Chosing A Blog Design | How To Blog On WordPress

Blogging is one way to make money in the current internet era. This is the same as having a ‘home’ or place in cyberspace. The house you have to shape as you want. Designing the ‘house’ is certainly an important part that can make you or any person who comes to feel comfortable. Well, in this topic we will discuss about the design of your home or blog. What should you consider when choosing your blog’s design?

Blog Topic

Courtesy : http://theowlsjournal.com

It is the most important consideration when choosing your design. Choose a design that personifies what your blog is about.

Photography

It needs to be taken into consideration. Photographs bring life to a blog. Both amateurs and professionals will need to pick a theme that struts their stuff.

Video

It features are a must now days. The trend is toward using more and more video. Although is is easy to place video with in your blog post, you may consider a theme that features video also.

Show Your Talents

Your blog should reflect your product and services.

Seven Rules of Good Blog Design

  1. Content is king. A blog is about content so keep your design simple.
  2. Stand out. Your design should make you stand out from all the other blogs. You want to be remembered.
  3. Stay ad lite. Do not overrun your blog with ads. Be effective with you ads.
  4. Color. Good use of color will make your blog posts easy to read and a pleasure to visit.
  5. Above the fold. Place all of the important information above the fold; start of content, subscription boxes and important images.
  6. Navigation. Because people will come to your blog by SEO and social media they may skip the front page. It is important that your side bars are easy to navigate. You only have a short time to keep your visitor, so make it easy to stay a visit.
  7. Loads quickly. Do you get impatient when a site loads slow? Make sure to keep your visitors attention with a site that loads quickly.

Take a look around and pick out blogs you like. What is it you like about them? Was it color? Content? Did you want to look around? What persona do you want to portray? What will make you stand out from the rest? What colors do you like?

How to Blog on WordPress – Above the Fold

When a visitor comes to your site, you have only a few seconds to convince him to stay. You want to put all the most important data above the fold.

Imagine walking past a newspaper stand. The headlines and pictures catch your eye. The newspaper is folded in half and all that eye-catching information is placed above the fold. This space is reserved for top stories, and pictures. Thus enticing people to buy.

In internet marketing this is also called above the scroll. The idea is to keep all that eye-catching and important data at the top of the screen. This would be your great headlines, your opt in box and your top advertising.

In the last year newspapers have dropped their old format and have gone to a blog look, still keeping it above the fold. The change is partly because of the amount of information that can be put in that blog look. Also newspapers are competing with the Internet.

There are many WordPress themes that will keep your eye-catching important data above the fold. How much information you consider important will determine if you want a one or two column sidebar.

No matter what you choose. Keep your lay out clean, easy to read and navigate.

Go take a look at WordPress Blogs you like. Were you enticed to stay the second you clicked on the site? What features in the sidebar do you like? Did they do a good job of keeping the important data above the fold?

Use AdSense Sparingly to Avoid Smart Pricing

It can not be deny that today is the age of information technology. The way to make money change also. Making website as a business is one of business. What is the reason people like to buy onmAdSense is perhaps one of the easiest ways to monetize a website, but that doesn’t mean that you should use it willy-nilly. Judging by the number of emails I get telling me that I should be using it on my blogs, or in my RSS feeds or whatever, it seems clear that most people feel that you should slap AdSense ads up everywhere.

Every Little Helps Doesn’t It?

The general theory seems to be that every little helps, and therefore, even if the ads aren’t clicked on all that much, surely every click is worth having? If AdSense can bring in a few extra bucks a month, then you’d be stupid not to use it, right? Well not quite, here are a few reasons why you should be sparing with your AdSense placement:

AdSense Takes Traffic Away

Some sites are built with the primary intention of getting AdSense revenue, but not all of them. This blog is not one of those sites. However, when somebody clicks your ad, they click away from your site, so that is a click that could have been directed elsewhere. Most people do not click back after they have clicked an ad!

Some Audiences Dislike AdSense

This is a problem that only affects a relatively small number of sites. Not all internet users are the same. I’m betting that you, as a reader of my blog, are pretty internet savvy, I imagine you have heard of social media sites like StumbleUpon, Facebook, etc. I’m sure you know what an ad looks like, and I’d bet quite a lot of money that you would very rarely click on an AdSense ad!

Now, of course, the only way to know for sure if AdSense is suitable for your site is to test it, but here’s a good metric to use: search engine traffic tends to respond well to AdSense, and social media traffic does not. If more than 50% of your traffic is social and not from search engines, then you might struggle with AdSense.

The Big One – SMART PRICING

At this point, you might still be thinking, so what? But here is something that many people don’t understand. AdSense allows you to put ad units up on multiple websites very easily, but it tracks your performance across your entire account, and it can apply penalties as a result. If one or more of your sites suffer from a particularly low click-through rate (I’m not sure the exact number but get worried if you’re generating less than 3%), then your account will be smartly priced and what this means is that you will only earn a fraction of the amount that you think you should.

I am pretty sure my account is smartly priced right now. None of my clicks are very high, and even in a very high paying niche, I only got $0.39 for a click that I would have expected to generate at least $1.00.

So if you just slap up AdSense on sites that don’t respond well, then you will drag down your CTR, which affects your whole account – the sites that were doing well will suddenly start making less money.

How to Avoid Smart Pricing

If you are smartly priced, then the only way out of it is to remove AdSense from the sites that have a very low CTR. Now recently, I started to add custom URL channels to my AdSense account so that I could track all my performance on a per-site basis, but I kept finding that the impressions and clicks that were being reported were less than the total number. In other words, I had AdSense running on some site that I had forgotten about!

Eventually, I tracked down the rogue URL – it was a hubpage! Back in the 2007 Thirty Day Challenge, I set up some hub pages, and back then, I knew nothing about how AdSense worked, so I just signed up for their revenue-sharing scheme. I started to track the URL, and sure enough, it was generating impressions (the hub still gets traffic now), but the CTR was appalling, so I removed it from the page.

I still have work to do because some of the niche sites I have setup are also performing badly. However, some of them have such little traffic right now that its difficult to accurately depict the CTR because just one click can cause it to vary greatly. Therefore my new approach is not to put AdSense on a site until it starts to generate a reasonably steady stream of traffic – around 25 visitors a day. That should be enough to track the clicks more accurately.

10 Great Ways to Repurpose Your Old Blog Content

Some of you from the previous decade might have liked to read magazines or books printed on paper, whether it’s good quality or simple paper. Now, magazines or books have become digital devices that you can read anywhere and anytime while you are connected to the internet.

Curation and crowd-sourcing in action! Today I’m summarizing 10 of the most actionable and creative answers to the following question:

Blogs are not vacuums. Each post, after circulation and promotion, after initial discussion, still exists and adds value. But how can we take a blog post and use this content in some other way after it has been posted? I am speaking here of ideas like converting to PowerPoint presentations and posting them to SlideShare, etc. Your ideas? Thanks!

Repurpose away!

1. “Best of”: Create special tabs, lists or pages for posts based on popularity, subject matter or number of Tweets, Facebook shares/Likes, etc.

2. Print pieces: Collect similarly themed content, and print booklets for distribution at trade shows, conferences and networking events.

3. Supplements: If you have a YouTube video, Sribd upload or Slideshare deck on the subject, link to a corresponding blog post.

4. Dig & link: Before you write a new post, review some of what you’ve written previously on similar topics and selectively link to related work.

5. Footer recommendations: After each post, collect links to related previous content. Several WordPress plugins can generate these recommendations automatically.

6. Internal resource: Your colleagues should know that your company’s blog is a content source that can inform their presentations, reports and other work projects.

7. Mash it up: Pull in content from multiple channels onto one page per subject. A page about word of mouth marketing, for instance, would have all applicable tweets from your company, blog posts, public slide decks, pod casts and white papers featured.

8. Manifesto!: Extract themes and learning from your previous work, and summarize into prediction pieces, opinion posts and year-in-review spots. Link back to the original posts.

9. Newsletters: Showcase relevant posts within your recurring newsletter, with a focus on digging deep into your archive to get new eyes on old content.

10. Shareable bits: Gather interesting factoids and points from older work, and tweet it out (or share via Facebook and LinkedIn) with a link. This is a great way to break a longer post down into pieces that are perfect for social sharing.

Top 3 Ways To Make Money Online

If you were to count the ways to make money online, you’d be at a loss. I don’t think four limbs would suffice. Lame jokes aside, there are, seriously, countless ways to make a living – even a fortune – on the Internet. The rules and principles that govern money-making in the real world apply just as much online as they do offline.

Some money-making tactics take money to make money. Of course, the trick is to create an extra dollar or more for every dollar you invest in any money-making activity. And you’d want to squeeze out as many profits as you can out of that dollar you’re going to invest. This is just business common sense.

However, this assumes that you need to begin with money if you hope to make any money. But there are several free ways to make money online as well.

As A Freelancer

Perhaps the easiest, fastest, and most straightforward way to begin making money online is to offer your services to other webmasters, online business owners, and internet marketers. If you have a particularly strong skill set – such as writing, designing webpages, copy writing, producing videos, editing audios, creating graphics, etc. – then you can find people who will be more than happy to pay for your services.

You can go to the freelancing networks that would charge you to bid on projects (such as Guru, eLance, or ScriptLance), but you can save your money. You’ll probably be better off going to specific webmaster forums and advertising your services in your signature file. To get started, you could even offer to do your first projects dirt cheap or for free to get a couple of references.

One important tip to take note of if you choose to take this path is that when you are starting on your virgin projects, even if you get very little (or no) money (at all), make sure you get the testimonials of your clients. Store your clients’ rave reviews so that this can serve as your portfolio of customer satisfaction and would give social proof that your work is of a high standard of quality.

Endorsing Other People’s Products For A Commission As An Affiliate

There are dozens of affiliate networks you can sign up with to become an affiliate for potentially thousands upon thousands of products sold online; it’s almost as if the Internet is conspiring to make you rich.

Clickbank is a popular choice and probably one of the easiest to sign up with. Your earnings are paid out by cheque twice a month, provided you have fulfilled some criteria (no worries, you don’t have to jump through hoops of fire to get your first payday). PayDotCom is ideal if you prefer to be paid via PayPal instead of waiting for the bank to clear your commission cheques (it could take weeks, especially if you live outside America). Both Clickbank and PayDotCom also offer affiliates the opportunity to earn some passive income from the monthly recurring billing products they list in their marketplaces.

If you’re looking to broaden your product line beyond merely selling information products, Commission Junction is the No. 1 network to be signed up with. Not only can you sign up with programs that pay you for referring sales, but you can also make some quick bucks out of the numerous CPA (Cost Per Action) programs available. CPA means you don’t need to make people buy products for you to get paid. All you need to do is to persuade people to sign up for some free offers, subscribe to a newsletter, or download software for free in order for you to earn a commission.

There are two sub-paths you can take within the affiliate marketing path – the Anonymous route, and what I call the “Oprah Winfrey” route.

For the Anonymous option, you can employ any number of tactics to promote your affiliate products – pay per clicks, article marketing, search engine optimization, email marketing, etc. This route may be able to allow you to make money faster if you do the tactics right but may not last in the long term unless you consistently maintain your marketing momentum. Taking this option allows you to explore as many niche markets as you want.

The “Oprah Winfrey” option involves building an authoritative reputation amongst your target market, branding yourself, and building trust with your potential customers. This obviously takes time to build but pays off handsomely in the long run. Taking this option might prove difficult for you if you wish to explore different niches as general affiliates who market with authority usually focus on products that serve only one target market.

Create Your Own Product

Create your own masterpiece and sell it to the world. Most people would say that it is the hardest amongst the three ways, but I beg to differ. I made my first dollar online (US$17.00 to be exact, back in those days when US$1.00 equaled $1.70 in Singaporean dollars and Paypal was not that popular amongst internet marketers) selling my own information product.

Where there is a demand, there is money to be made. P T Barnum reportedly said there’s a customer born every minute, but how do you know what these customers want to buy? The secret to untold wealth and riches selling your own products online (even offline) is to know exactly what your potential customers are going through in terms of pain, frustration, problems, challenges, etc.

What is the one thing that is hindering them from achieving their goals? What is the stumbling block that they are encountering? How can you simplify their lives?

Before you go on to create products that would solve these people’s problems and sell a million copies, you must be able to answer the above questions and more. In brief, creating great products simply means being able to solve people’s problems quickly and easily.

Of course, there are many types of products you can sell online, just as there are many solutions to anyone’s problem. But let me simplify it for you further and categorize the kinds of products you can create into 2 :

  • Teaching people how to fish
  • Giving them the fish

Most information products would fall into the 1st category. Information products can be of many kinds as well – ebooks, audios, videos, tutorials, even live seminars and workshops. Depending upon the amount and value of the content you put into these information products, you can charge anywhere from dirt cheap to exorbitant prices for your information products.

Software, tools, systems, and services fall into the 2nd category. Here, you go beyond teaching people how to do whatever it is that they want to learn to accomplish and actually go do it for them. In this category, you can charge either a recurring monthly fee or a handsome one-time amount for the tool or service you’re offering that is going to solve their problems for them.

Exchanging Value

You have to understand that business is about making money – yes – but beyond that, it is about exchanging value. Ideally, for every $1 a person gives you, you give him $1 worth of value in return (be it via information, a service or a tool). But this is not a zero-sum game because the value you create and exchange for money is something intangible and cannot really be absolutely quantified in dollars.

Ironically, it is when you give just a little more than what you are paid for, that is when you start to make even more money than if you were to just trade a dollar for a dollar’s worth of value.

Letter Writing Tips For Beginners

When you’re writing letters of a more formal nature, you may seize up. What’s the correct format for a business letter? What about writing letters of complaint? How about a letter of reference? You know there are certain formats that apply to each type of letter, but you don’t know what they are. There’s no need to worry. Help is at the end of your mouse.

Here’s how to make quick work of this letter writing task. Google ‘writing letters’. You’ll be presented with pages and pages of websites that offer templates for every type of letter you may need to write. These sites usually also offer tutorial-style articles, giving you pointers on how to construct writing letters of every type.

Most of us occasionally write letters to friends or family members, either on paper or via email. This type of letter writing is spontaneous in nature and doesn’t fill us with apprehension. You’re just saying hi or communicating what’s happening in your life.

For example, if you’re writing a letter of complaint, you’ll be advised to be concise, making your points in short paragraphs that will produce the desired result.

If you’re writing letters of reference, you’ll find out how to state your points succinctly, gaining entry for the candidate in question.

Let’s say you received an offer in the mail for a month’s free internet access from a major ISP. You get a CD, with printed promises of a 30-day free trial, no credit card required, etcetera. You’re not happy with your current provider, so you figure, what have I got to lose? Surely this major company isn’t going to play games with you. They want your business. Why not try them out? You are quickly disillusioned when you’re asked for your credit card information, but you think they’ll stand by their word. You sign up.

Two weeks later, you receive a bill for $60 of services you didn’t request. You place a call to them and get a runaround. You now need to write a letter of complaint to straighten out this mess. Your letter must be effective in order to resolve the problem, or you’ll end up with a problem on your credit report.

In the case where the job is of limited duration, perhaps with just a week or two of work, require some upfront money and a schedule of payments along the way. For example, let’s say you’re a freelance graphic designer. The client wants a logo and a new page layout for their website. You might want to split payments as follows: one third paid to begin, one third paid on acceptance of the design prototype, and the remainder paid on final delivery. This is a typical arrangement, which protects you, as the client demonstrates a commitment to getting the work done and paying you.

3 Deadly Mistakes Freelancers Often Make

Freelancing is a great way for anyone to work independently or make some extra money and for employers to hire talent at an affordable price and in a flexible way. However, freelancing isn’t a hobby; it is a full-time job in which you cannot succeed unless you abide by a certain set of rules.

Using freelancing marketplaces like freelancer.com, elance.com or odesk.com is a first step in making your freelancing work more professional and will be very helpful in getting your projects. However, even when using such platforms, I have seen many freelancers struggle to get projects by making some major mistakes.

This article is about three deadly mistakes freelancers often make that could easily be avoided.

Not looking pro

It is all about perception not reality! You could be the best designer, the best coder, the best SEO… if your customers cannot see that in a way or another, for them you just are not.

There are many ways to convey a positive image. Some past showcase work and positive feedback (portfolio, testimonials…), others spend a lot of time writing compelling proposals… However, many fail when it comes to producing enterprise-grade invoices in particular and admin papers in general.

YES, INVOICES! I have seen many freelancers unable to provide a decent invoice and others that couldn’t tell me how much they charged for the last project we worked on together!

The solution is simple, use tools! There are so many free and paid tools out there that can help you look more professional and make your job easier. Just imagine you are at one of your customers’ office and he asks you if he can have an invoice in order to pay you. With a cloud-based invoicing system, all you need is a computer with Internet access, and you’re done, give him the invoice and cash in the check!

Here are my favourite invoicing/billing tools:

INVOICERA, The popular one

Invoicera is probably the most widely used. It has always been reliable and handy. If you want to make online invoicing a straightforward and uncomplicated process, this is one of the best tools out there; they even have a free plan.

MAVENLINK, The comprehensive tool,

If you are ready to pay for a pro tool and get some support, this is your most comprehensive choice. Mavenlink lets you collaborate, share files, invoice, track time, and make or receive payment in a custom-branded project management solution.

HARVEST, The easy one

HARVEST is extremely easy to use and can simplify your timesheets with time tracking and fast online invoicing.

Not charging enough

Price is a major parameter in a project manager’s choice, but the quality is also a primary concern. As humans, we have been educated into thinking that quality and price are related, and that’s not always untrue.

In fact, for many people, the price is an indicator of how good your work will be. So being too aggressive on your prices and making sacrifices might have a negative effect on how good you are perceived to be.

In conclusion, my advice is to try and strike a balance between:

  • The cost of the job (time and resources)
  • The price the employer can pay (budget)
  • The price the employer things he has to pay for a good quality work

Over-trusting your employers

Trust is part of life, and many employers need to see you trust them, and they can trust you before they can give you the project.

So you have to inspire trust and manage the customer interactions very carefully. Some people will quickly try and take you to a feeling driven relation because that’s how they do it. In fact, as a freelancer, you will certainly have to work with people from different countries, regions, cultures…

This is why I would strongly advise you to use tools like escrow to make sure you get paid and if not, can file a complaint or a dispute.

As you might already know, most freelancing platforms offer such services, but that doesn’t mean you should entirely rely on them and not filter out your partners carefully.

Of course, once the customer is a recurring one, you might want to be more flexible to speed things up and help make working together easier.

Project Management for SEO Companies the right way

Successful Project Management for SEO Companies is not just about executing SEO tasks in a good and timely manner; it also requires excellent process management to allow for the team, the clients and all the people involved in the project to work together as efficiently as possible even when they are geographically distant.

To achieve such efficiency, communication and organization are key. Those two parameters are then critical when choosing the tools you’ll be using to back the project.

We have talked to many SEOs around the world, and surprisingly, we have found quite a few commonly used tools amongst the SEO community. We have also been able to identify three major types of tools:

File Sharing tools

Dropbox

Dropbox is a file hosting service operated by Dropbox, Inc., which offers cloud storage, file synchronization, and client software. Dropbox allows users to create a special folder on each of their computers, which Dropbox then synchronizes so that it appears to be the same folder (with the same contents) regardless of which computer is used to view it. Files placed in this folder also are accessible through a website and mobile phone applications.

As you can see, it will mainly help you access your data from any location in the word as it is cloud based thus making it easily sharable with other project members, that’s extremely useful when you have large files that you cannot send via e-mail.

Dropbox also has a set of iOS and Android apps that make it even easier for anyone to use.

Project Management tools

Mavenlink

Mavenlink is a cloud-based team collaboration and project management application, sometimes referred to as a professional service automation software, developed in the United States. The company’s SaaS platform enables professional service providers and their clients to efficiently manage their project from start to finish.

In this Mavenlink review, you can see for yourself how this amazing tool can help you take your project management to the next level as an “end to end” project management solution.
Trello

Trello is a free web-based project management application made by Fog Creek Software. It lets you organize anything easily, from life goals and to-do lists to group projects. It works wonders for teams. Assign tasks, streamline communication and get everyone on the same page, fast. It’s just about everything you need to accomplish great tasks. Check this particular tool here:

Communication tools

Google Docs

Google Docs is a market leading free web-based office suite offered by Google within its Google Drive service. It allows users to create and edit documents online while collaborating in real-time with other users.

Skype

Skype service allows users to communicate with peers by voice using a microphone, video by using a webcam, and instant messaging over the Internet. Phone calls may be placed to recipients on the traditional telephone networks. Calls to other users within the Skype service are free of charge, while calls to landline telephones and mobile phones are charged via a debit-based user account system. It’s so simple to use even for business, family or friends communication.

GoToMeeting

GoToMeeting is a Web-hosted service. It’s a remote meeting, desktop sharing, and video conferencing software that enables the user to meet with other computer users, customers, clients or colleagues via the Internet in real-time. It’s a professional and easy to use.

Tools are great but do not be mistaken, they will never do the job for you and direct communication with your colleagues, partners, and customers is also critical to an SEO project’s success.

Face to face meetings and phone calls with the client are aiming to set the goals and the expected results of the project as a whole. Internal weekly meetings with colleagues to assign and adapt tasks, responsibilities and check on the results,

Using the right tools and implementing the right processes is very important to a successful SEO project, it saves a lot of time and lets you build a good organization. It allows you to expose your work more explicitly to the clients.

The last key is the client’s satisfaction. As an SEO, your tasks are vast; they include optimizing pages, building links, improving rankings, driving traffic…

“There is only one boss-the customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” – Sam Walton.

Optimizing Conversions: How To Get Maximum Impact With Minimal Effort

Assuming you’ve already spent some time optimizing your retention so that you’re not wasting money converting customers with low lifetime values, it’s time to get to work on your conversions.

Now, when it comes to conversion optimization, there are countless strategies an organization can implement, begging the question: Which ones should be prioritized?

To answer this question, you need to identify the strategies that will yield the highest returns. You’re probably thinking, “how can I find the strategy that will yield the highest returns before I actually try it?”

The key is simply finding the main problem area in your conversion process, or what we’re going to call your Area of Greatest Friction (AGF). Just as a bottleneck will slow down an entire operational process, your AGF will dramatically slow and hurt your conversions.

Once you’re able to identify your AGF, even a slight improvement at this step will result in much higher returns.

Finding Your AGF

If you were to visually map out every step in your conversion process, you could see how many people make it to each step and how many people drop off at each step. This is what funnel analysis does.

In the funnel analysis above, we can see that 81.3% of people made it from step 1 to step 2, 39.7% of people made it from step 1 to step 3, and so on. We can also see the percentage of people who made it between steps. For example, we see that 48.8% of people made it from step 2 to step 3 and 3.3% of people made it from step 3 to step 4.

Mapping out our conversion process in this way makes it quite easy for us to identify our AGF, which is simply the step with the largest drop off. In this example, we can see that our AGF is at step 4, “Confirm”, where only 3.3% of people make it from the previous step.

The Cause

Next, you have to understand why there is so much friction at this step. In many cases it will be obvious to you for one reason or another, such as:

  1. The step requires greater effort than the others (e.g. setting up or implementing something technical)
  2. The step requires some type of commitment from the user (e.g. adding a credit card or sharing very personal information)
  3. The step involves obviously confusing UX (e.g. a lack of feedback, non-obvious button)
  4. The step introduces other variables that may be problematic (e.g. sending an email confirmation that can end up in spam folders, be sent to unattended email accounts, etc.)

Other times, the cause of the drop off won’t be as apparent and will require additional analysis. At this point, you will want to set up a sub-funnel to analyze just that step which is your AGF.

For example, say your AGF is your “add shipping details” step. You will want to create a funnel that looks at every minute step required for your users to add shipping details, from button clicks to fields they must complete.

This sub-funnel allows you to take a closer look at your AGF and diagnose the cause of the friction. In the “add shipping details” example, we might find that our shipping options are unclear or that customers are taken aback by high shipping costs, causing them to abandon at that point.

Another way you might find out what is causing your AGF is by comparing how different segments move through your funnel. You may discover that each segment behaves quite differently, particularly if you have customer segments with distinct characteristics.

In the above examples, we were simply looking at averages. However, in some cases, the averages will actually hide more than they will expose, making segmentation critical. For example, say we have two segments that each perform poorly at a different stage of the funnel. If we simply average the performance of both segments, we will end up with metrics indicating that there are no issues at either of these two stages.

You will need to have a good understanding of your customer base in order to know which segment characteristics might affect conversion performance. For example, a B2B company with both small and large accounts may want to segment by company size (smaller companies will likely stumble at different steps than larger enterprises), while a social network might want to segment by student age group.

Fixing Your AGF

If you’ve made it to this step, congratulations! You’ve already completed the hardest part. Now that you know what is causing your AGF, you have a clear compass directing you to your top solutions. Here are just a couple examples of organizations that successfully identified their AGFs and implemented solutions that improved their conversions.

TOPS Products

RR Donnely’s TOPS Products was experiencing an underperforming product launch, despite significant marketing investment and highly positive feedback from focus groups. With some analysis, they were able to identify their AGF: a confusing product search that was preventing customers from finding the new product. As soon as they resolved this issue, their first orders started rolling in.

Woopra, Inc.

At the company where I work, we found our AGF was at the step where customers were required to add a JavaScript tracking code to their website or application. The cause of friction was quite obvious to us – although adding the tracking code requires only 5 minutes, many users who sign up do not have the energy or the ability, to add the tracking code in that moment. The first solution we implemented was quite simple. We triggered an email to be sent to users who signed up but failed to add the code within 3 days. The email offers assistance and also directs them to documentation to help them add the tracking code. After just one week, this simple email campaign improved our conversion rates by 20%.

Ultimately what both of these organizations have in common is their ability to maximize their return on investment in conversion optimization by first identifying their AGF. By focusing their efforts, they were able to achieve maximum impact with minimal effort.

Why Retaining Customers Is More Important Than Attracting New Ones

Customer retention is the unsung hero of the successful business. Its flashier sister, customer acquisition, usually steals the spotlight, but retention is what ultimately builds the foundation of a company that is positioned for growth. After all, it’s much easier to fill a bucket than a sieve.

So Why Exactly Is Retention Important?

1. It’s More Cost Efficient

It’s always more cost effective to re-market to existing customers rather than attract, educate, and convert new ones. The fact that these customers have already demonstrated an interest in your offerings and are engaged with your brand gives you an advantage that you’d be mistaken not to capitalize on. The rule of thumb is that it is 5 times more expensive to acquire new customers than it is to retain existing ones.

2. It Improves Lifetime Value

At the end of the day, what really matters isn’t how much a customer pays you today, but what their entire lifetime value is. For example, a customer may pay me $1,000 today and then disappear, while another one pays me $200/month for 5 years. Which one do you think is more valuable to my company?

It’s important to spend time optimizing retention before you spend on conversion. Otherwise, you will invest in converting customers and then lose a good portion of them, meaning they will have low lifetime values. Don’t waste your (or your investors’) money winning new customers who will have a low lifetime value.

3. It Builds Your Brand

In addition to cost savings, retaining customers means there will be more customers who have been using your product for longer and are therefore deeply engaged with your brand.

Building brand loyalty among existing customers really means you’re building a fanbase. And fans will evangelize for you in a very organic way, which ultimately brings you new customers. Keep your customers happy and engaged, and you’ll both benefit.

How To Improve Retention

So now you’re convinced and ready to tackle that pesky churn. But as with most things in life, improving customer retention is much easier said than done.

I wish I could give you a single, golden rule to improve retention. But the truth is, it absolutely varies case by case. What I can tell you is that the only way to find out what you need to do is to first measure and analyze. Ninety percent of your work is identifying the problem. Once you know the issues, implementing the solution is relatively easy.

Measuring retention in the most basic way looks something like this:

In this retention report, we see that of all the customers who initially came to the website, 32.7% returned 1 week later, 23.8% returned 2 weeks later, and so on.

Now this is a good start, but frankly, it doesn’t tell you all that much. The problem with this report is that it doesn’t measure the retention of similar customer groups. That is, it doesn’t compare apples to apples.

It would be more insightful for me to look at a report that showed me for how long customers continue to use the product after they sign up.

This report will filter out all those people who visit the website and never sign up, enabling me to focus on understanding the retention of that segment of customers who actually tried the product. It also allows me to measure not just how long this segment continued to return, but for how long they actually continued to use the product, which is ultimately what I care about.

But wait, there’s more.

Where I will really start getting insight is when I look at my cohorts. Cohorts show you the retention for groups of customers who began using the product at the same time.

I can clearly see that the group of users who started using the product during the 31st week are churning at a faster rate than those who signed up before them. While previous weeks saw 30%-32% of customers returning 1 week later, the 31st week only shows about 20% of customers returning 1 week later. Perhaps I pushed a product update at that time. My guess is that the update wasn’t received well and caused customers to abandon the product.

Now I’ve finally found my problem and I’m ready to hypothesize the solution, test, and measure all over again.