Josh Pitzalis

Building a tool that makes it easy to write Twitter threads.

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Tweaking Motivation.

Justin Jackson wrote a thread about how you can’t really increase someone’s motivation to use a product. Motivation is a fixed constant that you have little to no control over.

Yes, you can demotivate people by making products really hard to use. But better onboarding, UX tweaks, and activation work is not going to solve anything if there’s an underlying motivation problem.

I fundamentally disagree with the premise here. It undermines everything I have learned about improving retention. Motivation can be nurtured. This is the whole idea behind effective education and learning programs.

Nobody starts school fully motivated. Going to school for the first time is usually a daunting and uncomfortable experience. The actual content of the classes each day is typically the least interesting thing about the whole experience.

As the months you start to take an interest in some classes. If...

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Where do the analytics fit.

The question was around when you should allocate time to sorting out the analytics around a feature.

You’ve decided to build a certain feature as a team, it’s almost finished and then someone goes “Oh, what about the analytics?”

This usually happens with teams that are not used to working with data. They’ve heard data can do wonderful things, so they want to be data-led, and then find themselves in the situation above pretty much every time a feature is ready to ship.

Data isn’t something that you tack on at the end of a sprint or figure out after the feature has been shipped. You should be using your data much earlier in the development process, way before you begin writing any code.

Your analytics should be the basis on which you decide to build the feature in the first place. We’re building X because there is a massive drop-off at this point in this funnel. Or we’re making this...

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Marketing Analytics.

This post will show you how to use Google Analytics to understand where your traffic is coming from and what your conversion rate for each source of traffic is.

How Google Analytics Buckets Your Traffic

To make sense of your analytics you must understand that there are 9 default types of traffic.

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I prefer to think of these as six main groups:

  1. Organic is when someone finds your website on a search engine.
  2. Paid search is when you pay to show up at the top of search results
  3. Referral traffic is when someone comes to your site from a link on someone else’s website.
  4. Social traffic comes from a link shared on social media platforms.
  5. Email is when someone clicks on a link in an email you’ve sent out.
  6. Display ads, Affiliate marketing, and all other advertising count as paid advertising.

Direct traffic is when someone types your URL directly into the browser. This is more of a...

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Writing for your former self.

I’m struggling with figuring out who I’m writing for at the moment.

I used to be a consultant, and my clients were product managers and founders, so the audience was always pretty clear-cut.

Now that I’ve jumped into Chirr App full time I have no idea who I’m writing for.

I decided to write with other tech founders like me. It was the least bad option. I’m not confident about it and I want a better way to think about this decision. On what basis do I decide who to write for?

I’m doing a program called Makers Mark and it helping me think about how to build an authentic audience. So I posed my question to the group

I got two bits of helpful advice. The first was that the answer doesn’t have to be written in stone. You can try one group for a while, see how it feels, and then wiggle around a bit and try writing for someone else. The point is you can be flexible here.

The other bit of...

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Figuring out what to work on next.

A friend of mine just started a Yoga-based startup and they’ve just launched. they have a million things to do he was asking me how I prioritize what to do with the product when there’s so much that needs to be done.

As I write this we have a backlog with about 160 things that need to be done at Chirr App. The way we’re tackling it at the moment is to use product analytics to identify where the biggest problems are first. Asking what we should focus on without some understanding of where the biggest problems are is meaningless.

Use quant data to find the best point of leverage

You can use quantitative metrics to build an ideal path through your product. Conversion rate optimizers end the path at the point of sale or conversion. product managers take the critical path deeper towards active usage or referral. I’m not sure there is a correct place to end your funnel. Two important...

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What if there are no patterns

I was talking to a friend about doing customer interviews the other day and he had a great question.

“What if we do all the interviews and we don’t find any patterns?”

I thought this was such a great question because it perfectly highlights a common misconception around the purpose of research.

The misconception is that doing customer research will point you in the right direction and tell you what you need to do.

This is similar to a common misconception around science as a whole. People think you can prove stuff with science. Every time someone says ‘scientifically proven’ they’re just demonstrating a fundamental misunderstanding of how the scientific method works. The whole point of science is to disprove stuff. You can’t prove anything, failing to disprove something is the best you can hope for.

Coming back to customer research, interviewing people will never show you what needs...

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Minimum Viable Personality.

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In 2011 a Giant Robot Dinosaur named Fake Grimlock wrote a guest post on how personality is critical to building a successful software product.

The dinosaur’s take was that building a product’s personality is that you just need to be able to answer 3 questions:

  1. How do you change people’s lives?
  2. What do you stand for?
  3. Who or what do you hate?

Now you have a mission, some values, and an enemy.

That’s your minimum viable personality.

The idea is to keep this in mind when you write, talk, blog or tweet. Build on what resonates, get rid of what doesn’t and your product’s personality will grow.

When people decide to use a product they look at two things, does it work, and is it interesting? The world is already full of things that work. Personality is what makes things interesting.

The bigger goal here is to switch out of selling stuff to strangers and think of it as making and...

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Product Messaging.

Let’s start with our landing page. Instead of judging a page on opinion and preference let’s based the teardown on proven persuasion principles. I’m going to use these principles like a gap analysis tool. These are critical components to building a persuasive argument. All I have to do is go over the copy and ask whether or not I’m including those elements on not.

A Teardown In 20 Questions

What does the product do?

  • Could a child understand what your product does, based on the headline?
  • Does the byline explain how your product does what it claims to do in ten words or less?
  • Does the landing page contain a screenshot, demo or sample of what’s being offered?
  • Does the header copy match the pre-click ad or SERP copy?

Why should I care?

  • Is the focus on acquiring a desired outcome or eliminating a core pain?
  • Are these desires/pains described in specific, vivid detail?
  • Do the words...

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Fix the kitchen

I have a house in the mountains we don’t use much. We’re considering putting it on Airbnb. My best friend manages a bunch of Airbnb’s and helped me put a solid listing together.

When we got to the photos bit I expected his advice to be about getting the lighting right, picking the right time of day, what angles to take the pictures from, those sort of stuff. The conversation was actually about improving the thing we were taking a photo of.

So if we were planning a photo of the kitchen, the idea was to buy some new cutlery, get some pretty tea towels, repaint the cooker, maybe get a new coat of polish on the woodwork. Depending on how much we wanted to spend we even talked about installing a whole new sink.

We weren’t talking about how to take great photos, we were talking about making the house better. Lighting and composition are important and all but that’s wasn’t going to make...

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Tripled our weekly active users

Logged in for an update on our analytics last week and this happened:

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We tripled our weekly active user count.

We went from ~200 to 600 weekly actives.

Fantastic 🚀

Also terrifying because with all the analytics we have set up I have no obvious explanation for why this happened.

The first thing I looked at was our ads spend.

We get about 200 new users a week from ads. This does not explain the jump because we spent the same on ad the week before.

Our search engine ranking position jumped from 14th position to 12th over the course of the month, but this cannot explain such a sudden jump in one week.

About 400 people hit our website every day. It was slightly better than the week before, but not 3 times better. It’s not like we got mentioned in the press. Google Analytics didn’t register any new sources of referral traffic.

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Overall there were no major differences at the top...

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