Episode 107: You Got A Pickle, I Got A Dollar

Brecht & Scott are on the horn streamlining their creative processes, optimizing their marketing procedures, and kicking their content into gear all to reflect on the bottom line.

Scott has to turn down a 100k+ client, not because the money isn't right, but because it isn't right for his business. Hear how to avoid a waste on time, energy, and resources before making a big mistake.

Brecht is doing spring cleaning...well, fall cleaning. He's settled in after over a year on the road and it's time to clean up. Marketing funnels, content, health, user experience, features, the app, the site - it's all to be shaped up or shipped out.

Are your optins buying? Are they bringing money in the door? Listen to a few ways to get cash from your optins even if they don't buy your products.

The Elements of a Great Blog Design

Designing a blog can be like putting together a puzzle. You have all these CTAs and different pages you want visitors to see, now you just have to put all the pieces together into one cohesive unit.

Challenges like figuring out the important elements to focus on, how many CTAs should be on a page, and the placement of everything is not easy.

And what should you be optimizing for when designing a blog? Getting people to click on one of your dozen CTAs, optimizing for social sharing, or putting the attention on the content? How do you balance all of this?

To help you out, Neil Patel of Quick Sprout created an infographic that outlines the blueprint of an optimal blog design. If you’re lost with design and need some guidance, this infographic should be of great help.

The Blueprint of an Optimal Blog Design
Courtesy of: Quick Sprout

Here are some related posts you may find interesting:

About the Author: Zach Bulygo (Twitter) is Content Writer for Kissmetrics.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Driving 10,000 Visitors a Month Through Pinterest


Social media can be a great traffic source for almost any online business.

But which network is right for you?

For most businesses, it makes sense to start with the largest networks. No matter how narrow your audience is, it’s very likely you’ll find members of that audience active on these networks.

This means that most businesses should start with one of the following:

  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

Although they are all huge, they are very different networks.

The best one for you will depend on your customers, your niche, and your marketing preferences. 

Pinterest is the second biggest driver of referral traffic by a large margin.


Despite that, it doesn’t get as much attention as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

This is mainly because it’s a unique network. Every single post on it is an image (with a short optional description).

Pinterest can be an amazing traffic source as long as you can create some sort of visual content in your niche.

And although it takes some time to learn how to use Pinterest effectively, it’s pretty simple once you understand it.

In this post, I’m going to show you how you can drive thousands of visitors a month to your website with Pinterest.

2 reasons why Pinterest is an amazing traffic source

The unique aspects of Pinterest are the reasons why Pinterest can be a great option for those businesses whose past social media marketing failed.

In particular, you need to understand two main reasons for using Pinterest to determine if it’s the right platform for you.

Reason #1 – Pins have great longevity: One of the problems with most social networks is that whatever you post stays visible only for a short period of time: anywhere from an hour to a few days at the most.

So even though you’re continually creating content on the network, you don’t benefit from it after you’ve initially posted it.

Seems like a waste, doesn’t it?

But Pinterest is different.

You can make a “pin” (share an image) that will continue to get views and shares over time.

It might not have the level of consistency that good search engine rankings have, but it’s much closer to achieving that kind of impact than any other social network.

If you’re active on Pinterest for a long time, the traffic will really add up.

For example, the food blog Pinch of Yum shared that they get about 500,000 visitors per month from Pinterest.


Even if they stopped being active on the network, they would still get a large portion of that referral traffic for the foreseeable future.

Compare that to other networks, like Facebook and Twitter, where your traffic would take a nosedive shortly after you stop posting.

Reason #2 – Pinterest was designed for sharing: One of the reasons why pins live for so long is that users are always looking for more things to share.

This is what a typical Pinterest dashboard looks like when a user logs in:


If a user likes a pin, they either “like” it or “repin” (share) it.

Good pictures can get hundreds or even thousands of repins.

Unlike other social networks, Pinterest isn’t about posting status updates about what happened during the day. It’s about sharing and consuming images and, by extension, content they link to.

Creating an account that attracts followers (3 key areas)

The first practical thing you need to know is how Pinterest works.

At first, it might seem a bit complex, but I promise that it’s fairly simple.

You start by creating an account, just like you would on any other social network.

When other users visit your profile, they’ll see something like this:


Your profile is composed of 5 main areas:

  1. Your logo - If your logo is very plain, you might want to create a custom image instead.
  2. Your brand name – It should reflect your business, but you could also use a personal account with your name.
  3. Your website URL
  4. A description – A one- or two-line description that explains what you do.
  5. Boards – These boards act as silos for the content you share on Pinterest (your pins are kept inside, depending on how you tag them). You should create a board for each category of images you plan to share (you can do this later).

Setting up your account: To start with, go to Pinterest, and sign up for a new account. You’ll want to select “continue as a business” on the first screen (after you enter your email):


Then, fill out the fields as usual:


If at any point you want to change your profile, you can do so by navigating to your profile and clicking “Edit Profile” in the top right corner:


Using Pinterest is simple: Like I mentioned before, there is only one type of content on Pinterest – “pins.”

A pin always consists of an image. It also typically has a description, which can also include hashtags.


It’s a good idea to include keywords in your description so that you show up when people use the search bar on Pinterest (which they do quite often).

As you can see in the pin above, you can either “pin it” to share it or you can “like it.”

Users see a variety of pins all at once as small versions. They can click on those to see their full versions.


Users can find pins using the search bar or looking through their feed.

Their feed consists of pins that the users they are following have posted (more on this later).

And that’s really all there is to using Pinterest at a basic level.

How to drive insane referral traffic with pins

Because of how Pinterest is set up, driving traffic back to your website isn’t difficult.

Here’s the basic idea:

  1. Pin attractive images from your blog content (or product pages)
  2. Put URL of the blog post as the link
  3. Get as many likes and repins on Pinterest as possible (more views)
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 over and over again
  5. Watch referral traffic grow exponentially

There’re obviously a few finer details in each of the steps, but that’s what the rest of this post covers.

Creating a pin the right way: The one part of using Pinterest that we haven’t covered yet is actually making a pin.

Depending on the popularity of your blog, you might find that your readers are already creating tons of pins for you.

You can check by going to:


Replace “quicksprout” with your domain name.

On top of those pins, you’ll want to regularly make pins of your own to add to your boards.

Unlike with most networks, you can get away, for the most part, with posting only your own content, but it’s still a good idea to repin content from other Pinterest users as well.

To make your own pin, look at the top left of any of your boards. You’ll see a grey “add a pin” button in the top left.

Click it, and either upload a picture or enter a link to an image.

If you only put in a picture, your pin will look very plain, like this:


If you click the pin (anywhere on the thumbnail), it will bring up the full pin.

Click on the “edit” button at the top of the pin:


This will bring up a pop-up that allows you to edit the key information.

You can choose the board where the pin should live as well as enter a description plus the URL that it should point to:


I know it may be tempting to link to a sales page, but always link to the most relevant to the image page. That’s what a Pinterest user is looking for if they click through to the URL.

After you’ve set the website address, users viewing your pin will have two different links that will point to that address:


Now that you know how to create a pin, you need to learn one more important thing about them: how to pick images that users love to share.

4 types of images that Pinterest users love

I’m a huge fan of using beautiful images to produce better content.

The typical Internet user prefers to get information via a picture rather than a long passage of text.

People also process images about 60,000 times faster than words, which means that images are a more efficient way to communicate certain types of information as well.

In general, there are 4 types of images that get the most likes and pins on Pinterest. You can choose any one or combination of them when finding or creating images to share on Pinterest.

Type #1 – Beautiful background + clear text overlay: You’ve probably seen this type of picture often as the featured picture for a blog post.

The left pin in the picture below is an example of one:


If you break the picture apart, it’s really simple to make.

First, you need a background image. Any high quality picture that’s vaguely related to your blog post will work, but remember that vertical pictures are best for Pinterest.

Then, you just need to put a slightly transparent box on top somewhere and add the title of your post.

I’ll admit that these types of pictures do look great, even if they’re simple to make.

If you’re not sure how to create this yourself, use my tutorial on creating your own custom images. I promise that you can make them in under 5 minutes once you learn how.

Ideally, create one for every single blog post you publish, and then pin it as well.

Type #2 – Infographics (or parts of them): Another type of image that you can use in many ways beyond Pinterest is infographics.

There’s no better way to summarize a lot of complex information in one image than an infographic.

A well-made infographic will drive traffic from Pinterest for years as it will continue to get repins and likes over time.


On top of the standard type of infographic, step-by-step instructions are also popular on Pinterest.

Take a procedure to do something, and create an image for each step of the process:


One big benefit of infographics on Pinterest beyond the fact that they are extremely shareable is that most users will click through to your site to see if there’s more background information on the image.

Here’s my guide to creating great infographics.

Type #3 – We all relate to other people: You’ll see a lot of well-made pictures in your feed.

One type of picture that always stands out from those is pictures of real people. Our eyes are naturally drawn to other people:


If you’re not shy on camera, you can take pictures of yourself for certain blog posts and then pin those images.

Alternatively, you can just customize stock pictures of models—although original pictures are always best.

Type #4 – Custom images always stand out: In one of my early updates about the nutrition case study site, I noted that custom-drawn images were producing great results on Facebook.

These types of images do well on most social networks, but they do especially well on Pinterest.

Pinterest users appreciate images with lots of useful information, but they also appreciate a great design.

So something like this, despite just being a custom image for a blog post, can get repinned over 8,000 times:


The downside of these images is that they’re going to cost more than the other types of images.

Unless you have the talent yourself, you’ll have to hire a freelancer from a site like Upwork. Depending on the quality you’re looking for, each image can cost anywhere from a few dollars to $100.

Get hundreds (or thousands) of followers with Pinterest contests

By now, you understand the basics of the network.

One key component of getting a lot of repins and likes is having a large following.

Your followers will see your pins in their home feed and will have the ability to repin them, which will show your pins to all of their followers (and so on).

If you have a really amazing picture, it can go viral even if you have a small following. But in most cases, it won’t happen.

If you have thousands of followers, I can virtually guarantee that you can get a few dozen of repins on any of your pins very quickly, which will expose your content to a new audience, leading to more views, repins, and followers.

In short: getting followers is important if you want to succeed on Pinterest.

I’m going to show you a few different strategies you can use to gain followers and get exposure for your content.

We’ll start with Pinterest contests.

The basic idea is to offer a prize for pinning something relevant to your brand, with the winner chosen at random. If the prize is great, the contest can spread to a wide audience, and you can pick up a lot of followers.

Unfortunately, these aren’t as effective as they used to be because Pinterest started to enforce some strict rules.

For example, you cannot ask users to follow you, repin, or share your images in order to get extra entries into the contest.

If you’re looking to get a lot of followers quickly, this is your best bet (but make the prize attractive).

Step #1 – Come up with a simple idea and prize: Ideally, the main details about the contest should be captured in an attractive image that you can pin.


And although you can’t tell users to do certain things, you can link the image to the Rules page on your own website (which is a good idea).

A lot of the success of your contest will be based on the prize. It has to be something that your target audience would be willing to create an image, or repin one of your existing pins, for.

On top of the prize, you will need to give the contest participants a specific task to do to gain an entry into the contest.

A common one is to take a picture with your product and add a specific hashtag that you create.

Or you can ask them to follow you and repin a picture from one of your boards.


Step #2 – Set up your landing page: It can be hard to quantify the value of a follower on Pinterest. Furthermore, we know that email subscribers are even more valuable.

So although you can use your contest to get new followers, you should also try to use it to get more email subscribers on your site.

When a Pinterest user clicks on your contest pin, it should take them to a landing page with the rules of the contest.

One of the rules could be that they must submit an email address in order to be contacted if they win.


Even if they don’t win, you could still offer them a consolation prize, like a discount, to try to encourage a sale.

Important note on contests: A successful contest needs to be seen by a lot of people. There’s no sense giving away a thousand dollars or a product worth that much if only 20 people enter the contest.

This is why you should wait until you start getting regular repins and engagement on your pins naturally, before you launch a contest.

You can also promote your contest on other social media channels.

The more followers you already have, the more repins you will get, which will lead to exposure to your target audience that you want.

The other benefit of this is that a contest will help convert existing followers on Pinterest into email subscribers, which is a better channel for marketing.

So, how else can you get more followers? Here’s an option you can use if you are starting from scratch…

Have spare time? How to get thousands of followers naturally

Social media is all about connecting to other people and brands.

And although Pinterest is a fairly unique network, it’s no different in regards to this aspect.

In order to get people to follow you, you need to make some sort of connection with them.

It could be through commenting on their pins or sharing their pins, but the simplest and most scalable option is to follow other users.

When you follow another user, they get a notification. Most of the time, they will check out your profile.

If they like your profile and like the content you post on your boards (which is why it’s important to be active), they’ll follow you back.

Depending on how good your profile is and how well you pick the people you follow, 1-10% of them will follow you back.

But there are limits. In order to prevent spammers, Pinterest imposed limits on the number of people you can follow within an hour. It’s currently at 300 people per hour.

If you go over this limit, you’ll risk getting your account suspended or banned.

It takes about 5-15 minutes to follow this many people, and it will get you anywhere from 3 to 30 new followers.

Although that sounds like a lot of work, imagine if you did that just twice a day. Even with mediocre results, let’s say 10 new followers, you’d pick up 600 new followers in a month, and 7,200 in a year.

That’s a pretty large following.

If you also consider that your following will grow from getting repins and likes, you can multiply that total by 2, 3, or more.

Yes, you’ll have to be dedicated, but this simple math shows that this strategy can work.

A lot of your success will be determined by whom you follow. If you run an account about home decorating but follow football fans, you’ll get a terrible follow-back rate.

To avoid this, use the following two different methods to find users to follow who are actually interested in your content.

Finding people to follow – method #1 (keywords): Pinterest has a pretty good search function. Type in your niche into the search bar, and press enter (it will divide it into separate words automatically):


This will bring up all pins relevant to those keywords.

Obviously, if someone pins or repins an image that is related to your keywords, they’re probably interested in the topic.


Next, you’ll have to click on the name of the sharer (at the bottom of each pin) one by one.

That will bring you to the board to which they pinned the image. Click their name and image once again on that page (on the top left) in order to see their main profile:


On their profile, click the “Follow” button on the top right in bright red:


Alternatively, instead of clicking on the sharer’s name, you can click the image of the original pin and scroll down to the bottom.

Just past the comments, you’ll see a section that says “saved by [Pinterest user]”, which has the “Follow” button right beside it for you to click:


This gets you some very targeted people to follow, but it is fairly time consuming. I’d recommend mixing this method with method #2.

Finding people to follow – method #2 (competitors): Instead of trying to find people who are probably interested in your niche, you can find people who are definitely interested in it.

How? By searching for your competitors.

For example, if I wanted to get more followers interested in social media marketing, I might search for “social media examiner” on Pinterest. If they have an account, it will come up in the suggestions bar under “pinners”:


Click their name, and it will take you to their profile.

Assuming they are a strong competitor, they should have thousands of followers, which you can see at the top of their profile.


Click the follower count in order to bring up a list of all their followers (from newest to oldest).


The nice thing about this option is that there is a follow button under all of the followers.

You’ll likely see that some followers have zero or very few pins or followers themselves. Or they might not have a display picture (just a red thumbtack).

These aren’t active users, so don’t waste your follow limit on following them.

What about automation? I understand that this is a pretty tedious task. But it’s also a very effective way to build your follower list with very little cost.

If you do look around on Google, you’ll find tools that allow you to automatically follow people using the above methods. You can set the limits to make sure the tool doesn’t follow too many people in a short time period.

Here’s the thing: If you get caught, your account will be banned. Any hard work that went into it will be erased in a second.

Bots can do strange things sometimes, or you might set the limits just a bit too high and set off triggers that get you into trouble.

I do not recommend using bots to get followers, but if you do, always err on the side of caution.

The better option, if you don’t want to do this yourself, is to hire a foreign freelancer to do it for you (you can find one on Elance, for example).

Create a quick video of what you want them to do, how many people they should follow in an hour, and how many hours you’d like them to do it in a day.

I would only do this at the beginning since there is a risk in giving someone else access to the account.

Ultimately, it’s a boring task but something that you should do yourself. Find a way to clear 20 minutes a day to do it, and get it done.

Hint: Make this change on your blog posts to amplify their reach

We’ve covered a ton already—just about everything you need to know about using Pinterest effectively for your business:

  • how to create an account
  • how to pin and repin images
  • what kinds of images work best
  • how to get followers

And if you do all that, you can be successful on Pinterest.

But there’s one really easy way to get even more out of your pins.

Since you’ll be creating most of your images for your blog posts first and then pinning them on Pinterest, why not let your other blog readers do that as well?

You can use a WordPress plugin to automatically add a “Pin it” button to all of your blog images, which will show up any time someone hovers over them with their mouse.


With the button, a reader can pin the image with just a few clicks.

Once you’ve installed the plugin, go to its settings to make sure everything is configured correctly:


The most important setting is the “Show Pin It Button On Image Hover” option along with the color and size of the button.

You want to pick a color that makes it stand out from most of your images and website.

Getting extra pins from your blog readers will help increase the longevity of your pins even more.

Every time an old picture gets pinned again, it will be shown to the pinner’s followers as well as at the top of any relevant searches.


Pinterest is a unique social network with a lot of aspects that make it a great marketing channel.

If you follow the steps in this post and stay consistent with the process, I guarantee that you will be driving thousands of visits to your website every month with minimal effort at that point.

Once you start driving a solid amount of traffic, you can work on increasing your email opt-in rate and eventually turning those subscribers into customers.

I know that learning an entire social network marketing strategy in one post can be a little overwhelming, so leave me any questions you have in the comments below.

David Heinemeier Hansson – AMA Hangout – Friday 16th October 2015, 17:00 BST 09:00 PST

Google Hangout, DHH, Basecamp. Friday October 16th

We’re hosting an AMA with DHH on his talk at Business of Software – ‘Rewrite!’

The video, slides and attendee notes are available here.

Join us Friday October 16th, 17:00 BST, 09:00 PST for the Hangout with DHH.  Get your questions to the front of the queue, tweet @bosconference using #BoS2015.

Join the DHH Hangout. Friday 16th October

Join the Business of Software Community.

Get the latest updates from Business of Software free to you. You will receive conference news, blogs from some of the world's best leaders, and access BoS video content as soon as it goes live by signing up here.

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David Heinemeier Hansson | REWRITE! | Basecamp | Business of Software Conference Video | DHH

What’s number one on Joel Spolsky’s list of ‘Things You Should Never Do’?

Rewrite your software from scratch.

David Heinemeier Hansson disagrees.

In this talk, ‘Rewrite!‘ at Business of Software Conference USA 2015, David Heinemeier Hansson, Co-Founder, Basecamp, and Creator of Ruby on Rails explains why he disagrees and discusses his experience in rewriting the code for Basecamp, not once, but twice, with the third version of Basecamp launched this month.

Join us 16th October for a Google Hangout to discuss with DHH.

Video, slides, attendee notes and transcript below…

Watched the talk and want to ask questions? Great – we’re doing a Google Hangout. Join us free.

Join us, Friday 16th October, 17:00 BST, 09:00 PST for the hangout with David. Get your questions to the front of the queue, tweet @bosconference using #BoS2015.

Register now – we may have to restrict attendance to maximise value for all participants.

Join the DHH Hangout. Friday 16th October


Don’t have time for the full video?

This is the first video of talks from Business of Software Conference USA 2015. If you love Business of Software Conference but couldn’t make it – videos from previous conferences are available in sets here (Business of Software Conference Europe 2015 talks now available).

Join the Business of Software Community.

Get the latest updates from Business of Software free to you. You will receive conference news, blogs from some of the world's best leaders, and access BoS video content as soon as it goes live by signing up here.

The post David Heinemeier Hansson | REWRITE! | Basecamp | Business of Software Conference Video | DHH appeared first on Business of Software USA.

What it means to be an entrepreneur (Plus, finding your passion and building an abundance mindset) [FS131]

What, exactly, does it mean to be an entrepreneur? And is this whole passion thing all it’s cracked up to be? Is it possible to shift from a mindset of scarcity to one of abundance? We tackle all of these questions and a few more on today’s episode of the show.

Today’s episode is fueled by real questions from real entrepreneurs struggling with what it means to build an independent business in today’s world.

We recently rebuilt the Fizzle community forums from the ground up. Topic tagging, popular topics, @ mentions, and a community calendar were all key additions in the new version (you can see for yourself with a free 5-week trial).

But the feature we’re most excited about is the new Question & Answer forum, where entrepreneurs can ask their pressing questions and then vote on the best answers, just like on Quora.

Since launching the Q&A forum, it’s been the hottest aspect of the community. More importantly, we get direct insight into the most important challenges independent business builders are dealing with.

We pulled five questions from the forums and answered them in depth on today’s show:

  1. How do you shift your mindset away from the scarcity mindset?
  2. Where does “passion” come from and why does it matter?
  3. What do I do if I have NO lasting interests?
  4. What does it mean to be an entrepreneur?
  5. What advice do you have to stop obsessing over negative feedback?

If you’re up for an hour of existential fun and entrepreneurial contemplation, this is the perfect episode for you. Tune in…

(You know you should subscribe and listen to it on your podcast app on the go, right?) Enjoy!

It’s better to listen on the go!    Subscribe on iTunes 

The questions

1. How do you shift your mindset away from the scarcity mindset?

There’s a bit about snow globes in the 2nd half of episode 129. A Fizzler sells custom snow globes for like $999.

I nearly crashed my lawn tractor when I heard that.

“People pay a grand for a snow globe!?! What the fizzle! Who is that crazy? Who is crazy enough to charge that much?” (I didn’t say fizzle at the time.)

It took about 10 minutes for me to remember that not everyone lives in “my world”. Expensive means different things to different people. Things that are impossibly expensive for 1 person are pocket change for someone else.

Anyone have any tips for shifting your mindset away from the scarcity mindset? – Fizzler Josh R.

2. Where does “passion” come from and why does it matter?

I don’t get working for the passion of it, truly I don’t. Or the audience versus target market. I mean it all makes sense on the surface but it doesn’t match the patterns I have seen in business. I see business as having a social purpose of providing profits and salaries through the creation of value, and if what they sell isn’t valuable then woe betide them.

The new idea of being passionate about what you do and serving people is just not sinking in: I have always found companies (not people) that need services I do and done them well, so I could pay the bills and take care of the home fires. I live for weekends and spend them with my family. If I really cared about my work it would interfere with that.

Am I just way out in left field? Is the new model really all that works? Is there any hope for me? – Fizzle Steve F.

Passion is the word we sometimes use when it’s hard to choose a path forward.

3. What do I do if I have NO lasting interests?

This is the end of week 2 of my “Try 5.” I’ve been in “Choosing a Topic” the whole time, but there seems to be a fatal flaw in the course:

It assumes there are at least a few things capable of holding my interest.

Sure, I can get wildly interested in topics. It happens a lot. But I can count on one hand with leftover fingers the number of times an idea has held my interest longer than three weeks, and not a single one of those has happened since I was 12 (and I have no lingering interest in the Ninja Turtles, the Power Rangers, or the minute details of the Colorado Avalanche roster). I get totally into something, learn as much as I care to learn by devouring an outrageous amount of information, and then, curiosity satisfied, have no more interest in it whatsoever.

So what on earth do I do if I can’t generate a list of ideas from which to choose a topic? What if I really have no lasting interests? – Fizzler Lindsay W.

4. What does it mean to be an entrepreneur?

What does it mean to be an Entrepreneur?

There is a lot of talk about “how” to be an entrepreneur but not a lot on what exactly it means to be an entrepreneur. I would love to hear your thoughts and insights. – Fizzle Jonny K.

Being an entrepreneur means being willing to take responsibility for the results of the work you do each day.

5. What advice do you have to stop obsessing over negative feedback?

Over the past year, I’ve received hundreds of positive emails and comments from my audience, thanking me for my content and newsletters. It’s really boosted my confidence and made my tiny online project a real source of satisfaction for me.

But a few days ago, one person unsubscribed from my list with the following complaint: “UNSUBSCRIBED: I sent an email with concrete questions a long time ago which was never answered. What’s the point of having a site about this topic without actually informing?”

Now I’m feeling all deflated and can’t stop thinking about this person for some reason. Logically, I know it’s impossible to please everyone all the time, but so far this is my first negative experience with a member of my audience, so the feelings are new to me. I don’t know whether to blame myself for letting her down, dismiss her criticism, or a bit of both.

I don’t want to let one drop poison the well, and it’s ridiculous I know given how trivial this is, but it feels like one negative experience outshadows 50 positive ones.

Why is that? Is this a common thing that most entrepreneurs encounter and learn to deal with? How can I focus on the overwhelmingly positive feedback? – Fizzler David L.

Don’t take feedback personally. It’s about the work. And the work can always be better. That’s how you grow a business.

Show Notes

  • Lifestyle Business Weekly in iTunes – this is Corbett’s new video show, which you can now also download as an audio podcast. Check it out, subscribe, and leave a review!
  • How to Create a Vision for Your Life – this is the annual process Corbett follows to make sure he’s making decisions based on his values and building a life he’ll be proud of.
  • 8 Pricing Strategies to Use on Your Product, Service, or Workshop – on episode 124 of The Fizzle Show, we chatted about a bunch of different pricing strategies you can use in your business, including value-based pricing
  • Getting Started with Value-Based Pricing – A great primer from Sean McCabe and company over on SeanWes.com about value-based pricing.
  • VideoFruit.com – Bryan Harris is an up-and-comer in the online business space who has quickly grown a following by putting in the work to build expertise up front.
  • Queen of Snow Globes – Leah Andrews is the entrepreneur who sparked Josh’s near crash of his lawn mower when he realized how much she charges for her custom snow globers.

Interview with a copyhacker

I first met Joanna Wiebe from Copy Hackers in 2013. She gave an incredible presentation on “Copywriting that Converts: How to sell without selling your soul“, but the main lesson that I learnt was the difference between people who can write and real copywriters.

Number one fanI’m lucky enough to consider Joanna a friend – hopefully she won’t be too disturbed by that. I’m also a great fan of her copywriting blog, and have read most if not all of her excellent Conversion-Boosting Copywriting Ebooks. So I asked her if she wouldn’t mind an interview-style series of questions, thinking she’d either pretend not to get the email or give me a few paragraphs of content.

Instead she gave me this. It’s quite incredible, and if you have a website, care about selling what you do and communicate with words, you really need to read this. Don’t skim it – there are some absolute gem’s here; read below to understand the suspect punctuation.

Who are you, what do you do and what’s your superpower?

Joanna Wiebe - Copy HackersI’m Joanna Wiebe. I teach copywriting at Copy Hackers – that is, I help businesses grow online using just their words. My superpower, outside of teleporting (look behind you!! i was just there, but now i’m back here), is writing lengthy responses to all questions but the first and tenth.

Why the name Copy Hacker? I looked up “hack” and found this – 6 and 7 definitely don’t apply to you:

What is a hack?So glad that 3 and 8 apply, though.

Copy Hackers was originally called “Copy For Hackers”, but my partner Lance suggested we drop the “for” and just go with Copy Hackers. At the time, “Design for Hackers” had just come out, and we didn’t want to sound like we were associated with that group – not ‘cuz we don’t dig Dave Kadavy (we do!) but ‘cuz, well, we weren’t associated with him. The “For Hackers” thing felt sortuv franchise-y. So we dropped it.

What I continue to like about the name Copy Hackers is that it sounds like we bypass the theory and get to the goods – that’s how it rings for me, at least. And I dig that. Although we do theorize a good deal, we’re also invested in action and experimentation.

If someone is insanely tight for time (I’m sure you can’t imagine that), what advice would you give them about their copywriting/hacking/skills?

This question always troubles me – or, better, answering it does. It seems so short-sighted to say that you don’t have time to work on the only thing connecting you to your prospect: the words on your page or in your email. What else are you doing that’s more important? Admittedly, there are things that are at least as important, like improving a product or fixing bugs. But people aren’t doing those things instead of writing new landing pages and optimizing their email drip campaigns. They’re doing all sorts of little make-work tasks, fumbling with the numbers and reading about other people’s success and trying to figure out easier, faster ways to convert – spending hours watching but not acting on user videos and sitting in pointless meetings – when, meanwhile, their site is bleeding visitors to the tune of 99 out of 100 failing to see why they should sign up, buy, upgrade or refer. Meanwhile, they’re auto-sending emails that had little thought put into them and were written clumsily in the 20 minutes they allocated for that “little job.” Meanwhile, they’re spreading themselves thin across everything except their copy.

Stop doing so many things!

If you had 100 customers in your store, you wouldn’t sit in the staffroom trying to figure out what to do to sell to them. You’d get your butt out there, talk to them, listen to them – and sell to them. If you had salespeople, you’d expect even more! THAT’S what your copy is there to do. Don’t mistake copy as “just words” simply because it’s free to make. Your copy is your online salesperson – and if you rush it or don’t make time to work on it, you’re effectively putting an untrained newbie into a room filled with prospects and letting him/her stand there, rocking back and forth on the spot, ringing in the one or two customers that need what you’ve got so desperately they don’t even need a salesperson’s help.

Now, if you have an hour a day to spend on your copy and you have a lot of copy to write, then I applaud you for at least carving out time… and I have efficient copy shortcuts for you.

Here are some short shortcuts:

  • Replace just one word in your headline with an unexpected, unfamiliar synonym. That’s like changing “Accounting software that saves you time” to “Accounting software that saves you many moons.” Instantly, your message becomes more note-worthy – and, thus, more likely to stick. No, I’m not kidding. “Many moons” holds the reader’s attention for a second. “Time” doesn’t even register.
  • Use kernel sentences. A kernel sentence is basically “X is Y.” It’s extremely clear. That’s why it’s so powerful. Plus, it’s easy for sixth-grade readers to understand, and that reading level is our target.
  • Engage all 5 senses on each page. Your copy today is unlikely to engage even one sense, outside of vision because it must be read with one’s eyes. We are sensory beings, and our brains like texture, salt, heat, cold, motion, burning wood – the list goes on. Read over your copy, and work yer butt off to engage each sense at some point on your page. You’ll find that your copy suddenly feels alive.

And here are the long shortcuts, which pay off bigger in the end and are more than parlor tricks:

  • Swipe messages from your customers. (This is the talk to them, listen to them, sell to them idea above.) Send out surveys with open-ended questions that will compel your customers to use real swipe-able words and phrases to tell you what was going on in their lives that brought them to you, what they most wanted to get out of your solution, what they have gotten, and so on. This is the bloody GOLD that great copy is based on. And it takes little more than one hour to craft the survey, 5 minutes to send the survey, 5 minutes to send a “survey closing in 2 hrs” email, and four hours to analyze the survey results in order to find sticky, swipe-worthy messages. Then drop those into your headline, subhead, body copy, click triggers, etc. Done!
  • Swipe messages from your prospects. Search Amazon.com for books and/or products that are similar to yours, and pore over the reviews of those products in search of swipe-worthy phrases that speak to expectations, pains and outcomes.

If a small business owner needs persuading that writing better copy should be on their radar, what would you tell them?

Grumpy copywriterOh, Lord, I am too far down the path of the grumpy veteran copywriter to bother trying to convince people! What the hell else is going to convert your visitor but copy?

Not convinced? Okay, how about you take all the copy off your site and see what happens! Or how about you send a blank email! Go ahead. Do that right now. You send a blank sales email, and I’ll go delete all the words from your website, and then we can talk about whether copy matters or not.

…See? I’m grumpy. :)

The only way you can connect with your visitor online is with words. If you have LiveChat, great, but that’s still words – that’s still a chat agent communicating the messages that your prospect needs in order to choose you. Same with video: it’s based on a script, and that script has to be written to capture and hold attention and ultimately move the viewer to action… and we call that copywriting.

Failing to improve your copy is like failing to train your salesperson. Don’t be surprised when they fall flat for lack of investment from the C-suite.

For small businesses: hire a copywriter, outsource copywriting (know anyone?) or learn the skills yourself?

I strongly believe that very small businesses – those with 2-3 people – can and should write their own copy. For two reasons.

Earn money writingThe first: it’s very, very unlikely that you have the money available to hire a kick-ass copywriter. Copywriters that do more than wordsmith are few and far between, but demand is very high. So you end up with a tiny pool of truly skilled copywriters being lured in by businesses like Google, Microsoft and Shopify – businesses that actually write in their query emails, “Money is not an issue.” You’re up against that.

So, the second reason you should write your own copy: you care waaay more about your business’s success than any $25/hr copywriter possibly could. You have nothing but skin in the game. You care deeply about your customers; you know how much you’re spending to drive visitors to your site, and you care about those visitors; and you know that your solution solves real problems (or seriously delights) customers. All you need to do is figure out how to channel all that great stuff onto the page in ways that convince and convert. So buy a book or two (ahem) and learn!

That understood, the moment you get to a position of profitability where you have, say, $5000 a month to put toward marketing, do yourself a ginormous favor and hire a great copywriter (with a stellar portfolio and chops highlighted in the blog posts they write) on retainer for about a year. You may be able to get 8-10 hours a week from a super-solid copywriter for $5000 per month, and those 40 hours per month could, within four months’ time, see them overhaul your drip campaigns, create new variations of your landing pages (tested in Unbounce, for example) rewrite your home page and even get you set up with an email→sales page funnel that measurably increases revenue for you. At the end of the year, you’ll be well set-up to bring in an online marketer for the $60K you were otherwise spending, and bring the copywriter’s retainer down to about 5 hours a week.

I’ve seen countless small businesses throw $5000 a month at the flavor-of-the-month marketing technique only to burn through it, shrug their shoulders, and go looking for the next fad. Don’t do that. Please. Save yourself the heartache, and get a great copywriter on retainer for X period of time.

Should SEO be factored in to copy writing? If so to what extent? [No leading question there…]

haha! Ah, Dave. The answer is… yes???

I always consider search and the possibility that my copy can make it easier for my client to attract free high-quality traffic. So I’d say yes – but I’d do so with a big ol’ asterisk. And in the micetype associated with that asterisk, I’d explain:

  • Put the visitor first, whether you’re writing “SEO copy” or not
  • Be extremely careful before you sacrifice a compelling headline for a “keyword optimized” headline
  • Don’t be tricky with your search-optimized copy because tricks quickly lose power in algorithm updates – but really rich content that’s on-point has stood the test of time
  • There are many ways to drive traffic to a site, but you need that site to convert visitors, so keep your priorities straight

“I’m not a writer, so should I take the time to learn how or…”?

Good! Better that you’re not a writer. Writers have all sorts of bad writerly habits to break to write copy that converts.

Is there a product you adore and a fabulous market you want to connect that product with? Then you prequalify to write copy – not good copy, mind you, but copy. Then comes the part where you learn how to turn your ho-hum, wobbly-legged, word-shaped air into bold, confident copy. Then comes the part where you practice doing so. And two years from now comes the part where you finally write good copy, which sets you up to write every piece of business communication better from that point on.

Don’t take the time to learn to write copy if:

  • You’re independently wealthy,
  • You can afford to hire the best freelance copywriters, and
  • You have no plans to review the work those freelancers produce for you.

If any of the above is untrue for you, take the time. Learn how. You’re running a business, after all. You don’t get to opt out of the key parts of growing that business just because learning to do it right is inconvenient. I certainly hope you weren’t sold the idea that running a business is easy and takes no training…

Do you have any hacks for split testing? What tool do you recommend?

Tests need hypotheses. So start with a question. You can usually dig up great questions just by looking at your Google Analytics.

For example, you may find that X landing page is getting good traffic, but visitors are bouncing / exiting quickly and conversion rates are lower than on other pages or low compared to the amount of traffic you’re getting to that page.

This is the part where you can get really intense and rigorous – or where you can use shortcuts (so you actually run a test this year, not just in your dreams). A shortcut is to head over to http://fivesecondtest.com/ and upload a screenshot of your page. Then pore over what users say, and use that to feed an hypothesis about what may be going wrong on your page.

To do the testing side of this easily, you’ll ideally already be using Unbounce for your landing pages, which would mean all you have to do to test your hypothesis is click a button to duplicate your page, then edit your page in keeping with your hypothesis, then publish and launch the test.

If you’re not set up with Unbounce, you can install VWO or Optimizely – they’re both easy – on your site and set the test up in those platforms. It’s generally as easy as clicking an element to exclude or change it within those testing platforms.

FYI: For the most confident results, you should set minimums for traffic and conversions before you launch the test. Simply relying on a testing tool to tell you which variation has won has led to countless problems with invalid data. Use calculators like Evan Miller’s to calculate sample size, etc before launching a test.

So use:

  • Google Analytics
  • Five Second Test
  • Unbounce, VWO or Optimizely
  • Evan Miller’s calculators

Would you try to persuade someone to split test? If so, how?

The biggest objections to split-testing that I hear most often are:

  1. I don’t have enough traffic
  2. It’s hard
  3. I don’t know what to test
  4. It’s risky

The fourth objection usually comes when the rubber hits the road and a new variation is sitting in front of them, waiting for their okay to launch the test. In the cases of risk, it’s easy to reduce risk: simply expose the new variation to a smaller percentage of traffic.

Which brings us to the first objection: low traffic. If you don’t have solid traffic and conversion rates that indicate that you have an active customer base online, you shouldn’t split test. It’s okay not to split test if your traffic won’t bear it. Instead, use Five Second Test, UserTesting.com, Hotjar, Crazy Egg – any or all of the above – to learn about your visitors and what they’re stumbling with on your site. Then craft a new page variation. And launch it. Watch your analytics, of course. (Note that I’m not talking about “before and after” testing. I’m talking about optimization without split-testing.)

Secondly, it’s hard to test. Sure it is – especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s hard to scuba dive or drive a car or even read a book if you don’t know how. So you learn. And then you practice. And eventually it gets easier. I think it’s great when a business owner believes testing will be hard; the lie is that testing is easy – and that’s the same lie that makes people think marketing is easy, Adwords is easy, hiring talented people is easy, writing great copy is easy, designing a page is easy. It’s not easy. But it’s extremely rewarding, and you’ll learn things you never knew you could learn – things that marketers throughout the last hundred years would die to have been able to learn.

If you don’t know what to test, test big, bold changes. Those lead to the best insights / learnings. And that’s the real reason to test: not to play a game of experimentation but to learn so you can market better and grow more effectively.

Finally, if you don’t know why you should split-test, learn more about it. Ask more questions. And should you find that you want to measure your marketing to see what really works – instead of taking stabs at it and crossing your fingers – hire experts to handle it for you and relay insights and business results to you.

What’s your biggest grammatical peeve?

haha! I have to laugh because in copywriting we so rarely get to talk about grammar. I am a grammar junkie, secretly – although, admittedly, I make grammar mistakes without realizing. (There are a lot of rules!) One of my favorite writing books is “Grammar As Style”, a brilliant but out-of-print book that every writer should read yearly.

Grammar naziMy biggest pet peeve is probably improper use of apostrophes. I’m quite certain the apostrophe is morphing into a punctuation mark it was never meant to be. In particular, I dislike improper possessives for plurals and words ending in ‘s’.

I see this sort of thing a lot: Jesus’.

It should be this: Jesus’s.

Words in the singular ending in ‘s’ – including names – are to be treated like any word and given the appropriate “‘s” when possessive. A way to remember it: Bridget Jones’s Diary. Only words that are plural possessives get ye olde apostrophe sans ‘s’, such as in a phrase like this: the girls’ books.

I also dislike misused semicolons, but they’re a tricky little mark, so I can’t complain too much there. If you’ve ever driven a traffic circle in Canada or the US (not in the UK, where they’re everywhere), you might see the similarities between semicolons and traffic circles: they’re extremely dangerous when used by people who don’t know what they’re doing.

Why do you write your emails with a lowercase subject?

So they’ll stand out! One of the biggest challenges when writing a subject line is to get it noticed in a cluttered inbox. So I use lowercase. Oh, and I just kinda like it.

What are the best and worst aspects of doing what you do?

The best parts:

  • I get to practice the discipline of writing on a daily basis
  • I get to help businesses reach their market and grow, which means people are getting solutions to their problems and those businesses are able to hire people (yay for employment!)
  • I meet insanely cool people – like you! – thanks to events my business allows me to participate in
  • I think enough about copywriting problems that I sometimes come up with actual solutions :)

The worst parts:

  • I have such a hard time saying no to new projects that I rarely write anything for pleasure
  • While I’m helping other businesses, I’m failing to focus on my own, which means my visitors aren’t getting the solutions they need and I don’t have time to recruit or train the help I could use

What technology do you use and love, and use and hate? Software, hardware, body implants?

Use and love: Calendly, Gmail, WordPress, Buffer, AdBlock, PayPal, Stripe, Slack, Boomerang, RightSignature, Airstory :) , Yoast, Bounce Exchange.

Use and hate: Infusionsoft, MailChimp and QuickBooks. Okay, I don’t hate them. I have to give Infusionsoft a chance ‘cos I’m just starting out with it. I’m trying to switch from MailChimp to Infusionsoft because, for the money I pay MC and the time I’ve been with them, they sure as hell aren’t trying to do anything to keep me, including totally failing at support and making me pay a premium above the $300+ I already pay just to get access to better split-testing (which is something they should have offered two years ago as part of the core product!). And QuickBooks – it’s just stunningly buggy for a signature product from a massive tech company.

Where would you like your business to be in 5 & 10 years? Realistically.

In 5 years, I need Copy Hackers to be a brand that’s well-respected everywhere business is done in English. :) (Unless I learn to write in other languages!) When people talk about Copy Hackers and forward our blog posts to others, it’s because they want to bring trusted, proven copy and growth recommendations to the conversation.

In 10 years, obviously my volcano lair will be complete, so.

Copy Hackers HQ 2025

Copy Hackers HQ 2025

Friday Q & A: Should You Hire A Content Marketing Agency, How To Find The Right Advisors For Your Business, And Who To Pitch When Guest Blogging

Every Friday, we’re answering your questions about business, startups, customer success and more.

Happy Friday!

In our new Groove Friday Q & A segment, we’re answering any questions that you have about, well, anything.

A huge thank you to Ngan Pham, James McBryan and Brandon Landis for this week’s questions.

Check out this week’s answers below, and jump in with your own thoughts in the comments!

Should you hire a content marketing agency, or do it yourself?

Obviously, we do things ourselves here, but I don’t think either path is wrong.

I think one key question that you should ask yourself, which Hiten Shah shared in his interview on our blog, is: do you have more time or money?

7) You and Neil have always gotten “a lot from a little” with regard to marketing budget. What are some examples of strategies or tactics that have delivered ridiculously outsized value for you?

It’s all about finding opportunities and figuring out whether you have time or money.

If you have time, spend your time on the highest leverage things you can do for your business right now. If you have money, figure out how to spend your money as efficiently as possible by running as many simultaneous small experiments that you can.

With Crazy Egg we had money that we were making from our consulting business so we found a high leverage (cheap and targeted) traffic source in all the CSS galleries that were popular at the time. So we spent a bit of money to buy ads on these CSS gallery website that directed people to the Crazy Egg early access homepage. It worked and resulted in over 23k email sign ups before we publicly released the product.

With KISSmetrics we had raised money for the business so we had more time to work on the product and iterate it. So in that case we decided to invest our time into creating a popular Twitter account (we have never spent much money trying to grow the following, it was all our time). This early investment of time in our twitter account led to the initial readership for our blog.

If you have plenty of time before your product is ready, and you can spare a couple of hours a day until January, then you should do as much of it yourself as possible.

If you have severely limited team hours but money in the bank, than an agency could be valuable.

A hybrid model could work, too. It took us a long time to find any understanding at all of how to be successful in content marketing, and most of that time was spent making mistakes and learning from them.

You could probably accelerate a lot of that by:

  1. Reading everything you can get your hands on about content marketing (start here)
  2. Hiring a good consultant to help you understand the basics and kick things off on the right foot.

Ultimately it’s a decision that depends heavily on your resources, but if you do decide to hire an agency, then pay close attention and try to learn what they’re doing, so that you understand your own marketing well enough to do it yourself if you need to. If the agency becomes indispensable to you and you hit a rough financial patch, you’re either going to be stuck without any marketing or stuck cutting budgets from other critical parts of your business.

How do you find the right coaches and advisors in your market?

If your primary goal is to generate connections in your market (versus getting great business advice, which I’d say mentors outside of your space are perfectly qualified to give, though you may already have those), then the first place I’d look to find leaders in your market would be your customers.

Talk to your customers, and ask them simple, open-ended questions like:

What [industry] blogs and websites do you read on a daily basis?

The people who write those sites are likely to be well-connected players in your space.

What products do you use in your business?

(If you’re B2C, then the question changes a bit.)

Look at the founders, investors and advisors to the companies behind your customers’ other favorite products. They likely know your market—or at least part of it—very well.

Beyond that, I’d recommend the mentor outreach approach I laid out in this post.

How To Connect With Your Next Mentor

When starting with guest posting, should you go after big blogs or mid-sized blogs just a step above your own?

While I admire anyone who has the guts to punch well above their weight class, I recommend focusing on blogs just a few steps above your own.

Here’s why: guest posting relationships are fueled by leverage.

You’re leveraging an existing blog’s audience to expand your own reach. Meanwhile, that blog wants to leverage your content and expertise, as well as your audience, to further their own marketing efforts.

The bigger your audience—or at least the bigger your audience looks (this is important)—the more leverage you have to get your guest post submissions accepted.

Right now, a big publication might have little to no incentive to run your post.

But by getting a few placements in blogs a bit bigger than yours, you have validation that you can point to. You begin to look like a more legitimate blogger with an audience, and that gives you enough leverage to be seen as valuable by the bigger players.

It comes down to odds.

Right now, you could pitch 10 major blogs on your guest post. You probably won’t get a single acceptance. You might get one.

Or, you could pitch 10 medium-sized blogs on your guest post. If your pitch is good (more on that here), you have a solid chance at being accepted by more than half of them.

Once your content has appeared on 5 other blogs, your hit rate with major blogs will likely go up significantly.

And once that happens, all bets are off :)

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I’d love for this new weekly segment to be successful, and provide a valuable repository of answers from our entire community for entrepreneurs everywhere.

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Here’s what you can do to get involved:

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Archiving Test Results: How Effective Organizations Do It

You’re running lots of tests? Great stuff.

Now, here’s a piece of the puzzle you may not have thought about: what is the most appropriate way to archive test results?

Surely, any mature organization can use insight from past test results as an indicator of where to go in the future. Trouble is, there is no single correct way to do this, and barely anyone is talking about how to do it well.

Why Archive Old Test Results?

If optimization is, as Matt Gershoff put it, about “gathering information to inform decisions,” then part of that process is documenting what you’ve learned. In fact, this isn’t just applicable for test results. It’s important for qualitative research, such as customer surveys, and it’s equally important for anything that brings insight to your decision making.

Really, there are two main tangible benefits to archiving old test results. The first has to do with regular reporting and is more applicable to communication. As Manuel da Costa put it, “You have an audit trail of everything you have done for that client – so you can show them the value of your optimization efforts.”

The second is about knowledge management, supporting test ideas, and evolutionary learning.

You Need To See It To Believe It

A scenario you might be familiar with:

You’ve got the initial buy-in for a testing program (or you’ve just started working on a client’s site), and you’ve made some substantial lifts. You’re learning more and more about your customer base, and each test is bringing you more insight, which will lead to more revenue.

The problem: how do you communicate these results, clearly, to executives?

We recently published a great post by Annemarie Klaassen and Ton Wesseling that told their detailed journey of visualizing A/B tests results for clearer communication. You can (and should) read the whole post later, but for quick reference, here’s what they started with:

a/b test visualization 1

And where they ended up:

a/b test visualization final

The clearer you can communicate ROI, the more organizational buy-in you can receive, leading to a stronger testing culture.

Joanna Lord gave a great speech at CTA Conference this year, where she talked about fostering a better culture around optimization. Her third point honed in on the need for reporting, because, as she said, “you need to see it to believe it”.

At Porch, she says, every week they have weekly test roundups, and each report is led by insights (which is above even revenue). As Joanna said:

Joanna Lord:
“If we’re going to plan for the future at all, we better have a lot of data that someone’s brought into the room, so that we’re all working from the same place, we all start from the same place.”

So their reporting accumulates, and even tests from a year ago can bring insights to current test ideas.

Knowledge Management and Evolutionary Learning

Now there’s the second side of reporting: using the archives as a database of accumulated knowledge.

As Manuel da Costa from Digital Tonic put it, “Ultimately, documenting also serves as your own testing library that you can dip in and out of when brainstorming in other projects. There is accountability and also helps maintain the trust with the clients you work with.”

Martijn Scheijbeler, Director of Marketing at The Next Web, echoed a similar sentiment, placing emphasis on the fact that all of the knowledge can be put in one place where everyone can benefit from it:

Martijn Scheijbeler:

“Having 1 place where all the data can be found by both the CRO team that is working on testing but also that we have data to the rest of the organisation to explain to them what the test entails, how we tracked it and what was the hypothesis on something. So it’s kind of a backup of history on what we’re doing but also could help us defend what we’re working on.

As it’s a planning tool as well we have all our ideas from the whole organisation in 1 place and that makes it easy for us to reschedule ideas if needed.”

How Mature Organizations Archive Test Results

There’s no one way to do it. While one organization may prefer Excel and Trello, another may have a built in process complete with a custom tool to track all tests.

We mentioned Porch, above, who spends Sundays documenting results, insights, and other pertinent information that goes into a database of past test results. Though I’m not sure on the exact tools they use, it seems like a more manual process than some other organizations.

That’s what’s interesting about archiving test results: there’s no correct way to do it. All that matters is what works best for the efficiency of your team.

The Next Web

The Next Web is a powerhouse in tech news, and their growth/optimization team is efficient. Here’s how Martijn Scheijbeler described their reporting and archiving process:

Martijn Scheijbeler:

“Obviously every test that we run is documented to make sure in 6 months we still know what test we ran, at what time, and what it was about. As we try to keep up the velocity and run approximately 200+ tests this year, it’s of great need to us.

To keep our testing documentation as structured and available as possible we’ve decided to built an internal tool for this. Both ideas and actual experiments are being added in by the team who is responsible for it. We can easily track the backlog with ideas and move them to a real experiment when the time comes.

We save quite some data on a test: it’s ID, name, Device category, Template, Experiment Status (Running, Finished, Building, etc.), Objective Metric, Owner, Expected Uplift, Start Date, Run Time, Implemented Date, Description, Hypothesis and the Tracking Plan. This data is then automatically extended with data on our current goals in combination with the objective metric – and we also know the end date based on the start date + run time.

In addition to the experiment data we save two extra field per variant – if it was winning and a screenshot of that variant. Based on this we extend our information with the reporting data on our tests.”


GrowthHackers.com recently outlined a growth study on how they began high tempo testing and how it revived their growth. This entailed 3 experiments a week, including new initiatives, product feature releases, and of course A/B tests.

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What is high tempo testing? As Sean Ellis put it:

Sean Ellis:

“My inspiration for high tempo testing comes from American football and the ‘high tempo offense.’ Perhaps the best example of this is the Oregon Ducks’ college football team. From the moment they hit the field they are go, go, go… The opposing teams often end up on their heels and Oregon is able to find weaknesses in their defense. It’s exciting and frankly kind of exhausting to watch. High tempo testing is approached with a similar energy and urgency to quickly uncover growth opportunities to exploit.”

So as much as I hate the Ducks for beating Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl a few years ago, you can see how archiving results would be beneficial in their case. Running tests at this volume and velocity, it’s important to fuel your tests with as much insight as possible, so as not to waste any valuable time or traffic.

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The above image is from Growth Hackers’ new tool, Canvas, which helps support the whole process (including archiving results). Not only does it archive results, but also ideas, hypotheses, etc. This makes it easier for members of the team to extract insights from past tests, and it also lets new members quickly onboard by analyzing what has and hasn’t been tested in the past. Here’s how Sean put it:

Sean Ellis:

“All of the completed experiments are ultimately stored in a knowledge base so we ensure that we capture this learning and don’t keep repeating the same tests. The knowledge base is also very helpful when adding new members to the team, so they can understand what has been tested, what worked and what didn’t.

The analysis has started to become a bottleneck for us, so we recently added a role that is responsible for analyzing the completed tests and managing the knowledge base. Previously this responsibility was shared by the team.”

Digital Tonic

Here’s Manuel da Costa explaining how their reporting process has evolved:

Manuel da Costa:

“We basically documented everything – from ideas & observations to test plans and ultimately results and reports.

We used a patchwork of tools like Trello and Google docs and Basecamp to keep information on each project (client).

We would do a weekly standup with the client to show what’s been going on as well as presenting any test results via powerpoint, etc.

Compiling reports was a time consuming process mainly because we had to dig through so many sources.

So talking about the patchwork of tools we used – it was ok but not very efficient. It all came to a head when a client asked us to find all the experiments we had run for a certain criteria (let’s say for example purposes it was social proof).

We had run about 50+ experiments we had run and finding that one piece of info was taking longer than expected. Actually, it took us 2 hours. 2 hours that could have been better spent brainstorming new ideas or setting up new tests.

We created Effective Experiments to tackle that problem.”

So in summary, in effort to track everything and report it back efficiently, they created a tool to help save time from manual reporting with a patchwork of common tools.

Data for Decks

While this is more of a reporting solution for executive understanding, it’s also a solid way to archive test results for learning. Chris Tauber, chief analyst at Data for Decks, wrote a post on Monetate’s blog that outlined a simple 5 step reporting process that uses Powerpoint to explain results:

1. Capture full screenshots of “A” and “B.”

archiving test results1
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2. Highlight what’s being tested.

archiving test results2
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3. Align the hypothesis to the metrics.

Archiving Test results metrics
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4. Show only the metrics that matter.

Archiving test results overview
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5. Put these pieces on one, and only one, slide.

Slide archive
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And of course, you can save these slides as a high-level overview of tests results, and possibly combine this visual with other tools we have listed above (and more that I’ll list below).

Tools To Help You Out


As mentioned above, GrowthHackers built Canvas to help with the growth team’s project management. Here’s how Steven Pesavento, GrowthMaster at GrowthHackers, describes the tool:

Steven Pesavento:

“We built Canvas because we needed a tool to manage our growth process when spreadsheets weren’t enough.

Our core growth team uses the product every day to add new ideas to our growth backlog, manage the status of each growth experiment and for documenting our learnings from each test. I see it as our growth control center because each morning, as the GrowthMaster, I login into my dashboard to see the status of our tests and then dive deeper into each one that needs my attention.”


Built by konversionsKRAFT with the purpose of organizing the entire testing process, Iridion is a sophisticated tool for archiving test results. One of their benefits listed on their site is that the tool can, “Record all of your test results in a constantly growing archive. Make sure that new team members immediately know what has been tested previously and how successful these tests were. Use these findings for follow-up tests.”

iridion archive test results

Here’s how Andre Morys describes the tool:

Andre Morys:

“Iridion is much more than just an insights database and workflow management. We will add our knowledge from thousands of a/b-tests to help growth hackers and optimizers building stronger experiments with higher uplifts. For example, Iridion will contain a library of 200+ psychological behavior patterns and will include qualitative methods to improve text concepts even before you test them.”

So Iridion is aimed at improving quality of tests as well as workflow. As Andre told me, “I don’t share the idea of “high speed testing” – High impact and success rate is economically much more important than high frequency.”

Effective Experiments


As mentioned above, Manuel da Costa built Effective Experiments to help conversion optimization project management. Here’s how Manuel describes the tool:

Manuel da Costa:

“A single platform to manage the entire optimisation workflow that would help CROs to store their ideas, test plans and results all in one place. We even went further by creating a lot of automated features that will save CROs time – such as automated reporting and integrations with AB testing tools etc.”

So, it’s an all-in-one workflow tool that will make reporting and archiving much, much easier.

Trello & Excel

No one said archiving test results had to be fancy. In fact, Excel is probably (though I have no data to back this) the most common way organizations archive test results. Josh Baker wrote an in-depth post on how he documents A/B test results using excel, along with what exactly he documents.


We use Trello for certain projects at ConversionXL. It’s also possible to enact a combination of Trello, Excel, and say, the Data for Decks Powerpoint example above, which will give greater visual clarity to non-optimization team members and executives.

Your Testing Tool

There are a multitude of ways you can integrate your documentation process with your testing sool. Here, Leonid Pekelis from Optimizely, explains:

leonidLeonid Pekelis:

“Optimizely does have an “archive” button for experiments, but what that does is remove the experiment’s code from a customer’s website. This stops the experiment, which means no new results will come through. Customers can un-archive anytime they want.

We have found differing needs and approaches to sharing and storing test results across organizations. We try to make it easy for customers to start their own approaches without imposing any one solution by providing how-to articles, and templates.

More generally, archiving test results lets an experimenter do three really important things: save knowledge gained from experiment results to motivate future tests and decision making, disseminate results across the organization to increase impact of tests, and finally spread testing culture. A good process for storing and sharing tests is definitely a keystone to a successful A/B strategy.”

There’s a whole discussion on Optiverse about archiving test results. Read it if you’re looking for ideas for your own organization.

VWO also has ways to archive test results. Here’s Paras explaining:

parasParas Chopra:
In VWO, we give a couple of options around knowledge management. Couple of things we enable in VWO:

  • We have notes associated with each campaign, so before setting up the test you can record your hypothesis and after the test is done you can record your interpretation of results
  • We have Gmail-type labels that you can apply to campaigns. So you can categorize your campaigns such as: CTA-tests, major-impact and whatever else you desire according to your company’s CRO process
  • We have annotations in the chart, so you can annotate on a graph if you see any spikes in conversions/traffic and mark it for your other colleagues to see
  • We also have a campaign and account timeline so you can see your entire history of which campaigns were started and who did what

Limitations of Learning From Past Tests

Archiving past results, and particularly managing and analyzing them, is time consuming. With any time investment, you’d hope that the ROI would be positive. One of the main questions you’ll ask yourself when it comes to learning from past tests is, “how relevant are the learnings from last year’s tests?”

Martin Scheijbeler says that, though there are some limitations on past tests, in general the benefits outweigh them. Here’s what he had to say:

Martijn Scheijbeler:

“There are some limitations. But, in 6 months, the context of a certain test can be completely different if you were to re-test it anyway – as a dozen elements on the page could have been changed in the meantime. That means a re-test is never really a re-test, in our opinion. But it’s still something you’d like to know to make sure you don’t miss certain tests. We also hope that we can learn from these tests, particularly what areas usually have a higher result in testing than others, in order to know what works better for future tests.”

Manuel da Costa agreed, mentioning that learnings from past tests are valid, yet they have to be taken with a grain of salt due to external validity factors:

Manuel da Costa:
“Are those insights still valid?

Yes and no. Some insights tied to seasonal trends were valid whilst some no longer held their weight because of external changes in the marketplace.”

Seasonality, traffic sources, PR, and other external factors are things you need to worry about no matter what, though. It’s not just in analyzing past results that they matter. If you were to indicate, in detail, these details on your reports, then you can factor them into your analysis.

Steven Pesavento doesn’t see these things as ‘limitations,’ necessarily. Even though a channel or tactic may change, learning from past tests is a necessity for the GrowthHackers team:

Steven Pesavento:
“Limitations are really based on how a channel changes or whether certain tactics are still relevant. These changes could happen over the course of weeks, months or even years.

At GrowthHackers, we regularly review our knowledge base searching for opportunities to retest old ideas with new strategies. I don’t see it as a limitation as much as just a part of the testing and learning process. Much like the growth process, where we continue to test new channels as they become available, we have to continue learning from our past tests.”


Archiving test results is important because it allows for clearer reporting and communication, and because it gives you a knowledge database from which you can extract insight.

However, unlike A/B testing statistics, the rules of execution are bendable when it comes to archiving results. There is no one way to do it, and most mature organizations do it just a little differently. As long as you’re tracking the right data, the data that is pertinent to your growth, then the method by which you do so is of secondary importance.

Some have developed sophisticated in-house tools to solve the problem, some use their testing tool, some purchase external tools, and some are still using good ol’ Excel. In the end, it’s up to you and what works best for your team.

Since this article is more of a discussion than a how-to, I want to ask: how does your team document and archive test results? What kind of struggles and bottlenecks do you face in the process?

The post Archiving Test Results: How Effective Organizations Do It appeared first on ConversionXL.

6 Surprising Ways to Make Your First Ecommerce Sale (Infographic)

Launched a new online store but struggling to make any sales? You’re not alone, as many other eCommerce owners have the same problem.

In this infographic, you’ll learn 6 ways you can make your first eCommerce sale. Best thing is you don’t even need traffic to your site, as most of these tactics use direct client outreach. You can start testing them the day you hit the “Launch” button on your new eCommerce business.

If you want to be more strategical, you can create a spreadsheet to track the number of sales you get from each tactic. By learning to measure the results you can do more of what works.

Please feel free to let us know in the comments section at the bottom of the page if you have tried any of these tactics. Also don’t forget to share with us how they worked out for you.

Click on the infographic to view a larger version.


Check out this article to learn more about these tactics.

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About the Author: Kaloyan is a co-founder of WooGuru, a service that offers unlimited WooCommerce support on a monthly basis. Coming from a web design background, Kaloyan is currently focused on growth, and content marketing.