Daily Archives

2 Articles

Posted by Karl Taylor on

“We’ve Tapped Out The Universe”

Advice For When User Growth Starts To Slip

It’s an all too common occurrence.

A marketing strategy that had been working, shows signs of slowing down.

Stakeholders start to get nervous.

A frantic team works to figure out what can be corrected, when and where.

Situations like the one I’m describing require more than increased output, but all too often, this is the solution I see teams applying.

Left unchecked, a situation like this one can quickly get out of control.

I’ve written a little bit in the past about a handful of ways you can identify what you should test, as well as a handful of ways you can use information like geographic breakdowns to better explore anomalies in click data, but getting value from information like this presupposes that you haven’t encountered a situation that to be frank, teams often do.

Sometimes what you’re doing stops working.

There are a lot of different ways that you can take a step back from the situation you find yourself in. For some, there is a very real temptation to start identifying each way that a program has failed to meet an objective.

The trouble with this approach is that things don’t really happen in a vacuum. When your ad begins to saturate, for example, you might only notice when the cost per click begins to rise. Information like cost per click proves retroactively useful, but it doesn’t necessarily shed any light into a problem that’s developing. As an example, it is quite possible that you could have detected a problem before it developed by observing ad frequency or response rate.

While it may be true that large portions of a marketing program may need to change, it is unlikely for example, that lists of customers are truly worthless. Design assets have a much longer shelf-life than many businesses allow them to enjoy. Recognizing the value in the efforts is part of the path to getting back on the right track.

More often than not, the reaction to proclaim “everything is broken,” is a reaction stemming from a frustration that has a good reason for existing. Instead of continuing to apply pressure to the situation, it is often a good idea to step back and take a look at the work that is actually being performed.

Many times this can reveal powerful opportunities for growth that had previously gone neglected. For example, many platforms have similar sizing requirements for assets. It is likely possible to begin experimenting in a new direction with minimal startup cost. This doesn’t mean, of course, that you can use the same strategies on every platform, but if you have good performing copy from a blog post, there’s no reason not to see what happens when you place it somewhere else. You can always go back and improve on a promising development.

That’s why when you find yourself in a situation like this, the only way out is to make a left turn. Ask yourself why you’re making what you’re making. Is there a tactic that could be more effective at reaching that goal? Giving yourself the space to take a broader approach can be just the change you need to get through.

“We’ve Tapped Out The Universe” was originally published in Observed Reflections.

Posted by Sonne Taylor on

A Reason Auto Followers Are Probably Killing Your Engagement Stats At Scale.

A few years ago, I started noticing that everywhere I looked, it seemed like everyone was using CrowdFire.

Autofollowers have been around for a really long time. Long enough that I don’t actually know where I would start researching where the first examples may have come from. I remember using scripts on MySpace. I remember ranking robots. I remember single messages spamming servers full of IRC channels. Autofollowers have been around a really long time.

I don’t know that many of the folks who employ a strategy that depends on autofollowing take the time to consider how it works, as such I’ve really only ever gathered partial rationalizations.

A practitioner will develop a targeted list of people worth following, and engage with them. Some percentage of people will follow back which is a good identifier of a “real” follower. By unfollowing everyone who doesn’t follow back within a specific window of time, you can quickly connect a page or profile with a wide organic universe.

On networks where the greatest predictor of what you see is who you interact with, techniques like this can have an outsized impact on how far your content travels.

A lot of networks work this way and even some that don’t currently operate under this sort of distribution model got their start as a glorified power map with a better UX. (This is, of course, a large part of the reason why networks like LinkedIn are folk heroes amongst data scrubbers for their superior information-grubbing practices.)

Because of this, a tactic that might otherwise seem absurd (given the labor required) can appear very attractive to a niche brand looking to gain a following.

The principles of an approach like this aren’t entirely dissimilar from the approach one might take when identifying key publications to include in a traditional media strategy, for example.

The trouble is, that when working this way, it’s really difficult to model the impact any given stream of subscribers has on your engagement. It’s also entirely too easy to make radical changes to your subscriber base faster than you can adjust your content. That can mean presenting a wide audience of people work that you might not consider your best. That isn’t ever a good thing.

In a lot of situations, “more” feels like an easy answer. You can always get more traffic, you can always find a new audience with new people in it and you can always try new creative.

For the vast majority of well-niched products, this simply isn’t the case.

The only way to work around this is to prioritize your efforts in a different way. If you’re trying to grow, it’s much easier to focus on engagement than it is to focus on the top-line user numbers.

The reason why is simple.

If 5% of the 100 people who see your content engage with it and you need more engagement you have two choices.

One approach is to increase the number of people who see your content. While this can work, it generally works best in situations where there are a large number of people looking for content like what you’re sharing.

If you have a finite universe, you need another option.

You need to look for ways that increase the rate at which the people who do see your content engage with it. If you can do that, you’ll get more out of each engagement.

That means looking at tactics that can increase the number of people who engage with the average post. More often than not, that answer isn’t found by a better following game rather the production of higher-value content (which ought to be measured by the reaction it generates) or by engaging with others in more substantive ways (which ought to be measured by the audience and reaction it generations.)

A Reason Auto Followers Are Probably Killing Your Engagement Stats At Scale. was originally published in Notes On Digital Marketing.