What source of traffic drives more loyal customers?
How to scale up that success?
I’m not going to answer all of those questions in this article.
I’ll just give you the minimum viable data analytics tools list to implement from day 1 and start collecting the necessary data so that you will not be blind when the time comes to answer those questions.
You can’t improve what you can’t measure
To clarify things up, I have no personal interests in one or another of the tools listed below. No referral or affiliate revenue from it. No paid vacations… Not even a free t-shirt! I only recommend those tools because they are useful, affordable for startups, and I’m having great results at using them for my Growth Marketing freelancer activities.
Again this article doesn’t provide a FULL list of analytics tools. There are many other great ones out there. It just gives the ones that I consider, as a Growth Marketer, to be the bare minimum. If you feel more comfortable with other similar tools, then feel free. I’m just giving you a suggestion here. The most important are being able to connect the dots.
Google Analytics: Most common scenario and why it sucks
At day 1 most startups implement Google Analytics. And that’s great!
But, so far, Google Analytics is more of a TOFU analytics tool (Top Of the FUnnel).
And the only way to analyze and repeat success is to track everything that goes from the Top to the Bottom of your funnel (TOFU + BOFU).
From your marketing channels to recurring revenue and with unique visitors behavior & knowledge granularity.
This is what I call Connecting The Dots.
Below are the key concepts not to be missed to place your startup on the right track to becoming a Data Driven Business
Understand & Segment your audience
If you’re familiar with the concept of Personas, you understand how important it is to differentiate behaviors and segment your audience.
Gender, Age, Industry, Position/Role, Company name/size… You shouldn’t get an answer to those questions just for the sake of email personalization.
Content viewed/downloaded, completed forms… Any action, every piece of useful information to sharpen your personas and build an overall personalized user experience.
Buyers’ Journey Stage
Inside an homogeneous group of users, maturity degree varies.
You cannot deliver the same message, the same content everywhere.
For each user scenario, you must create relevant content and landing pages to serve them best and move your visitors towards your sales funnel.
You have to track what maturity stage they’re in so that you can nurture your leads accordingly.
Unique Identified Visitors
Customers are using your product indistinctly from different devices. Whatever the device, you should be able to reunify those behaviors under a single user id.
A user id that is also linked to an email address.
Imagine what you could achieve if you were able to connect a visitor’s journey with his email!
I’m sure you get the interest of building a personalized conversation here.
Customer Lifetime Value Measurement
Google Analytics reports total revenue and the average spend per visitor. Great! But your back-end hopefully knows this too.
However, how much is your customer’s average lifetime value in a given period? GA doesn’t provide this metric with basic implementation.
Thanks to this metric, you could be doing some forecasting at where yourbusiness is heading to?
Your CFO and investors would love to have this available.
Marketing Channels Optimization
With basic Google Analytics implementation, you rely on the ‘First conversion’ average value to optimize your campaigns.
But what if your best performing traffic sources attract bargainers only?
Okay, the conversion rate is higher, but they are not and will certainly never become loyal customers.
Should you increase your spend on those customers? Probably not the best move!
A more sophisticated approach to judging sources of traffic would be to run your retention reports by source to see not only which campaigns are sending you valuable traffic (the GA way), but which campaigns are sending you traffic that returns over and over again.
Without doing the value-based segmentation, you’ll never understand which channels bring in the best customers.
So make sure you rely on the Customer Lifetime value metric to optimize your acquisition campaigns.
It’s a typical behavior that your visitors visit you several times before they take any significant action.
Identifying the traffic sources paths that drive more loyal customers is key to repeat success.
If not Google Analytics then what?
Why twisting Google Analytics when affordable solutions already exist.
If you want to go a step further, I encourage you to implementMixpanel or Amplitude from day 1.
You can own a bike and a car at the same time. The car just helps you go farther faster.
Both offer free starting pricing plans. And they have multiple connections with others tools such as Email solutions, Marketing Automation…
Mixpanel recently came up with Autotrack that once implemented, starts collecting lots of data you don’t even think of tracking in the first place and allows you to perform a retroactive analysis.
Mixpanel also offers built-in feedback and notifications features to further the discussion.
Amplitude, for the little time I’ve been testing it so far, provides advanced reporting capabilities to dive into data. I’ll keep you posted on that.
As long as they both offer free plans, why don’t you install both so that you can choose for yourself.
How to implement those tools on my website?
As you’re going to track much more elements and information than basic analytics scripts do.
As you’re going to send the same data over to several tools,
I recommend you use a Tag Manager.
Tag Managers work a sort of data hubs that allows you to implement a datalayer (a list of all the data you want to collect from your visitors) on your website once and for all to gather the data you need and then spread it over to different third party tools.
It frees Marketing teams from Tech teams dependency (and frees Tech teams too doing something they usually hate!).
Both offer forever free plans but Hotjar offers 300 recordings (vs. 100) and 3 months data storage (vs. 1 month).
Please don’t just implement Google Analytics.
You’re going to miss insights for most of the important questions.
Use tools that help to connect the dots.
From your marketing channels to recurring revenue and with unique visitors behavior & knowledge granularity.
Start with implementing a Tag Manager solution first. It will help you collect people + events + properties data.
Then implement a people-centric analytics solution + a qualitative data tool.
That is the minimum viable stack to be a data-driven startup!
Last but not least, as the aim of this article is to get you up and running about collecting data, I encourage you to add from day 1 your Google Remarketing and Facebook Custom Audience pixels (through your Tag Manager).
You don’t have to start campaigns right way, but you’ll be grateful for that when the time comes.
Need help to apply this to your business?
As a Growth Marketer, I use proven process & methodologies to help startups & established businesses grow their revenue.
Data Analytics is essential to measure and repeat success. So implementing those tools is a necessary step.
I’ve been doing analytics implementation and analysis since 2005, so I might be able to help!
Here is an email I received this afternoon from a Startup:
This email could have been sent by thousands of SaaS companies.
Like me you, you probably sign up for so many stuff a week. You receive hundreds of emails like this one.
And most of the time, we don’t remember what it is, what it does and why the hell we even signed up. Especially when we subscribed for a beta alert months ago.
I bet this kind of emails have very little chance to get a decent Click Through Rate (at least on non regular users).
Who would start a conversation without saying who he is and what we’re talking about?
A Damn Simple, Obvious And Free Copywriting Tip (That Is Almost Always Missing)
Whatever type of email you’re working on (product launch, new release, promotional, transactional, customer service emails…) here is this damn straightforward and free information you should always add: Your Golden Circle
What you do
How you do it
Why you do what you do
Use your Golden Circle not only in emails but everywhere:
Social sites bio
Social Media cover images
It will infuse slowly but surely in your readers’ mind. Give them something unique and easy to remember you.
Keep doing what you’re doing, just spread your Golden Circle each time you take the floor.
As part of my activity as a freelance Growth Marketer (and in previous experiences), clients very often consider building personas as a waste of time.
This is usually the line that they want to get rid of from the proposal.
We already know who they are!
To me a best friend is:
Someone that listens to you
Knows a lot about you
Helps when he can
Don’t necessarily seek for a reward or payback
Isn’t that a brand should be for a customer?
How to become your customers’ best friend if you don’t listen and care about them?
Any decent marketer (or any digital savvy guy) will tell you how important are personas.
Everything starts from personas. They are the backbone of any business. They help you:
Build the relevant product
Think of incisive catchphrases
Produce relevant and valuable content
Set up marketing campaigns to attract the right traffic (See Facebook ads configuration options)
I can think of some reasons why people don’t spend too much time on building personas:
Overconfidence in the way they answer the market
They secretly feel that if they ask people, they will kill the idea
They don’t know where to find the data
People don’t answer their survey
They have difficulties in turning my personas into actionable product/content.
That’s right. Building persona is hard work. And it is not obvious at first sight how this will turn into something actionable.
This made me work over the years on a persona canvas that I like to call Actionable Persona Canvas.
From traditional Persona to Actionable Persona
Like many other digital experts do great, this model helps you build a “traditional persona”.
However, to my view, this persona canvas contains critical elements that transform that knowledge into an actionable growth marketing strategy.
The same persona goes through several maturity stages (awareness, consideration…). They all have similar characteristics (age, demographic, position, goals…), but they are not all standing at the same level of maturity.
This makes a huge difference when it comes to starting a conversation!
The goal of this AP Canvas is to help you summarize and map all aspects of your marketing strategy:
Customer knowledge & pain feedback verbatim
Your answer to their needs (product, feature, educational content…)
The landing pages and its content that you will build to hook each one of them
The marketing channels to activate to promote your offer and gain qualified traffic
Useful for everyone in your team
With this AP Canvas, everyone works on the same page. From Designers to Marketers to the Tech team.
Personas is a continuous improvement work
However, don’t get me wrong. Sometimes you will have to experiment to see what works best.
Then you will always refine your personas as your discoveries go.
If you already have some clients, it is not too late.
Actually, it is a tremendous opportunity to search deeper for who they are. When you have a clearer picture, you will be able to figure out how to tap lookalike.
I also advise my clients not to analyze performance per traffic sources only but through a combination of different elements that build different scenario: Persona 1 + Buyer’s Journey stage + Value proposition + Offer + LP + Marketing Channel
This is lot more work but to me, this is the only way to understand what works and what don’t. You can easily benefit from tools like Google Tag Manager & Google Analytics custom dimensions and automate your reporting.
Now let me describe the different elements that the AP Canvas contains:
The human behind the persona (a picture, a name, age, demographics, hobbies, position, mission…)
How he expresses his pain with contextual elements (when, where, how often…). His problem is broken down according to is buyer’s journey stage
Your solution: your value proposition and the offer to answer his need (product, service, content…)
The landing page and its main components to hook them and reach your business goal (lead capture…)
The Marketing channels (growth hacking, search, social media, partnerships…) to make them visit you
Moreover, some specific tech requirements if relevant
Don’t go over building personas. No, you do not know who your customers really are. Deepen your research will sometimes give you some new insight, new path to explore.
Think of some b2b targets.
Sometimes it is even possible to reach them. However, they are human above all. They may have hobbies golf, hookers… Be foolish, be greedy as Steve Jobs said once.
I recently worked for a startup in the flat renting business (I would have love to but it is not Airbnb).
Doing some research on current clients made us discover that they work or are passionate about art, photography, and design. That is a real insight to move forward the discussion. It impacts, among other aspects, content, tone, website design…
Need help to apply this to your business?
As a Growth Marketer, I use proven process & methodologies to help startups & established businesses growth their revenue.
I focus on marketing tactics that drive quick and sustainable growth.
I can guide you through the steps of defining a winning Growth Marketing Strategy.
Using together this Actionable Persona Canvas, you will be up and running to skyrocket your customer acquisition.
As a Freelance Growth Marketer, many of my clients come to me to optimize their conversion rate. They ask me to run some A/B testing.
And my first question is: How high the bounce rate is for the pages to optimize?
Let me explain.
Let’s say you have a landing page with a bounce rate of 60% or above.
What is the point in optimizing a page if 60% of its visitors are not well targeted in the first place?
What would be the value of a survey if 60% of respondents were not relevant prospects?
If your bounce rate is high, don’t jump into testing right away. Start with some traffic optimization work first.
Traffic optimization can offer a 4x better ROI THAN A/B TESTING.
Then, combined with A/B Testing, performance is booming as the audience of the page is of quality.
And this is worth for any business.
Here is a simple case study with round numbers to illustrate my point.
Original state of your business
Let’s say your website receive 10 000 visitors/month.
Your conversion rate is 2%. You get 200 conversions/month.
The Average Order Value is 100€. Then your monthly revenue is 20 000€.
To get this volume of traffic, you spend 6 000€/month in advertising (Google Adwords for example).
First case scenario: A/B Testing Optimization
Let’s increase the conversion rate by doing some AB testing on a given landing page.
Your Conversion Rate goes to 2,2%; then you get 20 extra conversions per month. Great! Your ROI has increased by 0,6 points. Ask your boss for a raise! Unless…
Don’t you think we should focus here on the 98% that does not convert?
Like the majority of businesses, you are paying to get 98% of useless traffic…Yep, you can call it a huge waste of cash!
Second case scenario: traffic acquisition optimization
Do you remember that 80–20 Pareto principle?
Applied to digital advertising, it goes like:
80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your Ad spend.
Meaning that if you only keep 20% of your ad budget (or cut 80% whichever way you prefer), you still keep 80% of your revenue.
Optimizing your acquisition campaigns first offers so many benefits:
You save an incredible amount of money from your ad budget
You save time in managing a lighter ad campaign
You get a better quality score
You don’t bother people with retargeting campaigns that will damage your brand more than generating additional conversions
Those resources can be used to increase the spend on the performing campaigns. Or reallocated to others/new marketing efforts.
Don’t get me wrong, as you understood, I’m not saying you should cut any random part of your campaign of course. Just the ones that never convert.
Who is it you are targeting?
You are targeting 80% of the wrong person. This is useless traffic that has to be cut.
But sometimes traffic doesn’t convert because you are not giving the best answer to the audience’s needs.
You should consider the needs and maturity degree of your visitors.
There are 4 types of keywords a customer will use to do research:
Commercial intent keyword
It is easy to understand that the visitor is not looking for the same information at each step.
Then you should consider building as many landing pages as relevant.
Online advertising that uses landing pages typically sees a conversion rate improvement of at least 25%. Testing can double this number.
This requires working hard on your personas.
Who is it you are targeting? What do they really need? What’s the solution you bring to them?
To help my clients, I use a specific Persona Canvas that I call Actionable Persona Canvas.