For Nontechnical Hires, How Much Stock Is Enough?

first_imgscott gerber How to Meet the Demands of the Socially Conscio… How to Cultivate the Skill of Being a Creative … Guest author Scott Gerber is the founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council.In an early-stage startup, you may not have much in the way of cash to offer new hires. While you’ll often hear advice about how to structure equity for technical hires, deciding how to compensate other key hires—from cofounders to sales staff—isn’t as clear-cut.To help you figure it out, I asked founders from YEC how they figured out what to offer early-stage, nontechnical hires. Their best advice—from considerations to make to equations to use—is below.1. Base It on the Number of Employees You HaveEarly hires are more critical than late hires. Think of your company hires in terms of stages: 1–2 employees, 3–6, 7–15, 16–30, 31–60, 61–150, etc. The amount of equity an employee gets should go down with each stage, because the company is getting less risky to work for, and because you just can’t keep issuing large amounts of equity to everyone at the company. Here’s one system to follow: Employees 1-2 (cofounders) should split the company either 50/50, 67/33, 75/25, or some other reasonable amount. Employees 3-6 should get between 1 and 5 percent of the company in equity, while employees 7–15 should get 0.5–1 percent. Employees 16–30 should get between 0.25–0.5 percent, and so on. A great company to look to for guidance on this is Buffer, which opened up all its salary and equity calculations. —Mattan Griffel, One Month2. Calculate Based on Your Capital ConsiderationsAssuming you’re starting with no capital, you’re going to grant pieces of your company in order to give incentives to early-stage employees. In my experience, sales and marketing is most often handled by stakeholders when there’s no capital. If sales staff is a requirement of your particular company, revenue-share models can be more conducive with the startup economy so you’re not forced to give away critical pieces of your business before seeking subsequent investment. —Blair Thomas, EMerchantBroker 3. Decide on What You Want Everyone to KnowWe make all compensation, salary, and equity based on the expectation that everyone eventually finds out each other’s numbers. This means that people with similar positions and responsibilities should have the same compensation. Even if a candidate asks for lower equity than their peers, give them the same amount. When they find out that you gave them less equity than a peer, you’ll lose their trust. When we give out offers, we tell candidates that we don’t negotiate because what we offer is prioritizing fairness for the candidate and the rest of the team. New hires have been appreciative of this approach. —Nanxi Liu, Enplug4. Use AngelList to DecideAngelList is a great resource for determining early-stage compensation for non-founders. It shows you how much equity companies like yours in your geographical area are offering employees of various titles, and takes the guesswork out of the process. —Brennan White, Cortex5. Start With an Option PoolThe best way to manage equity for key and strategic hires is through an option pool. Most option pools include total equity in the amount of 10–15 percent, which you’ll need to allocate based on projected hires over the next 24 to 36 months. Once you establish your intended list of hires, you can allocate up to 75 percent of the option pool (leaving wiggle room for negotiation). Generally speaking, technical hires should get more equity than nontechnical hires. However, you may want to break the “technical-hire” rule for superstar nontechnical hires, especially if the hire fills a needed executive or senior-level position. Once you think through your hiring, you’ll be in a better position to allocate your option pool. Note: setting up an option pool will also be helpful should you raise venture capital. —Kristopher Jones, LSEO.com6. Tie It to PerformanceUsing equity in lieu of capital compensation until you are cash-flow positive is normal. The shares should be on a vesting schedule and should be tied to performance and agreed upon by both parties. —Lane Campbell, June7. Keep a Vesting Period in MindIn general, sales and marketing staff tend to get less equity than technical hires with the exception of nontechnical managers and executives. In my opinion, how much equity you give is less important than how the equity will vest. In general, most vesting periods are four years long, though people are experimenting with longer and shorter periods. This means that regardless of how much equity the non-technical hire is given, they will have to stay with the company (not get fired or quit) in order to achieve the full amount of equity given. For instance, if you provide a nontechnical hire with 0.5 percent equity over 4 years, the stock will vest in equal installments of 0.125 percent each year. Vesting periods are critical because they protect the company and create better alignment between the hire and his or her performance over time. —Obinna Ekezie, Wakanow.com8. Base It on How Critical the Hire IsIt’s a two-step process. First, do some research to find the industry benchmark (try AngelList.) Second, you should think critically about how important this particular hire is going to be. For example, in enterprise companies, sales positions becomes very critical for the success of the company. If it is like that, you want to sweeten the deal further. Overall, good companies tend to be more generous with their stock options. —Ashu Dubey, 12 Labs9. Use Equity to Keep Everyone in the GameCompensating those on your team with the success of your business will add extra motivation and drive. Especially early on, you need all hands on deck and everyone moving in the same direction. This includes all aspects of your business, not just technical team members. I leveraged AngelList frequently to assess how much equity to give. Putting in a one-year cliff and a vesting schedule has been critical to keep the team motivated, and gives something to really celebrate when we hit those key milestones. —Kristi Zuhlke, KnowledgeHound10. Quantify and Be FlexibleIt’s a very tricky question with many different answers, depending on who you ask; there’s no single answer, but there are ways to tailor compensation to your company and industry that will serve you exponentially better than listening to general advice. Keep in mind several factors: How big is your equity compensation pool (15 percent, 20 percent, etc.)?How many hires will you be making in the next six months with the current equity comp pool, and what types of hires will these people be (low-level, high-level)?How early is this employee and what kind of salary is this employee getting relative to their industry?How important or unique is this employee compared to other hires? Keep these things in mind relative to your equity pool, and also compare to industry what you come up with as a guideline. —Alec Bowers, Abraxas Biosystems 11. Think in Terms of Dollars, Not Shares or PercentagesYou should have a reasonable expectation of how much your business is worth today and might be worth in a year or two. You can also estimate what additional upside a new hire will need to either compensate for below market comp today, or take on the risk of joining a startup. For example, if the market for a sales person is $65,000 and commission is 10 percent, you can decide how much additional bonus per year they need to join your team ($25,000, $50,000, $100,000). Consider what that might grow into based on your valuation growth (2x, 5x, 10x) to get them to join. Then you can decide if it’s worth giving that up for what they bring in terms of sales growth or lead generation. —Avi Levine, Digital Professional Institute 12. Make Sure Total Compensation Hits Market ValueThere are market rates established for all levels and roles. Target a compensation package within 20 percent of market rate. We’ve had success by offering a menu of three choices, which allows each candidate to choose their mix of cash and equity. Just remember that a well-rounded startup has strong technical and nontechnical people, so don’t treat anyone like a lower-class employee. —Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches13. Do the MathSlicing up equity should come down to a math equation. Instead of reinventing the wheel, you should use math that other people have invented to figure it out. Y Combinator cofounder Paul Graham puts it together in this simple equation: 1/(1 – n). What it breaks down to is that if “n” is the equity you’re giving up, it’s worth it if it makes the company worth more than 1/(1 – n). Beyond that, I stick to the basics: Have a one-year cliff and four-year vesting for all equity employees. —John Rampton, Due AI Will Empower Leaders, Not Replace Themcenter_img Tags:#compensation#Equity Compensation#Guest Posts#hiring#Nontechnical Hires#recruiting#Stock Options#yec Related Posts How Connected Communities Can Bolster Your Busi…last_img read more

Why HD DVD Will Beat Blu-Ray: A Better Name For Mere Mortals

first_imgI was recently shopping at BestBuy with my wife, Kirsten.  She’s close to the opposite end of the tech-geek spectrum as I am (she uses a computer every day, but mostly for useful things and is not particularly concerned about some of the religious debates around technology and the relative merits of one thing vs. the other.  She’s not going to be running out to buy an iPhone as soon as it launches (I likely will be). I’m currently in the market for a new DVD player at home.  I’m generally not big on DVDs as I find the whole notion of moving data bits around using atoms organized into shiny disks someone quaint.  My parents are visiting us from India, and there are some things they want to watch that are not “in the cloud” somehwere — only on DVD.  But I digress. What do you think? How important is a simple name in helpling customers make a decision? So, my question is this:  Of the thousands of mere mortals (i.e. not tech-geeks) that will make the DVD player buying decision in the coming months and years, how many times will this story repeat itself?  How many people will walk out the door with an HD DVD player simply because they think it’s the “natural” choice”?  How many of these decisions will it take for HD DVD to become the prevailing standard not on technical merit, but just because of the name?  If we think back to the VHS vs. BetaMax debate, I find a bit of similarity.  VHS (when people asked) stood for “Video Home System”.  BetaMax didn’t stand for anything.  Will history repeat itself? Originally published Jun 6, 2007 10:43:00 AM, updated March 21 2013 So, we are in the market for a DVD player.  I’ve been following the HD / DVD Blu-Ray debate for a while — primarily as a curious bystander, because it didn’t really affect me all that much — until now.  As I was walking down the DVD player aile in the store with Kirsten, she paused and pointed to one and said “why not just buy this one”.  (It was an HD DVD player).  I asked her why that particular one had caught her eye.  Her response:  “Well, it’s an HD DVD player.  Aren’t you all over that whole HD thing?”  She basically thought HD DVD was what connected to our HDTV and that was that.  The whole notion of Blu-Ray with all it’s technical merits never crossed her mind.  It just made sense to her that an HD DVD went along with an HD TV.  In her mind, Blu-Ray wasn’t even in the race.  Decision made. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

8 Free Links to Promote a Blog

first_imgDo you have a new blog? Want to get 8 free links to your blog? Here is a list of free links in blog directories that you can get for your blog, along with the Page Rank of the blog directory (read this article to learn more about Page Rank: The Importance of Google PageRank: A Guide For Small Business Executives).So far, none of these links have driven a ton of traffic, however, more inbound links do help you a lot in terms of search engine optimization (read this article to learn more about linkbuilding: Executive Summary: Linkbuilding and SEO for the Internet Marketing Neophyte).We have submitted our own blog to each of these blog directories and can confirm that they are quality links from reputable sources, and they are all free and do not require a reciprocal link.8 Quality Blog Directories with Free, No-Reciprocal Links Page Rank  PR: wait… I: wait… L: wait… LD: wait… I: wait…wait… C: wait… SD: wait… Blog Optimization 3 Globe of Blogs 6 5 Bloggernity Did you like what you read? Want more? Get automatic updates by subscribing to our RSS Feed or Email List (top right hand side of this page). SuperBlog Directory 3 7 BlogFlux 6 Blog Listing Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Bloggapedia Blog Directory Blogarama Topics: Originally published Nov 28, 2007 12:18:00 PM, updated October 18 2015 4 6 Bloggiolast_img read more

Your Website Is More Than Great Design

first_img 2. The CSSP heavy-duty blog is working to gain lots of authority (MOZ rank of 4 and 724 inbound links) but they need to consider renaming the articles with keywords and not numbers in order to maximize these posts.  Last Google visit was almost two weeks ago and with the content CSSP generates, spider visits should be much more frequent. with Prashant Kaw, we reviewed three websites: one relatively new; another one that was a consolidation of several geographically far-flung sister sites; and one that has been around for over a decade.  They were all “NOT PRETTY” in the standard, graphically-enhanced marketer view of the world.  But, each site worked for the marketer responsible for lead flow.   More importantly, each site had some opportunities for optimization and improvement despite decent Website Grader scores.  The marketer on the call for each of review walked away with ideas for increasing their Search Engine presence, their Social Media efforts, and Lead Generation. Join HubSpot experts for a live session of website review and optimization, providing tips for getting found online. Twitter handle Topics: 2. Move the blog from to the Sweet Grace website as soon as possible.  Right now, her pictures of wedding cake designs are giving Blogspot traffic and search rankings that should be the website’s.  Consider using video on the blog, in addition to the pictures for maximum visibility. A custom cake (wedding primarily) creator, Lisa did a great job with her 4-month-old site with geo-tagging in her meta descriptions and page titles.  (I’ve done seven during my marketing career) is a painful and much-lengthier process than any website development company will tell you.   This prospect wanted to wait for the budget, then the redesign, and  finally, the launch before turning to lead generation tactics for their business.  All because some internal folks didn’t like the “look” of their existing website. Is that a smart marketing move? One of HubSpot’s top Inbound Marketing Specialists asked me to join a sales call in an effort to show the prospect that waiting for a website redesign, instead of concentrating on building relevant content for their site with keyword-rich, consistent copy points, was putting the cart before the horse.  They did not have – and were unlikely to get in the relatively near-term – budget approval to proceed for a complete overhaul of their site.  Yet, they were persistent in their belief that the new site would solve all of their lead generation problems.  Baloney! During yesterday’s 1. With “blended” results occuring as search continues to evolve, this site would benefit from having a social media presence.  Using the help of community that is part of the Center for Strategic Planning’s world, their content is a perfect way to utilize Twitter and Facebook. 1. Use Google Local and Google Street Maps to get found geographically.  Even without a storefront, being found online is critical when looking for brides in a specific geographic area. URL: | Grader Score: 98  3. Increase your authority on search engines by executing a 301 redirect on the to  Right now, there are two sites in the eyes of Google and the diluted effect is hurting rankings. Suggestions for optimization: 4. Their domain is set to expire in less than a year.  Get it renewed for another 5 or 10 years and do it quickly. Date & Time: What do you think these sites could have done differently?  Do you agree that design is not the most important factor in website effectiveness? Website Optimization Webinar  for optimization by HubSpot experts! (3-5 will be selected) 2. Create single Twitter and Facebook accounts for Tiger Turf World.  She has not grabbed thecenter_img 1.Have a main Tiger Turf Blog on the home page navigation. Right now, the North American site (Grader Score: 43) has a blog (the main site does not) with just four posts, the last one in July 2009.  She has the content to make consistent blog posts easily and it needs to be done in order to feed her social media accounts. URL: | Grader Score: 84 3. Update all meta descriptions to fill in the missing data and keywords. There were many pages completely missing the information to Get Found by search engines. I pointed out that a This 10-year-old website is a textbook example of Best Practices in website functionality.  With a free ebook download, easy-to-find and above-the-fold information, Charles works at constantly tweaking this site for maximum visibility.   But we had a few ideas for improvement. Website Design This site launched in December, 2007 and as the marketer responsible for the effort, Kim had her hands full. First of all, all of the different geographic points had “unique” and inconsistent fonts, graphics, etc.  Kim did a wonderful job of bringing everyone under the main Tiger Turf World site.   Her next issue was trying to figure out how to start moving towards Social Media.  Kim wanted to know if she should have different Twitter and Facebook accounts for each geography (as with the sub-domains on the main site). Every Tuesday at 1:00pm ET Live Website Optimization: Using Website Grader For Marketing Success  URL: | Grader Score: 77 Suggestions for next steps in optimization: 3. The use of testimonials on the Home Page is terrific.  Why not repurpose them on individual pages and tweet them frequently?  Or, use on their Facebook page as well? Lots of low-hanging fruit here. Submit your site now yet and it needs to be done immediately. (Looks like it was done, now the bio and image needs to be updated for their profile with relevant keywords). Originally published May 6, 2010 9:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016 Every marketer begins a new job with a significant look at the company website.  A website is visible to everyone: employees, customers, shareholders, prospects and can be tangible evidence that the marketing department/marketer is doing their job.  Unfortunately, the website review usually has more to do with how the site looks and not how it works.  Not functionally, in terms of navigation and page load, but in the context of “Being Found” on the Internet.  What is the point of creating a wonderful, graphics award-winning website if no one ever finds you, your company, or your products? website launch or website redesign Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

Facebook Places Launches, Allows Businesses to “Check In”

first_img and other location-based social networks, but also to Google and Yelp. The social network has announced the launch of a major new feature: Facebook Places.  We have Facebook, similar to on this blog in the past. However, this trend just got a lot more interesting for marketers. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack talked many times about the adoption and marketing implications of location-based social networks HTML5 mobile site Foursquare Facebook Business Pages has delivered a major blow to not only to as well as their Originally published Aug 19, 2010 10:05:00 AM, updated October 20 2016 users to check in to offline locations similar to other location-bastion social networks. The Places feature is available in Facebook’s Facebook Places allowscenter_img Marketing Takeaway Facebook Places isn’t an attack on Foursquare, it is a direct attack on Google and Yelp. Facebook realizes that as retail business shift marketing dollars online, a huge opportunity exists. iPhone application Yelp and other location-focused sites, is also allowing businesses to claim their location in Facebook Places. Once Facebook Places is available to you, add the location to your business. Once that location page is created, you will then have the option to “claim” it as the page for your business. It is likely that Facebook will launch many other marketing opportunities for Businesses on Facebook places in the future, so it is important to go ahead and claim your location now. Topics: Do you plan to use Facebook Places? Although the feature is now available in the newest version of the Facebook iPhone app, the company says it is still rolling out the feature and is not yet available to all users.  Another interesting note is that Facebook, via an API, is going to provide developers access to some of the data from Facebook Places to integrate this new feature with outside applications. Additionally, it doesn’t seem like Facebook is out to “kill” other location-based networks. It will allow Foursquare and other major location-based social networks to push location information into Places so that a user can use Foursquare to check in on both Foursquare and Facebook Places. If you are a marketer, this announcement demonstrates that location-based social networks are transforming from a trend into a mainstream feature of social networking. Some of the initial developers using Facebook Places are social game developers like Booyah, who plan to create new social games based on location. Facebook .  One change in Facebook Places is that instead of showing people who have checked in nearby, the application will display people near you that Facebook has determined to have relevancy to you.last_img read more

5 Steps for Creating Successful Lead Nurturing Campaigns

first_img Topics: When it comes to effective marketing automation, one of the best steps you can take is making sure your emails are properly set up for lead nurturing success.Here are 5 steps you can take to ensure you generate more customers through a lead nurturing campaign.1. Define Your Audience and SegmentCompanies usually have more than one type of customer. Why do most companies only market to one type of buyer then? In order to set up a lead nurturing email campaign, you first need to know who needs nurturing. Once you’ve defined your ideal customer types, you should then segment them before you start creating campaigns.2. Offer Something of Value First, Not a Sales PitchJust because someone converts on your page doesn’t mean you should jump straight into sending them an email about requesting a quote or a demo. You need to nurture them through the sales funnel first to make them readier to buy. Instead of pitching your product as the greatest thing ever, you should first offer value. Examples of valuable offers include webinars, ebooks, and whitepapers. You don’t have to create new content for your lead nurturing emails — if you have a backlog of content, utilize those assets. If they’ve been successful converting leads in the past, there’s a high chance the leads you’re nurturing will find value in them, too.3. Set Objectives and Goals for Each EmailSo now you know you should be sending content first, not sales quotes. But how do you know what type of content to send? And what should that content’s purpose be? Ultimately, you should be picking offers that will appeal to your chosen audience segment with the intention of moving them further down the sales funnel and closer to the customer stage.A good example of how to do this is in the chart above from one of HubSpot’s customers. Not only do they provide information about their offers and goals for each email, they also include the subject line and CTA they’ll use to entice the reader to accept the offer. This type of chart is a great way to help you organize your campaigns and make sure you’re implementing goals to reach that final step — the sale.4. Set Up a Timeline for Your EmailsYour business has a typical sales cycle, and so should your lead nurturing campaigns. Typically, it’s a good idea to send 2 to 3 emails to your prospects in a lead nurturing campaign. Try to space out your emails accordingly. For example, if your typical cycle runs 30 days, you may want to set up a campaign for emails to be sent out the 1st, 10th, and 20th days after a conversion. With lead nurturing, patience is a virtue. It’s important to remember not to rush into the sale. Instead, let it take its natural course.5. Evaluate Your Success, and OptimizeAs your campaigns run, make sure to experiment with the offers you send, the subject lines, and the calls-to-actions found within the email. There’s always room to improve your campaign. Make sure you take advantage of testing and experimentation to better nurture your leads.Lead nurturing can be ineffective if done incorrectly, but if you put the time into your campaigns and follow these steps, you’ll be more likely to drive more lead-to-customer conversions for your business!How are you using lead nurturing campaigns as part of your inbound marketing strategy? Lead Nurturing Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Originally published Oct 11, 2011 11:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017last_img read more

Two Critical Metrics for Measuring Your Fundraising Performance

first_img Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Originally published Apr 3, 2014 11:30:00 AM, updated July 28 2017 Marketing Metrics I believe that performance measurement is the most important tool in every nonprofit’s fundraising toolbox. In order to improve the outcomes of your fundraising efforts, you need to measure performance, analyze results, and improve performance over time. But this begs the question … What should your organization measure?Well, it depends on your fundraising goals and strategies. Measurement should always be determined by your unique fundraising plan and the validation you need to improve your fundraising performance. This may include measuring the performance of your marketing channels like your website, social media engagement, and direct mail performance, as well as other efforts like special events, peer-to-peer fundraising, and major gift fundraising performance.However, underlying all of these channels, efforts, and activities are two metrics that lay a foundation for fundraising performance measurement: return on investment and cost per dollar raised.These two metrics are powerful because they allow us to start answering some very intriguing questions, like:We raised “X” dollars from this fundraising strategy, but what does that mean?  Was that fundraising strategy more or less effective than the same strategy last year?How does the performance of that fundraising strategy compare to our other strategies?  More importantly, we can answer strategic questions that drive fundraising improvement and growth. The most critical of these strategic questions are: Are we raising money or losing money? and How do we know if we are raising money or losing money?FundamentalsReturn on investment and cost per dollar raised can be calculated from two variables: revenue by strategy and expenses by strategy.Return on investment is the amount of revenue you generate for a given strategy divided by the expenses required to generate that revenue. Return on investment calculates the total yield for every dollar expended to produce that yield. If the outcome of this calculation is greater than one, the strategy produced a return. If the outcome of this calculation is less than one, the strategy produced a loss.    Cost per dollar raised is the inverse of return on investment. Cost per dollar raised is the total expenses allocated to a certain strategy divided by the total revenue generated by that strategy (revenue could also be replaced with “raised” funds to alter the focus of the metric). As opposed to return on investment, cost per dollar raised calculates the total cost to yield a single dollar of revenue. If the outcome of this calculation is greater than one, the strategy produced a loss; and if the outcome of the calculation is less than one, the strategy produced a return.In order to calculate these two metrics, we need two things: an aggregate sum of all revenue generated for the strategy we want to measure, as well as an aggregate sum of all expenses for that strategy. The “strategy” is the specific fundraising effort, activity, or tactic. You can be specific or broad in how you bucket revenue and expenses under a strategy, but with both metric calculations you must use a ratio of revenue and expenses that are associated with the same strategy.If we measure revenue and expenses for each strategy, we can improve return on investment and cost per dollar raised performance by improving each variable in the calculation. There are three scenarios that lead to increased performance in these two metrics:While holding expenses constant, we increase revenue.While holding revenue constant, we decrease expenses.We increase revenue and decrease expenses at the same time.Key PointsIn addition to the fundamentals of these two metrics, there are three key points that can improve the accuracy and value of your measurements.1) Filter down to the micro-level.While you can generate return on investment and cost per dollar raised for annual fundraising performance on the macro-level, both metrics become more valuable as you evaluate performance on the micro-level.Tracking and calculating performance for these metrics on the micro-level requires a segmented fundraising plan with specific and discrete strategies. Filtering your strategies down to the sources, channels, and methods of fundraising you employ makes it easier to find the weak points in your strategy and make changes to improve your fundraising performance. When you run these metrics in a macro view, it’s challenging to determine where improvements can be made. Specific micro-level segments allow you to pinpoint exactly which strategies and tactics are effective, and which ones aren’t.  2) Collaborate across the organization.For most organizations (dependent on your organizational setup), your development staff and your finance and accounting staff must work together to produce these metrics. Generally the development staff will have data on the sources of revenue and can attribute revenue to specific fundraising strategies, while the finance and accounting staff will have data on the expenses and can attribute those expenses to specific fundraising strategies.As a result, it’s important that these two functions collaborate to produce these metrics. It’s also important that both functions track revenue and expenses using the same specificity and granularity. Without clearly defined tracking and coding of revenue and expenses across both functions, you cannot generate accurate or relevant ratios for these two metrics. 3) Track time and apply as an expense.Including time in your return on investment and cost per dollar raised metrics is a “game changer.” If you’ve been tracking return on investment and cost per dollar raised for your fundraising strategies, but haven’t been adding time as a part of the expenses variable, try running your metrics again including time.It’s very easy to think about time as a free resource, but we all know time is a scarce resource and is therefore valuable to your organization. Time is a direct expense. If it takes one hundred hours of prep for your development director to plan and coordinate a special event, there is a cost for that time. The direct cost of time will depend on who expended the time, how it was expended, and how your organization values that time.Time is also an opportunity. Depending on how time is spent, there could be more valuable uses of time that generate higher returns for the organization. Adding time to your measurement of return on investment and cost per dollar raised gives you a true measure of fundraising performance.Practical Tip: Try tracking time for specific fundraising strategies. Start out with an isolated experiment of one or two strategies. Use a time tracking software like Harvest, RescueTime, TSheets, or Toggl; or keep track of your time in an Excel spreadsheet. Then calculate return on investment and cost per dollar raised two ways. Calculate one set of these two metrics with time included as an expense (valued at a particular rate) and one set without time included. The difference should be evident.Take Action How do we put these metrics into practice? How do we apply them to real-life scenarios, and actually use them to improve fundraising performance?1) Invest in what works; put fundraising dollars toward effective strategies.Fundraising budgets have limits. There isn’t an endless pool of funds to invest. As a result, we need to be selective, strategic, and smart in where we invest our fundraising dollars.Where should we spend our fundraising dollars to generate the highest return? If you use specific, granular details on the micro level of your fundraising strategy to calculate return on investment and cost per dollar raised, you can identify the best fundraising opportunities. Identifying effective opportunities can focus your organization on shedding waste (which are those activities that don’t produce a return) and investing in value (which are those activities that do produce a return).In addition, both of these measures allow us to create “baseline” metrics. Baseline metrics are comparable across incomparable strategies. For example, you can compare the returns from your direct mail campaign to the returns from your special event using these metrics. You can also compare the returns from your social media efforts to your major gift personal solicitations. If we base our comparisons on revenue or expenses by themselves, we cannot compare unlike fundraising strategies. However, as a ratio we can compare these strategies to uncover those that are most effective. Note: While a particular strategy may be highly effective based on these measures, it may not scale. For example, you may find that your event is less effective than a direct mail campaign, but the event’s scale cannot be matched by your direct mail efforts. Scale is an important factor to consider when investing in effective strategies. The correlation between scale and effectiveness, as it pertains to developing a cohesive fundraising strategy, is an important consideration when deciding how to invest limited fundraising dollars to produce maximum return. 2) Test and experiment; test smart, learn, and adapt.It’s important to remember that if you’re measuring these metrics for the first time (especially if you include time in your expense calculations, which I highly recommend), the results may be enlightening or shocking. Something you thought was high performing may be generating poor performance. This is why it’s important to test strategies, evaluate the effectiveness of each strategy, and learn.  However, testing and experimenting have limits. Again, our budgets aren’t infinite. We need to be smart in our testing approach. Jim Collins states it best in his book Great by Choice, “fire bullets then cannonballs.”Because time and money are scarce and valuable, Collins uses this premise as a method to validate strategies and learn. “A bullet is a low-cost, low-risk, and low-distraction test or experiment. Based on empirical validation that the bullets are hitting their mark, then concentrate resources on a calibrated cannonball. Calibrated cannonballs enable large returns from concentrated investments.”Don’t waste resources by firing uncalibrated cannonballs when you don’t know if you will actually hit your target. Test and experiment by firing bullets until you feel confident you’ve fine-tuned your methods. Then fire a cannonball when you’re confident you’ve dialed in performance with the right specifications to make the biggest impact. You can use return on investment and cost per dollar raised to validate your strategies and then scale those strategies into larger fundraising efforts once they’re proven. 3) Turn the dial up; improve the return of each fundraising strategy.Lastly, with these metrics you can improve performance. If you understand the drivers that affect these two metrics, you can “crank up” the return on each fundraising activity by improving similar fundraising strategies over time.For example, if you run the same event every year and calculate the yield of that event based on the return on investment and cost per dollar raised, you can strategically improve performance for that event in the upcoming year. Employ the three scenarios described earlier:Increase event revenues while holding expenses constant.Decrease event expenses while holding revenues constant.Increase event revenues and decrease event expenses at the same time.If you can improve any one of these scenarios, you can yield higher returns for the upcoming event than the past event. The fundamentals of these two metrics allow you to squeeze more value from your fundraising efforts to generate more return with less cost, while contributing to your organization’s year-over-year growth.These aren’t the only metrics you should be tracking, but they can get you started. The goal of any development professional is to invest in positive fundraising projects. Fundraising success is directly correlated to managing a portfolio of projects that yield positive returns as standalone efforts and as a total, combined portfolio of fundraising projects. By measuring a spectrum of macro- and micro-level returns using these two measures, you have a litmus test for whether your fundraising strategy is contributing positively to the growth of your organization. Topics:last_img read more

Why Some Things Go Viral — And Others Don’t [Video]

first_img Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Viral Campaigns Originally published Feb 22, 2016 6:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Today, internet users have more control over what they look at online than ever before. To earn their attention, marketers like us have to create content that’s worthy of our audience’s time and emotional investment.But what’s the best way to cut through the clutter to make sure our content gets seen?Well, it helps to create content that’s poised to go viral, of course. For a piece of content to go viral, each viewer has to generate at least one more viewer, on average. The “super-sharers,” though, are actually responsible for over 80% of shares that make content go viral — so the trick is to find and reach those people.But for those super-sharers to even think about sharing your stuff, it has to have “viral potential.” After all, there are reasons why some content takes off and other content doesn’t.To learn more about the two powerful drivers of viral success and the emotions that make us want to share, check out the video below from Harvard Business Review.last_img read more

Selling Digital Content? Seven Questions to Answer

first_img Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack The publishing business model is undergoing a transformation. More and more digital content creators supplement their advertising dollars with revenue directly from the reader through “digital products” – for example, content behind a paywall (known as “paid digital memberships”), webinars, ecourses, ebooks, etc.Why the change? It’s risky to depend so heavily on advertising. Over the past five years, 35% of print ad spend has dissipated. It’s challenging to make up for that online since pricing has declined by an average of eight percent each year for the last five years. There are no signs of digital ad pricing turning around. And forget about mobile advertising saving the day. About 400 million people have some type of mobile ad blocker installed. Advertising is not going to go away all together, but to grow, publishers need to rely on additional revenue streams. Not formally a “publisher” but still creating great content that you think consumers would pay for? Take note: there are best practices that all content creators should follow in order to monetize distinctive paid digital products. Consumers Will Pay For the RIGHT Digital ContentWhile some executives refuse to believe that consumers will ever pay for digital content. The data says otherwise. Consumers will pay for the right content. Research has shown that consumers are willing to open their wallets for paid digital memberships, so long as the content is high in quality (both the content itself and the associated experience online), curated and targeted at their wants and needs, and from a brand they know and trust. They’re also more willing to pay if it is for work, entertainment, or a hobby.This is not to say that you should require consumers to pay for ALL your content. You still need to offer free content to support your inbound marketing efforts. This builds trust and nurtures your readers into a paid product. However, there is an opportunity to put your premium content behind a paywall.If you already have content and an audience, you have an advantage over others to monetize content through paid digital memberships. However, one thing is sometimes missing: while the quality of the content is high, the quality of the digital product itself (e.g., the design, features, user experience) is not always up to par.  If you want people to pay to subscribe to your site, you’re going to need an upgrade.Did You Follow a Structured, Consumer-centric Process for Launching Your Membership Site?Let’s face it. Nothing is guaranteed when innovating. But you CAN reduce the risk. Businesses that follow a consumer-centric process have 32 percent higher success rates, meet sales objectives 42 percent more often, and meet profits objectives 39 percent better, according to Nadia Bhuiya of Concordia University.If you’re following inbound best practices, you have already done a lot of the work. You’ve defined your personas, and figured out their wants and needs. This is often the first step in any robust process.A solid consumer-centric process includes testing concepts with your target persona. What types of premium content will you put behind the paywall? Will your app/website have special features that appeal to your target persona?As part of the process, companies also need to make sure economic modeling serves as the “gut check” that the new product will be profitable under reasonable assumptions. When your building and launching your product, use an agile method. What this means is instead of spending a year building everything behind the scenes and hoping you got it right, you create your offering incrementally and see how your persona responds to each piece before building the next component. This way, you incorporate real marketplace feedback into your development process.Does Your Homepage Clearly Demonstrate Your Value Proposition?A value proposition clearly states who you are targeting and what needs you are meeting for that population. At Cook’s Illustrated, visitors are greeted with the message “Our 50 Test Cooks Make the Mistakes So You Don’t Have To. Get immediate FREE access to 3,000 foolproof recipes, 1,500 no-nonsense equipment reviews (we take no advertising), and 1,500 supermarket food taste tests.” Clearly, they are targeted serious home cooks who don’t want to waste their time sifting through the millions of free recipes of dubious quality.Does a visitor to your website clearly understand who you are talking to and what problem you are solving for them? This is where you should use A/B Testing to get the message exactly right. Is Your User Experience Responsive?Users will consume your content across devices (desktop, tablet, phone). Unfortunately, research has shown as little as 12% of websites are currently responsive. When your site does not look good on a phone, you are hurting conversion, AND Google is ranking you lower, so you are missing out on prospects as well. Make sure your development team incorporates responsive design, or, if you use a website hosting platform, that your theme is responsive. Responsive design is simply a must.Are you Current on Payment Processing Best Practices? Here is a vocab quiz for you.  What do each of these four terms mean?Wallet functionalityTransparent redirectCard recyclingRefresher programIf you don’t know, time to go to payments school. Best practices can lead to a 12-20% improvement in revenues once implemented. Here is a primer on these terms.Wallet functionality means you can keep a card on file and use it to process all future transactions (think: Amazon one-click). By removing the friction in checkout or at renewal, you will see substantially higher conversions.Transparent redirect allows you to bypass handling sensitive credit card information while making it look to the user like they never left your website. The form that captures the credit card data comes from your web server and looks/feels like your website.  However, behind the scenes, the sensitive data goes direct to your payment gateway. This is really the best of both worlds. You’ll lose conversions if you physically send the customer to another website for checkout. You don’t want to deal with the legal liability and potential customer service headaches of handling sensitive information on your own servers.Card recycling means re-trying transactions a few times after receiving a “soft decline.” A soft decline occurs when there is a temporary problem with a credit card (for example, if there was a temporary hold while a possible security breach was being investigated). Don’t give up – try again. There is an optimization point where the success rate of the re-try justifies the added processing costs.A refresher program updates credit card numbers and expiration dates on file. This is especially important if you are running a subscription business, because customer’s cards expire (and/or get stolen) over the course of a year.Do You Have Flexible Business Model Options?You should have the ability to offer monthly or annual subscriptions. You can also help conversions with free trials, couponing, and gifting. One truth about paid digital memberships is there is no silver bullet when it comes to business model. You are going to have to test into what works best for your specific audience and content vertical.Is your payment system set up to handle this range of options? If not, you’re leaving money on the table.Do You Nudge Engagement Through Content Discovery on Your Site?One mistake is lack of direction behind the paywall. The reader buys into your marketing messages, but once they plunk down the credit card, they’re a little confused about what to do.You should be nudging your customers to engage with your content once they’re on your site, so when that renewal notice comes, they do not decide to unsubscribe.Here are three ideas for you:Make sure you have a quality on-site search technology in place. As part of implementing this technology, you need to commit to adding the right metadata to your content to aid with search discovery. Make sure you are using a content recommendation engine. Use the info you already know about them and what they’ve engaged with to continue to delight and serve them the best and most relevant content.Think like a print newspaper – have a new headline every day. Readers still like when you curate interesting content for them. On your homepage, be sure to rotate what goes on above the fold daily. Fresh content is also critical for Search Engine Optimization.Are You Always Testing, in a Simple Manner?Always have a learning agenda! This is a list of open questions you have about optimizing your business.  For example:AcquisitionWhat ad copy / ad image / offer is most effective at driving traffic to our site?What homepage best communicates our value proposition, thus leading to lowest bounce rate / greatest time on page?What free offer is most effective at email capture? ConversionWhat introductory price leads to the highest conversion?What landing page / squeeze page / checkout page leads to the highest conversion?What traffic source leads to the highest conversion?RetentionWhat features / content create the most engagement?What renewal price leads to the highest renewal rate?What renewal notice language / design leads to the lowest unsubscribe rate?You should review your learning agenda at least once per quarter with your management team and agree which experiments you are going to run over the next 90 days to answer a few of the unanswered questions. Furthermore, best practices is to only test one thing at a time. There is a trend toward “multivariate testing,” and there are some good use cases for that. However, there are also many stories about abusing multivariate testing, resulting in a “Frankenstein Product.” The math suggested optimal subcomponents, but when you add them up to the whole, it just looks weird!Optimize Your Paywall TodayAgain, the purpose of this article is NOT to encourage you to put ALL your content behind a paywall. You still need to use free content to build your reputation and attract an audience. However, there is an opportunity to add more revenue by putting premium content behind a paywall, thus creating a paid digital membership.There are some tactical best practices discussed above, but the most important point is to make sure you are staying consumer-centric in all your decisions. You have a head start if you are already implementing inbound marketing best practices – you have defined your personas and figured out wants and needs that resonate with them. Make sure your digital product manifests this understanding.What is working or not working for you with respect to charging for digital content? Post in the comments!  Originally published Sep 14, 2016 7:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Topics: Website Designlast_img read more

What Is Lagom, and How Can It Create a More Balanced Approach to Work and Life?

first_img Topics: When the Global Innovation Index 2017 was released, Switzerland and Sweden led the pack — as they have in previous years.What makes this part of the world such a beacon of creative thought?As someone who was fortunate enough to live and work in Sweden, I’ve come to believe the answer might be hiding in a single word: “lagom.”Like many other non-English concepts, lagom defies quick or simple translation. It’s more of a cultural belief than mere letters strung together to signify objects or actions.Download our complete productivity guide here for more tips on improving your productivity at work.But what is it, and how can we use it at work and in life?What Is Lagom?Roughly speaking, lagom is a state of being sufficiently balanced. However, that doesn’t mean everything is equal, as on a leveled seesaw. Instead, lagom means having just the right amount of something for a given situation. The common Swedish proverb, “lagom är bäst” — which roughtly translates to, “the right amount is best” — is similar to the English phrase, “everything in moderation.”Finding lagom takes some practice, especially for those who were not brought up in Nordic countries where lagom is as natural as fjords and icy winters. And yet, it might be the key for businesspeople who are mired in a losing, imbalanced approach of creating products and then searching in vain for users — not to mention, those who simply want to find better work-life balance.The Barrier of Black-and-White ThinkingA barrier to embracing a lagom mindset is the prevalence of binary thinking. Left or right. Yes or no. Certainly, there are times in life when such starkness makes sense; no one would argue, for example, that at a train crossing, you would sit partway on the tracks instead of either stopping or going.But in the business world, effective solutions and answers are rarely black-and-white. Unfortunately, many struggle to see shades of gray when it comes to product development or product-market fit. That sheds some light on why throwing convention out the window sometimes leads to success.“Why can’t I connect travelers with local hosts for a whole new travel experience?” “Why can’t I combine riders with independent drivers via an app for better taxi experiences?” “Why can’t I create a taco shell made with Doritos?”Lagom at WorkDespite some trends toward blended products — lagom in a product context — it isn’t easy to see how to incorporate this concept of varied perspectives into your business. I struggled to see it myself, in fact, until I attended an international hackathon in Ireland.Our team was comprised of eight engineers and two marketers, including myself. The challenge: Come up with a new kind of conference identification badge that people would love.After brainstorming, we dismissed the notion of a traditional paper name tag encased in plastic, instead opting for an electronic one with image and video capabilities. Those who have read Arthur C. Clarke’s 3001: The Final Odyssey might be vaguely reminded of the nanochip inserted into everyone at birth to allow for more seamless introductions. Our suggestion, I’m proud to say, was less invasive — but just as compelling.We hoped that the badge would spur serendipitous moments for conference-goers via an embedded tracking mechanism. Our goal was to make it the centerpiece of a novel, productive conference experience. On that, everyone agreed — but soon, the classic engineer-marketer battle ensued. Sometimes, engineers tend to be product-centric and marketers, well, market-centric. In our scenario, the former focused on the ability to solve our problem using the product, while the latter concentrated on the user experience and costs.It wasn’t until we reached a blended, balanced approach — lagom — that we managed to create the final product that both sides had hoped for.A great product only sells if it satisfies a market that’s willing to pay for the solution. Any product lacking balance is destined for a bumpy and potentially fatal debut. Product-Market Fit Through BalanceNathan Furr and Paul Ahlstrom, co-authors of Nail It then Scale It, hit the proverbial nail on the head when they rhetorically asked:With this question, Furr and Ahlstrom referred to a phenomenon that I’ve seen in over two decades of working with entrepreneurs and corporations: Achieving early product-market fit exponentially increases a startup’s chances for success. Getting there, however, requires finding lagom. Let’s face it: You’ll get feedback on any solution … eventually. But entrepreneurs are often blinded by a passion for a specific solution. Instead of listening to unadulterated feedback, they might peddle products in search of an audience. Watch one episode of “Shark Tank,” and you’ll immediately see why that’s a disastrous approach.A key milestone for me, which was essentially my “aha!” moment, was the realization that striving for product-market balance required exceptional listening ability. The only way to see a situation, or a product, from more than one viewpoint is to listen and accept others’ ideas — then, challenge and question everything they’ve said with curiosity and sincerity.Balance.The only way to do that — the only way to balance your company vision with the needs of your market — is through repeated, meaningful customer conversations. Always Focus on the CustomerCustomers naturally focus on their needs. As an entrepreneur, I realized that instead of guessing at those needs, I could learn what they are through conversations with my audience. Only by actively seeking market insights could I craft my business strategy, make better product decisions, and promote customer loyalty.This epiphany has become the basis of everything I do and teach. By shifting from the “what” to the “why,” I’ve become aware of just how much of our decision-making depends on the internalization of others’ ideas.Most of us would like to believe that we make decisions consciously and individually. But back in the early 2000s, Harvard professors determined that 95% of purchase decisions are made subconsciously, posing quite the challenge to marketers.That’s why better business decision-making requires us to unearth our customers’ innermost thoughts and feelings. Yes, it takes practice just like any skill. Those of us who didn’t grow up in Nordic countries may find the pursuit of lagom — by way of talking to customers, and perhaps even strangers — challenging at first.But doing so springs us from the trap of self-centeredness and facilitates raw, human-to-human connection. That’s where lagom — and true balance — really begins. Don’t forget to share this post! Work Life Balance Originally published Jan 2, 2018 8:00:00 AM, updated January 02 2018last_img read more