Monthly Archives

March 2016

Social Media

Truly Awesome Tactics to Gain Traffic from Twitter by @NikkiElizDeMere

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Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).
Here’s a crazy statistic. On average, Twitter sees 500 million tweets per day. Out of all of the interactions people have with these tweets, 92% of them involve clicking links.

For some of us, getting in on that action feels as easy as chatting with a barista at the local coffee shop. For others, getting website traffic from Twitter may as well be alchemy. That’s okay, since it actually is possible to turn Tweets into gold. I promise.

Caveats

If your target audience is on Twitter — this is the primary caveat — Twitter marketing is the best way to increase targeted traffic to your website.

The. Best. I don’t use those words lightly. There are two reasons: 1) Twitter attracts almost everybody, which makes finding a large audience for your niche (however small it is) easy; and 2) Twitter, along with helpful tools like Tribeboost, can help you find people in your audience.

The secondary caveat is this: Twitter marketing only works if you use Twitter the right way. It’s amazing to me that people are still Tweeting about what they ate for lunch in 2016. Sometimes those posts are fun, too — don’t get me wrong — but you can do better.

Read More on Moz


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

Photo Friday

Photo Friday: 3/18/16

This is my first Photo Friday of 2016!

Taking Instagram photos is my hobby. In this series, I post a few photos on Friday that I took during the week.


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Follow me on Instagram for more of my work.

SaaS

SaaS Marketing Journey

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Here’s a SaaS Marketing Journey that I developed with Katy Katz and Trevor Hatfield at Inturact. Learn more about it in Katy’s e-book, Strategic Marketing Tactics for SaaS Companies.

“It became apparent to us that when it comes to digital marketing for SaaS, the inbound model just doesn’t cut it. We locked ourselves in a room and went through many variations of the key strategies that should be included in SaaS marketing (there were lots of post-its and cups of coffee involved). And we came up with this model to highlight some important variations from traditional inbound marketing: 1) Customer success content is imperative to the consideration and decision phases, 2) the decision phase never really ends in SaaS, and 3) delight should be woven into your entire marketing strategy.”

— Katy Katz

Product Management

Product Managers: Don’t just Build Products – Build Bridges ft. @MindTheProduct

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Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

As product manager, your vision drives the heart of your company. You might be responsible for the product development roadmap, strategy and features, or even marketing, and competitive market analysis. Because you wear so many hats, you’re the best person in your B2B company to form bridges between departments usually kept separate, including: product development, sales, marketing, customer success and customer service.

Why would you want to take on more when you are already responsible for so much?

It might seem like a fool’s errand – it isn’t. When you bring these departments together by finding where your goals intersect, you’ll be able to make each department’s job a little easier and a lot more effective in driving retention and revenue. And, you’ll become one of the most valuable, and valued, people in your company. Here’s how.

Read More on Mind The Product


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

Customer Success, SaaS, Sales

What To Do After You Close The Sale: Why Acquisition Is Good, But Retention Pays Better

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

When you make a sale, what is the first thing on your to do list? Happy dance? Happy hour? A night out on the town?

May I make a suggestion?

How about making another sale? And another, and another.

This isn’t a fast-talking sales technique or a short-lived marketing gimmick; it’s the result of customer success done well. When you have a robust customer success program, you can start celebrating multiple sales within much shorter periods of time.

As you know, the new customer sales journey is a long and arduous road. 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. Numerous studies show that current customers are far more likely to buy again than prospective customers are to buy the first time. Customer success capitalizes on this, and so can you.

Read More on Drift


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

Women in Tech

No, I Won’t Be Coming to Your Conference: OCD as a Woman in Tech ft. @ModelViewMedia

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In a very personal article on Model View Culture, I share my experiences with OCD as a woman in tech.

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“Oh yeah, I’m totally OCD.”

Well, no, statistically you’re probably not. You might keep your house neat as a pin, but that doesn’t mean we have a disorder in common.

So many people misuse the phrase. And they have no clue. OCD affects only 1 percent of the population. You know how the joke goes – if 99 percent of your friends are normal, then you’re the one? Yep, that’s me. But because so many people claim they have OCD, people I tell tend to not take it seriously. Or they pigeonhole it into symptoms they recognize from watching Monk: germophobia, organizing everything, checking the door locks.

I don’t have that kind of OCD. For many people with OCD, it’s a much more complex issue. I don’t want to get into the specifics about my rituals, but know this: When I go out into a public space, I might be fine, or I might spiral into worst-case-scenario thought patterns that I have to drag myself out of – if I can get out at all. Social anxiety and agoraphobia are nasty side effects of my particular strain of OCD – the fear of something terrible happening. More than once, I’ve stood in the middle of a public space, teetering on the edge of a panic attack, as my significant other talks me down from the figurative ledge, reminding me that this is “worst case scenario” thinking. Sometimes those words snap me out of my spiral, giving me just enough distance from what I know is an illogical thought to see it for what it is. Sometimes, it doesn’t work.

I haven’t had OCD forever. In fact, it’s a relatively new thing for me – only within the last five years. For  the first three of those years, I was too ashamed to tell anyone about it. I unintentionally pushed away my friends, who wondered why they didn’t see me anymore. Why wouldn’t I come to their birthday parties, or their weddings? Why couldn’t I be there to celebrate the most important moments in their lives?

Before OCD, I had no problem doing these things. I didn’t have any problems presenting at conferences, speaking in front of people, or going grocery shopping either. I’d always taken pride in being a strong person. Someone who isn’t held back or defined by the unfortunate experiences of her past. Strength and independence have always been two of my defining characteristics. So how can I find myself standing outside of a bookstore for fifteen minutes, unable to go in?

It was hard for people who knew me to understand that the sudden onset of a disorder was the reason I barely ventured out into my front yard. When I finally did talk about it, my big reveal was through a Facebook post — appropriate, since social media had become one of my central connections to other people. The funny thing was, the people who responded most to my announcement were acquaintances – even people I’d never met before who connected with me because of our shared interests. It was from them, more than my friends, that I received support, and responses like “I also have OCD. Thank you for sharing your story.” Some of them even recommended medications that they’d tried.

I am on medication, and it helps. But not enough to get me on stage. I feel this way at the bookstore, at the grocery store, in any public space. There is no way I’m going up in front of a hundred or more people. But in my line of work, on stage at a conference is where everyone seems to want me to be.

In academia, you have “publish or perish.” In SaaS marketing, we have something very similar: it’s not quite that cut and dried, but conferences, speaking, and in-person networking are incredibly important components of tech careers. As a marketer, especially, you’re expected to not only make your clients successful, but to gather data, write about the data, and speak. If you’re counting, that’s actually four jobs: Marketer, researcher, author, and speaker. If we want to make it to the top, we have to be renaissance people.

It’s already too much for one person to do well, and when you pile a disorder on top of it – it’s even worse.

What’s a woman to do in a conference culture?

In tech, we’re all about our conferences, and I am honored to be invited to many of them. I appreciate it. And you should invite more women to tech conferences (we’re sadly and severely underrepresented). But when I politely decline, the response is often dismissive.

Even though I’ve worked past feeling ashamed, guilty, or like I’m less of a person because of my OCD – and I have – it’s still not easy for me to tell strangers why I can’t attend their conferences, or why I won’t speak at their live seminars. I used to present original research, teach classes, and network in person, and be happy to do it. It’s hard to explain that I would like to do these things again, but OCD limits me in very real ways. So, I prefer not to go into detail about exactly what could or would happen if I were to haul my anxiety-ridden self onto a plane, to a hotel, and onto the stage at a conference. Honestly, I prefer not to imagine that at all – can you feel my anxiety rising at the thought? Sometimes, I swear, my anxiety rolls off of me like sound waves.

When I do try to explain, to say: “I have anxiety, so it’s difficult to participate in that aspect of my career,” often, the first reaction is to push me:

“You just need to practice!”

But this isn’t a mild discomfort with public speaking. This is OCD. It can’t be cured with a membership to Toastmasters (Yes, I’ve had someone make this suggestion to me before). I’ve also had this exchange, more than once:

Me: “I have anxiety, so I can’t attend your conference.”

Conference host: “That’s a chick thing. You’re just being a woman.”

Me: “Um… this isn’t a ‘chick thing,’ it’s a disorder.”

What I’d like to add: “That’s what the ‘D’ stands for – you know, in OCD?”

Social anxiety comes with the territory for many with OCD. And entrepreneurship in tech is socially demanding. Either online or in person, I have to vociferously advocate my work. I’m not complaining. I love what I do and I’ve met incredible mentors and colleagues (online). And I have “workarounds;” I blog and guest post on my industry’s most popular blogs and am extremely active on forums. I realize it’s nearly impossible for people without OCD to get it – you almost have to live it, or love someone who does. But whether or not you understand OCD, please understand this: It’s very real. It’s not something I can control. It’s not going to get better if I just try harder.

So please: Don’t pressure me.

Can we be more welcoming to people with OCD in tech?

Conferences are a huge part of my industry, but not the only avenue. The focus on conferences in tech culture excludes many people with mental illness, disabilities, caretaking responsibilities, travel and financial restrictions, and more. Luckily, many people do a great job of creating opportunities that I can be part of, like inviting me to guest speak on podcasts or webinars. Providing these alternative routes, and giving all of the avenues that people can participate visibly in our industry equal weight, consideration and funding will go a long way to making the industry more welcoming — not only to people with OCD, but to the many people who can’t or don’t attend conferences for all sorts of reasons.

I’d also like to see us, as a society, stop taking OCD so lightly. At a granular level, don’t say you have it unless you have it. That might mean we need more education about what OCD is, and what it is not: a punchline. What happens when it is the punchline, or just some off-hand descriptor of a behavior that has nothing to do with the disorder, is that nobody takes it seriously. It also feels really crappy to hear about your “OCD” when I’m sitting here suffering from the real deal.

On the theme of awareness, teaching people how to interact with OCD sufferers would be a step in  the right direction as well. Simple things like not pressuring us, or trying to make us feel bad would make such a difference. Invite us, please, but take “no” for an answer. Don’t include guilt with your invitation – it just creates more anxiety over something we can’t control.

And for the love of all that is Holy, don’t say it’s a “chick thing.” Ever. To anyone.

If someone voices their anger over how they’ve been treated – even if they’re just venting on Facebook about yesterday’s luncheon when someone laughed and said “Oh, I’m so OCD”  – don’t police them for it. I see this not just in the context of OCD, but in the context of most marginalized populations – a world where we blame the victim for their honest and justifiable reactions.

Ultimately, I’d like to see OCD research get more funding – there’s no cure, at least not one that’s been found.

*For a wonderful explanation of exactly what OCD is, read 5 Things Everyone Misunderstands About OCD by Hayden Carroll.

Customer Development, Customer Success

Don’t make your SaaS business about you – your new mantra? Or the worst advice ever?

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Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

“Figure out what people want and give it to them. Excuse me? I’m supposed to be a robot? I want to see what I want, then see what they want, and then see what they want from me.”

Violeta Nedkova

To be fair, Violeta’s next words were:

“From there, you can build your groundwork and start giving value.”

But I’m a fan of the provoking, out of context soundbite. I just love how she neatly phrased the prevailing wisdom and then dashed it on the rocks.

I got into a debate with someone on Twitter recently about this – they posted an article about how your business is not about your customers, it’s about you. I posted a rant in response, essentially saying that they were clearly trying to make non-ideal customers happy instead of making ideal customers successful. My argument is: If you make your business about you instead of your customers, you’ll be your only customer – because you’re the one you’re attracting!

Think about it. If all of your copy is about you, written to appeal to you, who are you going to attract?

But, over time, cooler heads prevail. I realized that for some entrepreneurs, like Violeta for example, their ideal client really is them. Or people very much like them. People who hold the same values, want the same things, have the same aesthetic tastes. For business coaches and life coaches, there is a tremendous amount of mirroring that happens in marketing.

But then a friend told me about one of her clients, a middle-aged British guy who was VP of marketing for a major budget bridal-wear chain, who preferred high-end, luxury brands to the budget-friendly one he worked for. If he created marketing that appealed to himself, he couldn’t be further from his target market than if he built a billboard on Mars. His target market was the budget bride, and the things that are important to her weren’t even on his personal radar.

“Don’t make your business about you” should absolutely be that man’s mantra.

It absolutely should not be Violeta’s.

But what about you – the SaaS founder or marketer? Where does SaaS fit into this theory?

For the vast majority of products, unless yours is particularly personality-driven, I would recommend the “Don’t make your business about you” approach. Identify your ideal customers – the ones who have a severe problem you are uniquely able to solve (and who are willing to pay for it) – and get to know them.

In depth.

Understand what their day-to-day life looks like. Learn what they do all day at work. Find out what frustrates them, what wastes their time, what drives them crazy, and what inspires them. Discover what they wish for themselves as people and as employees. Then, make your product and your marketing all.about.them.

But if you skip this crucial step, well, I’ll let Lincoln Murphy tell it.

You see, either way, whether you are making your business about “you” or not – you’re still defining your ideal customer. Maybe that ideal customer is you (well, people similar to you). Maybe your ideal customer couldn’t possibly be more different.

I guess, in the end, it really is always about the customer.


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

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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.