Your Startup Needs to Track Users, Visits and More

Last night I taught a course at General Assembly called Online Marketing Analytics. It’s the second time I’ve taught it, and both times were well attended.

Can you guess why?

Startup founders and entrepreneurs need to track stuff and they don’t know how. In charting the rise of the visual planning app Trello, founder Joel Spolsky wrote that in the early days of the app users posted about it on Twitter.  He tracked those mentions to get a sense of how they were feeling about Trello, and how they were using it. Knowing what other people are saying about you on social media isn’t just a vanity play. It’s a valuable feedback loop. You’ll learn how users are using your app, how they talk about it, and how adoption of it might spread.

The tracking game argues for a distinctive name (Trello!) or at least a hashtag for you or your app, to make tracking easier. Using Mention.net is brilliant, too, because you’ll see instantly across all media where you’re being talked about. Topsy.com is a free tool that gives you a snapshot …

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Do You See the End of Your Startup Runway?

I used to work for Dateline NBC as a producer. There was a Senior Producer,  our boss, something of a field general, who was flown out from New York for all the big stories.  He was a gruff figure with a heart of gold, and he barked orders well. He had an expression: ‘Don’t panic until I tell you to.’ I always liked that, so I pass it along to you now.

Every startup has only so much runway. At first you’re developing your app as efficiently as you can, using resources slowly. Then you’re doing customer development interviews, using a few more resources. Then you’re building your community using cheap, slow resources like connecting with friends, family and colleagues. In time, your burn rate increases. You might need advertising or media buys, and you go for the spend. Then, as almost always happens, for various reasons user adoption slows. You’re just not getting the signups you need. You know that if investors like one thing, it’s traction. You need user adoption to look good, and even more importantly, to learn.

With the …

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If You Could Take a Pill

If you could take a pill to make yourself smarter, would you do it? If it made your startup leaner and smarter, would what work for you? What about any additional superpowers, like writing bug-free code all night, grabbing a coffee and writing lead-converting copy in the morning, all without any negative effects? Would you do it?

I would take a pill that made me faster and smarter, sure.

There are lots of pill-like things you can do to quickly get people to be aware of what you’re doing. Run Google AdWords with the most competitive keywords, throw parties and hire B-level celebrities to attend them, spring for signage in Times Square. Get product placement in an award show. Any of those things will put you in the fast lane because they give you a fast-food kind of social proof.

The slow way of building a connection with your users lasts longer. Consider the people who tattoo Harley-Davidson logos on their bodies. People who pay more to shop at Whole Foods. People who go a few extra blocks for …

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