One of the best yet often underestimated source of online traffic: Understanding Traffic from Stumbleupon

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As an online marketer we should really consider ourselves blessed with the amount of effective and virtually no spend marketing channels we have to sell almost anything. Just consider the few listed in the figure below.

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But it’s also important to understand that it’s so very easy to lose focus and half heartedly use a number of these channels for virtually no results.

Let’s check the major sources of traffic under each of Social Network, Social Bookmarking and Media Referrers.

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Source : Readwrite.com

The three graphs do show the importance of using Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Stumble upon as the major channels for getting online traffic. The referral traffic from Stumble Upon has gone down in the past year or two and Pinterest has gained prominence. People might also argue that the traffic from Stumble Upon hardly converts. But even then the traffic that Stumble Upon can generate is significant enough. So create quality content and you can trust on the Stumblers to recommend you and bring you tons of traffic.

I love this website.  It’s a pretty simple site but the content is exactly the type Social Media loves. I’m sure the site gets insane amounts of Social media traffic. So if your website has content that can get pretty viral : Images, funny things, cool gadgets, celebrity news, nature and wildlife related, food and beverages related or basically anything that’s a good read and time pass, then Stumble Upon is a must for you.

Now let’s look at what Stumble Upon is and some of the key things you could do to boost up your traffic from Stumbleupon.

Stumble Upon is a social bookmarking site. Stumblers can bookmark great pages and websites they find on the web and categorize them accordingly. One can also install the Stumble Upon browser plugin on the web browser that makes it easy to bookmark their finds or to vote up the pages that they find using Stumble Upon. But first, you would need to sign up. Ensure that you customize your interests to suit your tastes. The more you stumble and like content, the better the stumble upon engine would become in understanding your preferences and likes.

1) Connect with like-minded people : The real power of any social network comes through the relationships you build. Stumble Upon is quite similar. You can search for like-minded people and follow them. Finding followers interested in the same topics as you is simple. You can start by going to http://www.stumbleupon.com/discover/keyword/ and replace the keyword with topics you are interested in. It will then show you users who are interested in the same things.

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They do get notified and the chances are that they will give you a follow back provided they consider your profile interesting.

Constantly monitor the Stumble Upon review page of the content you have submitted/ thumbed up/ reviewed. Find people who have wrote reviews for it or liked it. If they seem interesting follow them as they share similar interests. Also, as you recommend more and more, Stumble Upon will improve upon it’s suggestion of friend to follow. Be active, follow others, like and review their contents and slowly you will build your network.

2) Don’t submit only your Website pages : Of course you need to bookmark your pages on to Stumble Upon. However only bookmarking your pages won’t give you any major traffic boost. You need to mix it up by being an active user bookmarking, reviewing and voting up plenty of content in your areas of interests and build your profile. The more active you are, the better the chances that people will follow you and would vote up your contents, so that it goes viral. Remember, you are part of a community and people who add value to the community are the ones who are valued the most.

3) Use Clear Titles and descriptions: When you add pages on to Stumble Upon, ensure you give apt and interesting titles and descriptions so that people click through and read. It’s also important to not bookmark your front pages, rather bookmark specific articles which has a better chance of people liking and sharing.

4) Use Stumble Upon Paid discovery if required: Stumble Upon paid discovery is a great way to improve upon your traffic instantly If you don’t want to wait for the traffic to build. There are various plans Stumble upon provides you to choose from.

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You could use a budget as small as $30 and generate about 300 quality visits to your site.

5) Always be using Su.pr to share contents on to other networks : Stumble upon has its own URL shortening system Su.pr . The advantage of using the Su.pr shortener generate shortened links to be shared across various channels is that when a visitor clicks on the link and visits the page they would have the stumble upon toolbar conveniently above the page making it easy for a logged in user to vote up the article giving your more Stumble love.

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If the user loves your content, could also give you some more social media love by sharing the page on other social channels! J

However, the most important thing is to understand that building a following on any Social Channel is not an instant thing. It takes time and a lot of hardwork along with a bit of creativity. But it’s one of the best and the cheapest source of traffic you could generate once you build a following. So invest your time in building a base on channels you think would bring maximum traffic to your sites and have fun doing the same. Stumble upon is a great tool for discovering some amazing content. Discover, learn, build your base and with it gain awesome traffic stats to your website! J

Steve Balmer’s Exit Speech – Pure Passion & Love For The Company!

I have always considered Steve Ballmer as a crazy CEO and have always thought him to be the reason Microsoft missed out on the innumberable opportunities it had to be the leader in the technology business. That doesn’t change a bit.

But have to give it to him for the passion he has. For the love he has for the company. His emotional exit speech was touching. Respect to him for the love and passion he has for the company. I wish every CEO had so much passion and love for the company they ran and not just for the title they held!

Our Journey @Zoomdeck : It gets even more exciting!

Zoomdeck is a beautifully designed, engaging new experience for photos.

When you look at photos, you realize that almost every photo has different interesting stories and elements in them. Yet, how many of them are you able to discover or share? Haven’t you always had questions when you came across a photo – What model of a Ferrari is this? Who is that person? What top is she wearing? How much does it cost, where can I buy one?

Zoomdeck lets you “spot” things inside photos – add notes, audio, video, places, people, links or anything that’s relevant (or simply fun!). Spots are rich, interactive, smart and unobtrusive – so others can easily discover and engage with the photo in ways one could never imagine before. What’s more, the conversations on Zoomdeck are based on each “spot” – so they are always contextual. More context equals better engagement.

The Journey

The journey for us started in 2012. Deepak, my co-founder, has always had a big passion for photography and I have often found him to be crazy at times with his attention for details! But that’s exactly what led to Zoomdeck. Zoomdeck was born out of his need to have a better experience to talk about the details in photos that he was posting on his blog. It was after a few months that I joined him and it has been an eventful journey for us all this while.   

We built our first prototype and did an alpha. Got in and graduated from the first batch of the GSF Accelerator Program. It was a great experience being part of the GSF first batch interacting with a few of the brightest minds in the country, getting feedback and suggestions on what to try and what not to. During this time we also interacted with hundreds of users including a few publishers. It has been fun interacting with users trying to understand their experience while using the product, understanding each action of their’s using the product and iterating on a few minor and at times a few major changes to the design elements.

 

This is how we started :

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                                               Zoomdeck in early 2013      

Being a platform with both consumers and publishers having a major say, we have been fanatical in our focus on building an awesome user experience. We worked with some of the best designers to dig deep and build a product that we think users really want and enjoy. Saneef Ansari – who worked with us for designing our experience is from NID and has worked with some of the best design firms in the world. He is one of the best interaction design expert you could find, is a little expensive though!:-) At times, we have had heated debates, arguments, disagreements on various features, functionalities, interactions and design elements, a few sleepless nights on redbull, caffeine over-dose and whole lot of shawarmas!

We have used almost all parts of our office space trying to figure out features, elements and the design interactions on the platform.

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Figure 1: Trying to figure out all the elements that makes Zoomdeck

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Figure 2: Digging deep to figure out Interactions and elements that make a Photo beautiful

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Figure 3: Figuring out each each Tab/ Action on the Site

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Figure 4: Cracking our brains trying to figure out the UI

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Figure 5: Designing the UI Element: Spot Description

Meanwhile, during this time we had also got on-board Sumit Gupta, the face behind our iOS app. Designing the web was challenging, however getting the experience right on a phone app was even more challenging with the limitation of the screensize. But it was a challenge we found to be fun and exciting and I must say, Sumit is one of the most passionate guys I have seen.

All this while our community was slowly but steadily growing as well, actively spotting stories and elements giving us valuable feedback. We have grown to more than 10,000 photos and 30,000 spots during this time with an active and vibrant community across US, Europe, Australia and India.                                                  

And, here we are today after a few months of hard-work & toil, valuable feedback & amazing spots from our beloved community and a whole lot of exciting moments along the way, on the verge of another awesome moment: We make Zoomdeck go public and we are so excited to see all of you awesome people pour in and enjoy the endless stream of interactive photos discovering and sharing the stories and elements that make them.

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We have built Zoomdeck with a lot of heart and we do hope you take Zoomdeck to your heart as well! J

~Re-posted from my blog on Zoomdeck

Mobile App Retention : One of the most Important metric marketers tend to neglect

Apple and Google have created a new era of mobile computing whose rapid growth is rivaled by the Internet boom of the 1990s. A recent research from ABI Research revealed an estimated 70 Billion app downloads in 2013 – 58 Billion to smartphones and 14 billion to tablets, that’s a total of over 10 apps downloaded per human being on earth.  The App Store has an estimated 775,000 apps as of Jan, 2013 and the Google Play/ Android has an estimated 800,000 apps as of Jan, 2013 ( Refer Fig.1)

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Figure 1

 With the market for apps being extremely crowded and the quality bar rising continuously, the era of the get rich quick apps have long gone by and the real challenge for the marketers/ App Entrepreneur is to gain a significant mindshare of their user base.

This is where the significance of Mobile App retention comes in. With so many apps to download and use on the app store, most of the apps get lost among the collection of apps downloaded by the user or gets deleted soon after download. It is estimated that in case of most apps within a period of 3 months, over ¾th of your customer base is long gone,

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Figure 2

Web marketers don’t stop marketing their product to the users who visited their website once. They use various techniques and channels to re-target that user. This is important because they understand the value of an existing customer or a user who has passed maybe a couple of stages in the Customer Funnel. However more often than not, in the mobile world marketers tend to forget the value of an existing user both in terms of the positive effect it can bring in driving more word of mouth and downloads and also in terms of the amount of additional revenue it can generate.

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Figure 3

In case of app store, the avg. cost of acquisition of a user is >$1. This leaves a common App Entrepreneur with a single purchase price of $0.99 with losses financially. Hence, it’s important for an App Entrepreneur to understand the financials involved in acquiring a user and the amount of money that can be generated from that user, which is nothing but ARPU ( avg. revenue per user).

Having a look at Figure 3 tells us that:

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As you can see , for your profits to increase basically you would have to increase your count of Active Users and ARPU and reduce the avg. cost of acquisition of users.

One basically improves on the Active User count by having the right techniques for retaining and engaging with existing users.

ARPU is again influenced by the user retention percentages. The more the user retention percentages, the more the avg. time spent on the app which directly correlates with the average revenue per user (in app purchases). With retention the LTV (lifetime value of a user) goes up significantly adding to the top-line.

There is also an indirect factor which people often tend to forget: With good retention and happy users, one drastically reduces the Cost of Acquisition of Users as through Word-of-mouth, the happy users will recruit a significant number of new users.

A small increase in your app’s user retention numbers can go a long way in adding a few more dollars in your kitty directly as well as indirectly. An eg:

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How does one improve User retention?

There are various things one should ensure as an App Entrepreneur to ensure a high user retention figure for your app and to create a brand of faithful users:

  • Create an app that is awe-inspiring, an app that is extremely useful or fun to use, an app that solves a particular problem or is extremely engaging and entertaining, an app that is beautiful in design. I could go on and on but the bottom-line is one has to create a world-class app for the user to come back again and again and open the app from the dozens of app one downloads on to their smartphone.
  • Analytics: Use analytics to understand user engagement on different pages which includes the bounce rate, avg. time of visit, frequency of visits, . Try and identify pages which have a high drop-off and do split testing to weed out the reasons for the same. Use free tools such as Flurry for analytics. Provide a mechanism for your users to reach you instantly either with an issue or a suggestion. It is critical in a lot of ways:
  1. Avoiding negative ratings on the app store from the few disgruntled users which would discourage new users from downloading your app.
  2. Understanding issues faced by the user which you wouldn’t have thought previously.
  3. Get suggestions and ideas for new functionalities. Use the app user for your research and survey actively to further improve the app.
  4. Giving means for users to contact you when in need just forms one part of the coin. It’s equally important for you to respond back immediately to further improve your relationship with the customer and make the user feel that he is cared for. This goes a long way in making the user an advocate of your app.
  5. Updating and improving the app constantly is yet another important factor. It is important not just because the app should improve both in terms of usability and functionality at a rapid pace but also because with each update the dormant user is prompted to come back to the app. Hence utilizing this is really effective.
  • It’s important to segment users based on their in-app behavior and interact with them differently. Craft a different strategy for different segments of users. There are a number of strategies apps in different segments use to engage with such users. Eg: In a travel app : Send special offers to a particular destination to people who have constantly kept track of the travel packages to that particular destination.
  • Communicate with dormant users with relevant content or any piece of information which would prompt them to log back in. Always use in-app messaging and push notifications to increase retention. Studies from Airpush have shown that push notifications increases engagement 4x times and increases retention 2x times. For eg: a Social media app could send a notification/message to one of its dormant users highlighting the activities of his/ her friends or by highlighting what’s new/ trending.
  • Engage on Social Media to build a good relationship with your users. This would result in a higher mindshare for your brand name in the minds of the user which would indirectly increase retention and word of mouth.
  • Create a reason for the user to log back in regularly either to win points or get a shot to enter the leaderboards. Gamification is yet another important aspect that will encourage users to come back to your app.

Hence, what I would say is that we App Entrepreneurs have a retention problem rather than a discovery problem. The ASO techniques are extremely important in getting you visibility on the app store and maybe a few downloads but with the plethora of apps on the app store and the relatively low barrier to delete an app from a mobile, the major challenge for us is to increase the user retention and with it the Lifetime value of our users.