A mini case study – growth hacking within the enterprise

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‘Growth hacking’ is a fashionable subject with the rise of startups, but it’s not so easy to established marketers to know how to use some of the insights to help in improving performance in day to day business activity.

Part of this is down to the fact its as much about mindset, as it is using tools to achieve growth.

I therefore wanted to share a mini ‘hack’ I achieved at Shopping,com UK, improving our email subscriber rate by 360% at virtually no cost, which was down to taking a growth hacking approach to the problem.

The challenge: I needed to significantly added subscribers to our email newsletter. I did this by finding and then mining an existing SDC e-marketing database which contained a historic list of inactive fans.

The result: Coupled with the design input from a creative marketing executive leading to improvements in content and design of email achieved significant increase (360%) in site subscriber sign ups: from 4318 – (Aug 2010 newsletter with 12.5% open rate) – to 19,934 for July 2011 newsletter (with 57.9% open rate)

How to find early stage investors using LinkedIn

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LinkedIn_investors

Click the image to go to LinkedIn’s Advanced Search feature, displaying results for keywords “angel investors” & for location “London, United Kingdom”

LinkedIn’s Advance Search is an effective way to find potential investors. Simply put the keywords “angel investor” or “seed investor” with UK as the location. Because of my network the search results in 509 entries for “seed investor” and over 1.4K for the keywords “angel investor”. These included 1st degree connections I can contact directly, 2nd degree connections which share a connection with me, and 3rd/Group connections.

The method that I have been trained in by Mike Clark at a recent Entrepreneurs in London meetup (click link for post-meetup discussion) says you then contact your ‘shared connection’ for 2nd degree connections (the link text appears in green below the entry) and ask them to email the target with the details you want them to receive. It works much better than LinkedIn’s ‘Get Introduced’ feature!

Next, wondering about what to send investor, in the way of a deck and intro text? See below for expert advice from Chance Barnett, CEO of crowdfunding.com:

When you ask for intros, give the person making the introduction a very short email ‘blurb’ of suggested language for them to use. Make sure that blurb includes a single link / call to action. By using a single link to your online profile on a site, you can allow people to pass along your pitch and all your core company info with a single URL. The moment that any potential investor clicks on that link, they experience the pitch and message you’ve crafted for them online, in a more dynamic and powerful environment than just a PPT attachment.

In my case, when I was fundraising for Crowdfunder in the past and people made intros to investors, that message and link went something like this:

“Hey,

I wanted you to meet Chance, the CEO of Crowdfunder.

He’s doing some interesting stuff with equity crowdfunding and the company has some great growth as a leader in the space. Thought you two might want to chat.

His deck and info on the company are here:

http://crowdfunder.com/crowdfunder

Hope you two connect,”

 

One way I’ve used to growth hack a business to create social ROI

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There’s nothing complicated about this method. It simply involves the following elements:

  1. A copy of your latest business plan, or a similar document.
  2. A day or half day according to your availability.
  3. The desire to align your marketing and overall business aims and objectives.

In the successful example working with curry snack food retailer Mindi’s I created a half day workshop using the business model canvas approach, and focused on a social model canvas version, which aligned with their business objectives. To note they hadn’t got a detailed business plan to work with, even though their business was already up and running.

Anyhow the results speak for themselves. Since the June 2013 workshop PR coverage rocketed, and the business has gone from strength to strength. I don’t claim credit for their hard work or product innovation, simply for the approach in aligning their marketing and business model canvas, to create a simple shared understanding between the co-founders of what needed to be done.

And as I observed following discussions at the excellent Socialbakers’ Engage 2014 event yesterday where they launched a new social ad analytics tool, there is a powerful added value to this approach to setting up your social media marketing. Going forward by aligning activity to business objectives going forward it will be much simpler to measure your social ROI, as demonstrated by Oliver Blanchard:

13 or so startups to watch

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A great list of rising startups from Mashable, highlighted for the creative ‘geekfest’ that is SXSWi 2014; I’ve just numbered them for you so you can more easily spot the one you want to follow. For me its #11, based in London, its YPlan.

  1. Mulu, a company that currently offers ad plugins that allow products to be bought directly on a webpage. Mulu was started in 2011 and is led by CEO and founder Amaryllis Fox.
  2. Dapper looks to simplify men’s fashion in much the same way as Cool Guy by creating shoppable outfits for various occasions. Dapper launched on Feb. 24, making it among the youngest apps in attendance.
  3. Of course it’s not just about making the sale. Customers must be retained if a business is to survive. Windsor Circle, founded in 2011 and based in Durham, N.C., was started to track sales, analyze data and execute retention strategies to make one-time buyers into loyal customers.
  4. Enter Kiwi Wearables, a Canadian startup that is taking preorders for its first product. Kiwi Move is a small, nondescript wearable that attempts to link together just about anything in your life. The company, which was founded in mid-2013, claims its wearable will be able to understand gestures and track your activity level and even control voice-operated appliances.
  5. Wearables also offer a unique opportunity to do away with the dreaded password. Bionym‘s wearable bracelet uses your heartbeat to determine your identity. The company believes it does not need to stop at passwords, and could even do away with keys and even credit cards.
  6. Bionym was started in 2011 and joins a burgeoning field of biometric security startups like FST21and Microlatch.
  7. Active Protect has developed clothing that can detect falls and deploy small airbags to protect the hip bone, an area that is particularly susceptible to injury for older people.
  8. Kinsa is going after the other end of the age spectrum with a thermometer that plugs into smartphones to help parents track the health of their children.
  9. Start-ups from around the world will be at SXSWi in unprecedented numbers. Companies from 74 countries will take part in the festivities, up from 57 in 2013. Denmark is represented by The Eye Tribe, which seeks to bring affordable eye tracking to smartphones and tablets.
  10. AddSearch, from Finland, stays true to its name, adding a fast, effective search option to websites.
  11. YPlan was formed in the busy nightlife scene of London. It wants to help you find local events and pay for tickets in as few taps as possible.
  12. Eyeris is an emotion recognition company that can look back on webcams and read facial expressions to determine how a person reacted to a video.
  13. Large companies have been taking notice of the appeal in eye-controlled software. Facebook bought a similar company, GazeHawk, in 2012.

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The power of thinslicing applied to social media and community

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A hard problem to solve

One of the hardest problems faced by clients and agencies alike is how to match up social media activity with bottom line business results. Part of that is because you can’t always easily see a straight cause and effect between levels of engagement on Facebook for example, and numbers of purchases. But perhaps the reason isn’t for lack of effort. Perhaps it helps to think about how customers make purchasing decisions, and how best to capture that? Certainly that’s what I focused on at Sony EU and it led me to move away from the simple numbers game, to include the qualitative.

To explain why I like the term thinslicing to tackle this question of how best to connect with customers using social data first take a look at the cool piece about data interpretation written by Lithium’s Dr Michael Wu, including this neat illustration:

The power of thinslicing

Identifying the value of thinslicing lies in the elegant and powerful way the term thinslicing connects the approach to data analytics to the behaviour that creates that data – namely with the thinslicing of online consumers who “tend to ignore most information available and instead ‘slice off’ a few relevant information or behavioral cues that are often social to make intuitive decisions,” as Brian Solis puts it. 

In other words by thinslicing, rather than using intuition to make decisions, I mean adopting a strategy which is based on the understanding that by connecting the means of analyzing the data with the way the data is created by customers.

The question then is why? While it may be clever to see a way which logically connects the way to analyse data with the way it’s created, why is that potentially so useful to a business? Now there’s a good question! The obvious answer is that by aligning the analytic method used by your business, with the way the data is created by your customers, you are going to produce better results in terms of both better quality actionable recommendations which also produce an increase in ROI. How does that sound?

Less is more

National Express Victoria Coach Station

“Click which photo better represents this place” – foursquare allows people to rank pictures

Not surprising in the gaming world this understanding is already paying serious dividends. A leading example is gaming company wooga which has carefully built its business by monitoring the data gathered by user responses, to tweak aspects of its online games to help boost engagement and thus ROI. In effect they are able to leverage user behaviour to give them what they want. By thinslicing social data effectively, figuring out what matters by understanding what customers want and ignoring the rest, the same benefits are available to your online business too. So by reducing the amount of data provided, you’re actually able to make better decisions about your customers, and you’re able to better understand how they making purchasing decisions online. It’s as simple as that.

CBA vs ROI (cost benefit analysis vs return on investment)

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** Updated to include a new comparison example between CBA and ROI in the second table below **

A great table and explanation of the difference uses and value of the two forms of measurement for social marketeers, from Angie Schottmuller in Search Engine Watch:

Cost-Based Analysis (CBA) Return on Investment (ROI)
Formula Benefits – Costs ( Benefits – Costs ) / Costs
Example $12,000 B – $1,000 C
= $11,000 CBA
($12,000 B – $1,000 C) / $1,000 C
= 11 or 1100% ROI
Format Dollar Value Percentage or Ratio
Purpose Analyze estimated cost impact. e.g. make a profit, break-even, take a loss. Analyze investment effectiveness for generating a profit.
Focus Profit Investment Return
Common Use Compare options using a common currency and justify bottom-line feasibility of spending. Assess profitability as a basis for continuing and prioritizing future investments.
Answers… Will we come out ahead? How effective were we at coming out ahead? What kind of payback did we get for the investment?

Note: An ROI of 1 or 100% implies you’d get back what you put into it, while CBA, also sometimes known as Cost-Benefit Analysis, has a $0 “break even” point.

Notice how in the examples above, the CBA for two different tactics with very different costs could be the same, while respective ROI sheds further light on the investment effectiveness.

I have added comparison below, to better illustrate how the same CBA for two different sets of figures, but which delivers a different ROI figure, all the better to help guide investment:

COST-BASED ANALYSIS (CBA) RETURN ON INVESTMENT (ROI)
Formula Benefits – Costs ( Benefits – Costs ) / Costs
Example 1  $55,000 B – $44,000 C
= $11,000 CBA
($55,000 B – $44,000 C) / $11,000 C
= 0.25 or 25% ROI
Example 2  $155,000 B – $144,000 C
= $11,000 CBA
($155,000 B – $144,000 C) / $144,000 C
= 0.076 or 7.6% ROI

Anyhow that’s not all from Angie (and me with example #2), in the post there’s also a very helpful section on different calculation formulas which comes with the following presentation including said formulas for social SEO among others: