June 14, 2023
Customer behaviours are evolving faster than ever before, and it’s becoming even more challenging for marketers to stay on top of how brands and customers can connect. As a result, marketing efforts built on general industry or consumer trends don’t deliver the results that personalised customer insights do. A critical way to understand and validate the unique relationship between you and your customer is by developing a pragmatic approach to experimentation.
Not only does a test-and-learn approach make it easier for you to keep pace with your customer, but it also allows you to make better data-driven decisions, empowers your brand to quickly improve and personalise the customer experience, and finally helps you understand your customers more deeply.
For example, by running over 25,000 tests a year, Booking.com was able to transform itself from a small start-up to one of the world’s largest accommodation platforms. They attribute their success not to any fancy experimentation tool or process - but rather to their thriving culture of experimentation.
For most of us, the idea of experimenting our way to the right answer goes against everything we’ve been taught. So it’s no surprise that one of the biggest barriers brands face when it comes to getting the full value from their test-and-learn strategy is people. While most brands understand the need and value of experimentation, many fail to effectively implement new ways of working successfully.
Education is a critical element to building a confident culture of experimentation in your organisation. While there are many incredible courses that will upskill and empower your people to adopt a test-and-learn mindset, there’s also a lot to be said about simply making the current test-and-learn efforts accessible to the broader organisation.
Failure is a core principle and tool used in this approach, but when people have been taught to actively avoid failure their whole life they need to understand how and what it looks like to fail ‘well’. Nothing prepares teams better than watching this process happen in real time with their CX peers leading by example.
Curiosity is a core to a healthy culture of experimentation. But when 70% of employees find it tough to ask more questions at work, most companies struggle to inspire teams to question the status quo. A great way to build curiosity within the wider culture is by minimising bureaucracy around test-and-learn capabilities and empowering any and all teams with clearly constructed hypotheses to run their own experiments.
Building an experiment template can help to streamline this process. Employees can fill it out before starting an experiment, outlining the reasoning behind the test and the actions that will be taken for each possible result.
While sparking curiosity is a consequence of this approach, the underlying benefit of opening up these resources and capabilities to the wider organisation is the creation of a culture where data trumps opinions. Whether it’s a junior that understands TikTok trends because of their age or a senior leader who has relied on their gut feelings to get them this far - everyone has an opinion, but not everyone has data. By creating a culture of experimentation your encouraging, all team members to test their opinions to see if they’re true for your brand and most importantly if their true for your customers.
The only thing more important than generating the right results is communicating those results in the right way.
Cross-functional team meetings are essential for getting a complete view of your customer. And how you communicate your successes and more importantly your failures, is crucial to bringing core team members along the journey.
Communication is core to building cross-functional buy-in, which once secured, plays a valuable role in validating your hypothesis and rationale for experimentation. The challenge here is ensuring that every team is on the same page.
Understanding what’s being tested, why it’s being tested and how it ladders up to the overall business strategy and critical outcomes is really important if you want to achieve cut-through within your organisation. Measuring test-and-learn success shouldn’t just be about whether your experiments found the right answer, they should also focus on how well those results were communicated and adequately implemented across the business.
The process of experimentation is long, it constantly evolves as your customer evolves. While this is the core benefit of an always-on approach to test-and-learn, it also makes resourcing this new way of working risky to leaders, particularly when the guarantee of results appears uncertain. But as a culture grows in its understanding of the benefits and role experimentation plays in driving better business and customer outcomes, brands are more likely to invest. A general approach is to allocate resources according to the 70/30 rule:
It’s just as important to understand your customer's relationship with your brand in downturns as much as when things are good. Consistent investment in experimentation requires brands to go all-in on a test-and-learn approach, but those that trust the process will benefit incrementally over the long term from better data-driven decision-making and a loyal customer base.
Whether you’re looking for tactical advice to improve your test and learn efforts or you’re looking for a strategy for building a culture of experimentation. We’re here to help your brand connect more closely with your most valuable asset - your customers.
Visit tortoiseandhare.com.au for more information on our services and to get in touch.
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