This is the year of personalization! Just like last year, and… well, it may seem like every year is “the…Read blog postabout:Personalization trends and techniques: are you doing it right?
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On 9/11, Rodolfo Yiu and yours truly collaborated for a “Personalization MasterClass“. The agenda was notoriously simple – demonstrate the ease of personalizing Okta’s digital assets. Okta has been VWO’s partner in their quest for making digital experiences delectable and steering its personalization by leveraging our suite’s capability was one of the many advanced tactics…
On 9/11, Rodolfo Yiu and yours truly collaborated for a “Personalization MasterClass“. The agenda was notoriously simple – demonstrate the ease of personalizing Okta’s digital assets. Okta has been VWO’s partner in their quest for making digital experiences delectable and steering its personalization by leveraging our suite’s capability was one of the many advanced tactics on display. Rodolfo was gracious to spare his time and demonstrate some specific personalization campaigns and their outcomes – for example, by personalizing content tracks for BFSI, Okta drove a 250% uplift in Click Through Rates (CTR) and subsequently, site engagement and conversions. By the end of the webinar, we were inundated with a flurry of questions from our audience and instead of answering them individually, we decided to club them together for an Almanac, of sorts.
Some of these answers have been forwarded to us by Rodolfo while a few have been written jointly by us. We hope they dispel the many myths that accompany personalization’s hype cycle.
Q. What tactics can I use to get content owners to be supportive and provide content and use cases for personalization?
– Rose Baldevarona, Microfocus
TL:DR – Deploy existing content to demonstrate early wins and drive the mandate for future programs.
[Rodolfo] At Okta, it dawned upon us early in our buying cycle that content personalization will serve as one of our tactical pillars. Content syndication is a key component of enterprise purchase and our hypothesis was that specific content tailored to marque industries should impact engagement and conversion metrics.
Instead of goading our content team to produce fresh content, we decided to invert our process. Our content team firms their editorial calendar in advance – to extract fresh content without proof of success would have been tricky.
We decided to handpick existing content written specifically for the BFSI audience. Luckily, we found enough existing quality content addressed to buyers at different life-cycle stages. Some were success stories addressed to buying committees from a Bottom Of The Funnel standpoint whilst a few pieces addressed research questions from a Top Of The Funnel lens (sidenote: Okta is an Identity Standard platform)
As one of our first few experiments, we decided to replace our generic content track on the homepage with BFSI content. By integrating Demandbase with VWO, we have been able to ingest VWO with industry data attributes, thereby allowing personalized content to be on display when a BFSI visitor arrives.
We got lucky. Till date, the experiment has netted us a 250% uplift in Click Through Rates for BFSI content tracks. Once we shared these results with our content team, driving shared content goals for personalization experiments was a breeze. After all, we all want big wins against our names!
Q. How do I incorporate personalization and on what platforms will it work?
– Diane Urban, AON
[Rodolfo + Bhavya] Before personalization captures your mindshare, it is important to know the biggest reason behind the high failure rate of most personalization projects.
For any personalization program to delight customers and your executive team alike, a marriage of the following three components is the flywheel of success
Successful teams have realized that the following schema works best
Whereas a majority of projects fail because their operational model looks like the following
That today’s enterprises have no dearth of data is a lightweight statement. We don’t feel the need to reiterate upon the observation. What is noteworthy though is the unfortunate fact that few organizations fail to build a feedback loop between their insights layer and the personalization engine. Let’s revisit our BFSI example from above – using VWO’s heatmap capabilities we realized that over 90% of visitors were scrolling down to the last fold quartile of one of our BFSI whitepapers. The whitepaper was previously languishing in one of the most remote corners of Okta’s website. Almost immediately we exposed the said whitepaper on the homepage for delightful experiences.
Insight: 90% BFSI visitors scroll down to the last fold of our BFSI whitepaper Associated Personalization Action: Move the said document to the homepage
Okta’s personalization tech stack – Demandbase (for account data attributes), VWO (for personalization delivery and curating insights), Google Analytics (for conversion & engagement data)
Q. How can I measure the impact of personalization?
– Sarah Koch, Massiveart
TL:DR Compare converion rates and pipeline from personalized experiences vs. generic experiences.
[Rodolfo] This one is easy. At Okta, we do not serve personalized experiences for each visitor. There are a few focus industries and geographies that are ripe for personalized experiences in Okta’s context. Before we commence our weekly marketing sprint, the team compares conversion rates for our default generic version vs. personalized pages. I can’t reveal specific numbers but let me just put it this way – personalized pages convert at a ginormous rate than generic pages. For wholesome analysis, we also compare pipeline formation through personalization-induced conversions vs. conversions from our generic pages.
Q. What is the optimum level of personalization? Too much will create the risk of inconsistent messages laying around plus the difficulty of managing it.
– Hooman, Steelhouse
TL:DR Okta only personalizes for handpicked industries to minimize inconsistent messaging.
[Rodolfo + Bhavya] Great question. We always recommend a ‘low frequency-high impact’ personalization program. Like most enterprise sales distribution patterns, Okta is no exception to Pareto’s principle – 20% of industries contribute roughly 80% revenue. This helps us focus on a few Lines Of Business (LOBs). By downsizing the list of possible industries to a select few, we have already eliminated the risk of ‘personalization-induced fatigue’. We hope the explanation answers your question from a program lens.
At the individual campaign level, it is important to note that less is more. At Okta, we have strived to look at personalization from a ‘delight’ pedestal. If your sock subscription service is aware that you have weak knees for black socks (data from your past purchases) and presents you with a range of black socks, you will most definitely engage better. But if the same company is also aware that you subscribe to their foot deodorant products for stinky feet, will they reinforce the dark truth on their webpages? We highly doubt.
Extreme personalization does not work. It induces mistrust between the visitor and your brand. We have ensured that most personalization attributes are value-additive and not destructive. We experiment with personalized content, territory-relevant logos, CTA text and lifecycle stage content. Any more and it falls under ‘extreme personalization’
Q. How B2B personalization differs from B2C personalization and what are other personalization types?
– Jurijs Trallis, Picanova
B2B personalization is IP-centric while B2C personalization is cookie-centric.
[Rodolfo + Bhavya] Before we abstract the difference between B2B & B2C personalization, it is important to note that most personalization programs have a common bedrock split into two constituents
Device type etc.
Content downloaded etc.
However, any similarities between B2B and B2C personalization end here. For all practical purposes, the single biggest difference between the two personalization modes is
B2B personalization is IP-centric while B2C personalization is cookie-centric.
Most B2B Identity Resolution platforms like Demandbase & Clearbit have invested in acquiring organizational IP data, at scale. Their proprietary systems match IP addresses of visitors with their respective organizations. Along with the organization’s identity, these engines also inject multiple other data points like industry type, SIC codes, number of employees etc. for teams to personalize upon. On the other hand, B2C Identity Resolution platforms like Liveramp enable organizations to stitch disparate data silos and map them to a uniform consumer identity. Cookies are the binding force here.
Q. What is a quick approach to experiment with personalisation for a SaaS business, which demonstrates its value & can help align the whole org behind this tactic?
– Ayush, Browserstack
TL:DR Okta started with content personalization for BFSI visitors. They did not create fresh content; instead they deployed existing content tracks that were in the highest quartile from an engagement standpoint
[Rodolfo] I have answered this above. At Okta, we did not create fresh content but utilized existing content for BFSI visitors. Once we were able to showcase a dramatic uplift in CTR and lead conversion rates, we were able build long term business cases.
The author would like to thank Rodolfo Yiu for enthusiastic collaboration in co-authoring this piece.
You know the drill: You arrive home after a long workday, curl up onto your couch, and turn on Netflix to find a movie or show to lose yourself in. You end up spending what feels like hours browsing and reading various synopses, but still can’t decide what to watch. By now, it’s late, so…
You know the drill: You arrive home after a long workday, curl up onto your couch, and turn on Netflix to find a movie or show to lose yourself in. You end up spending what feels like hours browsing and reading various synopses, but still can’t decide what to watch. By now, it’s late, so you give up and decide to just go to bed instead.
If so, then you’re not alone. In The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz claims thatthe abundance of options that we’re confronted with on a daily basis paralyze us and cause us to put off making a decision.
On top of that, having more options causes us to be less satisfied with the decision that we end up making because we keep thinking about everything that we missed out on (the opportunity cost a.k.a. buyer’s remorse).
The famous Jam Experiment proved this. Here’s what happened: Psychologists, Iyengar, Jiang and Huberman, went to a grocery store and offered one group of customers 24 different types of jam. To another group of customers, they only offered six different types of jam.
One study by Shah and Wolford found that providing more choices helps to boost sales…up to a certain point. After a certain number of options, you’ll reach a point of diminishing returns. Here’s a graph from the study that demonstrates that:
So how many options is too many? That answer will depend on your business and audience. The only way to find out is to test.
One obvious way to increase decision simplicity is to offer your customers fewer options and reduce the number of products in your eCommerce store. But decision simplicity goes far beyond that.
Read on to find out a few other ways that you can reduce your customers’ cognitive load, boost decision simplicity…and increase eCommerce sales.
1. Have Just One CTA
You’ve probably heard this one before, but your emails and landing pages should have just one main call-to-action.
NameOn, a Scandinavian e-tailer, noticed that they were losing a third of their customers just before checkout. They reviewed their checkout process and found that they had nine calls-to-action on the cart page. So they created another variation with just one CTA on the page, which directed shoppers to checkout. In the end, the page with just one CTA performed 11.40% better, leading to $100,000 more in yearly sales.
Here’s yet another example: Whirlpool created an email campaign that had one primary CTA directing their customers to their rebate page, along with three other secondary “Learn More” CTAs.
But Whirlpool wanted to find out if the secondary CTAs were distracting the recipients from the primary CTA. So they created another variation with just one primary CTA and no secondary CTAs.
That’s because, with several calls-to-action on the page, it’s easy for people to get distracted and confused—even if your main call-to-action is the one that stands out.
So consider eliminating secondary CTAs or anything that distracts from your main call-to-action-whether it is your checkout pages on your eCommerce website or your email marketing campaigns. Think of one specific action that you want your email recipient or website visitor to take, and make that crystal clear. The more that you have segmented your audience, the more personal you can get and the easier this will be.
2. Bundle Your Products
Product bundling is when you sell several complementary products together, generally at a cheaper price than it costs to buy each product individually.
It tends to work because not only do your customers feel like they are snagging a good deal, but it also reduces their cognitive load. Instead of having to browse through your entire store and choose each product individually, the products are already selected for them.
Dollar Shave Club is one example of an eCommerce brand that does this well:
3. Provide Social Proof
Have you ever seen a line outside a restaurant and subsequently felt an urge to eat there? If so, then you know the importance of social proof.
As you may already know, social proof is the psychological phenomenon whereby one’s decision is influenced by other peoples’ opinions or behavior.
To add social proof to your store, you’ll need product reviews. You could also add “Best-seller” tags to your top-selling items. Or you could show user-generated content (photos taken by your happy customers), like the mattress brand, Casper, does on their homepage.
Knowing that other people have purchased and been happy with your product will encourage your shoppers to make a purchase as well and feel more confident in their decision.
4. Provide Personalized Choices
Rather than presenting your customers with a bunch of random options and asking them what they want to buy, instead try presenting them with just a few handpicked or personalized options.
In a post-purchase email campaign, the online retailer, Indochino, picked out three different shirts that matched the suits customers had just bought and then promoted them as a bundle.
If you don’t have that data to go off of, you could have your website visitors take a quiz to find out more about what they’re interested in. For example, the glasses and prescription eyeglasses company, Warby Parker, encourages their website visitors to take an eight-question quiz to find out what type of glasses are best for them.
Once the quiz is complete, they then provide them with a curated selection of glasses based on their answers.
5. Simplify Your Website
It’s not only about how many options you provide your customers; it’s also about how you present them.
Take a look at Bellroy’s homepage, for example.
Notice how they don’t overload their website visitors with information and products right off the bat. Rather, just below the fold, they display their best-selling items, and below that, they show the different product categories, making it easy for their shoppers to find what they need. They still offer a variety of choices, but they present their products in a way that makes the shopping experience enjoyable and effortless.
In addition to a beautiful, whitespace-friendly design, you should also make sure that your website is easy to navigate and use. As Bellroy does, categorize your products in a way that makes it easy for your shoppers to find what they’re looking for.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes; you could also think of your products that complement each other and categorize them together.
6. Compare Your Products
Don’t you hate it when you’re browsing a website and can’t figure out what you want to buy because you don’t know the difference between the products? For example, take a look at this Bose product page for headphones:
A little confusing, don’t you think? It would be much clearer if they had a comparison chart showing the difference between the headphones.
See how Apple does it, for instance:
Shoppers can pick the products that they want to compare and then compare them, feature by feature.
Bottom line? Make it very clear what your product features and benefits are. If you have products that are similar to one another, then create comparison charts, like Apple does, that clearly define the differences between them.
7. Offer a Killer Guarantee
One of the problems with shopping online is that you can’t touch or try out the product. There’s more pressure on the decision-making process since you often don’t really know what you’re going to get, especially if it’s a first-time purchase. To reduce the pressure your shoppers are feeling, try offering them a return policy and guarantee that’s hard to refuse. For example, you could offer free shipping on returns and a lifetime guarantee. Or, as Warby Parker does, you could allow your customers to try out your products before committing to a purchase.
But all of that aside, it’s also a hassle to return products. One survey found that 27% of shoppers dislike purchasing online because they don’t want to have to deal with returning it if it doesn’t turn out right.
One way to address that is by creating a video that shows your potential customers how easy it will be to return the product if it doesn’t turn out right.
8. Highlight Certain Items in Your Store
There’s a reason why brick-and-mortar stores have displays in their windows. By showcasing certain products, they’re more likely to grab people’s attention and pull them inside.
The same goes for your eCommerce store. Highlighting certain items in your store, like your best-selling products or recently added items, is effective because it draws attention to certain products, helping to make the decision-making process easier for customers. Here are a few badges that you could add to your products:
In particular, highlighting your best-selling or top-rated items also works because it adds an element of social proof. You could simply display a “Best-seller” tag next to your most popular items or you could devote an entire page to your best-sellers.
Amazon even has individual pages devoted to its best-selling items in each category:
You could even get more specific with product badges and tell your visitors exactly what your product is useful for. For example, if you sell a variety of different jackets, you could add product badges to each jacket that tells shoppers what type of weather the jacket is best suited for (ie: freezing cold weather, torrential downpours, tornado-like wind).
So how can you provide them with that support? Make sure that you have a live chat installed on your website—and that it’s manned by personnel from your organization. You should also have your phone number prominently displayed on your site, so people know how to reach you.
Recap: Easing Customer Decision-Making to Increase eCommerce Sales
Your shoppers are overloaded with options on a day-to-day basis. Having many choices might attract them at first, but it will often result in decision paralysis and buyer’s remorse.
To prevent this from happening, reduce your customers’ cognitive load and provide them with a limited number of options. Follow the 80/20 rule: Focus on the 20% of your products that are generating 80% of your sales…and get rid of all the rest.
Also, remember that reducing cognitive load isn’t just about reducing the number of options you offer your customers; it’s also about making the shopping and decision-making process as easy as possible for them.
To that end, increase “decision simplicity” and:
Have just one primary CTA.
Bundle your products that go well together so your shoppers don’t have to go around looking for them.
Provide social proof of previous happy customers.
Personalize the choices that you offer your customers; if you aren’t sure what they’re interested in, have them take a quiz to find out!
Simplify your website, so that it’s easy to navigate and find things.
Provide comparison charts for your products that are similar to one another.
Offer a killer guarantee so that your customers don’t feel as much pressure on their buying decision.
Try grabbing your customers’ attention by highlighting certain items in your store with product badges.
Provide them with as much support as possible during the buying process.
And whatever you end up doing, be sure to test to find out what tactics are most effective for your store and audience. If you do all of that, then you’re sure to reduce your customers’ cognitive load, ease their decision-making process, and most importantly, increase eCommerce sales.
The term Product Qualified Leads (PQLs) is not new—It’s been used by tech and SaaS companies for many years now. One of the first online mentions of PQLs was back in January 2013 by venture capitalist Tomasz Tunguz. Now the managing director at venture capital firm Redpoint, Tunguz defines PQLs as: Potential customers who have…
The term Product Qualified Leads (PQLs) is not new—It’s been used by tech and SaaS companies for many years now. One of the first online mentions of PQLs was back in January 2013 by venture capitalist Tomasz Tunguz. Now the managing director at venture capital firm Redpoint, Tunguz defines PQLs as:
Potential customers who have used a product and reached pre-defined triggers that signify a strong likelihood to become a paying customer.
Since then, many thought leaders, tech and SaaS companies have introduced variations of the term in an effort to explain what PQLs are and why they are important for today’s fast-growing companies. PQLs are different than Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) or Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs). One common misconception here is that PQLs are better than Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and/or Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs).
They are different since they allow us to measure product growth. In this article, I’ll be sharing with you a simple 4-step process to optimize for PQLs for your tech or SaaS company. If you’re looking to build a product-led organization using PQLs as a way to measure product growth, this is the process you’ll need to follow.
Step 1: Define the Product Actions that Indicate Qualification Step 2: Segment Users Based on Product Engagement Scoring Using the Flywheel Framework Step 3: Identify Patterns & Do Exploratory User Research Step 4: Experiment Final Thoughts
Step 1: Define the Product Actions that Indicate Qualification
The PQL approach uses in-product insights to predict when a lead is ready to make a serious commitment, either after the trial or within a limited-time offer period. Unfortunately, a 2019 survey of more than 500 SaaS founders reports that only one in four companies currently track PQLs.
By measuring PQLs, you can essentially identify the users who demonstrate buying behavior related to bottom-of-the-funnel actions, rather than middle-of-the-funnel ones. These actions or events show us that a) the user is experiencing value out of the product and b) the user is now ready to become a paying customer. Of course, as with MQLs and SQLs, PQLs are not the same for every company.
According to the product engagement platform, Sherlock, success in terms of product qualification for a SaaS company is a combination of two things:
Activation—Is the account set up? Has the user reached the first meaningful outcome?
Engagement—Is the user engaged during the free trial? What are the features they are using more often and what kind of actions are they taking?
This shows us that if we want to measure PQLs, it’s imperative that we start defining both activation and product engagement criteria. These criteria (actions) indicate qualification and can help us identify PQLs for our organization. Let’s put that into perspective with some examples from existing SaaS companies, some of which you may already know.
Airtable is a very cool and easy-to-use software for teams that need access to a database that works like a spreadsheet. What’s more, teams can build their own spreadsheets within Airtable that can be used for various activities such as project management, campaign tracking, content marketing, and more.
Airtable is a product-led company that uses a freemium model as a way to acquire customers. It also offers a variety of free templates that users can use and edit as a way to activate users more quickly. This also helps Airtable significantly reduce time-to-value, as users experience value from the product right away.
The question is, how can Airtable define product qualification and identify the users that are more likely to become paying customers? In other words, how can Airtable know when a user is a PQL?
For a company that offers a freemium model like Airtable, it could be something like the following: users who have created more than 5 Airtable bases (product terminology for databases) and invited more than 10 of their friends to join the tool are considered to be PQLs.
Author’s Note: This is just an assumption for the sake of example, and has no relation to the actual metrics that indicate product qualification for Airtable.
To come up with these benchmarks for your product, you need to monitor user behavior before and after someone becomes a PQL. Put simply; you need to be able to find how measurable actions on a product level (i.e., create 5 Airtable bases) affect the likelihood of a user sticking with the product. And these actions have to be strictly related to the value someone gets from your product.
Let’s move on to the second example. Expensify is a receipt and expense management software tool. It follows a product-led approach and offers a free trial for each of its four pricing plans.
The learning curve here is short, and users can experience value within the product relatively quickly. What could indicate product qualification after someone has subscribed to one of Expensify’s pricing plans? It has to be an action that’s strictly connected to the value users get from the product.
For Expensify, it could be when someone sends more than five invoices within a month. If you think about it, the volume of invoices a user sends is directly correlated with the value the user gets from the tool. Thus, once again, the action(s) that indicate qualification is connected to the value that users experience within the tool.
The first step is to turn data into PQLs to take a look at the actions that indicate qualification. As you can see, these actions are different for every company. Your job is to find the actions that indicate both activation and product engagement for yours and qualify your leads based on how users perform those actions. Let’s move on to the second step.
Step 2: Segment Users Based on Product Engagement Scoring Using The Product-Led Growth Flywheel
The Product-Led Growth Flywheel is a framework developed by Appcues. It divides users into four main categories based on product engagement and usage criteria:
Evaluators—Users who are interested in some features of your product as a potential solution to a problem they have.
Beginners—Users who understand how your product can help them and spend more time with it.
Regulars—Users who are proficient with the core features of your product and now want to expand in other use cases.
Champions—Users who have developed a strong relationship with your product and recommend it to other users.
At this stage, you need to segment users based on the category they fall into. This segmentation—as mentioned earlier—should be based on actions that indicate product qualification, which is, in turn, is based on activation and engagement criteria. Let’s see what this process looks like for an existing company.
Bonjoro is a SaaS company that helps companies across different industries convert users into customers using video. Bonjoro managed to reduce its churn by 60% back in 2018 by focusing on PQLs. You may be wondering how it’s possible to reduce churn by that much while focusing only on PQLs.
After doing some research, Bonjoro understood that it should segment users based on the number of videos its user was creating on a weekly basis. Thus, it did so using the following five categories:
Non-starter (< 5 per week)
Beginner (5 -10 per week)
Medium (10 -20 per week)
Heavy (20 – 50 per week)
Power User (50+ per week)
While the categories are not split into four as in The Product-led Growth Flywheel, the thought-process behind the segmentation is practically the same. The company segments users based on a value metric that indicates product qualification, making it easier for them to reach decisions on a product, marketing, sales, and even operations level.
Segmenting your users based on how they behave is essential to not only understand who are qualified to become paying customers, but also to be able to identify patterns and create strategies to increase free-to-trial conversion, reduce churn and improve product engagement. Now that you’ve learned how to segment your users based on product engagement, let’s move on to the next step.
Step 3: Identify Patterns & Do Exploratory User Research
Are there any patterns in your case that have emerged from the previous step? Have you managed to get closer to understanding your users? How can you use these patterns to optimize your performance in various stages of the customer lifecycle? These are some of the questions you need to answer in the third step.
The segments you’ve created in the previous step will tell you how engaged users are with your product, what features they are most interested in and mostly using, and also help in identifying patterns about the users themselves (i.e. what roles they have, how many years of experience they have or in what kind of companies they work for).
This process is not only important on a product level. It can also help you on a marketing and sales level. Let me give you an example. Let’s assume you’ve used the Product-Led Growth Flywheel to segment your users and come up with four categories of users:
Let’s also assume that, based on your observations, Category 1 has a) the highest Lifetime Value (LTV), b) the lowest churn rate for your SaaS company and c) users usually acquired from a specific channel (i.e., paid social). Let’s further assume that you’ve managed to identify common characteristics between the users who belong in this first category.
What you can do next is to ask for your marketing and sales departments to try to focus on bringing in more users from Category 1 and less users from other categories, since the former are better for your business. Thus, the importance of segmenting your users based on product engagement can have a positive impact on your organization as a whole.
After all, keep in mind that only 13% of MQLs ever convert to SQLs and that this process takes 84 days on an average. This means that PQLs is definitely a way to speed things up and get better results for your SaaS or tech company. The question is, how can you use these segments to better understand your users and identify patterns?
In a speech he gave on SaaStock back in 2017, David Apple (ex-VP of Customer Success & Sales at Typeform) explained how Typeform divides its users into four categories based on product engagement and churn. Those categories were the following:
One-Offs—Customers who churn between the first three months
Casuals—Customers who churn between 3-12 months
Reactivators—Customers who use the product once, churn and then reactivate
Stickies—Customers who stick around for more than a year
This process of segmenting churners taught Typeform that people who stick with their product for approximately 8-9 months are never going to churn. It also allowed the company to understand that its churn rate wasn’t as bad as they thought, since they were measuring product usage and qualification in the wrong way. Segmentation, in that case, allowed Typeform to better understand and interpret their churn metrics. Moreover, it allowed Typeform to optimize its acquisition efforts, as it knew who the ideal customers for the company were, where it could find those customers, and how much it could spend on acquiring them.
These patterns may not be visible right away. In fact, in most cases, they won’t be. This is why you need to do some exploratory research. In other words, you need to start talking to your customers—you need to get closer to them and genuinely listen to what they have to say.
According to a 2018 survey of 1,700 product managers by Pragmatic Institute, respondents spent 32 hours per month replying to emails, 43 hours attending meetings, and 29 hours supporting team development efforts. The amount of time they spent talking to users is 8.5 hours per month.
It’s my belief that product teams—and especially product managers—should be spending more time talking to users and less time on other, tactical activities. Only in this way can they identify exactly what it is their users want and need. Let’s move on to the final step of the process.
Step 4: Experiment
The last step of the process requires you to run experiments that will allow you to see the effect in things like product engagement, activation or adoption. Experimentation is a critical part of the process and basically never ends. The results of experimentation can have a huge impact on the important metrics (such as conversions) of your SaaS company.
Something really important here is to establish benchmarks and try to iterate based on those benchmarks. For example, for Slack, a benchmark that shows a strong likelihood that the user (or team in Slack’s case) is going to stick with the product is the number 2,000. As Slack’s CEO Stewart Butterfield put it:
Based on experience of which companies stuck with us and which didn’t, we decided that any team that has exchanged 2,000 messages in its history has tried Slack—really tried it.
For a team of around 50 people that means about 10 hours worth of messages. For a typical team of 10 people, that’s maybe a week’s worth of messages. But it hit us that, regardless of any other factor, after 2,000 messages, 93% of those customers are still using Slack today.
This means that 93% of the teams that exchange 2,000 messages since they started using Slack will stick with the product in the long-term. The question is, why is this important for a SaaS business like Slack? Because knowing this number allows Slack to start experimenting on a product level to discover what will make its users/team exchange 2,000 messages.
In the same vein, you should be experimenting on a marketing and sales level. To do that, you need to have your product, marketing, and sales teams aligned under the same goals and objectives. Fortunately, SaaS companies that have a growth team are 2.6x more likely to run one or more experiment at a time.
What’s more, SaaS companies with a growth team are 50% more likely to have a clear definition of an activated user. The reason why this is worth mentioning is because a) only 44% have defined user activation currently and b) these experiments can have an actual impact on user behavior. Let’s close this article with some final thoughts.
As many product growth experts claim, adding PQLs to your growth mix can have a significant impact on the entire funnel. In other words, it’s not just activation, or adoption that’s affected—the process can have an impact on your company as a whole. However, your PQLs are not suitable for every company or type of product.
Companies that adopt a product-led growth approach can use PQLs as a way to optimize their performance. However, a SaaS company selling to enterprises can’t use PQLs, since the learning curve might be significantly higher than a SaaS that sells to SMBs. In addition, most enterprises have a longer trial period, but the users may not have permission to test the product. Thus, talking about PQLs here would be irrelevant.
In most cases, though, SaaS companies can—and should—be using PQLs to measure significant actions on a product level. After all, this is the main difference between a product-led approach and a marketing or a sales-led one. Using the 4-step process I’ve just shared, you can now start optimizing for PQLs for your own SaaS business as well.
This executive conversation with Simon Farthing, senior services and strategy director at Monetate, originally ran in Internet Retailer’s July Online Personalization in eCommerce report. Delivering personalized experiences can have a direct impact on a retailer’s bottom line, especially when personalization is part of a holistic customer experience strategy. A recent Monetate report found that the…
Delivering personalized experiences can have a direct impact on a retailer’s bottom line, especially when personalization is part of a holistic customer experience strategy. A recent Monetate report found that the value of personalization compounds with every experience, proving one-off tactics are not as powerful as a personalized journey. To discuss best practices in personalization, Internet Retailer spoke with Simon Farthing, senior services and strategy director at Monetate, a personalization platform.
What are some notable trends around ecommerce personalization?
Simon Farthing: Retailers are getting better at unlocking exponentially more value from their personalization efforts. Personalization is no longer just a tactical solution to optimize a single session and a single metric; it’s maturing into a strategic tool to improve customer lifetime value and loyalty.
What do retailers need to know when first taking on personalization?
SF: Retailers need to understand customer intent, filter out the noise and respond in real time. It’s access to data—both internal and external systems — that enables real-time delivery and gives retailers the strongest results. That’s why artificial intelligence (AI) is extremely valuable in our space. You might have 100 pieces of valuable information about a customer, but a human can’t analyze all of it to make the right decision about what that data really means.
What attributes make up a successful personalization strategy?
SF: It’s absolutely critical to understand who owns personalization within an organization and how all stakeholders will contribute to the program. Retailers need governance that breaks down silos, clearly defined objectives, and a tactical roadmap that includes measurement strategies.
What challenges are retailers facing in this area?
SF: The quest for perfection vs. the need to deliver results today. Many retailers are investing in personalization to fill a mix of short- and long-term objectives. It can be hard to find a balance when the pressure’s on to hit weekly sales targets. The good news is there are many best practices retailers can implement to achieve immediate success, while still building toward that holy grail of programmatic one-to-one personalization.
What should retailers do now to improve their approach to personalization?
SF: There’s a huge competitive advantage to retailers with comprehensive personalization programs. Encouraging teams to focus beyond short-term optimizations, while still embracing simple tactics and quick wins, will have a significant impact on metrics. Just ensure you have a clear view of the revenue impact of your personalization program; that’s the only way to resource properly and demonstrate value.
Click here for a copy of the complete Internet Retailer report.
When you read the word “experimentation” in an article like this, chances are you think of marketing execs sitting around…Read blog postabout:How an international non-profit is driving digital growth in an era of uncertainty
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When I speak with our clients, it often strikes me how many of them feel overwhelmed by the very idea of personalization. Our imagination, often fueled by the marketing teams of various software companies, creates a perfect world where personalization enables every interaction to be completely custom for every individual. In this dreamland, artificial intelligence […]
When I speak with our clients, it often strikes me how many of them feel overwhelmed by the very idea of personalization.
Our imagination, often fueled by the marketing teams of various software companies, creates a perfect world where personalization enables every interaction to be completely custom for every individual. In this dreamland, artificial intelligence and machine learning solve all our problems. All you have to do is buy a new piece of software, turn it on, and…BOOM: 1:1 personalization.
As a data scientist, I’ll let you in on a little secret: that software only provides the technological capability for personalization. Even further, the algorithms found within these tools simply assign a probability to each potential experience that maximizes the desired outcome, given the data they have access to. Suffice to say, they’re not as intelligent as you are led to believe.
If you caught our first post in this series, you already know that we define personalization a bit more broadly, as any differentiated experience that is delivered to a user based on known data about that user. This means personalization exists on a spectrum: it can be one-to-many, one-to-few, or one-to-one.
And while there are many tools that enable you to do personalization from a technical standpoint, they don’t solve for one of the main sources of anxiety around personalization: strategy
Most personalization campaigns fail because of a lack of a strategy that defines who, where and how to personalize. So I’ve put together a free downloadable guide to help you do just that. This seven-page guide is packed full of guidelines, templates and best practices to strategize and launch a successful personalization campaign, including:
Major considerations and things to keep in mind when developing your personalization strategy.
More than 30 data-driven questions about your customers to identify campaign opportunities.
A template for organizing and planning your personalization campaigns.
Guidelines for determining whether to deliver your campaigns via rule-based targeting or algorithmic targeting.
Free Download: Plan & Launch Profitable Personalization Campaigns.
Here are our picks: Sr. Director – Customer Experience Leader – Equifax is looking for a Senior Director in St. Louis, Missouri, to lead the Customer Experience Team in “intuitive design workflows and overall customer experience as they interact with Workforce Solution products.” Senior Software Engineer, Build Automation – Blizzard Entertainment is “seeking a talented […]
Sr. Director – Customer Experience Leader – Equifax is looking for a Senior Director in St. Louis, Missouri, to lead the Customer Experience Team in “intuitive design workflows and overall customer experience as they interact with Workforce Solution products.”
Senior Software Engineer, Build Automation – Blizzard Entertainment is “seeking a talented and enthusiastic software engineer to join the Hearthstone team” in Irvine, California to improve testing, building and developing Hearthstone through software automation.
Conversion Optimization Specialist – Vivint Smart Home is looking for an “action-oriented thought leader to partner with the digital marketing channel manager to optimize ad creative, product lifts in on-page response rates and improve conversion rates for Vivint’s digital marketing portfolio.” in Provo, Utah.
Head Of Customer Marketing – Kabbage is “looking for an extremely analytical, results-oriented leader to join their data science team in Atlanta with a passion for growing customer relationships and increasing the value of customer marketing.”
Senior Product Manager, Data & Analytics – In New York, HBO is “looking for someone who has a proven track record of leading teams to identify unique market and consumer requirements, with experience in digital products portfolio management.”
Digital Product Manager – Cole Haan is looking for a manager in New York to “own the front-end digital site experience on ColeHaan.com and drive the overall user experience, optimization efforts and road map.”
UX Manager (E-Commerce) – iHerb is looking for a UI/UX Manager in Orange County, California to “enhance iHerb’s customer experience on their industry-leading, global e-commerce site through design and maintenance.”
Senior Manager, UX Planning & Insights – Join Leapfrog Online’s Strategy & Insights team in Evanston, Illinois and “help lead the strategy and cross-channel, digital user experience planning for Leapfrog clients.
Senior, UX Development – Fidelity Investments is looking for a web developer in Durham, North Carolina to join the User Experience Design team. This role will be “supporting the Health Care Group’s digital employee and employer platforms, which customers and plan sponsors use to manage their health and welfare benefits.”
Looking for a job or to fill a position? Give us a shout and we’ll help spread the word in our next careers blog post.
Since we launched Illuminate back in May, our team has been working around the clock to develop even more features to help optimization teams better organize experiments, report performance and maximize impact. Today, we’re excited to share a few of these with you. What’s new in Illuminate? Show impact and determine priority Use our new Impact […]
Since we launched Illuminate back in May, our team has been working around the clock to develop even more features to help optimization teams better organize experiments, report performance and maximize impact. Today, we’re excited to share a few of these with you.
What’s new in Illuminate?
Show impact and determine priority
Use our new Impact Analysis to show the overall impact of your tests by page type and identify where you should be focusing your testing efforts.
Sort and filter by what matters most
Filter your tests by 15 attributes including target audience, page type, start and end date, KPIs, revenue impact and more. Not seeing what you need? Add your own using our new custom tagging feature.
Keep sight of the bigger picture
Our new dashboard view enables you to view your program’s overall performance or view performance by a specific team or line of business.
+ a new tiled layout
If you love a good masonry layout (á la Pinterest), then you’re going to love our updated experiment view. Easily switch between a basic list of your experiments or a super slick-looking tiled layout.
Many of these features were developed in response to feedback from our beta users, bringing more of Brooks Bell’s advanced experimentation methodologies directly into the software.
“With Illuminate, you’re not just getting another test repository,” said Suzi Tripp, Senior Director of Innovative Solutions at Brooks Bell. “You’re getting 15 years of experimentation expertise and proven frameworks to help you do more, and do it better.”