement Automation. Get, keep and grow more customers with Kissmetrics.



About the Author: Brad Smith is the founder of Codeless, a B2B content creation company. Frequent contributor to Kissmetrics, Unbounce, WordStream, AdEspresso, Search Engine Journal, Autopilot, and more.

Use the Order Button Above and get a similar or related assignment. Contact our live support team for any assistance or inquiry.

What Tinder Can Teach Us About Growth Marketing

Just in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past five years, Tinder is a hugely popular mobile dating app that matches potential partners based on user data and proximity.

Since the application was launched in 2012, it has experienced explosive growth.

Within two years, Tinder boasted 800 million swipes every single day. As of 2017, that daily figure is 1.6 billion.

So what makes Tinder so special, and what can we learn from Tinder’s growth that we can apply to other businesses?

You’ve probably heard the phrase “sex sells.” That’s certainly part of the picture, but there are many other facets of Tinder’s growth engine that are worth admiring.

Conceptual Design

If you look at all the major case studies for growth hacking in recent years, from Airbnb to PayPal, they all have one thing in common: an excellent product.

On a conceptual level, Tinder is ingenious.

All marketers know that consumer behavior is driven by emotions rather than logic. To be specific, people are motivated to act due to two reasons:

  1. The desire to move towards pleasure
  2. The desire to move away from pain

Tinder’s users are motivated by seeking out romantic encounters (pleasure) while simultaneously avoiding rejection (pain).

We’re not talking about mild emotions here. These are core human desires with an evolutionary basis.

It’s theorized that the fear of rejection stems from when humans lived in primitive hunter-gatherer societies. With limited amounts of potential mates in a small tribe, being rejected could entail the end of your lineage and in some cases, would lead to ostracization and death. Today, rejection is a stinging emotional experience that people don’t want to go through.

Google the term “approach anxiety” and you’ll find a library of articles on the subject – indicating how serious of a problem it is for people.

Since both parties have indicated a mutual attraction before a Tinder match is made, daters don’t need to go through the experience of approaching someone they’re attracted to while hoping the other person feels the same, and don’t have to worry about being approached by someone they have no interest in.

Additionally, Tinder uses the intermittent reward system. New matches are a “reward”. You get excited when you swipe right and it’s a match, you get the push notification telling you there’s a new match waiting for you when you open the app. When using Tinder, you likely won’t get 5+ matches a day, or even a match a day. So when matches become scarcer, they are more valued, and then when they come, it’s a huge (and addicting) reward. You get back into the app, keep swiping, keep messaging, and it becomes a “must have” in your life.

Rewards come early (the critical first few tries for a user, when it determines if they’ll be sticky, they quickly see the first signs of value from the app when they get new matches. Overtime, the rate of new matches will diminish, but by then you’re already hooked on the app. You get more matches because it’s suspected that new Tinder users are shown to more people, and thus achieve more matches.)

The emotional drivers of pleasure and pain are the cornerstones of Tinder’s success.

User Experience

Even with a great concept, Tinder’s success would have been severely limited if the user experience was inadequate.

Fortunately, Tinder’s creators were wise to the fact that we’re living in a culture of instant gratification. While traditional dating sites require you to read long-winded profiles for potential dates, Tinder gives you an avalanche of potential partners that you can accept or dismiss in one hand gesture based on first impressions.

In many ways, Tinder replicates real life. People make snap judgments all the time, and you’re unlikely to get to know someone’s favorite artists or movies unless there is an initial physical attraction.

Tinder’s CEO, Sean Rad, states: “We want to create experiences that emulate human behavior. What we do on Tinder is no different than what we already do.”

In order for word of mouth marketing to be effective, it’s important for user onboarding to be smooth and efficient. If your friend has got you excited about an application but you’re having trouble logging in or understanding how to use it, then it’s not very useful.

If you have a Facebook account, you simply connect it to Tinder, pick your photos, and start swiping. You don’t even have to include photos to start swiping (but you probably should considering this is dating).

The application has a four-step tutorial that you can skip at any time by logging in using Facebook. With a marvelously simplistic onboarding process, Tinder maximizes the impact of word of mouth marketing. (Image Source)

And while there’s a bio section, you don’t even have to go through the pains of creating a witty bio before you can start swiping. Tinder already looks at your Facebook Likes, Friends, and creates “shared interests” and “Mutual Friends” with potential matches.

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Compare this to the wringer that most dating sites put new users through. You have to write your bio, list your favorite books, movies, what you’re looking for, etc. By the time you can actually start viewing profiles you’ve already used 20 minutes of time writing a bio that few people will read.

Unlike the desktop, the smartphone is an ideal device for Tinder’s fast-paced dating action. Swiping left or right on a smartphone just feels natural – akin to swiping through a deck of cards.

Given that smartphone displays are image-centric, you’re compelled to make snap decisions primarily based on looks. Some would argue that this is superficial, but maybe dating is more superficial than we’d like to admit?

With an excellent product, in both concept and execution, the team at Tinder deployed some powerful growth marketing tactics in order to generate attention.

The Two-Sided Network

According to Wikipedia, two-sided networks are: “economic platforms having two distinct user groups that provide each other with network benefits.”

In the case of Airbnb, the brand was only successful because there were enough hosts and guests to facilitate each other’s interests. Simple laws of supply and demand.

For Tinder, both men and women would be required to make the app work. Additionally, a significant portion of the user base needed to be attractive – otherwise there would be insufficient matches.

In order to get heterosexual men on the platform, there needed to be heterosexual women already present, and vice versa. So, which demographic would need to come first?

Tinder came up with a smart solution to this quandary.

Having enjoyed her experience in a sorority at college, Tinder’s Vice President of Marketing at the time, Whitney Wolfe, set off to acquire campus VIPs as early adopters.

Tinder also got a fair amount of publicity during the 2014 Winter Olympics when snowboarder Jamie Anderson and others revealed that they’ve been using Tinder. This added to the social proof of Tinder, which only helped its user base grow more.

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Interestingly, former UFC champion Ronda Rousey stated that she didn’t have much luck with Tinder because of her fame, and actually signed up using a fake name before being found out. Given the UFC’s predominantly male fan base, I’m sure a significant number of UFC fans became Tinder users upon hearing the news.

With “high quality” models and sorority leaders using the application, this would do away with the negative stigma that digital dating is for lonely people. Instead, Tinder would be an application that social, attractive people use to make their good dating lives even better.

Campus Presentations

On a tour of numerous campuses in the United States, Wolfe gave group presentations about Tinder to sorority houses.

At the end of the presentation, Wolfe insisted that all the girls sign up for the application. Immediately afterwards, she would go to the corresponding brother fraternity and encourage the guys to sign up.

Right away, the guys would see profiles for the attractive girls that they already knew, but hadn’t had the opportunity to interact with in a romantic context.

Because campuses have a dense population of single students in close proximity, initial users had more than enough potential matches to keep them engaged with the application.

Parties and Outreach

In another display of Tinder’s marketing ingenuity, Tinder hosted a party for a USC student’s birthday and went the extra mile to make it amazing. Tinder paid the bill for the party in exchange for putting a bouncer at the door that only let people in after downloading the application.

When Wolfe returned after her college tour, Tinder’s user base jumped from 5,000 to 15,000. This is when word of mouth marketing gained momentum.

Parties would still play a prominent role in Tinder’s marketing strategy as the application expanded beyond the American college system. With launch parties in Mexico, Japan and England, Tinder brought nights of fun and entertainment to singletons around the world – while simultaneously promoting the Tinder brand.

As a result, Tinder’s user base expanded. In the initial months, 85% of Tinder’s users were within the 18-23 ages, but by the following year that same age range represented only 57% of all users.


The growth of Tinder can be attributed to a quick onboarding system, an addicting product with random rewards (matches), a unique dating product that was different than current options, and successful launch parties.

Have you used Tinder? If so, what about the application encourages you to keep coming back?

Please let me know in the comments below.

About the Author: Aaron Agius, CEO of worldwide digital agency Louder Online is, according to Forbes, among the world’s leading digital marketers. Working with clients such as Salesforce, Coca-Cola, IBM, Intel, and scores of stellar brands, Aaron is a Growth Marketer – a fusion between search, content, social, and PR. Find him on Twitter, LinkedIn, or on the Louder Online blog.

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5 Post-Purchase Email Campaign Tactics Worth Trying


Your team just clinched another new customer. That’s great news. But before you celebrate, think about the next step in the sales process.

Communication plays a critical role in fostering customer loyalty. To transform buyers into die-hard advocates, it’s important to improve your post-purchase emails.

“For a business to thrive, it must provide customers with long-term value that translates into repeat purchases and, thus, increases the customer’s lifetime value to the company. And that is where carefully crafted post-purchase emails come in,” says entrepreneur and marketer Danny Wong.

It’s time to lay the groundwork for more sales. Let’s learn five strategies to ace post-purchase emails.

1. Focus on Relevant Interests

When you’re not interested in something, the easiest thing to do is to ignore it. You mentally set whatever it is aside and move to tasks that hold more value.

In the world of email marketing, relevancy matters to your customer. If it doesn’t offer value or bring an inkling of benefit to the individual, there’s really no reason why they should care.

A relevant message after a purchase may include a receipt with the total amount, a status update about the delivery of the item, or contact information to connect with customer support. Customers desire transparency and want reassurance that they made the right purchasing decision.

“Keeping customers up to date with the status of their purchase, especially if there is a delay or another issue, is important. In fact, consumers decide not to do business again with a brand because of lack of transparency about the status of their purchase delivery,” writes Alexa Lemzy, a customer service expert and content author at TextMagic.

Below is a post-purchase email from Amazon. Along with the order total, you’ll notice a proposed delivery date and recommended items.

As you create a post-purchase email, it’s vital to ask: why should my customer care? The goal is to exceed customer expectations by delivering messages that speak to the buyer’s needs and interests.

2. Segment to Nurture Relationships

Email marketing isn’t a cookie-cutter tool because every customer isn’t the same. You may cater to eight different buyer personas—each with distinct characteristics.

So sending a generic post-purchase email will get overlooked by your audience. To nurture more customers, you’ll want to use segmentation to send relevant emails.

“Segmenting your email list helps you speak more intelligently and directly with your customers, giving them information that they want at the opportune time. And when you do it right, the payoff can be huge,” states Joe Stych, marketer at Zapier.

Segmentation enhances relationship building, giving you a chance to effectively communicate with consumers. You can drop the blanket language in your email conversations.

For instance, a major holiday may be around the corner. So your team wants to send all new customers post-purchase welcome campaigns wishing them a wonderful holiday season.

Rather than delivering a bland message to every new customer, segmentation by location makes it possible to tailor your email to mention nearby festivities happening in the customer’s area.

You also can segment emails when it’s necessary to speak your customers’ dialect. (Your team doesn’t want to get caught describing a carbonated beverage as “pop” in Louisiana.)

Segmentation is the focal point to personalizing the post-purchase experience. You’ll build better relationships quickly.

3. Engage Based on Behavior

Only a few decades ago, business teams made wild guesses about their customers’ spending habits and shopping behaviors. Marketers relied on gut feeling and historical data to drive their future campaigns.

Lucky for you, technology is advancing rapidly and you can get real-time data about your consumers with a few clicks. And thanks to Kissmetrics Campaigns your team can nudge customers toward brand loyalty with behavior-based emails.


You can determine which post-purchase messages to send based on customer behavior, like purchase amounts, website visits to a specific product page, date of last purchase, or a combination of these actions.

Let’s say you want to invite only your most loyal customers to a VIP rewards program. You may segment your list to deliver this post-purchase email to customers who’ve purchased more than $5000 in the last month and rated your support team with 4 stars or above.

If you sent the same email to everyone on your list, you may engage people still getting to know your brand. Consequently, they wouldn’t be ready to be part of the loyalty program.

New Thrive Market customers receive 20% off their first three orders. After the first order, the eCommerce retailer sends a post-purchase reminder email (below) to entice consumers to take advantage of the remaining offer.

thrive market email

Pinpoint opportunities to customize your post-purchase emails. Sometimes it takes monitoring and understanding your audience’s behaviors.

4. Evaluate Email Frequency

Your customers receive emails on a daily basis, whether it’s from their best friends or work colleagues. So knowing how often to send an email is just as crucial as the content of that email.

Nailing down the right email frequency for your target audience helps you understand when to engage and when to leave your customer alone. People need personal space online, too.

Your post-purchase emails can add up fast. There’s the order confirmation, the shipping confirmation, the product review request, and the reorder email. And don’t forget your five-part welcome campaign.

Before you know it, you’ve sent your customers 10 emails in one week. Sending lots of emails in a short period of time can lead your subscribers to email fatigue. This problem results in customers ignoring and deleting your emails or worse, unsubscribing from your mailing list.

You can combat email fatigue by observing your engagement metrics. Check your open, click-through, and unsubscribe rates to spot any fluctuations in activity. Experiment with delaying general email campaigns until after a customer receives her post-purchase emails.

Swamping customers with emails isn’t ideal. So assess the value of each message and whether another email helps or hurts your brand.

5. Run Tests to Optimize Campaigns

It’s easy to set up your post-purchase email campaigns and forget about them as you work on more pressing issues. When specific business operations are working well, complacency may have your team missing opportunities to do better.

Running routine tests to optimize your campaigns is not only a good business practice, but also an essential process to learn which emails resonate with your audience. Plus, you can identify changes in customer behavior and adapt your campaigns accordingly.

With Kissmetrics, your team can track purchases from email campaigns. You’ll know exactly which campaign engaged consumers when they bought your product or service.

The Kissmetrics Funnel Report

This report is valuable for tailoring your email campaigns. For example, if a customer bought your product after engaging with your blog newsletter, your post-purchase campaigns may include recommendations to specific blog posts to encourage repeat orders.

Or what if you notice a sharp increase when you send 15% discount reorder emails compared to a 5% savings? Now, your team can adjust your strategy to fit the customer’s desires.

Don’t be afraid to run multiple tests to learn your post-purchase email sweet spot. It’s only by analyzing the data that you can satisfy your audience and boost your sales.

The Power of Email

Email isn’t reserved just for gaining a prospect’s attention pre-sale. It’s also an effective tool for nurturing customers into retention.

Revamp your post-purchase email by staying relevant to the recipient’s needs. Send emails that engage customers based on their behavior, not unfounded hunches. And optimize your campaigns by running experiments.

There’s power in email. Now, it’s your turn.

About Kissmetrics

Kissmetrics combines behavioral analytics with email automation. Our software tracks actions of your users across multiple devices allowing you to analyze, segment and engage your customers with automatic, behavior-based emails in one place. We call it Customer Engagement Automation. Get, keep and grow more customers with Kissmetrics.



About the Author: Shayla Price lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology and social responsibility. Connect with her on Twitter @shaylaprice.

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How a Structured E-Commerce Testing Plan Leads to Quick & Stable Wins

If you were Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, how would you structure your testing and experimentation process to drive growth?

Let’s look at what Bezos says about experimenting (emphasis mine):

“One area where I think we are especially distinctive is failure. I believe we are the best place in the world to fail (we have plenty of practice!), and failure and invention are inseparable twins. To invent you have to experiment, and if you know in advance that it’s going to work, it’s not an experiment. Most large organizations embrace the idea of invention, but are not willing to suffer the string of failed experiments necessary to get there.

Outsized returns often come from betting against conventional wisdom, and conventional wisdom is usually right. Given a 10% chance of a 100-times payoff, you should take that bet every time. But you’re still going to be wrong nine times out of 10. We all know that if you swing for the fences, you’re going to strike out a lot, but you’re also going to hit some home runs. The difference between baseball and business, however, is that baseball has a truncated outcome distribution. When you swing, no matter how well you connect with the ball, the most runs you can get is four. In business, every once in a while, when you step up to the plate, you can score 1,000 runs. This long-tailed distribution of returns is why it’s important to be bold. Big winners pay for so many experiments.”

As CEO of Amazon.com, if not the world’s first, than certainly the largest, and the most successful e-commerce business (which by now is involved in industries far beyond retail), Bezos convincingly puts forward the case for adopting a test culture in any e-commerce environment.

In this post, we’ll look at how you can structure your in-house e-commerce CRO program and create a testing plan that grows with your organization.

You might not be Amazon… but why not swing for the fences?

Plan to Fail (and Learn From it)

The process of conversion rate optimization, or CRO, aims to make e-commerce companies more profitable by increasing the proportion of purchasers to total visitors.

A structured process — encompassing research and hypothesis creation, testing itself, and the prioritization and documentation of those tests — is crucial to creating a testing culture that produces sustainable long-term results.

In most of these steps, the need for a plan is obvious. But most people don’t plan for the testing phase. In fact, testing is frequently regarded as an end in itself.

However, testing is just the culmination of the entire process that stands behind it. Its real end goal is to increase revenue.

In the same way that it’s not possible to formulate and create tests without prior research, it’s also not possible to run tests without planning. And moving from conducting individual tests or a sequence of tests to full-scale, constantly active testing is what separates a one-off CRO sprint from a thought-out, deliberate CRO program.

Guess which approach is better for establishing a testing culture that enables companies to grow while absorbing their mistakes?

Making mistakes and failures as an integral part of growth means embracing the main components of any learning process. Each experiment, no matter how successful or unsuccessful, is a learning opportunity for you and your organization. Implementing and integrating the knowledge that results from your tests is one of the primary tasks of a viable CRO testing program.

Just a few reasons you should structure and document your testing program…

  • Testing every aspect of your website also enables you to challenge your prior assumptions by grounding alternative assumptions in data — instead of opinions or wild guesses.
  • Experimentation allows you to estimate the results of all improvements in real time, without having to wait for the end of the quarter to see improvement (or lack thereof).
  • By applying deliberate structure to the testing process, you make it easier to follow, teach, and repeat.

All of this makes conversion optimization testing a pivotal consideration for any business with ambitions of growth. One of the most efficient ways to set yourself up for e-commerce CRO success is to establish an ongoing process within your organization, with a specific, dedicated team.

This requires you to consider CRO not as an a la carte service provided by an agency, but as an opportunity to institutionalize and embrace the CRO process. And it requires that you learn to conduct tests yourself.

Why is a Testing Program a Necessity?

Note: If you want to test one hypothesis at time, you can go ahead and skip this section.

Why? If you’re running one test at a time, your testing plan and program will be the same as the hypothesis prioritization list (which we’ll talk about below). There’s just one small issue that may bother you — the time required to put all your hypotheses to the test.

If you choose to go the one-test-at-a-time route, be prepared to spend some time on the journey. The best-case scenario, if you have 25 hypotheses to test, is that you’re looking at two years of testing. Why would it take two years? The recommended practice is to run each experiment for at least a month (or until the test reaches significance and/or covers a few buying cycles) to ensure valid test results.

“Significance” is a statistical concept that allows you to conclude that the result of an experiment was actually caused by the changes made to the variation, and not by a random influence. It’s key to ensuring that tests are actually valid and that their results are sustainable and repeatable.

Alex Birkett, Content Editor for Conversion XL, explains the concept of significance a bit more in-depth:

“What we’re worried about is the representativeness of our sample. How can we do that in basic terms? Your test should run for two business cycles, so it includes everything external that’s going on:

– Every day of the week (and tested one week at a time as your daily traffic can vary a lot)

– Various different traffic sources (unless you want to personalize the experience for a dedicated source)

– Your blog post and newsletter publishing schedule

– People who visited your site, thought about it, and then came back 10 days later to buy [your product]

– Any external event that might affect purchasing (e.g. payday)”

The 1-month rule above holds true for most websites. Those with exceptionally high traffic (ranging into millions of unique visits) will undoubtedly be able to achieve significant results within shorter periods. Still, to eliminate every outside influence, it is best to let tests run for at least a full week or two.

Say you have 37 different hypotheses to test. Your ideal aim is probably to create all 37 tests and conduct them all at once, as an alternative to going through the process of testing one by one.

Sadly, this isn’t possible either, for a different reason. Sometimes the experiments themselves will conflict with one another, limiting their usefulness or even invalidating each other’s results.

Since none of us want to be old men when our conversion optimization efforts reach fruition, we need an alternative. That’s where the concept of testing velocity comes in. Testing velocity is an indicator of how many tests you conduct at a given time frame, such as a month. It is one of the metrics of testing program efficiency and higher the velocity you achieve, the quicker your program will bring increased revenue. Provided, of course, you do everything right.

This is the simplified process of creating a testing program

The Building Blocks of Your Testing Program

The main elements that will determine the dynamics of your testing program are:

  1. Traffic volume
  2. Interdependency of tests
  3. The ability to support the design and implementation of multiple tests at once (operational constraint)

Let’s quickly go through what each of these elements means.

Traffic Volume

Traffic volume is an obvious obstacle, since your website traffic will influence not only what types of tests you can run, but also how many concurrent tests, and which pages will draw enough traffic to support tests.

Traffic volume is the reason to prioritize tests that have the greatest projected effect. Tests with higher expected lift have much lower requirements in terms of the sample size/traffic volume needed to reach statistical significance.

In practice, this means that if we expect a test to result in an increase in conversions of, for example, higher than 25%, we will need fewer observations to confirm this expectation than if we were expecting a 10% increase. This is the consequence of using a T-test as the statistical engine for running experiments: the smaller the effect of a change, the larger the sample needs to be in order to eliminate all outliers and reach statistical significance and confidence.

Interdependency of Tests

The ability to run experiments concurrently is the function of each experiment’s dependency on the others. What does this mean?

The basic principle is that we want to test a new page treatment on the maximum available number of visitors. If you happen to set up an experiment that will filter people out of the next experiment, then you will not be abiding by this basic principle.

If your visitors are split 50% on an initial page, meaning that half do not get to see the next page that’s also being experimented on, you will not have a valid test result.

For example, you may want to improve your funnel. So you create experimental treatments (variations) that will run on two different steps of the funnel. This may mean that the visitors that are shown one page do not get to see the other — because the experiment’s outcome has influenced how many people get to see the other experiment you are running.

Your sample will automatically be 50% smaller, meaning the test will have to run twice as long as it otherwise would have needed to achieve significance.

Running concurrent experiments can cause interdependency issues

To prevent this issue, estimate the interdependency risk prior to creating an experiment, and run interdependent experiments separately. You can sometimes solve this issue by using multivariate tests (MVTs), but sometimes your traffic volume will preclude this. Additionally, too many variants in MVTs can invalidate the experiment results.

Operational Ability — How Many Tests Can You Design and Actively Run?

In an ideal world, we would all be testing all the hypotheses we’ve created just as soon as the research is complete!

However, creating and running an experiment is hard work. It requires efforts from multiple people to create a viable and functional test. Once the research results are in and you have framed your hypothesis, the experiment won’t just spring into existence.

Making an experiment requires preparation. At minimum, you need to:

  1. Sketch out an updated visual design, which you’ll use to create a mockup or high-fidelity wireframe
  2. Create an actual design based on the mockup
  3. Code the design/copy changes
  4. Perform a quality assurance check and do a dry run before the test is live

All this requires time and effort by a team of people, and some of the steps cannot even begin before the previous ones are complete. This is your operational limitation.

You can overcome operational limitations by either hiring more people or limiting the number of tests you run.

Adjust Testing for Outside Influences

While it would be great if every experiment happened in a vacuum, this just isn’t the case. Website experiments performed for the purposes of conversion optimization will never enjoy the controlled environment of scientific experiments — where the experimenter can maintain control on all other influences outside of the one being intentionally changed.

However, we can at least account for obvious or expected test influences, such as holidays that affect the shopping habits of our customers or other predictable events that may change buyer behavior. By taking these factors into account when framing your plan, you can adjust for this and run the experiments at a time when the risk of outside influence is smaller.

Even More Benefits of Creating a Testing Plan

Having a testing plan not only makes your CRO process faster and more effective — it has a number of important additional benefits.

Let’s start with the benefit that’s most important in the long run. A test plan structures and standardizes your approach, making it repeatable and predictable.

An active, structured testing process with no expiry date essentially creates a positive feedback loop, so that even when your testing plan reaches its conclusion, you’ll feel encouraged to seek new challenges and run more tests.

In the long run, this leads to the establishment of a bona fide testing culture within your organization.

A structured process also allows for better feedback on the results. At each phase’s conclusion, you can review the results, update your expectations for the next phase, or adjust experiments that failed in the previous phase. In effect, you’re “learning as you go”.

Finally, a testing plan just plain-and-simple allows for better reporting and makes a more persuasive case for conversion optimization as an organizational must. If you are able to report progress in monthly increments, with results clearly attributed to experiments (which were built on hypotheses, which were derived from research), you’re much more likely to gain organizational support for your CRO program.

A testing plan creates clear milestones and enables the research team to accurately track progress, plan future activities, and remove potential bottlenecks in deploying and implementing experiments. That way, the chance that the testing process may spiral out of control is completely sidestepped, and each team member’s role is clear.

How to Structure Your Testing Plan

We’ve just explored why you need to make a testing plan prior to actual testing — let’s call that step zero, if you will. Now let’s talk about the nuts and bolts of creating that plan.

First, figure out what type of test(s) (A/B test, MVT, or bandit) you’ll run. Test type determines how much traffic you need, as well as the development effort necessary to deploy experiments.

Next, you need to carefully estimate the interdependency of your tests and make adjustments to your priority list if any tests clash with each other.

Finally, to determine the number of experiments you can run, estimate how many you can effectively support with available staff. Take into account that you need to have researchers framing hypotheses, designers and front-end developers to create variations and setup the experiment itself. Since each of these groups will have a number of tasks to attend to, you need to make sure you run only so many tests that your staff can support.

To ensure this, start by going through your list of hypotheses. If you prioritize tests accurately according to the effort necessary to deploy them, you’ll already have many of the inputs for your test plan.

Ultimately, your testing plan should take the form of Gantt charts, which are very helpful in indicating the time frame for each test phase.

A test program is usually presented in the form of a Gantt chart

A “test phase” contains all the tests that can be run simultaneously. For example, if you discover you can run four tests simultaneously, and you have 22 tests to run based on your hypotheses, you’ll have 5 test phases.

Your test plan should also list every proposed test and provide the following concise information for each:

  • Related hypothesis (the “why” of the test)
  • Required sample size
  • Expected effect
  • Who will be the subject (target segment or audience)
  • Where it will run (URL of the page)
  • When (the time period in which it will run)
  • Rough description of changes (the “what” of the test)
  • How to measure success (what metrics the experiment should improve/affect to be considered a success)

If you structure your testing plan this way, you will maximize your test velocity and allow for maximum efficiency of your optimization program.

How to Prioritize and Assign Testing Tasks

Once you create and structure a plan, the only remaining ingredient necessary for success is to actually run through the process.

Obviously, both to secure the greatest possible revenue and to create initial confidence, the first tests you run should be those you expect to have the greatest effect. Select the hypotheses that have high importance (for example, issues that affect your users’ movement through the funnel); that you are most confident will work; and that require the least effort to implement.

You can choose a prioritization model to apply to hypotheses during the research process. Apply the model properly and if your estimates are correct, you will almost certainly get the results you’re looking for.

For each experiment to succeed, you need to translate hypothetical solutions into practical web page designs as accurately as you can.

When you have a mental image of the variation you want to test, translate that into a visual image using a wireframe or mockup. Hand that off to your designers, who can turn it into an actual web page.

While the visual design is being prepared, your front-end developers need to check if any additional coding will be necessary to implement the variation.

The most important part of implementing an experiment is to ensure that it’s set up free of any technical issues. Do this by making quality-assurance protocols and checks part of your testing program.

Once a given step in the experiment development cycle is complete, staff involved with that step can immediately start working on the following experiment. Having a plan enables them to advance further without any delay, and adds to the efficiency of your conversion optimization effort.

Establishing a Culture of Experimentation

Building a testing culture is the main objective of a structured CRO process. A testing culture requires the company to make a switch from a risk-averse and slow-decision-making mindset to a faster, risk-taking approach. This is possible because testing enables you to make decisions based on measurable, known quantities — in effect reducing your risk.

Extensive research is a necessary prerequisite of successful A/B testing (which is something that hopefully, a majority of people involved in testing already understand)! Suffice it to say that the role of research is well publicized, and there are a number of articles about it.

We will also assume that by now, you know how to frame a hypothesis from this research. The hypothesis creation process is just as important to the ultimate success of your CRO effort as running the tests themselves. Only properly framed, strong hypotheses will result in conclusive A/B tests.

In a structured CRO effort, no element should be left to chance. Extend the same careful treatment to actual testing as you afford to research and hypothesis creation. Once you’ve properly prioritized your hypotheses by the effort each will take, their importance, and their expected effect, you need to prepare your tests with the same forethought.

How you approach setting up your testing program will greatly impact your end results. The aim of every good testing program is to attain the maximum test velocity and see meaningful test results in the shortest possible time.

About the Author: Edin Šabanović is a senior CRO consultant working for Objeqt. He helps e-commerce stores improve their conversion rates through analytics, scientific research, and A/B testing. Edin is passionate about analytics and conversion rate optimization, but for fun, he likes reading history books. He can help you grow your e-commerce business using Objeqt’s tailored, data-driven CRO methodology. Get in touch if you want someone to take care of your CRO efforts.

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How to Find Which Sites are Driving Retention

I’ve previously written about how to use Kissmetrics to find which backlinks drive signups. I wrote that article because we all know backlinks are great for SEO, which is great for traffic, but what really matters is the quality of traffic you’re getting. So, what that post explained was how you can use a Funnel Report to see who came to your site, and how many of them signed up. We then segmented that traffic by the first ever link that sent them to our site.

It’s a nice, handy way to use Kissmetrics to help provide some insights and potentially future campaigns.

But what about the step after the first visit or a signup? What about retention? How do you find which sites are sending you the visitors that keep coming back?

The idea for this post came to me from my own experience. I’ve been using DuckDuckGo (DDG) lately, and one day I simply entered weather just to see what would return. I saw that DDG uses a site called DarkSky, which is one that I’ve never heard of, even though they have the #1 paid weather app in the App Store.

darksky on duckduckgo

I liked the layout of the site, it’s ad-free content, and the forecasts have been pretty accurate. Now I use it as my primary weather site.

So this had me wondering – if I was working at DarkSky, how would I know where people are coming from? And of all the traffic channels (direct, organic search, DDG, etc.) that are sending us traffic, how could I track that to see which sources brought the highest retention? In this case, we’ll refer to retention as simply coming back to the site after their first visit.

So, here’s how to find that out using Kissmetrics.

The Cohort Report

Kissmetrics is full of reports that each serves a different purpose. Some can be used for analyzing customer acquisition campaigns; others can be used for retention analysis. And some can be used for both.

The Cohort Report is primarily used to track retention (some even use it for conversion rates). It groups people together based on similar attributes and tracks their behavior overtime. In our case, we’ll be grouping the people that have visited our site, and we’ll group them by the domains they were first referred by.


The set up is pretty easy. We’ll set our conditions for those that have Visited Site and Visited Site. We’ll then segment by the first referrer:

KM Referrer is simply the referring URL that brought traffic to your site. If a visitor came to your site via a Google search, the KM Referrer would be www.google.com. If they came from the Kissmetrics Blog homepage, the KM Referrer would record as blog.kissmetrics.com.

It’s also important to note that we’re tracking people on a week-to-week basis. This means that each week is a “bucket”. All visitors that came from Google in the last 6 months are put in the www.google.com bucket, then tracked each week. If they visit in the second week after their first week, they’ll be placed in that bucket. If they don’t return in the third week but do in the fourth week, they’ll appear in the bucket for the fourth week as well.

Now that we got that cleared up, let’s run the report and get our data:

The key thing to look for when viewing our Cohort Report is that the darker the shade of blue, the greater the retention.

So it looks like organic search from Google is sending us the most traffic.

However, we see our highest retention is the 52 people that came from nytimes.com. To me, this data signals that we should spend more time trying to press coverage. SEO is always great, and it has good retention, but nothing beats the traffic coming from nytimes.com.

So What Does All This Mean?

Traffic is the first step. The second step is retaining that traffic by getting those people to come back. Find what percentage of new users come back (using the cohort report) and then see where you’re getting your above-average retention (with a significant amount of traffic). That’s where the Cohort Report shines – showing you where you’re underperforming and outperforming against your baseline retention.


Traffic is great. Signups are even better. But the most important part is retaining those new users. That’s the only way to build quality traffic and an audience.

So how do you measure your progress on retaining users?

This is where cohort reports come in. Specifically, the Kissmetrics Cohort Report (which was the example we used here). It’s segmentation flexibility (you can group people by whatever you track), along with our person-tracking analytics means that you get not just numbers, but also who you are retaining and where they came from.

This post really started out to answer a question – how would DarkSky (or any other site) know if the traffic they get from DuckDuckGo (or any referrer) is being retained? And, perhaps at a higher level, how would they know if they’re even getting traffic from DuckDuckGo? I wrote that post to answer this question. To recap, in two steps:

  1. Run a Cohort Report, segmenting your group by their original referrer domain.
  2. See how many of the people that come from that original referrer by viewing each bucket across the row in the report’s data.

Any questions? Let me know in the comments.

About the Author: Zach Bulygo (Twitter) is the Blog Manager for Kissmetrics.

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The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) Essay

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) Essay The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was passed into legislation in March of 2010. Identify the impact of this legislation on your nursing practice by choosing two key nursing provisions outlined in the American Nurses Association “Key Provisions Related to Nursing” summary at http://www.rnaction.org/site/DocServer/KeyProvisions_Nursing-PublicLaw.pdf?docID=1241&verID=1. Discuss […]

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