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Marketers should tackle short-termism with product thinking

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A major current challenge for marketers is how best to balance short-term demands versus long-term innovation and this became a key discussion point during a recent event hosted by Code Computerlove.

The event was organized by Optimizely, Code and Tealium and was held at Code Computerlove’s offices at Sevendale House. There were around 80 attendees, 90 per cent of whom were from brands including The Co-Op, Footasylum, Beauty Bay, Sage, RBS, Spare Room and Sky Sports. The day’s discussion focused on how testing, analysis and experimentation can help businesses make better connections with their customers.

It echoed similar discussions that arose on the back of the latest IPA Bellwether report, released last month, which highlighted that while digital spend was on the up, it was a likely consequence of increased spend on shorter term digital solutions with more dependable results (versus more traditional media) in these uncertain economic and political times.

The debate of how to achieve a balance between short- v long-term digital advancement was sparked by a keynote presentation made by Code’s Matt Lacey, who was among six guest speakers presenting their thoughts around the topic ‘Making the most out of your data’.

Lacey highlighted the importance of taking a product thinking approach to conversion optimisation; how this can actually not only help businesses with their short-term requirements, to get the most out of their digital platforms, but by continually testing, iterating and generating greater insight into real customers, brands are able to efficiently work towards their long term goals and deliver true innovation.

He explained: “Uncertain times tend to drive marketers to seek out more activation driven marketing solutions; marketers spend on more shorter-term solutions with more dependable results. Short-termism typically sees marketers spending on the acquisition stage of the customer journey, getting more customers into the funnel, but the smart money is to maintain a strong focus on conversion. When you bring product thinking to conversion and performance optimisation it’s a win-win in terms of meeting both short term needs and long-term goals. It combats marketers’ challenge of managing the balance between build vs. innovation vs. growth.

“Product thinking focuses on delivering valuable outcomes for the business and customers, continually. It’s a move away from prescriptive processes to a set of principles, approaches and methods. The emphasis is on putting the customer first to achieve results for the business, focusing on iteration that adds most value while all the time working towards a business’ goals. This is the best way to build creative, sustainable, adaptable, customer-centric business.

“Tech start-ups understand this very well and their approaches are based on achieving the balance of these two.”

Lacey added: “Focusing on value through product thinking, achieved through a robust programme of conversion optimisation, can not only deliver major uplifts in revenue and profitability, greater insight into your data and audience can help to develop a brand, guide longer term site development and future innovation.

“To tackle the issue of balancing short-term versus long-term innovation, it isn’t about the ‘big bang’ site release anymore. It’s about evolutionary website redesign, iterating towards the end objective – achieving quick wins along the way and using data insight, continually learning about customer behaviour, to guide each phase. Break it down into core parts and do the most valuable parts first.”

The audience, which included representatives from brands such as the Co-Op, the BBC, BUPA and Manchester United, also heard first-hand how this approach is delivering impressive results for Code’s clients including JCT600, Hillarys and ASDA presented by Jamie Goodwin, senior conversion consultant at Code. Jamie also highlighted the importance of making time for proper data analysis, citing a number of cases where at first glance results didn’t tell the true story.

Leanne Fyffe and Georgina McCann from Missguided also shared their successes from segment testing, detailing how using personalisation enabled them to reactivate more than 9% of their dormant customers. Other speakers included Peter Young from MediaCom, Tealium and Optimizely, which ran the event in partnership with Code.

Kirsty Hunt is head of public relations at Code Computerlove