ForUsAll

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I’m excited to announce that I recently joined ForUsAll! ForUsAll is focused on making 401(k) retirement plans available to small and mid-sized businesses. This is a market ripe for innovation. If a SMB does offer their employees a 401(k) plan, they end up paying high fees, dealing with administration headaches and often get less than ideal employee participation rates.

ForUsAll is trying to change all of that using design and technology innovation. The founders come from a deep 401(k) lineage, having helped build Financial Engines – a major player in the Fortune 500 retirement benefit space. My role is to lead our nascent marketing team and I get to partner closely with our rapidly growing sales team. One of the things that most excited me about joining ForUsAll was getting to work with another fast paced sales team – I really enjoyed working with sales at Sunrun, and this is a tremendous opportunity to help shape an awesome sales and marketing organization. I’m also proud to say that we have recently announced our Series A venture capital raise, which you can read about here.

I hope that I’ll have time to blog more about the strategies and tactics that I’m using at ForUsAll. One of my initial goals has been to generate content for the company, so I’ve been writing and editing a ton. This means that I’m back in the groove of writing – awesome! But it also means that I’m busy writing like crazy for my day job, which may make it harder to produce content for this blog.

Later stage private co’s valuations coming down

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Fidelity, the mutual fund giant, is marking down a number of later stage, venture funded companies’ valuations again.

Fidelity got into the later state investing game a while ago, and from what I’ve heard, there is a private company investment group that negotiates investments in these late stage (i.e. unicorn type) companies, and the individual mutual fund managers can decide if they wish to invest in any of the particular companies.

Fortune is reporting that about half of the major unicorns that Fidelity invested in have come down in valuation since the end of 2015. I’m not entirely sure of the exact dates, but the trend is clear – late stage company valuations are continuing to decrease.

This isn’t surprising, given that last year was not only a horrible year for tech IPOs (the traditional ‘exit’ of unicorns) but also that about half of 2015 IPOs are trading below their IPO price. Techcrunch has a depressing piece on 2015 tech IPO performance.

Evolution of MVP

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I came across this cute, but powerful, image on the evolution of an MVP. Not every great product happens like this, even if it’s done via a minimum viable product, but still, this is a powerful image. mvp evolutionI tried to figure out where this image came from to link back to it, but couldn’t.

Recent LTV post by David Skok

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I had the pleasure of being a board observer to a company that had David Skok on the board. He is a pretty amazing operator turned VC, and his most recent post on LTV is just great.

For some reason, a lot of entrepreneurs forget to use gross margin when calculating long term value of a customer. David’s formula is pretty clear on how to use churn rate, gross margin and of course revenue to calculate LTV. Check it out!

Google, Facebook and Mobile

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Facebook is allowing Google to index some user profiles for mobile searches. Check out the piece on MediaPost.

Other interesting tidbit from the article:

“Facebook accounted for a 17.5% share of worldwide mobile ad spend in 2014, sliding to 17.4% in 2015, per eMarketer. Google’s worldwide mobile ad market share in 2014 was 38.4%, falling to 33.7%, a higher percentage than Facebook.”

Reusing old blog posts with traction

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I came across an interesting question on Growth Hackers and decided to respond – What’s the best way to clean out old blog posts?

This particular poster has a large number of blog posts that no longer apply to the company’s current business model. They get web traffic, and interest from potential customers, but the company doesn’t actually offer that product anymore.

I haven’t been in this extreme of a situation, but I have made hay from older posts and web pages in numerous web make-overs and relaunches.

The truth is that older web pages and blog posts do build up a lot of good Google juice. Both traffic and authority can develop out of older content that’s had a good run.

But things change, and so can your site’s content.

Here is how I’d approach this particular problem.

1st, I’d rank monthly traffic to the old posts in question. Below some cutoff, I’d characterize the posts into two or three segments and permanently redirect each segment to the best page from a related content perspective. As in, find the closest similar content on the site and point all of the low-traffic posts in that segment to that page.

The reason I’d do this is to preserve what you can of the link juice, while eliminating the content on the site that causes confusion for the visitors by offering a product that you just don’t sell anymore.

For the higher traffic posts, I’d find a way to rewrite the post to apply to the current business model. Unless the business had DRAMATICALLY changed, as in you used to be an uber for dog sitters and now offer marketing automation software, I think you can come up with content that is related enough to keep Google sending the traffic.

I’d approach the rewrite from a customer experience perspective. The goal is to provide something of value to the visitor. Google appreciates new content on well ranking pages, so ‘refreshing’ the content in a way that it overlaps with the visitor intent and your company’s new direction should be successful from retaining your ranking and providing a visitor experience that keeps the person engaged with the page.

A few SEO notes on the refreshed content:

  • I’d keep the URL the same.
  • If you can use the main keyword of the page (the former title probably) in the first or second paragraph to try to preserve some of the juice.
  • The goal should be engaging content that scoots the visitor toward your current business model

4 Great website testing ideas

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Optimizely has a solid list of 71 different website testing ideas – check it out here. (Side note: this content has existed for a long time, but they recently re-shared it with me. Re-sharing solid blog content like this is a great nurturing tactic!)

I have tried a number of these 71 tips with varying levels of success. Below are the top four that have worked for me. What works on one site may not work on another, users’ behaviors change over time, and mobile will have totally different success than desktop (and don’t even get me started on tablet.) So even if you’ve tried some of these before, it’s worth considering retesting at some point.

Here are the four most successful testing tactics that I’ve found, as listed on the Optimzely blog post:

Buy Now? Purchase? Checkout? Add to Cart? Change the call-to-action (CTA) text on your buttons to see which word or phrase converts more visitors.” I’ve had success with this sort of a test every time. You never really know what a visitor is hoping to see, and different CTAs on particular pages may improve conversion too. Matching CTAs with on page content often is helpful.

Test multiple CTAs per page against one CTA per page.” I sometimes joke that every other line of copy should be a CTA button… that’s extreme, but having different CTAs in different places on the page may help a visitor find the ‘thing’ that entices them to move forward in your funnel.

Test different types images on your landing page. People versus product is a good place to start.” Sometimes this fails for me, but recently I’ve had good success. Always worth a test, but sometimes the results are so small there is no statistical significance. Big tests are often better here, so I’d start with huge differences in images before testing if the female customer beats the male, etc.

Test removing navigation to any pages outside the checkout funnel.” I call this a prisoner page, and it works for SEO and other bottom of the funnel pages… but it can also backfire if someone isn’t ready to commit. Sometimes adding high conversion navigation links (vs. what you may have on your regular site nav) can help the prospect find out more info, but also stick to pages that convert, keeping the conversion rates high.

Tweets that got traction

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A few of my tweets from Q4 2014 got some traction (what I mean is that Buffer shows that they had a decent click volume).

In no particular order:

Not sure this will be good for productivity: Facebook Wants to Move Into the Office http://buff.ly/1FaYm2e via @WSJD

Squirrel cuts off power to part of Silicon Valley http://buff.ly/1FjNGyg via @usatoday Do rodents hate Apple?

I don’t love this UX icon, but hey, it exists: http://buff.ly/1x1rWpt Brief History of the Hamburger Icon

Really funny take down of staffing at a cutting edge ad agency: http://buff.ly/1ABcoLI #agency

Interesting piece on micro VCs

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I’ve obviously been a little busy recently, so haven’t been blogging at all. Hears to a less busy 2015 with more time for blogging!

I recently read a good article on micro-VCs. This market has really expanded, but who knows if it’s actually the return of the old school venture capital fund (size, focus) or if it’s a new thing.

The author makes takes the position that “The concentrated return profile of Venture Capital makes it virtually impossible to envision a scenario where more than 50 firms produce the necessary returns to earn alpha returns, particularly when an inevitable market cycle shift is factored in.” He thinks only 50 of these funds will still exist in 2020. I’m not sure I really agree with this, mainly because successful entrepreneurs like to become VCs and I think it’s likely that people will keep finding ways to start new, tiny funds.

Regardless, the article is a great overview of the market. Worth a read.

Really cool use of data for venture

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I thought this CB Insights post was great – using data to see which AngelList syndicates were the most active/powerful.

If you don’t know what AngelList syndicates are, the article explains: “Towards the end of 2013, AngelList announced its syndicates program which allows angel investors to raise committed capital and charge a carry for the performance of each deal that their backers participate in.”