Tag: The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog

How Netflix Maintains a Low Churn Rate by Keeping Customers Engaged & Watching

With over 90 million customers watching a combined 125 million hours of television and movies everyday, there’s no doubt that Netflix has changed the way we watch our favorite shows. It has also become a prime force in our daily lives — integrating into everything from mobile devices to our language and culture.

And with a relatively low 9% churn rate (lower than any other subscription streaming service), one has to wonder — how does a service like this continue to keep their customers engaged in both the short and long term? How do they succeed when others fall short? Let’s take a closer look and discover how they do it.

Why Engagement is So Crucial to Netflix

As a subscription service, each new month gives every Netflix users a chance to cancel the service.

Like all subscription companies, the best step Netflix can take to reduce churn is to create a great product that people are willing to pay for. They do this by having a large library of original and licensed content. As long as people keep watching, they’ll keep paying.

Let’s look at how Netflix achieves relatively low churn rates, when compared to their peers.

Reluctant to Switch

With more than a third of U.S. households subscribed to Netflix, it’s no secret they’re far ahead of their competitors (namely Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus) in the video streaming subscription race. Recent research by Parks Associates showed that only 4% of U.S. broadband households cancelled their Netflix service — representing almost 9% of Netflix’s subscriber base.

By comparison, 7% of users cancelled their Hulu Plus subscription within a year — but that figure represents approximately half of Hulu Plus’ current subscriber base.

subscribers-canceling-netflix(OTT refers to “Over the Top” – a term used in broadcasting to refer to internet-based transmission of media without an operator –as in cable or satellite — controlling or distributing the media).

What this tells us, is that not only are most households electing to keep their Netflix subscription and “test the waters” with other streaming services, but those same users keep coming back. But what is it that draws them back?

A Deeper Insight into User Preferences

Perhaps some of what makes Netflix so irresistible among its user base are its original shows. With fan favorites like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, Netflix has its finger on the pulse of what users are watching. And they’re not just skimming the surface, either. They look at things like:

  • How many users watched a particular episode
  • How many users watched an entire series
  • How much of a gap was there between when the user watched one episode and the next?

And that’s not all. They’re also gathering data on:

  • When you pause, rewind or fast-forward (or if you stop watching and never pick it back up again)
  • What day you watch (most people watch TV shows over the week and movies on the weekend)
  • What date and time you watch, as well as the zip code you’re watching from
  • What device(s) you use to watch which media
  • The ratings you give and the searches you conduct
  • Your browsing and scrolling habits
  • And even the data within the movies and shows themselves

Netflix knows when the credits roll – but it’s also speculated that they’re monitoring things like the volume, movie/show setting, colors and so on. All of this information is not just collected, but also acted upon.

Some might even say that Netflix took a huge gamble ($100 million to be exact) in purchasing the exclusive rights to House of Cards but they did so with a concrete hypothesis — that a large portion of its customers streamed “The Social Network”, directed by David Fincher from beginning to end. House of Cards is also directed by David Fincher. What’s more, they also noticed that films with Kevin Spacey tended to do well, as well as the original British version of House of Cards.

But Netflix didn’t just settle on one trailer to introduce users to House of Cards. Spacey fans saw trailers that exclusively featured him. Women who watched Thelma and Louise saw trailers featuring the female protagonists of House of Cards and big time film buffs saw trailers that reflected Mr. Fincher’s finest directing moments.

All of these points intersected in a way that practically lit up a path to customer engagement and retention. And all of them were made possible thanks to insights delivered by big data.

But this method only attracts users who happen to be watching other movies. What about when they’re not watching? Netflix has that covered, too.

Email: We Added a Show You Might Like

With the vast content library available, it would be overwhelming to not recommend shows to users. So Netflix doesn’t just collect data about the shows you watch — it acts on that data too, sending you emails when a show is added that you may like based on your existing viewing habits.

netflix-email-you-may-be-interested-in

The email itself is simple and straightforward, and, this is the important part — you can play the episode right from within your mobile device, or add it to your watch list. So it’s not just notifying you that you might enjoy this show, but rather giving you an action to take that lets them better tweak suggestions according to your viewing habits.

Push and In-App Notification – New Season

Many people find push notifications bothersome and frustrating — but it all depends on where they come from. Things that affect users directly – like utilities (your water or electricity is scheduled to be off for a time) or transportation (there’s a car wreck near you that may slow your commute) are definitely wanted.

Movie or series suggestions don’t seem like they’d be high up on users’ priority lists, but Netflix has done a fine job of customizing and fine tuning what gets shown to each user. For example, if you followed season 1 of House of Cards, Netflix lets you know that Season 2 is now available:

netflix-HOC-push-notification

What it doesn’t do is inundate you with notifications when every new season or every new movie is listed. Each push notification is carefully crafted again, based on the data from your viewing habits. This way, it’s not intrusive, but rather engaging.

Recommendations for You

Netflix is also famous for its recommendations. It knows it has just 90 seconds or less to convince you that there’s something worth watching that’s catered to your tastes, it looks at things such as the genre you watch and your ratings, but also what you don’t watch. There’s a very real problem of overwhelming the user — with so many choices, Netflix doesn’t want to get too personal.

And it doesn’t care so much about what you watch, but rather that you watch. When given the choice between calling a friend, reading a book or watching Netflix, they obviously want you to keep coming back.

And although Netflix does push its own original series up on its recommendation pages, it plays a flat fee to content providers, so there’s no reason for its recommendation algorithm to favor one series over another. Everything it recommends to you, it does not just because of your viewing habits today, but also historically.

All of these options filter in to create a uniquely personalized — but not too personal — list of recommendations specifically tailored to each user. An engaged user is a happy user, and Netflix is pulling out all the stops to keep them watching.

Interestingly enough, the personalization algorithm resets every 24 hours, making it more likely that users will keep discovering current titles of interest from Netflix’s ever-growing catalog.

Split Testing

Not surprisingly, Netflix also does a great deal of split testing — a couple hundred tests each year to be exact. It randomly selects around 300,000 users from around the world and tests everything from images to font size.

Whenever major changes are made, such as a homepage redesign, users are understandably upset and backlash is imminent – it’s in our nature to tend to resist change. However, Netflix does a good job of easing them into the new design by explaining what has changed and why. According to Netflix’s vice president of product innovation, Chris Jaffe, however, less than half of their tests have a positive impact on metrics.

Conclusion

Even still, with so many options to keep users informed across nearly every type of device, Netflix is continuing to test, innovate and refine its algorithms to prevent churn and keep users watching — and those users are at its core in a quest for never-ending user experience growth.

What are your thoughts on Netflix’s methods to keep you hooked? Have you discovered new shows as a result of their recommendations? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at iElectrify.com and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today!

from The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog https://blog.kissmetrics.com/how-netflix-maintains-low-churn/

How to Leverage Your Creativity to Convert Leads

Creativity (cre·a·tiv·i·ty)
krēāˈtivədē
noun

  1. the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.

Creativity may not immediately seem incredibly relevant to CRO. After all, CRO is often thought of as a study in best practices and procedural experimentation.

Today, I’d like to challenge you to look a little deeper.

Following best practices does matter of course. You should absolutely continue to optimize your pages with A/B testing, focusing on message-match and ensure your CTA’s are clear and concise.

But there are a number of interesting and entirely useful ways that you can “shake the trees” so to speak.

Let’s take a closer look at how you can flex your creative muscle to increase conversions.

Remind Me Why We Have to Do This?

One word. Oversaturation.

Users are increasingly “blind” to traditional forms of advertising. Just take a look at banner ads.

Users are essentially numb to them, and have been for a long time. In fact, studies show that users generally don’t even give site siderails a single consideration. I know I don’t, and I bet you don’t either.

This study showed that across all mediums and placements, CTR on banners lands somewhere around .05%. Yikes.

banner-ad-placement-performance

Same goes for spam emails, banners, popups… the list goes on.

I’m not saying these tactics don’t work, remarkably some of them still do. Banners are still valuable to expose new audiences to your brand identity even if they don’t garner clicks. Popups can still gather leads when implemented appropriately.

My point is, they’re no longer “fresh” enough to grab someone’s attention and create a memorable experience.

This is why leveraging creativity matters now more than ever. Without further ado, here are three wacky ways to do just that.

1. Be Original. Be Memorable.

“Just be yourself.”

I know, I know. This sounds like the advice Mom gave you before you went to summer camp. How’d it work out for you then? Stolen lunch money? Teasing?

While there are some potential downsides to being unique, particularly when surrounded by kids or teenagers, the perks can be pretty fantastic as well.

I’d go so far as to say that in the business world, being memorable is worth its weight in gold.

extraordinary-seth-godin-quote

Many customers make buying decisions based off emotional responses to brands. Whether it be to an ad, an email, or maybe a customer review they saw on YouTube.

The brands that tell compelling and memorable stories are the ones that land the most sales.

By being memorable and evoking a positive response from leads, you too can capitalize on this. A few ways to accomplish this…

  • Curate a quirky imagery style that you feature on ads, social platforms and your website. Moz does a fantastic job of this, check out their ad portfolio on MOAT.
  • Come up with a memorable and unusual catch phrase, then shout it to the world. When I think about slogans, my mind always races to Redbull. “Redbull gives you wings” is to this day, one of the most impactful, concise, and informative slogans I can think of.
  • Be disruptive with your advertising (screw the norms). Facebook canvas ads are a fantastic way to get creative with your approach. Check out this example by tieks.

tieks-mobile-app

Sticking out like a sore thumb is a good thing when it comes to converting leads. Making a lasting impression and being personable will endear your brand to leads.

Remember, you always want to view your digital funnel from the eyes of the visitor.

Discerning visitors have an inherent sense of authenticity. If you’re genuine with your approach to your product or service, that will come across loud and clear, and in turn builds trust.

The icing on the cake? The more a lead trusts you, the more likely they are to convert.

TLDR: Developing your brand’s unique voice and “personality” encourages consumer trust, which in turns produces sales.

2. Email Nurturing with Authenticity

We all know that email is massively effective when it comes to converting leads. It’s safe to assume each and everyone of you reading this tracks email signups as “goals” in your analytics platform of choice.

Hell, at RankPay we even have a tradition of lining up for high-fives when our MailChimp subscription level increases.

chimp-high-fives

Here’s the problem with emailing nowadays: Email users, aka the vast majority of people, are increasingly savvy as to what constitutes something of value in their inbox. You can’t just send an email with any old subject header and expect a double-digit open rate.

It’s time again to bust out our creativity and buck the trend.

In short, we want to be the unforgettable brand that’s unique but not bizarre enough to be off-putting.

For instance, I recently landed an opportunity by breaking all of the rules. Even the ones deliberately laid out in the denial letter I first received.

who-listens-to-instructions-email

With this in mind, start by taking a closer look at your own lead nurturing email campaigns. Are the subject lines innovative, quirky or unique? Do they have any personality?

Have some fun and try A/B testing novel subject lines where you let your personality shine through. Note that it’s OK if you hear your brain protesting…

“Play it safe! What are you doing? Best practices are established. You can’t go rogue like this!”

But do it. Click send. That quirky but endearing email subject line might be just what the doctor ordered.

When you have fun, your audience will recognize this intuitively. Smiles are infectious. Positive brand associations mean more conversions.

3. Write Marketing Copy to Appeal to Emotions

Every chance you have to put words in front of your leads, is a chance to sell them on your solution. But without appealing to a lead’s emotions, we’re wasting these opportunities.

It’s understandable that us marketers occasionally struggle with this part. We become intimately familiar with our products and services, and it can become difficult to see the forest for the trees. That is to say that we lose sight of what a customer journey looks like from the prospect’s point of view.

prospects-point-of-view-funnelImage Source

One negative outcome of this lack of perspective can be uninspired copywriting. No need to be hard on yourself, it happens to all of us! Present company included.

Just the other day I caught myself writing a headline for a lead-nurturing email as follows: “The Best SEO Service for Small Businesses”. That’s all well and good. It’s a fairly standard headline in that it clearly highlights our company’s service and our target audience. But it’s not memorable and I’m not sure it will truly “connect” with readers.

Luckily I realized it, and took a step back to brainstorm. In the end, I decided to go with “The easy, affordable way to earn higher rankings.” This version has a lot going for it.

  • It’s punchy
  • It’s catchy
  • It connects with the problems this reader faces (budget and difficulty)
  • It conveys authority
  • It explains what we do

And again, I’d point out that being memorable matters. Generic = forgettable. Unique = memorable.

Let’s take a look at a few places you can put this to work for your business.

Company motto or slogan

Day in and day out I see brands without a good catch phrase.

Look at it this way: every single person is inundated with brand exposures from the moment they wake up. Some studies show individuals being exposed to literally thousands of ads each day.

Yankelovich, a market research firm, estimates that a person living in a city 30 years ago saw up to 2,000 ad messages a day, compared with up to 5,000 today. – New York Times

The thing is, there’s only so much room in our brains to remember all of these brand impressions. It’s thus critical that we aim to be one of the few brands that leaves a truly lasting impression.

When I’m helping clients develop these “quick pitches”, my process looks like this:

  • Brainstorm as many ideas as I can (25-100)
  • Pick the best 10-15
  • Iterate and improve
  • Get third-party feedback
  • Finalize 3-5 versions
  • A/B test for resonance

It’s so simple it hurts. But at the end of the day, it works.

Headlines

When it comes to being creative with your headlines, start by asking yourself a few key questions.

  • Does this convey our solution’s value to the customer?
  • Is it punchy and concise?
  • Does it appeal to emotions?
  • Is it consistent with our overall “story”?

These questions should get your gears turning and the creative juices flowing.

Remember, we want to craft a memorable message that our leads will not forget. We also want to make sure that we evoke an emotional response and appeal to the potential customer’s needs or desires.

Check out this killer example

brisket-master-headline

It’s got everything going for it. It’s punchy and unique. The wording matches the imagery. The use of the word savor as a verb is particularly great because it elicits a clearly emotional response from the audience. Who wouldn’t want to eat whatever they’re serving at this place?

Calls to action

You’ve probably already spent a lot of time optimizing the button size, color and placement. If not, be sure to check this guide on how to improve the efficacy of your CTAs in general.

Regarding the wording however, it’s important to take the chance to put something personal in the actual text. Instead of using a button that says “Submit” try something like “Start My Trial” or “Boost My Rankings”.

Copyblogger clearly showed data that corroborates using “first-person” CTA text will increase conversions. Cool right?

Last but not least, remember to be unique. Don’t be afraid to let personality shine through. Here’s an example of both a CTA and a form that I immediately loved.

punch-up-your-copy

Remember, Being Weird Isn’t So Bad

If you’ve watched Freaks and Geeks, you probably already believe this statement. If you’re more of the Biff type, there’s nothing wrong with you either. We love everyone here.

But I hope you’ll take the time to consider the advice above, as it can really work wonders on your conversion rate.

The key takeaways are to embrace personality, be genuine, and appeal to your customers emotions. The more a customer trusts your brand and remembers your message, the more likely they are to buy.

Write interesting copy, be weird with your subject lines, and be memorable! Let your freak flag fly!

About the Author: Sam Warren is the Manager of Marketing and Partnerships at RankPay.

from The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog https://blog.kissmetrics.com/creativity-to-convert-leads/

3 Copywriting Mistakes That Could Be Hurting Your Free Trial Engagement (And How to Fix Them Right Now)

Find a box with a CD-ROM in it, buy it, then learn how to use it.

That’s how I bought software as a kid. So when I first started working, I assumed that if I wanted to start using work-related software, I would have to pay for it the same way: upfront — site unseen! — just like the software of my youth.

I worried that I would have to justify the cost with only the specs, reviews, and sales guy’s word to make my case. (And if I was wrong, it would be my butt on the line.)

So I’m not exaggerating when I say that discovering I could try software for free actually improved my job performance and reduced new-on-the-job anxiety by ~62%.

Using a tool BEFORE I had to recommend it to my colleagues and pull out the corporate credit card gave me a chance to see which tools actually did what we wanted them to do.

All of a sudden, the risk that we’d pay for something that didn’t have a key feature or turned out to be a user-unfriendly nightmare shrank to almost zero.

What’s the Point of a Free Trial, Anyway?

Your serious prospects approach their free trials of your software with a mindset similar to mine circa 2000-something: they want to reduce the likelihood of buying something that doesn’t work.

They’ve got a problem to solve, they’ve discovered that your app might solve it for them, but they’re not yet certain that your app will be quite right. The free trial is a chance for new users to see for themselves what it’s like to use your app.

But. It’s not up to your free trial users to figure out how your SaaS app actually works. It’s not your new users’ job to figure out how your app will turn them into a better version of themselves.

It’s yours.

Too many SaaS apps lose free trial users with erratic, boring, or vague lifecycle emails.

If you run a SaaS app in pretty much any niche, you have an enormous opportunity to outmaneuver your competitors during the free trial process.

I sign up for free trials all the time to see how they onboard new users, and most don’t do a good job. Most onboarding emails don’t make it easy to understand what to do next. Most apps leave it up to me (the brand new user) to figure out how to get started.

Why is this a problem?

Because every time you make your new readers pause and try to figure out what to do next, you create an opportunity for them to give up and just do nothing instead.

What should you say to new free trial users?

Alas, there is no single hard and set rule. Every SaaS app is unique. What you say in your free trial, how you say it, and when you deliver your message will be specific to your app.

But if your biggest problem is that you’re sending triggered emails to new free trial users but they still aren’t signing back in after the first 10 minutes of using your app, there’s a strong chance that the copy in your emails is to blame.

To fix it, pull up your emails and see if they’re are suffering from one of these 3 engagement-killing mistakes.

Mistake 1: Your emails ask people to do too much.

When you offer more choices, you inspire less action.

The famous jam paper that explained the paradox of choice (and the TED talk that made it famous) showed us how we may be unintentionally taxing our prospects’ decision-making resources by offering too many choices.

But that’s not the whole story.

A 2015 meta-analysis of the research found that the total quantity of options is just one of many factors that can contribute to decision fatigue.

Another factor is the way that options are presented to us. When the presentation of options makes it hard to determine what choice is right for us, we’re likely to defer making a decision.

So if you’re sending your free trial users emails that look like this one, then there’s a strong chance you’re causing some serious decision-deferring choice overload.

a-personal-welcome-9-linksIt would probably take all afternoon to do everything this email mentions, and I might not get any closer to my goal.

This message tosses out 9 links (including one that’s hidden by my redaction) without a clear messaging hierarchy to help me figure out what order I should click on them.

This email provides login info, asks me to read help articles, watch help videos on 3 separate channels, ask for help via email, read interviews, or read a blog that might be helpful–all under the umbrella of “important information”.

But for your trial users, the real important information is the information that helps them decide what to do next.

The Fix: Write each email for the sole purpose of getting your users to complete a single action–and remove text and links that don’t support that action.

This particular message might be rewritten to focus on getting a single reader to respond to the important request hiding at the bottom of that email:

hidden-request

In the now-famous experiment, sending a welcome-why-are-you-here email helped Groove get response rates of 41% while also providing juicy voice of customer data to power future messaging development and laying the foundation for more personal relationships with new users.

Whether you’re following Groove’s lead or not, your free trial emails should all follow the Rule of One for best results: get one reader to take you up on one offer.

One email, one action. That’s it.

Mistake 2: Your emails don’t ask readers to do something specific and measurable.

When you rewrite your emails so that they’re focused on a single action, make sure that action is a discrete, clearly defined task on the user’s path to activation.

Your reader should be able to complete the task you’ve asked them to complete–and they should be able to tell that they’ve completed it.

Unfortunately, lots of emails offer vague and nonspecific CTAs. Some of them even sound exciting — especially CTAs that use the word “explore”. Exploring is fun! It’s adventurous! Brave souls explore!

explore-my-accountJust because it sounds fun doesn’t mean it is.

All true of actual exploring. But your SaaS app is not the Louisiana Purchase.

When you ask someone to “explore” something — anything, really — you put the onus on the reader to figure out what to do.

And because exploring doesn’t have a clearly defined end, it’s impossible for your reader to figure out exactly what to do next–and when they’ve actually completed the thing you’ve asked them to do.

The Fix: Reduce cognitive overwhelm with a CTA that calls for readers to complete a clearly defined single task.

Zapier does this well. This app helps you connect what feels like an infinite number of apps to do all sorts of cool things (including powering the technical logistics behind managing your lead nurturing messaging).

With so many options, it would be easy for free trial users to get overwhelmed. They could explore their options, but then decide not to do anything.

So instead of leaving it up to new users to decide what to do next, Zapier’s first email removes some of the cognitive drain of “Shoot, how will I choose?” and offers a CTA tightly bound around completing a single task.

zapier-build-your-first-workflowI love this email, and if I was going to rewrite it I would try other CTAs that don’t sound like they’re asking your reader to do work.

You already know what steps a new free trial user needs to complete to get to the point where your app suddenly becomes a can’t-live-without-it tool. You might even know the different steps different populations take to get to the point of activation.

Use your knowledge to guide your free trial users along the steps of that path.

Mistake 3: Your emails don’t connect the CTA to the outcome your free trial users want.

If you’ve rewritten your emails to get users to complete one and only specific and measurable action, that’s a great start.

Unfortunately, one of the most common grade-F CTAs I see in onboarding emails are the ones that don’t connect completing the action to solving a problem.

They make a call to action (the CTA “sign in” and its synonyms appear with devastating frequency), but they don’t make a call to value–so readers have no reason to expect that anything good will happen after they log back in.

Did logging into anything ever solve anyone’s problems? Of course not.

It’s what happens after you log back in that makes the difference.

The Fix: If your email’s CTA could easily appear in the free trial email sequence of another app outside of your category, change it.

If you’ve conducted your jobs-to-be-done research, you also know why your readers are using your app–and the outcome they hope to achieve.

Instead of “Log in to Your Account” or “Sign Back In Now”, your free trial email CTAs should make it clear that someone who clicks on this link will be moving closer to the goal they want to achieve with your app.

Buffer does a great job of sending an email that connects my click to what happens after the click.

After I signed up for a trial but didn’t finish setup, I got an email asking me to connect my accounts that also had some background info on what accounts, exactly, we’re talking about here. (In case I forgot what Buffer is.)

buffer-connect-social-profileThis email shows me everything I can connect to Buffer and makes it abundantly clear what I need to click to move forward.

Buffer could have sent an email that said “log back in” or even “connect a profile”. But “login” = boring and “connect a profile” = kind of vague.

Instead, this email makes it abundantly clear what to do with this email (click on the link that says “click here”) and the meaningful reason why you should take that next step (because it’s what you need to do to connect your social profiles).

Are You Making it Easy for Free Trial Users to Disappear?

When I first learned about free trials for software, I was over the moon. “Look at all this stuff I get to try!” “Look at all these opinions I get to form!” “Look at how few people I have to talk to before I make my decision!”

But what are all these thoughts really about?

What are your new free trial users really thinking when they sign up for your app?

My hypothesis is this: free trial users are really thinking some version of: “Look how little risk there is to trying this software. Let’s see if it works.”

The free trial reduces the risk of having to buy before you try. Your free trial messaging is what helps your prospect understand for themselves if your software will solve a problem.

What can you do to help free trial users understand that yes, your product can change their life?

Make it easier for free trial users to evaluate your app with focused, specific, and meaningful lifecycle emails.

About the Author: Alli Blum helps SaaS apps build messages that get customers. Click to get her copywriting checklist for high-converting SaaS onboarding emails.

from The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog https://blog.kissmetrics.com/3-copywriting-mistakes/

The Four Statistical Concepts Every Online Marketer Should Know

Analytics is a big part of online marketing and therefore, it’s essential to have a good understanding of how to interpret numbers.

In this post, I’m going to present four statistical concepts I believe will be valuable to anyone working in online marketing.

Statistics: A Sexy Skill

To some people, statistics may sound like a boring topic, but to others, it may very well be one of the most attractive skills. Hal Varian, Google’s chief economist, even calls it sexy:

I keep saying the sexy job in the next ten years will be statisticians. People think I’m joking, but who would’ve guessed that computer engineers would’ve been the sexy job of the 1990s? The ability to take data—to be able to understand it, to process it, to extract value from it, to visualize it, to communicate it—that’s going to be a hugely important skill in the next decades […]

The first three abilities mentioned by Hal Varian is all reflected in the quality of your work. That is the ability to understand, process and extract value from data.

And the last two – that is the ability to visualize and communicate data – are reflected in your relationships with clients or your boss. Good work is worth nothing if you can’t communicate it to your clients.

In LinkedIn’s yearly summary of the hottest skills you will also find statistics in the top:

Data isn’t going anywhere. Our top skill category last year, statistical analysis and data mining, is still sitting comfortably at #2. It is the only skill category that is consistently ranked in the top 4 across all of the countries we analyzed. We still live in an increasingly data-driven world, and businesses are still aggressively hiring experts in data storage, retrieval and analysis.

So let’s take a look at some of the statistical concepts online marketers should know.

1. The Pareto Principle

You have probably already heard about the Pareto principle. You may know it as the 80/20 rule as it states, according to Wikipedia, that “for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.”

The principle is named after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto who found that 20% of the peapods in his garden contained 80% of the peas and 80% of Italy’s land was owned by 20% of the population.

italians-italy-pareto-principleImage Source

The Pareto principle occurs frequently, and by knowing this, you will be able to take advantage of it. If you can figure out which 20% of your time produces 80% of your business’ results, you can spend more time on those activities and less time on others.

pareto-principle-80-20

Do you need to restructure an AdWords account but don’t have the time for a complete makeover? You can start by identifying the 20% keywords currently bringing the most sales and start from there.

Or maybe you need to increase conversion rates by optimizing the landing pages on a website with hundreds of landing pages? Again, you will probably find that around 20% of the landing pages are generating 80% of the conversions. So why not start there?

The Pareto principle is a simple heuristic that is often useful in online marketing.

2. The Law of Large Numbers

The law of large numbers tells us that if you repeat a random experiment often enough, the average of the outcomes will converge towards the expected value.

Take a series of coin tosses for example. Heads and tails have equal odds so you would expect each side to come up half the time. But if you were to toss the coin 10 times I bet you wouldn’t be too confident that each side would come up exactly 5 times. You can easily imagine scenarios where heads would come up six or seven times instead of five. Actually, it wouldn’t be too hard to imagine getting even eight heads out of ten tosses (there is more than a 4% chance of this happening).

Now, what if we changed the number of tosses from 10 to 1,000? Would this change anything? According to the law of large numbers, it should.

With ten tosses the thought of getting 80% heads wasn’t unheard of. But can you imagine tossing a coin 1,000 times and getting 800 heads? I doubt it. And rightly so. The chance of this happening is so small I would need 86 zeroes to type it out. With 1,000 tosses you would expect something closer to an equal amount of heads and tails than with 10 tosses.

So our coin tossing example illustrates quite well what the law of large numbers tells us: The more we repeat a random experiment, the more will the outcomes converge towards the expected value.

all-heads-all-tails-graphImage Source

In his superb book Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman tells the story of a large investment by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Some researchers had tried to identify the most successful schools in the hope of discovering what distinguishes them from others.

One of the conclusions was that the most successful schools, on average, were small. And it’s not difficult to come up with possible explanations for this. Maybe smaller schools can give more personal attention and encouragement than larger schools.

small-big-schools

Because of this, the Gates Foundation invested in the creation of smaller schools, even splitting large schools into smaller ones.

The problem is it’s wrong. As Kahneman writes:

If the statisticians who reported to the Gates Foundation had asked about the characteristics of the worst schools, they would have found that bad schools also tend to be smaller than average. The truth is that small schools are not better on average; they are simply more variable.

Just like a small number of coin tosses are more variable than a larger number, a small school is also more variable than a large school.

How is this relevant in online marketing?

Let’s say you want to investigate which cities have the lowest conversion rate on your website. You might go to the Geo report in Google Analytics and sort by conversion rate in ascending order. And there you have it. The 10 cities with the lowest conversion rate. You might very well reach a conclusion similar to the statisticians reporting to the Gates Foundation: the low converting cities are all rather small.

But before initiating a big national campaign to increase brand awareness in small cities, you should take a look at the cities at the other end of the table. These high converting cities are probably also small. So perhaps the small cities are not worse or better than larger cities. They are probably just more variable due to fewer visitors.

The same applies to A/B tests and this is why you need a certain amount of data before you can rely on the results from an A/B test and call it statistical significant.

So what are we to do about it?

We should not make too hasty generalizations. The fallacy of making an assumption based on a small sample group is sometimes called the law of small numbers.

In cases like this where you are trying to identify the characteristics of the best or the worst of something, it would be wise to always check the other end of the spectrum. Sometimes you will find that the top and bottom share the same characteristics.

Let me show a final example. The graph below shows the value per session for every hour of the day. At first, it may seem like some of the nighttime hours are the most valuable hours of the day. But instead of just rushing to a conclusion we should consider the least valuable hours of the day. It appears that they are also at night.

per-session-value-google-analytics

Is there some reason why the data for the nighttime hours should be more variable than the rest of the day?

As the graph below shows, we only get a very small amount of traffic at night. This is just like the schools. One hour at night is like one small school. It could be really good (like 1, 4 and 6 in the morning) or really bad (like 2, 3 and 5 in the morning). But the difference might as well be due to randomness.

per-session-value-sessions

The law of large numbers tells us to put more trust in the value of the hours with many sessions than in the hours with only a few sessions.

3. Relative and Absolute Numbers

Imagine reading about a new drug that reduces the risk of getting a dangerous disease by 25%. At first, this might sound very promising but does it really tell us what the real benefit of taking the new drug is?

Let’s assume 20 in 1,000 people get the disease without the drug. By taking the drug, this number is reduced to 15 in 1,000 people. While this is indeed a 25% relative drop, we should also consider the absolute reduction.

In absolute numbers, the new drug has only reduced the number of people getting the disease from 20 in 1,000 to 15 in 1,000 people. So while it’s true that 25% fewer people get the disease, it’s also true that the actual risk of getting the disease is only 0.5 percentage points lower (reduced from 2.0% to 1.5%). Depending on potential side effects the new drug may not sound as promising anymore.

There is one important distinction to be made here. Percentage change must not be confused with a change in percentage points.

How is this relevant in online marketing?

If someone told you that the conversion rate of your website had been reduced by 2% you need to be sure what is implied by this number. Your reaction should be considerably different if the person meant to say the conversion rate has been reduced from 4% to 2% (a drop of 2 percentage points) than if it was just a reduction from 4% to 3.92% (a 2 percentage drop).

2-percentage-points-2-percentage-drop

When talking about changes we need to make sure everyone knows what the numbers mean. Are we talking about the relative or absolute numbers? Are we using percentages or percentage points?

We also need to be especially wary of relative numbers when the starting point is a very small number. If your AdWords campaign is generating 50% fewer conversions, you won’t panic if it is just a drop from 2 conversions to 1. But if it’s a drop from 2,000 to 1,000 conversions then you might consider panicking. A drop of 1 conversion is probably just a random fluctuation while a drop of 1,000 conversions might be caused by a serious issue.

source-medium-cpc

In the example above you can see exactly how percentages will mislead when the absolute numbers are low. While the goal completions is down by 50 percent and the conversion rate is down by 63 percent, the actual change in goals completed is just 1. Not exactly something that would make you panic.

It just shows how percentages can be misleading when the absolute numbers are omitted.

4. Simpson’s Paradox

Simpson’s paradox, as stated on Wikipedia, is the name of a paradox “in which a trend appears in different groups of data but disappears or reverses when these groups are combined.”

A textbook example of the Simpson’s paradox is the study of the 1973 admission figures for the University of California, Berkeley. The numbers showed that men applying were more likely than women to be admitted. 44% of all the men who applied got admitted while only 35% of women did.

men-women-applicants-admitted

The paradox arises when examining the individual departments since it appears that no department was significantly biased against women. As shown below, four of the six departments actually had a small bias in favor of women.

men-women-departments-admitted

If you take a closer look at the number of applicants in the six departments, you will see that women tended to apply to generally competitive departments with low rates of admission (C, D, E, and F) while the majority of men applied to department A and B which have the highest admittance rate for both sexes.

So while the rate of women accepted is higher in 4 of the 6 departments, the total rate of admissions was higher for men because more men applied to departments with high rates of admission.

How is this relevant in online marketing you might ask?

Say you want to compare the performance of two landing pages on your website. Looking at the conversion rates you conclude that page A is better than page B since page A has a conversion rate of 4.39% compared to only 3.49% of page B.

landing-page-visits-conversions-rate

But look what happens if we segment the two landing pages by the traffic sources as shown below.

traffic-sources-conversion-rate

Now we see that even though page A has a higher total conversion rate, page B is actually doing better for every individual traffic source. Page A is not better; it just happens to get a lot more of its traffic from the high converting traffic sources than page B does. This is Simpson’s paradox – just like the example with college admission figures.

So what are we to do about it?

First of all, we should make sure to run properly randomized trials. If the numbers above were from an actual split-test of two landing pages, it would clearly be flawed since the traffic sources are skewed that much.

Apart from that, we should remember to always segment our data. As Avinash Kaushik wrote in a blog post: “There is no KPI so insightful all by itself, even in a trend or against a forecast, that it can’t be made more impactful by applying segmentation.”

Conclusion

I hope you have found the four statistical concepts interesting and hopefully learned something new to help you in your work.

Knowledge of statistics will only get more important in online marketing, and by educating yourself, you can make sure to stay ahead in a world where we are getting access to more and more interesting data.

As Hal Varian said, the sexy job in the next ten years will be statisticians! And with the combination of statistical skills and online marketing you will possess some of the most attractive skills at the moment.

About the Author: Frederik Hyldig is the Head of PPC at s360 – one of the leading digital agencies in Scandinavia. Frederik has been featured on PPC Hero, Wordstream, Moz and other leading search marketing blogs.

from The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog https://blog.kissmetrics.com/four-statistical-concepts/

4 Powerful Google Shopping Hacks to Supercharge Your Campaigns

Historically, retail search marketing was synonymous with Google text ads. But fast forward to today, and Google Shopping ads have replaced text ads as retailers’ preferred method of advertising on Google.

In fact, 2016 was the tipping point: Retailers spent 53% of their AdWords budgets on Shopping ads — for those keeping score, that’s more than half.

Unlike text ad campaigns, which relied on verbal wizardry and endless A/B testing to optimize, Google Shopping success means analyzing quantitative performance data for all of your products. Even a smaller retail catalog of a few thousand items yields millions of Shopping KPIs to consider — no easy feat for busy e-commerce pros.

Fortunately, AdWords comes equipped with some handy tools designed to help marketers cut through all that noise, and quickly take data-informed actions to improve their Shopping campaigns. Here are four to get you started.

1. Dimensions Tab

The Dimensions tab is my starting point when optimizing Shopping campaigns. Easily findable at the top right of the AdWords console, the Dimensions tab features several Shopping-focused views of campaign performance.

shopping-campaigns-dimensions

Here are just a few of the ways you can put the information contained in the Dimensions tab to work for your campaigns:

  • Implement day-parting adjustments – View your Shopping campaigns by Hour of day or Day of the week to see when your campaign’s conversion rates are highest or lowest. With this information, you can apply bid modifiers to your campaigns to bid more on traffic during high converting days/times — or decrease bids on days/times when conversions falter.
  • Throw in geo-targeting filters – Select the Geographic view to see how your campaign performs by country, region, metro area, city, or the most specific location available. Once you’ve determined which regions are the best or worst for your campaigns, you can apply geo-targeting bid modifiers to pump up your bids for clicks from top-performing areas.

2. Item ID Report

Diving deeper into the Dimensions tab, you’ll find the Item ID option. This takes you beyond aggregate campaign performance, and surfaces performance KPIs for individual items that you sell.

shopping-campaigns-item-id

You’ll find the Item ID report in the Dimensions tab, under the Shopping drop-down menu. After selecting this option, you’ll see your campaign broken down item-by-item. Relevant KPIs are then displayed for each product.

If your catalog features hundreds or thousands of items, you’ll see a lot of data. You can swiftly make sense of it in the following ways:

  • Sort by clicks – Rank your products by clicks to highlight the items that are most important in the Shopping channel. These items might differ from your top sellers in-store or on other digital avenues.
  • Consider product breakouts – You may notice a handful of products that are performing especially well in Shopping. Consider breaking each one out into a separate product group with a slightly higher bid. This will allow you to drive even more revenue from items that are already strong sellers in Shopping.

Once you’ve uncovered insights around your top products, regions, and times, you’re ready to answer some more critical questions. Which search queries are driving the best traffic to your campaigns? And what devices are your customers using?

3. Search Terms Report

Search queries add an extra layer of complexity to Google Shopping. Some search queries indicate higher purchase intent and yield better results than others.

But unlike text campaigns, which enable marketers to select the exact keywords for which their ads appear, Google’s algorithms decide what queries trigger your Shopping ads.

search-terms-report

Fortunately, AdWords offers a detailed look at the search terms powering your campaigns. Like the Item ID report, the Search terms report is also housed under the Dimensions tab.

Your Search terms report probably contains tens of thousands of unique queries. But here’s how to manipulate it to determine which queries are most valuable to your campaigns:

  • Sort by impressions – See the queries that are driving the greatest number of impressions of your Shopping ads. This will give you a deeper understanding of the terms your customers use to find your products. You can use this intel to inform the language you use in other marketing efforts. You can also compare this view over different time periods to see if the terms that trigger the most impressions align with the words you use in special promotions or change with the seasons.
  • Sort by cost – Stack your report by cost to unearth those terms that are driving up costs, i.e. receiving many clicks, but not yielding conversions. This could mean that the items Google is surfacing for that term are not exactly what searchers want. If a term is not yielding efficient conversions, consider adding it as a negative keyword to your campaign. This will guarantee your ads won’t surface for a weak query in the future.

4. Devices Report

The interactive, scrollable carousel of Google Shopping ads is the first thing shoppers see on the mobile SERP. It’s no wonder, then, that mobile Google Shopping ads’ share of total Shopping revenues keeps growing year after year.

And AdWords’ Devices report enables retailers to capitalize on this trend by displaying performance stats across various device types.

shopping-campaigns-settings

You’ll find the Devices report under the Settings tab. While the information displayed in the device report might seem self-explanatory, here’s the best way to use it:

  • Examine your performance across devices – First things first, take a look at your device report to see how the various device types stack up in your campaigns. AdWords breaks it all down by mobile devices, desktops, and tablets with full browsers. What you find might surprise you…
  • Adjust or segment – Did your device report reveal that one or more device types aren’t efficiently driving conversions? Consider applying a negative bid adjustment to bring ROAS for the offending device type in line with your overall campaign goals. If you really want to take things to the next level, you can also break out mobile traffic into its own campaign. This will let you set device-optimized bids for items that perform better on mobile than on desktop.

Conclusion

Spend some time poking around the reports and campaign views outlined above, and it’s immediately clear just how much data is generated by even a modest Shopping campaign. But these hacks all offer an excellent entry to being proactive — rather than reactive — in the new Google Shopping-centric search landscape.

For the full scoop on these tools and how they can supercharge your Shopping campaigns, check out the recent webinar we presented with Kissmetrics 4 Data-Driven Hacks to Turn Searchers into E-Commerce Shoppers.

About the Author: Mike Perekupka is a Senior Statistical Analyst at Sidecar. He also moonlights as an Adjunct Professor of Statistics at Rowan University. Before joining Sidecar, Mike was a high school math teacher and a data analyst for NASA. When not crunching numbers, he can be found on the nearest tennis court preparing for his next tournament.

from The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog https://blog.kissmetrics.com/google-shopping-hacks/

The Right Approach To Building A Solid Growth Strategy

Ask any successful entrepreneur why their startup succeeded and they’ll almost always point you to a growth strategy they followed.

They’ll tell you how much they believed the strategy will work because it was solid and had a really high likelihood of paying off.

For example, Johnathan Dane (founder at KlientBoost, a company that grew from 0 to $1,000,000 in 12 months) says “You may be obsessed with tactics, but you should care more about solid strategies…nothing beats winning slowly and surely by turning silent visitors into repeat visiting fans…”

It’s the same with most high growth companies.

They pick a solid growth strategy and follow it. Then they begin to get small wins. And they repeat the process. Before you know it, they’re all over the place.

However, before you would even get the chance to use a solid strategy, your product and site has to be ready for conversions.

Get Your Product in Demand and Site Ready for Conversions

This may come across as a no-brainer.

But you’d be surprised at how many businesses fail only because their product wasn’t in demand, or lose revenue because their site just wasn’t ready for conversions.

Just recently, CB Insights reached out to investors and founders to collect post-mortems on 204 failed startups. From their findings, they were able to pinpoint 20 top reasons for these failures.

Guess what turned out to be number 1 on the list? There was no market need for the product.

top-20-reasons-startups-failImage Source

Serial entrepreneur and VC David Skok says “A major reason why companies fail, is that they run into the problem of there being too little or no market for the product that they have built.”

When a product is not in demand, it’s because it didn’t solve a problem enough people had. This makes it impossible to achieve growth, which is why building something people want is the necessary first step towards growth.

In the same vein, a site that is not ready for conversions can also thwart the success of any strategy. This is when the site is having issues on things like signup processes, pricing, web copy, CTAs, etc. These things easily get users annoyed, make them leave the moment they get on your site and never return.

For instance, Rebecca Kelley, content marketing manager for Intego, recently shared how her company was getting decent click-through rates from a PPC campaign.

But after tracking (via their analytics program) those who actually made a purchase, they found that far less than 1% of visitors from all that traffic were actually buying their products. Why? Their payment sign-up process was awful. Kelley says, “…it was a no-brainer–our signup process is awful. We lose a lot of people in that process…”

Their product was in demand, and we know this because people actually clicked through their ads and made attempts to convert. The only problem was that Intego’s site wasn’t ready for the conversions because of their self-described “awful” signup process.

Key takeaway: In Intego’s case, they had a faulty signup process. For you, it could be something else entirely. You need to anticipate every issue that may arise from your site (or offerings) and get them settled before you decide to build and follow a strategy. You can do this by using a Funnel Report to see where people are dropping off and finding what you need to test. You can also use a Funnel Report for your onboarding.

Here are few things you should be looking out for:

  • Site speed and responsive design: We’ve seen enough stats and surveys over the years proving that poor site speed annoy most visitors. Make sure your site loads quickly and works on mobile. Use Google’s speed test and mobile tools to make sure you have your bases covered.
  • Messaging: Your copy, from homepages to other pages, matters a lot. If your messaging is not intact, people will have a hard time seeing your offerings as their solution. Kissmetrics has a lot of resources on copywriting. Take your pick from the hundreds of articles.
  • Social proof: If you’re a startup, it may be difficult for some visitors to hand over their information (let alone credit card number) if they don’t see others haven’t done it first. This is why it’s so crucial to get social proof and testimonials on your site. A site without these critical elements can be getting lots of traffic with little to no conversions if there is no proof that their products really solve problems for people similar to those visiting the site.
  • Design: Good design with clean copy shows to visitors that you care about your craft and likely have a solid product waiting for them after they signup. Focus on getting your design right before launching. If you’re looking for a simple way to get started, check out Launchrock. Quality templates are always a safe bet if you (or anyone on your team) are not design-inclined.
  • The issues you cannot anticipate: This is the the tricky part. There are some things you cannot foresee becoming an issue. This is why it’s important to have a feedback loop in place so you can gather this information and then react quickly to solve any issues that arise.

Bottom line: No matter how solid a strategy is, it will eventually flop if it’s selling a product that nobody wants, or if the marketing site doesn’t convert.

Building Your Strategy: Aim for Small Wins

Once you get your product right and your site ready for conversions, next thing to do is target small wins.

After all, virtually no one hits it big at once.

And by now, most marketers know this already. Every high growth company you see created a strategy that had a high likelihood for success and followed it till they hit their breakthroughs.

This strategy is usually filled up with subsets of tactics that bring in results gradually, little by little. And then in the long run, those small pieces of results come together to become a big bang. To those not watching the company day-to-day, it may seem like they were an “overnight success”. But few of those companies that truly achieve the “overnight success” tend to fade quickly.

In contrast, the companies that seem like overnight successes actually had small, incremental wins that led them to their success. They achieved their first major customer, got on the frontpage of inbound.org, were featured in the press, etc. Every successful company had their small wins that contributed in making them what they are today.

Buffer, for example, is one of these companies. They had their strategy, which was to write guest posts and get users from the blogs they write for. Now they’ve reached a stage today where they’re used by thousands of users and companies.

But a whole lot of those guest posts were the small wins that led them to where they are today. Leo Widrich (Buffer’s co-founder) says he had to write about 150 guest posts within the space of 9 months before they got their first 100,000 customers.

leo-widrich-growing-bufferImage Source

Each of those 150 guest post were small wins that led to their big win — 100,000 users.

That’s how high-growth companies grow.

They accumulate a good number of small wins and end up with a bang. They go from 500 users to 1000, 3000, 6000 and so forth.

Another example that comes to mind here is Groove. Back in 2013, Groove rolled out a series to share their journey to $100k in monthly revenue with their blog readers. Their plan was to get lots of subscribers via this series and ultimately grow as a business.

The strategy worked. Today, Groove has thousands of paying customers and is now close to $500k in monthly revenue.

groove-path-to-400kImage Source

But here’s the thing (again), they understood they wouldn’t get to where they desired at once.

So they targeted small wins:

  • They built relationships with more than 80 influencers– even before launching the series.
  • Got a spot on the front page on Hacker News.
  • Started to get their stories featured on well-known publications.
  • And so forth…

Small wins. Accumulate them well enough and you’ll have an aggregate big win in the long run.

Even more, small wins are the best productivity boosters for business people. According to a study by Harvard Business Review: “Through exhaustive analysis of diaries kept by knowledge workers, we discovered the progress principle: Of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions during a workday, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work.”

The more you achieve small wins, the more motivated you get to do more — because it just means you’re heading in the right direction.

What Happens When Your Strategy Goes South?

Your strategy, no-matter how solid it looks, can fail. Experienced marketers know this already. It’s a bitter truth. But it is what it is: the truth. And I had to learn this the hard way.

A few years ago when I started out as a freelance writer, I had a “brilliant strategy” for my freelance business. I saw what other experienced writers were doing but for some reason decided to do something entirely different, thinking I’d get a better result than other writers.

My “brilliant strategy” was to launch a blog about startups. I thought I’d use that to attract founders. And when founders came to my blog and read my content, they can consider hiring me as their writer. After all, startups usually need a lot of content.

Long story short, the plan failed.

Why? Most startup founders don’t oversee the writers that their companies hire. That’s the job of their content/marketing managers. Those are the people my content should target, not founders!

So I was writing content for the wrong set of people. My “brilliant strategy” was a big mistake that wasted a lot of my time and resources. But guess what? I learned…and grew.
It’s pretty much the same case for you. That’s what you should do if your strategy goes south: Learn…and grow.

Summing Up: Get a Solid Growth Strategy

That’s the one secret that virtually every high growth company you see have in common. They get a solid growth strategy, and follow it to success. But again, before the strategy, ensure your offering is in sync with the market. Once that is done, everything else becomes relatively easier. Lastly, if your strategy goes south, simply re-strategize and get a new solid plan.

About the Author: Victor Ijidola is a freelance business writer (for hire) who’s been featured on sites like Inc.com, The Next Web, MarketingProfs, etc. He’s also runs Premium Content Shop.

from The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog https://blog.kissmetrics.com/approach-to-building-growth-strategy/

How 7 Companies are Using Push Notifications to Boost Engagement

Last year, mobile internet usage overtook desktop for the first time. If you’re not tailoring your marketing strategy specifically for mobile users in 2017, you’re losing out.

Mobile internet access has soared in recent years and it’s quickly become entrenched in our culture. 50% of smartphone users grab their smartphone as soon as they wake up, and 80% of all internet users own smartphones.

Google is actively trying to make the internet more friendly for mobile users by penalizing sites that aren’t optimized for mobile devices.

With this rise in mobile internet users and a continual decline in email open rates, you’ve simply got to adopt different communication channels to get their messages heard.

Push Notifications for Businesses

Push notifications represent a great way to communicate with your audience. According to a study by Localytics, 52% of smartphone users have push enabled on their devices, and these notifications can be used to benefit businesses in the following ways:

  • Directing users to your social media channels
  • Promoting products and services (especially special offers)
  • Building trust and brand reputation by delivering valuable content
  • Engaging users who aren’t currently on your site
  • Restoring abandoned carts for ecommerce applications

As legendary entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk once proclaimed: “Marketers ruin everything”.

I’m guessing it’s pretty much inevitable that brands will come to recognize the high engagement rates of push notifications, and then thoroughly overdo the tactic until they annoy their audiences and force them to turn push notifications off.

But until then, keep in mind that someone who’s installed your app will already be more receptive to communication from you – as long as you don’t abuse this trust.

Instead of being overly aggressive and spammy, focus on delivering value to your audience via push notifications in order to build brand reputation for the long-term.

Personalization

Generic mass marketing techniques are dying out. In this age of information, personalization is the key to victory.

In a 2014 marketing survey, 94% of marketing professionals in multiple industries stated that personalization was “important,” “very important,” or “extremely important” for meeting their marketing objectives.

The great thing about push notifications is that you can segment the audiences you’re targeting in a very personalized way.

For instance, a clothing brand may want to send different messages to users based on the types of items that they’ve browsed and purchased in the past. Sending different recommendations to men and women is probably a good idea – and the same applies to customers who have browsed products for young children versus those for adults.

This approach is backed up by data. Of people who open a push notification, 54% of users convert from segmented pushs, compared to only 15% who convert from broadcast messages.

Geo-targeting is another great feature you can use.

If you’re a retail outlet, for example, you may want to send out reminders for time-based promotions to anyone who’s within the immediate area. Bars may want to promote happy hour specials using the same technique.

By including the user’s first name and mentioning what area they’re currently in, you’ll capture their attention far more effectively than a generic message would. Using emoji’s has also been found to increase retention.

When you’re setting up push notifications, I recommend allowing a variety of notification options for your users. If they have control over when and why they get notified, they’ll be more likely to opt-in and stay engaged.

Ultimately, if you can create a high value, personalized experience for your users, they’ll be more likely to engage with your push messages – and think highly of your brand – over time.

Pitfalls to Avoid

As I said earlier, sending generic, batch push notifications should be avoided. Similarly, carefully consider your target demographic so that you don’t send them inappropriate messages.

A while back, for example, the My Pet app received some negative publicity after a 9-year-old girl received offensive notifications, which her mother equated with cyber-bullying.

While the dark-humored notifications may have been appropriate for an older demographic, messages like “You are horrible! You are the worst owner I’ve ever had” weren’t appropriate for young children.

my-pet-push-notifications

Ouch.

Timing is also crucial when sending push notifications.

If you send low-value information to your audience in the middle of the night, you’ll destroy their trust (and upset them in the process). Research suggests that afternoons on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are the best times to send push messages.

It’s also essential that you sync your push notifications with your other marketing channels. If someone reads your marketing email, only to get a push notification about the same content half an hour later, they’re going to get frustrated.

Finally, remember that if someone opts in to receiving push notifications from you, treat this as a privilege. Always make it easy for them to opt out and don’t spam their phone continuously every day with trivial messages.

7 Case Studies to Review

If you can avoid the common pitfalls of push notifications and deliver high value, personalized content to your audience, the rewards can be great.

Here are some examples of brands effectively using push notifications to boost engagement to inspire you:

1. JetBlue

Like many airlines, JetBlue has adopted push notifications to remind its customers when to check-in.

When flyers check in, they’ll get pleasant reminders exactly 1 day before the flight is scheduled to depart. In-flight status updates in the form of push notifications are also available for customers that select this option.

Key Takeaway: JetBlue offers high value, practical content that helps to improve the flying experience.

This isn’t going to result in any immediate sales, but JetBlue’s efforts cause flyers to think positively about the brand, making them consider the airline the next time they go to book a flight.

Unsurprisingly, in a study on push notifications, opt-in rates were highest in the travel and transportation niche (78%). People really appreciate being reminded about the key details that will improve their journey when they’re traveling.

2. The Bump

Guess what particular topic parents-to-be can’t stop obsessing over? Their unborn child, naturally.

The Bump is an app for first-time moms that delivers status updates about the ongoing development and growth of their child.

Those who sign up receive regular push messages about the size of the baby (typically using fruits as a reference point), as well as things to expect in coming weeks.

Key Takeaway: Push notifications work best when you’re messaging someone about something they really care about. People are far more likely to want status updates about their unborn child than they are spammy sales messages from a store they vaguely remember.

If you’re thinking about using push notifications, first consider what is of most value to your audience. If your planned notifications don’t reflect that value, don’t bother sending them.

3. La Redoute

La Redoute, which specializes in French-style fashion and offers a huge range of products, boasts a turnover of over $1 billion dollars, making it one of the largest ecommerce apparel retailers in the world.

If you’re in the ecommerce space, you know that the problem of abandoned carts (people adding an item to their cart, then leaving the store before finalizing the purchase) is very real.

In order to combat this and retrieve lost customers, La Redoute started a push notification campaign where mobile app users would be contacted if they left the store with an item still in their cart. Each notification is highly personalized and links the user to their cart where they can complete the purchase.

Interestingly, their push notification retargeting clickthrough rate was 2-3 times higher than on classic mobile ads.

Key Takeaway: Push notifications can be an excellent tool for reviving abandoned carts. By personalizing your messages and sending vibrant images of the items that your customers missed out on (for whatever reason), you can dramatically improve your conversion rate.

4. Ticketmaster

In order to deliver relevant offers to its audience, Ticketmaster utilizes geo-targeting and assesses user histories.

By determining what types of events people like attending, Ticketmaster can segment its push notifications and send offers that feel more personalized to its audience – resulting in higher conversion rates.

ticketmaster-push-notification

Key Takeaway: Segmentation is necessary if you have a large audience and want to maximize the impact of your push messages.

5. eXtra

eXtra is Saudi Arabia’s leading consumer electronics retailer and is currently experiencing 100% year-on-year mobile growth, primarily thanks to a push notification campaign that engages its mobile users on a personal basis.

In the past, the company used retargeting emails to re-engage with mobile users, but since switching to push notifications, they experienced a dramatic improvement in sales.

Within six weeks, those who had opted-in to receive push notifications were returning 4X more and often spending twice as much time on the site.

Key Takeaway: When crafted correctly, push messages can be a more intimate form of communication. This re-engages previous customers, builds brand loyalty and improves your long-term profits.

6. Netflix

With a vast sea of user data available to Netflix, the company can craft highly personalized push messages that draw on each customer’s viewing history.

As they’ve found, sending a simple reminder about a series that someone has been watching is an excellent way to improve engagement.

netflix-push-notification-OITNB

Key Takeaway: The more data you have on the ways in which people interact with your brand (particularly their purchasing history), the more you can tailor your push messages to resonate with them.

7. PLNDR

PLNDR is an online streetwear retailer that uses customer-focused push notifications to boost engagement. After determining what types of items its users are engaging with, PLNDR sends specific daily deals that are virtually guaranteed to resonate with their customers.

By including multiple layers of personalization and narrowing down on its user’s interests, PLNDR’s push campaigns have resulted in a 4% purchase rate on mobile (though some of the brand’s push messages have experienced more than a 20% engagement rate).

Just like La Redoute, PLNDR also utilizes retargeting notifications to remind users who have abandoned their carts about the items they’re missing out on.

Key Takeaway: Use your customer data to determine what types of items your audience likes, then send them special deals based on their interests.

Getting Started with Push Notifications

Push notifications are an excellent tool for delivering value to your customers, improving brand loyalty and driving sales. Personalizing your messages based on user data keeps your content relevant and your customers engaged.

Because push notifications are more intimate than other forms of communication, they’re ideal for reopening a channel of communication to previous customers and reminding users when they add an item to their cart but don’t complete the purchase.

Check with your e-commerce provider or marketing tool to see what options are available to you to take advantage of push notifications today.

Can you think of any other tips for making the most of push notifications? Please let me know in the comments below.

About the Author: Aaron Agius, CEO of worldwide digital agency Louder Online is, according to Forbes, among the world’s leading digital marketers. Working with clients such as Salesforce, Coca-Cola, IBM, Intel, and scores of stellar brands, Aaron is a Growth Marketer – a fusion between search, content, social, and PR. Find him on Twitter, LinkedIn, or on the Louder Online blog.

from The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog https://blog.kissmetrics.com/push-notifications-to-boost-engagement/