Wilson Jian P
pinterest marketing

The top tips for growing your Pinterest account in 2019

Pinterest is one of the most undervalued social media channels out there for marketing especially for people who run e-commerce stores.

In case you’re not familiar with it, Pinterest is a social media channel that allows users to save images from anywhere on the web to a collection or some people refer to it as a board. Think of it as a public Instagram channel for brands.

You’ll be surprised at how many people make purchases after browsing Pinterest. For brands, it has become one of the most engaged social media platforms to interact, advertise, and generate high-purchase-intent traffic.

I used to run a few e-commerce stores myself and Pinterest was a big driver in e-commerce revenue. Most people only think of Facebook and Instagram, but Pinterest is highly undervalued as an alternative marketing channel.

Just like other social media channels, Pinterest isn’t easy to get right. Content does play an important role and we’ve helped a few e-commerce clients come up with creative content and research that works.

In this post, I’ll share some of the top tips for growing your Pinterest account in 2019 to drive more growth and revenue.

1. Photo is KING

A while back I put together a post on real estate image copy and what sells in the real estate industry. One of the biggest point that I emphasized was the power of professional images.

This same concept applies to Pinterest. People aren’t going to click on bad pictures, but compelling pictures work.

To ensure that you have top-notch photos, use the following tips:

  • Use professional photos of your products, instead of snapping a quick picture with your phone. This isn’t Instagram.
  • If you have a collection of products, bundle them in a picture. Those tend to work quite well.
  • Add a human element in the photo. For example, don’t just pin a photo of a Warriors hat, instead include the whole gear from sweater to pants.
  • Pins related to your site’s content works the best. Instead of pinning a photo of a product, pin a photo that leads to a blog post.

The truth is that real life photos don’t do as well on Pinterest as professionally styled photos, so make things clear and appealing.

2. Yes! Hashtags do work

Most people think that hashtags only work on channels like Twitter, but this is not true. Hashtags work really well on Pinterest as well.

Once you pin a new image, Pinterest usually starts with showing it to your handful of your followers, or to people looking up a specific hashtag or keyword.

If your pin was interesting enough for your followers to repin it, Pinterest will then deposit that image in the feeds of your followers’ followers. If they repin it, the process continues. So, it works like a windmill effect where followers of followers will also see the pins and photos. It’ll appear on their feed and you can get featured if there are a lot of repins and engagement.

Pinterest will use engagement activity to determine how valuable a given pin is, and in turn, present it in relevant search results and category/browse collections closer to the top if it thinks it is a more relevant pin.

Adding hashtags to your pin description increases the chances of your pin being found by users searching for ideas because it expands the keyword and its not just a “general search” anymore.

Hashtags are currently severely underutilized, so they present a HUGE opportunity, especially for new pins and accounts that may not have a ton of organic visibility through pins and repins.

The limit for hashtags on Pinterest is currently 20, but that’s way more than enough. You wouldn’t need more than a few relevant ones.

Ok, so how do I find good hashtags?

It’s actually quite simple. Type the main keyword you want to rank for in the search bar of Pinterest and wait for the pins to load. Then you’ll see a horizontal list of related keywords listed between the search box and the results. Use the little arrow to the right of the related keywords to scroll and see the whole list. These can all be used as hashtags in the pin.

3. Good copy is still much needed

Just like how you would create a detailed meta description and title for your blog post, your pins and boards will be much more visible to users if they contain a detailed, keyword-rich description. It will also make things look way more professional and creative.

Don’t just add a sentence fragment or a general description. Get more into details about the blog post you are pinning about and include things like what would readers learn from visiting the blog post.

The worst thing you can do is leave a pin blank without any words in it.

Taking a few extra seconds to write a thorough description for each pin and board on your account could go a long way.

4.  Create more pins for a specific blog post or product

So a lot of people like to set and forget and what I mean by that is that they’ll create a really good pin and link it to an individual blog post or product, but once your boards grow bigger, you can actually create more pins for the same link. You can do this by swapping out the image and description to make it look a little different but link to the same blog post.

This is a trick that works really well when you have a lot of pins in one board.

This means that you’ll be strategically maximizing the Pinterest potential of what you have right now.

No one says that you have to stop at just one pin for a given page on your site. If you have a complex article that offers lots of different information and answers multiple user questions, create a pin to showcase each answer or type of information.

This will be a strong traffic driver.

5. Site verification and use a business account

Pinterest offers two kinds of accounts: a personal account, which is the default option, and a business account, which offers bonus features like analytics and the opportunity to run ads to promote your brand on Pinterest.

It’s crucial that you have a business account for all your brand related pins.

If you already have an account, you can convert it to a business account (free of charge). Make sure you are logged in to your account, then visit pinterest.com/business/convert/. Fill out the information about your business (name, website, industry), and click Create.

There’s an additional process where you have to verify your site, but it’s quite simple and similar to the Google Analytics way of doing it.

6. Adding text within the images

Similar to Instagram, if someone is scrolling through their feed and scanning through the images, they’ll probably only see your image for a quick second, so it’s important to capture all of their attention on their initial scan.

In that very short period of time, your image needs to catch their eye enough so they’ll stop scrolling and click through. Most images can’t do that on their own, at least not in a fraction of a second. That’s why, in most cases, it’s best to add some text to further entice the user to click through the pin to your website.

This is especially helpful with pins that represent processes, such as recipes, meal plans, and workouts.

A lot of brands like to include their logo in the pin as well.

Also consider infographics, rather than photographic pins, when appropriate. This is especially helpful when you want to share a lot of information, such as a blog post about the health benefits of a certain supplement.

Adding a unique title in a good looking font can make the difference between getting a click and people just browsing through it.

Conclusion

Alright, hopefully, you learned a lot from this! Start taking advantage of this channel and start growing your Pinterest account!

If you’re looking for custom content that you can create pins for, don’t hesitate to reach out! We’re an all in one done-for-you content marketing solution 🙂

Contact us – wilson@sumodash.com

Wilson Jian P

Why a content marketing audit is important and how to conduct one

It’s funny how I come across so many companies that pump out a good amount of weekly blog posts, but has never performed a content marketing audit.

What’s the point of writing so many blog post and releasing so many contents on a regular basis without knowing anything about your content’s performance?

How are you going to figure out what’s working and what isn’t? How do you know what topics your readers want to read next?

That’s why a solid content marketing audit is important. This means doing more than just setting up Google Analytics and looking at the traffic numbers.

A content marketing audit doesn’t take a lot of time and does not need to be performed daily, but it needs to be done to know your audience and how well your content is performing.

I do this for all my clients prior to writing for them to ensure that we have a plan set out that will bring them better results.

Never conducted a content marketing audit before? No worries, I’ll show you in this post exactly how you can do one right now easily.

Identify the top content performers

You always want to start off with identifying the top content performers. Meaning the articles that do best.

Which articles are getting the most views? Which articles are getting the most email subscribers?

Before you start, you should at least have goals set up within Google Analytics to track whatever your conversion goals are. This could be email sign-ups, trial signups for your product, or even just an ebook download.

Assuming you have all the goals set, within Google analytics, look at your Behavior > Site Content > All Pages report.

It should look something like this:

toppagesga

Switching this report to the comparison view makes the top performers even more obvious.

Usually, the articles that get the most traffic are also the articles that rank well in search engines.

There are two ways to see just the content that gets traffic from search. One is to use a segment. Create a segment for search traffic (where the medium is organic) and it won’t include visitors who came from social, email, direct or anything else.

Another thing you could do is just go to the acquisition tab to see where the users are coming from.

But our main focus, in the beginning, is just to find out what your readers enjoy reading the most.

That way we can generate more topics relating to these keywords in the near future.

To see the which posts are ranking and attracting visitors directly check the Acquisition > Search Console > Landing Pages report. Just sort this report by clicks and you’re measuring content performance from search per article.

You can toy around with Google Analytics to further narrow down different articles that are receiving good traffic.

The different types of content champions

Personally, I like to take a look at all the content and then split them into a different category that I like to call “content champions”.

This allows me to reoptimize old content and make it better and it allows me to add certain tricks and conversion goals to maximize the traffic coming in for the winning articles.

Winners

These are the type of content that receives the most attention. They’re the ones that get the most page views, most shares, and most engagement.

High search traffic pages. Also pages with high social shares and email open rates all fit within this category of winners.

Action: Link from these to your highest converting pages with internal links and calls to action. Add “related articles” links at the bottom to posts on related topics with high conversion rates. Add more call to action within these articles and link to articles with “weaker” traffic so that they can get a boost.

This can be as simple as adding another line within the middle of the article that says something like, “Related Read”

Runner-ups

The second type of content is what I consider “runner-ups”. These are usually the pages or posts with low search traffic, but high link popularity / Page Authority.

One of the best tips for boosting traffic to these type of articles is to rewrite them and include more long tail keywords so that search engines will pick it up.

These type of articles usually do not have a problem with quality. They’re the ones that readers enjoy reading with a low bounce rate, but the search engine just isn’t picking up the traffic. This could be due to the fact that other sites with strong authority is outranking you.

Action: Repurpose the URL and rewrite the article. Make it a high-quality piece focused on a specific topic and keyphrase. Then relaunch the piece with a new email campaign and social promotion. Finally, use internal linking to pass SEO authority from these pages to products and services pages and to other articles and guides that aren’t doing so well.

Another trick you can use is by updating the dates to the article in the title. For example, if you have a guide on “The best keyboard for 2018” change it to “The best keyboard for 2019” with a slight update in the content as well.

Weaklings

These are the content that just doesn’t perform well at all. I hate to call it “weaklings”, but that’s what they are. This doesn’t mean that it can’t be improved though!

These type of posts need a lot of help. My recommendation for these type of posts would be to rewrite them targeting the newest trends and keywords. At the same time, you would want to make them more in-depth than before.

Action: These pages need help before they fall off into obscurity. Google is looking for the best page on the internet for the topic, so our first goal is to simply make it a better page. Add anything that improves quality, including details, examples, images, video, statistics, contributor quotes and answers. These pages also get a boost when you link to them from “winners.”

Conversion kings

There are certain pages that convert REALLY well but receives close to none search traffic. These can be landing pages or subscription pages. They’re the ones that convince people to buy or sign up.

The strategy for these type of posts and pages is to leverage your winner pages to drive traffic onto these conversion kings.

Include all of these pages within the call to action at the bottom of every boost and do whatever it takes to include links from your most popular content to these pages. Pitch guest posts that refer back to them. You can even buy ads to these pages or try them in native advertising!

Making sure your content matches the proper guidelines

Next, create a section that assesses the quality of the content. Some of these metrics will be subjective, as you will need to use your judgment to rank their quality.

  • Word length: Content with a word count of 600 or lower will usually have a lower content quality score.
  • Uniqueness: Content that is very similar to content published on other sites or your site will usually have a lower content quality score.
  • Timeliness: If the content has outdated information, it will have a lower content quality score.
  • Topic relevance: Content that is very relevant to your products, services, and industry will have a higher content quality.
  • Overall quality: Give a score of 1 to 5 (with 5 being the highest) to rate the content quality based on the other factors.

Now, dig into the search engine optimization (SEO) value on each page. Create a section in your content audit template that identifies keywords that you’re using and whether or not you’re implementing best SEO practices on each page and post.

Fill in the page information for:

  • Main keyword
  • Meta description
  • Meta title

Answer yes or no to the following checklist:

  • Keyword in content?
  • Keyword in headline?
  • Keyword in subheading?
  • Keyword in image alt tag?
  • At least 1 to 3 inbound links?
  • At least 1 to 2 outbound links?

The information and metrics you collected related to engagement, quality, and SEO will help you determine what to do with each piece of content. Consider the factors and make a plan for each piece of content.

  • Keep posts that have a high audience engagement and content quality.
  • Fix posts that have SEO errors.
  • Revise posts that are low quality.
  • Update posts that have outdated information.
  • Republish posts that are relevant and high quality but were published in the past and have low engagement. (You can give new life to a post by refreshing the content and republishing it on your website or using it on third-party sites like LinkedIn or Medium.)
  • Delete posts that have low content quality, relevance, and engagement. (If you remove these posts, remember to set up link redirects so any traffic is directed to a new page of relevant content.)

Create a content marketing plan by:

  • assessing gaps in your topics and keywords. Decide what opportunities you are missing and create future posts based on those topics and keywords.
  • seeing how you can rival competitor content. Identify content that is performing well on other websites and see how you can create content on similar topics while increasing the quality. Pinpoint content gaps that competitors aren’t ranking for so that you can make content audiences seek but can’t currently find on competitor sites.
  • identifying ways to repurpose and revise what you have. Look back through your old content to see if you can reuse pieces or whole posts to fill keyword needs and topic gaps.

Reoptimizing your content

Now that you’ve identified your most popular content, have a strong understanding of what your readers like to read, and know the different types of content winners, it’s time to put together a framework that will drive endless traffic into your content funnel.

That’s the whole goal of a content marketing audit. We want to be able to identify all the winners and optimize all the ones that aren’t doing so well.

Follow all the strategies and action steps that you’ve gathered from your content marketing audit and re-optimize your content in a way that will convert more users.

If there are any changes that need to be made to your content, then do so with each and every single article, then log into Google search console and have them recrawl everything.

That’s all for this article! If you need help with your content marketing audit or need help with high-quality content creation that will drive you more traffic, then feel free to reach out to me anytime!

Wilson Jian P

The Ultimate Guide To Creating a Content Marketing Strategy

Content marketing works and it’s sad how content marketing is undervalued. The main reason behind that is because most companies don’t have a strong content marketing strategy in place. What we’re seeing is an influx of spending and a massive increase in content creation, but most of them are low-quality work.

Content is a significant investment in your marketing. It also takes time to pay off, which is where many B2B SaaS companies get into trouble. Unlike paid acquisition channels, content isn’t a marketing tactic you can easily turn on and off. It takes months, even years, to build momentum.

With that said, content marketing is a long term investment that works. Imagine having organic traction without having to spend any money on any paid acquisition on a regular basis? Imagine having users come to you on autopilot. Yes, it works.

Developing a content strategy

Any content is only as good as the strategy behind it. Let’s start off with some must have questions that you need to ask yourself when developing a content strategy.

  1. Who is the target audience?
  2. Do they prefer a casual tone or a professional tone?
  3. What’s the marketing strategy behind it?
  4. What tools will we use?
  5. What type of content will you be pushing out weekly?

Who is the target audience?

You have to start with understanding what your audience wants to read. You have to know as much about them as you can.

What blogs are they reading? What community are they on?

You’ll hold yourself to a higher standard if you’re writing for real people. Fictitious personas also tend to reflect the average, not the median. This means you risk writing for a person well outside the stated demographics.

Do they prefer a casual or professional tone?

It’s very crucial to understand your readers and it’s even more important to be consistent with the tone of your company’s writing.

Creating content for an audience of 20-year-olds is very different than writing content for the older folks.

A good comparison would be to take a look at WSJ (Wall Street Journal) versus a trendy news site like The Hustle. Both of them have their own unique voice aimed towards a different set of audiences.

What’s the marketing strategy behind it?

Remember, everything requires a good plan and writing good content is just the start. Think about the promotion aspect after that. What happens after you write the content? How will you promote it?

Some questions that you could ask yourself is if your company already has a strong social following? Social is an excellent channel if you already have a strong following. What about your newsletter? That’s another great channel to keep your customers updated.

What tools will we use?

There’s definitely no shortage of tools when it comes to marketing automation and content writing.

Without overwhelming yourself, you should have a set of tools aligned for the entire content writing and marketing process. This list of tools should include basic SEO research tools, content publishing tools, grammar checking tools, and most importantly the marketing stack of tools to promote the content.

What type of content will you be pushing out weekly?

Topic ideation is something to be systematized. But first, let’s lay out a framework to help you understand the best way to choose blog post topics.

Your blog is not a publication, it’s a growing library of information. There are many reasons you need to adopt this mindset, but here’s one guiding principle that should be enough reason on its own.

A good content marketing process helps you address the entire lifecycle, from awareness through purchase.

Here are the funnel stages that I like to use when it comes to publishing content:

  • Top of Funnel: Use keyword research to address high-level topics, introduce new readers to your brand.
  • Middle of Funnel: Use keyword research in addition to sales and support feedback to tie problems to your specific solution.
  • Bottom of Funnel: Use sales and support feedback to write directly about your product.

As apart of your content strategy, you should implement content for all stages of the content funnel. This should also be dependent on the stage of your business and the target customer profile.

Having a consistent publishing schedule

Another huge mistake that I see a lot of companies make is that they tend to publish random articles whenever they feel like it. In addition to that, I also notice that a lot of companies tend to publish random topics, most of the time not even related to the business.

It’s impossible to write too much, but it’s easy to publish too much.

The result is typically shorter, less valuable pieces of content. This is not ideal.

The ideal publishing schedule is relative to your budget, but always choose quality over quantity.

Still, it’s difficult to scale publishing volume without sacrificing quality no matter how much money you can afford to spend. As a general rule, publish as often as you can without dropping your quality standards. There’s no use publishing content that won’t get read.

Here’s are some examples of publishing schedule you can use depending on your company stage and budget:

Starter:

1 article/week
1 ebook, whitepaper, drip email course, round up post per quarter

Advanced:

2 articles/week

1 ebook, whitepaper, drip email course, round up post per month

Top Level:

3 articles/week
2 ebook, whitepaper, drip email course, round up post per month

Following the above schedule, you should also have newsletters at least once a week.

Remember that a good content marketing strategy is all about compounding growth. Everything adds up and everybody needs to start somewhere. Publishing something is better than not publishing anything at all.

List of tools to help with content strategy and marketing

With your content marketing strategy in place, you’re going to need tools to make it all run smoothly. There are plenty of great options out there, but here are a few of my favorite content marketing tools.

SEO + Research

  • Ahrefs – An excellent tool for tracking links and doing keyword research.
  • Moz – Track your rankings for target keywords.
  • KeywordTool.io – Get tons of keyword ideas.
  • AnswerthePublic.com – Get keyword ideas in the form of questions.
  • Buzzsumo – Research successful posts with search and social metrics.
  • Clearbit – Add data to your existing email list for better segmentation.

Content Creation + Hosting

  • Quip – Our favorite tool for collaborative writing.
  • SketchDeck – Professional design resources on-demand.
  • DraftSend – Create simple presentations that you can embed in your posts.
  • WordPress – The best content management system for most SaaS blogs.
  • WPEngine – Our host of choice.
  • Wistia – The best video hosting platform out there.

Promotion + Conversion

  • Sumo – All kinds of tools for collecting email addresses on your site.
  • Freshchat– Simple live chat tool for having live conversations with readers.
  • Buffer – The industry standard social media sharing tool.

Workflow

  • Airtable – Create an insanely powerful content workflow.
  • CoSchedule – Build comprehensive marketing calendars.
  • Zapier – Connect all your apps and automate everything.
  • Trello – A popular and useful project management tool.
  • Teamwork – A robust and powerful project management app.

Analytics + Attribution

  • Google Analytics – Easy and free analytics. You can’t beat that.
  • Amplitude – Tie your product data into your content data.
  • Segment – Centralize your event tracking for cleaner data.

Conclusion

To wrap things up, it’s important to have a strong content marketing strategy moving forward. Content marketing is an ongoing challenge, not a task to be checked off your list, but it’s important to have a solid plan in place.

Need help with content creation or marketing? Reach out to me anytime!

Wilson Jian P

I’ve Studied Over 300 Real Estate Listing Copy And This Is What Sells

Personally, I’m a huge real estate junkie. I like to look at properties on my own time to find potential investments. Over the last few weeks, I’ve started to pay more attention to real estate listing copy and then I would check back on the listings to see if the property has been sold.

I’m a content writer, marketer, and copywriter at heart, so I’m always exploring and learning new things.

In this article, I’m going to cover what the best real estate listing and ads look like and what sells in terms of their copy.

The best real estate listing copy stands out..

Ok I know, I know, writing real estate listing copy isn’t easy. It requires a lot of thinking, but the truth is that the ones that sell are the ones that stand out.

What does that mean? It means stop making your real estate listing copy the same as everyone else’s.

Most of them are pretty generic. The ones that stand out are the ones that are extremely detailed, use strong words, and they’re quite creative.

Start with a good structure

One thing that all killer real estate listing copy have is a strong structure.

Headline

Just like content writing, the most important factor is the headline. Get people in the door first with an attractive headline.

The ones that suck are the ones with a really generic headline like an address as the title. Most people don’t care for the address and it won’t make your real estate listing copy to stand out.

Opening Statement

Then comes a powerful opening statement. What makes the opening statement stand out is usually a good story or description of who the home is for.

Something like this would work really well as an intro

“This home is a investor’s dream! Warmly located in convenient & SF’s trendy Excelsior neighborhood, this property is ideal for someone who wants to create a new home for themselves or for someone looking for an investment.”

I’m pretty sure, you would continue to read after reading that introduction.

Another thing you could do is include a mini story. At the end of the day, stories sell.

Give home buyers a sense of what it would be like if they owned the home and use real life stories within the copy. For example: “The backyard pool will change your life. Summer is right around the corner, so imagine hanging out in the backyard with the kids.”

Who wouldn’t want to buy that property?

Context is king. Don’t make it too long, just like cold emails, keep it short and simple.

Be specific about the features

You’re selling a house here. This is where you want to insert key features that make your property stand out.

You’ll be surprised, but some of the best real estate listing copy include bullet points. I’ve seen so many listings on generic sites like Zillow where everything is stuffed in a paragraph.

That’s not what we want, we want the ideal buyer to quickly glance at it and know exactly what they’re getting for their dollar.

Something like this would work really well:

  • The master suite has a huge walk-in closet, separate dual vanities, a large custom tile shower, and a soaking tub.
  • Two more bedrooms with walk-in closets and a second full bathroom are on the upper level. The fourth bedroom, a full bathroom, and a laundry room with washer/dryer hookups are located on the main level.
  • All three bathrooms have granite countertops and custom mirrors. This gorgeous home features custom paint, upgraded carpets, and wide-plank tile flooring.
  • There is an attached 3-car garage. The 13,871 sq. ft. lot (per tax records) has a very large backyard, great for entertaining.

Notice how the visitor can figure out exactly what they’re getting in this home before paying a visit.

You don’t have to get too detailed, just enough to attract them to pick up that phone!

Promotion offer and call to action

Part of having a good real estate listing copy is to get the visitor to pick up the phone and give you a call or submit their contact info. Then you can ring the bell and say “Cha Ching!”

Create a sense of urgency at the end of the copy. By this, I don’t mean an offer or discount even though that MAY work.

What I mean is use facts to your advantage.

For example if this was a home for an ideal investor to purchase, say something like, “The rent with similar homes in the area rose by 35% over the last 6 months”

Sell facts!

A photo tells a thousand words

Attractive photos sell. That’s the truth. I find myself skipping past listings that don’t have at least 7-8 quality photos. By quality photos, I mean REAL photos and not one of those that are heavily edited in photoshop.

Let’s take a quick look at the example photos below.

realestatelistingcopy

Both of these two houses are located in the same location. They’re actually for sale right next to each other, but the first photo looks way too fake. It’s too heavily edited.

You want the potential buyer to get a good feel for the home.

Check out this one:

This looks VERY realistic. Yes, most of it is probably some sort of staging, but it looks realistic and gives a really warm feel.

I’m not a photography expert, but as an average consumer that’s looking for good real estate properties all the time, I’m someone that looks for realistic photography and video.

Do your darn research

Whether you are a real estate agent or a copywriter helping real estate agents, make sure you do your research on the market and include the top key features in the real estate copy listing.

What are some things to do research on?

  • Crime rate
  • Surrounding schools
  • Malls
  • Transportation
  • Average rental cost

There’s a lot of things that people care about when purchasing a property. It won’t be the same for everyone that’s in the market, but those are the bread and butter.

Find something interesting and unique when you’re doing your research? Make sure to jot it down and add it to your real estate listing copy.

Conclusion

Don’t copy other agent’s listings simply because their copy seems interesting. Make your listings different from the rest by adding your own original take on the details of each property. Consider hiring a copywriter or marketer that has a good amount of experience in real estate writing and marketing. This can save you a ton of time especially if you’re publishing your listing to multiple platforms and printing them out.

Need help with copywriting? Just reach out to me anytime at wilsonpeng23@gmail.com or on Twitter @itswilson8

Enjoy the article and all my other ones? Subscribe to my newsletter below.

 

Wilson Jian P

The Most Simple Guide To Must-Have Vs. Nice-to-Have

One of the hardest things in marketing and sales is knowing how to sell must have vs nice to have.

Here’s a mini story for ya’ll.

I’m someone that’s super passionate about digital health and healthcare. A while back I tried to build a startup in the mental health space that would allow companies to request mental health therapist to their workplace as an employee perk.

Well…that startup didn’t do too well. Matter of fact I failed.

I did a ton of cold emailing to CEOs and most of them would respond with, “Not interested. It’s not a must have right now.”

That sucks..

From that day on, I studied and learned the difference between a must-have solution vs a nice to have solution.

Let’s talk about what’s considered a must have:

A must-have product is something essential to the customer’s life or business. A computer is a must-have product in our everyday lives.

For most consumers, a mobile phone is a must-have product.

For a taxi driver, a reliable taxi is a must-have product.

I think you get it..

A nice-to-have product is something the consumer might enjoy but does not need.

It is a luxury, a frill.

Collectibles are a nice-to-have product.

Subscriptions to consumer magazines, membership in a book or record club and jewelry are all nice-to-have products.

You can sell nice-to-have

Does this mean that it is impossible to sell something that is nice-to-have?

Absolutely not. Matter of fact, you can turn ANY nice-to-have product into a must have by selling its benefits.

Let’s take a look at an example that we’re all familiar with – Apple Ipods

Apple understood the appeal of outcomes when they released the first iPod. MP3 players were nothing new, and the technology trounced CDs.

The problem was marketing; the right pitch hadn’t been made to explain just how much better customers’ lives were going to be once they owned an iPod.

So this became a nice to have and not a must have.

The picture below explains Apple’s approach quite well:

ipodcopywriting

Storage for 1gb of MP3s vs 1000 songs in your pocket..

Which one sounds better? You get it..

Gigs of data have nothing to do with me, but a pocket full of my favorite songs certainly does.

Stop focusing on yourself and start thinking from the ideal customer’s shoes. What will benefit them? It’s not all about me, me, and me.

There’s a natural inclination for copywriters to want to talk about their own success and craft.

But remember, customers generally won’t care about the cogs that make your product turn.

A benefit that you offer that the competition doesn’t is a unique benefit and a competitive advantage.

Creating an advantage that’s difficult to duplicate is the ultimate competitive advantage.

A benefit is a competitive advantage when it:

  • Gets the attention of prospects
  • Sells your product or service
  • Keeps customers coming back
  • Causes prospects to talk about your product to other potential buyers
  • Stands out in terms of competition

A feature is a factual statement about a product or service. Factual statements aren’t why customers buy; benefits are.

Many factual statements are often referred to as benefits:

  • Self-cleaning oven
  • 200-CD jukebox
  • One-click buying on Amazon
  • Live operator on duty 24/7
  • 125-page owner’s manual included
  • In business since 1910
  • We have the biggest widget maker
  • Award-winning
  • Made with 100 percent recycled product

The latest and greatest equipment means nothing to a prospective buyer unless that feature translates into lower costs, quicker delivery or something else of value. Being established 100 years ago means nothing to a prospective buyer unless that feature can be translated into a benefit of reliability and a guarantee of being in business in the future.

Now let’s translate the factual feature statements above into benefits:

  • Convenience
  • Time savings
  • Organization
  • Easy access
  • Immediacy
  • Quicker answers
  • Immediate access to information
  • Fewer resources required
  • Reliability

Benefits sell. Benefits clearly answer the customer questions “What’s in it for me?” or “What results will I get that will improve my current situation?” or “Will it make me healthier, wealthier or wiser?”

So what did I learn from my experience?

The key takeaway from my learnings is that you can reword your product/service’s description and highlight the key points that make your product/service stand out in order to close the deal.

I also learned that it doesn’t matter if the product is only a nice to have. You can still sell it. Write down a list of the benefits and re-word them based on the key points mentioned above.

Feel free to share your thoughts below in the comments or follow me on Twitter @itswilson8

Wilson Jian P

The Most Straight Forward Marketing Stack For Every Stage of Your Funnel

One of the topics that frequently comes up in my conversations with other founders, marketers, and sales peeps are the tools that we use to help us with our marketing/sales efforts.

There’s no shortage of articles out there related to marketing and sales tools that can help you grow your startup. But there isn’t a detailed list of marketing tools that work across all parts of your funnel. Until now, that is.

For example, let’s say my main responsibility this month is user retention. And I wanted to explore a list of tools that I can try out to make my life easier. It would take a massive amount of research just to find one or two tools to test. If there was a list for me to quickly scan through the tools for user retention, I could easily navigate straight to the site and read about it. This would save me a lot of time and would let me get my marketing test started. The same goes to user acquisition, cold emailing, list building and many more.

I’ve explored a lot of marketing tools over time, but here’s an updated list of tools that will fit well with any stage of your marketing funnel. In this article, I will break down the list of tools based on the different stages of the funnel. The stages that I will go through will include:

  • Acquisition
  • Activation
  • Retention
  • Referrals
  • Revenue

Yep, that’s the typical “pirate metrics” of growth hacking. But we all know that marketers need to dedicate at least some time to every stage of it. Tools provide an enormous benefit for this. Tools allow you to quickly run tests with the lowest cost instead of having to build everything in-house that will take resources and, perhaps, months of time. With the correct tools, you can create a stack that will help you automate and put your startup’s growth on autopilot. Let’s begin!

Acquisition

I’m usually a big fan of user acquisition tools that contribute to long term sustainable growth. Not the one shot one “growth hacks”. The difference is that with a long term user acquisition tool, you can create a repeatable growthprocess behind it that will help you build a foundation in the long term.

Whereas if I go for something quick like Google Adwords or Facebook ads, I might acquire a few sign ups, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will help me gain customers in the long term. With that said, here’s my list of go-to tools for acquisition.

Moz — Moz is the bread and butter to any SEO tool, but my favorite out of all their tools is their open site explorer. The tool is free and it’s powerful enough to match with a lot of the higher end paid options out there.

SEO isn’t something that acquires a user right away, but it’s a foundation that you need to lay if you want sustainable growth in the long run. Moz is a great free tool for checking your domain and page authority and checking how many links you are getting and from which source. You can also check your competition. But the free version only gives you 3 reports per day. It’s still a very good tool with simple UX that any marketer can just hop on and see results.

When you’re ready to start investing into SEO, you can use Moz’s paid version to find relevant backlinks, blogger outreach, and many more. It’s a complete system. Check em out!

Builtwith — Builtwith is a great way to see which sites your competitors are using. In the beginning days, it’s necessary to do tasks that don’t scale. This includes reaching out to your competitor’s customers and either interviewing them to learn more about how they’re using your competitor or simply for pitching your new product.

Builtwith can save you a lot of time because it can provide you with a list of websites that are already using that tool. In addition to that, you can always use their free chrome extension to see what stack any website is using.

Now with that said Builtwith’s data isn’t as accurate as you think. You’ll be able to buy a big list of companies for cheap, but I would say that 60%+ of their data is outdated. In addition to things being outdated, half of their emails that they give to you are “info@company.com” which is no good for email outreach, facebook targeting or anything along the lines of that.

GrowthOKThis brings us to GrowthOK. Think of GrowthOK as builtwith on steroids. All the sales and lead data provided by GrowthOK is highly accurate, targeted and qualified. You can request any amount of custom data points and GrowthOK will find it for you. Companies that use GrowthOK to find their sales leads convert their customers at at least 20% higher than other competitors in this space.

Looking for competitor data such as companies using your competitor’s software or maybe looking for companies using softwares that your product integrates with? Then GrowthOK will be a perfect fit because GrowthOK can find it.

FullContact — I mentioned Builtwith above, but I know people will ask how do I find the company’s email? The best and easiest way is by guessing the email with FullContact. FullContact is a chrome extension that works directly in your Gmail and it will display their social profile if you guess the email correctly. I use to use Rapportive, but it’s not as good as FullContact anymore. FullContact is free and most of the time you can guess the email correctly with just their firstname@company.com. It’s a great start for emailing potential customers.

This still isn’t a full suite tool, so GrowthOK might be a better solution for those who need highly accurate and targeted data.

Sidekick — is a free Chrome plugin alternative to a Tout, PersistIQ, and YesWare to give you open and click through rates on outbound email to show you how your outreach is going. The extension is a free tool created by Hubspot and it is super effective for seeing who’s opening your emails. That way you can keep track of what’s going on and if the prospect missed your email or simply ignored it. It can also help you build a strong follow-up strategy for following up with potential customers. My favorite feature is the real time notifications, but it does get buggy at times.

WordPress — Content marketing is king and it’s a great way to start building the early acquisition channel that will work in the long run. Blogging won’t get you new customers right away, but if you look at companies like Kissmetrics, we can see that blogging pays off in the long term and will drive you a lot of traffic and branding. I chose WordPress because of how easy it is to set up with reliable hosting from companies like WPEngine (we use it!). It also comes with a ton of plugins that will make your life easier such as SEO Yoast for you to automate your SEO and see what’s working. Oh, and WordPress currently powers 28% of the internet!

Buffer — Perhaps our best time-saving tip for social media marketing is scheduling posts ahead of time for your social profiles. You can batch the social media marketing process: Do all your curating and composing all in one go, then spread those updates out across the next day or week. The forever free plan at Buffer lets you connect a profile from each network (one from Facebook, one from Twitter, etc.) and to schedule ahead 10 posts for each network. If you share three posts per day, that means you can stay three days ahead all the time. You can use Hootsuite as another free alternative, but I prefer Buffer because of the chrome extension and how easy it is to schedule everything across all accounts.

Teachable — While we don’t use Teachable at GrowthOK, I still believe that Teachable is one of the best tools for creating any online course. It’s a great way to grow your brand through offering your expertise. Teachable isn’t cheap. But if you’re offering free courses to grow your audience, then teachable provides a robust free platform for you to create a free course that you can use to collect your potential customers’ emails and market your knowledge to them. We will be using Teachable in the near future for some of our free upcoming sales courses.

Related: Learn 10 sales hacks in 10 days — HERE

Live Chat Software — I’m not going to go into what’s the best live chat software because there’s a ton out there, but my all time favorite is Drift and Intercom.

It’s super important to respond to your inbound leads ASAP. Because of this the most efficient way is to use a live chat software to answer all of your visitors questions.

If you’re on a budget, then go for Drift since it’s free. If you have some money to spend and need more features, Intercom is the way to go.

Activation

This an important part of the marketing funnel. Acquiring a user and making them interested is a great start! But activating them and having them sign up for an account is no easy job. This is the part where the user will sign up for a trial or become a registered user. Now it’s up for your onboarding effort and nurturing process in order to continue to push them down the funnel and become an active paying user. Get ready for some fun tools

Retargeting — I’m not a “huge fan” of running too much acquisition ads, but if there’s one type of ad that I will run it will be retargeting. You might capture an email from your blog or capture a lot of visits from cold visitors. But the hard truth is that most people will forget about your product even if they find it useful. They might say, “ahh I’ll try it out tomorrow!”, but end up forgetting. Or they’re on mobile, ready to sign up, and get distracted by a call. Retargeting allows you to bring people back and remind them that your company still exist! You can use Perfect Audience or Adroll for this and can set it up across multiple platforms (FB, Google, web, etc.).

If you don’t want to use a 3rd party app for retargeting, then drop the Facebook pexel on your site as early as possible and take advantage of their audience network.

GoToWebinar — Webinar is one of the best ways to nurture activated sign ups that are on trial. Buzzsumo does an excellent job of sending out webinar invites for discounts during your trial phase so you can learn about their product and the value that you get out of it. I’ve tried a lot of different webinar platforms in the past, but kept coming back to GoToWebinar due to how easy it is to set up.

FullStory — FullStory lets your company easily record, replay, search, and analyze each user’s actual experience with your website. Think of it as your team’s super-searchable DVR for all customer interactions. A major part of activating new users is by improving your onboarding process. Fullstory makes that much easier. UX designers gain a visceral sense of how users experience their design while avoiding the Hawthorne effect of formal usability studies. Web developers see bugs as they happened in the wild, with play/pause/rewind access to the full DOM across time and even the JavaScript console. I like to consider this as the full stack onboarding tool to improve your onboarding process to build a product that people love.

Crazy Egg — I mention Crazy Egg quite often because it’s a powerful and budget friendly tool for viewing heatmaps to see what users are doing on your site. Let’s say you’re driving a lot of traffic to your site, but the users aren’t converting. You want to know why they’re not. Maybe your landing page’s copy is too long and people are missing your trial button. Maybe people aren’t even scrolling or reading your content. Crazy Egg lets you see recordings and heatmaps to figure out what’s going on. Then you can A/B test it to see how you can increase your activation rate.

HelloBar — I’ve used Hellobar at most of my side projects and previous startups. It’s a great way to capture an email and then nuture the crap out of them 🙂 We try to send them to webinars to nurture them through Hellobar’s overlays that are super user-friendly and nurture leads on our list to get them to sign up for our free trial. Hellobar comes with a free branded version, but we upgraded to the premium version for a budget friendly price. An alternative would be SumoMe, but it’s buggy for us and we don’t need the heatmap or analytic because we’re using other tools for that.

Instapage — We use this for all of our landing pages. Creating a landing page with Instapage is super easy. And you can integrate this with any email service provider to capture leads and see conversion rates. Content is king when it comes to nurturing and activating. It’s an important part of the marketing strategy and if you’re looking for an elegant tool for this process then Instapage is the way to go. If you need a more advanced flow such as Salesforce mapping, then look into Unbounce. But personally, we love the templates on Instapage, especially for webinar and webinar replays.

Appcues — Appcues gives you the power to take user onboarding into your own hands. Build and iterate on your onboarding experience without bugging your dev team. New users often have different motivations for using your product. Get them to their first WOW experience faster by giving each persona a unique experience. Appcues really helps with user onboarding and can be used for user retention as well. It’s a really well-rounded product. You can use it for pointing out important UI elements to ensure new users don’t get frustrated or lost. And you can also use it to run A/B testing on user onboardings.

Retention

Now we’re moving down the funnel towards the R’s!! Once you move the user forward down the funnel towards retention, you should give you and your team a high five. But you cannot stop there! This is the hard part. Acquiring a user is hard, but retaining them is even harder. These tools focus on the goal of either retaining users or doing customer development to figure out ways to keep them coming back. Let’s do this!

Mixpanel — A big chunk of user retention is about understanding your users, where they are falling off in the funnel, what they’re doing on the site, and what they’re struggling with. Mixpanel is like Google Analytics on steroids. It comes with a detailed funnel and cohort analysis that can help you map out exactly what’s going on within your app. Most amazing Mixpanel feature? You can look into every single user to see their action as well as their engagement rate and where they are coming from.

If you’re running a SaaS product or something along the lines of that then Mixpanel is a must. A tip I have for the founders out there is to learn how to use it early and then train your staffs to learn it. It’ll help a lot in the long run because there’s a lot of hidden features.

User Testing — UserTesting.com is a website dedicated to finding your website’s biggest problems in a short amount of time, and then providing you with the information and feedback you need to improve your site’s usability. UserTesting.com gives you the ability to create a test for your website and then have real people take the test. Then they can give you feedback via video recording while they are using the site. You can also ask them for follow-up questions for further information.

What’s great about UserTesting is that you can actually see an actual personusing your product. The tester doesn’t only use the product, but they actually talk about it throughout their process and share their thoughts. This is a gold mine for all product managers, UX designers, and founders.

Let’s say you notice that two testers are struggling to understand a certain part of your product. You can work closely with your team to fix that issue. Another great thing is that you can test both web apps and mobile apps, which is huge as mobile becomes more and more dominant.

Pricing: Starts at $99 per video.

Net Promoter Score Tool — An NPS tool is a must at this stage of the funnel for you to quickly run customer satisfaction surveys. NPS surveys allow you to create a system of measuring overall satisfaction. You can harness their power once you determine your Net Promotor Score.

We use NPS to segment and find unhappy customers, then we personally reach out to them to see how we can improve our product. Also, we use NPS on our advocates (those giving us a 9 or 10) to ask for referrals, testimonials, and additional features that they would like to see being built next.

Referrals

This is the most powerful part of the marketing funnel. Word of mouth marketing is the best performing ROI you will ever have. With referrals, you literally have customers bringing you new customers without you having to spend money on user acquisition. Getting users into the referral stages means that they not only love your product, but they think that their contacts and friends could also benefit from that value.

LeadDyno — There’s a lot of referral tools out there, but most of them are geared for enterprises with expensive pricing. LeadDyno was one of those that provided an all in one robust referral system with reasonable prices. It allows you to easily create an affiliate program with your own custom landing page and backend system so that all you have to do is send a link to the people that want to sign up for your referral program. LeadDyno will handle everything from the payments to affiliate tracking. You can also schedule recurring payments to your affiliates. It’s a great tool for SaaS.

Ambassador — Ambassador is one of the most complete referral/affiliate programs out there. We didn’t go with Ambassador at YesInsights due to the expensive pricing, but our parent company, Design Pickle, uses Ambassador. They provide more features than a lot of the other referral tools out there. Here are some of their best features:

  • An easy-to-use visual editor
  • Automated workflows
  • Pre-built designs and templates
  • Robust customer and affiliate portals
  • Seamless integrations
  • A/B test copy, rewards, and on-page placement
  • Identify and segment affiliates, influencers, customers, partners, employees, and other advocates
  • Customize reporting and analytics
  • Native mobile app experience
  • Multi-language functionality
  • International currency
  • Proven offline tracking processes

With all the features mentioned above, it’s the perfect affiliate program for marketers. They also support recurring payments, which is perfect for SaaS companies.

Revenue

Revenue is the bread and butter of any company and business. It’s what keeps the business alive and it’s what pays the bills. Keeping track of revenue is super crucial to any business. It doesn’t matter if your company is well funded or not. One of the biggest mistakes that founders make is that they only track overall revenue. So they don’t track other important revenue metrics such as user churn, cost per acquisition, and etc. Luckily, we have tools to help us out.

Baremetrics — If you’re running a SaaS company, then you absolutely need Baremetrics or some sort of SaaS metric tracker. With Baremetrics you can learn more about each and every customer. Find out their LTV, MRR and more, as well as their entire history with you! The UX is super simple and you can connect your Stripe, Braintree or Recurly account in seconds. One of the features that I love the most about Baremetrics is how you can dive into each customer profile and see everything. They also come with email notifications and reports.

Churn Buster — Churn Buster’s air-tight, scalable process automatically solves payment problems in Stripe caused by insufficient funds, expiration dates, card re-issuing, and etc. These are common problems that lead to SaaS churn. If your users are loving your product, there should be no reason why they will churn. Yet unfortunately, simple errors like these occur and that’s where Churn Buster can help you fix these problems.

Some of my most favorite features about Churn Buster include the white label dunning emails, automatic subscription renewals, and their real time reporting (my personal favorite). I’m a huge analytic guy and the reporting really helps me analyze my churn.

ChartMogul — Chartmogul is similar to Baremetrics where you can analyze your revenue, MRR, and everything along the lines of that. What I love about Chartmogul is how it integrates with everything not just stripe.

If you’re using reccurly, braintree, or another payment processor, then Chartmogul is a great fit for you. Their data visualisation is amazing too.

ProfitWell — ProfitWell combines world-class subscription analytics and tools that fuel your growth. Profitwell is similar to Baremetrics and First Officer. It allows you to view all your analytics in one place and the data is pretty accurate. One of the best things about ProfitWell is that they provide actionable analytics and not just stats. This allows you to narrow down every little thing including cohorts and segmented users.

GeckoBoard — What I love about Geckoboard is that it tracks more than just revenue. Geckoboard allows you to add “widgets” to a dashboard that’s highly customizable. You can add anything you want to from Stripe to your daily visitor count. It’s the best app for keeping track of everything in one place. Display it in your office’s TV for the best results.

Cyfe — This is one of the most underused apps by founders, sales people, and marketers. It’s super affordable and can integrate with over 100+ apps out there. It’s a central dashboard where you can see everything from social media growth to email list growth and revenue. Must have.

That’s it for this list! Are there any tools that you use at your company that I didn’t mention here? Feel free to leave it in the comments.

Wilson Jian P

How To Network And Close Deals Rapidly At Conferences And Events

Attending a conference could be a heavy investment for a bootstrapped startup. Just think about the price of a conference ticket, plus travel, and accommodation cost. I’ve personally attended over 15 conferences in the last year and I’m starting to gain more and more value out of each and every single one.

Just like everything else in life, it takes time and practice. Time is the best experience gainer.

In this article, I’m going to show you actual examples of exactly how I do my preparation before any conference that I attend and how I cold email everyone I want to meet prior to attending the actual conference. I’ll also share some tips on how I maximize the value I get out of the conference and take advantage of every single opportunity that I come across.

Do your research and prepare ahead of time for every conference

By doing your research, I don’t mean just navigating around their homepage and looking at the speaker’s profiles. You want to get involved with the community as much as possible weeks if not months ahead of time.

Let’s take a recent conference I attended as an example. A few months back, I attended SaaStr. Saastr is a conference held annually, hosted by Jason Lemkin, for people in the Software as a software space. Some of the biggest startups and most successful tech companies along with over 5000+ tech founders will be attending, so I knew for sure that I needed to be there as well.

For every single conference of this size, there’s almost always always a dedicated mobile app for people to network ahead of time. I’ve noticed that most conferences use a company called DoubleDutch to help them put together this app.

Here was the landing page for the SaaStr app by DoubleDutch. Anyone could download this app. You did not need to buy a ticket to the event in order to get access to this app. This is why it helps to Google around, read some blog post, and most importantly get involved with the community ahead of time.

Here’s another screenshot of what you can do with the app:

As you can see, the app allows you to view speakers, the agenda, photo feed, map, surveys and many more. The most important feature that you want to take advantage of in this app is their attendee feature. This allows you to view every single attendee that will be attending SaaStr.

The activity feed is extremely important too because the activity feed is similar to the Facebook newsfeed where people can post photos, ask for coffee meetings, and start conversations with each other.

Take Notes

Run through the list of attendees and check through the activity feed. Start to jot down a list of people that you want to meet and network with during the conference. If you’ve read my other blog post, I like to keep it simple with Google spreadsheets. I’ll create a column for their first name, last name, company, email, and any other necessary information I need to include.

Keep it simple and put things on a spreadsheet on Google Drive.

Facebook group

Every big conference will usually have a dedicated community expert that is in charge of answering community questions, creating Facebook groups, Slack groups etc. Doing a simple search on Facebook will usually bring up some results.

SaaStr has a Facebook group that you can join where people ask for coffee meets prior to the event. Join this group and see who you want to network with, respond to them or even message them directly. This is the time to add more contacts to your current spreadsheet that you just created. Again, start this as early as possible.

Slack Groups

Slack is one of the best modern platform for team communication, but people have been using it for different reasons. Buffer has an active Slack group for people to engage with other Buffer users.

I’m apart of Sales Stack’s slack group where there are a lot of startup founders in the sales and lead generation space. They have a dedicated channel for events and during SaaStr, the Slack group had a channel dedicated for people who were going to attend the SaaStr event. I went through the channel and found people I wanted to connect with and added them to my spreadsheet.

Reddit and other communities is a great place to start searching for people who will be attending SaaStr as well, so I took advantage of that as well. Another great site you can use is Lanyrd. Lanyrd will have every conference from big to small. It shows all the speakers and some attendees. It’s another place to start sourcing potential targets.

Reaching out via cold email

I live and breath cold emails, so with a big list of people that I created. What I like to do at this point is connect with them and send them a cold email. The main goal of this cold email is to make a quick introduction of myself, make it personalize, and try to connect with them either prior, during, or after the conference. This could be lunch or a quick coffee, but I want to grab some time with them.

For example, a while back I attended a conference in Seattle called Seattle Interactive Conference. I did my research and looked through the speaker’s list. I wanted to connect with Joanna, who was one of the speakers that was going to be giving a talk at the event. I heard about her through a few podcast and loved the way she approached growth, so I decided to send her a cold email a few weeks ahead of time.

She responded a day later saying:

That is exactly what I did. I attended her talk, took down some notes, and approached her after her talk was finished. I told her who I was and that I sent her an email ahead of time. She said that she remembers me and we were able to connect afterwards! Score!!! Connected with someone new and got to briefly learn more about each other. Meeting with someone in person face to face is much more valuable than any Skype or message, but you have to start this off with a cold email introduction to warm things up 🙂

At the same event, I wanted to connect with Rand from Moz. He was going to be speaking there and everyone wants to meet Rand. I was actually thinking about doing a podcast at that time and I wanted to interview him for sure, but I knew he receives a ton of those request daily, so I had to stand out of the crowd in order to get some time on his calendar.

Again, cold email outreach time!

I blurred out some part because it was really personal. It was about personal issues in life, so I decided to leave that out, but as you can see. I gave my introduction and ended it with a strong call to action by asking him for a quick coffee. I made the email as personalized as possible.

I structured my cold email pretty well and received a response in less than a day.

This was the typical response that I was expecting from someone as busy as Rand, but that was all that I needed because I knew I could approach him once I have a chance and tell him that I already connected with him ahead of time.

So what did I do? I attended his talk, asked questions to stand out, and then approached him. With that, I was able to connect with him and send him more emails afterwards for the podcast interview as well as to connect with him again in-person in Seattle. It worked!!! I was able to network with some of the best people in their space because of this.

Again my goal was to stay in contact with him after multiple connections and get him on a podcast interview. Here was his response through email:

I used the exact same method to network with 12+ other people prior to the event. Most of them were targeted leads and ideal customers for my company GrowthOK.

Since those people were less swamped, I was able to grab lunch, dinner, coffee with them easily, but it was all thanks for my early research, taking the advantage of the app, and sending a cold email at least a week ahead of time.

From that conference itself, I was able to close 6 medium sized deals which makes my ROI for all my travel and ticket cost worthit!

Skipping out on the talks

When I first started attending conferences, I use to attend at least 40% of the talks, but then I realize that I was just randomly walking into rooms and listening to hours worth of talks without gaining too much value out of it. So, nowadays I tend to skip out of most talks. I look at the agenda ahead of time and only attend the talks that I actually want to sit in. This is usually nomore than 2 or 3 talks.

For an action packed conference like SaaStr, I like to spend my time walking around and visiting every single booth where I feel that I can get a customer out of. I try to spend less than 5–10 minutes at every single booth to maximize my time. Here’s what I do when I visit the booth. A great way to start finding booth is to look under the sponsor list. Every company that sponsors an event will usually have a booth at the event.

  1. Visit the booth (avoid the ones that are overpacked)
  2. Ask them what their company does, let them give their pitch, and then give them a quick introduction on what you do and how you can help them.
  3. Exchange business cards (too many of them will stack up).
  4. Ask them for their Linkedin on the spot.
  5. Connect with them immediately on Linkedin with a personalized message. This makes you stand out of all the Linkedin request they get.
  6. Send a quick tweet to them. (Nice meeting you at the conference, I’ll send you an email).
  7. Send a short and personalized email to schedule a time.
  8. IF they are interested in what you do, book a demo call immediately on the spot.
  9. Send an email as soon as possible. Find a seat at the event, use the wifi and start catching up on the emails.

Events and dinners at conference

This is one of the most important part of maximizing your value at any conference that you attend. For every conference, there are almost ALWAYS a few events for people who get in a few days early prior to the actual conference. Usually these are drink parties or dinners.

The good thing about events prior to the conference is that the amount of people attending is rather small. Not everyone has arrived yet, and this is the best time to cold network with people who arrived early. Go to every single one of these event and be one of the first ones there. Being the first one there will allow you meet anyone that comes in the door right after you. This is the best way to build one on one connections. In addition to that, there’s almost always a 30 min — 1 hour networking session before the panels or dinner actually start.

For example after the first day of SaaStr, there were over 10 after party events with topics ranging from “How to sell to developers” to “Customer success”. If your company is one of those space, you want to be at those event because your ideal customers are there.

Being the first one there allowed me to greet everyone that was walking in the door and I was able to exchange contact information using the same method I did at the booth. This allowed me to close over 6 deals at just one event. It’s all about the cold email and follow up emails afterwards. It’s your job to make sure you connect with them afterwards in order to get the most value out of it.

I hope this helps all the sales peeps looking to attend conferences. Remember, conferences are short, so the ones that succeed the most are the ones that do their homework ahead of time!

Feel free to share your thoughts below or hit me up on Twitter @itswilson8

Wilson Jian P

Use This Simple Trick To Re-Engage With All Your Inactive Email Subscribers

You’ve worked hard to build that email list and you’re able to convert a lot of users into paying customers, but one of the hardest things to do is to keep them engaged. The truth is that most people tend to stop checking your emails regardless on how many offers you send them. Whether you believe it or not, your contact database is full of leads who are ready to get back in touch with you. A big email list doesn’t mean anything if half of your subscribers are inactive.

According to HubSpot, the average email marketing list loses 22.5 percent of its contacts every year. So what can we do about it? In this guide, I’ll be sharing a simple trick that you can use that will help you re-engage your list of inactive subscribers.

Segmenting

This is the hard and tedious part of re-engaging with your email list of inactive subscribers. You have segment out the users on your list that haven’t been active. There isn’t a “correct” way to do this. Every company does it differently depending on your product. Let’s say you’re a SaaS company and you’re using Intercom. You can segment out your list based on their activeness. Intercom has a segment for users that are “slipping away”. You want to tag the users that are slipping away and export a list for your re-engagement email campaign.

If you have a huge email list built within Aweber/Mailchimp or another email service provider, you might want to look at the date that they’ve subscribed to the list. There are a couple ways you can segment your list of inactive subscribers if you’re using a service like Mailchimp.

One of the best ways would be segmenting your list by campaign activity. When you segment by campaign activity, you identify subscribers who received recent campaigns, but didn’t engage with them. You can choose to show subscribers who didn’t open or click all of the last five campaigns, any of the last five campaigns, or all recent campaigns. For a detailed guide on how to do it within Mailchimp, check out this article.

Most email service provider platforms will have a way for you to create a new list based on the segments that you tagged your subscribers as. Regardless on the method you choose, just make sure you create a new list of inactive subscribers so that you can start the re-engagement campaign.

The 9 Word Email Method

Perfect! Now that you’ve set up your list of inactive subscribers, it’s time to re-engage with them. In this guide, we’ll be using the 9 word email method. The 9-word email is a fast and easy way to re-engage your email list of inactive subscribers while also testing the quality of your contact database. It is a successful quick and effective tactic for turning your list of inactive email subscribers into active ones again!

The process is quite simple and it works like a charm. Here’s how it works. You’re going to send a simple email to them that looks something like this:

  • Are you still looking for a customer feedback tool?
  • Are you still looking to convert more paying users?
  • Are you still looking to improve your onboarding experience?
  • Are you looking for a better way to re-engage your leads?

This does not need to necessary 9 words. It can be 8 or it can be 10, but 9 words is the rule of thumb. The whole goal of this “9 Word Email” trick is to re-engage with your user with the simplest way possible.

In our case, we generated this simple 9 word email by using our own one-click survey feature. The whole process took me less than 2 minutes to set up. All I did was log into YesInsights and created a regular survey. I also used our “auto follow up” feature, which I’ll be explaining a little later in the article. After creating the survey, I just simply paste the survey into my email service and YesInsights will track all the responses as well as their email address and name. If you’re using YesInsights, you can embed this within Intercom, Mailchimp, Infusionsoft, Convertkit, Drip, and many more.

You can use this for any type of business you are running. It doesn’t matter if it’s an e-commerce business, SaaS product, or digital products. If you’re running an e-commerce site, make sure you apply this to all your emails that you send out for everyone that abandon your cart.

Right after the user answers a survey, I trigger an automatic follow up email offering them a discount code to thank them for answering my survey. Here’s how the email look:

This creates what I call a “Double win”. I was able to successfully re-engage with the lead as well as offer him a free discount. This makes the customer feel good and they’ll be more willing to apply the discount code. You can get creative with this by triggering a free e-book or a referral code for them to refer their friends onto your platform.

Why does this work?

The reason the 9-word email works is because it’s short, personal, and expects a reply. It jumps right to the decision making step for your recipient by honing in on your ultimate value proposition.

Another reason why this works so well is because it creates curiosity for your prospects. They wonder why you are asking and this and if they are still remotely interested in what you have to offer there is a good chance they will reply. Psychology comes a long way 😀

Another strong reason why this works is because it is a one-click survey that usually receives 4–6x higher response rate compared to traditional long form surveys.

When Kapost sent a survey to 23,310 marketers, only 1.1% of people completed it.

That’s a horribly low response rate, but it’s actually very common. Most surveys are blasted to everyone on a huge list with little context. Customers don’t care enough to respond.

There are 3 big advantages of using inline email surveys:

  1. It feels like a natural part of your email content
  2. Customers can respond painlessly with one click
  3. You don’t have to send extra emails asking leads to take a survey

It’s literally the most scalable, yet non-intrusive way to get customer intel.

And if you ask the right questions, you can actually get people to recommend your product even if they never convert to a paid customer. It’s very powerful.

Take one of our customers Ben as an example. He runs a car tuning education site that teaches car enthusiast how to tune their vehicles. Originally Ben had a list of 40,000 inactive subscribers. After using this simple trick, Ben was able to re-engage 10,000 of them. That is huge! Here’s the exact survey that Ben used in his funnel to re-engage his inactive subscribers:

It’s so simple that it works!

Want another case study of this 9 word email trick? Check out this podcast interview on how a woman received 750 responses after emailing 1,200 people on an inactive list (a 62.5% response rate!). To drive home the point, a listener sent the 9 word email question to his audience and reported back:

Okay so I took the 9 word email question, sent it out to my main market. I started freaking out when I received 300 responses before the show was over. I had failed to think the process all the way through. I hadn’t thought about what they hell I was going to say to them when they responded. lol. Wasn’t expecting that quick of a response. Especially since I sent the message out on Thursday morning at 1:10am EST. Thanks for the info.

This is the most effective 9 words you’ll send!

But I’m afraid to send an email

A lot of people tell me that they don’t want to bug their customers with questions, but you shouldn’t fear this.

When you send this email 3 possible things can happen:

  1. They don’t respond — Which is fine! At least you tried.
  2. They reply and say no or not interested — You might be able to reply to them to figure out why they’re not interested and narrow down their pain point somemore.
  3. They say Yes I’m interested — Jackpot? Double win!

A key when sending emails to prospects is to take things slowly and not try to force everything in at once. This 9 word email trick keeps things simple and it’s worth a try. Just make sure that you track all your results and talk to your customers as much as possible.

I hope this article helps! 🙂

Hit me up on Twitter @itswilson8 Cheers!

Wilson Jian P

Building A Content Strategy That Works In 2018

Content marketing has become very popular in the last decade. But for all that growth, there seems to be more noise and lower quality than ever. What we’re seeing is an influx of spending and a massive increase in content creation, but a lack of content marketing strategy.

Content is a significant investment in your marketing. It also takes time to pay off, which is where many SaaS companies get into trouble. Unlike paid acquisition channels, you can’t turn content on and off. It takes months, even years, to build momentum. If you’re going to spend that much time working on a blog, you better have a content marketing strategy.

How to Develop a Content Marketing Strategy

A blog is only as good as the content marketing strategy behind it. Here are the questions you must answer before and during—these are essential to earning traffic and proving that your company’s investment is getting them a return.

  1. Who Will You Write For?
  2. What Will You Write About?
  3. When Will You Publish?
  4. How Will You Earn Traffic?
  5. How Will You Support the Business?
  6. Content Marketing Tools

1. Who Will You Write For?

Your target readers should be living, breathing people, not fictitious personas. Target readers should be people you know and trust, people that you’d be honored to have reading your blog.

It’s important to use real people and not fictitious personas because it affects your approach to creating content. Creating content for “SaaS Sally” is very different than writing for your friend Ty Magnin who runs marketing at Appcues. You’ll hold yourself to a higher standard if you’re writing for real people. Fictitious personas also tend to reflect the average, not the median. This means you risk writing for a person well outside the stated demographics.

Be thoughtful about the personas you create. “Reaching decision-makers” is a trope. Every content marketing strategy aspires to reach the C-suite. But consider that software is often adopted by a collection of people:

  • Leader: sets the strategic vision, holds team accountable
  • Implementor: the people using and setting up SaaS tools
  • Researcher: the person tasked with learning about various tools and capabilities

Reaching readers in the C-suite is hard, but it’s actually not good enough. This is why you need to create content for the entire payscale—anyone who could be involved in the research, buying or using of your tool needs to be addressed. We think of this on a spectrum from very tactical to very strategic.

Tactical readers need information, comparisons, instructions and best practices. Strategic readers need models, frameworks and principles. Your blog needs a variety of tactical and strategic content to be comprehensive. For a more complete breakdown of writing tactical and strategic content, check out our guide to creating reader personas.

Remember that your ideal reader is the one who buys your product. It’s easy to get distracted by pageviews and newsletter subscribers, but the goal of a SaaS blog is to drive business growth. Identify your ideal reader and serve them well.

Resources:

2. What Will You Write About?

Topic ideation is something to be systematized. But first, let’s layout a framework to help you understand the best way to choose topics.

Your blog is not a publication, it’s a growing library of information. There are many reasons you need to adopt this mindset, but here’s one guiding principle that should be enough reason on its own.

  • Blogs that act like publications create series of standalone posts on different topics. They are hesitant to cover the same topic more than once.
  • Blogs that act like libraries create hubs of related posts. They have the freedom to cover the same core topics over and over again.

This strategy pairs nicely with another content marketing strategy essential, which is that people should primarily discover you via search. Since readers aren’t checking your site each time you post something new, you can write about the same thing for weeks in a row. No one will care since they are finding what they need, when they need it via search engines.

Most of your topics should be driven by 1) keyword research and 2) sales and support feedback. Use keyword research to identify entry points for new readers. Keywords should be top and middle of the funnel, meaning they serve searchers who are looking for information and education. Create content for the bottom of the funnel by talking to your sales and support teams about what prospects and customers are having trouble with. This process helps you address the entire lifecycle, from awareness through purchase.

  • Top of Funnel: Use keyword research to address high-level topics, introduce new readers to your brand.
  • Middle of Funnel: Use keyword research in addition to sales and support feedback to tie problems to your specific solution.
  • Bottom of Funnel: Use sales and support feedback to write directly about your product.

Here are examples of each from Wistia:

Top of the Funnel: Shooting Video with an iPhone

This post introduces anyone interested in shooting better video with an iPhone to some really useful tips. Many of the people who find this post won’t be ready to buy Wistia, but some will be doing research for a work project and will remember this resource.

Middle of the Funnel: Using Video with Marketing Automation

This post is textbook middle of the funnel content. It inserts the product directly into a conversation about a broader and highly relevant topic (marketing automation). It’s thorough and insightful, with just the right amount of sales pitch.

Bottom of the Funnel: Get Better Organized and More Productive with the New Wistia Trello Power-Up

Product updates are a great way to educate existing customers and nudge prospects. When you’re targeting the bottom of the funnel, don’t be shy about addressing your product.

To wrap up, don’t forget these two rules about topic ideation:

  • Write about the same core topics from every angle.
  • Serve the entire lifecycle, from top to bottom.

Resources:

3. When Will You Publish?

It’s impossible to write too much, but it’s easy to publish too much.

“A lot of content marketers worry about not publishing enough,” says Podia CMO Len Markidan, “but the truth is that publishing too much is a more dangerous mistake. Write something that your readers will love, and then give them time to enjoy it, share it and hunger for more. This lands at the very top of the list of ‘things I wish someone told me when I started.’”

Remember the publication vs. library framework? Well, publications also sometimes get into the habit of publishing too often. The result is typically shorter, less valuable pieces of content. This is not ideal.

The ideal publishing schedule is relative to your budgetary constraints. Still, it’s difficult to scale publishing volume without sacrificing quality no matter how much money you can afford to spend. As a general rule, publish as often as you can without dropping your quality standards. There’s no use publishing content that won’t get read.

Here’s are publishing schedule templates you can use depending on your budget:

Level 1:

1 article/week
1 ebook/quarter

Level 2:

2 articles/week
1 ebook/month

Level 3:

3 articles/week
2 ebooks/month

Remember that a good content marketing strategy is all about compounding growth. Level 1 may not seem like much, but will result in 52 articles per year. Brian Dean grew Backlinko to 100,000 monthly uniques with just 35 posts. Level 3 will get you 153 posts in a year, but it doesn’t guarantee traffic. Don’t publish more if that time or money compromises time spent doing solid keyword research and great promotion and distribution.

Resources:

4. How Will You Earn Traffic?

Here’s the golden rule of content marketing strategy: compounding growth is the only growth.

Don’t invest significant time in non-recurring acquisition channels. When it comes down to it, organic search and your own email list are the only channels you can count on.

Organic Search

You should be thinking about organic search from day one and everyday thereafter. It’s essential that you gain traction in search engines if you want to grow your audience. Here are a few things to think about:

  • Internal linking: Go on Wikipedia and observe how they link all of their entries together. Apply the same strategy to your own site by linking to and from related posts. This helps search engines contextualize your site and reduces bounce rate.
  • Technical SEO: Your site structure, navigation, meta descriptions, canonical links—it all plays into your rankings. If you don’t have an internal SEO resource, hire a consultant to make sure you aren’t working harder than you need to.
  • Content Saturation: If you’ve been in the habit of publishing too much, consider deleting or refreshing old content. Pages that live on your site and don’t get traffic can hurt your rankings. And if you do decide to remove pages, do so carefully.
  • Content Length and Depth: Most research says that longer posts rank better. That fits nicely with the idea of publishing less often but does require plenty of writing. Brian Dean recommends a minimum of 1,900 words per post.

Email

Organic traffic compounds faster than email, meaning it should be the primary source of growth. But email is a medium that you have complete control over. It’s not a channel for new reader acquisition, but it is an excellent way to drive traffic to middle and bottom of the funnel content. Here’s a template for email that most SaaS companies can use:

  • Weekly Content Newsletter: Get readers in the habit of hearing from you each week.
  • Regular Product Updates: Let people know about product updates. This is a good way to tie education to your solution.
  • Free Email Course: This is an underrated way to capture email addresses on top of funnel posts. These can be short—three to five emails in a series—but should be comprehensive.
  • New Subscriber Welcome Series: Let new readers know about your product, what it does and how it can help them.
  • Free Trial Onboarding Series: Use a blend of help docs and content to get people going. They should feel well-equipped and inspired.
  • Recurring Emails: Weekly or monthly usage emails. These are a great opportunity to use content to help people make progress in areas where they are lacking. (Example: “You haven’t created a new campaign in a while, here’s some inspiration from our blog.”)
  • Retention Email Series: Highly targeted emails for users who aren’t engaging in the product. Use a blend of content, questions and help docs to get them going again. Test these emails early and often.

There are, of course, other ways to get traffic but they tend to be fickle and temporary. Should you invest at least some time in things like social media, communities and guest posting? Yes, but never take your eye off organic search.

Resources:

5. How Will You Support the Business?

Content marketers need to get very used to the phrase business objectives. Traffic is great. Email subscribers are great. But those things cost you money. The only thing that makes you money is recruiting more paying customers.

There are plenty of popular blogs out there that don’t drive business growth. A comprehensive content marketing strategy includes monetization. Here are four things that absolutely cannot be overlooked as you start, grow and run a blog.

Let Readers Know About Your Product

You have to assume that readers do not know there is a software product behind your content. It’s likely that they have 10 tabs open, Twitter notifications coming in and a meeting that starts in five minutes. Make it abundantly clear that they are on a SaaS product site, not just a blog. To do this:

  • Consider using a conversational messaging tool like Drift or Intercom to ask questions of readers while they are on your site. (Example: “Is there something about [topic] that we can help you with?”)
  • Keep your blog in a sub-folder, not a sub-domain and definitely not on Medium. You want your main site navigation menu on all blog pages. The ideal URL is saasinc.com/blog, not blog.saasinc.com.
  • Use author bios to let people know who they are hearing from. A post from “Jessica, head of marketing at SaaS Inc.” inspires more confidence than “Tom, freelance writer.”
  • Use product language in the header, footer and sidebar. Don’t be shy about offering free trials, showing testimonials or using social proof to show that people love the product.
  • Use contextual calls to action. If a post is about push notifications, use a CTA about push notifications.

Capture Email Addresses

99% of readers won’t be ready to buy now, but many will need your product in the future. This creates an attribution problem that makes measuring content difficult, but it also means it’s vitally important to capture email addresses. You need to establish an ongoing relationship so that if and when the times comes to buy, every reader knows where to go.

  • Offer a course instead of a newsletter. People know that newsletters are eternal and that’s a big commitment. Courses have a clear start and end, which makes it easier for people to opt in. Once it’s over, you can transition them to an infrequent newsletter.
  • Or just send a newsletter. Courses are an easier entry point for new readers, but good old-fashioned newsletter can still work too. Just make sure you let them know the frequency of emails they can expect ahead of time.
  • Use content upgrades for contextual calls to action. Whitepapers, ebooks, case studies—these are great ways to market to readers interested in specific topics. Use them within articles on relevant topics.

Follow Up with Everyone

If you have a sales team, make sure there is a process in place to hand off email addresses. If you don’t, make sure you have good drip campaigns in place to nurture leads. Following up on every single lead is no longer a huge challenge thanks to behavioral email and marketing automation. Put these tools in place and don’t let anyone slip through the cracks.

Agree on Attribution

Measuring content marketing is hard and often a point of contention among stakeholders. Revenue growth from content is a lagging indicator of success since almost no readers will be ready to buy immediately. There isn’t a perfect way to attribute content to revenue, but here are a few things to think about:

  • Capturing email addresses makes it way easier to track a user’s path from reader to customer.
  • Running a site in a sub-folder as opposed to subdomain makes it easier to attribute signups in Google Analytics.
  • Don’t try to make a 1:1 connection between reading a single post and signing up. Shoot for something more holistic, like tracking all behavior in the 90 days leading to the signup.

Scrambling to prove the blog is working is something you want to avoid (and it happens all the time). Agree on the metrics you will measure ahead of time.

Resources:

6. Content Marketing Strategy Tools

With your content marketing strategy in place, you’re going to need tools make it all run smoothly. There are plenty of great options out there, but here are a few of our favorite content marketing tools.

SEO + Research

  • Ahrefs – An excellent tool for tracking links and doing keyword research.
  • Moz – Track your rankings for target keywords.
  • KeywordTool.io – Get tons of keyword ideas.
  • AnswerthePublic.com – Get keyword ideas in the form of questions.
  • Buzzsumo – Research successful posts with search and social metrics.
  • Clearbit – Add data to your existing email list for better segmentation.

Content Creation + Hosting

  • Quip – Our favorite tool for collaborative writing.
  • SketchDeck – Professional design resources on-demand.
  • DraftSend – Create simple presentations that you can embed in your posts.
  • WordPress – The best content management system for most SaaS blogs.
  • WPEngine – Our host of choice.
  • Wistia – The best video hosting platform out there.

Email

  • ConvertKit – A tool built specifically for bloggers to send emails and create courses.
  • Customer.io – An excellent tool for creating behavioral email campaigns.
  • CampaignMonitor – An easy-to-use email tool with beautiful templates.

Promotion + Conversion

  • Sumo – All kinds of tools for collecting email addresses on your site.
  • Drift – Simple live chat tool for having live conversations with readers.
  • Buffer – The industry standard social media sharing tool.

Workflow

  • Airtable – Create an insanely powerful content workflow.
  • CoSchedule – Build comprehensive marketing calendars.
  • Zapier – Connect all your apps and automate everything.
  • Trello – A popular and useful project management tool.
  • Teamwork – A robust and powerful project management app.

Analytics + Attribution

  • Google Analytics – Easy and free analytics. You can’t be that.
  • Amplitude – Tie your product data into your content data.
  • Segment – Centralize your event tracking for cleaner data.

Content marketing is an ongoing challenge, not a task to be checked off your list.

Wanna chat? Tweet me @itswilson8

Wilson Jian P

A Full Marketing Tool Stack For Every Stage of Your Marketing Funnel

One of the topics that come up in my conversations with other founders and marketers all the time are the tools that we use to help us with our marketing efforts. There’s no shortage in articles out there related to marketing tools that can help you grow your startup, but there really isn’t a detailed list of marketing tools that work across all parts of your marketing funnel.

For example, if I was focused on user retention this month as my main responsibility and I wanted to explore a list of tools that I can try out to make my life easier, I would need to do a massive amount of research just to find one or two tools to test. If there was a list for me to quickly scan through the tools for user retention, I could easily navigate straight to the site and read about it which will save me a lot of time and I can get my marketing test started.

I’ve explored a lot of marketing tools over time, but here’s an updated list of tools that will fit well with any stage of your marketing funnel. In this article, I will break down the list of tools based on the different stages of the funnel. The stages that I will go through will include:

  • Acquisition
  • Activation
  • Retention
  • Referrals
  • Revenue

Yep, that’s the typical “pirate metrics” of growth hacking, but we all know that marketers need to at least dedicate some time to every stage of it and tools help out a lot. Tools allow you to quickly run test with the lowest cost instead of having to build stuff in house that might take up resources and months worth of time. With the correct tools, you can create a stack that will help you automate and put your startup’s growth on autopilot. Let’s begin!

Acquisition

I’m usually a big fan of user acquisition tools that contribute to long term sustainable growth and not the one shot ones. The difference is that with a long term user acquisition tool, you can create a repeatable growth process behind it that will help you build out a foundation in the long term, where as if I go for something quick like Google Adwords or Facebook ads, I might acquire a few sign ups, but that doesn’t necessary mean that it will help me gain customers in the long term. With that said, here’s my list of go-to tools for acquisition.

Moz — Moz is the bread and butter to any SEO tool, but my most favorite out of all their tools is their open site explorer. The tool is free and it’s powerful enough to match with a lot of the higher end paid options out there. SEO isn’t something that acquires a user right away, but it’s a foundation that you need to lay if you want sustainable growth in the long run. Moz is a great free tool for checking your domain and page authority and also for checking how many links you are getting and from which source. You can also check your competition. But the free version only gives you 3 reports per day. It’s still a very good tool with simple UX that any marketer can just hop on and see results.

Builtwith — Builtwith is a great way to see which sites your competitor is using. In the earlier days, it’s always necessary to do thing that don’t scale. This includes reaching out to your competitor’s customers and either interviewing them to learn more about how they’re using your competitor or simply for pitching your new product. Builtwith can save you a lot of time because it can provide you with a list of websites that’s already using that tool. In addition to that, you can always use their free chrome extension to see what stack any website is using.

YesInsights — Data and guessing is never enough. YesInsights is an all in one user/customer feedback tool that allows you to take the guesswork out of knowing what your customers want. There’s a lot of ways you can include YesInsights in all parts of your marketing stack, but for acquisition, you should look into the on-page website feedback widget/survey. With YesInsights’ website widget, you can trigger an on page user friendly survey to ask questions like, “What’s stopping you from buying right now?” or you can make the survey appear on your blog asking a question like, “Did you find this content helpful?” If the visitor clicks “Yes”, then you can have the next action set to collect their email address. That allows you to narrow down the focus and acquire more users.

FullContact — I mentioned Builtwith above, but I know people will ask how do I find the company’s email? The best and easiest way is by guessing the email with FullContact. FullContact is a chrome extension that works directly in your Gmail and it will display their social profile if you guess the email correctly. I use to use Rapportive, but it’s not as good as FullContact anymore. FullContact is free and most of the time you can guess the email correctly with just their firstname@company.com. It’s a great start for emailing potential customers.

Sidekick — is a free Chrome plugin alternative to a Tout, PersistIQ and YesWare to give you open and click through rates on outbound email to show you how your outreach is going. The extension is a free tool created by Hubspot and it is highly effective for seeing who’s opening your emails. That way you can keep track of what’s going on and if the prospect missed your email or simply ignored it. It can help you build a strong follow up strategy for following up with potential customers. The thing I love the most about it is the real time notifications, but it does get buggy at times.

WordPress — Content marketing is king and it’s a great way to start building the early acquisition channel that will work in the long run. Blogging doesn’t get you customers right away, but if you look at companies like Kissmetrics, we can see that blogging pays off in the long term and will drive you a lot of traffic and branding. The reason I choose WordPress is because of how easy it is to set up with reliable hosting from companies like WPEngine (we use it!). It also comes with a ton of plugins that will make your life easier such as SEO Yoast for you to automate your SEO and see what’s working.

Buffer — Perhaps our best time-saving tip for social media marketing is scheduling posts ahead of time for your social profiles. You can batch the social media marketing process: Do all your curating and composing all in one go, then spread those updates out across the next day or week. The forever free plan at Buffer lets you connect a profile from each network (one from Facebook, one from Twitter, etc.) and to schedule ahead 10 posts for each network. If you share three posts per day, that means you can stay three days ahead all the time. You can use Hootsuite as another free alternative, but I prefer Buffer because of the chrome extension and how easy it is to schedule everything across all accounts.

Teachable — While we don’t use Teachable at YesInsights, I still believe that Teachable is one of the best tools for creating any online course. It’s a great way to grow your brand through offering your expertise. Teachable isn’t cheap, but if you’re offering free courses to grow your audience, then teachable provides a robust free platform for you to create a free course that you can use to collect your potential’s customers emails and market your knowledge to them.

Intercom — Intercom is a must have for any startup to start acquiring and communicating with their customers. The live chat on the website will allow you to capture leads, answer their questions, and most importantly the platform can act as a CRM where you can send trigger emails. Most awesome thing? You can start to scale and gather feedback through surveys created through YesInsights and embed them within your triggered with ease in Intercom. Our integration makes it easy for you to embed anything in the onboarding email. We use it everyday and here’s a sample of our very own onboarding email that gets 50%+ response rate on all opens:

Activation

This an important part of the marketing funnel. Acquiring a user and making them interested in a great start, but activating them and having them sign up for an account is no easy job. This is the part where the user will sign up for a trial or become a registered user. Now it’s up for your onboarding effort and nurturing process in order to continue to push them down the funnel and become an active paying user. Get ready for some fun tools

YesInsights — Had to mention our own tool again because a big chunk of our customers use it in their onboarding and lifecycle emails to nurture their leads and do user research on how the customers are enjoying the product during the trial phase. What features are the users using the most? What are they enjoying the most? Which marketing channel are they coming from? Instead of guessing, you can simply automate this process and create a customer feedback loop that will give you all the necessary data needed to analyze your final goal with the customer. Piktochart uses us in their mid-trial emails to figure out what’s the main use case of their customer and then sends educational materials to them based on their responses. They get 75%+ response on all their surveys sent due to the native triggered embed. Their email looks like this with the survey:

Retargeting — I’m not a “huge fan” of running too much acquisition ads, but if there’s one type of ad that I will run it will be retargeting. You might capture an email from your blog or capture a lot of visits from cold visitors, but the truth is that most people tend to forget about your product even if they find it useful. They might say, “ahh I’ll try it out tomorrow!”, but end up forgetting. Retargeting allows you to bring people back and remind them that your company still exist! You can use Perfect Audience or Adroll for this and can set it up across multiple platforms (FB, Google, web) etc.

GoToWebinar — Webinar is one of the best ways to nurture activated sign ups that are on trial. Buzzsumo does an excellent job at sending out webinar invites for discounts during your trial phase so you can learn about their product and the value that you get out of it. I’ve tried a lot of different webinar platform in the past, but keep coming back to GoToWebinar due to how easy it is to set up.

FullStory — FullStory lets your company easily record, replay, search, and analyze each user’s actual experience with your website. Think of it as your team’s super-searchable DVR for all customer interactions. A big part of activating a new user is by improving your onboarding process and Fullstory makes things a lot easier. UX designers gain a visceral sense of how users experience their design while avoiding the Hawthorne effect of formal usability studies. Web developers see bugs as they happened in the wild, with play/pause/rewind access to the full DOM across time and even the JavaScript console. I like to consider this as the full stack onboarding tool to improve your onboarding process to build a product that people love.

Crazy Egg — I mention Crazy Egg quite often because it’s a powerful and budget friendly tool for viewing heatmaps to see what users are doing on your site. Let’s say you’re driving a lot of traffic to your site, but the users aren’t converting. You want to know why they’re not. Maybe your landing page’s copy is too long and people are missing your trial button. Maybe people aren’t even scrolling or reading your content, with Crazy Egg, you can see recordings as well as heatmaps to figure out what’s going on. Then you can A/B test it to see how you can increase your activation rate. Combine this with YesInsightswebsite widget on pricing pages etc. to figure out both the quantitative and qualitative side of things to see why customers aren’t converting.

HelloBar — We use Hellobar on our blog (this one) and we use it collect emails and activate users. We try to send them to webinars to nurture them through Hellobar’s overlays that are super user friendly and nurture leads on our list to get them to sign up for our free trial. Hellobar comes with a free branded version, but we upgraded to the premium version for a budget friendly price. An alternative would be SumoMe, but it’s buggy for us and we don’t need the heatmap or analytic because we’re using other tools for that.

Instapage — We use this for all our landing page. Creating a landing page with Instapage is super easy and you can integrate this with any email service provider to capture lead and see the conversion rates. Content is king when it comes to nurturing and activating. It’s an important part of the marketing strategy and if you’re looking for an elegant tool for this process then Instapage is the way to go. If you need more advance flow such as Salesforce mapping, then look into Unbounce but we love the templates on Instapage especially for webinar and webinar replays.

Appcues — Appcues gives you the power to take user onboarding into your own hands. Build and iterate on your onboarding experience without bugging your dev team. New users often have different motivations for using your product. Get them to their first WOW experience faster by giving each persona a unique experience. Appcues really helps with user onboarding and can be used for user retention as well. It’s a really well rounded product. You can use it for pointing out important UI elements to ensure new users don’t get frustrated or lost. You can also use it to run A/B testing on user onboarding which is very powerful.

Retention

Now we’re moving down the funnel towards the Rs!! Once you move the user forward down the funnel towards retention, you should give you and your team a high five, but this is the hard part. Acquiring a user is hard, but retaining them is even harder. These tools focus on the goal of either retaining users or doing customer development to figure out ways to keep them coming back. Let’s do this!

Mixpanel — A big chunk of user retention is about understanding your users, where they are falling off in the funnel, what they’re doing on the site, and what they’re struggling with. Mixpanel is like Google Analytics on steroids. It comes with detailed funnel and cohort analysis that can help you map out exactly what’s going on within your app. What’s even more amazing about Mixpanel is how you can look into every single user to see their action as well as their engagement rate and where they are coming from.

User Testing — UserTesting.com is a website dedicated to finding your website’s biggest problems in a short amount of time, and then providing you with the information and feedback you need to improve your site’s usability. UserTesting.com gives you the ability to create a test for your website and then have real people take the test and give you feedback via video recording, while they are using the site. You can also ask them follow up questions for further information.

What’s amazing about UserTesting is that you can actually see an actual person using your product. The tester doesn’t only use the product, but they actually talk about it throughout their process and share their thoughts. This is a gold mine for all product managers, UX designers, and founders.

Let’s say you notice that two testers are struggling to understand a certain part of your product, you can work closely with your team to fix that issue. Another great thing is that you can test both web apps and mobile apps.

Pricing: Starts at $99 per video.

Net Promoter Score Tool — A NPS tool is a must at this stage of the funnel for you to quickly run customer satisfaction surveys. NPS is actually a very powerful tool not only for measuring the score, but as well as creating a referral engine and asking for testimonials. We use NPS to segment and find unhappy customers, then we personally reach out to them to see how we can improve our product. We use NPS on our advocates to ask for referrals and additional features that they would like to see being built next. At the end of the day, NPS is not only powerful, but can give you a lot of inside data on what your overall customers think about your product and if you’re heading towards product market fit. If you want a list of strategies that you can use with NPS to create sustainable growth, check out this article.

There are a lot of robust tools out there that you can create a NPS survey with. Check out Promoter.io for a good one. If you’re already using YesInsights for our one-click survey and website survey widget, you can easily create a NPS survey within our platform as well.

Referrals

This is the most powerful part of the marketing funnel. Word of mouth marketing is the best performing ROI you will ever have. With referrals, you literally have customers bringing you new customers without you having to spend money on acquisition. Getting users into the referral stages means they not only like your product, but they think that their contacts and friends could also benefit from that value.

At YesInsights, we only started looking into referrals when customers started asking for it. We wanted to ensure that we build a good enough product that solves a problem before even looking into tools for referrals. These are the tools that we’ve tried.

LeadDyno — There’s a lot of referral tools out there, but most of them are geared for enterprise with heavy pricing. LeadDyno was one of those that provided an all in one robust referral system with a reasonable pricing. LeadDyno allows you to easily create an affiliate program with your own custom landing page and backend system so that all you have to do is send a link to the people that want to sign up for your referral program and have them sign up. LeadDyno will handle everything from the payments to affiliate tracking. You can also schedule recurring payments to your affiliates. It’s a great tool for SaaS.

Ambassador — Ambassador is one of the most complete referral/affiliate programs out there. We didn’t go with Ambassador at YesInsights due to the heavy pricing, but they provide more features than a lot of the other referral tools out there. Here’s some of their best features:

  • An easy-to-use visual editor
  • Automated workflows
  • Pre-built designs and templates
  • Robust customer and affiliate portals
  • Seamless integrations
  • A/B test copy, rewards, and on-page placement
  • Identify and segment affiliates, influencers, customers, partners, employees, and other advocates
  • Customize reporting and analytics
  • Native mobile app experience
  • Multi-language functionality
  • International currency
  • Proven offline tracking processes

With all the features mentioned above, it’s the perfect affiliate program for marketers. They also support recurring payments, which is perfect for SaaS.

Revenue

Revenue is the bread and butter to any company and business. It’s what keeps the business alive and it’s what pays the bills. It doesn’t matter if your company is well funded or not, keeping track of revenue is super crucial to any business. One of the biggest mistake that founders make is that they only track overall revenue, but they aren’t keeping track of other important revenue metrics such as user churn, cost per acquisition etc. Luckily, we have tools to help us out.

Baremetrics — If you’re running a SaaS company, then you absolutely need Baremetrics or some sort of SaaS metric tracker. With Baremetrics you can learn more about each and every customer. Find out their LTV, MRR and more along with their entire history with you! The UX is super simple and you can connect your stripe, braintree or recurly account in seconds. One of the things that I love the most about Baremetrics is how you can dive into each customer profile and see everything. They also come with email notifications and reports.

Churn Buster — Churn Buster’s air-tight, scalable process automatically solves payment problems in Stripe caused by insufficient funds, expiration dates, card re-issuing and many more. These are common problems that lead to SaaS churn. If your users are loving your product, there should be no reason why they will churn, but unfortunately simple errors like these occur and that’s where Churn Buster can help you fix these problems.

Some of my most favorite features about Churn Buster is the white label dunning emails, automatic subscription renewals, and most importantly their real time reporting. I’m a huge analytic guy and the reporting really helps me analyze my churn.

First Officer — First Officer is a stripe monitoring tool that reports in depth metrics ranging from MRR (Monthly Recurring Revenue) to cohort analysis and most importantly to churn as well.

Are new customers happier than the old ones?

The behavior of a small group isn’t visible in total churn, but it shows in monthly cohort charts.

MRR is the no 1 SaaS metric and it isn’t just a single figure. To really conquer it — you must divide it as First Officer might say. With First Officer you can see the trends and compare performance between plans. View just one metric or compare them all in one place.

Their pricing is pretty straight forward. There is a hobby package for 29$/month that allows you to have up to 250 customers. This works pretty well with bootstrapping SaaS companies. You can then upgrade to the 79$/month package if you grow.

ProfitWell — ProfitWell combines world-class subscription analytics and tools that fuel your growth. Profitwell is similar to Baremetrics and FirstOfficer. It allows you to view all your analytics in one place and the data is pretty accurate. One of the best things about ProfitWell is that they provide actionable analytics and not just stats. This allows you to narrow down every little thing including cohorts and segmented users.

GeckoBoard — What I love about Geckoboard is that it tracks more than just revenue. Geckoboard allows you to add “widgets” to a dashboard that’s highly customizable. You can add anything you want to it from stripe to your daily visitor count. It’s the best app for keeping track of everything in one place. Display it in your office’s TV for the best results

That’s it for this list! Is there any tool that you use at your company that I didn’t mention here? Feel free to leave it in the comments.