Category: cro
Shamir Duverseau

Maximize Data with Lean Thinking

Build. Measure. Learn. Those three words are at the core of Lean methodology, a way of doing business that incorporates elements from Six Sigma, agile development, design thinking, and other sources. Lean methodology is a modern application to business that has a longer history in the manufacturing industry, originating in the Toyota Production System in the 1950s. It has since been used by successful startups and large corporations alike, across industries. Lean’s continuous improvement cycle enables companies to make meaningful progress by getting the best use of customer data and intelligence.

When it comes to the digital experience, Lean thinking can be a tool of immeasurable power. From acquiring qualified traffic to converting those prospects into customers to retaining those customers to build lifetime value, a Lean viewpoint can help optimize every touchpoint of the customer journey. As this is especially the case in a considered purchase industry, Lean is now at the heart of how we at Smart Panda Labs are helping our clients drive customer lifetime value.

Here’s how.

Build

Everyone knows that building products and services that meet customer needs is a primary goal of any business. But customer needs are varied and nuanced, requiring answers to a long list of questions. If you wait to answer all the questions at once, or worse, assume you already know the answers, you risk high costs and wasted time at best. At worst, you risk the failure of an initiative, a division, or an entire organization.

This is why the term “minimal viable product,” or MVP, has become so popular and so important. A tenet of Lean and Agile methodologies, an MVP is a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers and provide feedback for future product development.  Each iteration of this streamlined product or service is meant to answer a question or two, or meet a set of demands, but not all demands at once.

We have learned the value of MVPs for our clients’ products as well as our own. So, we build new services and processes, not as fait accomplis, but as MVPs in order to ensure that are meeting client needs.

Measure

Objectivity does not come easily to modern day organizations. While gathering unbiased data is becoming easier, there remains a persistent risk of a biased interpretation of the data.

Lean accounts for this through customer-centric experimentation and measurement, allowing customer interactions and feedback to live at the center of the story. Actionable metrics inform whether your customer is experiencing your product in the way you hypothesize, or if you need to pivot. Either way, customer data and creative intelligence are guiding your decisions, thus maximizing the results.

Our own actionable metrics include feedback from our clients. How do they feel our innovation is helping them? Is it making things easier or harder? Is it aiding them in meeting goals or communicating with teams? The answers to these questions, along with many others, will help us to know whether or not we are moving in the right direction. And these decisions can be based on real feedback, and not simply cool ideas that we fall in love with but bring no benefit to the client.

Learn

“If you cannot fail, you cannot learn.” Eric Reis, the author of The Lean Startup, makes this simple but important point. Not everything works out the way you envisioned. Lean tells us that with every failure comes a wonderful opportunity to learn and iterate. The key is to embrace the opportunity.

For example. One of our clients engaged us to run an experiment on their website. The first test we helped them run failed miserably and quickly. It was designed to be a quick win … but turned out to be far from it. However, the resulting learnings from this failure yielded another experiment that was impactful in both its effect on the business goals (adding seven figures of incremental revenue for the year) and the additional customer insights it yielded.

Failure can’t always be the primary concern. Whether or not we are learning from these failures is what matters. We use our learnings to improve products and services on behalf of our clients, and also to improve the client experience we provide. What makes us better at our jobs also makes for better relationships.

Build. Learn. Measure. This is the backbone of how we harness data and creative intelligence to help our clients drive value from their customers, and it is becoming the method by which we serve our clients, period. If you are reading this, you are more than likely someone’s client. Should you expect any less?

 

Key Takeaways:

  • Lean methodology is a continuous improvement approach that enables companies to make meaningful progress by getting the best use of customer data and intelligence.
  • A key tenet of Lean is the “minimum viable product,” or MVP, which encourages the release of a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers and provide feedback for future product
  • Lean also emphasizes customer-centric experimentation and measurement, so that customer data and creative intelligence are guiding decision making.
  • Lean tells us that with every failure comes a wonderful opportunity to learn and iterate. The key is to embrace the opportunity.
  • As applied to digital marketing strategy, a Lean viewpoint can help optimize every touchpoint of the digital experience—from acquiring qualified traffic to converting those prospects into customers to retaining those customers to build lifetime value,
  • Lean and its backbone of Build, Measure, and Learn is now at the heart of how we improve products and services for clients. It also informs how we improve the overall experience we provide our clients.
Category: cro
Shamir Duverseau

Is Digital Experience Worth More Than Conversions?

Digital excellence is about the experience.

Being a digital leader means shifting from a mindset of conversion rate optimization (CRO) to one of digital experience optimization (DXO). We’re not implying that conversions don’t matter but instead that a broader view is necessary. Growth-minded organizations must pay attention to each touchpoint between a customer and their brand—touchpoints that lead not only to the initial transaction but to an ongoing relationship.

In other words, the path to greater customer lifetime value (LTV) is a meaningful, actionable, and optimized journey.

Optimizing these experiences requires alignment among multiple channels and touchpoints. It also requires the right strategy, the right people, and the right technology. As complex and multifaceted as this may be, our Smart Panda Labs team left the Opticon 2018 conference feeling very clear on the three fundamental steps of DXO, all three of which are similarly fundamental to our own practice: 1) Measure, 2) Understand, and 3) Improve.

Measure

Good data is worth its weight in gold—and sometimes, more. But in order to capture the right data in a useful way, you need the right tools. Optimizely is currently partnering with other SaaS providers including Tealium, Salesforce, and FullStory to create the Digital Experience Stack (DXS). The goal of this platform is not only to create a robust view of the customer at all points in their journey but to make that data meaningful and actionable. For example, Tealium can stitch together anonymous and known visitor data and then leverage those audiences within Optimizely to generate more consistent cross-device experiences. Time is also a key component of capturing data in a meaningful and actionable way, and the open DXS platform allows you to lay out and execute a strategy of real-time insights and actions.

Understand

It’s only when the data can drive insights, and those insights can lead to actions, that you can effectively meet business goals, such as improved LTV. Thus, once you have integrated your data, you must derive meaning from it. Digital leaders, including many of the brands represented at Opticon 18, are making experimentation part of their DNA, pushing the envelope to understand the “why” behind test results and not just accept results as they appear.

One particular conference session focused on steps to create advanced customer theories that are iterative and transferable—theories that attempt to explain why customers acted or responded in a certain way. A theory might be as simple as a preference for calls to action that are above the fold, for example. They might relate to a customers’ state of mind or persona. Or you might even consider broader factors, like behavioral economics or laws of reciprocity. Intended as a team activity, the brainstorming should include diverse stakeholders who can lend unique perspectives to the exercise. Hypothesizing why consumers acted a certain way is a great opportunity to step out of analytics mode and into an empathetic state of mind in an effort to identify theories that warrant further testing.

The real goal here? To find those theories most likely to hold value—and to build a case around them. Before upgrading a theory to a conclusion, try to garner at least five experiments that support it. Then, use these insights as the basis for other enhancements to the experience, from email communications to marketing messages to personalization campaigns.

Improve 

All of your measurements, tests, and the understanding you’ve acquired as a result lead to the real opportunity: optimization. How can you leverage your findings to improve the customer experience at every touch point? How can you offer a more concierge-like experience, one that make suggestions based on their interests or offers information in a way that is in sync with their preferences? Are there reviews or ratings that can support and enhance their purchasing decisions?

When it comes to moving customers through the funnel, an enhanced experience is more likely to boost LTV than the speed of the transaction. Think a little less about what will drive the purchase today and little more about what will drive multiple purchases over the long term. Because a leading digital strategy is the one that takes the long view.

Throughout this conference, my colleagues and I felt a rewarding sense of resonance between what we heard coming from the stage and the work we’ve been doing for our clients. We left Opticon with even more frameworks and tools to help brands shift from a sharp focus on CRO to a bigger picture view that puts customers and customer experience at the center of their digital strategy.

Key Takeaways

  1. Being a digital leader means shifting from a mindset of conversion rate optimization (CRO) to one of digital experience optimization (DXO).
  2. The three fundamental steps of DXO are: 1) Measure, 2) Understand, and 3) Improve.
  3. In order to capture the right data in a useful way, you need the right tools. Optimizely is currently partnering with other SaaS providers including Tealium, Salesforce, and FullStory to create the Digital Experience Stack (DXS).
  4. Make experimentation part of your DNA; push the envelope to understand the “why” behind test results and not just accept results as they appear.
  5. Ask yourself how you can leverage your findings to improve the customer experience at every touch point. How can you offer a more concierge-like experience, one that make suggestions based on their interests or offers information in a way that is in sync with their preferences?
  6. Think a little less about what will drive the purchase today and little more about what will drive multiple purchases over the long term. Because a leading digital strategy is the one that takes the long view.