The concept of being a data-driven startup is not a new one. Many have written about it – the benefits, the challenges – and doing a quick Google search of “data-driven startups” turns up a lot of quality reading material. It’s a desirable way to operate, but clearly not easy for teams to master.
It’s natural to want to make decisions based on gut instincts, and some decisions warrant that. But, in many instances data is used as hard evidence of whether a decision you made is working or not working. And, data makes it harder to question why a decision was made.
Back to that Google search though – one of the top results you’ll see? Slides from David Cancel from 2010 – and the relevance of all his content, but particularly this slide, demonstrates the staying power of this movement:
“Optimize your startup for learning by creating a data-driven framework.”
So what baby steps can you take to get your team on the data-driven track? Start by determining which data and metrics make the most sense to monitor, by team, based on your industry and as part of your specific business model (SaaS businesses, marketplaces, enterprise software companies, etc.). From there, determine which data and metrics will impact the week over week tactical changes you make to product, sales, and marketing/content/social strategies. Finally, let your data-driven mindset and those expectations trickle down to your team. Enforce data-driven reporting and metrics sharing on a weekly or daily basis.
Generally, implementing processes and tools will empower you to watch, listen and act accordingly. Let’s dig in.
Use tools to collect & monitor data during concept design & validation, design, development, and usability testing.
Coggle – Coggle is an online tool for visualizing, creating, and sharing mindmaps & diagrams during the brainstorm phase for free & in your browser. Basically, it makes complex data-focused designs simpler to visualize for your team.
Lookback.io – This tool gives startups access to real users to test apps & websites – it captures the screen, face, voice and all the touches/clicks on a device, and then automatically uploads it to a dashboard to view, collaborate, and share. This is a great tool for everything from user research to bug catching.
Aha.io – This tool lets product managers create useful and visual product roadmaps – integrating with marketing, manufacturing and more. There’s a free version for startups with <5 team members.
HotGloo – A wireframing and prototyping tool that UX, designers and dev teams can use before jumping into building the product. A SaaS product, there is a free trial and affordable monthly pricing.
Invision – A favorite of our designers & developers, Invision is a prototyping, workflow and collaboration platform. It lets startups upload design files and add animations, gestures, and transitions to make static prototype screens more interactive, get feedback easily, and manage projects in a design-friendly way. If you have only one prototype – it’s free!
UsabilityTools – Watch video playbacks of how users experience your website or web app on mobile, tablet and desktop. Visualize behavior of specific groups of website visitors to gain conversion insights and eliminate hidden sources of customer struggle.
Jira – Data-driven product management tools that let dev teams create user stories and issues, plan sprints, and distribute tasks, prioritize with context, ship with confidence & improve performance w/ real-time, visual data.
Optimizely – Create landing page versions of your site to A/B test and personalize web and mobile apps. The software has free versions for one-page testing.
Unbounce – Designed for marketers to test language and design without the help of their dev teams. Affordable for startups, small teams can leverage for around $50/month.
Inspectlet – Another favorite from our dev team, Inspectlet provides analytics, heatmapping and video snapshots of people on your site. It is very helpful for lightweight UX studies and debugging.
Localytics – After your app is out and in the hands of users, Localytics’ Mobile Engagement Platform turns data into meaningful insights to power personalized engagement in the right context, whether through push, in-app, email, or remarketing campaigns.
Applause – A company that provides a full suite of app testing solutions such as in-the-wild testing, mobile beta management, app analytics, SDKs and more.
Pingdom – Another fav of our dev team, Pingdom sends you either an email or text message when your site is slow or down. It is super reliable & low cost way to have a real-time pulse on the performance of your site.
Segment – An incredibly efficient tool that lets you collect customer data with one API, sending to hundreds of integrated tools like MailChimp, MixPanel, GA, Intercom and more, for analytics, marketing and data warehousing.
With consideration into how the above tools can play a role in the marketing mix, the following tools can be leveraged throughout the funnel, such as during site traffic events, drip campaigns, and paid acquisition.
Google Analytics – For basic top of the funnel analysis (with capabilities to get pretty deep if you’re savvy) GA is free and gives you necessary insight into your visitors, your biggest sources of traffic, and your most viewed pages or pieces of content, on a daily basis.
MixPanel – Our team loves MixPanel for its ability to track the initial referrer source of every single visitor on our site, as well as where they are on our site at that exact moment or during specific events throughout the funnel. Amplitude and Kissmetrics are other great options depending on your feature/usability preferences. When looking at how a user interacts with your product on a holistic level, you can truly begin to make impactful changes that will drive better engagement & loyalty.
Hootsuite – For organic social engagement and acquisition, Hootsuite provides a thorough suite of analytics tools and data on the impact of campaigns in Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. A Pro plan is around $10/month and provides enough info around engagement & influence. Not a fan of Hootsuite’s UI? Check out Buffer and Sprout for other management platforms with similar analytics options.
Facebook – For growth, paid acquisition & attribution data, social ad platforms from the likes of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Instagram, etc., are providing great insight into ad performance and user acquisition costs.
MailChimp – A great option for many companies sending regular emails with customers and newsletters, the site offers solid analytics options that integrate with Google Analytics to monitor sales and website activity with revenue reports.
SendGrid – Another email option that combines transactional & marketing emails into one platform with actionable and integrated insights from an analytics perspective.
AutoPilot – An email marketing platform that specializes in email drip campaigns to reengage customers, AutoPilot provides data around opens, clicks, conversions, and which referral source is actually driving sales.
Drip – Drip is the lightweight marketing automation alternative to Eloqua, Marketo, Ontraport, or Infusionsoft that gives you the bulk of the value at 10% of the sticker price. It uses a lead scoring algorithm that tracks a number of events to determine which subscribers are most engaged with content and likely to become customers.
Sales & CRM
Use these tools to be smarter about prospecting, better automate the sales funnel, and generally optimize the time, effort and money that goes into revenue-generating deals.
Base – CRM software geared towards making your startup more productive with a full suite of tools and analytics, such as sales reporting, forecasting, intelligence, win rate optimization. Base offers 23 reporting types, from understanding where your leads are coming in, to measuring future revenue and rep performance.
Boomerang – Boomerang for Gmail lets you take control of when you send and receive email messages but also provides response tracking features to better understand when recipients read and respond (or not). Another great (free) option that our team uses is Sidekick, now HubSpot Sales. Woodpecker is another email tracking tool specifically designed for cold emails for sales teams.
Insightly – A CRM and project management solution with a freemium version for small teams with reporting that lets you know the number of opportunities created by each sales person, who’s closing the most opportunities, the main reasons for losing business, and which clients contribute most to your revenue. HubSpot CRM is another great free option.
Bullhorn – Bullhorn provides CRM for service based industries but its data capture and customer insight technology pulls up-to-date and powerful data to obtain customers and keep them happy.
InsightSquared – Providing data for sales teams & salesforce analytics, InsightSquared has accurate sales forecasting, comprehensive pipeline trends & management, sales retrospectives, buyer info, rep-by-rep KPIs & coaching, and much more to make your team data-driven.
TenFold – Your sales team makes lots of calls and TenFold applies data to those calls by connecting your CRM and phone system. The data is used to improve your sales call workflow and enforce best practices across your team.
Customer Diagnostics & Support
Once you have a good amount of loyal customers, use these tools to communicate with them and monitor & understand their happiness.
Doorbell.io – With Doorbell, startups can gather in-app user feedback for free, integrating with many popular project management systems or issue trackers like Zendesk, Help Scout, etc. Pricing is based on number of team members.
Intercom – Intercom helps businesses to communicate with customers, personally, at scale. It’s a customer communication platform with a suite of integrated products for every team—including sales, marketing, product, and support. It also provides real-time intelligence to see what your customers are doing in-app.
Drift – Drift is another really easy way to communicate with your leads & customers. Further, it provides analytics and actionable feedback that will help your business create products your customers love.
Desk – Desk.com is an online customer service software and support ticket help desk app. It provides insights & an at-a-glance summary of key performance metrics across all of your support channels.
Are we missing any? Let us know!
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