The hour is late: Achieving 1Q Goals

With less than thirty days to go in the quarter, my mind returns to the business goals we set a few months ago. Some of those OKRs were related to organizational capabilities but the ones that are top of mind relate to pipeline progression and sales. This quarter. Next quarter. You probably have your own metrics that you’re tracking. So what do you do if things aren’t going right?

As a relatively new company we’re still gathering enough data to reliably predict the trends in some places. We’ve made significant investments in getting the right data — we’re disciplined CRM users, we track our marketing activities, and we instrument our platform so we get feedback on utilization. The key is not the data itself but how you put it to work running the business.

I was speaking to a digital marketing leader at a publishing company last week. He was talking about how they’re applying advanced text analytics (embeddings for you geeks out there) to help them with content findability. With tens of millions of documents, they’ve got a fairly unique challenge that is defying traditional search techniques.

One of his challengers is that they don’t have a reliable measure of success for his area. We’re going to talk more about that and see if we can help to set them up for success in the future.

Chicken meet egg

With performance being top of mind I wondered to myself about his ability to demonstrate achievements in 1Q and beyond. I also wondered what I’d do in his place if I were looking forward and trying to build a performance management system that makes sense. That will move the ball downfield. It’s easy to succumb to the desire to work on this next quarter. That’s the wrong instinct. Now is the time. Next quarter will be over before you know it.

There are four things I’d do.

1. In-quarter demonstration of value

No matter how rudimentary your measurement portfolio, you probably have a sense of what success looks like and where your most obvious problems lay.  Find your highest-odds areas of success and go look at that, now. Is there something you can do this week that will change things next week?

The experiment can be modest and half-baked. But it will allow you to demonstrate that you’re taking the issue seriously, and have a bias for action. It may also slightly improve things.

I often recommend people start where they have friends. You know these people. Sometimes they are actually friends, but more often than not they’re the ones who simply nodded in agreement while others were shaking their heads. These are your lab partners.

2. Convene the experts

Whether it’s people within your department, elsewhere in the org or a vendor, you need to demonstrate that you’re able to track progress. This means metrics.

This work will arc into next quarter but by taking the reins this quarter you demonstrate that the measurement gap has both importance and urgency.

Resist the entreaties of some experts that the measurements already exist in some analytics system. That’s Holy Grail talk. If it were there you’d have found it. Someone else would already be using it.

The one thing you might have is data that could be constructed into metrics. Be open to that serendipity but don’t bet on it.

3. Establish a replicable management system

Demonstrating that you’ve got things under control usually requires not only measurements but a feedback and correction mechanism.

This is team sport. Who are the people who are going to enable your success? What organizations are going to be blockers? Who is the person who has the skills to run this thing?

This is another area where your friends can help. Make sure you have allies with you at the table. It’s hard to do this alone.

4. Communicate

Talk to your boss, your peers and those outside you team about what you’re trying to achieve. Create a framework that is clear and concise. Can you fit it on one chart?

Also, don’t forget to listen aggressively while you’re communicating. Part of team sport is knowing the other players well and being able to respond to their ideas. The sum is greater than the parts.

Today

Today is when this starts. Clear your calendar. Get moving. Knowing that a deadline looming sharpens the mind. Yes, everyone else is focused on their goals when deadlines loom, but you’d be surprised how generous people can be. Find them. Get moving. Today. Connect with us to get help along the journey.

Post originally published on Biznology

Steve Zakur

About Steve Zakur

Stephen Zakur is CEO of SoloSegment. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.

All Business On Vacation

Last week I left my family behind and took my 82 year-old father and his brother to Yellowstone National Park. This was a bucket list item for both of them and due to their declining health, it may have been our our last opportunity for such an adventure.

There are tons of details that need to be sorted out when traveling with someone who has special needs. In this case, it was two gents who have trouble walking long distances. This meant that during the air travel portion of the week, I was arranging for wheelchairs and negotiating the hotels of Yellowstone — which are preciously short on handicapped rooms and other accommodations for the elderly in lodgings — many of which were built long before ADA and not since updated.

I’m not going to go on my “We need to invest in our public spaces” rant. Suffice to say, we have these beautiful places and we make it difficult for folks to visit them in the name of preserving a quaint vision of the distant past. Upgrade, folks. Upgrade.

Being on vacation, I try to swivel my brain to things other than my day-to-day grind. Of course, that business function gets a little bored so it eventually looks for opportunity for improvement in all the processes that it encounters. So here’s my list from my current trip. It’s an age-old problem.

Steve Zakur

About Steve Zakur

Stephen Zakur is CEO of SoloSegment. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.

Is your site search a guess machine?

Old Time Search

Just past Fish Creek Campground, a gravel, two-track wanders off into the wilderness of Glacier National Park. At the head of the road there are several warning signs about the perils of backcountry travel. Bears. Mountain Lions. Falling trees. There are also unlisted perils — flat tires, dehydration, fire, and the various demons that live in our imagination when we venture into wild places. There’s a lot of unknown down that track but that’s where we’re going, so we drove on.

Steve Zakur

About Steve Zakur

Stephen Zakur is CEO of SoloSegment. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.

The ROI of Site Search

The ROI of Site Search

The calculation of ROI (Return on Investment) is a critical step of the business decision making process. It can also be the most intimidating step. Even those who sat through Finance 101 and understand the concepts of ROI calculation may not fully understand how to do it in practice. Fortunately, we’ve had a lot of experience in using this tool, especially in calculating the ROI of site search improvements.

Determining what to do and how to make the most money doing it would seem to be reason enough for calculating ROI. But there’s another, almost equally important reason. Communicating the returns on business decisions is the language of business. You’ll need this information to convince the IT and Finance guys to make the investment. But (ironically) many businesses fail to put the proper time, resources, and methodology to determining ROI, and end up allocating their resources poorly. Site search is a great example of this problem.

Even though up to 50 percent of your customers use your site search, I bet you don’t have technical and human resources dedicated to it. That’s something that needs to be remedied. You’re leaving money on the table. You need to build great partnerships with stakeholders from across business functions to change the status quo and you need to be able to express the need for change in terms of value. Fortunately, you don’t have to have an MBA to figure out the value. Here’s the steps you need to be taking in your ROI process.

Steve Zakur

About Steve Zakur

Stephen Zakur is CEO of SoloSegment. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.

Why aren’t I getting conversions out of my site search?

Site searchers tend to show up at your website with a certain purpose in mind. They have a need and believe that you have the solution. This should be great news, because you have all this great content and if they get to see your product, it is likely they’ll buy it. But our experience shows that many site searchers don’t actually get to the point of seeing your content. They use your site search and are frustrated by the poor quality of results. You’re frustrated too, because you don’t know why this happens. Finding out why searchers are frustrated and creating a plan to prevent it can significantly improve your site search conversions and lead to sales.

Steve Zakur

About Steve Zakur

Stephen Zakur is CEO of SoloSegment. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.