Business evolution happens in experimentation sprints: Insights from André Morys, GO Group Digital

Business evolution happens in experimentation sprints: Insights from André Morys, GO Group Digital

Many executives are seeking a “digital transformation” as a lofty solution.

But transformative change really happens in sprints.

That’s because experimentation is the agile approach to business evolution.

When it comes to business evolution—you don’t know, what you don’t know. If you aren’t learning, your business is not evolving at the pace you need to surpass your competitors.

Let’s start with a story…

In the late 1990s, business leaders were hyped on the possibilities the internet offered. Countless start-ups sprouted up to get an early grasp on web business.

But by 2002, when the dot.com bubble burst, many companies struggled to survive. Companies like Pets.com, WorldCom, and WebVan failed completely, and other organizations experienced declining revenues after a period of optimistic growth.

WiderFunnel André Morys konversionsKRAFT
A young, confident André Morys with his business partner at the start of konversionsKRAFT in 1996. (Source: André Morys)

André Morys, Managing Partner of GO Group Digital and Co-Founder of konversionsKRAFT, lived through this experience. In the first five years, it seemed like he had hit pay dirt with his business. His team was confident about their future direction until 2002 when they struggled with declining revenue of 60% over three months.

But when André reflects back on his company’s history, this struggle provided an unprecedented opportunity to learn about leadership and finance, culture and motivation. The aftermath of the dot.com bubble accelerated his understanding of how to strategically evolve his business for future growth.

There are many parallels in today’s market. 52% of the Fortune 500 since 2000 don’t exist anymore. And business leaders are constantly battling this threat.

Today, many Executive teams are aspiring to the “digital transformation” solution because how can you keep pace with the market, with the rapid technological change?

WiderFunnel André Morys Unbounce CTA Conference Presentation GO Group Digital
André Morys, Managing Partner of GO Group Digital, presented “The Source of Disruption Is in the Mind of Your Customer” at Unbounce’s 2018 CTA conference.

In this post, you will learn key insights from André Morys, adapted from his presentation, “The Source of Disruption Is in the Mind of the Customer,” at Unbounce’s 2018 CTA conference.

These key insights include:

  • Why we should be focusing on velocity of learnings (not tests) by prioritizing impactful experiments
  • How to speak the same language as your Executive team by pinpointing their emotions and motivations
  • And why a valuable customer experience is at the heart of business evolution.

Scoping out the big picture: The Gartner Hype Cycle

Roy Amara, a researcher, scientist and futurist, claimed that we tend to overestimate the effects of technology in the short term and underestimate the effects in the long term. This phenomenon is called Amara’s Law.

When we think big picture about digital transformation, this forecast is true. We are hyped up on the new tools and technologies when we first adopt them, but once they present challenges, we can become discouraged. Because how can really leverage technology to solve our business problems?

WiderFunnel The Gartner Hype Cycle for Digital Transformation
The Gartner Hype Cycle is a framework for viewing the path from adoption to actually driving business decisions. (Source: Gartner )

The research firm, Gartner, furthered Amara’s Law by introducing the concept of a hype cycle. When it comes to experimentation, WiderFunnel traces the maturity of organizations through its five different stages, including:

  1. The Technology Trigger: You are excited at the possibilities of experimentation but business impact is yet to be proven at this initial stage.
  2. Peak of Inflated Expectations: Early adopters claim success with testing at this stage, but you might be failing to properly leverage experimentation as a strategy.
  3. The Trough of Disillusionment: Initial hype is tapering off. Internal ennthusiasm fades. You might recognize at this stage that experimentation must provide results to continue the investment.
  4. The Slope of Enlightenment: Experimentation is starting to show its possibilities as you understand how to better leverage testing to create business impact.
  5. And the Plateau of Productivity: With consistent bottom-line impacts, you can now start to leverage experimentation as an organizational strategy for business evolution.

Technology can be a solution to business evolution, but leaders need to strategize how to leverage technology to solve real business problems. André articulated that such challenges are actually what is driving your digital transformation.

WiderFunnel André Morys Digital Transformation
When you embrace the pain, you can start to understand the truth to make your business grow, according to André.

As you start to scale your experimentation program, these learnings make your team’s workflow more efficient and allow you to zero in on the hypotheses that can make the most impact.

The good news: You can accelerate your learnings for how to evolve your business through experimentation. Even if these seem small wins, compounded over time, you are truly driving your organization’s growth through digital technology. (For example, what is the calculated impact of a reported 2% lift over 50 experiments? It’s not 100%; it’s a compounded 264%!)

WiderFunnel Digital Transformation throug Experimentation
Experimentation is the agile approach to digital transformation. It facilitates data-driven decision making. (Source: André Morys)

Once organizations introduce a defined process and protocol, have systems and procedures in place for prioritizing experiments by impact, they are able to scale their programs for long-term business evolution.

Relevant resource

Addressing your strategic blind spots: The Dunning-Kruger Effect

It is far more common for people to allow ego to stand in the way of learning.

If you are relying on the HiPPO’s strategy for business evolution, how confident are you in their abilities? And do you think they have the competence to judge their limitations?

When André reflects back on his first five years of business before the dot.com bubble burst, he sees how his confidence was an example of the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect is a cognitive bias where an individual with low ability have mistaken confidence and believe they are more competent than they are.

And people with high competence often view themselves as having lower abilities than in actuality. As André states, “You don’t know, what you don’t know.

WiderFunnel The Dunning-Kruger Effect
The Dunning-Kruger demonstrates how people with low abilities can overestimate their competency, and people with high abilities can underestimate their competency. Hello imposter syndrome!

This cognitive bias has been explored in depth by psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger. Their research shows that people that suffer from the Dunning-Kruger Effect may resist constructive criticism if it doesn’t align with their own self-perception. They may question the evaluation and even deem the process as flawed.

Kruger and Dunning’s interpretation is that accurately assessing skill level relies on some of the same core abilities as actually performing that skill, so the least competent suffer a double deficit. Not only are they incompetent, but they lack the mental tools to judge their own incompetence.

When it comes to innovation, the Dunning-Kruger Effect creates a blind spot for threats and opportunities that can affect your business success. Instead, a business leader needs to always interrogate their perception of reality to get closer to the truth.

Truth―more precisely, an accurate understanding of reality―is the essential foundation for producing good outcomes.

André now sees how the growth and learning that came out of the dot.com bubble challenged his own self-perception. He began to understand the implications of his business decisions, and he became more in tune with the possibilities of the unknown.

WiderFunnel André Morys konversionsKraft
Today, konversionsKraft has grown to a team of 85. The downturn from the dot.com bubble lead to increased learnings in growth, management, culture, finance, leadership, motivation, and more. (Source: André Morys)

Applying his own professional and personal learnings from this experience to the world of experimentation, André sees a chasm between the manager’s aspirations of digital transformation and the optimizer’s experiments that lead to the desired data-driven decision making.

The problem is that [the Dunning-Kruger Effect] happens in organizations all the time,” explains André.

Many optimizers are very skilled in experimentation, they know everything about it: about A/B Testing, confidence levels and statistics, testing tools and psychology. Whereas management has no idea; they don’t get it. They are talking about digital transformation as a big project, while their optimization team is really doing the work that is needed.

What makes André’s argument that organizations need to focus on learnings so compelling is that a culture of experimentation—testing and learning—can really drive your business evolution and lead to the hockey-stick growth that you need to sustain your market.

But the Executive team and the tactical experts need to get on the same page, especially when it comes to successful business evolution.

As an Optimization Champion, you are the catalyst.

Change-agents build bridges between their peers, empowering them to accept change as it comes. They understand how to build and nurture relationships in order to find common ground with others. They are organized and understand how to speak to c-level executives clearly.

André’s comparison of Optimization Champions and Executive teams within an organization with the Dunning-Kruger effect is insightful.

He argued that Optimization Champions have a high-level of competence, but they don’t understand how they can position their work to gain Executive buy-in because they are too immersed into their specialization.

But he also emphasized that Optimization Champions truly are the catalysts of digital transformation. His advice is simple: Optimization Champions need to speak the same language as the Executive team.

Optimizers should stop talking about uplifts and statistics and A/B tests. They should talk about what A/B testing changes within an organization. They should report business impact, not statistical confidence levels, so they are compatible, so they are speaking at the manager’s level.

Experimentation drives the digital transformation at many successful organizations. Just look at Airbnb, or Uber, or Facebook. These organizations test and learn their way to business evolution.

André points out that experimentation facilitates an organization’s digital transformation, but many managers just don’t know it yet.

Your communication of experimentation’s value needs to be accessible to those who aren’t educated in the technical aspects.

And that’s exactly what André recommends. Understand your experimentation program’s internal stakeholders—your Executive team. Understand their fears and anxieties, their emotions and motivations when communicating your experimentation program’s value.

WiderFunnel André Morys Evangelizing experimentation personas of internal stakeholders
André recommends creating personas for your internal stakeholders so you can communicate the value of your experimentation program in a way that they’ll appreciate. (Source: André Morys)

As a marketer, you are best prepared for this task as you can craft your internal stakeholder’s persona, so you can demonstrate—in their language—the impact of your program on the business.

Featured Resource

Build your internal stakeholder persona to get buy-in!

Dive into the emotions and motivations that will resonate with your internal stakeholders to start proving the value of your experimentation program.

In your experimentation sprints, prioritize business impact over speed.

If you’re not failing, you’re not pushing your limits, and if you’re not pushing your limits, you’re not maximizing your potential.

In the world of experimentation, there is an emphasis on experimentation velocity. It makes sense: the more tests that you are running, the more insights you can obtain about your business.

But the buzz around velocity has led many leaders to focus on speed, rather than the quality of insights and the business impact of experiments.

And if you aren’t focusing on business impact, you’ll never get on the same page as your Executive team.

If you decide to test many ideas, quickly, you are sacrificing your ability to really validate and leverage an idea. One winning A/B test may mean quick conversion rate lift, but it doesn’t mean you’ve explored the full potential of that idea.

Experimentation sprints are chock full of business insights and impact—exactly what organizations need to continuously evolve their businesses.

That’s why our emphasis as optimizers should be on velocity of learnings, not just experiments.

It’s an agile approach to business evolution. And that’s a sentiment that was echoed by Johnny Russo, in “The 5 Pillars of Digital Transformation Strategy at Mark’s.”

Because how do we process all this change and learning, without being efficient?” he described.

Those organizations first to adapt will be most prepared. And so I think the foundation has to be an agile methodology.

But optimizers need to ensure they are driving higher impact experiments and deeper learnings by implementing rigorous processes. A prioritization framework ensures you are launching experiments that have the highest potential for results, on the most important areas of your business, with the easiest implementation.

But to increase experiment velocity, you need a defined optimization process.

According to the “State of Experimentation Maturity 2018” original research report, experiment velocity is a focal point for most organizations.

WiderFunnel State of Experimentation Maturity Velocity Increase
The majority of both Small and Medium Enterprises (52%) and Large Enterprises (64%) plan to increase experiment velocity in the next 12 months.

52% of Small and Medium Enterprises and 64% of Large Enterprises in the survey indicated they plan to increase experiment velocity in the next year.

However, only 24% and 23% (respectively) of these organizations plan to increase budget, which can only add emphasis on workflow efficiency and prioritization so that you are not straining your resources.

One of the most common roadblocks to increasing velocity is workflow efficiency. Review and document your workflows from ideation to analysis to ensure seamless experiment execution,” explains Natasha Wahid in the research report.

Another common roadblock is a lack of resources, particularly in Design and Web Development. Ensure you have the right team in place to up your velocity, and plan for possible bottlenecks.

As André articulated, focusing on business impact instead of speed will ensure you are learning faster than your competition.

That’s because digital transformation is not about implementing technology, it’s about leveraging technology to accelerate your business.

How to use the PIE Prioritization Framework to identify the most impactful experiments.

You can’t test everywhere or everything at once. With limited time and resources and, most importantly, limited traffic to allocate to each test, prioritization is a key part of your experimentation plan.

Prioritizing where you invest energy will give you better returns by emphasizing pages that are more important to your business.

The PIE Framework is made up of the three criteria you should consider to prioritize which pages to test and in which order: Potential, Importance, and Ease.

WiderFunnel PIE Prioritization Framework
The PIE Prioritization framework allows you to zero in on those experiments that can drive the most business impact. That’s how you get executive-level buy-in!

Potential: How much improvement can be made on this page(s)? You should prioritize your worst performers. This should take into account your web analytics data, customer data, and expert heuristic analysis of user scenarios.

Importance: How valuable is the traffic to this page(s)? Your most important pages are those with the highest volume and the costliest traffic. You may have identified pages that perform terribly, but if they don’t have significant volume of costly traffic, they aren’t experimentation priorities.

Ease: How difficult will it be to implement an experiment on a page or template? The final consideration is the degree of difficulty of actually running a test on this page, which includes technical implementation, and organizational or political barriers.

The less time and resources you need to invest for the same return, the better. This includes both technical and “political” ease. A page that would be technically easy to test on may have many stakeholders or vested interests that can cause barriers (like your homepage, for example).

You can quantify each of your potential opportunities based on these criteria to create your test priority list. We use the PIE Framework in a table to turn all of these data inputs into an objective number ranking.

Learn more about PIE

Seek the “truth” in a delightful customer experience.

Imagine your a taxi service. And you are seeing Uber’s market success as a threat to your livelihood.

What makes them more successful?

Get out the whiteboards and some might write: “We need an app!” or “We need to hire a data scientist!” Because on the superficial level, data and technology seem pivotal to a digital transformation.

But when you look deeper at Uber’s strategy, you will see that they focus on delighting their customers with their experience.

And because of Uber’s success, how people get rides has radically changed.

WiderFunnel Uber Growth Customer Experience
Look at the hockey-stick growth of Uber. It’s all attributed to a valuable customer experience. (Source: Spaceotechnologies.com )

But Uber is not the only example.

Many businesses have transformed the market through delightful customer experiences.

Amazon makes online ordering a breeze. No more long wait times, André joked that he has to slow down their service so that he will actually be there to accept the order.

And Airbnb—they’ve made vacationing a unique and desirable experience.

André, an expert in emotional marketing and the Limbic Model, emphasized the need to go beyond conversions and focus on a customer experience that delights.

Companies who fail to embrace CX as strategic path to growth won’t just be lagging, they’ll get left behind.

And that’s because you can drive experiments with the most business impact by honing in on your customer experience.

That means, you have to understand your customer—their fears and anxieties, their thoughts and desires—when designing an experience to meet their emotional needs and states.

The most successful organizations have honed in on what makes their experience delightful. In “Moving the needle: Strategic metric setting for your experimentation program,” I talked about creating a True North metric that align to your value proposition, as a way of creating internal focus on your customer experience.

Slack, a team collaboration program focuses on optimizing for teams that send over 2,000 messages.

LinkedIn focuses on quality sign-up, ensuring that new users are actively making connections on the social platform.

And Facebook optimizes for new users who make 10 friends in seven days.

See it’s not tools and technologies that evolve these businesses. It’s how they leverage digital technologies across the organization to solve real business problems.

And when you align your customer experience goals with your experimentation program, you are the competition.

You learn and adapt with each new experiment to what your customer wants and needs from your experience. That’s how you drive business impact. That’s how you get internal buy-in.

But what’s more—that’s how you stay relevant in the market.

And if you are experimenting, keep slogging through the “trough of disillusionment”.

André Morys knows from experience that business that do, can reach enlightenment.

What are your biggest challenges with experimentation that can be attributed to the “trough of disillusionment”? We’d love to hear your comments!

Author

Lindsay Kwan

Marketing Communications Specialist

In this roadmap for the executive, we explore the biggest challenges faced by enterprise organizations as they work to embed experimentation within their infrastructure – and how to surmount them.

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The future of the digital customer experience: 6 experimentation trends for disruptive businesses in 2019

The future of the digital customer experience: 6 experimentation trends for disruptive businesses in 2019

You are the catalyst for future growth.

This past September, hundreds of specialists at organizations across industry verticals flocked to #Opticon18, the largest experimentation conference in North America; and it was clear; the driving force is you—the Optimization Champion.

Experimentation as a strategy for future business evolution and innovation is happening now.

The most successful organizations are experimenting (or at least planning to!) across all customer touchpoints. Because customer experience is king.

To keep pace, you’ll need to stay on the pulse of what’s happening with experimentation: new tech and tool developments, the latest strategies for scaling experimentation, and the emerging trends that will define your business in the future.

Because your ability to adapt will lay the foundation for the radical change that is set to happen in the business world:

The next 10 years will generate an order of magnitude more change than we have seen in the last 10 years.

Brian Hopkins, Ted Schadler, and James McCormick

In 2019, you will want to accelerate your strategy with these six experimentation trends that will pave the future of your digital customer experience:

Trend 1: The currency of business insights

Customer data, machine learning algorithms, the latest technology stack—no technological development is worth implementing if you can’t leverage that data into business insights.

Business insights are the valuable intel that allows you to experiment and evolve. To innovate and proliferate your learnings across your entire organization.

Data is the red blood of an insights-driven business—there can never be enough flowing in the veins. Look always to tap more—and more relevant—data.

Brian Hopkins, Ted Schadler, and James McCormick

Your ability to accelerate the speed and transmission of insights across different teams is the currency of the future. Business insights will underpin the radical change we will see in the next 10 years.

Data analytics and software enable insights-driven organizations to sift through an immense amount of information to glean transferable insights.

Because this trend hinges on human intelligence: the ability to accumulate a large quantity of quality data sources and to be able to glean actionable insights. Insights that reveal something about your systems and processes, your product or services, and especially your customer:

Insights-driven businesses bring insight, not just data, into every decision, and they know exactly how to use them for greatest advantage across the entire customer life cycle. For these firms, digital insights and what they do with them are their secret weapons to disrupt your market and steal your customers.

Brian Hopkins, Ted Schadler, and James McCormick

But more importantly, the most successful organizations will find ways to close the loop—bring insights forward and experiment with them at different touchpoints.

Insights-Driven Experimentation

The flow of insights drives your experimentation program, maximizing your organizational learning capacity.

Share the insight:

You must democratize your data and insights so anyone in the organization can harness them for an improved customer experience.

At Uber, for instance, 50% of their employees have access to an insights database which helps to inform their decision making on a daily basis, according to the Forrester report.

Because information is power.

There are many things that you need to get right to create internal alignment and scale insights across the enterprise. However the most important is having the executive team demanding this approach and a top-down strategy guiding the synchronization of teams around a common practice.

But this is a challenge for any traditional, non-agile organization.

In fact, Brian Hopkins, Ted Schadler and James McCormick predict that insights-driven businesses will grow eight times faster than the projected 3.5% global GDP Growth. More granularly, their predictions include that insights-driven public companies will grow 27% annually and startups will grow 40%.

But this might not be possible without the top-level support of changed processes and systems.

What processes and protocol can you document to ensure that business insights are spread throughout your organization?

A Marketer’s take on this trend

The dissemination of insights is crucial if you really want to move your organization forward. The learnings you generate from experimentation can’t live in a single team – particularly those insights about your customer’s emotional states and contexts. Because these insights can most likely be applied and tested at many touch points throughout your business.

Now is the time to figure out what systems you need in place to ensure the right people have access to insights from data, experimentation, and customer research. This may be as simple as an experiment insights archive, or it may require a more intentional dissemination effort.

Natasha Wahid

Marketing Lead

Resources to get you started…

Trend 2: The cross-organizational experimentation mindset

Thomas Edison would be thrilled to be alive today, if he could see the stuff that is really going on, the stuff that you are all doing.

It’s not a surprise that Forrester analysts predict unprecedented growth for insights-driven businesses in the next decade. Experimentation refines ideas into validated insights, evolving the digital customer experience.

And with more organizations adopting the experimentation mindset of testing and learning across every department, the ability to generate and leverage business insights increases exponentially.

In the next 10 years, we will see widespread adoption of experimentation across all touch points to validate all marketing activity and focus our limited time and resources on the high-impact areas.

Nick So

Director of Strategy

The future of the digital customer experience is through experimentation. In the next 10 years, you will see more and more organizations experimenting across every customer touchpoint, in order to optimize their entire journey.

Your first step is to de-silo experimentation in your organization. Instead of relegating experimentation as a side-strategy, organizations will need to implement the structures and processes to enable experimentation in every team.

To become a true experimentation organization, you need scale and scope. Scale is about running many experiments and scope is about getting all groups across an organization to participate in experiments.

The most successful organizations are already on board with cross-organizational experimentation. According to Stefan Thomke, at organizations like P&G, Uber, Airbnb, or Bing, experimentation is going on at all times.

[At Bing, at] any point in time, there’s billions and trillions of variations,” explains Stefan Thomke. “And by the way, the success rate at Bing, alone, is only 10-20% of what they try.

WiderFunnel High Velocity Experimentation Examples

Real-world examples of experimentation at scale

The most successful organizations are experimenting at a high velocity, gathering insights from both winning and losing variations.

Share the insight:

And despite a low win-rate, these organizations are investing in experimentation as their cross-organizational strategy. Because it’s not about winning or losing — that’s thinking too small, too immediate.

That’s because experimentation competency across their organization is their competitive advantage. They are testing large-scale and high-velocity because they involve every team, every department. Experimentation is all about gathering business insights.

At its peak maturity, experimentation is a cultural mindset that spans across organizational departments, marketing channels, and throughout executive management.

So where do you get started? We’ve got it figured out.

The 5 pillars of an effective experimentation program

Cross-organization experimentation requires a scaling strategy. It requires focused intention, a multi-pronged approach to your process, your metrics, your culture, your expertise, and your tech stack.

Based on years of analysis of experimentation programs, and through surveying Optimization Champions at organizations all over North America in “State of Experimentation Maturity 2018” report, we’ve identified what makes the most successful programs gain traction across departments, across activities.

And it’s called the PACET framework.

The PACET Framework

WiderFunnel PACET framework for scaling experimentation

WiderFunnel’s PACET Framework

By focusing on the five core pillars of process, accountability, culture, expertise, and technology, you can scale and mature your experimentation program.

Share the insight:

Our findings informed WiderFunnel’s framework: PACET. And it includes these five pillars:

Process

This pillar includes an organization’s experimentation protocol and methodology, process for ideation and prioritization, experiment design, and measurement of success.

Accountability

The most mature organizations keep process and accountability at the core of their experimentation strategy, fuelling how experiments are developed, and results are analyzed, understood, and leveraged.

Culture

Culture is crucial when defining experimentation maturity: Does your organization celebrate testing and learning? Are people encouraged to try (and fail) and try again?

This pillar includes organizational buy-in for experimentation, program support from the C-level, and cross-team participation in an experimentation program.

Expertise

An experimentation program needs expertise and resources. The amount of time and full-time team members dedicated to experimentation is reflective of an organization’s maturity.

This pillar includes people and skill sets: strategists, analysts, designers, developers, project managers, product owners, third-party partners, as well as hours dedicated to experimentation.

Technology

Experimentation maturity requires a well-rounded technology stack. Experimentation and personalization tools, visitor engagement tools, customer data tools, project management tools. Mature organizations have the right tools in place to ensure they can develop the best possible hypotheses and have reliable data.

Your first step is to evaluate how developed each of these core pillars are within your organization, so you can set your sights on your future growth.

Trend 3: Empowered product experimentation

Experimentation has become the product. Your product is the culmination of user feedback and quantitative data tied to your business goals. And experimentation is the engine that brings it all together to validate the way forward.

Just as Stefan Thomke mentioned, your experimentation program’s scale and scope are essential for driving your future growth. If you are considering how to grow your program, empowered product experimentation should be your next step.

There are numerous untapped opportunities:

Server-side experimentation has really opened up what is possible with product experimentation. Allowing development teams to build experimentation directly into their sprints and workflows,” clarifies Thomas Davis, Senior Web Developer at WiderFunnel.

WiderFunnel Experimentation in Product Development Cycle

The product lifecycle

You can experiment deeper into your stack with product experimentation, including with machine learning algorithms, log-in states, and more.

Share the insight:

But besides the ability to experiment throughout the development lifecycle, you also have the opportunity to maximize your digital customer experience by building off the value that is already created.

Successful product managers create an experience that delights, an experience that meets the customer’s emotional needs and states in the context of your product. And continuous and iterative experimentation makes certain that you are moving toward this end goal.

You can heighten the positive emotions that your customer experiences, and minimize the friction points to make it more sticky.

And that experimentation mindset will be critical to ensuring the longevity of your product in the marketplace.

A Developer’s take on the trend

Nothing is more frustrating than building out a fully integrated feature that has a negative effect on the business. Product experimentation stops developers wasting time building out fully polished features that will just be rolled back.

Thomas Davis

Senior Web Developer

Trend 4: The evolution of the Digital Experience Stack

Delivering exceptional customer experiences at scale is high-pressure for the disruptive business leader. It’s a fast-paced market and they know they have to keep up.

Marketing is a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ discipline,” explains Sergiy Bondarenko, Marketing Operations Analyst at WiderFunnel.

Marketers have to be experts in copywriting, sales, design, psychology, web technology, app technology, SEO, paid traffic acquisition and demand generation, social media, public relations, etc.

Naturally, there isn’t a single person who can excel in all these disciplines. This is where many tool vendors come in, promising to ‘fill gaps’, and marketers fall into the trap of thinking a tool can replace skills.

When it comes to technology, gone are the days of finding that traditional one-tool solution. These legacy suites evolve slowly, delivering mediocre results across the board. At that pace, how could you ever stand out amongst your competitors?

Insights-driven businesses are 137% more likely to differentiate with data and analytics.

But implementing new tools and technologies without an overarching martech strategy will lead to poor results as well.

Since 2007, we have gone from ~150 martech vendors to over ~7,000 in 2018. Unsurprisingly, marketers are now suffering from the ‘shiny object’ syndrome—every new tool promises to solve every problem there is, and if it’s trendy, then it’s almost an obligation to work it into the existing workflow—or risk being seen as a laggard.

Sergiy Bondarenko

Marketing Operations Analyst

The new Digital Experience Stack is an innovative solution, particularly for those disruptive businesses that want the best of the tech worlds.

WiderFunnel The Digital Experience Stack DXS
Some of the best-in-class tools have partnered to create The Digital Experience Stack (DXS). Source: Optimizely.

And it ensures you have the well-rounded technology stack to empower your organization’s experimentation at scale.

If you have 100 tools that are fragmented, don’t have an open API, and are sparsely used, then you have a problem on your hands,” states Sergiy Bondarenko.

Firstly, team productivity and happiness will suffer. This will eventually trickle down into underperforming operational metrics and will have a negative impact on the KPIs.

A bloated martech stack also means a bloated budget, and you never want to have a bloated marketing budget—it creates tension and a lack of trust with organizational leaders like the CEO and CFO.

And no organization wants that.

An Experimentation Strategist’s take on the trend

The digital experience stack is a great approach that enables businesses to work with a diverse range of best-in-class technologies, and enables technology companies to continue to focus on their area of expertise. Collaboration, not competition, to better support the industry as a whole.

James Flory

Senior Experimentation Strategist

Trend 5: The re-framing of personalization

Experimentation ensures that businesses are innovating and evolving. But, it doesn’t mean that it is a separate strategy. It is the underpinning methodology of getting any and every strategy right.

Personalization is just one technique within the methodology of experimentation.

It’s not one or the other.

So, your experimentation team shouldn’t be siloed from your personalization efforts.

We’ve seen a lot of hype around personalization in recent years, but many organizations are only aspiring to the level where they can deliver individualized experiences to their customers. That’s the 1:1 experiences that many tools claim to provide.

WiderFunnel Marketing Personalization
Providing a more customized user experience often starts with segmenting your audience, but any personalization tactic needs to be validated through experimentation.

But, as Mike St. Laurent, Director of Experimentation Strategy and Product Development Lead points out: “Most companies do not have the necessary data collection and segmentation capabilities in place to even be thinking about personalization as a strategy.

2019 will be the year of laying the technical groundwork so that companies have the tools they need to test relevant customer experiences effectively.

Mike St. Laurent

Director of Experimentation Strategy and Product Development Lead

You also need to keep in mind that any tactic needs to be proven; not every implementation of personalization will deliver results.

If you have an idea on how to leverage personalization in your strategy, validate your hypotheses through experimentation.

The end goal is to create digital experiences that are highly relevant to the customer in your business context. But you should only want that as a means of generating a higher customer lifetime value.

An Experimentation Strategist’s take on the trend

Creating relevant experiences can be an effective way to improve conversions, but companies are realizing they shouldn’t be personalizing just to say they are doing it.

Companies are starting to understand that just because something is “personalized” doesn’t mean it’s more effective. A personalized experience needs to be tested the same as any other change to a digital experience.

Mike St. Laurent

Director of Experimentation Strategy and Product Development Lead

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Trend 6: True customer empathy

Businesses have long been trying to solve their customer’s pain points. But what has been missing from the conversation is true customer empathy.

Because you don’t want your customer to only have their problem solved. You want them to feel an affiliation with your brand and with your experience. You want them to be delighted.

widerfunnel customer delight
Are you creating delight for the individuals who are your customers?

True customer empathy means understanding your customer’s full spectrum of emotions within your experience: knowing what emotions they feel when their expectations are met and how they feel when their expectations are not met.

In the digital world, customers can access your brand on many touch points: social media, email newsletters, your website. All of which offers plenty of opportunities to connect with your customers.

Where are the points of friction and where are the points of delight in your experience?

Unfortunately, at least one unintended bad customer experience is part and parcel of any new launch; companies simply can’t predetermine how every part of their customers’ experience is impacted by design or development decisions made during the feature development process.

A crucial post-launch practice at FullStory is something we call ‘game film‘—a process where we auto-play sessions of users interacting with the new feature and note down how many bad experiences they encounter.

Whether through game film or some other practice, the point is that everyone should have a built-in mechanism to monitor these empathy-inducing moments of frustration for customers.

Jordan Woods

Marketing at FullStory

True customer empathy leads to an understanding of how you can maximize and minimize the feelings your customer experiences at these different points within your experience, so that your brand can align more closely with your customer’s emotional needs and states.

In 2005, when Bain & Company surveyed 362 firms, 80% of companies stated that they were customer centric. That sounds promising until you consider their customers’ response: Only 8% of customers agreed.

Clearly, there is a disconnect.

So, how can you get deeper than demographics to not only understand your customer, but to anticipate their emotional response? How can your organization become genuinely empathetic to their customers?

Start by listening to your customers at every touchpoint.

Marketing Trends Customer Journey
The customer experience is a holistic journey across multiple touchpoints. Having empathy for your customer’s emotional needs and states is crucial for making their experience delightful.

Live chat. Social media listening. Customer surveys. These methods are a starting point. But true customer empathy only comes from deep inquiry and the thick data that results:

Research techniques — such as contextual inquiry, diary studies, ethnographic research and others — can generate thick data that allows you to understand your customer’s emotional needs.

True customer empathy is also a rich source of hypothesis ideation. You can validate this deep understanding of your customer through experimentation to see if your hypotheses stand true.

A UX Researcher’s take on the trend

People will always be the centre of any business. Understanding those people — your users — and their circumstances will help you generate powerful hypotheses. But the key is to take these insights forward through each of your experiments to drive and scale a sophisticated experimentation program.

Kim Quach

UX Research Specialist

Remember what you do now counts.

Your leadership, your strategies, your experiments are driving your organization into the future. What you do now accelerates the growth of your company.

It takes just one person to lead the change. The more you embrace the trends and technologies of the future, the more ready you are to embrace the pace of change.

But know that you don’t have to bear the burden alone.

Build the right insights partnerships – don’t go it alone. You probably won’t own all the data, expertise, or technology. We expect most companies to work with a wide variety of insights services partners.

Brian Hopkins, Ted Schadler, and James McCormick

You can still lead the charge.

As the more determined you are to push the boundaries of how your organization operates, the more likely you can evolve with the rapid growth that your organization can facilitate through experimentation.

But it’s not just about you and your organization—it’s about your organization’s purpose, your vision—the reason why behind your work.

And that is your customers.

Because a delightful digital experience is how your brand stays relevant—now and in the next decade.

What trends stand out as most important to your future growth? Let’s start a conversation in the comment section below.

Author

Lindsay Kwan

Marketing Communications Specialist

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