A term used in online advertising to describe the ineffectiveness of banner advertisements due to their oversaturation and lack of intent-based messaging. Some say the term “banner blindness” is outdated. As if there was a point in internet history when banner advertisements started to disappear. Yeah, right.. If anything, banner ads and online advertisements are more prevalent than ever. We have more internet users than ever, and more forms of online advertising than ever. How many of you have skipped a YouTube video ad? How many of you use ad blocking software? How many of you have clicked “X” on…
Like with any type of marketing, SaaS marketing is all about understanding your customers. If you don’t know your audience like you know yourself, you might as well pack your bags and choose another career. That’s how crucial it is. But sometimes, you can know your audience super well, and you just get…stuck. It’s happened to even the best of businesses. Your product development, marketing, and launch could all be on point, and everything could still go belly up. Maybe you’re only getting a few sales, so you get demotivated. Is your product really good after all? Could you be…
To get better at your craft, there’s nothing more valuable as learning first-hand from the experience of others. What little tricks have helped fellow designers, design leaders, and developers become more efficient? And how do they overcome hurdles in their projects? Conferences are a brilliant opportunity to get up close with the pros and exchange tips and ideas. But they aren’t the only one.
To spread expert knowledge between people who are hundreds, even thousands of miles apart, our friends at the full-stack UX design platform UXPin brought the first free virtual summit to life a few months ago.
It makes sense: Results are promising, they’re easy to sell, they encourage you to imagine yourself in that person’s shoes, and to imagine those results at your company.
At WiderFunnel, we obsess about results. That’s why our clients continue to be our clients, because we consistently deliver profitable ‘A-ha!’ moments in the form of insights and revenue lift. In the end, results are what matter, right?
The effort it takes to get great results is less sexy. But it’s what separates the good from the great.
Humans appreciate ease. People love the promise of the silver bullet. We are prone to the cognitive shortcut called Satisficing, which gives us sub-optimal results. It’s difficult for people to push through to the best result.
This is why best practices, tool-centric strategies, ‘expert’ opinions, and 10-steps-to-guaranteed-success blog posts will always be popular.
Satisficing is a cognitive heuristic that encourages a person to stop considering alternatives when they’ve found one that meets the lowest acceptable criteria. It’s why people buy a product when they don’t feel like the additional effort searching for a better alternative is worth the exerting. It can actually be an effective method for optimizing all costs, if it’s done consciously.
The reality is that you reap what you sow: The best results come from a solid foundation. You’ve heard me talk about process and framework thinking as being crucial to getting great marketing results…
…and today, I’m going to talk about another pillar for success: building a high performance marketing team.
Want to join a high-performance marketing team?
A team where you are challenged to do your very best every day, surrounded by super talented and passionate people? WiderFunnel is hiring for several positions, and you should apply. What are you waiting for?
The people who you hire are at the core of what you can achieve. If you want to achieve growth, you have to build a high-performance team. I have spent the last 10 years building the WiderFunnel team; they are a group of experts who deliver consistently amazing results for our clients.
If you have no team, you have no business. People often overlook that simple fact. We want to say it’s the ideas, marketing, sales, etc. that are the number one priority. But in order to achieve any results in any of these areas, you need a solid team.
Most companies today have created some form of a mission or vision statement, and company values. But I’d argue that most don’t use them to really define what their company does.
Without a shared belief in the types of decisions and behaviors you won’t accept, you’ll accept anything. If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.
If you have a clear purpose that is written, repeated, and used for decision-making, you’ll be more likely to attract and retain people that resonate together. When people resonate, the added energy from the coherence multiplies their effect.
Strong core values are a proven way of finding people that resonate with each other. At WiderFunnel, five values sit at the core of our company identity. This is who we are.
We created these values as a team to reflect how we work.
These values are embedded into everything we do. They are integral to our hiring decisions, reviewed during onboarding, called out in our weekly team shoutouts, and used to decide on client fit.
Often, companies will grow to a certain number of employees, realize that their company culture is waning, and then scramble to define their identity. But, by then it may be too late.
If you don’t intentionally build the culture you want, the culture you don’t want will create itself.
So, start by identifying your purpose and the values you’ll live by. And, build all of your decisions on that foundation.
Build the structure
So, you are happy with your team ‘why’, and have begun the hiring process. How do you maintain a satisfied, productive, and high-performing marketing team?
The best frameworks simplify difficult decisions, focus attention on the right pieces of data, and align team members on the salient criteria.
How to get the right butts in the right seats
For the first couple years at WiderFunnel, I struggled with our hiring failure rate. It was painful to hire and train promising people only to see them flame out in disappointment.
I knew there had to be a better process for improving our success rate. When I found the Topgrading book back in 2009, it gave me the tools I needed to separate the gold from the quartz in those mountains.
The Topgrading process incorporates very specific questions that are meant to reveal whether someone is an A-player, a B-player, a C-player, etc. The secret is in the exact wording of the questions and steps in the process to reveal insights about the candidate.
There’s also a newer and more approachable (i.e. shorter) book that describes the process, called Who.
We have tweaked the framework slightly to fit our needs, but the premise is to filter out the B-players and C-players, and to only engage with A-players. The process looks a little something like this:
Screening call (Conducted by HR)
In-person in-depth “Topgrading” interview (HR)
In-person culture interview (Team Lead)
Team interview (Team)
Only the most promising candidates make it through to meet with a team leader.
On top of the interview process, we use a lightweight work-style behavior and motivation profiling tool called Predictive Index.
This allows us to create behavior profiles for each position, to identify what behaviors define success in any position. I call it “lightweight” because it only takes a few minutes for a candidate to fill out, but the insights it reveals are stunning.
Once a candidate has passed their Topgrading interview, they fill out a quick Predictive Index quiz, which shows us a their natural behavioral patterns and motivations.
This tells us whether the person will naturally be a great fit for that position. If a candidate doesn’t ‘fit’ the profile, we don’t necessarily remove them from consideration. But, we know which questions to ask to ensure we are creating a position that person will be happy with.
Because WiderFunnel is a data-focused marketing agency (as I hope yours is a data-focused marketing team), we also require most candidates to complete various technical tests.
Yes, it takes effort to hire the right people
If this sounds intense, that’s because it is. But it’s worth it!
There is a lot at stake when you are talking about a person’s job and livelihood (not to mention the well-being of your business), and these upfront processes will help you get the right personalities on your team from the outset.
Not only does hiring the right people save you a lot of money on mis-hires, but a team of A-players wants us to hire more A-players. Someone who can’t match the pace of the team’s thinking and work is frustrating to everyone else. A team of stallions doesn’t invite ponies to their party.
Our team members are proud of the day they pass their 90-day probationary period and receive their full fledged WiderFunnel team jacket. They know they have joined an elite team.
Keep people at the center
All this talk about A-players, stringent hiring processes, and the cost of mis-hires may sound like people are just cost items. But, that is the opposite of how I see our people. And that wouldn’t be the best way to create any high functioning team.
Your team members don’t leave their personal lives at the door when they enter your workplace. They are whole people and all areas of their lives affect how they show up in their day.
I’m a long-time member of Entrepreneur’s Organization (EO) and other similar mastermind groups. At EO, I belong to a small forum group of entrepreneurs who meet monthly to discuss the best and worst things that are happening in our businesses and personal lives. I have learned how important it is to have people I trust that can relate to my experiences. In that forum, I have also learned how tightly business and personal life are intertwined.
A few years ago, I brought some of EO’s perspectives into WiderFunnel’s team. It began as part of our Friday afternoon happy hour, where everyone shares their weekly “Awesomes” with the rest of the team.
At 4:00pm every Friday, we stop working, pour a few beers, and every team member shares a professional awesome and a personal awesome from that week. It’s contagious: If you’ve had a rough week, hearing 25 “Awesome’s” is a pretty cool pick-me-up.
Building on my insight from EO, I also encouraged people to share if they have a weekly “Awful” and the result was powerful. The laughter and tears shared within this forum of support encourage our team to be Real with each other.
I am a firm believer that all people want is to be heard, and to be loved. Companies often act like this doesn’t translate into the professional realm, that it only lives in the personal realm. And that is, I think, the number one mistake a lot of companies make.
– Victoria Petriw
It’s important to create structures that help meet your team’s needs.
How often do each of your team members get a check-in with their boss? As you might have guessed by now, I’m going to recommend a structured process for regular check-ins.
A few years ago, we implemented the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), based on Gino Wickman’s book Traction, which shows a structure for communicating throughout the company. Part of that system defines a regular check-in rhythm.
Some companies take an ad hoc or “as needed” approach to meetings, but I’ve found that team members often feel neglected if they aren’t regularly scheduled.
If you are not checking in with the people on your team, regularly, you should rethink your management strategy. We ensure that each WiderFunnel team member has, at the very least, a monthly check-in with their team lead.
These check-ins are a space for personal and professional review, for project updates, and value-based feedback. Are your team members being heard? Do they feel appreciated and successful?
In tough times, real, 1-on-1 conversation can solve emerging issues before they become real problems.
To make sure your team as a whole is jiving, you need to facilitate the right meetings at the right times.
Within the Traction system, we’ve set up daily huddles, weekly working meetings, quarterly priority-setting meetings, and annual planning meetings within each team. This creates a consistent rhythm and flow of information for the entire company.
This system helps us make sure that the projects each individual is working on come to fruition.
Many of our meetings are recurring, but they all have a specific ‘why’. No one here has time to waste, and each meeting has a purpose, agenda, and priorities.
– Agnes Tseng
I encourage you to look at your meeting schedule and ask yourself whether each meeting is intentional? Does it have a clear purpose? If not, it may be worth your while to test a system like Traction.
A culture of personal ownership
The Dilbert era is over, for big and small companies alike. People want to love where they work. So, how do you make your team attractive to A-players? And how do you retain your A-players?
Do you need more perks? Beer on Fridays? Exotic company retreats? Company bowling night? It can feel overwhelming to keep up with the perks some companies offer. And last week’s perks are today’s entitlement.
Some time ago, we decided to change how WiderFunnel-ers view company culture. In the past, the task of planning fun, culture-stimulating social activities fell to the Operations team.
But it began to feel like team members were sitting back, waiting for Operations to deliver happiness. And if they didn’t like what was happening, morale waned.
It felt like everyone was sitting around the dinner table waiting to be served, expecting ‘culture’ to be provided on a silver platter. But culture is like happiness: You can’t inject it into a company. It has to live in each individual.
– Victoria Petriw
So, we decided to shift the perspective. We encouraged team members to contribute to company culture and activities. Now, we have a WiderFun initiative where we have team-planned monthly fun-tivities, and the change is palpable.
From events like WiderFunnel-themed jeopardy, to WiderFun-lympics, to spontaneous game nights and jam sessions, I have seen the team commit to creating the culture they want to work in. And, they love it even more because they’ve had a part in creating it. (Which, by the way is a great example of the IKEA Effect cognitive bias.)
The IKEA Effect says that people are more likely to love something if they’ve had a part in creating it. I’m no longer surprised when my daughters most-raved-about meals are the ones that they’ve helped cook.
Rather than taking a top-down approach to culture, challenge your team to own it!
What does this mean for your bottom-line?
A happy, smart, engaged team wants to deliver great work. Structures and frameworks like the ones I’ve shared are a starting point. You may find others that work for you, but the principle is the same.
When you have put rigorous thought into building a well-oiled machine, when individuals are in the right jobs, in the right culture, you will see the effects in your bottom-line.
So, now it’s your turn.
What do you do to build and maintain a high-performing marketing team? How does your company create, maintain and enhance culture? Add your comments below.
And, if you know someone you think would be a great fit for our team, please send them our way. WiderFunnel is hiring!
If it’s still snowy where you live, then you’re probably tired of the cold weather by now. Winter may be in full swing but that shouldn’t stop us from hunting for inspiration. While the gray days always seem to find a way to make us more and more anxious for springtime to finally arrive, it’s also a time we can use to reflect on our work and perhaps better decide what it is that we hope to improve or change in the next months.
Seven years ago, VWO was created with the aim to make marketers’ lives simpler. With its easy-to-use visual editor, it helped marketers focus on their main job (to increase conversions), than to chase the elusive IT team to get that A/B test running.
In these seven years, searches for A/B testing have gone through the roof, more than a dozen similar tools have entered the market, and A/B testing is now an integral part of marketing. VWO has been used to run some 700,000 tests, optimize close to six billion experiences and generate more revenue for businesses across industries and countries.
To say we are happy and humbled would be an understatement. But what will not be an understatement is to say that we have never felt more committed towards making our customers successful.
In the last one year, we have spent a lot of time looking at data. We have spent a lot of time looking at our most successful customers to figure out what is it they are doing that makes them successful.
And we have found that the businesses getting the most success out of A/B testing are the ones following a scientific process. These businesses clearly define what numbers they are trying to move, identify areas that can be improved, step into the shoes of their visitors to understand their pain-points, run A/B tests based on evidence and are incredibly zen about a few losses on the way.
Marketing might be driving the optimization process, but the culture of optimization seeps through every department in these organizations. The focus is on analyzing results, sharing insights and delivering better user experience all around. A/B testing is not just a hack or a seasonal marketing tactic, it’s an year-round commitment towards a ‘user-first’ philosophy.
These businesses understandably have to depend on multiple tools and products to continuously run this scientific process. They often use one tool to track the bottomline, another to prioritize and chart out the testing plan, another to observe visitor actions and yet another to run A/B tests. Getting multiple tools to work for one single process comes with its own complexities. To get real insights from that pool of data is another challenge.
We at VWO have not merely been observing all this. We have used all these observations in building the new VWO.
The new VWO will enable businesses to run all parts of this scientific process through one platform. The seamless connectivity of data will ensure businesses don’t lose track of the user story at any point of the process, putting unprecedented power in the hands of marketers.
VWO – The first Connected Conversion Optimization Platform
Right from tracking metrics, analyzing visitor actions, creating testing plan to running A/B tests, the new VWO will help marketers do everything optimization at one place, one point. To get a sneak peek into what is coming up, check out vwo.com/evolution.
Every organization abides by a set of values and beliefs, which prompts the culture within the organization. This organizational culture can be seen as the way in which its members relate to each other, their work, and the outside world in comparison to other organizations.
So what type of cultural values should an enterprise invest in to be successful?
What Type of Organizational Culture to Adopt?
Company owners and decision-makers should invest in a culture of innovation and optimization during their business lifecycle.
Innovation, as they say, is the hallmark of entrepreneurship. In the early stages of development of a company, creative ideas and innovation alone bestow promising results. After that stage is crossed and you find a product-market fit comes the need for optimization. This is because when a product is reaching maturity, it needs to sustain itself and still keep earning profits.
Why to Adopt a Culture of Optimization?
Optimization, by dictionary meaning, is “an act, process, or methodology of making something (as a design, system, or decision) as fully perfect, functional, or effective as possible.”
For a mature and well-run product organization, the concept of optimization should be applied to every business process to gain optimal benefits. Whether it is your team, funnel, or website that you’re optimizing, you can be sure of making a bigger bang for the buck.
For instance, by optimizing your website, you can get more conversions for the same number of visitors. By optimizing your team, you can grow manifold the productivity and output of the same team members, and so on.
A culture of optimization is geared toward incremental, consistent, and risk-free improvements coordinated across company’s platforms to meet executive targets.
Tim Eyre, COO of a renowned digital marketing agency Big Leap, aptly puts it thus:
“Establishing a culture of optimization really starts with having an attitude of never being satisfied. For us, it means that we believe we can always improve the results we provide for our clients, whether through content pieces, paid search optimizations, or website optimization, including a heavy dose of conversion rate optimization. We strive for excellence in our work, and we have found that one of the quickest ways of approaching excellence is through testing”.
Now that we’ve established the importance of having a culture of optimization, let’s look at how to incorporate it within your organization:
How to Incorporate a Culture of Optimization
Before you begin optimizing your business processes, it is imperative to take stock of the current standing. You need to assess how you are placed currently and set benchmarks for improvements accordingly.
A good optimization program would be rooted in in-depth data and research of what we are optimizing and for which end goals. When your employees start questioning subjectivity and validate their decisions with both data and insight, it ultimately makes your organization a more efficient one.
“To facilitate a culture of testing, every aspect of an operation must have a unique data point that can be optimized against. We firmly believe that all areas of an organization, from personnel, to processes, to traffic and content, need to have a core KPI that can be measured for future improvement. Doing so creates a deeper level of accountability and a more proactive culture for experimentation and trying new approaches to do better.”
Get Top Management Buy-In
Like a waterfall, culture too flows from the top to the bottom. To inculcate a healthy culture of experimenting and optimizing, it is imperative that the top management complies.
If the top management is on the same page, it’ll realize the need for optimization and allocate sufficient budget for it. This will make it easier to execute any optimization program.
The idea of optimization can be sold to the top management by highlighting its key benefits. You can show how the returns on efforts outweigh the investment, and strengthen your pitch. Here are some key ways to influence your top management:
“If you want to incorporate a culture of Optimization, you need to allow and encourage anyone to challenge or at least question the data or ask how you could test an idea. But when someone says or asks something, be sure to ask them to back up their claim with data. They need to be able to validate any of their claims or thoughts, or at least give reasons for them.”
To make it motivating and straightforward for the team members, you should also take time to establish rules and incentives up-front.
You can also start a weekly ritual like a meeting or a report, something that will both analyze the progress of your optimization program and encourage its prosperity.
Invest in the Right Tools
To unroll the culture of optimization, you’d also be required to invest in the right tools. Having a tool in place can channelize and simplify your efforts manifold. Now the type of tool you should invest in depends on your optimization activity.