Thursday, October 27, 2016

4 modern background tricks to try out

It seems that, as a constituent of a design, backgrounds live in the shadows; however, that’s not entirely true. In times when CSS only began to make its first steps towards the world conquest, the background had already taken on the role of the main decorative element of the website.

Nowadays the situation has not changed drastically. In most cases, it serves as a primary visual driving force that makes an important contribution to the general theme.

Traditionally, photos and videos are first choices for a backdrop. The fact is that they are simply overpopulated hero sections: every other website greets the online audience with either image-based or film-based backdrop. And that makes the Web (and your interface in particularly) pretty alike resulting in anticipated user experience.

One way out is to find fresh solutions by exploiting the brand-new techniques and playing around with the CSS3, HTML5, and JavaScript. Actually, there is a discernible trend of going for these options. There are at least four different modern dynamic backgrounds that take part in a competition to win its place in the sun these days.

Let’s look at them:

Particle Animation

Particle animation is one of the most popular choices right now. Loads of websites has successfully adopted this elegant cosmos-inspired solution. It works well in combination with plain solid color canvas, illustration, vector drawings, and even photos.

Moreover, the animation varies. It can be a bundle of chaotically moving dots that are scattered throughout the entire page to imitate starry sky or rain of stars, or constellation-themed solution where you can connect circles with thin lines. And that’s not all; sometimes it is paired with the effects triggered by mouse hover events: in this case, you are able to drive the particles away, form swirls from them, attach them to cursor as a trail, etc.

Huub is an example of the typical particles animation. It features a neat moving cluster of dots that goes perfectly well with a dark coloring and a map placed on the back. Use your mouse cursor to have some fun.

Tip: If you want to get to grips with the Huub’s dynamic header background, then you should take a look at the project created by Dominic Kolbe called mouse parallax demo. It looks almost the same. But if you need an immediate solution then JavaScript library by Vincent Garreau that is called Particles.js is what you’re looking for.

Waves of particles

Whereas in the previous example, the effect can be achieved with the clever manipulations with HTML5 and CSS3 and a pinch of JavaScript magic, this one is an ingenious experiment with Three.js library. With its arched forms and smooth ripple-like movements, it easily reminds one of small tides. It creates a feeling of a breathing canvas. You can use the mouse cursor to rotate it in different directions, exploring it both horizontally and vertically.

StuurMen has a simple, refined “welcome” section. It is minimal, clean, and exquisite. The content unobtrusively enters the field of view while the pulsating background establishes a right mood for the project.

Tip: Here you can find an original script by ThreeJS and its successful adaptation by Deathfang with a demo called three.js canvas – particles – waves.

Mouse hover parallax

Layered parallax is another growing trend. Along with particle animation, it can transform a dull static background into a composition with a subtle 3D feeling. The great thing is that you do not have to ditch your favorite image choice, just use parallax to spruce it up a bit.

It is pretty beneficial when you need to liven up the title, logotype, surreal scene, or illustration. It is also suitable for various abstract animations. Triggered by standard mouse hover event, it not only adds another dimension, but also allows the users to play with the environment.

The personal portfolio of Alexandre Rochet has an outstanding splash page. Not only does the behavior catch the eye, but also mouse hover parallax makes the letters shift.

Tip: There are numerous libraries and viable code snippets for generating parallax. One of the most popular is a plugin created by Matthew Wagerfield called Parallax.js. However, if you need to see it in practice, especially applied to the typography, then you can explore a pen by Frontnerd that features his take on a 3d parallax on the mouse.

WebGL experiments

WebGL experiments are, of course, a variant for sophisticated hardened developers and clients with a generous budget. They can be brilliant, awe-inspiring, and a bit pompous. It’s worth every penny. However, there is always a fly in the ointment. With great power comes great responsibility, and with WebGL you should never forget about the amount of resources that it consumes, and the lack of full browser compatibility.

Solarin is all about an unforgettable and mind-blowing user experience. It is a 3D WebGL experiment that is rich in numerous exciting and innovative features. The header background is a huge futuristic sphere that responds to the mouse cursor and creates a tremendous impression.

Tip: While to imitate what geniuses in MediaMonks have done is fiendishly complicated, on the Web, you can always find a starting point that will give you food for thought. Consider the WebGL API, and this codepen from Yoichi Kobayashi who has come up with a project called “The wriggle sphere”.


Whereas utilization of images and videos is a time-proven and less painful way to prettify the background, there are still other promising and experimental options that can obtain the desired result. Staying away from the banalities is challenging and even money-consuming, but these measures are justified and pretty reasonable.

Whether it is a simple yet elegant particles animation or remarkable WebGL experiment it injects new life into a core detail of the interface, giving your website a head start.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

5 Online Holiday Shopping Trends You’re Not Prepared For (Yet!)

It’s not even November yet and here we are, already talking about holiday shopping trends. Too soon? Not at all. The truth is, the more foresight you can have to prepare for what will be the biggest shopping season, the more you can adapt to customers’ habits and be ready to adjust to meet their needs and exceed their expectations.

Just how big will the 2016 holiday shopping season be? Let’s take a look:

Holiday shopping between November and December is expected to reach nearly $700 billion. Consumer confidence is higher and 41% Of people surveyed plan on spending more on gifts this year than they did last year – a 10 billion increase in total sales from this time last year.

What’s more, the emphasis on traditional shopping days like Black Friday and online-only Cyber Monday are lessening – especially because transactions can happen anywhere at any time thanks to the rise of mobile. So what kinds of trends should you prepare for this year and how can you get started?

1. Before the Shopping Begins: “I Need Some Ideas!”

Shopping for gifts is supposed to be a time of fun, relaxation and entertainment. Instead, as many of us can attest to, it’s nerve-wracking, frustrating and stressful. According to Google’s own research, there are three moments that the customer goes through before they ultimately make a purchase:

  1. The “I Need Some Ideas” moment
  2. The “Which One’s Best” moment and the
  3. “I Want to Buy It” moment.

We’ll get to all of these shortly, but as you might expect, how you handle the first two will ultimately determine whether or not you are rewarded with the last one. Also, depending on your industry, you may see a larger percentage of your target audience heading to YouTube for ideas:

smartphone-buyers-turn-to-youtube(Image Source)

Gift guides are a huge presence online, and around 70% of the time, these kinds of videos are watched on mobile devices. Want to know how big of a presence online gift guide videos are? In the time people spent viewing them on YouTube last holiday season, you could watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” well over 300,000 times.

Google calls these types of searches “micro moments” – essentially “being there” for a customer when, where and how they need you.

2. The Importance of “Micro Moments”

If you think micro moments are simply a customer going through the stages of AttentionInterestDesireAction, you’d be doing a huge disservice to what’s actually involved in the process. Google took a look at one shopper’s behavior to determine precisely how they interacted with various digital touch-points once they decided to do a basic search. Here’s what they found:

shopping-micro-moments-digital-touchpoints(Image Source)

In this case, the shopper was Leena (a pseudonym), a 32 year old married woman from Washington state who looks for discounts and specials online. As you can see from the chart above, in a one month time period she hit over 1,000 digital touch-points. In taking a closer look at her search query, we can focus on a micro-moment. Leena had run out of mascara and was looking for an alternative to her regular brand.

She had narrowed down her decision to two choices. Then, her mobile search went like this:

shopping-moments-journey(Image Source)

So as you can see, even on mobile devices, it’s not a “once and done” process. It’s a lot of back and forth, a lot of different devices, searches and comparisons being made.

3. Shoppers Ask: “How Will I Buy This?”

If you sell tangible goods, you may be worried that the holiday season is all about showrooming – trying on a product in your store, only to actually buy it on Amazon. But the truth is, whether you’re serving customers locally or you’re letting them shop on mobile (or both), the stores that offer the most convenience are the ones that ultimately get the sale. It is, in short, “frictionless shopping” – being there for the customer, right when, where and how they need you.

90-percent-smartphone-users(Image Source)

Contrary to popular belief, most of them don’t even know what particular brand of item they want, which is why you need to be there during those micro-moments to help guide their decision: not in an overly sales-pressuring way, but in a helpful, convenient way. Google’s own micro-moment inspiration guide shows how major brands like Swarovski crystal and catalog retailer Williams Sonoma do just that, by way of their online Style Finder (how to accessorize depending on the occasion) and rich media presentations of products respectively.

select-your-shining-moment-style-finderHelping customers make buying decisions will be key this holiday season and beyond.

Free shipping is the biggest conversion booster we all know about. But “buy it online and pick it up in store” is another big one. Having multiple ways to get the product is great, but having multiple ways to pay for it is even better. Having the ability to not only accept credit cards, but Paypal and mobile pay systems like Android and Apple Pay are going to get you more conversions than sticking to a single system.

4. Consumers Only Want the Best

consumers-want-the-best(Image Source)

When buying online, you can’t (yet) feel, try on or gauge the quality of a product. That’s when shoppers are seeking out reviews and ratings – but even those can be bought. These days, consumers are shopping smarter by looking for the “best” of whatever gift they have in mind. Google reports that shopping queries with “best” have increased 50% in the last year. But simply claiming your product is the best isn’t enough to win people over. Instead, show them.

For example, you could talk about what goes into making it or the features that truly make it stand out from the competition. What ingredients or qualities does it have that competitors tend to “cheap out” on? What makes your version worth their time and attention (and ultimately their wallets) and perhaps more importantly – are those differences the kinds of things that customers actually care about?

5. The Power of Cross-Device Targeting

As you can see from the touchpoint illustration above, there are a lot of back-and-forth choices to be made from mobile to desktop to mobile again. Throw in other items like TVs, gaming consoles, on-demand streaming, tablets and smart watches, and you get what marketers are calling the “multi-screen explosion”. Cookies just aren’t enough to satisfy the hunger to glean info on customers anymore, so ad networks are ramping up their work on letting companies target customers across devices. Call it cross-device or multi-channel or omni-channel – it’s changing the way we’ll be shopping this holiday season.

But make no mistake – consumers are keen on privacy. There’s a delicate balance between being personalized and convenient, and being too “in your face” with the messaging. Smart companies looking to reap the benefits of the holiday shopping season know that the best way to leverage upcoming trends is to hone in on customer behavior and preferences without that creepy stalker vibe.

In short, it means keeping customers (gently) informed, helping to guide them where possible and making things exceedingly convenient while providing the best possible experience as a whole. Sound like a tall order to fill? It is – and being able to juggle it across multiple customers and devices is no small feat. However, you can do wonders with this information by looking beyond the trend and brainstorming ways to turn your own products into the kind of convenient, accessible, relevant and engaging items that people won’t hesitate to buy – for others, as well as themselves.

About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today!

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8 web design trends to watch for in 2017

2017 is just around the corner, and the world is literally at its greatest technological peak in history. New innovations have opened the doors for creative minds to make their ideas a reality, especially on the webpage. Web design is a constantly morphing industry.

Exciting things are developing that could make 2017 a fantastic year for web designers. Keep an eye out for these eight web design trends in the new year:

Goodbye flat design, hello semi-flat imagery

Windows’ Metro UI style catalyzed the trend toward flat design, with drop shadows, textures, and gradients that cleverly provided the illusion of 3D imagery on a minimal background. While flat design was and still is popular, it has its drawbacks.

Many people call flat design’s usability into question. Users tend to like flat design, but they are often unable to navigate the page. Links aren’t conspicuous, and users hover over items in the hope of finding where to click. The solution at the forefront of web design in 2017 appears to be semi-flat design.

Semi-flat imagery uses subtle shadows, transitions, and cards to integrate dimension without confusing users. Semi-flat design rectifies the usability issues that have plagued flat design, striking an appealing compromise. It uses handcrafted illustrations that are not completely flat; creative grid design becomes fluid as the designer implements new ideas to develop the webpage’s framework.

This way of organizing graphic elements makes the site easier to navigate while still staying true to flat design. Using tiles for image placements is the popular semi-flat design trend moving into 2017.


Creativity triumphs: custom-made illustrations

One trend that remains on top in 2016 and won’t be fading anytime soon is custom-made illustrations on websites. Throughout history, custom-made has generally been preferred to mass-produced. It’s no surprise the same is true for web design. Creating your own graphics for the background of your site, the icons, and the menu is a unique way to grab attention and set your brand apart from the crowd.

While a custom-illustrated interface costs more time and money, the final effect is stunning. Take the Lighthouse Brewing Company’s website, for example. Its unique illustrations immediately pique users’ interest and makes them more inclined to stay and explore the website. The visual appeal of custom-made graphics is uncontestable and will continue to make waves in the future.


Show, don’t tell

Brand storytelling has been important for a while, but as web design becomes more creative, so do the ways in which companies tell their stories. Now brands are not limited to simple text on their About Me pages. They can create videos, hybrid graphic novels, and interactive illustrations to capture their audiences’ attention.

Consumers are hungry to know a company on a deeper level. Creative, immersive storytelling is the perfect way to send a strong message. Take advantage of new ways to show instead of tell with unique videos, illustrations, photography, and typography.


A World Wide Web of micro-mini interactions

Microinteractions were the buzzword of the year back in 2015, and today the cyber universe is replete with them. We encounter hundreds of microinteractions when we browse the web, many too small to notice. Microinteractions have one task, revolving around a single use case. Logging into a website or “liking” something on Facebook are two examples of microinteractions. Like a household appliance built for one main use – say, a toaster – designers build most apps today around a single microinteraction.

The next level of microinteractions is micro-mini interactions, or microinteractions that are increasingly more specific and granular. Individual actions are breaking down into even smaller segments with greater levels of interaction.

These microscopic interactions exist within one microinteraction. For example, a microinteraction is following someone on Instagram, but a mini-micro interaction is the act of tapping “Follow.” By 2017, many designers will be thinking in terms of micro-mini interactions.


Mobile-first web design

If you haven’t transitioned to a mobile-first web design by the end of 2016, web design experts suggest you do so sooner rather than later. The rise of mobility has long-since been in full swing and is only projected to increase. With more and more consumers accessing websites via their smartphones instead of a desktop computer or laptop, it’s incredibly important for brands to utilize a mobile-first approach.

A brand must deliver a seamless, effective experience on mobile devices to stay relevant in 2017 and beyond. Designing for mobile first instead of trying to squeeze the content from your full-size website onto a tiny screen gives you the advantage of fully optimizing for mobile. Instead of forcing things to work for mobile and hoping for the best, design specifically for mobile for optimal user experience.

Hapnotic feedback will be a sensation

Haptic feedback is a user’s sense of touch on an interface. This includes the virtual keyboard on smartphones and other items the user touches to activate. As haptic technology advances and the costs of electro-active polymer actuators (EAPs) decreases, experts predict more sophisticated haptic feedback on high-end mobile devices.

Web designers will be able to use subtle haptic cues such as vibrations to direct users to an action, such as tapping “Purchase.” Designers can even create a pleasant-feeling webpage through pulses to encourage a user to stay on the page.

Hapnotic feedback is the conversion of haptic cues with subtle hypnosis. Hapnotic feedback is an emerging type of tactile interfacing that serves to subconsciously encourage users to do certain things. The science behind hapnotic feedback and mobile devices is still in its infancy, but expect to see more on this subject as we head into the new year.

Treating transition anxiety

Transition anxiety, or interstitial anxiety, is the second of tension the user experiences after making an action (tapping an icon) and the response (seeing the next page). Load times and latency creates this feeling of anxiety, which can translate into poor user experience and lost customers. The user feels powerless in this moment and confused as to what to do. Web designers have found a way to capitalize on interstitial anxiety and use it to their advantage instead of their demise.

Web designers can channel this state of high emotion into transition elements that allude to the next page the user will see. Thus, users can preview what to expect before the page loads. This eliminates the feeling of powerlessness and instead cultivates a feeling of pleasant anticipation. Transition animations that show what will happen if the user clicks a button creates a seamless experience for the user so, even during lag time, they are not left in the dark.


Video overthrows the content throne

The statistics supporting video content as a content mainstay are overwhelming and indisputable. There is no longer any question of whether video content will fizzle out over time. Its power is only becoming more palpable as brands utilize video in new, exciting ways to capture user attention.

Live video, for example, has hit its stride and will continue to be a force to reckon with in the future. Consider creating a Vine or YouTube account for your brand if you haven’t already, and post videos as religiously as you post to your company blog. Video content is not a fad you can expect to fade. it’s the future, and smart brands are jumping on the bandwagon.


As 2017 looms around the corner, web designers have several exciting new prospects and technologies at their disposal. Savvy web designers will keep consumers on their toes with intriguing new interface ideas and take budding concepts to the next level. The world of web design will never be the same.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

How to Create Customers for Life with the Perfect Onboarding Sequence (Regardless of Industry)

Paid search is often the biggest driver of new customers.

Largely because people are typing in exactly what they’re looking for.


These aren’t necessarily the most profitable customers you’ve got. Especially not in the beginning.

Your repeat ones are.

‘Retention’ is often associated with ninja-like email growth hacks. But it’s much more than that.

Proper ‘retention’ and onboarding starts the minute someone sets foot on your site, and their interaction can influence the rest of their experience over the next few hours, days, or weeks.

Here’s how.

How “Loyalty Economics” Works

Everyone says that repeat customers are more profitable than new ones.

Supposedly some book, Marketing Metrics, says that repeat customers have a 60-70% chance of converting.

At least, that’s what every blog post says when you Google ‘repeat customer vs. new customer‘ (I personally haven’t read it).

But what about a real study?

Waaaaaaay back in 1990, while most startup founders were still in diapers, Bain & Company partnered with Harvard Business School (ever heard of ‘em?) to analyze the, “costs and revenues derived from serving customers over their entire purchasing life cycle”.

When you translate that from Academia to English, you get, “how much repeat customers are worth vs. new ones”.

Originally published in a F-ing paper magazine, the study was groundbreaking in that it finally declared that “increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%”.

Basically it showed, empirically, that new customers are often unprofitable for the first few years based on high costs of acquisition (both hard and soft), and it’s only later with repeat ones do they become profitable.

A decade later (so we’re still talking back in 2000 at this point), Harvard revisited the study to now include online purchases. Not only did those same ‘loyalty economics’ patterns show up, but the differences were also “greatly exaggerated online”.

For example, companies only online (as opposed to both online and brick and mortar) usually had to spend 20-40% more on new customer acquisition.

customer-life-cycle-economics-in-ecommerce(Image Source)

These studies gave widespread notoriety to ‘retention marketing’, as a theory, and in practice, that shows up almost everywhere online today.

And it’s important to note that we aren’t just some trendy, hipster, mobile SaaS apps either. But all industries.

For example, online grocers typically had to retain customers for 18 months to break-even after a $80 customer acquisition cost.

spending-growth-impact-bain(Image Source)

Bain looked at many different retailers, from consumer electronics to apparel and appliances, finding the same exact patterns pop up.

Not only were repeat customers worth more than new ones, but that repeat ones also were more likely to refer you to new customers (thereby dragging down your cost of acquisition on those new people as well).

referral-impact-bain(Image Source)

Former eBay CEO, Meg Whitman, said at the time that, “more than half of its customers are referrals”. And that because word of mouth was so much, they “spent less than $10 to acquire a customer”.

Fast forward to today, and the same exact trends emerge.

Adobe found that repeat customers are 9x more likely to convert (compared to new customers who haven’t purchase prior).

And Sweet Tooth Rewards found that a repeat customers have a 54% chance of purchasing again (compared with a 27% chance of new customers).

Or, ask Amazon.

Prime members will spend $75 billion this year alone.

On average each year, they spend about $1,200 compared with around $500 for non-Prime members.

growth-of-prime-membership-in-united-states(Image Source)

Now that we’ve beat the issue to death, here’s the rub:

If repeat customers are worth more, less price sensitive, and more often to refer than new customers…

… Why do we spend 12% of marketing budgets on retention?

(And probably less of our attention?)

1. Define Success Milestones

Before Dave McClure was an uber-accelerator extraordinaire, he wrote incredibly insightful, humorlessly punctuated and often NSFW blog posts.

One of these clever, punchy posts quickly morphed into startup metrics; becoming a simple analytical framework alternative to the ever-increasing complex dashboards found in most startups today.

The premise was simple: pick a few key metrics for each funnel stage to illustrate when it’s been met.

One specifically, Activation, focused on making sure people had a “happy-first experience” that’s required before any retention could happen.

Get ready to literally travel back in time, as this next image is embedded directly from Flickr.

Startup Metrics: Example Conversion Dashboard (AARRR!)//

“Activation” is similar to “customer centric success milestones” from Lincoln Murphy, in that you’re shooting for a few key moments when things to start to click for a customer.

For example, in a recent blog post, Lincoln uses an example someone starting an online store and defines a few of the possibilities, such as:

  1. Creating the store
  2. Adding logo, designs, etc.
  3. Setting up a payment gateway
  4. Creating new products.
  5. … You get the picture.

The idea is to identify (and eventually instrument) key activities on your site or inside your app that will later be used for forces of good (like follow up), but for now can be signs of success (or problems) that either help (or hurt) people’s customer experience (and thus, your conversions).

For example, the other day I was looking for a hotel. They had a nice suite, and I clicked on ‘show room amenities’ to see exactly what it looked like.

Instead of, oh – I dunno, pictures, video, or diagrams, I was met with this:


A huge wall of text, featuring an overwhelming amount of bullet points that does nothing to (a) communicate their value, but more importantly (b) help a potential customer achieve that ‘happy first experience’ of View Rooms –> Decide to Search Dates.

Those little micro-interactions are critical, because it mimics our unconscious browsing behavior that leads us to say, “Yes! Tell me more…” vs. “Eh, let’s keep looking”.

Design, and more specifically UX, is supposed to guide those interactions; giving customers what they want most while also steering them towards your ultimate business objectives.

For example, if you were to hit the back button (don’t do it now!) or go back to the Kissmetrics product pages, you’ll notice the ‘next steps’ for customers are clearly highlighted, with primary actions featured visually while secondary ones are more subtle.


Providing clear paths through your site (or app) is the first step towards getting a customer generated, or a free trial to become sticky – prior to any retention taking place. And you do that by not making people think.

You can even instrument these ‘customer success milestones’ in your funnel, giving a more nuanced view of actionable steps that you can make better marketing decisions around (like, “Hey – why are all those people dropping off between Cart –> Order?!”)

For example, here’s how a typical eCommerce funnel can be set up, where people visit the site, view products, add to cart, start the checkout process, and eventually place order.


SaaS apps, while different, aren’t really all that different at all. You still have people coming to a site, doing some initial browsing of key pages, signing up for a free trial, actually using the product for a bit before entering their billing info and hitting Upgrade if all looks good.


Now that you’ve got the major steps or milestones outlined, you can begin to dig into the details to uncover gaps inside or out of your product.

2. Map Your Customer Lifecycle

It’s slightly depressing to think that around half of your free trial users will sign up, use it one time, and then never come back again – dropping your app fast like the worst of one night stands.

And while these ‘onboarding’ techniques (or statistics in this case) are often associated with SaaS products, it’s important to realize that it’s no different for how people starting shopping on an eComm site, only to bounce (like 67% of them). Or start punching in their travel dates for a hotel, without ever completing the booking (81% of them).

(It’s also important to note that you can’t do some of the ‘classic onboarding’ stuff like event-based messaging – which we’ll discuss in the third part below – until these first two are sorted out.)

The only saving grace is that you can increase conversions without A/B testing by making changes to how people look for, find, and complete these ‘milestones’ you’ve just identified.

One simple method is to identify friction points as people attempt to navigate the treachery (that is your sitemap) and hit each milestone.

For example, friction points can be at the very start of a customer interaction, when they’re simply trying to find a product to add to cart.


But they’re more commonly in the middle of an interaction, when they’re trying to find specific things but your site is making it impossible.

For example, below is a basic Heatmap analysis showing a service-based site’s portfolio of work.


Notice something missing?

The freaking clicks! It’s a virtual ghost town, with basically ZERO focused clicks and page interactions.

There is a hover animation (that you obviously can’t pick up on an analysis like this), but for whatever reason it’s not doing its job in getting people to click and view the portfolio examples (which is a critical step to them hitting the Contact Us button and reaching out).

Again – these principles apply inside an app as well as outside on the marketing site.

For example: Toggl. Awesome product. Insanely simple time tracking. Even the least technical people enjoy it.

Until, that is, when you’re about to log time against a new project and you need to setup a new client.


And you see… nothing? You can create a project here, but no Client (even though the label tells you to Add a Client).

(This also reminds me of Google Hangouts. Which you can tell was built by engineers. Because while using the product is great, starting one is another nightmare entirely.)

A path report comes in handy here, allowing you to dig deeper into the customer journey and pinpoint where some problem areas exist.

Segmenting your converters vs. non-converters, and then analyzing differences in their path or journey, is one way to surface these issues.


As an added bonus, path reports can also give you better attribution metrics because they’ll pick up all the stuff that happens during (not just before and after) a complete customer journey. You can track this stuff back to which (and how) your marketing channels (and thus, budget + resources) influence each step.


3. Event-Based Messaging

Now, it’s time for the good stuff.

The drip email campaigns to new trial-ers. The shopping cart abandonment. The in-app notifications. Heck, even the picking up the phone!

The key distinction here though, is that your outbound messaging and communication should now be tied to the milestones and path events you just identified (as opposed to static, time-based autoresponders.)

For example, Audible recently emailed me this promotion.

The design is fine (although image-heavy). The offer is good. And the Cialdini-esque urgency is great!


The key here, is segmentation. The fine print says I’m receiving this because I have unused credits in my account (as of a certain date).

Unused credits = not using the product.

Not using the product = about to churn.

So they’re proactively targeting based on events to inspire (or dictate) action they want taken.

(Don’t worry Audible – got some travel coming up that will take care of those credits.)

Good email workflows can deliver similar results, spinning off new sequences of communication based on actions an individual might take on your website (or even another channel).

For example, many subscribers and leads often go dormant (see the stats at the beginning of the last section). So you can ‘win them back’ by getting a little extra details about what they’re into or looking for, and then tailoring your own messaging accordingly.

Below, I’m trying to pull out all people who’re implicitly answering this question by clicking on a specific ‘website’ link (as opposed to another topic that was provided, like marketing automation).


Now you have the trigger, that should kick off or refine the next communication they see.

Let’s say someone’s on-site (or in-app) and not moving. They got distracted and went somewhere else for a few minutes (physically, or a new browser tab). But you don’t want them to bounce.

As the stats show, there’s a good chance they’re bouncing and not coming back to (1) complete the purchase, (2) modify their account in your app, (3) leave a booking process, or (4) don’t fill out your long service-based opt-in.

The first step is to identify the trigger, or the idleness in this case, based mostly on time (in seconds or minutes).

You can then throw up a lightbox message to catch their attention, provide a recommendation, offer a promotion or incentive, etc.


You can also customize the location of the message they’re seeing based on importance or priority as well. So while a complete lightbox might be appropriate for an almost bouncing visitor, a simple bumper in the lower right hand side or basic notification might be enough for loyal people already working diligently inside your app.



Research studies conducted over several decades all show that repeat customers are the most profitable and most likely to refer you someone new.

Brand new customers on the other hand, are also shown to be unprofitable for a period of time because of their high costs of acquisition.

All that, and yet we still dedicate so little time and money behind retention strategies as opposed to new acquisition.

This problem is pervasive in most industries – not just SaaS – where online buyer’s typically hit website bottlenecks while trying to give you money.

Until these friction points and paths are smoothed out, it’s impossible to start running sophisticated retention strategies.

Because the most effective communication or messaging strategies are heavily reliant on specific actions people just did (or didn’t take) – and not some arbitrary method like time.

The tactics are the easy part. Where to place a link or what pop-up style to use. It’s just a Google away.

The hard part, is figuring out what to Google in the first place. And that comes back to your customer’s (not your) milestones.

About the Author: Brad Smith is a founding partner at Codeless Interactive, a digital agency specializing in creating personalized customer experiences. Brad’s blog also features more marketing thoughts, opinions and the occasional insight.

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