konversionsKRAFT: Why you need to focus on the customer to deliver success in optimization
An interview with André Morys, founder and CEO, konversionsKRAFT
As well as running Germany’s leading consulting firm for agile growth processes and content optimization, André Morys has also written multiple books on CRO and digital growth, lectures at the University of Applied Sciences Würzburg and organizes the annual growth marketing summit conference. The Kameleoon blog asked him to share his opinions on the importance of culture to successful experimentation, the forthcoming 2019 growth marketing summit and why everything needs to revolve around the customer.
André, talk us through how your agency has evolved?
konversionsKRAFT was originally founded in 1996, and we quickly focused on customer experience. We saw that there was a lot of potential to improve online customer experience – and that these improvements directly correlated with results. We worked for some of the very first online stores in Germany and saw problems with usability, so created one of the first German usability labs in 1999.
Probably the biggest ‘Aha’ moment in our history was when one of our clients basically saved his job by implementing our recommendations around usability, as the bottom line results improved so dramatically. That demonstrated to me the power of being able to align customer experience with business and economic metrics. We therefore worked on models that showed how experimentation contributes to bottom-line business success.
How did you get involved in A/B testing?
Initial A/B testing tools were extremely expensive but this all changed in the 2000s when tools became much cheaper. For the first time you could prove the value of optimization and customer centricity through experimentation.
Since that point we’ve built a team that brings together data scientists and behavioral psychologists and we now do hundreds of A/B tests per year.
How do you work with brands?
We are the external growth team for many of our clients. Where clients don’t have the ability (or it is culturally difficult) for them to build their own team, we can prove the concept for them. This helps them to learn through a partner and therefore accelerates optimization and customer experience. We give clients the results they need to prove the concept.
Whatever the project, you need to employ the same systematic approach. We analyze team structure, capabilities, skills, culture and the tools a company uses. It is about asking questions such as “What do stakeholders think about experimentation?” and “What is the financial impact of experimentation?” This audit process helps give good advice on how companies can invest budget effectively to drive the biggest results.
As a co-organizer of the growth marketing summit 2019, why is it being held? What are the aims?
We started with the growth marketing summit back in 2010. We’d built a strong community through our blog, and wanted to bring the same positive effects to the real world. There was no conference about growth or experimentation at that time, so we asked people who had personally inspired us to come and speak.
We started small with 240 attendees and over the years have expanded with venues getting bigger and bigger. This year we expect to have 700-800 attendees at the Frankfurt Opera House on 3 September 2019. The audience is ecommerce managers and senior management, mostly from brands, but also from other agencies.
The content has moved from the basics (how do I implement an A/B testing tool?) to a much more strategic view. This year it is all about agility and how you can align experimentation with your agile team. We’ve got Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup speaking, alongside a range of other presenters from both agencies and brands. We’ll be looking at how bigger companies can implement agile, lean start-up principles.
What are the challenges you see around personalization and conversion rate optimization today?
For both of these it is essentially the same big challenge – ignoring the vital importance of the people behind the data. Success in personalization and CRO revolves around one basic rule – if you want to get results you need to change the behavior of your users. Everyone therefore needs to understand what factors are needed to change customer behaviors.
The problem is that when it comes to optimization digital marketers talk about metrics and goals like micro-conversions, KPIs, or online revenue per visitor. We need to deconstruct these goals into what people actually do.
To give an example, many teams are struggling with templates and buttons, but this isn’t how customers think. Instead they think about motivations, fears, objections and other options they have. If you don’t change your perspective to a customer-centric approach you won’t be able to deliver bottom line growth.
So my main message is to use behavioral sciences to change the behavior of your customers, first by understanding what they are doing, and then secondly knowing about the mechanisms and triggers that are needed to effect changes.
If your personalization works it creates bottom line results. You don’t need to look at user experience scores or NPS metrics – you can directly measure the impact of good personalization and optimization on the bottom line. Otherwise you are just working on vanity metrics.
Do you think that brands understand the importance of optimization?
The biggest threat to optimization is that most people in senior management don’t see the impact of lots of small improvements. But if you add all of these up, particularly on a large site, it totals thousands or even millions of euros.
Essentially you need to look at experimentation in the same way as you’d put together an investment portfolio – by making it diverse and balanced. Look at small wins based on hygiene factors, but also have some bigger, more riskier things that can give larger results, but may not all deliver.
How do you advise brands to build the right culture for experimentation?
This is a key topic and something we encounter a lot. There are three things that are key here:
1. Be customer-centric
Your culture really needs to be customer-centric. This isn’t solely about asking customers what they want, but instead looking at areas such as the principles of behavioral economics. This helps you to understand the hidden motivations that customers don’t see themselves. Making this change in a culture is hard – being customer-centric involves much more effort, and systems tend to avoid additional effort. It’s why Amazon always has an empty chair in every meeting to represent the customer, ensuring no-one forgets their importance.
2. Have the courage to be agile
The second cultural change is the need to embrace agility. Everything has to be a sprint – what can we do in the next 2 weeks? Groups have to commit themselves to one idea that they experiment on – and that means throwing away 999 other things. This is vital if you are to get clear results from experiments.
3. Be data-driven
Most big organizations have a hierarchy and decisions tend to be opinion driven. This isn’t easy to change to a culture where you say it is up to the customers and the data to decide, not the VP or directors. It is about acting on the results of an A/B test – this will show what works and what doesn’t.
Failing to change culture will mean you simply take a superficial approach to experimentation – you’ll end up doing minor button tests that don’t lead to results. Building a culture of experimentation is especially difficult within big, established businesses who have to change how they think if they want to compete with digital-first brands.
That’s why I’d advise always beginning with a blank sheet of paper and starting with an autonomous team, backed by top management. If they then communicate transparently about the results they achieve, the rest of the organization will be sucked into the whirlpool of their success. You can only change culture by pulling, creating something that is desirable that everyone else wants to be part of.
How do you see AI impacting digital marketing?
AI has a lot of power to help us to do a better job. When we talk to more experienced teams they quickly understand that they have a huge amount of data and most of the time they don’t know what it means.
This is why AI helps. I always say that if you put psychologists and data people into the same room, magic happens. The psychologists know the Why?, while the data people know the What? And together they can build algorithms that help us automate and optimize systems and experiences.
You still need psychologists to look in the right place within the data. As Steve Jobs said, always start with the customer and work backwards. Data comes from customer behavior and AI helps us to facilitate that data process, but don’t lose the contact with the customer.
What is your relationship with Kameleoon?
Delivering results involves a chain of factors – and if any of these let you down the end result is zero. That’s why we understand it is so important to work with great technology, such as Kameleoon, to ensure great results. Many of our clients work with Kameleoon and we’ve always been impressed with the great cooperation they provide. We want to solve problems for our customers, which is why we need reliable tools and technology and Kameleoon delivers perfectly for our needs. Together with Kameleoon, we are currently optimising the customer experience for leading companies in the DIY, event ticketing and telecommunications sectors, both through experimentation and personalization
Kameleoon is the platinum partner for the growth marketing summit 2019, which is being held on 3 September 2019 in the Old Opera House, Frankfurt. To find out more and book tickets visit https://www.growthmarketingsummit.com/