Growth Hacker

Internet marketing is my area of expertise. Past consulting clients include eBay, CafePress, DocuSign, myfab, and DeepDyve. Visit my consulting site at Market Extend.
Product Management Trap 2×2 Matrix – Value vs. Complexity
December 28, 2009 Jamie Shiller Omnigraffle Stencils Product Management

Here’s a great video I found showing the trade-off of value vs. complexity when deciding which features to add to a product. Often times folks building a product become fixated on building the most complex features because they’re cool, not because they can generate a lot of value. This is a product management trap to be avoided.

The video uses a 2×2 matrix to show the relationship between value vs. complexity. If you want to explore your own product features on a 2×2 matrix, here’s a nice
2×2 matrix stencil for OmniGraffle.

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How To Sell More iPhone Apps – 6 Practical Tips
November 24, 2009 Jamie Shiller iPhone Apps

So you have an iPhone app to sell (or you’re working on one). Well, good for you creator of app 300,001. How do you plan to sell the thing? If your app is rockstar quality then simply posting it in the App Store may be enough. Unfortunately, most apps get lost in the shuffle, or drowned out by competitors.

Below are 6 practical tips to help you sell more of your iPhone app.

1) Free iPhone app lite version

Do you offer a free lite version for your app that offers limited functionality of the paid version? If you don’t, you’re missing the boat. How do I know your app is any good when 10 others supposedly do the same thing? Which one is the best? The only way to know is to try them. Sure there are reviews, but they could be out of sync with the latest version of the app, and I want to decide if it’s good myself. So make a free lite version of your app so everyone can try it.

The Geocaching app is a great example. Based on the free version of the app, I purchased the paid version for $9.99. If you’re not familiar with Geocaching give the free app a try. It actually gives you a crash course on Geocaching not found in the full price app. This is very smart. The lite version of the app walks you through the the basics of Geocaching and when you upgrade, you have no need for the tutorial.

2) Money back guarantee

Clearly state on the app description in the App Store that you offer a full refund if not satisfied. List this on the site you use to promote the app too. A 7 day money back guarantee should be sufficient for most cases. Eventually Apple will build this feature into the apps, but as far as I know right now it requires manual processing by the app creator to issue a refund. If I can try your app without the risk of feeling buyer’s remorse, my likelihood of buying it will go way up!

3) Show us that your iPhone app is great  – Video please

This is really simple. I want to see a video of your app working. Yes, the screenshots in the App store are nice, but please please do yourself a favor and make a video. Better yet make a few videos. I want to see how your app works. Does it really do what I want? Take things up a notch by asking a few customers to make some videos of them using your app. The videos will serve as social proof that your app is indeed worthy. Ask for those videos right now!

4) Don’t lock me in – No export means no sale

Sometimes I’ll run across an app that looks great at first. I’m right about to buy it when I realize, hey wait I wouldn’t be able to get the awesome things this app makes (e.g. a drawing, note card, etc) off my phone and into my computer. Why isn’t there an export option?

Take a look at Cartoon Creator and their competitor Animation Creator. Both look like really cool apps to quickly build flipbook style animations, both cost $0.99, and both don’t offer export capability. You can’t get the animations you create off your phone (errgghh, “@#$*!”). No capability to email a video or post one online. That’s pointless.

In this case I hear that both apps will soon offer the capability to upload to online galleries hosted by the makers of each app. If an app should allow for export, make sure it does.

5) Get some reviews – outside the app store

Reach out to customers, bloggers, whoever. Get a few reviews of your app. This is really simple to do. Many apps have no reviews outside of the app store. Ask that the reviews link to your site for the app (yes, you do need a place to post the info on your app including the videos mentioned, etc.) and link directly to the app in the App Store. Even a few reviews could help with SEO for the site you use to promote your app.

6) Iphone app updates – Twitter and Facebook

Make sure to keep your loyal customers and potential customers up to date regarding the status of your app on Twitter and Facebook. I want to know when the next update will occur, what’s in the update, and how the approval process is going over at Apple. It’s nice too if you offer some free coupon codes for the the app every few days. The 3D Camera guys do a great job of this on Twitter.

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Marketing Your App on January 1, 2010

This is a great article, and you're right about how offering a free Lite version of your app can increase sales. It reduces another barrier to people trying your app, which can make all the difference when you're competing against 100,000 other products in the App Store. When you offer a free version, just make sure you keep enough valuable features in the paid app to entice people to upgrade.

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Choosing The Right Chart
November 17, 2009 Jamie Shiller Create Charts

Sometimes it can be hard to decide on the correct type of chart to best represent your data. Should you use a two axis column line chart or ??? Well, there’s an easy way to narrow down the options.

Dr. Andrew Abela, developer of the Extreme Presentation Method, created the graphic below as a starting point to help us pick the right chart. You can download the PDF here.

Chart Chooser

Based on Dr. Abela’s graphic, the guys over at Juice Analytics built the Chart Chooser tool. Just select a few checkboxes to define your goal for the chart, and the tool will recommend chart options for you.


For each chart type, you’re offered the option of downloading MS Excel and PowerPoint templates.

The chart templates are free of what Edward Tufte calls “chartjunk“. So there’s no grey background, grid lines, or other junk usually added by MS Excel when making charts. You just get clear charts with nice colors 🙂

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iGoogle Business Dashboards For Web Analytics
November 12, 2009 Jamie Shiller Create Charts

Here’s a short video I made on how to create simple business dashboards using Google Spreadsheets, Google Spreadsheet Gadgets, and iGoogle.

The example is web analytics oriented, but the method can be used to build any type of dashboard.

Setting up a static dashboard is easy. If you want your data to update dynamically you’ll need to use the Spreadsheets Data API.

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Create and Share Charts With Widgenie | on November 15, 2009

[...] at the bottom of the graph to see the sharing options. In a previous post I showed how to create business dashboards with iGoogle. We could use Widgenie to add additional graphs to that [...]

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Free Google Analytics Dashboard – Trakkboard
November 11, 2009 Jamie Shiller Google Analytics

Yesterday the Google Analytics blog announced a new free desktop dashboard solution offered by a German company called Trakken.

Trakkboard is an Adobe Air application for building dashboards from Google Analytics data.


I took a quick look at Trakkboard. It’s seems like a good start toward something more interesting. Currently there does not appear to be any way to pull data from custom segments or to build custom segments.

Trakkboard could get a lot more interesting if it becomes possible to pull data from sources outside of Google Analytics.

Here are the widgets currently available:

  • Visits
  • Visitors
  • Pageviews
  • Medium
  • Source
  • Top/Flop Keywords
  • Bounce Rate
  • Time on Site
  • All Goals
  • Goal 1
  • Goal 2
  • Goal 3
  • Goal 4
  • Notes
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Paul Lewis on November 12, 2009

Wow! This app rocks! wish the widgets could pop out into the mac dashboard... oh well cant have it all. Off to setup my dashboard - thanks for the heads up on this cool air app PLEWIS @paulewis

admin on November 13, 2009

Sure thing. Like I said I think Trakkboard is off to a good start. There's actually a mac dashboard widget called Dashalytics. Unfortunately, it hasn't been updated in awhile and does not seem to work in Snow Leopard :(

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Google Chart API Tutorial – Learn Really Fast!
Jamie Shiller Create Charts

So you want to add some nice charts to your blog post? Can’t be bothered to take a screen shot from MS Excel and upload the image? You should give the Google Chart API a try.

The Google Chart API returns a PNG-format image in response to a URL. Several types of image can be generated, including line, bar, and pie charts. For each image type, you can specify attributes such as size, colors, and labels

First skim the Google Chart Basics. Then take a look at a few chart generators that will build charts for you. My favorite Google Chart generators are Google Chart Generator and Google Chart Creator.

Let’s say you want to make this chart:

(fyi, this is the chart used in my post on randomized controlled experiments for data analysis)

Head over to Google Chart Generator and paste the sample data below into the corresponding input boxes. You’ll see how easy it is to create a line chart with three data sets (the output is three lines).

Each data set defines the points of one line on the graph. The chart legend titles are rendered in the order of the data sets. For example data set 1 (a dark blue line) has the title “Control” on the legend of my example.

Take note of the axis labels. Typically you would label each axis with the appropriate scale numbers. In this case I did not want to provide the scale. Instead I just used the labels to provide a title for each axis. That is why you see a space between the pipe delimiters in the example below for axis labels.

You can leave the axis to show option blank as we’re only working with the x,y axes, and they are the default. The other settings don’t matter too much for this example.

Paste away!

Data Set 1: 9,10,12,14,14,15,14,13
Pick Chart Color: 3333FF
Data Set 2: 9,11,12,13,15,14,14,12
Pick Chart Color: 00FFFF
Data Set 3: 9,13,13,15,17,17,17,16
Pick Chart Color: FF33FF
Legend Title: Control|Lower Price|Show Value
Axis Labels: 0:| | |Day| | |1:| | | Daily Sales| |

The end result you’re after can be pasted into your blog to render a chart.

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Randomized Controlled Experiments: A Data Analysis Excercise To Raise Tea Sales
November 10, 2009 Jamie Shiller Data Analysis


Let’s pretend we run a tea company called Mr. Tea. We have locations across the country. The country is in the midst of a recession, and our overall tea sales are down. From an in-store survey of customers we find that customers in some locations do not believe they are receiving a good value for their money. Let’s be honest, our tea is expensive!

How do we increase tea sales?


The value perception seems to be our real problem.

Since some customers have indicated the tea is too expensive, we could try lowering the price.

Alternatively, we could try to convince them that they are getting BIG VALUE! The idea here is that if we tell them our tea is a good value, they just might believe us. We’ll make some fancy signs to tell them that our tea contains organic* ingredients (very few really, ha ha!).

So how do we structure a test to see if lowering the price or messaging value to customers will increase sales?

We could lower the price this month and compare to last month or even the same month last year. Such a historical comparison is an option, but it’s not optimal. We should be testing our variables against a control at the same time.

If we keep the original price on tea at one location, but lower the price at a location around the corner, customers will undoubtedly flock to the location with the lower price. Stores located in the same general area should be part of the same test group to avoid this type of problem.

Going a step further, let’s take the country and divide it into regions (e.g. North West or even Northern California) and micro regions (e.g. San Francisco). For example, all the tea stores in San Francisco will now list the lower price.

Each micro region will fall into one of three buckets: the control group (nothing changes), the lower price group, or the showing value group.

But how do we figure out which bucket each micro region falls into?

To structure a good controlled experiment we need to apply randomness.

Let’s head over to MS Excel. Looking at one region, let’s say it’s the North West region, we see the micro regions within the North West.

Create a new column called “Random” next to the micro regions column and apply randomness to the micro regions by using the =RAND ()  formula in the random column (copy the formula down the column). This will create a column of random numbers. Now sort the data by the random column.

Here’s where we’ll break up the micro regions into test buckets. Let’s say we have 60 micro regions. Create a new column called “Test”. For the first 20 results enter “Control” into the Test column as these micro regions will belong to the control group. For this group the price of tea will remain $4.00 a cup. Now take the next 20 results and enter “Lower Price” in the Test column. In these micro regions we will lower the price of tea to $3.75 per cup. Finally, take the last 20 results and enter “Show Value” in the Test column. Here tea will still be $4.00 a cup, but we’ll have our fancy signs strategically positioned to convince customers that $4.00 for flavored water is a steal!

After running our experiment for a month it’s time to view the results (see chart below). Comparing the Control group to the Lower Price group, we see that lowering prices didn’t make much of a difference in terms of motivating sales. On the other hand, the Show Value group did result in an increase in sales, so that strategy paid off. It’s clear we should investigate other ways to show value to customers!

Source: rehashed chapter 2 of Head First Data Analysis

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Google Charts Tutorial – Learn Really Fast! | on November 12, 2009

[...] (fyi, this is the chart used in my post on randomized controlled experiments for data analysis) [...]

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Best iPhone apps to read and listen to books (comics too!)
July 18, 2009 Jamie Shiller iPhone Apps

Best iPhone ebook reader

Stanza is hands down the best ebook reader for the iPhone. The company that makes Stanza, Lexcyle was recently acquired by Amazon, so let’s hope they don’t mess it up.

With Stanza you can literally read ANY book. There are thousands of books in the public domain that can be downloaded directly from the app. If you’re after a book that’s not out of copyright, you can pay or pirate. Books can be purchased from the Fictionwise, BooksOnBoard, or O’Reilly.

Stanza offers a Mac desktop app which will convert ebook files and PDFs to Stanza format. You can then download the book to your iPhone through Stanza over wifi. Amazing!

Hint: Search for a name of a book plus the word ‘torrent’. Convert the ebook file to Stanza format and download from iPhone. If you can get over the small form factor, you’ll never need to buy a book again 😉


Best iPhone audio book player

The winner should have been the folks over at Librivox for their app called Audiobooks. Sadly, some silliness required them to disable the ability to download audio books to the iPhone. Now audio books can only be streamed. This is a real pain for subway commuters like myself. The alternative is an app called AudioBook Player from Almerica. I have no idea why these folks are still able to offer the download option when Librivox cannot. The app has been a bit buggy, but it’s improving.

Audiobooks appAudiobook Player app

Best iPhone comic book reader

I like ComicZeal. It’s the Stanza equivalent for comic books. It too has a Mac desktop app to convert files to be read by the app. While Stanza will not import images, obviously ComicZeal does.

ComicZeal LibraryWatchmen on ComicZeal

Best iPhone app to save web pages for later reading

The winner is definitely Instapaper. There’s a bookmarklet you can use on your desktop web browser to mark web pages to download to your iPhone. There’s a pro version, but I didn’t see a reason to buy it.


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Ed Dale in San Francisco
January 30, 2009 Jamie Shiller Uncategorized

Ed Dale, of 30 Day Challenge fame, was in town a few weeks back for MacWorld. He gave a great talk during an Internet marketing meetup at my office. Checkout my awesome name tag!


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Wes Mahler on February 1, 2009

Hey Jamie, I was actually at that event too, he had a good speak, and I liked his idea on quantifying the marketplace first before trying to make a product. I think that hit home (hopefully) with some of the people there--who are building things that they think people want, but really don't know if people will buy it. Looks like we missed each other? If your around on saturday, next week, we'll be having our meetup202 group in SF as well. - all PPC CPA guys talk later jamie, take care! -wes!

admin on February 4, 2009

Wes, I didn't expect to see Ed. It was very cool. Yeah, quantifying a market before forging ahead with a product is common sense. However, it's so easy to get excited about a product idea and throw caution to the wind. I've certainly be guilty of this. Thanks for hooking me up with the Tracking202 Pro beta. Looks like I will probably give it a spin in the next few weeks. I'll try to catch the meetup in March. I'll be in Malaysia until the end of Feb. Best, Jamie

admin on November 16, 2009


I didn't expect to see Ed. It was very cool.

Yeah, quantifying a market before forging ahead with a product is common sense. However, it's so easy to get excited about a product idea and throw caution to the wind. I've certainly be guilty of this.

Thanks for hooking me up with the Tracking202 Pro beta. Looks like I will probably give it a spin in the next few weeks.

I'll try to catch the meetup in March. I'll be in Malaysia until the end of Feb.



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