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Startups

The Happiness 😊 Equation of a Data-Driven Culture ft. @UseNotion

thehappinessequation

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

When you introduce a KPI dashboard, you can expect to see some deer-in-headlights looks from your employees. They can only imagine two uses for tracking their data – you’re judging them based on it, or you’re micromanaging them with it.

Fear of data is understandable. The truth is, most of us have been burned by data (in the hands of bad managers) in the past. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

In fact, introducing a data-driven framework can actually make it easier to promote engagement, productivity, and yes – even happiness within your organization. Do it right, and your team will appreciate data as the wonderful tool it is and enjoy their work more.

Read More on Notion


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Metrics, Startups

How to Use Data to Unlock Your Next Promotion ft. @UseNotion

how-to-use-data-to-unlock

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Squeaky wheels. They tend to get more grease than the rest of us. Even if the other wheels are more effective, the squeakers are attention-grabbers. And in business, it’s often those who grab attention for their efforts who gain recognition (and raises and promotions), leaving humble types quietly toiling away without due reward.

In a competitive job market, you need to differentiate yourself from your peers to get ahead, but that doesn’t mean you have to start squeaking louder. Nobody likes a braggart. It’s much better to have your praises sung for you, and there’s no better way to do it than by having the value of your work proven by data.

Being Data-Driven Can Transform Your Perception – and Performance – at Work

Whether you manage a company, a department, a team, or just yourself, using KPIs or OKRs to track progress is an effective way to stay motivated and prove the efficacy of your efforts at the same time. KPIs – key performance indicators – change depending on what you’re trying to accomplish, but most importantly, they are measurable values that demonstrate how effectively you’re achieving your goals. Most often, KPIs are also SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound.

And each one is a stepping stone towards your larger goal.

OKRs – objectives and key results – are similar, but a little different. This is a technique for setting and communicating goals and their results to get each person in a team moving together in the right direction.

Use one or both, but either way, you’ll be adopting a system of setting specific, measurable, realistic and deadline-driven tasks that align your team with the company (or even just aligning yourself).

They also provide clear direction, so everyone involved knows exactly what to do next.

The other perk of instituting simple data gathering and analysis is that it allows you to figure out what’s working well and what isn’t, so you can adjust your strategy or even find ways to help the company as a whole.

But the real magic comes after you’ve been pursuing these KPIs and OKRs for long enough to track your success rates.

Anyone can talk a good game. Most people do, at least in front of the boss. But few are able to back up their claims by showing a data-based trajectory of success.

And, when you have a suggestion, management will listen when you can justify your idea with numbers, charts or graphs. You’ll become the authority on the topic!

Read More on Notion


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Metrics, Startups

Lean Analytics: Why the “One Metric” is More Complicated Than it Sounds ft. @UseNotion

lean-analytics

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

“The One Metric that Matters” – sounds important, doesn’t it? There’s been a lot of talk about “the One” in Lean Analytics circles, but I’d like to let you in on a secret:

The secret is that the One Metric changes over time. It could change year-to-year or quarter-to-quarter, depending on your growth stage and what matters most to you now.

And, the One Metric for your company is often different than the One Metric for another company.

So the One Metric just got a bit more complicated. But when you get down to the heart of the One Metric, it becomes relatively simple again:Find what is most important to the health and growth of your company right now, measure it, and improve on it.

Let’s take a look at how you can do just that.

Read More on Notion


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Metrics, SaaS, Startups

Why Every Team Needs Quantitative Goals ft. @UseNotion

whyeveryteamneedsquantitivegoals

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

The mistake I see most often: Companies hit a million or two in revenue, and not every department has quantitative goals. Sales always has a goal – but does marketing? What are their quantitative goals in customer success? What are engineering’s quantitative goals it has to hit this quarter? Do you have a point system? Do you have a card system? Most marketers are like ‘I don’t have a lead commit, I just have a budget.’ We’re not in that world anymore. We all have to set measurable goals.

– Jason Lemkin, founder of SaaSTr, Metrics that Matter Webinar, April 26th 2016

Jason Lemkin, venture capitalist and founder of SaaSTr, says the biggest mistake he sees with companies in the start-up phase ($1mm – $2mm ARR) is not that they don’t track CAC or LTV or one single metric, but rather that each division, from sales to marketing to product to customer success, and even engineering, don’t have specific quantitative goals.

In short, each department needs to find their key metric to drive success in order to keep getting better.

And, while Lemkin doesn’t go into the specifics for each department, his rule of thumb is crystal clear:

Figure out a goal for every department. Most importantly, set a baseline based on what you know, then drive that up or down.

Sales has always been driven by metrics and quotas. Why not other departments? With the data gathering and tracking technology we have at our disposal, there’s no excuse not to try and optimize every process, every department and every team.

Here are some suggestions for success metrics — Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) — that make sense for the key players in your start-up phase company: Engineering, Product, Customer Service, and Marketing.

Read More on Notion


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Customer Success, Startups

The One Thing Fast-Growing Companies Do Best ft. @Inturact

The-One-Thing-FastGrowing-Companies-Are-Doing

The new customer sales journey is a long and arduous road, requiring marketing for brand awareness, cultivating interest, and encouraging taking action. But the current customer sales journey? It’s like a quick trip down to the market to pick up a carton of milk – at least in comparison. Marketing Metrics estimates that the probability of selling to an existing customer is as high as 60 to 70 percent (whereas the probability of selling to a new prospect is between 5 and 20 percent). Customer Success capitalizes on this, and so do the fastest growing companies.

Read More on Inturact


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Product Management, SaaS, Startups

What sets you apart? It’s probably not what you think. ft. @rrhoover

what-sets-you-apart

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

When I ask clients what sets them apart, what I hear from most is a lengthy list of features.

Variations on: “Our product does this, that, and the other thing.”

I hate to shoot them down, because they’re all really proud of what they’ve accomplished. Their products are, in fact, excellent at what they do. But here’s the problem with using features as differentiators:

Features can be copied.

Android phones are copying iPhones (and vice versa).

Google Cloud Storage is copying Dropbox and Box, or is it the other way around?

Germany’s Samwer brothers made their fortunes by blatantly copying existing web companies, including Airbnb and Pinterest, and selling the businesses back to their originators or other interested parties.

If you’ve made something, someone else can and will copy it. But, what they can’t copy is you.

“Oh, but I don’t want my business to be about me; I want it to be about my [product/customers/mission trips to Zambia].”

You’re on the right track with this train of thought. This post on CopyHackers says it best, “Potential clients aren’t interested in you. They want to hear what’s in it for them.” But one of the most important benefits customers get from purchasing your product is the expertise, experience, connections, and even personality behind it – your expertise, experience, connections and personality.

Give your brand a face

Some people are deeply hesitant, if not downright suspicious or fearful, of associating their names and faces with their companies. They believe their brands should speak for themselves, which isn’t a terrible idea. It’s just hard to achieve for startups and newer companies. This mindset also misses out on an opportunity.

It is much easier for an individual to become a recognized and respected thought-leader than it is for a corporation.

Consider this:

When Sean Ellis started GrowthHackers.com, he already had a large personal following and authority. He has earned his place as a thought-leader in the field with years of freely sharing valuable insights.

If someone else had tried to start a Growth Hackers community, they could copy the website’s basic premise of up-voting and commenting – but they could never duplicate Sean Ellis.

Similarly, the vibrant Product Hunt community has a duplicable up-vote and comment system, but getting another Ryan Hoover with all of his experience and Silicon Valley buy-in to run the show is unlikely.

Breaking the mold with community

When you consider what truly sets you apart – it has to be something no one else can copy. Knowledge, personal authority, established presence in the community, insider information, in-depth knowledge earned over years, and the community of engaged followers who gravitate to you.

Hubspot, for example, is an outstanding company that makes inbound marketing, content creation, segmentation and tracking easy. But even its sophisticated system will likely generate copycats in the coming years. What these latecomers won’t be able to replicate, however, is Hubspot’s strong community of inbound true-believers at Inbound.org.

Be the first – no one can take that away

You don’t have to invent something brand new to be the unforgettable first (though it helps). Being the first to introduce (or at least vocally adopt) a trend can also establish your reputation as a leader. Buffer beat just about everyone to being a “transparent” company. They’ve become famous for their “default to transparency” values and are credited for starting the movement.

In Running Lean, author Ash Maurya calls these differentiators “unfair advantages”:

A real unfair advantage is one that cannot easily be copied or bought.

On the list are:

  • Difficult-to-achieve capabilities – think of how Google has dominated the search market by constantly making improvements to be the best.
  • Community – the people who not only follow you, but add value for each other.
  • Dream team – it doesn’t have to be all about one person; your differentiator may be how you harness the considerable talents of others.
  • Exclusive access to a segment of customers
  • Reputation
  • Experience & insider knowledge

Once you’ve identified your unfair advantage, you’ve taken the first step towards building a company that may be copied, but will never be matched.

5 fun things to do with your differentiator

Now that you’ve identified your differentiator, or “unfair advantage,” it’s time to use it. You can:

  1. Use it in your unique value proposition.
  2. Include it in your supporting copy.
  3. Add it to the “About Us” section (with a benefits-focus on the customer, of course!).
  4. Let it inspire your social media strategy.
  5. Let it be the leading voice in your content, positioning you and your company as a thought-leader in your industry.

Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Customer Development, SaaS, Startups

Should you use growth tactics that don’t scale? by @NikkiElizDeMere

growth-tactics-that-dont-scale

Last week, my friend received a charming hand-written note from a monthly wine club she recently joined. It was addressed by hand, the welcome note was written by her personal “wine concierge,” and it contained four $30 Off coupons to give to friends.

But what impressed me (and my friend, since she’s a copywriter) is the words in that handwritten note.

“We are a new company and growing fast.”

“Please help us continue to grow by sharing these referral cards with friends – you’ll earn free vino if they join.”

With that simple call-to-action asking the recipient to share the referral cards with friends (for free wine – who doesn’t love that?), Bright Cellars delivered a customer development tactic that may not scale, but will definitely help them grow.

Read More on SEMrush


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Startups

All About The Crowdfunded Startup by @NikkiElizDeMere

crowdfunding
Crowdfunding is when a large number of donors contribute small amounts of money during an online fundraising campaign in order to finance a new product, project, venture, adventure or even an entire company. Crowdfunding campaigns have been used by video game companies and movie makers, toy makers and authors, and the possible uses are nearly limitless for startup companies. But you know what they say: if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

Since major crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter launched, the crowdfunding universe has become overwhelmingly crowded, drowning out many promising projects. Competition is fierce, and even startups with great ideas for products and services people really want will find it difficult to rise above the noise.

Read more on SEMrush


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Branding, Startups

How to win hearts 💕 on @Periscope—when even you find your life boring. ft. @KikiSchirr

how-to-win-hearts

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Edit: Meerkat no longer exists, but I’m keeping Kiki’s guest post as is, because her advice is still relevant to any live video streaming app.

This is a guest blog entry by Kiki Schirr.

First Meerkat was, and now Periscope is taking over the Internet. If you’ve installed either live-streaming video app, chances are you’ve heard the siren call of its audio alert. Have you rushed to your phone to tune in to someone else’s exciting life? “Walking the Great Wall” or “At the top of London’s Ferris Wheel” are clearly going to get the views. How can we, with our more simple lives, possibly compete?

There are three winning strategies for the normal amongst us: friends, foreigners, and fridges.

1. Friends: Tap Your Followers List

Friends are an easy source of likes and follows—possibly the most easy to snag. You know what your friends like, so use those inside jokes and connect with all your Twitter friends like a chimp in a game of Barrels Full of Monkeys.

2. Foreigners: Embrace an International Audience

Foreigners are a little more difficult to attract. You should ask yourself: what aspect of your daily life might seem strange to a foreigner? What about your morning make-up routine? Your drive to the grocery store (from the passenger seat!) or walking through the aisles of a gas station can take on an exotic edge when viewed by someone who’s never stepped foot in your state.

If you’re trying to appeal to foreigners, be sure to use your location in the title. If you speak a foreign language, use key words in multiple tongues. Like “Florida USA drive on a sunny day” or “美国 gas station” Bonus points if you speak Arabic, because doesn’t Periscope make you think 3/4 of the world’s iPhones are in the Middle East?

3: Fridges: Play to Your Unique Strengths

The final “F” is for fridges: the sort of weird, completely absorbing fads that absorb most of the traffic on Periscope. Right now it’s an exploration of fridges, with insightful commentary on which brand of ketchup you prefer. This is where your creativity will have a chance to shine: what can you do that people will find oddly fascinating?

For me, the answer has been drawing. I can draw, sort of, and the slow reveal of a shapeless stack of pencil lines into a recognizable face of some movie starlet has captured more attention than my other videos. Try to capitalize on your talents—like basketball trick shots, turning your eyelids inside out, or burping the National Anthem. Admit it, you’d watch those.

So when you next flip that iPhone camera on, think of the 3 F’s: friends, foreigners, and fridges. You can thank me—by tuning in. I’m Kiki on Periscope, and @kikischirr on Twitter.

Let me know how it works!


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Customer Success, SaaS, Startups

40 Articles on SaaS Free Trials Distilled Down ft. @LincolnMurphy

40-articles-on-saas-free-trials

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (‏@yazsedky).

Like samples at Costco, Free Trials are meant to make buyers’ mouths water. But, unlike mini-quiche, your SaaS product probably doesn’t appeal to 95% of the population, which means you have to do a little work to make people want a nibble.

SaaS Free Trial conversion rates are strongly correlated with revenue and well-worth optimizing, as Lincoln Murphy pointed out in his SaaS Free Trial Conversion Rate Optimization Resource Guide. But while his list of 40 articles on Free Trial Best Practices is comprehensive, it may also be a little overwhelming! So let’s distill it down to its main concepts.

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

You can’t optimize what you don’t measure, so make sure every decision in your Free Trial process is metrics-driven. Only measure metrics that are actionable, and be sure to identify things most customers did during the Free Trial that ultimately lead to sales. Hint: Number of Free Trial users (i.e. those who have only created an account but haven’t engaged with it) is a vanity metric.

Think a 5% conversion rate is okay? Think again. The argument that low conversion rates are normal is total bupkis, a load of hooey. What it really means is that A) Your sales process or product is driving away customers., or B) You’re marketing to the wrong people. If you make a 25% conversion rate your goal, then you’re shooting for average – and who wants to be average?

Offering Free Trials automatically increases conversions, right? Um, no. Not all Free Trials are created equal. To see if your Free Trial is increasing conversions, you’ll have to A/B test it against not having a Free Trial. Try something as simple as “Buy Now” versus “Try Now.” From there, the challenge is to design your Free Trial around proving your product/service’s ROI to the prospect (rather than wait for them to do something vague like “see how much it helps their business.”)

Philosophical Quandaries

Freemium or Free Trial? Freemium is when you give “Level 3” access to everyone for free, but reserve Levels 2 and 1 for paying Premium customers (or however you want to break it down). Free trials are limited in time, after which customers have to pay to continue using the service. Which is better? Freemium works well when you have a wide market and when having more users add value (via content, data, shares, etc.). If you don’t have those two factors in place, well, you aren’t running a charity (unless you are, in which case, never mind).

Stop thinking that your customers are there to “evaluate” your product (aka kicking tires), and shift your mindset into getting the prospect to use your product. Your Free Trial strategy should be aimed at helping them really use it and get comfortable with it as quickly as possible. Keep refining the process to shorten the distance between Free Trial sign-up and actual use.

Best question ever: If your ideal customer looks at your site for 5 seconds, will they know they’re your ideal customer? And this goes double for your Free Trial content.

Nitty-Gritty Details of the How-To Variety

How detailed or simplified should Free Trial signup forms be? Ask for the bare minimum – an e-mail address. Then later you can ask for more information so you can help improve their Free Trial experience. Never let them feel like you just want their information so you can sell to them.

Free trial content/e-mail marketing: Once a prospect signs up for your free trial, what happens? He or she receives a welcome e-mail. Onboarding this customer begins with that e-mail, which means you have to nail it. Make sure the prospect knows to expect an e-mail after sign-up; compose a compelling subject line; send it from a real person’s e-mail address; and write it with one goal in mind: To encourage the prospect to take the next baby-step down the sales funnel. Clean, simple, useful, personal, non-salesy copy wins the day.

Front-load your Free Trial sales process with automation. This way, you will liberate your sales person’s time while making each prospect feel cared for and valued. Throughout the trial, prospects will qualify themselves or drop out, allowing your sales team to close the strongest prospects by the trial’s end. Think you should call every prospect when they sign up for a Free Trial? Not your best move – Free Trials are a self-service sales model and your prospects likely won’t appreciate your “personal touch” before they’re ready to make the decision.

Should you ask for a credit card up front? No. Free Trials are about building trust, and asking for their CC before they can even try you on for size is a non-starter.

Trying to decide on Free Trial length? First, stop associating its length with your sales cycle, and start focusing on how long it would realistically take someone to evaluate your product/service. To find that out, ask customers about their product evaluation process, then A/B test two trial lengths until you have it down to a science. Keep in mind that the goal of SaaS Free Trial length is to get the prospect to sign-up (it’s what you do after the sign-up that determines whether prospects convert). Oh, and always offer a way to “Buy Now.”

Is the first page your new Free Trial customer sees upon login engaging? The Number One reason free trials fail to convert is that they don’t engage customers quickly enough. That first page should be friendly, simple, and lead the user to successfully use the tools provided.

Free trials, like all of SaaS marketing, are a science. The good news is: You can master it! Measure everything, see what your best customers did and are doing during their Free Trials, and fine-tune your process until you’re reaching conversion percentages of which your competitors only dream. It’s all possible.


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.