2018 was a year of rapid change for many organizations.
That’s because experimentation is becoming an essential business practice.
Over the course of the year, we witnessed organizations go from stage one to stage three on our experimentation maturity scale in just a few short months.
Once they had buy-in from the top and a will to galvanize support across departments, they were able to introduce experimentation to multiple departments.
But even if you just got started with experimentation this year, surpassing the inertia and running your first few experiments has already transformed your business.
And because we are in the business of experimentation, because testing is our livelihood, we’ve also had an incredible year.
Looking back over the past twelve months, I’ve compiled our top nine experimentation articles and news:
1. Matt Wright’s “How Thick Data Helps You Build Emotional Connections With Customers” on CMSWire
This past June, Matt authored the CMSWire article, “How Thick Data Helps You Build Emotional Connections with Customers,” to dive into the process of generating thick data about what makes your customers tick.
In today’s data-driven world, marketers amass immense amounts of customer information through numerous sources such as analytics, CRMs and loyalty programs — all of which provide plenty of quantitative data about customers. This type of data offers the when, where, what and how of your customers’ interactions with your experiences. But critically, it does not provide the why.
Matt’s thought leadership in this article provides a glimpse into his work on WiderFunnel’s MotivationLab, the deep-dive research that provides insights about customers’ emotional needs and states for more impactful experimentation programs.
But what’s more, he shows you the secret to creating delightful customer experiences that increase wallet share and loyalty for years to come.
2. Experimentation in product development: How to maximize the customer experience
Innovative marketers have been doing website optimization for years. So what’s next?
Product experimentation is top-of-mind when it comes to scaling an experimentation program internally. That’s because there are more opportunities to maximize the customer experience.
I talked to several champions of product experimentation about their programs:
- Hila Qu, Vice President of Growth at Acorns;
- Meg Watson, Product Manager at Stitch Fix;
- Martijn Scheijbeler, Vice President of Marketing at RVShare;
- And Giannis Psaroudakis, Director, Product at Optimizely.
And the resulting post, “Experimentation in product development: How to maximize the customer experience” provides real-world success stories and examples of potential opportunities that can inspire you to get started.
3. Techvibes’ Spotlight article “Data & Design: How WiderFunnel Cracked the Code”
In January, Matt Odynski of TechVibes stopped by our office for a photo shoot and tour of our new space in downtown Vancouver.
The resulting Spotlight article, “Data & Design: How WiderFunnel Cracked the Code,” written by Max Greenwood, provided an insightful overview of WiderFunnel’s services, culture, and people.
WiderFunnel works with some of the world’s biggest brands—such as Mark’s, SportChek, IBM, Square, and H&R Block—to help them gain unique insights into their customers. WiderFunnel can then validate those insights through experimentation in the real world, perfectly mixing both the creative side of a typical advertising agency while also embracing the data and scientific elements needed to deeply innovate the industry.
3. The 5 pillars of digital transformation strategy at Mark’s: An interview with changemaker, Johnny Russo
Mark’s (formerly Mark’s Workwear House) is a retailer under the Canadian Tire umbrella that has risen to the top in recent years. Not only do their marketing teams receive nomination after nomination for their e-commerce experience, but the company is also leading the charge when it comes to digital transformation.
In this interview with Johnny Russo, Associate Vice President of Digital Marketing and E-commerce, we get an in-depth look at the five pillars of their digital transformation strategy that has fuelled their growth over the past few years: People, Partners, Culture, Education, and Change Management.
Johnny Russo is a true changemaker. He is passionate about digital transformation strategy and he is a definite thought leader in the e-commerce and retail space.
Having partnered with Mark’s for numerous years, Johnny also outlines how experimentation has underpinned their whole strategy. Testing is now how the team at Mark’s make decisions.
As marketers, we think we know it all. But testing actually confirms that we don’t. If we have an A/B test, one of them might be wrong. And we’re actually telling our senior executives, by doing this, we don’t know which one will win. We think we know, but at the end of the day, it’s based on data and customer experience and what customers want. It supersedes what our thought process is.
4. Winning Optimizely’s “Innovation Partner of the Year” award at Opticon
While in Las Vegas for Optimizely’s annual experimentation conference, Opticon, we were awarded their prestigious Innovation Partner of the Year award and we were ecstatic.
We were especially honored to be chosen by our colleagues at Optimizely for this award because of our early adoption of FullStack, their server-side experimentation platform.
They also praised our thought leadership in the world of experimentation, including our content, case studies, best practices, and of course, our “State of Experimentation Maturity 2018” original research report, that we co-created.
5. The “State of Experimentation Maturity 2018” original research report
With Optimizely, we surveyed marketers, product managers, and growth strategists at some of North America’s leading brands like Nike, United Airlines, Showtime, American Express, Hotwire.com, MailChimp and many more to create the “State of Experimentation Maturity 2018″ original research report.
We also interviewed dozens of Optimization Champions throughout our research to understand their opportunities, their pain points, and their efforts to scale their programs cross-organizationally.
We wanted to know what the most successful organizations were doing right, how they were scaling their experimentation program, and how they were integrating experimentation into their overarching business strategy.
We highlighted the most illuminating findings in our post, “6 Key Insights from the “State of Experimentation Maturity 2018” original research report. And we even got interest from some press:
If your marketing experimentation program consists of A/B testing email subject lines or landing pages, you have a long way to go. But here’s some good news: you aren’t the only one just getting started.
Natasha Wahid, Marketing Lead at WiderFunnel, who spearheaded the research project, also conducted a GrowthHackers AMA in June, diving into the research process and data analysis.
And our conversations and insights fuelled our content for months afterward. Posts like…
6. Evangelizing experimentation: A strategy for scaling your organization’s test and learn culture
After our research report, one topic that invigorated our marketing team was how to evangelize experimentation at an organization.
After talking to numerous Optimization Champions, we realized that most companies wanted to strategically communicate the value of their experimentation programs internally to incite organizational buy-in from other departments and the Executive team.
It was an interesting take on building a culture of experimentation, a topic that has quickly accelerated over the year.
For this post, we gained insights from leaders in the field including:
- Alex Birkett, then Growth Marketing Manager and recently promoted to Senior Growth Marketing Manager, User Acquisition at Hubspot
- Andrew Capland, then Director of Growth and now Director of Marketing at Wistia;
- Ralph Chochlac, Former Director of Product Management at Student Brands;
- and Lauren Schuman, Director of Growth at MailChimp.
This comprehensive guide to strategic communications for your experimentation program provides best practices and tactics for scaling your test-and-learn culture.
7. A tactical guide to creating emotional connections with your customers
We talked a lot about emotional marketing in the last couple of years, but we still saw ambiguity in what creates an emotional connection with customers, especially within a digital experience.
So, we set out to break it down for our readers. We took a real-world example (the WealthSimple website) and analyzed everything from color choices to messaging, from storytelling to animations.
And we also talked to emotional marketing experts, like:
- Roger Dooley, author and podcast host of Brainfluence;
- Nick Kolenda, expert and author of numerous specialized guides in psychology and marketing;
- And Nathalie Nahai, web psychologist, speaker and author of Webs of Influence: The Secret Strategies That Make Us Click.
And it’s one of our most read and shared posts of the year.
8. BCBusiness’ “Office Space: WiderFunnel Embraces Team Spirit”
In July, the WiderFunnel were excited to get the print and web editions of BCBusiness, featuring our new office space. We moved in August 2017 and this year we’ve been featured in numerous publications, including the Vancouver Sun.
Editor Felicity Stone came to do a tour of our space with intern Aleena Deandra and the resulting article showcased exactly what makes the WiderFunnel office so special.
The Vancouver-based company leased a space with spectacular views of downtown and Burrard Inlet, then surveyed staff about what they needed to be productive and creative. The result is a workplace that accommodates various working styles, thanks to wireless technology, so team members can change locations throughout the day. Since employees moved in last August, their happiness scores have increased by 51 percent.
Especially interesting to note is that we recently expanded our office by an additional 1600 square feet this past fall!
9. Reaching #21 on Business in Vancouver’s Fastest Growing Companies in BC
At WiderFunnel, 2018 was a year of growth. We nearly doubled our employee count. We expanded our office space. And we worked with more and more Optimization Champions to scale their experimentations programs across their entire organizations.
And it’s probably a big reason why we reached #21 on Business in Vancouver’s list of the Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies in British Columbia.
For context, we were delighted by our #43 standing in 2017, so when we saw our 2018 results we were astonished.
But we’re not done yet. Stay tuned in 2019 for more exciting developments in the world of experimentation.
Get ready for 2019.
The world of business is changing quickly.
Instead of backtracking on failed strategies and tactics, organizations can pave their way to success, proving they are on the right path through experimentation.
We touched upon the upcoming advancements in “The future of digital customer experience: 6 Experimentation trends for disruptive businesses in 2019” and “6 Marketing trends set to take off in 2019.”
As business leaders, we are the cusp of even more transformation in 2019. Because those organizations, that are able to gather insights and spread those insights throughout their organization will change at a pace far greater than they have in the past.
What do business leaders need to consider as they plan for 2019? We’d love to hear your perspective!