Validated Learning, A new paradigm to measure Progress!

During my short career, I have seen people working tirelessly to come up with excellent business plans, somehow successfully executing those plans only to find out that they were running in the wrong direction and nobody wanted the end product in the first place forcing them to go right of the cliff. In most startups, almost all the discussion is about the timely and on-budget execution of the plan with a little or no focus on the end users and their real needs. Eric Reis author of the Lean Startup defines this phenomenon as “being really good at executing failure plans”. traditional Indexes and benchmarks like product and business milestones do not properly sync with the startup world. The Soul purpose of a startup is to discover if the direction taken will lead to a successful sustainable business. Eric introduced a new type of milestone to measure progress called validated learning.

What is Validated Learning?

It’s a decision-making process based on scientific approach, each new feature, marketing campaign, plan etc is assigned an assumption or hypothesis. The accuracy of the assumption is tested based on the feedback from real users. using the validation approach direction changes and improvements are decided. the whole process of validation is much faster and accurate than the legacy approach of market forecasting and product planning. In the context of Startups, the concept of validated learning focusses on building an MVP and use specially designed metrics to validate the results instead of blindly following the business plans.

Based on the real data collected decision to pivot or quite is taken. 

How to Drive Validated Learning in your Organisation?

As discussed the whole concept is to validate the whole idea with minimal efforts before building a huge product that nobody wants. In simple words, there are 4 basic steps to applying validated learning to your idea.

  1. Defining a hypothesis.
  2. defining a validation metrics to test the results.
  3. Building an MVP or experiment.
  4. Experimenting for a short phase ending with a conclusion.
Summarising the whole process of validated learning, image reproduced from Barronernst article on Medium.com

Hypothesis Creation

The process starts with Hypothesis definition, we are used to this process of defining goals, we just need to change the process to be defined more carefully and managed properly. Management here means prioritized properly as not all goals are essential for the product and few are urgently required and some are required in the long run. The goal setting process now needs to follow a pattern of categorizing items according to urgency and priority based on their impact.

Coming Up With the Validation Metrics

Each experiment that we set up has a reasoning behind it, as we want our product to be a step closer to our vision with every hypothesis test. The metrics need to have simple yet concrete statements defining the accuracy of the hypothesis, an example can be ‘A 10 % growth in customers using the payment service in the region of South America’. poorly designed experiments may take forever to complete therefore it is essential to define a completion time as a checkpoint in the metrics too.

Setting Up the Experiment and the Validation Process.

To develop the experiment Most people adopt 5D framework approach 1) define, 2) design, 3) develop, 4) deliver 5) datafy validation. push Experiment or new features to the market, let them run for a few weeks and ‘datafy’ your validation. Based on the data the hypothesis can be set to True or False, but the summary includes learnings from product to customer and technology. usually, completion of one experiment does not mean an end to the whole process, quite often the results from one experiment act as a starting point for the second experiment.

Why Follow validated learning approach?

  1. helps shorten the development process by avoiding the development of unwanted features and time wastage on never finishing market research.
  2. shorter development means the budget required is sufficiently lower too.
  3. As the focus is on empirical data the process yields a customer-oriented product.
  4. promotes flexibility in the organisation as the approach supports agility and focus is on building an MVP and an individual hypothesis.

The sooner a startup validates its assumption the sooner they will be able to confirm their direction. In the process, any work done beyond the bare minimum needed to validate assumptions is a waste. The whole process will produce empirical data to result in better-informed decisions, problem-solution fit and eventually lead towards product-market fit and a successful and sustainable product.

Original article published here

Image is reproduced from Alex Changes Blog on Medium.com


Report: Social media leads the way in online advertising

Report: Social media leads the way in online advertising

The internet is an indispensable tool for finding new customers and driving sales. According to the Pew Research Center, 89 percent of Americans use the internet to find new products and services, research potential purchases and generally navigate their lives.

This means that your organization must have an online presence to achieve meaningful growth. A new survey from The Manifest analyzes how companies are marketing themselves online, getting responses from 501 marketers from across the U.S. The findings show how companies can expand their advertising operations, and they reveal hot trends across the online marketplace.

Are you investing in online marketing?

According to the survey, only 66 percent of companies invest in online advertising. Though that number represents a majority of organizations, it’s far lower than the estimated 89 percent of consumers who use the internet. The survey team asserts that online marketing is an essential tool for a modern business. It writes: Because the majority of consumers spend so much time on the internet, all businesses should invest in online advertising – not just 66%. “It’s crazy to me that number isn’t higher,” said Flynn Zaiger, CEO of Online Optimism , a digital marketing agency in New Orleans. “Knowing that only two-thirds of businesses are doing online advertising means that just starting with an online marketing tactic can put you ahead of one-third of the competition.”


How to Leverage Paid Social at Every Stage of the Customer Journey

How to Leverage Paid Social at Every Stage of the Customer Journey

With U.S. digital marketing spend climbing its way to a predicted $119 billion by 2021, marketers are tasked with determining where to spend that budget. Forrester Research foresees that digital advertising options, like social media and display ads, will represent 46 percent of all advertising in the next three years.

Social media continues to thrive, and deploying targeted ads on social platforms is one of the most cost-effective methods of digital marketing. Leveraging social to promote your brand is a key tactic for competing in today’s dynamic marketplace. Although paid social is sometimes relegated to top-of-the-funnel marketing efforts, it can be used throughout the buyer’s journey—and that’s powerful.

For instance, once an audience has become aware of a brand, paid social can more easily be used to promote specific materials and products, and then to retarget before and after the purchase decision. This serves to guide and reinforce the buying decision. Social media allows a customer to warm up to your brand in a comfortable setting.

Unlike other forms of advertising, in which ads can be seen as an interruption of the primary content, social media advertising is an expected—almost welcome—distraction. Consumers tend to trust what they see in their social feeds because that’s where their communities are. Shoppers who might otherwise suffer from decision fatigue are motivated by their social networks , where recommendations feel more personal and relevant to them. Social ads are also interactive.


Four Digital Marketing Trends To Pump Up Your Business In 2018

Four Digital Marketing Trends To Pump Up Your Business In 2018

The leading companies in every industry and small businesses have something in common. They all need a specially crafted marketing plan to answer their specific needs which would subsequently bring more customers, more revenue, and more success. In order to reach this goal, that shares both the management and the employees, a company must strive for a grand marketing plan.

Somewhat logically, digital marketing has conquered the traditional marketing ways and more conventional approaches, as it’s the most efficient way to get the word about your services out there and exposed to the highly relevant and specifically targeted audience. Digital marketing is evolving fast, as the digital behaviour of the customers and available technologies change dramatically over time.

The whole world is evolving and the digital era that we live in has no mercy for the old-fashioned approaches to business. As 2018 moves towards its shorter end, the digital marketing landscape, largely built of PPC, Social media, SEO, and Content slowly fades away. These things became imperatives, rather than trends, while the new rising digital marketing trends pop up, ready to take the marketing world to a whole new level. The secret ingredient to digital marketing trends of 2018 is innovation. What has worked before, may not work anymore. Even if it does, the results are not guaranteed. At best it will only maintain the current interest among customers.


How To Take A Content-First Approach When Telling Your Brand's Story

How To Take A Content-First Approach When Telling Your Brand's Story

Pexels Pexels We’re in a new era of media consumption, where consumers hold all the cards. Gone are the days when a small number of massive media outlets determined what consumers watched or read, and when. We now live in a world where a vast amount of content is available with a click, a swipe or a “Hey, Alexa.” In the old days, advertising simply tagged along with content as it was pushed out to consumers.

Today, however, media is pulled, not pushed. And if you’re a marketer who wants your content to be consumed, it better be good, relevant and valuable. That goes double for advertising. In today’s pull media world, ads are ignored like never before. Only the ads that offer as much value, relevance and information as the content consumers seek are engaged with today. Ads that are native to the page and content-driven.

Ads that tell a story.

Creating a digital marketing strategy centered around content -- because it’s one of the best ways to ensure consumer engagement -- is a strategy we call “content-first.” Here’s what we mean: Craft A Compelling Narrative One of the biggest shifts in thinking among leading brands today is that they tend to think more like content creators than advertisers. But to be a great storyteller, you must first have a great story. So, create a narrative that attracts and captivates consumers.


How your competitors can help you improve your digital marketing

How your competitors can help you improve your digital marketing

Death and taxes are two big guarantees in life, and if you’re running a business, then sturdy competition is another one of these certainties.

Managing your brand is a constant balance between being the best possible version of yourself (or your business) while also ensuring you keep up to date on what the businesses around you are getting up to. The last thing you want is to fall behind on how they’re promoting their products and services and appealing to customers. After all, competition is the fourth biggest cause of business failure for businesses.

Beating out the competition these days is about way, way more than just charging less than them. Thanks to the internet and therefore the wealth of choices that consumers these days have, more than ever, brands have had to get savvy about the way that they compete in the open marketplace. It’s no longer just about who charges the least, but instead, consumers are now concerned with corporate values, branding and most especially, customer care. Provide value and an unrivalled customer experience, and you’re a shoo-in for the cash when it comes time to purchase.

So how (and what) can you learn from a competitor’s digital marketing efforts?


The worlds of brand and trade marketing need to unite

The worlds of brand and trade marketing need to unite

There seems to be a massive shift in the way successful brands allocate dollars and other resources to their online marketing efforts. For example, in 2017, coworkers and I analyzed some advertising activity from P&G showing that hundreds of millions of dollars of its online ad budget had moved to trusted e-commerce channels rather than on sites and approaches typically used for brand marketing.

According to P&G Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard and The Wall Street Journal: The ad dollars were pulled back from a long list of digital channels but also included reducing spending with “several big digital players” by 20% to 50% last year (2017). These are significant changes. Driving purchases through online media is increasingly reliant on retailer sites. This transition in the overall market landscape necessitates a change in how companies fundamentally organize their marketing. Doing well on Amazon and other online retailers today requires brand and trade teams to work closely together in order to drive long-term success.

Misalignments

At a high level, brands simply can’t afford misalignment between the information on the product page and the brand promotion (done on sites such as Facebook) that lead customers to that page. Ten years of Google conversion optimization proves that words in ads must match words in titles as closely as possible, or the ads may suffer high bounce rates. Consumers will notice the shift in vocabulary and abandon the landing page, driving down conversion rates.

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Digital Marketing: Combining The Magic Of Data And Strength Of Technology To Transform Businesses

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) By Ayeni Ekundayo It is a fact that with a rapid growth in the IT sector, technology has managed to transform everything with time whether education, commerce, business trends or economic aspects. Most of them have tremendously changed with a big impact of Digital World. Digital Marketing has presented us with not only the extraordinary tools of growth for a firm or a company, however, in addition, has crafted sure short yet highly researched methods of grand business victories.

From Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) to Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Email marketing to Viral Marketing, Mobile marketing to Affiliate Marketing, the field of Digital Marketing deals with all these aspects. You must be wondering how exactly Digital Marketing helps in converting a business process into a successful well-renowned entity. Well, the mystery has been solved for you in below-listed points which will lead enlighten and enrich your knowledge regarding the true benefits of Digital Marketing: Extends your existence: It is evident that people tend to use the Internet for everything possible.

Hence, Digital Marketing helps in extending your existence to the audience. Whether you want to promote a product, a service, your company, a firm or even a minimal message regarding anything related to your business ideas, Digital Marketing is the best tool which can create a strong base for you in the market with the Internet. Purely Cost Effective: It is a universal fact that Digital Marketing is highly cost-effective.


Q&A: Kinney on Guiding the Customer Journey

Q&A: Kinney on Guiding the Customer Journey

Great Interview

Brands today have more data and marketing channels than ever, which can be both a blessing and a curse when it comes to shaping the customer journey. Chief Marketer recently chatted with Kenneth Kinney to get his perspective on where brands can improve when it comes to data, social media and content marketing.

Kinney is a digital marketing consultant and host of the marketing podcast “ A Shark’s Perspective. ”

CHIEF MARKETER: Marketers today are blessed and cursed with a bounty of data. Are they doing a good job at making sense of it all? KINNEY: What you find a lot of times is that too many people are still living in silos with data. A lot of people A/B test, but don’t coordinate on how [it influenced] the customer journey. If you’re giving customers 10 or 20 messages that don’t tell a complete story, that’s going to confuse them. Taking mindful insights from data is where companies fail. CM: Social media is one area that is generating a lot of data for brands. Are they effectively optimizing those engagements?

KINNEY: Social interaction is a complete fumble by some brands. One of the biggest issues today is social media and reputation. If someone searches and sees negative reviews, that will turn them off.


Clicks Are Not the Only Online Marketing Metric and They May Not Even Be the Best

Clicks Are Not the Only Online Marketing Metric and They May Not Even Be the Best

For decades the billboard and TV industries have tested markets in a way e-commerce entrepreneurs will find tells them a whole lot more. Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Ever since the world’s first banner ad in 1994 asked users to click “right here,” clicks have been the default measure of success online. But clicks, it turns out, are a poor indicator of how successful one's marketing really is. Consider the consumer who may have seen 10 digital ads before purchasing -- by measuring clicks, you can't definitively attribute 100 per cent of the credit to any one of those individual ads.

Because of that, it's difficult to determine which ad to mirror in the future. Multi-touch attribution -- an alternative to “last click” that awards value to each digital ad a consumer sees -- is an advertiser’s dream. But collecting the depth of data to measure every factor affecting a buyer’s decision is not possible in reality. However, lift measurement -- a staple of TV and billboard ad measurement for decades -- is a much better gauge of online ad performance than any click-based attribution.

While digital advertising may be a quantum leap over traditional mediums (because marketers can target with precision whom they want to see their campaigns) lift measurements are one case in which TV and billboard advertising had it right. How lift studies for TV and billboards work.