How Data Helps Influence Reluctant Buyers

Yes, maybe, or no.

For reluctant buyers, they aren’t quite certain whether your product works for them. The consumer isn’t sure if the product’s features will actually help them.

Tackling this segment of buyers is an issue facing most SaaS companies. The competition and the demand for the new best thing makes consumers apprehensive about purchasing.

Ever since SaaS products emerged on the scene, they seem like they are constantly being replaced with something shinier and newer. Buyers hesitate to upgrade because they worry the new solution will be obsolete within a few years. Switching solutions is a significant hassle for many companies, states Krishna Shastry, CEO and co-founder at Lander.

It’s time to give your audience that extra nudge to buy your SaaS product. Check out these five data-driven strategies below.

1. Customize the Product Demo Experience

Show, don’t tell is the underlying principle of engaging potential customers to learn more about your products. It’s not enough to just list your features and benefits on your website.

Purchasing a SaaS product is a big deal for most buyers. If they’re the end user, your product will solve their immediate needs, and if they’re purchasing software for their business, your product is supposed to help their company operate more efficiently.

To ease reluctant buyers worries, you need to give them an inside look of how your product moves them forward in their endeavors. You can start by asking them specific questions before the product demo.

How will they use your product? What do they hope to gain from the software? Who are the stakeholders involved in this purchase?

You also may want to analyze the most used featured by your top customers. That way, you can show reluctant buyers how others derive benefit from your product. It may offer clarity to the buyer’s particular situation.

One gripe amongst reluctant buyers is how they sign up for product demos. It’s important to dedicate a page for people to request demos. In the image below, sales engagement platform Outreach uses persuasive copy, along with a prominent call-to-action button to entice consumers.

outreach-io-homepage-2017Image Source

Before your next product demo, ask buyers questions to customize the experience. A unique presentation will pique their interest and may lead to a new sale.

2. Segment Buyers to Email Exclusive Offers

As a consumer, you’ve probably asked for something extra with a purchase. Maybe it was extra pickles on your burger or an extra discount on a pair of designer jeans.

Well, while your SaaS product may be better than a gourmet sandwich, the same thought process about getting something extra may exist for your customers. Your buyers may expect a bonus to come along with your product no matter what.

However, exclusive offers aren’t created for every single buyer. You only want to deliver VIP treatment to a select group of reluctant buyers.

These individuals have expressed a strong interest in your product and just need one additional reason to say yes. It’s possible to tease these reluctant buyers with exclusive bonuses to get them to the shopping cart sooner.

Email is an effective tool for communicating this type of message. With built-in tracking capabilities, email service providers can tell you who opened your emails, what links they clicked on in a message, and the time they read the message.

And no more sending generic emails to your entire mailing list. Based on your buyer’s behaviors, you can use email segmentation to send tailored messages to different target audiences.

For instance, your data may reveal that reluctant buyers who participate in a product demo and request two content upgrades are more likely to buy with a bonus. Your team then can deliver a customized message with a bonus straight to their inboxes.

Let your consumers’ actions determine your bonus system. Then, you can execute your plan to capture those lingering sales.

3. Simplify the Checkout Experience

SaaS companies get so bogged down with improving their products that they forget to polish their websites. You’ve probably experienced a few buggy sites from your own experiences. If you get confused for longer than a minute, you quickly exit the brand’s website.

On top of that, consumers hate wasting time looking for your prices. And if your prices are too complicated to understand, they won’t continue with the process.

The reluctant buyer already has concerns; therefore, the checkout process shouldn’t scare them away. Below is an example of a pricing page from LiveChat. It’s easy to read and gives pertinent details about each plan to diminish uncertainty.

livechat pricing 2017

By observing your site behavior, you can identify the friction points causing buyers to bounce. Do they leave after viewing your pricing page? Or do they exit when it’s time to enter a credit card?

Understanding [your customers’] big issues like discomfort with technology or over-reliance on legacy solutions is important, but it’s also important to understand the day-to-day barriers to a sale, writes Ashley Minogue, marketing strategist at OpenView Venture Partners.

Your buyers are reluctant for a reason. Find out if the issue is your checkout experience.

4. Monitor Online Communities

Community engagement is a key part of selling in today’s economy. Consumers like talking about their experiences-bad and good-with their peers.

Online communities give customers the space to praise how they used a product and to offer advice on how the SaaS company can improve. There are also online groups dedicated to helping people learn the basics of a product.

For the reluctant buyers, these communities offer invaluable content. In their eyes, they get to hear the truth. And for proactive SaaS companies, it’s a chance to persuade potential buyers.

For example, with a Facebook group, your team can track post and comment activity to learn what customers enjoy about a feature or the different uses of how your product helps people. Plus, as the admin for an online community, you can guide the conversation of your consumers.

That social listening data prepares your team for sales objections from reluctant buyers. If someone hates that you offer no phone support, you can point to how current customers get more value from your email support.

You want to give reluctant buyers peace of mind. Show them a thriving online community that supports your product and brand.

5. Select the Best Customer Testimonials

Social proof is an irreplaceable asset for persuading SaaS users to purchase products. Influencers and peers can convince consumers to decide between competing brands.

So it’s natural for reluctant buyers to seek out customer testimonials before they make a purchasing decision. Radha Sarma, marketing director at Luit Infotech, offers her insight:

Referral programs and customer stories are incredibly effective for selling SaaS software. Reluctant buyers are more likely to go straight to your existing customers and ask for their feedback or refer to testimonials and reviews on your website, because they rely on that a lot.

To get the most from your customer stories, it’s best to analyze your data to find the testimonials with the highest traffic. You want to learn what makes consumers gravitate to one story more than another. Is it the particular customer? Were the results phenomenal?

From that information, you can produce similar case studies based on the reluctant buyer’s circumstances. You want to purchasers to imagine themselves as the next success story.

And of course, you want to continue to post these testimonials in easy-to-find areas on your site. Datanyze offers a quick format of their case studies for buyers to read.

datanyze case studies 2017

What do reluctant buyers want to achieve? Aim to gather case studies displaying the many facets of your product solution.

Harnessing Data to Influence

Nurturing reluctant buyers requires strategic effort from your team. SaaS companies can use their data to influence consumers to purchase.

Your team can personalize the product demo experience for your audience. When necessary, simplify the checkout process by eliminating friction. And don’t forget to use customer testimonials that fit the potential consumer’s current situation.

Shake off your buyer’s hesitation. Let data influence your next sale.

About the Author: Shayla Price lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology and social responsibility. Connect with her on Twitter @shaylaprice.

How Data Helps Influence Reluctant Buyers

Lawn Service Company Palm Beach Co | 561-307-9411 | Jupiter Lawn Care West Palm Beach

Lawn Service Company Palm Beach Co | 561-307-9411 | Jupiter Lawn Care West Palm Beach

visit our website: http://Broedelllandscaping.com Call: 561-307-9411 Lawn Maintenance Jupiter – West Palm Beach – Boca Raton Florida

 

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If you have yard, you probably want it to look good. Regular lawn maintenance is not an easy task. Landscaping requires hard work in the Florida heat and has to be done consistently. The endless need to keep your grass healthy and maintained can be challenging for busy schedules, definitely for homeowners who have a family and work full time jobs. If your agenda is full or if you just don’t feel like mowing your yard every week in the West Palm Beach heat, you’re going to want lawn cutting services to help. Broedell Landscape is a residential and commercial grass cutting services in Palm Beach. We take pride in the care of your yard and ensure it always looks great so you don’t have to.

 

Why Choose Broedell Landscape?

 

We have serviced the Palm Beach County FL area for 15 years and we have completed hundreds of highly rated commercial landscaping credential and residential landscape services, producing satisfied customers with positive reviews from Jupiter, west palm beach FL, and Boca Raton FL who continue to choose us for their lawn care needs. We can execute any kind of lawn service you may need. Our team offers reliable, cost effective services. We understand everyone’s lawn is different, and we will adapt to execute your specific tree cutting requirements. No Project is too big or too small.

 

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There are a lot of companies that offer landscaping service in the Palm Beach area. You might have hired one in the past and not been happy with the results. We offer a total lawn cleaning that takes care of your front and backyard with the most affordable pricing. We will adapt to your needs and make sure to have your yard looking the way you want it to. Many of our packages automatically send our team to your home or business on the right schedule; there’s no need to remind us! Ask for a free quote. Hire us for garden services worth bragging about, you’ll want to give us your best verified reviews with five stars!

 

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Lawn Service Company Palm Beach Co | 561-307-9411 | Jupiter Lawn Care West Palm Beach

Creating an Effective Conversion Optimization Process (Infographic)

Many companies don’t have success with A/B tests for one simple reason.

There is no process or system set up to run A/B tests. Marketers blindly throw tests up and see what happens. They have no process for creating tests, running tests, or learning from tests. They run tests on things that don’t impact the bottom line, and they stop tests too early.

The solution to this problem is an easy one.

Create an A/B testing process. It is one of the best things you can do to increase your success. Have a method for finding what to test, creating hypotheses, setting parameters on the test, and writing a recap of what you learn from each test, and you will be on the road to conversion optimization success.

Below you’ll find an infographic that outlines how to create an effective CRO program in your company.

The Perfect Execution to Conversion Rate Optimization
Courtesy of: Quick Sprout

Kissmetrics A/B Test Report

The Kissmetrics A/B Test Report empowers you to see how an A/B test impacts any part of your funnel. You can still create your tests in Optimizely, VWO, or any other platforms we integrate with. Then track the results in Kissmetrics with the A/B Test Report, and see how the test impacts the entire funnel. No longer are you limited to testing to the next conversion step. See how a headline test impacts sign-up rates with the A/B Test Report. As long as you’re tracking it, you can get the data that matters to you. Here’s a video demo of the report:

//fast.wistia.net/embed/iframe/1k4ptzuox4?videoFoam=true

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

Creating an Effective Conversion Optimization Process (Infographic)

How to Use Social Proof to get Better Results from Facebook Ads

Today’s article is a guest contribution by Aimee Millwood.

Facebook ads provide enormous potential to grow traffic and sales. But knowing how to create ads that get results isn’t easy. Many businesses fail to grow traffic on social because they don’t know how to create ads that grab attention.

Here’s the bottom line: To sell on social media, you must use social proof, and it has to be the right social proof.

Don’t just take our word for it.

What the Data Has to Say about User-Generated Content (UGC) Facebook Ads

We ran A/B tests to compare how Facebook ads with customer content performed against ads with only brand content.

We saw that cost per acquisition dropped significantly, while conversion rate and average order value shot up.

On average, Facebook ads with UGC had:

  • 300% higher click-through rate (CTR)
  • 50% lower cost per click (CPC)
  • 50% lower cost per acquisition (CPA)

Why the great results?

For one thing, selling on social has traditionally been difficult for many brands. Social is a place where people go to connect with their friends and networks, not to look for things to buy. As Gilt’s Susan Lyne put it, trying to sell on social is like trying to sell at a bar.

She may have a point, but done correctly, selling on social is possible. You’ve just got to join in the conversation rather than interrupt it.

By integrating content created by customers (and Facebook friends), people see a recommendation from a person they trust, not an ad thrown at them by a brand.

These results are great, but they don’t mean you should run off to Facebook and start putting your customers’ UGC on ads.

It’s not enough to simply plaster a customer-submitted Instagram photo or product review on an ad. You need to know how to integrate customer content intelligently in order to tap into its potential.

How to Get the Best Results from Facebook Ads

We’re here to teach you what the data showed us about how to drive the best results from Facebook ads.

We sat down with our Director of Advertising and took a look at insights gained from testing thousands of customer-content Facebook ads. Here are our conclusions along with insider tips on how to get the best results from Facebook ads.

These tips and statistics deal specifically with using reviews in Facebook ads, but the advice applies regardless of what type of UGC you’re using.

1. Take Advantage of Ad Copy

The review (or other UGC) is obviously the most important part of the effectiveness of the ad. But the ad copy is a key element as well. Some tips:

  • Keep it short. Shorter ad copy performs better.
  • Though it may seem counter-intuitive, don’t use the word “reviews”! It comes across as too salesy. Ads with the word “reviews” in the copy don’t perform as well.
  • Make sure the voice in the copy matches your brand voice and message, not the customer’s. The review is where you let the customer speak. The top of the ad should stay on brand.

For example, in the ad below, notice how the ad copy is short and to the point, in the same tone as the review itself. Also, the copy is concise but comprehensive, making it easy for people to understand the message instantly.

brathwait-return-of-the-gentleman

However, the following ad copy refers to the review; and because of this, it comes across as too salesy and forced. Additionally, the tone is much more formal than the review, so it doesn’t work as well. Also, it’s too long, so it doesn’t have the same impact that short, snappy ad copy does.

brathwait-return-of-the-gentleman-2

2. Use Product Reviews for First-Time Visitors and Site Reviews for Re-targeting

In social advertising, it’s vital to target the right person with the right message at the right time.

When it comes to Facebook ads, this means you should use a specific kind of review, depending on whether people are familiar with your store or they are first-time visitors. When you’re trying to gain clicks and traffic, it’s better to use product reviews.

Use reviews of top-rated, top-selling products to attract first-time visitors with specific items.

nations-photo-lab

Once someone has clicked through to your site, seal the deal by re-targeting them with ads containing site reviews.

nations-photo-lab-2

Why? Top-rated, top-selling products will attract new visitors, but after they visit the site and don’t buy the product, it’s more effective to re-target them with site reviews. Site reviews emphasize the authenticity and strength of the brand, not a specific product, so the reviews will reinforce your brand even if the visitors don’t want to buy the specific product.

3. Include Personal Key Words

You might be proud of a review that says “Great shipping and excellent service,” but that doesn’t mean it makes good copy for an ad. Especially on social media, people want to read about real experiences. Using personal pronouns is a psychological cue that the stories are authentic.

Because of this, reviews that have words like “I,” “my,” or “we” are much more effective than reviews that don’t refer to personal experiences.

4. Avoid Reviews with Multiple Exclamation Points

The beauty of using UGC as ad creative is that it is genuine and credible content from real people.

However, when the copy is too enthusiastic, even if it is real, it looks fake to the reader.

Even though the overexcited review looks good to you, it is less trustworthy, which is why ads using reviews with “!!!” are less effective.

So, keep your reviews to one exclamation point maximum.

Look at the difference in the two ads below. While subtle, including too much enthusiasm doesn’t seem as trustworthy.

life-beam

life-beam-2

5. Focus on the Experience

It’s better to use a review in which someone talks about using the product than one in which they describe the fast shipping. Once again, it comes back to people wanting to relate to a real and personal experience.

Reviews that tell a story like “I gave these bracelets to my daughter for her birthday and she was so excited,” are more effective than something like, “The bracelets arrived quickly.”

In the example below, the carousel displays reviews with generic praise about the product and service.

pawstruck

In contrast, the following carousel contains specific examples of personal experiences, making it much more effective and relatable.

pawstruck-2

6. Test It First

Try not to put money into anything you haven’t tested organically first. The beauty of Facebook is that you have a lab where you can test content, albeit on a smaller scale than with an ad.

Test different copy, images, and audiences to see what resonates before you pull out your money.

test-it-first

In summary, the customer’s voice is your most powerful marketing tool. Use it to your advantage by integrating customer content in your Facebook ads. These tips can help you get the best results from this effective strategy.

About the Author: Aimee Millwood (@aimeemillwood) manages the Yotpo blog, where she writes about marketing, growth, and engagement.

How to Use Social Proof to get Better Results from Facebook Ads

5 Essential Ways Marketing Must Change to Support Inside Sales

After years of running and advising startups, I’ve found that many businesses struggle with friction between sales and marketing. Sales often complains that marketing is not generating quality leads. Marketing, on the other hand, criticizes sales for not properly following up with prospects.

In the few companies I was involved with where marketing and sales were aligned, the difference was palpable. These businesses had a clear go-to-market strategy that translated into well-defined priorities for every employee. They also had a much stronger company culture and terrific morale across the organization.

On paper, aligning sales and marketing shouldn’t be hard. Marketing, after all, has the same goal as sales (or, as Peter Drucker said, “the aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous”). In practice, however, finding a good fit between the two departments is one of the more difficult problems in business.

This problem is all the harder in the age of inside sales. With shorter sales cycles and lower price points, there is very little opportunity for sales and marketing to collaborate on specific deals. Throw in the typical strong personalities of sales and marketing leaders, and you have an interesting challenge.

Solving the sales-marketing alignment challenge is critical to your business success. For inside sales to work well with marketing, it is imperative that marketing adopt a few key changes to its principles and processes.

Here are 5 ways marketing must change in order to become effective in a high velocity inside sales go-to-market strategy:

1. Marketing Must Adopt Transparent Pricing

Selling software used to involve sitting across from a prospect, showing off a product demo, and then offering a custom quote based on the customer’s requirements and input from the sales manager.

This method does not work in the present-day context. Buyers today have access to much more information, and they complete nearly 60% of the sales cycle before even talking to a rep. They demand transparent pricing in order to purchase only the products that fit within their budgets and feature requirements.

Besides being more buyer-friendly, transparent pricing offers two tacit benefits to your sales team as well:

  • More qualified leads: Transparent pricing helps buyers qualify your solution for their budgets and reach out only if there is a fit. By pre-qualifying buyers this way, you can ensure that only higher quality leads get through to your inside sales team.
  • Lower friction, faster deals: At an average of 45 days, inside sales cycles are significantly shorter than field sales. To sustain shorter cycles, you want prospects to make purchase decisions quickly. Transparent pricing ensures that your sales team spends the least amount of time possible on pricing. They can focus on the more valuable task of sharing the benefits of your solution for a specific prospect’s needs.

Ideally, you want your pricing to be as easy to understand as possible. You can vary pricing by features or users, but make sure to optimize for, at most, two variables. More than that and you will confuse prospects and lengthen the sales cycle.

RingCentral is a great example of transparent pricing. It offers pricing based on number of users and edition (bundle) chosen. With just three different plans, prospects don’t have to struggle with choosing from endless plans and customization options. This removes friction from the sales cycle and helps RingCentral sell more.

pricing-page-6-6-15

Contrast this with their competitor ShoreTel. Although ShoreTel offers similar products, its pricing plans are confusing and non-transparent. Buyers who land on the ShoreTel website have no option but to contact a sales rep, even if the products are beyond their budget or requirements.

shoretel-pic

Key Takeaway

More options work well with enterprise sales where your goal is to maximize revenue per deal, but in a high velocity inside sales environment, limiting choice yields better results (600% better, according to one study). By directing marketing to adopt transparent pricing, you will ease the buyer’s decision-making process, thus aiding the inside sales team.

2. Marketing Must Have a Leads Quota

The performance of a sales team is a function of the total number of leads it receives each month. The higher this number, the more leads it can process, and the more it can sell.

This is true for every sales team, but is all the more pertinent for inside sales. The inside sales cycle is much shorter than field sales (around 45 days versus 6 to 9 months for field sales), and inside sales reps are not bound by physical limitations (such as taking meetings), which enables them to handle much higher lead volumes.

Thus, a high velocity inside sales team needs a constant influx of qualified leads delivered at a regular rhythm to be successful. This is the reason marketing must have a monthly leads quota. If marketing can’t send enough leads to sales even for a single month, it will be difficult for the inside sales team to meet its bookings number. This is bad for the bottom line and worse for sales-marketing alignment and morale.

Jason Lemkin of Saastr.com agrees, saying that just as a vice president of sales carries a sales quota, a “vice president of marketing needs a leads quota.”

For this idea to be successful, however, sales and marketing must work together to define what makes a qualified lead. In the past, it was common to use BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeframe) as qualifying criteria, though today more relaxed criteria is used. Once sales and marketing agree on a definition of a qualified lead, marketing can be held responsible for a monthly qualified leads quota.

Key Takeaway

Give your marketing team a leads quota with well-defined qualification metrics. This is necessary for the success of your inside sales team.

3. Marketing Must Run Campaigns That Are Flexible

Prior to inside sales, it was typical to have long lead-time marketing campaigns and not get the results of their effectiveness until months later. So, marketing heads would draw up year-long marketing plans in November, and then wait until March-April to see whether the initial campaigns worked (or not). You had little access to data, and whatever little data you did get often took months to roll in.

Compare this with marketing campaigns today, and you will see two significant changes:

  • Marketing campaigns generate more data: You can launch a brand new marketing campaign, buy some PPC traffic to test your messaging, and get tons of actionable data within hours. If the data passes your benchmarks, you can then go ahead and launch it at scale, passing the leads to your inside sales team.
  • Inside sales teams generate results faster: Once the leads start rolling in, a competent inside sales team can close them within days. Thanks to these shorter inside sales cycles, your marketing team can get constant feedback on the campaign’s effectiveness.

In this scenario, the only way to succeed is by running agile campaigns that can accommodate feedback from inside sales. Your inside sales reps should be in constant touch with marketing, telling them exactly what works and what doesn’t. Marketing, in turn, should use this data to optimize the campaigns constantly for best results.

Key Takeaway

Make sure your marketing campaigns are flexible and adapt as per feedback from inside sales. If something doesn’t work, marketing should move quickly to change course. If something does work, marketing should increase spending on it.

4. Marketing Must Be Involved in the Entire Sales Process

It is inevitable that your prospects will raise objections in the course of the sales process. How effectively your reps can answer these questions will be instrumental in determining your win rate.

Traditionally, the responsibility for addressing objections falls upon sales reps. In my experience, however, you see a lot more success by offloading this duty to marketing and involving marketing in the entire sales process. This will also save your sales reps’ time since a majority of reps spend up to 30 hours a month producing sales material.

As an example, in my last company, our customers in the healthcare industry would go through the entire buyer’s journey, but raise objections about HIPPA compliance (required by government regulation) before making a purchase decision. Of course, our reps would answer their queries, but it was usually haphazard and dependent on the individual rep.

To meet these challenges, I directed our marketing department to collaborate closely with inside sales and gather a list of common customer objections. Marketing then went to work creating detailed material for each query and distributing it across the team. Any time a rep encountered an objection, he or she could use this informational material to move customers further along the sales cycle.

Thus, whenever our healthcare customers raised objections, they received a detailed whitepaper on HIPPA compliance. Since this document was common throughout the sales team, we could also answer customer queries in a consistent manner.

The results were telling. Our win rates increased dramatically, and we quickly became the leading SaaS Contact Center Solution for the healthcare industry.

Key Takeaway

Marketing can no longer just hand over leads to sales. It has to be involved in the entire sales process, producing informational material and helping sales reps address prospects’ objections in order to nudge them down the sales process. A professionally produced marketing document will work much better than a quickly drafted email from a sales rep in answering prospects’ questions.

5-Essential-Ways-Marketing-Must-Change-To-Support-Inside-Sales

5. Marketing Compensation Must Be Linked to Sales Performance

We’ve already discussed how marketing has to carry a leads quota. In addition, for true sales-marketing alignment, marketing’s variable compensation should be based on the inside sales plan achievement.

There are two very good reasons for this:

  • Marketing gets compensated based on its role: Once marketing is involved in the entire sales process and carrying a leads quota, a part of its compensation should be linked to its role in the sales cycle.
  • Marketing works better with sales: Sales often feels that marketing gets compensated even when sales does all the heavy lifting (i.e., making the actual sale). By linking marketing compensation to sales achievement, you will ensure that marketing is more involved than ever in helping sales achieve its goal.

Key Takeaway

Once marketing is more involved in the sales process, part of its variable compensation should be linked to sales performance (around 25%). This can also help in better sales and marketing alignment.

Conclusion

Over the last decade, inside sales has been a transformative force in sales organizations, especially in B2B sales. It has changed not only the way we sell, but also the way we market our products. The inside sales go-to-market model is here to stay and is only gaining momentum.

For inside sales to be successful, it is imperative that marketing adopt a few fundamental changes. This includes bringing more transparency to pricing, linking marketing compensation to sales performance, and involving marketing in the entire sales process.

These changes may be hard, but they are critical for modern business. They will help you sell more, run better sales teams, and most importantly, create the all-important sales-marketing fit necessary for business success.

About the Author: Mansour Salame is the Founder and CEO of FrontSpin (an inside sales SaaS provider). He is a hi-tech entrepreneur with multiple successful exits. He enjoys building high performing teams and is passionate about inside sales.

5 Essential Ways Marketing Must Change to Support Inside Sales

Video Marketing Without a Goal is Just Moving Pictures [PODCAST]

videoinpost
Don’t just point and shoot: are your video campaigns backed up by data? Image by J. Sawkins via Flickr.

How can you make your marketing videos delightful while still reaching your business goals?

In this episode of the Call to Action podcast, Unbounce’s Dan Levy talks to Jennifer Pepper (Unbounce’s Customer Success Content Strategist) about this tricky task. They dive deep into the importance of a data-driven approach to video marketing campaigns, and share some tried-and-true storytelling methods that’ll give your videos that extra kick.

Listen to the podcast

 

Listen on iTunes.

 

Prefer Stitcher? We got your back.

 

Mentioned in the podcast

Read the transcript

In this episode: Stephanie Saretsky chats with Felix Cha, Unbounce’s Videographer. Then, Dan Levy, Unbounce’s Content Strategist, interviews Jennifer Pepper, Unbounce’s Customer Success Content Strategist.

Stephanie: Hey podcast listeners, just a heads up we will be taking a break from the podcast next Wednesday, July 1st, due to holidays in the US and Canada. You can expect another episode to be posted on Wednesday, July 8th. Now, onto the show!

[theme music]

Stephanie: Every video campaign needs to start with a goal. An engaging concept just isn’t enough. For example, when Felix first started at Unbounce on the Customer Success team, one of his first tasks was to make a marketing explainer video for our website. It was a fun video that showcased our office, our awesome customer success team, and Unbounce’s great features. But it never saw the light of day. Here’s why.

Felix: The interesting thing was that it tried to target not just our current customers but also target the new customers, new prospects, as well as actually showcase how friendly we are and how good of a customer support team we have. And because that video had way too many messages, it was trying to say three different things. At the same time, it didn’t take into account who we were trying to target, and then also it didn’t take into account our positioning statement.

It didn’t even get published. So that was a big learning experience because I had spent about two or three months making this video, and it was pretty much done. And it is still sitting there ready to be rolled out. I should have thought of what this video should have been in the first place and then how the messaging should have been crafted instead of kind of going in like, “Oh, I think we need a video on our website and this should be the messaging and we will target these audiences and they’ll love it.”

Stephanie: Because Felix was looking at his video through a Customer Success lens – you know, make everything as delightful as possible – he got a bit carried away with the different messaging and lost sight of the marketing goal. So Felix took this lesson to heart and his next videos for product feature launches had more refined messages and a larger impact.

Felix is now on our creative team so we’re super excited to be able to work with him on more marketing features. But with a new department comes new responsibilities.

Felix: I kind of realized okay, I really gotta start making use of data. As creative people, we kind of tend to not think of data as much; we just think about how it’s gonna look, how is it gonna feel, how is it gonna affect our audience. But I am trying to learn how Unbounce’s marketing actually works and how it’s been doing and where we are going to actually better understand okay, how can videos or anything I make contribute to the campaigns. So that’s like the new challenge. Because I don’t have a marketing background; I’ve been just making videos on my own a lot of the time. And to actually try to learn what marketing is and how we can take data and lessons from those campaigns and bring it back into the creative part of it is – it’s a new challenge but it’s really exciting.

Stephanie: I’m Stephanie Saretsky and this is Call to Action, Unbounce’s podcast about doing marketing better. In this episode, we’re tackling a conundrum that it seems a lot of marketers are facing: getting started on producing cool and delightful video marketing that also achieves tangible business goals. Luckily, we knew just who to talk to.

Jennifer: I’m Jennifer Pepper and I’m the Content Production Manager for the Customer Education team.

Stephanie: Unbounce’s Content Strategist, Dan Levy, spoke with Jen about the importance of data driven video marketing and the different methods of video storytelling that she wrote about in a post for the Unbounce blog: “Don’t Bother Using Video on Your Landing Pages Unless You’re Doing These 5 Things.

Dan: Video marketing, eh?

Jennifer: Oh, yeah.

Dan: What’s the deal with video marketing?

Jennifer: It’s hot, Dan, it’s hot.

Dan: I’ll rephrase that for you. Video is, I feel like, one of these things that we all have the sense we should be using more in our marketing because we know the stats about engagement and that YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google. But it’s also kind of expensive and a bit complicated and time consuming. So how do marketers know whether it’s worth investing in video?

Jennifer: Well, it’s definitely a different medium to get right for most brands but experimenting with your audience and your content is the key to getting started. So a lot of people think they want to get in on the video game, but it’s only really worth investing in once you’ve figured out the plan for content creation – so what you’ll create and for who – and have an understanding of how you want your videos to contribute to guiding people along the marketing funnel.

So ideally, you can start with creating one to two to three videos at the top of your funnel. And then after you’ve distributed those videos strategically the best you can, you follow up by reviewing the engagement data for this first set. So you don’t want to create a ton of video series of 18 videos only to find out that they’re not really resonating. So you’ve got to start small but you also have to have the tools in place to start measuring engagement, which, for marketers, that’s gonna be a video marketing platform.

But after a while of creating videos, you kind of want to calculate the overall ROI on the content. And to do this, you’re going to look at whether you’re making more money back than you’re spending on producing the assets in the first place. So take the amount of sales attributed back to video conversions and divide it by the amount of money spent to create the video.

Dan: That’s a really good answer. But let’s take a step back maybe, for a moment.

Jennifer: Sure.

Dan: One of the things that you say in the post is that it’s crucial to define what your goal is before even starting the concept for the video. You actually wrote about a video marketing campaign by the company Vidyard that converted at 33 percent. So could yo tell us about that campaign and how they approached it from the ground up?

Jennifer: Sure. So at Vidyard we were writing articles all the time to get our message out there, like many startups. But when you write about the same story all the time, you start to wonder: okay, how can I scale this message more effectively and is there a content asset that I can make as sales enablement so that we can use this message all the time on a bigger scale?

Dan: Right. Sorry, we should just clarify that you were at Vidyard before Unbounce.

Jennifer: Yeah. So we made a strategic video campaign about the two types of people we were always writing about and for. So the video is about what happens to a marketer who posts videos blindly and hopes that they do well versus a marketer who is super smart about where she distributes her video and is just more strategic.

So we wrote this “once upon a time” type story about Post-and-Pray Pete and Strategic Sue that would speak directly to our audience of B2B marketers who weren’t really sure what to do with their videos. And even though videos don’t always have a strategic purpose these days, we’re a startup and we needed the content we created to help us with lead generation month over month. So we decided the video had to have a bigger purpose for lead viewers to complete more of a meaningful action so that they had to enter our funnel somehow.

So at the end of the video, the narrator tells you that the main character in the story is a real marketer, not just a cartoon, and this call to action prompts the download of a case study about this exact marketer – one of our customers. In other words, the video leads viewers to reach the end of the content to engage with even more content that speaks to the middle of the funnel. Does that make sense?

Dan: Yes. So in this case, the campaign itself was instructional in the sense of distinguishing between the type of marketer who starts the video campaign with a strategy in place versus the one who just sort of thinks if we build it, they will come. But it was also itself a campaign that had a “lead you in” component to it.

Jennifer: Absolutely. So we ended up finding that those who converted were pretty high quality because the video served as a way to qualify their interest. So if we get you to watch a two-minute video and then you download a case study, you’ve gone through two actions and it’s likely that you’re more interested or you’re worth a call or you’re trying to figure out what our business actually does, you know?

Dan: So the goal of the campaign was what, to generate a certain amount of leads or to get people to watch a certain amount of the video?

Jennifer: So basically it was a lead gen campaign so we were trying to get more people in the top of the funnel. So the content is very high touch, I guess. It’s not – you can be almost anybody and get something out of the video but it was targeted toward a B2B marketer; somebody with marketing automation in place and a marketing stack that was pretty sophisticated. So we cast a wide net but then it gets I guess more narrow as you go through the video. And then you realize okay, this is a marketer; you’re either interested or you’re not interested in how she was doing all these great things with video, and then you’re going to download the asset to find out what that person in real life actually did.

Dan: Very cool. So it cast a wide net in terms of the education and awareness part but there was still like a very strict focus on generating qualified leads through the campaign as well.

Jennifer: Yes, absolutely.

Dan: Cool. So like any other part of a marketing campaign, even an email or blog post or a landing page, what sets apart a marketing video from a home movie or something is that it needs to contain some sort of call to action. Do you have any tips on crafting a successful video call to action, or CTA?

Jennifer: Yeah. So you’re gonna want to keep your CTA aligned with the viewer stage in your funnel. So if it’s a top of funnel video, maybe have the CTA lead to a next step in the discovery phase as a prospect. If it’s a mid-funnel video, consider if it’s persuasive enough to prompt a more meaningful action like a trial or a demo at this point. So back to our campaign, it was very top of funnel but then it led to – so it was very discovery phase but then it led to a case study. So you can really gauge that the leads that you take in from that campaign are more qualified because they’re interested in a case study. So you can sort of set up your next step in the funnel. Does that make sense?

Dan: Yeah. No, totally. So maybe can you paint a bit more of a picture of what the CTA was, like what the button said, for example?

Jennifer: Sure. Actually, I’m really embarrassed because on the landing page it said “submit,” which we never say to do. It’s a terrible thing to do.

Dan: In your defense, you weren’t at Unbounce yet so you didn’t know better.

Jennifer: No. Actually, a good example for B2B brands that want an effective CTA, you can look at what Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s content does with their videos. So they’ll create stuff to prompt you on to the next piece of content. So say if they’ve done an ebook, for example. They make a mini video trailer about the content of the ebook to prompt you then to go download it. So the end of the video on YouTube contains an annotated download button, which leads to the ebook landing page where you can get the report. And this is super clever because the ebook’s launch date comes and goes but a video trailer keeps the evergreen content useful to a brand because you can release it over and over and over again on your social channels. But it can live on YouTube because it’s pointing people back to your website.

Dan: Right, and the CTA doesn’t necessarily have to be at the end of the video, right? It could be anywhere depending, I guess, on the tool that you’re using for video?

Jennifer: Absolutely. So some video marketing platforms have a feature built in where you can have a pop-out CTA, for example. So you don’t always have to think end-of-video CTA because there’s no guarantee that someone’s gonna even get to the end. But you can use something like a pop-out CTA so if you’re going to mention a product, maybe it’s a product demo but they’ve seen half the video and maybe they’re convinced. You can have some slide-out on the side that says, “Hey, like already sold? Check out the demo,” or I don’t know, something but they can click and go explore.

Dan: I love the honesty of “Already sold.” It’s like, “Already sold; want to stop watching this video? Just click. Just click already.”

Jennifer: “You done? Good.”

Dan: I want to talk a little bit about storytelling. And I know storytelling has become another one of those buzzwords that’s buzzing around marketing circles over the last few years. But when it comes to video, story really is crucial. How can you use story to drive people toward that call to action?

Jennifer: Yeah. Everyone talks about video stories but the strength of a story is whether it can evoke any emotion. So I’ve found it kind of surprising that it doesn’t even really matter which emotion you pick because they all kind of work. So you can make people feel delighted or you can leave them feeling anxious, but you just want them to feel something as a result of watching your content because this helps prompt the all-important next action.

Dan: Even if it’s terrible.

Jennifer: Oh, yeah. I have an example of that for later, I guess. But you just want them feeling something at the end. Because the classic brand generic video leaves people feeling like, “Okay, I’m done with this.” And then they drop off. But if you’ve done a video right, it should have people thinking, “Okay, what else can I watch from these guys?” Like they seem to know what’s up or they really resonate with your message. But it’s good to be aware of what you want your audience to do. So if you want people to like your brand, you might want them laughing, like with a comedic story angle. But if you want them to resonate with your brand, you might want to evoke feelings of empathy and be really, really transparent and honest.

If you want them to take action, fear or even a light anxiety can be a good motivator. So again, not those positive emotions but you can make them feel kind of like they’re missing out on something. So whether it’s like a new service or a trend, something of value like people hate missing out. So you could also make them feel silly on account of current mistakes. So it doesn’t always have to be a positive emotion. But as long as they’re feeling something in their gut, it’s good.

Dan: Right. So before you set out on that campaign, you’re thinking about what the goal is, but also how do you want this piece to make people feel, which is a really interesting secondary questions, I guess. One of the emotional triggers that you mention on your posts is anxiety, which is I guess one of the – you know – maybe more negative ones. Can you explain how Adobe stirred up anxiety in a video of theirs called “Click, Baby Click”?

Jennifer: So this is a video Adobe did a while ago and it featured the CEO of an encyclopedia company who happens to get data back about a marketing campaign that seems to suggest that people are buying tons and tons of encyclopedias. So you see him stir the plant into heavy production of more of the books and there are massive shipping containers sent out, and it’s pretty epic. But the end of the video shows a baby with an iPad who’s just mindlessly clicking the brand’s ad over and over again like in a banner ad.

Dan: Oh, no.

Jennifer: So the ad ends with a voiceover that asks, “Do you know what your marketing is doing?” And it’s great because the majority of the target audience of marketers has to wonder, well, do I know? Like how do I know? So it’s a terrific campaign and there’s more of that set of ads that they did that are just so good because they just stir up a sort of anxiety. And when they leave you with that, you’re sort of prompted to take an action. You’re prompted to go see a trial of the software – of their analytics software. So I think it’s really smart.

Dan: Yeah, in this case the solution is to put them out of their misery, right? Cool. Let’s talk about metrics for a second. What are some of the ways to measure whether a video marketing campaign is successful? I’m guessing it goes beyond views on YouTube.

Jennifer: For sure. So you can post videos to YouTube but I always say that they have to point back to your site where you have a video marketing platform in place tracking visitors’ engagement on your site where it matters. But you want to look for a video marketing platform that allows you to integrate with marketing automation, in most cases, because this is how you can leverage the data to its fullest.

So in terms of engagement stats, YouTube alone isn’t really enough for marketers at this time because it can only tell you how many people are watching; not who’s watching, where they’re located, and what other videos they’re browsing through on your site. For this info, marketers kind of have to look at video marketing platforms and how video marketing integrates with other key tools that they have in place. But after releasing your first few videos, you’re gonna look at things like how many people are watching total, the percentage of people who click through to watch a video, what percentage of a video do they watch before they drop off, what other videos they’re watching on your properties.

So did one video lead them to another or even to download a resource from you? What was their next step and the amount of content people consumed total on your site? So which video led to another one, and so on and so forth. And you can also A/B test your landing pages to see whether videos are actually helping to persuade more people to convert.

Dan: Right. I keep talking about YouTube because that’s often what comes to mind when you hear online video. But like you said, you really want to host your videos on that dedicated landing page. Beyond A/B testing, what are some reasons for doing that, or is A/B testing the answer and I gave it away?

Jennifer: You’re definitely going to want to test out whether videos help your landing pages because the entire purpose of the landing page is to persuade, and videos happen to be the best way, I think, to convince someone of anything. So they’re inherently persuasive because they usually contain people and faces and we all really like consuming information in that palatable way. Unruly found that enjoyment of a video asset increases purchase intent by 97 percent and brand association by 139 percent. So that’s huge. And Unbounce found with previous research that it can impact conversion by up to 80 percent just having that video on your landing page. But it all depends on whether that asset is actually good.

But one of the best examples of video on a landing page I’ve seen recently is the example on Unbounce’s site: Paper Anniversary by Anna V. It’s so good. There’s this lady, Anna V., who sells paper anniversary jewelry. So she makes jewelry for people’s first wedding anniversaries out of paper. But she has a video at the top of her click-through page so the landing page leads to where you can go see the actual jewelry pieces. But the top of the page contains this video featuring the owner of the company talking about how the first anniversary is so important and why men should consider buying a paper gift, a traditional paper gift – meaning her jewelry – to make it special. But it’s just such a persuasive video and it’s got high production quality, which you don’t always have to have, but that one definitely contributes to a better experience. And yeah, you should check it out; it’s really good.

Dan: I will do that. So it’s interesting. I guess videos help reinforce a landing page in terms of engagement, in terms of making the sale, I guess, and persuading them to click the CTA. While on the other hand, the fact that it’s on a landing page helps the video actually convert, right? Because ideally if it’s a properly designed landing page, especially with when they have only that one thing to do, which is click the CTA either in the video or on the page itself, which hopefully I guess are lined up, right? You don’t want two conflicting CTAs between the page and the video?

Jennifer: Oh, yeah. The video should definitely – if you’re going to include one, it can’t be the video brand generic thing that has nothing to do with the offer on the page. You really, really want the two of them to be highly aligned. So don’t just put your startups explainer video on the landing page; it’s got to be something like – if you’re offering a trial, it’s got to be a video explaining why or who maybe would want a trial. So explain the specific audience for who you’re after and that way it gives viewers a chance to self-qualify.

Dan: So what happens after viewers have clicked that CTA on your video or on the page itself? What’s the next step?

Jennifer: So once people exchange their contact info on a landing page, it’s your job to send them to a confirmation or a thank you page. You can send them a follow up email allowing them to opt into your brand communications, or you could follow up with a call. So something along the lines of, “Hey, I noticed you downloaded our e-book on monkey sweaters. Do you like monkey sweaters? Oh, yeah? What kinds are the best?”

Dan: How do you know I like monkey sweaters?

Jennifer: Exactly. I saw that you watched a video because I was monitoring on my marketing automation system.

Dan: Oh man, marketing.

Jennifer: Crazy, right? But this follow up is based on a resource that they took interest in, and it can really help you determine someone’s needs and how you can help them. So it just helps extend the conversation past after they have followed through with your CTA. But it can be an email, too.

Dan: Yeah, even suggest setting up triggers to send emails like once visitors have watched a certain percentage of a video. So does that include folks who didn’t actually click your CTA?

Jennifer: Yeah, so your best bet is to reach out to folks who have watched at least 50 percent or more of a video is what I lean toward. So you can set up those kinds of triggers in your marketing automation software but you don’t have to wait for those who only click the CTA, basically. So imagine the impact of watching a video on a brand site and then even after you’ve dropped off, you get an email in your inbox seconds later about a particular product you were viewing. That’s exactly what the future of marketing is all about; the right message at the right time and the right context. I think it can be pretty impressive for brands to follow up that way.

Dan: Yeah, and that’s another example of how the video and the landing page reinforce each other because on a page, people click the CTA when they’re ready to click. But here you’re saying video is a way to engage people who might not be ready to click the CTA or might not have gotten there but have shown a certain amount of intent so you could continue to market them maybe in a little bit of a softer way.

Jennifer: Absolutely. That’s where the lead nurturing comes in. Yeah, you can do a great job of that based on the context of what they watched. So if your offer is very specific, you can sort of get an idea for what exactly that customer is interested in.

Dan: Very cool. All right, so what’s the easiest way for marketers to get started with video without investing a huge amount of time and money right off the bat?

Jennifer: Well, to get started, think about the questions that your brand is in the best place to answer. So think about which topics you’re an industry leader in and how you could do how-to video series or even interview questions about this particular topic. So these kinds of how-to videos help your search rankings for the particular query phrases that you answer. And when people turn to YouTube or Google with questions like “What is cloud software?” your cloud software company can show up as the answer that has the video next to it, which is inherently more interesting to click on as a search result.

But you can start with three videos and go from there. So work on getting the distribution just right because that’ll have a huge, huge impact on whether you’re getting the traffic that is actually valuable to you. Work on syndicating the content in articles that you shop out to various sources on the web to get the right traffic going to those videos is a good idea. So if you are talking about – you’re talking to B2B marketers, let’s say, about something very business-specific, you might want to write for Inc.com. Ask the editors, “I want to include this video. Can I embed it with my embed code?” So then your video marketing platform on your site can be tracking the results of who’s watching that somewhere else so you can get an idea of where the traffic is coming from and who that is and stuff like that. But most outlets will let you do that.

Dan: Right, and probably they’ll be more willing to let you do that than to embed like a really obvious product-related CTA right in the article.

Jennifer: Definitely, definitely. It’s definitely got to be something that their audience is interested in. So if you make, say, a video infographic – so say you have a static infographic. Maybe you want to make that into more of an interactive of one through video. And then a lot of companies will want to capitalize on the research that you did so you can syndicate it with their audience. But work on capturing the right audience and the right channels and getting that engagement metric higher and higher. So try and cap off the drop off. You don’t want people dropping off ten seconds into your videos because then they probably weren’t that good to begin with.

So you can adjust and refine based on the metrics that you look at. So if people are dropping off after ten seconds, there’s either something not right about where you put the video and the audience that comes with that spot, or there’s something wrong with your video. So you can rework the content with edits. So you could take out content that your audience is constantly skipping over, for example, and then see how the recut does.

Dan: I like that. These metrics basically force you to – they keep you honest. They force you to make sure that the video is actually good, not just “good enough.”

Jennifer: You can definitely keep iterating and making sure that you’re catering to your audience with video, which I don’t think a lot of people do. They think, “Okay, I made one, it’s not that great, that’s it.” But there’s also nothing wrong about using your webcam or your iPhone to film, either. You just need to consider your audience’s time and you have to get the edit right. So I find like some people think they need a talking head for 30 seconds, you know? But even that, you’ve got to break up with B roll and keep it interesting. You just want to make sure that your content delivers the most value possible.

Dan: I think that’s what it’s all about, right? Delivering as much value possible.

Jennifer: Yup.

Dan: Yup. All right, well, I’m gonna go get myself a monkey sweater so I’ll let you go.

Jennifer: Excellent.

Dan: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat, Jen.

Jennifer: Thank you.

Stephanie: That was Jennifer Pepper. Her title has changed since the time of recording, and she is now Unbounce’s Customer Success Content Strategist. You can find her blog post and this episode’s show notes at Unbounce.com/podcast.

So we’re six months into the production of Call to Action and we’d really love to hear what you think. Do you like the format? What do you think about our guests? And what do you want to hear more of? So if you have a sec, please drop us an email at podcast@unbounce.com.

That’s your call to action. Thanks for listening!

Transcript by GMR Transcription


Video Marketing Without a Goal is Just Moving Pictures [PODCAST]

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

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

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

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

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

So…follow the lead!

What you need to do first: Prepare your dataset

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

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

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

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

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

Enter the fray: Define your targets and events

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

Step 1: List out what you need to predict

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

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

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

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

Step 2: List your app’s key features

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

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

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

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

So in short:

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

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

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

Step 3: Define behavioral funnels

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

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

user-behavioral-funnel

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy the fruits of your labor: Track your campaigns

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

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

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

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

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

tracking-results-applied-to-marketing

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

Conclusion

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

machine-learning-predictions

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

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

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

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