How to engage us, developers to use your API.

There are tens of thousands of API’s available. More to come. Most of the companies though, have troubles engaging developers to use them. So I have decided to share a few thoughts and ideas on how you can do that, based on my experience.

Design your API well

Nobody likes powerful, but not developer-friendly APIs. Follow the “standards” in the area, but innovate a bit to make us (developers) happy and eager to learn more. I will not spend more time here, because I guess you are already building your API if you need the information below. If you are looking for more info on that subject, click here to read an excellent article.

Document your API

If you want other people to use it – document it well. Add examples for the most popular programming languages. Copy/ Paste/ Run is the first step to a great journey.

Do not forget the not-so-trending programming languages at the moment. Target people who explore them – they are the right group to start with.

Eat your own dog-food

Ask your internal developers to use the API. Get the feedback from them and make it better. I am not talking about the developers who wrote the API, they must use it of course. Try to engage other teams within the company (if you have any) to use the API.

Organize an internal Friday APIJam. Sit together in a room for a few hours and do something useful using the technologies you work with – don’t push them to learn new language or technique – just use the API focusing on the value.

Come up with nice awards for the most active participants, get some sweets and drinks (even beer) as well. Then ask the participants to present their work at the end and listen to their feedback.

 

Hack your API

Organize hackatons with external groups or jump into such organized by someone else – ask developers to hack the API and to create a small app that will serve theirs needs – then promote the effort and make those developers rockstars by using your PR channels.

The goal is not to test your API (as you do during the internal APIJam event), but to show the value that your API brings to the world. The Call for Action should be something like “use our API to build your own App”.

Create more initiatives like that. Repeat();

Connect

Get in touch with the local developer groups and go the their next meeting with some pizza and beer. Show them your data, ask for their feedback, show them your API, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Then create a fair process to work with communities around you – what you want from them and what’s in for them.

Discuss

Push the discussion around your API and manage it. Respond to comments immediately, ask for feedback and show how it is implemented. Post your API to reddit, Dzone and other similar sites and get real, honest feedback (together with some trolls, that’s inevitable)

Equilibrium

Treat your community members equally. Sometimes a new member can have a kick-butt idea and if you ignore him/her this can have negative impact overall. Focus on the value!

Partner up

Find partners to help you to get traction. Why don’t you contact your local startup accelerators and do something together to include your awesome API as an requirement for the next call? Does it work? Oh yeah!

Explore

Constantly explore new ways and hacks on how to engage the community, but remember – this must be a fair deal – every part should be happy and equally satisfied. This is your way towards an engaged community.

The best API ever?

No, it’s not yours. Is this one :)

 

What do you think?

Do you have a different experience? Please share!

 

More resources?

P.S The head image is under CC license by giorgiop5

 

How to measure customers’ satisfaction without asking them those boring questions

Let’s imagine you want to understand how happy your customers are with your product. According to the marketers there are several methods to do that, like NPS or Temper, but all of them require interaction with the customer.

Let’s be honest, most of the time people don’t want to answer stupid questions like “How do you feel about our new interface” and “Do you like our new red color?” and let’s be honest again and confess that no more than 10% of the users will answer those questions.

Of course you can use the data to create a magnificent dashboard and to convince the  management that your product rocks, but they can ask you some hard questions. “Then why are we losing money?” and “Why the Churn rate is so strange?” are just a couple of examples.

You don’t know.

Let’s take a step back and see what is important in this case. Let’s imagine we have a website where you offer content (video lessons, for example) and you are billing month by month.

 

Define your Groups and their Happiness KPIs

 

Let’s imagine that you have 2 main user groups (2 personas):

First Group – Constant Learners

Group of people interested in constant learning but not sure what they want to learn about (first).  These people will browse your content until they find something interesting and will spend time doing it.

What drives them?

  • They want to discover new topics.
  • They want to know a lot about everything.
  • They are interested in trending topics (no one will browse – How to create a chart in Excel)
  • They are thirsty about new knowledge.

Happiness KPIs (some of them):

  • Number of topics discovered
    • Minutes spent on each topic
  • Questions asked (onsite, outside)
  • Number of logins
  • Number of login patterns (do they log in every week or everyday at noon)
  • Number of points/certificates achieved (if you have such things)
  • Account lifetime

Second Group – Focused Learners

Group of people that are coming to your website to learn something specific – like python, because they need some tricks in their current work. They will find what they need and they will stick to it.

What drives them?

  • They want to learn something on a specific topic
  • They want something meaningful out of the topic fast
  • They want hands-on experience.

Happiness KPIs (some of them):

  • Finished % of  a topic.
  • Exercises completed (if any).
  • Questions asked.
  • Number of Video pauses (try to watch and code at the same time).

 

Ok. What’s next.

It’s obvious –

  • Define your own KPIs – you can use those above as an example.
  • Then try to put a “label” to any a small group of users. Is this user a [focused] learner or a [constant] learner. In the case above, get all users that have browsed more than 3 topics in the past month and assign them into the “constant” bucket and for the “focused” one, get all that have completed only 1 topic within the last month and have asked at least one question.
  • Track them to prove your claim – see if their behavior will remain the same – if it doesn’t – modify it.
  • The create a simple dashboard to visualize the data for the two groups – and create a marketing strategy around that – how to engage both groups and push them gently on the success path.

This is how you can measure customer happiness without asking your visitors boring questions and to give them the opportunity to lie, because most probably at the end of the month you will see most of your “We like this new red button”- type of users leaving your service forever.

 

Some thoughts about my #GrowthHacking Workshop for @StartupYard

Yesterday I had a growth hacking workshop for Startup Yard accelerator’s startups. Actually It was held in the Node5’s open space and I’ve noticed some other folks eavesdropping and even occasionally shaking heads in agreement.

sy-bogo

I was there like 30 min earlier and I was a bit nervous, because I prepared the slides (as usually) in the few hours before the event and I was not sure if I would be able to talk smoothly.

Continue…

10 things every startuper must know about e-mail marketing and will not find anywhere else.

This mini-book has been staying for at least 2 months in my backlog waiting to be pushed online. It’s time has finally come. I know there are millions of mini-books like that, but this one is different, because it shows things that I’ve learned from my experience working in startups and with communities from 20 to 1.4M e-mail holders.

Let’s get started!

 Email marketing is not dead

Continue…

The SEO Is Not Enough.

It’s not a secret, I am one of the few guys left on the planet who do not believe in the magic of SEO.

I believe SEO methods are good, but they must be combined with user prediction models and utilizing user behavior for better content serving.

WThe SEO is not enoughhy am I writing this? Well I think it’s time now to talk about it. I am sure first position on Google or other search machines is something good, but is this what the user is actually looking for? In most cases, probably yes, but this will change soon.

For example: I needed a Firefox addon today for taking sreenshots for one of my projects. Of course I wrote “addon screenshot” into Google and of course it returns all SEO-ized results for …Chrome, not seeing that I am using Firefox and most probably I don’t need results for Chrome

I think search machines must be smarter than that. I don’t want to see results that others, SEO ninjas for example, want me to see. I want the results that will give me the answer I am looking for. I don’t have time to scroll and browse.

This opens another story, about privacy and about giving the companies your preferences, but I do think this can be done in a way to make everybody happy.

What say you?

@Geeksphone e-mail campaign is …not for geeks

I just opened an email from Geeksphone. They are trying to sell “Revolution”.  Revolution is not something you can sell, and it should not be something you should be able to buy – terrible name for an e-mail campaign subject. I’ve opened it just because I like Geeksphone products, but after that booom!

Yes it’s Revolution:

  • No text on the visible part of my screen. Nada! I am not scrolling, sorry!
  •  Of course alt =” ” <- this is so geeky  and it’s a standard now :) Who will need them, right.

I will unsubscribe.

geekphone

Growth hacking workshop in Prague, Czech Republic

If you visit the startup job portals in the Czech Republic, you will find a lot of open positions, but nobody is looking for a “Growth Hacker”.Waaaat?

If you do the same for Berlin you will feel the difference. This is one of the reasons I am organizing this 1-day workshop: to show the value of the “Growth Hacker” and to teach digital startup warriors why this person is so important.

Topics include:

  • What is this animal – a growth hacker? Where do they keep it?
  • How to mix channels to get your first users. One of the approaches to get visitors without spending (a lot of) money
  • How to keep them on your website. Freemium model, Content model, more.
  • …..

More, more

Alrighty. If you want to attend and/or if you know someone who can be interested, please click here to learn more.

Google Adsense is the best

I spent couple of weeks to find “an alternative” of Google Adsense because I thought there should be something more profitable for the project I am working on.

I tried Admelt, Adnetwork and Epom. I wasn’t satisfied by the results and I decided to work more on the website content and ad placement optimization and voila.

I’ve got AdSense eCPM: $3.43 which is pretty good, compared to the offer I’ve got from some other “competitors”.

See the difference:

Adsense

 

 

There is one place to share ideas about the web and its name is @WebExpo – Prague

No kidding. Prague became one of the finest European technology and start-up hubs and I believe there is a great future and potential, which we will see coming true in the next couple of years.
Maybe that’s one of the reasons I moved here a couple of years ago. If you add the beauty of Prague and the fine quality of the Czech beer, you will not be surprised that I want to invite you to an unique event.

[note]This is one of the few places in the world where developers, designers, product managers, marketing ninjas, big data nerds, content management racoons, hackers and even normal people can sit together and discuss a lot of things together and even to start something..[/note]

I know, you will say that you have such events in your country, but this is international, have a look at the speakers and do not forget the beer and the city.

Trusted companies and awesome startups are happy to be here and to turn their dreams into reality and most important, into profit.
[highlight]13 different subjects, many speakers, 3 days of fun and beer + something you can take home with you – knowledge and inspiration. That’s priceless.[/highlight]

 

Join the event:

 

$you->is_geek(): apply

 

We are looking for ambassadors in every European country. Prime directive – to spread a word about the event and to become a super geek star. In exchange we will give you free entrance and will make you famous – this is a long time deal.

[highlight] Interested?[/highlight] Follow the link to fill a secret form. Shhh!

 

? buy_ticket();

 

Another option is to buy a ticket and join the magical Prague, beer and awesome knowledge.  Invest in your future.

 P.S This is still a secret, but all sessions will be in English this year. Visit the website to find out more, because this is just the top of the iceberg.

P.P.S Oh, did I mention the parties. We will have couple of parties that will blow your head away :)

Marketing Kanban Style for Tech Startups

Oh no, there is no mistake. It’s not Gangdam Style!

I am always trying to mix software development methodologies into community and marketing management.

Last year I gave a talk at Fosdem about using Agile methods, and especially Trello, to engage your community. Currently I implementing a similar approach into a project I am involved in.

Warning: The following paragraphs may contain a mixture of different software methodologies, usually not compatible with each other.

What is a modern marketing world?

Marketing now, especially online marketing, is a mixture of Community Management, Brave Content Management, Strong Business Analysis, Good and Awesome Metrics, knowing the hacker attitude, fast problem solving and many, many tasks every second.

I am talking about using new technologies, methodologies and fun in the marketing world. I know there are marketing departments with 100 or more employees, busy with a little tiny boring segment, but with an exciting title. But also, there are startups and small, but very successful companies, having teams with up to 4 members that can do better marketing than those 100 using Marketing Kanban Style.

 

That’s why we need Marketing Kanban Style.

I am an internet enthusiast – maybe one of the few left in the world. I really want to test and hack amazing web tools. Sometimes I find a great tool like Trello and I start using it and talk about it without having been paid a single cent, sometimes it turns out to be a negative experience, like my Facebook story. But I love being an enthusiast.

Yeah, so let’s focus on the step by step go-through:

trello.com 2013-1-31 13:14:42

0. Plan Your Sprint

  •   Sit on a table with your team and define the 3 main tasks you want to see implemented this week. Yes, I am not talking about months or years here. Of course this should be in line with the marketing plan, budget and other documents, tables and graphics …
  •  Define what resources you will need – guys from IT dept, Customer care service, Sales dept, etc.

1. Visualize

  • Tasks may look good in your brain or in a paper or event in your notebook, but they must be placed on a board and here comes Trello.
  •  Start: All tasks start from “To Do” or you can call it “Repository” or “The Dungeon” or even “Death Start” but this is your starting point
  • Define your flow process. It can be simple “Doing” – “Done” or you can add additional steps like “To be approved” or “Testing needed”. Please do not work with more than 5 steps. It’s a waste of time a energy.

2. Make Policies Explicit

  • Define who will do what. If you want you can let people choose what they want to do. This works perfectly for community based marketing and it depends on how cool is your team.
  • Resolve conflicts before they appear. Define the collaboration flow – for example – for this HTML newsletter you must talk with Mike and Petra from Dev department. Add this as a note to the task.
  •  Do not add other department members to the board.

3. Marketing Stand-ups

  • I know the developer stand-ups are real – the people actually are standing up, but the marketing people are allowed to sit down :)
  •  Do a stand-up every day for 15 minutes and be sure you have feedback loops. Every member of the team should report what he/she is working on now and what troubles he/she is having.
  • – This is not a problem-solving meeting. Afterwards you can sit down and try to find a way to resolve the problems.

4. Be а Brave Marketeer

  • Your team must not be afraid to test new techniques in order to achieve the weekly goal.
  • Try to find the boundaries of your team and push a bit outside of them. The marketing world travels with light-speed and you must be very fast as well.
  • Explore the Trello functions and use them for your work. It’s a really useful piece of code.

This is just the beginning of a journey for you if you are taking this path. This is the easiest part but believe me you will be more flexible and successful than the good ol’ huge marketing slow moving company.

This will allow you:

  1.  to achieve results every week.
  2.  to plan your work better
  3.  to easily define metrics and goals
  4.   to do more work for less money
  5.  to build your team and let them evolve together with the company
  6.  to have fun.

Let’s do some Marketing Kanban Style. Shall we?

Learn more?

If you want to learn more about Marketing Kanban style and some more amazing ideas – subscribe to my mail-list from here. No spam guaranteed.

 

Converting “Free” users to “Paid” users.

Just before Christmas one of my favorite service in the web crowdbooster.com announced they will discontinue their freemium model and will introduce paid only service. This is a tendency these days. I can notice couple of services abandoning their users for more money. Maybe this is a good approach, maybe not, the time will show.

Right now I am working with more than 1 mln free users on our freemium model and the challenge is of course to keep this model forever and we will. So how we can get some more money from this user?

Converting “Free” users to “Paid” users.

 

There are a lot of methodologies to use here, but I am not a fan of any of those. Ha ha, this is so me.

As you know I really like to mix things and I am using a 3-component campaign:

 

E-mail drilling + behavior recognition

 

[list style=”arrow2_bullets”]

  • One e-mail every week during the campaign with the main campaign message  and a clear call for action: I am using Order now instead of Buy one, exception is of course a BOGO campaign, but now it stands for Buy One, Gift One.
  • Three days after the first wave I analyzed the user behavior and sent a different message to those that opened the campaign but didn’t click and for those that clicked on the link but didn’t buy the product.
  • Repeat the action for couple of weeks, but try to not duplicate the messages.
  • Use a different, but smart subject. I am using Wingdings  Unicode character coded into the subject. It makes miracles. Open rate was +1% just because of this.
  • I am using my own e-mail as a sender instead of “no-reply@” or “somethingboring@” The users prefer a real person, instead of Mr. No Reply Jr

[/list]

If it’s possible do not send the same message to all users. Try to separate them to different segments according to their activity on your website/service, location, habits or even culture.

Give them a reason to buy.

 

Internal website support

 

It’s not a secret that the e-mail marketing is not an effective way to make business these days. Most of the people are not reading their e-mails in the time when they have to or some of the messages go directly to the spam folder or are blocked because of the content.

I combine e-mail marketing with internal website messages, because we run a SAAS and we can do that. Some of the messages say “Go read your e-mail inbox”, some of them are linked directly to the landing page of the promotion.

I am changing the messages almost every day and this works very well.

 

Social media support

 

I know our community spends a lot of time in Social networks and that’s why оne of my components is social networks like Twitter, Edmodo and Facebook. No direct buy is requested, just informative campaign.

The campaign is focused on our current free users, I am not looking for new users with this campaign, that’s why I choose informative campaign in social media instead of pure “Order now” campaign.

 

Nice deals

 

Obviously our “free” users are happy with the product and do not want to buy, the question is that we want them to buy, so we have to offer them something really attractive:
[list style=”arrow2_bullets”]

  • A discount deal, for those that don’t buy because of the price of the product
  • BOGO deal for those that want to buy more for their money
  • “What you are missing” – for those that do not understand the product and don’t know how to use it

[/list]
Anyway I am including “share the deal” functionality everywhere, because if a user is not interested in the deal, they can pass the ball to a colleague.

 

Metrics’n Tracking

 

I am measuring everything starting from user’s sentiment via online tools + customer satisfaction via RATER model, open rates, click rates, purchases, different channel behavior and many more. When you have the data, using a tool like geckoboard.com for example will show you in REAL TIME what is going with your campaign and if something went wrong, you can modify it in the fly. Priceless!

 

What’s next….

 

Do not discontinue the free service, most of the people count on it, try to monetize it instead, that’s the second part of this article, that will be published anytime soon.

Wrong marketing approach from Comodo and ActiveState.

I have downloaded a free version of Comodo IDE, called Comodo Edit. It’s fucking good IDE for HTML5, PHP, JS and [put your own language here].

[box color=”green”]
So far so good. I gave my email address to them, because I like the product and the team. After 12 seconds I receive this “help material”.
[/box]

They don’t want to provide me help how to get started, but to sell me the pro-edition:

 
[line]
I understand that approach, but please first give me what I need – links and materials to help me to understand “Comodo EDIT” better and 1 month after that send me an offer for the better IDE.