Italy’s school for water rescue dogs, the Scuola Italiana Cani Salvataggio, has trained hundreds of animals in canine heroics. The dogs work on Italian police and coast guard boats, and with fire departments and the navy. They can even jump into the ocean from a hovering helicopter to save a person.
They’re pros at taking commands from humans. So researchers wondered if the dogs could help them understand what kind of command works best: Words? Or gestures?
Biagio D’Aniello, a biologis
Will anyone actually click my ad and buy my product?
It’s a terrifying question, but an important one. Turns out that everyone (including you) wants to get more conversions from a Twitter ad campaign.
You spent countless hours writing lead magnets, creating landing pages and sales pages, and then later you set up a Twitter ad campaign to get some traffic.
While running ads is a great way to get some quick exposure, Twitter is a different ad platform. If you don’t understand the way it works, you might be wasting your money as well.
In today’s post I’ll be sharing some killer tips and resources to get sky-high conversions from Twitter.
So, would you like to know how to advertise on Twitter?
How about more advanced approaches to getting more followers, more leads, and more customers for your business?
But let me make it clear…
If there are secrets or special formulas that can magically unlock the power of Twitter advertising out there, I don’t know them.
What I do know is exactly what the experts are doing — day in and day out.
And now, you will too.
But first let’s take a look at why you should invest in Twitter ads.
Why You Should Invest in Paid Twitter Ads
Twitter is a great social media channel for marketers, as it unofficially has 310 million monthly active users. Twitter ads are an incredible way to complement your social media efforts. With Twitter advertising you can reach thousands of targeted customers and followers.
But why do you need to invest in paid twitter ads?
Organic Reach is Declining
Recently, Twitter made changes to their feed. Now, instead of getting all the recent tweets, Twitter only shows the tweets that they think are relevant to you.
Much like what Facebook did with their platform.
And just a few months ago, Twitter launched Engage, which is for celebrities, influencers, and public figures that’ll curate the most popular tweets, mentions and replies.
This clearly shows that the reach of social media is plummeting day by day. Considering this scenario, Twitter paid ads is a way to go.
AdWords and Facebook Ad Costs Are Rising With Each Passing Day
Just last year, Search Engine Land reported a 20-25% increase in Google AdwWords CPCs. More and more brands are investing in the same keywords, which, of course, increase the competition and thus, the cost.
While Facebook ads were pretty cheap when they first started offering it, nowadays due to millions of advertisers, its platform is also becoming expensive.
For instance, Forbes reported a 21% increase in Facebook average ad pricing and the cost per thousand impressions (CPM) increased by an incredible 29% rate.
Considering both these reports, Twitter now looks like the promising ad channel. Facebook still beats Twitter on average cost per ad, but with some optimization and targeting options you can lower Twitter ad costs, even lower than Facebook.
Your Customers Spend a Ridiculous Amount of Time on Twitter
With each passing day, we’re getting more attracted towards social media. While Facebook is a beast with 1.2 billion monthly active users, Twitter’s 310 million monthly active users can’t be neglected.
According to DMR stats, 34% of active Twitter users log into it more than once in a day.
Looking at all these points, you’ll know that Twitter advertising is the way to go if you’re looking to make profits online.
Now let’s learn how to set-up the perfect Twitter ad campaign.
How to Setup the Perfect Twitter Ad Campaign
Twitter has a robust advertising platform. However, it is quite difficult to understand if you’re just starting out.
But don’t worry. Here’s how to setup your first Twitter ad campaign.
Step 1: Choose your primary objective
To advertise on Twitter you’ll need to log into your Twitter Ads account. For that head over to ads.twitter.com and enter your credentials.
Now, you’ll need to choose your primary objective. Whether you want to get more leads, more traffic, or just more followers.
Twitter has 6 types of campaigns to choose from, these are:
- Website clicks or conversions
- Tweet engagements
- App install or re-engagements
- Leads on Twitter
- Video views
Choose a relevant campaign type and click on it.
Step 2: Select your targeting options
Once you’ve determined the campaign type, it’s time to set up the rest of the campaign. Name your ad campaign, choose all the relevant options, and select your targeting options.
Targeting is an extremely important feature for you to reach to your ideal customers. Twitter has 11 targeting options. These are:
- Devices, Platforms, and Carriers
- Tailored Audience
- TV Targeting
- Event Targeting
I recommend you choose relevant targeting options so you don’t end up wasting your time and money marketing to the wrong audience.
Step 3: Adjust your bid to make your campaign profitable
This is the place where most people get Twitter wrong.
Twitter sells its advertising via auction. That means the more you’re willing to pay, the more likely your ads will be shown, but if you set the bids too low, you’ll get no impressions.
So Twitter provides an option for that. It’s called automatic bidding.
This is how it works: you set a daily maximum budget and set the pricing to automatic bid, and Twitter will make sure your budget is spent very quickly. It might help you in winning auctions, but you don’t want to or have to win every auction.
So, avoid using automatic bid in most of the cases.
In fact, I recommend you to start with $2, then test with the ads, analyze the results and finally scale the campaign.
After doing all the steps, finally launch your campaign.
How to Make Your Campaign Go Viral
You’ve setup your first Twitter campaign. You now understand the platform and know its basics. You also know the way it works.
Now it’s time to optimize your campaign to make it viral. Here’s how:
1. Get High Quality Score to Lower Ad Clicks
First of all, you obviously don’t want to pay higher for ad clicks, when it’s possible to cut them down. Like Facebook and Google, Twitter also has it’s own quality score, which sometimes it refers to as “Quality Adjusted Bids”.
Larry Kim, the founder of Wordstream, actually found that the higher your engagement rate will be, the lower your ad will cost.
Here’s how Twitter determines a quality-adjusted bid:
- Resonance: This is a metric to measure your engagement. Basically, the more likes, retweets, and comments you get, the higher your quality score.
- Relevance: It checks whether a user is interested in your tweet.
- Recency: This metric checks the freshness of the tweet. If your tweet is fresh, then it’s going to get higher priority.
Here’s how to get a high quality adjusted bid:
Keep your tweets fresh
Like I already mentioned, Twitter keeps a check on the freshness of your tweet. That means Twitter is less likely to show your older ads. Here’s an example:
This is a snapshot of Larry Kim’s Twitter ad dashboard. Notice how the impressions go down with each passing day.
Twitter wants to show fresh content to its users. So you’ll want to test different variations of each ad and consider replacing them with newer ads, instead of running the same ones for lengthy periods.
Promote your best stuff
The best possible way to get a high quality score and lower your ad costs is by promoting your best stuff i.e., the tweets which organically gained more exposure.
This tweet by Larry Kim resulted in 1488 retweets and 1284 favorites.
Larry got these amazing results because his post was truly epic. So, when you write epic content like this:
- How do colors affect purchases?
- The Complete 101 List Building Strategies
- The Science of Social Timing Part 1: Social Networks
Your content has 100x better chance of going viral.
Narrow your audience
Relevance is another important metric in Twitter.
You don’t want to promote your content to the audience that shows little or no interest. Instead want to narrow your audience, target a smaller but precise audience who is interested in your content.
This not only helps get high conversions, but also helps you get higher engagement.
2. How to Find Your Best Content to Promote
Tweet engagement is a pretty important metric when it comes to advertising in Twitter. Not only does Twitter determine the pricing based on the tweet engagement but it also decides the exposure it’s going to get.
High engagement posts is the way to go in this scenario. Here’s how to find high engagement tweets:
- Login to Twitter Analytics
- Once you’re in there, click the tweets tab and then click export to export all your tweets
- Twitter will take a few seconds to process it, depending on your account, then it will send a request to download CSV file
- Open the file and sort the “Engagement Rate” tab by descending order
- Now, the top tweets you get are the ones that are the most engaging. This is where you should spend your dollars
Once you find your top engagement tweets, head back to Twitter and start the advertising campaign for those top tweets.
3. Use Relevant Keywords to Narrow Down Your Audience
Keyword targeting is an amazing feature in Twitter that lets you to find the people based on the words and phrases they’ve tweeted or searched for on Twitter.
Each keyword has 6 options to match your ideal customer:
- Broad Match: Broad match searches for all the tweets containing that keyword independent of the order.
- Phrase Match: When you select phrase match, Twitter will search all the tweets that contains the keywords in exact order plus there may be other keywords present between those tweets.
- Exact Match: It searches for the tweets with exact keywords in the exact order without any word in between.
- Negative Match: Negative match will remove all the tweets with that keyword in any order.
- Negative Phrase: Negative phrase will remove all the tweets that contain the keywords in the exact order.
- Negative Exact: It removes all the tweets with exact keywords in the exact order without any keyword in between.
4. Use Behavior and Demographic Targeting Options to Boost Engagement
Like keyword targeting, Twitter offers behavior and demographic targeting which is a strong metric to find the relevant audience.
You can use behaviors and demographic targeting options to target the people who want to, and can afford to buy your products. Here’s how:
You can select their behavior like business type, industry, and sales revenue to find the customers who might be interested in your offering. You can then select their demographic options like their income, education, and employment to find the customers who can afford to buy your products.
5. Create Tailored Audience for Each Buying Stage
Twitter also offers website tags, which is similar to the Facebook pixel. With this tag you can track different types of conversions for the customers visiting your audience, like:
- Site visit
- Sign up
Once you’ve captured these visitors, you can then advertise to these customers in Twitter. And the best part?
You’ll get higher engagement for your tweets, meaning high quality score and low cost of the ads.
6. Leverage Twitter Lists For Best Results
Twitter lists are a great way to organize your followers, clients, influencers, and your team members. Many people know this feature but very few actually utilize it.
In Twitter advertising, Twitter lists are a great way to advertise. Here’s a great example of this:
Larry Kim wrote a blog post for WordStream.
He shared the post throughout his social media account, and then promoted the post to the list of influencers using Twitter Ads.
Within 48 hours, the post picked 500+ press mentions and 100K visitors. All of this with just a $50 budget and 10 minutes of campaign setup.
Pretty cool, right?
Your results may vary.
7. Upload Your Email List to Create Your Own Audience
In Twitter, you can upload your email list to create your own list of audiences. With this feature, you can advertise to your email subscribers.
This is a great feature especially when you want to nurture your leads or promote your products. Here’s how to get started:
- Head over to Twitter ads. Select Tools and click audience manager.
- Click create new audience. Then, select upload your own list.
- Fill out all the information, upload your email list and click create list audience.
This list audience is extremely beneficial in Twitter. You can promote your blog posts, lead magnets, and promote your products.
8. Use Retargeting to Promote Your Content
Remarketing is an incredible way to advertise to your website visitors or your email subscribers. In Twitter, you can either use promoted tweets, Twitter cards, or promoted tweets.
All of them give you a great option to get more exposure. To use retargeting, here’s what you should do:
- You must upload your email list to retarget your email subscribers
- You must create a website tag and install it in your website
I recommend you set up a website tag and install it. It’s buried deep in Twitter, but it’s actually the first thing you should do before running any ad. Here’s how to generate a Website tag:
Login to Twitter Ads. Then, click tools, followed by conversion tracking.
Next up, agree to the Terms and Conditions and then click generate website tag for conversions.
In the next page you’ll get the website tag. Install the tag in your website to setup conversion tracking.
Once done, you can advertise to your website visitors based on their behaviors and their purchase.
Measure your Strategy’s Success
You’ve created your first ad. You’ve also optimized your ad to get sky-high conversions. Now, finally it’s time to analyze your ad’s performance and tweak it, if needed.
1. Test With the Different Variations of the Same Ad
Twitter loves fresh tweets and that’s the reason it gives high preference to fresh tweets. You don’t want to continue running your old ads; instead, you want to create new variations and test with them.
Here are some ideas to test your ads:
- Test changing the headline of your tweet
- Test changing the call-to-action button copy
- Try moving the URL to the front or in the center of your tweet
- Add relevant hashtags to your tweet, to see if it helps
- Try adding, removing, or changing the image
2. Use UTM Parameters
UTM parameters are simply the tags to measure your online marketing campaigns inside Google Analytics or Kissmetrics.
It helps you analyze and measure your online marketing efforts.
For instance, if you’re offering an eBook and want to track the number of users who visited the landing page from your Twitter ad campaign, then you simply ad this tag to your URL.
Then, you can track every conversion in Kissmetrics. But, it’s quite a headache to create URL every time you create a new ad. For this, you can use Google’s URL Builder, which does a pretty decent job in generating UTM tags for your URL.
3. Analyze, Tweak, Repeat
Finally, it’s time to measure your ad performance.
Pay close attention to your Twitter Ad dashboard, view your engagement rate, clicks, replies and likes.
Make sure to double-check this data with Google Analytics or Kissmetrics (a more robust option). This will help you find the actual number of clicks you’re generating.
With these results, check which campaigns are working and which aren’t. Delete the campaigns that aren’t working and double down on the stuff that’s working.
Twitter ads can be profitable; they can help you generate great ROI. But you must allocate your time to test with the platform.
Remember, Twitter can be misleading (hello, automatic bid) and at times their suggestions won’t work for you. Forget everything that Twitter told you, forget the best practices they told you.
Instead go by this approach, avoid the major pitfalls that Twitter offers and you’ll get incredible ROI from Twitter ads.
About the Author: Aman Thakur shows marketers and bloggers, simple and effective ways to build their mailing list super-fast. Download his exclusive bonus 101 list building strategies to grow your email list. A writer by day and a reader by night, he can be found online tweeting about marketing, or watching Cricket matches.
I just came across a remarkable new paper on the science of salt-passing behavior: Expected Results Show that a Longer Nose Means Slower Times for Passing the Salt and Pepper: A Second Report
The article, which I have no doubt is entirely serious in nature, lists as its authors Canadian researchers Minér Patrick, Léon Le Néz and Pat Minér.
Here’s how Patrick et al. describe their work:
Eighty female student subjects were tested by being asked to pass salt or pepper by another stud
It’s not even November yet and here we are, already talking about holiday shopping trends. Too soon? Not at all. The truth is, the more foresight you can have to prepare for what will be the biggest shopping season, the more you can adapt to customers’ habits and be ready to adjust to meet their needs and exceed their expectations.
Just how big will the 2016 holiday shopping season be? Let’s take a look:
Holiday shopping between November and December is expected to reach nearly $700 billion. Consumer confidence is higher and 41% Of people surveyed plan on spending more on gifts this year than they did last year – a 10 billion increase in total sales from this time last year.
What’s more, the emphasis on traditional shopping days like Black Friday and online-only Cyber Monday are lessening – especially because transactions can happen anywhere at any time thanks to the rise of mobile. So what kinds of trends should you prepare for this year and how can you get started?
1. Before the Shopping Begins: “I Need Some Ideas!”
Shopping for gifts is supposed to be a time of fun, relaxation and entertainment. Instead, as many of us can attest to, it’s nerve-wracking, frustrating and stressful. According to Google’s own research, there are three moments that the customer goes through before they ultimately make a purchase:
- The “I Need Some Ideas” moment
- The “Which One’s Best” moment and the
- “I Want to Buy It” moment.
We’ll get to all of these shortly, but as you might expect, how you handle the first two will ultimately determine whether or not you are rewarded with the last one. Also, depending on your industry, you may see a larger percentage of your target audience heading to YouTube for ideas:
Gift guides are a huge presence online, and around 70% of the time, these kinds of videos are watched on mobile devices. Want to know how big of a presence online gift guide videos are? In the time people spent viewing them on YouTube last holiday season, you could watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” well over 300,000 times.
Google calls these types of searches “micro moments” – essentially “being there” for a customer when, where and how they need you.
2. The Importance of “Micro Moments”
If you think micro moments are simply a customer going through the stages of Attention – Interest – Desire – Action, you’d be doing a huge disservice to what’s actually involved in the process. Google took a look at one shopper’s behavior to determine precisely how they interacted with various digital touch-points once they decided to do a basic search. Here’s what they found:
In this case, the shopper was Leena (a pseudonym), a 32 year old married woman from Washington state who looks for discounts and specials online. As you can see from the chart above, in a one month time period she hit over 1,000 digital touch-points. In taking a closer look at her search query, we can focus on a micro-moment. Leena had run out of mascara and was looking for an alternative to her regular brand.
She had narrowed down her decision to two choices. Then, her mobile search went like this:
So as you can see, even on mobile devices, it’s not a “once and done” process. It’s a lot of back and forth, a lot of different devices, searches and comparisons being made.
3. Shoppers Ask: “How Will I Buy This?”
If you sell tangible goods, you may be worried that the holiday season is all about showrooming – trying on a product in your store, only to actually buy it on Amazon. But the truth is, whether you’re serving customers locally or you’re letting them shop on mobile (or both), the stores that offer the most convenience are the ones that ultimately get the sale. It is, in short, “frictionless shopping” – being there for the customer, right when, where and how they need you.
Contrary to popular belief, most of them don’t even know what particular brand of item they want, which is why you need to be there during those micro-moments to help guide their decision: not in an overly sales-pressuring way, but in a helpful, convenient way. Google’s own micro-moment inspiration guide shows how major brands like Swarovski crystal and catalog retailer Williams Sonoma do just that, by way of their online Style Finder (how to accessorize depending on the occasion) and rich media presentations of products respectively.
Helping customers make buying decisions will be key this holiday season and beyond.
Free shipping is the biggest conversion booster we all know about. But “buy it online and pick it up in store” is another big one. Having multiple ways to get the product is great, but having multiple ways to pay for it is even better. Having the ability to not only accept credit cards, but Paypal and mobile pay systems like Android and Apple Pay are going to get you more conversions than sticking to a single system.
4. Consumers Only Want the Best
When buying online, you can’t (yet) feel, try on or gauge the quality of a product. That’s when shoppers are seeking out reviews and ratings – but even those can be bought. These days, consumers are shopping smarter by looking for the “best” of whatever gift they have in mind. Google reports that shopping queries with “best” have increased 50% in the last year. But simply claiming your product is the best isn’t enough to win people over. Instead, show them.
For example, you could talk about what goes into making it or the features that truly make it stand out from the competition. What ingredients or qualities does it have that competitors tend to “cheap out” on? What makes your version worth their time and attention (and ultimately their wallets) and perhaps more importantly – are those differences the kinds of things that customers actually care about?
5. The Power of Cross-Device Targeting
As you can see from the touchpoint illustration above, there are a lot of back-and-forth choices to be made from mobile to desktop to mobile again. Throw in other items like TVs, gaming consoles, on-demand streaming, tablets and smart watches, and you get what marketers are calling the “multi-screen explosion”. Cookies just aren’t enough to satisfy the hunger to glean info on customers anymore, so ad networks are ramping up their work on letting companies target customers across devices. Call it cross-device or multi-channel or omni-channel – it’s changing the way we’ll be shopping this holiday season.
But make no mistake – consumers are keen on privacy. There’s a delicate balance between being personalized and convenient, and being too “in your face” with the messaging. Smart companies looking to reap the benefits of the holiday shopping season know that the best way to leverage upcoming trends is to hone in on customer behavior and preferences without that creepy stalker vibe.
In short, it means keeping customers (gently) informed, helping to guide them where possible and making things exceedingly convenient while providing the best possible experience as a whole. Sound like a tall order to fill? It is – and being able to juggle it across multiple customers and devices is no small feat. However, you can do wonders with this information by looking beyond the trend and brainstorming ways to turn your own products into the kind of convenient, accessible, relevant and engaging items that people won’t hesitate to buy – for others, as well as themselves.
About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at iElectrify.com and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today!
Some dead parrots are more entertaining than others. And some, like the partial specimen described today in Royal Society Biology Letters, advance science in an unexpected direction.
The first fossil parrot proof ever unearthed in Siberia suggests not only that Parrots of Yore had greater geographic distribution than we thought, but also that they may have spread via different routes than previously theorized.
The 16-18 million-year-old parrot part making its debut today is, at fir
Paid search is often the biggest driver of new customers.
Largely because people are typing in exactly what they’re looking for.
These aren’t necessarily the most profitable customers you’ve got. Especially not in the beginning.
Your repeat ones are.
‘Retention’ is often associated with ninja-like email growth hacks. But it’s much more than that.
Proper ‘retention’ and onboarding starts the minute someone sets foot on your site, and their interaction can influence the rest of their experience over the next few hours, days, or weeks.
How “Loyalty Economics” Works
Everyone says that repeat customers are more profitable than new ones.
Supposedly some book, Marketing Metrics, says that repeat customers have a 60-70% chance of converting.
At least, that’s what every blog post says when you Google ‘repeat customer vs. new customer‘ (I personally haven’t read it).
But what about a real study?
Waaaaaaay back in 1990, while most startup founders were still in diapers, Bain & Company partnered with Harvard Business School (ever heard of ‘em?) to analyze the, “costs and revenues derived from serving customers over their entire purchasing life cycle”.
When you translate that from Academia to English, you get, “how much repeat customers are worth vs. new ones”.
Originally published in a F-ing paper magazine, the study was groundbreaking in that it finally declared that “increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%”.
Basically it showed, empirically, that new customers are often unprofitable for the first few years based on high costs of acquisition (both hard and soft), and it’s only later with repeat ones do they become profitable.
A decade later (so we’re still talking back in 2000 at this point), Harvard revisited the study to now include online purchases. Not only did those same ‘loyalty economics’ patterns show up, but the differences were also “greatly exaggerated online”.
For example, companies only online (as opposed to both online and brick and mortar) usually had to spend 20-40% more on new customer acquisition.
These studies gave widespread notoriety to ‘retention marketing’, as a theory, and in practice, that shows up almost everywhere online today.
And it’s important to note that we aren’t just some trendy, hipster, mobile SaaS apps either. But all industries.
For example, online grocers typically had to retain customers for 18 months to break-even after a $80 customer acquisition cost.
Bain looked at many different retailers, from consumer electronics to apparel and appliances, finding the same exact patterns pop up.
Not only were repeat customers worth more than new ones, but that repeat ones also were more likely to refer you to new customers (thereby dragging down your cost of acquisition on those new people as well).
Former eBay CEO, Meg Whitman, said at the time that, “more than half of its customers are referrals”. And that because word of mouth was so much, they “spent less than $10 to acquire a customer”.
Fast forward to today, and the same exact trends emerge.
Adobe found that repeat customers are 9x more likely to convert (compared to new customers who haven’t purchase prior).
And Sweet Tooth Rewards found that repeat customers have a 54% chance of purchasing again (compared with a 27% chance of new customers).
Or, ask Amazon.
Prime members will spend $75 billion this year alone.
On average each year, they spend about $1,200 compared with around $500 for non-Prime members.
Now that we’ve beat the issue to death, here’s the rub:
If repeat customers are worth more, less price sensitive, and more often to refer than new customers…
… Why do we spend 12% of marketing budgets on retention?
(And probably less of our attention?)
1. Define Success Milestones
One of these clever, punchy posts quickly morphed into startup metrics; becoming a simple analytical framework alternative to the ever-increasing complex dashboards found in most startups today.
The premise was simple: pick a few key metrics for each funnel stage to illustrate when it’s been met.
One specifically, Activation, focused on making sure people had a “happy-first experience” that’s required before any retention could happen.
Get ready to literally travel back in time, as this next image is embedded directly from Flickr.
For example, in a recent blog post, Lincoln uses an example someone starting an online store and defines a few of the possibilities, such as:
- Creating the store
- Adding logo, designs, etc.
- Setting up a payment gateway
- Creating new products.
- … You get the picture.
The idea is to identify (and eventually instrument) key activities on your site or inside your app that will later be used for forces of good (like follow up), but for now can be signs of success (or problems) that either help (or hurt) people’s customer experience (and thus, your conversions).
For example, the other day I was looking for a hotel. They had a nice suite, and I clicked on ‘show room amenities’ to see exactly what it looked like.
Instead of, oh – I dunno, pictures, video, or diagrams, I was met with this:
A huge wall of text, featuring an overwhelming amount of bullet points that does nothing to (a) communicate their value, but more importantly (b) help a potential customer achieve that ‘happy first experience’ of View Rooms –> Decide to Search Dates.
Those little micro-interactions are critical, because it mimics our unconscious browsing behavior that leads us to say, “Yes! Tell me more…” vs. “Eh, let’s keep looking”.
Design, and more specifically UX, is supposed to guide those interactions; giving customers what they want most while also steering them towards your ultimate business objectives.
For example, if you were to hit the back button (don’t do it now!) or go back to the Kissmetrics product pages, you’ll notice the ‘next steps’ for customers are clearly highlighted, with primary actions featured visually while secondary ones are more subtle.
Providing clear paths through your site (or app) is the first step towards getting a customer generated, or a free trial to become sticky – prior to any retention taking place. And you do that by not making people think.
You can even instrument these ‘customer success milestones’ in your funnel, giving a more nuanced view of actionable steps that you can make better marketing decisions around (like, “Hey – why are all those people dropping off between Cart –> Order?!”)
For example, here’s how a typical eCommerce funnel can be set up, where people visit the site, view products, add to cart, start the checkout process, and eventually place order.
SaaS apps, while different, aren’t really all that different at all. You still have people coming to a site, doing some initial browsing of key pages, signing up for a free trial, actually using the product for a bit before entering their billing info and hitting Upgrade if all looks good.
Now that you’ve got the major steps or milestones outlined, you can begin to dig into the details to uncover gaps inside or out of your product.
2. Map Your Customer Lifecycle
It’s slightly depressing to think that around half of your free trial users will sign up, use it one time, and then never come back again – dropping your app fast like the worst of one night stands.
And while these ‘onboarding’ techniques (or statistics in this case) are often associated with SaaS products, it’s important to realize that it’s no different for how people starting shopping on an eComm site, only to bounce (like 67% of them). Or start punching in their travel dates for a hotel, without ever completing the booking (81% of them).
(It’s also important to note that you can’t do some of the ‘classic onboarding’ stuff like event-based messaging – which we’ll discuss in the third part below – until these first two are sorted out.)
The only saving grace is that you can increase conversions without A/B testing by making changes to how people look for, find, and complete these ‘milestones’ you’ve just identified.
One simple method is to identify friction points as people attempt to navigate the treachery (that is your sitemap) and hit each milestone.
For example, friction points can be at the very start of a customer interaction, when they’re simply trying to find a product to add to cart.
But they’re more commonly in the middle of an interaction, when they’re trying to find specific things but your site is making it impossible.
For example, below is a basic Heatmap analysis showing a service-based site’s portfolio of work.
Notice something missing?
The freaking clicks! It’s a virtual ghost town, with basically ZERO focused clicks and page interactions.
There is a hover animation (that you obviously can’t pick up on an analysis like this), but for whatever reason it’s not doing its job in getting people to click and view the portfolio examples (which is a critical step to them hitting the Contact Us button and reaching out).
Again – these principles apply inside an app as well as outside on the marketing site.
For example: Toggl. Awesome product. Insanely simple time tracking. Even the least technical people enjoy it.
Until, that is, when you’re about to log time against a new project and you need to setup a new client.
And you see… nothing? You can create a project here, but no Client (even though the label tells you to Add a Client).
(This also reminds me of Google Hangouts. Which you can tell was built by engineers. Because while using the product is great, starting one is another nightmare entirely.)
A path report comes in handy here, allowing you to dig deeper into the customer journey and pinpoint where some problem areas exist.
Segmenting your converters vs. non-converters, and then analyzing differences in their path or journey, is one way to surface these issues.
As an added bonus, path reports can also give you better attribution metrics because they’ll pick up all the stuff that happens during (not just before and after) a complete customer journey. You can track this stuff back to which (and how) your marketing channels (and thus, budget + resources) influence each step.
3. Event-Based Messaging
Now, it’s time for the good stuff.
The drip email campaigns to new trial-ers. The shopping cart abandonment. The in-app notifications. Heck, even the picking up the phone!
The key distinction here though, is that your outbound messaging and communication should now be tied to the milestones and path events you just identified (as opposed to static, time-based autoresponders.)
For example, Audible recently emailed me this promotion.
The design is fine (although image-heavy). The offer is good. And the Cialdini-esque urgency is great!
The key here is segmentation. The fine print says I’m receiving this because I have unused credits in my account (as of a certain date).
Unused credits = not using the product.
Not using the product = about to churn.
So they’re proactively targeting based on events to inspire (or dictate) action they want taken.
(Don’t worry Audible – got some travel coming up that will take care of those credits.)
Good email workflows can deliver similar results, spinning off new sequences of communication based on actions an individual might take on your website (or even another channel).
For example, many subscribers and leads often go dormant (see the stats at the beginning of the last section). So you can ‘win them back’ by getting a little extra details about what they’re into or looking for, and then tailoring your own messaging accordingly.
Below, I’m trying to pull out all people who’re implicitly answering this question by clicking on a specific ‘website’ link (as opposed to another topic that was provided, like marketing automation).
Now you have the trigger, which should kick off or refine the next communication they see.
Let’s say someone’s on-site (or in-app) and not moving. They got distracted and went somewhere else for a few minutes (physically, or a new browser tab). But you don’t want them to bounce.
As the stats show, there’s a good chance they’re bouncing and not coming back to (1) complete the purchase, (2) modify their account in your app, (3) leave a booking process, or (4) don’t fill out your long service-based opt-in.
The first step is to identify the trigger, or the idleness in this case, based mostly on time (in seconds or minutes).
You can then throw up a lightbox message to catch their attention, provide a recommendation, offer a promotion or incentive, etc.
You can also customize the location of the message they’re seeing based on importance or priority as well. So while a complete lightbox might be appropriate for an almost bouncing visitor, a simple bumper in the lower right hand side or basic notification might be enough for loyal people already working diligently inside your app.
Research studies conducted over several decades all show that repeat customers are the most profitable and most likely to refer you someone new.
Brand new customers on the other hand, are also shown to be unprofitable for a period of time because of their high costs of acquisition.
All that, and yet we still dedicate so little time and money behind retention strategies as opposed to new acquisition.
This problem is pervasive in most industries – not just SaaS – where online buyer’s typically hit website bottlenecks while trying to give you money.
Until these friction points and paths are smoothed out, it’s impossible to start running sophisticated retention strategies.
Because the most effective communication or messaging strategies are heavily reliant on specific actions people just did (or didn’t take) – and not some arbitrary method like time.
The tactics are the easy part. Where to place a link or what pop-up style to use. It’s just a Google away.
The hard part, is figuring out what to Google in the first place. And that comes back to your customer’s (not your) milestones.
About the Author: Brad Smith is a founding partner at Codeless Interactive, a digital agency specializing in creating personalized customer experiences. Brad’s blog also features more marketing thoughts, opinions and the occasional insight.
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