Faces of Optiverse: Matty Wishnow, CEO of Clearhead, tells all.

by Optimizely ‎11-19-2014 November 19, 2014



Matty and his team have been extremely helpful in Optiverse. They've been open to sharing feedback, they've volunteered to help other community members, and they have shown their expertise time and time again. I wanted to give you all the chance to get to know Matty, the CEO of Clearhead, a little better. 


Feel free to ask any questions! 


Name: Matty Wishnow

Title: CEO

LinkedIn links: www.linkedin.com/in/mattywish/


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  • Tell us about your journey to work in Conversion Rate Optimization. Did you mean to? Why/Why not?


At the risk of parsing words and sounding really nerdy, we don’t consider ourselves a “conversion rate optimization” agency at Clearhead. Conversion rate is an important metric, to be sure, but our job is ultimately to find our clients the most efficient, confident and data-driven approach to solving product design and development problems. Sometimes, this is about improving conversion rate. Sometimes, it’s about improving revenue or profits unrelated to conversion. Sometimes, it’s about saving the client from an investment that is unlikely to pan out.


That all being said, I’ve been practicing testing and optimization since the late 90s, when I helmed a number of big, fun, sure-to-succeed feature changes for our site that maddeningly did not improve the business. After a couple such scars, I became very committed to a more iterative, test and measure approach to all of our major design and development decisions. So, you could say, it’s been a career long journey of testing and learning and optimizing.


  • How are you thinking about mobile? Do you have any best practices regarding CRO and mobile you’d like to share?


Everything starts and ends with the hypothesis. While the migration of traffic to mobile is accelerated and undeniable, it would be wrong to assume that (a) mobile is the most important place to test or that (b) testing for conversion on the mobile device is the right goal. So, to get back to the hypothesis, we would look at customer data, listen to the customers and our clients and then ask, “what business or customer experience problems do we think we can solve for mobile and why do we think those changes will impact a certain metric.” Ultimately, time is the most valuable asset for any company, so before dabbling with mobile site or native app testing, we start by crafting hypotheses we believe in and then prioritize those hypotheses against all other opportunities we have to test.


Some (likely) obvious suggestions I’d make would be:


  1. Understand the use cases for mobile -- especially smart phone. It is likely that a great deal of the smart phone traffic is coming from email and social. If so, think through the customer desires and expectations for that use case. Do not assume their intent is to purchase in that session.
  2. To that end, when testing on mobile, do not become so narrowly focused on conversion for smart phones that you actually create friction for users who are simply browsing or opening an email or social link. You can improve conversion significantly overall without significantly improving it on the phone.
  3. A mobile web test is not simply a target within a test you have built for desktop. When thinking about scope and resources, assume that a mobile web targeted test requires the thought and effort of an entirely new experiment.


  • What tip would you give to a friend who was just getting started with website optimization?


In our experience, the success of your optimization program is most correlated to your ability to identify test hypotheses that will move the needle and your ability to tell the story with the resulting test data.  When practiced and refined consistently over time, these efforts will increase the likelihood that your testing program will find and sustain value.  But remember -- time is your immovable enemy. Every test you run comes with risk and opportunity cost. Don’t dabble. Let data always guide you -- be it in where you find hypotheses or in the adoption of results.


Finally, Optimizely makes testing very easy. But sustained hypothesis development, adoption of the results and learning is the real challenge.


  • Given your experiences, what are the must-have skill(s) to be effective at optimization?


  1. An intuitive eye and ear user experience
  2. A dispassionate ability to let data drive your decisions
  3. A genuine curiosity for the customers’ desires and point of view
  4. A business person’s approach to investment -- understanding for the rewards, actual costs and opportunity costs of testing.


  • We have a tradition at Optimizely where new employees share a fact that others wouldn’t otherwise know. What would your fun fact be?


For more than twenty years, a guy by the name of Eddie Murray played first base for the Baltimore Orioles, The Cleveland Indians and a bunch of other teams. It’s entirely possible that I know more about Eddie Murray than anyone else on the planet, including Eddie himself.

I also have three kids under the age of four.