The other day I was reading a post about the analytics maturity of organisations and I want in this post reflect not over our analytics maturity but rather our conversion maturity.
If you have worked in a managerial position for a company that produces a fairly complicated product or service you know that your success depends largely on how competent your co-workers are and also how you are structured to handle your daily tasks.
Since I joined my current company two years ago we have taken some critical steps towards becoming a smarter organisation with smarter co-workers. If you look from a bird perspective we have taken ten steps forward but in the same time five steps back. Let me explain what I mean by that.
Within two years we have created a sharp analytics organisation with all the necessary tools to pull critical business data. This process took approximately a year and a half. We have now started to do the fancy stuff like segmentation analysis, usage of scorecards, a bit predictive analytics and so on. This knowledge is pushed towards the organisation, which slowly becomes more and more data driven. This process is fun and exciting but you also have to respect big challenges of this process.
In the same time we added new products to our portfolio expanding the company and forcing us to learn a new area of expertise. The new products have made us take five steps back. Firstly it is about organisational issues and secondly it is about competence issues. I am not going to go into details but want to turn my focus on the conversion optimisation aspect of our journey. All organisations are different but I think more or less everyone has to go through the below steps.
First step – Data
The absolutely first step to become a highflying conversion organisation is to have control of your data. Clean data is a must and you need to recognize which data is important for your business model. This step involves the part of installing tools properly and configuring them for critical business data. This was our absolutely first step.
Second step – Testing
Start do testing even if you haven’t fully implemented the first step. A good start is to tell your stakeholders to do minim of two AB tests within the next 2 months. If you can put someone in charge of your AB testing. To get the fast lane to conversion optimisation you need to start doing AB testing. You can do this in two ways. Either you just pull two-three ideas and test them, or you let someone analyse the user flows and recommend an AB test. The second one is to prefer because you will get more accurate optimisation tests. We got to the testing phase within 2 months that sets a good tone for becoming more data driven.
Third step – Analyse
Analyse your tests and analyse your website data. This step is probably the hardest part but doing this properly is critical if you want to spring to a high converting organisation. Understanding how to read data and how to use it for actions is highly tied to the competence of your employees. Hire good analytics persons who can do this job.
Fourth step – Knowledge
Your company is as good as your employees. To get the whole company to the next level you need to constantly grow in knowledge and through challenges. The knowledge you get from analytics and testing needs to be packed in a smart way so new people entering your organisation gets quickly up to speed. To package knowledge in a good way is really hard which I have seen first-hand. The problem lies mainly on the knowledge level people are at. Some will be more experienced with working with data and some will be less. Getting your organisation to a high level take a lot of time.
Fifth step – Building on success
When you have reached a certain knowledge level within your organisation you can start doing the right stuff. On this level you will build on past success and manage to replicate them. This step is extremely valuable since your input will be low and your output very high. In other words here you are super effective, you do the right things and everything runs like a well-oiled engine. In our case seen through the holistic view we touched this level before we added new products forcing us to take two steps back for a time.
Sixth step – Segmentation
Some people might argue if this step should be on the previous one but I think that most organisations will sooner or later start segmenting their users. Applying this practice puts a lot of strains in an organisation that you really have to think carefully how you will solve the multiplying workload. As soon as you cater for different segments you need to scale up your content department, your design department and your analytics department. If you are like us a large organisation with a lot of customers the complexity of segmentation could be a ball breaker in the sense that it could create cracks in your performance. Of course doing segmentation correctly will most likely increase your revenue tremendously. Without revealing too much I can say that we are currently working on this step.
Seventh step – Software
To handle segmentation you need smart software. This is when you evolve to one to one marketing or in other words personalisation. The software will help you to optimize your efforts allowing you to maximise your conversion in real time. We are currently preparing for this step that I think will be a lot of fun. More on this in another article in the future.
Eight step – Automatitation
Automating your converting content is a big step if you want to scale up your business. When you understand how to produce high converting content you can automate this to various degrees. Information technology has allowed many businesses to be more effective, to produce more with less. Companies like Amazon uses recommendation engines to automate the content you are being served when surfing through their website. I think the way it is being done so far is very crude. Although lately Google has moved towards this way, integrating many different sources to give you a more personalized surfing experience hence increasing online conversion. I think in the near future we will see many interesting start-up companies within this area.
Moving through all these steps is a challenge. The bigger your organisation is the more complex and challenging it will be. I think that if you want to survive in the long run as a smart Internet company you NEED to move through these steps. You need the investment in people and technology, you need the dedication of your organisation and you need to be persistence in your efforts.
I am really excited where we are today soon getting into the segmentation and personalisation area. I think it will take a while until will master segmentation and personalisation as an organisation but I hope we can become so smart that we figure out how to automate high converting content production.