Most companies think they have a growth problem, but what they really have is a churn problem.

Everyone loves talking about the growth of their company (total #of downloads, users, etc), but what people should be talking about is active engagement.

  • How many times do you download an app and delete it?
  • How many times do you put in your email on a wait list, but then forget about the service?
  • How many free trial (no credit card required) services do you sign up for and then not use?

You may think you need more customers, but what you really need is more customers using your product regularly.

Here are 3 ways to solve this issue:

  1. Setup an automatic autoresponders (make it look like a personalized email) and figure out why people stop using your app. You have to make sure the first experience gets them exactly what they think your app is suppose to do.
  2. Charge more money. This means that you will have to do more sales up front, but this will get good critical feedback from serious customers only. If you charge money up front, customers will have to take you seriously.
  3. Get the customer committed as soon as possible. Here are three levels of commitment:
    • Lowest: Clicks button (Facebook Connect, Downloads app , etc)
    • Medium: Enters email address
    • Highest: Payment information (credit card details)

Until you get some form of commitment you don’t really have a dedicated user.


My good friend Vishal just asked:

“I don’t know what an automatic autoresponder is….sounds like an automated message to the customer but what does the responder ask?”.

Great question, here is the answer:

What is an auto-responder?

An automatic autoresponder is an automated email you can use to send an email. There are a ton of software companies that can help you do this (in fact it is a billion dollar market). There are high end solutions like ExactTarget and SilverPop that do this ($1k/mo +) and there are also super low end version like AWeber, MailChimp, Infusionsoft, etc ($30/mo +) that can help you do this as well.

Here is what your first autoresponder could look like

Note “FNAME” is the first name of the recipient, it is dynamically added:

Subject: Hey {FNAME}


I saw that you just signed up for our trial. I created the app so if you have any questions, just reply back to this email 🙂


PS I’m really looking forward to working you!

I like to send this email on a 45 minute time delay from the time they signed up. I also have the email come directly to my inbox if they hit reply. This simple email allows me to learn what the biggest problem with my app or what is confusing them. I can then go back and try to make my app’s first experience super clear.

I also like to send another automatic email after 3 days called “Top 3 FAQ” – this helps address any questions or misconceptions they might have had about the product.

The Rise of Hand Drawn Art

Basecamp homepage-1 is one of the most copied SaaS landing pages, so when I see a new design on their site, I know it is time to get ready to see more of it. My prediction is we will see a lot more hand drawn art on business websites in the next 6 months. This is a big contrast to the current web design trend on the internet: massive pictures of people smiling and holding a tablet devices in a coffee shop.

People are going to embrace drawn art because it is original, different, and creative. It is also cheaper to create and can convey a simple message in a fun format.

What do you think of using hand drawn art on your landing pages? 

Other Examples of Hand Drawn Art of Landing Pages:

Friends of Friends: How I leveraged my way to massive growth and coverage

Joe Avella is a long time comedy film maker from Chicago. He asked me if he could write a post on his marketing strategy and I agreed YES right away! I’m a huge fan of Joe and LOL’ed a ton when I saw his new 20 minute webisode of Delivery Dudes. This is a guest blog post by Joe Avella – the writer, director, and creator of Delivery Dudes.

Deliver Dudes Pilot

Leverage My Existing Network

My strategy was to market my new comedy show ‘Delivery Dudes’ only to people connected to the pilot and the show’s existing fans. The production includes 50+ people and had an existing email list of 100 fans. So, I targeted their existing social networks, making the marketing much more focused. Once I’d get those connections, I’d then target the new fan’s networks, and so on and so on.

Playing on friendly connections was a key way to cut through the noise, get a lot of people to connect with the pilot, triple my email list, and get written up on!

What do I want?

I needed a goal before implementing the strategy. I had to decide on one thing I wanted my marketing to do. I’ve found that having multiple goals results in far less impressive results. For me, I wanted email addresses! I feel this is the most important aspect to building a long term fan base.

Building a fanbase on a Facebook page is risky because Facebook can change how pages operate. Twitter is short and fast, so you risk a large percentage of your audience missing your message. With email you can send a message whenever you want and get it the most attention.

First things first

I set up a landing page. My site is hosted by Squarespace, so making a page with the video and an email sign up was super easy. First it had the trailer; later the pilot when it was available. I always included an email sign up form embedded under the video, the form was powered by MailChimp. The goal is to get people to this page with as few clicks as possible and make it easy to give me their email address.

Strategy 1: Facebook Ads

People involved in the production of Delivery Dudes were going to share it, at least I hope they would. Which is great, but to really get the word out I made Facebook Ads, and a few promoted posts. Delivery Dudes starred several actors known among the Chicago improv/comedy scene. A majority of them perform regularly at places like i.O. and Second City. So I targeted the ads to Facebook users who associate with those places.

 Example ads:

I created a few different ads featuring various performers only marketed to people who at least knew of the performer, and in some instances, were already friends.

Ad targeting:

note: picking just the 4 theaters still gave me a target of 340,000 people!

These institutions have several students and performers, and are very tight knit. Users associated with these theaters would recognize the performer in the ad, which greatly increased the click-through rates. The clicks would take them to the landing page which featured the pilot and a chance to join the email list.

Strategy 2: Email Promo Contests

I already had a list going into the release from years of other projects. If you don’t, that’s fine, you can try this once you build yours. I run exclusive content on the email list only and occasionally have giveaways. Leading up to the release I had two separate social media-related giveaways to help get the word out.

#1: Twitter

For one week any member who retweeted this tweet was entered in, with the chance to win a prize from Revolution Brewery.

#2: Instagram

For another week, I asked to share any one of these images on Instagram with the hashtag #DeliveryDudes and you could win a prize from (The giveaways gave fans a higher incentive to share Delivery Dudes with their fan base. A lot of those tweets got retweeted, and several images were liked and ‘regrammed’. (Note: I made the contest as easy as possible. Only one thing to do, and it was easy to do.)

Joe Avella marketing quote-v4

Why do any of this?

In short, it was up to me to get the ball rolling and the word out about the pilot. Sure, some would share it, but after all the work, and the fact that I really believe in this pilot, I wasn’t going to let it get sucked into the eternal nothingness that is the internet.

Running the strategies above forced me to think about how to get people’s attention, target an audience, and obtain something more than a passing glance: the permission for future connection. coverage

But the biggest impact came from a Mashable writer who saw the pilot on a mutual friend’s FB page. From hustling to get friends of friends to share, one did who was connected to the writer.

Delivery Dudes on Mashable

If I had no game plan, and just threw it out there and ‘hoped for the best’, the incentive to share among those connected, and their potential connections, would be low. It’s safe to assume the pilot would not have gotten very far.

The details of these two strategies can be changed around depending on the project or your goal, but I highly recommend trying something like it. It’s cheap and you never know who’s 1-2 degrees away. Also, please check out my web series delivery dudes and sign up for my mailing list 🙂

How GoToMeeting Reduces Churn


One of the most important metrics I look at it in my SaaS business is Churn (the number of months a customer stays until they cancel). For example if you get 50 new customers but also 50 customers cancel, you don’t grow. This is something all SaaS companies deal with. The first 6 months they think they are growing like crazy, but then the customers that signed up in month #1 start to cancel. So, on Month #7 your growth starts to decline.

Top 5 reasons people cancel on a SaaS product:

1. Product  doesn’t work

Not Save-able You can’t save customers on your cancellation flow if you product doesn’t work for them.

2. Customer goes out of business

Not Save-able Unfortunately you can’t control this.

3. Switching to competitor

Maybe Save-able If they are already on your cancellation screen, this means they are already signed up with your competitor. You can’t really save them at this point. Try to be more competitive earlier on in the customer life cycle.

4. One Time Use

Save-able! Sometimes the customer just needs your product for a one-off project.

5. Price is High

Save-able! Offer the customer a low priced option.

This blog post is about how to save the customers that are canceling for reason #4 and #5.

Citrix is a leader in SaaS and they have figured how to keep their Churn low.

How GoToMeeting addresses the “One Time Use” cancellation
Turn Of Renewal - GoToMeeting Cancelation Screen

To start off with you can’t really “Cancel” your GoToMeeting account. But, you can “Turn Off Renewal”, this allows you to easily jump back and start paying again even after you have cancelled. This is pretty smart, because some months their customer might not need their software and this gives them the option to easily turn on their service again at a later time.

How GoToMeeting addresses the “Price is High” cancellation

They wanted to make sure if you were canceling because of price you don’t leave, after you click “Turn Off Renewal” in the screen shot above, you are taken to a confirmation screen where you see the ability to bump your package down to a low price option:

Citrix GoToMeeting Cancel screenI was paying $49.00/mo which I thought was a little high and was intrigued by the lower price option. I decided to “Turn Off Renewal” anyway and I was then greeted to this screen:

Cancellation Confirmation

They try to sell me again on the lower price option. This time with more force in case I missed it the first time. They added some testimonials and logos you trust. They also use the word “discounted” under the Yes! button, making it seem like you are getting a deal.

Closing Remarks

Churn will kill your business. Citrix brilliantly executes their cancellation flow. I also believe their $19/mo plan is specifically designed to make sure people are not switching over to their competitor which is also priced at $19/mo (thus they are trying to also address the “Switching to Competitor” reason).

my favorite ios7 update isn’t what you think

ios-7-logoiOS7 is pretty sweet, I like it’s speed and flat design. However, my favorite iOS7 update is the new training guide in Siri. Before this training guide I had no idea what to use Siri for (besides ask embarrassing questions and see what she would say).

This may have been obvious to most people but I had no idea you could set an alarm or a calendar invite or enable Wi-Fi.

Siri Training Guide

This got me thinking about my own web products. People only use 10% of the full potential just because they don’t know what the full power actually is. Simple training guides like this one go a long way for tools like Siri that have infinite potential.

You find the Siri Training guide by clicking the gray question mark bubble when you launch Siri.

photo-siri-training guide

What is your favorite thing to do with Siri?


Tesla selling cars out of Parking Garages

Tesla Dealership in Parking Garage

Last weekend I went to the Santa Row shopping center and parked in their free garage. As we walked out we saw a few Teslas parked next to each other and started checking them out. We then realized we inadvertently walked through a Tesla dealership.

I thought this was a great tactic. Traditional car dealers make you go into the store… even though all you want to do is drive the car! This allows the customer to get the full Tesla experience faster.

Tesla Side Shot


What do you think of this showroom tactic, do you think it will get you to test drive a Tesla?

IKEA uses Augmented Reality – See how Furniture Looks in Your Home Instantly


Whenever I get a new Ikea catalog, I flip through it and always think “sure it looks amazing in these pictures, but how will it look in my dull house?”


Well, the marketing masters at Ikea have finally figured out how to get around my doubts. You can scan an item from the the Ikea catalog, let’s say a green couch and then hold up your phone where you would want the green couch to go, let’s say next to your yellow wall. Then look through your phone and you will see the green couch virtually up against the yellow wall. You will now have realized that it probably isn’t a good idea to buy the green couch.

This was a pretty sweet use of direct mail marketing combined with augmented reality technology! The next step would be to allow you to instantly buy it in the app and then use a 3D printer to deliver the furniture item right into your home.

Checkout the Ikea trailer for this on youtube. What do you think of this strategy, will it work on you to buy more stuff from Ikea? Let me know in the comments.

Special thanks to Eric Lovett for telling me about this!

The Problems with Everyone AB Testing Everything

Does AB Testing work? Yes, absolutely. It is awesome and can help you increase conversions.

BUT!!!! In order for your AB Split Tests to actually give you any decision making results you need a ton of traffic and conversions. The rule of thumb is for your AB tests to reach any sort statistical significance you need at least 100 conversions per variation on your website. (Statistical significance is a fancy way of saying “ability to make any real decisions based on a test”).

So, for a website to really learn anything from an AB test you need at least 200 conversions. Most websites get 200 conversions after a few months!

Yes it is cool to say that you are running an AB test for 2 button colors, but chances are really low that you will actually be able to determine which one works for you unless you have serious traffic or are willing to run that test for a few months. If your website has low traffic and you want to be more data driven here are some testing pointers:

Make Major Changes in Your Tests

Here are some major changes you can try:

  1. Offer a Free Plan Vs. No Free Plan, Pay us $100/mo now
  2. Landing Page with 1 Form Vs Regular Website (that includes a list of all your features, service offering, about us section, etc)
  3. Major price differences $3/mo Vs. $30/mo

Try Sequential Testing

Sequential testing is when you test each variation in a given time period. Since you don’t have that much traffic you can try a different variation every 2 weeks. Just make sure you record all your data like total amount of traffic, paid conversions, and what you changed.

The biggest problem with sequential testing is that sometimes it can give you bad data because both variations are not running at the same time. For example towards the end of the month you may have a bunch of conversions vs. the start of the month.

Increase Conversions by Eliminating Barriers

If you need more conversions to run an AB Test, get more conversions!

Here are a few tips on increasing conversions:

  1. Add a “Free Whitepaper” resource or Lightbox pop-up that requires the end user to enter in their contact information.
  2. Remove any barriers like a “Credit Card Required” or a CAPTCHA field
  3. Use multi-step forms. The first step should just be an email address, the second step can be everything else

Square Cash: Movie Background Trailer

Square Cash

Square recently announced Square Cash. A way to “Email Money to anyone’s Debit Card”.

What I found really fascinating was instead of having a video on their homepage, they have a movie-like rotating background image that shows you all the different things you can do with it. Like splitting meals or a cab with friends.

Here is what one of the backgrounds looks like:

Square Cash GIF

This is taking background images and GIFs to the next level. I like this more than a video, because often times I don’t click the play button because I’m at work or on the go.

Check it out, and let me know what you think of it in the comments.

I like TurboTax’s Speech Bubbles

TurboTax LogoNobody likes Tax day…. except probably the people over at TurboTax. Their service is now the default way of filing taxes.

I really like how on their pricing page they have speech bubbles so you can easily self-identify with a the best TurboTax plan for your needs. It is really hard to cater to the masses.. but TurboTax does it extremely well, they are able to cater to low AND high income earners as well as students, military personnel, and business owners.

Self Identifying Speech Bubbles on TurboTax

When I was on this page, my eyes went right to the speech bubbles. I remember even saying, “Yes” a few times in my head as I was scanning which package I should get.

What is interesting is that it isn’t just the simple short text, it is also the design. The speech bubbles make it look like you just said it.

What do you think of the speech bubbles – did they work on you?