How does experimentation differentiate between different countries, and how important is it to liaise with experimentation teams in USA and Europe?
A Webtrends Optimize guest blog
Having been in the industry for 20+ years, operating globally, we’ve seen countries both adopt experimentation, and progress with maturity at different levels.
There are of course exceptions – every country has very technically advanced companies. For example, we recently spoke to an internally-operating business based out of Malaysia with amongst the most advanced aspirations we’ve seen from any company we’ve spoken to.
Nevertheless, we often see that as countries first adopt experimentation as a practice, and then as they ramp-up in the advanced aspects of the discipline, most people follow a similar journey.
Similarly, we see this within given markets across both companies who are fairly new to experimentation and those who’ve been doing it for a long time.
Culture is related to the jobs market
At Webtrends Optimize, we’ve found that the desire to be risk-taking or bold, and the proficiency with which new technologies are adopted seem to go hand in hand with the jobs market.
In the MENA region, experimentation is still fairly young, and as such we’ve found businesses struggling comparatively more to make decisions, move quickly and be bold in proposed changes.
This was no different to the UK market 10 years ago, where convincing customers to step beyond testing headlines and button colours was a real challenge – although thankfully we’ve come a long way since then.
What we’re seeing more of right now in the UK for job roles and hires in experimentation is:
- More people are asking for senior/lead level roles
- More people are building entire teams for experimentation
- More hires come with 3-5 years of experience in CRO, Analytics or UX
Naturally, if you start to hire a lot of people who have seen the small, tactical tests yield very small results, they’re less likely to want to have that journey with you. Instead, they’ll be stronger advocates for running more advanced tests, based on thorough research, and looking for substantial change/improvement.
We saw this first in the UK, then a couple of years later in Europe, and a couple of years later in AU/NZ.
International collaboration aids testing velocity
Teams who run sophisticated programmes based on solid research know that running experiments at scale requires people and time. From research to design, prototyping, technical feasibility, build, QA and analysis – everything takes time.
The biggest advantage of co-operation with experimentation teams, when everyone is experienced, is shared insights and shared work.
Developers have been doing this right for many years – they don’t write code that someone else has already struggled with and put together – they take an open-source library and just apply it to their situation.
Within the same company, international collaboration facilitates the same level of velocity.
Apply their research to your market
If someone has already analysed the US site for PDPs which aren’t performing well by the category they belong in, applying that research to the UK site and that different pool of data should be trivial (as long as the data format is consistent, e.g. Google Analytics data).
This could allow the UK team to apply research that initially took a week to pull together and get the same insights in an hour. This sort of scale is an incredible advantage.
The beauty of a shared brand
When working with different markets for the same brand, we find that usually:
- The website is on the same codebase
- The branding is the same everywhere
Let’s say the UK team has been experimenting with a new items-list area on the Basket page. This has already been designed, is on-brand, and has been coded to work with the same codebase that everyone else uses.
There may be some things that need to change, but from our experience it’s usually micro-copy, not layout. This could be a 30-minute change, where the initial build took 2 weeks.
If the UK team offers this to other markets (US, Europe), you’ve just saved them an incredible amount of effort, failure, QA bugs and gotchas, etc.
A 30-minute conversation or a month to do it yourself?
What would you prefer? A 30-minute conversation where each person does a run-through of what they’ve tested and what they found that was interesting, or a month in a silo doing this all yourself?
These things require structure, and quite often this is the reason why international teams don’t collaborate as often or as well as they can, but modern tooling makes this easier.
If you can pick up tools designed to document what you’re doing and what you’ve found, and if everyone does this, you should be able to all use everyone’s work to accelerate your own advancement.
It’s by no means easy – we’ve seen large enterprises with multiple teams and experimentation embedded into their product tribes, who don’t communicate with each other and don’t share findings, let alone people who are geographically distant.
Modern tooling though – Slack/Teams/Zoom, or async-working in JIRA etc., should all help make this possible.
The power of “we”
Consider the advantage of international collaboration from both angles and accommodating for differences in experience across countries.
If you’re the most experienced person in the group, you get more hands doing research, design and development that in all likelihood you can repurpose. The throughput is typically the struggle on the upper-end, and so that’s a great benefit.
If you then have less-experienced teams in, for example, the US, they get to accelerate their own knowledge, practices, and growth potential by learning from you.
Imagine in your early years, having someone drop a good system for documenting your findings, strong practices with Github, guidance on why Webtrends Optimize is the best platform in the world, and what you should be looking for when you hire new people.
The same experience that took you 5 years to acquire, shared with you over a few months from someone you can trust to guide you.
This level of co-operation is truly invaluable.
Sandeep Shah – Director of Product at Webtrends Optimize
Where to learn more about Webtrends Optimize: https://www.webtrends-optimize.com/about-us/
Telephone: (+44) 333 444 5502