Shazeeye's Blog Thoughts on User Experience, Technology and Business


Five steps to improve your conversion funnel

Dear Readers,

I apologize for the hiatus.  I almost forgot about my dear blog after having a baby (Sept. 2011) and starting a new job (May 2012). I'm back and want to update you on all the wonderful things that I've learned over the last 2 years.

Let's start with some best practices to improve your conversion funnel. A conversion funnel is a series of steps that users need to get through to get what they wanted on a website. For example, if users want to print coupons from your site some of the steps they would go through would be sign up (optional), select coupons, download and install software to print coupons (only for new users and not returning) and finally, print coupons.

Step 1: Define the "steps" or stages in your funnel and track it. Some funnels are complex but it is critical to define them. Some steps could run in parallel while others could be sequential. Some are optional while others are mandatory. Some steps are not required for certain segments (new vs. returning visitors example above) of your site traffic. In all these cases having a visual flow will help tremendously. Tracking these steps and how many get through each step is also very critical. For many sites it may be easy to turn Google Analytics on and get this data but in some cases such as the coupon printing one above it can be difficult to track activities that are not on the site. It was easy to track how many clicked on the print download button but difficult to track what steps took place after the click when the plugin was downloading on a user's laptop.

Step 2: The next step is to monitor the funnel to get a baseline while accounting for highs and lows due to seasonality, day of week or time of day. It is important to get a predictable baseline to make sure improvements to the funnel can be attributed to your efforts and not external causes.

Step 3: Prioritize and understand the drop offs in your funnel. Now that you have a baseline and know how many are dropping off at each point you can prioritize which one to tackle first. For example, we looked at users that added coupons to their credit card so they could use the coupon if they swiped their card at the store. We prioritized on the last step and targeted those that added the coupon to the card but did not use it. If we increased conversions at that point we would have maximum impact as we would increase our revenue if they used the coupons on the card.

Step 4: Understand why users are not converting. There are many ways to understand why users are leaving your site. The most simple and effective way is through a survey but you could also do some usability tests. To understand why users were not redeeming we sent an email to the users who added the coupons to the card but didn't use them with 3 simple questions. Why have you not used the offer? How likely are you to return to the site and use other offers (rate us)? Why did you rate us this way? Insights from our survey indicated that users had forgotten about the offer or didn't shop at that store recently. Thus to improve conversion we are considering alerts as a way to remind users to use the offer and them check conversion. In this case it was easy as we had email addresses to send a survey but if you don't you could pop a survey when a user is leaving your site to understand why. You could also follow up with some interviews to get more insight after you conduct a survey.

Step 5: Make changes and repeat steps 3 and 4. We will soon be testing if alerts will have higher conversions that no alerts (or the control group). There is lots of literature and best practices on A/B tests (see a presentation from KISSmetrics) specifically how many to test, what significance level to accept and how long to test. After you decide on making the change or rejecting the change you would go back and optimize on another step (assuming you have done everything for this step) and repeat steps 3 and 4.


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Mobile Trends: Part 2 of 2

The Silicon Valley Innovation Summit 2012 showcased some exciting mobile startups. Some of them are listed below:

Moxie: Tom Kelley, President and CEO introduced his company as a communication/collaboration space that helps companies connect with their customers through Moxie's channels such as email, chat, phone, etc. It is growing at 40% and what differentiates Moxie from other communication spaces is the management of internal and external communication to build a repository of business intelligence.

BAMMTV: Chris Hansen, CEO introduced BAMM TV as a music startup that is creating, distributing and monetizing music of HD quality content for 3 yrs. After investigating the platform, we can say it is different form other music startups as it does not need major label licensing as the artists are not famous and upload their own music. Profit is shared 50-50 between BAMM TV and the artists. BAMM TV also has global distribution rights.

Infinigraph: Chase McMichael, CEO compared Infinigraph to comScore and Nielsen – it identifies which customers are most relevant and helps in content marketing intelligence and how much content to create. Some of its customers as seen in the examples below have used Infinigraph to identify what content engages their customers and when (time of day/day of week) is it most engaging.

My Life: Jeff Tinsley, CEO introduced My Life as an online identity management tool to manage all personal and professional connections. It also finds new connections.  My Life has basic free services and advanced subscription services.

There were many other interesting companies to watch out for - here is a list of the top 250.

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Mobile Trends: Part 1 of 2

On July 23rd, I attended the Silicon Valley Innovation Summit, 2012 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA.  It was on mobile trends and touched areas such as cloud computing, mergers and acquisitions, SaaS services and upcoming mobile startups.

One of the panels was on mobile trends, how existing companies can reinvent themselves for the mobile space and what mobile models are likely to emerge. The panel consisted of the following mobile leaders:

Host: Aaron McDaniel, Sr. Director Business Development, AT&T           Sanjay Poonen, Head of Mobile Division, SAP AG, SAP                                   Martin Frid-Nielsen, CEO, Soonr         Laura Yecies, CEO, SugarSync          Kathleen McMahon, VP, Sales & Marketing, SoundHound                                                     Ty Allen, President, MokiMobility

Question: Where are we in mobile industry life cycle?

Sanjay: Of 200,000 SAP customers we have a fraction in mobility so early stage              Martin: at the beginning where we emphasize on ROI and mobile productivity                      Laura: slightly ahead in terms of penetration but not in full usage/diverse usage potential

Question: Where are the most exciting areas of growth?

Ty: evolution in different purpose filled devices – non traditional form factors – example: device to control a tractor                                                                                        Kathleen – auto industry as it’s the largest mobile network and quicker iteration cycles                                                                                                                           Laura – prefers purpose filled devices but wants to stick to standard devices that act differently for various purposes – efficient and less costly                                                                  Martin – word mobility means lots of things (people here have 3 devices – tablet, phone, laptop) so cut down on extras; opportunity most on tablets                                             Sanjay – managing mobile security and diverse complexity; apps reduce paperwork will increase but include better fun filled easy to use interfaces; example: pilots suitcases have lots of paperwork that can be replaced with an iPad

Question: How do cloud and mobile influence each other?

Laura- mobile driving cloud...thank you Steve Jobs for not putting a USB on the iPad                 Kathleen – cross platform connectivity is attractive in cloud                                            Martin- share across devices is critical and cloud does that; cloud ties all devices together       Ty- MokiMobility has found a niche between mobile and cloud but there are tons more that are not explored                                                                                                               Sanjay – build a cloud infrastructure first instead of later

Question: How do existing companies reinvent themselves?

Kathleen – songs were heard first then recorded then we had Shazam and now we have Soundhound                                                                                                               Martin – definition of work is changing – people now work on the train and from home so existing companies should leverage that; cultures influence mobile behaviors like Japanese either work or drink so mobile TV and karaoke apps do well there

Question: Should we think of global first or local first?

Martin – 2 models - build vertical and solve a needor try different use cases and pivot           Laura- Europe was a little behind 10 yrs ago when I worked at Netscape but now it's not like that. If you decide to wait someone else will move into those markets                                  Kathleen – global mindset is a no brainer but what features and strategies to grow is local                                                                                                                              Sanjay – correlation between mobility and population growth – China, India & Brazil – fastest growth will be through phone not tablet in highly populated countries

Question: How do you see AT&T act as a bottleneck?

Sanjay – AT&T should build a network in developing countries                                              Martin – look for shortcuts to market, build awareness                                                        Laura – cost, battery life, security                                                                              Kathleen- bottlenecks are actually in consumer brain bandwidth – consumers concentrate only on 7 apps so to stand out we need to really differentiate, deepen utility one app instead of 7 Sanjay – telepresence experience maps on iPad

Question: What mobile models will emerge?

Sanjay – willing to listen to new models – freemium or free. We should throw traditional models out– models based on traction, engagement on Facebook and Twitter that are adapted to mobile                                                                                                                         Martin – consumer vs. business – willingness to pay for things so that data doesn’t walk out with employees, models flexible to include how data plans evolve, mobile operators have tremendous opportunity, hardware people struggling so many models to include them.                                                                                                                                                                                 Laura- interest and business should be aligned.  Example: monetizing through ads not in consumer interests so not the best model                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Kathleen- top line revenue and diversification is key- people will pay for a free version in the future if that is achieved

Question: What is your advice for mobile entrepreneurs?

Ty – look for opportunities that customers are always asking for                                           Kathy – be design driven                                                                                                   Laura – look for life trends – people spending more time with family, etc. and then design                                                                                                                         Martin – use a simple strong use case                                                                              Sanjay – watch how young use (20s) and how kids use mobile apps/devices and learn

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Five Critical Skills for Success

There are many skills required to be successful but if I had to choose the top 5 I would choose the ones listed below. My list keeps evolving as time goes by so the top 5 list as of today is:

Asking the right questions:  Usually you have 30 minutes or an hour to make an impression at meetings with peers or management. It could also be the 5 minute elevator ride with someone you would like to impress so I list this skill in my top 5. It gives good insight into the person's understanding of a topic, his or her logical structure, perceptions and creative thinking. More importantly, asking the right questions is a valuable skill that helps us move in the right direction in solving many problems or defining the right strategy at our work. It can help us avoid many roadblocks just by foreseeing  problems by asking the right questions and ultimately save us a lot of time by avoiding the wrong strategy.

Managing expectations: We all have limited time and limited resources  to do the work we do. Thus, managing expectations is critical to ensure client satisfaction, exceed manager expectations and more importantly, manage one's expectations. Communication is just one part of the equation. Managing expectations while dealing with uncertainty is another. Finding a harmonious work-life or balance or managing family expectations is the final part of the equation.

Selling an idea: Selling an idea or convincing someone of your viewpoint is another very critical skill. It requires you to build a strong argument using many methods (triangulation and usage of metaphors are two examples) and present it in a convincing way. I have told you about expert and referent power to sell an idea but there are other forms of power that could also be used - legitimate, coercive, rewards and formal. You could read more about them here.

Storytelling : We all love a great story and many a time a simple concept is sold in the boardroom because the story was powerful. The underlying message was highlighted with a story that resonated with its audience. A bag of relevant stories that can be carried to the boardroom or to happy hour will help in sealing the deal.

Creating Value: We all have an overall goal such as increase number of visitors to the blog and there are many ways to get to the goal - SEO, Social Media, Content Strategy, etc. The individual steps create value and help achieve the larger goal. The tough part is identifying which methods truly create the best value in reaching the goal. If we had to focus our efforts on one or two which would they be? In the example here, it may be simple to answer but with complicated goals and limited information this is a challenge.

Dear Readers, please send me your top 5 skills for success. I would love to hear about them.

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