Author Archives: David Arnoux

About David Arnoux

I'm David Arnoux, co-founder of Twoodo. I write about growth hacking, startups and lean methodology. Come say hi on Twitter or on Google+

How-To-Avoid-Losing-Visitors-After-The-First-Visit

The AHA moment – How We Avoided Losing Visitors After The First Visit

How do you get users to fall in love with your product on their first visit? How you do avoid losing visitors on their first visit? Short answer.. you get them to the AHA moment..

There’s a lot of talk and literature about finding the AHA moment. James Currier from Ooga Labs (10 years, 10 companies with at least 10 million users each) and a personal hero of mine recommends spending 50% of technical resources on your onboarding or on what he calls the “first user experience”.

You’ll never have more attention from visitors than in that first visit to your website.

It’s up to you to onboard them step by step until they reach what has been dubbed this “AHA moment” also known as the “WOW moment”.  Here are some well know examples of AHA moments. It’s only when they have reached that point that visitors will understand the value you offer, will fall in love with you and will be able to explain your value to others. 

visitors-reach-the-aha-moment

Sounds perfect right? 

The only problem is, it’s often really difficult to know what your AHA moment actually is. Sure you could rely on your assumptions and run with your gut feeling. But as a data obsessed growth hacker I’ve seen too often how our assumptions and gut feeling turned out to be wrong. In this article I’ll try to address how we did this for our team collaboration tool Twoodo . How we were able to discover our AHA moment even though we didn’t have many visitors and little hard data or metrics to rely on.

The Hard truth about Hard Data

Over the years I’ve had countless discussions with other co-founders and growth hackers about finding the AHA moment. I’ve always found that companies with large amounts of visitors and data have an easier time of finding that moment than companies who have very little to work with. If you’re a successful company with millions of daily users of tens of thousands of customers then you can tap into your hard data to find what your AHA moment is. I would recommend hire a rockstar data scientist, give him access to all your logs and ask him to run correlation analysis on each of your features to determine which website events will most highly predict an activated user or a super user.

Unfortunately that’s a luxury that some of us don’t have. So how do you find the AHA moment when you don’t have a data rocket scientist at your disposal or enough data to feed his genius with. 

So we did it by hand..

It doesn’t take 100000 users to find your AHA moment. However you do need to have a few who really love you. If you’re at a point where you have 30 or more users/customers who truly love your product, come back to it at the right frequency, who you know are totally addicted, I will argue that you can find your AHA moment. Here’s how:

1. Identify the users:

At Twoodo we’re Mixpanel addicts. Mixpanel is a user-centric events based analytics tools that can give you invaluable information on what your users are doing on your website (you can also check out Kissmetrics). Basically it shows you what people are doing once they’ve arrived on your site.

Using a simple filtering query on Mixpanel’s Explore tab we were able to identify some “power users”. In this case I’m searching for all our visitors who signed up to our website, did this less than 4 weeks ago and who have already made at least 200 posts on Twoodo. In our experience this is a clear sign of an activated user who understands the value and is being retained by it

finding-your-aha-moment-identify-users

I was also careful to exclude all users who had been invited to Twoodo by a friend or colleague as their perception of our value would be positively biased.

finding-your-aha-moment-identify-users-2

I won’t show the results as there are some email addresses in there but the results came back with 42 profiles.

finding-your-aha-moment-identify-users-super-users

I consider these users to be “very activated” and I now want to find out if they have anything in common with their first visit.

2. Find out what’s happening on a user’s first journey

In the early days we used to do a raw dump of our logs and started analyzing these user’s first Twoodo visit step by step. This is what it looked like..it wasn’t fun.

reading-logs-to-find-your-aha-moment

After a few days of reading these we started planning to parse the logs into excel files to make the process less painful but Mixpanel saved us from having to do that. Another problem with this method is that it only tracked server-side events and couldn’t track browser events. But the idea in both cases is the same:

Recreate a visitor’s first journey step by step.

It’s a long and painful task but if done correctly you will start to see a pattern. 

Thanks to tools like Mixpanel and Kissmetrics though the visualization of these events is much clearer. The events have color codes and drop down menus with all the event characteristics. In this example you can see the intensity of usage of an activated user’s first day. This is a screenshot of the visitor flow of a new user in his first minutes and hours. By looking into each event you can understand the visitor’s first user journey.

finding-your-aha-moment-look-at-a-users-first-journey-with-mixpanel

3. Re-create the journeys

So the next step is to extract the important steps and log them somewhere. After re-creating his journey I found this :

  1. He signed up from the web version (not mobile)
  2. He added his first and last name
  3. He uploaded a profile image
  4. He completed the walkthrough
  5. He created a company and uploaded a company logo
  6. He posted 17 messages
  7. 9 of these messages included a task
  8. He viewed the calendar view
  9. He viewed the task view
  10. He added tasks to his calendar
  11. He customized his theme
  12. He logged back in 6 times in 3 days after his 1st visit.

And there.. I have one customer activation journey of a user that got to the AHA moment!!

I then proceeded to do the same thing for the 42 other “super activated users”. I opened a google doc spreadsheet and ran all these events into dedicated columns. Each column = 1 event. Here’s what part of it looked like:

finding-your-aha-moment-spreadsheet

4. Run this on visitors who didn’t get the AHA moment

After running through all 42 profiles I started to find patterns on events that kept coming back up. We found 7 events that almost all our super users had in common. Some of these, like customizing the theme or inviting other people on the first visit, were contrary to our assumptions. We then had a big talk which included a debate over correlation vs. causation. 

This lead us to do the exact same steps but with 50 users who were not activated at all.

We searched for users who had signed up but never came back or visitors who had used us for few days never to come back again. The idea is to compare the ”super activated users” with the lost “non-activated users” and see what the main differences are. 

5. Spot the difference

So what had the super users done that the “never to be seen again” visitors hadn’t?

We quickly had a precise picture of events that had been taken by activated visitors and left out by non-activated visitors.

finding-your-aha-moment-activated-versus-non-activated-events

1. They all invited at least 2 people on their first visit even before testing the tool (this was contrary to our assumptions).

2. They input their first and last name.

3. They uploaded a profile picture.

4. They almost all uploaded a company logo.

5. They created at least 5 tasks on their first visit.

6. They came back to the app 7 days consecutively at least.

7. They viewed the task and/or calendar view.

6. Build it into your website

Based on this information we created a B version of our onboarding that would guide new visitors through this journey, step by step and removing all the fluff and friction. They basically HAD to go through these steps.

We put the “invite people to your company” much higher in the funnel.

aha-moment-illustrations

We made sure visitors would input their first and last name

twoodo-onboarding-2

We created a gamified step by step task list once they arrived on the platform

twoodo-onboarding

7. A/B Test

We then ran a careful AB test to verify that we weren’t making a huge mistake. We let the test run for 3 weeks.

onboarding-ab-tests

The results were quite astounding. With the B version we have an increase in activated visitors of 75%. Not only that but new users were inviting 112% more people to the platform than before. They were also posting 139% more messages and tasks on their first visit. We later also found that activated users were also being retained longer*. 

*Of course we were careful to run these stats through a statistical significance calculator. Luckily enough A and B has such a difference in conversions that we didn’t need to run the test too long (2.5 weeks) to reach a significant test.

Content-Marketing-For-Startups-Our-Story

Content Marketing For Startups: Our Story

Here are some more damning facts from a study of 1.4 billion search queries. 6% were from paid search. 8% of internet users click on 85% of search engine ad clicks. Organic traffic wins 94% of the time (Search Engine Watch, 2012).

content-marketing-for-startups-paid-vs-organic-marketing

Let’s continue with a good ol’ text book definition:

“Content marketing” is a subdomain of inbound marketing. “Inbound marketing” means using pull rather than push techniques to draw visitors to your website or product. Content marketing consists of creating audio, visual or written content with the purpose of delighting people and drawing them to your website or product…. Oh and almost every one is doing it :)

Content is not just about driving people to the top of your conversion funnel and forgetting about them. At least, that’s not what we think at Twoodo. Content needs to be targeted to your niches and built to answer questions asked by your potential leads and users. It can also serve to inform and entertain your personas,  allows you to show thought leadership and gain authority in social media, which will in turn affect the success of your company. Think SEO. Content marketing for startups can work awesomely.

Content marketing isn’t just blogging!!

There are so many types of content to choose from :

  • Blog posts
  • Guest blog posts
  • Webinars
  • Comics
  • Case Studies
  • How-to Guides
  • Press Releases
  • Infographics
  • Reports & Trends
  • Articles
  • PDF and eBooks
  • Web Forums
  • Reviews
  • Videos
  • PPTs
  • Images/Photos
  • Interviews
  • Lists
  • Slideshares
  • Q/A websites
  • Competitions and Reviews
  • Pinterest pins
  • Instagram pics
  • Facebook posts
  • Twitter tweets
  • Linkedin posts
  • Google+ posts
  • Forum discussions
  • Local Business Listings
  • Podcasts

Just to get you enticed, here are the numbers that convinced us that content marketing was a user acquisition channel to test:

  1. inbound leads cost 61% less

  2. SEO has a 14.6% close rate compared to 1.7% on outbound tactics

  3. B2B businesses with blogs have 67% more leads

  4. B2C businesses with blogs have 88% more leads

 

Incapsula’s 2014 bot traffic report found that only 44% of internet traffic is actually human – so it makes sense that humans will respond to humanized tactics rather than automation.

content-marketing-for-startups-bot-stats

This doesn’t mean that other marketing tactics such as paid SEM or social ads should be ignored. Paid ad campaigns done wisely and on the correct platforms can yield great results. But what used to be a great way to gain traffic often isn’t as affordable in the long run. Channels such as SEM or Facebook Ads have rapidly become expensive and saturated. New emerging “wild west” platforms like Twitter and Pinterest offer great opportunities but in the back of your mind there will always be that feeling “with paid channels you’re I’m renting ad space on the web.. with content marketing I’m owning it!” Content is long-lasting.

 

I truly believe Ads may win a battle, but content will win the war.

Let’s look at these numbers again and dig a bit deeper:

content-marketing-for-startups-paid-vs-organic-marketing

The average CTR (click through rate) for ads is 0.1% (Hubspot, 2013). You would literally have to pay for 1000s of clicks just to get a handful of people clicking on your link. The average cost per conversion across all industries in 2013 was $10.44 (down from 2012’s hefty $24.40). This is something to think about next time you are trying to calculate what your CAC and LTV are going to be.

To summarise: content marketing…

  • takes time BUT gives long-term high value

  • improves your SEO tactics

  • requires you to truly get to know your personas

  • is cheaper than SEM

  • will turn your knowledge into conversions

  • will help you build relationships with influencers and the crowd (hello Series A / crowdfunding…!)

What has content marketing really got to do with my startup?

Press, Investors, Pundits and even your clients and users want to see traction.

Traction is defined as so by Brendan Baker:

  1. engagement
  2. traffic
  3. registered + active users
  4. partnerships
  5. profitability
  6. revenue

“Traction is proof that somebody wants your product. Ideally, it should communicate momentum in market adoption.”

Content marketing affects the first four of these points. The first 2 directly and the second 2 indirectly.

There seems a constant debate in startups – do we hire a developer or a marketer? On the one hand, product ultimately wins. On the other hand, a product can’t win if nobody has a clue it exists – ultimate fail. Seriously debate it with your co-founders rather than dismiss it is all I’m saying.

Our lessons learned about content marketing..

I’m going to focus on the content that we decided would give us the best overall results: guest blogging, and then blogging for ourselves. Written content is easily indexed by search engine crawlers, so we determined that would give the best long-term ROI than, say, an infographic which relies solely on social shares.

Results? Here are a few from March 2014 to Nov 2014:

  • 416% increase in unique visitors from 120 to 620 unique daily visitors
  • 380% increase in sign-ups (and no, I don’t mean going from 5 to 19!)
  • Average guest post gets just under 1000 social shares of which we calculate 6% convert to sign-ups
  • Users are more active after signing up because they have been better targeted
  • Retention rates from content marketing efforts are 47% higher than through our paid ad efforts

Tags and hashtags: The ultimate guide to using them effectively

Above is an example of a guest blog we published on The Next Web on December 21st 2013 at the beginning of our content journey. As of May 2nd 2014 it has been viewed over 16,700 times (and counting). It has been shared over 2,500 times across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google Plus. Two hours after this article was repromoted on The Next Web (approx. 6 months after it was originally published) 246 people came to our website. We were given the opportunity to delight and convince 246 potential users to sign up. The article has historically brought 1210 people directly to our website. Between Dec 21st and Dec 31st (new blog posts have an active life for approximately the first week after publishing – we allowed more due to the Christmas break) 213 people signed up to Twoodo. Our UTM trackers indicated that 78% of those came from the article. At the time we weren’t getting any PR or promoting ourselves in any other way. The only thing that had to be paid for were the hours put into researching and writing the article.

What were the mishaps along the way?

Content is not entirely straightforward. Here’s a summary of the roadblocks we had to deal with along the way:

  • the first 5 months were research + trial and error

  • some things work once and once only (or not at all…)

  • you cannot automate content creation

  • interpreting qual data + quant data + making correct correlations between events

  • it’s hard to “force” content creativity!

We tried to write a blog post a day – but I burnt out pretty fast. We tried all the tricks that we could think of, but found that our ideal pace was 2 a week, in order for the creative juices to keep flowing.

OK. Now can I have the insider tips on how to create great blog posts?

I guess you won’t be surprised to know that most stuff shared on the internet is not read

articles-are-read-not-shared

Image credit: Contently

So I will share with you my quick-fix tips, before you become a more profound writer (quite a few of these tips apply to other written and visual pieces of content as well):

  • great header image

  • nice font

  • lots of spacing

  • break it up with images and quotes

  • emotional AND rational message

  • intriguing headline

  • sub-headings that summarise

  • bolded key findings

Make your information interesting, actionable or entertaining whether it’s a webinar or an Instagram picture.

My favorite tools and tricks

Everyone’s got a list of things that work best for them. I use my own unique combination of (mostly free) tools to get what I need done. What I need are tools to a) get ideas b) get information to back up the ideas c) create quality writing/images d) promote e) track.

Social media and promotion:

  • bufferapp: schedule social media shares across the main channels, and monitor how successful they were
  • tweetdeck: follow conversations and URLs that matter to you, and take part in them
  • buzzsumo: search for content to share, and also find out who is sharing it by using their “export sharers” function
  • snip.ly: Embed messages into every link you share
  • flipboard: curate your best/most successful content into a beautiful magazine

Content curation:

Content creation:

Promoting content:

  • Moz extension: check the PA/DA of the top ten search results to see if you could potentially rank for it
  • Hubspot’s ‘signals’ extension: check to see if your article submissions/article pitches have been opened on the other end (this extension does not expire like others)
  • check my links’ extension: quickly scans pages for broken links – fix your broken links, or offer your content to fix someone else’s broken links
  • ritetag: get the right hashtag (trending up) for your Twitter promotions
  • hashtagify: more hashtag suggestions
  • link sites (stumbleupon, reddit…): find those relevant to your content
  • tweetdeck: manage conversations by creating a column with the URL of the article you want to track
  • quora: does your article/infographic/video answer someone’s question? drop it there

Here’s a full checklist of what to do with your content once you’ve published it:

Content marketing for startups is becoming the best way to show authority in a niche

Startups are niche-based. Therefore, it makes total sense to leverage the knowledge of that niche by using it for SEO and authority-building. It is particularly relevant for SaaS startups, like us.

A-Startup-Directory-or-33-You-Probably-Didnt-Know-You-Should-Be-Listed-On

A Startup Directory (or 33) You Probably Didn’t Know You Should Be Listed On

If you subscribe to the notion “build it and they will come” then you can stop reading here.

If, however, you know that the deluge of apps and online startups means that great ideas really do get crowded out, then read on!

Your startup needs all the help it can get. From my experience with growing Twoodo in a very competitive field I know it’s worth finding out where your business can be listed or reviewed in order to maximize traffic. Nothing wrong with that at all. The challenge, though, is that I never really believed that all these listing website could bring significant traffic. However after a bunch of testing and digging through a lot of bad apples we were able to discover which startup directories are legit and worth spending your time on to grab some initial traction. Our team, through trial and error and many submission forms later has come up with the best websites to spend your time on if user acquisition is important to you.

We would caution you that many are geared specifically towards SaaS/web apps. Sorry!

Also, over time some startup directories may come and go.

Please add changes and suggestions in the comments!

Thanks to RumblingLankan for the initial compilation!

1) A startup directory list of 33 must-have startup places where you should have a profile

1. Product Hunt

product-hunt-cat-image

THE PLACE TO BE! Only a select list of contributors can submit a company. Contact Ryan Hoover and maybe you can sweet-talk a mention out of him :)

2. Alternative To

alternative-to-screenshot

List yourself as a an alternative to your competitors. This has proved to be fruitful for us as a SaaS startup with lots of similar-but-not-the-same competition. It’s an easy way of displaying the differences to competitors and has driven traffic to our website. Long-ish filling-out process but worth it.

3. The Next Web marketplace

the-next-web-marketplace-screenshot

A place on the coveted TNW marketplace is by invitation or application only (and very few get through that process). It is worth applying for if you can work out a good deal to give users, and pitch it in a tantalizing way. Be generous, because the TNW audience is large and influential.

4. TechCrunch

techcrunch-screenshot

TechCrunch not only has a high standard of writing but strictly forbids blatant self-promotion. Try to get the attention of a journalist to get covered instead. This could mean a) guest blogging for TechCrunch (if you are not already an experienced writer, it will be tough to get published) and getting noticed by another writer or b) contacting every journalist until one finds your pitch interesting. Be careful – a negative review could do a lot of damage.

5. CrunchBase

crunchbase-screenshot

TechCrunch and CrunchBase are linked, so chances are you may serendipitously get seen by a TC journalist just by keeping a fresh and updated CB profile.

6. Mashable

mashable-screenshot

Mashable, like TechCrunch, requires needing to be a pro writer with a good pitch, or knowing a reporter interested in covering your company. Fill a form in and hope for the best.

7. AngelList

angelist-screenshot

A must-do if you want to get noticed by angel investors. It is becoming a very popular platform, so if you are in the Alpha or private Beta stage it is especially important. Take the time to prepare a great profile and get endorsed by reputable people. Get your whole team to create quality profiles – investors take a team seriously, not just the product.

8. BetaList

betalist-screenshot

A great place to list your startup – easy, straightforward, and guaranteed a couple of hundred sign-ups. There are very few free places on the internet to list beta companies that are still active, so take advantage while the going is good for this website.

9. Startup Video

startup-video-screenshot

Potential of 200 – 300 views. Fast and easy to do, so why not?

10. HackerNews

hackernews-screenshot

Essential platform to be around on, from the reputable YCombinator program. Submit news, links, and if you like, a link to your startup. However getting noticed is hard, and you would do well to contribute consistently to this community.

11. Reddit

reddit-screenshot

There are a bunch of subreddits, like kickstarter, entrepreneurs, growmybusiness and so on. The Reddit community is very sensitive to self-promotion so it’s wiser to stick to content and questions rather than blatant self-marketing. If the community likes you, the goodwill from them will hopefully pass along to supporting your venture.

12. Maqtoob

maqtoob-screenshot

Fast sign up process and nice exposure on the home page as this is still a pretty new network.

13. Gust

gust-screenshot

Gust has an impressive portfolio of investors and VCs. It is a platform to assist in managing the investor-startup relationship. With so many high-quality endorsements you really need to craft a careful profile and keep it updated.

14. About Your Startup

about-your-startup

This website has a modest social media following, but activity is recent, and the application process is simple and fast. It may be useful publicity for some – judge for yourself in this instance.

15. Cloud Base 3

cloudbase-screenshot

A platform (in beta) for giving businesses advice on which cloud services to use. Limited to online startups/SaaS in this case. After you submit, they vet your product and produce a review over which you have no preview to (so beware, if your product is still very buggy!).

16. Top Alternative

top-alternative-screenshot

All websites listed on TopAlternatives.com are ranked by popularity using Alexa’s traffic rankings. At a glance, it looks like a limited list of already-popular apps. Since Alexa is being used (and I really don’t like Alexa) this makes sense. Use the contact form to discuss getting featured.

17. Upload

upload-screenshot

I had some trouble uploading images. With the authority of Cnet behind it, it should be good for a rankings boost.

18. AppStorm

appstorm-screenshot

Submit an app for review (no guarantees). Free. Perhaps you can also hustle the editors for a review but it ultimately depends on the quality of the app.

19. Fuel Up

fuel-up-screenshot

This is a beta startup itself with the purpose of matching startups to larger businesses in order to solve their mutual needs. It is essentially B2B. There is a long application process asking for intimate details of your startup, but some information can be avoided if you wish not to divulge it.

20. Erli Bird

erli-bird-screenshot

Erlibird is reputable and legit – if you have the funds for it, go for it. Invite early adopters to your private beta from $49 and “Get on our Launching Soon” list and collect signups for $19. Options are also available post-launch for those of you no longer in private beta.

21. Launching Next

launching-next-screenshot

Similar to Betali.st mentioned above!

22. GetApp

getapp-screenshot

Has a lot of big names like Salesforce behind it, but it barely highlights that you have a once-off $399 payment to make to be part of it. Do some more in-depth research to see if it suits your app, before dropping $400 on such a service.

23. AppAppeal

appeal-screenshot

If your Alexa rank is over 500,000 (i.e. almost all new startups) they do not include you (unless you pay). You can also expect to wait 2 months, unless you pay a fee of $95 to be reviewed within 2 weeks. No guarantee of a positive review.

24. Capterra

capterra-screenshot

A B2B arrangement, whereby Capterra matches the best software solution with large companies (very useful for SaaS startups). It is free until they set up a deal with a buyer. To be considered, fill in a short form and await approval before completing a more extensive profile.

25. KillerStartups

killer-startup-screenshot

This service is affiliated with the YEC which has an influential network. 5% of submissions get accepted, and it takes 3 – 6 months to be featured. $167 will get you reviewed in 48 hours.

26. Next Big What

next-big-what-screenshot

Specific to Indian startups. Check it out if that’s a market you intend to pursue.

27. Addictive Tips

addictive-tips-screenshot

Submit a “tip” by email (just the once, they emphasize). This community might be constrained to the Middle East/North Africa, if that is a market that interests you.

28. All Web 2

all-web-2-screenshot

In French.

29. Startups FM

startups-fm

Pay $120 for an interview that goes live within 24 hours, and $60 for an article on their website to go live within 24 hours. They have an active social media presence with a modest Twitter following. Judge for yourself if the cash is worth spending but it may be overpriced.

30. Launch Sky

startup-tank-screenshot

With an endorsement from Eric Ries it’s hard to say no to this. It is, however, for apps that have not been built yet. I’m sure you could try to get the idea of your app validated (so long as you don’t give away the name) – though this is not the purpose of the service. There is a poor Twitter following, but it claims to rely on “experts” to review your idea, not the crowd.

31. Startup Tank

startuptank

The last few projects have been for advertising for Kickstarter projects. It does not seem to be very valuable for a general startup submission. Also, one of the questions asks “how many hours per month can you spare to work with them” which may not suit people who just want to drop a link and go. Research some more before you commit.

32. Listly

listly-screenshot

People love lists, for sure. This may or may not be a cool way of driving traffic to your startup – you will need to be enthusiastic about sharing on social media to make it work. It’s handy to have everything organized into lists nonetheless. Some lists get 5000 views but I don’t know how much will convert to traffic. It’s not a difficult thing to set up, so go for it.

33. Newborn Startups

newborn-startups

Similar to startupli.st mentioned above!

BONUS: If you got this far you deserve a gift.

Here’s an awesome checklist of websites to list your startup to:

2) Dying and 3) Dead

41 further websites were reviewed and assessed to be of little use to startups. This was due to a number of key factors:

· Little/no social media presence (focus on Twitter and/or Facebook) in the past few months
· Poor/no engagement on the website in the past few months
· Disallowing comments

If you are interested to know what they are, please follow this link to a Google Doc which lists each one.

Have you got some more suggestions of places to submit web apps and mobile apps for high publicity?

collaborative-problems-were-not-all-social-networkers

Collaborative Problems – We’re Not All Social Networkers

Social tech in the workplace: the new way to work

We can stop arguing that only young people use social media: the average across all age groups is 72% (with 30 – 49 year olds also at 72% in their own right). So, not only are employees using it but so are (probably) most of your customers. It can be leveraged both ways to improve access to information, have discussions and allow for more accountability. But what about those who don’t like social media, and by extension, social collaboration tools? There is a massive assumption that we all enjoy or are comfortable with using social media in professional settings:

Collaborative working environments support learning in these informal learning spaces driving social engagement primarily amongst generation Y-employees who are fully conversant with the capabilities of social media.

 

facebook-dislike-button

 

Have we considered the collaborative problems associated with introverts, and others? Social media is something quite a few people are ‘forced’ to join in order to be included in many interest groups, local and private events, and so on. It’s not always ‘opting in’ because you personally came to the conclusion your life would be better with Facebook than without.

Social collaboration challenges the behaviour of both extroverts and introverts, for those who require instant social gratification and those who like to remain unnoticed.

 

There are also people who just simply prefer not to be social, which is also fine but an oft-forgotten fact. Or take it to the extreme, and you have people on social networks specifically to use apps not to meet people! Gotta love the irony.

Action #1: find out which social media platform your team/employees favor the most; it may indicate the best style of collaboration tool for you to implement.

 

Collaborative problems #1: not everyone wants to be social

not-everyone-wants-to-be-socialImage source

It is expected that up to 40% of jobs will be virtual by 2015, so teams are going to have to research the best tool(s) for themselves. And this is no surprise when you realize the impact social collaboration tools can have on your company. This list of statistics and trends says it all.

time-spent-on-emailsocial-collaboration-tools-improve-productivity

How are the introverts going to be included? How are the skeptics of social networks going to be engaged?

Here were the top problems with implementing social collaboration strategies in 2013:

top-issues-with-integrating-social-collaboration-tools

Many resources are being invested in social collaboration by large business (and soon SMEs) – but, the execution is dismal.

The reasons for this failure is a) not understanding how your team works so therefore b) choosing the wrong platform or service and c) not having a company culture where social is openly accepted…

…all essential ingredients to enable social collaboration and remote working to reach its full potential.

Action #2: search for a tool that suits the way your team’s tasks need to be organized – whether it be generalized goals, daily recurring tasks or sprints with multiple issues to deal with.

Collaborative problems #2: social anxiety – could social collaboration tools hurt your team?

I’ve worked in startups and SMEs for over 10 years now. Saying whatever I want to my colleagues comes naturally when we use the collaboration tool we are building (Twoodo). But what about an organization of hundreds or thousands of people? People are cautious to speak freely in larger organizations where they don’t know each person. They are aware of consequences of rubbing someone up the wrong way, personality-wise.

So could a social collaboration tool actually act as a gag mechanism rather than a speakerphone?

Or would it actually encourage employees to be more considerate about how they express themselves? Do social tools actually make it easier for the shy ones in the group to thoughtfully respond on their own terms, rather than be put on the spot in a meeting? There could be many psychological blockers unclear to the more easygoing types in the team.

It is risky to show people your unfinished thoughts. Technologies for a long time could let you do that; people did not always do that. Social software, to the extent that it is helping people build trust and be comfortable with more casual, lightweight communications, could make it possible for more of our attempts at collaboration to be real collaboration. – Technology Review

It also goes deeper than that. People have been found not to represent themselves honestly on social media – rather, what they think is the best/ideal version of themselves. So whilst social collaboration aims to bring teams closer together, it may surprise you just how differently people will act online and offline. Whether this is a good or bad thing in work environment is hard to tell at the moment.

collaborative-problems-mona-lisa-selfie

Then there are the deeper social psychological issues of a social network. This study on the effects of ‘unfriending’ in social networks found that the more loosely connected people were, the less likely they were to have significant relationship failures down the line.

So it could mean that in order for companies to get the best out of social tools and their teams, an ‘arm’s length’ approach rather than ‘getting actively involved’ may be the more harmonious option.

 

Relationship management is hard, especially when you don’t really know the temperament of the person you are dealing with. Up to 18% of the USA alone suffers from some form of anxiety disorder – significant if you are trying to understand the consequences of going 100% social without proper preparation.

Action #3: don’t force people to change their habits – if the team normally tells each other what they have achieved on a weekly basis, keep that going; if they share GIFs frequently, let it happen; if they simply contact each other about tasks, let it be.

Psychological Science points out that studies on how people build social networks and create social relationships are hugely skewed towards people who are already excellent at establishing such relationships.

What we are left with is very little actionable information with which to understand social processes between introverted, shy or anxious people.

 

In other words, there is little evidence available to really explain collaborative problems. Managers need to remember this next time they are reading up on studies of social media and social collaboration in the workplace. There are many benefits to social collaboration – reducing email; recording exchanges between colleagues; capturing ideas on the fly; nurturing team spirit; enabling teams to cross barriers of department and hierarchy. Understand the team. Take your time to get the right tool. Take a leap and be the first one to use it regularly to encourage the crossover. Don’t just buy into one to keep up with the Jones’s!

 

Want to know more about workforce communication and collaboration? Check out these snackable stats and trends to get an effortless overview.

productivity-improvement

The Surprising Secret To Team Productivity Improvement

Productivity improvement in your team and company… it’s not as clear-cut as you think

If you’re like me you also think that “productivity” is doing the ‘right thing’, the ‘right way’, at ‘all times’. In this way you achieve quality for free. But how do you convince the rest of your team or company to be in that frame of mind at all times?

There are different kinds of people searching for ways to improve their productivity. First, there are the people fascinated with making every aspect of their lives more productive, from reusing toilet paper rolls to planning the grocery route down to a T.

productivity-improvement

Image source

Then there are the people in high-pressure jobs with a million-and-one things to do in a day who avidly search for the golden nugget of productivity wisdom to make all their team efforts fall into place.

evan-carmichael

Next, you have the middle managers sweating under their collars – how are they going to show the next set of pretty upwardly-trending graphs at the monthly round-up?

Then there’s everyone else, who just want to do their job, be happy and have time for their family and friends.

So what IS the secret sauce to productivity improvement?

 

 

wait for it…

 

 

you’re gonna find this cliché but you should take it very seriously…

Happiness!

happy-people

 

this extensive study posted in the New York Times even though it revealed some saddening facts:

“people are more frustrated and exasperated with their jobs than ever before.”

These negative feelings impact hugely on an economy as big as the United States, with billions of potential being lost due to a lack of productivity.

Companies traditionally incentivize “happiness” by handing out titles (“manager”), more money (the “raise”) and perks (gym membership, anyone?). But pick up any book on psychology and wellbeing, and you’ll find that money is rarely what makes people truly happy.

what-motivates-employees

Apart from the power-hungry megalomaniacs in our society. Yes, we all need a basic income to survive, but the rest is quite simple. You can’t buy self-esteem, true loyalty, pride in your work – these are the golden nuggets for productivity improvement.

People need to get deep, personal value out of the job – whether it be great workplace friendships or becoming top of their class in their niche.

Working “smarter, not harder” is one of those easy-to-hate phrases that get used a lot in meetings and at conferences. The principle behind it is that “working smarter” means you have figured out an economical way to complete a time-consuming part of your job (with equal or more effectiveness). The thing is, you have to “work hard” to become like this (unless you are a natural genius). You need to learn many things in order to merge them into creative solutions to apply to your situation. And guess what? Creativity is much more likely to occur when a person is happy in their role than unhappy.

Improving productivity should be the reward for good management, not the goal

Some people are motivated by targets and competing with their colleagues. Some are motivated by being a helper to the team. Some get their satisfaction from taking on the responsibilities of leadership. A great manager will be able to recognize the particular motivation for an employee. Happiness at work is also brought about by the following factors:

  • varied tasks

  • getting positive feedback

  • being challenged enough

  • be part of a project from start to finish, not just contribute a section

  • having friends at work

  • having a workplace where you are not distracted

  • short commute/no commute

  • autonomy over tasks

7-insights-for-happy-employees

Overall, what people are looking for in life are autonomy, mastery and purpose. Autonomy in that you have control over life; mastery in that you become better and better at something meaningful; purpose in that your everyday life is part of something greater than you. When people are asked “what do you do?” it is referring to their job. The job is the main vehicle for most people to achieve happiness (or not) in life.

Managers can make sure these needs are provided for. Here are a few steps that can be taken to win the hearts and minds of your employees and experience productivity improvement as your reward:

1) let your team members make decisions

2) encourage and let them be part of as much of the project as possible from end to end

3) offer training courses or allow time to attend seminars

4) have regular informal individual meetings to check in on how they are doing

5) make sure the company communicates a strong, clear purpose and an ambitious vision

6) keep barriers low between departments

 

I can promise you that with these tips, the graphs will trend upwards and your colleagues will have a spring in their step…

A Video Marketing Win – Why B2B Companies Should Use Video Content

28000+ views on youtube, 1530 unique leads and first page Google rankings for over 15 expressions…

Our [accidental] video content success story

There’s no denying the engagement that video uniquely commands. It is the one format that stands out in people’s memories, far better than written or audio-only versions of information. The Video Brewery states impressive numbers with regard to video: 80% of people remember watching a video ad, and 46% took action after watching. You can argue that those numbers are coming from a biased source – but you can find even more compelling stats here. Here’s an extract:

surprising stats about videos

Last year we were unexpectedly exposed to the power of video marketing. At Startupbootcamp Amsterdam’s (Europe’s premiere startup accelerator) Demo Day, a film team was dedicated to capturing every pitch. We had worked for weeks on the script and presentation, expecting it to be seen once and once only – by the roomful of investors and delegates at the big event. It was exciting and motivating work.

After days of preparation the pitch went like magic. I was just glad my memorization techniques held up. We were surprised (and delighted) to receive the video clip some weeks later. Needless to say, it was drastically better than the handheld smartphone version that our team had managed to get! We had no idea that this piece of good fortune would drive so many leads.

Here are some of the responses we got when we surveyed our new users (right up to present day):

thumbs up david hasselhof

“I’m actually a really big fan of your pitch you did on Twoodo. I’m working with Tutum as their growth hacker and we modeled one of our pitches after yours we found on YouTube.”

“Hi David, I liked your YouTube pitch which is why I downloaded Twoodo.”

“Simple, I saw your amazing pitch on YouTube. I want to try it out for my startup.”

“I’ve tried over 20 collaboration products, both American and Chinese, none were satisfying, they just make things more complicated. Then I came across your pitch on YouTube, I was like “wow” this is exactly what I wanted.”

“I just watched the video on YouTube and then rushed to open and try it.”

What’s more, one of our target audiences is startups, so the audience/channel fit was perfect for us.

A fellow SBC company had paid out €4k for a 2 minute video presentation of their product. We paid nothing for a high-quality 8 minute pitch (and a sweet 1 minute introduction). Top tip – if you present at a lot of places, request the video clip after. Some places won’t mind giving it to you! So why was the video so successful?

We spent quite a lot of time doing keyword research before naming the video “Best Demo Day Pitch Ever”. The great thing about Youtube is that it’s the second largest seach engine in the world yet’s there’s much much less competition than on Google keyword search. And if your video is relevant enough, your video will appear in Google keyword searches as well. Hey look! We made it to the top of Google for expressions like “best pitch” or “demo day pitch”

twoodo-ranks-first-for-demo-day-pitch

Keyword research is 50% of the work!!

Unlike Google Search, Youtube offers many untapped golden nuggets. Before clicking the “Publish” button after you upload a video, take the time to optimize for Youtube SEO. This article is a great guide, but here’s an overview:

1. Find “Video keywords”

Google reserves a good chunk of it’s first page results for videos. “Video Keywords” will allow your video to be on first page results. Some examples are “tutorial”, “how-to”, “tutorial” etc.

2. Consider Youtube’s algorithm

Youtube includes a number of elements in how they calculate your ranking. Along with the “video keywords” mentioned above also take into account the total number of views, video retention, comments, subscriptions after watching, shares, favorites and thumbs up.

3. Longer videos rank better

Apparently your video should be at least 5 minutes long. Long videos rank better than shorter ones.

4. Include your keyword!

Your keyword should be included in the original video file that you’re uploading, in the title of the video, in the description (multiple times) and in the tags.

To this date the video has received 28000 views and generated 1530 unique leads. That’s a 5.5% view/signup conversion rate.

It might not be our most affluent source of lead generation but it’s astounding to see that users who discovered us via the youtube link have a 65% higher retention rate than all of our other traffic sources! I believe it was the single most effective piece of content to gain people’s trust. Plus, video is just so easy to consume and share. 

In the immortal words of Maya Angelou:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Our script was not just explaining how the tool worked, it combined storytelling. And storytelling is a powerful technique in business. We turned the explanation of an online collaboration tool into one linked to history, art and human nature.

combine harvester

Video is a window to the opportunity to draw people in emotionally. The best marketers understand people’s emotions and psychology, and create campaigns that touch their [potential] customers profoundly. Video is a medium that can be used to great effect on this matter.

Distilled lists the benefits of video to your business:

  • improve conversions and engagement
  • build links
  • be on video search engines
  • build brand awareness and trust
  • generate traffic through rich snippets and content signals

This, I can say from the Twoodo experience, is absolutely true. Now that I’ve pushed video marketing as being awesome, let’s look into the pros and cons a little deeper.

The worst things about video content marketing

Let’s get the negativity out of the way first.

Price vs. quality

Of all the types of content marketing available, video is one of the most expensive. This is if you are going to do it right. Sure, professional films have been shot on iPhones as experiments. But by skilled filmmakers or advanced hobbyists. An amateur video made with a pocket-sized digital camera is not going to look anywhere as good as what the proper equipment can do. And the video quality does affect the viewers.

On the other hand, lacklustre video quality can be made up with a winning or memorable personality, and really interesting content. But if you’re not the creative and ballsy/outgoing type, it might be far easier to just pay for a quality video.

Scripting & presentation

Nothing makes people bounce away more than a robotic and dull delivery of an unremarkable script. You don’t need to be dropping in great jokes every few sentences, but it’s got to have some life in it. A balanced delivery of informative and emotionally appealing content is the golden nugget. Empathizing with the viewer’s issue and then offering them solutions is the basic formula – but can often go wrong.

If you are aiming for a video of more than one minute, you’d be AMAZED at how much scripting it requires. And trying to deliver it in a tone of voice that doesn’t under- or overwhelm the audience. The first attempts are likely to be awful. But don’t give up!

Shooting & editing

In the same way that video can win people over fast, it can turn people off just as quickly. Tasteful editing (depending on what your goal is with the video) is crucial to keeping the viewer from getting bored and presenting the information in a logical and interesting fashion. And making you/the presenter look and/or sound good. There are arguments about whether the voice of the video needs to be seen or not – for tutorials, I find that I am more comfortable if I can at least get a quick look at who is behind the instructions. But as always, depending on your goals, choose the method which has the higher probability of delivering results.

Shooting and editing are time-consuming processes, particularly if it requires being outdoors. The good news is that if you are doing a series of similar videos, the setup and format will be pretty much the same time after time. And everyone will get better and faster at delivering the desired results.

But the hardest part of all to take is… it just might not look the way you had hoped at the end.

The best things about video content marketing

Thankfully, there are plenty positives to video marketing. Overnight success should not be expected, however. Without a surprise viral hit, you’ve got to build your audience just like with all content marketing. Moz almost gave up on their Whiteboard Fridays, until suddenly they “took off”. So every Friday they post a brief informative lecture on best practices, tips and tricks for SEO. Now they are an industry hit.

Where does video help businesses and individuals succeed?

  • Video helps crowdfunding campaigns get funded.
  • Video testimonials are more convincing than quote testimonials.
  • Video increases sales by catering to busy online shoppers who don’t want to read product descriptions.
  • It is great for SEO (Google + YouTube ownership is a powerful mix).
  • It is a fast, simple way of familiarizing people to your new startup company, app or product.
  • It sparks discussion across social media communities and brings leads to your doorstep.

By incorporating video into your general business strategy, you are increasing your chances of success in the digital age. Simple as that.

Tools and resources to get started

More and more services are popping up offering affordable video creating and editing. There are uncountable agencies out there ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars for short professional video services. It is also possible to negotiate with a freelancer and see if you can work within a budget. VideoPixie is worth looking into on this matter.

video-content

Video content from Video Pixie

There is also more sophisticated DIY home editing software for the more adventurous or cash-strapped marketer or entrepreneur who is willing to learn a bit about video-making.

Future Of Work | Statistics And Trends

We thought you’d love these delicious statistics and trends on the future of work…

Horizontal hierarchy, flexible work arrangements, holacracy, social collaboration tools, access to information…if you’re interested in the future of work, these statistics and trends are for you.

So it all started when we read that according to a McKinsey Study on the Social Economy, social collaboration tools could increase employee productivity by 20-25%. We thought WOW that’s huge!!

future-of-work-trends-social-collaboration-tools 

After reading some more we found that this same study shows that access to a searchable store of social information can reduce the time spent on finding information by up to 35%. This basically meant that workers could gain back 6% of their workweek. How much is your time worth??

future-of-work-statistics-finding-information

However for these benefits to take place (uh-oh here comes the disclaimer..) they require a change in management practices and organizational behavior management. Easier said than done. So we’ve decided to list some of these trends of the future of work here…and this list will grow with time.

future-of-work-talent-will-be-everywhere

future-of-work-flexible-work-contracts

future-of-work-trends-flexible-work-arrangements

future-of-work-trends-social-collaboration

future-of-work-companies-organised-in-teams

future-of-work-trends-continual-learning

future-of-work-collaboration-and-communication-is-the-norm

 

Much more coming soon!!

A Simple Dissection of Online Team Collaboration

At Twoodo we’re continually obsessing over how to make online collaboration better and more human. Part of this is looking at usage data to understand how people use our online collaboration platform. What is the DNA of online collaboration? We played around with some numbers this weekend to uncover this simple dissection of online team collaboration.

Based on 100000′s of events carried out by users on Twoodo over a 2 month period and due to the fact that Twoodo allows to integrate actions into conversations, we came up with this very simple pie chart.

simple-dissection-of-online-team-collaboration

It’s clear that collaboration is first about communicating and exchanging ideas and thoughts. This is followed by action in the form of tasks. It was also very interesting to see that file sharing has a much lower rate than we thought.

Talking-to-your-users-and-customers-is-a-bad-idea-twoodo

Talking with your users and customers is a bad idea!

…unless you want to succeed.

You’ll have to excuse my click-bait title, but doesn’t it seem strange that talking to users is so blatantly important yet so many companies are doing an very poor job of it? A live chat on your landing page can increase your conversion rate for initial buy-ins, questionnaires and surveys will help you unlock the core unique value that your best users see in your product, in-app messaging can help you trigger feature notifications at the best possible times and smooth conference calling may help you concierge onboard an important client and create relationships.

In my experience of creating a team workflow tool that people will actually enjoy using, building a product without talking to your customers massively decreases your chances of success. This article is not so much about the content but more about some of the best tools to get in touch with your users and visitors for different purposes. I’ll dub it my Customer Success Stack. This list is in now way exhaustive so feel free to add your recommendations in the comments. Now get your customer service hat on and read on for some great tips that should eventually help increase your activation rate, retention, revenue and ultimately your customer’s success.

1) Sign-ups: Increase initial user buy-in with Olark’s live chat for on- and off-line

customer-service-tips

 

Having a live-chat available on your landing page is extremely valuable to answer quick questions, create hypothesis for how to improve your landing page and help increase user buy-in. We’ve used a live chat continuously to answer questions of prospective users, create a relationship with them and often find out what was blocking them from signing up. Knowing what blocks a visitor from signing up can be tricky. You can do weeks of AB testing but sometimes users don’t register for reasons you won’t even have thought about. Live-chats are great at giving you clues… “Where is your pricing page?“, “Do you integrate with Gmail“?, “How do you store my data?“, “Can I easily delete my account after creating it“?.

As a SaaS service, we are accessible to anyone with an internet connection. Fortunately, we’re a distributed team so we can take on CET and PST no problem! In any case, live-chat is a great feature to have and even though it may drive you insane to be constantly interrupted remember that this is awesome customer service! Really being there for your users builds loyalty and trust in a way that no branding tricks can.

Olark is a great little tool for this. If you are SUPER small, you get 20 live chats free per month. After that the rate starts at a very affordable $15 per month (paid annually). There is now even a “live offline chat” option. These guys rock.

Their free plan is kind of hidden on their pricing page. Look for it on the bottom left.

olark-livechat-free-plan

If you’re on Mac, another great option is Firehose Chat. You’re not limited in the number of chats however the free version is non-customizable and you can only have 1 operator (1 account)

2) Activation: Concierge onboard users with Zoom.us’s smooth shared screen

customer-service-tips

Skype has been failing us too often to be a reliable customer service tool. A frozen screen and garbled talk is deadly dangerous in customer service, and only the most forgiving people have the patience to stick with you through such events. We switched to Zoom.us which has a really nice screenshare option and (so far) has not failed us.

We use Zoom.us not only to spend time with high profile customers who require concierge onboarding (we package these as “webinars” which are really a live walkthrough of what is in our tutorial) or who have very specific use cases. We also spend time with our best customers to better understand their worklflows. The difference being that the user gets to ask specifically about the challenges your tool is presenting to them. Tutorial videos are certainly important, but this form of educating users has a) a really personal touch, b) is another opportunity to collect data on your users, and what is causing friction for them, c) allows you to create a better onboarding and tutorial videos in the future based on direct feedback.

3) Unearth your unique user perceived value through a good ole Google Drive questionnaire

customer-service-tips

Not all feedback is created equal. In this video Sean Ellis explains why some feedback is vital (especially from users who love your product) and other feedback is a time-waster (especially small feature requests from non-activated or non-passionate users). Having said that I firmly believe that your best customers should be your most prized possession. They hold the key to what is great about your product, what is wrong with it, what can be improved and what future developments you should be considering.

In the earliest of early days, we put our first ever users through a painful but ultimately crucial questionnaire for our customer development. For this, we used Google Forms. Everyone will tell you that landing a long-winded questionnaire on someone who just signed up is a sure way to never see them again. But you’ve got to get some guinea pigs to taste the dish and tell you if you’ve used too much salt or not enough chili.

We hypothesized a number of things:

  • someone who would take the time to do this probably really likes our product =>validation
  • initial reactions to the design of the interface were really important to point us in the right direction => change things that the majority stated as true to be true for all
  • these enthusiasts were probably the most likely to use us in the future, since they were so hungry to try us out => use the data they provide about themselves to build personas

…and all this data is neatly recorded in the Drive, accessible to our entire distributed team, and can be updated with new data all the time.

Although I won’t go into too much detail about what you should be asking your users I’ve made a list of some of my favorite questions to ask that have always assisted in finding our what value users receive from your product or service:

  • What motivated you to sign up? (= initial intent)
  • What do you love about our product?
  • How would you describe our product in 1 sentence?
  • What is the most important value we bring you?
  • What almost blocked you from signing up?

There’s nothing quite like my obsession for recording everything and sharing it with the team on the trusty Drive. Whip together a spreadsheet, name the columns, add the data validation options, and you’ve got a good place to begin a database for collecting customer information.

One example of how we used this information is with the question “How would you describe our product in 1 sentence?”. We were careful only to send this out to our top 300 users. We then recorded each answer in a text doc. We ran it through a tag cloud generator tool called TagCrowd and got this.

twoodo-tag-cloud

Based on these keywords we were able to work on our copy. How we described ourselves. It was a great source of inspiration for AB testing things like our landing page value proposition, our email subject lines, our drip email content, our twitter bio, some of our PR material and anything involving copy. We discovered how powerful it is to re-use your users exact words in order to communicate your value more effectively.

You might wonder what this has to do with getting customers to love you – well, the data you collect from these patient people will be what determine the choices you make for the future. You’ll know what your future customers will want before they even ask for it. You’ll already have built it.

 

4) Retention: Notify about new features and re-activate users with Intercom.io’s event-based drip email service and in-app messaging

 customer-service-tips

The work doesn’t stop after you drive people to your door: you’ve got to make them want to step through. Do this by offering them something tantalizing on the other side. Check out Step 3 of this blog post to get an idea of how to do drip emails. Quicksprout also give some handy tips here.

People want to be handed things, rather than have to search for them. Use your initial emails to offer them the links to your explanatory videos, documents and other content to entice them into actively using your product. They signed up because they saw some added value in using your product. Remind them of what that is. Bear in mind that many people don’t start using your product immediately because they want to set aside some time at a later date to learn about it (at least, that’s what we found!).

We’ve also found in-app message to be an invaluable tool to actually get your message read!

inapp-message-twoodo

In our experience emails get a 30/40% open rate whereas in-app messages are close to 100%. Emails with questions get a 5-10% response rate whereas in-app messages get 30-50% response rates and sometimes higher. It’s simply easier and more relevant to read and reply to a physically contextualized in-app message than an email lost somewhere inside your inbox.

Tools-to-talk-to-customers

Remember to make it easy for them: don’t use a “do not reply” mailing address. In the early days, make sure customers can simply hit “reply” to get back to you. Reroute these emails into a folder or label to help keep them organized. Or do what we do and use the wonderful Intercom service.

5) Find out why users are leaving and more with Qualaroo’s simple Quickie surveys and questions

Yes, the dreaded pop-up. But a nicely designed, well-timed, finely worded call to action (TELL US WHY YOU’RE LEAVING US!!!!! NOOO!) can be extremely effective. Check out Qualaroo,  (or Bounce Exchange) to see what I mean. It shows the user that a) you really give a dang about their experience, and b) you’re trying to make the data gathering as painless as possible.

Many people won’t find it a problem to answer a simple, clear question. Pop-up fails:

  • long-winded, complicated statements
  • no clear question
  • asking for too much
  • bad grammar and punctuation
  • ugly design
  • ALL CAPS
  • asking pointless questions

Good tools to set up these slippery little things are Qualaroo and Clicktale. Clicktale will tell you where a customer drops off the page, where they click most and so on. This will help you design where the pop-up should appear and within what time frame. Also, if you’re using Intercom for your emails, you can use it for your in-app messages as well. Sweet!

After all of this, there should be no more need for old-school contact forms (unless you’re going on an extended vacation). In actual fact, many users will Tweet you, message you on Facebook or even (rarely, but sometimes) send an inmail on LinkedIn. I’ve even had customer dealings on Google+ after a guest blog post!

Make it easy for them.

With all the tools and technology available you have actually have no good excuse for not talking to your visitors, users and customers. talk to your users

It’s also your job to make it easy for them to reach out to you. Think about how customers naturally communicate and use that to design your customer happiness strategy. This is the best customer service tip around. Don’t force them to contact you in ways beyond their usual methods. The phone company knows not to email my grandma her statement – she gets a mailed paper copy and a direct phone call for feedback. Start-up gaming companies can maximize customer service by having forum threads in the right places to communicate with users. You fit into the customer’s lifestyle, not the other way round.

b2b-growth-hacks

The Best B2B Growth Hacks – 21 Tactics to Test

As you are all probably tired of hearing by now, growth hacking is not simply a series of tricks or tactics, but a mindset to do what it takes to grow a company. It is data-driven and dovetails quite a bit with online marketing.

Each of the 21 B2B growth hacks listed here is an article in itself, but I’m going to keep it brief. Many B2C growth hacks can be creatively tweaked to be valuable as B2B growth hacks. For example, the first growth hack (content) specifies certain types of content that will work best for B2B. Remember – whether B2C or B2B, you are B2P: business-2-people.

Notable mention: Buzzfeed’s unique B2B2C growth hack

My favourite recent out-of-the-box B2B growth hack is from Buzzfeed in 2013. They decided that in order to accelerate building Buzzfeed in other languages, they would get students using the app Duolingo to translate articles on their website into their native tongues. This would mean mass translation at a fraction of the cost, meaning the websites would be populated fast, and by native speakers. Read more in the Wall Street Journal.

b2b growth hacks buzzfeed

As to the success of the growth hack, time will tell. But the important part is to realize the creative thinking behind it. Even if Spanish Buzzfeed does not take off as fast as the English version, they have cost effectively converted their thousands of articles into other languages.

When you read each of these hacks, think about how they could be adjusted to match your business goals. Can you invent your own?

1. Creating content and making it shareable and embeddable – ebooks, slideshares, webinars and informative articles.

The forms of content that generate most B2B leads are ebooks, slideshares and webinars. What do these forms of content have in common? They are educational. They offer clear value to the prospect. The content should have some relationship to what your business offers, either directly or indirectly. Do not be overly self-promotional – put teaching something valuable first. If you are a language learning app, create content showing people the best memorization techniques. If you are a plumbing company, show people how to maintain their pipes during extreme cold weather.

A tactic I like to use is to create an article first, and then convert it to the other forms listed above with refinements from comments and feedback. The reverse is also doable, but with an article you can benefit by having another indexable page on your website and an SEO opportunity.

Shareability is also extremely important. Social validation affects search engine rankings, particularly in Google. So make it easy! Install floating social share buttons, or at least have them at the top of your content on your website/blog. Suggest that people share or embed your content elsewhere – the “power of suggestion” is real! Shareability also relates to the attractiveness of the content. Make sure that at least the header image is beautiful, and relates to the topic in the content. If it’s an infographic, make sure the design is appealing. A compelling title also increases the shareability of your content.

2. LinkedIn presence and activity + sponsored updates

linkedin-b2b-growth-hack

Source: LinkedIn

LinkedIn is THE B2B social network, hands down. With the relatively recent “sponsored updates” option, it’s worth testing to see if you can discover leads in what is hopefully your already-thriving LinkedIn network. If it is not a lively network, start getting involved – choose your groups strategically and set aside time every day to comment or contribute in some way. Consistency will easily make you one of the top influencers in a given group. For a complete guide to sponsored updates, click on Jeff Haden’s at Inc.

*Note: sponsored updates are not the same as LinkedIn ads.

3. Conferences, exhibitions

It’s essential, particularly for hardware companies, to exhibit at fairs and conferences – even meetups. There is still a significant portion of business people (and especially if you are dealing with senior managers) who do business in person. There is also the connection people can make with experiencing your product in “real life”. It’s an opportunity to add a passionate face to the people behind the product and to show expertise in the industry. These are powerful and lead to increased trust. It’s particularly fruitful if a single account for your product is worth thousands of dollars.

A live demo for less tangible products like SaaS or games is also a valuable opportunity to do market research. What are the bottlenecks that prospects hit when on your websites? Where do they begin to lose interest? Is it overly complex? Sure, you can get some of this data with heat-mapping and eye-tracking tools but there’s nothing like the detail of doing it with a real person. Also, if the event or exhibition is super-targeted to your niche it will provide many high-quality leads in one fell swoop.

4. Integrate

Consumers’ information is fragmented across a lot of platforms and programs, and offering to consolidate it or link to it within your product is powerful. However, ask for permission. You don’t want to experience the backlash against Google for adding all YouTube comments to the G+ feed. What you choose to integrate depends on what your data tells you is most useful for your users to do. It could be email, it could be social media, it could be their Dropbox account.

Before going ahead with an integration, do some customer discovery and find out what your users actually want. You can also research the FAQs of close competitors (which are usually public) to find out if there is one common integration they are lacking (or if there is one core integration that must be done). Some competitors will have a “requested features” page in public, which is also useful.

Evernote is a prime example of extensive integrations.

evernote-integration-b2b-growth-hacking

Image source

5. Free trial/freemium + best support

The free trial has gotta be sans credit card commitment, and your absolute best support should be on hand for all trial users. Why? Implant memories of excellent service and your lead is more likely to sign up at the end. Think of it as being on your best behaviour on the first few dates. The free trial should be long enough for the user to realize the added value, but short enough so that they don’t quite avail of the full service they would like to get.

With freemium, offer the absolute minimum for the user to have a delightful experience and keep the aware of the benefits of the “premium” version(s). PicMonkey is an example of this tactic. You can SEE what your options on a full package would be like, but you cannot use them. Optimizely also let’s you have a taste by letting you demo a URL. However, the freemium model is full of pitfalls so seriously consider how you are going to get value out of permanently unpaying users before offering it.

6. Make your product so easy to use it requires no training

Pretty much everything Google (bar advanced Google Analytics) can be learned intuitively. Because of the influence of Google, they often don’t even need to explain how their apps work beyond a FAQ document. On Udemy, you can find Google courses by people who decided to learn and pass on the information themselves. There are YouTube videos explaining how to use Google tools by non-Google affiliated individuals.

If you can’t make your product that simple, test the best way to show users how to figure it out in as short amount of time as possible. It may not be what you assume. Or, offer in-house training as part of the deal. However, if you are offering your SaaS product internationally this could prove problematic. Perhaps you can live-train teams and individuals over video calls? In any case, people getting fatigued or frustrated with learning how to use your product is a major source of friction. Test solutions on live participants to find out what works and what doesn’t.

7. Customization, personalization

I cannot emphasize enough how important personalization is in B2B relationships. No matter what stage of the sales cycle, personalize where you can. Use your real name, use their real name. Mention their business in emails, identify with the pains they have in their line of work. Through tools such as Intercom and MailChimp or networks such as LinkedIn, you can discover this data. Humans respond to being noticed. Cold automation doesn’t inspire the same response. Segment your email database accordingly so that the messages sent resonate emotionally with the recipient. Otherwise, you’re just wasting an opportunity.

8. Find ways to suggest to them what to do next

Hotmail suggested that people invite a friend. It revolutionised their business. Hubspot makes it required that at the end of each blog post there is a call-to-action. If you have been successful in gaining access to a potential user in some way, try to find ways to set up “suggestions” for them to follow. It could be “sign up for our newsletter” or “request a free 15min video call” or “try us for free for two weeks”. Don’t leave them hanging! Choose the best CTA for the situation. If you have identified someone as a middle-manager, a link to an article on change management will be much more valuable than a link to an article on how to make a great Powerpoint presentation (the logic being they probably already know).

9. Move the “invite your friends” invitation to later in the learning curve

Few people are going to invite their friends to a new service unless there is a great reward that they can only avail of in that moment. People care about their reputations. They will not recommend something to their friends, family, colleagues or peers until they are satisfied it is worthy of recommendation. If the service turns out to be shoddy or unimpressive, they will suffer the embarrassment of having encouraged people to use it in the first place. This is especially true in B2B. Save the invitation for after a certain number of visits, for example. This can even be done in physical stores with the use of sensors.

invitation-b2b-growth-hack

Image source

10. Discounts, rewards, incentives for them to spread the word

Following on from the last point, there are times to offer incentives. You can place these incentives at points in the funnel where there is a high drop-off rate. PayPal famously incentivized people with pure hard cash. Test “X% discount” versus “X extra free”. There are reports that say one works better than the other. Remember, you have a unique product so don’t leave this to comparing or copying the closest competitor.

Just like in a crowdfunding campaign, the rewards you choose must be possible for your company to support. What you offer should never cost more than what you can afford. Keep a close watch on these incentives to make sure they do not put you in the red. In general, B2B rarely goes viral unless enough employees adopt it that the management have to consider using it formally across the organization.

11. Retargeting

When you are retargeting B2B prospects, always think in terms of “what’s in it for me?” You have to imagine receiving the email, or viewing the campaign on social media (whatever retargeting method you choose) and hypothesize why it would make a person do what you want them to do (sign up? go to a webinar?).

Retargeting is an opportunity to whittle down your list of contacts to the ones most suited to using your product, if you haven’t done so already. Examine how you approached them previously (or how they approached you) and try to understand what went awry.

12. Releasing free tools

A free tool offers instant value to a prospect. The tool should be a useful addition to your persona’s toolkit (and complement your service), just as your content is a useful educational tool for doing their job better. For example, Moz has the Open Site Explorer, which allows people to compare up to 5 websites for SEO. It’s a chance to show your understanding of your persona’s needs and your expertise in building a product.

13. Use automation software

Managing multiple B2B leads can become complicated – if there are many, and you keep messing up what stage in the cycle they are in, you’re wasting opportunities. It might be a good sign to invest in a lead-management tool like Marketo, Salesforce or something similar.

14. Incentivize enterprise adoption – discounts, best support, more storage

Before, I wrote about personal incentives. Here, I specifically mean enterprise-wide incentives. Make offers such as “get your whole team/department on board, and get the first two months free.” Dropbox incentivized universities to spread the use of it’s service by promising X amount of free GB of space when X students/staff were on board. This was identified through an .EDU email address sign-up. The same can apply to regular businesses. When a quantity of sign-ups come from the same business domain you can offer a reward or timed special offer. Or, even better, get in contact with the decision-maker of the team and convince them to adopt your service formally into the enterprise.

15. [Cold] emails and weekly newsletters

Email is still king in marketing! AB test the value proposition of your email taglines on a sample of your databank of contacts. Intercom has a really easy-to-use WYSIWYG setup for this within their CRM tool. Newsletters are also valuable. You’ve been lucky enough to get this person’s email address, now you have to convince them to do something for you.

Make an email un-cold by explaining who you are, why and how you are emailing this person. This will dramatically raise the CTR.

In both the emails and the newsletter, there should be CTAs drawing the lead to where you want them to be. Put it at the end of the email/newsletter – offer the valuable content first. The emails/newsletters should also be timed. VERY generally speaking, Tues – Thurs between 08:00 and 14:00 is good. This way, people checking their inboxes over breakfast, in traffic or at lunch will see your message near the top. Bear in mind timezones when you are segmenting your contact list of course – there’s not much point in sending an email that will arrive at 17:00 on a Friday.

16. “powered by”

Like many others, I have a pet peeve with the phrase “powered by” but I think the meaning is still fine. Qualaroo advocates it. WordPress uses it. The point is to get businesses who are using your product or service to mention somewhere in their header or footer that they use you. My company, Twoodo, might like to have “collaborating through Twoodo” stamped on the landing page, since we are a team collaboration tool. It’s a stamp of trust that promotes brand awareness.

powered-by-growth-hack

Image source

17. Help them

This is an overarching point which combines previous the points on content, emails, newsletters, free tools and so on. But I want you to think of other ways beyond these where you can help your users. For example, Optimizely holds and annual conference called OptiCon. Here, Optimizely enthusiasts get to nerd-out about their favourite tool and people considering using it get to meet users and learn more about it. They will also learn about A/B testing and data analytics.

I’m not saying you have to organize a conference, but you can easily hold a meetup. For example, 3DHubs in Amsterdam hold meetups for 3D printing fanatics to get together, and for people interested to come learn about it. Think about what you can offer your community and how it could also attract or convert new users.

18. Become a critical part of enough of the employees workflow

Bottom-up technology adoption is becoming commonplace, especially with BYOD (Bring your own device) policies in enterprises nowadays. This is where B2C can convert to B2B. If enough individuals use your service or product, it is in the enterprise’s best interests to apply it fully and exert some control over it. This is how Yammer started out. Skype is also arguably in this category as well. How can you make this happen?

When a person signs up with their work email rather than personal email, it indicates the intention of using it for work. If multiple sign-ups come from the same company email, you can design emails that suggest getting the whole team or company on board. Or, you can use an instant messaging tool to chat with one of these worker. Ask directly if they think the manager would be interested to talk with you about testing it on a full team or department.

19. Wifi ads/ads in alternative places

A neat method of advertising is how uGift leveraged wifi hotspots in Ukraine. Business people spend a lot of time in wifi hotspots – hotel lobbies, airports, trains, conferences. Plenty of B2B opportunities. How it works is that before a person can access the wifi, they see an ad for uGift. They set up a relationship with the wifi provider in order to do this.

I’m not usually one for promoting paid ads, but this was one I had never heard of before, so I wanted to share it! Here’s a leaf from traditional marketing: walk in the shoes of your ideal users, and try to think of novel ways to advertise in the places they go and things they consume (but not just for brand awareness – the ad has to compel an action to be taken).

20. Partners, resellers, VARs

You’re busy with the thousand-and-one things it takes to run a business. Why not find resellers, who have the contacts and know the landscape, to help you out?

Some helpful resources to get started:

The best advice I have is to talk to fellow business owners that have tried resellers and get connected through them.

21. Testimonials in video format

Customer testimonials are influential, for both B2C and B2B. The trustworthiness of a testimonial depends on a number of factors: a) how realistic the testimonial sounds, b) a real photo – and here’s where Salesforce took it a step further c) a video testimonial.

This testimonial from Philip’s CIO Jeroen Tas is embedded on a Salesforce blog post:

A video is the most compelling form of testimonial. The participating customer is endorsing your service/product in detail, with their own voice and face attached. A customer wouldn’t sign up for this unless they really believed in the product, right? Video is also an easy-to-consume format. If you have the budget, test the effectiveness of a video testimonial. You can’t know without trying!