5 ways To Make Google Ads Work For You

5 ways To Make Google Ads Work For You

By default Google now creates "smart" campaigns that DON'T allow you to choose your keywords, exclude the display network, control the target landing pages or select exact match rather than broad reach...USE SEARCH CAMPAIGNS NOT THE DEFAULT SMART CAMPAIGNS TO GET A GOOD ROI...

Unless you are very, very careful and even a bit determined a new Google Ads campaign will cost you more money than it should and deliver less return on your investment than you need….follow these 5 tips to set up a Google Ads Cost Per Click campaign to drive traffic to your site most cost effectively…

The 5 Ways To Make Google Ads Work For You Are...

  • Create Search Not "Smart" Campaigns

    To make the numbers stack up for you on Google CPC (cost per click) advertising you need to select very carefully chosen words being typed into a search engine (and not general "banner" advertising).

  • Choose Your Keywords Based On Intent

    Think very carefully about the intent of the person typing the phrase into the search engine...for example...if you sell cupcakes for delivery a high intent phrase is "cupcakes delivered" not necessarily "cupcakes for sale"

  • Exclude The Display Network

    Unless your product/service is useful/interesting for everyone *all* of the time you need to focus on people typing phrases into search engines with focused and measurable intent as opposed to general "display" advertising interrupting people as they go about their business on The Internet...

  • Use Exact Match

    By default Google Ads encourages the use of broad match where phrases you haven't chosen are matched against your target phrases...these phrases are very broad and will generally bounce of your landing page at a rate of 100%...put the exact high intent phrases you want in [square brackets] to use exact match...

  • Choose The Words In The Ad Very Carefully And Use All Extensions Available

    Some words have been proven to work more effectively than others in Google Ads. Use words such as Boost, Energise, Empower, Overcome, Had enough, Never again, Fleeced, Reclaim, Turn the tables, Insider only, Paralysed, Delightful, Thrilling. Use all 1. Sitelink 2. Call 3. Callout extensions you are offered..take us as much search real estate as you can...

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Sample Google Ad For "Interim Management Consultancy"

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Growth Hacking Tales

Growth Hacking Tales

Growth Hacking Tales...

Growth Hacking Tales

 
  1. gro.team growth hacking tales Rorie Devine September 2018
  2.  ★ what is growth hacking? ★ a measure-act-measure approach to growth sprints ★ the art of growth hacking ★ the growth hacking holy trinity ★ the growth hacking funnel ★ questions ★ appendices ★ interim.team search terms on Google.co.uk July 2017
  3. Agenda
  4. what is growth hacking? growth hacking is picking one (and only one) growth metric (visitors, registrations, check outs, downloads…whatever) and doing anything and everything possible TOF (top of funnel) to BOF (bottom of funnel) to grow it… a growth hack is something that delivers growth but is cheap, can be edgy, and ideally is quick… (Sean Ellis – IPO’d LogMeIn and Uproar.com and first marketer at DropBox coined the phrase Growth Hacking in 2010 and it really started to get traction in 2012)
  5. online gaming users +1,000% an online gaming company decided to force players to share the game at least once to get to the next level…
  6. interim.team’s measure-act-measure approach to growth sprints parking lot on-ramp in progress complete live ideas needing more thought or the timing isn’t quite right ideas that need some initial input or an owner ideas with an owner that are being worked on ideas that are ready to implement ideas that have been implemented blockers ideas being worked on that cannot continue until a problem or dependency is resolved ideas
  7. online gambling revenue +30% one company had a very comprehensive but complicated navigation structure to get to the particular thing the users were interested in one of the the team had the idea of putting a search box on the home page
  8. the art of growth hacking is…targeting ←→ relevance… the reason that growth hacking can be so much more effective than “traditional” marketing is that it focuses on putting interesting/useful things in front of very carefully targeted audiences.. growth hacking is to put the right things in front of the right people at the right time to deliver GROWTH
  9. e-commerce company revenue +27% an e-commerce company “accidentally” put the “buy now” button right in the middle of the head of the brand’s animal character logo a lot of people complained that it looked stupid…
  10. the growth hacking holy trinity referral “free” traffic content relevance & targeting Know Your Customer
  11. affiliate company traffic +200% an affiliate company noticed that its’ competitors weren’t targeting year e.g. “2017 best chromebooks” so it kicked off an SEO campaign doing just that…
  12. Inbound TOF activities such as competitions, email, social media, content, SEO, referral schemes, paid advertising, white papers, free trials… Success! Conversion MOF activities such as minimising friction, guarantees, testimonials, stating benefits, one time offers, forced virality, layout… the growth hacking funnel If you can’t Measure it you can’t Move it…
  13. listings publisher traffic >100% a listings publisher realised that it already had a lot of content that could be targeted at high search frequency terms (such as “ gay”) so it reorganised and regrouped its content…
  14. interim.team thank you and questions? hi@interim.team 0800 246 5735
  15. content company revenue +100% an organisation had a large loyal following for its unique content but not enough ways to monetise it. After much debate it ignored the “prophecies of doom” and enforced post home page registration/sign in. On “lock down” day there was a lot of criticism on social media and a 3% drop-off of usage. On day two usage returned to normal and the company had started building an email address database of 18-35 year old men that has ultimately become its most valuable asset…
  16. online company revenue +30-40% a niche provider was disrupting its industry and growing nicely but noticed a lot of its customers were also using the providers of the “traditional” services within its industry as well. After much soul searching it decided to also provide services very much like the traditional ones in its industry but with twists that made them much more consistent with its disruptive brand values. It didn’t alienate its core customers and by delivering a broader portfolio of products it lifted its growth to the 30-40% per anum range…

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Creating An Agile Strategy

Creating An Agile Strategy

The days of grandiose “Five Year Strategies” are over but does that mean we don’t need “Strategy” any more?

 

No – what we need now is a strategic framework that informs and embraces change and actually makes tactical execution more effective

 

Our strategy is our how

Leadership is about change and a simple analogy is that leaders take their organisation on a journey from the present location to a different (and hopefully better) place

The strategy is a how not a what and although it (and the route we choose) can and should change at any time a well communicated strategy will help everyone know what they should be trying to do at every point in time

 

What does that mean?

Creating and communicating an effective strategy allows leaders to trust and empower their teams and removes any need to micro-manage them

When making the micro-decisions we all make every day if we know the Strategy then picking the optimum path to get to the Objective most quickly becomes much more straightforward

 

MOST

In his excellent book Winners And How They Succeed Alastair Campbell talks about OST which is an acronym for Objective Strategy and Tactics

 

If we add Mission to the front of the acronym to make it MOST I think we have a framework really helps maximise execution effectiveness.

 

The Mission

The Mission is why we want/need to make the journey

At gro.team our Mission is to make the world a more successful place…person by person…company by company. (We really do think that the more people we help to be successful the more successful we will become…)

 

The Objective is what we want to achieve in the next 12 months

Our objective at gro.team is to double our social engagement this year.

 

The Strategy is how we are going to achieve our Mission and Objective

At gro.team our Strategy is to increase the number of people we talk to.

The Tactics

The Tactics are the things we think we need to do now to deliver our Objective. At gro.team we set 5-10 quarterly tactics and review their effectiveness and START/STOP/DO MORE/DO LESS every 3 months

Setting more than 5-10 tactics becomes counterproductive as it effectively says we’re going to do everything we can think of…

The MOST Framework

We really do find that if you put your strategy in a MOST framework, and communicate it well, it very much becomes part of the solution not problem and helps ensure your execution is as agile, efficient and effective as possible.

More like this at gro.team…


Rorie Devine is the Founder & CEO of gro.team who offer a set of growth services to “grow yourself” via coaching ¦ mentoring, to “grow your team” with interim ¦ permanent talent and to “grow your company” via growth hacking


 

Using “Agile” methods for Growth

Using “Agile” methods for Growth

 

By working closely and regularly with customers, delivering early, iterating ideas and working cross-functionally towards a common goal Agile software development transformed the business of creating software.

 

Agile development massively increased the value delivered by the typical software development project by favouring “individuals and interactions” over specification, “working software” over pretty much everything, “customer collaboration” over contract negotiations and “responding to change” over blindly following a plan…

What would happen if we used these “Agile” principles to deliver Growth rather than Software?!?

 

We could favour “customer collaboration” and “individuals and interactions” by forming a cross functional Growth team including both “customers” and “suppliers”.

 

We should include representatives from Product, Sales, Marketing, Technology, Operations, Finance and so on…

 

We could favour “working software” or Growth in our case by giving the team the single unifying purpose of growing a carefully chosen growth metric.

 

The Growth Team could be “responding to change” rather than a plan by delivering early and taking a measure-act-measure approach to ideas through “on ramp” to “live” stages.

 

The Growth Team could communicate and meet regularly, maybe a quick “stand up” at the same time and place every day would work really well.

 

We could work to a weekly or fortnightly rhythm with the cumulative affects of the growth activities on the Growth metric being publicly demonstrated (and hopefully celebrated) at the end of every cycle or “sprint”.

So we have created a cross-functional team meeting regularly with the unified common purpose of doing anything and everything necessary to measure-act-measure the impact of their ideas on a single carefully chosen growth metric.

 

That’s cool but…

 

Maybe we could give this sort of approach a name…like Growth Hacking or something?

 

Yes Growth Hacking is the sort of term that means different things to different people but anyone familiar with Agile software development will be struck by the similarities between the approaches, rituals and rhythms typically used in both Growth Hacking and Agile Software Development.

 

“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

Does it all work in the real world?

 

Yes.

 

The same underlying principles that make Agile software development so effective also mean Growth Hacking can totally transform the effectiveness of a company’s growth activities.

 

I recently spent a day with the talented team at a well backed UK based energy startup called Hometree who are creating a great brand by disrupting the domestic energy market customer experience.

 

We had a really productive workshop where we honestly examined the Strength Weakness Opportunities and Threats in their current growth landscape, discussed and then selected initial and ultimate growth metrics, collected growth ideas, created a growth board, reconstituted the growth team and set up the new team’s rituals and rhythms.

 

Not bad for one day and Andreu Tobella Brunet the Co-Founder of Hometree UK commented…

 

“As a start-up that is using an innovative way to sell online, we created a growth team from scratch but were having a few challenges to structure it well and have clear objectives and team alignment. This is where Rorie stepped in and helped us understand well all the roles, define our single metric and create a high performing growth team. The whole team was extremely pleased with the improvements, I would highly recommend him”.

 

Whether you call it Growth Hacking or something else, a very effective way of accelerating your growth is to learn from agile software development and to create a cross-functional team meeting regularly with the unified common purpose of doing anything and everything necessary to measure-act-measure the impact of their ideas on a single carefully chosen growth metric.

 

Rorie Devine is the Founder & CEO of gro.team who offer a set of growth services to “grow yourself” via coaching ¦ mentoring, to “grow your team” with interim ¦ permanent talent and to “grow your company” via growth hacking.

 What do our Growth Hacking clients say?

Interview Tips

Interview Tips

 

How should you prepare for and behave during an interview?

 

Sliding in neatly after my article on Writing A Great CV/Profile/Resume and before How To Be A Successful Interim CTO, we need to address the interview part of the recruitment process. I guess it is also the other side of the coin of How To Interview A Developer.

 
 

Some of this may look a bit err…obvious…but I’m quite often surprised by how many candidates fail to do some or all of the things mentioned in this article so everything is included for completeness.

 
 

Preparing For A Telephone ¦ Video Interview

 

Make Sure You Know When ¦ How

Make sure you know when ¦ how the interview will take place. If you don’t receive a calendar invitation to the interview respectfully ask for one.

 

Ask whether you should be using the Hangouts ¦ Zoom link in the invitation or the phone number.

Ask Who ¦ How You Will Be Interviewed

Find out who will be interviewing you. Will it be one or more people? Mentally prepare for the format of the process.

Do your research on each and every person who will be interviewing you.

Make sure you type each person’s name into a search engine and look at their background on LinkedIn or wherever they are featured.

Watch/listen to any video/audio in which they are featured. Make notes on them.

You will be able to pick up a huge amount of useful information from doing this.

  • What is their style?

  • Are they more or less formal?

  • Do they bring their personality to work situations?

  • What is their dress style?

 

Automated Video “Screening” Interviews

Systems like sonru within which all candidates answer the same set of questions whilst being recorded on video are becoming increasingly popular.

 

If you have never been through this process as a candidate you need to keep in mind that it presents a surprisingly difficult candidate experience. Appearing natural, relaxed and confident whilst talking to a computer rather than another human being is actually quite difficult.

 

One of gro.team‘s clients used this approach but had to re-baseline the outputs from the process because only 5-10% of the candidates successfully navigated the video screen compared with nearer 50% of people who presented well in telephone or face-to-face interviews.

 

It’s difficult to prepare for a video screen interview (which is one of its advantages I guess) other than try to relax as much as possible and take any opportunities to re-do answers. They are normally better second time around.

 

The Face-to-Face Interview

 

Before The Interview

 

Arrive at the venue an hour early and wait in the nearest coffee shop. Use the time to review your notes and practice remembering the names of the people who will be interviewing you. Arrive physically at the interview venue 10-15 minutes before the allotted start time.

Mirror the prevailing dress code at the office (which you would know from your research). If you can’t find out what the dress code is ring up the interviewer and ask them. It’s a positive that you are taking the time to ask and prepare properly.

During the Interview

Bear in mind that when you are being interviewed the interviewer might have various aims;

Validate your credentials.

Get a feel for your attitude and aptitude.

Check that you would “fit in”…in other words check that you would be happy ¦ productive within the interviewer’s team ¦ company.

 

At gro.team we interview against the three dimensions below – Ability and Intellect, Working in a Team, Impact Focus but other interviewers might have different priorities.

 

gro.team interview

 

During The Interview

There is a school of thought along the lines that at the start of the interview the interviewer believes you should get the job (otherwise you wouldn’t be there) so you will get offered the job unless you say or do something to change that view during that interview.

 

People who agree with this view tend to take a “defensive” approach to interviews and say and do as little as possible during the interview. They think that if the interviewer spends most of the interview talking about themselves (which does happen) then that is a good thing.

 

I guess that might be true in situations where you are the only candidate for the role but in situations where there are multiple candidates for a role a defensive approach risks losing out against candidates that take the opportunity to advance their cause.

 

I think the best strategy is always to be authentic, “can do” and friendly.

 

Authentic – there is no point getting some fictional version of yourself hired into a job – you risk being unhappy because the real you isn’t right for the job or the employer isn’t happy because they hired something different to what they thought they were hiring.

 

Can Do – most progressive employers are increasingly hiring more on attitude and approach than past skills ¦ experience these days. The world and the companies in it are changing so fast now that it is difficult to predict exactly what a role will be like an 1-2 years time so an attitude and ability to embrace change and enjoy new challenges is much more important than having X years past experience doing Y. You need to take the opportunity at interview to demonstrate that you will rise to the challenge whatever the role throws at you…

 

Friendly – we all spent a lot of time at work and the interviewer will be thinking “do I want to spend 8-10 hours a day with this person?” Make sure you present as someone that people will enjoy spending time with.

 

Ask Questions and Demonstrate You Have Done Your Research

It is very important that you ask questions during or at the end of the interview.

This is to find out information that might be interesting ¦ useful to you and questions are a very good opportunity to demonstrate that you have done your research.

 

Questions like this are good…

 

“How will recent change/event X affect your company?”

“What are your thoughts on industry trend/development Y?

“I notice you worked at company A in the past. How is working here at company B different to the culture at company A?”

“I notice you previously held role X. How is your role now different to that role?”

When the interview is over smile at the interviewer, thank them for their time and make an orderly exit.

 

Closing Thoughts

 

You probably won’t attend that many interviews in your career so you should treat each interview as important and worth investing considerable time and effort into.

The surest way to “fail” an interview is to appear unprepared or too casual at the interview.

 

Take an interview very seriously because it is genuinely one of the few potentially life changing things you will do.

 

Oh yes…good luck 🙂

 

 What do gro.team’s clients think?

Win In IT And Business

Win In IT And Business

How To Win in IT & Business...

I’ve just sat through a very interesting and informative presentation by Sir Clive Woodward (the World Cup winning England Rugby coach) at the “Art of Work” seminar from SAP and Microsoft Azure to announce their strategic partnership.

 

What is perhaps a bit less well known about Sir Clive is that he is also a very successful business man having founded a number of businesses in areas ranging from IT Leasing through to speaking and coaching high performance teams.

 

The theme of Sir Clive’s talk today was using technology to win and he pointed out that in both business and sport

 

Whoever Wins in IT Wins

 

3 D Learning

 

Sir Clive talked about the 3 D’s of learning

 

Discover – get ideas on how to improve from anywhere and everywhere. Be a sponge.

 

Distil – select and simplify and communicate the best ideas.

 

Do – practice practice practice to implement the good ideas. This bit is critical – other people can have the same ideas but the quality of execution is the most important thing.

 

Sponge v Rock

 

Sir Clive made the point very well that people that are successful in both sport and business have one really important thing in common in that they are receptive to new ideas and approaches (they are like a “sponge”) rather than rigid and unchanging like a “rock”.

 

Sir Clive described how that he felt he wasn’t a great ideas person but he was very good at spotting good ideas so he used to invite people from all walks of life to observe how he worked in England Rugby training camps with one condition – at the end of their time with the team they had to suggest at least one thing the team could do better.

 

Sir Clive said that without exception the 50 or so people who attended the camps came up with good ideas on how to improve.

 

Sir Clive recalled that one of the things that made the leaders in his World Cup winning team so effective was their deep knowledge of the game and one of the ways this had been achieved was the use of the Prozone system.

 

After watching the Prozone animations of the game the England players were asked to present back to the coaching team their thoughts on

 

How they played

How England played

How their opposite number played

How the opposition played

 

Sir Clive said it was a very worthwhile exercise for both the players and coaching staff that always brought out useful ideas and concepts.

 

Overall it was a very thought provoking presentation from a proven winner that made a lot of points about how collaborative leadership and encouragement of individual and team “self” awareness are critical ingredients in the formation of high performing teams.

 

What do gro.team’s clients say?

Add AMP pages to Google Analytics

Add AMP pages to Google Analytics

 

Bad news – as with all other mark up elements in AMP you can’t just add the standard “web” JavaScript tag.

 

You need to add the AMP analytics tag below in the section *before* the AMP .js library so immediately after thetag might be safest.

 

<script< span=""> async custom-element="amp-analytics"
src="https://cdn.ampproject.org/v0/amp-analytics-0.1.js"></script<>

 

To add AMP page views and event tracking (only) to Goggle Analytics add this immediately after the body tag changing UA-XXXXX-Y to your Tracking ID.

 

Your Tracking ID can be found in

Admin Cog (bottom left) –> .js Tracking Info –> Tracking Code

(or your standard Google Analytics web page tags).

 

  <amp-analytics type="googleanalytics">
  <script< span=""> type="application/json">
  {
    "vars": {
      "account": "UA-XXXXX-Y"
    },
    "triggers": {
      "trackPageview": {
        "on": "visible",
        "request": "pageview"
      },
      "trackEvent": {
        "selector": "#event-test",
        "on": "click",
        "request": "event",
        "vars": {
          "eventCategory": "ui-components",
          "eventAction": "click"
        }
      }
    }
  }
  
  </script<>

More detail on how to extend and customise Google Analytics for AMP can be found in this comprehensive (but quite technical) article from developers.google.com.

Have fun 🙂


Check out gro.team for interim talent on demand. Talent where you need it, when you want it and only for as long as you need it.

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Defence Against The Dark Arts Credential Stuffing Attacks

Defence Against The Dark Arts Credential Stuffing Attacks

Defence Against The Dark Arts

Credential Stuffing attacks are where an existing list of usernames / email addresses and cracked passwords are replayed against your site by an attacker to perform Account Take Overs (ATOs).

 

The list of usernames / email addresses and their passwords are available on the dark web, and often originate from previous Database breaches like linked-in where the old ciphers used to encrypt passwords were weak and so have been cracked resulting in full login details for list of millions of users being available for replay.

 

Because so many users reuse passwords – replaying this list against your site will result in some valid logins for the attackers – and the they exfiltrate any personally identifiable information (PII) from the users account to then potentially sell.

 

PII are adollar or two depending on completeness – but if they can harvest 1000s or millions of PII entries by accessing that many accounts on your site – it’s lucrative business.

 

Various tools such as sentry.mba exist for performing these types of attack – and if the infiltration is ‘low and slow’ it’s very hard to detect a few failed logins per second amongst all the noise

 

Prevention / Preparation

 

Keep max login retry limits low (though in credential stuffing they have a username/password combo already this is minimal protection).


Make sure you rate limit based on sessionIds add a Captcha and reverse-Captcha by default on login, you should ‘feature toggle’ Captchas so it doesn’t have to be on all the time annoying your users.


If you want to get sophisticated you can make this risk based – so the Captcha only springs up when some aspect of the user is suspicious.(Google’s ‘recaptcha’ is pretty clever and non intrusive these days and does risk profiling too).


You still need a reverse capcha too though as this can be left on all the time as it’s invisible to users – there may be circumstances where product folk want to lift the ordinary user Captcha
ensure you’re returning 401 and 403 HTTP codes appropriately in your login validation code (this will facilitate efficient firewall rules).


if attacked you could set some irules for repeat 401/3 from a single IP be a ban on the Ip for 10 minutes for example, this not so easy if you just 302 to /failedlogin.html as you’ll have lots of other ligitimate 302s


Make sure you consider you APIs too – an API gateway of some sort should offer throttling mechanisms


Consider something like Cloudflare, Ravelin or their competitors – they do lots of profiling and filtering of supicious IPs and tools, or ATO plugins and may solve your problem invisibly upstream


Make sure you’ve built the capabilities for Password Reset and Account Suspension for corralling any compromised accounts.


Implement user device profiling, where each new device a user logs in from is recorded and exceptions flagged to users for validation – numerous libraries exist for this
Ensure you close the loop in verifying users email addresses and if possible phone numbers too.


Implment 2FA (2 factor authentication) or MFA ( Multi Factor Authentication) – the gold standard of login verification where users have some kind of key generator with them 9Authy / Google Authenticator Yubikey).

Though this may not be applicable for high volume sites with non technical users, offering it gives you options for expert users.


Do a red team simulation for credential stuffing to see if it gets spotted by your team.


During registration, consider a spot check on new credentials to haveibeenpwned.com or similar — and potentially warn them about strong unique passwords if their username/email is known (careful messaging required!)


See also OWASP’s guide on this at https://www.owasp.org/index.php/Credential_stuffing

 

Detection

 

You need separate monitors / alerts on:


failed logins


A spike on failed logins is a clue for brute force and credential stuffing
logins for non existent users,
A spike in logins for non existent users is a clue for credential stuffing – these are the mismatched emails / usernames you don’t have on your system being stuffed in
have a long look at both failed login monitoring alert sensitivities, assume the worst on any prolonged tickle.


successful logins


A spike in successful logins only could be a clue someone’s stolen your user credentials from your DB (though why they’d then swarm your login page is a mystery)

Accounts locked due to repeated failures
again indicative clue to brute forcing


Any other key metrics you capture around login or account traversal (changing card details, changing user email addresses) should also be emitted and measured for unusual activity
these are post breach, so not ideal – but still very worthwhile in case you miss something subtle initially

The detection thresholds on these login attempts alerts should ideally be sophisticated and use correlations, anomaly detection and machine learning – it’s the only way to really spot the low and slow subtle attacks

 

When under Attack

 

Turn on Captcha


Look for patterns in the attack, are there clues to specific hack tool – perhaps repeating user agent strings, odd protocols like TLS1 or timings that you may be able to profile.


you can set some irules for repeated 401/3s from a single IP to ban on the IP for 10 minutes for example.


Dump suspicious IPs from threat intelligence reports or with high volumes altogether


Or rules to filter on unusual user agents / matching TLS profiles (though this may collateral damage or shedding some real users)


Block IPs outside your customer geography location if possible, any other way of shedding suspicious traffic?


Check threat intelligence sources looking up the dodgy IPs you see for more info


Slow down logins, irritating for users, but throttles the attack


Are accounts being compromised, if so is there a pattern – can you get ahead if so?


Try to catch the traffic as lose to the perimeter of your network


Check this isn’t just a feint for something worse. Check your other alerts for signs of intrusion to backend systems while they’ve kept you busy chasing this login tidal wave.


Call the Police
Call the FBI / GCHQ / Cyber authority in your geography

They can perhaps perform ‘Upstream Disruption’:
Shutting down sites the tools being used are deployed on
Identifying and Arresting individuals performing the attacks
Throttling traffic at ISPs or even further upstream

 

Management

Have an incident plan ready – it’s a fair bit of planning but pays off in a crisis.

Comms is key:
Internal folk (tell them don’t say too much)
Different customer classes (tailor)
Regulatory bodies in your industry

Your Suppliers
be careful of any precedent for refunds / goodwill
Consider getting hack insurance in advance
Police – report as a crime
Gchq / FBI
involve your legal team and have them run their eye over comms.

Controlling AWS Costs

Controlling AWS Costs

4.7/5

Controlling AWS Costs

As you move your estate onto cloud inevitably the cost genie escapes the bottle as engineers and ops personnel of all flavours spin up test and Dev environments and the general number of machines escalates beyond all your estimates and predictions.

 

1) Get your AWS tagging correct from day 1

 

This is an essential step to allow you to slice and dice your costs and see where the money is going
Tagging needs to baked into your Dev Ops process from the start so it cannot be circumvented and is 100% consistent across your estate.


Tagging meta data on instances allowing you to see what’s going on with billing : see

http://docs.aws.amazon.com/awsaccountbilling/latest/aboutv2/cost-alloc-tags.html

 

2) Make the Teams accountable

 

Centralised cost control is tricky as problems get seen too late in the day, and not by the DevOps folks in the teams who made those technically nuanced and expensive decisions.


Making the teams accountable for their spend is the best solution to this but necessitates


i) their engagement


ii) Visible reporting ( see ‘Show me your numbers’ below)


Ideally this can be slightly gamified by making costs a metric for teams – but fair comparison is tricky so aim for a ratio based metric – perhaps something like
AWS Cost in Cents / Number of Customer Sign ups
with a target of 50 cents per customer a target for all teams

 

3) Show me your numbers


To allow your team to be accountable, and also for an overall view of costs you need to make those costs visible.


Your AWS console has good visualisation tools that allow you to slice and dice based on tags : but making that global costs data accessible to everyone may not be politic – so other Tools like


Netflix Ice (https://github.com/Netflix/ice )
Splunk AWS costs plugins ( https://splunkbase.splunk.com/app/1577/ )
allow a degree more reporting flexibility .

 

4) Get the basics right


Use the AWS billing Alarms
http://docs.aws.amazon.com/awsaccountbilling/latest/aboutv2/free-tier-alarms.html

 

They are not very fine grained, and need frequent maintenance as your estate grows so as not to mis-alert, but an email warning that you’ve spent 75% of you budget on the 3rd of the month is a very worthwhile exercise, especially in the early days of your use.
Budgets for teams are also supported


http://docs.aws.amazon.com/awsaccountbilling/latest/aboutv2/budgets-create.html

 

5 ) What are the main causes of waste and possible solutions?


Main culprits for where money gets wasted are

i) Dev test environments on when unused
— Solution: See Step 9) below on a Script to disable Dev environments.


ii) Defunct resources not being terminated on production, load test , staging etc
— Solution See Step 8) Below for Occasional manual sweeps


iii) You’re not using reserved instances
— Solution: Use them – but be careful – See step 7) below


iv) Low utilisation (tends to be the hardest to Solve – see step 6) below)


.a) Machines the wrong size for the work they do
— Solution: Devs need to re-evaluate
.b) Mis-design
– Instance just runs crons twice a week
+ Solution: Perhaps use AWS Lambda based utillty which will spin up resources only as it runs rather than lying idle waiting to work.
– Only one Application per instance
+ Solution: perhaps you need better scheduling on your PaaS to stack multiple Apps on bigger instances?
But bear in mind an average utilisation above 5% is pretty good across a data-centre

 

6) Tips on Low Utilisation


Very often the biggest culprit for wasted cash looks like ‘low utilzation’, meaning the machines aren’t doing much – perhaps just running intermittent batch jobs, or the machine chosen is over-specced .
Unfortunately getting to the bottom of each of the under-utilizations is hard because
i) Each case needs individual investigation (and reasons why things are as they are may be hard to find or long forgotten)
ii) Fixing it may after the event often seems more expensive than what it’s costing
Tooling can help
The AWS ‘Trusted Advisor’ tool on your AWS console is a great and free way to get clues as to where the money is going.
Third Party Services like Cloudyn, Cloudability etc. can also help here as they automatically trawl the AWS cloudwatch logs with some intelligence to recognise common anti-patterns and then make recommendations. This intelligence is something you need to apply yourself if you work on the raw Trusted Advisor data, and there’s aquite a bit of judgement involved
These services typically work on a %ge of your spend though so get your costs house in reasonable order first before giving them 2% of the total.

 

7) Tips on Reserved instances


Reserving instances means committing to them for longer periods of time, but savings can be significant : 30-50%.
It used to be the case that AWS reservations had to be paid for up-front which was a huge outlay, but that’s been addressed now with ‘no upfront cost reservations’ so, if you’re sure an app will stay on a specific machine class for a year’ reservations are the answer…
i) Rightsize, then Reserve. Check your utilisation is good for the instances / applications you’re going to reserve – otherwise you’ll lock in over-specced instances
ii) Start Slow – reserve a few instances and check over the next month that utilisation of those reservations is good and that your process of identifying good reservation candidates is working.
Identifying candidates needs expertise on the estate and the applications so might best sit or at least get reviewed with some centralised dev-ops or architecture function
iii) The reserving interface is a nightmare and Amazon are wary to take-backs on reservations even those done in error so to avoid incredibly expensive mistakes:
.a) 2 heads are better than one – so pair when using it to avoid expensive mistakes !
.b) Submit the reservations form in small chunks – e.g. only reserve 2 line items and submit not 20 and submit – this makes it easier to double check it.

 

8) Make a destroy script to tear down all test / dev environments overnight and weekends


AWS Lambda is a good fit for this.
If your tagging is correct and un-circumventable then you should have the confidence to run such a script, which basically uses the AWS API’s to list resources then turns off everything tagged with e.g. ‘env’ tag set to ‘dev’ or ‘test’.
Make sure as you design such a script you include a ‘white list’ feature where exceptional kit can be configured not be turned off. And also make sure you honour any ‘Termination Prevention’ tags.
The harder bits can restarting stuff in the morning, which probably also needs automation, especially since getting permissions right to make this easy for teams to do this themselves is tricky.

 

9) Occasional Manual Cleanup Sweeps


Clear up any orphaned AutoScaling Groups, Load balancers etc. Sometimes these don’t clear up fully when the pipeline ‘destroy’ step fails for whatever reason.
Remember to tear down load testing environments promptly.

 

10) Be careful with health-check rules on Auto Scaling Groups (ASGs).


Prefer the EC2 status checks to the ELB based ones . Any flaws in ELB rules can lead to machines spinning up in the ASG, immediately being flagged unhealthy and then torn down – over and over. In the few seconds they are up – you get billed for an hour so this fluttering can get expensive.
Part of your reporting in step3) above could be the number of instances used in a day – that will show fluttery instance starts like this

 

11) Prefer AWS Lambda for cron type tasks rather than a dedicated machine.


it’s much cheaper (and cooler), and a dedicated machine for cron often has very low utilisation.

 

12) AWS can bill in numerous currencies….

 

So if you’re outside the US but paying in Dollars there might be some small savings to be had in paying in local currency and tax treatments. See


https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/new-set-preferred-payment-currency-for-your-aws-account/

 

gro.team want to make the world a more successful place…person by person, company by company. If you need an high impact Interim to deliver your change agenda give them a shout..

How To Create A Killer CV/Resume/Profile

How To Create A Killer CV/Resume/Profile

How To Create A Killer CV/Resume

We create and receive a lot of CV/Resumes/Profiles at gro.team so I guess we’re getting pretty good at judging what a great profile looks like, and what helps the author really stand out from the crowd.

 

Job boards, LinkedIn etc can be a good source of jobs but they don’t filter very much (both ways) so how can you rise above the noise in people’s inboxes/feeds?

 

I’m going to apply a lot of what Amine Bellaoud talks out in his excellent article about neuromarketing here because at the end of the day creating and presenting a CV/Resume/Profile is Marketing.

 

Make The CV/Resume/Profile Look Err…Nice

 

The CV/Resume/Profile is a marketing document so it needs to be well presented and look err…nice.

 

If you can’t be bothered to present yourself well in such an important document can you really be trusted to represent someone else’s team or company?

 

Below is one of gro.team’s growth hacking profiles and one that isn’t.

 

 

 

What do you think? Which one looks more interesting and makes you want to read it?

 

The Use Of Photos

 

I know not everyone will agree but I think profiles should include photos.

There is a lot of evidence to suggest that a photo of a person’s face is the thing most likely to get our attention in a stream of information.

 

It could be argued that the use of photos increases the potential for discrimination though so I wouldn’t necessarily see it as a negative signal if someone chose not to include a photo.

 

Use Colour, Contrast and Differently Sized Content

 

Three factors (colour, orientation and size) are additive in terms of getting our attention. (Nothdurft). More factors will grab more attention so ideally you should use all three.

 

Testimonials aka Recommendations aka Reviews

 

All the gro.team profiles include testimonials for very good reasons.

There is a lot of evidence to suggest that people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. It is very important to present recommendations as early and often as you can.

It is pretty straightforward to ask your connections for recommendations on LinkedIn these days.

 

The Three Boxes Of Greatness (™)

 

At gro.team we review profiles against three main criteria of

 

⍏ “Technical” Skills

 

Impact Focus

 

Being A Team Player

 

“Technical” Skills

 

“Technical” skills are the competencies you use to perform a role. If you’re a Developer they might me coding in a specific language, if you’re a Marketeer they might be paid for search, if you’re a scrum master they might include running stand ups or whatever. We have sections like “Expertise” in the gro.team profiles to highlight technical skills. You need to make sure you present evidence that you have the necessary tools in your tool box for the role but don’t overdo it…see Impact Focus below.

 

Impact Focus

 

It’s really important that you present as someone who wants to have an impact for a team/business focuses on the “what” not the “how”. Yes it’s great that you know how to run Google PPC campaigns but what results did you achieve with them? What were the business results of what you did? We have “Delivery” sections in the gro.team profiles to highlight these achievements.

 

Being A Team Player

 

These days ticking the other two boxes but being what Netflix CEO Reed Hastings called a “brilliant jerk” will stop you getting hired by great companies. As he said: “Some companies tolerate them. For us, the cost to effective teamwork is too high.” We have sections like “Relationships” in the gro.team profiles so that we can demonstrate that being a good team player is important to the people in our network.

Make sure you tick all these boxes in your profile.

 

How long should the CV/Profile/Resume Be?

 

All the gro.team profiles are one page.

We never, ever present a profile that is longer than that. Why? Because we need to show we can summarise the important information in a context and not just present a stream of uncurated facts.

I guess two pages would be OK but I would argue any longer than that is counterproductive. Show that you have taken the time to write a short profile.

 

Which Format Should You Use?

 

Our profiles at gro.team are normally in Adobe PDF format. Nearly all platforms and devices can read a .pdf file these days. (Google can and does index .pdfs but it definitely prefers other formats like HTML if you are a creating a document specifically for search engines).

 

Make your CV/Resume/Profile look good, use testimonials, keep it short and tick the the Three Boxes Of Greatness…

 

If you create a CV/Resume/Profile that is interesting to look at, ticks the “Three Boxes Of Greatness”, is concise and informative you really maximise your chances of being selected for the next stage of the hiring process.

 

Good luck!

 

Rorie Devine is Founder and CEO of gro.team who have been called the “Uber of talent”. They provide talent where you need it, when you need it and only for as long as you need it.

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