Looking back at 2019 and growing forward

2019 has been a year of new challenges and forward momentum.

Wessel Arendts

Wessel Arendts

Growth Lead

Looking back today at how many things happened in 2019, I am proud of the progress and excited about the things to come this year for my personal growth. To summarise last year, I am going to share my seven most important learnings that any experienced Growth Marketer or Growth Lead will face, eventually.

1. Reserving time for reflection

Instead of only rushing forward, completing a roadmap or rounding off a large campaign, for what comes next I learned that looking back can help a lot. Main reasons being:  

  • You are better at choosing your next steps that could potentially have a higher impact now that you understand exactly what worked well and what didn’t.
  • It gives you more context of what you are doing right now and creates a moment to pivot where necessary. For example, going from traction to retention experiments as you noticed that your returning customer rate has a strong negative trend.

I prefer to have bi-weekly or monthly check-ins to look back at past experiments. Besides documenting all experiments and learnings it can be helpful to look at the findings together with your team and share thoughts. Have a more objective reflection by having a fresh pair of eyes. Take the time to understand what these learnings are and what is worth sharing with your team. Why did some experiments work and why did some experiments fail? Do you see some strange results in user behavior? 

Normally you take your KPI and analyze if there is a significant uplift in, let’s say, transactions or filled in lead-forms. To have a better understanding it can be helpful to look at sub-KPIs that could be influenced by the experiment. 

For example, when an experiment is not significant or is significant and performs even worse, take your time to analyze why you see these ‘strange’ results. As your assumption stated the opposite there should / could be an underlying reason. Which metrics change? Did your conversion rate decline but your time-on-site increased when changing the landing page, maybe there is too much information in the variant? 

2. Let your Growth Mindset lead your curiosity

There are two different mindsets that are based on intelligence and ability. One mindset is focused on not being able to change your abilities and this is part of who you are. This is called a fixed mindset. The other mindset is called a growth mindset and it is essential to be successful. 

Once we graduate and leave the classroom, we often forget that we can learn (any) new skills. Moreover, we tend to correlate age with the inability to learn. However, that is far from true. Of course, while it is easier to learn a new skill when you are younger, you have a much broader skill set when you are getting older that can boost learning such as perseverance, deductive reasoning and your own life/work experience.

With a growth mindset, instead of viewing this as a failure, you see it as an opportunity. There is no win or lose. There is an opportunity to see an increase in your KPI’s or an opportunity to learn from an experiment that did not meet your predefined assumption (commonly referred to as an inconclusive or failed experiment).

 

In 2019 I learned to put more emphasis on the reason WHY an experiment did not win and tweaked various growth programs for our clients. I focused on:

  • Increasing the effectiveness of each experiment.
  • Reducing the time between setting up an experiment and analyzing it to have more valuable insights.

Embracing the growth mindset fully will help to improve both your personal and professional life. It helps to start rewarding yourself for going through the process of learning, instead of for the outcome. At RockBoost we have dedicated weekly learning time to make sure we use this magic ability to learn skills that match your personal and professional goals.

Want to know more about the growth mindset? Keep an eye on our blog, a new series of posts on Growth Mindset 2.0 will be published soon. 

3. Inspire to create value 

A lot of growth teams start as a multidisciplinary composition of individuals from different teams. If shipping experiments is a cross-functional effort, it is crucial to work together and making sure everyone is on board. Having a clear process and overview of what each of these individuals do is important to reduce friction along the way. 

In general, Growth Teams and Growth Hackers can be in charge of spreading the culture of experimentation. Especially since these roles tend to be cross-functional. In general, a lot of traditional departments are not sharing the same opinion. Make sure you spread the word what you are doing and why it is so vital for every team/department/business. By doing so you can create value at a much faster pace as it trickles down faster within an organization. Making sure they leverage from your mindset is important.

 

One good example from one of our current projects took place during a meeting with our client’s Customer Care team. When starting a growth program we tend to find valuable insights in the Customer Care team which we can leverage for future experiments. During one of our meetings, we explained the principle of ‘friction’ within a process. Within the CRO field, this principle can be seen as one of the biggest (de)motivators for your audiences to (not) reach their goal. By explaining it like this we put the business in perspective and inspired the Customer Care Lead to spot for friction-points throughout every call they script. Moreover, they called their own North Star Metric ‘friction-points’.  As a result, we have a monthly meeting with Customer Care to discuss all friction points that could be relevant for the Growth Program. 

4. Prioritise quality of experiments over quantity

Some people will say that increasing your speed of experimentation will result in a higher chance of finding the winner. Of course, it's sexy to say that you ran 100+ experiments last year. But how many experiments were actually successful? What was your win rate and how does the win rate of your growth program evolve during the year? Stating boldly, when you have a win-rate above 50% you are testing certainties and should aim bigger. If your experiment win-rate is very low (1-5%) you should probably prioritize your backlog more effectively and be less strict throughout the process. You want to add value to the business, not exhausting resources by being inefficient. That is your goal, after all. To compare, Booking.com has an average win-rate of 10% and they run 1000+ experiments per month.

Putting experiments live comes with a growth mindset that you are not afraid to fail. However, last year I came to the conclusion that we need to put more emphasis on what experiments we set live and not the amount. Quality over quantity. As stated above, some may say that you need to run more experiments to actually find good ones. Do not rush into running more experiments. Analyze first and then scale the whole process. Over time you tend to learn more from the users and know why something works or does not work. 

5. Automate, automate and automate

At the beginning of this year, I had the goal to automate more of my recurring processes/tasks. Making sure that these tasks are going to be automated is crucial to have that growth momentum going. Standardized analysis on frequent KPIs such as transactions and conversions should be put in a custom Dashboard or should be easily replicated with a custom query. The analysis of experiments should be connected via Analytics to Google Sheet and Google Slides. In that way, both the analysis and visual representation are solid during your weekly, bi-weekly or monthly meeting. 


Feel free to reach out if you need some tips on this.

Start delegating responsibilities not just tasks

I have to be honest. I tend to find delegating tasks quite difficult and therefore it’s something I know I should do more. In general, people don’t like to delegate because it takes a lot of up-front effort. However, I find it difficult because I would like to have more control over the situation. By delegating I get the feeling that the loss of control results in lower quality of work. It is quite the opposite actually as the tasks you are delegating are done by a fresh set pair of eyes with a different perspective and less workload. Which leads to less room in the margin of error. Last year I noticed that the following guidelines helped me during the delegation process:

  • Pick the right person for the responsibility.
  • Give the person a clear goal of why you want to do this and what the definition of done is.
  • If the task or responsibility is too large; delegate it piece by piece to increase the speed of learning.
  • Making sure to check-in regularly.
  • Expect and accept failures and use them as learning opportunities.

I took small steps in delegating tasks to make the best use of my own time and skills. The biggest leap in developing this area is switching from task-focused to responsibility-focused delegation. Making sure that you are not delegating one specific task but a complete responsibility is beneficial for both parties in terms of workload and learning opportunity. Lastly, delegating helps other people in the team to grow and develop to reach their full potential. We are all on the same page. 

RockBoost members at the Conversion Hotel Conference in 2019

RockBoost members at the Conversion Hotel Conference in 2019

6. Going to The Conference, formerly known as Conversion Hotel

 

Last but not least. Going to The Conference, Formerly known as Conversion Hotel last November was one big learning for sure. For three days I was surrounded with bright minds primarily focused on experimentation. 

Stephen Pavlovic from conversion.com (yes, he admitted the URL had a hefty price tag) gave the opening talk of the conference. Stephan emphasised that CRO and current CRO programs should move from converting users by making a transaction to a more product-development perspective. As people, we are not very good at making good choices. At an individual level, but even more at an organisational level. Therefore the most successful companies use experimentation as a product development framework. They use experimentation to make better choices about their products and services.

By doing so, Stephan was able to quicken the pace of product development within the organisation. For example, by showcasing some non-existing products in the webshop, they were able get a clear indication of what works and what does not work. All the prior research that could potentially take months would have been reduced to a couple of weeks. 

During that weekend I was reminded of two critical points that I currently apply at RockBoost to aim for 5X or 10X growth:

  • Experiment to solve the biggest problems. Don’t get distracted by low-impact shiny experiments that will boost your ego.
  • Experiment risky decisions, not just what you think you want to do anyway. If you don’t take risks, you can’t innovate.

Both points apply that experiments are reversible and you can easily test these with experiments. Be bold.

Feel free to reach out and share your experience and learnings! 

Wessel Arendts

Wessel Arendts

Growth Lead

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