We’re very excited that it’s only two days until YoastCon kicks off! So it’s high time we share the link to the free livestream that’ll also be available for this day.

Tune in for free here »

Or copy this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWp16iZsnTo

The day is planned out as follows:

Timetable 27th May

Time What Streamed
08:45 – 09:15 Registration
09:15 – 09:45 Opening talk by Joost Yes
09:45 – 10:30 Marcus Tandler – Rise of the machines No
10:30 – 10:45 Erwin & Joost – Yoast redesign Yes
10:45 – 11:15 Coffee and cake
11:15 – 12:00 Tony Perez – The State of WordPress Security Yes
12:00 – 12:30 Workshops Round 1 – pick one out of three No
12:30 – 13:30 Lunch
13:30 – 14:00 Workshops Round 2 – pick one out of three No
14:00 – 14:45 Karl Gilis – Growth hacking tips that work on every website Yes
14:45 – 15:15 Coffee break
15:15 – 16:00 Chris Lema – Save yourself $135,549.73 when you build your next site Yes
16:00 – 16:15 Closing remarks by Joost Yes
16:15 – 17:00 Drinks & snacks

So please don’t forget to tune in on our livestream here, which will begin 9:15 AM CET:
Tune in for free here »

Or copy this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWp16iZsnTo

We’re not expecting any issues, but in case there are, please stay tuned to our twitter (@yoast) as we’ll get a new link back out there as soon as possible!

Enjoy this livestream, or if you’re coming to YoastCon; see you Wednesday!

This post first appeared as YoastCon free livestream on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

As I announced in our previous post on the evolution of Yoast avatars, we’re working on a redesign. In fact… The HTML and CSS are mostly done, but we’ll take quite a bit more time to work on it. Over the summer we’ll make a WordPress theme out of it and make sure that all the content is presented in the best possible way when we launch on September 1st. We can’t keep our mouth shut that long though, we’re just to used to being open, so we want to give you a sneak peek.

Today at YoastCon, Erwin and I unveiled this redesign. As we don’t expect all of you are following the livestream all the time, this short post gives you two screenshots of what is admittedly a work in progress (click for larger versions):

New illustrations

The most obvious change is the removal of the avatar header images. As Yoast has so many more people than just Joost now, we thought it’d be better to remove those. The new illustrations feature a group of people that work together to move forward. Erwin has made these in Cinema4D, allowing us to render new views all the time.

Erwin also made a “goodbye” avatar and recorded the process:

No sidebar

You can’t see it in these two screenshots yet, but the new design has no sidebar. Nowhere. We sometimes use the space on the right for asides, but nothing else. This page layout makes it far easier to make the page fully responsive, which it of course will be.

New design, new sections

In the design, there’s an obvious new feature: Yoast Academy. In Yoast Academy we’ll bundle our knowledge, so it will feature our eBooks and posts. In September we’ll also add another eBook as well as courses that we’re currently developing. What is “WordPress” in the current design is “Software” in the new design. We’re getting ready to roll out Yoast SEO to more platforms and this design is ready for that change too.

You’ll have to wait a few bit

You’ll have to wait a few months for all of this to be ready. Over the course of the summer we’ll work on it, to launch September 1st. Our new logo will show up in more places already though, most notably our social profiles.

Your opinion is appreciated in the comments below, but please keep it civil.

This post first appeared as Announcing a Yoast redesign on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

Pin it
Over the years, our avatars have evolved quite a bit. Paul Madden created the first avatar, back in 2007. A few years later, I asked Erwin to improve upon it and he ran off with them. He created many, many avatars. First of me, later on of the entire, rapidly growing, team. Below is an infographic highlighting that history, about which we’ll talk more at YoastCon.

Yoast redesign

At YoastCon, we’ll also talk about the next step of the yoast.com design that Mijke and Erwin have been working on. The avatars will stay, but they won’t be as prominent. Now that Marieke, Thijs, Michiel and the rest of the team are all so important for the growth of Yoast and it’s obvious that it’s not just my work, it’s time to take my head out of the header. At YoastCon, either live or through the livestream, you can see us unveil the next iteration of our site design!

For now, enjoy the infographic Erwin and Mijke created:

The evolution of Yoast Avatars in an infographic

The Evolution of Yoast

2007-2010

In the early days of Joost’s consulting career Paul Madden creates his first avatar. Joost quickly learns it makes people recognize him in discussion threads. The avatar turns out to be a perfect personal branding tool.

2010-2011

In 2010, Joost starts his own company: Yoast. The company focuses on website optimization.

Joost asks Erwin Brouwer to update the original design by Paul Madden and expand upon it. More and more avatars make their way into Joost’s presentations, replacing stock imagery.

Yoast.com changes in 2010 as well. The new design is a lot cleaner and removes the windmill and with it, the first iteration of the Joost avatar.

2012

2012 is a hallmark year for Yoast in many ways. Joost hires Michiel in the beginning of the year. Several other people follow at the end of 2012, Mijke, Joost’s brother Thijs and illustrator Erwin.

In August of 2012 another new site design launches, featuring avatars in the header on every page.

2015

Yoast grows from a single person to a team of 21 in early 2015.

Every team member gets a personal avatar. The avatar style keeps developing and the process of making them gets more streamlined by the day. The latest avatars are more rounded and detailed in comparison to the first series.

The making of Yoast

Erwin makes all avatars in Adobe Illustrator, making them easy to scale. Every avatar has several layers to make adjustments possible and easy to do. The final artwork is then saved as an optimized png-file to make them easy to load.

This post first appeared as The evolution of Yoast avatars & we’re doing a redesign! on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

With YoastCon in a few weeks, we decided to look back to what we posted five years ago and how that might have changed over the course of these five years. Let’s call it our Throwback Thursday post.

“When you put a picture from a “while” ago on your social media sites”
Urban Dictionary

Let’s start with that picture:
Yoast.com back in 2010

Yoast.com was already online for a couple of years, but this is the snapshot of the exact date YoastCon will be held (27th of May), five years ago.

Where the windmill has disappeared and our current share of Dutch customers has been reduced to about four percent, the illustration of Joost has survived in these years, albeit in a restyled and improved version.

Content changes of our website

At that time, Joost was Yoast. Posts and other publications were inspired by the issues that ended up in his Inbox, that came along on Twitter or were shared by friends in the industry. At the time of writing, there’s four of us posting on a frequent basis. The May 2010 archive holds four posts. Last week alone we published six (although that included the plugin update information, of course).

It’s not just that. It became less personal, and even more informational. Last year, we made it our goal to emphasize Content SEO, not just by publishing our eBook on that subject, but also by a series of posts like:

What stayed the same is that we try to touch all bases of website optimization, from technical aspects to speed optimization, and from security to specific WordPress related subjects.

What did we post five years ago?

As mentioned above, we did five posts back then. Let’s take a closer look at these.

Facebook & (the lack of) Privacy

Joost closes this post with these words:

I hope they get this fixed. I don’t want to do away with Facebook, not just yet, I do want them to change their way of thinking about and dealing with privacy though, and not just now, but for all eternity.

This discussion has been alive over all five of these past years. Privacy is a major issue for Facebook and Facebook is definitely upping their game. Just this week, we learned that Facebook is making some major changes in their app, “a big change that gives users more power over the information they share with outside apps.” That’s a pretty huge thing, as we all know Facebook advertising is thriving on targeting ads right in your target audience – a marketing tool we use a lot ourselves at Yoast. And let’s not forget the EU is making it pretty hard for Facebook sometimes. Sorry for that :)

Let’s look at another article.

hReview and hProduct in Magento

Magento? Yes. Although our current posts mainly deal with WordPress related tips and tricks, we still do our share of Magento website reviews, for instance. Magento has a number of specific issues we address in our reviews, one of them being the use of rich snippets. This post hReview and hProduct in Magento would mainly be about adding schema.org data to your Magento product pages, if we would (and we should indeed) write about that today. The post followed a guest post by Frederick Townes called Google & Microformats: Drive More Traffic.

Rich snippets are more important than ever, as these simply make it way easier for Google and other search engines to find out what type of content is on a page. hReview is replaced in our recommendations by schema.org/Review and hProduct by schema.org/Product, as these last ones are constructed by the major search engines themselves. Jon said it right: “It’s all the same, only the names will change.” That’s almost like rickrolling, right :) Fact is that although the names are changed, these are still rich snippets and we highly recommend using them.

Back then, we also linked articles from others in quick roundup posts, much like the excellent newsletter our friend Brian Krogsgard sends us on a daily basis. If you are not subscribed to that newsletter yet and you’re serious about WordPress, be sure to subscribe.

Small updates from me & my friends

That post deals with our Salesforce plugin, a plugin we no longer develop. John Mueller was a guest on the WordPress Podcast. Almost a year ago, Joost himself was a guest on Dradcast. From host to guest, so to say. So that’s another thing that has changed.

In that post, Joost also mentions WordPress 3.0 beta 2 had been released. WordPress 3.0 was the first release to merge WordPress and WordPress MU. Nowadays we can’t imagine multisite not being in core, right. WordPress has matured over the last five years. And Yoast has been able to grow along with that. Having two plugins in the ‘most popular’ top 10 allows us to work closely with the core team now and then, and we value their improvements on WordPress.
We also contribute on a frequent basis, having a core day for our development team, for instance. During that day (once a month), all developers put their current projects aside and work on WordPress core instead. Yes, we benefit from the community by selling our premium WordPress plugins to them, but that also allows us to give back as well. This was also described in Joost’s talk at WordCamp EU 2014 about the Victory of the Commons.

NB. The fourth post of that month was a promotional post on “Outsource slicing & coding of your WordPress themes” that’s not currently online anymore.

5 years and counting

At YoastCon on the 27th of May, we’ll be celebrating 5 years of being an official business. I joined Joost at Yoast only three years ago and although we have learned a lot since then, we feel we’re not even halfway where we want to be.

The thing we’re very much looking forward to expand and grow is a project we named Yoast Academy (as announced in our newsletter about half a year ago). Triggered by the success of our eBooks and the fun we had and have thinking about YoastCon, this is a part of Yoast we’re really looking forward to work on even more. A quote from that newsletter:

Mind you, it’s far from finished, but we’re actually making a Yoast Academy for anyone who wants to learn more about SEO, Conversion Rate Optimization and usability.

This describes exactly our purpose of YoastCon. It’s for anyone that wants to learn about a broad spectrum of website optimization (usability, seo, business and security). We hope our speaker lineup reflects that as well. It would be awesome to meet you there!

This post first appeared as Throwback Thursday on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

Crowd Favorite LogoThis is the year that Yoast turns 5 years old. A natural time to reflect upon how the company is doing and what it should and should not be doing and what we want for the future. Today we’re proud to announce that we’ve been acquired by CrowdFavorite. Let me tell you the story of how this came to be and what this means.

WordCamp Europe

At last year’s WordCamp Europe in Sofia, I got the chance to spend some time with CrowdFavorite’s executive team. In particular I spent time with Chris Lema and Karim Marucchi. We connected in a good way, the “feels like we’ve been friends forever” kind of way.
Our discussions showed that we think alike. On the dance floor, we had tons of fun. In short, we proved to be a good match.

Ongoing discussions

Early this year, we began to talk more as CrowdFavorite reached out, needing help on the marketing side of things. As Karim Maruchi, CrowdFavorite’s CEO, said:

“Joost has a long history of consulting with enterprise organizations. His approach is in line with how we approach things, so it simply made sense to begin talking about how we could work together”

We discussed potential modes of working together and in the end came to the conclusion that we’re better off together. As CrowdFavorite is by far the bigger company in this “spiel”, they’re acquiring us in an asset acquisition.

So will Yoast disappear?

No. None of the Yoast products or services will change. The same plugins, the same review service. Your licenses will stay the same and you’ll be able to renew them as well. We will just be able to offer these as one integrated solution to all of CrowdFavorite’s clients. I myself will join CrowdFavorite’s executive team as Chief Marketing Officer.

We’ll be busy for the next 3 months integrating our companies. This shouldn’t slow down product development. It might mean I myself and the rest of the Yoast management team will be slightly less visible for a while. We do expect to party with all of you in Spain at this years WordCamp Europe though!

This post first appeared as Yoast joins CrowdFavorite! on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

Yoast5th
This year in May Yoast will turn 5 years old. In May 2010 I founded Yoast. Now, almost 5 years later, we have 21 employees and we’re still growing!

To celebrate our anniversary and our continued growth we’re hosting a conference: YoastCon! YoastCon will be a day full of great speakers, all speaking on what Yoast stands for: website optimization. And of course, we want you to be there!

So what are the details?

Date: May 27th 2015 9:00 – 17:00 CET
Location: De Lindenberg in Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Subject: Website optimization (SEO, CRO, usability, etc.)
Speakers: Chris Lema, Marcus Tandler, Karl Gilis and more friends of Yoast
Tickets: €150
Available Tickets: 150

Awesome! Where do I get a ticket?

You can get a ticket on our YoastCon page, where you’ll also be able to find more information on the venue of YoastCon, the speakers and all other conference related information, or…

Get your ticket now!

Get your ticket here »

This post first appeared as YoastCon: 5 year anniversary conference on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

Email marketing for your online shopWhile writing last week’s post about email marketing, I decided to also write a post about email marketing for ecommerce shops. This post will go into how you can leverage email in your ecommerce business to gain new, lost or recurring clients.

Every subscriber counts

It’s much easier for people to subscribe to your newsletter than it is to actually spend money and buy something at your online shop. So you’re probably getting a lot more newsletter subscriptions than you are getting sales. This is fine, of course, because you’re still able to reach out to these people. That’s why every subscriber counts: they’re all special and valuable to your business.

A few days ago I got this email from a Dutch webshop:

Newsletter email marketing for online shop

Email from Dutch webshop fonq.nl stating VIP discounts

They’re offering special “Exclusive VIP discounts” in this email. Basically they’re offering a discount to everyone, but as a newsletter subscriber you get ‘early access’ to those discounts. I’m not sure how legitimate this actually is, as I think the discount was available to everyone from the start. However, it is a nice idea to give your newsletter subscribers just that little edge.

You can even think about giving your newsletter subscribers a discount, but our preference is to leave perks such as this for your loyal customers. More on that later in this post.

Recovery

One great way to use emails in your ecommerce business  is by sending recovery emails. Recovery emails are emails that are sent when someone has abandoned their cart without finishing the transaction. You could email them reminding them there’s still something in their cart and they’re welcome to complete the purchase. Usually there’s a time limit to this, so do mention this. This will actually also create urgency, which can actually help. Some businesses even choose to give discounts after a cart is abandoned. We personally don’t like to use discounts this way, as it seems unfair to the rest of our customers. However, it does seem to work, so I’m just putting it out there!

bol com recovery email - email marketing for online shop

Email from Dutch webshop bol.com telling me I’ve left something in their shopping cart

It can be as simple as this. They’ve reminded me I’ve left something in the shopping cart. And just to make it a bit less pushy, they also tell me: “Maybe you wanted to save this item for another visit to our site. If that’s the case, please put it on your wish list and be sure it’s saved.” So apart from just telling you to go buy the stuff you’ve left, they also inform you on a helpful functionality. That makes it a lot less intrusive and you’re actually more likely to go to their site. And whether you end up buying that exact product; it got you back on their website.

Retention

Email is a great way to increase your customers’ retention. What this means is that it’ll increase the amount of customers that purchase repeatedly, instead of just once. So this would help make your clients recurring clients. By emailing your customers on a regular basis, your brand will stay top of mind and they’ll return more quickly to buy something again. Of course your emails would have to be interesting, enticing and engaging for this to really work:

Amazon retention email - Email marketing for online shop

Email from German Amazon asking to review the product you recently bought

Now as with a lot of things on Amazon, this is a stroke of genius. It gives you a good reason to go back to their site, without sounding salesy at all. You end up on their website and before you know it there’s another dvd, eBook or iPhone 6 in your cart.

Related products

There’s another way to get your customers back to your website and maybe ordering some things. My colleague Michiel got an email confirming his order at Wehkamp.nl. The confirmation email included this:

Related products in email marketing for online shop

Related products in email

He had ordered sweaters from this webshop and wehkamp.nl was smart enough to show related products in the confirmation email. The only thing that I’m thinking is that showing sweaters when you’ve just bought 3 sweaters might not be the best product group. T-shirts or maybe some pairs of pants would make more sense. But then again, it could just be me and other people might like 10 new sweaters.

Admittedly, this is a bit more aggressive than the Amazon example, but cross-selling items in your confirmation emails has been found to increase your transaction rates by 20%. The aggressiveness also comes down to where you place these related items. Wehkamp showed these related items quite close to the bottom of the email, so that makes it a bit less agressive. However, I can image that this also means less people will be enticed to buy something else. This comes down to what works best for your business and what you feel comfortable with.

Reward your loyal customers

A few months back I wrote a post about creating loyal customers. Email is a good tool to give something extra to your loyal customers. You can even make different segments of loyal customers and email these groups accordingly. This can start from people who bought just one product to people who have bought a multitude of items in your online shop.

By giving these customers something extra, you’re expressing your gratitude that they’re you customers. And, of course, in return you’ll get another nice revenue boost from your most loyal customers.

How’s your email marketing?

I’m really curious as to whether I bored you out of your skull or you’ve actually learned something. Do you think you’re doing a good job at your email marketing, or did this post just wake you up? Let me know in the comments!

This post first appeared as Email marketing for your online shop on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

The basics of email marketingLast year, Michiel has written a few posts about social media marketing and how you (and we) could improve on it. This gave me the idea to highlight one of the marketing techniques that’s working out pretty well for us: email marketing.

Today’s post will outline why you should start with email marketing, if you’re not doing it already, and how to make sure you’re getting the biggest impact from your emails.

What is email marketing?

Email marketing comes in many shapes and forms. However, it’s basically this: every email you send to (possible) customers with the hopes of gaining or continuing their business. Most of the times, this comes down to newsletter marketing. You’re trying to sell your products or services through your daily/weekly/monthly newsletter.

However, for a lot of webshops, that’s not all the email marketing there is to it. At Yoast, we also send out emails when a customer’s license is about to expire, for example. And quite often, our email support is also a place where marketing happens.

Why you should be doing email marketing

For those of you not doing anything in email marketing yet, this one’s for you:

Email Marketing Revenue

Email marketing revenue by source

These are the stats for this year so far. As you can see, 23.1% of this year’s revenue has come from either email or newsletter. The only portion that’s bigger is the organic portion, which means traffic from search engines.

To my mind, this should be more than enough to convince you to start doing email marketing. But if you feel it’s not, here’s some more to convince you:

Content SEO eBook Revenue - Email Marketing

Content SEO eBook sales

That’s the revenue for our new Content SEO eBook. And guess when we released it? That’s right, on February 3rd. We announced the release on Facebook, Twitter, our own website and in our newsletter. So what worked best? Since the release of that eBook, over 75% of the revenue of this eBook has come from our newsletters.

And to top it off: the Return on Investment (ROI) was over 22,000%, since we earned back over 221 times what we invested. This is the total ROI, since we sold a lot more than just our second eBook from those two newsletters.

So email really is a great marketing tool. It keeps your brand on the minds of your (potential) customers. On top of that, it makes sure your new product launches won’t go unnoticed; the release notice is actually sent to a whole bunch of people that have already expressed interest in your business.

How to do email marketing

Now that you’re convinced you need to be doing something with this email marketing thing, let me tell you how I think you should go about it. So I’ll try taking a ‘start-to-finish’ approach.

Building your email list

The first and foremost thing to building your email list is to make it as easy as possible to sign up. And as easy as possible means, for example, cutting down on the signup form fields:

newsletter signup example - email marketing

Real-life newsletter signup example

This is a real live example we’ve encountered in our Website Reviews a while back. This is simply not how you do this. You should ask for just the most necessary, which is just the email address to be honest. You really do not need anything else. On yoast.com we ask for just an email address and we’re getting over a 1000 new subscribers every week.

Next to keeping it simple, it also helps showing your signup form to people when they’re engaged on your website. We’ve done this by using a little box that slides up as the user scrolls past a threshold. If you’re using WordPress, there’s an awesome plugin by our friend Danny called Scroll Triggered Boxes that’ll make this easy as pie to set up. Other engaged visitors are people who actually buy your products, so be sure to have a signup in your checkout as well!

Of course there are a lot of other things you could try, such as a HelloBar, a static signup in your sidebar, a Twitter campaign for your email list. I do have to say though, the Twitter campaign wasn’t successful at all in our case. However, we try to keep it all as non-obtrusive as possible on yoast.com. We don’t want people to get annoyed by our signup forms, even though that would probably get us an even higher success rate.

Think about deliverability

Once your email list starts growing, you should really start thinking about deliverability. What I mean by this is the percentage of emails that are actually getting to the people in your email list. Simply sending your newsletter from your WordPress admin won’t cut it, most of the time. You have a good chance your emails are actually ending up in people’s spam folders. And that’s a real shame, because people won’t even know you sent an email in the first place!

If you’re using a service such as MailChimp it’s easy enough to increase your deliverability. MailChimp has a simple checkbox to authenticate your campaign. There are four types of authentication and checking this box in MailChimp will enable all four of them by default. So my advice is to really start using an email service such as this. It doesn’t have to be MailChimp, as long as you’re sure to check for such deliverability options.

Keep your email’s content engaging

One of the most important things to do is to keep your email’s content engaging. People should want to read your newsletters or other emails. This comes down to keeping a healthy balance between promotional and informational content. This can be a fine line to walk, but it’s well worth the effort. Let me give you some tips how you can keep your readers engaged:

  • Be personal; keeping a personal tone tends to resonate more with your following and seems to increase click ratios as well;
  • Interact with your following; you can do this by asking for feedback, give them special discounts or saying thanks to them (which can be combined with discounts);
  • Make announcements; whether this is about a new product or service, or about something noteworthy within your line of work (f.i. we usually highlight any big Google changes in our newsletter), keeping your following up to date and sharing news worthy items really helps increase their engagement;
  • Share your knowledge; I feel this is probably the most important one. Sharing your knowledge makes for worthwhile emails for your following, but it also shows them you know what you’re doing. So not only do they get more informed, their trust in your brand will increase.

Make your emails mobile friendly

Mobile is really growing in the email market, with almost 50% of all newsletters being opened on mobile. So you should really make sure your newsletter is as mobile friendly as possible. A lot of the mailing services offer default templates that are mobile friendly and will scale down nicely. If you don’t want to spend too much time or money on your newsletter at first, this is a good option.

Another thing to take into account with mobile emails, is your subject line. Since mobile screens are obviously not as wide as desktop screens, your subject lines might not actually fit the screen. This might not be a problem at all, but it’s a good one to keep in mind. It could be a good idea to test this.

A/B test your emails

Since every company is different and therefore your clients probably differ a lot from ours, or at least they expect something different, it’s important to test. Don’t just assume that what’s been working for others will work for you.

All of the mailing services I’ve checked out offer A/B testing on the subject. And that’s a great way to test which subject line gives you the highest open rate. That’s a great first step for optimization. However, not a lot of them offer A/B testing on the content (body) of an email. And that’s obviously the best way to know how to optimize your text for a higher click rate.

While you’re at it, it’s probably also a good idea to test how often you should ideally be sending emails to your customers. This is again a fine line to walk, since you’re in danger of sending it too often for at least a portion of your following. And while we’re talking timing, also think about the time you’re sending out your emails!

Tag your email links

Some mailing services offer this as well, but we still tag the links in our emails by hand, because we want to do it a particular way: custom campaigns. As I also explained in that post, custom campaigns are a way to “tag” your links so you can easily find them in your Google Analytics. This way you know exactly what traffic and sales came from your newsletters. This is also the way I could tell you our ROI on our newsletters earlier in this post.

To conclude

Next week I’ll be doing a post on email marketing for ecommerce websites. This will go into creating repeating customers and regaining lost customers using email.

For now, this is it! What do you think? Are you missing anything in here you think is really important? Let me know in the comments!

This post first appeared as The basics of email marketing on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

Improving our plugin supportAs you may know, most of the products and services we sell here at yoast.com come with support. In fact, the only product we sell that doesn’t come with support is our eBook. And even for the eBook you’re obviously welcome to ask us questions! And this post is about just that: our support. I’ll be showing you how we’ve improved our support in the past 2 years and how we’re planning on improving it even more!

The growth of Yoast’s support

In the beginning, when we were only selling our Video SEO plugin, we used to do two kinds of support. We offered support through our forums and email. After a few months we realized that the forum support was not working out for us, and we moved to just email support using HelpScout. This was a well thought out choice and we’ve not regretted it once since we made it.

The move to all email support was 3 days after the launch of our Local SEO plugin, which also meant a big increase in our support activity. That’s exactly why we hired Taco in August 2013, because until then, support had fallen mainly to me, Joost and Michiel. And we had a lot of other things on our plate as well. Taco soon bloomed into a real Support Engineer doing the majority of the work. However, the support kept growing. Let me give you an idea of how the support requests have grown over time:

The growth of Yoast's support

The growth of Yoast’s support from December 2012 to now

In 2013 we’ve helped 5220 customers and in 2014 this has already grown to 13726 customers. This was to be expected, since the release of Video SEO and Local SEO we’ve released 5 other premium WordPress plugins. And on top of that we’ve launched 4 WordPress themes, an eBook and completely overhauled our Website Reviews.

Splitting support up

The first thing we did to make our support more manageable was split it up to separate subjects. We created a support box for review support, plugin support, general support and later on also theme support. This meant that people weren’t wasting time reading support requests they couldn’t answer anyway.

However, over 75% of our total support is still just plugin support, so the rest of this post will be focused on just plugin support.

Yoast Knowledge Base

With the increase of support, we felt we had to do something. Optimization junkies as we are, we felt that we should optimize as soon in the process as possible. After all, what’s better than preventing a support requests being sent in the first place? Answer your customers’ questions before they’ve actually asked them.

And that’s where our Knowledge Base came in. We made a list of all the common questions people were asking and started answering those questions on our Knowledge Base. Before long it also included installation guides, setup guides and more general information on our plugins. We’re still updating our Knowledge Base as often as possible and analyze the search data. It seems to be working, because it’s actually being visited more and more:

Increase in Knowledge Base traffic

Increase in Knowledge Base traffic

Timezones and 24/7 support

However much we wanted it though, this didn’t solve all our issues. There was another problem: timezones. We’re in The Netherlands and most of our customers are actually not. In fact, the biggest portion of our customers aren’t even in the same timezone (f.i. USA and Australia).

And this presented us with the next problem: even though we’d work hard during the day to help everyone out, the support requests would just pile up during our nights. This meant we were busy doing support during all the mornings at the office and people had to wait a long time for their requests to get answered. And that’s when we started hiring people abroad. We currently have one support engineer in the Phillippines, one in Spain and two in the USA.

Having our support team located throughout the world like that, means we have almost full 24/7 support. We’re still improving a lot, but currently over 98% of the support requests get answered within 24 hours, weekend or not. Again, to give you an idea of how we’re improving:

Average time it takes the Yoast support team to reply to a first support request

Average time it takes the Yoast support team to reply to a first support request

 

As you can see, we’ve already improved this a lot. Currently we’re at an average of responding to your initial support request in 4 hours and 35 minutes. Our aim is to get this average under 1 hour.

Happiness reports

We’ve recently also started asking our customers for feedback on our support. This way, we can also improve the quality of the content of our responses on top of the response times. This feedback option looks like this at the moment:

Edit Mailbox Yoast Review Support

Clicking any of these icons will send a rating to our support system over at HelpScout. The smiley is a Great rating, the middle one is an Okay rating and the right one is a Not Good rating. This gives us insights like this:

Customer's happiness on our support

Customers’ happiness on Yoast support

This is the customers’ happiness on our support in the current month (January 2015). It’s based on 38 ratings though, so the percentages don’t mean a lot yet. However, this still gives us a lot of information. We can see exactly which support requests were rated with what rating and customers can even leave a description of why they gave a certain rating:

Customer's description of the great rating

Customer’s description of a great rating

This sort of feedback is invaluable to us, as it makes it transparent what kind of information we should and should not provide, how clear we should be and what kind of knowledge we can expect the customer has.

We’ll keep improving

As you’ve probably read way too much now, we’ll keep improving on our support continuously. We have aims and goals that might be ambitious, such as replying to your initial support request within 1 hour on average, but we won’t stop until we’ve met them.

We will also keep using the data we have and the feedback we get from customers to stay on top of our game. So we’d like to thank everyone using our products and especially the ones taking the time to give feedback on our support and/or products. Keep all of that feedback coming, and we’ll keep bringing (and improving) the awesomeness!

This post first appeared as Improving our (plugin) support on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

yoast shoppingcartFirst of all, I hope all our American friends enjoyed Thanksgiving. We’re thankful for our loyal readers and customers from everywhere in the world. You’ve helped grow this company at an incredible rate, so we wanted to make you a nice offer today. From today through till Monday we’ll offer you two very specific bundles:

Yoast Pimp my Site Bundle

The Yoast Pimp my Site Bundle combines our best software with the power of our reviews:

Normally these 4 combined would cost you $1,167, up until next monday, it’ll cost you just $999! On top of that we’ll throw in our eBook, Optimize your WordPress Site – normally $19 – for free as well!

Want it? Buy it here!

Yoast Premium Pack

If you don’t want us to review your site, but would like to buy our premium plugins at a good discount, buy the Yoast Premium Pack! It contains:

Normally these would cost $89 each for a single site, so $178 for both, now you’ll get them both and our eBook for just $129! On Tuesday, the price of this bundle will go up to $149 and the eBook will no longer be included, so act fast, buy it now! (Or if you’d rather buy the package for 5 sites, click here.)

Act fast, on Tuesday these offers will be gone and we won’t offer them again.

 

This post first appeared on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!