Data is new oil, especially in internet business

April 24, 2024

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Boost your marketing knowledge! In this interview, Mike Korba shares some of his growth hacks and strategies for marketing analytics.

1. Most companies, startups and enterprises, mention the importance of talking to their customers to gain more insights, but how do you actually do this? Survey, interviews, or? What’ your experience and what works best?

We have several tools to gain more insights from our customers and that process has changed during our journey. In order to be able to assess whether we are doing well, we regularly conduct satisfaction and loyalty surveys.

A tool that works great for us is NPS. It’s based on a simple ques-tion: How likely are you to recommend us on a scale from 0 to 10. All responses and raw comments are collected and on their basis, we create one slide summary of conclusions (insight).

Another source of insights are our customer support employees.

We love to hear about how our customers feel about our product, therefore, we regularly prepare case studies on the basis of personal interviews with our customers. Apart from that, there are also suggestions on what we can improve, complaints and comparisons to our competitors.

2. You joined and invested in User.com in 2016. How come you decided to join a company in such an extremely competitive space with major players like HubSpot, Pipe- drive, etc.? Shouldn’t you stay away from the red oceans?

To be honest, when I made the decision to join User.com, I didn’t even think about it. I found User.com so compelling that I left my previous job and joined as an employee and then invested my own money to move up and to be considered one of the co-founders. It was something that attracted me, as something that we could see the depth and the potential capabilities of achieving such dreams even with a small team.

 

Team giving high fives

 

Now, after a couple of years, I can tell that I would do the same once again, even taking into account that this market is extremely competitive. Competition shouldn’t be a warning for a new company. It should be considered as an incentive.

If the competition is high, it means that there is money on that market so it’s easier to be a part of a market landscape and compete with better functionalities and service with other market players. Creating a market, pointing out ‘pain relievers’, and being an innovator in a niche is more expensive and has a higher probability of failure.

3. You decided to buy the domain User.com at a cost of 400,000 EUR. That’s a massive amount for a startup. How come you decided to do that?

Just to clarify, the domain cost us $150,000, but it’s still not much because the negotiations started from €400,000. We never thought that we could succeed. We began negotiations just for fun and because of our curiosity about how the process looks. It took us ten months and over 400 exchanged e-mails.

The money we paid seems like a very high price for a domain but when you think about it for a while, then you see it’s a great deal. The Internet ran out of four-letter.com domains in 2013, only 28 years after registering the first website, so people are now more than eager to pay any price for short and easy to remember domain names.

That’s why we believe in the possibility that the new domain name is a “game changer”. It’s especially valuable in the brand building process.

4. Many SaaS companies experience that they start with one customer segment, but end up serving a totally different one. Has this also been the case with User.com, and if so, why?

This was also the case with us, though not entirely. We also took another mistake. We tried to satisfy many segments at once: e-commerce, SaaS, service company…

Today, as we have some operating frameworks developed, it would probably not be a problem, but then, at the startup level, it was quite a challenge. It’s not like it was a waste of time or a blown budget. Instead, this allowed us to develop, both in terms of technology and sales, and to discover the needs and expectations of various customers. We use these insights in our work to this day.

Currently, we focus our activities and experiences on selected micro segments and we address our activities accordingly. We try to take full advantage of account-based marketing. The knowledge we have allows us to prepare content that’s precisely tailored to the target group of our choice. Personalized messages are much more effective than messages sent to mass recipients of lots of segments.

5. What growth hacks have worked for you? You’ve mentioned Capterra, referrals, and Quora as some relatively successful ones.

I would like to share 3 very specific growth hacks that have worked well for us, and which may be an inspiration for the reader.

 

Growth graph on a laptop

 

Cold mailing

The first one is outbound. It’s all about frameworks and processes. In order to be able to carry out outbound activities well, you should first take care of a team consisting of narrowly specialized positions. We tried to automate as many processes as possible. As a result, we managed to automate the sending of emails or obtaining databases, but we did not manage to automate the most important element of our outbound activities – personalized video. The script formula remains unchanged today.

Instead of using a method of mass communication, we focused on personalization and it was a bull’s-eye. Of course, this action was accompanied by many others, such as outreach on LinkedIn, remarketing campaigns for people who entered the link or follow-ups.

The key to a good outbound is a good base. In addition, you should monitor cost effectiveness, if a CAC (customer acquisition cost) is less than 1/3 LTV (lifetime value), then it’s worth scaling that outbound activity.

Alternative to campaign

We have learned from our clients who previously used Intercom that they left due to increasing costs after one year of use and due to the difficulty of using CRM. We based the entire campaign on this information.

The first step was to prepare the Intercom customer base. To accomplish that we used a tool that allowed us to find companies which we want to target. When we had the list of companies, we used a tool to obtain the data of contact persons.

We then used cold mailing techniques and were reaching out on LinkedIn and ABM ads using Albacross. We also created a dedicated landing page, where you can find testimonials of people who switched from Intercom to User.com.

In addition, we also introduced changes to our product. We have developed a special data migrator for Intercom customers, to keep the data transfer process smooth, and step-by-step educational materials explaining the process of using User.com instead of Intercom. What’s more, we created a special team whose task was to support clients in the migration process.

Global Event

We’ve reached 1.5 thousand new leads thanks to the organization of the SaaS Growth Summit.

The Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting necessity of transferring business events to the online sphere significantly facilitated reaching the greatest experts in individual industries. It was also much easier to organize a larger scale event and to get in touch with potential interested parties from all over the world. What made us succeed?

  • partners from the US
  • clearly defined goals connected with KPIsgetting the greatest experts to speak. When we managed to get one really great speaker, it was easier to get more
  • a detailed promotion plan and schedule of activities

6. Now we’ll get a bit technical, but I’m sure that our IMPACT readers will have no problem keeping up. I would like to ask you, how you hack remarketing tags because I’ve read that you’ve found a really good way of doing this?

Today, when the years of digital transformation were reduced to months, as the pandemic forced a rapid transition to digital channels, it’s especially important for data from the offline world with data from the online world to intertwine.

 

Person shopping online on her smartphone

 

If you use CRM on a daily basis, you have certainly felt the inability to automatically add a tag with information about signed contracts in the offline world more than once. It’s not easy, but let me show you how to do it.

We will use User.com in this example, but don’t worry, you can use any other marketing automation tool. For this, we need GTM (Google Tag Manager), GA (Google Analytics) and User.com. User.com stores information about customers that’s not necessarily available in Google Analytics, and vice versa. Combining these two tools means combining two powerful data sources. User.com can use the API to retrieve specific data and save it accordingly. If you want to dive into technical details, check the instructions we’ve prepared here.

7. What’s your experience with freemium models. Good or bad idea?

As for my personal experience, it’s not the best, but I know that for many people the freemium plan works great and is effective.

We at user.com also had it for a while. The GA showed that embedding the user.com logo in a chat window or on a web-push prompt is a source of valuable registrations and good leads. It seemed to be a reasonable bet to offer our solution to as many free users as possible just to get this traffic. Unfortunately, we did not obtain the economies of scale that I hoped for.

8. Please explain the difference between quantity and quality metrics, and why they’re both important?

In my general experience, people usually don’t understand metrics, don’t know how to draw conclusions from them, and this makes decisions more difficult. And yet the data is supposed to help with this!

There are two types of data in web analytics – qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative metrics focus on the features presented by the research subject, whereas quantitative metrics focus on measurable variables that can be expressed numerically.

Qualitative data cannot be used separately from quantitative data. They can only help us understand what happened. If they complement each other, they make it possible to draw reliable conclusions.

Unfortunately, the misunderstanding of data sometimes reaches an absurd level in marketing, like when a marketer goes for a walk, statistically, both the dog and the marketer have an average of three legs.

9. You’ve said that analytics should be a marketer’s best friend. Why?

Data is the new oil, especially in internet businesses. Having access to unlimited data, we can draw conclusions from it. Obtaining data from a potential customer is even more important in the context of the changes announced by Google in 2020 and planned to be introduced in 2023. We are heading towards the so-called cookieless future. The possibilities of targeting users will be limited.

 

Crowd from above

 

This is the result of Google’s planned withdrawal of third-party cookies in Chrome. Instead of third-party date (and paid media), you should bet on first-data party (owned media) and improve its collection. This is crucial as they will allow you to understand the behavior of users visiting your website in order to be able to send them a more effective, personalized message.

It’s high time to implement appropriate mechanisms for capturing such data as, for example, data from behaviors, from actions and from demonstrated interest of the user on the website. In today’s world, it’s expected that the role of personalization in a marketing communication strategy will become even more essential.

10. This book is all about impact. What is impact to you?

Impact is about making a difference. Even a small one. And although having impact can be applied to many spheres of life, it’s most visible in business. As an entrepreneur, you’re not just responsible for yourself. You bear the burden of responsibility for your employees, customer relations, business results, and many more.

Importantly, you’re not only an entrepreneur, but also a manager, leader, expert, and strategist. If you want to make an impact, you have to put in some effort. But it’s worth seeing the difference.

About the author

Mike Korba is a CEO & Co-founder at User.com, marketing automation expert, trainer, internet enthusiast and theoretician, e-marketing practitioner, and lecturer at the biggest Polish universities. He’s been working in the marketing industry for over nineteen years. As an internet entrepreneur, he understands what it means to do marketing with limited resources. He’s been a speaker at many conferences, including Web Summit, SaaStock, Tedx, Infoshare.

Mike Korba

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