Tag Archives: Google Analytics

33 Tools Every Startup Marketer Needs

I’ve spent the last twelve years working in (or as) the marketing department at start ups. In fact, every job I’ve had has been at a start up. Marketing for start ups is a lot different than big brand marketing. For one, the budgets are much, much smaller, and often nonexistent. And you’re laser focused on customer acquisition, there’s no time or money for branding exercises. Because of those start up marketing truths, these tools are focused on getting the most bang for the buck and driving real marketing results for the business.

Over the years I’ve compiled a list of tools that are must haves for marketers who are trying to get marketing up and running for brand new businesses. This is not every tool, these are not the most expensive or a list of free tools, these are the ones that I’ve found help me get a marketing department off the ground. Here are my top 33 tools that every marketer needs to run a successful marketing department at a start up.

33 Tools Every Startup Marketer Needs

Google Analytics – Start here. The best, free analytics package there is. If you configure your goals and segments properly you’ll be off to the races with web analytics. The second you launch your website, install this tracking code. If you’re selling anything on your site configure it to capture ecommerce information. That will let you get important information such as, oh you know, revenue, average order size, revenue per visitor by traffic source, all that good stuff.

Google Analytics

Basecamp – There’s one thing that’s consistent across every start up I’ve been at: everything moves at a lightning pace. Having projects, files, timelines, and to-dos in one place is critical in a start up environment. I love basecamp for marketing teams because it’s lighter weight than something more robust like JIRA but far better than trying to stay organized by email. Works just as well with two people or twenty and will help you keep on top of everything you’ve got going.

Basecamp

Campfire – Communication is everything at a start up. Campfire is a great way to keep everyone in the loop with a browser-based group chat. Teams can bat ideas around, share comps and other files via the chat room and have an opportunity to weigh in on important projects and initiatives that the team is working on. With Campfire the likelihood that someone feels out of the loop drops significantly.

Skype – If you’ve got a remote team, Skype video chat is the secret sauce to keeping everyone on the same page and connected to the team. Video chats are a quick easy way to get in synch and keep that all-important chemistry that will keep the team moving forward.

Google Apps – Save yourself the headache and costs of a Microsoft Exchange setup. Convince your IT team that they would be better focused building the product and not dealing with desktop support and networking. Google Apps: mail, docs, sites, chat and Google Plus are all incredible productivity tools that can keep the team focused on building what matters and not dealing with the nonsense of desktop support.

Dropbox – Skip FTP for moving big PowerPoints and marketing files around and use Dropbox, plus you’ll save your inbox storage for all the mail you’ll generate. It’s great for sharing comps, files, storing assets and synching important documents. Your team can start with free plans and upgrade to a Team plan when you’re ready and need the space.

Dropbox

A DSLR – Whether it’s the Canon or a Nikon, grab a DSLR and learn how to shoot decent shots of your company, product, customers and events. Bonus if it takes HD video too. If you’re going to leverage social marketing to power your business you’ll need content. And people love photos, lots of photos, and video. From shots of the hackathon to video of the product launch and everything in between, having great photos and video can make for engaging content that connects your customers to your company and has them rooting for your team from the beginning.

KISS Metrics – Google Analytics is great, but it doesn’t give you two important things: cohort analysis and user-level funnel metrics. KISS Metrics provides you with detailed funnel construction and page-by-page analysis for cohorts of users and at the user level to see how people are moving through your website. You can see where drop-offs occur and find opportunities to improve your conversion.

Crazy Egg – How is your website performing? Are people seeing the content you want them to? Are the calls to action getting the attention they need? With Crazy Egg you can see what your users are clicking on and how far they’re scrolling down the page. By using Crazy Egg you can see if you have page elements that are being ignored or navigation that is leading people astray. It’s a great visualization tool that you can leverage to up your conversion and improve the user experience on your site.

Crazy Egg

Optimizely – With a single line of JavaScript, Optimizely lets you run and deploy A/B testing on your site in a snap. If you’re running marketing for a start up, one thing is certain, you don’t really know what your customers want. From headline copy, to button color, to page layout and more, Optimizely lets you collect the data and find the best combinations to drive conversion. And, you can deploy it on any page — landing pages, home page, product pages and in the conversion funnel, you can learn and optimize with Optimizely.

Optimizely

 

Facebook Power Editor – Facebook ads are cheap, plentiful and provide a quick and easy way to test your start up’s value propositions, messaging and offers. But how do you do all that testing? Facebook Power Editor. A Chrome extension, it lets you upload ad variants via Microsoft Excel so you can test hundreds of versions of ads in hundreds of different targeting configurations. With a monthly spend of just $1,500 you can leverage Power Editor and put its functionality to work in helping you find what really resonates with who.

Google Adwords – Another great tool for start up marketers. Even if paid advertising isn’t part of your early plan (i.e. you’re hoping press and social word of mouth drive the business) AdWords is a great testing ground, just like Facebook ads. You can test messages, value propositions and calls to action to see what resonates. If you find a particular message or ad unit that converts at a higher click through rate you can take that winning message, value prop or call to action and test it in a broader setting across your site.

MailChimp – There are dozens and dozens of email service providers (ESPs) out there. But MailChimp’s dead-simple user interface and affordable pricing makes it a no-brainer for startups. Plus A/B testing, autoresponder capability, API integration and more, MailChimp can grow as your business grows. Plus the Chimp? Adorbs.

Mail Chimp

WordPress – You’ll need a website and there’s a good chance that you’ll want a blog to keep people up-to-date with what you’re working on. WordPress is a great first step to get your marketing website and/or blog out there. Obviously, if you’re building a consumer facing web product, then you’ll be launching you’re own site based on whatever tech the product is built on; but when you need to get a blog or marketing site up in a hurry, WordPress is a perfect tool to get the job done.

Adobe Photoshop – As a marketer in a startup it’s likely that you’ll be doing not only the marketing, but you’ll be kicking in to support the design team, and if you’re building a product, you may have to fend for yourself creating marketing materials so the designers can focus on the product. Photoshop can help you crank out things like landing pages, email marketing templates, production graphics, ad units and more. The more you can roll your own graphic needs the more you can get done while letting the designers do their thing on the product side.

Final Cut Pro X – If you’re launching a new or novel web service, mobile app or something else brand new, it’s likely you’ll need an explainer video. Video is a great way to demo a product, capture interest, generate press and drive new users. Of course you can pay for it; or you can shoot it and make it yourself. Plus tutorials, how-tos, customer testimonials, demos and more all look better on video. If video is going to be a key part of your marketing strategy you’ll want to be able to polish it up quickly and easily. Final Cut Pro X will give you everything you need for just $299.

Final Cut Pro

Google Alerts – You’ll want to keep an eye on any press, blog or comments mentioning your new venture. Set up a free Google Alert with your brand name and any variations that may exist (e.g. a space between two words in your name, even if you write them together). Extra points for setting up alerts for the founder names and competition to keep a better picture of what’s going on with your brand and in your space.

TweetDeck, HootSuite – Google Alerts can’t monitor everything, and if social marketing is going to be a key component of your marketing, then a more powerful Twitter monitoring and management tool will be handy. I love having a separate monitor setup with HootSuite to keep an eye on people talking to the company, answering customer support, engaging in conversations relevant to the brand and more. TweetDeck is a bit limited in its new release, but HootSuite is just one of many full-featured Twitter clients that can be an important way for marketers to stay connected on the platform.

SEOMoz Pro – SEOMoz Pro is the secret weapon for many online marketers. It’s packed with useful tools and information. You’ll get search monitoring tools to measure your organic keyword traffic, social measurement tools to see how effective your social programs are, and tons and tons of education on how you can build visibility for your company with search engine optimization and social marketing.

SEOMoz

Hacker News – Simply the best news source for the latest and greatest in the technology space. If your company is in the startup world, you just can’t afford to not read it every day.

Inbound.org – Like a Hacker News for online marketing full of great insight on search engine optimization, social marketing, conversion rate optimization, online testing and lots more. If you’re looking to get educated on the latest in online marketing, Inbound.org is a great place to start.

Inbound.org

Verify - Sitting around a table arguing about design is healthy, up to a point. Then it’s better to get the design out there and see if anyone outside the building really likes it or not. That’s where VerifyApp comes in. You can put up a page, email, add, or mobile app comp and ask Verify users to choose a favorite between two designs, recount what they remember after seeing your landing page and more.

Verify

Bit.ly Pro – If you’re using social media marketing there’s no better way to track clicks then to push all of your links through bit.ly Pro. It’s a great way to get analytics on what was clicked and what wasn’t so you can see which content has the most interest to the social audience.

Litmus – Litmus is an email marketer’s dream. It lets you send test emails to a single email address and then Litmus renders them in each of the main email clients. You can even select which clients to include in your test. It’s brilliant for ensuring that your email looks great in the email clients that matter to you, in the browsers that your users use. See an email in Gmail in FireFox, Chrome and IE. See how it renders on the iPhone. Busted HTML email is amateur hour — make sure it looks good before you send it.

Balsamiq Mockups - Wireframes aren’t just for the UX designers any more. Marketers should know how to use and communicate with wireframes. Need a landing page? You should be able to wireframe out one to use as conversation starter or requirement with your designer. Need a Facebook tab, a pricing page, or a blog? Pick up the tools and learn to do it yourself, it will go a long way toward saving time and giving your designers and devs more information on how to approach a marketing project. Balsamiq is great because it’s easy and because the wireframes looked sketched, which makes people feel like they aren’t as formalized, yet they still communicate your requirements.

Balsamiq Mockups

Survey Monkey – There’s no better way to learn about what’s working that to talk with your customers. Regular surveying is a must. Survey Monkey is a cheap and effective way to survey your customers. You can create surveys quickly and easily and go as long or as short as you like. If you’re not surveying your customers you’re doing it wrong.

Unbounce – If your design team is too busy on the product to worry about marketing projects then you might want to consider Unbounce. Unbounce lets you create great landing pages on the fly. If you know some HTML and some CSS you can crank out some great looking landing pages without having to get sprint points to get them done. Win!

ReTargeter - Personally, I think display advertising is for suckers in a startup, but if you’re going to do any display ads, they should be retargeted ads. ReTargeter and Google ReTargeting ad programs let you target display ads back to people who have been to your site. It’s a great way to appear bigger than you are, and to remind your previous visitor to come back soon.

Retargeter

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+  - I can’t write about all of the social networks, but obviously if you’re a startup you’ll take all the free marketing you can get. I’m not going to go into detail on these, because there are literally hundreds of books on the subject. Hundreds. My recommended books post is coming up after this.

Salesforce – Whether it’s Salesforce or some other CRM, it’s helpful to have a database of prospects that are tied to marketing campaigns that allow you to follow up with, measure effectiveness and see progress tracked back. Especially good for marketing teams that need to support sales staffs and for product sales that have a long sales cycle, such as B2B sales. Without CRM you’re under performing in the sales department, guaranteed.

Join.me - Need to share a screen with a potential prospect or business partner? Join.me makes it dead simple. Just send them the join.me link and they’ll see your screen in real time. Great for marketing folks who have to support business development efforts with product marketing and/or training. Also great for demoing press and bloggers who you can’t meet in person.

join.me

ZenDesk – Say it with me, customer service is marketing. Great customer service can lead to excellent word of mouth, which leads to more business for you. You know this, I know this; but if customer service doesn’t fall in your domain you need to champion for a help desk solution for your customer service team to ensure that your marketing effort is focused on growing the business, not fighting fires from unhappy customers.

OLark – If you’re trying to sell something online, there’s no better tool than live chat. It’s great for answering questions and giving users the confidence they need to make a purchase. It’s also a great way to learn about what visitors questions and fears are before buying from you. It’s marketing gold, because you can turn that feedback into content and design that addresses those concerns and converts more visitors to customers.

olark

So there you have it. Some of my favorite tools for startup marketers. They represent a strong set of technologies that can help you get any marketing department off the ground and run it for the beginning stages of the company. These tools work for a company of just 3 or 4 people and scale upwards of 100 (and beyond in many cases). Sure, there will be some that are overkill in the beginning, so wait on those, and there will be those that won’t scale with the organization, so just graduate from them when it’s right; but in all I’ve found these tools invaluable in the startup environments I’ve been in. As a marketer, you’re doing everything from customer acquisition, to email marketing, to social, to supporting customer service and business development, to product marketing and more. With these tools you’ll be able to do your job better and help your startup grow.

I know there are hundreds of tools out there, which ones did I miss that you’d add to the list? Share with me in the comments.

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Which Way is Up?

Lately I’ve been asked to speak more and more on social media and online marketing. I love it because as a geek I’m thrilled that people are starting to pay attention to the powerful opportunities that are available to people who understand and make the Web an important part of their customer relationships.  Unfortunately most people start with questions like “Do I need to be on Twitter?” or “How do I put video on my Facebook Page?”  And so I counter with my favorite question, “What does success look like?”

Usually I get a stammering answer about community, new customers or something about being “with it.”  It’s astonishing to me that so many people can invest time, effort and money into an initiative without knowing what outcome they’re looking for.

Define “Which Way is Up”

So, let’s not let that be you.  If you’re going to start using social media for your business first answer the question “What does success look like?”  Write down what you’re trying to achieve.  This doesn’t have to be rocket science; but it should be goals that you can track to.  This will be your “up” and once you define your “up” you’ll be able to see how you’re doing and what you can be doing to optimize your climb to success.

One thing to caution against is thinking purely in terms of closed sales and transactions.  Those are important; but we have to look at the reality of the social space in terms of generating short-term revenue.  Of course, social media can provide closed sales; but the medium is not transactional in nature, and it’s relational foundation makes it unwelcoming to quick transactions.  By definition it favors meaningful and trusting relationships that are fostered over time and pay dividends over the long run.

Bottom line, if you’re looking for a quick sale let’s look at Google Ad Words.  If you’re looking to build something of lasting value, let’s keep going.

If you’re not looking for immediate transactions (although we’ll take them if they come through) what are you looking to do?  In my opinion what you want to do is build assets.  Assets like an opt-in email newsletter, a Facebook Page with fans of your business, a Twitter following comprised of the people who are important to your business’s success.  All of these allow you to create an ongoing dialog and relationship with your customers, suppliers and potential customers.

Back to “up,” consider both qualitative measures as well as quantitative measures.  Here are a few things to think about:

  • Number of conversations you have with followers, fans, email list subscribers
  • Growth of all three assets over time
  • Number of mentions of your product or service over time
  • Number of referrals of your product or service over time
  • Number of comments, tweets, retweets, Facebook posts over time
  • Number of times your email newsletter is opened, forwarded
  • Number of times blog posts are shared
  • Number of reviews on Yelp (positive, negative, neutral)
  • Number of sales, repeat sales, referred sales
  • Average purchase size of members vs. non-members

To make sure you focus not just on the short term think of your success in terms of not just what’s in it for you; but answer the question “What’s in it for the people engaging with me online?”  By keeping that question at the front of your thinking while defining your goals you’ll find that you create success for both you and the people important to your business.  Avoiding one-sided benefit thinking ensures that you’re thinking of your customers and suppliers, etc. as partners in your success and not just as leads, cost centers and transactions.

Remember, you create your own definition of success; these are a just a few items to get you started.

How are you doing?

Once you’ve created your definition of success you need to properly track against those goals to see how you’re trending.  You can do this through a variety of tools such as the Facebook Page insights, Google Analytics, and social media monitoring tools like Scout Labs, Radian6 (for bigger firms), Twitalyzer and other tools.

The goal should be to keep the KPIs (key performance indicators) lightweight enough so that you can easily manage tracking them, while being robust enough to give you a clear indication of your success or shortcomings.

Then once you measure you need to watch for trends or turning points that may provide insight into the success (or lack thereof) of your efforts.  For example you may be trending below your goal Fan number on Facebook, or you may be seeing a jump in the number of reviews you’re receiving on Yelp.  Either way, for each number look at what the data is telling you.  Are you trending up? Trending down? Not making any progress or shooting through the roof?

Course Correcting

The greatest part about measuring is that it gives you the ability to see where you have opportunity for improvement.  It’s not just a gut reaction about whether something is working or not; but rather real insight that can help you refine and continuously improve or correct to get to your desired end state.  For example, if you’re tracking the number or tweets your blog articles get you may find some that resound more than others.  By having that data handy you can review your most-shared posts for clues on how you can continue to get that level of engagement across more of your content.

Of course this goes for traditional measures like Web traffic too.  If you track the number of conversions of people to your site to a desired goal (say placing an order, filling out a contact form, downloading a menu, etc.) then you can test different tweaks to your Web site copy, images, layout, etc. to see if you can optimize for that goal.  For example I recently tested the effectiveness of two lines of new Web copy on a form I had developed. By adding those two lines of copy and simplifying a couple of other elements on the page I saw a 3x increase in number of conversions I was getting.  A huge success.

The more data you have the more you can course correct on the fly.  It gives you the ability to reach your goals and turn lagging efforts into winners.  Without the data you can’t tell which way is up.

Constantly Test

The beauty of the Web is you can continuously test and benchmark.  Once you set a new high water mark you can use that as the number to beat.  If you have a certain number of Facebook fan signups you’re looking for over a given month you can track week over week signups.  If you run a giveaway or promotion in one week and get 100, and the previous week you got 50, you can learn from that giveaway and see what you can do to get 150 for the following week. Probably not the most elegant example; but I hope you get the point.  By continually refining and using bench marks you can continually optimize your social media efforts to reach your defined success.

And it’s not just good for you

While we’ve focused on your efforts in this post it’s important to look at the flip side of this article as well.  If people are signing up to your Facebook page or tweeting your articles you’re doing something right.  You’re providing them information, content an experience, or some benefit that is attracting more people to you.  Bravo.  If you’re headed in the wrong direction it gives you an opportunity to ask why aren’t people engaged with what I’m doing here?  Am I not listening to what they want? Am I blatantly, overly self-promoting?  Am I a bore?

You can make sure that you keep your focus on the people important to your business by defining your goals and successes as mutual successes.  This way you’ll be sure that your efforts are not solely driven based on what you want but rather on what is beneficial to both you and the people your business relies on to succeed.

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Making Sense of It All

The hardest thing in marketing is to make sense of it all. The data, the conversation, the customer complaints, the customer kudos, product features, service definitions, all of it is an overwhelming cacophony to the audience trying to synthesize and make sense of it. The best marketers are the ones who can take those inputs and create an easy to understand story that gives context to the information. A story or framework that allows customers, business owners and the community at large to make informed decisions and sense out of the noise. If you do that in marketing, you win.

In this post I want to talk about applying this idea to the measurement of marketing campaigns.  Because while it’s easy to throw in some Google Analytics code and say you “measure” the truth is it’s much more complex and nuanced than that.  And those marketers that can get past those one-sized fits all measurements and to the true measurement of success will be the ones standing in the long run.  So let’s look at how this applies to measuring online campaigns.

Data is Messy

In most instances the inputs are messy, nonsensical and contradictory.  The data is tough to grok and make sense of.  If you leave your audience to figure it out you’ll miss a key opportunity to help inform their thinking by providing a fact-based context, a lens in which to look at the data.  This can lead to poor decision-making and lead to choices that are misinformed.

Take Web analytics for an example.  The detail available on Web analytics can make them cumbersome and difficult to properly assess.  Traffic sources, visits, referring URLs, keywords, ad variations, organic versus paid traffic, goal conversions, bounce rates, CPA and CPC by source, (and the list goes on) creates a very complex picture of what is really going on with any one ad buy or campaign.  In an integrated online campaign with email, search, display, social media, PR and more the data set gets more complex and to the untrained eye muddier and less satisfying in terms of pointing to clear wins and losses.

This complexity makes it difficult for executives without a background in online marketing and analytics to digest the data and make strong recommendations.  The lack of clarity in the data picture presented makes much of the data inactionable.  It’s almost like it was never measured in the first place.

Providing Clarity

A good marketer provides clarity and context to results to give executives a frame of reference and an easy way to review, digest and act upon.  This means distilling complex data down to meaningful, high-level overviews backed by detail that can be reviewed a section at a time.  Providing clarity does not mean whittling down the data to nothing. That has the same negative impact as too much data, you’ve stripped relevance and meaning out, leaving you without the richness and granularity needed to make smart business decisions.

Creating a hierarchical story is an approach that I like to use to provide the clarity of a campaign while still providing robust and rich data to glean insights necessary to make good business decisions.  Here’s how I do it:

  • Give the big picture first. How are we doing? At plan, behind plan, ahead of plan.  Which way is the wind blowing and how are we doing.  Get that out of the way first and don’t sugar coat it.
  • Address key wins and losses.  Identify the big “needle moving” items. An email that went flat, a keyword that is going bananas, ad creative that has 2x click through of everything else, Scoble retweeted something.  Pick a couple.
  • Provide campaign element metrics. Summarize campaign elements in a top level reporting.  I like to show by element:
    • Budget
    • Clicks/impressions
    • CTR
    • Conversions to Goal
    • CPA
  • Optimization opportunities.  Identify areas to optimize, recommended adjustments in spend, scope, etc. These should be tactical adjustments to address the key loses as well as tweaks to the winners to turn them into homeruns.
  • Support data. This is where you have access to the backup that tells a more detailed story to the campaign element metrics.  Want to drill down in to a CPC campaign on Bing?  You need to have keyword and ad performance, both CPC and CPA.

Prep Work is the Key

Just as football coaches say that playoff games are won and lost during the two-a-day practices in August, the ability to tell a clear story that provides the data business owners need to make important decisions relies on prep work up front in setting up your measurement and analytics.  And the key is go beyond the out-of-the-box analytics measurements that come from Google or another provider.  You have to be able to tie the whole picture together.  Cost per click isn’t enough. You need cost per acquisition.

What is the desired outcome of the campaign? A new customer, an email sign up, a new fan? Whatever the end acquisition is, that is what needs to be measured against.  Without a clear tie to CPA the data is incomplete and it leaves a gap in analysis which makes the exercise less useful and relevant.  That blind spot can render data useless or worse, just plain wrong.

Don’t let the challenge of tying analytics down to the CPA level keep you from doing that work.  By eliminating that last mile blind spot (from cost per click or impression to cost per acquisition) you’ll be able to provide a much clearer story about what is working and not working.

Marketers Need to Tell Stories

This doesn’t just apply to their customers. It applies to everything they do.  It is crucial in creating a lens through which other business owners can analyze and view the data that you’re generating from your campaigns.  Without good data, and without a framework that makes the data manageable you’re unable to tell a good story, and ultimately succeed as a marketer.

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