Faces of Optiverse: Matt Beischel -- Community Member of the Month

by Optimizely ‎08-25-2014 August 25, 2014 - edited ‎09-09-2014 September 9, 2014

Matt is currently our Community Member of the Month! His contributions to the Optiverse are incredibly appreciated; he's always willing to jump in there and help a fellow experimenter out. Matt has an invaluable skillset where he's able to look at an issue from a strategic perspective, brainstorm creative solutions, and then dig into the code and create complex experiements. It's rare to meet people who are both creative and technical. I'd encourage you all to reach out, ask any questions you may have, and get to know Matt better.  Smiley Happy
 
Name Matt Bieschel @MJBeisch 
Title E-Commerce Optimization Specialist at Kalio
 
How did you end up working in conversion rate optimization?
The web was very much an emerging technology when I was in college. I knew I wanted to “make” web sites but that didn’t really exist as a major, so I pursued a design degree with a focus on digital.

I pursued development opportunites whenever available and eventually landed at Kalio. Despite being in a development role, during meetings I would ask; “how do we (or our clients) know that the site changes we make provide value?” CRO was the natural answer to that question. Our director of e-commerce discovered Optimizely and I was the person in the office who was available and had the right skillsets to begin working with it.
 
Did you mean to? Why/Why not?
Yes, very much so. My career path was definitely a journey. I went from retail to print design to web design to web development to user experience to CRO. Each step of the journey gave me additional experience and skills that would eventually lead to CRO.

Having a foundation in design, one of the questions I always ask myself is “how do I define the value of my work?” Design, after all, is leveraged creativity; it needs to provide value and/or solve a problem. Sometimes that value is difficult to define. CRO has enabled me to definitively answer that question.
 
What’s been your favorite or most inspiring moment in your CRO career so far?
I was struggling to come up with some experiment ideas for a client. Came up with the idea of soliciting ideas from my coworkers. I wrapped the solicitation around doing a brainstorming session and encouraged attendance with free lunch. Almost everyone in the office attended. Left the meeting with nearly 16 fresh, actionable experiment ideas! Up to that point really I’d been the only person directly involved with CRO. It really was inspiring to have everyone come together and contribute. The session was so successful that it’s become a regular thing.
 
Besides A/B or Multivariate testing, what are tools and techniques you would recommend marketers focus on honing to make their conversion rate optimization efforts more successful?
Optimizely is great at providing quantitative data, but you also really need some way to acquire qualitative data as well. You have to be able to understand your user and really put yourself in their shoes; AKA user empathy/advocacy.

How a user feels about their experience can go a long way towards increasing conversion. I utilize a concept I’ve dubbed the “annoyance bucket”. It’s not always 1 big thing that causes abandonment; often it’s an accumulation of many small things over the entirety of a user’s experience up to that point. Each thing that a user finds annoying goes towards filling up their bucket. Once it’s full they abandon.

What someone finds annoying or how much they can withstand varies from person to person. Identifying and eliminating those annoyances can be a key factor of successful CRO. Build user profiles to determine annoyance thresholds and what to focus on. Integrate those user profiles into your testing by targeting an experiment to a specific audience.
 
In your opinion, what do you think is the most important skill set needed to be effective at conversion rate optimization?
 
Nothing on a web site exists in a vacuum; every piece is part of the whole and changes have an effect beyond their intent. Whether you’re a marketer, designer, analyst, developer or some other role, what you do has consequences beyond your sphere of influence. When executing or analyzing an experiment, you need to be aware of and think about all of those potential consequences. It’s not enough to simply run an experiment and implement if the results reach confidence. A developer needs to understand the purpose behind a goal so that it can be set up correctly. An analyst needs to understand the marketing cycle to see how it may have affected site traffic or user profiles during the experiment. Et-cetera, et-cetera. You really have to be curious about areas of influence beyond your own deep skillset. Single-minded focus won’t serve you well.

Is there a secondary skillset that perhaps does not get as much credit as it deserves?
Being able to read and write well formatted, modern, semantic HTML/CSS. Remember #SochiProblems? How the recent winter Olympics looked great on TV but if you dug even a little bit deeper there were tons of underlying infrastructure problems? That’s what a website with a poor code structure is like; the surface level experience may look good but supporting it is much more difficult and time consuming than it needs to be. It’s about 500% more difficult and time consuming to set up and execute an experiment on a poorly coded site versus a site with a good underlying code structure.
 
What’s your favorite place you’ve ever travelled to? Why?
Capri, Italy. It’s where I proposed to my wife.

 
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