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We have spoken before about the ways in which writing and publishing a book can help you grow your business and authority. It sits alongside other tactics such as hosting a podcast, starting a blog, or creating a YouTube channel. Our guest today is a great example of the power of publishing! We are so happy to have the best-selling author of six books and CEO of Self-Publishing School, Chandler Bolt join us to talk about how you can put your thoughts and experiences into the form of a book and how this can lead to massive growth and revenue for you and your business! Chandler and his company have helped countless people publish their books and he walks us through exactly what his company does. They do not actually publish works, they help authors through the process, making it that much easier for anyone to become an author! Chandler explains why now is a better time than any for you to be writing and self-publishing that book you have been thinking about and we get into the differences between a traditional approach to publishing and the methods that Chandler espouses. For this hugely inspiring exploration of a market that anyone can exploit, listen in with us today on Leveling Up!


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When it comes down to it, SaaS businesses are valued on their ARR, but surprisingly, some still choose to manage the metrics and analytics that come as a byproduct of their order to cash process themselves. What they need is a platform, because having a single source of truth that drives all these metrics can’t be understated. Today’s guest is Tim McCormick, CEO of SaaSOptics, a platform that provides this very service. Specifically, SaaSOptics is a subscription management platform that provides early-stage and growth SaaS businesses with subscription billing, revenue recognition, financial reporting, and robust SaaS analytics. In our conversation with Tim today, we get into his career in tech running SaaS businesses in the security and energy management space, and the multiple exits he has orchestrated. He then dives into what SaaSOptics does and how they run their business to keep seeing such big growth. He gets into how SaasOptics automates the order to cash process, effectively sitting between the CRM and the general ledger. Tim talks about the metrics SaasOptics provides, their value-based pricing model, and how they balance marketing and sales in order to grow. We hear about the structure of their sales team, and their model of product cycles based on market changes too. There are around 30 000 B2B SaaS businesses globally thus the services SaaSOptics provides can’t come at a better time, so tune in to find out what it’s all about!


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This post originally appeared on Single Grain, a growth marketing agency focused on scaling customer acquisition.

It’s enough to strike fear into even the most experienced of marketers and bloggers. It can seem like torture by tedium. It’s often the stuff of nightmares. What is this unholy monster?

The content audit.

A well-executed content audit done on an annual basis can deliver big insights into your website’s blog and content marketing strategy that far exceeds its ho-hum reputation.

Too often, we post something and then never go back to it again. Years later, it’s outdated, stale, and completely irrelevant. Good practice demands that we return to our content periodically to ensure that everything is as fresh and beautiful as the day it was released to the world.

A content audit involves taking a look at all the content on your website and assessing its relative strengths and weaknesses in order to prioritize your future marketing activities. It’s a qualitative assessment and evaluation based on the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that you select beforehand.

The Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Content Audit

This process should not be confused with a content inventory, which is simply an accounting of all these different assets. In other words, it’s a quantitative collection. Although a content inventory is part of the audit process, the audit itself goes much further in depth. The Content Analysis Tool (CAT) can make content inventories a snap. When you start off on the right foot, the rest of the journey is that much easier.

When performed correctly, a good audit will help you to answer questions about the content pieces on your site:

An audit will tell you where you need to focus your future efforts in terms of both an SEO and content marketing perspective. And it can even give you insight into potential changes that will improve your lead generation, sales, and marketing processes.

Before Beginning Your Content Audit

If you’re struggling to understand your visitors’ behavior on your website or why your current marketing initiatives aren’t working, a content audit is easily one of the best things you can do for your business.

But before we get into the step-by-step process of conducting one, you need to answer a few questions.

Why Am I Conducting a Content Audit?

There could be any number of reasons. There’s no one correct approach for conducting a content audit – the exact steps you’ll take will depend on your reasons for undergoing the process in the first place.

Typically, content audits are conducted for two primary reasons:

Of course, there’s no reason you can’t do both. While you’re digging through your SEO metrics, it’s easy to jot down your content marketing data as well. Or you might be approaching your content audit from a slightly different perspective. Whatever the case may be, being clear about your intentions ahead of time will help to streamline the process and minimize extra effort. Know why you’re doing before you start doing it.

What Resources Do I Have Available for My Content Audit?

A good content audit is a time-consuming process. If you’re currently swamped with other priorities, undertaking such a massive project may not be the best use of your time or energy. If you can’t devote the proper resources to it, it’s better to wait until you can.

But if the project must be done, keep in mind that you do have options. Instead of undertaking the entire audit process by yourself, delegate some of the data-gathering steps to another employee in your organization or to an outsourced worker hired through sites like Guru or Upwork.

The Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Content Audit

You also have the option of completing only small sections of the audit at any given time, or paying for tools that help to automate parts of your research process (gone are the days of having to manually sift through everything yourself!). More on this later.

What Do I Hope to Get Out of My Content Audit?

Before you begin, be clear about the reason you’re conducting a content audit in the first place. If you aren’t going to take action based on the data that your audit produces, you might as well skip the process altogether. An audit for the sake of an audit is a waste of time and resources.

Any of the following are potential content audit goals. You may have others that are not on this list, and you’ll likely have more than one in mind as you go through it.

That’s the theory. Now let’s put it in practice.

Meet John, Our Hypothetical Business Owner

To help illustrate how to do a content audit, we’ve created John, a business owner with a heart of gold. He runs a small software company that’s developed an SaaS budgeting tool.

The Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Content Audit

He’s invested in content marketing for about a year, but he isn’t sure whether all the time he’s spent blogging, creating videos, and releasing infographics has paid off. As a result, he decides to conduct a content audit to see how his individual content pieces are performing and what – if anything – he should do differently in the future.

Because John only has five employees – all of whom are busy wearing multiple hats already – he decides to take on the audit process by himself. Because he’s a busy guy, he keeps the scope of his audit small, checking only the content he’s created in the past year and tracking only a few variables that indicate success to him.

Remember, the size and scope of your audit is completely up to you. This is not an all-or-nothing scenario. Do what you can when you can do it.

We’ll revisit John a little later on.

The Content Audit Process

If you’ve finished your homework (you did answer the questions above, right?), it’s time to get started. Try the following three-step process to complete your website’s first content audit (and feel free to amend it for subsequent ones):

Step #1 – Create a Spreadsheet of All Your Content Assets

Unsurprisingly, the first step in completing a content audit is to find all your content. You have two different options for doing so:

The Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Content Audit

Enter or import all the URLs you find into an Excel or Google Docs spreadsheet, leaving plenty of columns for the data you’ll gather in Step #2. Or, if you’d rather not reinvent the wheel, you can add your links to any of the following freely-available content inventory and audit templates:

The Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Content Audit

Most audits use a spreadsheet to organize the data, but it’s not the only way. If you despise Excel for some reason (no judgement), you could opt for the WordPress Content Audit plugin. This tool allows you to create a content inventory directly in the Edit screens in WordPress. Set a few conditions, and you’re good to go.  

The Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Content Audit

Just go with whatever you’re most comfortable with. Set yourself up for success by using the tools and methods that work for you.

Which brings us back to John, our savvy business owner from Seattle. Because his site is small and he’s pressed for time, he uses Screaming Frog to create the URL list pictured below:

The Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Content Audit

To upload your CSV file into Google Sheets, go to File > Import > Upload and select the saved file from your computer. Easy-peasy.

John is well on his way with a handy list of all his URLs. Step 1? Check!

Step #2 – Gather Asset Data

Remember those columns I mentioned earlier? Now’s the time to set them up and fill them out.

The exact data points you’ll want to gather will, again, depend on the goals of your audit, as well as the complexity you want to achieve. Although the lists below may look daunting, it isn’t necessary to collect data on every possible variable. In fact, you may be able to achieve the goals you set for yourself with only a handful of possible data points.

Potential SEO data points to gather (many of these are automatically generated by Screaming Frog):

Potential content marketing data points to gather:

Other items to track:

Once you’ve selected the data points you’ll measure as part of your content audit, label a column in your spreadsheet for each one.

Now comes the fun part time to do the heavy lifting of data collection (and yes, “fun” is subjective)!

Let’s get back to our pal John…

Since his primary goal is to determine what’s working with his current content marketing strategy, he decides to evaluate the following metrics:

While he could track other pieces of data as part of his audit – and probably glean additional insights from doing so – analyzing only this limited number of metrics makes it possible for John to complete his content audit while juggling his other responsibilities. The way he looks at it, he can always go back and add more to his analysis if he has the time down the road.

To find the data points he’s decided upon, John uses the following resources:

The Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Content Audit

The Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Content Audit

The Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Content Audit

The Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Content Audit

Learn More: How to Set Up Goals and Funnels in Google Analytics

Once John is done gathering this data, he goes back through his list and assigns a score to each page on an “A – F” rating scale of his own creation.

Pages that receive “A” scores are his cream-of-the-crop, top-performing pages, while those that earn “F” scores are ones he’s embarrassed to find on his site. He also adds a note to his spreadsheet showing the date that his audit was created for the purpose of planning future audits.

And even though John didn’t do this, you could also head over to the Google Search Console to pull even more conveniently organized data. Click on Search Analytics, select Pages, and check Clicks, Impressions, and CTR to get a quick snapshot of how individual pages are performing.

The Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Content Audit

There’s a “Download” button at the bottom of the page if you want to export the data as a CSV file and add it to your ever-expanding spreadsheet.

Step #3 – Analyze Your Data

If your site is large, expect the data-gathering process to take a long time. It’s not uncommon for audits to take days, weeks or even months to complete, depending on the size of the website and the organizational resources that are available for the process.

But even if your content inventory is completed quickly, you’ve still got another important step to take – actually putting all your information to use.

To be sure you’re getting something substantive out of your content audit process, you need to establish a set of recommended actions you’ll take once the audit is complete. And in order to do that, you need to dive into the data you’ve collected in order to draw conclusions.

It could be as simple as adding one more column to your spreadsheet: “Action.”

Here, you make the call as to what should happen to each individual content asset, like:

Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules that say, “If your content data indicates [this], do [that].” Instead, you’ve got to look at the data you’ve gathered and see if you can identify any trends that could inform your eventual recommended actions.

Take a look at John’s spreadsheet below and see if anything jumps out at you:

Here are a few observations you might have made:

After further exploration, John decides to take the following actions after the completion of his content audit:

An audit might focus on content quality, the customer experience, content performance, or any combination of these.

Use the results of your content audit to come up with 5-10 actions you’ll take after completing it, based on any patterns that emerge from your data.

Then, set deadlines for yourself in order to put these actions into play and block out whatever time you’ll need to do so on your calendar. Add a deadline right into your spreadsheet (when it comes to columns, you can never have too many!).

Analysis Paralysis: What It Is and How to Avoid ItOne important thing to note here. When you’re staring at the mountains of data your content audit may generate, it’s easy to find yourself struck down by analysis paralysis. Basically, there are so many conclusions you could draw and so many things you could do, that you wind up doing none of them. Don’t let yourself fall into this trap.

Content marketer Pawel Grabowski offers many helpful suggestions to combat analysis paralysis, such as focus on what’s most important, break decisions down into bite-sized steps, and don’t worry about being perfect!

As long as you’re tracking your metrics and regularly revisiting the content audit process, you’ll see these shifts occurring and be able to remedy them long before they become big problems plaguing your site’s performance.

Taking Your Audit Further

If you’ve caught the auditing bug while going through the content analysis process, you can always take the skills you’ve learned to expand your audit beyond the borders of just your website.

Look at Your Competitor’s Websites

So now you know everything there is to know about your own content. But unless you have a truly unique product or service, you’re not the only show in town. You have competition for customers.

The performance of your content will always be tied, in some ways, to the content that your competitors put out. Even if their pieces don’t directly prevent visitors from seeing yours, there is a limited number of consumers out there and they all have a finite amount of attention. If they’re using all their energy focusing on the competition’s content, they may not have enough mental focus left to pay attention to yours.

Conducting an audit of your competitor’s content is similar to assessing your own, but with a few limitations. There are a few metrics that you may not be able to pull without having direct access to your their website and accounts. Bounce rate, average time on page, and conversion rate are three in particular that are difficult to discover without accessing the site’s Google Analytics profile or marketing automation account.

But that said, there are still plenty of different things you can track. You can evaluate the number of links pointing at your competitor’s content pages using tools like Majestic Site Explorer or BuzzSumo’s Backlinks.

The Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Content Audit

You can measure social shares by looking for a share counter on the post itself, or entering the post URL into a service like BuzzSumo to see a detailed breakdown with their Most Shared feature. It might not be a complete audit, but even conducting this limited level of assessment will give you plenty of actionable data on areas where your competitors are currently outperforming your site.

The Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Content Audit

What works for them? Can you improve on it in some way (the Skyscraper Technique is a fabulous way to bring in oodles of traffic)? Which sites are linking to them that might potentially link to you if approached with a powerful piece of content or a fantastic guest post idea?

Track Offsite Content Performance

Another way to expand your content audit is to include your off-site content assets (if they’re relevant to your audit goals). For example, if you’re assessing the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts, you’ll want to include as much data as possible on any infographics, slide decks, or other external content pieces you’ve released to promote brand recognition and viral sharing.

Again, your ability to track the metrics listed above on these content pieces will vary based on the sites hosting them. Gather what you can, but also look for other types of data that are unique to external content sources.

As an example, looking at your Google Analytics account should show you the number of visits that each external piece sent to your site. Comparing referred visits across external content pieces can be a great way to determine the direction of your next big content release.

Check out Reporting > Acquisition > Channels for a general breakdown of traffic by organic, direct, referral, and social (and select Referrals if you want to see the specific points of origin).

The Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Content Audit

And if you utilize custom URLs with UTM parameters, for example, you can instantly see what content is sending the most traffic your way from offsite.

Expand the Audit Process to Other Marketing Channels

In addition to assessing your offsite content pieces, you can apply the audit process to your other marketing channels. If you run print ads in trade publications, try to determine how many inquiries you’ve received from each ad (hint – this is easiest to do if you record the source of your first touch with a new prospect in your CRM after your first conversation).

Or take a close look at your e-mail marketing campaigns. Is the content in your autoresponders still up-to-date? Do you have some messages that have a higher open rate than others? Services like MailChimp and AWeber have robust analytics at the ready.

Read More: 5 Ways Cold Emailing Can Help Generate Backlinks

In Summary

When it comes down to it, a content audit isn’t just a one-off process that you conduct once in a blue moon. It’s a mindset that you should apply to both your website content and the other marketing channels you use.

By carefully inventorying your existing content pieces and assessing the data you’ve gathered for each item, you can make informed marketing decisions that will help you to save time, cut costs, grow your brand, and improve your overall advertising ROI.

And remember, there is no one-size-fits-all solution here. Content audits can take many shapes, routes, approaches, and scopes. It all depends on your needs and your goals.

What content audit tools do you use to make it go a bit smoother? What insights did your last audit reveal?  

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Yuri Elkaim

Hey everyone, in today’s episode I share the mic with Yuri Elkaim, a nutrition, fitness, and fat loss expert, as well as a New York Times bestselling author who makes fit and healthy simple again with clear, science-backed advice.

In this interview we talk about how Yuri took his business from $6K to multiple 7 figures in revenue, the secret to getting 50% opt-in rates for some of his content (which is unheard of in the blogging world!), and how spending more time building customer relationships drives conversions way up.

Download podcast transcript [PDF] here: Bestselling Author Yuri Elkaim On How His Fitness & Nutrition Videos Got 22.5M Views on YouTube TRANSCRIPT

Time Stamped Show Notes:

3 Key Points:

  1. Give VALUE to your audience through GREAT content.
  2. A sales funnel is simply a process that serves as a bridge linking people to what they want.
  3. Place your customers on the “customer success path” to win that sale.

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How We Instantly Raised Average Order Value by 10%

This is a guest post by Edwin Choi, VP of Marketing at Mobovida, a customer-driven, vertically integrated mobile accessory brand delivering fashion forward products direct to consumer. Check out our recent podcast interview with Edwin

At, a leading online retail site owned by Mobovida, it can be said that we have created a new religion centering on conversion rates. This can best be exemplified by the giant (slightly altered) Wu-Tang decal we had in our old office:

C.R.R.E.A.M. = Conversion Rates Rule Everything Around Me!

Sadly, the decal didn’t survive the move to our new office. It’s hard to fault us for being dedicated to this metric: it’s a key reason why we have been growing like a weed during my five year tenure.

With higher conversion rates, we were able to exponentially lower our cost per acquisition for new customers and pour the cost savings into capturing more marketing share on our top-performing marketing channels. We’ve also built a considerable moat as competitors struggle to keep up with the rising costs of paid digital marketing (I’m looking at you, Google Adwords).

Read More: 13 Quick Tricks to Increase Conversion Rates that You Can Do Right Now

What Makes Our Customers Tick

A huge proportion of our time during the last three years was dedicated to running hundreds of A/B tests through our constantly evolving conversion rate optimization process. A consistent, ever-present motivator for the blood, sweat and tears involved are the numerous learnings we were able to extract from our test data.

With a heavy combination of quantitative and qualitative data, we’re able to get into the minds of our customers and build marketing messages that resonate with our core personas. The wealth of information driven by Adobe Test & Target, Visual Website Optimizer and Optimizely tests helped us to intimately understand what makes our customers tick. is built to handle large volumes of traffic and daily orders, so our testing methodology was perfect for scaling the business rapidly. However, what if each order was worth more to the business? One of our core metrics is the all-important “revenue per visit” metric, which combines both conversion rate and average order value into a telling key performance indicator.

The Impulse Buy

We decided to extrapolate our learnings about the customer with a new goal in mind: raising the average order value.

We knew that our customers loved a great deal and that they often wanted to buy more things on the site, but they didn’t know that we had certain deals or products available. Because of this, we could hypothesize this through some of the data that we ran in previous tests as well as effective event-based, triggered marketing campaigns.

A light bulb went off in our heads: what is one of the most effective ways that retailers increase average order size in physical retail? It’s the “impulse buy” section at a checkout aisle:

How We Raised AOV

This is the same reason why Fry’s Electronics, a large consumer electronics chain, sells candy in their checkout aisles as well. Customers waiting in line to complete their order are confronted with low-priced, high-margin items that they didn’t want or need. Close rates are high because the customer is already in line to make a purchase and the comparative cost of adding additional items to their current order is relatively small.

Also, it’s super easy! All you have to do is reach over to a bag of M&Ms, toss it onto the conveyor belt, and the retailer just gained $2 in average order value. It takes the customer just a few seconds and there’s very little decision criteria needed to add friction to the process.

We hypothesized that we could mimic this same experience online on our virtual shopping cart and increase the average order volume of our carts.

The First Test

Our first test would give a massive discount if the customer added a certain amount of items to their cart. This was mainly powered by two widgets:

We launched the test and crossed our fingers.

It bombed.

It sharply decreased conversion rates and the net loss from losing those orders hurt one of the most important parts of our site. In order to confirm this, we double checked the amount of carts created before, during and after the test in order to make sure it wasn’t influenced by pre-cart site factors. It was flat:

How We Raised AOV

We have losing results from our tests all the time, so we were excited to see what type of learnings we could dig up from this test. We started to look into the key losing metric: cart conversion rate. It plummeted 6.2%:

How We Raised AOV

At the very least, we proved that we could sharply change consumer behavior! This means that the presentation was effective enough to alter the path of our customers.

Let’s dig in further!

We segmented the customers who reached this page into three groups and looked at their average order values:


We really spiked up average order values for users that somehow powered their way through promo redemption. The proportion was just too small to overcome the drastic drop in conversion rates. We cross verified this with coupon use event fires in Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics and our internal reporting system and everything checked out.

The Second Test

We had huge learnings from our first test, so we decided to refine the test and launch it again. This time, we had additional data and hypotheses. We knew we could significantly influence consumer behavior, but we were turning off too many people with the minimum order redemption requirement. We decided to build custom promotional tiers based on data:


How We Raised AOV

As you can see from the above chart (KPIs blurred for privacy), we mined our cart data from our in-house business intelligence database and broke users out to certain cohorts based on the average number of items they had in their cart. We then asked ourselves this question:

Can we have a personalized widget that will get more people to “just buy one more item”?

This is akin to getting more people in the checkout line to buy a pack of gum. We also heavily reduced the amount of friction needed to add one more item to their cart. We had these hypotheses:

  1. We can affect AOV via tiered discounts.
  2. Cart level promotions get high visibility and therefore high usage.
  3. Users can be easily motivated to add 1-2 more items to their cart with discounts.

We decided to target certain Average Order “breakpoints” where the discounted AOV would still raise our sitewide based on our cohort data. The hypothesis was that we could upgrade cart AOV for our high volume cart cohorts if we tiered out our coupon code structure.

Learn More: LeadPages CEO Clay Collins Talks About How To Ramp Up Your Conversion Rates (Up To 75%!)

Test Launch (and the Aftermath)

We relaunched the test with a new widget – this widget would count how many items were in a customer’s cart and give them a special discount upon adding one more item. The discount was mathematically derived to give the customer a great deal while at the same time raising our average cart values.

The results were astonishing for average order value – it increased by over 15% and it stayed there over time! It also resulted in flat conversion rates which meant that we had a massive double digit net gain.

How We Raised AOV

As with any test, we had to cross verify the numbers with as many different data sources as possible to be sure that this was, indeed, the case. We built a custom dashboard that feeds data in real time from our business intelligence server to monitor “Big Carts.” A “Big Cart” is a cart defined as a shopping cart with an average order value at least two standard deviations above our typical rolling average:

How We Raised AOV

After the test was launched, our number of “Big Carts” increased by over 20%! The widget coupon codes also became some of the most highly used coupon codes on our entire site. They also have some of the highest conversion rates and revenue per visitor metrics as verified by Adobe Analytics:

How We Raised AOV

This single test has added millions of dollars in revenue to our site per year.

What We Learned

For every test that wins big, we always try to harvest the learnings from understanding our customers better into more wins down the road. The learnings from this test powered other similar winning tests on our mobile sites as well as countless hyper effective campaigns (for example, this was converted into a very effective e-mail campaign).

For us, this test also highlights the importance of testing for learnings instead of wins. When we lost heavily during the first test, our first reaction was not “Aw shucks, we lost. Let’s go for that win!”

It was “Let’s see what we can learn from this” – and the second home run test would not have happened without the first test.

Read more on this topic (and much more!) from Edwin Choi on his blog Marketing Muses.

What is your experience with AOV? Have you run any tests or learned anything new about it? Share in the comments below so we can all learn!

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Babak Azad Beachbody

Hi everyone, today’s interview is with Babak Azad, Former SVP of Customer Acquisition at Beachbody, who joined Beachbody in 2007 when they were a $100M company and since then managed over $500M in media and acquired more than 10 million customers.

In today’s interview we talk about the importance of smart analysis for any business, the framework he used to grow Beachbody, and how to become a better marketer without having to get an MBA.

The Early Years

Babak Azad had a fairly traditional background, so before he joined Beachbody he hadn’t done anything in direct marketing or direct response. He was a math major at MIT, did investment banking, and then went to Stanford Business School. He soon discovered that banking was not for him and started a free fitness magazine in LA targeted at gyms and yoga studios. He ran it for a year and it wasn’t successful, but it was the best $25,000 he ever lost!

For a few years in his late 20s/early 30s he floundered and worked at the legal and public version of Napster for a couple years, until a headhunter in LA called him with an opportunity which turned out to be Beachbody. He came in on the finance route where there was a CFO and Babak—and that was the finance department.

The Best $25,000 He Ever Lost

Babak had a rude awakening about running his magazine, and that was that he’d been very naïve about the concept “if you build it they will come.” One of his friends put it like this: “Starting a business is like reviving the dead.”

When he graduated business school, one of his professors, Irv Grousbeck (co-founder of Continental Cablevision and part owner of the Boston Celtics), made a great point to him: being a math major, investment banking, analyst work—there’s a lot of analysis in those roles, but not a lot of doing. But if you want to be entrepreneur, you have to go out and do.

2002 was not the best year to start a business, especially in print advertising, and even though he and his team were all working for free, it went under after a year. Luckily $25K in the magazine world is actually quite low, but even so, everything was on his credit cards and he never recouped the loss. He did, however, learn a lot about sales, managing people, and ownership and it was a really humbling experience for him in which he saw that when it comes to running a business, you have to work really hard.

Growing Beachbody from a $100M Company to a $1B Company with Smart Analysis

Beachbody was a $100M company when he joined, which is a pretty good-sized business, and there were about 100 employees, so they had a decent infrastructure, but they weren’t doing a lot of analysis, especially quantitative.  They had one guy overseeing IT, finance, and operations, but because they didn’t have a dedicated group of folks digging in, that’s where Babak really found a place for himself.

Quite frankly, he didn’t really know what to do half the time, so how he got started was by being self-directed and just digging in. When companies start to scale, at about $10-15 million, he feels that you really need to have someone dedicated to not just reporting but deep analysis.

For some companies, that might be as simple as “Do you know your base KPIs?” or “What were your sales by day or by product?” or “Do you know what your media spend is?” And, more importantly, are you looking at the analysis? He’s met a lot of people who don’t even have a core dashboard to manage the business, so when you talk about fundamentals of sales—media spend, conversion rates—these people don’t have answers.

Once you have that, you can start focusing on the next layer down of your metrics, such as: by campaign, by day of week, by time of day, operational expenses, etc. He knew what their fulfillment cost was overall, so he could look at it by various campaigns because different products had different cost structures.

Some Business Intelligence Tools He Recommends:

They did a lot of stuff in Excel, and then added the Oracle Business Intelligence Tool which was a larger scale product. You can put some high-level stuff on dashboards, but there’s a lot to be said about putting data into Excel and being able to spread it. A lot happens in the details. Tableau and other tools can be helpful, but at the end of the day someone’s got to be slicing and dicing the data.

People try to automate too quickly (or sometimes wait too long), but when you’ve figured out how to do something manually—say an analysis or an information flow—and you’ve learned the process and done it a few times, that’s when you iron out the kinks. Because once you’ve programmed in billback or a similar system, it’s a lot harder to change. So you really need to find that balance point between manual and automation.

The Path to Acquiring More Than 10M Customers for Beachbody

His team of about 50 people, plus managing agencies and call centers, all helped to grow the business. And the reason Beachbody has grown the way it did, especially on the DR (debt) side, is that it is a phenomenal acquisition vehicle—the creatives are excellent, the production value is high, and they have great messaging that really hits people.

They were also really good on the operations side, not just on the customer acquisition side. In terms of analytics, they knew their numbers well, built up a brand leadership organization whose goal was to increase the ROI, and kept an eye on the targeted customer acquisition costs. So they weren’t just relying on the front end, but rather ensuring that all the revenues and upsells were maximized and the returns and expenses were decreased.

Margin models and customer lifetime value models are the core of the business from the DR side and helped to drive action. It’s important to be really strong on both the front and back end–and he sees many folks who are really great on front end but not on the back end, which is where you can really add maximum value.

Back end means different things to different folks: it could be what happens on the website or phone call, or what happens on day one after an order has been placed or months later. It’s “sexier” to work on the front end, but if you don’t have sales or an efficient business how are you going to maximize business?

The Framework He Used To Manage $500M+ in Media

He was focused mostly on the front end, i.e. revenues, so it was really about breaking it down, step by step, through the funnel. A lot of people think this process is magical or mystical, but Babak emphasizes that it’s just about breaking down the experience. Analytics and reporting should be driving action, not just nice spreadsheets to have sitting on your desk.

The six categories he breaks it down into are:

  1. traffic & media
  2. conversion
  3. offers
  4. non-converting leads
  5. post-transaction
  6. retention

Read his full post about these six categories on Digital Marketer here.

How to Get Better at Marketing Without Having to Get an MBA

Many people shy away from analytics because they think they don’t understand it or they just don’t want to deal with it. But most of the metrics Babak was looking at was not considered high-level statistics and the math was not that complicated. It’s just a matter of getting comfortable and familiar with the metrics. Basically, you just have to look at sample reports, break down your business, understand what happens at each stage, and decide what info you really need to understand.

To get better himself, Babak started reading Seth Godin, the Digital Marketer blog, and Neil Patel. He also joined some mastermind groups, Facebook groups, and started listening to podcasts (like this one!). It’s as easy as just Googling ‘learn digital marketing’ and there’s a lot of free information and opportunities out there to learn about digital marketing.

See ‘Resources’ below for some of his favorite groups and blogs.

One Big Struggle They Faced While Growing Beachbody

When your business starts growing, you need people—whether that’s internal, external, agencies, vendors, etc. And there are two important points Babak reminds us of.

The first thing is that you have to average up, not average down as you scale. A lot of people don’t do that because they think that as they grow it’s harder to find better people, but he says you have to make sure your standards start going up.

And the other point is: how you deal with B and C players (or vendors) not only affects the work that they’re doing, but if affects the A players in the organization. When you allow B and C players to remain, what you’re essentially saying is this is what you tolerate in your business, which demotivates the A players, who are not going to last very long when they see that you are keeping people who aren’t pulling their weight.

Advice To His 25-Year-Old Self

If he could give his younger self some advice he’s learned along the way, it would be:

One Must-Read Book

Resources from this interview:

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Ask yourself this question: how often do you look at the numbers as a business owner/exec?

If the answer is not too much, it’s time to adjust that mindset.

When I first joined Single Grain, there were a lot of problems. KPIs were not set for teams and things were being done at an ad hoc level. Without looking at the numbers, we were essentially shooting in the dark.

Fortunately, my peers at Treehouse taught me the importance of looking at numbers judiciously – it’s something I did almost every day to a fault. We had dashboards created where we could see the health of each team and what action steps needed to be taken to move the company forward.

Here’s an example of how a simple dashboard might look like in Google Docs:


(click to enlarge)
Surprisingly enough, investors told us dashboards like this were extremely rare for startups and we were ahead of the curve because we had one.

Key takeaway: if it’s important enough for a fast moving tech startup to stop for a second and create an agency dashboard with KPIs, your business should be doing it too.

The impact is huge because it helps people hone in on important things. As an example, the team from Tint reported a 3x revenue increase after they spent 1.5 days working on their dashboard.

1. The top KPIs We Use For Sales

Though we have all these numbers in place there are only a few key ones we look at for each team. Pick a few key metrics that work for you and focus on those. Overloading yourself with too many numbers make it difficult to make sound decisions on what really matters to your business.

2. The Top KPIs We Use For Operations

3. Marketing KPIs

4. Individual Teams KPIs

Bear in mind that this is only for our team and your KPIs will likely vary. It’s up to you to figure out what’s important to look at.

Bonus: I highly recommend reading the following:

Additional Points


Spend some time to figure out what metrics matter the most to your business and start measuring. Have someone (maybe you?) accountable for making sure you consistently have accurate numbers. Make sure people on your team are helping you deliver numbers they are responsible for in a timely manner. It’s important that these aren’t delayed or else you delay taking action on mission critical things.

Image credit: garryknight

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