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website Agile Project Management Blog | ActiveCollab
A blog about the latest agile project management techniques and productivity tips.
feed text Avengers, ACemble! 2
Fri, 09 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0500

"So," Tony addressed the table, "what have we all learned since we adopted a Project Management system these past few months?" Unlike the rest of his team, he wasn’t wearing his regular costume for the meeting, but his usual civilian clothing - a bespoke three-piece suit. Coupled with the way he cocked his head in mock empathy, as if speaking to a room full of toddlers, it only served to make him appear even more conceited than usual.

"That you’re an even bigger control freak than we all thought you were?" Clint clamored in an exasperated tone of voice.

"You say ‘control freak,’ I say ‘organized.’ And we needed organizing. Why, just look at the state of business: property damage is down, so we aren’t getting sued every time there’s an alien invasion, which means that profits are up!" Tony beamed, that familiar look of mania in his eyes whenever money would come up in a discussion.

"Tony. Darling." Natasha spoke up, articulating every word with precise grace and cold intent. A lifetime of training - to be an interrogator, a consummate professional, your best friend, whatever you need her to be, whatever she wants you to need - could be heard in every syllable. "We are a superhero team, not one of your companies. Best not to forget that."

Steve cleared his throat, and when everyone’s attention turned to him, coyly raised his hand.

"Steve, buddy, we’ve been over this - you don’t have to do that every time you want to say something." Clint said, rubbing his temples.

Steven leaned over the table, his pose as rigid as always: "Rules are rules, my good fellow, and we should all strive to follow them. It plainly says so right here in Section 10, Subsection 13/A of our official Handbook…"

"Which you wrote." Clint interjected.

"Well… someone had to." Steven lowered his head. "But it is my opinion that we should all listen to Tony. After all, he’s our leader."

"He is?" Bruce, still groggy after his last transformation, spoke up. "I thought you were our leader?"

"Isn’t this a communal effort, all of us equal partners here? No leaders, only comrades in arms?" Natasha argued, with her customary socialist zeal.

"Gentlemen… and comrade Natasha," Tony raised his voice to get the conversation back on track, "you’re missing the point. It doesn’t matter who’s the leader, now that we have a system and know who’s in charge of what. I’m simply the most tech-savvy person here, so it’s only natural that I’m the one responsible for giving out your assignments. For example, how difficult was it to get sufficient quantities of mead for Thor before?"

Seeing that no one was going to argue this, he continued: "Very, especially considering his favorite brand is only produced in a single Asgardian brewery that’s run by dwarves who only accept payment in gold. But now we no longer need to go all the way to another dimension, because we’ve installed our PMT on their systems and set up automatic recurring orders. Now they deliver 200 gallons of the stuff right to our front doors every month!"

The meeting room fell silent for a while, everyone pondering this welcome change. The mead supply runs were indeed getting ridiculous, and this opened up a lot more leisure time for everyone.

"And… well… what I mean to say is…" Clint struggled to find the right words, "our battle strategies have gotten better when we map out our tactics and break them down into tasks. No more getting pummeled for bumping into Bruce, or accidentally shooting Tony with an explosive arrow."

"I don’t have to worry about running out of purple pants in the middle of a mission, now that we’ve analyzed our spending budget report and figured out it makes more sense to buy them in bulk. Comes in handy!" Bruce chimed in with uncharacteristic glee.

"The note function is very useful for keeping track of all the movies and TV shows people keep saying I just must watch. This modern technology stuff sure is fun!" Steve exclaimed.

"Right!" Tony loudly clasped his hands. "It’s settled, then. We’ll continue using ActiveCollab as our PMT! Next, I was thinking we could use the time tracking app to see if we can shave off a couple of seconds from our training drills."

Everyone groaned.

Except for Steve, who was already looking forward to beating his personal record from 1944.


text ActiveCollab at the nStarter Meetup
Fri, 19 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0400

The phrase "Bootstrapped, profitable and proud" was coined by 37Signals (now Basecamp) to feature and explore successful companies that developed their own profitable products without taking venture capital. That is why the Business Incubator in Novi Sad decided to call their latest meetup like this - since it also showcased local tech companies that successfully launched their products on the global market. ActiveCollab - nStarter Meetup

The discussion was moderated by Business Incubator’s Community Manager Ivana Sabo, with guest speakers:

ActiveCollab - nStarter Meetup

The discussion centered around the pros and cons of developing your own products without any outside investments. The panelists started by introducing themselves and their companies, after which they gave a brief overview of their history, how they got started and with how many employees. Since marketing is now more important than ever before, a large part of the discussion was devoted to it, with Ivana and audience attendees asking the participants if they conducted any comprehensive market research beforehand, and did they invest in the marketing of the product as soon as it was released. Circling back to the subject of funding, the panelists were asked if they would accept any outside funding now, and do they still receive funding offers and how do they respond to them. The Q&A ended on a personal note, as the panelists were asked whether they can still find the time to code because of their managerial responsibilities, and, looking back, if they had to do it all over again - would they still choose to bootstrap?

ActiveCollab - nStarter Meetup

For all their different experiences, the answers themselves were surprisingly similar - they recognized and correctly identified a need on the market, and, from humble beginnings, built up their products and their companies. The most common mistakes that they advised all future entrepreneurs to avoid was not paying enough attention to marketing efforts and neglecting proper research. It’s not enough to build an interesting product if nobody knows about it, or how good it is - you have to inform your potential customers about it.

ActiveCollab - nStarter Meetup

But one thing all the panelists unanimously agreed on was that, even though bootstrapping your own company is always a risky endeavor and full of uncertainties, they wouldn’t have it any other way. Developing a product your own way, staying true to your vision, and being your own boss, is something no amount of money can match. Another thing to always keep in mind is that there is no such thing as free money - it always comes with expectations and strings attached which can quickly develop into problems of their own.


text Improved Attachment Navigation
Fri, 05 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0400

An intuitive, user-friendly interface is one of the cornerstones of every good app. It is a direct link between the design intent of its creator(s) and the users themselves, and, as such, it has to be clear and understandable.

Many of our users have to deal with a large number of attachments in ActiveCollab on a daily basis. In order to do that, they previously had to click on the first attached file, close it, open the other one, close it again, and so on. It interrupted the natural flow users were expecting and resulted in time wasting and repetition. Another problem that arose was that users could get disoriented and confused and forget which file they wanted to interact with - which ones they already went through, and which ones are next.

Because of this, we decided to redesign this formerly cumbersome process. So without further ado - we’re proud to introduce the Improved Attachment Navigation. Now you no longer have to click several times to get to the files you want - you can navigate through them by using the left and right arrow keys, or by clicking the left and right icons with your mouse. They are sorted according to the time they were added, so the newest file will always be first.

ActiveCollab - Improved Attachment Navigation

This may be just a small addition to ActiveCollab, but to many of our users, especially the ones who have to sort through dozens of file attachments every day, it is a welcome quality of life improvement. One that will save them valuable time in the long run.


text ActiveCollab Live Comments
Wed, 26 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0400

Collaboration is, in essence, all about trust and communication. You have to be able to trust the person you’re working with - often implicitly - and in order to do that, communication has to be seamless and instantaneous.

With that in mind, we developed ActiveCollab’s newest feature - Live Comments. We recognized the need to eliminate refreshing the page to see the latest information. It’s not uncommon that two or more users will be on the same task at the same time, all of them commenting in unison. This can lead to confusion and time-wasting since they would be able to see the other comments only when they reloaded the page or re-entered the task.

ActiveCollab Live Comments

Even though our notification system will let them know that other comments were written in the meantime, having the comments appear in real time is a lot handier and time-efficient, and it gives ActiveCollab the capabilities of chat programs such as Slack or Skype. It makes conversations more fluid and natural by breaking down the artificial barriers technology imposes on us.

Seeing that a fellow team member is typing out a comment and having it immediately pop up on your screen makes the entire interaction seem that much more real.

Along with ActiveCollab Reactions, and the Since your last visit feature, this addition serves to advance communication to a higher level that feels more intuitive and user-friendly. It is another important stepping stone to making ActiveCollab the best possible workspace, and making Real Work an even smoother experience.


text Our content calendar - from start to finish
Thu, 06 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0400

It’s been an exciting ride since we decided to overhaul our blog, with plenty of ups and downs along the way. We’ve done our best to document this journey in posts about keywords, our brand of storytelling, the need for a hero, and our editorial checklist. All of our decisions and experiences along the way helped us refine this process, especially when it comes to our content calendar. This entire process takes place in ActiveCollab, so everything is communicated and decided there.

The Pitch

It all begins with a time-honored journalistic tradition - the idea pitch. Everyone has stories they yearn to tell, so members of the team present their ideas and write a short description - explaining why the concept is worthy of being expanded into an entire blog post. We discuss the pros and cons, with a particular focus on what our readers can get out of such an article - it needs to be both informative and useful. If the idea satisfies our "Is your story good enough?" criteria, we move it to the Editorial section.

The Editorial

After the pitch is successful, we see what the appropriate time slot to publish it would be. It can’t be the same author two weeks in a row - having them write too often could put a strain on their regular workload. The task is assigned a due date and an assignee - the person who’s in charge of delivering the initial draft.

In Progress

A week before the article is scheduled to be published, the Editor moves the task to the In Progress section, which notifies the assignee that the deadline is approaching. If, for some reason, the writer can’t meet the deadline, the Editor jumps in to help out - maybe by pushing the date, or by splitting the article into two smaller ones, with the second one slated to be released at a later date.

The Editing

When the draft is delivered, the Editor gets to proofread the entire thing, break it down into little pieces, and reassemble it into something slightly more pleasant to read - all the while simultaneously praising and cursing the English language for its beautiful, yet often frustrating, rules and structure. This also involves several rounds of back-and-forth between the Editor and the writer, to make sure that the article is as good (and on point) as it can be - particularly when it comes to storytelling.

The Graphics

The next step is to order the illustrations from our designer, and take relevant pictures or screenshots. This is a separate process in itself, and follows similar rules - first, the idea for the illustration is described, and the designer assesses its feasibility and offers a better suggestion if it is not. Naturally, when it comes to art and design, the designer intuitively understands what works and what doesn’t, and will call attention to elements that won’t work. Then, the designer shows the first version of the design, which can often go through several iterations until it’s just right.

The Final Touches

ActiveCollab is a tool for collaboration, and we adore the advantages synergetic teamwork can bring to any activity - including our blog. Everyone on the content team is encouraged to read the article before it gets published and say what they really think about it. If a team functions well together, criticism is seen as a means of bettering your work, and not as a personal attack meant to hurt your feelings. Having a few extra pairs of eyes go through your work is always welcome, and their insights and suggestions can prove invaluable - catching mistakes and oversights you may otherwise miss, or pointing out parts that can be improved.

The Publishing

When the article is complete, we publish it on our blog and send it out to our readers via newsletter. Then we sit back to take a moment and appreciate all the effort and hard work that goes into creating every single piece of content we put out.


text Marketing Automation Eliminates Manual Work
Fri, 10 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0400

As you all know, automatization is a process in which machines replace human labor, typically those repetitive tasks that computers can perform faster than humans. This was one of the founding principles of ActiveCollab - automatization should take care of as much boring busywork as possible so that we can focus our time and efforts on doing Real Work.

It’s the same way with marketing. In previous blog posts we’ve gone over user tracking, user behavior, lead scoring, user identification, and now that we have enough data, we can automate actions that guide the user to conversion.

marketing automation

All the marketing channels are at play here. The way we contact the users depends on their behavior and interactions - some prefer email, some social networks, and there are some we want to always pay special attention to. The tools for automatizing communication with users can easily be set up to send messages through defined channels to segmented leads. The most common use for this is in email marketing, where it’s used in different onboarding processes. Unlike mass email and newsletters, here it’s about transactional emails.

Email Drip Campaigns

Emails have evolved - from their primary, communicative function - into notifications at just the right time, to just the right person. Transactional emails are sent out to predefined triggers, or events. For example, when it’s your birthday, the system recognizes this in CRM and sends you a pre-composed email with a thoughtful message. When you complete your purchase, you receive an email confirming a successful transaction. When you start using some software, you get an email or a series of emails that will help you use it more efficiently.

marketing automation

To give you an idea of how the entire process goes:

  • In the user tracking post we talked about how to track where the user is coming from and what they are doing on the site. We then add a new parameter to the user behavior metrics and lead scoring of every user - their score based on which events they’ve triggered. This is the beginning of the flow.

  • We continue through the flow by having the system issue a push notification that will invite the user - if they have an overall score above 50 and they came to the site via organic search - to subscribe to our newsletter.

  • So, whenever the system notices that an action greater than, for example, 15% has occurred, it automatically pulls a predefined template, lists the value variables related to a particular product, and sends it out to segmented users who subscribed to that newsletter.

  • Now we have a flow - we’ve identified the user, we’ve assigned them a score. They behave the way we want them to, they’ve subscribed to our newsletter, and so an appropriate email is sent to them. This is done by a machine, working 24/7, all year long. We continue to monitor this process with metrics, and improve the copy of the text in emails, calls to action, etc.

marketing automation

When a product is purchased, the system further recognizes a successful payment and sends out a different email, which can now be even more personal, since it is a complete account with the product delivery address. The CRM account for that user registers a successful purchase, and he gains further value for us - the user is now a customer. As a customer, they enter a new segment, because the system now flags all customers that spend, say, more than $50, as buyers, and those that buy more than once a month - as frequent buyers. You can create a separate segment for frequent buyers with a score above 40 who spent more than $70 and send them some token of appreciation for the holidays. They’ve earned it. Again, this is all automatic; you don’t have to bother with it (unless you want to tweak or change some parameters) once you’ve set it up.

Machine Learning - the future of automatization

This automatization is just about emails. But imagine if you could push all of these segments onto Facebook and create a custom audience there as well. It’s likely that machine learning will play a large role in the future of marketing automatization. To start with - in evaluating the probability of a sale happening or not, using all the parameters we have at our disposal. Over time, the system could add to the CRM of every user the likelihood of their conversion. Later on, when we have the user’s probability, behavior, and other metrics, we can be certain that every next contact with an already active user, will be a successful conversion.

When we round up one process, the potential of another opens up. Imagine if every email you send out contained a subtle upsales message. If someone bought a camera, besides the report of it being shipped, the option to buy batteries or a camera case at a reduced price - since he’s already our customer - could be included. This way, you gain a new metric - the customer is willing to spend more money in your online store.

marketing automation

So, with all this in mind, we come to the following important factors and requirements:

  • You need a CRM that can support all this information and easily connect to other tools.

  • An email system that will send out messages based on segments. The most popular services usually have the option to automate email campaigns. Although they are simple automatizations, based on one condition, they can be a good place to start and will showcase the value of this work. More complex systems or custom made systems are certainly a better option. It depends on how much you are ready to invest and how much your business needs, but it should be considered necessary.

  • A system you will use to track the analytics. Whether it is a third-party service or a solution that is located directly on your server - the decision is yours.

  • Pay attention to GDPR, and the consent you have to get.

When all of these come together, you will have a powerful automatization machine. It will do the work for you, and all you have to do is follow the metrics - not all of them - to occasionally upgrade the process to make it even better.


text From Active Chaos to ActiveCollab
Fri, 10 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0400

Xhilarate is an experiential branding firm that creates visual brand expressions that engage, excite the senses, and inspire business growth. We are experts in branding, interactive design, immersive storytelling, and cultural engagement. Each of our partners brings over 20 years of branding experience across a range of industries.

Xhilarate Norman Alger

We help craft brand stories, create brand expressions, and establish experiential brand connections with our client’s employees, customers, and investors.

As we embarked on this journey, we were a small agency with big ideas. We recognized the need for an agile, intuitive, and robust platform for our internal staff, freelancers, and clients.

Get it together, man!

We were literally all over the place - using this app for that and that app for this. With a little digital digging, we discovered ActiveCollab and saw that the organization offered a live virtual feature walkthrough conducted by a representative. After about 15 minutes, it became clear to us that this was just what we needed, and best of all - no ugly duckling factor.

Xhilarate ActiveCollab quote

We generally create a new project and assign the client and resources to the initiative. We provide the brief and any supporting documents and invite the appropriate people to jump onboard.

Xhilarate customer story ss1

The shoemaker’s children cannot go barefoot

You may be familiar with the adage "The cobbler’s children have no shoes." This alludes to the fact that we are often so busy providing for our clients, we do not take proper care of ourselves. With this in mind, we are doing our best to create meaningful balance for our talented, hard-working people.

Xhilarate customer story ss2

We are in the process of redesigning our website and, like any client initiative, it also has many moving parts. As mentioned before, we track our time just as we would for a client, and leave feedback and assign tasks as we move closer to launch. This has really helped us ensure we’re hitting the target date for our project.

The payoffs are rolling in

We are overjoyed to report that our productivity - both for our teams and our clients - has easily increased 25% by consolidating to this single platform. We are looking to the horizon, and we see a very bright future for our agency.

Xhilarate ActiveCollab quote

Because we are a very creative bunch, the simplicity of ActiveCollab allows us to concentrate less on the Microsoft Project-like, BaseCampy, JIRA-style interface and lack of functionality, and more on the tasks-at-hand and strategizing & concepting for our agency and the clients we work with.


text You’ve got your NPS score - Now what?
Fri, 03 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0400

Humans love expressing things in numbers. By assigning plain numerical values to abstract concepts, we feel like we can understand and control them better. We also associate higher values with better quality, a preconception marketing often seeks to exploit ("The sequel will be bigger, better, with more exploding CGI dinosaurs!"). Still, when properly utilized and analyzed, they are invaluable to any business, and we recently conducted an NPS survey for that very reason.

The Net Promoter Score - NPS for short - is a customer loyalty metric first introduced by Fred Reichheld in 2003. Since then, it has been widely used to assess customer satisfaction. It’s an excellent way to gauge your relationship with customers. An outside perspective does wonders and can point you to a lot of things you would otherwise miss.

The score can go from -100 (nobody likes your product) to 100 (everybody loves it). While the score itself does, of course, tell you a lot, it’s not about getting the score higher. The real thing you need to address and focus on is people’s feedback - no matter if it’s good or bad. Depending on the score, these are classified into three main groups: Promoters (they give you 9’s and 10’s), Passives (7’s and 8’s), and Detractors (the rest).

Detractors

These are the customers who award a low score. Usually, the cause for this is some bug they encountered, unsatisfactory communication with support, or app design that doesn’t suit them at all. Some are merely frustrated because their boss is forcing them to use the software. When contacting detractors, first examine all previous contact you had with them: conversations, tickets, etc. Because of this, we decided to forward these people to our customer support team, since they understand bug reporting better and have more experience in handling situations such as these. Even though you can never please everyone, you should always see if there’s anything you can do to make your customers’ time with your product more rewarding.

Passives

People in this category are probably the best group for interviews. They won’t tell you that you’re awesome, but also won’t be blinded by some recent annoyance like detractors can be. So, we conducted interviews to talk about our product, its features, the best and worst parts, experience with the people in our company, and so on. They appreciate your product, but are missing something that would make them love it. It’s like when you’re shopping, and everything about the product you’ve got your eye on is perfect - except that it doesn’t have some feature, add-on, or extension that would make it an insta-buy. This is the group you should concentrate on and give them a little push to show them that you really care. Above all, don’t neglect them or they will soon transit to become detractors, and eventually churn.

Promoters

The people that love you the most - your biggest fans. You need to contact them to find out what it is that makes your product/brand so valuable to them.

With promoters, you want to go into as much detail as possible. That is why we performed a whole new survey just with them, where we asked about their motives when choosing a project management software, which challenges they want to overcome, as well as what is the main difference between us and our main competitors if they had any experience with them. This was a very different project, and we’ll talk about it more in a future blog post.

The main thing we do is to ask them if they would be willing to leave a review on one of the software review sites. This is also a project we are working on, so we combined these two and took an opportunity to establish our NPS campaigns as a constant source of reviews. You can offer your potential reviewers something in return (gift cards, a discount on their next purchase, etc.), but if you’re not in a position to offer them a reward, don’t worry - you’ll be surprised how inclined they are to leave a review when they love your product and are a happy customer.

Over time, we developed a strong relationship with some of our promoters. We’ll often work on bigger projects with them, such as exchanging guest posts or publishing a collaborative article about a mutual topic. Also, these are the companies we find the most interesting in terms of the business they do or the ways in which they use ActiveCollab. Those usually turn out to be the perfect topics for them to write about in our testimonials.

Size matters, but it’s still just a number

You shouldn’t obsess about the NPS score - what you should concentrate on is digging deep and getting to as many people as possible so you can get as much useful feedback as you can. It’s important to compose the questions in just the right way, as you don’t want to have answers that are formulated to give suggestive or wrong impressions, which is a very common mistake. At first, you’ll be convinced that all is well concerning your brand/product, but they will tell you what is really up and soon set you straight. This way you can focus on the problems, bugs, and actual changes and improvements people want from you, and not those you wish were a part of your product/app. Only then will your NPS score go up.

At the end of the day you won’t be hung up on that number, but rather on the complaints, useful critiques, and suggestions and how you can solve them and improve your products and services. Because, when you do, and you receive positive feedback full of gratitude - there’s no better feeling.


text An editorial QA checklist for B2B blogs
Fri, 20 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0400

Business owners are expecting the return on investment from their content marketing teams and we need to set a system that will do just that - make a positive impact on our business. Content production is not a cheap hobby, especially if you’re looking to captivate your audience with great stories that improve their lives.

We talked a lot about storytelling and the trials and errors we made along the way, but now it’s time to dig into the system. The one that works for us, and the one, we hope, will work for you.

As a result of those trials and errors, we’ve come up with a 4-step checklist for choosing the topics our team will write about. However great your idea might be, not all topics are worth the investment and that is something we learned the hard way. Note that this approach can be used when running a team of writers, as well as if you’re running a one-person show - you still need to know what you’re doing.

Let’s dig into our checklist:

Are you competent enough to write?

Yes, it is as simple as that. Work closely with your writers and have a clear overview of their experience and writing abilities. If you’re not sure your writers can match the quality to be referenced on the topic, then it’s safe to reject it. Do it some other time. Don’t be mediocre.

We’re not against writers who write about many different topics and do enough research. In fact, we’ve written about all sorts of stuff in the last couple of years. But in order to truly grasp what the readers are expecting and what they want to know, one definitely needs to write from experience. We’re talking impact and we’re talking about being there for our readers.

Is this something your readers need?

One can never overstate the importance of knowing your readers, and how your business impacts them. That being said, you need to know how if your content will help your readers in their day-to-day. There is a big between entertaining your readers and offering them something that will actually help them be better at their jobs.

It’s not that you’re not supposed to entertain. Sometimes, all your readers need is to be entertained. We’re saying you should primarily focus on entertainment only if your KPIs explicitly require that you increase brand love and brand awareness. Otherwise, you could have invested that time writing something else. Something else your readers need.

Another dimension you need to take into account is the fact that the topic might already be thoroughly covered. Do your readers really need another article on topic X?

Is there an actual demand for the topic?

Numbers don’t lie. If there’s no search demand, and you’re not aiming to generate it, maybe there’s no need to really go there. This has everything to do with keyword research and going through your favorite content insights tool.

If you’re not ready to invest in creating demand for your content, it’s completely OK to go with what potential readers are currently looking for. Go for the right keywords and set ambitious targets for our keywords in terms of monthly search volume.

Our’s might not be as ambitious as you might expect, but our weekly blog posts are targeting keywords with at least 1.5k monthly search volume. Some blog posts rank well, some are in the process. This is producing a steady growth for the past 18 months and we are now at almost 30k organic visits/month.

If you’re not generating demand, generate interest.

Are my readers going to learn anything new?

It goes without saying, but this aspect of blogging is often overlooked. We often think that we have a great insight that we need to share with our audience as soon as possible. But more often than not, we end up reinventing the wheel. How do we know if we’re actually crafting a story that adds value?

We’ve come up with a very simple trick to verify this. Since we’re writing from experience, we ask ourselves one single question:

Would this article have helped me if I had read it a year ago?

We can easily extrapolate this and think about all our peers and other creative professionals that could profit from what we have to say. Fairly simple question, completely bulletproof. And it works so well with previous questions, like a final piece of the puzzle.

Note that this checklist is an integral part of our editorial process, and it might seem a little out of context when taken on its own. Therefore, we’re going to finalize the story about our content marketing process in the coming weeks. We’ll talk about the whole process, from start to finish, referencing the articles that already explored the most important individual steps - research, planning, storytelling, and QA.

Until then, keep up the Real Work!


text User behavior and Lead Scoring
Fri, 13 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0400

Behavioral analytics is comprised of metrics which determine how the user behaves when using an application, or visiting a website. These metrics go beyond standard ones, such as page views, sessions, monthly active users, etc. They show us the engagement our product has with users, how it affects retention, conversion, revenue and this is why understanding these metrics is so important.

We learn all of this through various events. These events represent any actions that a user can make. For example: opening the app, creating an account, watching a video, and any other activities tied to a specific user, such as making a purchase. However, it should be noted that analyzing just the right amount of data is key - if we are too eager and follow too many variables, we won’t be able to extrapolate the result we want.

It’s like going to an airport. There’s a perfect route that the staff wants you to take - through the main entrance, over to check-in, baggage registration, and so on. The passenger can also go have a cup of coffee, buy some souvenirs - all of these are good for the airport, so they are deliberately placed in enticing locations in order to lure them there. Every such action brings with it a certain score that’s attached to the visitor and triggers an event - this is how businesses project for and plan their user journey.

Before we start to analyze the user’s behavior, we first have to define what our goal is. What we track and why. Because adding various events without a goal only serves to muddle the analytics that we have. If we wanted to track the onboarding conversions or the user’s behavior on our landing pages, we would have to be aware of all the steps the user goes through and mark them all. This means that every time the user triggers one of these events, our analytics will make a note of these interactions. After that, we count these events, and that’s it. It sounds so simple.

And that’s because it’s not at all that complicated. Let’s take a standard SaaS that has a webpage that serves to promote their app. In order to buy the app itself, the user has to go through the following steps: arrive at the site > register for the trial version > purchase the app. Each of these steps has additional branching in the form of different pages on a site that a user can preview before making a trial version.

Lead Scoring

Another important metric we always take into account is lead scoring. It is a methodology that assigns each user a particular rating depending on the behavior they’ve exhibited. It helps us to understand which users and visitors are closer to the goal we defined. There are two types of lead scoring.

The implicit kind - where, based on the behavior of the user, we assign an estimate for all the steps they’ve undertaken in our ideal user journey.

The explicit kind - where, after we make contact with the user, based on their demographic or firmographic characteristics, we assign a rating that tells us if that person has a smaller or bigger chance to work (meaning - to use our product) with us.

Now that we have a defined goal, the user journey they should (ideally) make becomes clear. We’ve defined all the key points that every user can go through on that journey, all that’s left is to make sure that our tools for marketing automatization and CRM are in line. This means they monitor and supplement each other.

How do we rate this?

We define the ratings for each point that the user triggers along the way. It’s important to point out that we also have negative ratings - when the user does something that’s not beneficial to us.

By adding these ratings up, we get a final calculation which we use to filter users and prioritize them in the sales funnel. Meaning, we don’t use lead scoring just for sales, but we also apply it to various other actions. For example, when we want to see how complicated the ordering process is, if the users stray too far from the imagined journey - then we give these processes a negative rating.

One of the most interesting things about modern marketing is that we can hack just about any methodology if we understand it enough. We can then adapt it to our system and know that we are doing the best possible thing - both for us, and our users. These hacks are sometimes extremely successful, and this gives birth to new methodologies, and sometimes they’re not - which still leaves us with valuable experience and new knowledge into why a particular method or approach doesn’t work.