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The Feedback Loop

In almost everything we do there should be a feedback loop and in business this is what should be driving decisions and change of direction. If not utilized correctly, or not done at all, you are left drifting.

When operating an ecommerce website you look at all sorts of feedback loops and incorporate them into your decision making. Primarily site owners are watching visits, average order value, and conversions as the golden trifecta. If you can increase all three you can grow exponentially.

The feedback loop is important in our decision making process and I have always subscribed to “Plan, Do, Check, Act” (PDCA) as a formal methodology.

You plan some change or some action, you make that change, you measure the results, and then you act (if necessary). This is a continuous process and never ends. Anyone that runs a website can attest that nothing is set it and forget it and it is continuous A/B testing or iterating the site that makes you successful.

Setting and forgetting is probably the worst thing that one can do when making a decision on something or a lack of decision, which, in-and-of-itself, is actually a decision. There is never a time to not measure the results and adjust, data never lies and is the ultimate authority.

The same feedback loop is important with employees. If you are not providing both positive and negative feedback then you are not helping someone get better or adjust. Not unlike running a website when we tell an employee something they are doing well they will continue to do that or even be more engaged and perform better, it would be like adding dollars to a successful digital marketing budget. Conversely, when we provide negative feedback the employee will adjust and correct, providing better results and value. When we fail to provide any feedback, or worse, provide incorrect feedback it would be the equivalent of throwing more marketing dollars at a failing campaign.

The most important aspect of any feedback loop is to always remember that no decision is a final decision, well, almost no decision. Using the feedback you get from a decision to drive the next decision will make it better, just always remember that you can almost always go back. To make it easier to go back it is often important to label something as an experiment, that way when you get data that the decision was not a good one, you can turn back. Jeff Bezos coined these decisions one-way and two-way doors. The one-way door you can’t come back through, the decision cannot be undone, the two-way door you can always walk back through.

The use of feedback, both giving and receiving, in everything you do is vitally important, don’t set and forget, and definitely always provide valuable and honest feedback.