How I Succeeded: Web Marketing ROI’s James Spittal

How I Succeeded is a regular series on Lifehacker where we ask business leaders for the secrets and tactics behind their success. Today: James Spittal, CEO & Founder of Web Marketing ROI.

Current gig: CEO & Founder of Web Marketing ROI
Current location: South Yarra, VIC, Australia
Current mobile device: iPhone X
Current computer: Macbook Air (when on the go)
One word that best describes how you work: Fast

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

Slack, Sublime, SSH and *nix.

What social network do you find the most useful?


What were the most important lessons you learned while growing your business?

1. Focus is everything: to grow a business its essential to determine what you do best and focus solely on that. Double-down on your assets and you’re much more likely to be successful.

2. Satisfy your customers and clients: it might sound obvious, but this is a step many companies overlook. Delighted customers and clients are the reason we’re in business. Don’t assume they’re happy: measure it. Use NPS customer satisfaction scores (or similar tools) and review regularly, then take corrective action to improve customer experience.

3. Set higher long-term goals: you are likely to underestimate what you can achieve long term. In the words of Bill Gates, “most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” Set the goals higher and who knows where your business or career will be.

What has been the most surprising part of your business journey?

If you had told me eight years ago, when we were starting out, that we’d be running testing and personalisation for the biggest names in Australia, I’d have thought you were mad. Our business growth has also surprised us.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?

Having the humility to test ideas. Testing is the core of everything we do at Web Marketing ROI and the reason why we, and our clients, have been so successful. Making decisions without evidence means making guesses and we don’t like to guess.

What’s your sleep routine like?

My routine varies dramatically depending upon whether I’m travelling or home in Melbourne. When I can, I like to set the alarm for 5 or 6am and listen to an educational audiobook or podcast for an hour. Generally, then, I try to be in bed by around 10pm to give myself plenty of sleep. Being a business owner, however, means accepting the reality of operating on a couple of hours of sleep when it’s needed too.

What advice would you offer to other businesses on how to succeed?

Persistence might seem cliche, but frankly I’ve found it essential. To make meaningful progress and create value in business, you must persist well beyond the estimates of others. Therefore, to be successful, you must be clear on your vision and dogged in reaching it. That, at least, is what’s worked for me.


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