Five key tips to drive value from content and martech experimentation

Five key tips to drive value from content and martech experimentation
Jil Maassen is senior strategy consultant EMEA at Optimizely.

Customer behaviour changes every month, every week and every hour. If brands want to prosper, they need to move at the same speed. The most successful digital companies are using experimentation to make this a reality. Experimentation is a mindset adopted by organisations enabling them to constantly progress their online platforms, driving the customers digital experience.

By using tools such as design and coding to trial new features on their online platforms, businesses can create the most seamless customer experience possible. As Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, said in the latest letter to shareholders, ‘as a company grows, everything needs to scale, including the size of your failed experiments’. 

Uber and Airbnb are two examples of organisations that have been built on the foundations of experimentation and adopt a customer-obsessed mindset. This means they can thrive in today’s highly competitive digital landscape, and turn user data into a competitive advantage by pairing high-volume experimentation with quality performance. 

Here are five key ways organisations can embrace a culture of experimentation effectively:

Find the right talent

To get the right talent for experimentation to truly be successful you have to implement the best hiring strategy. Being able to recognise potential is key. 

Both Uber and Airbnb’s recruiters have become much more focused on determining whether an interviewee has ‘entrepreneurial spirit’, something they believe means a candidate will have the drive to learn quickly and pick up new skills on the job.

These brands are also making the most of these employees while they are new in the role. In order to generate new and creative test ideas Airbnb believes that ideas should come from every level of the company. It chooses to interview employees who are new to the business and haven’t been fully immersed in its marketing plan, as it finds that they provide the best new and fresh ideas. 

The right software

Marketing tech stacks are extremely varied. Ensuring you have the right software and the best people to analyse your customers’ behaviour on your site is key to making successful decisions.

The tools that Airbnb and Uber use to feed their experimentation programs build an impressive marketing stack. Airbnb use Google Analytics as a single source of truth as a company wide tool, in combination with HotJar for heat mapping and Marketo for its CRM needs, to name a few. Whilst Uber also uses tools such as HotJar, it says that story metrics are imperative, and it uses an internal dashboard which allows the team to see what’s happening in real-time. 

Give the customer what they want

Understanding your audience is vital for experimentation success. Using insight properly means staying customer-obsessed, and uncovering what works best for them.

It is crucial to remember that each customer is different. In order to achieve a successful, customer-obsessed strategy Uber uses its data to uncover differences in customer behaviour, rather than following a hunch, to develop any changes. This approach is clearly delivering results. The use of customer data to develop the latest brand update saw a successful revenue boost for Uber. 

Avoid the pitfalls – no experiment should be done in silo

When global organisations embrace experimentation initiatives, they can often fall into the trap of working in silos. Launching new features or redesigns without collaboration can result in huge downfalls for companies, but they are also easily avoided. An example of this is when Instagram trialled a feed update late last year, and users had to swipe instead of scroll to see the latests posts on their feed. Whilst it did result in a lot of negative feedback from their users, they quickly reverted the proposed changes and ultimately avoided a widespread failure. In reality, these decisions affect all business departments, particularly sales, who can benefit from experimentation just as much as HR or marketing teams.

It is important to get people across the organisation to think about experimentation, and the technology needed to enable them to scale to customers’ rapidly evolving demands.

Organisations need to be able to grow as fast as the customer base and its expectations.
When asked how it has scaled its experimentation practice, and how it has been adopted throughout the organisation, Uber said that:

“The maturity of market is one key factor, and then the second factor is the size or amount of traffic. We can’t reach a segment if we don’t have enough traffic and we aren’t changing our KPI. Uber’s marketing team has one KPI that we’re always trying to hit. So, scalability at a global level is based on the maturity level of that international market, what the product offerings are in that market, if users are going to the web experience, and then what the traffic level of the web experience is.”

So, it is important for organisations to first examine how competitors and the wider market is engaging with customers to inform their own approach. In order to scale experimentation, it needs to be making a quantifiable difference to key business metrics such as leads, so constantly examining and adjusting the approach is vital.

Adopt a customer mindset

Stepping out of head office where everything is branded, and remembering that there are people who have never heard of your organisation is key to staying grounded. 

Reading the comments on the company blog or social media feeds and regularly engaging with customer questions will help experimentation teams stay in touch with the real challenges customers are posing. Ultimately, it’s important to step back and listen to your customers when thinking of new test ideas.

To stay ahead

Experimentation is driving the most successful and fastest growing businesses in the world today. Before long, organisations will find themselves having to embrace this ethos, or risk getting left behind.

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person?

Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.  

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