Monthly Archives: April 2012
By Kristen Dahlgren, NBC News correspondent Continue reading
Last week, Gmail introduced a new feature allowing users to share inline images from emails with their Google+ networks. Since the 2011 announcement of the integration between Google+ and Gmail, Google has now taken yet another step toward integrating email and real-time social networking. And this topic should concern you, my fellow marketer.
Email to Catch up With Social; Google to Catch up With Facebook
In early 2012, it was announced that Gmail had 350 million active users. While this is an impressive number, Gmail still has a lot of catching up to do to reach Facebook’s 800 million users. In fact, not only is Gmail behind Facebook on overall user adoption, but it also seems to be behind in terms of engagement. A 2010 Nielsen study shows email as the third online channel on which Americans spend most of their time, ranking behind social networks/blogs and games.
In attempt to reverse these numbers and become a leader in both user adoption and engagement, Google is intently working on making its email platform more social. In other words, all focus seems to be placed on integration between Gmail and Google+.
Taking Email Sharing to the Next Level
With the rollout of Google+, we instantly spotted some user interface elements that allowed for email messages to be spread outside the inbox. The upper right-hand corner of your Gmail account allows you to share a piece of content straight from your email inbox.
Last week, Gmail made it even easier to share email content with an outside network. If you have rich formatting enabled and receive an email with an inline image in it, you can hover around the visual and click on the “Share” link.
Then, by simply clicking on that green “Share” button, you will be prompted to enter a custom message and target your Google+ circles (as well as email connections who are still not on Google+). Don’t forget to add a link to your message so that people can visit your website and learn more about your company or offer; sharing links in social media updates is the backbone of social media lead generation!
When you visit your Google+ profile, you will see that the image was shared through “Google Mail.” Now your connections can +1 and comment on the post:
You, Too, Should Integrate Email & Social Media
So what does this all mean for businesses? The most important marketing lesson here is that you need to stop putting email and social media in silos. These channels are being increasingly connected and you need to make your email content shareable. For instance:
- Ensure that you have social media sharing links within your emails.
- Add social media following links to your email signatures.
- Start incorporating behavior-based communication that spans across email and social media, and is mobile-friendly.
Use Compelling Visual Content
Gmail’s new feature makes a direct statement about the importance of visual content. Visual storytelling has already penetrated many marketing efforts. With the evolution of Facebook and the emergence of Pinterest, we see the web move steadily in a photo-sharing direction. Online users enjoy making discoveries by flipping through images, so make sure your email messages contain compelling visual content that can be easily shared with the recipient’s friends and coworkers. In fact, start watching and learning from new trends and memes on social media sites. That will surely help you stay ahead of the competition and up-to-date with the lastest developments in email marketing technologies.
Did you notice the new inline image sharing Gmail feature? What do you think about it?
Image credit: Magnet 4 Marketing dot Net
Have ya heard? A new animal may be wreaking havoc on your ability to get found in search. But this time, it doesn’t take the form of a black and white bear. No — this time, it’s even more deceptively cute and harmless. This time … it’s a penguin.
Last week on April 24, Google released a new update called Google Penguin to combat spammy web pages’ ability to turn up in Google search results. In fact, you may remember a blog post we wrote last month that hinted this update was coming, conveyed as one meant to target and penalize sites that were “over-optimized” for search. While Google has now clarified that the update was engineered to be more about combatting outright spammy tactics rather than vague instances of “over-optimization,” this is the update they were referring to back in March. The Penguin Update slams sites that employ such tactics as keyword stuffing, duplicate content, or misleading/hidden/cloaked links, all of which Google clearly warns against in its Webmaster Guidelines regarding quality.
So now that Google has confirmed that the new update is completely live, how can you tell if you’ve been bitten by an angry Penguin — and what should you do about it if you have been? Google and Search Engine Land have both shared some great advice, so let’s dig into what you can do if you’re suffering from Penguin backlash.
(And honestly, is anyone else curious as to why Google is so enamored with naming its algorithm updates after black and white colored animals? What’s next — Google Zebra?)
How to Tell if You’ve Been Penalized by Google Penguin
Although there’s no way to log in to Google Webmaster Central to determine if you’ve been hit, Search Engine Land suggests a quick little test you can conduct to get a sense of whether your website is suffering in search since the update was deployed. And, in fact, Google agrees this is the way to go:
Take a look at your website analytics, comparing your organic search traffic from Google a few days before and in the days after Google Penguin launched (April 24). Note: Don’t be fooled by Google Panda! Google rolled out an update to Panda, called Panda 3.5, on April 19. This update targets low-quality, not spammy, websites. So if you notice that you were starting to get hurt in terms of organic search traffic prior to April 24, you probably have a Panda problem on your hands. In that case, refer to this post to learn what you can do about it. If you’ve ruled out Panda, you’ll notice 1 of 3 scenarios pertaining to the Penguin Update:
- Do you notice a drop in traffic in the days after? If so, you likely have a Penguin problem.
- Do you notice traffic is staying the same? This means you probably weren’t impacted by the update at all; you’re probably safe!
- Do you notice a spike in traffic? This could mean you’ve actually benefited from the update. Perhaps some of your competitors were penalized by Penguin, and you’re swiping some of the traffic that otherwise would’ve been routed to them. Nice!
If the latter two scenarios are what’s playing out for you, then keep up the good work. You’re probably doing a good job of playing by Google’s guidelines and aren’t participating in spammy SEO behavior. If the first scenario sounds more like your situation, keep reading …
How to Treat Your Google Penguin Wounds
If you’re getting hit because of a spammy web presence, you’re going to need to clean up those instances of spam.
First things first. Have you verified your Google Webmaster Account yet? There’s a chance that Google has already sent you messages regarding your spammy behavior, but if you’ve never verified your account, you may never have known they were sitting there waiting for you! In fact, Google has been ramping up its attempts to notify users through its Webmaster Tools, using it to send over 700,000 messages to webmasters in January and February 2012. That’s more than the total number of message it sent in the whole of 2011!
So, after you’ve checked your messages, your next step should be to fix any spammy behavior Google flagged and notified you about in particular. But don’t stop there. Read through those Google Webmaster Quality Guidelines we mentioned earlier and check your site for instances where you may be participating in some spammy behavior. Then, well, fix those instances! Here is what you should be looking out for as you’re auditing your site:
Specific Quality Guidelines From Google (Source):
- Avoid hidden text or hidden links.
- Don’t use cloaking or sneaky redirects.
- Don’t send automated queries to Google.
- Don’t load pages with irrelevant keywords (AKA keyword stuffing).
- Don’t create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially duplicate content.
- Don’t create pages with malicious behavior, such as phishing or installing viruses, trojans, or other badware.
- Avoid “doorway” pages created just for search engines, or other “cookie cutter” approaches such as affiliate programs with little or no original content.
If any of these spammy behaviors sound applicable to your website, correct them as soon as possible.
Can You Air Your Grievances if You Feel You’ve Been Wronged by Penguin?
You may notice there is a tempting link at the bottom of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines through which you can ‘submit your site for reconsideration‘ if you’ve modified it after determining that it didn’t meet these guidelines, but here’s the deal. Google has said the Penguin update will ding spammy sites automatically, not manually. In other words, submitting a reconsideration request won’t do much because Google won’t be making any manual exceptions.
If you feel like your site has been penalized unjustly, you’re better off using this form to air your grievances to Google, which was created exclusively for users who feel they’ve been wronged by the Penguin Update. Just do so in a way that explains why your site shouldn’t be considered spammy, not using an attitude that blames Google for being a bad guy.
If you know a site affected by algo update that you don’t think should be affected, we made a form to provide feedback: goo.gl/nt3Pz
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) April 26, 2012
What’s the Takeaway for Marketers?
You can easily get swept up in the technicalities of any new Google algorithm update, but the lesson is always the same: create remarkable content that’s written for your audience first and search engines next, and follow best practices to ensure that Google can easily crawl, understand, and index that content.
Marketers who stick to genuine, white-hat techniques and always keep Google’s guidelines in the back of their minds shoudln’t have to worry about getting dinged by the algorithm update from Google.
And if it feels like a black hat SEO tactic, it probably is.
How do you feel about Google’s new Penguin Update?
Image Credit: HighlandBlade
This weekend marks the 20th anniversary of the Los Angeles riots and the first time I heard race being discussed on television. I was 10.
The year before, I had watched the Rodney King beating on the news with my parents. I knew that white police officers went to court for nearl … Continue reading
Editor’s note: NBC News’ Lester Holt gave the commencement address Saturday at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., and received an honorary doctorate degree. Here is the transcript of his address to Pepperdine’s Class of 2012: Continue reading
If you have a great product, customers will probably want to buy from you again. But that doesn’t mean they’ll always remember to. People are busy; no matter how much they love you, sometimes it’s just hard to keep in touch, you know? Which is why email remarketing campaigns are great ideas for those who have purchased (or almost purchased) from you in the past!
What’s an email remarketing campaign, you ask? Pretty much what it sounds like … you send an email marketing campaign to a lead or customer in your database that encourages them to purchase from you again. And ecommerce businesses that don’t leverage remarketing campaigns are missing a huge revenue opportunity — according to Practical eCommerce, only 5% of new customers that make a purchase with a company return to the site, and only 3% make a second purchase. Them’s not good odds.
But they can get better when you leverage email remarketing campaigns. Practical eCommerce also found that customers who have recently made a purchase on your site are more than twice as likely to return to your site and complete a purchase when they receive remarketing emails. Now those are numbers I can get behind.
So to get you started with email remarketing, we’ve gathered some creative ideas for you to consider for your own email remarketing campaigns, all from real brands that are excelling with their own programs. Take a look, and get some inspiration so you can generate more revenue out of a contact database that already loves you!
1) Abandoned Shopping Cart
We’ll start with the most common email campaign used to recall customers to your website — the abandoned shopping cart email. Take a look at how HubSpot customer Shar Music gets in touch with customers who have almost completed a purchase on their website, but abandon their shopping cart at the last minute.
This is just one in a series of three emails that Shar Music sends to an abandoned shopping cart customer to encourage them to return to the site and complete their purchase. A key takeaway of this abandoned shopping cart email is how easy they’ve made it for the recipient to understand the purpose of the email, and to act on it. The design isn’t fancy; it doesn’t need to be. It simply asks, “Can we help you with anything?” in bold letters that stand out from the rest of the email, and provides a large call-to-action button at the end that makes it easy for the recipient to return to their shopping cart and complete their purchase.
If abandoned shopping cart emails aren’t part of your email remarketing strategy yet, they’re some seriously low-hanging fruit; just make sure to follow up with an abandoned shopping cart customer quickly. An MIT study via SeeWhy showed that 90% of ecommerce leads go cold within one hour, but when remarketed to, spend 55% more!
2) Wishlist Sale
Always a fantastic email remarketer (their campaigns will appear in this post a few times), ModCloth has leveraged its “Wishlist” feature to remarket to their customers. You know the wishlist — many ecommerce sites let you bookmark items that you really like, but perhaps aren’t ready to purchase. It’s common for customers to do this when they’re researching options from multiple businesses, or when they see something they would like to get, but certainly don’t need. Until they get this remarketing email, of course:
When customers are comparison shopping or unwilling to complete the purchase of something they like, price is often a factor. This remarketing campaign is genius because it addresses that purchase blocker by alerting me that something I wish I could have is now on sale. If I wasn’t willing to buy it for its original price, maybe I’d be interested to “Grab It Now” for the sale price. Brilliant!
3) Last Chance to Purchase
Just like ModCloth lets you know when something on your wishlist is on sale, they have a remarketing campaign that alerts you when something on your wishlist is almost out of stock. Sometimes a sale can be enough to incite a customer to purchase; but maybe the urgency of an item selling out is enough for those items that are so popular you don’t even need to put them on sale!
Emails like these are not only great because they encourage a purchase, but they also do so in a way that actually comes off as customer service. You’re doing your customers a favor in this email — getting in touch with them to let them know something they like won’t be available soon. Personal service, meet 2012 ecommerce — we think you two might have a lot in common.
4) Repetitive Behavior
Target people’s past buying behaviors to get in touch with them right at (or ideally, a little bit before) the moment they’ll need to make a purchase. This is a great email remarketing technique for businesses that deal with monthly, quarterly, or yearly purchases — like an online contact lens retailer, for example. Since they know when you last bought contacts, in what amount, and how long that amount will last, they can perfectly time an email remarketing campaign to hit at your time of need.
But there are a few other creative applications for this type of remarketing campaign, too. Just take a look at how 1-800-Flowers targets holidays for which their products are a great fit in their 2012 Mother’s Day campaign. Even though I didn’t buy flowers from them at Mother’s Day last year (calm down, I used another vendor — I’m not an animal!), I’ve purchased with them for other holidays. So it’s smart of them to recognize Mother’s Day as an opportunity for me to buy flowers from them instead of another competitor, since they know I’m likely to buy flowers from them for other holidays.
You can also do a mash-up of the two concepts we just discussed, like Pottery Barn did below. They took a more subjective look at customer buying behavior, and matched it up with the time of year to come up with this remarketing campaign. Since I purchased items from their outdoor collection last spring, I might be interested in doing so again this year.
5) Add-On and Related Item Suggestions
You know when you go to Amazon.com and they have a whole list of items they think you might like based on the product page you’re viewing? Some of them are add-on items (products that would make the one you’re looking at function better); and some are related items (products that other shoppers who purchased an item tend to like).
You might not have an algorithm running like Amazon does to tell you these things (or maybe you do!) but you can still take your product knowledge and apply it to an email remarketing campaign that recommends buyers purchase add-on and related items. Take a look at how Buy.com did it below.
(Tip: If you do have an algorithm running, you can use your purchase confirmation email — an email that typically has a very high open rate — as an opportunity to include these recommendations.)
6) All Your Friends Love It!
We’ve already talked about the importance of social proof and user-generated content in your marketing; why not include it in your next email remarketing campaign? Send an email like ModCloth’s below (I told you they’d make multiple appearances today) that shows what others are saying about products you might like based on your past purchase history. These testimonials come from the product review section of their website, but you could also pull from customers’ tweets and Facebook status updates that praise your product — I’ve received an email from these folks that does just that in the past, too!
7) Back in Stock
Finally, consider sending an email alert for the products your customers wanted, but couldn’t quite get their hands on, like you see below. There are two ways to approach this particular email remarketing campaign, both of which hinge on the fact that you keep out-of-stock products on your website.
The first is to add a module to your website for products that are out of stock that lets customers put in their email address, and ask to be alerted when a product’s inventory is restocked. The other method, which can be combined with the previous one, is to alert customers who had an item on their wishlist but didn’t complete the purchase before an item sold out. In this instance, you know a customer loved an item, but just didn’t get to checkout in time; a remarketing campaign that let them know their much-coveted item is available would be another great way to deliver some seriously personal service!
Share your creative ideas for email remarketing campaigns in the comments!
Image credit: gordontarpley
What we’re following:
- Shuttle Enterprise arrives in NYC
- U.S. economic growth slowed in the first quarter
- USDA says California mad cow was lame, lying down at dairy
And did you see…
- U.S. to move 9,000 Marines out of Okinawa
- U.S. offers safe passage t … Continue reading
Any savvy inbound marketer “gets” that once you’ve done all that hard work to get visitors to your website, the next big step is to convert them into leads for your business. But what’s the best way to get them to convert? Landing pages, that’s what!
Unfortunately, there seems to be a major disconnect between the importance of landing pages and their use by marketers. According to MarketingSherpa’s Landing Page Handbook (2nd edition), 44% of clicks for B2B companies are directed to the business’ homepage, not a special landing page. Furthermore, of the B2B companies that are using landing pages, 62% have six or fewer total landing pages.
Landing pages are the heart and soul of an inbound marketer’s lead generation efforts, so why are they still so underutilized? MarketingSherpa cites that the number one reason businesses don’t use landing pages is because their marketing department doesn’t know how to set them up or they are too overloaded.
But let’s put a stop to this, shall we, marketers? Landing pages are much too critical to the success of your lead generation efforts to sweep under the rug, and here’s why.
What is a Landing Page?
First, let’s start with a simple definition:
A landing page is a web page that allows you to capture a visitor’s information through a lead-capture form (AKA a conversion form).
A good landing page will target a particular audience, such as traffic from an email campaign promoting a particular ebook, or visitors who click on a pay-per-click ad promoting your webinar. You can build landing pages that allow visitors to download your content offers (ebooks, whitepapers, webinars, etc.), or redeem other marketing offers such as free trials, demos, or coupons for your product. Creating landing pages allows you to target your audience, offer them something of value, and convert a higher percentage of your visitors into leads, while also capturing information about who they are and what they’ve converted on.
How Landing Pages Work
For a more complete understanding of how landing pages make visitor-to-lead conversions (and reconversions) possible, let’s talk through a hypothetical scenario that will help demonstrate the simple pathway of a visitor into a lead through a landing page.
Let’s say you own a professional painting business, and your services include a variety of professional indoor and outdoor paint jobs. You’re a savvy inbound marketer, so you maintain a business blog that features articles about painting tips and tricks. You also have several more premium marketing offers like free educational ebooks on painting and free, no-obligation painting consultations.
Now let’s say a mother was looking for a professional painter to paint her new baby-to-be’s nursery but was first doing some research into color schemes. She comes across your blog post entitled “10 Popular Nursery Room Color Schemes for 2012″ as a result of a Google search, and she clicks through to read it. When she reaches the bottom of the article, she notices a call-to-action (CTA), which is essentially an ad, for one of your offers — a free painting consultation to help her decide which color scheme would work best with the size and type of nursery she’s working with. “That would be valuable,” she thinks, clicking on the CTA and visiting the landing page where she can sign up for her free consultation.
The landing page provides some additional information and details about what she will get out of the free consultation, convincing her it’s worth providing her contact information on the landing page’s conversion form in order to take advantage of the offer. She submits her information, and voila! — she’s now a viable lead for your painting business with whom you can easily follow up! What’s more, she wants you to follow up with her. How fantastic does that sound?
And this isn’t the only pathway through which a visitor can travel to convert into a lead. In addition to search, visitors can find your site and its landing pages through a number of marketing channels including email, social media, PPC, direct traffic, or referral traffic. Furthermore, they can find your landing pages through calls-to-action you place throughout your website, or directly as a result of you sharing the link to those landing pages in these other marketing channels.
They key, as a marketer, is to create these landing pages in the first place, and make it easy for potential customers to find them in your various marketing efforts.
6 Reasons You Need Landing Pages
Still not convinced that landing pages can make your marketing and lead generation efforts more effective? Here are 6 more compelling reasons:
1) Easily Generate Leads! If you could do one thing right now to drastically improve your lead generation efforts, it would be to use landing pages on your website. As we mentioned earlier, too many companies send their email, social media, and search traffic to their homepages. This is the equivalent of throwing leads away. You could capture these leads at a much higher rate simply by sending them to targeted landing pages. Landing pages provide a very easy way to generate leads for your sales team that you can then easily segment, nurture, or distribute to your sales team.
2) Give Your Offers a Place to Live: Marketing offers and landing pages go hand in hand. Just think back to our painting business example. Without being gated behind landing pages, your offers will do nothing to support your lead generation efforts. The idea is to require your website visitors to ‘pay’ you in contact information for something valuable like an offer, and your landing page is the collections tool.
3) Collect Demographic Information About Your Prospects: Every time a lead completes a conversion form on a landing page, your marketing and sales team is collecting valuable information about your leads. Your marketing team can then use this information to understand what types of visitors or marketing personas are converting, and your sales team already has a baseline of information about a lead before they reach out.
4) Understand Which Prospects Are More Engaged: Landing pages not only enable you to generate new leads; they also allow you to track reconversions of existing leads, which you can then use to identify which prospects are more engaged with your business. This also enables you to collect better intelligence on your leads’ behaviors and activities on your website, which your sales team can use in the sales process.
5) Provide Fuel for Other Marketing Channels: A successful inbound marketing strategy relies on content — and lots of it. Landing pages are a great addition to any marketer’s content arsenal since they can be shared in social media, used as the focus of dedicated email sends and in lead nurturing campaigns, be linked to in PPC ads, and get found in organic search.
6) Offer Insights Into the Effectiveness of Your Marketing Offers: Every time you create a landing page, you’re creating another data asset for your marketing program. By tracking and analyzing the metrics associated with your landing pages, you can collect a lot of insight into your marketing performance, such as how your various marketing offers compare, how visitors and leads are converting on your landing pages over time, and more. This gives you powerful insight that can help you optimize and improve your marketing.
Key Components of an Effective Landing Page
Okay, so now you understand what a landing page is, how they work to facilitate lead generation, and why you absolutely, positively need them. But what does a landing page look like? We have a full blog article that dives into a more detailed anatomy of a successful landing page based on industry best practices, but for now, let’s just briefly review a landing page’s main components. Refer to the numbers in the image below:
- Headline: The headline is the first thing visitors will likely see when they ‘land’ on a landing page. A great landing page headline sums up the offer as clearly and concisely as possible, and answers the question, “What will visitors who convert on this page receive?”
- Copy: The text on a landing page should explain the value of the offer clearly, simply, and in a compelling way. Bullet points can be used to demonstrate clear takeaways, break up large blocks of text, and keep it brief and succinct.
- Keywords: Like any other inbound marketing content, keywords should be used in the page title, headers, and text on a landing page to optimize it for search engines.
- Social Sharing Buttons/Links: These links enable visitors to easily share a landing page with their connections on social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, extending the reach of your landing page beyond your own network of contacts, fans, and followers.
- Hidden Navigation: A landing page on which any top/side navigation bars are hidden will minimize distractions, reduce friction, decrease a landing page’s bounce rate, and increase the chances that visitors will stay on the page and convert.
- Lead-Capture/Conversion Form: The most critical component of any landing page, the lead-capture or conversion form is where page visitors submit their information in exchange for the offer, converting them into coveted sales leads.
- Image: Landing pages that include a relevant image give visitors a tangible idea of what they’ll receive and make landing pages much more visually appealing.
Thank-You Pages and Email Responders
Landing pages should always be followed up by what’s called a ‘thank-you page,’ that confirms receipt of the lead’s information and either provides the offer, or details the next steps for receiving the offer. For example, if the landing page was offering an ebook, the thank-you page might provide the link to access the ebook. If the offer was the free painting consultation we discussed earlier, it might provide a message that someone would be in touch with the lead to schedule the consultation.
Thank-you pages can also be accompanied by an automated email response that sends the offer or next steps in an email message triggered by the landing page form completion. This is especially helpful if the offer is something like a live webinar that will take place at a later date/time, and you want the lead to easily be able to save information such as log-in credentials.
The critical role of the thank-you page and the email response is to make sure the lead is never left hanging or wondering what will happen next.
The More Landing Pages You Have, The Better!
We mean it! Put simply, the more landing pages you create, the more opportunities you’ll have to convert visitors into leads.
So what about that ominous MarketingSherpa stat we mentioned in the very beginning of this article, which states that the number one reason businesses don’t use landing pages is because their marketing department doesn’t know how to set them up or they are too overloaded … ?
Luckily, there are a number of marketing software solutions available to marketers, like HubSpot’s Landing Pages tool, that make landing page creation and setup quick and simple for any marketer. No waiting days or weeks for your webmaster or IT resource to do it for you; you can easily create landing pages in minutes!
How much are landing pages a part of your business’ marketing strategy?
Image Credit: Scott Brinker on Search Engine Land
When I was working on building my first startup, Really Bad Things(TM) happened on an alarmingly regular basis. I was in my early 20s and living in Birmingham, Alabama (where there was no startup ecosystem at the time). So, when something happened that we thought would quite possibly kill the company, one of us (I had a co-founder) would freak out. Sometimes, both of us would freak out. Sometimes, we would freak each other out. Then, we would ultimately decide to take the Scarlett O’Hara (Gone With The Wind) approach — “I’ll think about that tomorrow” and get back to work. After all was said and done, things worked out quite well. But, there were so many “near fatal” events, that we lost count.
I’ve since done two more startups and spent time with many, many entrepreneurs — often in some of their darkest days. I have one piece of advice that’s going to sound trite (because it is):
Don’t Freak Out.
The reason I advocate not freaking out is that it doesn’t help —and often hurts. What you want to focus on during these trying times is ensuring you don’t go into a tailspin (often, when you panic after something bad happens, you cause more bad things to happen). More on this later.
Before we continue, just to set some context, here are some of the kinds of things entrepreneurs freak out about. See if some of them sound familiar.
1. Your lead investor in a funding round backs out in the final stages. (By the way, when this happens, you’re almost never going to hear what the real reason is).
2. You get a certified letter in the mail from some big law firm you’ve never heard of (nobody’s heard of law firms, until they they do). The envelope the letter came in is the nice, creamy, heavy-stock kind. It’s more expensive-looking than the one you used for your wedding invitations. The letter uses a lot of words to basically say “you’re being sued”.
3. Your lead developer leaves. This is about half way into a project to rewrite your product in Scala, which he convinced you to do.
4. A very big customer deal you were just about to close falls through. Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal, except that you spent a bunch of time and money trying to get this deal done. Time and money you couldn’t really afford to waste.
5. You were about to be acquired, and now the acquirer has “gone dark”. Despite your best intentions, the team and you have been making decisions based on the impending acquisition. “It would be silly to do X, Y and Z when we’re going to be acquired next month…”
6. The production system that hosts all your customers came crashing down. And that live backup system you thought you had isn’t all that live.
7. One of your competitors just went and raised a ton of money. They’re blanketing the industry with PR, marketing, fancy new booths at tradeshows, local events involving a winnebago and taking out ads, seemingly all over the Internet. Potential customers, investors, friends and even your mom ask you about this big, bad competitor. You get tired of saying: “But their product sucks!”
8. Co-founder takes a job somewhere. Feels really badly about it. Promises to help out nights and weekends. You don’t have the heart to say: “Yeah, but it’s the emotional support I’m going to miss the most…”
Remember, if the pain doesn’t kill you, it only hurts a lot. A lot of the time, near-fatal events are often just that — near-fatal. They don’t quite kill you. Startups are vulnerable, but generally resilient.
Your natural reaction when something really bad happens is to think about the worst-case scenario. But, that’s usually counter productive. Think about the most likely scenario and solve based on that.
Try and make a realistic determination of how important it is to respond quickly. Often, when something really bad happens, entrepreneurs make the mistake of assuming they have to respond immediately. In many cases, that’s both unnecessary — and risky. For example, if someone threatens legal action, resist the temptation to respond immediately
What you don’t want to do is start compounding a bad event with panic-induced mistakes. It’s important to remain calm and give yourself time (and sometimes distance) to make plan a thoughtful response. I know, that’s easier said than done. If it makes you feel any better (it should), know that most entrepreneurs (even the successful ones) have near-fatal events happen.
What do you think? Have you had a near-fatal event recently?
Looking for other startup fanatics? Request access to the OnStartups LinkedIn Group. 130,000+ members and growing daily.
Oh, and by the way, you should follow me on twitter: @dharmesh.
Good marketers live by their data. Why? Metrics help us set goals and track progress, and numbers confirm we did a good job. Marketers should have control of their own data, as well as determine what metrics they might need to track before starting any new campaign. By digging into results, we can understand what worked well, what didn’t work well, and then learn from it.
Now be strong, you data-driven marketer, you! Jump into this, the most comprehensive metrics and analytics glossary we’ve ever written. After reading this article, you will have earned your own data geek super hero cape.
1) Blog Traffic - We all want to know how many people are visiting our blog day-to-day or month-to-month. This metric is the total number of people who are viewing your blog content. Is that number changing over time? What is the month-to-month growth rate? That’s a great measurement to gauge content success!
2) Blog Subscribers - The number of people who are subscribing to your blog (via RSS or email) is an indicator of the value of your content. If they appreciate what you’re writing, they will subscribe to get more. Watch how this number grows over time.
3) Views per Post – How many views does a particular blog post earn? Use this metric to compare posts. Does one post type get more views than others — list posts, for example? Learn from your successes, and use this metric to create more content that your readers enjoy.
4) Post Views per Contributor - Nothing like stirring up a little competition among your employees, right? If there is a certain author who receives more views on average than other authors, dig in to learn why. Is it because he has a larger social media following to promote his blog post to? Is it because she wrote about a topic that garners more attention? Use this metric to generate some friendly rivalry that helps increase content quality.
5) Blog Post Comments - Comments are a good sign of how engaging your blog post is. You can also encourage conversation by asking an intriguing question at the end of your posts to help stir up debate.
6) Links per Post - Blogging is a critical component of any SEO strategy. Companies who blog get substantially more inbound links than those that do not. Look at which posts generate more inbound links, learn, and repeat.
7) Followers & Reach - Some marketers think of their social database like their email database. What is the total count of individuals that your business can reach through social channels? How does that reach change over time? Hopefully that graph is up and to the right.
Social Clicks – Measure the number of clicks you receive for the links you’re posting in your social media updates. This is a good way to gauge how interesting your network finds your content, how well it’s positioned, and how engaged your audience is.
9) Retweets & Shares – When people really love your content, they share it with their own networks. Is your content being shared socially throughout the web? Track it through retweets and shares.
10) Like & +1 Count - Everyone likes to be liked! This metric tells you how many people like your content by clicking a “Like” button on Facebook, or “+1″ button on Google+.
11) Percent Engaged – Time to get geeky. Of your entire possible network (your friends, and your friends’ friends), what percent is engaging with (meaning clicking, commenting on, or liking) your content? This is a good metric to understand whether people are paying attention to your content.
12) Keyword Rankings - These rankings tell you for which keywords you rank very well, poorly, or somewhere in between. You can also watch how your rankings change for these keywords over time to ensure you don’t slip on important keywords. But be careful not to get caught in the weeds — measure the traffic and leads generated by those ranking keywords, too!
13) Visits per Keyword - This metrics tells you how much traffic a keyword drives to your website from organic search. This will be a symptom of how often people search for that keyword and how well you rank for the keyword.
14) Leads per Keyword - This number tells you how well the traffic you generate from a given keyword converts into leads for your business. If a specific keyword and page is driving a lot of visits but not leads, perhaps you need to optimize the CTAs on that page to increase lead conversions.
15) Links per Page – A specific web page that has a high quantity of inbound links has a better likelihood of ranking in search. Is there a specific page or blog post that’s generated a lot of links? Perhaps you should make more content of that type!
Landing Pages and Lead Conversion
16) CTA Conversion Rate - CTA stands for call-to-action, of course. Track the percentage of people who visited a particular page who also clicked a CTA on that page. It indicates the appeal of the offer, whether the CTA is well-crafted and written, and if it has good placement on the page.
17) Offer Redemption - Offers come in the form of webinars, ebooks, buyers’ guides, and the like. When you launch a new offer, how many people download it? Or if it’s a webinar, how many people register?
18) Landing Page Conversion Rate – This metric is extremely important and determines your effectiveness at converting visitors into leads. Track the percentage of people who land on your page and then fill out the form. If it’s low, you have an opportunity to do some A/B testing to increase conversions.
19) Landing Page Bounce Rate - Think of this number as the flip side to your landing page conversion rate — it describes the percentage of people that visit your landing page and then immediately leave. If your bounce rate is high, you might need to better align the offer on the page with the language on the landing page, or come up with a more enticing offer.
Email & Lead Nurturing
20) Database Size – This is the number of email addresses in your database that you can email. It is incredibly important that you work at increasing this number over time, as your email database expires at a rate of about 25% per year. So if your database size is staying flat, it’s actually shrinking.
21) Email Opt-Out Rate – Your email opt-out rate, also known as your email unsubscribe rate, is the rate at which people select to not receive your emails anymore by clicking the “Unsubscribe” link in your emails. If this number is relatively high, meaning over >5%, take steps to better segment your email list by things like demographic information, company size, pain points — whatever is appropriate for your business. This allows you to execute smaller, more targeted email sends that offer more value to subscribers.
22) Delivery Rate - This tells you the percentage of your database that actually received your email in their inbox. A low delivery rate could be a sign that you have a low Sender Score.
23) Email Open Rate - This metric tells you what percentage of the people who received your email opened it. If you had a strong subject line and the receiver recognizes your company (or the person who sent the email), you should see a higher open rate. Yipee!
24) Click-Through Rate – Your email CTR tracks the percentage of people who received your email, and clicked a link within that email. Use this metric to understand how valuable the offer you sent was, or how well your link was positioned.
25) Campaign Conversion Rate - This metric indicates the rate at which people who received your email converted into a lead. You can use it to gauge the success of your email campaign compared to past sends. A high campaign conversion rate is the result of a targeted send with a great offer.
Public Relations & Branding
26) Direct Traffic - Direct traffic is the amount of traffic coming to your site as a result of people typing in www.yourcompany.com into their browser. Measuring how much traffic comes to your site in this manner helps you gauge the effectiveness of your PR efforts.
27) Branded Search Traffic - Very similar to direct traffic, branded search traffic is the amount of traffic that came to your site as a result of a visitor Googling your company’s name, most likely because they recently “heard” of you and wanted to learn more.
28) Visits From Guest Blog Posts and Media Placements - Was a killer guest article written by your company recently placed on a business or online trade publication? How many visitors did it send to your website? Use that as your metric for success!
Overall Funnel Metrics
29) Site Visits - Measure overall visitors to your website from all channels — email marketing, social media, organic search, the works. This metric tells you how good your marketing team is at driving traffic to your website.
31) Leads Generated - Are you meeting your leads goal? Are your sales reps’ funnels nice and full? Track leads generated month-to-month, as well as number of leads generated per channel, like you see below.
32) Customers Generated - Ahh, the bottom line. If you aren’t tracking customers earned, how do you know how valuable your leads are? Use closed-loop analytics to determine which channels generate leads that turn into customers.
33) Sales Cycle Length - Do you know how long it takes for a new lead to turn into a customer? Track this and monitor how it changes over time so your sales team can prioritize their funnel, and marketing can generate more leads that convert in a shorter time span.
This mega list should be helpful when determining how all the different facets of your marketing are performing. When creating a data-driven marketing team, consider using tools to manage your reporting. Ultimately, you’ll be making smart, data-driven decisions and your marketing will be better for it.
What other helpful metrics do you look at that aren’t mentioned here?
Image credit: Horia Varlan
What we’re following:
- Ex-Liberia President Charles Taylor guilty of war crimes
- Rupert Murdoch says the hacking scandal cost him hundreds of millions
- Kidney transplanted twice in two weeks
And did you see…
- Marine who criticized President Obama on Facebook t … Continue reading