Is validated learning the key to conversions?

By Josanne Griffin-Mason, 3rd February 2015

Validated learning is a term coined in the lean startup scene, but it can be applied universally.

We incorporate the practice in to each and every campaign we implement because it drives conversion rates and continuously pushes and expands our expertise.

Here, we want to pass on the lessons we’ve learnt to you. Whilst we’re coming from the perspective of a digital agency in London, these techniques can be applied across industries and the world, all it takes is a little innovation.

How it works

Validated learning works on the basic premise of implementing an idea and measuring it to validate its effect. Each test is a single iteration within an ongoing process constructed of continuous iterations, whereby something is learnt from each one and a change is made to optimise the campaign as a consequence.

In the digital realm, this works particularly well because analytics software can be used to track visitor behaviour and produce solid statistics to provide the insights needed to know which aspects of a campaign to tweak.

When we launch a new website design, we kick the following validated learning process in to action, and it runs as a development strategy throughout the project’s lifespan.


Whether you’re running a PPC advert, a B2B email campaign, or an in-site pop up notification for lead generation purposes, this diagram should demonstrate how the theory of validated learning can be applied to the real-life running of a business.

Using validated learning to meet business objectives

As per every other business strategy you employ, validated learning relies on a clearly defined end goal.

If, for instance, you aim to turn your company in to an international brand by 2016, you’ll need to set a number of targets that will have to be hit before you can open that new office overseas.

By setting weekly or monthly targets, you can run a number of tests throughout that time period, schedule in regular analysis reviews and optimise your campaigns.

On any given day, Plug and Play have several A/B tests in motion to ensure that our clients are converting the traffic that lands on their website.

For example, the ‘buy’ button is the most important feature for our ecommerce clients, so we’ll systematically split the traffic that lands on a particular URL to show visitors two different buttons. The variations may be really noticeable (e.g. one may be bright orange whilst the other is a deep blue) or the variable could be subtle (e.g. a slight rounding of the second button’s corners).

Sometimes, the result will be entirely predictable and nobody on the website optimisation team will be surprised when the conversion rate suddenly shoots up by 12%. And then there are those times when it’s just one adamant optimiser fighting for a 2 pixel reduction on that button, leaving the rest of the squad to pick their jaws off the floor when 50% more customers start parting with their cash as a result.

The important thing is to routinely record your audiences’ behaviour and set up weekly or monthly team meetings to document the trends you’ve discovered through validated learning. You can then make a sophisticated plan of action for the forthcoming cycle of improvements.

Can validated learning be used offline?

Yes, although it is harder without technology recording those stats, so you’ll need to find an alternative way to measure engagement.

This could involve a simple validation technique of asking your inbound leads where they heard about your service, or you could fuse real-life with digital by creating a hashtag for your promotional campaign, which will allow you to interpret brand interest using Twitter Analytics at a later point.

What do I need to get started?

On an elementary level, all you need is access to Google Analytics and someone who can interpret the data and respond by making logical tweaks to your landing pages.

On a larger, more intuitive scale, you’ll need an experienced team of data analysts, website designers, web developers, copywriters and marketers behind you, regardless of whether these skills are developed in-house or if you choose to outsource this set of essential services to maximise the conversion rate of your digital marketing.