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Q & A: KissMetrics’ Neil Patel

Over the past 6 years, a lot has changed, but his two projects in KissMetrics & CrazyEgg keep innovating.

Neil Patel indoors in the city

Continuing a long tradition of interviews and insights here at Search Engine Journal, I reached out to Neil Patel last week to get an update on Neil & his KissMetrics project. I’ve known Neil for a long time and have always kept tabs on him after meeting at an SES San Jose in back in 2005. Over the past 6 years, a lot has changed, but his two projects in KissMetrics & CrazyEgg keep innovating.


Neil, you have done a lot over the last 10 years of your entrepreneurial career. For those of us who don’t know, please shed some light on all of your accomplishments.

Thank you for the kind words!

I started off my career when I was 16 and now I am currently 26. My first company ended up being an Internet marketing agency in which we did the marketing for companies like HP, Samsung, GM, Amazon, Microsoft, and AOL. We did well overall, but when the recession came around, we took a bit hit.

Luckily, my business partner and I also invest a good portion of our money into software companies. The first one was Crazy Egg, which shows you how people interact with your website in a visual format. Crazy Egg has been up and running for almost 6 years and it is cranking along at a healthy growth rate.

The second large software company that my business partner and I transitioned into was KISSmetrics. We realized Crazy Egg would never be that 100 million dollar software company, so we created a bigger analytics company that would solve a much larger problem that companies were facing.

You’re known in the Internet marketing world as an SEO, yet you have been able to transition into the web 2.0 realm. How did you make the transition?

The way I transitioned into the web 2.0 realm is by first doing SEO for a lot of web 2.0 companies. From blogs like TechCrunch and Mashable to startups like I Can Has Cheezburger and Zimbra. After working with a few dozen startups my business partner and I learned the power of subscription businesses.

With the knowledge we had from the Internet marketing world we knew a lot about analytics and what was gaps were missing in that space. And from working with web 2.0 companies we learned a lot about working with developers, raising venture capital, building out sales teams, etc. When we combined both of those knowledge sets we were able to create a “web 2.0” company and slowly transition into that world.

Judging from your social media updates, it seems like these days you are focusing your efforts on your startup, KISSmetrics. What is KISSmetrics and what does it do?

Have you ever noticed that when you log into Omniture or Google Analytics you see green arrows showing how your traffic is up? The problem that we encountered and many other companies as well encountered is that just because your traffic is up, it doesn’t mean you are making more money.

The reason people are in business is to make money. So instead of focusing our analytics solution on metrics like pageviews and visitors we focused it around revenue, life time value of a customer, churn, marketing attribution, conversion rates and other important data points that can help companies make more money.

So when you log into our system, you see those metrics and more importantly you can find out what is impacting them in a negative and positive way. You can then take that information, adjust your marketing efforts, and watch your revenue increase.

How is KISSmetrics different than an Omniture or Google?

First off I want to make it clear that our solution doesn’t replace a Omniture or Google Analytics. We don’t do a lot of the things they do such as show you your bounce rate, pageviews, and time on site. Instead we focus on:

  • Tracking people – if someone has multiple browsers, uses multiple devices (iPhone, iPad, laptop, computer, etc.) we can tie in all of those usages into one person. This way when you are making business decisions you can do so with accurate data.
  • Marketing attribution – if you are buying paid advertising or doing any sort of marketing campaign, you’ll notice that it may not always provide a positive ROI right away. But that doesn’t mean it won’t provide a positive ROI in the long run. So we can actually show you if someone first came to your website from a PPC campaign, then came back from a referring traffic source like a blog, and then came back a third time directly and converted. This data can help you understand how well your PPC campaign is doing because if you notice a trend that someone has to come to your website 3 times before they make a purchase you can do things like retargeting.
  • Conversion tracking – with most analytics solutions you predefine your marketing funnels. The problem with this is that there are many ways users can convert instead of one. Our system looks at all of the possible ways users are converting and it shows you the areas in your website that are causing your conversions to not be as high as they should.
  • Revenue – at the end of the day, you are in business to make money. From showing you your lifetime value of your customers to tracking your churn rate we show you the numbers you need to know to grow your business. Just because someone converts it doesn’t mean they are worth as much as the next user who converts. We can show you which traffic sources are causing people to spend the most money on your website in both the short run and long run.

What’s your overall goal for KISSmetrics?

My goal is to create the next big analytics companies. Solutions like Omniture and Google Analytics are great, and I actually use Google Analytics every day because I love it, but it’s harder for these big companies to continue to innovate.

See, these analytics solutions were built a long time ago for the web 1.0. The problem is the web has evolved and people have different tracking needs. So with KISSmetrics our goal is to solve these tracking problems so that companies don’t have to waste millions of dollars building in house analytics tools.

Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

Unlike most startups, software as a service companies typically are around much longer before they flop, get sold, or go public. I love what I am currently doing and still want to be at KISSmetrics shooting to create the next big analytics company.

In addition to that I do want to focus more of my time in the non-profit world. There are a lot of great causes out there and one that really resonates with me is just helping out entrepreneurs. I want to spend a portion of my day giving back to the entrepreneur community so that we can have more people who are innovating and solving problems.

Do you have any last words of advice for SEOs out there who are looking to stretch their wings into different arenas?

If you are passionate about something, get out there and do it. Don’t be afraid just because you are going into an unknown territory that you don’t know much about. There are millions of people out there who are willing to help, you just have to shoot off and email or make a call. You’ll be surprised on how many people respond back.

In addition to that you also need to make sure you are solving a real problem. One that people are experiencing today and are willing to pay to get solved. And ideally something that hasn’t been solved by another company. If you can do this, you’ll create a company that isn’t just making money, but it’s helping make people’s lives better.

Thanks Neil!

Do you have any questions for Neil Patel about KissMetrics and Web Analytics? If so, feel free to leave your question in the comments below 🙂

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SEJ STAFF Loren Baker Founder at Foundation Digital

Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing ...

Q & A: KissMetrics’ Neil Patel

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