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Podcasts: Your Next Great Marketing Channel, Or Just a Fad?

Podcasts: Your Next Great Marketing Channel, Or Just a Fad?

When it comes to reaching engaged, relevant audiences, which marketing channels truly shine? Social media? Email? Webinars?

How about podcasts?

“Podcasts?” I can hear you thinking, “you mean those radio shows that were popular in the early 2000s?” Sure, podcasts may have hit critical mass thanks to Apple iTunes and the iPod back in 2004, but new research is showing that small businesses and brands alike are taking another look at the podcast as a formidable marketing tool.

Of course the question is — why podcasts? And why has this technology suddenly re-ignited? Let’s take a closer look:

Podcasts’ Surge in Popularity

According to a recent report from Infinite Dial, 40% of respondents reported listening to a podcast at least once, with 24% doing so monthly, and 15% doing so weekly. Year over year, online radio and podcasts in particular, have shown a growth that simply can’t be ignored. What’s more, according to a separate study from Triton Digital and Edison Research, Americans tuning in to podcasts on a weekly basis has almost doubled since 2013:

Image Source

Listeners Are More Receptive to Products and Services

People are tuning in — and so are advertisers. There’s a lot for advertisers to like about podcasts, since almost two-thirds of listeners are more willing to consider products and services they learned about on a podcast. Over half of them believed that the hosts of the podcasts they listen to regularly are users of the products and services they mention on their respective shows. And those respondents reacted much more positively to products and services mentioned on the shows from the host themselves rather than a pre-recorded ad from a company or sponsor.

Just look at what actions listeners took after hearing about a product or service in a podcast:

Image Source

In addition to high levels of receptiveness, relevancy and engagement, the kinds of people listening to podcasts are the very users many advertisers want to reach: relatively young, high income and high education levels, according to a survey from Nielsen:

Image Source

Now the question becomes — how can brands and companies leverage this audience attraction?

Which Brands are Seeing Success with Podcasts?

One of the biggest points to keep in mind is that no one is going to tune in to a 20 minute commercial about your business. Take eBay, for example. Earlier this summer, Brooklyn-based audio company Gimlet Creative completed a branded podcast series for the auction company called Open for Business. It became the number one business podcast in iTunes when it released in June and talks to create a second season are already underway.

On the surface, it looks like Open for Business has very little in common with eBay itself. Topics include details on how to build a business from the ground up, including: how to hire, how an immigrant can start a business in the U.S., and so on.

Mentions of eBay itself are handled in a very light-touch manner. The podcast does, however, circle back by sharing the true story of a small business owner that found success on eBay. The last episode of the first series focused on the gig economy, which includes getting short term jobs and getting paid from gig-style platforms like Uber, Taskrabbit, Airbnb…and eBay.

The series was a hit — generating an average rating of 4.5 on iTunes and hitting 200% of its download goal.

And it’s not just how-to or curriculum-style podcasts that are getting noticed. GE leverages branded content by using its own sound technology in part of a sci-fi series known as The Message, where cryptographers attempt to decipher an alien message. GE itself isn’t mentioned anywhere in the podcast, but its technology is an integrated part of the storyline.

As part of their digital marketing, General Electric has started a podcast that works well with the audio format.

The Message currently has 5 million subscribers.

You can read more about General Electric’s foray into the digital marketing sphere in our post.

But before you get too excited about the potential of podcasts, it’s worth noting a few downsides.

Measuring Reach: Still In Its Infancy

Currently, the best way to measure how much reach a podcast has is the number of downloads and the number of subscribers to a given channel. Podcasts do not yet have the ability to tell you things like how long people listened or, for example, if someone played a podcast in their car with a group of friends.

What’s more, podcasts don’t correlate the number of downloads to the number of subscribers, so hosts don’t know what percentage of their listeners tune in on a weekly basis, or download an episode. How many people listen one time and then never listen again? No one knows.

Even Apple’s podcast app doesn’t provide statistics or analytics that show what kind of reach the podcast has. So, keep this in mind if you’re looking for measurable marketing gains with podcasts — the information you get is fairly shallow compared to the deep, insightful analytics you get with other marketing channels.

Podcasts Set a Higher Bar for Quality

If you’re looking at starting your own podcast, you can see from the examples above, as well as the top podcasts for your particular industry, that there’s a much higher bar set in terms of quality and consistency than with creating other types of content. Articles like this one may take just a few minutes to read, but with a podcast, you’re asking people to tune in for roughly 20 minutes or so per week – the approximate length and schedule for podcasts in general.

That means you have to commit to a standard of quality and a publishing schedule that’s both dedicated and deeply involved. It’s quite the challenge, to be sure, and many companies — even large ones — simply cannot afford that kind of time investment with so many other digital irons in the fire.

Small and medium-sized businesses, however, can look at podcasts as an opportunity to map out a higher grade of content that not only enthralls and engages listeners, but leaves them wanting more. And although the bar for quality is higher, the receptiveness of the audience and their eagerness to take the actions you want them to take after learning about your product or service is definitely worth it.

And although podcasts have risen and waned in popularity throughout the years, the proliferation of online radio, smartphones and home devices like Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa have made tuning into podcasts even more accessible than in a the past. If all indications are showing increasing growth and user adoption, it’s safe to say that podcasting isn’t just a fad — but like all marketing initiatives, the sooner you start, the sooner you can reap the benefits rather than falling behind and being looked at as an “also-ran” by your potential customers.

Do you use podcasts in your own marketing campaigns? What have your results been so far? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below and let us know what tips you have for fellow podcasters who are looking to get started! We can’t wait to hear from you!

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!

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What Facebook Watch Will Mean for Marketers

What Facebook Watch Will Mean for Marketers

It was only a matter of time.

Just like Amazon, YouTube, and Netflix before it, Facebook has officially entered the video streaming game.

What is Facebook Watch, and what does it mean for you your marketing strategy?

What is Facebook Watch?

Launched in August 2017 to select users in the U.S. via mobile, desktop and TV apps, Facebook Watch is the company’s entrée into episodic streaming video. Videos range from mini documentaries to live sporting events, courtesy of partnerships with Major League Baseball. There is a set group of publishers at launch, but the company plans to open it up to more creators soon.

How will Facebook Watch make money?

Facebook Watch is monetized through ad breaks. The producing partners earn 55% of ad break revenue while Facebook keeps 45%.

Facebook Watch is the company’s entrée into episodic streaming video. (Image Source)

What makes Facebook Watch different from other streaming services?

The streaming video space is undeniably crowded, so Facebook had to find a way to make Facebook Watch stand out. There are three main ways Facebook Watch is different, all of which bode well for its staying power.

  1. Original video content, which can be viewed through a new tab called “Watch,” is exclusive to Facebook Watch and can’t be seen anywhere else (with the exception of the live content available through deals like the one with Major League Baseball).
  2. Because it’s monetized through ad breaks, Facebook Watch is totally free for the viewing audience. All they have to do is be logged in to their Facebook account.
  3. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Facebook Watch is hyper-personalized in a way no streaming platform has been before.

The New “Social Viewing” Trend

Facebook Watch’s personalization takes advantage of everything users already love about the platform – it’s personal, and it’s social. People love getting recommendations for the things they love, and they love sharing those things with friends.

  • Facebook Watch provides personalized recommendations in its Discover tab, using fun, Facebook-esque categories like “Most Talked About,” “What’s Making People Laugh,” and “Shows Your Friends Are Watching.”
  • Subscribing to a show instantly connects Facebook users with fellow fans through show-linked Groups.
  • During a show, Facebook users get access to a live comment section where they can chat with other viewers and friends in real-time.

All these features indicate a strong focus on social viewing. While the social viewing trend is new, we have seen it before.

For example, in April of this year, Tumblr launched its video chat service Cabana. The app functions like a Tumblr/FaceTime hybrid, where users can watch their friends’ reactions in real time as they all watch a video together.

cabana video app

Tumblr’s Cabana app brings friends together to watch and react to videos in real time. (Image Source)

Social viewing veteran YouTube has been making some changes, too. Also in August, YouTube added in-app chat to its Android and iOS apps. Previously, users could only share videos out to other apps, such as Twitter or text message, but now conversations can also happen natively within YouTube. The interface is similar to Google Hangouts and appears to be YouTube’s answer to the messaging functionality offered by Instagram and Snapchat.

YouTube has recently launched in-app chat, keeping users chatting natively with their friends. (Image Source)

When multiple social media platforms follow suit, it’s a sure sign a new trend is here to stay. Social viewing is not going away, so how can marketers take advantage of it?

What Facebook Watch means for marketers

Facebook has 1.32 billion users who check in on a daily basis. For anyone who’s wondering, their monthly active users just hit 2 billion.

Either number means Watch is a major initiative at Facebook that marketers should not ignore. Facebook plans to integrate Watch episodes into the News Feed, and the company has a track record of using the News Feed to drive new features to success.

Here are four ways Facebook Watch will change the game for marketers.

1. Ad break ads will likely become more important for Facebook advertisers

In an increasingly internet-marketing-savvy world, people are getting better at tuning ads out. Just last year, Google gave up on its right sidebar ads and removed them.

Fortunately for advertisers, Facebook Watch promises great things. There’s a lot of noise in a Facebook user’s News Feed, so it’s not always easy for your ad to grab attention. But with video, you have a captive audience who is stuck watching your ad. They can’t simply scroll down their feed to get away from it.

Longer videos will only increase the effectiveness of ad break mid roll ads. And if Facebook adds social engagement functionality within the ads themselves, such as reactions and sharing, they’ll perform even better.

Traditional television has been on a downward trend for years. Facebook Watch will only accelerate the ongoing shift of ad dollars from TV to digital and mobile.

2. Facebook Watch gives influencers and social creators a powerful new channel

As promising as the ad breaks are, it’s notable that Facebook Watch publishers can opt out of them entirely. Instead, they can make money through product placement, as long as they tag the sponsor for transparency. One can imagine the implications this has for budding videographers, actors, singers, and documentarians who hope to fund their growth via influencer partnerships.

The rise of the influencer owes much of its success in large part to YouTube. But Facebook Watch could prove to be even more fruitful for influencers.

For instance, Facebook Watch will open up new viewing patterns which are less search-oriented than YouTube. Users who watch or subscribe to programs will see those appear in their News Feed along with the other daily updates from friends, rather than having to go to YouTube to check for the latest uploads. This gives influencers a huge opportunity to increase engagement through video, as fan affinity with influencers will become even more important.

3. Facebook Live may become even more important for brands.

Facebook Live, along with Instagram Live, has been gaining popularity with brands ever since it came out two years ago.

Facebook Live allows brands to humanize themselves and connect with fans in real-time. The live shows and events on Facebook Watch will do the same.

It’s inevitable that one day Facebook will let brands join in on the fun as Facebook opens up Facebook Watch to more publishers. (Those who are interested can apply via this page on Facebook help.) Brands can start practicing now by focusing on Facebook Live.

What resonates with your fans? Do they prefer a structured video format, or something more casual? How often do they want to watch? Daily shows in particular could be a goldmine for brands. The frequency keeps users coming back, ensuring a lucrative return for product placement or ad breaks. That consistent association with their favorite show could make consumers fall in love with your brand.

4. Ultimately, Facebook Watch changes the game for video content marketers

Facebook heavily emphasized the community aspect of Facebook Watch in their official announcement:

“Watching video on Facebook has the incredible power to connect people, spark conversation and foster community,” said Daniel Danker, Facebook’s product director. “On Facebook, videos are discovered through friends and bring communities together.”

Three of the four bullet points in the release mentioned connection and bringing people together. Even the few seed shows Facebook funded are touted as “community-oriented” video series.

It makes sense: The sense of community is what led people to fall in love with the platform in the first place.

Because of this, Facebook Watch will likely see much higher sharing and social engagement than other platforms.

The current list of Facebook Watch programming focuses on reality shows, mini-documentaries, and sports coverage – aligning it more with YouTube than the heavy dramas and comedies of other streaming networks. But while YouTube optimized for how-to and short-form content, Facebook Watch will likely expand opportunities to longer-form videos as well as pure entertainment and more passively consumed content.

Video content marketers should start planning now for how they can create content that fits into those categories and fosters real-time community discussion. Perhaps for the first time, content should be created with the platform in mind first and foremost. Successful videos on Facebook Watch will encourage and facilitate real-time conversations.

Facebook Watch: An Exciting Moment for Marketers

So far, everything about Facebook Watch looks good for marketers. The people on the paid team will enjoy seeing more eyeballs on their ads, and the organic folks will get more “authentic” opportunities to align themselves with influencers. More and more, brands are trying to be seen as friends, not corporations. Facebook Watch will let them do just that.

About the Author: Michael Quoc is the founder and CEO of Dealspotr, an open social platform connecting emerging brands, lifestyle influencers, and trend-seeking shoppers in exciting new ways. He was previously the Director of Product Management for Yahoo’s media lab, where he spearheaded the launch of several innovative services in the live video and mobile social networking areas. Michael has been awarded nine patents relating to mobile and social network applications and technology. Follow him on Twitter at @michaelquoc.

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How to Build a Lead Magnet Into Your Product to Fuel Growth

How to Build a Lead Magnet Into Your Product to Fuel Growth

If you’re looking for new ways to prospect new business for your product or service, a lead magnet could be a valuable investment. A lead magnet is essentially a gateway drug or a bribe to coax your target audience into your marketing or sales funnel. You ‘bribe’ a prospect with a specific piece of value in exchange for their contact information that you can then use to nurture a relationship that hopefully leads to a sale.

The value-offer of lead magnets are often pieces of content like:

  • Case studies
  • eBooks
  • White Papers
  • Exclusive videos

But they can also be:

  • Discounts
  • Free shipping
  • Free trials
  • Free tools
  • Tickets to an event

I’m sure all of these types of lead magnets have been successful for many businesses at some point in time, but at Proposify, we’ve found that a lead magnet that’s built directly into our SaaS product is the most effective way to attract qualified users who then convert to paying customers.

A lead magnet that’s part of your product is different from the examples listed above because it’s usually specific to your product and service. Done right, this type of lead magnet should demonstrate the value and benefit you can provide to your prospect if they choose to pay for your product or service.

Using our experience at Proposify, along with other examples, I’ll outline six steps to building a successful lead magnet into your product.

1. Be Extremely Specific

At Proposify, we use business proposal templates as a lead magnet to drive free trials of our online proposal software.

Proposal templates are free, but they can only be used within our product, so the user has to sign up for a free 14-day trial of Proposify.

The templates then act both as a top of funnel acquisition tool, and they help new users onboard faster.

We offer a document (proposal template) that is specifically related to our product (online proposal software), and specific to an industry (accounting, marketing, architecture, etc). Combined with some SEO work, we end up ranking quite high on Google search results for keywords our target audience is searching for in their time of need.

Someone who is banging their head on their desk trying to write a marketing proposal for a new client is likely to search for “marketing proposal template,” and may find us via our paid or organic search results. This is a key aspect of an effective lead magnet: you need to be visible during your ideal prospect’s time of need and provide a specific piece of value to help them in that moment.

Another example of this is SEOptimer. They rank first for the keyword “free SEO audit” with their free SEO Audit Tool. Someone who is not an SEO expert may struggle with where to start when tackling their site’s SEO performance. Many websites make it easy for those people to get a high-level view of their site’s performance with a free SEO/website audit/grader of some sort.

Technically, it’s just a fancy website scraper and checklist, but for someone who doesn’t know much about SEO, or who’s looking for a quick, high-level view, this tool can be extremely valuable. This lead magnet is part of SEOptimer’s product that they give away solely for the purpose of generating leads.

This tactic likely drives a lot of top of funnel traffic for SEOptimer, but could stumble when trying to contact leads, since they don’t ask for your email. They could do retargeting, or domain matching to emails, but I can’t confirm. The sixth step gets more into developing the relationship, an area where SEOptimer could improve.

2. Offer High Value

It sounds like a no brainer, but your lead magnet needs to be valuable to your lead. Content marketing is exploding, and competition for your audience’s attention online has likely never been tougher than it is today.

The only way to break through all of the noise is to create something of value that attracts your audience, holds their interest, and is valuable enough that ideally, they share it with their network. We like to think that if someone would be willing to pay for your lead magnet, but you’re giving it away at no monetary cost, then it offers value.

Our templates save time, money, and sanity. Coming up with designs and copy can be a huge time suck when you’re trying to get a proposal out the door to a potential client quickly, so our free templates are a high-value offer.

HubSpot is another great example of a company that gives a lot of value away for free; in fact, they give away an entire CRM for free. HubSpot has tons of content on lead magnets, and they certainly practice what they preach. As part of HubSpot’s marketing, they’re challenged with selling the concept of inbound marketing as well as their complementary inbound marketing products. What better way to get people into inbound marketing and the HubSpot ecosystem than to give away parts of it for free?

3. Make it Easy

You need to remove any barriers that might make it difficult for your target audience to recognize the value of your lead magnet. A common mistake is adding too many fields in your lead generation form, which results in a lower conversion rate. You need to find a way to pull as much data as you can from your lead, without turning them off from submitting.

Building a lead magnet into your product should also have the added benefit of making it easier for a user to get into your product. Our proposal templates help attract new users, but they also help speed up our customer onboarding process by making it simpler for users to send proposals faster.

The aforementioned SEOptimer makes it extremely easy to get value from their free Website Review SEO Audit Tool. All you have to do is enter your domain and go; no long forms to fill out or extra information to provide. HubSpot’s free CRM mentions right in the support documentation that they are, “Confident that you can get set up in less than 10 minutes”, making it an uncomplicated decision for the user to get started right away.

4. Provide Instant Gratification

After you’ve made it as easy as possible for your lead to get to the meat of your lead magnet, you need to provide some instant gratification. If the user doesn’t find value quickly, they’ll be less likely to continue to engage with your lead magnet, and certainly less likely to pay attention to any future lead nurturing or conversion tactics you may deploy.

Part of the reason we have proposal templates is to shorten the process between when a user starts a free trial, and when they send out their first proposal. The templates reduce the arduous task of spending hours on a design or layout and instead gets the user closer to the gratification of sending out a proposal and winning new business, an area of great satisfaction for our customers, and a leading metric of success for the adoption rate of Proposify.

With SEOptimer’s audit tool, seconds after you enter your domain they deliver a free, high-level website audit with an easy-to-understand grading system. They make it easy to learn how they break down their grading system, in addition to identifying the most necessary improvements for your domain.

Providing a high-quality, and visually appealing report like this in a matter of seconds is a great example of providing instant gratification for a lead magnet. It is something you can easily understand, get value from, and take action with right away.

5. Demonstrate Your Value

While this is a list of six things you should do when building a lead magnet into your product (and you should do them all!), this one is the most important step.

Building a lead magnet into your product should communicate your true value proposition. A lead magnet that’s part of your product helps the user understand what you can do for them, and demonstrates the potential value before they pay for it. This is the precise reason that free product trials exist.

A lead magnet that clearly demonstrates your value proposition is the holy grail, whether it’s built into your product or not. Someone who is experiencing a problem that you can solve and finds your lead magnet is a very qualified lead and will be much more likely to investigate your product or service further.

We’ve seen this with our proposal templates. Once a user signs up for Proposify’s free trial and uses a template to send a proposal, they also experience our other valuable features such as proposal metrics, digital signatures, variables, and content library.

Another great example of this is ChartMogul, a SaaS subscription reporting, analytics, and metrics tool. Although they don’t rank organically on the first page of Google for “LTV calculator,” they have a great example of a free tool that demonstrates the value of their product.

Having an LTV (lifetime value) calculator is great for a one-off calculation, and much easier than manually doing it. But, it’s very likely that if you’re someone looking to find out what your LTV is once, you’re going to want to track that on a more frequent basis, with, say, a dashboard. That’s exactly what ChartMogul does, and they have a handy call-to-action right below the calculator to let you know.

Similar to how SEOptimer’s audit tool identifies areas of improvement in your website, the company WordStream offers a tool that grades your Google AdWords account.

After using their product to grade your AdWords account, they are betting on the fact that they will find areas of improvement, and that their PPC software will be more attractive. The tool could also help WordStream segment their audience and identify accounts that spend a lot on AdWords, and could easily find a positive ROI from their software.

6. Nurture the Relationship

Finally, your lead magnet may be valuable to your user, but it’s not valuable to your business unless you nurture the relationship, bringing the prospect closer to the point of purchase.

Examples of nurturing the relationship are varied depending on where the prospect is in your marketing or sales funnel. Typically in B2B, it might include an automated email drip campaign; qualifying information such as industry, company size, or job title; following the brand’s social profile; or booking a call with a salesperson.

Users of our templates must sign up for a free trial with their name and email, and this enters them into our onboarding drip sequence. Once users enter this sequence, they can be further qualified based on their activity, like number of sessions, proposals sent, and users added.

If you’ve ever downloaded a HubSpot lead magnet, then I’m sure you’ve experienced being ‘nurtured’. I won’t go into best practices for nurturing sales leads, but HubSpot has tested more than a few different tactics. I found this one interesting: a colleague and I entered HubSpot’s CRM at different times, but by linking our company information, this “Product Specialist” was alerted and reached out to me:

SEOptimer includes two calls-to-action in their email; one for connecting you with SEO services, and another for white-labeling their lead magnet as your own. Essentially this means that their main lead magnet is not just built into their product, it IS their product, making it about the most meta example of building a lead magnet into your product that you can find!

However, SEOptimer could improve their ability to develop the relationship after you use their lead magnet. I have not once been contacted or retargeted about white-labeling their SEO audit tool. That being said, I don’t work at an agency pitching SEO services, so perhaps they’re doing a good job at weeding out unqualified leads.

WordStream does a better job of moving the user to the next stage of their funnel, as they require you to enter your email before actually using their free tools.

Lead Magnet Success Metrics

After you create your lead magnet, crossing your fingers and hoping for the best probably isn’t the best course of action. Make sure you’re tracking each stage of your prospect’s lead magnet journey with a tool like Kissmetrics.

How much traffic is the lead magnet driving? What’s the conversion rate for a new user who visits your landing page and ends up using your lead magnet? What’s the conversion rate of people who use your lead magnet and then become a paying customer?

Building a lead magnet into our product has delivered amazing results. More than half of our new website traffic is via a landing page, and those that view a proposal template are 2.5 times more likely to sign up for a trial than those that don’t.

If you’re thinking about building a lead magnet into your product or perhaps leveraging something you already have, I hope the six steps above help to guide you to success.

  • Have you built, or are you building a lead magnet into your product?
  • Do you have any learning lessons to share?
  • I’d love to hear your comments and hear about your experiences!

About the Author: As Chief Marketing Officer at Proposify, Patrick Edmonds gets his kicks from measurable results. He loves to get his hands dirty digging deep into data (especially on lead magnet business proposal templates) to discover new ways to convert more customers to the Proposify way of life.

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How to Map Behavioral Metrics Into Your Key Business Drivers

How to Map Behavioral Metrics Into Your Key Business Drivers

Analytics is a blessing to marketers because of the wealth of data it provides.

It’s “the most measurable medium.”

Online marketers can analyze and dissect innumerable elements to gain a deeper understanding of the habits and preferences of their customers.

As a result, they can effectively put themselves in their customers’ shoes and optimize the entire experience. This allows them to fine-tune even the most minute aspects of their campaign, thereby improving customer satisfaction and increasing sales.

But this also creates of a quandary. With such an abundance of data points available, it can be a little perplexing deciding which behavioral metrics to focus on.

So, what do you do?

In this article, I attempt to answer the question by suggesting seven of the most important behavioral metrics that drive business.

What Behavioral Metrics Should Marketers Focus On?

Sometimes, the sheer volume of behavioral metrics can feel paralyzing. Just look at this list of examples provided by Scott Roever of CompUSA:

And here’s some more:

See what I mean?

Things can get murky in a hurry. So which behavioral metrics most demand your attention?

Obviously, it can definitely vary from company to company, but it all boils down to answering a single crucial question — what behavioral metrics impact your key business drivers?

For most businesses, there are three key business drivers in play:

  1. Revenue
  2. Active users (for SaaS companies)
  3. Customer loyalty (for Ecommerce companies)

Here’s how to go about mapping behavioral metrics into these key business drivers.

Revenue

There are two behavioral metrics that heavily impact revenue.

Conversion rate and churn.

Conversion rate influences your ROI and overall bottom line.

It’s also what allows you to benchmark your website month-to-month and year-to-year to track long-term progress.

Therefore, it’s arguably the most important metric to examine pound-for-pound.

One of the simplest tools for determining how your conversion rate directly impacts your revenue is this one from Foremost Media:

It’s pretty straightforward.

Enter the average number of visitors to your website each month, the percentage of visitors that convert and the average value of a conversion.

Here’s an example:

In this case, website revenue would be $150,000.

But you can take it one step further.

If you’re wondering how much your revenue would increase by increasing traffic, increasing your conversion rate or both, you can do it with ease.

Just type in the increase in percentage of traffic and/or increase in conversion rate.

Let’s say, I’m able to increase traffic by 15 percent and increase conversions by 0.5 percent.

Here’s what I get:

This tells me that these improvements would take my website revenue from $150,000 to $173,650 – an increase of $23,650.

By following this simple formula, you can see exactly how your conversion rate is affecting revenue.

As for calculating churn, it can get pretty complicated and depends on a myriad of factors like how you count customers, time frame, customer segments and so on.

ProfitWell even goes so far as to say that there are 43 different ways to calculate SaaS churn.

But when broken down in its simplest form, the formula looks like this:

It’s important to note that churn is inevitable and is bound to occur in nearly every business.

What’s important is that you have an acceptable churn rate.

So…what’s considered “acceptable?”

Hate to say it, but it just depends.

I like the answer that David Mytton of Server Density wrote on Quora:

You can’t just pick a number and say “this is what churn should be” because it depends entirely on your customer segment.

This is a guy who knows that segmentation is crucial. Any churn rate that excludes customer segmentation from the equation is most likely misguided.

Mytton does, however, admit that it’s helpful to have benchmarks. He provides these:

Lincoln Murphy of Sixteen Ventures suggests than an acceptable churn rate is in the 5-7% range annually or 0.42 – 0.58 percent monthly. According to Murphy, “Companies with acceptable churn only lose about 1 out of every 200 customers (or dollars) per month.”

In my experience, this sets the standard way too high.

Churn happens, regardless of how amazing your customer service, how flawless your product, or how perfect your price point is.

But there are holes that should be plugged. If left unchecked, an exorbitant churn rate will erode your revenue.

If you’re staring at an alarming churn rate — whatever that might be for your vertical and segment — start taking action immediately.

Active Users (SaaS)

When it comes to SaaS companies, they’ll want to keep a close eye on their number of active users at any given time.

This is perhaps the best indicator of engagement and shows how many users are actually using their product on a consistent basis.

Of course, the term “active” is inherently nebulous and can be defined in a variety of ways.

Pipz Automation even calls active users a vanity metric saying that it’s too black and white to identify a user as active or inactive with nothing in between.

Although it’s an interesting argument, and determining “activeness” can depend on a variety of factors as well as the industry in question, I feel there are some concrete ways to identify active users.

So let’s get right down to it.

Logins

Perhaps the most obvious and universal is logins.

Facebook has a super simple way of defining active users, which primarily hinges upon logging in. You don’t need to Like, Comment, or use any feature to be counted as active. Just login.

We define a daily active user as a registered Facebook user who logged in and visited Facebook through our website or a mobile device, or used our Messenger application (and is also a registered Facebook user), on a given day.

If a user doesn’t do this within a 30 day period, they’re marked as inactive.

This is a means of identifying users that pretty much any SaaS company can do with ease.

Pipz Automation makes another interesting point by saying, “For all you know, ‘inactive users’ could be on vacation, or their business could be passing through a slow sales season, so they don’t have the need to login on your product for a while.”

While this is definitely food for thought, I still think that examining logins is one of the most straightforward ways to gauge active users.

Session Duration

Another factor to take into account is how long a user is logged in.

Having someone logged in for 10 minutes would be favorable to someone only being logged in for 2 minutes.

Although anyone who logs in would be considered as an active user, you would assign more value to someone who stays logged in for longer.

The longer your average session duration is, the better.

Using Features

This is the second metric that Facebook (and many companies) use after logins.

Of course the specific type of features used can vary widely, seeing that a user is accessing key features is obviously a sign that they’re active.

For instance, Ahrefs might take a look at which specific features users were accessing most frequently from their dashboard.

You’ll probably also want to classify some features as being more important than others.

For example, you might assign more value to someone taking the time to fill out their profile rather than checking for notifications.

This would show that they’re engrossed in your software, which is a good sign.

Creating a CEI

A customer engagement index (CEI) is a way to gain even more comprehensive insights into user activity. It is sometimes also known as customer engagement score.

It involves assigning different values to a user’s actions, which ultimately gives you a snapshot of overall user engagement.

This ends up being quite helpful for determining just how active your users are on the whole.

Customer Loyalty (Ecommerce)

Finally there’s the matter of customer loyalty.

This affects everything from revenue and brand equity to the long-term sustainability of your business and how competitive you are in your industry.

You’ve probably heard something like, “It can cost five times more to acquire new customers than it does to keep current ones.”

This is a good quote that shows why companies are so concerned with customer loyalty.

But here are some other interesting statistics that demonstrate the full impact of having loyal customers.

  • 61 percent of SMBs report that more than half of their revenue comes from repeat customers, rather than new business.”
  • “On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10x as much as their first purchase.”
  • “A five percent increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75 percent.”

When it comes to using behavioral metrics to determine customer loyalty, looking at repurchases is usually your best bet.

If a customer is compelled to purchase multiple products from your company, it indicates at least a base level of loyalty.

They like your brand enough and have had at a pleasant enough experience to buy from you again.

The more purchases a single customer makes correlates into stronger loyalty.

When it comes to a repeat purchase rate formula, it’s really quite simple.

So if out of 100 customers,15 have shopped with you previously, you would have a repeat rate of 15 percent.

Calculating your retention rate is one of the most effective ways to gauge the collective loyalty of your customers and determine if any adjustments need to be made.

Conclusion

The key business drivers I mentioned – revenue, active users and customer loyalty – contribute most heavily to your company’s bottom line.

There are of course a multitude of factors to take into account, but I feel that these three are most pertinent in the grand scheme of things.

Diagnosing the health of these key business drivers revolves around identifying which behavioral metrics impact them the most.

To recap it’s these:

  • Conversion rate and churn for revenue
  • Logins, session duration and using features for active users
  • Repeat purchases for customer loyalty

By analyzing these elements, you should be able to determine both your strengths and weaknesses so you can ultimately take measures to optimize your site and ultimately improve your bottom line.

What do you think is the number one most important business driver?

About the Author: Daniel Threlfall is an Internet entrepreneur and content marketing strategist. As a writer and marketing strategist, Daniel has helped brands including Merck, Fiji Water, Little Tikes, and MGA Entertainment. Daniel is co-founding Your Success Rocket, a resource for Internet entrepreneurs. He and his wife Keren have four children, and occasionally enjoy adventures in remote corners of the globe (kids included). You can follow Daniel on Twitter or see pictures of his adventures on Instagram.

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Why Segmentation is Vital to Your Marketing Success

Why Segmentation is Vital to Your Marketing Success

When I say “segmentation” with regards to marketing, what comes to mind for you?

Chances are, you immediately think of email segmentation. Segmenting your emails is crucial to improving your customer engagement and conversion rate.

But although emails are the most widely talked about segmentation type, there are countless others. Unfortunately, it’s a process that’s little-used beyond the realm of email marketing. Let’s take a closer look at the various marketing channels that can (and should) be segmented for better results and why segmenting as a whole is so important.

Email Segmentation – Where It All Began

Email is one of the oldest and most-used marketing methods, so it’s understandable that companies have collected and analyzed a great deal of data regarding their subscribers.

These days, segmenting your emails — by customer group, purchase history and other actions your subscribers did or did not take, is a no-brainer. A study by Mailchimp and MarketingCharts even looked at the data to determine just how much of an impact list segmentation has:

Image Source

From opens to clicks to abuse reports and unsubscribes, rates across the board were improved for segmented versus non-segmented. Of course, this should come as no surprise to seasoned marketers — still, having the numbers is better than pure guesswork.

But what about segmentation in other areas — beyond email?

Wouldn’t it stand to reason that if you could also segment other parts of your marketing, you’d get results that are just as solid? Let’s take a closer look:

What to Look For With Segmentation

Just like with email list segmentation, segmenting your other marketing techniques should be rooted in the data you’re collecting. Don’t just skim over your analytics reports. Dig deeper and look at the big picture as well as the individual pieces. Chances are, there are some small but highly engaged groups that may stand out. Here are some common areas that may stand out:

  • Geography – You can use this demographic for multiple areas of your marketing. Are more users from a certain country converting at a higher percentage than others? Is the paid traffic from Indonesia converting? Segment your paid traffic and organic traffic to see which markets are outperforming and cut off funding to countries that don’t convert.
  • Device type – Many marketers may be looking at their overall conversion rate without segmenting by device type. Do significantly more conversions happen on desktop than mobile? That may be a signal that your mobile site needs work.
  • Product category – E-commerce companies may want to dig through the data on their first-time purchasers. Is there a particular item that they like to order? If one stands out, you may want to use that in your paid marketing to see if those ads outperform others.
  • Signup type – SaaS companies frequently have a couple different ways to convert visitors to prospects – they either signup or request a demo. Build a funnel through the buyer journey – from first visit to paying – and see if you get more paying customers from either signups or purchases. If one significantly wins over the other, you may want to make that your only signup method.
  • Marketing channel – Think about all the different channels that are sending traffic your way. You have paid channel (and multiple channels within that – facebook ads, adwords, etc), organic search, referral traffic (backlinks), email, social, and more. Breakdown your site traffic and conversions by channel.

By the way, you can do all of this in Kissmetrics.

What Else Can You Segment?

The real question is — what can’t you segment? With the right analytics foundation, you can split test, monitor, track and analyze almost anything. Every attribute a person has – what city they’re visiting from, what browser they’re using, what time they visit, gender, etc can be segmented. The key, however is that you find the key segments that matter so you avoid analysis paralysis.

Beyond email marketing, you can (and should) create segments for your funnels and even your revenue to see which groups are engaging with which test, how far along they are in the funnel and what they’re buying.

But when it comes to segmenting these other things, it’s easier said than done, right?

The good news is that Kissmetrics allows you to segment and analyze nearly any data you can collect. There are a few Kissmetrics reports that can help you with identifying the key segments in your business.

1. Funnel Report

The Funnel Report is used to identify the roadblocks that are preventing visitors from converting. Part of the power of the Funnel Report is the segmentation. In the image above, we’re segmenting by the marketing channel the visitor came from. With this level of segmentation, we’ll find the key groups of visitors that are dropping off, or performing well throughout the funnel.

Each table below the funnel shows the actual segmentation. At a glance, you can easily monitor and judge performance based on your own segmentation criteria.

2. Cohort Report

The Cohort Report lets you see how user behavior changes over time. This is particularly helpful for seasonal businesses, but can still be used even if you don’t focus much on seasonality. See how user behavior changes week after week – including purchases, signups and other criteria. This gives you at-a-glance insights into your next steps to ensure you target the right segments at the right time with the right offer.

3. Activity Report

You can think of this as the “Segmentation Report”. You pick an event, then segment it. Then drill down further to truly understand what’s driving each action.

4. Populations

With this feature, you’ll identify the KPIs in your business and track their performance overtime. For example, if you’re a SaaS company, you can view the number of people that have logged in in the last week. E-commerce companies may want to view the number of first-time purchasers in the last week. Put that criteria in, then track it with Populations.

Getting Started with Segmentation

As you can see, the benefits from properly segmenting your customers don’t just stop at email, although that is by far the most popular and widespread use of the strategy. It may seem like a painstaking undertaking to segment so many small groups, but using the right platform and zeroing-in on the right behaviors can make all the difference, and even open up some heretofore unknown profit streams that you can nurture and grow until they become a thriving addition to your bottom line.

Are you using segmentation in your own business beyond email? Share your thoughts and success stories with us in the comments and let us know how it has helped you in your marketing campaigns!

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!

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5 Lies You Tell Yourself About Your Analytics (And How to Fix It)

5 Lies You Tell Yourself About Your Analytics (And How to Fix It)

Consulting data is good.

But being a slave to data, is not.

There is such a thing as being too data-obsessed. Confirmation bias pops up. And you miss the good, albeit, intangible stuff that comes along with your efforts.

The solution is to uncover those biases and misunderstandings that lead you astray.

It’s not easy. Or even intuitive. But it’s the only way to avoid these five analytics blinders.

Here’s how it strikes when you least expect it.

Here’s why you fall for it.

And here’s how to avoid it by bringing in other types of feedback and analysis.

Lie #1. Your “Conversions” Are Flawless

You’ve got three AdWords campaigns.

  • The first brings in zero leads on $78 bucks spent.
  • The second brings in one at a cost of $135.31.
  • The third brings in two at $143.28 per lead.

Nine times out of ten, the campaign with more “conversions” is declared the winner.

But what do you really, truly, know about this scenario?

Which campaign is actually performing the best? Which is putting the most money back into your pocket?

There’s simply no way to tell at this point.

First and foremost, these “conversions” are leads — not closed customers.

Second, they might be for different products or services. So different average order values or LTVs come into play.

Third, this is nowhere close to statistical significance. For example, the third campaign has the most leads because you’ve spent the most money on it.

Not because it’s “better.”

What if you simply spend the same amount on the first two? What if you let them both get to around the same ~$150/per mark?

See what I mean?

Too many “what ifs” for my taste.

Yet this is exactly what happens inside any marketing department. The same end result pops up after each client or superior meeting.

Everyone points to the third campaign. It gets the adulation. It gets the increased budget. It gets the additional staff and resources.

So it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

One solution to figure all this out is closed loop analysis.

Ideally, your goal is to match up the customer’s information (name, email, phone, credit card) to the lead data you’re seeing inside Google Analytics.

Haha — just kidding.

That would mean you were gathering Personally Identifiable Information, which is a big no-no in Google Analytics.

Do it and they’ll delete your account right away.

The simplest alternative is to just use a tool that gives you this power, without jeopardizing your data. Hint, hint.

Lie #2. Your “Top” Traffic Sources

What are your top sources of traffic?

A quick glance inside Google Analytics usually tells you (1) organic search and (2) direct. Maybe a little (3) referrals thrown in for good measure if you got some press last month.

Here’s the problem.

Two of those three are legit. The other is not.

The problem is that your direct traffic isn’t, in reality, all that “direct.”

Technically, this should be the number of people typing in your website URL to the address bar and hitting “Enter.”

Instead, it’s a healthy mix of email, social media, and good ol’ organic search.

The bigger the site, the bigger this problem usually is.

For example, The Atlantic couldn’t account for or explain how 25% of their visitors came to their site.

One of the biggest publishers in the world. One of the most respected. Who gets paid based on the number of visitors and page views they get. Has no idea how a quarter of their traffic is getting to their site.

That ain’t good.

But how can you really tell where people are coming from, if most analytics programs can’t tell you with any degree of accuracy?

For instance, let’s say your new, fantastic-looking email campaign is about to go out.

It’s been given the green light. “Legal” gives you the A-OK.

But wait! You didn’t tag the promo links correctly.

Now, you’ve spent all that time on a campaign that won’t have anything to show for it, because the traffic you get will now end up in the dumpster pile officially known as “Direct traffic.”

This isn’t just an email. It affects each and every social message, press mention, and blog post referral, too.

It can even affect your organic search traffic.

Groupon found this out the hard way. Literally. By completely de-indexing themselves for a few hours.

What did those crazy couponers find? That nearly 60% of their direct traffic was actually coming from organic search.

Sixty-freaking-percent.

But don’t freak out just yet. There are solutions here.

First, you can use Google’s UTM builder to make sure you are properly tagging your links. This means any and everything you have control over.

Manually tag them before they head out the door, or copy & paste into a lightweight app like Terminus.

If you’ve got long, cumbersome URL, you can be pretty sure that any traffic to that page didn’t come from Direct traffic.

People aren’t going to remember it. Which means they aren’t going to just spontaneously type it in.

Instead, these peeps probably came from another place, like an organic search or email.

However, in the same breath, you can probably consider homepage traffic to be legitimate Direct.

So create a segment based on these URLs and traffic sources to pinpoint “Dark Traffic” in its tracks. And prevent it from ruining your data in the future.

Lie #3. Top of the Funnel Performance = Results

Yes, we want traffic.

Yes, we want pageviews.

They make us feel all warm and fuzzy and proud. Like our hard work isn’t going unnoticed.

But they should not be the end-all, be-all.

Use them to see how you’re doing over last month. But don’t misunderstand numbers to be the Holy Grail, either.

Like this, for instance:

Looking at only this, you walk away feeling like a boss for all the numbers you’ve racked up. Seriously, I can’t even count that high.

But what about when you consider the bounce and exit rates for each of those pages? Are people staying? No? Color you embarrassed.

Are you still so excited by your thousands of pageviews if most of them left immediately?

Bounce rates are real. And you’ve gotta consider them when you are looking at your metrics.

They mean that people haven’t had the chance to interact with your soft micro conversions. They haven’t had a chance to activate.

So take a look at the big picture.

Are your blog posts and site pulling people in, but not making them stay?

This isn’t a horrible problem to have, because it’s a problem you can pinpoint.

The traffic is there. They just don’t really like what they are seeing once they get to your site. Which you can fix.

First, set up some events to get a better idea of what’s happening on your pages. Then, make sure you have actionable goals that will allow for movement you can track.

Or use the Kissmetrics’ Customer Engagement Automation tool to analyze what people are actually doing on your site and with your products. Then, you can interact with behavior-based messaging to keep them around longer. Or keep them coming back for more.

That way, you can increase conversions, engagement, and retention without the guesswork.

kissmetrics populations

Just always remember that numbers don’t tell the whole story. Use them with a grain of salt and a little bit of context.

Lie #4. Deceptive A/B “Wins”

I’m just going to be honest with you. Those A/B testing “wins” you just got? Don’t always have the best track record.

I’m sorry to be so harsh right off the bat. Sometimes the truth hurts.

What’s even more worrisome? Oftentimes, tests will look like they have succeeded. But that’s not always the case (or at least, not the whole picture).

Start with Google Analytics content experiments, instead.

You can use it to contrast your varying pages to see if there are any sizeable adjustments that cause positive changes.

Instead, it allows you to compare different page variations to see which ‘bigger’ changes result in improvements. Maybe this works a little better because it adds an extra letter– it’s an A/B/N test.

content-experiment-step-one

The problem with this test is when you get a little too grab-happy.

You can quickly and easily remove fields to get better results, for instance. A simple reduction of three fields will increase your conversions by 11%.

Or, you can take away specific conversion-busters like the need to add a credit card for a non-paying trial. Sure, this will up your “conversions.”

But remember how far that got you a few lies ago?

That credit card field you took away? It was a huge indicator for which of your customers will eventually buy. 50% of people who put in their credit card will end up converting. While only 15% will of those who don’t enter a credit card will.

And we’re talkin’, conversions-conversions here. Like, bottom-of-the-funnel, paying customer conversions.

Context is key when you are looking at analytics.

Don’t test landing pages or simple changes to fields while only evaluating the top of the funnel. Make sure you dig in to see how the changes affect the rest of the customer experience and journey.

To do that, use the Funnel Report so you can see exactly how top-of-the-funnel changes are impacting bottom-of-the-funnel sales.

Lie #5. Your Channel Source Attribution

A Forrester Research study years ago found that 33% of all transactions of all transactions happened after new customers had gone through more than one touchpoint.

That number jumps to 48% when considering repeat customers.

The same report showed that paid search is the highest source of conversions.

Is it, though?

Or is it just the last point most commonly used before a sale?

Just because it’s the last one, doesn’t mean it’s the only one.

What other marketing tactics are working to increase growth? Forrester went on to declare that while email works for repeat conversions, social media brings in less than 1% of sales.

Ok. Then how do you explain SpearmintLOVE?

You know, the freaking baby blog that boosted their revenue by 991% in year using Facebook and Instagram.

The only reason I know about them? Because my wife has bought clothes from them. After discovering them on Facebook and Instagram.

One, simple Google graph puts this myth to bed. Fast.

If you look at the left side, or “assist interactions,” you’ll see that social channels will put new products in front of people.

As you move toward the middle, customers get more information about products and options using search. At the end, they’re on their way to the website.

Notice all the possible interaction options here. It’s not just the last-touch that brought the customer to the website. They can take many steps to get there.

Google Analytics has a few different attribution options built-in to help you change how conversions are assigned.

Image Source

These include:

  • Last Non-Direct Click: This will overlook Direct clicks and go to the channel used right before.
  • First Interaction: This uses the social or advertisement that got them to the website.
  • Linear: Here, each channel that a customer used before purchasing will get equal attribution.
  • Time Decay: This will consider the channel that was used immediately before conversion, rather than channels used in the past day/week/month.
  • Position: This model gives priority to the first and last channel used before conversion. Anything in the middle gets less attribution.

The depressing part, though?

There’s no right answer here. The attribution model you pick largely depends on your sales cycle, your customers, and even what specific objective you’re trying to figure out.

For example, if you’re spending a ton on ads, you might want to see how the First Interaction looks. Especially when using social ads that often bring people into your ecosystem for the very first time.

In other cases? It would be a terrible choice.

The trick is to know what you’re solving for, first. Then working backwards.

Conclusion

Data is important. It’s huge.

YOOGE.

But, be careful.

Google Analytics is a marvelous, cost effective, game changing tool.

However, it’s been known to lie a little from time-to-time. (Yes, we’re still talking about Google Analytics here.)

Remember that conversion results aren’t always spot on. Direct traffic data might not be correct. Vanity metrics aren’t everything. A/B results can fire off false positives. And last touch isn’t everything.

Uncovering biases is never fun.

But it’s the key to creating campaigns that actually achieve results.

Without just blowing a lot of hot air.

About the Author: Brad Smith is the founder of Codeless, a B2B content creation company. Frequent contributor to Kissmetrics, Unbounce, WordStream, AdEspresso, Search Engine Journal, Autopilot, and more.

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Drill Down Into Key Segments to Understand and Improve Your Funnel

Drill Down Into Key Segments to Understand and Improve Your Funnel

The funnel has become a key part of the modern-day marketers toolkit. It’s the first report they peak at on Monday morning, and the last report they check before leaving for the weekend on a Friday.

All serious analytics tools have some version of a funnel report, with differing degrees of flexibility and features. Some are narrower, allowing for a limited number of use cases, while others are more full-featured with advanced conditions, date ranges, and advanced segmentation.

Kissmetrics has a Funnel Report of our own. It’s flexible and has a lot of great features that you can use right “out of the box”.

The Kissmetrics Activity Report is a bit of a natural extension of the Funnel Report. It’s great for segmenting into one or multiple event(s).

This post will show how marketers and growth teams can use the Funnel and Activity report in tandem to garner even greater insights through segmentation. Let’s see how.

Funnel Report: Identify Opportunities

The standard funnel use case is tracking the key steps from first visit to conversion. A funnel for a SaaS company may have these steps:

  1. Visited site – They visited your site but haven’t converted yet.
  2. Signed up for trial – Visitors signed up for a free trial of your product.
  3. Activated – Some product activation occurred. They installed the JavaScript, added a team member, etc.
  4. Billed – They decided they wanted to keep the product and started paying for it after their trial expired.

Dropoffs can occur anywhere in this funnel. Most sites get about a 3% conversion rate, so the biggest “dip” will be from 1-2. But if steps 2-3 also have a big dip, that could signal an issue with your onboarding or your marketing is getting unqualified people to signup.

An e-commerce funnel may look like this:

  1. Visited site – Same as the funnel above – they visited but haven’t converted.
  2. Viewed product – This may or may not be in most funnels, but it’s a necessary step in the funnel.
  3. Added product to cart – they showed enough interest to add a product to the cart.
  4. Purchased – they ordered the product(s).

Dropoffs in this funnel can occur in steps 3-4, and here it is important to “zoom in” with a funnel and view each micro step that occurs between 3-4. There are typically a lot of steps that customers have go through after they add an item to the cart and before they purchase, so it may help to create a funnel just for this flow.

Example

You’re the marketing manager for a SaaS company, and it’s Friday afternoon and you’re going through your analytics data for the past week. You pull up the Funnel Report and spot your opportunity:

This really isn’t a bad funnel. Most SaaS companies would love a 7%+ conversion rate. And further down the funnel, there’s a solid conversion rate to activating the product (these conversion rates will depend on the complexity of the product and the conditions for the Activated event). The amount of trial users that upgrade is healthy, at 7.7%. A better trial experience, attracting the right customers, achieving product/market fit, and addressing the biggest issues trial customers face can improve this conversion step.

But, there’s always room for improvement.

For now, we’ll focus on improving our signups. Most conversion rates are improved by a/b testing, but in this post we’ll drill down into this signed up event.

Activity Report: Drilldown to Understand What’s Driving the Dropoffs

To use the Activity Report, we’ll simply select the date range and event. Since we want to pick up from our Funnel Report, we’ll select the Signed up event and use the same date range. We’ll run the report and this is what we get:

This shows signups per day for that week. We can see that it peaks in the middle of the week, and then falls off, reaching its low on Friday.

Now we’ll drilldown to see what’s driving these numbers. While we have many properties, there are only a few properties that could be causing this. Since we’re concerning ourselves with a marketing event (a person signing up), we’ll use a marketing property. I like our Channel property. It splits visitors into 6 different channels depending on where they came from.

An extension of Channel is Channel: Origin. This lists the channel and the corresponding URL or Campaign Name. If a visitor came from nytimes.com then their have the Channel: Origin is Referrer: nytimes.com.

Now that we have that, we’ll use the Channel: Origin property as a “first step” to breakdown the signups for that week.

Here’s what we get:

The bottom part of this image is the top 3 channel: origin. We see organic search is where most people came from, then AdWords, and the third is direct. The graph is the visualization – showing us how these interact with each other.

Just at this level, we can already see that our signups are directly correlated with how much organic search traffic we get. If you scroll back up, you’ll see that overall signups and signups from organic: google are tied together.

Underneath this section, we get the numbers:

We see there are 103 different channel: origins. We’re only looking at our first few so we can get an idea of what is sending us signups.

Let’s evaluate the Copyblogger referrer further. To do that, we’ll click the Add value and add that property:

We’ll click the Copyblogger option and get the visualization:

Compared to our others, it’s not adding much. Our first three channels are the ones that are really bringing home the bacon. And with organic being our top channel, we know that we need to keep our organic traffic flowing – otherwise our business will be impacted. This can be considered a risk factor to the business.

Conclusion

Good analytics tools do more than just push data out.

They help you understand what’s driving those numbers by segmenting every metric and KPI you have.

Kissmetrics has segmentation on every applicable with report. The Funnel Report already had top-level segmentation, but with the Activity Report you can drilldown further to truly understand what’s driving (or taking away) conversions.

About the Author: Zach Bulygo (Twitter) is the Blog Manager for Kissmetrics.

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The ultimate guide to find inspiration for your writing

The ultimate guide to find inspiration for your writing

This is a guest article by Richard Nolan. If you are interested in submitting a guest article of your own, be sure to read the guest article guidelines.

Every writer knows that losing an inspiration may lead to the catastrophic results. You are no longer interested in creating captivation content, you do not want to visit workshops to boost your skills, you forget to check grammar and spelling, and you actually do not care whether the results will satisfy your clients.

You keep taking the same number of orders but you cannot cope with them. Thus, you start to get penalties, lose your money, and even lose your clients.

If you were in this situation at least once, you probably know how difficult it may be to restore the inspiration and start working efficiently again. We know that dealing with this problem is rather tough, thus, we would like you to present the most working ways that will help you manage this problem and start writing again.

1. Check the names of books, covers of magazines and newspapers

Once you feel lost with words, you need something that will awake your imagination and help you start creating beautiful sentences again. Of course, you may have no time to read fiction, but you will always have enough time to check a couple of newspaper covers.

As a rule, the headlines contain all elements that help to create a perfect text even if you do not feel about writing something creative. Following the formulas used in headlines, you can turn the process of writing in a slightly technical process and even steal a couple of ideas just to awake your imagination.

2. Read the opening sentences of articles

Perhaps you have already heard that one of the most important parts of any text is the first sentence. It helps to create a proper atmosphere, to catch the attention of the readers and to prepare them to something bigger.

If you have no idea how to start your writing, we would recommend you to browse blogs to find inspiration.

3. Read fiction

If you have enough time, it is always better to devote yourself to reading. Most of the writers confess that they find inspiration in writing only when they read good fiction. Always choose literature that has perfect form and content to develop your feeling of the word and find some new approaches to the style that you may use in your work.

4. Look for quotes

Some people look for inspiration quotes just to feel a little bit better and look at the problem from a different perspective. Writers can use quotes are the starting point for their text. For example, you just take a quote that suits the topic and start to dwell upon it. That works perfectly, but it is better not to use this writing tip too frequently.

5. Talk to people

People who surround you are the best source of ideas. Listen to their dialogues, observe how they behave themselves in public, ask they about their problems and what is bothering them. These insights will help you to get enough material that you will be able to use in creating texts that reach out the audience.

6. Avoid distractions

Sometimes, the problem with inspiration lies together with the problem of distraction. If you check Facebook messenger all the time, you cannot just switch to another subject and start thinking about it. The same is with checking Instagram feed and Twitter. Do not lie to yourself. Here, you do not find motivation but just lose it. So turn off your phone and focus on the tasks that you have right now to complete.

7. Check your notes

Do you remember the times when you felt so inspired that you cannot just keep all those thoughts in your head and started to write them down? Now it’s high time to make use of them. These notes will help you awake the ideas that you had, and perhaps, some of these ideas perfectly suit the situation that you need to describe now.

Always note your ideas even if you think that you will not use them in the nearest future. This collection of ideas will become your inspiration book. Besides, if you meet the problem of idea generation, you will be able just take some thoughts from this book and use them.

8. Try free writing

Many writers confess that the best thing that helps them to restore their desire to write is writing itself. Frequently, writers are limited by some topic, the ideas to present, the size of paper, and the format. Free writing will help you unleash your creativity and cover all the topics that have been interesting to you.

There are different approaches to free writing. For example, you may write down your dreams or the situations that you observe. You may also try to rhyme as this will also help you focus on the problem of finding a proper word that perfectly suits the form and the content.

9. Write comments

This is another approach for restoring your writing abilities. When you enter into a discussion, you become more and more interested in replaying the comments and supporting dialogue. Thus, each your answer becomes more detailed, and at some point, you feel that you just need to write. When this feeling comes, you may be sure that you have restored your inspiration.

As you can see, although losing the inspiration is a problem, you still have multiple ways to deal with it. So have some rest first, and then start to revitalize your writing desire. Try different approaches to define which suits perfectly to this situation and just keep writing!

About the author: Richard Nolan is a writer and a private tutor, sharing his experience in spheres of  writing, blogging, entrepreneurship and psychology. Richard writes for numerous blogs and gives useful tips for bloggers and students. Currently, Richard works as a general blog editor for ProWritersCenter. Follow him on Twitter.

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Scaling Engagement: 5 Strategies to Connect With More Customers

Scaling Engagement: 5 Strategies to Connect With More Customers

There’s 24 hours in a day.

With customer engagement as your priority, it can seem like an impossible feat to connect with your audience on a daily basis. Tara Walpert Levy, managing director at Google, writes:

“In the accelerating swirl of chaos, excitement, and yes, sometimes fear, the brands that win will prioritize engagement over exposure. They will flip the traditional approach of using mass reach to connect with the subset of people who matter on its head.”

To scale engagement, your business must focus on executing strategies that boost customer satisfaction while saving your team time.

Let’s think differently about expanding engagement to build quality customer relationships. Here are five ways you can scale up your efforts.

1. Deliver on Brand Promise

We live in a very competitive market. Businesses, large and small, are all competing to garner the attention of their ideal consumer base.

In order to differentiate themselves, companies will develop wild brand promises. They vary from guaranteeing low prices to taglines saying that the customer is always right.

While that may attract new customers, it can become a burden in the long-term. Most companies learn the hard way that a brand promise isn’t a catchy phrase, rather an action a business must live by every single day.

Even big box retailer Walmart had to shelve its nearly two-decade-old slogan, “Always Low Prices.” Now, it’s goal is to help their customers “Save Money. Live Better.”

If you’re attempting to scale your engagement, delivering on your brand promise is one of the best options. Happy customers will become recurring patrons who tell their family and friends.

But delivering on your promise isn’t easy. It involves meeting (and exceeding) your customers’ expectations. You must provide product value along with superb customer support.

For example, you may have to offer free shipping to an irate customer. Or you may need to budget for a customer appreciation sale.

Building a genuine connection with your customers helps your business. Sticking to your promises is worthwhile for boosting engagement.

2. Take Action on Customer Feedback

All human relationships are pretty much built on the same foundation. It centers around how we communicate with each other.

Communication is a major factor in whether a customer continues to shop with your brand. If their needs aren’t met after constant interactions, they may decide your company isn’t worth their time.

To improve how you interact with customers, start by listening to their concerns and answering their questions. For your sales team, this may look like a representative paying attention to the customer’s needs before pitching a product. Your support team may give more specific responses instead of canned answers.

Then, there’s customer feedback. When a customer offers ideas on how to polish your product, be open to their suggestions and willing to take action.

“The direct relationship between customers and support teams holds a rich source of feedback through which customers can be better served. Support teams and representatives can be trained to probe for information while responding to complaints and inquiries,” says Pius Boachie, a marketing consultant and founder of Digitimatic.

Productivity tool Trello created a Slack community with a channel dedicated to product feedback. It’s a chance for customers to offer their input and get notices about new features.

Implementing feedback is an opportunity to grow your business, while showing customers that you actually listen to their ideas. So do whatever it takes to address customer feedback.

3. Personalize Communications

Several decades ago, businesses controlled communications with their customers. Major companies decided what, when, where, and how to deliver consumer messages. It was a lopsided relationship where businesses had the upper hand.

Now, with advances in technology, the customer is at the center of the conversation. Not only do consumers choose when to connect with brands, but they also control where those interactions take place. For instance, consumers can opt-in to receive your emails and then decide to read it on their own schedules.

For businesses, this means generic messaging isn’t enough to make a connection with a consumer. Your online ad or email will get ignored, and there’s a possibility that you will lose another potential customer.

Email segmentation is an effective strategy to help your team send personalized messages. With Kissmetrics Campaigns, you can deliver emails based on certain subscriber criteria.

Let’s say a subscriber doesn’t purchase after 10 days. You can automatically send a special offer to entice them to come back and purchase.

You also may want to send customers specific information as it relates to your product. Mint emails subscribers personalized data from their accounts.

Don’t miss the chance to strengthen the consumer relationship with personalized communications. It’s a necessity to scale your engagement.

4. Give on Social Media

Every business is flocking to social media to tell their stories. Some are buying scammy ads to increase leads and purchasing followers to fake influence.

Here’s the truth: it’s not working. And even if they get a few interested consumers, they probably don’t close the sale because the buyer learns about their deception.

Most businesses approach social media with the goal to broadcast their products and news. However, we know it doesn’t work that way.

Social media is an open forum for people to share ideas and talk about the latest trends in a casual setting. That’s why it’s fertile ground for boosting your engagement levels.

To connect with more customers, educate and entertain them. You want to post lighthearted messages that humanize your brand.

For example, you can host live broadcasts on Facebook or Periscope featuring your customers. Or you could post silly GIFs during special days, like National Pancake Day.

You want to be part of your audience’s community. So, you also must be willing to give and not just take.

In the example below, HubSpot is giving its Facebook fans a chance to win two tickets to a concert. The company earned more than 160 shares, 500 reactions, and 62,000 views on this post.

Are you just broadcasting your message on social media? If so, try giving back to your followers to gain more engagement.

5. Develop an Advocacy Program

You’ll learn quickly that your best customers hold the key to spreading the word about your business. These customers act as advocates on a mission to give your brand praise.

So why not make it official? You can start a pilot advocacy program by recruiting your most loyal customers. It gives the selected few another reason to connect with your team.

Also, research shows that it’s a win-win situation. A report by Standard Charters states:

“Successful online companies make users feel excited enough to share the products with their networks. Referrals from friends are still the most powerful way to gain customers, whether for a tiny startup or a multinational corporation.”

Brand advocacy programs are also incubators to experiment with retention strategies. You can monitor customer behavior to learn what keeps them excited about your brand.

For instance, you may offer your program participants a special coupon to redeem a new product. Their reaction can provide insight on how a subset of your customer base will respond.

Do your research and learn how to start your own advocacy program. It’s your next step to increasing customer engagement.

It’s Time to Scale Up

Engagement without a strategy is misguided action. Instead, your goal is to create a memorable customer experience.

Exceed your audience’s expectations and use their feedback to improve your product. Send personalized messages that speak directly to your customers. Plus, there’s nothing better than starting an advocacy program that expands your relationships.

Connect with your customers. Scale your engagement today.

About the Author: Shayla Price lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology and social responsibility. Connect with her on Twitter @shaylaprice.

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Underperforming Mobile Pages are Sabotaging Your Revenue. Here’s How to Fix Them.

Underperforming Mobile Pages are Sabotaging Your Revenue. Here’s How to Fix Them.

Your site gets more traffic from mobile devices than desktops.

So… why are your mobile conversions so low?

That’s what matters most after all. Right?

Right.

The typical reason?

Your site sucks. Plain and simple.

It’s hard to use. The organization is a mess. And it’s slow as a snail.

But there’s good news and bad news.

The good news is that the fix is easy. Just build a new site.

The bad news is that you can’t always do that. Or someone won’t always sign off on it.

Here’s why you might want to rethink that.

And what you should do if it’s still a problem.

Why your mobile results aren’t what they should be

Many sites claim to be “mobile-friendly.”

However, that’s not always the case.

The reality is that most sites aren’t actually mobile-friendly. They’re just accessible on mobile devices.

Yes, there’s a difference.

According to Frank Reynolds at Compulse, there are actually three different terms for how sites appear on mobile devices: mobile-responsive, mobile-optimized and mobile-friendly.

  • Mobile-responsive sites are actually user-friendly. They’re built from the ground-up with mobile transitions and user experience in mind, and they resize and adjust proportions, images and text according to specific devices.
  • Mobile-optimized sites are built as a distinct mobile version of the desktop site. They look and feel more like an app, they’re just not actually designed to be apps. These are also typically built from the ground up.
  • Mobile-friendly sites are simply regular desktop sites that have an accessible version on mobile browsers. They can be designed for a mobile experience, but typically they’re just smaller versions of the larger desktop site. *This is the majority.*

The latter option is, sadly, the option most used by sites looking to add mobile functionality to their desktop site.

The reason? It’s quick and dirty.

And you can throw it on after like a band aid. No need to start over from scratch.

Which translates into “a helluva lot cheaper than building a separate mobile site.”

difference between mobile responsive and mobile friendly

Unfortunately, shrinking down a desktop site’s user experience into a smaller screen isn’t actually helping with mobile-friendliness.

It’s just making it harder for users to do what you want.

To convert. To opt-in. To give you their cash money bling bling make a marketer wanna sing sing.

Here’s why.

When “mobile-friendly” costs you conversions

Mobile-friendliness (or the lack thereof) impacts SEO.

Search engines like Google look for mobile responsiveness when driving traffic to your page.

Soon mobile-first indexing will be a thing.

This means mobile sites will take priority over desktop sites when showing up on Google’s SERPs.

But when Google says they’re looking for mobile-friendly sites, what it really means is that they’re looking mobile-responsive.

You know, that third option from above. The expensive one.

If your website is not mobile-responsive – designed from the ground-up with a mobile experience in mind – you will see a decrease in search traffic.

Lost traffic equals lost conversions. Less people to buy stuff.

And that’s assuming the same rate of people buy stuff between the two. Which ain’t the case, as you’ll see in a second.

Even if your traffic numbers remained steady, not having a mobile-responsive design will sabotage your conversions anyway.

The biggest trouble is that mobile-friendly designs aren’t always aesthetically appealing.

They’re essentially just shrunken versions of a regular site that are more difficult to navigate.

You know, like the creepy dude with a tiny head on Beetlejuice.

via GIPHY

According to Adobe, 38% of mobile users will stop engaging with a website if the content or layout is unattractive. And 65% rank display as the “most important aspect” when it comes to consuming content on mobile.

Bottom line: “Mobile-friendly” designs are killing your conversions.

Don’t listen to me. Go peep your own analytics. It’s all right there in front of you.

Three times. That’s the difference in new leads or customers.

Conversely, it means you’re losing out on 3x the leads or sales on mobile that you could be, should be, getting.

How much is an average lead worth to you?

Couple hundred bucks on the low end for B2B or high retention products or expensive average order values.

Three * a couple hundred bucks = lots of missed revenue.

Here’s what you should do about it.

Redesigning your underperforming site with a true mobile mindset

So are you doomed if you haven’t built your site from the ground up to perform well on mobile?

Not necessarily.

The trick is to not take the lazy way out.

Call it what you want. But that’s what it is at the end of the day.

Maybe you can’t rebuild your mobile site from scratch for some reason. You still should. Your reason can’t be better than tens of thousands in lost revenue each month.

But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that your friendly HiPPO won’t sign off.

Start with a simple assessment, then.

For example, begin with the design:

  • How does it look on mobile? Is everything shrunken down and hard to read or is it resized appropriately and scrollable?
  • How well does it respond to mobile touch? (e.g. does it zoom in when pinched, etc.)
  • How easy it is for users to perform the same functions as your desktop site? Can they fill out a form as easily on a smartphone as they can on a computer?

Then let’s take a look at all of the other potential issues. Besides lost revenue. Of which, there are many.

❌ Site speed – How fast is your site? Google’s Developer Programs Tech Lead, Maile Ohye, says thattwo seconds is the threshold for website acceptability. At Google, we aim for under a half-second.” Both Google and site users expect mobile sites to load fast. Yours most likely ain’t that fast.

❌ Pop-ups – Are certain desktop features needed on mobile? Most likely, no. Pop-ups and other flash-based elements can cause mobiles sites to crash, reload, and slow down. All of which will damage conversions. Then there’s the whole “intrusive interstitial penalty.” Google says to make content easier to access, not less.

❌ Finger-friendliness – Can someone tap a form field with their thumb? Mobile should be finger-friendly. Buttons or form fields that are too small will hurt your conversions.

❌ Titles and descriptions – When it comes to mobile SERPS, you have less room to work with, so you want your titles and descriptions to be short, to the point, and keyword optimized.

❌ Vertical scrolling – Can someone use their thumb to read all of a page or do they have to sideswipe to find content?

❌ Top-loaded pages – Is your most important information at the top of each page? The layout of your content may need to be different than your regular site.

❌ Modern code – Are you using HTML5? Outdated languages, like Flash either don’t work or severely limit your mobile experience.

It’s important to be honest here. You can probably spot many of these issues from a mile away already.

If your mobile site isn’t living up to expectations, you need to reconsider whether or not developing an actual mobile-optimized or mobile-responsive site is worth the investment. (Hint: Yes, of course it is.)

But if you (or someone cutting your check) is still on the fence, you can use a few tools to prove your point.

If you want to see how mobile-friendly Google thinks your site is, try using their mobile-friendly site tester.

Simply drop in your URL to get the quick verdict. The thumbs up or down.

Green is good.

You can also use Responsinator to double check your findings. It will also preview how your site looks on several different devices.

Ideally, you want to see the site stretch wide across the device. You want to see the navigation menu collapse. And you want to see individual sections of your site rearrange on their own.

If those things aren’t happening or you see too much red in the tools above, try these tips below.

5 ways to optimize your existing mobile site

If you’re not sure your site is truly mobile-friendly (read: mobile-responsive), you have a few choices to make.

✅ 1. Create a mobile-optimized site.

The website’s built. Your boss/client just hired their best friend’s mother’s sister’s cousin who took a single HTML course in junior college to rebuild the entire thing.

Long story short: It ain’t changing anytime soon.

You may need to build a new mobile site that works seamlessly with your current site. Not ideal, but better than nothing.

✅ 2. Fix your mobile site’s layout.

If your site was made by selecting a template or theme from third-party website software, you can customize for mobile users.

If you’re on WordPress, for example, you can use a separate design for your mobile theme than for your desktop theme.

This enables you to provide a different user experiences rather than simply making a smaller version of your main design.

Plugins also abound for WordPress. The problem is that these often wreak havoc on your site speed.

Here’s why that’s important.

✅ 3. Optimize your mobile site for speed.

Almost all websites are too slow on mobile devices.

That finding comes from Google directly.

Image Source

Even if you don’t tweak the design or underlying architecture too much (though you really, really should), consider making changes that will make your mobile site faster and more usable.

This can include steps like:

  • Clean up & minify your site code
  • Compress & reduce files
  • Compress & crop images
  • Upgrade your servers & hosting
  • Minimize redirects, even 301s, when possible
  • Load scripts underneath page content

✅ 4. Measure the conversion roadblocks on your site.

You can run tests to see exactly where people are having problems on your website.

There are many, many things that need to happen before someone converts.

You have various micro-conversions. Then you have funnel or checkout steps. You can even run A/B tests. IF you have enough mobile traffic.

A certain percentage of visitors are going to drop off at each.

A Funnel Report can also quickly pinpoint these problem areas.

You can create a new funnel and segment the results by device category. So you’ll be able to pinpoint the difference in both conversions and conversion rate.

kissmetrics funnel report segmentation

After the funnel, you’re still not done, of course. This is just one conversion point, for example.

There’s still multiple interactions that need to take place. That means you might need multiple landing pages and/or funnels after the fact before someone converts.

The trouble is that this quickly becomes difficult with most (bad) websites.

My favorite sneaky alternative?

Fire up a new site or tool to augment/replace these problem areas. Like your HubSpots or Unbounces of the world.

BUT, pay for them out of your own pocket or budget.

That keeps them out of the clutches of the “I Tried” department who will otherwise make your life a living hell. And most upper management literally has no idea what’s going on.

If they don’t know what a DNS is, you’re probably good to go.

Hey — we have jobs to do! Our livelihood depends on it.

One time we even spun up a new WordPress site on Godaddy to create a convenient workaround.

Are you honestly willing to let your own success be determined by people that literally have no idea what they’re talking about?

Pay the $99/month out of your own pocket. Slay the results. Get a raise paying you an extra $1,000/month because you just made the company $10,000/month.

If they won’t raise you, I will. #realtalk

It’s mean on the streets.

✅ 5. Simplify your website.

Simple websites almost always convert better.

There’s no need for the fancy stuff. Please don’t use carousel sliders. Or god forbid, parallax.

I can’t find a study on this, but I’m willing to bet that a static HTML site would convert better than most “sophisticated” ones.

It would also load faster and be easier to navigate, too.

Or just pay Squarespace.

You think I’m joking. Kinda. Sorta.

But then at least you know they work across all devices.

Conclusion

You might be able to visit a website from your mobile device.

But that doesn’t truly make it mobile-friendly.

And mobile-friendly makes a difference when you consider what matters most: Traffic, visibility, customer experience, and conversions.

Go verify this right now. The traffic and conversions from mobile vs. desktop should be all you need.

Then run your site through simple tools to diagnose what’s wrong and what needs to be fixed.

You might not be in a position to change your site. The Powers at Be might not sign off.

So get crafty. There’s workarounds if you know where to look.

Redesign pieces of your current site. You can use actual mobile-friendly templates and layouts. Even substitute pieces of your funnel with better tools.

Sometimes it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission.

Especially when your job and financial well being are on the line.

About the Author: Brad Smith is the founder of Codeless, a B2B content creation company. Frequent contributor to Kissmetrics, Unbounce, WordStream, AdEspresso, Search Engine Journal, Autopilot, and more.

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