5 ways to create a culture of optimisation in your business

by David Mannheim

posted on: November 5th 2015

Creating a culture of optimisation at any business, of any scale, is difficult.

In theory, it's changing how people think. It is moving towards data-driven decision making and this can be your most powerful growth tool. Once your employees start questioning subjectivity and validating decisions with, not just data, but insight, it creeps in to every aspect of your business ultimately making you a more efficient organisation.

Whenever we are hired to improve the conversion rate of a project, we feel a moral obligation to embed a culture of optimisation as best as we can despite what stage the company is at. Why? Well, I wrote quite a popular article on this for the guys at Formisimo earlier this year on why conversion rate optimisation should be seen more as a culture than a project. The question isn't necessarily 'why' but 'how' and this is what I want to explore.

I'll walk you through some techniques we use for our clients to create a mature optimisation practice within organisations and help alter mindset.

Seminars

A really popular tool we use with our clients is seminars. Because creating a culture, and managing that culture, is an education process we have to start somewhere. Usually that starts off within an initial presentation of what 'conversion rate optimisation' is and, sometimes more importantly, what it isn't. For example, it's actually not "conversion rate optimisation" but people resonate with that phrase quite well.

This then moves more towards a continual, monthly, education process through the way of seminars. We run seminars, free of charge, within our current clients to help educate them through a way of thinking. This often creates discussion points thereafter and are more thought provoking than, say, brain dumps. For example, we recently ran a seminar about the psychology of pricing based on a book one of the team recent red - Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely. In this example we spoke of the use of decoys within pricing for example and how the Economist used this tactic to generate a lot more sales.

Content

Encourage your employees to digest as much content as possible on the studies of optimisation. Whether that's following some of the greats on Twitter like Craig O'Sullivan or having RSS feeds to various blogs such as Conversion XL. I would recommend setting up a Feedly.com feed (you can download ours if you like - full of UX, design, CRO related blogs) and perhaps a Slack channel to digest and discuss various content - new or not - within.

The more people digest content the more they are likely to learn. Taking this even further, asking your team to write their thoughts or submit their top 5 links, related to optimisation, can really help as there is an action point at the end of it. We're not after some junkie optimisation AA meeting once a week, but actual leaning and sharing. It's widely proven that you learn better by writing down what you read so digesting and then sharing this content is vital. Creating a Slack channel to encourage discussion and conversation is key.

Forms

I encourage my clients to submit experiment ideas as much as possible. Even if they aren't based on insight or data, they are at least based on experience. The validation of which can come after. For example, "we should remove the banner on this page because of X, Y or Z". OK but is it worth it? This comes down to more prioritisation than validation. For example if that page only receives 0.2% of visits then perhaps this isn't worth it?

Optimizely have a standard form to generate experiment ideas here. It's a similar process to creating a "suggestions" box in a hotel or something, but it's almost worthless without...

Embracing failure

Look. The standard "a test never fails" adage is true. Why? Because each test is a nugget of insight we didn't have previously. We can iterate and improve on top of that insight to generate a test that does succeed. But your organisation needs to understand this as well. How do you do this? Well it is up to you. Having an award for "the worst AB test idea" seems a bit harsh. But it's your job to vet these ideas into a structured priority of the "best ideas" - sorry - most effective experimental ideas.

This is particularly the case not just for your peers but your seniors too. They are inherently worried about 'loosing' sales on such an experimental framework so the more they understand that failure will occur in some form, however that is phrased, the better.

Get the team involved

We never, or rarely, present to one person like the ecommerce director, but the team as a whole. The reason behind this that there will be one member of the team who will be your, what Paul Rouke calls, conversion champion. They're your advocate. Highlight them as an example and use them psychologically to disseminate and empower.

Bonus. In writing for this article I came across this by Conversion XL entitled "5 Tactics to Changing How Your Organization Thinks About Optimization" - a very similar article! And in usual prowess extremely well written. A couple of similar points so recommend you read both.

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David Mannheim

David is an experienced conversion optimiser and has worked across a series of core optimisation disciplines including web analytics, user experience and AB & MVT testing.

5 ways to create a culture of optimisation in your…

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