Monday, 25 September 2017

How to Hack Retention Rate and Get Customers to Stick Around

Retention, huh?

It’s like interviewing for a job and getting to the last stage of the interviews — just to realize it’s not going to happen.

We spend money on getting people to our website, visitors spend eight seconds on the page and 98% will never return.

Boy, that hurts

It is especially painful for SaaS businesses because of their lengthy sales funnels and high acquisition costs.

Awhile ago we decided to gather data on how to attract visitors, move them down the marketing funnel and make sure they love using our tool.

But before we get into the details, let’s go through what retention rate optimization is and how data can be helpful in improving it.

What is Retention Rate Optimization?

Retention rate optimization is the process of improving the rate of customers returning to use your services.

It sounds like something you should be doing, right?

In numbers it looks like this:

  1. If 100 people land on your site, on average 2-3% percent will “convert” — i.e., do whatever you want them to do.
    1. In our case, it’s 8% of everyone who takes the free trial.
  2. So, if we want eight people to try our free trial we have to get 100 to land on our page.
  3. The retention rates of different industries are hard to predict, but, in our case, we are generally able to keep these eight people for a month. Aftwerward this will happen:
    1. 4 to 5 people will unsubscribe.
    2. But 3 to 4 will try our paid plans, from which only 1 to 2 subscribers will keep paying for more than a month.

This means that only one or two people out of 100 will keep paying to use our services. So naturally, improving this number became a big priority for us.

This is where retention rate optimization comes in, trying to boost your profit on every potential customer who lands on your page.

Now it’s time to explain the path we took.

Behavior Analysis

First of all, you have to try to understand your customer’s behavior:

  1. Why did they leave after trying the free trial?
  2. Why did they leave after trying the paid plans?

The best way to test your assumptions is by simply by talking to your customers via emails, calls, live chats or Skype calls. Anything will do.

One low-key method we tend to use is Hotjar’s Poll. To set it up you simply implement a small code snippet — similar to setting up Google Analytics — and set up the question sequence.

It looks like this: the question is triggered few seconds after you visit a page.

Ask simple, open-ended questions and soon you will have a lot more insight into why your customers do what they do.

Let’s get Ready to Monitor Data

Have you ever heard the statement, ‘Numbers don’t lie’?

Trust numbers more than you trust anyone. Period.

Google Analytics won’t cut it in delivering the insights into customer behavior you need. You will need funnel and event data monitoring software to help to visualize your events.

In this case, Kissmetrics is the perfect tool for this job.

The metrics these kind of tools offer is what one might need to investigate customers’ behavior.

Setting it up is a bit more technical than with Google Analytics because you have to assign tracking to every event you want to monitor. This will take some time if you don’t have developers at your disposal.

What’s great about behaviour analytics’ tools is that they offer easy-to-schedule demo calls, in case there is something you struggle to understand.

Once everything is set, let’s see how we can use this data to improve your retention.

Improving the Onboarding Process

In general, users who have tested different features of your tools can be retained for longer than those people who haven’t tried such tasks.

Designing user onboarding shouldn’t be left to gut feeling. Instead, make sure to tailor it to the features your users find the most useful.

Once you can track events and see the impact your onboarding has on user retention, you can then form a set of assumptions. These assumptions should then be tested to see if iterating your onboarding can improve your retention rate.

Retention rate analysis

We discovered that people who used a key feature of our tool have a retention rate of 20.1%.

This key feature was also the first step of our onboarding.

The second step was to connect our tool to Google Analytics. As it turned out, people who did add Analytics stayed for an average of 12 days, with a retention rate of 7.69%. Compare this to the 1.69% retention rate for people who skipped this step.

We kept exploring the actions people took using our tool. Interestingly, people who used the disavow feature were much more likely to return — this cohort’s retention rate for 12 days was stunning 10.2%.

We had a 24% retention rate increase just by suggesting a few spammy backlinks to disavow.

Once you spot opportunities like this, your assumptions must be tested to see if seemingly useful changes actually deliver the expected outcome.

Imagine the impact if all of your customers would have the same experience as your “star” customers who make the most of your handy features.

From Free Trial to Paid Plan

Once you know the precise likelihood of people sticking around after performing action X, you can assign a value to this activity.

For example, ProdPad gamified their 14-day free trial by giving extra “free days” for each action people performed on the page.

This makes a lot of sense. Any free days you give to your customers are useless if they don’t use them to do things which will make them stick around.

You can even take this one step further. Investigate which actions increase the chance of people switching from free trials to paid plans.

Have a look at the data on activities which improve conversion rates between steps in your funnel. In this case, it’s customers moving from free plans to paid plans.

We discovered that people who linked Google Analytics to our service were 32.5% more likely to use paid plans, compared to those who didn’t link.

This is what we found using the same correlation for the cohort that used our disavow tool:

The disavow tool is seemingly so crucial to our retention rate that it more than doubles the conversion rate from free to paid plans.

Once you start seeing this kind of data, it’s then time to test to approve or disapprove your assumptions.

Improve Your Marketing Funnel

There are different ways to test your assumptions. Here are two:

  1. Involving your software team to adjust your onboarding and gamify your free trial
  2. Using Facebook ads

Obviously, the second option sounds a lot easier, right?

Easier means faster to test and that’s what we like.

After each interaction with a business, we internet users usually get bombarded with upgrade or discount offers. Indeed, it’s a shame not to help your users find their way back to you — and take the action they for some reason avoided.

Setting up Facebook for retargeting ads

Facebook offers amazing retargeting capabilities, allowing you to target any specific action that a specific group of people took.

First, clearly lay out the actions people can take on your site. Once you know the impact these actions have on retention you can make sure people use your tool to its full capability.

What’s more, I will show you how to display ads after almost any event taking place while people use your tool.

First, let’s start by setting up the tracking. We will need to implement two things:

  1. A Facebook pixel — here’s the guide that will walk you through it.
  2. Event tracking — here are the codes to implement for facilitating event tracking.

Creating Audiences

Once that’s done, we need to define the specific cohorts (audiences) which we wish to guide further down the funnel.

Every event that occurs on your site is tracked by Facebook’s pixel and people who fall into specific categories can be shown specific ads.

We know our highest retention rate came from people who had used the disavow tool. Moreover, we know there were quite a few people who didn’t do that.

To start, head over to Facebook’s business manager, (1) then to Ads Manager (2), and finally, click on Audiences (3).

There you will be able to create cohorts or “custom audiences” (1). Next, create a custom audience based on “website traffic”.

Then you will have to define the event. In this case, we want to target people (1) who visited in the last 30 days (2) visited Linkody’s “dashboard” (3). Specifically, the ones who didn’t use (4) the “disavow” tool (6) in this period of time.

Make sure to exclude the other groups of people. There is no need to show ads to people who have already done what you will be asking them to do.

Showing Ads for the Right Audience

Now you can reach out to this cohort.

Show your customers the benefits of performing a particular action. Teach them what this feature can do for their business.

These people have most probably not grasped exactly how useful your tool or service is — the exact reason why others love it so much.

A great way to educate people about this is with video guides or blog posts. Film a walk-through or write a how-to guide describing the benefits of taking this action.

Then head over (1) to the Ads Manager (2) and create an ad of your choosing.

Next, select the ad’s objective: I suggest choosing between traffic (1), engagement (2), or conversions (3).

Then, all you have to do is select the custom audience you created before.


Now all you have to do is check if your retention rates are improving.

This will help you to quickly prove or disprove the assumptions you made before.

Go Ahead and Optimize your Retention

This guide can help you to get the best return out of the money you’ve already put down. So why not go ahead and test it to see if you, too, can boost your profits.

To quickly recap what we went through:

  1. Talk with your customers and ask about their biggest pain points.
  2. Track events on your site and analyze the retention rates to see which activities have the biggest apparent influence in keeping visitors engaged.
  3. Test your assumptions about the events which lead to the highest conversion rate.
  4. Create cohorts in Custom Audiences on Facebook and set up ads to educate people about your product.
  5. After about a month, check to see if there are any improvements in retention rate, analyze this information and see what you can improve.

One thing to note is that this is just one test. In most cases, retention optimization will be an ongoing process.

Happy optimizing and let us know if there is anything you need help with!

About the Author: Helvis Smoteks is an SEO-mastering, content-smithing marketer who spends his days at Linkody helping SEOs monitor their backlink data.

from The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog

Why Social Customer Service Matters, and How to Do It Right

Have you ever posted a complaint about a brand on a social media channel? If so, did they respond? I’d wager many of you said yes. And whether or not a response was received, I’m sure, affected your opinion of the brand.  With social quickly becoming the most preferred channel for customer service, we asked bestselling author Marsha Collier to sit down with us to explore how brands can adapt to shifting customer expectations.

In this blog, I’ll cover Marsha Collier’s top tips for social customer service. 

What trends are shaping customer service on social media this year?

Marsha Collier Twitter Chat 1


Marsha Collier Twitter Chat 2

The mere mention of chatbots tends to elicit strong opinions both for relevance and usefulness in adoption in social customer service, as well as, distaste for the lack of authenticity bots provide. The key seems to be in creating a more human-like experience. Most customers are looking for simple, efficient ways to find, order, or book things online. Bots can check customer profiles, provide immediate responses, and handle thousands of requests at once. The preference customers have for “always on” hours can be met with chatbots. In a recent study by Aspect, 61% of the respondents preferred chatbots for simple requests. However, when customer inquiries become more in depth, chatbots are not seen in quite as a favorable light. The challenge for marketers moving forward will be avoiding bot-speak. Utilizing humor, keeping responses simple, and implementing Natural Language Processing (NLP) and machine learning that can lead to an expansion in the bots ability to respond and develop a basic linguistic understanding will become key to adoption moving forward.

What are the core elements of a good social customer service strategy?

Marsha Collier MarketoChat

Marsha Collier MarketoChat 2

Like all good communication, social goes two ways. You need to always be listening. It’s impossible to offer a solution to a complaint you never see. Online customer service really has become a spectator sport. If your customer chooses to interact with you in public, respond in the same way. If you respond in private, you’re losing that chance to be open and transparent about the feedback. So what’s the best way to respond? Offer an apology AND a solution. Show empathy with a ‘We hear you, value you, and want to make this right immediately!’ approach. A simple “I’m sorry” is important and goes a long way.

What are the top ‘do’s’ for providing great social customer service?

Marsha Collier Twitter Chat 3

According to a recent report by eMarketer, 60% of consumers want easier access to online support channels, and 80% have stopped doing business with a company because of poor online customer support. It’s important when building out a social strategy to ensure you have dedicated resources to handle social support inquiries. Why? Responding quickly is key. The stakes are higher than ever. 60% of customers who complain on social expect a response within one hour. (Twitter) There is an expectation that social inquiries will be handled more promptly than email or community support tickets. Meeting those expectations can be highly rewarding. 71% of consumers who experience positive social customer care are likely to recommend the brand to others, compared with just 19% of customers who do not get a response. (NM Incite)

Should brands respond to every complaint posted on social media?

Marsha Collier MarketoChat

Marsha Collier MarketoChat


Marsha Collier MarketoChat

The short answer is yes. Social media is a public forum, allowing interactions to be amplified, whether they be negative or positive. Responding to complaints becomes an opportunity to turn a disgruntled customer into a brand advocate. If a consumer has invested in your product, “liked” your Facebook page, and/or followed you on Twitter, they must have some loyalty to your brand. By submitting a complaint via social, they typically just want an acknowledgment that they’ve been listened to and that you’re making every effort to resolve their issue. Responding, to every single complaint can have long-lasting effect. 70% of consumers helped via social customer service return as a customer in the future (Ambassador). However, it’s important to make an effort to take switch channels from public to private as quickly as you can. You’ll often need to get personal information like email, phone, account info to adequately address the issues. So for support inquiries that require research to resolve, your goal should be to switch to a private channel after your initial public response.

Final Thoughts

When thinking about how brands can scale their social strategies to meet the increasing demands for social support, it boils down to these 8 key steps:

  1. Listen
  2. Be present
  3. Engage
  4. Empathize
  5. Offer value
  6. Respond quickly
  7. Adapt to your audience
  8. Be proactive

Interested in learning more from thought leaders? Be sure to join our next #marketochat on how to rise above the noise with content marketing with Pam Moore on Thursday, September 28 at 1pm PT.

The post Why Social Customer Service Matters, and How to Do It Right appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog - Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

from Marketo Marketing Blog

18 Personal Websites to Inspire Your Own

Ah, the job search.

Some refer to it as a full-time job in itself. Others compare it to dating. And several cats over at BuzzFeed think it just plain sucks.

But it doesn't have to be that way. 

When you’re applying for a job, you’re typically asked to submit a resume and cover letter, or maybe your LinkedIn profile. But there are better ways to stand out from your competition, and building a personal website is one of them.

Why You Need a Personal Website

Here's the thing about resumes and cover letters: No matter how unique you try to make your own, for the most part, they tend to read dry. And there's a good reason for it: It's supposed to be a single, no-frills page that documents your work experience. And while being concise is good, there's very little opportunity to convey your uniqueness, or for your personality to shine through at all for that matter.

While a resume is a sole, largely unchanging document, a personal website can be customized and updated according to what you're working on, or what you want to emphasize. It's both fluid and current. 

Overall, a personal website can serve different goals, but perhaps what it does best is provide you with an opportunity to tell your story. And with 53% of employers reporting that the resume alone did not provide enough information to determine if the candidate would be a good fit, that storytelling element can really help to improve your odds.

If you're thinking about creating a personal website of your very own, check out the examples below that hit the nail on the head.

18 of the Best Personal Websites We've Ever Seen


Whether you create a single-page site or a larger portfolio, the web resume serves as a more personalized option for sharing information and demonstrating your technological skills -- and it can be used by all types of job seekers.

Even if you have very little work experience, you can leverage a website to build a better picture of your capabilities and yourself as a candidate, while leaning on your traditional resume to provide the basic background information.

1) Gary Sheng

Unlike a standard resume document, Sheng's website makes it easy for him to include logos and clickable links that allow his software engineering and web development skills to shine.

We love that visitors can choose to scroll down his page to view all of the website’s categories (“About Me,” “My Passion,” etc.), or jump to a specific page using the top navigation.

The "My System" section reads like a company mission statement, and this personal touch helps humanize his work and make him more memorable.

2) Raf Derolez

Raf Derolez

Derolez’s web resume is modern, cool, and informative. It shows off his personality, branding, and developing skills in a way that’s still very simple and clear. Not to mention, his use of unique fonts and geometric overlays ascribes personality to his name in an eye-catching way.

Want to get in touch with Derolez? Simply click the CTA located at the bottom of the page to open up an email that's pre-addressed directly to him. Or select one of the social media links to connect with him on platforms like Twitter -- where the look and feel of the visual assets happens to seamlessly align with the branding of his website. Well played, Derolez.

Screen Shot 2017-09-18 at 12.40.09 PM

3) Brandon Johnson

Brandon Johnson

Johnson’s incredible resume must be seen to be believed. Beautiful images of planets help to complement his planetary science background, and animations make his resume more of an experience than a document.

In terms of design, the textured, multi-layered background adds greater depth to the two-dimensional page in a way that evokes feelings of space and the planetary systems, which Johnson's work focuses on.

4) Quinton Harris

Harris' resume uses photos to tell his personal story -- and it reads kind of like a cool, digital scrapbook. It covers all the bases of a resume -- and then some -- by discussing his educational background, work experience, and skills in a highly visual way.

Not to mention, the copy is fantastic. It's clear that Harris took the time to carefully choose the right words to describe each step of his personal and professional journey. For example, the section on storytelling reads:

NYC, my new home, is filled with the necessary secrets to not only propel my craft forward, but my identity as an artist. With every lens snapped and every pixel laid, I am becoming me.

Finally, at the final navigational point (note the scrolling circles on the left-hand side of the page), users are redirected to, where he goes on to tell his story in more detail.

5) Sean Halpin


Halpin’s resume is short, sweet, and to the point, which is authentic to his voice and personal branding outlined on the site. The white space allows his designs and copy to pop and command the reader's attention, which helps to improve readability -- especially on mobile devices:


Best Practices for Resume Websites

  1. Code your resume so it can be crawled by search engines.
  2. Offer a button to download your resume in PDF so the hiring manager can add it to your file.
  3. Keep branding consistent between the website and document versions: Use similar fonts, colors, and images so you’re easy to recognize.
  4. Be creative and authentic to yourself. Think about the colors, images, and media you want to be a part of your story that you couldn’t include in a document resume.


Building an online portfolio is a highly useful personal branding and marketing tool if your work experience and skill set call for content creation. In fact, photographers, graphic designers, illustrators, writers, and content marketers can all use web portfolios to show off their skills in a more user-friendly way than a resume or hard copy portfolio.

6) Tony D'Orio


It's important to keep the design of your visual portfolio simple to let images capture visitors' attention, and D'Orio accomplishes this by featuring bold photographs front-and-center on his website. His logo and navigation menu are clear and don't distract from his work. And he makes it easy for potential customers to download his work free of charge.

Want to give it a try? Click on the hamburger menu in the top left corner, then select + Create a PDF to select as many images as you'd like to download.


Once you open the PDF, you'll notice that it comes fully equipped with D'Orio's business card as the cover ... just in case you need it.


7) Gari Cruze

Screen Shot 2017-09-18 at 1.12.03 PM

Cruze is a copywriter. But by turning his website into a portfolio featuring images from different campaigns he’s worked on, he makes visitors want to keep clicking to learn more about him. Also, there's a great CTA at the top of the page that leads visitors to his latest blog post.

His site’s humorous copy -- specifically in the “17 Random Things” and “Oh Yes, They’re Talking” sections -- serves to show off his skills, while making himself more memorable as well. These pages also include his contact information on the right-hand side, making it easy to reach out and connect at any point:


8) Melanie Daveid

Daveid’s website is a great example of “less is more.”

This developer’s portfolio features clear, well-branded imagery of campaigns and apps that Daveid worked on, and she shows off her coding skills when you click through to see the specifics of her work.

While it might seem overly minimal to only include three examples of her work, Daveid did her portfolio a service by including her best, most noteworthy campaigns. At the end of the day, it's better to have fewer examples of excellence in your portfolio than many examples of mediocrity.

9) The Beast is Back

Christopher Lee's portfolio is busy and colorful in a way that works. When you read more about Lee on his easily navigable site, you realize that such a fun and vibrant homepage is perfect for an illustrator and toy designer.

His web portfolio highlights eye-catching designs with recognizable brands, such as Target and Mario, along with links to purchase his work. This is another gallery-style portfolio with pops of color that make it fun and give it personality, thus making it more memorable. 

Best Practices for Portfolio Websites

  1. Use mainly visuals. Even if you're showcasing your written work, using logos or other branding is more eye-catching for your visitors.
  2. Don't be afraid to be yourself. Your personality, style, and sense of humor could be what sets you apart from other sites!
  3. Organization is key. If your portfolio is full of photos, logos, and other images, make sure it's easy for visitors to navigate to where they can contact you.
  4. Brand yourself. Choose a logo or icon to make your information easily identifiable.


Consistently publishing on a blog is a great way to attract attention on social media and search engines -- and drive traffic to your site. Blogging is a smart way to give your work a personality, chronicle your experiences, and stretch your writing muscles. You might write a personal blog if you're a writer by trade, but virtually anyone can benefit from adding a blog to their site and providing useful content for their audience.

10) Everywhereist

Screen Shot 2017-09-18 at 1.21.11 PM

This blog looks a bit busier, but its consistent branding helps visitors easily navigate the site. The travel blog uses globe iconography to move visitors around the site, making it easy to explore sections beyond the blog.

It also features a "Best Of" section that allows new visitors to learn about what the blog covers to get acclimated. The color scheme is warm, neutral, and free of excess clutter that could distract from the content.

11) fifty coffees


fifty coffees chronicles the author's series of coffee meetings in search of her next job opportunity, and it does a great job of using photography and visuals to assist in the telling of her lengthy stories.

The best part? Each post ends with numbered takeaways from her meetings for ease of reading comprehension. The high-quality photography used to complement the stories is like icing on the cake.

12) Minimalist Baker

I'm not highlighting Dana's food blog just because the food looks delicious and I'm hungry. Her blog uses a simple white background to let her food photography pop, unique branding to make her memorable, and mini-bio to personalize her website.

13) Kendra Schaefer

Kendra's blog is chock-full of information about her life, background, and professional experience, but she avoids overwhelming visitors by using a light background and organizing her blog's modules to minimize clutter. She also shares links to additional writing samples, which bolsters her writing authority and credibility.

Best Practices for Blogs

  1. Keep your site simple and clutter-free to avoid additional distractions beyond blog posts.
  2. Publish often. Company blogs that publish more than 16 posts per months get nearly 3.5X the web traffic of blogs that published less than four posts per month.
  3. Experiment with different blog styles, such as lists, interviews, graphics, and bullets.
  4. Employ visuals to break up text and add context to your discussion.


Another cool way to promote yourself and your skills is to create a personal website that doubles as a demonstration of your coding, design, illustration, or developer skills. These sites can be interactive and animated in a way that provides information about you and also shows hiring managers why they should work with you. This is a great website option for technical and artistic content creators such as developers, animators, UX designers, website content managers, and illustrators.

14) Albino Tonnina

Tonnina is showcasing advanced and complicated web development skills, but the images and icons he uses are still clear and easy to understand. He also offers a simple option to view his resume at the beginning of his site, for those who don't want to scroll through the animation.

15) Bobby Kane


Kane's site is aesthetically beautiful. And thanks to the cool background photo and minimalist site design, his experience really stands out. He further shows off his design and coding skills at the very bottom of his site, where he demonstrates his ability to code background design changes. This small touch makes his demo more interactive and will make visitors stop and think, "that's cool!"

Want to check it out? Pull down the arrow at the top of his site to refresh the background.

16) Robby Leonardi


Leonardi's incredible demo website uses animation and web development skills to turn his portfolio and resume into a video game for site visitors. The whimsical branding and unique way of sharing information ensure that his site is memorable to visitors.

17) Samuel Reed

Reed uses his page as a start-to-finish demo of how to code a website. His website starts as a blank white page and ends as a fully interactive site that visitors can watch him code themselves. The cool factor makes this website memorable, and it makes his skills extremely marketable.

18) Devon Stank

Stank's demo site does a great job of showing that he has the web design chops and it takes it a step further by telling visitors all about him, his agency, and his passions. It's the perfect balance of a demo and a mini-resume.

Plus, we love the video summary. It's a consumable summary that at once captures Stank's personality and credentials.

Best Practices for Demo Websites

  1. Brand yourself and use consistent logos and colors to identify your name and your skills amongst the bevy of visuals.
  2. Don't overwhelm your visitors with too many visuals at once -- especially if your demo is animated. Be sure to keep imagery easy to understand so visitors aren't bombarded when they visit your site.

from Marketing