Welcome to Growth Interviews!
Welcome to Growth Interviews, the fun, stimulating and engaging series of conversations driven by digital business growth.
Our mission is to provide insights and ideas from world-class professionals on the topic of growth and to cut through the noise of so-called marketing tips and tricks, revealing the money-making strategies behind e-commerce.
Each episode is an intriguing challenge involving an insightful expert who reveals some of their best-kept secrets, which you can use right away to boost your business.
In this week’s episode of Growth Interviews, we invite you to join our conversation with Martin Reintjes, the CEO of Team Croco, a company that provides made-to-measure split-testing services.
If we look at industry surveys, one of the problems online shops frequently complain about is the lack of development resources for building A/B tests.
Where an e-commerce business has in-house developers, these are usually working on building new features, and they don’t see the value in incremental testing. Often, a proper testing process is completely lacking.
You should, however, be constantly optimizing. Therein, indeed, lies the problem: most online shops don’t have a dedicated in-house CRO team, and very few companies manage to run tests regularly.
Besides helping with dedicated split-testing development resources, Team Croco also helps online shops with the structure and management of their CRO program.
Let’s see what Martin recommends in the interview below.
The Culture of Experimentation
Who are you and what do you do?
Martin: Hello, my name is Martin Reintjes. I live in the Netherlands and I’m one of the founders of Team Croco, a CRO agency that focuses on A/B test developments and working with small e-commerce shops. Team Croco is a remote team which I love and experiment with.
How did you get into the CRO space?
Martin: I kind of rolled into the CRO space. I have a lot of experience in working remotely, working with remote teams, and working with developers. I was talking with my current partners at Team Croco who are running another CRO agency, Online Dialogue, in the Netherlands.
They were talking about how we have all these experiments that we want to run but we don’t have the development resources. ‘Okay, I can help you with those developing resources. Let’s create a brand around this because there are a lot more agencies that need development resources for the things they want to develop.’ That’s basically how things came about.
What do you like about CRO?
Martin: I love experimenting. So, everything I do, I try to reach as an experiment. A/B testing – CRO – is all about running ad experiments: coming up with an idea like, ‘Hey, maybe if we change this, then it becomes better or we’ll convert better, (get) more money, the user experience is better.’ Then you change it and you look at the data and see if there actually was an improvement.
I’d like to run those kinds of experiments as well in my life with the food that I eat or how I schedule my day or the places where I work, be it the coffee shop, the office, or whatever. I always try to measure how I’m feeling, how productive I am, and whether what I want to do works. I like the culture of experimentation. That’s been really one of the drivers of the CRO space in recent years. I really love it.
When done well, A/B testing – or split testing – is one of the most powerful ways to improve some of the most important metrics in your business.
Google Ads split-testing is ideally suited to determining which ads deliver the greatest return on investment for your e-commerce store. Continually comparing and fine-tuning your ad campaigns will allow you to put the right ads in front of your audience, while also reducing ad spending.
But not all split-testing is created equal. Here are seven split-testing techniques used by some of the most successful e-commerce marketers.
Company Culture CRO
Tell us some cool experiences from experimenting with your customers.
Martin: I am personally not super involved in this CRO work we do for our clients but I do love to experiment a lot in the team that I run. Because we’re running a remote team, our company doesn’t have any offices, so the whole company is basically an experiment.
I get really enthusiastic about all the little things that we can tweak and improve in the company, and I have all those things. If I want to implement a new process, that’s an experiment. I’m just going to write a hypothesis. I’m going to set up a timeframe, like four weeks. We’re going to try this new process where we’re going to report in such-and-such a way and, after that, we’re going to reflect on it. Or, maybe let’s do a virtual coffee meet-up with two team members and see if that improves their team happiness or their personal happiness as a team member.
Stuff like these little tweaks – that’s what I really like about CRO. It’s just fun any time to look at a website and come up with all these ideas. I think the most fun I have is when I have a really good idea that I think is going to be a winner and then it’s not. ‘What the hell happened, why is this not working?’
I like the experiments that actually don’t perform better because they surprise me, and then I have to really assess what works or doesn’t work and why, and come up with an even better test.
At Omniconvert, we take A/B tests very seriously. However, there is a time and place for split testing.
One of the reasons not all online shops should do split testing is that you need a lot of volume to get statistically significant results. Essentially, you need enough data to know to a high degree of certainty that luck or chance has not influenced the outcome.
Running tests for a longer period until you reach statistical significance is not an option either. Time will influence your split tests. The longer you run the test, the more likely it is that external factors such as temporary website changes, technical issues, and users deleting their cookies will come into play, making the tests inaccurate.
CRO done in Smaller and Bigger Businesses
Where do you think the CRO industry is going?
Martin: There are a couple of directions here. The big corporates, especially, are now really understanding why it is important to run experiments in their company, on their websites but more generally, as well.
You see a lot of companies building up CRO teams or training up marketing development teams to also understand what conversion rate optimization is and start running experiments. As a result, you see a lot more knowledge inside these big companies. That’s one thing.
Another aspect is the other side of the market. Smaller companies are now running behind a bit because they don’t have the resources to have whole teams around CRO. You have to come up with hypotheses and test ideas. You have to do designs, implementation, and statistics around it. That’s a lot of work.
Smaller webshops or smaller brands, therefore, don’t have those resources. But, there are also much better tools now, like Google Optimize, which is free. That helps them a lot, but they still need to spend hours there.
That’s why we created the Team Croco brand for those kinds of companies to help them, basically 80/20 – everything that the big corporates are doing. We try to help them there so that they have the same resources as the big corporates in terms of CRO.
What stops companies from being more data-driven and using their data to improve their business?
Martin: There are two parts there as well. First, development resources. It’s super hard to get those resources, such as developers to implement your tests or set up your analytics, or whatever. You have to really have dedicated people to run tests or look into your analytics and make decisions on the data.
That’s just one major thing, because my second one is that people, like a marketing manager or whoever is responsible for the website, have a lot on their plates as well. They have to do advertising, they must look at the analytics, they have to do this and that, run campaigns, and so on, and then they don’t stop to reflect on, ‘Hey, is this actually working?’ They don’t have or want to spend the time actually looking and digging into the data to see what could be improved, and what conclusions they can reach from that.
It’s usually like, ‘Okay, yeah, we got our ROI – return on investment – so yeah, next thing!’ You’re basically in this rat/hamster wheel where you just start and keep running, running, running, and you forget to stand still and look at your data.
According to the State of the Conversion Optimization Industry Report, there are largely positive changes in the CRO industry. Lead Gen has taken the lead, followed closely by e-commerce and agencies. SaaS still lags a bit behind, but not by far.
What is leading those changes? There are a few factors:
1. CRO practitioners have an expanded role: CRO techniques are now being used to optimize ‘points of engagement’ on websites as well as what is traditionally thought of as a conversion.
2. Data requirements are increasing: CRO practitioners now need all available customer data to do their job. This includes first- and third-party data, as well as customer and industry benchmarks, which helps them learn from other industries and organizations.
3. Attribution is still a significant problem: Last-click attribution is still the most widely-used model. CRO specialists are aware of the limitations, but they are still not sure how to address the issue.
4. Testing is gaining traction: Optimization of A/B testing is now very-well understood among CRO practitioners and is being used extensively.
Doing CRO Remotely
What’s it like working in a company with a remote team?
Martin: My primary motivator for myself to do things is freedom. I really love the ability to make my own decisions and to work whenever I want, and I see that in my team as well. For remote teams, remote workers, one of their primary motivators to work this way is that they have the freedom to decide on using their own time.
If they want to start working early, they can start early and take the afternoon off, so they can have lunch with the kids, walk the dog, or whatever, and then do a couple more hours of work. That’s a lot harder in the office environments where everyone’s working and you’re expected to be there. Or, if you want to have a haircut, you can just go away for an hour and then come back and make up for it in the evening or on the weekend.
So, freedom is a big part of why people like to work remotely. They are more able to live the life that they want to live, in the location that they want to live or work in, and where they are most productive. Not so much in that particular office where your company is based, but maybe they like to live in the countryside and the office is in the city, so now, they don’t have to commute and waste a lot of time. This also ties back into the freedom to choose how to live your life. So that’s a really big advantage of working remotely.
Although working outside of the corporate office has been feasible for a few decades, working remotely is only now becoming mainstream.
The best part of remote work is that it enables you to find the best players from anywhere in the world, and you’re not stuck with hiring in one location. However, there are other benefits for employers as well:
1. Increased productivity
It’s a common misunderstanding that remote workers don’t actually work. However, remote employees are more likely to put in extra effort in their jobs.
2. Cost savings
When a team is fully-distributed, businesses see a decreased overhead, with money being saved on costs like rent and office furniture.
3. Engaged employees
Remote employees report that they are happier than non-remote employees and also feel more valued within their role.
Split testing is one of the most powerful and effective ways to drive e-commerce growth. Some of the biggest, most profitable companies in the world have achieved their massive success in large part due to A/B testing. Take Amazon, for example: if A/B testing works for Amazon, it will work for you too!
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