User Conversion's Head of Analytics, Adam Lee, reflects on a year of challenges and new opportunities...
Massive clickbait headline I guess! But I thought it would be interesting to sit down and really cut to the core of an agency : what are we fundamentally doing for a client? Boil it all down, what are we really trying to do for them?
So - this language is going to get flowery. And it's probably going to come off as a little bit highfalutin, too. But aside from the functional, clear procedural work that that we do on a regular basis and that pays the bills, what are we really trying to do? Wrestling with this is a challenge for 2019, and will likely shape 2020 for me, my team and the work we do here at User Conversion.
So. At User Conversion (and within the analytics team...and likely many analytics teams in agencies around the world) we’re trying to embrace and work within our client's current customer understandings and beliefs. And then use insight (from any insight-generating discipline) to either validate these beliefs, or challenge those beliefs if we feel we can demonstrate that they are incorrect or perhaps a little outdated.
Distil that down even further? Our purpose is to identify, and build upon, customer truths.
But identifying these truths can only get you so far. These truths, though foundational, aren’t transformational. We can get to the heart of a matter, but one of the challenges that any agency has is to stimulate enthusiasm and then deliver on that enthusiasm. Although truths are powerful and effective in delivering client trust, innovation (for the most part) delivers on client love.
I think I'm paraphrasing an existing phrase here but : trust gets you in the door...innovation keeps you there. Deliver on both trust and innovation, and you have gained the belief and faith of the client.
Innovation can take many forms. Innovation is relative because it has to be : relative to the ambition, maturity and capability of the client. So innovation has to be constructed with a certain amount of empathy which, for any third party organisation offering a service can often be a challenge. But we want to be seen as awesome - we've got an ego! However, that really has to be balanced with clear ethicality - we also want to make sure that the ability to deliver is the priority.
Innovation has to be a considered proposition in order to be effective. Pushing headlong into a complex personalisation project may deliver the impression of innovation and progressiveness, but if the client isn’t in a position to get the most from that, then it’s going to be an ultimately disappointing experience. That isn’t to say that the vision shouldn’t be shared, but it becomes critical to demonstrate the roadmap to deliver on that vision, and provide clarity on the steps that are required to get there. And this is where belief comes into play.
If you’ve effectively demonstrated that these small steps are important (because you’ve grounded them in the truths you’ve identified) and you can demonstrate that how these smallsteps lead to innovation (because the roadmap is iterative and progressive, but importantly, is deliverable) then you win the client’s belief in you. And belief is crucial if you both want to step out of your comfort zone together.
That’s one of the key challenges that we’re now beginning to embrace at User Conversion. CRO is at the heart of what we do. And experimentation will always play a significant part in that process. But because of our ambition as a business, and the desire of our clients, we’re really beginning to build on what optimisation means as a connected set of disciplines.
One of the key areas that I’m working on with my team is to always look a few steps ahead in that roadmap to understand how a live experiment at Point A might transform itself into data enhancement and integration across a few different platforms within a client’s organisation at Point C. It means that when we’re reviewing test performance, we’re thinking about the past, present and future of potential optimisation opportunity. That could be connected to bigger data, external insight tools, wider data strategy...anything. And different disciplines will have their own set of principles. Which is where collaboration can get really exciting!
We’re building on the mindset of “sessional” conversion and trying to look at the broader opportunity to influence how our clients understand business performance, areas for growth and how we can help them get to that point. And we’re finding that this joined up thinking, across disciplines, is leading us to new places and new opportunities, predominantly because we’ve got the belief of our clients. Our challenge for 2020 is to make sure that we demonstrate that this belief is well-placed.