How to Use a Giveaway to Accelerate the Growth of Your Email List

We all want a massive email list, but growing one can be like climbing a mountain. It takes a lot of time, hard work, and perseverance. Or, does it?

Today, I’m going to share stories of three different businesses – a freelance writer/programmer, an iconic candy company, and an innovative fragrance products company – that accelerated the growth of their email lists using giveaways.

Each of the stories is unique, inspiring, and jam-packed with insights that every business considering a giveaway as a lead-generation option should know.

Josh Earl Grew His Email List by 3,418% (Nearly 200K!) in 11 days

Josh Earl is a freelance writer and programmer who started an email list of people interested in learning tips for using a sophisticated text editor called Sublime Text. After growing his email list to 5,500 subscribers, he wanted to run a giveaway contest to attract even more people to sign up for his list.

But here’s the catch: Josh didn’t want to add just random names to his email list. He wanted to attract quality subscribers who would be his ideal customers. That’s the ultimate goal for any business, right?

Using the WordPress plugin KingSumo, Josh created his giveaway. His prize was a free license for Sublime Text, which is valued at $70. With his prize chosen and giveaway set up, he took to social media and his current list to spread the word about his offer. After 11 days of promoting his giveaway, these were Josh’s results:

  • He collected 187,991 email addresses.
  • His website received visits from 398,896 unique visitors.
  • Thanks to the flood of tweets that mentioned his contest (and included his Twitter handle), his Twitter following more than doubled, from 13,460 to 32,427.
  • The massive, sustained flood of traffic had a great impact on his site’s Alexa ranking. He leapfrogged 2,043,911 other websites and became the 49,137th most popular site on the Internet.

sublime-text-giveaway

The success of Josh’s giveaway was not a fluke. There are two major reasons it succeeded:

#1 – He used his prize to attract highly qualified subscribers.

Choosing the right giveaway prize can be tricky. If your offer appeals to an audience that is too wide, you could end up with a massive list of unqualified leads. But if your offer appeals to an audience that is too narrow, you could hurt your giveaway’s chances of being shared far and wide across the web. This is a delicate balance that Josh nailed.

Josh gave away a Sublime Text license. This is a product that he knew had a substantial and established market value. He also knew the only people who would enter to win his giveaway were people familiar with, and maybe even regular users of, the text editor. These were his kind of people – people he knew he could sell to if he could get them on his list. And he did. Josh’s first book Sublime Productivity, which he promotes with his email list, has sold more than 2,000 copies and earned him $38,000, and counting.

The important lesson here: Your prize is one of the easiest and most effective ways to attract qualified leads. Choose it wisely.

#2 – He leveraged the self-interest of others.

Josh figured out early on that most giveaways perform poorly because businesses rely on their entrants to act against their own self-interest.

What does this mean exactly?

When a business asks entrants to pass along information about a giveaway contest after submitting an entry, the entrants think something like this: “The fewer people who know about this awesome giveaway that I really want to win, the better chance I have of winning.” Then, to the detriment of the contest, they decide, “I’m not going to tell anyone.”

Thus, many giveaways never gain traction because people aren’t willing to share an offer if it means acting against their own self-interest.

So, how do you make people feel good and excited about sharing your giveaway? You incentivize sharing to work in their favor, not against it.

This is what Josh did: When a person submitted their entry, Josh had an entry confirmation autoresponder set up that plugged an additional offer. Each person who would share a special “lucky URL” (a unique link to his giveaway) and assist a new giveaway entrant would receive three extra chances to win. Doing this allowed Josh to engineer his giveaway for virality.

Tootsie Roll Gathered 43,292 Email Addresses and Secured 400 “Taste Testers” in 3 Days

When the iconic candy company Tootsie Roll released a brand new lollipop flavor in a limited number of stores, it didn’t generate too much buzz initially. Before hitting the global market, the company wanted to increase its brand awareness and receive feedback on the new lollipop flavor to make sure it would be a success.

To accomplish both of these goals in a small window of time, Tootsie Roll organized a giveaway. Using ShortStack, they built a branded landing page for their giveaway, allowing their fans and followers to enter for a chance to be one of the exclusive taste testers of Tootsie Roll’s latest pop flavor. After sharing their name, age, email address, and mailing address, entrants were narrowed down and sent samples of the lollipop with a survey for feedback.

enter-for-a-chance

Tootsie Roll mainly wanted to interact with their Facebook audience, so they promoted their giveaway to only that audience. They posted organic status updates and invested in boosted page posts. After just 3 days of promoting their giveaway, these were Tootsie Roll’s results:

  • They received 43,292 entries. This was a 702% increase in entries over a similar promotion they had run in the past.
  • Their promotion reached more than one million people.
  • From their 43,292 entries, they secured 400 taste testers, exceeding their original goal of 100. The 400 Taste Testers were mailed a Tootsie Roll Pops sample pack that included a printed insert with a Quick Response Code (QR code) that took testers to a survey with 10 feedback questions about the new pop flavor.

Results like this don’t just happen unless you’ve done a few things right. Here are the two major takeaways we can all learn from Tootsie Roll’s giveaway:

#1 – They hosted their giveaway on a landing page that was independent from Facebook.

While Tootsie Roll was looking to engage with only their Facebook audience, they wanted entry to be as seamless as possible. Publishing their giveaway as a landing page ensured that their mobile and desktop fans could participate in their giveaway without any barriers from Facebook.

#2 – They treated their giveaway as an investment.

To give their promotion momentum, Tootsie Roll made the choice to pay to play. They used a small advertising budget to extend the reach of their campaign beyond their organic audience. This investment paid off for Tootsie Roll, as they were able to increase the reach of the post promoting their giveaway by 587%.

JewelScent Grew Their Email List by 3,431 New Subscribers and Made $18,776.49 in 8 Days

Two years ago, an innovative fragrance products company called JewelScent launched. What makes JewelScent different from all their candle, hand wash, and aromatherapy competitors? Hidden inside each of their products is a jewel valued from $10 to $7,500.

To rev up sales and create awareness for one of their most popular and sought-after products, their jewelry candle, JewelScent hosted a giveaway the week before Valentine’s Day. Using the tool ViralSweep, they set up their giveaway with a single entry field. To enter to win, entrants simply had to share their email address.

jewel-scent

To encourage sharing, after a user pressed “Enter,” they were presented with several social media sharing options. Each share meant the entrant earned additional entries into the giveaway.

jewel-scent-social

Just 8 days after announcing their Valentine’s-Day-themed giveaway, these were JewelScent’s results:

  • They received 15,675 entries, 3,431 of which were from new people who JewelScent did not yet have on their email list. This meant that about 22% of the people who entered their giveaway were entirely new people brought in by JewelScent’s current network.
  • They generated $11,659.33 in direct revenue and $7,117.16 in indirect revenue. This comes to a grand total of $18,776.49, which is $2,862.35 per day over the length of time the giveaway was running!

JewelScent did many things right with their giveaway, but here are the two decisions that made the greatest impact:

#1 – They used tracking links to measure the monetary return of their giveaway’s efforts.

When JewelScent started their giveaway, two of their biggest goals were to grow their email newsletter list and drive revenue. These two things do not always go hand in hand, but in JewelScent’s case they did.

Why? Because they did the proper legwork that needed to be done once they collected their data (more on this in the next point). What’s more, they used a tracking link on the button that people would click to go to JewelScent’s website after they entered the giveaway. This helped them to know whether or not their giveaway produced sales.

#2 – They kept in constant communication with their entrants.

Email marketing played a significant role in the success of JewelScent’s giveaway. Throughout the duration of the promotion, their team communicated with their entrants via Facebook and email. Even after their giveaway ended, everyone who didn’t win was sent an email with a 10% off coupon. This effort generated $7,117.16 in revenue.

The takeaway here: A giveaway is not valuable unless you put the data you collect to work for you. It’s what you do with your list (i.e., how you sell to your subscribers after your giveaway is over) that matters most.

Final Thoughts

Giveaways can be an excellent option if you want to accelerate the growth of your email list. That said, there are still no shortcuts to the top. Climbing a mountain, even if you have assistance, is never a walk in the park. To truly reap the rewards of offering a giveaway, it’s imperative that you strategize, invest your time and other resources, and make use of all the information you collect to forge new relationships and drive sales.

Have you ever hosted a giveaway to help grow your email list? If so, sound off in the comment section below. I’d love to hear your stories!

About the Author: Chelsea Hejny works as a content creator at ShortStack.com, an online tool you can use to build your business’s social media marketing campaigns, promotions, and landing pages. Want to chat with her about using a giveaway? Shoot her a tweet to get the conversation going.

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How to Use a Giveaway to Accelerate the Growth of Your Email List

The Top Five Kissmetrics Reports Every Ecommerce Marketer Needs

Today’s ecommerce marketers have a tough job. Their main objective: get the messaging out about the store and deliver sales. You have the website at your disposal and a mediocre advertising budget.

The challenge for you, as an ecommerce marketer, is how do you compete against a service like Amazon? They’re big, they can undercut your prices, and they can handle low margins while you cannot.

You need to optimize everywhere you can, including your funnel and your marketing channels, and you need to build a loyal customer base. Fortunately, Kissmetrics is here to help. Our software provides insights that can help visitors into customers. And once you get those customers, we provide data that can help you acquire more of the loyal ones.

Let’s see how.

1) Purchase Funnel – See Where You’re Losing Customers

Every website has a set of steps visitors need to go through before they can purchase. The Kissmetrics Funnel Report is used to help marketers identify the areas of their website where visitors depart. Once they identify those areas, they can then A/B test their way to growth.

Here’s how a funnel for an ecommerce site might look:

ecommerce-purchase-funnel

What we know from viewing this graph is that visitors have two big roadblocks to becoming customers. Of those who view the product page, only 33% convert to adding a product to their cart. And once they do add a product to their cart, only 13% of them end up purchasing. If you’re a marketer and this is your data, you know you can do better than a 13% conversion from cart to purchase. And if you do improve, you’ll end up getting more purchases for your company. Cha-ching!

To get you on your path to increased purchases, you’ll need to run A/B tests on the product pages and throughout the shopping cart checkout process (more on that later). You can create your A/B tests in whichever tool you use – Optimizely, VWO, etc. – and then track the results with the Kissmetrics A/B Test Report.

The cool thing about this report is that you can see how an A/B test impacts your entire funnel. So if you run a test on the product page, you can see how it impacts further on down the funnel, all the way to the purchase! You aren’t limited to testing only to the next conversion step.

You can also set up a funnel to view how people move through the checkout process. Let’s get into that now.

2) Funnel Report – See Where Customers Drop Off in the Checkout Funnel

You can break funnels into two categories – macro and micro. The macro funnels take a bird’s-eye view of your site, often viewing your whole site. The purchase funnel is a lot like that. It goes from the start of the funnel all the way to the end. A micro funnel allows marketers to zoom in and see a specific flow within their site. A funnel report on the checkout funnel is one example.

Here’s how it might look:

ecommerce-checkout-funnel

Looking at this graph, where would you say drop-off is occurring?

Without question, most people who end up putting a product in their cart don’t even advance to the next step in the funnel (the Payment Page). If we can increase the people who convert from the Added Product to Cart page to Payment Page, we’ll have a pretty linear increase in purchases.

So if you’re a marketer and you want to increase conversions (who doesn’t), here’s what you do:

  • Use the Kissmetrics Funnel Report to see where visitors are dropping off.
  • Run A/B tests on those pages. Track the tests in the Kissmetrics A/B Test Report. The more tests you run, the more winners you’ll find, and the more purchases you’ll bring.

With Engage from Kissmetrics, you’ll be able to put modals on your site that can increase conversions. A lot of our customers have experienced a conversion boost by using Engage.

The best marketers are able to drive loyal customers. Lucky for marketers, Kissmetrics has a report that shows marketers where their most loyal customers come from.

Click here to watch a short demo of the Kissmetrics Funnel Report.

3) Cohort Report – Find Customers Who Repurchase

Businesses live and die on their ability to attract and retain customers. To track customer retention, marketers can create a cohort report that shows them how often customers come back and repurchase products. They can even group them together and see which products or product lines have people coming back for more.

A cohort is a group of people who share a common characteristic or experience within a defined period. For example, people who purchased from your site during April are in a cohort because they all did one thing (purchase) during a defined period (April).

Taking this a step further, the Kissmetrics Cohort Report allows you to group people by any characteristic and then segment them by any property. Let’s see this in action.

We want to track repurchase rates (i.e., people who purchase, then purchase again). We can find those people, but what do we group them by? Time? Marketing channel? Product? Product category? As long as you’re tracking the property in Kissmetrics, you can segment people by it.

Let’s use marketing channel as our example. This segments people by the channel they came from. The higher the percentages (darker shade of blue), the better.

channel-purchases-cohort-report-kissmetrics

On the left side we get the number of people from each channel who have purchased. This is not a traffic report. We’re looking at purchases. We see that most of our purchases are from people in the Social channel. The right side (all the blue shaded cells with percentages in them) shows us how many of those people came back and purchased again, by month.

Social looks like it delivers a lot of purchases and repurchases. If we can acquire more people from this channel, chances are we’ll be acquiring loyal customers. The more targeted we can make our marketing, the more loyal customers we’ll attract. And businesses that win have loyal customers.

As mentioned above, we aren’t limited to grouping people only by channel. We can group them by product (see which products get the most repurchases), product line, any UTM parameter, time, etc. As long as you track it, you can get the data that matters to you.

Click here to watch a short demo of the Kissmetrics Cohort Report.

4) Revenue Report – See Which Products Bring the Most Valuable Customers

Your revenue is probably coming from dozens (hundreds) of sources. Maybe a feature on CNN got you a ton of orders, or you get a lot of purchasers coming from Google searches.

The Kissmetrics Revenue Report is used to segment your revenue and see which sources are bringing you the most valuable customers. Here is how it could look for a company selling clothes:

kissmetrics-revenue-report-ecommerce

We’re segmenting revenue by collection (aka product category). The In-House Generic Tees bring tons of revenue (over $630k) and customers (over 9,700). The other metrics (average revenue/person, lifetime value, and churn) tell us how valuable these collections are for our business. We want high numbers on average revenue/person and lifetime value, but low percentages for churn. (Churn represents the percentage of people who ordered from that collection but did not order again within a defined time period.)

Just like the Cohort Report in the above section, we aren’t limited to segmenting only by collection. We can also segment by marketing channel, so we can see which channels bring us the most valuable customers. By the way, the channels property works automatically in Kissmetrics. There are no custom rules or custom code needed.

Click here to watch a short demo of the Kissmetrics Revenue Report.

5) People Search – Find People Who Have Abandoned Their Cart

The biggest problem for a lot of ecommerce companies is customers who abandon their cart. They view a product, add it to their cart, but never return again. They’re missing out on a big opportunity if they don’t make an effort to re-engage these people. If marketers can get them re-engaged (through cart abandonment emails) they are giving themselves a better shot at recapturing these lost orders.

The problem for many marketers is they don’t know where to start to get a list of these people. The Kissmetrics People Search makes this process easy. All you have to do is set your criteria to get a list of people you are looking for. There is no need to bug engineers to run a SQL query.

Here’s what our criteria looks like. We’re looking for people who have added a product to their cart but have not purchased. We want to see all the people who fit this criteria in the past 7 days.

people-search-add-product-to-cart-ecommerce

We click Search and get our list of people:

people-search-kissmetrics-cart-abandonment

There are a few things we can do with this list:

  • We can click on each person and get a Person Details report. This will show us all the events and properties the person triggered (i.e., what they’ve done on the site) as well as tell us the last time they were seen.
  • We can export the list to a CSV file and then upload it into an email service provider like MailChimp and send an email to each person to get them re-engaged and hopefully recover some lost sales.

Important note: You’ll get a list of email addresses only under certain circumstances:

Click here to watch a short demo of the Kissmetrics People Search.

Optimize Your Marketing with Kissmetrics

These are just a few examples of what Kissmetrics can do for ecommerce companies. Our reports are more than useless metrics – they provide insights into how users are behaving on your site. Once you see this data, you’ll know what needs to be improved. Once you see this data, you’ll know what needs to be improved.

Head on over to the Demo site and see how Kissmetrics works for ecommerce sites. Or better yet, schedule a personalized demo.

Ready to get straight into the action? Just click the button below to sign up for a free 2-week trial of Kissmetrics.

cta-6-11-2012

About the Author: Zach Bulygo (Twitter) is a Content Writer for Kissmetrics.

The Top Five Kissmetrics Reports Every Ecommerce Marketer Needs

How to Take Advantage of Machine Learning and Kissmetrics to Reduce Churn

Oh you, young and motivated SaaS company. I know you very well. You have a disruptive way of seeing things, a cool product, reasonable prices (well…), and just want to make the world a better place. But you won’t be able to do that if you don’t try to understand the behavior of your hard-earned customers.

You know (well informed that you are) that the “Leaky Bucket theory” is a real thing. Acquiring a new customer will cost you more than trying to keep the ones you already have. And that’s where Kissmetrics in-app analytics and machine learning can help you make better-informed decisions for your customer retention campaigns.

If you’re reading this, I must assume that you already have a fairly good idea of how Kissmetrics works, but, you may have encountered some problems when trying to set machine learning on top of it, and get precise answers. And that’s what we are going to be talking about today: “For machine learning to answer my burning questions and help me reduce customer churn, what should I track in Kissmetrics?”

The good news is that it is easy to get your Kissmetrics tracking plan well suited for machine learning (in case you weren’t following earlier, customer retention goes hand in hand now with predictive analytics and thus, machine learning). With just a few tweaks to your Events, Funnels and Marketing Campaigns, you’ll be getting the exact answers you’re looking for to keep your customers happy and drive growth.

So…follow the lead!

What you need to do first: Prepare your dataset

First thing’s first, you need to know that Kissmetrics lets you export your data. If you think you can manage this on your own (for this part of the process), then just skip this part and jump straight to: “Enter the fray: Define your targets and events”.

For all the others that stayed with us, let’s press on. So, Kissmetrics has a Data Export feature that’s easy to set up. If you’re already lost, check this link and then come back to this section. Interesting enough, your data even goes to S3 on Amazon.

Anyways! After exporting your data, you will get files with JSON lines. Amongst these lines, some are events, some are properties settings, some are aliases…etc. There is definitely some data preparation work to be done here. In particular, you need to reconstruct aliases history, and gather your users’ properties.

It might not seem very user friendly at first, but this export format has a crucial advantage for machine learning. Indeed, most analytics apps map user properties for a single day. But machine learning needs to access user data over a large period of time. The longer the available period, the more accurate the predictions on the user’s behavior will be. And this is just what I love about Kissmetrics compared to other analytics: you can reconstruct the properties state of every user at any point of time!

Once you’ve built nice data tables, you need to define how far you will look into the past, how far you will look into the future (who will churn in the next 7, 14 or 30 days?), and you need to gather your targets (aka the answers to the above questions). Only then will you be ready to use machine learning. So, without further ado, let’s move on to defining your targets and events.

Enter the fray: Define your targets and events

Machine learning is good at answering binary questions: “Will my user convert or not”, “Remain active or not”, “Upgrade or not?”, etc. Ask the machine and it outputs a ‘score’ for every single customer. A score is a probability for the answer to be “yes”. The higher the score, the more likely your user is to behave like the target (got it ? :P).

Step 1: List out what you need to predict

The first rule to uphold is: track anything that describes the target’s behavior, i.e. what you want to predict. To predict conversion, you need to define a conversion event, and to predict churn, you need an unsubscription event. Make sure these events are included in your tracking plan.

For all ‘retention’ type questions, you’ll need to choose a global activity metric based on your events. Classically, you can use stickiness, number of events, engagement indices or power usage.

If you choose stickiness, you ideally want to track daily visits to your app. “Log-in” events are tricky since a user can be logged in for several days without logging out. So instead, some companies track massive events with very little information, like “Page View”. But “Page View” is expensive for most tracking plans and too general to help. My advice is always to spend your money on valuable events, such as your key features and funnels! You’ll miss the few visits where users did not trigger any of your interesting features, BUT you will focus the machine on what really matters in your app.

That being said, be careful not to fall into the trap of overly specifying events that are too rare to build reliable statistics on, or too numerous to be understood by a human – or sometimes even by the machine.

Step 2: List your app’s key features

Machine learning is not magic and it’s not a palm reader either (even if we want it to be just that). It predicts the future by analyzing the past, and looking at usage patterns which drove certain behaviors or targets (e.g. conversions, upgrades, etc…). Then, based on recent behavior, it computes the chances of observing the target in the future. The word “behavior” is important. The machine reads behavior in your events, and the success of your predictions clings to your tracking plan and its precision.

Obviously, business outcomes such as conversion, upgrades, or churn will depend on how users interact with your app. List the key features in your app and make sure that each of them is properly tracked with one specific event.

For better readability, I strongly suggest naming events by clearly referring to their respective app features. For instance, don’t name a click event by its button shape (e.g. “right corner red button”) but rather by its functionality (e.g. “delete project”). This way the machine could output “Users which delete projects more than15 times in the last 3 days are 2 times more likely to churn”. Good naming will also help you in your daily usage of Kissmetrics.

But don’t be too hasty when creating your tracking plan! Not all events are valuable. It seems reasonable to say that “You know that an event is valuable when, by removing it, you lose global value”. Losing value in machine learning means degrading the predictions. So a valuable event is an event that drives predictive power. Yep! Sometimes, more is actually less. 😉

So in short:

  • Track anything that describes what you want to predict
  • Track all the key features of your app
  • Don’t use too generic events
  • And don’t be overly specific in your events’ definition

If you want more information about event tracking, Diana Smith from Segment gave a great presentation a few weeks ago. You can find it here.

All of this constitutes your tracking plan, so you can now move on defining your funnels.

Step 3: Define behavioral funnels

I am sure you have defined marketing funnels in Kissmetrics, such as a signup conversion funnel “Viewed HomePage -> Viewed Sign Up Page -> Completed Sign Up”. Marketing funnels are key to monitoring your main business KPIs.

From a product perspective, behavioral funnels are valuable to measure task/feature completion in your application, e.g. Added Member -> Created Task -> Assigned Task in a project management app. Analyzing these funnels helps you point out, on your user paths, actions driving engagement and those causing frustration (eventually churn).

user-behavioral-funnel

Behavioral funnels will require you to track more events, and can turn out to be expensive. However, I recommend that you keep them in place as long as they are notably improving your predictions.

Step 4, AKA The end of the road: Make your tracking stable

As stated before, machine learning builds models based on past events and looks at present events to predict future events. Changes in your event tracking plan may harm your predictions. Therefore, it’s very important to carefully plan the redefinition of each event. Ideally, events should only be changed when major versions of your service are released. I would recommend to:

  • Introduce versions of the same event “feature1_v1″, “feature1_v2″…
  • Spot the events that are bounded to be unstable and suffix them with “_noML”. Thus ignoring them in the machine
  • Ignore the adding, removing or renaming of an event (new or old feature) for some time, or ignore it retroactively
  • Lower the level of detail of your targets in unstable times, e.g. “Pay Event” instead of “Pays $19 Event” will make transitions smoother between Pricing Plans.

After all these magnificent tips, you’re ready to use Machine learning. There are Open Source Libraries (Scikit-learn, Shogun, Mahout, Spark MLlib…), and Predictive APIs (PredicSis API*, Google Prediction API, prediction.io…) here to help you out. Several SaaS companies have recently appeared to offer an end-to-end service, from Data Export to Scores (ChurnSpotter.io*, Preact.com, Frontleaf.com…). Keep an eye out for them; some of them already support Kissmetrics.

Enjoy the fruits of your labor: Track your campaigns

Finally after this long journey of events and tracking, you hold your scores in hand, AKA the answers to questions like “Who will stop using my app tomorrow and why?”, or “How many return customers can I expect?”. One score per user depending, of course, on the chosen target.

Anyway, now is the time to take action on your scores and to convince the hesitating users to become great customers.

First, push the scores to Kissmetrics as user properties so that you can segment users by scores. My advice is to round scores in order to get 10 segments “0-0.1″, “0.1-0.2″, …,”0.9-1″.

Suppose you need to increase your expansion sales, and you’re sending emails for an upgrade campaign. You will use the “upgrade” scores, which reflect the propensity of each of your users to upgrade. In Kissmetrics, track your campaign and build your campaign report by segmenting by scores, and filtering on people to whom you send the email. Build a control report, also segmented by scores, this time, filtering on users who did not get the email.

You will probably notice that very high scores upgrade anyway (“loyal” users), and very low scores do not upgrade whether they were sent the email or not (“lost” users). However, your campaign was effective on middle scores (“undecided” users), and you learned (wait for it…) who are the “undecided-but took-the-right-decision” users who compose your target for this particular campaign.

tracking-results-applied-to-marketing

The next time you send emails, you can differentiate your message based on scores, or adapt to the likelihood of your user to upgrade. This allows for a better communication with each user, the detection of dissatisfied users early enough, and the reduction of the marketing pressure thanks to optimized targeting. That is how machine learning will boost your upgrades hence your expansion MRR!

Conclusion

As the saying goes: “A picture is worth a thousand words”, so, without further ado, here is a little picture summarizing the idea behind this article.

machine-learning-predictions

Machine learning has never been so accessible to non-machine learners; and could bring significant benefits to your business once fed by analytics. You’ve already gotten off on the right foot by using Kissmetrics, now get the machine to help you anticipate customers’ behavior, and move to data-driven predictive marketing!

* Full disclosure, I work for PredicSis as a machine learner, and participated in the birth of our ChurnSpotter product, which do all the hard work for you and enable you to better retain your users.

About the Author: Florence Bénézit currently works at PredicSis on the ChurnSpotter.io project. She holds a Ph.D. from EPFL, Switzerland, in Distributed Signal Processing. She has been working as a Data Scientist in the industry for the last 4 years.

How to Take Advantage of Machine Learning and Kissmetrics to Reduce Churn

Use Solar Energy to Earn a LEED Certification

LEED certification for buildings or commercial facilities by installing a solar power system is a way to save costs on your bottom while establishing energy independence. As a happy side note, LEED designation and use of solar energy is also a very effective way to generate additional positive PR and word of mouth for your business. If you plan to build a new plant or upgrading of an existing building in the near future, consider adding a solar energy system to reduce or eliminate their dependence on local public services providers.

LEED certification reduces operating costs

Probably the most convincing of the appearance of LEED certification through the installation of solar energy is the ability to reduce the overhead of your business. By incorporating a solar photovoltaic system design or renovation of its installation, the ability to start producing energy without almost immediately you enter. For States that provide the C-PACE program, you can finance your solar power system with very favorable conditions. Otherwise, many solar energy providers also offer a financing program to the conditions that are even more attractive than the C-PACE program offers. You can install solar panels virtually no pocket money and start saving money almost immediately. This is particularly attractive for companies who are remodeling or modernization of an existing building. Solar firmly on the figures LEED rating system, allowing you to reach a desired item quickly and easily.

Establish energy independence solar and LEED

No matter the size of your business, you have been to thank you for your local electricity provider since the day it opened. The adoption of solar technology and other renewable energies energy autonomous will help you break this link. You respect the other requirements for obtaining a LEED certification, you will reduce the energy needs of its facilities and its need for the municipal network. Using more insulation and other construction methods that reduce their electricity needs of the installation is a bit more to avoid ridiculous monthly electricity bills your business has paid off.

The use of solar energy and LEED to leverage public relations

Business owner warned today care about the bottom line, as well as energy independence, because these factors provide a distinct advantage to support business operations. As the economy fluctuates or political position changes the way they are forced to operate while remaining profitable ways your organization can keep rolling. Public relations benefits of the optimization of solar technology are an important part of this equation. Many existing customers, especially those who are outraged by the bloated government, look for companies that share their ideals. Never client money was more influential than it is today, and appealing to their shared sensibility, can position your company as they can be identified. Even the few well-placed press releases mentioning his proactive stance against the government and control utility supplier will brand your company as a pioneer, a hero and a person who want to do business with.

If you have considered adopting some of the LEED standards for installation, contact a solar energy provider in your area. They can assess your installation and determine the size of the system that best suits your goals and earn maximum LEED credits. The adoption of alternative energy systems is a favorable plan for many reasons, if you finally decide to seek LEED certification.

Use Solar Energy to Earn a LEED Certification

How to Find Which Subscription Plans Are The Most Valuable Using Kissmetrics

If you’re in the SaaS business, you probably have a few subscription plans. It’s probably something like this:

  • Freemium
  • Small
  • Medium
  • Enterprise

All these plans are separated by cost, capability, and some miscellaneous details, such as what kind of support each plan will receive.

But if you’re a marketer, and it’s your job to market the product with these plans, how do you know which one delivers the best ROI? Or which plan leads to the highest churn rate?

Does the small plan have the best ROI? Or is it the enterprise? And which plan has the highest cancellation rate?

The Kissmetrics Revenue Report can help you answer all these questions.

Segmenting Your Revenue

Viewed as a whole, your revenue is like traffic. It’s just one (hopefully, big) number. If you don’t segment (or, put another way, group) it, you won’t know who is sending you revenue, which segments are the most valuable, etc.

The Revenue Report allows you to segment your revenue, which can deliver important insights. Let’s see how.

Here we’re segmenting revenue by subscription plan type (small, medium, enterprise). So all the customers who are in the small plan are put in the small segment, medium are in the medium segment, etc. Since freemium doesn’t deliver any revenue, it is not included in the Revenue Report.

 

kissmetrics-revenue-report-segmented-plan-size

 

We have 5 metrics for each segment.

Total Revenue is the total amount of revenue that has been received for that segment.

Average Revenue/Person is the average amount of revenue we’ve received from each customer in that segment. It’s simply the total revenue divided by the number of paying customers.

Lifetime Value is the estimated amount of revenue we can expect to receive from each customer in each segment. It’s a calculation of average revenue/person divided by churn rate.

Paying Customers is the number of “active” customers. These are the people we have recorded revenue from who have not churned.

Total Churn is the cancellation rate, or the percentage of customers who stopped paying.

We can see that our medium plan is the segment with the largest revenue. It sends us the most revenue, has the most customers, and has a solid lifetime value. The only downside is its fairly high churn rate.

The small plan is causing problems for our business. While it brings a lot of revenue, it has a high churn rate. We’ll need to investigate ASAP to determine why 15% of the customers in this plan end up canceling.

The enterprise plan excels in nearly every category. While it doesn’t bring us the most revenue, it does have a low churn rate, the highest average revenue/person, and a great lifetime value. Given this data, we should invest more effort in getting customers into our enterprise plan.

Making Decisions with Actionable Data

Kissmetrics reports allow marketers to make data-informed decisions that help guide growth. Let’s see what actions we can take based off the data above.

  • The first step is to identify why so many customers in the small plan are canceling. If we don’t already request a reason for cancellation when a customer cancels, we should set that up. If this doesn’t provide any good intel, we can go back to look at the support tickets those customers submitted to see if we can find patterns in the troubles they had.
  • Enterprise is a great performing segment. If we can get more enterprise customers, it will quickly become the highest “total revenue” segment. We can use the Kissmetrics People Search to find which channels we acquired our enterprise customers from. (More on that later.)
  • We’ll need to do some math (if we haven’t already) and figure out what we’re spending to acquire a customer. We can come up with a rough number by dividing the sum of all sales and marketing expenses by the number of new customers added (David Skok has more on this). The general rule is that “lifetime value” should be at least 3x the cost to acquire a customer.
  • If we have a freemium plan, we can use the Kissmetrics Cohort Report to discover whether people upgrade to a paid plan, when they do so, when they refer others, etc.

Using People Search to Get More Actionable Data

We know we want to acquire more enterprise customers, so let’s find out how the ones we currently have found us. We don’t have to leave Kissmetrics to get this data. It’s all in the People Search.

People Search allows us to find specific people based on criteria we set. Here our criteria looks like this:

  • We want to find the people in the enterprise plan
  • We want to make sure they have not canceled
  • We want to know how they first heard about us

This is how our criteria looks in People Search. If we’re using UTM’s, we’ll use the “campaign medium” parameter.

 

people-search-current-enterprise-customers-kissmetrics

 

We’ll click Search and get the list of customers that match this criteria:

 

kissmetrics-people-search-results

 

And we get a list of customers in the enterprise plan. We’re looking at only 10 of the 73 customers. We can export this data to a CSV or just expand our view to get the full list. From viewing the first 10, we can see that many of them came from AdWords. We’ll have to look at the full list to know if AdWords represents the majority. If it does, we know that our AdWords campaigns are working, and we can ramp those up by increasing our budget.

How You Can Get Data like This

All this data came from Kissmetrics reports. When you use Kissmetrics, you can get data like this that can deliver actionable insights. You’ll just need a couple of things:

  • We certainly don’t require it, but it’s a good idea to start using UTMs to track your campaigns. Kissmetrics tracks channels out of the box, allowing you to see how each is performing. If you use UTMs, Kissmetrics will automatically pick those up, and you can segment your data with any UTM parameter.
  • Kissmetrics uses events and properties to track data. Events are actions a person performs on your site (e.g., visiting your site, submitting a form, signing up, using a feature, etc). Properties are characteristics about a person, such as when they signed up (e.g., what day & time), how many times they’ve visited your site, UTMs they’ve been tagged with, etc. When first setting up Kissmetrics, you’ll have to install the JavaScript tracking snippet. You can get help from a developer if you’re unfamiliar with this. Our Customer Success team is here to help you every step of the way, as well.

That’s it! Once you get these things, you’ll be on your way to making better marketing and product decisions.

Two Quick Demos

We used two Kissmetrics reports to get this data – the Revenue Report and the People Search. Wanna learn (and see) more about them? Just click the Play buttons below. We’ll start with the Revenue Report.

 

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Our customers love using People Search. Here’s a video explaining how it works:

 

//fast.wistia.net/embed/iframe/zw5v5yyjdg?videoFoam=true

 

To start using Revenue Report, People Search, and the others in our suite of reports, sign up for a 14-day free trial of Kissmetrics. You can also request a personal demo to see how Kissmetrics can work for you.

cta-2-2014

Not ready to sign up or experience a personal demo? No worries, we have a Demo site set up where you can get an overview of how Kissmetrics works.

About the Author: Zach Bulygo (Twitter) is a Content Writer for Kissmetrics.

How to Find Which Subscription Plans Are The Most Valuable Using Kissmetrics

New to Search Marketing? Here’s How You Get to the Top of Google in 10 Minutes

Search engine optimization is one way to increase your visibility and generate clicks and leads with search marketing.

Truth be told, it’s the hard way. Long-term success requires producing stellar content your audience finds relevant and understanding how search engines work. Usually, it will also require great persistence.

Pay-per-click, or PPC, is another option. Though you’re not likely to succeed with no knowledge, you don’t need a lot of expertise to get started. And no, patience is not required. You can enjoy results immediately.

Though there are numerous search engines (and PPC programs beyond search engines), in this article we’ll focus on Google AdWords, which is by far the most prominent of all PPC programs.

With pay-per-click, you get your web page displayed on the search engine results page (SERP) when someone searches for the keywords you’ve selected. As the name suggest, you pay only when your ads are clicked. Fees are based on a cost-per-click.

personal-injury-lawyers

My search result for “personal injury lawyer” demonstrates how paid search can dominate screen real estate. The results screen in yellow are PPC ads. Light green represents firms with Google My Business listings and the darker green screen highlights the only traditional organic result.

Less clicks, more conversion

It’s no secret: far more searchers click on organic results than paid. However, PPC ads appeal to people that are shopping, hence they perform better for sales.

A report by MarketLive claims paid search visits have a 35% higher conversion rate for e-commerce websites compared with visits from organic search. Visitors arriving from paid search links had a 2.6% average conversion rate in the first six months of 2013, compared with a 1.9% conversion rate for organic search visits.

3 keys to AdWords

Paid search campaigns rely on three elements: keywords, ad creation, and landing pages. The effective PPC advertiser optimizes each of them.

  1. Keywords: You create a list of keywords that will invoke the display of your ads when people search for them.
  2. Ad creation: You create ads to be shown when the keywords are searched. The goal, of course, is to make them relevant and compelling so they earn the click.
  3. Landing pages: When viewers click on an ad they arrive at your landing page. The objective of your landing page is to earn a conversion, which can be a variety of actions such as purchasing, downloading, enrolling, etc.

What determines the costs?

Your per-click cost is determined by (1) your bid and (2) quality score.

Click fees are determined by an auction format. Your head might spin if you insist on knowing exactly how it works. In this article, I’ll offer a passage from an AdWords help page and then move on:

Every time someone searches on Google, AdWords runs an auction to determine the ads that show on the search results page, and their rank on the page.

Google explains that to place a bid in the auction, you first choose how you’d like to bid. Your bidding strategy can focus on getting clicks, impressions, or conversions. The majority of AdWords programs use the clicks strategy.

Quality score is an algorithm that scores ads for relevancy to determine how closely the ad’s keyword relates to the content of its associated landing page.

Yes, Google crawls your landing pages. Their job is to make sure users land on relevant pages. Quality score keeps advertisers in check and makes the game fair.

Thanks to the quality scoring system, your ad may be displayed before others that bid higher because it is deemed more relevant. As such, quality score helps determine the cost-efficiency of your keywords, which in turn, helps optimize your choice of keywords.

In a successful PPC campaign, you’ll create a strong relationship between your keywords, ad copy and landing page.

Match-making

AdWords offers three match types for keywords: exact match, phrase match, and broad match. If you want the deets, here’s how Google’s defines each.

You might apply multiple strategies for setting match types. There is no correct or incorrect approach. Ultimately, your performance metrics will help guide your choices.

Exact match

  • Targets more specific searches
  • Limits your reach
  • Increases the risk of missing-out on potential leads

Phrase match

  • Broadens the parameters to include close variations of the exact phrase
  • May include misspellings

Broad match

  • Increases traffic (but doesn’t ensure it’s qualified traffic)
  • Creates the need to closely monitor which search queries are coming through
  • Enables the use of negative keywords to reduce poor matches

When launching new campaigns, consider using broad match and phrase match to maximize clicks. After a while, pull reports to identify the keywords that converted best and set them to exact match.

Your keyword choices and match types will change. You’ll experiment, examine and refine on an ongoing basis.

For greater efficiency, Google AdWords accounts should be structured as campaigns containing ad groups. Use your ad groups and campaigns to stay organized.

Setting budget

To manage your spend, you can set a daily budget at the campaign level. You’re free to assign specific budgets per campaign and change it when you like.

You’ll be presented various options to allocate your dollars over time. For example, you can allow your budget to be used each day until it’s depleted or spread out throughout the day.

Beginning advertisers are wise to start small, setting a low budget initially.

You’ll quickly get insights regarding lead quality and can boost your budget if you’re pleased with the results.

Remember, you pay per click, so it’s conceivable your daily budget won’t be spent every day. It’s only when your ads are working (that is, getting clicks) that you’ll see your charges reaching the levels you set.

Let’s examine how to make your ads work.

Compelling searchers to click

Given the PPC model, the goal is reach your maximum spend each day because you’re getting the clicks you want. Here’s where the writing of your ads comes into the picture.

There’s not much to it. Literally. AdWords ads are concise. They’re also inflexible and uniform. You play by the following rules.

  • Headline—Your headline (or title) can have up to 25 characters. It will be displayed in blue in a slightly larger font than the remaining lines.
  • Display URL—A URL with a 37-character limit is displayed on the following line. Your display URL may be your home page, however, the actual page (destination URL) you direct readers to can (and should) differ. It can be any length.
  • Description lines—Two description lines, limited to 35 characters each, follow. The second description line is commonly used as a call to action.

The guidelines above apply to the typical format of a paid search ad, which appear in a sidebar on the SERP. For popular categories, ads often appear atop the page (and even the bottom) and in this case, they are organized slightly different.

11 tips to optimize conversion

  1. Use your keywords—Include your keywords at least once. Consider placing keywords in the headline and descriptions. They will appear bolded when they match the search inquiry.

find-a-vet

  1. Be clear—AdWords doesn’t accommodate creative writing. Get right to the point.
  2. Call for action—Write a short, focused, actionable call to action featuring verbs such as: get, save, shop. Suggest urgency, when appropriate with phrases such as: limited time, today, now.

free-seo-tools

  1. Offer a benefit—Compel action by appealing to the reader’s psyche with a benefit statement. A post from Unbounce says to “mirror the visitor’s end goal.”
  2. Differentiate—Read your competitors’ ads in an effort to identify a unique selling proposition for yours.

affordable-book-editing

  1. Localize—Create geographically specific ads.

massages-el-dorado-hills

  1. WIIFM—Answer “what’s in it for me?” by addressing pain points and desires.
  2. Be specific—Be as specific as possible about your solution. Note that specific does not mean sensational. Watch the superlatives. Stay credible.

sell-your-car

  1. Match your headlines—Meaning, match your ad headline to your landing page headline. This generally increases conversions because it keeps your ad and landing page copy consistent (but as always – TEST!).
  2. Get it right—Let no mistakes slip by. Check your spelling and grammar.
  3. Abide by the rules—AdWords enforces rules prohibiting symbols and capitalization. Learn them here.
  4. Review your work—Always preview your ads before submitting them. Look to remove redundancies and format the ad as elegantly as possible.

The bonus tip: ad extensions

Google allows you to include ad extensions, which feature additional links. They’ll appear in blue type, below your description lines. Take advantage of ad extensions by including information on offers, locations, additional landing pages and even phone numbers.

Extensions will increase the real estate you get and deliver additional information the reader may find helpful. There’s no charge for extensions, so try them.

Extensions may be created automatically or manually. You may also have some control to edit or remove extensions created by Google. Here’s a page dedicated to explaining how extensions work, where they can be shown, how to manage and apply them to meet your goals. (Good luck with that.)

130-hotels

This ad features a number of extensions (generated automatically by Google, as they often are.)

Measuring success

The granddad of today’s modern data-driven marketing has to be pay-per-click. PPC is inherently rich in metrics. That said, this section could expand into a book. Let’s aim for the cliff notes here by examining the most essential metrics.

  • Impression—An instance of your ad being served as a result of a search.
  • Click—A viewer clicks on your ad.
  • Conversion—The viewer clicked and then took action on your landing page. Tracking code is used to measure conversion.
  • Spend—The amount of money spent to date, per account.

Useful analytics will be derived from the above metrics, which you’ll use to optimize your campaign. These include:

  • Click through rate (CTR)—The percentage of impressions that result in clicks.
  • Conversion rate—The percentage of clicks resulting in conversions.
  • Cost per click (CPC)—The amount spent on each click.
  • Cost per acquisition (CPA)— The amount spent on each conversion.

Your goal is to perpetually increase efficiency as measured by the cost metrics. As you optimize your keywords, ads, and account structure, you’ll measure campaign performance and work toward reaching your goals.

Increase performance with split testing

AdWords offers a built-in split testing feature, to help you optimize PPC ads based on actual performance. This means you’ll have an A and B version that differ. They’ll be served 50/50, giving you results to indicate a winner based on click-through rate and/or a cost-per-click.

In a video published by QuickSprout, Brian Dean of Backlinko explains the process.

  • He recommends testing your title, the first line, the second line, and the display URL. Brian suggests you don’t change your landing page when split testing ads.
  • One approach is to create completely different headlines, description lines and URLs.
  • Another more pointed approach is to split-test ads against one another by changing a single variable. Your headline is an obvious candidate.
  • You need a significant enough sample to validate your results.

enter-your-numbers-here

Splittester.com is a useful free tool for assessing the results of your A/B tests.

Serious PPC advertisers work with pros

I told you it’s not difficult to get started with PPC, but also warned it can get tricky and technical. If you’re battling for highly competitive keywords and aiming to perpetually improve ROI, you’ll benefit from enlisting the help of PPC pros.

Also, the Google AdWords program changes often, so though you know more now than you did ten minutes ago, it’s always a challenge to keep up.

I recently conducted a panel discussion with PPC experts to discuss common PPC questions and mistakes. You can check out that post here if you’d like to get insights from three experts who optimize PPC from the trenches each day.

About the Author: Barry Feldman operates Feldman Creative and provides clients content marketing strategies that rock and creative that rolls. Barry has recently been named a Top 40 Digital Strategist by Online Marketing Institute and one of 25 Social Media Marketing Experts You Need to Know by LinkedIn. Visit Feldman Creative and his blog, The Point.

New to Search Marketing? Here’s How You Get to the Top of Google in 10 Minutes