Waiting for Perfection

Waiting for perfection is like waiting for Godot. Spoiler: Godot never arrives.

It’s precisely those that want to achieve perfection that will never be satisfied to see perfection when it’s right in front of them.

Is what you have better than it was before? Does it accomplish the main goal? Then start using it.

Could it be better than what it is today? Start using it anyway. Make incremental improvements post-launch.

Ship, learn, iterate, repeat.

Relevance

You don’t even need to tell Gmail you’re no longer interested in a sender. Their algorithm will catch it even before you do.

What does this mean for senders that send less than monthly, I wonder? Is this also a play to cut down on frequency?

On one hand, I’m fascinated that machine learning can infer about us our intent behavior. The way it can and will transform our online experiences to be completely personalized. On the other hand, as a marketer, it shows that soon there will be no room for gimmicks. No short cuts. No cookie cutter playbooks. If you stand any chance of being heard, it’ll be by staying 100% relevant to your audience at every interaction.

But Does It Add Value?

Daily, I’m bombarded with tweaks, requests, campaigns – you name it – all in the name of a single motivation:

To add value.

“Value” is such a subjective, amorphous term. What is valuable to one person could be worthless to another. What adds value in one channel may be silly in another. Who defines value? And why should what’s valuable to you matter to me?

And yet, why should we make this change at this point in the campaign? It adds value. Why should we implement this new feature? It adds value. Why should we halt all other emails to invest time and energy crafting a personalized buyer’s journey? It adds value.

Obviously, these different tasks don’t have the exact same outcome. “Value” changes according to circumstances and perception. It can’t really be defined then.

So what is value then? And why isn’t there ever enough of it?

Why the #LikeAGirl Campaign Hurts Our Girls

I’m all for positive messages empowering young women, but I just can’t get behind the #likeagirl campaign from Always. It’s an apologetic excuse for why girls can do things just like boys. When the truth is, girls can do incredible things as girls. Not girls trying to “measure up” to boys.

I agree with Always when they aptly point out that saying someone “runs like a girl” or “throws like a girl” is an insult to all girls. I think they’re trying to say, “Do great things, and just be you.” But instead what they’re saying is, “You can do anything a boy can do, and the way to equality is to be just like a boy.”

My issue is that Always chose to counteract this put-down with imagery that is mostly sports-related. They’re saying that girls can play just as well as the boys. But by saying that, they’re also saying to strive for the same level as a boy, as if that’s the ceiling of physical achievement.

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 11.00.25 PM
A tweet from Always, depicting how it’s great to play sports #likeagirl

First, let’s get one thing straight. Always, owned by P&G, has invested a lot of money into marketing girls’ confidence. However, the true motivator here and always (see what I did there?) is to sell more of their product.

Don’t be fooled: Always is targeting girl’s confidence, which so happens to plummet at the time of puberty, as the commercials state. This so happens to be the time that girls begin to have a need for maxi-pads. What this campaign really is then is an early nurture of girls so they can feel like Always “gets them”. Or parents can see these ads and develop a warm fuzzy brand preference when they go to the drug store to buy pads with their daughter for the first time.

So yeah, you can run “like a girl,” throw a baseball “like a girl,” or fight “like a girl.” But why are all of these examples of how girls are put beneath boys focused on physical actions? How about I want to engineer “like a girl”, doctor “like a girl”,  be a mom “like a girl,” teach “like a girl,” or write “like a girl?”

Girls now should have authority to self-direct their lives however they feel most fulfilled, whether they become a stay-at-home mom, president, makeup artist, or professional basketball player.

I’m sick of girls being measured by the male equivalent. The quality of a girl is not measured by how much she can do something like a boy. Boys and girls aren’t even on the same charts. And the boy chart is not, I repeat not, superior to the girls’ or more dominant. They are two completely separate things. Trying to match one to the other does a disservice to the unique talents and gifts of the other.

Again, because I’m fascinated by children’s toys manufacturing, look at the original cozy coupe car. The original car was red and yellow. Then a “girl” one came out that is pink.

apologetic-girls-toys-boys-as-baseline

So now, essentially by creating a girl car, the original car has become the “boy” car. The baseline is defined by the boy’s toy. This is what #likeagirl is saying. “Normal” = boy. So let’s reclaim Girl.

No, Always. We don’t need to reclaim “like a girl.” It’s always been ours. It’s never been a negative thing. Societal perceptions have layered meaning onto “like a girl” that read as inherently inferior. Doing something “like a girl” isn’t weak. It’s just a state of being. Why do we need to measure up to how a boy would do the same thing?

Maybe I do throw “like a girl.” Or run “like a girl?” The point is that as a girl, I should have the support and guidance from role models that doing anything, physical or mental, “like a girl” is completely and unapologetically perfect.

Girls’ confidence is destroyed when they are measured up and defined on a scale that was made for boys, and measuring yourself with someone else’s measuring stick is a losing battle.

 

How Toy Companies Streamline User Adoption

I bought my daughter a toy. When we came home I realized I hadn’t bought any batteries for it. Bracing myself for the tantrum that would ensue from a toy that didn’t work, I sighed in relief. Luckily, this toy had batteries included.

Lucky? Or strategic?

If you buy a toy and forget to buy the batteries, when you come home your kid will be excited about a toy she can’t play with. All the excitement and energy has nowhere to go. Then, when you finally get around to buying and installing the batteries, the momentum has stopped short, and it is much less likely for the child to play with the toy and adopt it as a favorite.

Batteries Included

Imagine you came to a car dealership for a test drive and the salesperson says, “Well, there’s no gas in any of these cars, but you’re welcome to sit in one. Pop the hood if you like.” You might check out a few since you’re already there, but I highly doubt anyone would buy a car from that experience.

This, in essence, is akin to hiccups in SaaS user onboarding. It doesn’t matter if it is the greatest new software, toy, or car on the planet: if the process to engage is not a straight shot, you’re left with an inert lump of plastic. A car with no gas.

For the SaaS product I market, data from the user are the batteries and fuel. The software can’t run if it has no data to manage. We can’t make up that information though (although we do have a sample data in the system when the user starts. Still, it’s not real  data of value to the user). We need the customer to engage with us and provide the specific type and size of the battery, preferably as soon as possible, so they can start playing with their new toy while the excitement and interest is at its peak. We built all actions before that step as guidance to the moment of import.

Like with toys, if a user can experience your app while focused, the more likely they are to adopt it as a favorite. The best time to realize value is when the momentum for the product is at its peak: when the product is top-of-mind and new. Including the batteries in toys is a small investment to ensure the first experience with the product is uninterrupted and closest to the time of conversion, which sets a clearer path to accelerated adoption. Then, it’s easy to move on later to upsells and add-ons.

You’ll need to first identify what your “batteries” are. Thing about these things deeply:

  • Are there required steps that user must make before engaging fully with your product?
  • Does the most powerful part of your product directly or indirectly include a pre-requisite to the experience?
  • Is there a required action that is acting like a stumbling block before your user reaches the area of greatest value? Is that action really required? Or can you take care of it for the user instead?

Give it some thought. If you’re stuck, review your conversion funnel. Are there any places that look like they could run smoother or may serve better at a later point in the funnel? Build a hypothesis and test it.

Identify and feed your “batteries” to your users closest to the time of conversion. Ultimately, you’ll see greater returns in the long-run.

How to Segment Untagged Email-Driven Traffic in Google Analytics

Maybe you realized after your email campaign deployed that you forgot to set a utm_source= or any UTM parameters at all on your destination URLs. Regardless of the reason for the slip up, there’s a way to glean some insights from that campaign.

If you have an email that performed significantly in click-through rate, but you don’t see any campaign hits in GA, then this is also going to help you investigate a bit further.

The Google URL builder requires that you include a utm_source if using auto-tagging. If you’re cranking out hundreds of custom campaigns like I do, you’ve moved on to a customized template for yourself to reach your goals quicker. Or, hey, you can build your own URL builder, like I did.

Rest assured, GA will do some auto-tagging for you. All that email-driven traffic that wasn’t defined by a source will come through your custom default channels as Referral traffic. The medium will be blank, even if you did set one. I made this mistake, and when I went to search for any traffic at all containing the word “email,” I barely found anything. This makes no sense because I send out a lot of automated emails.

low_email_visitor_count

Something just didn’t feel right about this to me. I checked for a medium of email, and also came up with nothing. Then I realized, something must’ve been wrong with the UTM parameters and how the email campaign links were tagged.

My saving grace: when traffic comes to your site from clicks that are referred through the email client, the email client version will auto-populate as the source dimension in GA. Therefore, there’s still hope to uncover this segment and glean insights from their behavior. Here’s how to create a custom segment that only targets that specific type of traffic — or in other words — uncovers what you thought was lost.

Create a Custom Email-Driven Traffic Segment

source_medium_advanced

First, you’ll want to view only traffic with the medium of “referral.” Normally, properly tagged traffic will come in with a medium of “email.” However, in this case untagged traffic gets lumped together with all your other referral traffic. You can get to this medium from the left navigation by clicking Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels then either click “Medium” as your primary dimension (arrow 1 in the picture above). Click on “referral” in the list of medium options to isolate only referral traffic.

Then, set your secondary dimension to “source.” This will be the list of email clients your users have come from. See this as step 2 in the picture above. A drop-down panel will appear. Type in “source” in the search bar to find and select Source.

Finally, click on the advanced link over on the right to filter out specific types of sources, shown in step 3 above. A filter will appear like this: source_contains_mail

Enter your advanced criteria as you see shown above. Basically, this says “include traffic with a source containing the word ‘mail.'” Most email clients will have the word “mail” somewhere in their name. This isn’t a definite catch-all, but you’ll get plenty of sources this way. Click “Apply” and watch your list appear. It should look something like this:actual_email_visitors

There you have it. I went from showing only 129 sessions of email-driven traffic to 10,230 sessions in the same time period. Phew. 

Moral of the story: using analytics improperly can lead you seriously astray. Get to know your campaigns and your analytics tool inside and out!

Now Google Analytics Certified

I am now a Google Analytics certified Partner. I passed the Google Analytics Certification exam. Honestly, passing this exam really doesn’t qualify anyone to actually be certified in the tool of Google Analytics. This only certifies you understand the concepts and fundamentals of it. I guess it’s a lot harder to create a multiple choice automated exam based on tactical uses and how to pulling GA reports and insights.  Cheers to learning!

Google Analytics Certificate for Erica Korman

Perfecting Email Subject Lines: An Easy Trick to Stay within Character Limits

As usual, it’s Excel to the rescue.

While brainstorming for a new email campaign, I got stuck coming up with a poignant yet concise subject line. I kept writing one line at a time, checking the character count, and then seeing it was too long. This was a slow process; I had trouble remembering the length of one line versus the another. It doesn’t help that Word doesn’t display that information so openly.

With an email subject line, it’s 50 characters tops – including spaces. If you’re optimizing for mobile, and at this point every marketer should be, it’s more like 40 characters. It’s tough to be concise, creative, and direct all at once. Stopping every minute to check the character limit doesn’t help either.

Then, I had an idea: Use Excel. Duh.

I used the LEN formula to count the character length of each subject line as I wrote it. LEN is short for length. Write each subject line in a single cell, and in the next column, use LEN to automatically count the characters for you.

If you don’t use Excel, don’t fret. The formula is the same in Google Spreadsheets.

Here’s what it looks like in action:

Why You Should Write Email Subject Lines in Excel

This method allows you to accomplish a few things:

  • The character count isn’t a guessing game
  • You know the count immediately as you move through your ideas
  • You can easily prioritize one line over the other when length is more critical
  • Trains your mind to think in 50 characters or less for a quicker writing process next time around (and you thought Twitter was bad)

Over time, as you continue to refine your skills, you won’t even think of subject lines that are too long. Don’t be afraid of trying new Excel formulas, especially when they can provide you with savvy marketing tools.

Share your best email subject line below.

A Lesson in Resilience From My Toddler

Today I took my toddler to a playground. She is so strong-willed and feisty, which has its delights and challenges. After maybe 30 minutes of thrilling climbing, my child tripped on the cross bridge and fell about 3 feet down to the foam floor. She made a nice thud upon impact. I ran over, scooped her up, and could see small lines of red quickly welling in the ridge of her lip. She sobbed, and, as usual, I checked her body for any major injuries. She wouldn’t let me get a close look though. She continued to squirm. I put her back down, and she was back on her feet. She was still crying, but the bust lip seemed to have already clotted.

Still in tears, she headed back towards the steps to take her right back to the place that began the pain. She found the stairs and started climbing again. She got back to the spot where she fell, approached it cautiously, and then continued past the difficult spot onward to the slide.

I was so proud of my baby. She fell hard, got hurt, and had the courage to go through the process again. She learned from her mistake the first time and was careful when she approached the uneven bridge. Before she even finished crying she was back at the place that caused her pain. And finally, she was successful the second time around.

I thought about preventing her second attempt. It was just too advanced a playground for her. I needed to protect her. However, I decided to keep my mouth shut. I encouraged her to try again, and she succeeded beautifully.

What a brave little girl. My wish for her is she doesn’t lose that resilient edge. May she always face her adversaries with such courage and quick action. She showed me how quickly she could get up after a fall.

If I’ve learned anything from being a parent, it’s that we are all born happy with boundless love. Those adults that live the opposite unfortunately had something or someone happen to them that caused them, consciously or otherwise, to lose that happiness and loving attitude. Looks like the same is true for courage. We are not born with fears and hesitations. These things are learned over time from our experiences with pain and fear.

We all at one time had no fear. Our environments taught us otherwise. Go back to the source. Be brave; be fearless; go ride that slide.