A Near Death Experience Changes Perspective on Success

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 Hotels.com 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?

MarketingExperiments.com 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.

Look:

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.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

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.

Conclusion

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 Amazon.com, 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.

Because Every Penny Counts: The Ultimate Free Tech Toolbox for Startups

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Whether driven by the desire to change the world or be the boss who enjoys a healthy salary, the dream of starting a business is a powerful one. But most startups face an onslaught of challenges when they enter the rat race, and, unfortunately, 90 percent of them fail. According to a CB Insights poll, the second most common reason for a company’s failure is running out of cash. This equates to nearly one in three (29 percent) businesses going under due to this fact alone.

From my experience, startups often run out of cash after they’ve finished creating their product and are ready to take it to market. This is a huge problem as many companies underestimate just how much money is needed to kick-start a successful marketing campaign that will acquire new customers, fill the sales funnel and ultimately bring in some return cash to help them reinvest.

In a booming startup economy where venture capital funding is limited and it is a race against the clock to beat the competition, it’s critical that startups keep a tight rein on their cash from the outset. This is especially important, because, rest assured, unexpected costs will pop up at every turn, such as product issues, supply management challenges and underestimated marketing costs.

The key to not running out of funds is to not spend cash where you don’t have to. Even in today’s advanced technological era, many startups fail to consider new and better ways of doing things. It amazes me how much I see this happening – from startups investing in on-premises storage systems, installing outdated PBX systems and phones employees rarely use, and even spending a fortune on high-end web design and development.

The good news – there are a ton of fantastic, cutting-edge applications and services (particularly those that are in the cloud) available that can give startups a competitive edge and help them cut significant costs at a pinnacle time of growth. These tools are often extremely scalable, with larger providers often providing free options for startups with the idea that once they get on their feet, they will grow their business with them. So, without further ado, below are valuable resources worth checking out.

Suites

Zoho

Zoho offers tools for email hosting, CRM, accounting, help desk, word processing, human resources and more all in one place. Many of the suite’s solutions have free and very low-cost tiers. For startups, these tools provide peace of mind, ensuring all facets of the business are being tracked on a single platform while allowing employees to focus on bigger-picture matters.

Communications

Slack

Slack is an internal employee-messaging tool that offers a free plan. As the lives of startup employees can be hectic – with new ideas and to-do list items cooking around the clock – having an internal communication platform to stay connected and productive throughout the day is essential. Essentially an “iMessage” for work, Slack allows for quick and convenient conversations to take place amongst large groups of employees or one-on-one with a direct messages feature.

MailChimp

Don’t yet have the budget for a million-dollar marketing campaign? MailChimp lets businesses design and manage email marketing campaigns. Customers can be targeted based on behavior, preferences, and previous sales, and a company can integrate its campaigns with ecommerce solutions. Revenue reports also allow businesses to monitor sales and website activity, and inform the email and advertising content with purchase data using Google Analytics. The free account supports up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month.

 

Editor’s Note: Looking for email marketing software? We can help you choose the one that’s right for you. Use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:

 

 

Dialpad

If you’re a startup, chances are the last thing on your list of wants is desk phones for your employees; rather, what’s necessary is a cloud platform that allows for a seamless communications experience across your company. The Dialpad business communications platform offers voice, video, messaging, meetings, call center, analytics and integrations with G Suite and Office 365. Dialpad eliminates the need for desk phones while enabling the business to assign employees business phone numbers that ring their personal devices, and it is free for qualifying startups.

Productivity

G Suite 

For easy collaboration on documents, spreadsheets and presentations, Google apps, like Docs, Sheets and Slides, are tools startups should have handy. Creating and editing existing content in one place, as opposed to saving multiple different versions each time updates are made, allows for seamless and quick collaboration across business materials.

LibreOffice

Similar to Google apps, LibreOffice is a suite of tools that includes word processing, spreadsheet, drawing, chart creation and formula-editing features. The suite prides itself on clean and aesthetically pleasing templates, allowing the creator to focus on the content itself. For startups, LibreOffice is a comprehensive and free option for multiple types of business content creation. (Note: This app is not cloud-based, but it offers comprehensive features and is free.)

Canva

Canva enables businesses to design modern documents, presentations, social media graphics and more using a drag-and-drop interface and professional templates and layouts. The site even has a built-in photo editor. Canva’s free account supports up to 10 team members, two folders for organizing designs, 1GB storage for photos and assets, and access to over 8,000 templates, giving new businesses the start they need in producing creative, eye-catching content.

Piktochart

Piktochart offers an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop editor for quick creation of infographics, a key tool for startups approaching investors and the press. The site includes more than 600 professionally designed templates. A free account provides limited access to templates and file sizes.

Data Storage

Dropbox

Dropbox offers backup and sharing of documents, making content creation and storage simple for businesses with a lot of documents that you may need to upload or access when you’re on the go. Users can store up to 2GB for free.

Google Drive

Like Dropbox, Google Drive provides a space for documents to be created, stored and shared among employees. It also comes with GMail and other Google apps, like the ones mentioned above, so that all of a company’s content and communications can be in one place. Google Drive is free to use with a Gmail account.

Project Management and Collaboration

Asana

Asana offers project and task management assistance. Users can create projects and tasks to be completed within those projects. Progress can be tracked using a browser or smart device. Further, team members can manage their working space, prioritize and organize tasks, upload files, delegate duties, and create reports all within the platform. Asana is free for up to 15 members.

Trello

Trello focuses on collaboration, utilizing the “board” metaphor to correspond to projects and tasks. Team members can discuss projects in real time, and progress is supported by task assignments, activity logs and email notifications. Trello starts free and the paid plan then begins at $9.99 per user/month.

Customer Management

Freshdesk

For startups, finding and keeping customers is crucial for building the business, and so customer management tools can play a critical element role. Freshdesk is a customer service platform that allows businesses to put stronger customer support in place. The platform offers a free version with a limited number of features, and paid options start at $19 per agent/month.

Smooch

Smooch allows businesses to connect with their customers across a variety of messaging services and platforms, allowing for a more integrated experience for customers. The tool works with Facebook Messenger, Telegram and SMS, and converts to emails, Slack, etc. Smooch is free for 10,000 monthly active users, with the paid plan for $495 a month.

Social Media

Hootsuite

For startups, getting the word out about your business is an important starting point. The best way to do this is through social media. Hootsuite allows businesses to manage multiple social media accounts through a single dashboard. People can schedule posts ahead of time to create a consistent social presence and increase engagement with followers. The free version lets companies manage up to three social media platforms.

Bitly

Bitly is a free URL shortening service. It is essential for any fledgling Twitter campaign because it allows a company to say more in a tweet, instead of having half of the characters eaten up by a lengthy URL. Bitly also provides statistical information, such as the number of clicks on a link, to help measure campaign performance. Basic Bitly is 100 percent free.

Website hosting

Uptime Robot

Uptime Robot lets a business know when its website or app has crashed, a crucial feature for a new business that may be experiencing initial setup troubles. The service offers a free plan that checks every five minutes whether a company’s website or app is up and running smoothly.

Business/data intelligence

Domo

Domo lets business leaders easily access and organize all of the data running throughout their company. The application also simplifies all information in a visual and simple way, allowing users to make informed decisions and ask the right questions about the business. It provides real-time status updates, works in progress and sales data. Domo offers free starter accounts for iOS, Android and desktop users. Pricing for professional and enterprise accounts are available for a cost.

Security

Okta 

Okta is an identity management service built in the cloud that allows businesses to manage employees’ access to any application or device used throughout the organization. The tool eases the job of the IT team and helps companies stay secure through the growing number of technologies and devices people now use at work. Okta includes features like single sign-on (SSO) and multi-factor authentication (MFA).

This Entrepreneur Travels the World While Making More Than Most Doctors

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How a digital nomad makes six figures passively using this tested playbook.

Website Promotion And Link Building SEO Interview With Ken McGaffin – Promotion And Link Building

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[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4K4wtayf-hk&w=640&h=360]

Shopify Wants to Help Small Business with Showrooming on Their Ecommerce Sites

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Buy Online for Shopify POS Helps Convert Showroom Shoppers into Ecommerce Customers

Ecommerce company Shopify (NYSE:SHOP) is launching a new ‘Buy Online for Shopify POS’ feature, enabling consumers to save an in-person purchase.

Buy Online for Shopify POS

This new feature allows retailers using Shopify POS to give in-person shoppers the ability to buy a product online later after they’ve tried it out in your store. And the best part is that they can purchase it from your online store.

Here’s how it works:

A shopper in your store is there checking out a product you have for sale (and loaded into your Shopify POS inventory). They’re not sure if they want to buy it right away and they’re going to go home and check it out online.

It’s at that point where your store has the chance to lose out on a sale to another business. That’s despite the fact that a customer tried the product out at your expense. That’s showrooming. Showrooming can be an obstacle for many retailers, particularly small brick and mortar retail businesses.

With Buy Online for Shopify POS, retailers like you can now email a link to the product that shopper is trying out in your store. The link will take them right to your online store, where they can complete the purchase.

The ‘Buy Online for Shopify POS’ means that any Shopify merchant can provide a quality in-person experience alongside the convenience of selling products online. Shopify’s new feature means merchants can empower their customers to purchase goods wherever and whenever they want using a mobile device and with a link to their product carts.

The ‘Buy Online for Shopify POS’ feature helps to overcome challenges for small retailers as it provides customers with the freedom and flexibility of saving an in-person purchase and buying it later online.

Rahul Kulkarni, Product Manager for Retail at Shopify, explained in a release on the new service: “Buy Online for Shopify POS helps businesses bridge the offline and online purchase experience by offering shoppers a convenient way to try in-person, and buy online entirely through a single retailer. Now in-store, retail buying experiences can be as easy and seamless as an online purchase.”

Retailers harnessing the power of the ‘Buy Online for Shopify POS’ feature can apply a discount to the Buy Online link to equal a competitor’s price online, meaning they are less likely to miss out to a competitor.

Image: Shopify

This article, “Shopify Wants to Help Small Business with Showrooming on Their Ecommerce Sites” was first published on Small Business Trends

Harvey Weinstein to Burn in 36-Foot-Tall Effigy

Video Profits Unleashed

Harvey Weinstein Finally Gonna Burn In Giant London Effigy 11/1/2017 2:22 PM PDT A 36-foot-tall effigy of Harvey Weinstein will go up in smoke, flames … and then down in ashes as …

The post Harvey Weinstein to Burn in 36-Foot-Tall Effigy appeared first on Newline Marketing.

HOW TO MAKE MONEY ONLINE WITHOUT PAYING ANYTHING – $0 Investment

Video Profits Unleashed

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AXZtxb4zTw&w=640&h=360]

The Slippery Truth about Grammar Checkers

It was a brisk winter evening. While editing a Copyblogger article written by Brian Clark, the sound of my fingers tapping on my keyboard harmoniously blended with the rain pattering on the window next to my desk, as the light from the full moon illuminated my computer monitor. Then, as the clock struck midnight, something
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