SpiceJet seeks planes from other sources after India grounds 737 MAX fleet

SpiceJet seeks planes from other sources after India grounds 737 MAX fleet

A man looks out through a window with an advertisement of SpiceJet Airline, on a commercial building in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad February 14, 2014. REUTERS/Amit Dave

(Reuters) – India’s SpiceJet Ltd said on Friday it was in talks will lessors globally to induct aircraft, in an effort to fill a gap after the grounding of its MAX fleet.

The airline was forced to ground its 12 Boeing Co 737 MAX 8 planes by India’s aviation watchdog due to safety concerns after an Ethiopian Airlines plane crash that killed 157 people earlier this month.

The low-cost carrier could also benefit from cash-strapped Jet Airways being forced to ground planes, and is in talks with lessors to lease some of those aircraft, a person with direct knowledge of the matter had told Reuters earlier this week.

Reporting by Tanvi Mehta in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu

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Google’s neural matching versus RankBrain: How Google uses each in search

Google's neural matching versus RankBrain: How Google uses each in search

Recently we have been hearing more about Google’s neural matching but the truth is, we don’t know much from Google on what neural matching is and how Google uses it.

Google answered several questions for us, and posted those answers on the @SearchLiaison Twitter account to try to clarify what neural matching is and how it differs from RankBrain.

What is neural matching? Google explained “Neural matching is an AI-based system Google began using in 2018 primarily to understand how words are related to concepts.”

“It’s like a super synonym system. Synonyms are words that are closely related to other words,” Google added.

The first time Google Search Liason Danny Sullivan spoke about this was in a tweet around its 20th anniversary in September. Sullivan said a “big change in search” is the ability to understand synonyms. “How people search is often different from information that people write solutions about.”

Sullivan said Google had been using neural matching over the last few months, so roughly since late spring or early summer of 2018.

How does neural matching work? Google said it helps better relate words to searches. The example Google gave us was neural matching helps understand that a search for “why does my TV look strange” is related to the concept of “the soap opera effect.” In this case, Google is now able to return pages about the soap opera effect, “even if the exact words aren’t used,” Google said.

How much is neural matching used? Google said in September 2018 that neural matching impacts about 30 percent of all queries. We asked Google if that has increased, but have not received an update.

What is RankBrain? Isn’t it similar? Google told us in 2016 that RankBrain (see our RankBrain FAQ) is also an AI, machine learning-based system that helps Google understand queries.

Google said a good way to think about RankBrain is as an AI-based system it began using in 2016 primarily to understand how words are related to concepts. “It’s like a super synonym system. Synonyms are words that are closely related to other words.”

So what’s the difference between Neural matching and RankBrain? Google put it this way:

  • RankBrain helps Google better relate pages to concepts.
  • Neural matching helps Google better relate words to searches.

Why it matters. The truth is, there isn’t much a search marketer can do to better optimize for RankBrain, as we said in 2016. The same seems to apply for neural matching, there doesn’t seem like you can do anything special to do better here. This is more about Google understanding queries and content on a page better than it currently does right now.

That said, it seems to indicate that search marketers need to worry a bit less about making sure specific keywords are on their pages because Google is getting smarter at figuring out the words you use naturally on your pages and matching them to queries.

We asked Google if it has additional recommendations around neural matching and RankBrain and were told its advice has not changed: Simply “create useful, high quality content.”


About The Author

Barry Schwartz is Search Engine Land’s News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on SEM topics.

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Oil major Total CEO’s compensation drops 17 percent in 2018: company document

Oil major Total CEO's compensation drops 17 percent in 2018: company document

FILE PHOTO: Patrick Pouyanne, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Total, attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

PARIS (Reuters) – The board of French oil and gas major Total has proposed total 2018 compensation for Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanne of 3.1 million euros ($3.55 million), compared with 3.8 million in 2017, company documents showed on Wednesday.

The total pay includes 1.4 million euros in fixed compensation, the same as in 2017, and 1.72 million in annual variable compensation, compared with 2.4 million in 2017, and 69,000 in other benefits, the documents showed.

The company said in a statement that the decrease in variable compensation resulted from criteria based on the average three-year change in Total’s adjusted net income in comparison with those of its peers. “The Board of Directors wants to emphasize that the decrease by 17 percent of Patrick Pouyanne’s cash remuneration due for the year 2018, resulting from the strict application of the rules,… doesn’t reflect in any way its appreciation of the exceptional work accomplished in 2018 by (him),” it said.

Pouyanne has often quipped that he is the least paid among the bosses of the global oil majors. The company reported a 28 percent jump in full-year profit in 2018 to $13.6 billion.

In comparison, Shell’s CEO Ben van Beurden’s 2018 pay package more than doubled to 20.1 million euros and Chevron Corp has said its Chief Executive Officer Michael Wirth is eligible for $19 million in total pay this year.

Total’s shareholders will vote on Pouyanne’s proposed package during an annual meeting on May 29.

Reporting by Bate Felix; editing by Leigh Thomas and Kirsten Donovan

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Eight tools you need for backlink generation

Eight tools you need for backlink generation

Eight tools you need for backlink generation

So you’ve created your website, following all the recommended SEO best practices.

That means you’ve included valuable, relevant keywords on your pages, made it mobile friendly and even started a blog that you’re updating frequently with original, relevant content.

But despite your best efforts, you’re not seeing as much traffic as you’d like, and your site is still ranking too low on Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP). It could be that your site is missing just one thing: backlinks.

Backlinks are links from another website that point to your website. Getting backlinks from websites with high domain authority that are relevant to your niche will help you rank higher on Google searches and grab your audience’s attention.

Why is there such an emphasis on backlinks? Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP) uses them to discover new pages, confirm pages are legitimate and determine the popularity of these pages. After all, Google doesn’t want to risk its own reputation by ranking subpar sites high on the SERP. According to a study by Backlinko, the number of domains linking to a webpage “correlated with rankings more than any other factor”.

Backlink generation isn’t easy, especially for new businesses or businesses just starting to build their web presence. However, with time, effort and the right tools, you can make sure you’re ranking high and receiving the views you deserve.

If you’re a business owner and want to boost your backlinks, here are eight tools to get you started.

1. MozBarScreenshot of MozBar

MozBar is a free SEO toolbar you download onto your web browser. It shows you the domain authority (DA) of a certain website, which gives you an indication of whether or not you should reach out for a backlink. If you do earn a backlink from a website with a DA, this will positively affect your own site’s authority.

In terms of DA, it ranges from 1 to 100, and the higher, the better. There’s no ideal number to look for, but generally, try finding sites with excellent content that relate to your field. If the DA is, say, a 35, that won’t help you as much as a site with a 75, but it won’t hurt, either. Research sites thoroughly and makes sure they aren’t spammy before pursuing them.

2. SEMrushScreenshot of SEMrush

SEMrush, which helps with all types of marketing strategies, shows users a few key tools for backlink generation. When logged into the paid version, you can navigate to the mentions section and find which websites are mentioning you but not linking to you. Once you discover these mentions, you can reach out and ask for a link to your site (as long as the site is relevant and has a high DA), which will boost your rankings.

Another tactic is to go into the backlink audit and see who’s currently linking to your website. Check to see if the link appears underneath the proper SEO-rich keyword and if the site is legitimate and relevant. (If the site is not legitimate, you may want to reach out and ask them to take it down, since that backlink can potentially hurt your ranking.)

While on SEMrush, try the backlink gap tool, which shows you which backlink opportunities your competitors are not taking advantage of. Then, you can reach out and ask for those valuable backlinks instead.

3. PitchboxScreenshot of Pitchbox

Pitchbox is a platform to find websites that may want to spread the news about your business or backlink to your pages or content. You simply sign up for Pitchbox, log in, paste the link to the page/content you’re doing backlink generation for and add in some specific keywords you’re looking to target. Then, in a minute or two, Pitchbox will come up with (usually) hundreds of websites you can reach out to.

You can filter for or delete any websites with low domain authority, and go through the sites one by one to see which are valuable. You can reach out to these websites using a Pitchbox email template. Pitchbox will show you the contacts for that site (or allow you to manually input them), automatically place in the person’s name and their website name, and send as many follow-up emails as you’d like.

When using Pitchbox, double check the contacts to make sure they’re current. Another best practice is to email a maximum of two people at the website since you don’t want to spam numerous people within an organization. If you’re having trouble with backlink generation, consider offering a backlink exchange. Just make sure, again, that the site you’re promising to link to relevant to yours and not spammy.

4. AhrefsScreenshot of Ahrefs

Ahrefs is similar to SEMrush and allows you to use the platform’s backlinks checker to view your current backlinks. Since they’ve already linked to your content before, you can ask these sites to link back to your other pages as well. Ahrefs also allows you to disavow toxic backlinks that might hurt your ranking.

Another helpful backlink generation tool is the Ahrefs Site Explorer. By entering the name of your competitor, you can see all of their referring backlinks. Using that information, you can reach out to the same sites that are linking to your competitors and see if they want to link to a valuable piece of content from your site.

5. Google AlertsScreenshot of Google Alerts

Let’s say you don’t have time to log onto SEMrush or Ahrefs every day and go through your mentions and backlinks. Instead, sign up for Google Alerts, which will email you when you’re mentioned somewhere. Visit the websites that mention you and try to find the contact information for someone you can reach out to there. If you can’t find them, log onto Hunter.io, which is a free tool for finding email addresses using only a domain name.

6. Broken Link Builder

Screenshot of Broken Link Builder

Somebody’s broken link can be your backlinking opportunity with Broken Link Builder. With this tool, you can find dead websites and their respective backlinks, and then offer up similar content to the website that was linking to the dead link. It’s a white-hat SEO tactic that benefits both webmasters and backlink seekers. Broken Link Builder only takes 30 to 60 minutes to generate a report for you to find valuable backlinking opportunities.

7. Majestic

Screenshot of Majestic

Majestic is a backlinking tool, like SEMrush and Ahrefs, that examines all the backlinks for your website, as well as your competitors, and allows you to perform very specific searches. You can search and filter backlinks however you choose, including by crawl or discovery dates, anchor text, link type, URL snippet or merchant ID. Majestic also claims to have the largest index out of any other service.

8. Linkody

Screenshot of Linkody

Linkody is another platform for tracking and performing research on backlinks. It tells you when you lose or gain links, and you can disavow bad links. You’re able to see your competitors’ backlinks and analyze your own link profile. You can choose to receive daily notifications in your inbox, view which links point to your landing pages and connect your Linkody and Google Analytics accounts for more backlink information. If you don’t want to pay for the service, you can use Linkody’s Free Backlink Checker to check two unique domains per week.

Tracking backlinks

With backlink generation, you need to track your efforts. A good place to do this is within a Google Sheet. Create a spreadsheet and share it with your team working on backlinks. They should input information like the date the backlink was pursued, the DA of the website, the URL of the website, the target URL of your content or page, the date the backlink was added, the contact’s email address and any notes about the process. Then, when you’re doing another round of backlink generation, you can refer to your Google sheet and reach out to the same people to see if they’d like to link to something else of yours.

Backlinks will always be part of Google’s ranking requirements. Understanding their importance and learning how to use these tools empowers you to do effective backlink generation that can increase your rankings and bring in more visitors to your site.

Mario Medina is a content strategist. He can be found on Twitter .

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Foxconn Ventures sells $398.4 million in Alibaba stock: sources

Foxconn Ventures sells $398.4 million in Alibaba stock: sources

The logo of Alibaba Group is seen inside DingTalk office, an offshoot of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China July 20, 2018. Picture taken July 20, 2018. REUTERS/Aly Song

(Reuters) – Foxconn Ventures Holdco has sold $398.4 million worth of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s shares, in a block trade in the open market managed by Goldman Sachs Group Inc, people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

Foxconn sold 2.2 million Alibaba shares on Wednesday at $181.10 per share, the sources said, asking not to be identified ahead of any official announcement.

Foxconn and Goldman Sachs did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Reporting by Joshua Franklin in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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Why Content Marketing Fails, and How to Fix It

Why Content Marketing Fails, and How to Fix It

Ever get excited about an idea, but when you start searching online for further information you’re taken to mountains of boring, insufficient, copycat content? Why is that?

In B2C Content Marketing 2018: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends—North America report by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, merely 38% of respondents’ organizations reported having a documented content marketing strategy. Among those who thought their content marketing efforts were most successful, 59% had a documented strategy compared with 18% for the least successful marketers. The numbers were similar on the B2B side.

Clearly, a documented strategy makes a difference in content performance. Instead of flooding the Internet with content that’s merely meh, avoid the following content marketing mistakes to ensure that you are strategically producing content that breaks through and wows your audience.

1. Lack of Research


Many content teams don’t spend sufficient time up front to research the niche they are targeting, missing opportunities for creating unique content. Little to no audience research is done to understand important gaps in the market. No interviews. No insight into what’s being shared or linked to the most, by whom, or for what reasons. Often little thought is given to the types of content that would truly captivate the targeted audience.

One software company that’s doing content research right conducts interviews of 20 members of its target audience for each of half a dozen blog posts it produces monthly. The result is content that offers tangible, real-world, insider insights far beyond what any others are doing in the space. That process also translates into an army of promotional soldiers for the company: Each participant takes to social media to promote the pieces to which he or she contributed.

You may be thinking that conducting 100-120 interviews monthly for your blog would be like herding kittens. And that’s where looking to technology, standardization, and established processes makes the effort efficient and manageable. The result is an onslaught of online promotion of the company’s content all the time, every week, by those with credibility and existing social networks.

Interviews are merely one method for researching fruitful topics. You can also monitor industry trends for fresh, new ideas, or review onsite searches to confirm the current interests of your audience, or monitor online discussions to uncover new challenges or approaches that would be useful to tackle in your content.

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Overdone? Short EU equities ‘most crowded’ trade for first time

Overdone? Short EU equities 'most crowded' trade for first time

LONDON (Reuters) – Fund managers have named bearish bets in European equities as the “most crowded” trade in Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s survey for the first time in its history, suggesting sentiment for one of the world’s most shunned markets may rise from here.

FILE PHOTO: The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Staff

Investors have pulled cash from European stocks over the past year, betting the market would be weaker compared with the United States and other regions as euro zone economic growth slows and Britain’s chaotic exit from the European Union raises concerns about disruption to its economy.

Short European equities replaced long emerging markets, which held the title for just one month.

The shift in investor views reflects broader uncertainty about the direction of financial markets as the Federal Reserve and ECB keep interest rates on hold amid signs that growth is slowing.

The results also suggest that fund managers believe the gloom that has seen $30 billion leave European equities this year may have been overdone.

In a note on Sunday, Morgan Stanley chief European equity strategist Graham Secker said he believes Europe is set to surprise on the upside as issues that weighed on growth in the second half of last year start to fade.

The pan-European STOXX 600 rose 0.7 percent on Tuesday to its highest since Oct. 3 and was on track for its longest winning streak in six months.

Auto stocks led the gains after the bank’s auto analysts recommended contrarian investors buy select carmakers after the survey showed investors grew more bearish on the sector.

Tentative improvements in consumer and wage data – and the improving German car sector – are a good omen, Secker said, noting that China, whose slowdown has been behind much of Europe’s malaise, is finally showing a turnaround in new export orders PMIs.

(GRAPHIC: Evolution of FMS “most crowded trade” – tmsnrt.rs/2UDJerA)

CHINA SLOWDOWN

Still, BAML’s March survey – conducted between March 8 and 14, among 239 panelists managing $664 billion in total – also indicated that investor risk appetite had continued to fall, with global equity allocations remaining at September, 2016 lows.

“The pain trade for stocks is still up,” said Michael Hartnett, BAML’s chief investment strategist.

“Despite rising profit expectations, lower rate expectations and falling cash levels, stock allocations continue to drop. There is simply no greed to sell in equities.”

A slowdown in China, the world’s No. 2 economy, topped the list of biggest tail risks, ousting the trade war, which had been investors’ main concern for the previous nine months, according to the survey.

Third on this month’s list was a corporate credit crunch.

The slight improvement in investor outlook toward the protracted trade war which has rattled markets for the past year comes as Washington and Beijing make progress in talks to agree a truce.

But reflecting the broad spectrum of views on interest rate policy, about 55 percent of those surveyed say they think the Fed will continue to hike, while 38 percent believe the hiking cycle is done.

Reporting by Josephine Mason and Helen Reid, Editing by Ed Osmond

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Business evolution happens in experimentation sprints: Insights from André Morys, GO Group Digital

Business evolution happens in experimentation sprints: Insights from André Morys, GO Group Digital

Many executives are seeking a “digital transformation” as a lofty solution.

But transformative change really happens in sprints.

That’s because experimentation is the agile approach to business evolution.

When it comes to business evolution—you don’t know, what you don’t know. If you aren’t learning, your business is not evolving at the pace you need to surpass your competitors.

Let’s start with a story…

In the late 1990s, business leaders were hyped on the possibilities the internet offered. Countless start-ups sprouted up to get an early grasp on web business.

But by 2002, when the dot.com bubble burst, many companies struggled to survive. Companies like Pets.com, WorldCom, and WebVan failed completely, and other organizations experienced declining revenues after a period of optimistic growth.

WiderFunnel André Morys konversionsKRAFT
A young, confident André Morys with his business partner at the start of konversionsKRAFT in 1996. (Source: André Morys)

André Morys, Managing Partner of GO Group Digital and Co-Founder of konversionsKRAFT, lived through this experience. In the first five years, it seemed like he had hit pay dirt with his business. His team was confident about their future direction until 2002 when they struggled with declining revenue of 60% over three months.

But when André reflects back on his company’s history, this struggle provided an unprecedented opportunity to learn about leadership and finance, culture and motivation. The aftermath of the dot.com bubble accelerated his understanding of how to strategically evolve his business for future growth.

There are many parallels in today’s market. 52% of the Fortune 500 since 2000 don’t exist anymore. And business leaders are constantly battling this threat.

Today, many Executive teams are aspiring to the “digital transformation” solution because how can you keep pace with the market, with the rapid technological change?

WiderFunnel André Morys Unbounce CTA Conference Presentation GO Group Digital
André Morys, Managing Partner of GO Group Digital, presented “The Source of Disruption Is in the Mind of Your Customer” at Unbounce’s 2018 CTA conference.

In this post, you will learn key insights from André Morys, adapted from his presentation, “The Source of Disruption Is in the Mind of the Customer,” at Unbounce’s 2018 CTA conference.

These key insights include:

  • Why we should be focusing on velocity of learnings (not tests) by prioritizing impactful experiments
  • How to speak the same language as your Executive team by pinpointing their emotions and motivations
  • And why a valuable customer experience is at the heart of business evolution.

Scoping out the big picture: The Gartner Hype Cycle

Roy Amara, a researcher, scientist and futurist, claimed that we tend to overestimate the effects of technology in the short term and underestimate the effects in the long term. This phenomenon is called Amara’s Law.

When we think big picture about digital transformation, this forecast is true. We are hyped up on the new tools and technologies when we first adopt them, but once they present challenges, we can become discouraged. Because how can really leverage technology to solve our business problems?

WiderFunnel The Gartner Hype Cycle for Digital Transformation
The Gartner Hype Cycle is a framework for viewing the path from adoption to actually driving business decisions. (Source: Gartner )

The research firm, Gartner, furthered Amara’s Law by introducing the concept of a hype cycle. When it comes to experimentation, WiderFunnel traces the maturity of organizations through its five different stages, including:

  1. The Technology Trigger: You are excited at the possibilities of experimentation but business impact is yet to be proven at this initial stage.
  2. Peak of Inflated Expectations: Early adopters claim success with testing at this stage, but you might be failing to properly leverage experimentation as a strategy.
  3. The Trough of Disillusionment: Initial hype is tapering off. Internal ennthusiasm fades. You might recognize at this stage that experimentation must provide results to continue the investment.
  4. The Slope of Enlightenment: Experimentation is starting to show its possibilities as you understand how to better leverage testing to create business impact.
  5. And the Plateau of Productivity: With consistent bottom-line impacts, you can now start to leverage experimentation as an organizational strategy for business evolution.

Technology can be a solution to business evolution, but leaders need to strategize how to leverage technology to solve real business problems. André articulated that such challenges are actually what is driving your digital transformation.

WiderFunnel André Morys Digital Transformation
When you embrace the pain, you can start to understand the truth to make your business grow, according to André.

As you start to scale your experimentation program, these learnings make your team’s workflow more efficient and allow you to zero in on the hypotheses that can make the most impact.

The good news: You can accelerate your learnings for how to evolve your business through experimentation. Even if these seem small wins, compounded over time, you are truly driving your organization’s growth through digital technology. (For example, what is the calculated impact of a reported 2% lift over 50 experiments? It’s not 100%; it’s a compounded 264%!)

WiderFunnel Digital Transformation throug Experimentation
Experimentation is the agile approach to digital transformation. It facilitates data-driven decision making. (Source: André Morys)

Once organizations introduce a defined process and protocol, have systems and procedures in place for prioritizing experiments by impact, they are able to scale their programs for long-term business evolution.

Relevant resource

Addressing your strategic blind spots: The Dunning-Kruger Effect

It is far more common for people to allow ego to stand in the way of learning.

If you are relying on the HiPPO’s strategy for business evolution, how confident are you in their abilities? And do you think they have the competence to judge their limitations?

When André reflects back on his first five years of business before the dot.com bubble burst, he sees how his confidence was an example of the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect is a cognitive bias where an individual with low ability have mistaken confidence and believe they are more competent than they are.

And people with high competence often view themselves as having lower abilities than in actuality. As André states, “You don’t know, what you don’t know.

WiderFunnel The Dunning-Kruger Effect
The Dunning-Kruger demonstrates how people with low abilities can overestimate their competency, and people with high abilities can underestimate their competency. Hello imposter syndrome!

This cognitive bias has been explored in depth by psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger. Their research shows that people that suffer from the Dunning-Kruger Effect may resist constructive criticism if it doesn’t align with their own self-perception. They may question the evaluation and even deem the process as flawed.

Kruger and Dunning’s interpretation is that accurately assessing skill level relies on some of the same core abilities as actually performing that skill, so the least competent suffer a double deficit. Not only are they incompetent, but they lack the mental tools to judge their own incompetence.

When it comes to innovation, the Dunning-Kruger Effect creates a blind spot for threats and opportunities that can affect your business success. Instead, a business leader needs to always interrogate their perception of reality to get closer to the truth.

Truth―more precisely, an accurate understanding of reality―is the essential foundation for producing good outcomes.

André now sees how the growth and learning that came out of the dot.com bubble challenged his own self-perception. He began to understand the implications of his business decisions, and he became more in tune with the possibilities of the unknown.

WiderFunnel André Morys konversionsKraft
Today, konversionsKraft has grown to a team of 85. The downturn from the dot.com bubble lead to increased learnings in growth, management, culture, finance, leadership, motivation, and more. (Source: André Morys)

Applying his own professional and personal learnings from this experience to the world of experimentation, André sees a chasm between the manager’s aspirations of digital transformation and the optimizer’s experiments that lead to the desired data-driven decision making.

The problem is that [the Dunning-Kruger Effect] happens in organizations all the time,” explains André.

Many optimizers are very skilled in experimentation, they know everything about it: about A/B Testing, confidence levels and statistics, testing tools and psychology. Whereas management has no idea; they don’t get it. They are talking about digital transformation as a big project, while their optimization team is really doing the work that is needed.

What makes André’s argument that organizations need to focus on learnings so compelling is that a culture of experimentation—testing and learning—can really drive your business evolution and lead to the hockey-stick growth that you need to sustain your market.

But the Executive team and the tactical experts need to get on the same page, especially when it comes to successful business evolution.

As an Optimization Champion, you are the catalyst.

Change-agents build bridges between their peers, empowering them to accept change as it comes. They understand how to build and nurture relationships in order to find common ground with others. They are organized and understand how to speak to c-level executives clearly.

André’s comparison of Optimization Champions and Executive teams within an organization with the Dunning-Kruger effect is insightful.

He argued that Optimization Champions have a high-level of competence, but they don’t understand how they can position their work to gain Executive buy-in because they are too immersed into their specialization.

But he also emphasized that Optimization Champions truly are the catalysts of digital transformation. His advice is simple: Optimization Champions need to speak the same language as the Executive team.

Optimizers should stop talking about uplifts and statistics and A/B tests. They should talk about what A/B testing changes within an organization. They should report business impact, not statistical confidence levels, so they are compatible, so they are speaking at the manager’s level.

Experimentation drives the digital transformation at many successful organizations. Just look at Airbnb, or Uber, or Facebook. These organizations test and learn their way to business evolution.

André points out that experimentation facilitates an organization’s digital transformation, but many managers just don’t know it yet.

Your communication of experimentation’s value needs to be accessible to those who aren’t educated in the technical aspects.

And that’s exactly what André recommends. Understand your experimentation program’s internal stakeholders—your Executive team. Understand their fears and anxieties, their emotions and motivations when communicating your experimentation program’s value.

WiderFunnel André Morys Evangelizing experimentation personas of internal stakeholders
André recommends creating personas for your internal stakeholders so you can communicate the value of your experimentation program in a way that they’ll appreciate. (Source: André Morys)

As a marketer, you are best prepared for this task as you can craft your internal stakeholder’s persona, so you can demonstrate—in their language—the impact of your program on the business.

Featured Resource

Build your internal stakeholder persona to get buy-in!

Dive into the emotions and motivations that will resonate with your internal stakeholders to start proving the value of your experimentation program.

In your experimentation sprints, prioritize business impact over speed.

If you’re not failing, you’re not pushing your limits, and if you’re not pushing your limits, you’re not maximizing your potential.

In the world of experimentation, there is an emphasis on experimentation velocity. It makes sense: the more tests that you are running, the more insights you can obtain about your business.

But the buzz around velocity has led many leaders to focus on speed, rather than the quality of insights and the business impact of experiments.

And if you aren’t focusing on business impact, you’ll never get on the same page as your Executive team.

If you decide to test many ideas, quickly, you are sacrificing your ability to really validate and leverage an idea. One winning A/B test may mean quick conversion rate lift, but it doesn’t mean you’ve explored the full potential of that idea.

Experimentation sprints are chock full of business insights and impact—exactly what organizations need to continuously evolve their businesses.

That’s why our emphasis as optimizers should be on velocity of learnings, not just experiments.

It’s an agile approach to business evolution. And that’s a sentiment that was echoed by Johnny Russo, in “The 5 Pillars of Digital Transformation Strategy at Mark’s.”

Because how do we process all this change and learning, without being efficient?” he described.

Those organizations first to adapt will be most prepared. And so I think the foundation has to be an agile methodology.

But optimizers need to ensure they are driving higher impact experiments and deeper learnings by implementing rigorous processes. A prioritization framework ensures you are launching experiments that have the highest potential for results, on the most important areas of your business, with the easiest implementation.

But to increase experiment velocity, you need a defined optimization process.

According to the “State of Experimentation Maturity 2018” original research report, experiment velocity is a focal point for most organizations.

WiderFunnel State of Experimentation Maturity Velocity Increase
The majority of both Small and Medium Enterprises (52%) and Large Enterprises (64%) plan to increase experiment velocity in the next 12 months.

52% of Small and Medium Enterprises and 64% of Large Enterprises in the survey indicated they plan to increase experiment velocity in the next year.

However, only 24% and 23% (respectively) of these organizations plan to increase budget, which can only add emphasis on workflow efficiency and prioritization so that you are not straining your resources.

One of the most common roadblocks to increasing velocity is workflow efficiency. Review and document your workflows from ideation to analysis to ensure seamless experiment execution,” explains Natasha Wahid in the research report.

Another common roadblock is a lack of resources, particularly in Design and Web Development. Ensure you have the right team in place to up your velocity, and plan for possible bottlenecks.

As André articulated, focusing on business impact instead of speed will ensure you are learning faster than your competition.

That’s because digital transformation is not about implementing technology, it’s about leveraging technology to accelerate your business.

How to use the PIE Prioritization Framework to identify the most impactful experiments.

You can’t test everywhere or everything at once. With limited time and resources and, most importantly, limited traffic to allocate to each test, prioritization is a key part of your experimentation plan.

Prioritizing where you invest energy will give you better returns by emphasizing pages that are more important to your business.

The PIE Framework is made up of the three criteria you should consider to prioritize which pages to test and in which order: Potential, Importance, and Ease.

WiderFunnel PIE Prioritization Framework
The PIE Prioritization framework allows you to zero in on those experiments that can drive the most business impact. That’s how you get executive-level buy-in!

Potential: How much improvement can be made on this page(s)? You should prioritize your worst performers. This should take into account your web analytics data, customer data, and expert heuristic analysis of user scenarios.

Importance: How valuable is the traffic to this page(s)? Your most important pages are those with the highest volume and the costliest traffic. You may have identified pages that perform terribly, but if they don’t have significant volume of costly traffic, they aren’t experimentation priorities.

Ease: How difficult will it be to implement an experiment on a page or template? The final consideration is the degree of difficulty of actually running a test on this page, which includes technical implementation, and organizational or political barriers.

The less time and resources you need to invest for the same return, the better. This includes both technical and “political” ease. A page that would be technically easy to test on may have many stakeholders or vested interests that can cause barriers (like your homepage, for example).

You can quantify each of your potential opportunities based on these criteria to create your test priority list. We use the PIE Framework in a table to turn all of these data inputs into an objective number ranking.

Learn more about PIE

Seek the “truth” in a delightful customer experience.

Imagine your a taxi service. And you are seeing Uber’s market success as a threat to your livelihood.

What makes them more successful?

Get out the whiteboards and some might write: “We need an app!” or “We need to hire a data scientist!” Because on the superficial level, data and technology seem pivotal to a digital transformation.

But when you look deeper at Uber’s strategy, you will see that they focus on delighting their customers with their experience.

And because of Uber’s success, how people get rides has radically changed.

WiderFunnel Uber Growth Customer Experience
Look at the hockey-stick growth of Uber. It’s all attributed to a valuable customer experience. (Source: Spaceotechnologies.com )

But Uber is not the only example.

Many businesses have transformed the market through delightful customer experiences.

Amazon makes online ordering a breeze. No more long wait times, André joked that he has to slow down their service so that he will actually be there to accept the order.

And Airbnb—they’ve made vacationing a unique and desirable experience.

André, an expert in emotional marketing and the Limbic Model, emphasized the need to go beyond conversions and focus on a customer experience that delights.

Companies who fail to embrace CX as strategic path to growth won’t just be lagging, they’ll get left behind.

And that’s because you can drive experiments with the most business impact by honing in on your customer experience.

That means, you have to understand your customer—their fears and anxieties, their thoughts and desires—when designing an experience to meet their emotional needs and states.

The most successful organizations have honed in on what makes their experience delightful. In “Moving the needle: Strategic metric setting for your experimentation program,” I talked about creating a True North metric that align to your value proposition, as a way of creating internal focus on your customer experience.

Slack, a team collaboration program focuses on optimizing for teams that send over 2,000 messages.

LinkedIn focuses on quality sign-up, ensuring that new users are actively making connections on the social platform.

And Facebook optimizes for new users who make 10 friends in seven days.

See it’s not tools and technologies that evolve these businesses. It’s how they leverage digital technologies across the organization to solve real business problems.

And when you align your customer experience goals with your experimentation program, you are the competition.

You learn and adapt with each new experiment to what your customer wants and needs from your experience. That’s how you drive business impact. That’s how you get internal buy-in.

But what’s more—that’s how you stay relevant in the market.

And if you are experimenting, keep slogging through the “trough of disillusionment”.

André Morys knows from experience that business that do, can reach enlightenment.

What are your biggest challenges with experimentation that can be attributed to the “trough of disillusionment”? We’d love to hear your comments!

Author

Lindsay Kwan

Marketing Communications Specialist

In this roadmap for the executive, we explore the biggest challenges faced by enterprise organizations as they work to embed experimentation within their infrastructure – and how to surmount them.

Get your roadmap

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Ride-hailing firm Lyft launches IPO road show in Uber’s shadow

Ride-hailing firm Lyft launches IPO road show in Uber's shadow

(Reuters) – Lyft Inc kicked off the investor road show for its initial public offering on Monday, targeting a valuation of up to $23 billion and seeking to woo money managers before larger ride-hailing rival Uber Technologies Inc goes public in April.

An electric scooter from the ride sharing company Lyft is shown on a downtown sidewalk in San Diego, California, U.S., March 15, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake

The IPOs of Lyft and Uber represent a watershed for Silicon Valley’s technology unicorns, which for years have snubbed the stock market in favor of raising capital privately, with investors happy to back their frothy valuations.

The market rally of the last few years, however, coupled with the desire of some of the startups’ insiders to cash out, is leading many technology firms, including Airbnb Inc, Slack Technologies Inc and Stripe Inc, to plan market debuts.

Both Uber and Lyft are losing money, so like several unicorns before them, they will seek to tap investor anxiety about missing out on a red-hot technology IPO. Yet despite the hype, some investors and analysts say they will push the companies to outline a path to profitability, as well the prospects of eventually replacing some of their drivers with self-driving vehicles.

“They need to give us some good direction on when they expect to turn the corner and get to profitability, and let us know what a sustainable sales and marketing level is,” said Kathleen Smith, founding principal at Renaissance Capital, a research firm and manager of IPO-focused exchange-traded funds.

San Francisco-based Lyft said in a regulatory filing on Monday that it plans to sell a little more than 30 million class A shares, which have fewer voting rights than class B shares, at between $62 and $68 per share.

It aims to raise up to $2 billion in its IPO at a fully diluted valuation of as much as $23 billion, which includes restricted stock. The company would fetch a public market capitalization, which counts only shares listed, of just over $19 billion at the top end of the indicated price range.

Lyft is on track to be the biggest U.S. technology IPO since Snap Inc in 2017, and would be the tenth-largest technology or internet IPO of all time in the United States, according to data provider Dealogic.

Lyft begins its IPO road show in New York on Monday and Tuesday. The company will have meetings in Boston and New York later this week between investors and co-founders Logan Green and John Zimmer, as well as Chief Financial Officer Brian Roberts and Catherine Buan, vice president of investor relations.

The road show will move to the U.S. Midwest and West Coast next week. The company is scheduled to debut on Nasdaq on March 29 under the symbol “LYFT.”

SIMPLICITY VERSUS DIVERSIFICATION

Uber hopes for a valuation of as much as $120 billion, according to sources, although some analysts have pegged it closer to $100 billion based on selected financial figures it has disclosed. Uber is planning to kick off its IPO in April, Reuters has reported.

Uber, which promotes itself as a global logistics and transportation company, is much larger and more diverse than Lyft, whose core focus remains ride-hailing.

(Uber and Lyft, side-by-side: tmsnrt.rs/2VAzDBQ)

Lyft will pitch investors on the simplicity of its business, while Uber is expected to play up its more diversified strategy, according to people familiar with the matter.

After Lyft’s IPO, Green, the CEO, and Zimmer, the firm’s president, will collectively have just shy of 50 percent of the company’s voting rights. Their stakes would be worth $569.4 million and $392.7 million respectively, if the IPO prices at the top its target range.

Their firm grip on the company has been criticized by some investors focused on corporate governance.

“Lyft’s dual-class share structure leaves investors virtually powerless. This is highly risky for long-horizon investors and for the integrity of the capital markets,” Ken Bertsch, executive director of the Council of Institutional Investors, said in a statement earlier this month.

Lyft has nearly 40 percent of the U.S. ride-sharing market, but has warned that further growth could come at the expense of more losses for a company already deep in the red.

Lyft’s revenue was $2.16 billion for 2018, double the previous year’s and far higher than $343 million in 2016. It posted a loss of $911 million in 2018 versus $688 million in 2017.

J.P. Morgan, Credit Suisse and Jefferies are among the lead bookrunners for the listing.

Reporting by Joshua Franklin in New York and Diptendu Lahiri in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Greg Roumeliotis and Carl O’Donnell in New York; Editing by James Emmanuel, Jeffrey Benkoe and Dan Grebler

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Back to Basics: How every marketer can tame the analytics beast

Back to Basics: How every marketer can tame the analytics beast

For most marketers, analytics exists in a magic Pandora’s box, encompassing everything from CPCs to CTRs, from algorithms to artificial intelligence, from machine learning to quantum computing — with a bit of blockchain sprinkled in for good measure.

Buzzwords aside, the barriers to incorporating analytics into your life aren’t as high as analytics behemoths may make it seem. To the contrary, once you clarify a few misconceptions, you can make this seemingly enigmatic field not only relevant but also remarkably useful.

You don’t need an Excalibur

Cost is an often-cited obstacle to starting a data journey. Despite the shiny advertisements, you may see for Adobe’s Marketing Cloud (which costs upwards of $100,000 a year) and the dozens of LinkedIn messages you get from martech salespeople; you don’t need Fortune 500 money to take a stab at unlocking analytics. Google Analytics, Google Search Trends, Hotjar and HubSpot are just a few examples of industry-standard platforms that can dramatically improve your decision-making capabilities for free.

Even better, these platforms are made for data amateurs. Their interfaces are straightforward, and if you get lost, there are countless tutorials, help forums, boot camps and even classes to help you. Google also offers a certification program for Google Analytics, complete with videos and walkthroughs. It’s perfect for anyone who needs a place to start.

Don’t let the tool guide be the craftsman

Marketers often forget that data is merely a tool. Expecting a Google Analytics tag to fix your website is like throwing a hammer at your newly opened IKEA purchase and expecting a sofa to emerge.

In other words: Collecting data is the easy part. Understanding what to do with all this info is where the magic happens.

So, spend a few weeks studying how to interpret data. Bootcamps and classes are always helpful, but the secret that every engineer already knows is that Youtube and Google are your best friend. Dig out your notes from that statistics class in college and learn how to run a simple correlation in Excel. An investment of your time today learning how to interpret data will pay dividends for the rest of our career.

Keep perspective

There are no sure things in marketing. Even scientists (and yes, I mean the ones in lab coats) often need years of data collection, rigorous modeling and endless testing to prove a hypothesis. And that’s in a lab. Imagine what happens in the real world, where things are constantly changing and driven by deadlines.

In this chaos, it’s no surprise that data rarely provides a bullet-proof answer. Sure, you can add more expensive technology, but it’s important to remember that, as marketers, we’re dealing in the realm of probability, not exact certitude.

What’s more, it’s okay to be wrong. Take every failure as a badge of honor; minimizing risk does not mean avoiding it entirely. A 95 percent chance of sunshine tomorrow still means that rain is a possibility, but also, your decision to not bring an umbrella isn’t necessarily incorrect. Make peace with the risk as long as you separate logic from emotion. In the long run, your data-driven approach will result in far more wins than losses.

You’re a solver of problems, not a creator of reports

All too often, people associate analytics with reporting. While reporting is critical, it is merely a means to an end. No business has ever been transformed by a single report.

Data is meant to be used as an unbiased means to test something. Nowhere in that definition does it stipulate that you must create daily, weekly or even monthly reports.

As we’ve seen, data takes time to collect. And while you should consistently check your data, it’s up to you to find the reporting cadence that works best for your team.

Then, instead of focusing on frequency, you can focus on presentation quality. Data is like a foreign language; it’s only useful if someone else understands what you’re saying. So, make sure your reports are thoroughly readable. Be concise, use visuals and err on the side of plain language. Above all, always return to the core business problem you’re trying to solve.

Next steps in your journey

Contrary to conventional wisdom, analytics isn’t shorthand for building sophisticated statistical models. Properly understood, analytics is a philosophy that embodies something much simpler: applying the scientific method to test your educated guesses. Whether you’re running a simple paid Facebook campaign or trying to get into shape for that Bahamas cruise this summer, you can leverage data to make more targeted, meaningful choices.

The reason you’ve read this far is that we agree on a key point: every marketer needs to integrate analytics to succeed in this digital world. In an age where it’s hard to keep up with the jargon, I fully empathize with those who view “analytics” as some enormous, mystical beast. On the contrary, understand that analytics is much more like a puppy; managing your data may be a little unruly at first, but with enough consistent training and respect, the lessons you learn will last you a lifetime.

A data journey can start tomorrow with nothing but a problem to solve or a hypothesis to prove (and a laptop with an internet connection).

So tell me, what are you waiting for?


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Jason Baik is the VP of Analytics at Hot Paper Lantern where he leads a team that uses data to minimize risk and maximize chances of success across all initiatives. Jason applies a blend of the scientific and Socratic methods to identify industry inefficiencies and provide unbiased, unorthodox business solutions.

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