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Timely and Relevant Is The Only Message That Matters

During the 2014 Grammy Awards, musician Pharrell Williams was seen wearing an unusual hat:

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Sure, he may have gotten some funny looks, but it didn’t seem like a big deal.

That is, until a certain fast food chain seized the opportunity to craft a clever tweet:

This was a spectacular feat on several levels. Many brands had been unsuccessfully trying to capitalize on the Grammys, but Arby’s nailed it.

It was also a great use of Arby’s social media persona. The restaurant even gained a funny response from Pharrell himself:

Those two Tweets gave Arby’s a colossal amount of publicity, gaining tens of thousands of retweets in a couple of days.

And they did it all with just eight words and a related hashtag.

Why did it work so well?

This smart marketing move had two important characteristics. It was timely, and it was relevant.

The most successful marketing is timely and relevant, and as I’m about to explain, that’s all that matters.

It doesn’t matter if you have millions of social media followers. It doesn’t matter if tons of influencers are promoting your product.

If your marketing isn’t timely and relevant, it won’t succeed.

It’s getting tougher and tougher to do marketing right. People are pickier about what they consume, and they’ll ignore anything that rubs them the wrong way.

If you throw salesy terms at your customers and pressure them to buy, you’re not going to get a lot of conversions.

But if you can build a connection with your customers, they just might turn into lifetime brand advocates.

You need to reach your customers where they are. That’s why timely, relevant messages are crucial for your brand.

What exactly does timely and relevant mean?

First, let’s define these terms.

“Timely” and “relevant” aren’t just buzzwords. They have real implications for your business, and as it turns out, they’re fairly complex.

Let’s tackle timeliness.

Many marketing campaigns are timely but not relevant. Often, these campaigns fail.

Make no mistake––timeliness is crucial. But you can still fail if you send a message at the perfect time.

Consider the Race Together campaign that Starbucks put out in 2015.

The campaign definitely came at the right time. The coffee giant launched it in response to the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, which had just happened the previous year.

The cases were still in the news, and Starbucks decided to create a dialogue about race. It should have been a match made in heaven, but it wasn’t.

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The campaign flopped quite badly.

The initiative itself was inherently flawed. It didn’t matter that it came at the right time because it just wasn’t the right marketing approach.

The race issue is definitely of intense importance, but the way it was approached was solidly off.

So timeliness is definitely important, but your marketing can’t be just timely. It also has to be relevant.

To be relevant, you have to think about your audience’s current needs, wants, and opinions.

You can’t base your ideas of relevancy off of old trends or data. You have to stay up to date and figure out what your customers want and like right now.

You have to think about what your customers want, where you can reach them, and how you can benefit them.

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If your audience isn’t interested in what you have to offer, they’re not going to listen to you.

If your audience isn’t hanging out in the same places you’re marketing, they’re not going to hear you.

If your audience doesn’t derive any value from your marketing, they’re not going to pay attention to you.

Last but not least, if you want to be relevant, your marketing has to fall in line with your audience’s values.

If you launch an initiative that your customers fundamentally disagree with, you won’t see much success. The same thing will happen if your marketing is insensitive or poorly done.

To sum it all up, relevancy means catering to your customers in as many ways as you can.

When you combine timeliness with relevancy, you get a one-two punch that almost never fails to convert.

The danger of the wrong message

To understand why timely and relevant matters so much, let’s consider some marketing efforts that failed miserably.

One of the biggest marketing fails in recent years has to be Pepsi’s controversial ad that was called “tone-deaf” by almost every media outlet in the world, from the New York Times to USA Today.

The 2017 ad involved TV personality Kendall Jenner taking part in protests and eventually offering a can of Pepsi to police.

Pepsi said the ad was meant to “project a global message of unity, peace, and understanding,” but it fell flat because the ad painted an unrealistic portrait of protests and the interactions between police and protesters.


Like Starbucks’s Race Together campaign, Pepsi put this out at the right time, in the wake of police protests that seemed to divide America, and the company’s intentions were positive.

However, the ad wasn’t relevant. It was far too staged and the situation far too impossible to relate to viewers.

To put it bluntly, the public thought the ad was a ton of crap and spoke out against it. (Pepsi removed the video from their channel, but the re-uploaded version received over 150,000 dislikes!)

The flak that Pepsi received for the ad was more than negative publicity. Pepsi learned the hard way that the wrong message at the right time won’t work, and that was a wake-up call for businesses around the world.

You don’t have to be Pepsi or Starbucks to send the wrong message and alienate your audiences––it can happen to a business of any size.

SaleCycle found that out when its content strategy failed.

The B2B company wanted to produce more content and provide more value to its readers. So far, so good.

SaleCycle started publishing 2-3 pieces of content per week, and their overall content output soared.

However, they focused more on quantity and less on quality.

Even though they had 100 blog posts, just 10 of those posts made up half of their total blog traffic.

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The reason? They were publishing lots of content that their audience wasn’t interested in.

While it may have been timely, it wasn’t relevant whatsoever.

These examples prove that you need both timely and relevant marketing. You can’t just have one or the other.

Being timely but not relevant (or vice versa) is an awkward imbalance. It makes it seem like you’re kind of paying attention to your audience, but not really.

Both the Pepsi ad and SaleCycle’s content strategy were timely, but they weren’t relevant. In both cases, customers felt distanced from the business.

Ultimately, it’s your customers who decide whether or not your message is timely and relevant. That’s why you have to prioritize them.

You have to know your customers

Being both timely and relevant requires you to listen to your customers, get to know them better, and produce content that they want to see.

That sounds simple enough, but how does it play out in real life?

Basically, you have to continually track certain elements of your audience and use customer feedback to improve.

Okay, that still sounds simple. But trust me––there’s a lot to it.

Many businesses think that they can just glance at online reviews or social media posts to create timely, relevant messages.

But here’s the thing – customers want you to know them super well.

But the customer-business relationship is a two-way street. If you’re not doing your part, why should your customers?

So put in the extra effort to build personas, get to know what your audience wants, and cater to them.

Make “timely and relevant” your motto

I hope you’re convinced that timely and relevant are truly the only message that matters.

That doesn’t mean you’re done.

Understanding is only the first step. You have to implement it.

As corny as it sounds, being timely and relevant has to be something you are and not just something you do. (I told you it sounded corny.)

You might tell yourself that you’re being timely and relevant, but if your customers still aren’t happy, then you’re not doing so well.

Pepsi is a perfect example. When it created the disastrous TV ad, it wasn’t trying to deliver irrelevant content to their customers, but they misunderstood the kind of content their customers would connect with.

There’s no doubt that Pepsi thought it was delivering a message that was both timely and relevant.

Just like you probably think you’re delivering the right messages to your customers.

For all I know, you are. But the point is that you can’t ever assume you’re doing the right thing and turn a blind eye to your customers.

If you want to create the most timely and relevant messages, that concept has to be a focus throughout your company.

Everyone on your team should be thinking “timely and relevant.”

Think of Amazon’s mission statement. It’s easy to remember and permeates every level of the company.

Our vision is to be Earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.

Every Amazon employee knows that this is the goal. In the same way, your entire team should live and breathe “timely and relevant.”

That concept has to guide everything you do.

Your social media team should be thinking “timely and relevant.” Your product manager should be thinking it. Everyone from the interns to the CEO should be thinking it.

If everyone isn’t on the same page, then one person’s efforts could get completely lost in translation.


You care about your customers, right?

Obviously that’s a rhetorical question because you do care about your customers.

But be brutally honest with yourself: When you put out your content, run your shiny new marketing campaign, or release a new product, does that attention to your customers still come across?

The Pepsi and Starbucks fiascos proved that intentions don’t always translate into actions. What begins as a good-natured marketing plan may end up taking a nosedive.

As much as it might hurt to admit, you might be ignoring your customers.

And you might be sending your customers the entirely wrong message, which is directly caused by ignoring your customers.

At the heart of the matter, being timely and relevant is all about taking care of your audience.

If you listen to what your customers have to say and understand what they want, you’ll almost never send the wrong message.

You’ll understand your audience’s wants, needs, interests, and dislikes.

You’ll be able to see what kind of content is both timely and relevant.

To make it even easier on yourself, you can take advantage of Kissmetrics Campaigns.


Campaigns was developed with the goal of delivering the right message at the right time. You’re able to send emails based on your users’ behaviors. Essentially, Campaigns is a behavior-based email engine. You find a segment of your audience that needs a nudge, and you create and send your emails in Campaigns.

The engine runs on the fuel of behavioral analytics and segments. Behavior-based emails mean that your emails are much more likely to be timely and relevant to your users.

And instead of relying on basic metrics like opens and clicks, Campaigns digs deep and looks at behavioral analytics.

Is your marketing and content timely and relevant? Have you had issues delivering the right message for your customers?

About the Author: Daniel Threlfall is an Internet entrepreneur and content marketing strategist. As a writer and marketing strategist, Daniel has helped brands including Merck, Fiji Water, Little Tikes, and MGA Entertainment. Daniel is co-founding Your Success Rocket, a resource for Internet entrepreneurs. He and his wife Keren have four children, and occasionally enjoy adventures in remote corners of the globe (kids included). You can follow Daniel on Twitter or see pictures of his adventures on Instagram.

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Samsung’s New Galaxy Tab A Tablet Gives Small Businesses Functionality and Portability

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The New Samsung Galaxy Tab A Tablet Offers Long-lasting Battery Life, and More

Samsung Electronics (KRX:005930) this week introduced its newest Android tablet, the Galaxy Tab A, which appears to take on Amazon’s low-cost tablets like Amazon Fire. If you are looking for a budget tablet that delivers enhanced performance and everyday usability, the Galaxy Tab A could be it.

New Samsung Galaxy Tab A Tablet (8.0’’)

According to the South Korean multinational electronics company, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A tablet lets you do more, faster, whether at home or on the go. It features a long-lasting battery (5,000mAh) that lets you power through emails, movies, games, and more, all from a single charge that lasts up to 14 hours.

Small business owners who travel a lot and need a multi-functional device for working on the go may like that the Galaxy Tab A comes with 16GB of built-in storage with up to 256GB of expandable memory for additional files storage. And if you need more screen size than your phone screen to work from, the Tab A features an eight-inch, 1280 x 800 display that looks good in any light, while still keeping the device portable, the company says.

“It’s the tablet that’s just as easy to take on the go or curl up with on the couch, with long-lasting battery life to get the entire family through the day,” wrote Sangsuk Roh, Vice President of Tablet Product Strategy for Mobile Communications Business at Samsung Electronics, on the company’s NewsRoom blog.

Tab A Family Features

Similar to Amazon’s Fire tablets, the Galaxy Tab A also packs family features that allow kids to have their own accounts with parental controls set up beforehand, such as available content and time limits. A handy “kids mode” populates the tablet with games and apps from Samsung partners, including Lego.

Tab A has a sleek metal body and smooth rounded edges that make it comfortable to hold. It became available for $229.99 on November 1, offered in WiFi or LTE models in Black, Silver and Gold.

Image: Samsung

This article, “Samsung’s New Galaxy Tab A Tablet Gives Small Businesses Functionality and Portability” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Spotlight: Bonusly Offers a New Way for Businesses to Reward Employees

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Spotlight: Bonusly Employee Rewards Software Offers a New Way for Businesses to Recognize Employees

Rewarding employees can be a great way to keep your whole team engaged and happy at work. But what if there was a better way to actually hand out those rewards? That’s exactly what Bonusly aims to provide.

The company has created a system to allow team members to recognize great work from their co-workers. Read more about the company and its offering in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Provides a new way for companies to recognize great work from employees.

Co-founder and CEO Raphael Crawford-Marks told Small Business Trends, “Bonusly is a rapidly scaling start-up that empowers companies to reward and motivate employees through peer-to-peer micro-bonuses, so teams can recognize and publicly praise their colleagues for work they’ve done well. When Bob in accounting stays late to help meet a deadline, or Rick in sales closes a major deal, anyone within the company can recognize Bob and Rick with Bonusly points. As points accrue, they can be redeemed for real-life rewards such as cash, gifts cards to Sephora, Amazon or Home Depot, or even charitable donations. Bonusly seamlessly integrates with the leading HR and communication tools like Slack, Basecamp, BambooHR, Namely and ADP. Currently used by more than 1,000 companies including Hulu, Gilt and Chobani, Bonusly improves employee lifetime value by improving learning and development, increasing motivation and job satisfaction, and ultimately retaining employees for longer.”

Business Niche

Being fun and easy to use.

Aside from the various integrations and and analytical features, the platform makes the process of awarding bonuses fun for all involved, so they’ll be likely to actually use it.

Crawford-Marks says, “Bonusly is not a chore. You never have to send out a nag email reminding employees to use it. Employees find it fun, delightful, and habit-forming. You can enrich bonuses with images, emojis, and Gifs.”


How the Business Got Started

Because of frustration at other startups.

Crawford-Marks says, “[Co-founder] John Quinn and I were both veterans of startups large and small, and had been frustrated by a lack of recognition, and also by companies that asked only managers to dole out recognition and spot bonuses. We knew peers had the best vantage point to identify and celebrate contributions and accomplishments, yet there was no way to easily empower employees to do so. So we decided to build Bonusly.”

Biggest Win

Securing a major round of funding in 2014.

Crawford-Marks explains, “The company was bootstrapped up until that point, until one of Bonusly’s paying customers introduced us to the investor at FirstMark. That introduction was significant, since it opened the door to a meeting and eventually landed us $1M in seed funding. The customer? InVision, who is one of Bonusly’s strongest supporters to this day.”

Biggest Risk

Moving away from a major startup hub.

Crawford-Marks says, “Bonusly was founded in San Francisco in 2012 and eventually moved the company to Boulder, CO in 2016 with some employees working remotely from various cities around the U.S. It was a risk from a sales and marketing perspective since the largest deals are typically done on the coasts. Also, the Bay Area is the center of the tech industry, where startups have unfettered access to media, investors and talent. However, the move has proven to be hugely beneficial, opening the door to new tech and design talent in Boulder at a more affordable cost. It has also nurtured the team’s work/life balance, who enjoy living more healthy, active lifestyles.”

Lesson Learned

Have a plan for charging customers early on.

Crawford-Marks says, “Bonusly launched as a free service John and I were curious to see take off. It quickly gained traction as the go-to peer to peer rewards system and we then realized, it’s difficult to monetize something people have been getting for free. The company adapted by offering a freemium pricing plan, where teams up to 8 have free access and larger teams scale up from there.”

Spotlight: Bonusly Employee Rewards Software Offers a New Way for Businesses to Recognize Employees

How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Hiring a full-time marketer.

Crawford-Marks says, “This person would focus on driving both new and expansion demand through integrated and automated marketing, targeting SMBs and mid-market enterprises.”

Favorite Quote

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” —Winston Churchill

* * * * *

Find out more about the Small Biz Spotlight program

Images: Bonusly, Raphael Crawford-Marks

This article, “Spotlight: Bonusly Offers a New Way for Businesses to Reward Employees” was first published on Small Business Trends

Facebook Marketplace Enhancements Can Benefit Used Car Dealers

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Facebook Partners with Auto Dealers to Offer More Options

Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) Marketplace has been making it easier for people to discover, buy and sell a variety of items locally — from household items, to electronics and apparel — since October of last year. Now Facebook is adding more options specifically for used car dealers in the U.S. to connect with local shoppers.

Facebook Partners with Auto Dealers to Offer More Options

According to the giant social networking site, Marketplace is expanding its popular used car inventory by partnering with leaders in the auto industry. This will reportedly help both used car dealers and shoppers in local areas make more of these connections, and conveniently transact with each other.

If your small business sells products or other items (including used cars) locally, you should have a Facebook presence to market your products, and an online inventory listed on the Marketplace. Selling in the Marketplace is fairly straightforward. Simply take a photo of your item or add it from your camera roll. Enter a product name, description and price. Confirm your location. Select a category and post.

Anyone looking in your area can find your item and message you if they want to buy it.

Facebook says the Marketplace will allow car shoppers in the U.S. to:

  • Browse inventory from auto dealers through new partnerships with Edmunds,, Auction123, CDK Global and SOCIALDEALER
  • Find what they’re looking for by visiting the enhanced vehicles section and filtering listings by year, make, model, mileage, vehicle type and transmission
  • See trusted car values from Kelley Blue Book
  • Communicate directly with dealership representatives via Messenger, powered by chat providers like ActivEngage, CarCode, Contact At Once!, and Gubagoo

“In addition to vehicles, we are testing features in other Marketplace categories like jobs, event tickets, retail, and home rentals to give people more options when looking for products and services in their community,” writes Vice President of Facebook Marketplace, Deborah Liu on the company’s NewsRoom blog.

Car For Sale Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Facebook Marketplace Enhancements Can Benefit Used Car Dealers” was first published on Small Business Trends

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9 Things About Salesforce that Small Business Owners Should Know

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9 Things About Salesforce for Small Business that You Should Know

Salesforce serves businesses big and small today. But even as the company grows and its customers do, too, it hasn’t taken its eye off companies like yours.

Here is a list of 10 things every small business should know about Salesforce to get a better understanding of the company and what it offers.

Salesforce started small, too — 18 years ago in a small apartment.

The story of Salesforce’s beginnings is probably one to which many small business owners can relate. Back in 1999 Marc Benioff and three co-founders started Salesforce in San Francisco. To start Salesforce, Benioff gave up a successful career and struggled to find investors.

Today, the company is a tech titan. In the past quarter, Salesforce revenue reached $2.56 billion. That’s a 26 percent increase over the previous year. And it’s been recognized as the top CRM company in a competitive industry.

Salesforce has more than 150,000 customers, many of which are small businesses.

Once a small business itself, Salesforce got off the ground by serving small business needs. Today, some of the biggest companies in the world rely on Salesforce but still, many of its customers are startups and small businesses. The company is not taking its eye off the customers who got them where they are today.

DUFL is a great example of a company that has grown tremendously with Salesforce. Acting like a personal valet for business travel, DUFL cleans and stores garments customers need for their trips and ships them directly to their destination. DUFL uses Salesforce to keep a complete record of each individual’s unique needs so it can then deliver personalized, 1-to-1 experiences to its customers. With Salesforce supporting its sales and customer service, DUFL’s team of less than 50 employees has seen 10% month-on-month growth while maintaining a retention rate of more than 99%.

Today, Salesforce is much more than CRM.

Sure, Salesforce is nearly synonymous with CRM, especially for small businesses. But the company is getting a reputation for other services it provides companies like yours.

For instance, a few years ago Salesforce acquired Demandware, which it now calls Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Commerce Cloud allows small businesses to create unique shopping experiences for all its customers, including new ways of engaging customers on mobile devices at any time.

Salesforce also offers Quip, content collaboration tools for businesses.

Salesforce puts on one of the largest user conferences in the United States.

You’ll never walk alone at Dreamforce. That’s the annual user conference put on by Salesforce. And this is a big deal. It’s the largest software conference in the world.

Dreamforce offers the opportunity to learn first-hand how Salesforce — and any of its offerings — can help your small business. And if one of the many experts on hand isn’t enough, you’ll have a chance to meet the 175,000 or so attendees at this year’s event. That’s right — 175 THOUSAND!

“It’s bigger than a lot of cities,” says CRM Essentials co-founder Brent Leary, a regular at Dreamforce.

Many of those at Dreamforce are small business customers. This year there will be over 300 sessions dedicated to small businesses.

Salesforce has invested big in artificial intelligence.

Salesforce is integrating artificial intelligence with its CRM platform. The company calls its AI Einstein and promises to make everyone in your small business using it smarter.

In an interview with Small Business Trends, Salesforce’s Tony Rodoni stressed the role and impact of AI for a small business.

“No small business should have to have a data science department,” Rodoni said. “But we want to put functionality into the product that helps them see trends, recommend actions, and take next steps. And our SMB customers are going to see that in our products pretty darn quick.”

Your small business can access capital, find an investor, or get help on growth with Salesforce.

Salesforce has its own venture capital and investment arm called Salesforce Ventures.

The company has also created the AI Innovation Fund and is investing $50 million in startups that use AI to integrate their companies’ products with Salesforce.

Salesforce for Startups provides startups with access to the Salesforce technology, resources and expertise needed to become thriving customer and community-focused companies. Salesforce helps startups build, grow and give back through the AppExchange Partner Program, Salesforce Ventures, Pledge 1%, customer-focused products and much more.

Salesforce has a 1-1-1 philanthropy program.

Making an impact on your community, outside of being a successful company, adds value to any small business. is based on the company’s own 1-1-1 model of social philanthropy.

And the 1-1-1 model is ideal for small businesses to donate from the beginning without stunting

their own growth. The 1s in 1-1-1 represent a percent of time, resources, and products that go to the common good of the community surrounding every business who’s pledged to contribute. says, to date, it has donated $168 million in grants, 2.3 million hours of community service, and product giveaways to more than 32,000 nonprofits and higher education institutions.

The AppExchange offers other apps for your business that automatically integrate with Salesforce.

Salesforce was the first to come out with an app store for third party integrations and extensions. It’s called Salesforce AppExchange. The AppExchange is where you’ll find other business apps that integrate with Salesforce.

The AppExchange recently reached its five million installs milestone, which shows the accelerating momentum of the AppExchange. Salesforce hit one million installs after six years, but in the last 12 months, it has grown from four to five million. This illustrates the exponential growth and strength of Salesforce’s partner ecosystem, which empowers SMBs with pre-integrated business apps to help them run their business efficiently.

Salesforce training is gamified.

Salesforce has a learning system dubbed Trailhead. The company calls it the fun way to learn how to use Salesforce.

Trailhead is free and offers learning modules and guided trails for every skill level. Check out this blog post to learn more about how small businesses can use Trailhead. There’s even a special “Trail Mix” designed especially for small businesses.

Salesforce Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “9 Things About Salesforce that Small Business Owners Should Know” was first published on Small Business Trends

A Near Death Experience Changes Perspective on Success

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A Near Death Experience Changes Your Perspective on Success

Sometimes major life events, like near death experiences, can help entrepreneurs find some much-needed perspective about what success means to them. That was the case with Rand Leeb-du Toit.

A Near Death Experience Changes Your Perspective on Success

Said Leeb-du Toit, “If you were on your deathbed 18 months from now, and there was no coming back. That’s it. You’re on a one way ticket out of here. And you ask yourself that deep meaningful question at that point, have I done what I wanted to do? Have I done what really meant so much to me in my life? And if you can unequivocally answer, ‘Yes, absolutely,’ then that’s what success is.”

Leeb-du Toit is a coach, speaker, founder of EXOscalr and author of the new book Fierce Reinvention, which is a guide to being fierce in entrepreneurship and finding success as a leader.

I had a chance to speak with Leeb-du Toit recently. During our interview, he shared some tips for entrepreneurs along with his own story of fierce reinvention.

Check out the full interview here …

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These are the tips for entrepreneurs Rand shared in our discussion.

A Near Death Experience Changes Your Perspective

Leeb-du Toit explained, “I’m essentially a serial entrepreneur and former venture capitalist and I was working for one of the largest research and advisory companies at one point in 2014 and suffered a sudden cardiac death experience, which was a massive trigger event for me to contemplate what it is that I should be doing with my life. The result of that was one year later I left that company, started EXOscalr with the vision and the quest to help people get onto the right track with their lives. I hesitate to call myself an executive coach, a leadership coach, a guide, a spirit guide. It’s all of the above.”

A Near Death Experience Changes Your Perspective on Success

Stop and Think

It’s easy to get caught up in the daily hustle of business ownership and forget about the bigger picture. When this happens, Leeb-du Toit recommends taking a pause to reset your brain.

He said, “Once you stop for a moment, you stop that hustle, and I’m not saying stop it completely by any means. I’m just staying stop, whether it’s a micro pause or it’s going on a hike for a couple of days or a retreat.”

Harness Fear

Making major changes in life or in business can be scary. So instead of fighting that, use it to energize your journey.

Leeb-du Toit said, “What are you so afraid of stopping and thinking about? What’s going to emerge for you? And that’s the real challenge as well in terms of once you understand that fear doesn’t control you and you’re able to live with it to get in there and manage it and that’s a lot of the process that I work with my clients through is getting to love their fear and harness then turn that into energy.”

Hold Yourself Accountable

From there, you need actual systems for making the changes you want to make. Leeb-du Toit calls this an operating system. Essentially, it’s a roadmap to your major goals.

Leeb-du Toit said, “You build out an operating system, which starts with your very high level of goals of consequence and then starts mapping that down into, right down to on a daily basis what you’re going to be dong over a period of time and you then start mapping out and checking in on yourself. Being accountable to yourself or to your coach or your guide or to a friend, am I on track? If you’re not on track, how can I recalibrate so I do get back on track?”

This article, “A Near Death Experience Changes Perspective on Success” was first published on Small Business Trends

Real World Growth Hacking: A Guide to Getting Customers for the Unfunded

“1.2 million uniques in 18 months.”

Sounds impressive.

Looks amazing at first blush.

Until you start reading. Until you start listening.

And then you see it. Spot it from a mile away.

“Raised $XX million from Joe Schmo venture partners” in fine print towards the bottom. Like it was insignificant. Like it didn’t change anything.

Immediately you should see red flags. Instantly you should be put off.

It’s not just the money. It’s the access. It’s the network. It’s the one-line email to a friend of a friend that gets you in touch with every top media property on the ‘net.

I’m not hating. Neither should you. It’s just that the numbers and therefore, the article, become farce. Those “tips” they used. Those “hacks” they employed.

Writing “really great content” isn’t the reason they hit 1.2 million uniques in 18 months. Going from $zero to $millions overnight is. Going from from 10 beta users to 10,000 the next day is, too.

Talent starts listening. Prospects start buying. Journalists start taking notice. Instant credibility hits as a byproduct.

All of those things are great. If you can get them. But you can’t. Because you’re un-funded.

So here’s what you should be doing instead.

The Biggest Problem Facing the Unfunded

Raising money isn’t the end goal. It’s also the exception in most cases.

You wouldn’t get that from reading most tech sites. But in reality, out there in the real world, it’s true.

The problem is that if Paul Graham ain’t on your speed dial, you’re gonna need a second approach.

‘Cause the things that work in that tiny, miniscule, subsection of a market won’t work for you. Or me. Or most.

The context is completely different. Which means the strategies, tactics, and campaigns are, too. Or should be, at least.

Here’s an example to make this crystal clear.

Let’s go on a new trip. Pick anywhere at all. New York City sounds fun.

So what do you do first? You don’t go to “Hotel XYZ.” Not initially, anyway. Instead, you go to Expedia or TripAdvisor or Yelp or or Google Travel or wherever.

And what do you look at first, before price?

Names you recognize.

That’s because 59% of people buy from companies they recognize.

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Another study from a different source found the same exact findings.

70% of US consumers look for a ‘known retailer’ when deciding what search result to click.”

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“Brand bias” is way out in front, before pricing for most people.

How about one more for the skeptics out there? ran a simple conversion test. They did all the crap A/B tests you hear about on most sites.

They did the headlines the buttons the CTAs the colors and the rest of the junk “experts” say you should be doing.

TL;DR? None of that stuff moved the needle. Not significantly. Not permanently.

One test, however, did.

Except you’re probably not going to like the answer. Not if you’re unknown and unfunded, anyway.

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The test the moved the needle on subscriptions by 40%?

The freaking logo.

“There was no significant difference between any of the treatments. The Boston Globe audience is highly motivated, and putting a button above or below the fold didn’t matter as much as the newspaper’s respected journalism.”

That’s it. All it took was the brand name. Because it’s known. Because it’s respected. Because people can trust it.

Because it’s been established over the past century.

This is the part no one tells you online. This is your biggest problem.

It’s not Skyscrapers. It’s obscurity.

Funded companies (usually) get instant credibility. By association. If they don’t completely suck.

But you gotta get it any way you can get it.

The unfunded doesn’t. There’s no awareness. Which means there’s no trust. Which means nobody’s buying.

Social proof ain’t a gimmick. It’s validation. And you need it. So here’s how you go about getting it.

First, Here’s What Won’t Work For You

All companies have constraints.

It’s time for the funded. They need to go big, fast, now.

It’s money and notoriety for the unfunded. Time? You should have loads of it. You don’t have many customers distracting you, right? 😉

The point is that you don’t have a ticking-time bomb. You might feel pressure to scale to X or hit $Y in revenue in Z months. You might need a certain number to live off. But there’s no pressure to do this by the end of Q3.

Hell, the unfunded has probably never done anything by Q’s in the first place.

So it’s a marathon, not a 5k. And that changes a few things.

❌ SEO is a no-go. Yes, it’s important. But no, it won’t help you in the early going.

Search engines are literally designed to reward entities that have been around the longest, have been cited the most, and already have that big brand name.

All of which you don’t have. And won’t. At least, not in the next few months.

❌ Advertising, too, won’t help you. Yes, it works. Amazingly well if you do it right. Which you won’t. Because you don’t have enough capital.

And even if you did, it probably should go somewhere else, first. Like people. Like design. Like product quality.

Because your product is your marketing today.

So you still need awareness. You still need to build a brand. And you still need customers.

Just realize now, up front, that almost 90% of your options have been eliminated.

Counterintuitively, that’s OK. You can focus now. You can start off in the direction that works with what you’ve got.

1. Align Yourself with Others

You need eyeballs, leads, and credibility.

Fortunately, other organizations already have those things.

So go get them. Even if it costs you a little more.

Example: Who’s the biggest player in your industry?

If we’re talking B2C ecommerce, it’s Amazon. 44% of all searches start (and end) there. They make up almost half of all U.S. online retail sales.

Walls Need Love, a home decor site you’ve probably never heard of, got their initial break through Amazon.

So too, did The Daily Fairy. “Amazon’s been incredible for my business. I started selling on Amazon in October of 2015, and it’s doubled my sales. What that tells me is that there’s a whole slew of people,” according to Emily, The Daily Fairy’s founder.

Amazon is an obvious first choice. But they’re far from the only option.

Walls Need Love also works with marketplaces like Etsy, Wayfair, Touch of Modern, Fancy, and even Urban Outfitters.

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Right off the bat, Walls Need Love looks for marketplaces that have decent terms (nothing longer than net 30, no restrictive shipping policies, etc.).

But next, they’ll look at promotion options.

For example, some marketplaces will give them advertising options to put them front-and-center on their site. Except instead of charging them out of pocket, they’ll do it as a rev-share agreement.

That means they waste nothing on fruitless ads. They’re not paying for impressions or clicks or any other meaningless metrics.

Instead, they’re only ‘paying’ (or giving up a share of the revenue) when a real buyer comes through their doors.

That gives Walls Need Love what they need most: awareness. It gives them credibility. It gives them recognition.

And it also gives them a shot to re-sell or up-sell to them later to make up that cost.

It’s no different in the B2B world.

Same objective, different tactics.

If you sell any kind of inbound marketing, you’d align yourself with HubSpot. They’re like the Salesforce of the marketing industry. The biggest, brightest, most well-known alternative.

That starts with the certifications they offer.

Sure, you and I know these are mostly useless. I’m not saying the information is bad. It’s not.

It’s just that it doesn’t ‘mean’ anything in real life. Except, to prospects. To potential clients. To people who aren’t as familiar with the ins-and-outs of the industry.

The next stop is a partnership.

Most software companies offer something similar.

Unbounce has an official one. Wistia has one, too.

The Moz one is unofficial, but still impactful.

Personally, I’ve never heard of Mammoth Growth. But they’re an official Kissmetrics partner. So they must be good!

See how this works?

You’re not just another nameless, faceless “marketing company” now. You’re a “HubSpot partner.”

You send a cold outreach email on LinkedIn or, god forbid, you meet someone at a networking event, and you’re an “Unbounce partner.”

All of these programs often offer education, too. They can connect you internally to other companies who’ve been where you’ve been and scaled up.

So you can learn. So you can level up. So you don’t go it alone.

At the very least, you barter. You trade time for eyeballs. You trade expertise for eyeballs.

You do whatever it takes to get eyeballs.

Basically, you need early wins that you can leverage for more future wins. Start with legitimacy and credibility.

Because those pave the way for everything else.

2. Now Emphasize Those Early Wins

Here’s how it works in real life.

Someone finds you through a marketplace, a partner, a vendor, a supplier. They find you because you’ve seamlessly aligned yourself with them.

So they check it out. They click and look. You need to reel them in.

Let’s stick with the Mammoth Growth example because they do this better than most.

You hit their website and see this:

Pretty simple and straightforward. A consultation form on the far-right. Some basic copy about what they do and how they can help you.

Now, look over in the upper right-hand corner:

You only get three options.

Home introduces you to everything. It’s the high-level overview.

Case Studies dig a little deeper, showing off the third-party validation earned in the previous section.

Contact is the next step. It’s the thing you need to do next.

And that’s it.

Where’s the corny team page? You know, the one where the agency shows off their “culture” and their “personality” and their “quirkiness” that makes them the perfect hipster crew for you.

It’s not listed. Nowhere to be found.

Instead, the focus is squarely on building credibility.

Scroll down on the homepage and you see more partner badges:

What do these three partner badges tell you? What do these companies have in common?

Mammoth Growth is using these for credibility, sure. But more importantly, they’re subtly positioning themselves.

They have a speciality. They work with specific companies looking for a specific solution. And if you fit that mold, with that need, there’s no one better.

Keep scrolling and you see Testimonials.

Best of all, the people in these testimonials line up with the case studies above. So the work and results become real.

Head towards the bottom of the page and you see more client logos.

Some, again, are the exact same companies. That’s not a knock. It’s clever.

Sports Insights, for example, are featured in a case study, testimonial, and here again at the bottom.

You kill it with five customers out of your first 15. (Let’s be honest, there’s gonna be some losers in the early days.)

Fine! Celebrate those wins like there’s no tomorrow. Highlight the biggest, the best, the most well-known.


Not once are services discussed on the page. Not once do we delve into pricing. Not once do we figure out if there are two people in this company or if there are 500 across three countries.

But that doesn’t matter.

You see Walls Need Love is featured on the following and you know they’re legit.

Third-party validation isn’t the only criteria. It might be the most important. It gets people to recognize and trust you. That’s more than half the battle.

However, there’s still one subtle difference to launch you on your way.

You won’t get overwhelmed with traffic in the early days. No need to worry about servers going down.

But on the flipside, that also means you gotta convert what you get. Mammoth Growth get this right. The entire site experience is first-rate. Here’s why that’s important.

3. Simple, Conversion-Based Design

Things is a task management app from the Cultured Code.

It wasn’t founded by ex-members of Facebook. It hasn’t raised a Series A, B, C, D, E, or even F. It’s not valued at $100,000,000,000 or some other similarly-fake number.

But it is freaking beautiful.

And that matters when 94% of your first impression online comes down to design.

Things has done the first two steps here brilliantly. They’ve leveraged others. Primarily, through their one thing: design.

Literally every single big review they’ve received mentions it:

But how do you find that? How do you know what that “one thing” should be?

You don’t. Your customers (or potential customers do). Which means you should ask them. Interview them. So you can pre-sell the vision to afford actually building it.

Just under the first homepage section on their site is an introduction video.

The reason here should be obvious.

Video is the best way to show off their primary competitive advantage. It’s something they can control. And it doesn’t require a Series A to pull off.

Almost every single stat shows that video produces the best ROI, grows revenue faster, and is preferred by customers.

Scroll down even further to get simple, transparent pricing plans:

A little further for Twitter mentions to also boost credibility:

And… that’s it.

Once again, no superfluous extras. The main menu only squeezes in the essentials:

“Simple websites” often perform better. Simple as that.

You have constraints. Often, it’s limited resources. It’s limited money and people.

That means you need to put the most of what you’ve got behind fewer things. Which means you need to make sacrifices. Which means you can only afford the essential.

The good news is that aligning those things with what’s proven to work can, well, work. No matter how much is left over in the bank.


Every single company is bound by constraints.

Every single decision maker needs to move the needle with a less-than-perfect hand.

Pocket Aces don’t just fall in the unfunded’s lap. You gotta make your own luck. You gotta pull off some bluffs.

Big bets can put you into trouble too early. You can’t afford to lose on big pots.

Instead, you need to win a bunch of little pots before you’re ready to go after the big ones. You need to capitalize on what you’ve got.

That starts with affiliating yourself with bigger players. Ride on their coattails. Do what they want so you get what you want.

Then, you leverage those first few wins. No matter how small. You put the attention on those things so it takes attention of you.

Next, you make what you have the best possible. Even if it’s not a lot. Even if it’s three pages instead of 100.

Make those three pages the best in the business. The best design, the best copywriting, the best social proof, the best video, the best feature/benefit examples, etc.

The funded can afford to diversify. Literally.

You can’t. And you won’t. At least, not for awhile. So don’t even try.

About the Author: Brad Smith is the founder of Codeless, a B2B content creation company. Frequent contributor to Kissmetrics, Unbounce, WordStream, AdEspresso, Search Engine Journal, Autopilot, and more.

How a Structured E-Commerce Testing Plan Leads to Quick & Stable Wins

If you were Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, how would you structure your testing and experimentation process to drive growth?

Let’s look at what Bezos says about experimenting (emphasis mine):

“One area where I think we are especially distinctive is failure. I believe we are the best place in the world to fail (we have plenty of practice!), and failure and invention are inseparable twins. To invent you have to experiment, and if you know in advance that it’s going to work, it’s not an experiment. Most large organizations embrace the idea of invention, but are not willing to suffer the string of failed experiments necessary to get there.

Outsized returns often come from betting against conventional wisdom, and conventional wisdom is usually right. Given a 10% chance of a 100-times payoff, you should take that bet every time. But you’re still going to be wrong nine times out of 10. We all know that if you swing for the fences, you’re going to strike out a lot, but you’re also going to hit some home runs. The difference between baseball and business, however, is that baseball has a truncated outcome distribution. When you swing, no matter how well you connect with the ball, the most runs you can get is four. In business, every once in a while, when you step up to the plate, you can score 1,000 runs. This long-tailed distribution of returns is why it’s important to be bold. Big winners pay for so many experiments.”

As CEO of, if not the world’s first, than certainly the largest, and the most successful e-commerce business (which by now is involved in industries far beyond retail), Bezos convincingly puts forward the case for adopting a test culture in any e-commerce environment.

In this post, we’ll look at how you can structure your in-house e-commerce CRO program and create a testing plan that grows with your organization.

You might not be Amazon… but why not swing for the fences?

Plan to Fail (and Learn From it)

The process of conversion rate optimization, or CRO, aims to make e-commerce companies more profitable by increasing the proportion of purchasers to total visitors.

A structured process — encompassing research and hypothesis creation, testing itself, and the prioritization and documentation of those tests — is crucial to creating a testing culture that produces sustainable long-term results.

In most of these steps, the need for a plan is obvious. But most people don’t plan for the testing phase. In fact, testing is frequently regarded as an end in itself.

However, testing is just the culmination of the entire process that stands behind it. Its real end goal is to increase revenue.

In the same way that it’s not possible to formulate and create tests without prior research, it’s also not possible to run tests without planning. And moving from conducting individual tests or a sequence of tests to full-scale, constantly active testing is what separates a one-off CRO sprint from a thought-out, deliberate CRO program.

Guess which approach is better for establishing a testing culture that enables companies to grow while absorbing their mistakes?

Making mistakes and failures as an integral part of growth means embracing the main components of any learning process. Each experiment, no matter how successful or unsuccessful, is a learning opportunity for you and your organization. Implementing and integrating the knowledge that results from your tests is one of the primary tasks of a viable CRO testing program.

Just a few reasons you should structure and document your testing program…

  • Testing every aspect of your website also enables you to challenge your prior assumptions by grounding alternative assumptions in data — instead of opinions or wild guesses.
  • Experimentation allows you to estimate the results of all improvements in real time, without having to wait for the end of the quarter to see improvement (or lack thereof).
  • By applying deliberate structure to the testing process, you make it easier to follow, teach, and repeat.

All of this makes conversion optimization testing a pivotal consideration for any business with ambitions of growth. One of the most efficient ways to set yourself up for e-commerce CRO success is to establish an ongoing process within your organization, with a specific, dedicated team.

This requires you to consider CRO not as an a la carte service provided by an agency, but as an opportunity to institutionalize and embrace the CRO process. And it requires that you learn to conduct tests yourself.

Why is a Testing Program a Necessity?

Note: If you want to test one hypothesis at time, you can go ahead and skip this section.

Why? If you’re running one test at a time, your testing plan and program will be the same as the hypothesis prioritization list (which we’ll talk about below). There’s just one small issue that may bother you — the time required to put all your hypotheses to the test.

If you choose to go the one-test-at-a-time route, be prepared to spend some time on the journey. The best-case scenario, if you have 25 hypotheses to test, is that you’re looking at two years of testing. Why would it take two years? The recommended practice is to run each experiment for at least a month (or until the test reaches significance and/or covers a few buying cycles) to ensure valid test results.

“Significance” is a statistical concept that allows you to conclude that the result of an experiment was actually caused by the changes made to the variation, and not by a random influence. It’s key to ensuring that tests are actually valid and that their results are sustainable and repeatable.

Alex Birkett, Content Editor for Conversion XL, explains the concept of significance a bit more in-depth:

“What we’re worried about is the representativeness of our sample. How can we do that in basic terms? Your test should run for two business cycles, so it includes everything external that’s going on:

– Every day of the week (and tested one week at a time as your daily traffic can vary a lot)

– Various different traffic sources (unless you want to personalize the experience for a dedicated source)

– Your blog post and newsletter publishing schedule

– People who visited your site, thought about it, and then came back 10 days later to buy [your product]

– Any external event that might affect purchasing (e.g. payday)”

The 1-month rule above holds true for most websites. Those with exceptionally high traffic (ranging into millions of unique visits) will undoubtedly be able to achieve significant results within shorter periods. Still, to eliminate every outside influence, it is best to let tests run for at least a full week or two.

Say you have 37 different hypotheses to test. Your ideal aim is probably to create all 37 tests and conduct them all at once, as an alternative to going through the process of testing one by one.

Sadly, this isn’t possible either, for a different reason. Sometimes the experiments themselves will conflict with one another, limiting their usefulness or even invalidating each other’s results.

Since none of us want to be old men when our conversion optimization efforts reach fruition, we need an alternative. That’s where the concept of testing velocity comes in. Testing velocity is an indicator of how many tests you conduct at a given time frame, such as a month. It is one of the metrics of testing program efficiency and higher the velocity you achieve, the quicker your program will bring increased revenue. Provided, of course, you do everything right.

This is the simplified process of creating a testing program

The Building Blocks of Your Testing Program

The main elements that will determine the dynamics of your testing program are:

  1. Traffic volume
  2. Interdependency of tests
  3. The ability to support the design and implementation of multiple tests at once (operational constraint)

Let’s quickly go through what each of these elements means.

Traffic Volume

Traffic volume is an obvious obstacle, since your website traffic will influence not only what types of tests you can run, but also how many concurrent tests, and which pages will draw enough traffic to support tests.

Traffic volume is the reason to prioritize tests that have the greatest projected effect. Tests with higher expected lift have much lower requirements in terms of the sample size/traffic volume needed to reach statistical significance.

In practice, this means that if we expect a test to result in an increase in conversions of, for example, higher than 25%, we will need fewer observations to confirm this expectation than if we were expecting a 10% increase. This is the consequence of using a T-test as the statistical engine for running experiments: the smaller the effect of a change, the larger the sample needs to be in order to eliminate all outliers and reach statistical significance and confidence.

Interdependency of Tests

The ability to run experiments concurrently is the function of each experiment’s dependency on the others. What does this mean?

The basic principle is that we want to test a new page treatment on the maximum available number of visitors. If you happen to set up an experiment that will filter people out of the next experiment, then you will not be abiding by this basic principle.

If your visitors are split 50% on an initial page, meaning that half do not get to see the next page that’s also being experimented on, you will not have a valid test result.

For example, you may want to improve your funnel. So you create experimental treatments (variations) that will run on two different steps of the funnel. This may mean that the visitors that are shown one page do not get to see the other — because the experiment’s outcome has influenced how many people get to see the other experiment you are running.

Your sample will automatically be 50% smaller, meaning the test will have to run twice as long as it otherwise would have needed to achieve significance.

Running concurrent experiments can cause interdependency issues

To prevent this issue, estimate the interdependency risk prior to creating an experiment, and run interdependent experiments separately. You can sometimes solve this issue by using multivariate tests (MVTs), but sometimes your traffic volume will preclude this. Additionally, too many variants in MVTs can invalidate the experiment results.

Operational Ability — How Many Tests Can You Design and Actively Run?

In an ideal world, we would all be testing all the hypotheses we’ve created just as soon as the research is complete!

However, creating and running an experiment is hard work. It requires efforts from multiple people to create a viable and functional test. Once the research results are in and you have framed your hypothesis, the experiment won’t just spring into existence.

Making an experiment requires preparation. At minimum, you need to:

  1. Sketch out an updated visual design, which you’ll use to create a mockup or high-fidelity wireframe
  2. Create an actual design based on the mockup
  3. Code the design/copy changes
  4. Perform a quality assurance check and do a dry run before the test is live

All this requires time and effort by a team of people, and some of the steps cannot even begin before the previous ones are complete. This is your operational limitation.

You can overcome operational limitations by either hiring more people or limiting the number of tests you run.

Adjust Testing for Outside Influences

While it would be great if every experiment happened in a vacuum, this just isn’t the case. Website experiments performed for the purposes of conversion optimization will never enjoy the controlled environment of scientific experiments — where the experimenter can maintain control on all other influences outside of the one being intentionally changed.

However, we can at least account for obvious or expected test influences, such as holidays that affect the shopping habits of our customers or other predictable events that may change buyer behavior. By taking these factors into account when framing your plan, you can adjust for this and run the experiments at a time when the risk of outside influence is smaller.

Even More Benefits of Creating a Testing Plan

Having a testing plan not only makes your CRO process faster and more effective — it has a number of important additional benefits.

Let’s start with the benefit that’s most important in the long run. A test plan structures and standardizes your approach, making it repeatable and predictable.

An active, structured testing process with no expiry date essentially creates a positive feedback loop, so that even when your testing plan reaches its conclusion, you’ll feel encouraged to seek new challenges and run more tests.

In the long run, this leads to the establishment of a bona fide testing culture within your organization.

A structured process also allows for better feedback on the results. At each phase’s conclusion, you can review the results, update your expectations for the next phase, or adjust experiments that failed in the previous phase. In effect, you’re “learning as you go”.

Finally, a testing plan just plain-and-simple allows for better reporting and makes a more persuasive case for conversion optimization as an organizational must. If you are able to report progress in monthly increments, with results clearly attributed to experiments (which were built on hypotheses, which were derived from research), you’re much more likely to gain organizational support for your CRO program.

A testing plan creates clear milestones and enables the research team to accurately track progress, plan future activities, and remove potential bottlenecks in deploying and implementing experiments. That way, the chance that the testing process may spiral out of control is completely sidestepped, and each team member’s role is clear.

How to Structure Your Testing Plan

We’ve just explored why you need to make a testing plan prior to actual testing — let’s call that step zero, if you will. Now let’s talk about the nuts and bolts of creating that plan.

First, figure out what type of test(s) (A/B test, MVT, or bandit) you’ll run. Test type determines how much traffic you need, as well as the development effort necessary to deploy experiments.

Next, you need to carefully estimate the interdependency of your tests and make adjustments to your priority list if any tests clash with each other.

Finally, to determine the number of experiments you can run, estimate how many you can effectively support with available staff. Take into account that you need to have researchers framing hypotheses, designers and front-end developers to create variations and setup the experiment itself. Since each of these groups will have a number of tasks to attend to, you need to make sure you run only so many tests that your staff can support.

To ensure this, start by going through your list of hypotheses. If you prioritize tests accurately according to the effort necessary to deploy them, you’ll already have many of the inputs for your test plan.

Ultimately, your testing plan should take the form of Gantt charts, which are very helpful in indicating the time frame for each test phase.

A test program is usually presented in the form of a Gantt chart

A “test phase” contains all the tests that can be run simultaneously. For example, if you discover you can run four tests simultaneously, and you have 22 tests to run based on your hypotheses, you’ll have 5 test phases.

Your test plan should also list every proposed test and provide the following concise information for each:

  • Related hypothesis (the “why” of the test)
  • Required sample size
  • Expected effect
  • Who will be the subject (target segment or audience)
  • Where it will run (URL of the page)
  • When (the time period in which it will run)
  • Rough description of changes (the “what” of the test)
  • How to measure success (what metrics the experiment should improve/affect to be considered a success)

If you structure your testing plan this way, you will maximize your test velocity and allow for maximum efficiency of your optimization program.

How to Prioritize and Assign Testing Tasks

Once you create and structure a plan, the only remaining ingredient necessary for success is to actually run through the process.

Obviously, both to secure the greatest possible revenue and to create initial confidence, the first tests you run should be those you expect to have the greatest effect. Select the hypotheses that have high importance (for example, issues that affect your users’ movement through the funnel); that you are most confident will work; and that require the least effort to implement.

You can choose a prioritization model to apply to hypotheses during the research process. Apply the model properly and if your estimates are correct, you will almost certainly get the results you’re looking for.

For each experiment to succeed, you need to translate hypothetical solutions into practical web page designs as accurately as you can.

When you have a mental image of the variation you want to test, translate that into a visual image using a wireframe or mockup. Hand that off to your designers, who can turn it into an actual web page.

While the visual design is being prepared, your front-end developers need to check if any additional coding will be necessary to implement the variation.

The most important part of implementing an experiment is to ensure that it’s set up free of any technical issues. Do this by making quality-assurance protocols and checks part of your testing program.

Once a given step in the experiment development cycle is complete, staff involved with that step can immediately start working on the following experiment. Having a plan enables them to advance further without any delay, and adds to the efficiency of your conversion optimization effort.

Establishing a Culture of Experimentation

Building a testing culture is the main objective of a structured CRO process. A testing culture requires the company to make a switch from a risk-averse and slow-decision-making mindset to a faster, risk-taking approach. This is possible because testing enables you to make decisions based on measurable, known quantities — in effect reducing your risk.

Extensive research is a necessary prerequisite of successful A/B testing (which is something that hopefully, a majority of people involved in testing already understand)! Suffice it to say that the role of research is well publicized, and there are a number of articles about it.

We will also assume that by now, you know how to frame a hypothesis from this research. The hypothesis creation process is just as important to the ultimate success of your CRO effort as running the tests themselves. Only properly framed, strong hypotheses will result in conclusive A/B tests.

In a structured CRO effort, no element should be left to chance. Extend the same careful treatment to actual testing as you afford to research and hypothesis creation. Once you’ve properly prioritized your hypotheses by the effort each will take, their importance, and their expected effect, you need to prepare your tests with the same forethought.

How you approach setting up your testing program will greatly impact your end results. The aim of every good testing program is to attain the maximum test velocity and see meaningful test results in the shortest possible time.

About the Author: Edin Šabanović is a senior CRO consultant working for Objeqt. He helps e-commerce stores improve their conversion rates through analytics, scientific research, and A/B testing. Edin is passionate about analytics and conversion rate optimization, but for fun, he likes reading history books. He can help you grow your e-commerce business using Objeqt’s tailored, data-driven CRO methodology. Get in touch if you want someone to take care of your CRO efforts.