Our current Community Member of the Month is.....Jason Dahlin ( @JDahlinANF ). He is new to the Optiverse, but has already proved himself extremely valuable. He jumped right in and started answering members' questions -- both technical & strategic. I'm amazed by his deep technical knowledge and ability to communicate in a very clear/understandable way. He pushes the Optimizely product, executes on complex experiements, and has a ton of success stories that I'm sure he can share with us.
I asked Jason a few questions so we can all get to know him a little better! I encourage you all to do the same!
Name: Jason Dahlin
Title: Sr Analyst, DTC (Direct To Consumer)
You can find Jason at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/JasonDahlin
- Tell us about your journey to work in Conversion Rate Optimization. Did you mean to? Why/Why not?
Have you ever been on a project team where you know that everyone is wasting their time and energy, that there is no way the project goals will be met, or you are implementing some new feature that next-to-no one will use?
As a technical guy with a background in business optimization, I’ve always been drawn to the aspects of coding sites that help the business owners make smart decisions. Whether working on a project where I want the business owner to be able to demonstrate that a project succeeded, I make sure I code it in a way that lets us track success metrics so we can prove that it worked. Similarly, when working on projects that my gut tells me are doomed for failure, I want to make sure we can tell the business owner that it did indeed fail and, hopefully, be able to tell them why.
But, with all that said, my role in Conversion Rate Optimization is purely as an “implementer”. We have a Testing Queen who engages with all of the various stakeholders, orchestrates, organizes, prioritizes, and reads experiment results. The bulk of my involvement in CRO comes from two places: 1) understanding how our web analytics metrics work together so that we have effective KPI in place to perform the analysis, and 2) building the experiments inside the platform so that they do what we want only when we want it to.
- You have a background in Engineering and Web Development. How does this affect current role as an Analyst or your ability to implement A/B tests?
On a positive note, it has really helped avoid many potential issues. Understanding how our site works and interacts with itself helps me identify limitations in what I will be able to effectively do inside an experiment without involving a developer resource and it helps translate successful experiments into technical requirements for the developer resources to add to the default behavior of the site.
- How are your users' mobile habits changing how you think about A/B testing and optimization?
Ah, the bane of web analytics… how to measure multi-device users.
Understanding the entire customer lifecycle across various devices and platforms is key to developing effective KPI specific to each platform. In general terms, users browse on mobile and execute purchases on desktop. Optimizing the checkout funnel on mobile is still important, but for the majority of mobile users should the focus be on Product Engagement or Add To Cart (that they can sync to their desktop) instead?
The important take away is that just because some test improves a KPI on mobile, it does not mean it is the best answer for the company or the consumer. Sometimes optimizing for short-term objectives or platform-specific KPI hurts the overall experience and may not represent the “brand identity”.
- What tip would you give to a friend who was just getting started with website optimization?
Two pieces of advice:
Firstly, trust your gut.
Secondly, you know nothing.
Though seemingly contradictory, for CRO, “if you think it can be improved, it can; find a way to measure it then wiggle it until it’s no longer worth the effort.”
- You must be very fashionable Can you tell us a little about what it’s like to work at Abercrombie & Fitch?
When I was 7 years old my Mom told me the trick to picking out outfits was to “make sure the top and bottom have something in common”. As this was the 1970s, I picked out a striped shirt with plaid pants – they both had horizontal stripes! Thankfully, plaid pants lost popularity and the world is a happier place for it.
Working on websites that are all about fashionable clothing and ensembles has definitely improved my ability to mix-and-match my outfits.
Seriously, though, A&F has an awesome team atmosphere. We ignore titles and focus instead on roles and responsibilities. It’s a fast paced friendly environment, where the ideas come from everywhere and the biggest challenge is prioritization. I’d be happy to tell you more, but I need to head over to Varsity Field for the A&F Flag Football Championship and bonfire. I’ll save you a s’more.
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