Startup traction channel – affiliate marketing

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Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting book has “affiliate marketing” as one of the traction channels and this is the subject of this blog post (build from this week’s edition of the newsletter – 3ThingsThisWeek).

An affiliate program is an arrangement where you pay people or companies for performing certain actions (like making a sale or getting a qualified lead). Affiliate programs are frequently found in retail, information products, and lead generation.
Some of the advantages of using this channel are:

  • You only pay for results – unlike traditional advertising methods, affiliate marketing is the most cost-effective one. If your affiliates don’t perform and bring leads, they simply don’t get paid.
  • You don’t spend time on advertising – let others do the work for you so you can worry about other, more important issues, or issues that you have skills for. You don’t need to be a marketing expert, neither you have to learn any marketing methods to run an affiliate program.
  • Get lots of traffic and improved SEO – lots of affiliates generate lots of backlinks.
  • Find Super affiliates and you’re golden – you don’t need hundreds of affiliates to successfully run an affiliate program. In general, most of the businesses have 3-5 Super affiliates who generate more than 50% of the revenue from their whole affiliate program.

Thing # 1:  Why Affiliate Marketing Is a Great Option for Startups

Affiliate marketing is great for a startup or someone who wants to grow faster, who doesn’t want to take the risk and spend money on marketing. If you want other people to drive sales for you, and you only pay them for results, it’s a great deal. There’s little to no risk.  Read this article on why affiliate marketing is a great traction building channel for start-up businesses.

Thing #2:  Affiliate Programs-Traction Channel

Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts. The industry has four core players: the merchant (also known as ‘retailer’ or ‘brand’), the network (that contains offers for the affiliate to choose from and also takes care of the payments), the publisher (also known as ‘the affiliate’), and the customer.”  This article gives more insights into affiliate marketing channel.

Thing #3:  Affiliate Marketing with David Quiec

In this video, David Quiec, Customer Acquisition & Demand Gen, Distribution Hacker in Residence for 500 Startups talks about affiliate marketing foundations – pay for performance, Types of affiliates, types of programs, pros & cons.  In the context of startup businesses, he talks about what success looks like in this channel and gives you tips on the best practices for affiliate programs.

I would love to hear about your experiences and challenges in using “affiliate marketing” as a traction channel.  If you have some success stories in using this channel, they will be great stuff to share with others trying to explore this.

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Startup traction channel – targeting blogs

traction - targeting blogs

Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting book has “targeting blogs” as one of the traction channels and this is the subject of this blog post (build from this week’s edition of the newsletter – 3ThingsThisWeek).

Targeting blogs your customers read is one of the most effective ways to get your first wave of customers.  In this phase, you need to identify the holes in your product by gaining a steady stream of “cold” customers who will give you honest feedback.

Mint identified targeting blogs as their core channel in their early days. Mint gained initial traction by targeting mid-sized blogs in their niche. They chose blogs whose followers would likely be interested in their product. They gave bloggers VIP access to their service in exchange for a badge posted to the blogger’s web page. The badge linked to Mint’s service, which gained the startup even more customers. Mint also sponsored blog posts to gain influence with readers and formed content partnerships with major sites like The Motley Fool to provide unique content for their readers while promoting their product.

The playing field is not limited to blogs. Link-sharing communities such as Reddit are also great places to build traction. There are lots of forums on the internet that might share or promote your product or service to its members.

Welcome to the Influencer Economy is an amazing article that takes you through the stages in which “influencer economy” has developed in past few years and also give some insights on what to expect here in coming days. The influencer economy has its roots in the blogging movement. This got accelerated after the sites such as Blogger, WordPress were founded. From this, the influencer marketing has evolved considerably in recent time. Many influencers today run their own TV shows, fashion magazines, and newspapers. Trends suggest that consumers are replacing traditional media with these newly democratized influencers and creators.  This is a “must read” article to gain the perspective of influencers if you wish to use this traction channel.

Now that you have an idea of influencers,  The Definitive Guide to Influencer Targeting is a great snapshot of a guide on how to use this traction channel.  This guide covers everything like – Where do you look for influencers for your product?  What defines an influencer for your product? How to engage with them? How do you compensate them? This is a great guide as a starting point for your experiments with this traction channel.

Finding the right kind of fellow bloggers is a crucial step in this traction channel.  There are a variety of tools you can use to uncover relevant blogs including YouTube, Delicious, StumbleUpon, Twitter, search engines, Google Alerts and Social Mention. You can run tests on a variety of smaller blogs to see what type of blog and blog audience resonates best with your product and messaging. The best way to find and get to know bloggers is to talk to them or through their writing. You need to get a measure of them, make a connection, find things in common, see how they think. Read more on this in this article  – Finding and Connecting With Bloggers and Targeting Blog Audiences to get better at using this traction channel.

I would love to hear about your experiences and challenges in using “targeting blogs” as a traction channel.  If you have some success stories in using this channel, they will be great stuff to share with others trying to explore this.

 

 

The 3 Things This Week: 5th April, 2018

Hey,

Happy Thursday! How are you doing this week?

Before we get into this week’s three things, I must tell you that starting from this edition, there are some changes in the structure and format of 3Things This Week. One noticeable change Is an absence of images. Yes, we are back to simple list format, because I believe, if there is a value in the content that comes to you, the absence of images should not matter.  Deeper than this, from this edition, the theme that we start with would stick with us for several weeks or months till many aspects of the theme are covered in the newsletter.

So, the theme of today’s (and also for the next few weeks) 3Things This Week is traction for startups.

Traction is a measure of your product’s engagement with its market, a.k.a. product/market fit. Traction is a general term and acquires a different parameter depending on your business building stage.  In order of importance, it is demonstrated through profit, revenue, customers, pilot customers, non-paying users, and verified hypotheses about customer problems. And their rates of change.

Thing # 1: The 19 Channels You Can Use to Get Traction

In all probabilities, this article – “The 19 Channels You Can Use to Get Traction” must have been read by many of you by now. Its an article by Gabriel Weinberg, CEO & Founder, DuckDuckGo and Co-author, Traction. This article gives a snapshot of 19 traction channels that one can work on and is quite a useful resource to quickly check anytime if you are missing on any potentially good channel option in your marketing.  In Traction (the book), there is one chapter on each of the 19 customer acquisition channels you can use to get traction, and if you haven’t yet acquired this book copy, is high time to go for it.

Things #2:  Zero to Hockey Stick Growth: How to Get Startup Traction

In a free-flowing conversation, Scott Britton spends time with Justin Mares, the other Co-author of Traction, touches a lot many aspects related traction in a specific context. If you want to have a clarity on things like what is a traction, whether should you go for product development or channel building, this is a conversation that you must listen to. You also get some insights on some specific strategies for some specific channels.

Thing #3: How do you pick a lead generation channel?

Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares, in the book Traction, recommends working on 3 or 4 traction channels at any point of time and through some days or weeks, you figure out which channels are working for you at this point of time and based on the learning you go for a quick change if needed. In a short video, Alex Berman answers this question in a different way.  Should you use SEO to grow? Social media? Cold email? Webinars? In this video, he tells you a simple framework you can use to pick marketing channels that you want to work with. I am not spoiling this for you by describing it here.  Check this yourself, you will not regret!

That’s all folks for this week of 3Things This Week.

From the next week, we will focus on each of these 19 channels in more details. If you are looking for some insights for any specific channels, do write back and I will try to put that channel in a priority position.

 

I  would love to hear your feedback on 3 Things This Week.

Hope you enjoy, and thanks again for the privilege of emailing you!

Wishing you lots of happy reading,

 

Shashank

 

 

 

P.S. –

1. The 3 Things This Week” is a free, short, curated list of useful articles, tools and other resources for building startup businesses. These 3 things would deal, in a random way, with different aspects of startup building – validation, traction, growth, funding, team, founders.

2. If you think of anyone who might enjoy this email, you can share this with a friend or co-worker or share this link to sign up for https://climb-lean.ontrapages.com

 

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The 3 Things This Week : 29th March, 2018

Hey,

Happy Thursday!

How are you doing this week?

Here are this week’s 3 things!

This week’s theme is about some of the hacks that will boost your mental power and productivity.

Thing # 1:  5-Hour Rule: Why You Should Spend Time Learning

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Why should we spend time on learning?  The answer is simple: learning is the single best investment of our time that we can make. Or as Benjamin Franklin said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” Read more about this 5-hour rule in this article and invest some free time weekly to learn about new things. It’s a good idea to explore different niches and pick some which have your interest.

Thing # 2:  Why the ‘5 Second Rule’ Will Destroy Your Procrastination, According to Science

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The rule is simple: The moment you have an instinct to act on a goal you must act on in it immediately (or within five seconds) — otherwise, your brain will start leaning towards procrastination. This technique lets your brain eliminate doubts, fears, and emotions that hinder you from performing. Once you start using the rule correctly, those five seconds can become 5 minutes, 5 hours, 5 days, up until you finish your task.  Most tasks utilize rational parts of our brain. Unfortunately, these are the same parts of our minds that helped us avoid danger in primitive times. It’s a slow and inefficient process that causes procrastination, and stress only makes it worse. The key here is to end the indecision cycle by to activating the proper parts of your brain.

Thing # 3:  Make More Art: The Health Benefits of Creativity

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The impact of art, music, and writing can be seen in your physical body as well. In other words, the process of creating art doesn’t just make you feel better, it also creates real, physical changes inside your body.  Key is to create more than you consume. The moral of this story is that the process of making art — whether that be writing, painting, singing, dancing, or anything in between — is good for you. There are both physical and mental benefits from creating art, expressing yourself in a tangible way, and sharing something with the world.  Art offers an outlet and a release from all the incoming signals and creates an outgoing one instead. Produce something. Express yourself in some way. As long as you contribute rather than consume, anything you do can be a work of art.

 

I  would love to hear your feedback on 3 Things This Week.

Hope you enjoy, and thanks again for the privilege of emailing you!

Wishing you lots of happy reading,

 

Shashank

 

 

 

P.S. –

 

1. The 3 Things This Week” is a free, short, curated list of useful articles, tools and other resources for building startup businesses. These 3 things would deal, in a random way, with different aspects of startup building – validation, traction, growth, funding, team, founders.

2. If you think of anyone who might enjoy this email, you can share this with a friend or co-worker.

 

Web – Climb Lean School of Starting Up

Facebook – Climb Lean Facebook page

The 3 Things This Week : 22nd March, 2018

Hey,

Happy Thursday!

How are you doing this week?

Here are this week’s 3 things!

This week’s theme is about Facebook, most of us use it one way or other.

Thing # 1:  The Most Shared Facebook Content 2017. The Top Viral Posts, Videos and Articles

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What content do Facebook audiences love to share, like and comment on? This article is based on the review of two billion articles and Facebook posts that were published in past year. Check out the findings below, including the content (articles, videos, and blog posts) that were most shared on Facebook, the viral Facebook posts that gained the most engagement, expert reflections on the findings and the lessons for content marketers. We cannot expect to replicate their success. However, we can learn from them to gain deeper insights into the kinds of content that engage Facebook audiences.

Thing # 2:  How to Go From 0 to 5,000 members in 90 days- Facebook Groups are the Future of Community

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Facebook groups are the future of the community and a great tool in marketing. This video from Growth Marketing Conference is just about a conversation with Vin on how to go from 0 to 5,000 members in 90 days in your Facebook group.  The last few years Vin has breathed only one thing, growth. His edgy stage presence, wardrobe, and genius leadership skills make him a community rockstar. Come learn his secrets.

 

Thing # 3:   Is Facebook for old people? Over-55s flock in as the young leave

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It’s official: Facebook is for old(er) people. Teens and young adults are ditching Mark Zuckerberg’s social network as popularity among the over-55s surges, according to a report. In 2018, 2.2 million 12- to 17-year-olds and 4.5 million 18- to 24-year-olds will regularly use Facebook in the UK, 700,000 fewer than in 2017, as younger users defect to services such as Snapchat, according to eMarketer.  A surge in older users means over-55s will become the second-biggest demographic of Facebook users this year. This is a significant trend to take a notice if your marketing is indeed driven by FB ads or social sharing.

 

I  would love to hear your feedback on 3 Things This Week.

Hope you enjoy, and thanks again for the privilege of emailing you!

Wishing you lots of happy reading,

 

Shashank

 

 

 

P.S. –

 

1. The 3 Things This Week” is a free, short, curated list of useful articles, tools and other resources for building startup businesses. These 3 things would deal, in a random way, with different aspects of startup building – validation, traction, growth, funding, team, founders.

2. If you think of anyone who might enjoy this email, you can share this with a friend or co-worker.

 

Web – Climb Lean School of Starting Up

Facebook – Climb Lean Facebook page

The 3 Things This Week : 15th March, 2018

Hey,

Happy Thursday!

How are you doing this week?

Here are this week’s 3 things!

This week’s theme is the entrepreneurial mindset and some of the hacks that may be useful.

Thing # 1The One Key Trait that Einstein, da Vinci, and Steve Jobs Had in Common

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Entrepreneurs can’t have a  lodestar be return on investments, profits, and relative margins. A lodestar has to be, ‘Are we making a product people will always love?’” Bezos does that, Steve Jobs did it, Leonardo did it. So sometimes, let your imagination push you a little bit. Don’t be afraid of daydreaming, and then trying the impossible. We silo ourselves too much, we specialize too much. The biggest takeaway from this is to stay curious about everything, things you and I asked about when we were ten, but not in our later years.  

Thing # 2:  Intuition vs. Rationality: Where One Stops the Other Starts

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You get your intuition back when you make space for it, when you stop the chattering of the rational mind. The rational mind doesn’t nourish you. You assume that it gives you the truth because the rational mind is the golden calf that this culture worships, but this is not true. Rationality squeezes out much that is rich and juicy and fascinating.

It is through science that we prove, but through intuition that we discover. Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect. Rational thought is not an innate human characteristic, it is learned and it is the great achievement of Western civilization. It’s not really acceptable to admit but most of the time we make our decisions on intuition, rationalizing them after the fact by cherry picking.  The more we are within our circle of competence the more likely our intuition proves correct.  The point isn’t choosing between cold rationality and intuition but rather understanding that each serves a purpose.

Thing # 3:  How Your Beliefs Can Sabotage Your Behavior

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Your mind is a powerful thing. The stories you tell yourself and the things you believe about yourself can either prevent change from happening or allow new skills to blossom.

A skill is something you can cultivate, not merely something you’re born with. You can become more creative, more intelligent, more athletic, more artistic, and more successful by focusing on the process, not the outcome. Instead of worrying about winning the championship, commit to the process of training like a champion. The way to go for this is, instead of worrying about writing a bestselling book, commit to the process of publishing your ideas on a consistent basis.

 

I  would love to hear your feedback on 3 Things This Week.

Hope you enjoy, and thanks again for the privilege of emailing you!

Wishing you lots of happy reading,

 

Shashank

 

 

 

P.S. –

 

1. The 3 Things This Week” is a free, short, curated list of useful articles, tools and other resources for building startup businesses. These 3 things would deal, in a random way, with different aspects of startup building – validation, traction, growth, funding, team, founders.

2. If you think of anyone who might enjoy this email, you can share this with a friend or co-worker.

 

Web – Climb Lean School of Starting Up

Facebook – Climb Lean Facebook page

Skin in the game

skin

Skin in the Game is Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s fifth book. His earlier books include – Fooled by Randomness (2001), The Black Swan (2007–2010), The Bed of Procrustes (2010), and Antifragile (2012). His second non-technical book, The Black Swan, about unpredictable events, was a big success and was credited with predicting the banking and economic crisis of 2008.

skin

The argument of the new book – Skin in the game  is immediately attractive: if you have no skin in the game, you shouldn’t be in the game.  If you give an opinion, and someone follows it, you are morally obligated to be, yourself, exposed to its consequences.

Blending his views on modern day investment risks with effective risk management techniques from earlier in history, author Nassim Taleb explains the value and moral purpose of requiring all investors to have “skin in the game.”

In his most provocative and practical book yet Taleb redefines what it means to understand the world, succeed in a profession, contribute to a fair and just society, detect nonsense, and influence others. Taleb shows how the willingness to accept one’s own risks is an essential attribute of heroes, saints, and flourishing people in all walks of life.

If you don’t have time to read the book fully, this podcast between Russell Roberts and Nassim is a good summary of many of the important topics in the book.

Did you know there are 11 types of users that you meet?

diff early users.jpg

When we launch a new product, people around us in our network – family members, friends, associates, and well-wishers may be among the first few users who come on board. There are two clear advantages of doing that – first, they are much more easily accessible than complete strangers and secondly, they all mean well for you.

But, they say, you should go beyond your immediate circle.

Not a problem! We run some Facebook ads or start pitching the product or the idea to everyone that you meet and see what they think!

The logic is solid here. If someone responds to the ad or to the your approaches, obviously this person would have a need (for the product that you are building). Of course, why else he or she would spend time and energy to talk to you? “This person obviously is from my target segment and possibly my early user,” is how we think.

There are, however, 11 types of users that you may encounter. Lets analyse these 11 different persons (Mr. or Ms) of the early user and how should you approach them in your strategy to woo them.

Mr. Who Cares:

Signature: These are the kind of people who don’t know if they have a problem. They don’t know it they need it or if it matters to them

Solution: Find something they care about, and show them how your solution will help them with the thing that they already care about. This helps them to understand the extra mileage that your solution can help them go.

Mr. Skeptic:

Signature: These are the kind of people who are always questioning and don’t trust you and your offering. They don’t believe you, your product or your claims.

Solution: You need to build credibility for you and your product to alleviate these fears. Address their doubts of credibility before they ask. Build trust through social proofs.

Mr Doubtful:

Signature: These are kind of people that worry about the cost or benefit for your solution. They seem to get it but they never seem to buy from you. Will always ask questions like — Doesn’t work for me? I cant afford this? Don’t have time to experiment

Solution: Try to lower the barrier to entry to try.

Mr. Procrastinator:

Signature: These are the kind of people who always delay and don’t have urgency to buy even if they know they will benefit from the solution.

Solution: They are not 100% sure of their decisions and base their decision by looking at something or someone. So create scarcity. Give them small wins. Eliminate fear of trying. Give them trailer of how it works and how can it help.

Mr. Toxic

Signature: These are the kind of people who are always the first ones to shoot down your ideas. They are complete pessimists and can suck away all of your excitement with a single derogatory comment.

Solution:   It is best to avoid talking to toxic persons. Find someone positive to talk to.

Mr. Genuine Fear

Signature: These are the kind of people who are genuinely fearful about change that a new product brings in. The fear could be about some specific factors related to your product or it could be just the fear of unknown.

Solution: If you can have some insights about the factors or sources of fear, you could possibly deal with them,

Mr. Nothing’ New

Signature:  These are the kind of people who consider anything that is not completely new and different, is not worth their time and always ask, “Has this been done before?”

Solution: Try to find out more about his existing alternatives and dis-satisfaction points vis a vis existing options to solve the pain.

Mr. Parent

Signature: These are the kind of people who have a strong urge to be “nice” and “helpful” to you.  And this urge may over dominate a “need” factor totally, even if it was there in the first place.

Solution: Its nice to have protecting people around, but its not going to take your business goals further if you have them. Be thankful to them and tell them to go for your product only if they have a pain point that gets addressed by your product. Otherwise, they can always give you some reference of some other people who they think may have the pain point.

Mr. More Info

Signature: These are the kind of people who will not be satisfied with what you present to them. They always look for more information and want to do more research about your product.

Solution: Feed to their need for information, have long healthy discussions, introduce them to some experts that you have been working on and these guys will be on your side.

Mr. Not Me

Signature: These are the kind of people who have the pain point, are aware of the fact that they have this pain point, but are just not willing to act on it and so, are putting up resistance to your product.

Solution:  Reassure them about the positive changes that your product offers to their life and find ways to help them break their old habbits.

Mr. Bring it On:

Signature: These are your ideal first clients. They are always excited to try everything that comes out.

Solution: Show them vision, breakthrough, innovation in your category to woo such customers

Summing up

When you are approaching people randomly, you encounter different types of early users and you need different ways to deal with them. There is however, an alternative approach – look for your early adopters. Early adopters are the people who have the pain point that you are trying to solve and who are actively looking for solution for it. There is an incredible match between the two of you and they are a much better option for you to begin conversation with.

This alternative may involve some hard  work, you may need to look for them individually and recruit them manually to begin with.

Approaching strangers randomly, being much of a passive work, is less effort.

But, trust me, you will find this little hard work to find early adopters much productive in the final analysis.

 

How do I measure the success of a newly launched product?

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I was talking to one of the mentees from earlier months, after a gap of about 6 – 7 months and my usual question to him was, how has been his startup business progressing.

And, his reply to that question was, “Well, on the customer front, there is no much change in the situation, but otherwise we are making progress. Our Facebook followers are growing at more than 25% every month.   We got more opportunities to showcase our offerings in many forums, we are getting recognized more widely, and we won a few startup competitions.”

This set me into thinking, does he even know how to measure the success of a newly launched product.

An increase in FB followers and/or likes is one nice metric to keep an eye on, but the power lies in the quality of those followers, their relevance to your market, and their willingness to engage with you. An increased number of opportunities to showcase your offerings and a number of startup competitions won are clearly not the way to measure your progress.

Lack of clarity on how to measure

What happens when you are not clear on how you want to measure progress?  If you are not clear about this, you are essentially not clear not about your goals.  If you are not clear about your goals, you cannot be committed to a decision about what you want in your life, and then you aren’t invested enough in your goals.

If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.

Lewis Carroll

Unfortunately, following this path of thinking is not too wise when you have limited resources in the early days of your startup business.

Why do you need to measure the progress?

More than 90% of all startups ultimately fail. At the end of the day, startups die because they are not built upon healthy business models that can be sustained over the long term.  How, though, can you ensure that your business model is sound, that it will allow your startup to expand over time and steadily improve profit margins?

This is where measurement comes into play.

What to measure?

In early days from the launch of your MVP or new product, what is more, important to measure is how many people are engaging with it and how well are they engaging with it and how is this number growing?  The top three metrics that are most important for early startups to track are active user numbers, 2nd-month retention, and engagement rates. But more importantly, you want to know if customers just open the product or do they actually use it?

There are 4 metrics that could be relevant for you to track in this phase.

Activation Rate

The activation rate measures how many visitors are engaging with your website or app. Activation can be defined several different ways depending on your business including the number of clicks, time on the website, pages viewed, downloads, email/blog subscription, or even a trial signup. The activation rate can be any action that will lead a visitor to a return visit (retention). This startup metric measures the first experience a visitor / potential customer has with your product/service/app.

Daily Active Users (DAU) to Monthly Active Users (MAU) Ratio

The Daily Active Users (DAU) to Monthly Active Users (MAU) Ratio measures the stickiness of your product – that is, how often people engage with your product. DAU is the number of unique users who engage with your product in a one day window. MAU is the number of unique users who engage with your product over a 30-day window (usually a rolling 30 days). The ratio of DAU to MAU is the proportion of monthly active users who engage with your product in a single day window. For startups that aren’t charging initially, this is a reasonable proxy for revenue growth because whenever the startup does start trying to make money, their revenues will probably be a constant multiple of active users.

Customer Shares

Are people happy enough with your service that they are telling their friends?  If you drive up the percentage of our customers that tell their friends about us, then we know they felt successful regardless of the conversion rate they saw. Seeing when they do this also helps tell us how many conversions most customers view as a successful number. You can measure Google Alerts to find when a customer blogs about us, and conduct Twitter searches to see when your brand is mentioned positively.

Sales metrics

When measuring sales, you should consider measuring revenue run rate. The run rate helps you to predict the future performance of your business sales. Sales measurements should also include ARPU; average revenue per user. If this trend is upwards, it’s a signal that you’re squeezing more from every customer.

Summing up

When you build and launch a new product, you also need to build a traction roadmap that you can use to effectively define, measure and communicate progress to yourself and external stakeholders.

Every business is based on a set of assumptions. We work constantly to test assumptions.

We focus on metrics in order to improve upon our success rate.  The name of the game is progressive, incremental improvements.