Startup Revolution - Using Metrics to grow your startup with Dave McClure and Sean Ellis

Friday (2008-12-19) I attended another great event organised by the indomitable Andrew Shuttleworth of Tokyo2Point0 fame. Dave McClure had taken time out from the Silicon Valley echo chamber to present his new religion - Metrics for Startup - to small but well formed group of budding Tokyo entrepreneurs. He had Sean Ellis of Startup Marketing along riding shotgun to present the second half of the event.


Dave's presentation was a further refinement of the one he has been using for some time now. I show it here from SlideShare - a company that Dave has a stake in.

The gist of his presentation was basically common sense - know your market (of if you don't, try to start off with some intelligent assumptions about them) - and track how they interact with your website and traffic generation efforts over time. This may not seem like rocket science, but when you're a technology-focussed geek with your head deep in service development, it is easy to lose sight of this.

Really it comes down to spending time defining what metrics constitute success, being able to monitor them effectively, and then acting on them quickly when patterns emerge.

So the takeaways were:

  • Set yourself a small number of measurable, actionable metrics.
  • Build in a framework to your app that allows quick A/B testing
  • Concentrate on one metric at a time, or you will randomize yourself.

Separate to the metrics stuff, another of Dave's suggestions was that Game Mechanics had much to offer business and other applications. Game developers have spent years working on ways to make their products stick, and the same basic human traits that they exploit can be applied to make other types of service more successful - Favouriting, Collecting and Competing being obvious examples of such instincts.

Other Metric-related takeaways were:

  • Make sure you can retain users before you spend on acquiring them!
  • Metrics should answer a specific question, and in real time
  • Features don't matter ... conversion matters, so spend 80% improving existing features, 20% on new features (i.e. resist the geek temptation!)

The second half saw Sean Ellis present some more specifics on running metrics based campaigns. His messages were:

  • Spend $10,000 across 20 traffic generation tactics, and measure their effectiveness before spending $10,000 on any one service.
  • If you are not the first in your area, leverage your competitors' brand awareness (e.g. LogMeIn signups shot up whenever GoToMyPC had a radio campaign... LogMeIn would have the same keywords, but is free)
  • Analyse your incoming search keywords, and use them more in your headlines and links

Given that the presentation was already available, had been deliberating on whether or not to go along, but it was definitely well worth it, especially for the interactive question time, and a great networking party at the Pink Cow afterwards.

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dave mcclure's Gravatar thanks for writing this up & for posting pictures & slides Rob!
# Posted By dave mcclure | 12/25/08 10:01 AM
Rob Cawte's Gravatar And many thanks to you Dave, for a top session. As I alluded to in the Q&A, the idea I am working on now is still at the "pre-company" stage, but keeping the ideas I took away from the workshop in mind at this stage has already changed the way I am approaching my service development. Hope to catch up with you again while you're still in town.
# Posted By Rob Cawte | 12/25/08 11:44 AM
Serkan's Gravatar Hi Rob,

thank you for this awesome report. I couldn't be there so this is worth a ton of gold for me ;).

Have a great festive season!
# Posted By Serkan | 12/25/08 1:36 PM
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