This post is going to introduce you to some of the most useful growth hacking tools for entrepreneurs. When used in combination with the principles we discussed in our last post, you will create for yourself a strong foundation for growth.
Once the mindset is in place, there are dozens of tools you can start using to measure your progress and begin your journey towards exponential growth.
We are going to teach you about 3 of our favorite.
These tools will help you listen to your online customers and figure out how best to acquire, activate and retain them. Making ridiculously gratified customers who will promote your products within their own circle of influence is the goal.
The key is not to measure everything but to measure the right stuff using the data you’ve got. This is why we have several go-to tools that we use with all our clients in order to cover the basics. What we use beyond that depends on what our clients need to know.
Even the basic tools need to be adjusted and tweaked to your specific situation so that you can measure exactly what your business needs to grow.
Google Analytics is the most widely used analytics software on the web, probably because it is free to use. It allows you to track and analyze all the traffic on your website, including sources (how people get to you), demographics (who and where they are), technology (stuff like browser and OS type) and a lot more.
It integrates with many other services, making it one of the most useful tools for understanding and engaging with your online customers.
Almost every client we work with already has Google Analytics installed, but usually they fall into one of the following categories:
People who suffer from cognitive overload probably just got done looking at their Google Analytics report. There is so much data in there that people don’t know what to do with it. What is often missing is the context.
Data + Context = Information
That is the formula we keep in mind when working with Google Analytics. We help ensure clients are using the right data, but we also help them understand how to give it context.
We use a 53-point checklist audit to figure out what’s going wrong (or what could go better) with your analytics so that you get the context. It may sound crazy that something as boring as an audit can help find where you are losing money... but it works.
If I were to choose a three key quick wins for your analytics it would be the following:
Micro conversions are the small steps that a client makes before actually completing the main goal of your website (like a purchase or signup). Your customer’s journey will usually look like this:
Micro → Micro → Micro → Macro
Whether it is visiting a certain page or subscribing to your newsletter, you want to know exactly which micro conversions lead to your main conversion. You should measure them each as goals within analytics. This enables you to figure out the following:
When I first start talking to clients about UTMs, I usually get blank looks in return... What the hell is a UTM?!? I promise you they are not as scary as they sound, and once you get the hang of them they are absolutely awesome.
Fact you can immediately forget: UTM stand for Urchin Traffic Monitor.
Contrary to what the conspiracy theorists suggest, Google is not totally omniscient (as far as we know). When traffic reaches your website, Google Analytics does its best to understand where it is coming from, but the poor thing gets it wrong sometimes… actually, quite often.
Half the time it has no idea that the traffic being generated from one of your email blasts is really coming from an email. More often than not it doesn’t recognize social traffic (e.g. clicks that come from your Facebook posts), and so it simply files it under the general label “Referrals.”
So when you excitedly head over to your Channels report, eager to find out where your traffic is coming from, you end up being misled. None of your social media or email campaigns seem to be working... and where the hell are all these referrals coming from?
UTMs are parameters that you add to your links in order to give Google a helping hand.
You set up a URL that tells Google “Hey, this link is coming from social media (Campaign Medium), Facebook to be specific (Campaign Source) and it is to Promote My Latest Product (Campaign Name).”
Insert those three parameters in a URLBuilder and out will come a beautiful (read ugly and long) UTM link to use for your next post or advertisement.
Use UTMs for:
And anything else that involves sending links to multiple clients.
This one is only for relevant for webshops, but if you have a webshop it is sooo essential. It is also quite technical, meaning you will probably need a developer (or a growth hacker) to implement it for you. It takes some work, but you won’t regret it for a second.
It’s kind of like when you’re sailing the arctic sea and you see only the tip of an iceberg, but then you take a dive with scuba gear and suddenly experience the vastness underneath! (what, don’t you guys do arctic sea diving?)
When you implement this, suddenly all your revenue information will appear in analytics. You will know how many clicks each product generates, how much income they are bringing in, where and why you are losing customers and so much more.
You cannot be a webshop and not use this.
I could keep ranting about Google Analytics but that would leave me no time for the next awesome tool: Google Tag Manager.
Back in the day (like a few years ago), every time you wanted to add or update a measuring tool on your website that required adding code, you would have to involve your developer.
He or she would acknowledge the request and tell you, “I’ll get around to it.” You would wait for a week or two, slowly losing your patience. And it would happen over and over.
Have no fear, Google Tag Manager is here.
Once the GTM code is inserted (okay, you will need your developer one last time), it prevents you from having to ever edit code again! You can then install or update tools (like Hotjar which we’ll talk about next) via the friendly tag manager interface. All you have to do is copy and paste and you’re (pretty much) done.
As if that’s not enough, we use GTM for something else too: event tracking.
Event tracking adds an additional layer of depth to your Google Analytics. On its own, GA can only track URL changes. With event tracking, you get way more detail about how people interact with your website. You'll be able to see things like what buttons they click on and what forms they fill out.
Again, you need to give Google a helping hand by telling it (is “it” the right pronoun for Google?) what you want to know. I won’t go into too much technical detail about event tracking (it can get a bit tricky), but I will say a couple things.
Event Tracking Tips:
A final benefit of event tracking is that once you have events set up, you can also begin to track them as conversions. This is useful because some conversions do not have a specific destination page, (e.g. a thank you page), meaning Google Analytics won’t register them on its own. For such conversions, the easiest way to track them is through setting them up as events.
The last tool I want to introduce you to is Hotjar. I love Hotjar because of the wealth of feedback it provides about users. It is an absolutely key tool for us in improving our clients’ website usability and conversion rates.
Hotjar is actually 7 tools in one. It’s not expensive to use, and even the free version is quite powerful. I am not going explain everything you can do with Hotjar (that will be in another post), but I will take you through our favorite two features.
After installing Hotjar on your website (using Google Tag Manager, of course) you can start generating heatmaps on key sections of your website or landings pages. The free edition of Hotjar gives you up to 1000 views on three pages, and shows you exactly how people interact with your website.
There are three different types of heatmaps:
This allows you to see what people are clicking on (or tapping on in the case of phones or tablets). This gives insight into:
Don’t forget to check out how users interact on different devices. Heatmaps can look very different for users that are on a desktop versus those using tablets or mobile devices.
Here’s an example of what a Hotjar click map looks like.
In just one glance you see which package is most popular and what people focus on. This allows you to make informed decisions about things such as design and placement. Should the most popular package be on the right? Do other elements need to be highlighted more?
If you have a website with low traffic, you can use Hotjar to begin forming hypotheses and making improvements. If you have a website with high traffic, you could take it up a notch and start A/B testing (showing two versions of your website to different people).
Next up are the move heatmaps. On computers, people tend to follow what they are looking at or reading with their mouse cursor. Hotjar records all these mouse movements so you can see which sections of text interests your users the most and which they tend to ignore.
A great example: Looking at the move heatmap of one of our clients, we noticed that users tended focus on one particular paragraph near the bottom of the page. Looking at the scroll heatmap (I will explain what that is in a second), however, we realized that only 40% of users made it that far down the page!
Clearly this paragraph was interesting for users, and Hotjar allowed us to discover that it was hidden where most people wouldn’t see it.
Remember, you should always make life as easy as possible for your users.
Last but not least are Scroll Heatmaps. How far do users actually scroll down your page? (Warning: If you’ve spent ages designing a beautiful website, learning the answer to this might trigger a bout of depression).
But it will also help you set priorities and decide what information you should put where.
Hotjar shows the exact percentage of visitors that made it to a certain point on a page. Red is high, blue is low. The further down a page you look, the bluer it tends to get gets.
If you find that very few people are scrolling down, you can try some of the following:
User recordings are hilarious! I love watching these recordings on poorly designed websites. Just by seeing where their mouse moves and clicks, you can practically feel the frustration some of them experience.
They just keep clicking and clicking, trying and trying, unable for the life of them figure out why something is not working.
It’s fun to observe unless of course it is your website and your customers are all leaving in frustration.
Besides frantically clicking on everything, there are some other fun patterns look for:
I suggest you do the following: Grab some popcorn (and maybe a few beers), and watch some user recordings with your team. Get ready for some laughs! (and some insights too)
Here are a few tips to get you going:
You’re going to have a few laughs, and a few facepalms too (“How the hell did we not realize button x isn’t working?!”).
At RockBoost, we always analyze user recordings on our clients’ websites. Together with the heatmaps, we have yet to find a website where Hotjar couldn’t provide valuable insights.
These three tools are just the first step in getting the data and context you need to start improving your website and growing your business. I would suggest getting the hang of these three before moving on to more advanced tools. If you want to learn more, you should check out:
Again, they key is not to measure every single finger twitch your customer makes, but to track and measure the most important data you need to make better decisions. This will likely take some thinking through.
If you take these tools and use them right, and if you abide by the principles we discussed in our last post, we can’t guarantee that you will be the next Uber, but you will have a strong foundation upon which to grow.
Tell us what you think! What is your favorite tool to analyze your website and why?
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