As humans most of us are creatures of habit to some extent, and when it comes to running your business shaking up the status quo can be a bit daunting.
When your purse strings are closely tied around every decision you make, you begin to think of every decision as permanent. To think otherwise means you’re risking wasting your time and money in lost opportunity, right?
The truth is – you’ll never have it right forever and nothing in your business is permanent.
– Your target market will change over time.
– You have to stay on the cutting edge of your industry.
– YOU will grow and change in your business.
In short your business is dynamic and as it grows the rules are going to change.
In order for you to continue to grow you need to be open to change and know how to adapt quickly.
And making a temporary decision is much less daunting than a permanent one. So how do you ensure you’re not wasting your time with bum decisions?
Experiments allow you to “try something on” and see what works, it’s a way for you to play with your business and make serious decisions at the same time. What they really do is allow you to make decisions fast because you’re not worried about permanence and therefore you actually end up wasting less time thinking about what you should do, and more time actually doing it.
So let’s talk about what makes up an experiment.
Obviously the first step in preparation is to decide what you’re going to experiment with. This might be trying a new opt in offer on your home page to improve your conversion, running a product launch with a new strategy to see if you sell more this time around, or even as simple as sending your newsletter on a different day and time to see if it increases your open rate.
Once you know what you’re going to experiment with you’ll:
– Create your hypothesis – what do you think makes sense and why?
– Create your strategy – how will you implement your idea?
– Create your measurement system – how will you collect data and analyze it?
– Create your project plan – outline exactly what deliverables you need for implementation and when you’ll have them completed.
– Gather any data you already have for comparison later. (Like what your conversion on your home page has been over the last 3 months so you can see if your new opt in offer makes a difference)
Once you have your plan ready, it’s time to take action!
To put it simply, this is where you do it! Which is easier said than done, so here are some tricks to help you implement:
– Think of your experiment as a structured trial with a starting and ending point. This could be a set amount of time you’re going to allow for a test (i.e. 30 days), or the end point may be when you have a certain amount of data (i.e. 1000 new visitors to your test page). This will decrease temptation to stray off course half way through because you have a new idea to try.
– Keep your project plan in front of you and consistently take the actions you’ve committed to. This will keep your experiment top of mind and ensure you get the best results.
– Check in on your data now and then. You might have set points during the experiment where you gather the data and see how you’re doing. For example if you’re going to run a test for 90 days, you might want to check in every 30 days to see your results. If you’re halfway through your experiment and your conversions have totally tanked that may be a signal that you need to readjust early.
Once your experiment has run it’s course, it’s time to see how you did!
Gather your data and compare it to what you had previously. And yourself these questions:
– What worked?
– What didn’t work?
– What could be improved for next time?
These questions will help you decide what to keep and what to tweak going forward.
So what is your next experiment?
You may even be doing a lot of this without realizing it. Hopefully this will give you a defined structure to run your next experiment and get even clearer on what’s working for you and what isn’t.