Some say that running a fast-growing business is like flying a plane while they’re building it. We believe that being agile in your approach is essential, but equally important, you have to be crystal-clear on your goals and put in place the best measurement system to track performance against target and use detailed insights to optimize your inbound marketing and user experience.

I’m the CEO of Smart Insights and my company offers downloadable templates, guides and courses to help businesses use a more strategic, measured approach to increase leads and sales.

Based on this, you can easily guess we push out a lot of free content assets such as benchmarking, strategy and optimization templates. Because we have such a strong marketing content engine which gets us millions of uniques each year and thousands of leads each month, I needed to figure out how to best nurture the interest we are getting. Most people that download our content are not ready to pay for premium services straightaway. And we need to convince those that are under our freemium subscription plan that they will get more value out of our premium ‘Expert member’ plans.

Google Analytics didn’t allow me to make any actionable decisions – so I tried Kissmetrics.

Understanding, in detail, how and why our customers buy is essential to growing our business. So when we launched our Expert membership, the first thing I asked myself was: How do I figure out what my members are doing and what can I do to give them what they want?

As a digital marketing consultant, like any marketer, I immediately turned to Google Analytics. It’s great since it’s free and easy for non-specialists to pick it up and get started to view trends.

However, I wanted to see detailed insights about our customers like how long they take to buy, the latency between interacting with different content. I wanted to see this for individual freemium members when signed in and as cohorts we could track as we optimized our site. I also wanted a clear business dashboard I could review with my co-founders each month and link to our growth forecasts.

I was frustrated since we knew the insights we needed to run the business, but Google Analytics couldn’t give us the right information, with the right level of depth or accuracy due to its sampling methods. In a nutshell, we couldn’t easily figure out which content our users, prospects, freemium, and paid customers are engaging with. This is what our main member page looks like and as you can see, there are many actions (CTAs, click-throughs, hovers) that one member can take:

smart-insights-content-hub

This is why we turned to Kissmetrics. We set up tracking on all the key actions as you see above. With Kissmetrics we get full visibility on the conversion funnel because we’re now tracking what each individual person is doing on my site as they interact with different content. We also get reports that show us precisely how the business is performing each day/week/month and year which means we can prioritise our optimization efforts better.

Kissmetrics helped me grow my monthly revenue by 120%

Before I go into specific examples, I really want to share how I use Kissmetrics’ dashboards because I think every business leader needs something like this if they want to grow their business and make their customers happy.

I and my co-directors review our customized dashboard with all the KPIs that I care about as our daily business health check. We rely on the emails from Kissmetrics to hit our inboxes before I get up every morning to make sure my business is on track. We’ve configured our dashboard so we have a breakdown of things like revenue, leads, sales–and the conversion of those–and we can easily track all these KPIs against our multiple membership tiers.

A more concrete example is when we launched our new interactive benchmarking tool a couple months ago and now with Kissmetrics we’re able to see exactly how many people started using this new product mapped back to their membership tier, role and organisation. I was able to figure out what features were the most useful for the different segments. This datapoint is gold for marketing programs because we can then create a different onboarding sequence for our freemium users and paid customers. But prior to Kissmetrics, we had no idea what content is most popular to these groups. We can now run the Power Report and many others like it we have set up to get the answers to most ‘what if’ questions when we’re trying to figure out things like this. I find the Power Reports indispensable because it allows us to validate and prioritizes our ideas.

We also advertised and promoted this new product on different channels so not only is it important to nurture the ones who are interested but it’s equally important to feed the funnel with new interests. By running the Cohort Reports, week by week and month by month, I can start to break out what channels are bringing in the best traffic. Thanks to our content marketing machine, SEO accounts for 70% of our conversion and email marketing is strong too. With all these insights I can then break out and welcome different segments of users with a “welcome message” that is more personalized (or in other words, a higher chance for them to convert).

I’m not going to say reporting and optimization is easy. I know from speaking in many conferences and training workshops that marketers struggle with it. This is hard work but it pays off because it impacts the bottom line of any business. For SmartInsights.com, not only are we able to increase traffic to basic membership by 214% but we now have ways to increase our monthly recurring revenue significantly by converting more free members to paid.

To Summarize

Got all that? Here’s a recap:

  • Google Analytics did not give us any actionable data.
  • We turned to Kissmetrics to give us detailed insights that would help grow our business.
  • We use the Metrics Dashboard to give an overview of our Key Performance Indicators (Revenue, Leads, Sales, Conversion Rates).
  • The Daily Metrics emails keeps our team up to date on how our business is performing.
  • The Power Report helps us answer ‘what if’ questions that previously would gone unanswered.
  • The Cohort Report allows me to see which marketing channels are bringing the highest quality traffic.
  • The Funnel Report shows me what each person is doing on my site and how they interact with different content.
  • Using insights we gathered from Kissmetrics, we were able to increase traffic to basic membership by 214% and increase our monthly revenue by 120%.

About the Author: Dave Chaffey is the CEO of Smart Insights.

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