It’s a common misconception that in order to achieve big wins, an equally large change in experience is required. I’m here to encourage you to think smaller.
However, the kind of small thinking I’m talking about isn’t related to revenue. (When it comes to revenue, keep thinking big!) I believe companies too often institute large, sweeping changes to user experience without enough measurement and strategy behind it. Thinking smaller is really about narrowing the scope of changes that are made in the first place, and measuring outcomes more carefully and accurately.
Today’s reality of reaching customers, especially as we emerge from 2020’s disruption, depends more on timing and nuance. Big revenue gains can be achieved if the right tweak is made at a pivotal point in the customer journey — the challenge is knowing when that moment will occur. I live and breathe experimentation, personalization and customer experience, and I can say with confidence that companies with experimentation baked into their cultures become experts at finding big wins in small changes. If that isn’t enough, data backs that claim as well.
Small yet Hyper-Relevant Experiments can Lead to Big Results
One of the most common challenges we see in retail is businesses struggling to provide their users with the most relevant products. There are technologies devoted to solving this problem. But if leveraging one of those solutions isn’t in the cards, thoughtful experimentation can get you a lot closer.
Choice overload when browsing products is a complex pain point with many possible solutions — and many will overcorrect. Overhauling a site navigation hierarchy or ordering a whole-cloth site redesign are strategies that are nearly impossible to measure at a granular level. But small, incremental and responsive changes to customer feedback are more easily measured and easily attributed to a gain or loss of dollars or traffic.
- Provide quicker access to top categories: The products and product categories you identify as the most sought-after have a big influence on customer decision making, especially when they are overtly clear to the customer. How many clicks does it take someone to find these in-demand products? I’ve worked with several clients for which providing top categories in prominent areas of the site has significantly increased revenue by decreasing customer search time. No cookies, personalization or complex technology required.
- Let your customers know what’s new: Another small change that’s elicited a “why didn’t we do this sooner” from clients is related to new inventory. The aforementioned top product categories get customers to a category page more quickly, but there are rows and rows of products to sift through once there. Using “new” or “hot seller” badging on certain items can narrow focus and help customers find what they want to purchase
These are just two examples of low level of effort/high customer empathy strategies that can make a big impact to your business and to your customers.
Answering the Big Questions About Experimentation
Implementing changes to make customer experience more relevant is just one of many strategies for successful experimentation. If you’re wondering where to start, or are stumbling along your experimentation journey, here are some questions to ask that may spur inspiration.
What prevents you from experimenting? Small, iterative changes may sound simple, but identifying them and implementing something new takes time and teamwork. That part of the equation can be solved by building a strong experimentation function within your organization. But another reason we often overlook these smaller opportunities is simply because we’re not our customers. We know the technical ins and outs of the customer experience, but how many can say they’ve experienced their own websites exactly as their customers do? To solve for this, consider adopting a methodology that helps you think like a customer or user. Additionally, many businesses don’t experiment simply because they don’t have a good way of tracking their efforts. There are solutions for that, too.
How do you know when the work is done? The short answer is that the work of experimentation is never finished. The beauty of a culture of experimentation is that the end of one test marks the start of the next iteration, and maybe that iteration sparks an idea for a team with similar goals. It’s a constant quest to beat the control. When test results begin to plateau, it doesn’t mean things are getting close to perfect. Instead, it means you should move on to a different challenge, with the intention of revisiting your decisions to make sure they’re still in line with customer behavior.
How do you future-proof your efforts? A disrupted 2020 meant organizations were rolling out more minimum viable products and offerings than ever. It’s reckless to assume these rollouts were executed perfectly — any launch during the pandemic happened in a rapidly changing consumer environment. With a light now at the end of the tunnel, it’s imperative that you revisit these products and the strategies around them to make sure they still fit into a post-pandemic reality.
The key to better customer experiences is experimentation. Large, sweeping changes can drive value under the right circumstances. But when a company’s culture embraces disciplined, strategic experimentation and sees its value, the small, incremental changes that are made can add up to huge revenue gains for the organization, and huge improvements to the customer experience. Doing anything less than investing in a way to illuminate these insights is a strategy for getting left in the past.
Suzi Tripp is the VP, Insights at Brooks Bell, the firm focused exclusively on enterprise-level experimentation that she joined in 2011. In her current role, Tripp oversees and grows experimentation programs for Brooks Bell’s expanding roster of enterprise companies. Having spent years working on experimentation strategy, ideation methodology and behavioral economics practices, Tripp translates her wealth of testing knowledge to the feature set and product roadmap of Illuminate, Brooks Bell’s experimentation software.