Taking the leap from CMO to CEO of Lola.com is certainly not the first time in my life that I've made a major career change. However, knowing that this jump would undoubtedly be the biggest to date, I started reflecting on past experiences and skills I've learned as CMO to incorporate into my new responsibilities as CEO.
While most wouldn't consider a transition from CMO to CEO to be the natural next step up the ladder, marketing has had a strong seat at the table in recent years. Honing my communication and marketing skills within the tech world has not only given me an upperhand in understanding different technologies and customer segments – which offers a great jumping off point for strategy building as a CEO – but also provided me with a variety of soft skills and an outward communication style.
Using these experiences and acknowledging that this adjustment isn't always as smooth as it may seem, I've kept three main initiatives in mind to help make the transition easier.
1. Communicate immediately.
While some may assume that communication is given efficiently and effectively within any company, you'd be surprised to learn that small things often slip through the cracks, becoming bigger issues. For example, as a young startup, Lola.com is constantly evolving and changing to be the best version of itself for businesses. With so many departments and employees involved in each of these moving pieces, it's my job as CEO to communicate efficiently and effectively to ensure that everyone is up-to-speed on each facet of the business.
Not only does this mean working with other members of the executive team on logistics or needs from each team, it also means speaking to each team individually, making sure they're receiving the support they need. While this period of growth can be incredibly fun – and, of course, the desired state of every company – it's also when issues start to arise. Staying on top of communication, big and small, should be everyone's first goal as a new CEO.
2. Be uncomfortably honest.
In today's world, the No. 1 thing people want is transparency, whether it be in their personal life, at work or even just in a television commercial. It's the job of the CEO to keep every member of the team comfortable and confident in their position. This might mean keeping the team in the loop on action items that your previous companies may not have been as forthcoming about – such as an important board meeting – or fielding hard-hitting questions about the business. It's important to remain open at all times and disregard your feelings of discomfort for the benefit of the rest of the team.
One thing I've done to keep lines of communication open is started an internal Slack channel, "Mike Volpe Brain Dump," which I use to give everyone a view of what's on my mind. My many years in marketing have taught me that the more authentic and open you are with your audience, the better response you receive from them. If your audience feels you're hiding something from them, you've already lost.
3. Embrace imposter syndrome.
One of the most important revelations I've had during my transition from a CMO to CEO is that no one knows everything. At the start of my career, I assumed that the CEO had all the answers. I was wrong.
If thinking you aren't ready is what's holding you back from taking the next step in your career, I encourage you to take the leap. The truth is, you'll never know everything. I know that I couldn't possibly have all of the information or make every perfect decision, but I'm confident in the fact that I consistently make the best decisions I can with the information I have. If you do that, and if you're open with your team about it, they will believe in you through the ups and the downs, too.
While it's challenging to take on a new role and act as if you have everything under control at all times, it can also be exciting if you can take a step back and acknowledge what you're achieving each and every day.
We live in a fast-paced world where continuous technological advancements make all kinds of information easily accessible and available right at our fingertips. Furthermore, the desire for instant gratification leaves people constantly hungry for more information and more services, regardless of their location or the type of device they use.
Granting mobile users website access on the go has become a ubiquitous priority of most businesses in the world. A seamless mobile experience is a must, and having a mobile version of a website also provides customers with much better user experience, which positively impacts brand image and sales.
On April 21, 2015, Google rolled out a massive update of its ranking algorithm, requiring all websites, landing pages and blogs to be fully optimized for mobile. The internet started revolving around users' needs, delivering information that was relevant and accessible without tapping or zooming in.
Optimizing for mobile is imperative.
Making your website mobile friendly is important not only for avoiding being penalized by Google. There are a number of excellent reasons for opting in.
The mobile revolution is still underway. Mobile is now a leading platform keeping pace with or surpassing desktop use. Google reports that "global mobile internet usage now stands at 76 percent."
Mobile sites facilitate most online research. Today's mobile shoppers are obsessed with research and want to dig deeper when they look for products and services. This is especially true when online shoppers are more acquainted with the mobile site, or if they need to go directly to the source.
Mobile sites can either build or break your brand. This is another interesting insight backed up by Google data. Brand credibility is at stake when it comes to mobile site expectations. If it takes too long to load your mobile site, you may have just lost a potential customer.
Check your website for readiness.
Besides creating cute seasonal doodles, Google offers a number of helpful tools for companies and website owners. Namely, they provide a free report inside Google Search Console, the Mobile Usability report, to help website managers adjust to the latest mobile search algorithm requirements.
Alternatively, Google has another tool, the Mobile-Friendly Test, that tells you "how easily a visitor can use your page on a mobile device."
Make your site mobile friendly.
If your website is unprepared for mobile-first indexing, it will have some serious SEO problems. No matter how stylish and awesome your landing page is, it means little if it's not optimized for mobile. So how do you convert a website so it's mobile friendly?
Basically, a mobile version of your site can be developed by reorganizing your desktop content elements into mobile-friendly ones. In this case, you're going to deliver a responsive web design that matches the desktop version. Additionally, you have some other options for creating a mobile-friendly site. They include:
Canonical AMP. All your site's pages are created in AMP HTML, and the mobile version is the same as the desktop site.
Separate URLs. Each desktop URL has a sister URL, an m-dot site that serves mobile-optimized content. Since Google prefers the mobile URL for indexing, follow these instructions to get ready.
Dynamic serving. This approach keeps the same URL but changes the HTML. It employs user-agents to detect what kind of device is being used and dynamically switches the appropriate view.
AMP and non-AMP. With this approach, a user sees two different URLs. Google favors the mobile version of the non-AMP URL for indexing. If your non-AMP mobile version uses dynamic serving or separate URLs, study these best practices to fix it.
Desktop only. If your site only has a desktop version, there aren't going to be any changes. The mobile version will mirror the desktop version.
Responsive web design. This is the most recommended website design method because it doesn't create two copies of one site – there's just one website. Online visitors only see one URL, and the website adapts as the user transitions between devices and screen sizes.
When do users see a website as mobile friendly?
From a viewer's perspective, a responsive website means a smooth experience. It's the same address and the same content, and it adjusts to the reader's device, providing an uninterrupted user experience.
Here are four additional tips for creating a mobile-friendly website and making it easily accessible:
Add a clickable phone number so the consumer can quickly initiate a call right from the website page.
If applicable, include a map to your office or store that can be opened in the consumer's preferred app.
Use easy-to-click buttons and text. Ease your customers' anxiety by using legible text and big buttons that will improve overall user experience and increase conversions.
Offer an option of using a keypad, not the full keyboard, when asking your users to fill out number fields on mobile forms. This will help your visitors save time and check out faster, without giving it a second thought.
A mobile-friendly website benefits everyone.
It may seem like Google just loves giving website managers more work. This mobile-first indexing, however, is a change for the good, and benefits webmasters, Google users, and marketers. Updating your website will accommodate how people research information and shop and will help them find what they're looking for faster. This eliminates friction and helps increase your company's conversions and profit. It's a win-win for everyone.