What’s the Quality of Your Quality Assurance Program?

You hired a great software development team. They’re smart, fast, and have developed products that should leave the competition in the dust. But, lately, you’ve noticed a nagging trend. Revisions and bug fixes are starting to pop up with greater frequency. Projects are running behind schedule and over budget. Now, every time you hit the release button you say a silent prayer that the last code updates have not injected new defects.

Eventually, the original excitement that came as a result of being perceived as a market leader begins to erode, replaced by bad customer reviews and a rapidly demoralized team. 

Your Problem? Lack of Quality Assurance (QA)

QA is all too often treated like a red-headed stepchild when, in reality, it’s one of the most important steps in the software development process. It’s also one of the most misunderstood. Here are some of the more common QA issues that, if left unresolved can have devastating effects on your bottom line. 

The Wrong People May Be “Testing”

There is a misconception that anyone can test. It’s often delegated to developers, business analysts, product owners, stakeholders, and even end-users. Investing a lot of money into a product but not investing in the process to ensure its quality doesn’t make much sense. 

No matter how talented and experienced programmers are, it’s simply not possible for them to test their own logic without encountering “implementation bias.” The goal of a developer should be focusing on innovation, creativity, and writing code to solve user objectives. It’s not to run endless test scenarios. 

Enter the Software Quality Assurance Analyst

In contrast, the job of a dedicated Quality Assurance Analyst is to verify, validate, and explore the system to predict and prevent technical risks. Armed with that analysis, stakeholders can then make informed decisions. Quality Assurance Analysts conduct static requirements analysis, functional, integration, system, end-to-end, performance, stress, load, compatibility, and exploratory testing at all layers and environments of the software product. Analysts create testing documentation and detailed bug reports to ensure not a single defect is left unaddressed. 

The QA Practice is Not Fully Integrated into the Development Process

If your team is using the classic Waterfall methodology—where testing follows when code is fully written—then you’re creating an environment where QA is at an inherent disadvantage. Consequently, your time to market will increase as defects that could have been prevented in the earliest stages of the software development life cycle (SDLC) are left unidentified. And all too often, when a project is “completed” and testing is the bottleneck, code is pushed prematurely as business pressures mount to launch.

QA & Agile—A Match Made in Software Heaven

Adopting the Agile methodology brings more flexibility to the development process best captured by the mantra of “Test early, test often, test together.” Rather than viewed as adversarial elements, Agile brings Development and QA together working in close collaboration uniting team members around a common goal: create and deliver high-quality products on time and within budget. The role of QA is significantly advanced in an Agile team. Within Agile, testing is not considered a step in the process, it is the essence of the process. It should be built into the product from day one!

It’s Not Easy to Hire the Right Quality Assurance Analyst

While a Quality Assurance Analyst needs to possess such classic skill sets as test planning and execution, defect management, the role of a QA Analyst has changed. Equally important are:

  • Critical  thinking, mental agility, and creativity
  • Understanding end-user needs help deliver business value, improve software quality, and increase delivery velocity. 

Today, being a QA Analyst means being a quality advocate who spreads the culture of quality across development teams using the language of programmers. 

Automate Your Testing 

Regression test cycle has grown to the point that manual testing takes too much time and a regression test suite is hard to maintain. This is why you should automate routine testing. By doing so, you’ll be able to quickly provide development teams with critical feedback, reduce time to market, improve product quality, and reduce overall costs. Automated testing provides you with the luxury of running enough exploratory, usability, and acceptance testing against the latest builds, searching for unusual or unexpected behavior of the system. 

There are multiple approaches and tools, both open source and paid that you can use to automate your testing. But, it’s worth noting that choosing a tool is just the beginning of the process. You also need the right strategy and the right resources to administer the process. 

Some Questions You Should Be Asking Yourself

  • Are you satisfied with the quality of your software?
  • Does your company keep investing in technology development processes, but you still struggle with production defects?
  • Do your software engineers spend their time on testing rather than developing new features?
  • Does your HR/Recruiting department have expertise in hiring the right Quality Analyst for your company?
  • Is there a perception that testing is a bottleneck?
  • Would you like to scale your QA team?

If any of the above questions resonate with you, let’s talk!

PeakActivity can help raise the quality of your software product and software development process, achieving superior product quality standards while providing for an exceptional user experience. After an in-depth analysis of the product, requirements, development process, and stakeholders’ priorities our experts will:

  • Tailor a team of qualified professionals that perfectly fit your company’s needs and corporate culture.
  • Seamlessly embed our quality practice into the existing software development life cycle, making sure the development team feels comfortable and supported.
  • Develop a testing strategy that provides fast, efficient, and cost-effective end-to-end solutions. 

As a part of a development team, our Quality Engineers will:

  • Create company quality standards and guidelines.
  • Conduct all types of testing activities including usability, functional, integration, regression, performance, test automation, A/B testing, and more.
  • Provide static analysis of business requirements to identify unclear or missed requirements and prevent rework
  • Create and execute a regression testing suite, ensuring that the system is reliable and stable.
  • Provide automation of the testing process, utilizing up-to-date industry approaches and tools. 
  • Create test documentation, recordings of testing coverage, and test results.

Are you interested in elevating the quality of your Quality Assurance?

Fill out the form below or visit our Contact Us page.

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PeakUniversity: A Leadership Perspective on Career Development

Just before the end of 2020, our Vice President of Operations, Aashish Amin, gave a PeakUniversity presentation on Career Development. We caught up with him afterward to pick his brain on how you should approach and incorporate Career Development into your day-to-day work.

 

Q: From a high-level perspective, what is Career Development?

A: It’s the process of self-development where an individual works to improve themselves with the goal of wanting something specific out of their career. It can be more money, a certain title, a specific job, or a promotion. For others, it can be just to maintain the role they are in. Quite literally, it’s the development of your career to achieve whatever goal you have set out for yourself. 

Q: In regards to Career Development, what was the best piece of advice you’ve received throughout your career?

A: There are two. The first one is to be humble. You may find yourself in a role that isn’t where you necessarily want to be. But through showcasing your hard work and talent, if you can demonstrate that you have more to offer, other opportunities will present themselves. And, you’ll be making your boss’s life easier, which is always a good thing. The second piece of advice, “dress” for the job you want. While this is a fairly common piece of advice, I still find it valuable. “Dressing for the job you want” really means you should perform at the level of the role you are aiming for. Career advancement should not be based on years of experience or time in a role but on actual performance.

Q: What can an employee do to develop their career on a day-to-day basis?

A: First, always know what their goals are. Second, always ensure that they are working to achieve those goals–seek feedback and opportunities, and implement them to always be improving. There is one example from my career that speaks directly to this, a former boss would often ask me with a sly smile on his face, “is this your best work?” Initially, this bothered me, but eventually, I realized that he asked this to push me to produce my best work.

Q: What do you think is the toughest thing about Career Development?

A: Two things–being honest about your performance and weaknesses, and having an open conversation with your boss about your career aspirations. First, one must know where they stand and what they need to develop in order to meet their goals. Second, it’s the employee that owns the conversation with their boss. As a boss, it can be a difficult conversation to hear that an employee wants something more or different in their career. But it’s probably harder as an employee to have that conversation. Because you may be telling your boss, “Hey, I like you. But I don’t want to work for you, I want to go do something different.” Sometimes bosses find really good people and are reluctant to nurture their growth because it could mean that the employee leaves them. It’s an unfortunate reality that there are bosses like that. And that’s why I’m using the word ‘boss’ specifically. There is a huge difference between a boss and a leader. While a boss may be hesitant to facilitate Career Development, a leader will say, “Hey, great, thank you for sharing. Let me see how we can help achieve your career aspirations.” It’s a leader’s job to initiate that conversation and to be open to supporting the employee’s goals. And it’s an employee’s job to begin that conversation, provide a framework for their career aspirations, and do the hard work to showcase their development. 

Q: What do you think is the biggest misconception when thinking about Career Development? 

A: A lot of people think that time spent in a role equates to earning a promotion. That’s not the case. It’s easy to think to yourself, “Oh, I’ve been doing this for a while, so if my boss leaves, I should just take over.” It’s not that simple. There may be other employees within the organization who may have a shorter tenure but have demonstrated stronger skills and more fervent ambition. More likely than not, that employee will earn the promotion. Regardless of your time spent with a company, if you become complacent and take your eye off the ball, your Career Development is likely to stagnate. That’s probably the biggest misconception. I had a boss who was a VP running a 100 plus person organization. He also was consistently thinking of ways he could grow his knowledge of other areas. It wasn’t just about his domain and his responsibilities. From learning other parts of the business, he knew he could be a more effective leader and a more valuable asset to both the company and his employees. One more thing that I think people overlook when it comes to Career Development is their personal brand. Consider to yourself, what do your colleagues think or say about you when you are not in a room or a meeting? In essence, this is your brand. 

Q: How can an employee improve and refine their personal brand?

A: The first step is to identify your personal brand and determine if it’s what you want it to be. I think that starts with having open and honest conversations with your boss and your peers to understand how you’re perceived today and is that the perception you want?. If there are perceptions you’re not happy with, then that takes a commitment of work to change. You must figure out how to improve and how to make that change and be driven to consistently represent yourself differently. Your brand is not defined by just showing up every day. To refine your brand, you must receive input, take it to heart, and use it as the basis for making a consistently demonstrated change. We have all had that coworker who was a pain to work with, for whatever reason. They show up late, don’t contribute their fair share, and so on. The point is, you probably already have someone in mind. What does that say about their brand? Don’t be that colleague. While it’s important to emulate the behaviors and work ethics of peers or leaders you respect, it’s also vital to learn from people you find hard to work with to avoid practicing the same habits that will negatively affect your brand. 

Q: How can managers and leaders foster Career Development among their employees?

A: As a leader, I think it is essential to know what your people want out of their careers. Some will want higher titles, others wish for different opportunities, and even others just want to be great employees with limited growth or responsibility. There are ways to be an effective leader and foster the achievement of your team’s goals. An effective leader provides people with the tools and opportunities to do more and broaden their horizons. However, there’s a very fine line here too. If your aspirations are title, stature, and advancement, yet you clock in at nine and you’re out at five, you don’t participate in meetings, you do just enough work to get by, there’s a disconnect there. Even if I, as a leader, know that that’s your aspiration, I’m probably not going to put a lot of effort into your Career Development because you are not putting in any concerted effort of your own. When employees demonstrate ownership in their development and consistent effort to improve, those are the ones that leaders are willing to help the most. 

Meet the Presenter:

Aashish Amin oversees the PeakActivity Marketing and Sales Operations teams. Hailing from the Midwest, Aashish moved to South Florida to escape the cold winters, eventually beginning his career with Office Depot that spanned 15-plus years working in multiple business units. Aashish brings a unique perspective in bridging the various operational needs of an organization. As a leader, he values creative, solution-centric thinking and is looked to as a trustworthy advisor who goes above and beyond to ensure successful end-results.

About PeakUniversity

PeakUniversity is a series of peer-to-peer, TedTalk-style presentations given by passionate subject matter experts to expand knowledge and generate interest in the subject matter of each session.

Are you interesting in taking the next step in your Career?

Check out our Careers page for open positions or fill out the form below to get in contact with us.

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PeakUniversity: The Art of User Testing

Recently, Allison Reitz, an Optimization Specialist at PeakActivity, gave a PeakUniversity presentation to our employees on “The Art of User Testing.” We caught up with her afterward to gain more insight into what User Testing is, how and when it can be effectively implemented, and the unique challenges it presents. 

 

Q: What is User Testing?

A: A crucial component of the UX design and optimization process, User Testing is an early evaluation of proposed changes to a website’s design, content, features, and functionalities based on research with your customer base. A website is a living, breathing entity and there will always be improvements to be made. Those improvements can be informed by User Testing.

Q:  How is it different from other tests, such as A/B Testing?

A:  A/B Testing focuses on quantitative analysis. User Testing primarily focuses on qualitative feedback. In other words, A/B tests and website analytics help you gather data about how users behave. User Testing helps answer why they behave that way.

Q: How many users do you need for User Testing?

A: When setting up a user test, it’s advisable to start with a small group of people. Typically, you will only need to speak to five respondents to identify most major issues that your website or mobile application may have. To find less common issues, you can recruit more respondents, but be careful not to cast the net too wide. Wading through 50-100+ user test responses can bog you down and limit your ability to respond quickly to high-impact problem areas.

Q: What metrics will User Testing gather?

A: User tests specifically focus on qualitative data, such as: Why do users engage with a feature a certain way? What are their actual questions and concerns as they move through a checkout funnel? Does their understanding of a website page, feature, or product match what you intended, or are they misunderstanding something that causes later confusion?

Given that most user tests gather qualitative data, rather than quantitative, the metrics will be fundamentally different from those measured by A/B tests. But you can still compile your users’ responses in a way that provides quantitative guidance. For example, some User Testing platforms can generate heat maps that show where respondents scrolled or clicked most often, and what percent of respondents interacted in that way. 

Additionally, you can group similar responses together for rough estimates of how many users may be impacted by an issue. Say, 1 out of 5 users said they couldn’t locate the search menu, but 4 out of 5 had trouble entering their billing information. Maybe you prioritize fixing the issue that affected 80% of your respondents first, before addressing the issue that only 20% of respondents mentioned.

Q: When should you deploy User Testing?

A: User Testing can provide valuable insight in situations where website traffic is too low for an A/B test to produce statistically significant results, or where you need meaningful results faster than an A/B test can produce. Or perhaps you’ve identified an issue on your site and so you already know the “how many” and “how much,” but in order to resolve the issue, you need to better understand the “why”. User Testing can also be quite advantageous when you need guidance in or confirmation of an idea up-front, before investing in a major development or design project.

Q: Overall, what challenges are unique to User Testing?

A: In User Testing, you’re dropping your respondents into a point in your website funnel, or you’re showing them a mockup or clickable prototype, and you’re asking, “What would you do if…?” Since your respondents are using their imagination to some degree, they may respond differently than how they would actually behave in real life.

To help combat this, it’s best to first ask some questions to understand the user’s expectations: What do they expect to see on a specific page or step of a website? How do they expect a specific feature to work? Then, show them the page or feature that you want them to evaluate, and compare how they react to it, and interact with it, to the initial expectations that they set.

It’s also helpful to keep in mind that how you ask a question can change the answer, or lead your respondents to answer a certain way. 

For example, “Why?” questions tend to trigger emotion-based responses — whether they’re defensive, or frustrated, or overly confident. The goal of User Testing, however, is to gather a more introspective response. So, instead of asking “Why did you click there?”, you might instead say, “What made you decide to click there?”

Even a question as simple and common as, “How do you like this feature?” presumes that they do like it. Instead, try to ask users to respond using a scale with a defined low-end and high-end, like: “On a scale of 1 (very difficult to use) to 5 (very easy to use), how would you rate this feature?”

Meet the Presenter:

Allison Reitz, born and raised in the Northeast, attended the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth where she earned her degree in English – Writing, Communication, and Rhetoric. After a couple years as a journalist, Allison switched fields and began working in user experience research and front-end development. She discovered a love of digging through analytics and observing user behavior to find answers to otherwise difficult questions. Speaking about her role at PeakActivity, she says, “I get to do what I love at a company that I’m growing to love more by the day.”

 

About PeakUniversity

PeakUniversity is a series of peer-to-peer, TedTalk-style presentations given by passionate subject matter experts to expand knowledge and generate interest in the subject matter of each session.

Want to learn more about User Testing and how it can help your business?

Fill out the form below or visit our Web & eCommerce page for more information.

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Emerging Tech: Terminology & Acronym Guide

It can be a daunting task to keep up with the ever-growing list of acronyms and trending buzz words in the technology space. With the more rapid and widespread adoption of spatial computing and mixed reality technologies, we thought it would be helpful to dive into what they mean and how they differ from each other. 

 

Types of Experiences

AR – Augmented Reality – Digital objects within your real-world setting  

XR – Extended Reality – Less often used term for AR 

VR – Virtual Reality – Fully Immersive experience where you see none of the real-world 

MR – Mixed Reality – The encompassing spectrum related to AR/VR/XR

Marker Based – Within the real-world a QR code or some other real-world marker, or point of reference, is needed 

Non Marker-Based – No real-world marker is needed 

Windowed AR – Using AR via a Smart Device 

Immersive AR – Using AR via a Headset / Wearable 

Room Scale – An experience the size of the room 

Table Top – An Experience that is the size of a…table top 

 

Global Terms

Spatial Computing – An umbrella term for the more immersive kind of digital experiences within the digital world, it is the engine that drives the core of the experiences, input and output of data from both the processing unit to the users’ vision

API – Application Programming Interface, is a computing interface that encompasses interactions between various software intermediaries.

CDN – Content Delivery Network

Wearable – Something that a user will wear

Tethered – A device that needs to be connected to another unit and or power source.

FOV – Field of View, how much a user can see

Hologram – Interactive 3D object that appears in front of the user

Light Field – The ability to capture the depth of a space

Spatial Mesh – The visual representation output of a light field that can be seen by the user/computer system

Digital Twin – Creating a 3D Model replica of a space or object

SDK – Software Development Kit

Eye Tracking – Tracking of eye movement on a headset

Hand Tracking – Tracking of the hands via a headset

Controller – Device held to interact with objects

TPU – Tensor Processing Unit – Processing AI-based information such as photos or video

A.I. – Artificial Intelligence

Machine Learning – Teaching a computer to learn a task

Visual Search – Uploading photos and finding similar photos

Voice SEO – Conversation Based experience that provides value to business/user

 

Coding Languages

WebXR – an API that allows developers to create XR experiences; 

React360 – a coding framework for the creation of interactive 360 experiences that run in your web browser 

WebGL – is a JavaScript API for rendering interactive 2D and 3D graphics 

Unity3D – Unity is a cross-platform game engine used to create AR Experiences

 

3D Object / Viewers

OBJ – 3D File Format 

GlTF – 3D File Format 

USDZ – 3D File Format 

STL – 3D File Format 

Model Viewer – Google’s 3D viewer for Web pages 

Unity to WebGL – The process to move unity experiences to Web Pages 

 

Cloud Storage Options

AWS S3 – Amazon Storage 

GCP Cloud Bucket – Google Storage 

Azure Blob Storage – Microsoft Storage 

DigitalOcean Spaces – 3D Party Storage 

 

AR Content Delivery Networks

○ AWS Cloudfront – Amazon

○ GCP Cloud CDN – Google

Azure CDN – Microsoft 

 DigitalOcean CDN – 3D Party 

 

Hardware

Magic Leap 1 – Augmented Reality Headset from Magic Leap 

Holo Lens – Augmented Reality Headset from Microsoft 

Oculus Rift – Virtual Reality Headset from Oculus/Facebook 

Oculus Quest – Virtual Reality Headset from Oculus/Facebook 

Oculus Go – Virtual Reality Headset from Oculus/Facebook 

HTC Vive – Virtual Reality Headset from HTC 

 

Want to learn more about the terminology discussed in this blog and how it can help your business?

Fill out the form below or visit our Emerging Tech & Innovation page for more information.

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Blurred Realities: Understanding Spatial Computing and the Mixed Reality Spectrum

Spatial Computing is an umbrella term for the more immersive kind of digital experiences within the digital world. Spatial Computing uses input from both the user and the environment that they are in. In order to do this, more intuitive interaction tools are required, especially in comparison to more traditional tools like a keyboard and mouse. This includes processing natural human responses, such as speech, head motion, body movement, and eye-tracking. The data from these responses is used to create 3D-like environments that are overlaid onto the real world. These overlays are more commonly referred to as Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR). 

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality is exactly that – virtual. By wearing a VR headset, you are immersed in an entirely digital world, completely separate from the physical environment that you are currently in. 

Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality merely supplements the real world that you’re in. Think of apps like Pokemon Go and Snapchat that overlay filters onto the real world to augment what is seen on-screen versus what is there in reality.

Mixed Reality Spectrum

The best way to understand the range of technology used in spatial computing is to visualize how that technology functions on something called the virtuality continuum, as defined in a research paper by Paul Milgram and Fumio Kishino called “A Taxonomy of Mixed Reality Visual Displays.” 

This virtuality continuum defines a spectrum, with the physical world on one side and the digital world on the other. Technology is placed upon it depending on how it interacts (or doesn’t) with the physical world and where it “places” the user. With that definition in mind, tech like Augmented Reality is placed on the side closest to the physical world because it takes the user’s environment and merely augments it. Virtual Reality is found on the opposite side, in the digital world. This is because the actual interaction of VR with the physical world of the user is non-existent due to its very nature of existing in a virtual reality.

So, Where Exactly Does Mixed Reality Fall on This Spectrum?

This may be a slightly misleading question. Mixed Reality (MR) essentially is the spectrum, as MR interacts with both the physical and digital worlds- hence the term, mixed reality.

How Exactly Does MR Interact with Both the Physical and Digital Worlds?

Basically, given that MR itself exists on a spectrum, its use of the physical and digital worlds can vary. What makes it different, however, is that although it has the ability to transport users to the virtual world, it also takes into account the physical environment that the user is currently in and uses that to create a digital experience. A common example of this is if a user has a desk in the room, the MR tech would take this into account. If there was something hidden under that desk, the user would have to physically look under that desk in the real world to be able to access whatever is hidden in the digital world.

Given that MR operates on that spectrum, the extent to which it actually transports users to the digital world or augments their physical environment will differ for different systems. It is predicted that headsets that can cover the entire spectrum will be a reality in the near future.

On the most basic of levels, those are the fundamental differences between VR, AR, and MR. Virtual Reality transports its users to the virtual world without consideration for their physical world. Augmented Reality only takes in the physical world to augment it for the user. Mixed Reality combines the functions of both VR and AR. At the same time, all of these fall under the overarching term of Spatial Computing, given that they enhance how users interact and receive data from their computational devices and make them more intuitive and natural to humans.

Want to learn more on Spatial Computing and Mixed Reality and how it can help your business?

Fill out the form below or visit our Emerging Tech & Innovation page for more information.

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After Market Automotive Parts Manufacturer is an industry leader in automotive filtration and technology.

DREAM. DELIVER. ELEVATE.

How PeakActivity helped an After Market Automotive Parts Manufacturer drive conversion & become a full-throttle D2C eCommerce business.

A year after implementing an agency redesign, our client saw a precipitous decline in site conversion & revenue.
PeakActivity was called in to get them back in the race.
STAGE 1: DREAM

To begin the Dream stage we performed a User Experience (UX) audit and an analytics audit to dive deeper into the challenges they were facing. An array of problems were uncovered, most notably the following:

Checkout: Issues related to checkout causing customers to abandon at higher than expected rates

Search: Poor guided-search implementations and confusing search results displays that negatively impacted product fundability

Design: Design-over-function issues created visual confusion for customers resulting in increased bounce rates

Site Speed: Overall site speed issues, with page load times running in excess of 6 seconds

Site Analytics: Gaps in data made for incomplete or problematic reporting

Business Processes & Communication: Multi-agency engagements across teams led to breakdowns in communication

A series of Collaborative Visioning sessions yielded a Phase 1 Roadmap along with wireframes and comps to begin correcting these issues. They established the nature and cadence of the agile implementation and clearly defined expectations for the client. The sessions were also a springboard to dream beyond the immediate need, and to start to imagine the future of their online presence.

Let's Connect

Reach out and let’s see how PeakActivity can help Dream, Deliver, and Elevate your business goals.

STAGE 2: DELIVER

With the Roadmap pointing the way, the PeakActivity UX team socialized clickable prototypes of key user flows to get directional feedback to help guide the technical implementation. The areas of the site addressed in Phase 1 were:

Checkout: Critical flaws and inconsistencies in checkout were remedied, thereby growing conversions

Header | Search (parts configurator) Redesign: Parts configurator was decoupled from header allowing each to function optimally

Category landing pages: A page structure heavy in graphics and high-level messaging was re-designed allowing customers to more quickly get to product

Site Speed: By optimizing files and re-designing pages, site speed was enhanced

Site Analytics: PeakActivity implemented A/B Testing programs, which worked to enhance customer experience and cultivate brand loyalty.

Business Processes & Communication: PeakActivity began the process of unifying teams and processes, yielding greater efficiencies across the board

Search Engine Optimization: PeakActivity increased organic and paid search results by refining on-page SEO measures, creating unique landing pages, and improving search rankings.

Conversion Rate Optimization: PeakActivity analyzed the points at which customers were abandoning carts, then optimized site paths to improve conversion rates.

“ I’ve found Peak Activity to be on the leading edge of web development and design, analytics and social media. They’ve done amazing work with my client – an after-market automobile parts manufacturer – on both the ecommerce digital structure and with social media. I highly recommend them to anyone looking for top-drawer results with all things digital.”

- Scott Koerner, Chief Marketing Officer at Chief Outsiders

INITIAL RESULTS

Through this engagement, PeakActivity delivered results that drove increases across key metrics for our client in order to make them successful and achieve their professional goals.

12%

Increase in site traffic

29%

Increase in site conversion

33%

Increase in revenue

45%

Increase in transactions

83%

Sessions from eMail

72%

Sessions from social media

STAGE 3: ELEVATE

After delivering positive initial results, PeakActivity has continued to keep an eye on future growth opportunities for our client’s D2C business. To that end, the following initiatives have begun:

  • Email Program: Providing strategic direction, as well as marketing and design execution 
  • Migration of site from legacy system to a modern eCommerce system: Moving from a sluggish, unwieldy eCommerce platform to XXXCommerce, a flexible way to build, optimize, connect and manage their content, merchandising and commerce for now and the future.
  • Ongoing site UX enhancements: Continue to identify and correct friction points in the customer journey
  • Testing & Continue improvement: Continue to identify and correct friction points in the customer journey, and enhancing the site UX accordingly

Request a FREE User Experience or Analytics Audit

Reach out and let’s get you on a path to greater success.

Having a giant email list might look great on paper, but bombarding thousands of people with unwanted emails is super annoying–probably not the best way to gain customers. Your email list should be a collection of email addresses gained by engaging with potential customers through lead-generating campaigns. Sometimes reducing your email list of customers who aren’t interested is one of the best things you can do to gain the support of your loyal customers. If you are looking to grow, offer in-store opt-ins and include social sharing buttons to increase the chance that visitors will subscribe. If you create multiple, targeted subscription types, you’ll increase the chance that visitors will subscribe to one of them.
Make your email marketing campaign less spam-like by making sure that each email has a definite purpose. By creating a marketing email calendar, you plan and run a mix of content. Promotional emails can include any offers that your users might find beneficial. Email is a great opportunity to incentivize customers with promotions. If you can get them in the door, you can share what you have to offer, and what differentiates you from competitors. Additionally, all of your blog posts, white papers, and anything else you have to offer can be shared via email. The content will change, but email gives you the flexibility to always be relevant and specific. By making a plan, you won’t accidentally send a ridiculous amount of emails to the same people, and each email can contain something your customers want to receive.

Conclusion

PeakActivity happens to be pretty great at creating email marketing campaigns for our customers. We’ve successfully implemented non-spam like email campaigns for quite a few companies. One of our customers even saw 76.5% revenue growth by partnering with us. Visit our website for more information.
After delivering positive intial results for K&N, PeakActivity has continued to keep an eye on future growth opportunites for K&N’s D2C business. To that end, the following initiatives have begun:
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Power Analysis & Sample Size Estimation

The Experiment

Performing power analysis and sample size estimation is an important aspect of experimental design. Without these calculations, the sample size may be too high or too low. If the sample size is too low, the experiment will lack the precision to provide reliable answers to the questions it is investigating. In this case, it would be wise to alter or abandon the experiment. If the sample size is too large, time and resources will be wasted, often for minimal gain.

How - Gather

For each test, we will gather the following four data points before any code or resources are used. What is the primary performance indicator (KPI)? By how much do we believe our hypothesis will effect that KPI (effect size)? Our standard can be 1%, 2% ,3% What is the acceptable minimum confidence level – 90%, 95%, 99% (significance level)? What is the acceptable minimum power level- 70%, 80%, 90%? Often considered to be between .80 and. 90. Think of “Power” as the strength of the experiment. Statistical power is the probability that the test will detect an effect that actually exists. What is the current traffic size on the page being tested?

Why

Calculate

With these data points, (effect size, sample size, significance level, power) we can enter three of the four quantities and the fourth is calculated. The basic idea of calculating power or sample size is to leave out the argument that you want to calculate. If you want to calculate power, then leave the power argument out of the equation. If you want to calculate sample size, leave ‘n’ out of the equation. Whatever parameter you want to calculate is determined from the others.

What

Power Analysis - Checkout

Hypothesis/Success Criteria: If we clearly call out the guest checkout option then we will increase conversion by at least 2%.

What is the optimal sample size for the given hypothesis?

Sample Size (n) = Unknown?
Effect Size (d) = 2%
Power = 80%
Sig Level (alpha/confidence level) = 0.05 or 95%
Sample Size = 19,625

This tells us that we need ~20k sessions to reach 95% confidence to see a 2% increase in conversion at an 80% probability that the detected lift actually exists. If we do not reach a 2% increase in conversion at 95% conf. in the optimal sample size then we failed to reject the null hypothesis.

If we met the 2% increase in conversion rate at 95% confidence in ~20k then we would have rejected the null hypothesis.

Power Analysis For - Checkout - Guest Checkout - Current Results

What is the Power of our current test results? Sample Size (n) = 30,946 Effect Size (d) = 1.8% Power = Unknown? Sig Level (alpha/confidence level) = 0.12 or 88% Power = ~90% This tells us that there is a 90% probability our test we will be able to detect a change. However, there is only an 88% confidence level in that change. What do we do? We could accept 88% as “good enough”. We could re-run our power analysis with a smaller effect size. This will increase the sample size needed. Continue running the test.

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The Why and How of Product Images

We live in a visual world where image matters. The virtual world is no different. Photos and videos are the first things consumers see on your website. The question is, are your images compelling enough to keep them browsing, and eventually, convert?

Customers come to your site with lots of questions about your products, product features, and overall brand. They’re also wildly impatient. They expect page loads under 3 seconds and effortless, intuitive UX. And once they find what they’re looking for, they’re making faster decisions than ever. Great product photography is critical in those key decision-making moments. It tells the customer who you are, what you have to offer, and more critically if you can help them, and it all happens almost instantaneously. So, how do we create those high-quality, conversion-worthy product photos?

5 Steps to Your Best-Ever Product Photos

1. Simple Is Best: Let Your Product Shine.

Congratulations. A customer—Ella—has come to your site with questions about your product. Now, will she find the answers she’s looking for in your photography or will she bounce? Step one is basic: make sure Ella can see your product in detail by shooting it against a simple white backdrop. Showcase your products without distraction so that she can find the precise features she’s looking for. Remember, your job is to anticipate Ella’s needs before she’s even aware of them. This could mean shooting multiple angles to ensure every detail shines. Help Ella imagine what it would be like to have your product as her own and she might even convert.

2. Reinforce Your Brand with Lifestyle Photography.

Wonderful, your product photography is aces. But your customers also want to see your product in action. Use lifestyle shots to tell the story of your product, answer customer questions, and let them know what your brand is all about. Remember Ella? You’ve built some brand equity simply by answering all of her product questions—and quickly! Now’s your chance to cultivate brand loyalty by forging an emotional connection.

Are you casting your lifestyle shot? Consider your key customer personas as you select the people and places in your shot. Does your cast reflect the diversity and demography of your customers? And what does the location say about your brand?

3. Make Sure Your Lighting Is Just Right. 

When taking your product photos, don’t forget about lighting. If your product is the star, lighting is your best supporting actor. She sets up your star for success and definitely adds drama.

Natural light can be a terrific, easy, and affordable option. The sun can be a little overbearing when taking your photos outside, so it’s best to use the natural light coming through your windows to give you the perfect lighting. Your window will need to be large enough to fully light your product. If you don’t have access to a window that will provide enough light, you can shoot your product photos outside. If the light on your product is too bright or direct, try to distribute the light to better showcase your product. You may consider using a reflector. This will help you direct the light exactly where it needs to be to showcase your product for your best product photos.

Unfortunately, you can’t always depend on the sun for consistent product photography. If you’re shooting a volume of products, you’re going to need a basic studio setup. This includes a camera, white backdrop, different backgrounds, and a lightbox with two light bulbs. Pro Tip: If you can’t use natural light, use a fluorescent light bulb. These bulbs produce light that most closely resembles natural light. Fluorescent bulbs will give you that natural light look even when the sun is nowhere in sight.

4. Consistency Is Key.

The product images on your website should be similar in look and feel. For product detail images shot in studio, this means consistent backgrounds, lighting, and angles. You’ll also want to crop images so that the products are sized and scaled consistently across your site. Taken together, this consistency will help our friend Ella quickly sort through your many fantastic products, answer any lingering questions, and with any luck, finally convert.

Lifestyle shots don’t need to be quite so regimented. But remember, you worked hard to create lifestyle images that tell the story of your brand. And you want that story (and overall creative direction) to be clear and consistent as well. Consider creating a simple style guide that documents all of your image requirements for both product and lifestyle images so that you have a lodestar you can return to time and time again.

5. Optimize Your Images for Quality and Site Speed.

You’ve taken some beautiful product photos. Now it’s time to optimize them so that they look their best without slowing down your site.

JPEGs are the best option for your typical product or lifestyle photos. Optimized properly, they’re the smallest and highest-quality files. Experiment with quality levels as you save your initial images, with the goal of setting a site-wide standard. You’re trying to strike a balance between quality (meaning no noticeable deterioration in the image or obvious pixelation) and file size.

PNGs are a good option for images that have text like a logo or banner. When graphics with text lose quality, they can appear pixelated. PNGs reduce that pixelation so that your text reads as clearly as possible.

The most common mistake when doing product photography is a lack of proper equipment. To make your product shine, you will need to use the right camera, lighting, angles, and composition. Change up your background, create different perspectives, and move things around until you have the right angles. Your photos are the first thing your consumers are going to see, so make them compelling enough to result in a conversion.

Great product images tell a story. They tell your customers who you are, how you can help them and can spark a long-term relationship between you and your customer. We hope our simple steps have given you the tools to produce effective product photography and will help you chart a path towards a faster, more relevant, and compelling site.

Need help optimizing your product images?  Get in touch with us by filling out this form!

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Digital Disruption: Review, Align, Attack

You can embrace the changes that come with market disruption. Here's how.

Q: Are you leveraging market changes to grow your business?
A: Steal market share with a 3 step method for quick & effective digital solutions.

“Right now is the perfect time to think about a new paradigm,” explains PeakActivity CEO, Manish Hirapara. “Once you embrace change, it becomes a catalyst for growth.”

In the current market, businesses are hard-pressed to find solutions that meet consumer demands. It’s not enough to be online—companies must have a digital presence that’s adaptive, value-driven, and consistent across platforms.

How is digital disrupting business models?
Digital disruption occurs when new technologies create a shift in the marketplace. For example, digital entertainment subscriptions created a monumental disruption in how we access and enjoy movies and television. More recently, retail and food industries were upended when social-distancing measures became mandatory. Suddenly online ordering and eCommerce solutions became essential. The best thing businesses can do when challenged by disruption is to embrace change. Lean into new technologies. Enter new markets. And earn a reputation for ingenuity.

The New Rules for Marketing Your Brand

Quickly and effectively. Market changes are opportunities for businesses to ask questions and offer new solutions for customers. In many ways, the success of digital transformation relies on a company’s ability to embrace it.
  1. Review. Start by identifying immediate needs and evaluate the industry landscape. For an even wider view of the market, look for adjacent industry trends and new ways to generate revenue. “Take a look around,” Manish suggests. ”Be systematic in your approach” and get a full scope of how to make improvements. It’s also important to weigh the long-term value of digital changes to ensure that they can deliver beyond the issue at hand.
  2. Align. “Once you’ve figured out where you stand in the landscape, figure out how to align yourself with where things are going,” Manish explains. Alignment means that leaders must accept the changes and explore new paradigms for commerce. Think through potential products and services to be offered in light of market changes. The key to alignment is getting senior leadership involved to understand any financial impacts and to seek out a middle ground. From there, a business can figure out how to go to market. 3. Attack “Whether you’re a solopreneur, a retail location, a restaurant—it doesn’t matter,” says Manish. “Digital is a place where you should be investing, no matter what.” To make an impact, work out a strategy and strike while the iron’s hot. When there is an opportunity to steal new market share, pursue it with vigor, and be ready to adapt to new environments.
  3. Attack. “Whether you’re a solopreneur, a retail location, a restaurant—it doesn’t matter,” says Manish. “Digital is a place where you should be investing, no matter what.”

    To make an impact, work out a strategy and strike while the iron’s hot. When there is an opportunity to steal new market share, pursue it with vigor, and be ready to adapt to new environments.

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Managing Your Brand’s Reputation

How to show up for your customers when they need you most.

Your company’s social media is the first place customers go to vent if something goes wrong. At PeakActivity, we make it the first place they go to celebrate.

We help partners put reputation management systems in place to meet and exceed customer expectations, increasing brand loyalty, favorability, and long-term profitability. The questions we help answer are familiar to all of us: How do we respond to customer questions? How are issues escalated? If a complaint comes in, where does it go? But their answers have a profound impact on customer and employee satisfaction. 

Case Study: Eyewear Brand

Eyewear Brand, had a dismal reputation with consumers, largely due to their slow response to customer feedback. Their rap sheet included everything from 0-star reviews to complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau. Upon partnership, our PeakActivity Account Manager became the brand’s first touch for customer service and audience engagement on social media. Through social listening and proactive outreach, we improved the response rate from weeks to hours and decreased customer complaints by 15%.

Case Study: Women’s Intimates BrandCase Study: Women’s Intimates Brand

Women’s Intimates Brand is another PeakActivity partner that struggled to manage its reputation with customers. Their products were limited to women with bust sizes from B to D. However, the brand targeted women of all sizes, which mistakenly led customers to believe that all sizes were available. The result? Customer feedback layered with annoyance and confusion. We took a holistic approach to help our partner better serve their customers. Strategies included social listening, re-aligning the audience base, adjusting brand messages, and generally improving customer interactions. Women’s Intimates Brand soon began to identify specific products that were problematic for customers (and the brand’s reputation). Then, they were able to meet customer needs individually, while addressing the larger issue at hand (the products) by discontinuing certain items. With their new approach to reputation management, Women’s Intimates Brand saw a significant decrease in complaints and a substantial increase in customer satisfaction. As a result of PeakActivity’s strategic delivery, the brand’s Return on Advertising Spend increased by 73%.

Reputation Management Strategies

As our case studies show, there’s no magic bullet when it comes to navigating brand reputation on social media. That’s why we recommend a holistic approach that includes social listening, proactive outreach, fast, reactive responses, and clear operating procedures to quickly escalate and resolve customer complaints.
Women’s Intimates Brand is another PeakActivity partner that struggled to manage its reputation with customers. Their products were limited to women with bust sizes from B to D. However, the brand targeted women of all sizes, which mistakenly led customers to believe that all sizes were available. The result? Customer feedback layered with annoyance and confusion. We took a holistic approach to help our partner better serve their customers. Strategies included social listening, re-aligning the audience base, adjusting brand messages, and generally improving customer interactions. Women’s Intimates Brand soon began to identify specific products that were problematic for customers (and the brand’s reputation). Then, they were able to meet customer needs individually, while addressing the larger issue at hand (the products) by discontinuing certain items. With their new approach to reputation management, Women’s Intimates Brand saw a significant decrease in complaints and a substantial increase in customer satisfaction. As a result of PeakActivity’s strategic delivery, the brand’s Return on Advertising Spend increased by 73%.

Social Listening:

Social Listening is how brands monitor their online presence. Our social monitoring practice typically looks at:

• Brand Mentions
• Conversion Rates
• Engagement Levels
• Hashtag Usage
• Industry Trends

We also investigate Social Sentiment, meaning the attitude of consumers toward a brand. Customers expect brands to respond quickly across channels. By listening actively and responding with speed, brands can steer conversations with customers to cultivate loyalty and positive sentiment.

Proactive Outreach:

Proactive Outreach requires understanding a brand’s audience (who they are and who they could be), the competitive climate, and interacting with customers in real-time. Methods include social listening, competitive analyses, and geo-location targeting.

Reactive Communication:

Proactive Outreach requires understanding a brand’s audience (who they are and who they could be), the competitive climate, and interacting with customers in real-time. Methods include social listening, competitive analyses, and geo-location targeting.

 

Customer Interactions: A Quick How-To

Reactive Communication:

Response Time
Customers expect immediate attention. Plain and simple. Why do so many customers prefer to message a brand’s Instagram account? Because they associate it with insta-communication. Therefore, in order to address customer needs and stay competitive, responses need to be instant. (See Eyewear Brand Case Study)

Quality
When it comes to customer interactions, quality matters. People want authentic and considerate responses, even if it’s something as simple as providing store hours. Quality interactions with customers can improve brand reputation, enhance brand awareness, and even boost sales.

Consistency
Keeping up with response times requires consistent effort. Using both proactive and reactive strategies can help a brand achieve a reputation for reliability while also strengthening individual connections with consumers and cultivating brand loyalty.

Systems
With consideration of company structure and key players, different systems will work better for different businesses. Therefore, it’s important to adopt a system (or set of systems) that provide clear guidelines for reputation management.

Systems can help establish protocols for:

• Ad Management
• Influencer Partnerships
• Proactive Engagement
• Quality Assurance

Case Study: Personal Protective Equipment Brand
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Brand struggled with customer service across their social media platforms. The challenge? They lacked the clear communication systems needed to accelerate response times.

We delivered a tailored solution, creating and implementing Standard Operating Procedures, and creating a funnel to triage interventions. By engaging with PPE Brand’s audience through proactive outreach and by responding quickly to customer inquiries, PeakActivity produced rapid improvements in social reputation and a dramatic increase in followers and engagement

Customer Interactions: A Quick How-To

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Brand struggled with customer service across their social media platforms. The challenge? They lacked the clear communication systems needed to accelerate response times. We delivered a tailored solution, creating and implementing Standard Operating Procedures, and creating a funnel to triage interventions. By engaging with PPE Brand’s audience through proactive outreach and by responding quickly to customer inquiries, PeakActivity produced rapid improvements in social reputation and a dramatic increase in followers and engagement.

Who Manages a Brand’s Reputation?

Reputation Management blends customer service, social media management, human resources, and sales. That’s why there’s rarely one specific person whose job is dedicated to addressing this important aspect of a brand. Some companies use reputation management systems, which scan channels for brand mentions and then disseminate automated replies. Still, while we agree that automation can do a lot for a business, we also know that social listening requires real people. At PeakActivity, Reputation Management is driven by a team of motivated business partners who are social-savvy and customer-oriented. We work together to leverage what works, pivot when necessary, and innovate at every opportunity. That’s how we make a difference in digital.
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