How to Manage Marketing Campaigns like a Financial Currency Trader

KPIs are due EOD.

Profit and loss statements need to be generated.

Budget status updates have been requested.

Juggling multiple marketing campaigns is stressful. But more importantly, it’s also incredibly risky.

Soon enough, you’ve depleted your budget to the last few cents, and you have nothing to show for it.

Or worse, you didn’t spot the right trends in a successful tactic before spending too much on the underperforming ones.

And now you don’t have enough money to re-allocate to top-tier mediums.

Curiously enough, adopting the same methodical mindset of a financial currency trader can help you better manage results.

Here’s how.

Start With a Currency Arbitrage Mindset

Here’s the problem with digital marketing.

It changes every day. Old stuff gives way to new stuff.

And you never really know how a campaign will perform until you try it.

That saying (1) is unhelpful and (2) requires extra money to experiment with potentially budget-draining activities.

But it’s true.

You really don’t know which playbook, game plan, or actionable tip is going to work until you experiment. The stuff that worked last year almost certainly won’t work the same this year.

Not to mention that every business is structured differently. Each caters to diverse audiences. So copying your competitors or that awesome tactic you read about is also out.

What works for Company X might bankrupt Company Z.

If there were set-in-stone tactics that produced million-dollar businesses overnight, every dude on would be rich.

PPC might be amazing for your friend’s business. But that doesn’t mean investing in PPC is instantly going to turn you into the next Zuckerberg.

So where do people turn when they hit this realization? A/B testing.

You all know those case studies that promise a mythical pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

I did X and generated a 40000000000% increase in conversions!

Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but it’s not that far off.

Most A/B tests fail, though.

They take too long to get results. Plus that whole “bias” thing. And of course, sample size.

You need a minimum of 1,000 conversions monthly for statistical significance.

So what should you do instead?

Implement a currency arbitrage mindset.

Currency arbitrage is a strategy in which the trader takes advantage of different spreads offered by brokers for a particular currency pair by making trades.

Different spreads imply a gap between the bid and ask prices. Meaning, they can buy and sell pairs to make more money.

What does this mean in English?

Place lots of small bets on different tactics, channels, platforms, and mediums so that you can evaluate their effectiveness in real-time.

Once you see specific trends developing (either positive or negative), you double down on the winners and cut your losses on the rest.

This way, you can test multiple experiments at once without the bias and lack of statistical significance that comes with A/B testing.

You get in and out fast. And you come out on the other side with specific campaigns to focus on rather than a mixed bag.

For example, you can’t always control the end result. But you can control the inputs that eventually get you there. And you can monitor, forecast, or predict where those will fall based on just a few days’ worth of performance.

Then, you can fine tune and adjust each ‘level’ accordingly to squeeze out the best results.

Adjusting Your Budget Based on Market Movement

The first banner advertisement ever appeared on HotWired in 1994.

Look at this gem:

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By today’s standards, it looks like a joke, right?

Is that tie-dye? Yes, yes it is.

But it gets worse:

See that subliminal “YOU WILL” message on the right???

Super subtle. Lord have mercy on us all.

But guess what?

This banner ad debuted with a click-through rate of 78%.

Yes, you read that right. Seventy. Eight. Percent.

If you told any marketer today that your banner ads are getting a 78% CTR, you’d get laughed out of the room.

Why? It’s inconceivable. It’s probably impossible in today’s world.

Today, the average display ad CTR is 0.05%.

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This all brings me back to one concept coined by Andrew Chen:

The law of shitty click-throughs:

All marketing strategies over time will result in shitty click-through rates.

As more and more people use these tactics, the market becomes saturated.

Users get sick of it, and they don’t click. Or they go banner blind.

You can see trends that follow this concept with almost any marketing activity.

Remember the good old days when Facebook organic reach was insane?

You paid nothing and reached thousands or millions of eager users.

Now, organic reach is almost nothing:

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As more and more marketers use the concepts put in place, it results in fewer and fewer results.

This is a perfect example of market movement and active management in currency trading.

You can’t hold certain trades forever and expect exponential performance.

Just because something is generating an insane ROI now, doesn’t mean you can ride it off into the sunset.

Markets are constantly shifting, just like marketing tactics.

What was hot one day (banner ads) isn’t now.

If you don’t adjust your strategy based on analytic research and forecasts, you risk declining performances associated with passive management.

Passive management is when you sit idly by and attempt to cruise to the finish line on your current strategy.

Active management relies on analytical performance data over time to spot trends and make informed decisions about what needs to change.

If you notice a decline in organic reach on Facebook, you probably shouldn’t be dumping your campaign dollars into it.

Unfortunately, us marketers (including me) fall into this trap more often than we’d like to admit.

You log in to Google AdWords or Analytics and see some great conversion data:

Your plans are working as you’d hoped.

But that doesn’t mean you can sit back and let the good times roll.

Sure, you can do that for a little bit. But over time, as markets, tactics, and consumers shift, you’ve gotta take an active role in managing campaigns.

Adjust based on trends.

A great way to do this is by analyzing specific topics on Google Trends:

Or even keeping up to date with the latest studies on popular marketing tactics by conducting a basic Google search:

Stay up-to-date with market movement and look at the underlying trends or patterns. Because when people are blogging about it, tweeting it, favoriting it, or liking it, it’s already too late.

Be Cautious in a Bull Market

When everything is running smoothly, it’s referred to as a bull market.

Investor confidence and financial optimism are at an all-time high.

On the surface, everything is running like a well-oiled machine.

Unemployment is low. The economy’s GDP is growing steadily. Stocks are rising.

And your marketing tactics are getting more traction.

But with all of this surface-based optimism comes serious potential side effects:

It now becomes difficult to predict potential shifts and trends or when tactics might change.

Facebook’s organic reach was booming just a few years ago. Until, of course, it didn’t.

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Now? Good luck. We’ve crapped out.

There is actually a pretty easy explanation for it. Simple supply vs. demand.

User growth is slowing while the number of content pieces has exploded exponentially. Too much supply, not enough demand.

Guess what’s going to repeat now on Instagram?

Right now it’s the place to be for your content. Just give it a minute.

And don’t get swept up by the bull market.

Find your own Big Short

Have you ever seen The Big Short?

If not, I highly recommend it. It’s a great movie.

Not just because it’s an incredible, intense account of the 2005 housing crisis.

Mainly because it features Steve Carell:


Inspirational as always, Prison Mike.

In all seriousness, it’s a great movie that heavily relates to digital marketing.

The main concept of the movie was based on the true story of Michael Burry, a hedge fund manager who shorted the housing crisis of 2005.

He believed there was a housing bubble, leading him to short sell and bet against the banks who thought he was a chump, taking his deals like candy.

The idea of short selling is motivated by the belief that a security’s price will decline, enabling it to be bought back at a lower price point for maximum profit.

And people thought Michael (Burry, not Prison) was insane.

Who in their right mind bets against the housing market when prices are nearly doubling year after year?

But Burry noticed a few troubling trends. He saw that subprime home loans were in danger of defaulting. And many adjustable rate mortgages with balloon payments were all adjusting around the same time.

He decided to throw more than one billion dollars into credit default swaps.

It’s safe to say that the banks weren’t too happy in the end.

Here’s the moral of the story:

Very few people believed him. But Burry discovered the mystical unicorn that most marketers strive to find.

The main point as it relates to marketing campaigns is this:

You need to find your own big short.

Your own diamond in the rough that you can tap into before anyone else.

Your own display ad invention that generates a 78% CTR.

Finding the tactic that brings your conversions up by 10x.

Sounds wonderful. But you know it’s not easy. Because it hasn’t been blogged about or shared at conferences just yet.

But examples of it do already exist in the marketing world today.

For example, Brian Dean of Backlinko raised the link-building bar with his skyscraper technique.

He took a spin on a classic link-building tactic that increased his search traffic by 110% in just two weeks.

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On top of a massive increase in traffic, he generated countless backlinks from thousands of different referring domains:

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He effectively took his link-building strategy to the next level by going against the grain.

He didn’t sit back and ride the wave of guest blogging or other outdated, declining strategies.

He found his own big short.

While small marketing tactics like A/B testing and creating new ads or creative for your campaigns is a step in the right direction, it isn’t the end-all-be-all. Small bets don’t move the needle.

They merely help you figure out if you’re on the right track (or not). And help to show you when it’s time to go all-in.


Managing marketing campaigns is a stressful task.

Big, splashy, high-budget campaigns have high expectations. Bosses and clients expect big, lofty performance to go with it.

Money can get away from you fast if you aren’t careful.

Even worse, you can get so caught up in data that you miss the right trends.

Trends that tell you which aspects of your campaign are winning and which are losing.

Instead of flying blind or crossing your fingers, think like a financial currency trader.

Analyze the data with a currency arbitrage mindset. Keep up with market movement by taking an active management role in your campaigns. Be cautious in a bull market when everyone’s saying the same things.

And don’t be afraid to bet big when the time comes.

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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What Happens When Your Startup is Acquired by a Big-Name Brand?

Editor’s Note: Jeff Seibert spoke at Stanford University to discuss what he learned by building and selling startups. This post is a summarization of the talk.

It finally happened. Your promising little startup finally found its niche, got noticed, and got acquired by a big-name technology company. So what’s next? One need only look at Jeff Seibert, former senior product director at Twitter, to learn valuable lessons about how to proceed when your startup is acquired by a larger brand.

Jeff’s first company, Increo, was sold to Box in 2009. His second startup, Crashlytics, was sold to Twitter in 2013, and then, when he became the senior product director at Twitter, he got to see things from the other side of the table. What happens from the big brand’s perspective? How is the startup integrated as smoothly as possible? Jeff played a major role in several notable Twitter deals as well – Periscope being the largest of those. Here are just a few of the many lessons he learned.

Start by Building Tools to Help People

Increo was a company founded on the sharing of ideas and collaboration. The company’s first product Feedbackr, was build around the simple premise of uploading a document, and then getting feedback on those ideas and making changes to the file accordingly. Feedbackr was designed during Seibert’s senior year of college, and was launched in May – just a few weeks before graduation.

The product was featured on TechCrunch, where it enjoyed an initial spike of traffic, and then flat-lined. Seibert mistakenly thought that getting showcased on TechCrunch was their big break into the world of startups — but it was only the first step on what would become a long and ever-changing journey.

Throughout that summer, Seibert and his team continued to work on and refine the product – eventually paving the way for it to accept 100 different file formats — a feat that was fairly complex for the time. Since everything was in real-time, people could be drawing on the document while others left comments and notes. The product was immensely popular with freelancers, but never really broke the 20,000-user mark.

Back to the Drawing Board

The pressure was on to keep the company afloat. Despite over three-dozen interviews around Silicon Valley to acquire funding, nothing was happening. Keep in mind that this was 2009, a time when investors were wary of spending a lot anyway because of the lessons learned from the first dot-com bubble burst.

The team went back to the drawing board to look at their core product. There were lots of companies out there that dealt in documents, but very few of them would let you display those documents in the browser, much less add markup and such to them. So the team theorized that instead of having a standalone product – they could partner with other companies to allow their document conversion to power their own platform.

Not a Partnership – An Acquisition

The companies that Seibert and his team approached had a few notable constraints. They wanted exclusive use of the technology and they had to be able to host it themselves, since using a third party would’ve opened them up to all kinds of legal snafus.

Jeff and his team stepped back — realizing this looked a lot less like partnership and more like an acquisition. Suddenly, offers were on the table. Pros and cons were quickly hashed out, and some really pertinent issues percolated to the top. Most importantly:

  • The technology had to be right – One of the companies Seibert was considering used Ruby on Rails to power their platform, whereas Feedbackr used Java. It would take over a year to rewrite the product.
  • The culture had to be a good fit – If the company culture isn’t quite right — for example, the business is older and set in their ways about how to do things, it may not work out to everyone’s benefit.
  • The roadmap for the future had to be clear – One of the companies was looking to build a presence in the Wiki space, whereas the team at Feedbackr really didn’t see the potential or the purpose.
  • The company had to have growth – A company that was fairly stagnated wouldn’t show much promise for the future of the product. They had to need the product as much as the product needed them.
  • The product had to be scalable – Where would the product be five years from now? Could it grow to accommodate demand?

All of these questions helped the Increo team rule out different offers before finally being acquired by Box. Not only was Feedbackr Seibert’s first experience with having a company acquired, but it was also Box’s first experience acquiring another startup.

Making Up for Lost Technology

One of the biggest lessons Seibert (and Box) learned from this acquisition was that even though the deal was small and simple, they couldn’t afford to rest on their laurels. Other companies, like Crocodoc, were leveraging new technology to make document conversions and previews even more user and technology-friendly. Not one to be left behind, Box purchased them as well.

If you’re the purchaser – the one place you don’t want to find yourself in is making up for lost technology — by concentrating too much on what you have, and not what else is out there, it gives your competition time to seize upon something newer and fresher — and being an afterthought is not what you want to be.

Ideas in Sync

Jeff’s second product was actually born out of a frustration with the complexity of syncing systems together. After some time working with document previewing technology, he began working on Box’s sync project to help users keep versions of files neatly synced up and updated. Working on systems to make this happen is highly complex, buggy and cumbersome. These kinds of clients crashed constantly — which in turn lead to the idea of Crashlytics.

In short, Crashlytics detected crashes and uploaded reports to the server. In the beginning, it was cryptic at best, but through further refinement, the process could be automated: detect when the crash happened, where it happened, and save it to the server. As you might imagine, developers and programmers loved the idea — the waiting list was long and people couldn’t stop talking about it.

Happy Tweets

One of Crashlytics big brand customers was Twitter. They became very attached to the technology and used it in their apps. So focused were they on how useful Crashlytics was that they continued to invite the team to come out to their headquarters and consider working for Twitter. Seibert and his team had no intention of leaving Crashlytics or even selling it to Twitter. They were 100% focused on their own goals and creating a product that people loved.

With a bit more prodding, a few of the Crashlytics team, including Jeff, met with Twitter executives. That’s when it became apparent that Twitter had a set vision for the future of mobile and software development kits — a vision that perfectly gelled with Crashlytics own vision. Here was this complete strategic alignment that meshed together so fully that it was impossible to deny.

Yet Crashlytics was still its own company. Twitter invested heavily in the company and helped them further build and refine their own product, while the Crashlytics team helped Twitter reinvent their brand and rework their focus on bringing in the very developers that helped make Twitter great.

So here you have one person with two very different acquisition perspectives — one of having their product become part of another brand that needed what they had created, and another where the result is less of an acquisition and more of a “melding of the minds” to create something bigger and better than either could have done alone.

What Big Companies Look For in Startups

Beyond the cultural and technology fit, as well as future plans, there’s the team. It may sound like a small and insignificant piece of the puzzle, as there are countless highly qualified individuals out there. But they must be willing to work within the established company’s culture and brand.

Can they build a solution that’s powerful, scalable, and elegant to solve a pressing need? Have they already built such a solution? And perhaps most importantly, can they, and the solution they’ve built, help win over this market? There’s a big focus on building a team that’s highly energized, highly intelligent and highly productive. The people are what makes the product, and the product is what solves the need. If some of these things aren’t in alignment or agreement, the deal doesn’t happen — which is more often than not.

That’s right. According to Seibert, almost all deals fail. This is just something you come to expect as you do it a few times. From the startup’s point of view, you can’t afford to be burnt out, tired or simply floating about day-to-day, unsure of where or how to best spend your energy. From the company’s point of view, they can’t afford to invest in something that’s just a hobby or an experiment. They need a long-term solution because they have strategies in place both today and well into the future. If both groups aren’t completely committed – things are not going to end well.

Striking the right balance is the bottom line. Making sure everyone is clear and amenable about the path forward is what’s going to make or break an acquisition. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t — and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Have you been part of a startup that has been acquired, or were you the one involved in the acquisition? We’d love to hear your perspective on buying, selling or valuing a startup. Share your thoughts and comments with us below!

About the Authors: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today!

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How to Acquire Customers with Facebook’s New Messenger Ads

Facebook recently released Facebook Messenger app ads to the general public.

Aaaaaannnnnddddd digital advertising just got even more creepy than ever imagined.

Thanks, Zuck.

You can now directly message potential prospects via Facebook Messenger right in their inboxes. Kinda like LinkedIn’s Sponsored InMail. Meaning you can nag people 24/7 now.

But with all of these new features comes white noise. Using the right tactic is like finding a needle in a haystack on new platforms.

Just like with any new digital advertising platform, it’s hard to know what works and what doesn’t.

What will help you acquire customers and what will get you reported for stalking.

Here’s how to find that proverbial needle in the haystack by using Facebook Messenger ads to acquire customers.

The Three Main Types of Facebook Messenger Ads

Currently, Facebook offers three main advertising formats or placements with their new Messenger ad services.

Each one is different. But you can use them all together to create one big, happy, harmonious user experience.

Here, we’ll look at each in-depth, analyzing the best practices for each to get the best bang for your buck.

First up: Messenger destination.

1. Messenger Destination Ads

Your first Facebook Messenger ad option is destination-based.

This works like any old display-style ad on Facebook.

It sits right in the news feed for someone to click on.

But instead of taking them directly to the Facebook page or a landing page on a website, it takes them into a conversation on Messenger:

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Instead of a call to action like “read more,” it says “Send Message.”

It’s a great conversation starter and strays from the normal display ads you see on Facebook.

For example, lead magnets are great, but they often get stale.

We’ve seen the same thing a thousand times over. And eventually, that means results decline, too.

These destination ads, though, can help streamline your customer acquisition process in two big ways:

  1. Qualification: You can initiate a conversation up-front before spending hundreds of dollars to get a user into your funnel. They work to start a conversation on topics that are either complex or expensive. For example, if you’re selling SEO services, these are perfect for initiating a qualification conversation before a full-scale consultation that costs time and money.
  2. Retargeting: Once you have a broad audience for your Messenger destination ads, you can funnel those engaged users into sponsored messages – the third format we’ll touch on today.

Messenger destination ads are best used to start a conversation. To get people interested in learning more about your offer without having to give up personal information or schedule a full-blown call.

(Who even talks on the phone anymore?)

These ads can also serve as a form of account-based marketing. Meaning you focus on qualifying prospects ahead of time rather than trying to get them into your funnel to qualify them at the end.

Account-based marketing seeks to narrow the pool early in order to spend more time on ideal clients.

This produces better clients that are more likely to convert, while trimming away the clients who are just there for a free eBook.

For example, Facebook expert Jon Loomer is already using the destination-based ads to start conversations ahead of time:

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Instead of simply offering an eBook and collecting thousands of emails that won’t convert, he takes a direct approach:

Message Me.

Is this training right for you?

He’s effectively qualifying leads before they are even leads.

Now he can narrow down the candidates and skip the traditional funnel process where most won’t convert even at the bottom of the funnel.

DigitalMarketer is using the same strategy to get qualified users to interact with their business (before they’re ready to sign on the dotted line):

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Once qualified users click “Send Message,” they are asked about subscribing to the newsletter and are allowed to ask any questions about how the platform can help their business.

These ads work just like a live chat on your site but without the need to drive that site traffic in the first place.

Meaning you can save money and time, all while qualifying prospects up-front.

To get started with these ads, head to your Facebook Business Manager and create a new ad based on the messages objective:

Under the messages section, make sure that “Click to Messenger” is selected:

This ad type will show up in the news feed and direct users to a message click, like the examples above.

After selecting your audience, scroll down to the ad format and choose either a video or a single image:

The key here is to get specific.

You don’t want a user to feel overwhelmed with ten options to message you.

Plus, it makes it easier to create a specialized message and offer by using a single image or video.

Next, upload an image or video:

Now comes the fun part. Start setting up your ad with a headline and text:

The goal here is to qualify prospects ahead of time and to get information on whether they’re right for your business or not.

You don’t want to appeal to everyone and waste your budget on clicks that don’t convert.

Ask the most burning question that your best customers ask when converting on your product, encouraging them to message you.

Be sure to select “Send Message” as your call to action, too.

This will start a conversation in their messaging inbox.

Now there is only one step left:

Setting up your welcome messages:

This will be the opening message that someone will receive when they click on your ad.

You can now start to customize your message format and even the customer actions available:

You can also add basic personalization to make each message feel personalized and targeted.

For example, in this ad, we are qualifying users up-front and allowing them to either click to a landing page off of Facebook or message us directly on the Messenger ad.

You can customize these buttons to your liking, driving traffic to your site or landing pages, or simply encouraging more conversation within Messenger.

Remember: Best practices for this ad focus on lead qualification and getting people to start a conversation with your business.

2. Messenger Home Placement

The Messenger home placement is slightly different than the destination-based ads.

This type focuses on sending messaging options directly to the home section of a user’s inbox.

Here’s what it looks like:

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It works the same way as the Messenger destination ads do in the sense that a user has to initiate the conversation.

Meaning you can’t just message them individually. They have to accept your invitation to message first.

Here’s how Jon Loomer has structured his home placement messaging ads:

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They work as a sponsored blast, just like your destination ads. But instead of appearing in the news feed, they show up in the messaging app.

It’s simply another way to get in front of your audience with targeted messages.

The majority of ads should focus on qualifying prospects and getting them interested in your business without asking for information just yet.

Thankfully, this one is extremely easy to set up.

All you have to do is check the “Home” box under the placement section of your ads:

This will allow your ads to show in the Messenger app as well as the newsfeed for a combined approach.

Follow the same strategy here of generating a conversation rather than trying to land prospects with a lead magnet or a quick sale.

3. Sponsored Messages Placement

Sponsored messages are one of the best new additions to advertising options on Facebook.

But you can’t use these sponsored message placements on just any audience.

Which is actually great if you think about it.

Imagine randomly getting a message from a company you’ve never heard of that asks you to buy SEO services or some other random, untargeted offer.


It’s safe to say that an approach like that would kill the user experience on Facebook. People don’t come to Facebook to get bombarded with ads.

They use the search network for that. The intent simply isn’t there.

Using these sponsored messages allows you to send a direct message straight to a user’s inbox. But the catch is that they have to engage with you first.

Meaning they have to start a message thread with you before you can message them again.

Once a user engages with you, then you can retarget them with sponsored messages.

For example, here’s how it would show up in your Messenger app:

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It looks like any other message you’d get.

Plus, you don’t have to ask them to message you.

You can deliver a specific message without them needing to accept or initiate a call to action.

Since these users are already brand-aware, it’s best to message them with an offer or a discount now.

They know your brand, and you’ve likely qualified them up-front from your destination ads.

So you can push them further down the funnel.

DigitalMarketer has started using a coupon/discount-based tactic to convert these brand-aware users:

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Jon Loomer has taken a similar approach, attempting to drive qualified, brand-aware users to his training program:

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Sponsored messages are akin to lead magnets or purchase offers in traditional advertising.

You’ve already done the majority of the work:

  1. Finding the audience
  2. Generating brand awareness
  3. Evaluating their pain points
  4. Qualifying users

Now you just need to complete the last step:

5. Getting them to convert on an offer.

This should be your final step in customer acquisition with Messenger ads.

It should help you get their detailed information as a qualified lead. Then you can nurture them via other platforms like email or phone.

To set up this audience, you’ll need to create a new custom audience based on engagement:

Next, select the “Facebook Page” option:

Now, select “People who sent a message to your page” as the custom audience criteria:

This will allow you to create sponsored messages.

Now all you have to do is create another ad with the message-based custom audience you created, and you’re ready to convert these brand-aware users into full-on customers.

Finding your needle in the haystack doesn’t have to be hard.

Try implementing each one of these ad types to work together to fill your customer funnel.


Facebook Messenger ads offer great, new ways to reach customers.

But with any new platform or technique comes risk.

What works? What doesn’t? How do you know without wasting thousands of dollars on testing?

Start by using Messenger destination ads to qualify prospects up-front.

These ads take a cue from account-based marketing, where qualification is done at the beginning of the user journey rather than at the end.

Once you’ve done this, you can place Messenger ads directly within the app and even send more personalized messages to engaged users with sponsored messaging.

You can use Messenger ads to do a lot more than you may have thought possible. You can use them to build up brand awareness at the beginning, nurture newly-aware leads, and convert them into qualified prospects who are ready to buy.

All at a fraction of the competition you’re typically running up against. Which means if you do it correctly, a fraction of the cost you’d typically spend, too.

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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8 Overlooked Social Media Tactics That Can Increase Conversion Rates

“Wash. Condition. Rinse. Repeat.” Sound familiar? It’s a common morning routine. And we all know how things run when we settle into a comfortable routine: it feels like life is on autopilot.

Sometimes, that works. However, you might perform your routine so well that you forget to look for improvements. Perhaps your hair would look better without conditioner, but if you never stop to question your routine, you’ll keep going down the same path. You’ll be stagnant.

The same logic applies to your social media strategy. It’s easy to repeat the tactics that have worked well for you so far, generating a little bit of buzz and keeping you hooked into what’s happening on Twitter.

But are you just going through the motions without considering how you can use social media to improve conversion rates?

If you’ve been using the same social media strategies for ages and your impact has leveled off, it’s probably time to review your goals and make sure that your social media tactics are increasing conversion rates, building brand awareness, and bringing in new customers.

Here’s how.

1. Double Down on One (or Two) Channels That Work For You– And Share Videos

Let’s face it: Internet users are addicted to video, and that’s great for publishers and marketers.

On average, Facebook users devour 100 million hours of video every single day. About 82% of Twitter users watch video on that particular medium. Marketers are also seeing positive results with LinkedIn Video, which was introduced this past August to help users introduce themselves, explain their professional processes, or reach out to new people.

If you want to increase conversion rates on social media, double down on the channels that are already working for you. For example, if you see more engagement on Twitter than you do on LinkedIn, it’s a good idea to direct your efforts on Twitter.

After we saw higher engagement with Facebook videos, especially the one about the three essential ​WordPress plugins for websites, we narrowed ​our targeting ​to ​people ​that are ​interested ​in ​WordPress ​as a ​software ​and ​those ​who ​work ​in ​IT ​industry such as the ​web ​developers ​or ​freelancers. As the result, we’re able to ​reach ​more ​potential ​customers ​and ​generated ​immediate page ​likes ​and ​engagements, increasing ​the ​average ​daily ​registrations by 71%.

2. Use Thoughtful, Conversion-Oriented Social Sharing Buttons

Many publishers simply work hard to create content and trust that readers will figure out how to share their content. However, it’s easy for publishers to integrate compelling social sharing buttons onto their blogs– and these easy-to-click buttons help drive virality.

That’s why it’s crucial for publishers to optimize their social sharing buttons to drive more content engagement. But before we get into the tactics, let’s talk about what makes a good social sharing button in the first place:

  • Clarity. Social sharing buttons should be both easy to spot and understand. Remember those “Try me!” toys in the toy store? Those are great examples of buttons with clarity. All you have to do to have fun is press the button. Don’t make users work to share your stuff.
  • Non-interference. Social media buttons that interfere with the content tend to get on our nerves. Users will have no qualm sharing your content if they think it’s worthy of sharing — your job is to make it easy to share and the sharing button doesn’t get in the way of the content.
  • Strategic placement. What do we mean by “strategic”? You should place your social media buttons just at the moment someone feels compelled to share your quality content. Don’t jump the gun or make users search for a long time for your buttons, only to finally give up.

Depending on your specific blog and its graphic style, you’ll likely want to choose between two types of social buttons: inline or sticky share buttons. The choice is ultimately a matter of your own strategy and preference, but here’s an overview of each type:

  • Inline share buttons are arranged together, which makes them easy to sort and insert into your content without interfering. When you hear “inline,” think “inline roller skates”–where the wheels are arranged neatly together.
  • Sticky share buttons are a little more interactive. For example, they can include a floating sidebar or a floating banner. As the user scrolls down, the buttons follow along, without getting in the way of the reading experience along the way.

Below, you’ll see examples: first, inline buttons arranged neatly together for a graphically-satisfying result. Second, a “floating sidebar” that makes its presence clear:

Your choice? Simple. Pick the style that suits your site the best.

3. Participate in Social Forum Sites and Add Value

When it comes to social forum sites, you’re looking at three main contenders: Reddit, Quora, and Inbound. Each of these sites is full of active communities that are chatting, sharing, and getting support.

If you participate on these sites, you’ll get more attention on your brand. Here’s a great example of a Quora answer that shot to the top because of the time and insight shared in the answer:

If you have read this Quora marketing guide, you’ll remember the site gives you exposure to 1.5 million monthly viewers so you stand a good chance of drawing more attention to your site. If even a fraction of those eyes want to check out more about you and what you do, the investment you’ve made in sharing value online will pay off.

4. Test the Life Out of Social Ads

Are you thinking like a data-driven marketer? If not, you should. You need to analyze data to figure out which platforms performs the best in driving brand awareness, engagement, and ultimately conversions.

A key component of data analysis is A/B testing. Perform A/B tests on your social ads to find out which version resonates more with your audience. On most of the social media platforms, you can invest a relatively small amount of money to gain insights that could generate huge returns. Facebook is big on promoting its own A/B testing platform, which means that most of the work is already done for you.

Not sure you want to spend any money on social A/B testing just yet? You can even use strategies to test your Facebook posts without putting a single penny down.

5. Consider Exactly How Your Audience Buys on Social Media

Given the variance in demographics of different social media platforms, it’s not surprising to see that some products sell better on one platform than another. Some sales processes are built for the platform. Others…well, they’ll take a while.

For example, an email service provider may not capture many direct sales from Twitter, but that doesn’t mean it can’t build brand awareness and long-term name recognition. On the other hand, when Kylie Jenner announces a new lip kit on social media, she can expect instant sales.

The bottom line? Understand the sales process of your audience and create a social media strategy tailored to the demographic of each platform.

6. Use Emotional Cues to Spruce Up Your Headlines

According to CoSchedule, there are three headline formats that perform particularly well. These can be used as headline for your blog posts, and can then be used on social media to increase conversions.

  1. How to {Do Something} That Will {Help You Experience Desired Result}
  2. {#} Ways to {Do Something} to {Produce Desired Result}
  3. What is the Best {Topic} That Will {Do Something Desirable}?

These headlines share a few things in common. First, they get to the point: there’s no doubt in what you can expect to get or learn when you read the post. Second, they take on the customer’s perspective — some of them even sound like keyphrases that customers and readers are entering as they search for your solutions.

When it comes to headlines, start from the customer’s perspective. Think about what will resonate most with them, and you’ll rarely go wrong.

7. Play Nice With Others

No one wants to follow a social media robot online. Follow this golden rule: be the kind of social media account you would want to follow. For example:

  • Participate. Tag those you’ve quoted and mentioned when you share on social. You won’t only share insights with your audience, but you’ll earn some brownie points along the way.
  • Curate content. Think of your social media like a blog. Promote the work of other companies if you think a link is something your audience might want to check out. Some people will follow you online just because you’re so good at finding interesting tidbits and links.
  • Give, give, give. Infographics, statistics, insights, stories–if you can provide something that your followers will find valuable, make sure you share it. After all, social media is a two-way street: don’t just promote your company and forget to give valuable information to readers.

For example, toilet paper is the opposite of a sexy product, but Charmin’s Twitter account is so generous and engaging that social media users can’t help but interact. The brand replies to Tweets that come in, and runs campaigns, such as #Tweet4ATree to encourage participation.

8. Use Social Media as a Primary Support Channel

Did you know that in the last two years, customer service interactions on Twitter have increased 250%? That’s a lot of people asking for help on social media.

Today’s social media user expects your service to be timely and responsive, even in matters of customer support. Why not give them what they want? Send personalized and timely replies on social media, even if it’s simply to direct someone to the right customer support channel.

For example, Casper, an online retailer for mattresses, responds in a natural, friendly way to customers with questions. They don’t be belabor the interaction or make it tough on the customer– they simply give a friendly answer quickly and efficiently.

Take Advantage of Your Social Media

Let’s face it: you’re on social media anyway. If your old routine has gotten you nowhere, it might be time to incorporate the overlooked tactics that boost conversions and even sales. Let us know about any of your experiences with these tactics below!

About the Author: Paul Lentz is the SVP of Publisher & Business Operations at ShareThis, a technology company that provides free sharing and content optimization tools to help more than three million publishers grow their digital audiences. When not doing what he can to support the publishers, he’s taking a break from digital devices and experiencing nature through skiing, hiking, and running.

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

6 Marketing Tactics You Can Use to Boost Email Subscribers

If you’ve been involved in marketing for a while, you’ve probably heard the phrase: “The money is in the list.”

With new technologies on the rise, email marketing can feel antiquated. In reality, email marketing is still incredibly effective – both in terms of long-term brand building as well as generating profits.

In a 2016 study, 86% of marketers stated that they were planning to increase their upcoming email marketing budgets.

For those willing to take the time to grow their lists and regularly craft high value, personalized messages for their audiences, the rewards can be exceptional.

According to DMA, email has an average ROI of $38 for every $1 spent.

For online services and ecommerce businesses alike, growing your email list as quickly as possible should be a priority.

Here are some of my favorite growth hacks that you can immediately deploy to increase your list of email subscribers.

1. Content Upgrades

Oftentimes, marketers will create useful lead magnets in the form of ebooks, webinars and checklists. All of these things are great, but it’s hard to create a lead magnet that resonates with everyone.

For instance, look at the huge umbrella of internet marketing. A visitor that would be interested in a free ebook about infographic design may not care for information about longtail keyword research, and vice versa.

In order to capture the maximum amount of leads, it’s important to think about context. Instead of offering a one-size-fits-all lead magnet, consider including a content upgrade at the end of your most popular posts.

A content upgrade is simply a lead magnet that relates to an existing article and delivers extended information and value in exchange for contact information. They look like this:

The highlighted box is an example of a content upgrade

Content upgrades are laser-focused on the reader’s interests. If someone were reading an article about DIY whiteboard explainer videos, then a checklist containing useful resources about video design would make an excellent content upgrade. Or if they’re viewing an article titled “5 Google Analytics hacks” then the content upgrade may offer “Download these 3 super-powerful hacks that have been a secret until now.” You’ll then ask for name and email and in return they get a PDF containing those 3 hacks.

Consult Google Analytics and identify your most popular posts. Next, think of a way to enhance the informational value of the post by including a content upgrade at the end.

If you add a unique content upgrade to a handful of your best posts, you’ll dramatically grow your list. If you can aim for a 5% conversion rate, this can have a big impact on your email subscriber list.

2. Leverage Instagram

Thanks to the rapid rise of mobile internet access in recent years, photo-sharing platforms are more popular than ever before.

Marketers are very aware of this trend. According to Emarketer, 70.7% of US businesses are now using Instagram, compared to just 48.8% in 2016.

In my opinion, Instagram is a great platform for engaging your audience with compelling imagery, but it’s also extremely useful for converting your audience into email subscribers.

The following Instagram tactic is ridiculously simple, yet underutilized.

Instead of using your Instagram bio to link to your homepage, link to a landing page containing a lead magnet that users can download in exchange for contact details.

It’s important that your lead magnet is something that provides genuine value to your audience. Hopefully you’ve done some buyer persona research and know exactly what frustrations and pain points people have – so you can offer a solution with a free ebook.

Given Instagram’s significant mobile user base, it’s important to ensure your landing page is optimized for all devices.

Next, visit the Instagram pages of competing brands in your niche (or any accounts that would have followers who would be interested in your brand) and start following everyone who leaves positive comments.

A percentage of people who you follow will follow you back. If you spend several hours per day doing this and you’re regularly posting high quality images to keep people engaged, you will notice a consistent stream of Instagram users clicking through to your landing page and hopefully, converting.

3. Retargeting

If someone arrives on your website and doesn’t make a purchase or subscribe to your email list, it’s easy to assume that they’re simply not interested in what you have to offer.

In my experience, this is often not the case.

We’re living in a world of perpetual distractions, and there are millions of reasons why a person wouldn’t engage with your site on their first visit. For instance, I notice that conversions are very low during the night hours, yet if the same person arrived on my website during the afternoon, they’d be much more likely to sign up to my list.

Fortunately, you can use Facebook retargeting to reconnect with these lost visitors and give them a second chance at subscribing to your list.

First, you will need to create a pixel in Facebook ads manager.

Next, install this code onto your site so that you can track the interactions and movements of your visitors.

Next, click on the “Audiences” tab in ads manager and create a new custom audience.

I recommend creating one audience for all website visitors, then a separate audience for all the people who have visited your lead magnet landing page but who haven’t converted.

This can be achieved by including people who have visited the URL of the landing page, but excluding people who have seen the thank you page for your email list subscription.

You can fire off adverts promoting your lead magnet to both audiences, and see which converts better. In my experience, retargeted visitors always convert at a higher rate than cold traffic – since they’re already familiar with your brand.

4. Cross Promotion

The quickest way to grow your list is to grab people from someone else’s list.

Make a list of other companies who serve a similar demographic, but who are not competitors.

For instance, if you sell dog training books and courses, a company that sells dog food and accessories would be a wise choice.

Next, get in contact and suggest a mutually beneficial agreement where you recommend each other’s products and services to your own lists. You can promote special deals, free giveaways or even just a lead magnet if you think it will entice people to subscribe.

When people receive an email from an unknown brand, they’re immediately thinking: “What’s in it for me?”

Begin your email by mentioning that you want to promote their products to your list for free, and then you can ask for something in return afterwards.

5. Contests and Free Giveaways

You know who likes something for free? Everyone.

As a consumer, I always feel a sense of excitement when someone offers me something for free – even if I probably wouldn’t have purchased it in the first place.

Running a contest can be a great way to build a sense of community around a brand, but it’s also useful for generating email leads that you can market to at a later date.

So long as you promote your contest properly and the prize is something that is genuinely valuable to your audience (hint: you should know your audience intimately), you’ll definitely receive an abundance of entries.

Obviously, it’s important to ensure that people submit their entries via email so you can add them to your list.

Alternatively, free giveaways can be a great way to get people on your list. However, it’s important to have a good understanding of your customer lifetime value (CLV) before you consider free giveaways.

If you know that your average email list subscriber is worth $30 in revenue for the first 6 months they’re on your list, then it’s a no brainer to send them a free product that costs $5 to manufacture in exchange for their contact information.

So long as you keep tabs of the numbers, this tactic will scale your email list rapidly. The more money you put into free giveaways, the more money you generate on the back end.

6. Exit Intent Popups

Exit intent popups are used to capture leads that are about to leave your website.

This technology works by monitoring mouse movements. If it appears that the user is likely to leave the page, then a popup will appear imploring them to sign up for a free lead magnet.

When using exit intent popups, it’s important to keep user experience in mind. When done poorly, a popup can look spammy and annoying.

Google is already penalizing mobile sites with spammy pop ups. This change may occur for desktop as well in the near future.

An exit popup should be displayed clearly and in an unobstructive manner. Remember, it’s there to provide something of value to your audience, not just to acquire an email address by any means necessary.

Concise copy with a clear call-to-action is recommended. Also, you may wish to incorporate colors that contrast with the rest of your site in order to grab attention (think about the neutral themed ecommerce site which feature bright orange “Buy Now” buttons).

Here is an example of a nice concise exit intent popup by Wishpond, which ironically corresponds to the subject of creating a great exit intent popup.


While there are many marketing techniques that promise a faster ROI than email marketing, it’s important not to neglect one of the best methods for staying in contact with your audience.

Techniques for acquiring customers come and go, but building a relationship with your existing customers is essential if you want to stand the test of time.

If you’re serious about building a long-term brand rather than a short-term money making enterprise, growing your email list must be a priority.

Can you think of any other growth hacks to boost your email subscribers? Please let me know in the comments below.

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: Mo Harake brings over 12 years of ecommerce and digital marketing experience leading brands like FIJI Water, 7Diamonds, Kill Cliff and venture-backed startups to his work as Managing Director of Stray Digital. For more on his approach to ecommerce, content marketing and growth hacking, visit him on LinkedIn or at the Stray Digital blog.

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5 Signs it’s Time for an Email Marketing Makeover

These days, just about anyone can create and send out email campaigns to their list of prospects. But just because it’s nearly push-button simple to do, doesn’t mean it always gets the results you want.

And if your beautifully-designed, precisely-formatted and succinctly-written email went over like a lead balloon, it doesn’t mean the end of the world. It just means that you should take a step back and consider making some changes to your approach.

The thing is, you know your email marketing isn’t working as well as it could. The results you’re getting are tepid at best and engagement levels are plateauing, or worse, falling. You’re just not sure what to do to fix it.

The good news is, you’re about to learn. And even better, it’s easy to implement these changes and start seeing a measurable increase in all the email engagement metrics that matter — opens, clicks and conversions.

1. The Sign: Your Email List Isn’t Growing as Fast as it Once Did

Much like a doctor diagnoses your symptoms to determine the best course of action to make you better, you’ve got a sick email campaign (and I don’t mean that in a good way!) and you’ve got to find a remedy.

One of the key signs of a floundering email campaign is that the list just isn’t growing. People may subscribe, but they also leave just as quickly — if they even subscribe at all. The rate of growth for your list has slowed, plateaued, or worse, reversed.

The Fix: Create a New Offer

Take a look at what you’re offering your prospects in order to get them to join your list in the first place. Oftentimes this is an eBook or a video. But how old is it? Is the information you’re sharing outdated or no longer applicable?

Try creating a new offer — a new ebook, a new video, or something completely different. Things like templates that your prospects can just “fill in the blanks” with or roadmaps that outline different strategies in a step-by-step way are always popular no matter what industry you’re in.

2. The Sign: Prospects Simply Don’t Engage With Your Message

Maybe you’ve got a sizeable email list, but the open rate barely registers as a blip on the email marketing radar. And the click-through rate is even more abysmal.

If you only send emails out when you want to sell something, and you don’t take the time to get to know your prospects and their goals as they relate to what you’re selling, no matter how great your sale is, it will find itself squarely in the recipient’s trashcan.

The Fix: Start an Email Marketing Calendar

The best email newsletters don’t just sell — they go much further. They share stories of the people behind the company. They ask subscribers to share their own stories. They go behind the scenes and share insights about their product — where it comes from, who makes it, why people love it.

And they don’t do this once or twice, but consistently. They establish rapport with their subscribers so that the subscribers actively look forward to receiving the company’s messages.

One of the easiest ways to start building an email strategy like this is through the use of an email marketing calendar. Just as you schedule out sales emails now, look for ways to fit in emails about other things your customers value.

Are there any new laws that are going to change your industry? Any big developments on the horizon that customers should know about? Any interesting stories about where their product comes from or how it got started? Schedule these into the calendar as well. It’s a different type of marketing — one that fosters open communication and mutual respect between subscriber and sender.

3. The Sign: You’re Sending Out a Blanket Message to All Your Subscribers – And Getting Little in Terms of Interaction

If you’re sending out the same message to everyone, don’t be surprised if your open and click-through rates are low. This happens because not everyone is at the same stage in the customer journey or the sales cycle.

Some users are simply looking for more information, while others are ready to buy. Still others may be somewhere in between. By sending the same message to all of them, you’re mistakenly assuming that they’re all starting at the same place. As a result, readers will find that your sales announcement or any other message you send them isn’t really tailored to their needs — and that your product may not be, either.

The Fix: Start Segmenting Your List

Most modern email marketing platforms allow you to segment your list, and it doesn’t cost you anything except a little time to make it happen. The great thing about segmentation is that you can segment by nearly any criteria. Want to segment your users by demographic? By product purchased? By whether or not they even bought in the first place? Provided you have that information, you can do that.

And if you’re looking to convert people from prospect to customer, you can put together a drip campaign that overtime builds prospects interest to eventually getting them to convert.

And if you don’t have that information, it may be time to upgrade to a platform that collects it for you, like Kissmetrics.


4. The Sign: Everyone’s Getting the Same Message So You’re Not Sure What’s Causing Opens and Clicks to Rise or Fall

If you haven’t segmented your list yet, but you’ve just sent out a campaign and are seeing a surprisingly high response — that’s great!

What caused it?

Was it the subject line? The design? The offer?

Not sure?

Wouldn’t it be great if you could find out? You can.

The Fix: Start A/B Testing Your Emails

Just like with ab/b testing your landing pages and other areas of your site, so too should you be a/b testing your emails. This works even better when paired with list segmentation since you can determine what, precisely, encouraged customers to click or convert.

What resonates with one group of people (for example, customers just looking for information) may not necessarily “click” with people who are ready to buy. By segmenting and a/b testing your emails, you’ll see exactly what energizes each segment of your list and propels them to convert.

5. The Sign: People Open Your Message or Click, But Don’t Purchase

It could be that your open rate or click-through rate is good, but you’re not getting that all-important conversion. People just aren’t buying. And while the reason could lie in your site itself — that’s a topic for another post.

For the purpose of this article, we’ll assume that your site is also converting at a steady clip, but conversions from emails directly aren’t getting the results you’d hoped for.

The Fix: Start Retargeting Campaigns

Most prospects come to a site, look around, and leave. You’ve worked hard and spent money getting them this far. Are you just going to let them go so easily?

No! Which is why it’s a good idea to get started with retargeting campaigns. Retargeting can show your customer a relevant ad for your site across a wide range of other web properties — even those you don’t own. What if they could be reminded of a product they looked at yesterday while browsing the morning’s news or weather?

This is just one example of what a retargeting campaign can do. Done correctly, it serves to not only remind customers of your product or service, but also capture their attention again — essentially giving you a second chance to make that connection.

A Makeover Doesn’t Just Mean a Fresh, New Design

As you can see, an email marketing makeover doesn’t mean slapping up a fresh coat of paint on your existing email design. It means digging below the surface to find out why users aren’t acting when they receive your message.

You want every email you send to be something a user looks forward to receiving – and when that happens, you’ll discover that it wasn’t so much a makeover, but a rebirth — of email that’s more relevant, more social, and more compelling than before.

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: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today!

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Using Marketing Analytics to Win at Email Marketing

You might be part of the group of marketers that feel as though your email campaigns are missing something.

Only, you’re not sure what they’re missing.

You’ve reversed engineered your competitor’s email campaigns to see what they’re doing, but the truth of the matter is, you will never know the strategy behind their success because you don’t have access to their analytics.

So you end up in a cycle. You create emails, you write good copy and add relevant graphics, just like the guides tell you to, but you still don’t see the kind of results everyone talks about.

Email marketing is consistently one of the best marketing avenues to use.

So why aren’t you seeing the same results?

Many marketers make the mistake of not paying close enough attention to their email marketing analytics.

If you’re a marketer who isn’t using data to fuel and guide your email-marketing campaigns, you’re leaving serious money on the table.

Data allows you to see what does and doesn’t work so you can optimize your emails to perform better.

It’s a tricky, but rewarding process and involves taking raw data and turning it into actionable insights to help improve your email-marketing campaigns. Doing so will put you leagues above your competitors.

In this post, I’m going to explain the importance of using analytics to improve the way you segment your emails, improve the email content you send out and create winning email campaigns.

It doesn’t matter how brilliantly written your emails are, or how many well designed images they contain if you don’t see any results or can’t measure whether your efforts are helping you achieve your overarching goals.

Let’s dive in!

Choosing a Vendor

Looking at the current landscape of email marketing and the software available is often overwhelming.

If you’ve already chosen, and are happy with your provider, move on to the next section.

If we look at the email marketing software market radar below, it’s clear to see there are a number of different vendors to choose from.

Choosing an email service provider largely depends on what you hope to achieve and what feature(s) you’re looking for.

Source: Email Marketing Market Research, Crozdesk

Taking into account vendor size and the strength of the solution may help you evaluate which vendor to choose from based on your business’ personal requirements.

For example, if you’re looking to send automated, triggered email messages, you might use a tool like Kissmetrics Campaigns or you might choose to use a provider like Sendgrid if you’re looking to just send newsletters.

The issue, though, is although your choice of vendor will have some say in the types of campaigns you can run, they only go so far with providing you an honest view of how your campaigns are performing and what you need to do to improve them.

If you are looking to improve your email-marketing campaigns, you need to consider utilizing analytics to provide you with the core insight into how your current campaigns are performing against your preset goals.

Know Your Goals Before Choosing KPIs

Before you begin, think about what you hope to achieve from it.

You need to set goals.

Where most marketers go wrong is thinking their goals should be things like:

  • Increase open rate
  • Increase click-through-rate
  • Reduce the number of people who unsubscribe

Although these are some good metrics to follow (more on that later) they’re not goals.

Your goals should align with your business goals. For example, you might choose to do email marketing in the hope of generating more leads, growing your subscriber base or converting more leads into customers.

Note: you can have more than one goal, but you’ll have to tailor each metric to each individual goal.

When you’ve chosen the goal of your campaign, it’s time to work out which metrics you should be using to track the progress of your goal.

Image Source

For example, 73% marketers identified click-through rate as being one of the most useful metrics for measuring performance.

But let’s think about that for a second.

Say you’re the marketing manager at a SaaS company, you might want to increase your open and click through rate.

The problem is, open rate and click-through rates are known as process metrics. They indicate the order of events that occur from when an email is sent to when it reaches the subscriber. But they shouldn’t be goals in and of themselves.

Now if we reframe the situation and change our goal to: increase the number of free trial sign ups.

The reason isolating metrics is counter-productive is because it doesn’t give you the full picture.

Within your last campaign, suppose you increased your clickthrough rate. You might think that’s good, but the key question you need to answer is, did that increase the number of free trial signups? If the answer to that question is no, you need to work out why.

If it did increase the number of free trial sign-ups, can you correlate that to your click through rate? Now, you can see how things like changing your email subject can have a direct effect on your click through rate, which in turn has a direct effect on your conversions.

The key is to not take each metric as an individual number, but to use these process metrics and incorporate them into your overall marketing strategy to increase your revenue, or whatever your end goal might be.

If your goal is to attract more visitors to your website you probably want to focus on growing your subscriber list. So this is the metric you need to be following.

But what if your goal is to increase the number of leads generated? If this is the case, you should be tracking how many leads you’re capturing each day/week/month.

Choosing the metrics to follow largely depends on what sort of business you’re running. A SaaS company might have different goals than an e-commerce company who also might have different goals to a non-profit.

Moving Beyond Basic Data

If you want to win at email marketing, you need to think seriously about your analytics. There is a lot to track, so I’ve broken the core analytics down to focus on into three categories: basic, advanced and expert, with each getting harder to come by as you go up the scale.

Basic metrics

Basic metrics are easily accessible and are also known as behavior metrics. Most basic email service providers will give you some information around these metrics.

They include things like:

  • How many people open your emails?
  • How many people click your links?
  • Which links get the most clicks?
  • What’s the most common time people open your emails?
  • How many people unsubscribe (on average) from each email you send?

You might already be looking at behavior metrics to improve your campaigns.

But you’re ruining your chances of developing a winning strategy if this is the only data you consider.

What’s the point in having 100% open rates if no one purchases? Something has obviously gone wrong and understanding analytics further will help you understand why and where it all went wrong.

An open case for advanced email metrics

The thing about the basic metrics like click through and open rates, they’re basic metrics and simplistic. In that whilst they tell you who opened the email and who clicked through, they don’t tell you much else.

Moving beyond these basic metrics, consider your click-to-open-rate.

This metric tells you how engaging your email content is. It helps you understand whether the content of your email resonates well with your specified target segment. Working out this metric will provide you with a percentage of your subscribers who opened your email and also clicked on a link. It helps give you a clearer idea of the entire story.

So if one of your goals is to create engaging content, your aim should be to increase this percentage. Your click-to-open rate gives you an indication of how your subscribers behaved when they opened your email.

It gives you a complete, holistic view of how your email content is performing. For example, you might have a low click-through rate, but you can still have a solid click-to-open-rate. If you judge your emails on just one metric, you won’t get the full picture.

When you create a Kissmetrics Campaign, you set a Conversion goal. If the users you sent these emails to convert, they’ll count in this converted list. So for example, if you send out an email to people about a sale, you can select your Conversion as “Purchase”. If they read your email, then go on to Purchase, they’ve converted.

Advanced metrics

The advanced metrics looks at the results of your campaigns. They help you answer things like:

  • How many people actually purchased one of your products or services after clicking on your email?
  • How much money do you make on average per email campaign sent?
  • How much (on average) does each subscriber bring you in revenue?
  • How many of your email subscribers convert into an actual lead?
  • What is your ROI?

Expert metrics

Expert metrics are also referred to as experience analysis.

Experience analysis explains why your subscribers do what they do. Expert metrics are important because they show you what drives your subscriber’s decisions and the motivations behind the choices they make when they choose to engage or ignore your email.

Instead of just knowing how many of your emails within a specific campaign were opened, you’ll understand why they have a higher rate.

You’ll have a greater understanding why revenue is higher or lower at certain parts of the year, for example.

Now the issue is, for this area of analysis, you probably won’t be able to gather this data from your email provider. You’ll have to look further afield to get into your audience’s mind and understand exactly what makes them tick.

It’s no lie that understanding the behavior analysis is important, but it only goes so far. If you want real insight you need to know whether the people who are engaging with your emails are doing so because they’re bored on the train to work, or whether it’s because you framed your message right and they’re interested in doing business with you.

Using Your Data

Now that you’ve gathered the right data, it’s time to start listening and drawing the right conclusions.

When you have collated the right data from your email campaigns, you’ll be able to send better campaigns by first creating data-driven customer personas.

You’ll now identify who to target, when and why you should target this person and send them content you know will be useful to them.

For a second, let’s think about our own email inbox. How many times per week do you receive irrelevant emails that seem as though they have nothing to do with you? How many times a week do you consider, or actually unsubscribe from email newsletters?

If everyone used their data to fuel their marketing campaigns, they’d have less people unsubscribing.

Using a tool like Kissmetrics Campaigns will enable you to send automated, triggered emails based on user’s previous behavior. The beauty of these emails is that they’re not cold and they’re not unwanted because they’re based on previous behavior. These emails are in place to nudge the user towards something, whether that be purchasing, logging in, etc.


When you start to use the right tools to get the right data you’ll be able to:

Define and segment your audience

Who is your audience, and what sort of emails do they want to receive? When you’re defining your audience, let’s not forget about your original goals from the beginning.

In the example below, Pets At Home, a pet retailer, use the name of the pet within their email copy.

They also ascertain exactly what type of pet you have whether that be cat, dog, rabbit etc. to ensure they only send you relevant targeted emails that you’re likely to open.

personalized email example

If you don’t segment your emails, you will end up sending general emails that attempt to appeal to everyone but end up appealing to no one.

It’s shocking to think there aren’t more marketers segmenting their audience based on data because segmented emails generate 58% of all email revenue.

When you choose to segment your audience you improve the personalization of the emails you send.

You can segment your audience by demographic data such as:

  • Age
  • Income level
  • Gender
  • Occupation
  • Marital status

But most importantly, if you want real success, look at how your audience is behaving and segment based on that in relation to your overall goals we spoke about before. You might consider things like customer type, spending history, adoption status etc.

Targeted, personalized content

Once you’ve segmented your audience, you’ll be able to send specific relevant content to different cohorts of people.

74% of marketers say targeted personalization increases customer engagement.

Target messaging involves having an understanding of your audience and tailoring content and offers that speaks to them at the different stages of their journey with your brand.

In simple terms it means using the information about the audience within that segment to guide your message. If you’re a SaaS company and you have a segment of subscribers who have yet to try your software, sending them an email letting them know there’s another chance to get a free trial will obviously be more relevant than sending that email to someone who is already making great use of your software.

Email Marketing Shouldn’t Happen in Silos

As we’ve said, email marketing shouldn’t happen in isolation to your other marketing efforts, they should all be connected. It should be there to support your overarching, larger goals.

Often, your email audience will be prompted to visit your website after reading an email. It’s important to continue looking at the data once they land on your website to see if the whole cycle from email, to lead to conversion could be improved.

Use a heatmap tool like CrazyEgg to see where your visitors are clicking on and interacting.

Doing so means the hard work isn’t lost by a poor landing page that doesn’t perform.

What’s more, if you’re already using Kissmetrics campaigns, you can use the platform to track website behavior too.

Having a tool that tracks both the way your audience are interacting with their emails and your website will give you a much clearer idea of what is and isn’t working. You’ll not only get to understand the behavior, but you’ll be able to see what they actually did on your site and see exactly who they are.

Testing and Analyzing

Even after you’ve defined your overarching goal and the metrics you need to follow to achieve that, you should always be testing.

Because your email-marketing campaigns are now data-driven you will have a clearer idea of what elements you should test.

Focusing on the data will give you a clearer idea of what elements you should be testing.

If your goal is to increase landing page sign-ups, you might decide to track your open and click-through rates.

If you notice you have low open rates, but high click through rates, that should tell you that the content of your email is good, but you need to improve your subject like to encourage more of your subscribers to open your email.

Analyzing your results in this way will improve your campaigns.

It will give you a clearer idea whether or not you’re focusing on the right metrics and also whether the things you’re doing to improve your campaigns are actually working.

In short, look at the metrics you’ve chosen, compare those to the desired goal and devise a list of ways to improve next time.


How do you measure your success? Do you look at your open and click rates? Do you look at the number of people who unsubscribe and hope it’s lower than your last campaign?

If you do any of these things, you’re utilizing the basic core metrics most email marketer’s use.

But you’re ignoring the most important and critical metrics that will actually enable you to improve your email marketing.

Finding data isn’t hard and most email providers will offer some sort of analytics data in order to understand how your current and past campaigns are performing.

And for some marketers just looking at your open rate or click through rate is perfectly ok.

But what challenges most email marketers is finding advanced data and finding specific data to make the right changes to campaigns.

This post outlined how to define email marketing goals and use those goals to define which metrics you should be concerned about.

I’ve also explained why you need to look beyond the basic metrics to gain helpful insights into your subscriber list and how they behave.

So, now you should be able to leverage your own email data to improve how your email-marketing campaigns perform.

What ways have you utilized email marketing analytics to your advantage? Leave a comment below.

About the Author: Jordie Black is a content marketer and strategist helping startups and SaaS companies in the B2B space improve the way they connect with their audience through content. Learn more about her at or follow her on Twitter @jordieiam to keep up with her updates.

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Let User Behavior Shape Your Customer Engagement Strategy

SaaS growth relies on customer engagement.

It can seem like an uphill battle garnering your audience’s attention in a competitive market. However, coupled with behavioral data, a personalized experience is one solution to communicating your product’s value.

“Chances are your customers have very diverse backgrounds, interests, and behaviors. A one-size-fits-all approach to customer engagement may alienate your customers and drive them away from your brand,” says Donte Ledbetter, growth producer of content and programming at Appboy.

You can serve customers better by monitoring user behavior. Below are five tactics to get your team moving in the right direction.

1. Identify Where Users Come From

Despite industry misconceptions, customer engagement isn’t a random phenomenon. Consumers don’t land on your website out of thin air.

There’s a reason for their behavior. Whether it’s a referral from friends or a backlink in a blog post, SaaS users arrive to your site with an internal (or external) motivation.

Some consumers possess an actual problem and think your product can offer a solution. Others don’t even recognize their looming challenge, yet find your product somewhat intriguing.

To begin the process of uncovering potential customers’ motivations, you’ll want to examine how they ended up on your site in the first place. These location origins will help your team develop a customer path that fits their interests and needs.

Kissmetrics Analyze makes this possible. The platform offers a chronological flow of user behavior wrapped into customizable reports. You can identify channels and monitor users’ steps in the funnel, from an initial visit to paid signup.

With this insight, you can engage users differently based on how they learn about your brand. You can optimize content and calls to action throughout the customer journey. For example, organic visitors may see a pop-up box to sign up for a product demo sooner than visitors from social media.

How consumers learn about your SaaS product matters. So take the time to analyze the data.

2. Spot User Inactivity

Throughout your career, you’ve learned that business centers around serving the customer. For some companies, this means catering to the constant demands of the consumer.

While this way of thinking works, it’s also important to recognize the actions of your customers. Their behaviors, not necessarily their current desires, provide your SaaS team with insight about purchasing decisions.

For instance, a trial user explicitly tells you she loves your product but never purchases. It can leave your team bewildered. However, if you observe her usage activity during the trial and learn she only tinkered with the application twice, your team is better equipped to ensure conversion.

Product usage data is invaluable for engagement. With the right strategies in place, you go from churning to closing more sales.

Kissmetrics Populations can help you quickly identify trends in user activity and product usage. Here’s a video explaining how it works:


“The critical barrier to harnessing the potential value in this shift is organizational—companies that learn to design and execute effective customer-engagement strategies will have the advantage; the others will lose ground,” writes Tom French, a director at McKinsey.”

Drops in user activity indicate a break in the customer-brand relationship. Take proactive measures, like sending retention emails or offering one-on-one training, to lure users back to your platform. It’s up to you to earn every user’s attention.

3. Monitor Social Media Interactions

When diving into user behavior, it’s easy to get tunnel vision. You focus entirely on the data that you deem vital for SaaS success.

But like most business functions, customer interactions extend beyond your SaaS product into other channels. For instance, consumers may learn about your product on Facebook and comment on your posts with questions.

Your team doesn’t control these social platforms. Yet, they can become one of the best forms of engagement with your users. They’re already talking with their friends, so it’s convenient to drop your brand a message, too.

Consider these social interactions an investment. A Twitter research study found that “when a customer tweets at a business and receives a response, they are willing to spend 3–20% more on an average priced item from that business in the future.” Plus, customers are 44% more likely to share their experiences.

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Social listening is helpful for determining how to engage your customers. If users begin to complain about a specific product feature, you’ll want to respond quickly and escalate the issue to your product team. Similarly, when users praise your business, you want to acknowledge their compliments and show the comments to your team.

Engaging on social is more about learning from the customer than boasting about your product. Take action on their concerns to increase SaaS growth.

4. Track User Responses to Communications

Communication is key to ensuring strong customer engagement. Your team probably spends hours crafting the perfect message to convey exactly the right tone and details.

That’s commendable. But do you also pay attention to how SaaS users respond to your messages?

From email to live chat to phone support conversations, your users are giving you verbal and nonverbal cues about how they perceive and feel about your brand. User response is pivotal to discovering what makes your customers tick.

Let’s say your Net Promoter Score drops after users talk with your live chat representatives. You should then dive into the language used by customers during the chat.

Are users saying terms, like ‘upset’ or ‘stupid’? Then, you can take a look at when those frustrations occur and for what product issues.

From another angle, you can use current user behavior to trigger how you reply to customer responses. You may send an email about an upcoming product launch. The user opens the message but fails to click a link in the email.

You can track that behavior and follow up with another email or even segment an entire group to receive a different series of messages. Kissmetrics Campaigns gives your team the flexibility to send these types of personalized emails based on user behavior.


5. Recognize High-Level Product Adoption

According to the Aberdeen Group, best-in-class businesses “achieve an 80% greater customer retention rate” compared to other organizations. It’s because they have “mastered the science (and art) of creating loyal customers.”

Loyalty isn’t reserved only for well-known brands. Microsoft and Airbnb do not own a share of die-hard consumers.

Your SaaS can earn customer loyalty just like the competition. By plotting the behaviors from visitor to power user, you’ll know exactly how to nurture incoming users.

Of course, behaviors will vary depending on your industry, customer type, price point, and product, but there are still specific actions to track.

As a SaaS team, observe how often users log in to your application, the number of times users submit a service ticket, and the usage of advanced features. You’re looking for patterns that indicate a threshold of product adoption above standard users.

These behaviors will prepare your team to send new users down a similar journey. For example, if power users sign in five times a week, you can send an email to new users reminding them to log in to your platform. This way, you’re making a conscious effort to build a habit of loyalty.

Let data move your SaaS business toward more revenue. Past user behavior can produce future customer loyalty.

Engage With User Behavior

It’s time to upgrade your customer engagement. Infusing user behavior into your strategy leads to better experiences.

Start by identifying how users learn about your site. Then, pinpoint gaps in user activity to prevent churn. And always listen to customer feedback to improve the product.

Focus on user behavior. Then, shape your customer engagement.

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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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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