From the Funnel

News and thoughts from the folks at TapTheory.

Tonight, Funnel will be showcasing itself at SF Beta’s Maximizing Mobile Apps event. There will be 10 other companies including Twilio and TapJoy that will be showing off how their technologies can improve mobile apps.

If you come by our table, we’ll show you how Funnel can be added to your existing iOS and Android applications. Funnel is the easiest way to drop a form or survey into your app, and start collecting bug reports, feature requests, and questionnaires. You can read more about that in our Developers section.

The event is tonight at 5pm at 111 Minna. More information can be found on the Eventbrite page.

So you’ve already spent over $5,000 to exhibit at this year’s SXSW conference, now what? With over 35,000 attendees this year, it’s your chance to put your product, service, and brand in front of some of the most saavy and influential people in the industry. We’ve got 5 tips for you to remember to ensure your booth is a success.

1. People, People, People
You need to have people at your booth at all times. The number of people should match the size of your booth. You don’t want an over-crowded or empty booth for people to walk by. Organize with your team who is going to be setting up the booth, manning it, and tearing it down. Do this in advance, here’s a Google Spreadsheet template that you can use to get you started.

2. Be Very Visible
Everyone who attends your conference is a brand ambassador. Make sure that they are clearly identifiable at your booth and as they roam the conference floor. The folks at Twilio do this great by always wearing their incredibly spottable red jackets when they present, roam, and exhibit.

3. Know All Versions of Your Pitch
Yes all versions. You will need to create a 10-second pitch, a 1-minute pitch, and a 2-minute pitch. Each pitch should build upon the last. Your 10-second pitch is your hook. Then your 1-minute pitch and 2-minute pitch should elaborate what you can do.

4. Show vs. Tell
Flyers and freebies are things to be thrown away; be memorable by having a solid demo of your product and service. The more interactive it is, the better. Also make sure that whatever you are showing can catch a person’s attention from over 10 feet away.

5. Make attendees into Brand Ambassadors and Customers
Depending on what your business is, you either need believers or leads. If you are looking for believers, make it easy for them to promote your service in the form of buttons, stickers, etc. If you are looking for leads you want to capture attendee information. Try to get more than just a business card. Read these tips on how Funnel can help you get richer leads.

If you’ve read this far, then you are already one step closer to making sure your company makes an impact this weekend. Always remember, stay true to your brand and connect with the people that matter most – your customer.

If you have other tips for exhibitors at SXSW, share them in the comments below.

Leads are more than just a stack of 283 business cards. They are people who have unique needs with different backgrounds. The more you know about them, the easier it is to convert them from a name to a paying customer.

Currently to generate lists of potential customers, conferences provide badge scanners and attendee directories. The information is typical: you get name, email address, title, and company. It is just enough for you to send your generic email blast and hope that it converts.

With Funnel you can get richer and deeper information about attendees who visit your booth. You can start to generate lists of leads that have critical information that will help you target and make them into customers. Here are three questions that can help you get a golden lead:

Sending a current customer a pitch for a product they already use can be embarrassing. You need to know if they use your product or not. It’s the difference between sending an email titled “Try out our product for 30 days” vs. “Great meeting you. Thanks for being a loyal customer”.

Do you currently use our product?

If an attendee already has a product or solution that they use, wouldn’t it be great to know how they feel about it? If they are happy with their solution, you will have to spend more time and effort turning them into one of your customers. If they are unhappy or indifferent, you can ask them the next question.

What is missing in your current solution?

With this open ended question, you will hear the gripes and pain-points in their current solution. This is precious data in understanding the weaknesses of your competitors and knowing how to position your product better.

Just asking those three questions turns a weak lead into a very strong one. Which lead would you rather have?

Compare Leads

With Funnel you can ask the questions that matter most to your business. Use it to improve the quality of leads at the next conference you attend. Try it out today by going to http://usefunnel.com.

If you have any questions or need assistance with Funnel just email info@usefunnel.com.

I wish I wasn’t making this up, but I just received this postcard in my mail. It’s a housing rental survey that was sent around to everyone that lived in my building. It’s experiences like these that need to end.

There are many problems with this picture. Here are the big ones:

  1. Look at the size of that URL. Sadly you’d have to pay me $20 just to enter it into my computer.
  2. Plenty of text. Lots of text isn’t bad, but when it’s not focused and is in paragraph form, why should I spend the effort to read it?
  3. “Only” takes a few minutes. By definition “a few” means between 3-7 minutes. How much of my time are you really going to take?

Conducting research is important. You need to make your respondents life easy so you can reach as many people as possible. We decided to challenge ourselves and improve that postcard above. We gave ourselves a few rules. It must contain only text, be black and white, and contain the same spirit as the original. This is what we created:


If you want to improve your response rates on postcards and flyers, don’t scare people away. Just follow these simple rules:

  1. Make it easy. Getting to your survey shouldn’t be a chore. Use shorter urls so people don’t have to type as much. Also consider using QR Codes so people with mobile phones can access the survey even easier.
  2. Convey the commitment. Don’t describe the commitment in terms of time. Use the number of questions they are going to have to answer. It’s more concrete.
  3. Explain the reward. The original postcard placed the reward prominently, but use typography to bring the focus on the $20 gift card.
  4. Break up large amounts of text. Help people read and process your postcard. Split apart large paragraphs and add headings to sections. Creating a compelling layout doesn’t take fancy tools, the postcard we created was done in PowerPoint.

A postcard is 3.5 by 5 inches. Don’t abuse it. Remove unnecessary pieces of information and help guide people to the action you want them to do. Follow the steps above and you’ll be in good shape.

Starting this week you can create your own form or survey using Funnel. It’s free, so give it a try and see how it can change the way you interact with your customers and your colleagues. Create an account today.

What is Funnel?
Funnel is the easiest way to collect data on smartphones and tablets. Using Funnel, you can create a survey or form and distribute it via SMS, QR Code, or email.

What devices does it work on?
We’ve designed it to work great on iPhones, iPads, and Android devices. We’ve also made sure the forms and surveys work on laptops and desktops. If you are using Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or IE8+, you can take a Funnel survey.

Can I see a sample survey?
Of course. Here’s a survey that shows every question type. https://fnnl.it/fn

How much does Funnel cost?
The core of Funnel is free. Creating and distributing surveys via smartphones is new and we don’t want to limit the way people and businesses use it. All surveys and forms sent today will have a “Made with Funnel” ad on it. Businesses can pay to have that removed. We will be adding more paid features down the road.

What can I use it for?
For businesses that interact with customers in person, like a hotel, you can email or SMS a link to a Funnel survey to gauge how their experience was and identify at-risk customers. For entrepreneurs that are developing applications for iOS or Android, you can add a Funnel survey into your app and start collecting bug reports and feature requests.

What do I do next?
You can learn more about Funnel at http://usefunnel.com and you can create an account today.

Press
Funnel has been covered by Fast Company and Betalist.

Questions?
If you have any questions, email info [at] usefunnel.com.

Jimmy and I want to thank our early beta testers for their constant feedback. We’ll be opening our doors in one week. In the meantime, check out the preview by Fast Company.

Jimmy and I are excited to finally share what we have been working on. It’s called Funnel, the easiest way to collect data on iPhones, iPads, and Android devices.

We started from scratch and created an experience that was fun and natural. Apps designed for a smartphone or tablet need to be approached differently. You can’t just take a desktop experience and scale it down. We created question-types that were meant to be touched and looke great on mobile devices.

Fast Company publishes Funnel Makes Web Surveys That Are Fun this morning. Some great take-aways:

  • “…they might just have built the first such product that doesn’t make you want to throw something.”
  • “One of the most insightful features of Funnel, though, is the way it enforces the survey designer to ask questions that really matter, and to simplify.”
  • “…it relies on touch rather than clicking, which Panchadsaram calls a “completely different,” more natural experience when compared to the standard Survey Monkey fare. Funnel also has pleasing design, something we hardly expect from surveys–but why shouldn’t we?”

With Funnel, businesses can catch their customers in the moment when the experience is still fresh on their minds. For example a hotel can email or SMS a link to a Funnel survey to gauge how their experience was and identify at-risk customers.

How does it work?

  1. Sign up for a free account at http://usefunnel.com
  2. Create your first form or survey
  3. Distribute the link via email, SMS, or QRCode
  4. People can take it on their iPhone, iPad, or Android device.

Since Funnel fits in the palm of your hand, it goes where the computer can’t.

The holidays were a busy time for TapTheory. We took a few days off to celebrate with our families, but we got back to work coding, testing, and moving Funnel closer to launch. We are going to be opening up our Beta to a larger audience next week. On Wednesday to be exact. If you want to get in on it, make sure you are on this list.

In 2007, Apple set the bar for the industry on what a smartphone should be like. Three years later the space has promising contenders and 2011 will be a defining year on which platforms take dominance.

For Jimmy and I, it’s been a debate on which mobile operating systems we should build for. Do we pick one based on current user base? Do we go where the best developer tools are? Do we pick the newest OS?

Ultimately, we decided that we would look at current smartphone usage and desired smartphone purchases. Using these two data points we could get a strong idea of who are immediate and future customers are. Nielsen has been publishing this type of data for the past year. Using Nielsen’s “US Smartphone Battle Heats Up” and “Mobile Snapshot“, we created this chart:

Analyzing the data and pulling from the Nielsen report, we get the following findings:

People of All Ages are Turning to Apple and Android
The most popular devices are running Apple iOS, Android OS, and RIM BlackBerry OS. Looking strictly at numbers, Apple has the most smartphone users under 44 and RIM has the most users 45 and over. When you look to future purchasing decisions, the most desired devices run iOS and Android across all age groups.

Data Shows Blackberry OS and Windows Mobile Fading
2011 is going to be a defining year for RIM and Microsoft. Data from 2010 shows that RIM has a strong position with its current user base, but for future phone purchases those users are looking at iOS and Android. For Microsoft, it has a waning user base, and needs to convince consumers and businesses to pick them.

For Jimmy and I, we need to focus. We don’t have the resources to build for every operating system, so we have to choose. Based on this data our best starting points are Apple iOS and Android OS. In the future that may change, but for now that’s where our sights are set.

For the Cloudstock Hackathon, we built a small application called Boomerang. It was a frantic 5 hours going from concept to completion, but we did it by playing to each of our strengths and committing to a very focused idea. The whole design phase lasted 120 minutes and this is how Jimmy and I worked in parallel.

Step 1: Sketching
For Boomerang, we knew it was important to take the time and iterate to get the kinks out the concept. Once I opened Photoshop, I knew there was no time to turn back.

It’s necessary to get your hands dirty with design. For apps, that means sketching. There are great prototyping tools, but when time is short, nothing beats a pen and paper. I focused on things I knew I could easily experiment with on paper:

  • Layouts
  • Control Positioning
  • Interactions

Once I had a general feel of how the application would look and act, I was ready to work on the layout to pass onto Jimmy.

Step 2: Deliver the Layout
When the clock started, Jimmy focused on getting the infrastructure for the app setup. While I spent 30 minutes sketching, he kicked off a Rackspace CloudServer instance, got Django running, and obtained his Twilio API key.

To get started with his development, he needed to get an understanding of how the application was supposed to work. Using all the sketches I made, I put together a more orderly version of the layout.

With this simple picture, Jimmy could start cranking on the application.

Step 3: Craft the Design
As I was sketching, I already had a sense of what the final design would look like. I even put it in my notes.

With only 90 minutes to design, I had to lock-in my colors, textures, and control styles.

For colors, I started with the dominant orange from the Cloudstock logo.

For textures, we wanted to continue the Cloudstock feel subtly, so we incorporated their flower pattern into the background.

When users added an event, I wanted it to feel more industrial-control like. So the background for that area was a textured grill.

I chose these styles for the buttons and form elements:

With the layout, colors, textures, and controls, putting together the final design was just about moving fast. I delivered this final comp with the two main states for Jimmy to work from. I also tossed into a shared Dropbox folder all the assets he needed like background images, logo, shadows, and icons.

What’s next for us?
The hackathon was detour from the bigger project we are working on called Funnel. We’ll be announcing more details and letting customers use it starting January. If you are interested in getting on our private beta, join our interest list. We promise to do more posts like this on Funnel once it launches.

What is Funnel?

Funnel is the easiest way to create forms and surveys for iPhones, iPads, and Android devices.

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Funnel is designed and built by TapTheory