Testing with Sample Data

How do you decide which plugin will work best for you? Some people just read the marketing text on each site, and that's a fast way to burn thru cash. Others may just get a recommendation. For me, I like to do some testing with sample data. I'm working on a comparison of WordPress CRM plugins, and so I thought I would show you what it looks like to get 5,000 fake customers into the Autonami plugin.

Creating the Sample Data

The biggest problem when you're creating sample data is that it's all just random text. And for something like a CRM, that won't work. You need emails that are formatted right. You also need a city, state, and zip code that all work together.

So how do you go about doing that? I like a site called mockaroo. You can create a sample data file of 1000 records for free. Or, for $50 a year, you can download larger datasets (which I like because I wanted to pull down 5,000 sample contacts).

You'll notice that I don't have to do anything special to get the city, state and zip to work. But I do get to define the date range for birthdate in my sample data. Mockaroo even gets me data for timezones (based on locations).

You can see the results below.

Bringing Sample Data into Autonami

The value of creating a sample data set like I did above, is that I can load the exact same file into multiple products. That shows me the error rates of each importer and what defaults they accept (and all that).

But let's just walk thru what it looks like to import this sample data.

First, you get an option of what kind of import you want to do – a CSV, importing from WP users, or looking at the WooCommerce order data to import customers.

For this example, I decided to go with the CSV file and uploaded it. Like most import solutions, the next step is having me map the fields in the file to the fields in the plugin.

At the bottom of the import mapping screen, I also get some additional options like adding tags, changing status of my import, or whether to update any existing records.

Tracking Error Rates

As I mentioned above, the reason I like mock data generators is that they do things that I might not do. For example, if you look at the image above of the data that was generated, you'll see that there are a lot of options in the Gender column.

I might have filled the spreadsheet with just Male and Female. Not because of any reason other than not thinking about it. But when you use mock data generators, you get the advantage of others having thought thru things.

What's important, as you see above, is that you can track error rates to see if the plugin has any issues with your mock data. In the case of Autonami and my upload, I got exactly zero errors – which is fantastic.

Testing with Sample Data is Much Better

Want to know how long it takes to loop over 2500 customers to add a tag? Or would you like to test how long it takes to send 5000 emails to these fake customers? What if you wanted to know how long it would take to run all of your customers on the East Coast thru an automation?

The truth is that you can't do that if you simply add a couple of sample contacts into your staging environment to test out an email or an automation. You need quantity to help you understand how things scale. And that's why I love creating sample data, using mock data generators like Mockaroo.

I bet you'll dig it too!

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