Part 2: Our Top Takeaways from Click Summit 2018

Last week, we shared the first of many takeaways from Click Summit 2018, our annual conference for professionals in digital experimentation and personalization. This week, we’re back with more insights from each impactful conversation, inspired by this year’s edition of Clickaways. 1. Manage the three P’s of scaling your testing program: people, process, prioritization. Many companies […]

The post Part 2: Our Top Takeaways from Click Summit 2018 appeared first on Brooks Bell.

Last week, we shared the first of many takeaways from Click Summit 2018, our annual conference for professionals in digital experimentation and personalization. This week, we’re back with more insights from each impactful conversation, inspired by this year’s edition of Clickaways.

1. Manage the three P’s of scaling your testing program: people, process, prioritization.

Many companies have found it more effective to establish a dedicated optimization team rather than having these duties dispersed across the organization. However, if that’s not possible for you, let your Center of Excellence take the lead on defining key processes, training and developing a maturity model to determine when each team is ready to start testing.

Develop a formal process for submitting, presenting, prioritizing and executing new testing ideas. Using various automation technologies can further simplify these steps.

Additionally, agree to one source of truth for your test results across multiple platforms. Companies that have various groups looking at different data sources struggle to establish the necessary credibility to scale their programs. This is one area where a knowledge platform that houses testing results, insights and ideas (like Brooks Bell’s Illuminate platform, or Optimizely’s Program Management) can help.

Finally, growing your experimentation program comes with the expectation of more tests, executed faster. When determining your velocity goals, be sure to consider quality over quantity. Always prioritize running a few, quality tests over many, low-impact tests.

2. Personalization and optimization teams should remain separate functions with connected but distinct goals.

Personalization is a worthwhile investment for any online industry, but it has to be adopted as a company-wide strategy in order to ensure you’re delivering a consistent customer experience.

To get the most out of your investment, establish a separate personalization team to run your program rather than looking to your existing experimentation team. Here are a few reasons for this: First, personalization is a longer-term strategy and “wins” occur at a much slower rate. Additionally, while there are similarities between A/B testing and personalization technologies, the questions you ask and the answers you get are very different.

Finally, running split tests is inherently easier and faster than implementing personalization. So long as your team is overseeing both functions, they’re likely to focus more on testing than personalization.

3. Focus on organizational outputs and customer insights, not just test outcomes.



Oftentimes, experimentation professionals find themselves nearest to the customer. Sure, you may not speak with them directly, but your work can have a direct effect on your customers’ experience and brand perception. That’s a lot of power, but also a lot of opportunity.

So here’s the challenge: Go beyond simple tests like button color or check out features and consider the bigger picture. Use testing to seek out insights that would be useful for other departments within your organization.

Here at Brooks Bell, we have our own framework for doing this (and we’d be happy to tell you about it). In lieu of our services, we’d encourage you to take a step back from test outcomes, spot trends and use these to develop testable customer theories.

Developing a customer theory requires you to conduct a deeper interpretation of your results–so don’t do it alone. Look to your working team to brainstorm customer theories and additional tests to validate or invalidate those. Bring in additional data sources like NPS, VOC or qualitative research to paint a more detailed picture of your customers.

Doing this can have huge implications for your customers, your experimentation program and your brand overall.

4. Build a program that strikes the perfect balance of innovation and ROI.

In order for creativity to flourish within your experimentation program, you have to establish clear goals. These are used as a framework within which your team can look for opportunities to innovate.

Develop a process for brainstorming test ideas that encourages participation and creative thinking, like using Post-It notes.



Finally, demonstrate a willingness to take calculated risks in order to make room for creativity in your optimization strategy. There is always something to be learned from negative or flat results.

Like the information in this post? Download this year’s Clickaways to access more tips, tricks and ideas from Click Summit 2018.

The post Part 2: Our Top Takeaways from Click Summit 2018 appeared first on Brooks Bell.

Part 1: Our Top Takeaways from Click Summit 2018

Another year, another epically productive Click Summit. In the weeks since Click Summit 2018, we’ve spent some time reflecting on the event and even our heads are still reeling from the depth and quality of each conversation. This event isn’t your run-of-the-mill marketing conference. We strive to create an intimate and super-productive experience in our […]

The post Part 1: Our Top Takeaways from Click Summit 2018 appeared first on Brooks Bell.

Another year, another epically productive Click Summit. In the weeks since Click Summit 2018, we’ve spent some time reflecting on the event and even our heads are still reeling from the depth and quality of each conversation.

This event isn’t your run-of-the-mill marketing conference. We strive to create an intimate and super-productive experience in our small group conversations. Of course, the true credit goes to our attendees and moderators for their candid participation. It takes a certain level of vulnerability to look to others for feedback and direction. Those types of conversations are where the true insights come to light.

Had to sit out Click Summit this year? You’re in luck. We’ve compiled the key takeaways from each of the 22 thought-provoking conversations into an easy-to-read, downloadable resource.

Here’s our summary of some of the insights you’ll find in this year’s Clickaways

1. Relationships are key to creating buy-in for experimentation. Get to the right meetings and make the right connections. Target influential leaders to gain traction and credibility for your program. Build working partnerships with other teams, taking time to understand their goals. Work with them to make testing and personalization part of the solution.



Finally, know that proving people wrong doesn’t create buy-in. Rather, invite other departments to participate in your program and frame your tests as an opportunity to learn together. Hold monthly or bi-weekly meetings with direct and indirect stakeholders to review test wins, brainstorm new tests and discuss any resulting customer insights.

2. Instill testing in your company culture through establishing a credible team and program. Trust is easily lost, so you really need to take steps to ensure your team is positioned as a source of truth for the business, rather than one that’s encroaching on other departments. Your team should not only be experts in optimization and behavioral economics, but also experts in your customers–know their behaviors online, what motivates them and what truly makes them tick.

Hold training sessions on best practices for testing, personalization and customer insights. Regularly communicate test results and any subsequent insights to the entire company. And when sharing results, consider your audience. It may be worth creating different reporting formats for different stakeholders

3. If you want to build an army of optimization evangelists, you’ve gotta get everyone on the same page first. So long as end-to-end optimization requires working across multiple teams, it’s important that you establish clear processes and governance. Develop a common language for testing terminology; abandon jargon in favor of words that are easy to understand and don’t have multiple contexts.

Set clear rules of engagement and expectations between all teams involved in optimization. This includes engineering, IT, analytics, marketing, creative and others. Make sure communication and reporting processes are defined and any associated technologies are being used consistently.Finally, take into account how success is measured for all these other stakeholders. Not all teams are incentivized with revenue targets or conversion goals. Connect your test strategy to their objectives to ensure a unified vision.

Like the information in this post? Stay tuned for part two next week. Until then, download this year’s Clickaways to access more tips, tricks and ideas from Click Summit 2018.

The post Part 1: Our Top Takeaways from Click Summit 2018 appeared first on Brooks Bell.

Four Challenges to Building & Scaling Your Experimentation Program, Solved with Illuminate

Since our company was founded in 2003, we’ve worked with clients facing a multitude of challenges in establishing their experimentation programs: team turnover leading to loss of institutional testing knowledge; test results lost in a sea of monthly reports or lengthy spreadsheets; disagreements with creative, engineering or analytics teams; and senior-level executives that just don’t […]

The post Four Challenges to Building & Scaling Your Experimentation Program, Solved with Illuminate appeared first on Brooks Bell.

Since our company was founded in 2003, we’ve worked with clients facing a multitude of challenges in establishing their experimentation programs: team turnover leading to loss of institutional testing knowledge; test results lost in a sea of monthly reports or lengthy spreadsheets; disagreements with creative, engineering or analytics teams; and senior-level executives that just don’t understand the true value of testing–just to name a few.

Over time, these challenges became so prevalent that we started offering a group “therapy” session at Click Summit, our annual conference for experimentation professionals.  Here, attendees are free to voice their feelings and frustrations in a small group-style conversation. Over time, this has become one of our more popular sessions at Click Summit (and if you were wondering, yes, there are mimosas involved).

But talking it out only does so much, and after nearly fifteen years of working in this space, we knew we could to do more. So last week, we launched Illuminate, the world’s first customer insights software for enterprise experimentation teams. 

Illuminate was built to address some key challenges faced by clients in building and scaling their experimentation programs. We’ve outlined a few of them here:

Challenge 1: Lack of institutional testing knowledge 

You’ve heard of him. Y’know–the guy. The guy who spent years establishing your company’s experimentation program; the guy who was a walking encyclopedia of your testing history; the guy who also unceremoniously peaced out right before you joined the team–taking with him years of institutional knowledge about which tests had been run, and what was learned.

Illuminate solves for this by providing an organized, searchable history of all your tests–and along with them, the winners and any key learnings. It also integrates directly with Optimizely, making it easy to sync your test results and KPIs.

Challenge 2: Building a testing culture

How does the saying go? If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. But if you teach a man to A/B test, you’re not only teaching him how to fish, but how to catch more fish in the right place, and at the right time–all the time…or something like that.

We built Illuminate specifically for teams that want to use testing to uncover high-impact, meaningful insights about their customers, and share these insights with other departments that would likely benefit from their data.  

With Illuminate’s case study generator, you can tell the story of your test in a way that is both detailed and easy to understand (for even your most testing-illiterate colleagues).

Illuminate also invites key stakeholders to participate in your test brainstorming sessions using Illuminate’s guided brainstorming feature. These tools are framed using the Brooks Bell test ideation method, our proprietary process for coming up with new test opportunities. This is one of many processes that we’ve developed and refined over the years. 

The result? Happier customers and an optimization-savvy organization that is more aligned around your test results. Also, lots and lots of fish.

Challenge 3:  Learning about your customers

Reality check: So long as making changes to your website requires working with creative, brand, engineering and analytics (or the like), it’s likely you’re always going to face battles over who really owns the website. And so long as technology and UX best practices keep changing, you’re always going to be working under threat of the next redesign.

Illuminate solves for this in a few different ways. In addition to the case study and brainstorming features we’ve already mentioned, Illuminate also was built to enable deep customer learning.

In our consulting practice, we use the Brooks Bell Insight Framework to help our clients connect testing outcomes to high-impact insights about their customers. Illuminate codifies this method of thinking in software, empowering you and your team to develop key customer insights that are not only transferable across your organization, but also able to withstand the test of time (and redesign).

 

Challenge 4: Communicating ROI of experimentation

Slashed budgets. Under-resourced teams. Rapidly changing goal posts. These pressures can bother anyone, but combined with constantly having to justify your team’s existence to executives who don’t speak optimization…well, we’d understand if you’re at risk of going Britney-Spears-circa-2007-levels of crazy.

With Illuminate’s custom dashboard and one-click reporting tools, you can communicate and share your program’s impact on the metrics that are most important to your company, and senior management. 

 

Illuminate is the culmination of nearly 15 years of experience working with clients on experimentation strategy, ideation, execution and deep customer learning. Illuminate is currently launching in private beta, with a planned public roll out later this year.

Interested in seeing Illuminate in action? Request a demo today.

The post Four Challenges to Building & Scaling Your Experimentation Program, Solved with Illuminate appeared first on Brooks Bell.

Delivering a Winning Customer Experience Through 1-to-1 Personalization

As most online retailers today recognize, a personalized shopping experience is a must-have. Nearly nine out of 10 marketers (88%) say their customers expect individualized experiences. And according to Gartner, by the end of this year, organizations that have fully invested in online personalization will outsell those that haven’t by more than 30%. Yet even […]

The post Delivering a Winning Customer Experience Through 1-to-1 Personalization appeared first on Brooks Bell.

As most online retailers today recognize, a personalized shopping experience is a must-have. Nearly nine out of 10 marketers (88%) say their customers expect individualized experiences. And according to Gartner, by the end of this year, organizations that have fully invested in online personalization will outsell those that haven’t by more than 30%.

Yet even though personalization is becoming the norm, particularly in e-commerce, we’ve all had those obnoxious experiences where a brand that should “know” us completely misses the mark. Your favorite retailer may email you about a big sale in a category you’ve never shown interest in (e.g., baby clothes if you’re not a parent, or lawn care if you live in a high-rise apartment). In your work life, you’ve likely gone to a company’s website, only to be hit with a promotion for a report you’ve already downloaded.

In the past, shoppers might not have batted an eye at these lackluster experiences, because all of their experiences looked like that. But that’s not the case today. With a wide array of options, consumers today can (and do!) take their business to places where they feel recognized, appreciated and valued as an individual.

So retailers have to do better.

Moving Up the Personalization Maturity Curve

Applying personalization across all relevant channels – so shoppers are recognized and can pick up where they left off –  should be the goal. To do so, companies need to be able to: 1) track an individual’s behavior across different channels; 2) merge that information with pertinent customer data from other systems; 3) automatically interpret the data to determine affinities and intent; 4) house everything in a central place – creating a single, unified profile for each person; and 5) act on all of the data in real time.

But no company will be able to do all of this from the start. It’s important to crawl before you walk, and walk before you run.  

The most important element – and an essential part of all five steps – is, of course, data. You can’t personalize an experience for an individual if you don’t know her. Get started by leveraging a next-generation personalization platform to start bringing in deep, contextual, real-time, accurate behavioral data from one digital channel, like your website. You can use this data to start ensuring that your shopping experiences in that channel are truly individualized.

Then, you can begin incorporating more data sources like in-store purchase data. And, tie in other digital channels like email and mobile. And, when you have the strategy, process and technology in place, move ahead to personalizing your call-center and in-store interactions.

Machine Learning Powers 1-to-1 Experiences

At Click Summit 2018, I’m looking forward to discussing the nuances of a winning personalization strategy — particularly when it comes to using machine learning to provide a unique experience for every shopper. It’s a topic I am passionate about; in fact, I devoted my new book to exploring this topic in detail.

When we discuss machine learning in the context of personalization, it means using computers to process vast amounts of data, in milliseconds, to make the best decision about what to show each person. Machine learning puts the vision of “The One to One Future,” which renowned customer experience experts Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, Ph.D., predicted in 1993, truly (and finally!) within reach – accessible to businesses of all sizes and across industries.

This is not something reserved solely for advanced personalizers. It can be a part of your crawl/walk/run strategy.

E-commerce marketers should already recognize the value of algorithms for product recommendations. Today, many retailers recommend products based on what other shoppers viewed or purchased. This may be helpful, but it is not individualized. These same retailers are accumulating a ton of information about each of their shoppers all the time.

By observing what a shopper is viewing and how she is engaging with pages on your site, you can infer her favorite brands or categories, her preferred price points, the colors that tend to grab her attention the most, and more. Machine learning can take all of this information, interpret it, and use it to determine the most relevant product recommendations for her specifically — not anyone else.

But machine learning can be used for more than just product recommendations on PDPs. Search results, category pages, site navigation and more can all be powered with machine-learning algorithms.

And with the right platform, algorithms can be created, customized and managed by marketers and other business users – no need to cede control to a “black box,” and create a large, time-consuming IT project.

Click Summit

I look forward to discussing 1-to-1 personalization and machine learning more at Click Summit 2018 in the session, “Goals, Use Cases, Techniques: How Personalization Changes Things.” In this session, you’ll learn about the nuances of a winning personalization strategy, and how to put it into practice with a group exercise on a sample website.

The post Delivering a Winning Customer Experience Through 1-to-1 Personalization appeared first on Brooks Bell.

Walmart is the Latest Retailer to Offer a Personalized Online Shopping Experience

Big news for Walmart – and no, it doesn’t have anything to do with yodeling. Last week, the retail giant announced a major redesign of their website. The new Walmart.com, which is slated to roll out in early May, will feature a cleaner, more modern design, a new color palette, icons, fonts and many other […]

The post Walmart is the Latest Retailer to Offer a Personalized Online Shopping Experience appeared first on Brooks Bell.

Big news for Walmart – and no, it doesn’t have anything to do with yodeling.

Last week, the retail giant announced a major redesign of their website. The new Walmart.com, which is slated to roll out in early May, will feature a cleaner, more modern design, a new color palette, icons, fonts and many other visual changes.

However, the most significant change comes from within: Walmart’s new site will offer a more personalized shopping experience for its customers.

Personalization is the practice of optimizing your online experience based on a customer’s individual behaviors, needs, likes and dislikes. It requires applying behavioral psychology, statistical models and machine learning to thousands of data points. Thanks to new personalization technologies like Dynamic Yield and Evergage (among others), more and more enterprise companies are looking to personalization to increase conversions and drive a better brand experience.

For Walmart, the new site will recommend new, best selling or seasonal products based on the categories a customer has been buying or browsing. It’ll use geo-targeting to show items that are trending in a user’s location. Additionally, customers will be able to see what services or special promotions are available in their specific location.

In rolling out this new experience, Walmart joins the ranks of other online retailers using personalization to drive sales—among them Amazon.com, and niche players like Stitch Fix, Wayfair and Best Buy.

But personalization is not just for retail. In fact, for any enterprise company facing plateauing-results despite already optimizing their digital experiences, personalization can offer a means of winning more business by delivering a hyper-targeted customer experience.

At Brooks Bell, we’re helping enterprise-level companies (including Barnes and Noble, Chick-fil-A, Microsoft and more) improve the performance of their website, and deepen their understanding of their customers.

Our Personalization Jumpstart program enables our clients to build and scale their own personalization strategies, using a unique process that can be implemented in its entirety or a la carte. 

5 Steps to a Personalized Web Experience with Brooks Bell

  1. Align: Brooks Bell’s consultants evaluate the objectives of your users in the context of your company’s goals, success metrics, structure and existing technologies. Then, we develop customized growth plan with advice for execution and implementation.
  2. Discover: Our team of analysts reviews your data resources and identifies gaps in how you collect, store, merge and surface information. Then we develop statistical models, either in-house or by utilizing the tools and technologies you already have.
  3. Build: Personalized experiences built from statistical models only work if they target the right type of customer–and avoid the wrong ones. Once we identify your optimal users and their needs, we work to profile their attributes to gain a true understanding of the people behind your data, and build strategies based on those insights.
  4. Validate: At this stage, we bring in our full-service optimization team to ideate, build, launch, analyze your personalization experience. Our company is rooted in experimentation and our ability to validate our work— whether they are experiences, algorithms or a combination of both—is second to none.
  5. Launch: Finally, we work to scale your personalization efforts, measuring the impact of each test to confirm that as an experience changes, so does the desired outcome from that user interaction.  By doing so, we identify the most simplistic and manageable set of experiences that optimize your return on investment.

If you’re interested in learning more about Personalization Jumpstart or any other Brooks Bell service, contact us today.

The post Walmart is the Latest Retailer to Offer a Personalized Online Shopping Experience appeared first on Brooks Bell.