4 Common Mistakes That Lead to Bad Hires (And How to Avoid Them)

Hiring the wrong person costs your agency more than you might think.

According to Jörgen Sundberg, founder of Undercover Recruiter, a bad hire can end up costing your business around $840,000. That’s not a number to take lightly.

Sundberg’s team based their calculations on the cost of a second-level manager who makes $62,000 a year and is terminated after two and a half years. They considered the cost of hiring, onboarding, and retaining the employee, as well as the overall revenue loss associated with mistakes, failures, and missed business opportunities caused during the employee’s doomed tenure.

If you work at a small agency, losing that amount of money over a single bad hire can cause unthinkable damage to your bottom line. There’s simply no room for hiring mistakes.

To ensure your next hiring decision isn’t a major pitfall for your business, we’ve compiled a list of common reasons behind poor hiring choices. Avoid these at all costs to make sure your next new hire succeeds. 

4 Common Mistakes That Lead to Bad Hires
1) You fall victim to “The halo effect.”

Imagine you’re a hiring manager conducting interviews for an account manager position. After a long day of mediocre and disappointing candidates, your next interviewee turns out to be eloquent, positive, and friendly — a welcome combination of traits that impress you immediately. On top of his enjoyable presence, he has a pretty solid resume. You hire him right away.

A few months after he’s been onboarded, you hear word from his manager that his performance has been disappointing so far, and he shows no signs of improvement. So what went wrong? How could the candidate who impressed you so much in the interview turn out to be a total dud?

This is a perfect example of the halo effect: a type of cognitive bias that occurs when we overlook obvious faults when someone impresses us in one particular area. In this case, you were impressed by the candidate’s sociable demeanor, and assumed he’d be equally impressive in other areas. His resume might not have been stellar, but since you were already sold on his sociability, you didn’t even notice you were overlooking potential issues.

Beating the halo effect starts with being aware of its impact, and developing a straightforward hiring system to offset its effect. Melvin Sorcher and James Brant — partners with Sorcher Associates, a management consulting firm — recommend putting an evaluation process in place which requires candidates to be assessed by a group of people from different levels and areas of the company.

“The process enables the group to probe a wide range of leadership criteria and obtain balanced and complete information,” Sorcher and Brant wrote in Harvard Business Review. When a candidate is reviewed by a wide range of people, it exposes them to varying sets of opinions and biases, minimizing the potential impact the halo effect can have on the hiring decision.

2) You don’t know what the position really requires.

Most job requirements come in list format: a neat index of basic skills, recommended experience, and personal traits that somehow combine to describe the ideal person for the job.

Unfortunately, succeeding in most roles requires more than a laundry list of vague qualities — particularly in the fast-paced, ever-evolving agency landscape. Hiring managers seeking candidates for a new position should set aside time before the interviews to dig a little deeper and discover “the pivot” — the elusive set of qualities that tips the scale towards one candidate over another.

“The pivot” is a term coined by Ram Charan, a business advisor and author of Boards That Lead. As Charan describes it, the pivot is “a strand of two or three capabilities that are tightly interwoven and required for the new leader to succeed.” In other words, the pivot is what separates someone who will be an average performer in the role from someone who will truly flourish and exceed your biggest expectations.

For example, when hiring a new business development manager, the pivot might be a background in economics, an adaptive nature, and a unique ability to remain calm and collected in stressful situations.

“Directors who choose the right CEOs do a lot of work before arriving at the pivot,” Charan writes. “They take the time to fully understand the company’s current challenges and how the external context is changing. They read analyst reports, talk to insiders, and consult outside experts to expand their thinking.”

Although Charan uses “the pivot” as a way to help companies hire CEOs and other major leadership positions, it’s useful for all hiring managers to think about what specific abilities really put a candidate over the edge.

3) You focus too heavily on technical skills and not enough on intangibles.

Technical skills are important — don’t get me wrong — but they hardly ever make up for larger issues with an employee’s disposition, attitude, and work ethic. Hiring an employee primarily on the merit of their technical skills could cause you to overlook other major red flags — and might lead to a wasted investment in an unfit employee.

According to a study conducted by Leadership IQ — a leadership training and development company — new employees rarely fail due to issues with their job competence or technical skills. In fact, of the new hires that were terminated within 18 months of being hired, only 11% failed due to technical shortcomings.

So what were the top reasons new hires didn’t succeed in their new roles? Issues taking feedback, inadequate emotional intelligence, and a lack of motivation caused more employees to fail than gaps in technical job competency.

Check out the full breakdown of the survey below:

Image Credit: Leadership IQ

“The typical job interview process fixates on ensuring that new hires are technically competent,” explained Mark Murphy, CEO of Leadership IQ, on their company blog. “But coachability, emotional intelligence, motivation and temperament are much more predictive of a new hire’s success or failure. Do technical skills really matter if the employee isn’t open to improving, alienates their coworkers, lacks emotional intelligence and has the wrong personality for the job?”

It’s easy to get blinded by an employee’s impressive technical skill set, but hiring managers need to look beyond the resume and make sure candidates have the right attitude, disposition, and mindset for the role as well.

4) You treat every open position like an emergency hire.

Sometimes it’s necessary to get someone hired and onboarded as quickly as possible for the overall stability of the agency — but most of the time, you can afford to take enough time with the hiring process to find someone who will bring the right energy to the role.

In periods of rapid growth, agencies often feel the need to acquire talent expeditiously, without much thought to the hiring framework or time line. With this attitude, it’s easy for unfit hires to slip through the cracks when they wouldn’t have otherwise been considered.

Linda Brenner, a coauthor of Talent Valuation and the CEO of Talent Growth Advisors, emphasizes the importance of prioritizing hiring for open roles according to long-term business needs.

“Start by identifying which roles are most essential to delivering on future growth commitments — not just to continuing your operations right now,” Brenner writes in Fast Company. “Finding and hiring top talent in those areas is most essential.”

Once you’ve identified which roles to prioritize, develop a hiring time line that allows your team adequate time to select ideal candidates. If you start hiring now for roles that will be essential in the coming months or years, you’ll be able to conduct a more thorough process that yields better candidates.

How does you agency approach hiring top talent? Let us know in the comments.


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How Fixing Client Analytics Can Help Agencies Sell More

A completely accurate client analytics account is few and far between.

That forces you, brave agency veteran, to roll up your sleeves and try to make sense of the chaos you’re looking at for each unique scenario.

You didn’t plan for it. You didn’t charge for it. And now, if you don’t fix it, you’ll face an uphill battle in trying to prove the resulted you delivered.

Like it or not, addressing this issue head-on and fixing client analytics can help you sell more, and sell more profitable work.

Here’s why.

The Problem with Pricing Digital Services

Most clients have no idea what we do.

They pay us – very well in some cases – despite not truly grasping how we’re going to deliver the goods for them.

Sure, they might grock the buzzwords a little bit. They understand the jargon and the high level perspective. But it’s mostly a superficial understanding.

When you get down in the weeds, and start describing how exactly to get from A -> B, you start to lose them a little as glazed over eyes stare back at you.

That’s not a knock; it’s just reality.

In the same way you probably could care less about what’s wrong with your car engine and how a mechanic is going to fix it. You just want to know if you’re going to be able to make it to Happy Hour in time this afternoon.

More often than not, clients are paying us based on trust. Or a leap of faith. Or our smiles and fashionable clothes.

And when they don’t fully grasp the full context of their problem, or the work involved in each painstaking individual step you have to take to fix it, they gravitate towards the one thing that’s easy to separate you from everyone else that says they do exactly what you do: price.

Cue competitive bids and escalating downward pricing pressure.

So what do you do the next time around?

You piece together a meager cost plus estimate that rarely includes Profit (and you’ve undoubtedly underestimated Project Management), double check the marketplace, and rush it out the door.

In contrast, the best, most profitable agencies use value-based pricing. Instead of starting with what their internal costs might be, they start with forecasting:

The new revenue a client can generate, or
The cost savings a client might see as a result of working with them.

For example, you can take a look at their historical averages of traffic and leads. If you’re able to come in and bump that conversion rate by 10%, 15%, or even 30% over the course of a few months, what does that look like in new revenue based on their average customer value?


Boom. If simple conversion tweaks and changes can lead to $40K-$160K+ in new revenue, there’s MORE than enough room to pay you 20-30% of that.

That covers your software, payroll, meetings, and then some. You can actually scale a business on that.

Even better, is if you can show how increases in results – less your agency costs – results in NET gains too.


But there’s a problem.

You can’t even begin to forecast potential revenue for clients like this when they’re missing a critical piece of the puzzle.

Why Fixing Your Client’s Analytics Should be Priority #1

Value-based pricing includes showing a client the outcome and end results of your work in clear-cut business objectives that they can understand (like leads gained or costs saved).


If they don’t have a complete view of their marketing and sales funnel – which, like 97.75% of companies are guilty of – you’ve got a problem.

To make matters worse, these issues can be tough to spot ahead of time, before you dive into their account (which means you probably didn’t plan for it in your timeline and you sure as hell didn’t charge for it as a line item).

Maybe the conversion-tracking pixel is on the wrong page (or even worse, sitewide). Or perhaps they’re using legacy CRM software that doesn’t allow you to figure out what happens after someone becomes a lead (like, where’s da revenue coming from?!).

Either way, before you even touch a single line of code, fix a broken link, or put together a wireframe, you need to get an accurate benchmark of where a company is at right now.

Here are three reasons why.

Reason #1. Determine Where Results are Currently Coming From

A quick view of a company’s Acquisition Channel performance in Google Analytics can give you a snapshot of where they’re at, and how they’re doing.

Sure, the visits or sessions piece is moderately helpful, cluing you into which campaigns are delivering (or not).

But the real value comes in analyzing which channels specifically are driving leads and customers (and how much each is worth).

Now you start crossing over from raw data to insight. You’re able to draw lines between where budget is being spent and where results are coming from.

This helps you figure out what’s already working for clients so you can pour on more, and spot what’s already been tried that hasn’t worked (so you don’t make the same mistakes).

Arguably more important though, is that it will provide you with a baseline to compare against after you deliver your services.


Reason #2. Isolate Campaign/Promotion Attribution

You hear that?

The screeching tires. The scent of burning rubber. A loud crash.

That catastrophic train wreck of epic proportions you’re about to witness is your new client’s analytics.

Their complex, multi-faceted business has taken its toll, with independent systems for each department that don’t work well together (and would require a quant-jock, Business Intelligence analyst to figure out).

Instead of relying or messing with existing systems, setting up a third-party analytics solution to isolate how your campaign and promotion is performing might be an easy way to sidestep the nightmare.


This Funnel Report will not only show you which promotional efforts are driving awareness, but also give you insight into the funnel performance for each channel, helping you identify patterns and discrepancies between how visitors from each channel (like cold vs. warm traffic) add items to your cart or complete a purchase.

You can dive even deeper into the individual customer profile, taking a look at the specific steps they took prior to purchase. This can help you identify which pages are assisting conversions, and also spot any bottlenecks or gaps that others keep hitting that causes them to bounce.


Reason #3. Make Better Marketing Decisions

Leading indicators are helpful. To a point.

They give you a preview or snapshot of what might potentially happen on down the line.

For example, SEO is a lagging indicator. Sure, you can measure new pages built and new links generated, but it’s still gonna take some time for Google to reindex, new rankings to fluctuate, traffic to start dribbling, new leads converted from said traffic, and only then do you get some verifiable sales opportunities to start tracking.

That means you’ve got a waiting game, and in the meantime you’re making a bunch of changes and assumptions based on incomplete information.

Things get especially challenging when some of these indicators can lead you astray, like when that high conversion rate might backfire.

Here’s how it works: you run some headline A/B tests with generate more initial leads. Numbers go up and you pat yourself on the back. Only problem? Sales – the number that actually matters – go down as a result.

Fortunately, the Kissmetrics A/B Test Report can help you run split tests that will only declare a winner when an event is met further down the funnel, which helps you avoid getting too excited over an increase in clicks (which aren’t super helpful) and waiting for the big payoff instead (conversions).


How to Sell Extra Work with Analytics Insight

Design is subjective. It shouldn’t be, but it is.

My favorite thing to witness is a fiftysomething executive who has literally zero knowledge of art and design, or the owner of an old-school insurance brokerage, make specific design critiques and changes (like, “I think that shaded border should be gold instead of gray”).

Which, if I were a designer, would surely cause me to become a statistic you hear about on the Nightly News.

So how can design, something so subjective that every client thinks they can do better than your Creative Director, deliver quantifiable results that will allow you to charge more?

Look for leverage points.

For example, why does someone need that new landing page?

“I need a landing page design for an AdWords campaign,” says the client.

Ok cool – then in reality they don’t just want or need one landing page, but they’re gonna want (and need) multiple ones. Here’s why (and how to sell it).

Landing page design will help dictate Quality Score, which has been proven multiple times to influence your Costs Per Click (and thus, Cost Per Conversions).

cost-per-conversion-quality-score-graphImage Source

“If your quality score increases by 1 point, your cost-per-conversion decreases by 13%,” according to Jacob from Disruptive Advertising.

Awesome. So in order to increase that quality score as much as possible, you’re going to need specific and relevant landing pages for each campaign you’re running. Which means you’re going to need multiple versions of the same page so that you can align message match to drop your Cost Per Conversion and increase the total conversions you’re getting.

Now, that’s going to require some extra work.

You, dear client, will also want to make sure that copy and content changes for each page and that you set-up at least basic analytics to make sure we can track all of this and make iterations on-the-fly. That’s going to require these new additional line items to our scope.

We recently went through this exact process on a new website redesign and performed a quick analysis after 30 days with the new AdWords landing pages.

The results?

We compared results to the same period, prior year to rule out seasonality. So in 2015, their Cost Per Converted Click was $482.41 and their Conversion Rate was only 4.08%.


During the new 30-day window in 2016, their Cost Per Converted Click dropped to $147.65 and their Conversion Rate jumped to 12.76%.


Total score?

Cost/Converted Click: 69.39% cost reduction
Conversion Rate: 212.74% conversion rate lift

Now multiply those ‘efficiency’ metrics against the results (like total leads, or the amount spent for those leads), and you can quickly highlight your financial value.

Think there was enough room in that budget for a few extra landing pages? And now some more work?

Our only job as a consultant is to improve the client’s position. (I think that comes from Alan Weiss.)

You’re the expert, not them. And as such, you need to fight for the scope (and thus the required resources and budget) it’s going to take in order to deliver the results a prospect or client is looking for (whether they understand what it’s going to take or not).

Because my hairline is becoming increasingly more like Jason Statham’s, and jawline has never resembled Brad Pitt’s, the only way I can figure out how to do this is through cold, hard, analytical data.


Clients commonly don’t fully understand the scope of what you’re being asked to do.

That’s OK. It’s manageable.

But only if you can translate your value into something they do understand – like marketing KPI’s or business objectives like revenue and costs.

The problem is that becomes impossible without a strong foundation for analytics.

There’s no way to benchmark past performance, to isolate your individual campaigns, or spot customer bottlenecks along the way.

Fixing or addressing a client’s analytics problems then should become priority #1.

Because it will not only help you justify the current work you’re doing for them, but also sell the results in the future to them and new ones just like them.

About the Author: Brad Smith is a founding partner at Codeless Interactive, a digital agency specializing in creating personalized customer experiences. Brad’s blog also features more marketing thoughts, opinions and the occasional insight.

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How Slack Became The Fastest Growing Business App of All Time [Infographic]

cut-yourself-some-slack-compressor (1).jpg

The Ministry of Magic in “Harry Potter” used enchanted paper airplanes. The offices of Sterling Cooper in “Mad Men” used secretaries. Today’s modern (and nonfiction) offices rely increasingly on messaging apps for inter-office communcation.

One such app is Slack, a real-time messaging app that’s currently used by more than 90,000 different companies. Slack skyrocketed in popularity, making it the fastest-growing workplace software application ever.There are many reasons Slack has 500,000 daily active users and counting, including the folks here at HubSpot. At its core, Slack offers direct messaging and chat rooms for individuals and teams, but takes its software further with a one-stop shop for better productivity at work. Slack offers an archive of team- and company-wide communication, as well as integrations with other bots and apps you may already be using — think Google Drive, Trello, and GrowthBot. Download our complete productivity guide here for more tips on improving your  productivity at work.

Check out this infographic from the folks at SurePayroll to read more about how Slack came to be so widely used. Learn more about its features and tricks to help you have a more productive work day.


Productivity Guide

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A Year-Round Guide to Maintaining Holiday Sales Traffic by @BethnyCard

Don’t make a new sales page for your holiday sales every year. Instead, have one that you can build on year after year. Maintain your SEO efforts and ranking signal year-long with a Sales SEO Strategy and gain more sales traction.

The post A Year-Round Guide to Maintaining Holiday Sales Traffic by @BethnyCard appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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5 Ways Your E-Commerce Business Can Recover From A Growth Setback

Facing growth setbacks is part of the risk of doing business.

While most companies may only highlight their successes to the public, it’s important to understand that every business has its own group of challenges. The key is to recognize the issues and take the necessary actions to move forward.

“You may be facing your share of woes from financial problems to employee shortages to increased competition. Just because those setbacks are occurring and you are struggling to survive, doesn’t mean you can’t turn your circumstance around,” says Inc. contributor Carolyn Brown.

Let’s explore how your team can bounce back from a growth setback.

1. Reassess Your Business Strategy

When major issues arise, reevaluating your strategy is essential to realizing what happened. Moreover, your team can pinpoint the mistakes that stunted your ecommerce business growth.

So, where do you start? Begin with the problem.

Learn why the setback occurred, when it began, where it originated, and how it flourished into a setback. Dive deep into your analytics to assess your sales and reveal any gaps in your system.

Senior management recognizes that failure isn’t caused by a singular event. Instead, it’s usually a series of activities that slowly lead up to a business disaster. So, examine your current procedures to set up safeguards.

“The way we win business has changed radically, largely thanks to the internet and social media. Companies that are not up to speed digitally won’t exist for much longer, so make sure the business is using all the technological tools it can to build momentum,” states Andrew Morris, CEO of the Academy for Chief Executives.

Nike reworked its international expansion strategy. Rather than spending an exorbitant amount of money on sponsorships to gain a global audience, the athletic apparel company initiated the NikeID co-creation platform. Allowing customers to design their own products helped the business deliver unique products that align with different cultural preferences and styles.


Upgrade your business strategy. Keep what works well and toss the rest to the side.

2. Deliver Customer Value

Research shows that “for every customer complaint there are 26 other unhappy customers who have remained silent.” In a market full of competitors, it’s easy for consumers to try another brand.

To deliver remarkable customer value, start by analyzing your consumers’ purchasing habits. Learn what they like and how specific brand interactions make them feel.

For example, if you know consumers prefer assistance via live chat rather than by phone, your team should take steps to be available online.

Collect this data by instructing your sales representatives to jot down notes during customer conversations. Or simply ask consumers to complete a short suggestion form.

Think of customer value as a cycle. You must discover the opportunities, create the offering, deliver the value, and communicate it to your audience. Then, the process starts over again after receiving the customer feedback.

customer-value-delivery-cycleImage Source

Peepers, an eyewear company, offer shoppers more value by customizing the checkout experience. With personalized messages, customers trusted the brand and believed their credit card information were safe. As a result, Peepers received a 25-30% increase in its organic traffic conversion rate and 15%-20% increase in its average order value.

Offer unprecedented value that your consumers can’t receive anywhere else. They’ll be happy and your ecommerce company will reap the revenues.

3. Differentiate Your Product

Sometimes, your team must do things differently. And it might just include changing the product.

In today’s economy, consumers possess a wide variety of choices. They don’t have to settle for products that fail to solve their problems or fall short of satisfying their needs.

Product differentiation is a marketing technique to make your product more attractive than the alternatives in the marketplace. This difference could include customer value, design, price, or even quality.

“Don’t focus on features alone, then. Instead, emphasize the benefits of those features. Your advantage lies in how your product or service ties into the emotional needs of your target audience. People make decisions on the basis of either logical reasoning or emotional impulses,” writes Entrepreneur contributor Ray Beharry.

Conduct market research to learn if you should modify your product or change the way you sell your product. To find pertinent data, host a focus group or invest in heatmap tools to monitor website interactions.

Oscar Health Insurance offers customers transparency and only focuses on a small, niche network in four U.S. states. The brand separates itself from the competition by presenting health plans in common language without the jargon.


It may be time for a product change. Find out how to fulfill your customers’ desires through differentiation.

4. Hire Employees With Diverse Skill Sets

During tough times, employees are the best assets for your business. And as your company begins to change directions, you will need people invested in your brand values.

In a recovery transition, recruit talented workers with skills that complement your current workforce. Experts claim that future work environments will need people who know how to work with data, understand virtual reality, and can apply the Internet of Things to industries.

Beyond technical skills, interpersonal character traits matter, too. Focus on hiring individuals who know how to develop connections, work on multiple cultural teams, and make creative decisions. Personal finance writer Erika Rawes agrees:

“Your ability to engage in conversation, get to know someone personally, and develop meaningful relationships will provide a competitive edge over the future.”

In addition, retrain your current employees by informing them about new business strategies and expectations. It’s a chance re-engage employees and to develop people professionally.

disengaged-employees-statImage Source

Revitalize your workforce during growth challenges. Let your business experience new talent with different possibilities.

5. Continue to Seek Growth Opportunities

Whether your company is undergoing a setback or not, your team should always continue to seek ways to expand. A proactive plan prepares your brand to handle challenges better.

Opportunity is a subjective term. What’s great for one business may be a disaster for another.

Therefore, before making any hasty decisions, work with your team to know what your business needs to recover. Do you need more qualified traffic to your website? Or more skilled sales reps to close deals?

And refrain from relying only on your own experience. Your company may benefit from building ongoing partnerships with other brands.

“Don’t limit yourself by your own knowledge base and expertise when your back is against a wall. Find partners who can help you implement the new strategy that makes the most sense, not the one that’s easiest to execute,” writes Fast Company contributor Carson Tate.

Below is a brand partnership example from Adidas and Spotify. The companies teamed up to offer their consumers a new product called Adidas Go. The app lets customers who exercise with their iPhones listen to music through Spotify that is automatically linked to the pace of the workout.

adidas-spotify-partnershipImage Source

Growth is a continuous process for companies. Uncover new opportunities to respond to infrequent difficulties.

Did you know? With Kissmetrics, you can track the effectiveness of your online advertising. Optimize your marketing by knowing which campaigns perform and which don’t. Check out our infographic to learn more.

Aim to Recover

Challenges are inevitable in business. It’s vital to understand how to handle setbacks when they occur.

Reevaluate your strategy to ensure it fits your desired outcomes. Deliver unmatched customer value that competitors can’t duplicate. And continue to seek partnership opportunities that will benefit your brand.

Push through setbacks. Grow your business.

About the Author: Shayla Price lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology and social responsibility. Connect with her on Twitter @shaylaprice.

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Search in Pics: Bing holiday sweater, Google igloo & maypole dancers

In this week’s Search In Pictures, here are the latest images culled from the web, showing what people eat at the search engine companies, how they play, who they meet, where they speak, what toys they have and more. Bing sweater and scarf for holidays: Source: Twitter Google igloo: Source: Instagram Waymo, new name for […]

The post Search in Pics: Bing holiday sweater, Google igloo & maypole dancers appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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How school superintendents explored the future of learning together

As education leaders, we’re expected to have all the answers. When we don’t, we solve problems by talking to our peers. The School Superintendents Association (AASA) invites administrators and educators to come together and talk about the challenges superintendents face, like how best to integrate technology in the classroom. This is a focus of the AASA’s digital consortium leadership cohort, which recently reached out to Google to see how they could further the AASA’s goal of leading new ways to use digital media in classrooms. We also reached out to Education Reimagined, an organization that advocates a paradigm shift to learner-centered education.

Google hosted a meeting of the AASA’s digital consortium with Education Reimagined at Google’s Chicago office in July 2016. Our discussion led us to realize we were thinking about the problem we wanted to solve in the wrong way. We had been making plans for how technology would transform our schools without considering one of the most important voices — our students! “The group’s discussion was a powerful reminder that we don’t make decisions in a vacuum,” said Mort Sherman, Associate Executive Director of the AASA. Putting student voices at the center of everything we do will help us design the future with them and for them. This will be a long journey for all of us, but one we are thrilled to embark on.

Putting student voices at the center of everything we do will help us design the future with them and for them.

Discovering student voices

At the Google office in Chicago, Education Reimagined Director Kelly Young kicked off the day by emphasizing the need to put students at the center. She advocated for a student-centered approach, where learning revolves around the needs of individual students instead of traditional classroom structures. She also encouraged us to bring students to the event to make sure that student input informed all of our discussions.

Google then worked with us to leverage their innovation methodology, informally known as “10x thinking” or “moonshot thinking” to help solve the challenges we were facing. It’s a version of “human-centered design thinking” that helps participants develop solutions while keeping the end-user at the center of the process.


Superintendents used a design thinking process to explore learner-centered education


In the STAT program at Deerfield Public School District 109, students facilitate a technology review committee meeting.

As we began, it occurred to us all that students are our users, and our users weren’t part of our conversation as much as they should be. Without their input, we wouldn’t be poised for success, because we weren’t empathizing with their daily experience. By going through the 10x process with the students present, we gave them a voice in a way we rarely do. As the realization of user-centric education sunk in, we were excited to share our takeaways with our schools.

After meeting in Chicago, we returned to our districts to put this learner-centric approach into action. Leyden High School District 212, for example, created two student advisory board member posts, giving students the opportunity to weigh in on meaningful decisions. Another, Deerfield Public School District 109, set up the STAT program (Student Technology Advisory Team), in which students provide their input on how technology in the classroom impacts them and what tools, devices, or practices are relevant and effective from their perspective. These are just two examples of the learner-centric transformation happening across the country.

Cementing our progress

More recently the AASA’s digital consortium re-convened in California to discuss, among other things, how we could turn this “aha” moment into action. A huge barrier to action is getting buy-in from teachers and parents, most of whom grew up in a classroom-centric education system.

Consider this: each of us spends over 16,000 hours in the classroom — that’s a lot of experience to work against. So together, we’re working to develop ways for schools to pilot learner-centric education without abruptly abandoning the classroom model. Google’s approach to innovation had us work through six questions in groups. We asked questions such as “If I look back in 12 months, how will I know I succeeded?” We ended the session with answers to some of the questions we had posed, bearing in mind our work isn’t finished.

We’re still working to implement learner-centered education in schools. And it’s not easy. When we meet next spring, our superintendents will report on progress made in individual schools and districts.

It took combining Google’s approach to problem solving, the philosophy from Education Reimagined and the amazing network of superintendents brought together by the AASA to help us think differently about the role of technology in learning. Now that we’ve identified the paradigm shift that needs to happen, we’re excited to share our moment of realization with districts, schools, and classrooms across the country.


Vanessa Gallegos, left, of East Leyden and Noelle Lowther of West Leyden were introduced as student representatives for the school board during a meeting on May 12 at East Leyden High School.

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How to Dominate in Search Marketing: The Case for Combining PPC & SEO by @tthursb

Organic or paid search — they’re fundamentally different yet two sides of the same coin. Having tunnel vision for SEO or PPC doesn’t make much sense when they both help you get to where you want to go. What binds the two strategies together is their purpose: increasing visibility.

The post How to Dominate in Search Marketing: The Case for Combining PPC & SEO by @tthursb appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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Introducing the new Google Wallet experience on the web

We’re excited to introduce the new Google Wallet web experience (wallet.google.com) just in time for the holidays. Available across all browsers, the updated Wallet website has a brand new look and added features, which will make planning that New Year’s trip with friends a breeze.

Wallet Web

You can send what you owe to your friend’s email address or phone number, and they can quickly transfer the money to their bank account – all without installing an app.

You can also request money on the web and your friends can pay you back without leaving their browser. Once you receive their money, you won’t even need to cash out. You can just set a default payment method and any money that’s sent to you through Wallet will be automatically transferred to that account.

Sign in to wallet.google.com now and be sure to bookmark it for the next time you need to pay someone back.

Send Money | Request Money

Wallet Holiday Animation

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Key Customer Metrics You Need to be Tracking (Infographic)

In order for a business to generate a long-term, sustainable profit, new customers need to be driven to your site, existing customers need to be satisfied and ideally, existing customers should become repeat customers. For this to happen, it’s essential to have a deep understanding of how your customers behave in relation to your brand— luckily, the tools to get these insights are more readily available than ever before.

With key customer metrics such as churn rate and average revenue per user at your disposal, you can determine which parts of your business strategy are effective and which parts need a fine tune! Taking a data-led approach to analyzing the behavior of your customers will allow you see why they chose you over a competitor, how they respond to your marketing and in precise detail, how they interact with your brand online.

For more information on which customer metrics you should be looking at, check out our infographic below:



About the Author: Ciaran Daly is the Copywriter for Mammoth Infographics.

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