3 steps to lay a technology foundation for digital experience success
Eighty-four percent (84%) of people say the experience a company provides is as important as its products or services. This means—for the vast majority of shoppers—the seamless (or not-so-seamless) experience they have when they interact with your company carries as much weight as what you’re selling.
The past several years have seen the customer’s digital experience become increasingly important, as people take to their screens and keyboards to shop and engage with brands. And the companies that are prioritizing digital experience are leading the way. (Just look at Ikea, Chipotle, and lululemon to name a few.)
Last year, 59% of everyday transactions were made via digital payment. This trend is only accelerating with more transactions and interactions shifting to digital channels (the preferred channel for younger shoppers).
And in 2020, a global pandemic has accelerated a shift to digital—across industries—that no one could’ve predicted. Which begs the question: How are you monitoring and improving your company’s increasingly important digital experience?
How are you monitoring and improving your company’s increasingly important digital experience?
Last year, Patrick Gordon, Principal Product Manager at Jumbo Interactive, was working to answer this question. He was on a mission to evaluate, select, and implement a technology stack that would allow Jumbo Interactive to deliver a best-in-class digital experience.
Patrick and his team have since onboarded two foundational platforms—Segment, a customer data platform, and FullStory, a digital experience platform; they have generated a 3% increase in overall conversion rate and identified critical digital problem areas, saving the company tens of thousands of dollars.
Because of the value they have demonstrated, the product team will likely secure their next two platforms in the coming months: supplemental product analytics and an optimization platform. In this post, Patrick shares:
- His vision for the ideal digital experience tech stack
- How he fostered adoption of both Segment and FullStory
- How he demonstrates the value of each platform, unlocking further resources
Step 1: Understand the key levers your business is trying to pull
First things first: Are you tuned into your company’s main priorities and business objectives? This understanding is critical in order to bring on the right technology at the right time. “Before you bring on any tech, you need to be very clear on what the business is trying to accomplish,” says Patrick.
A year ago, Jumbo Interactive was in a transition moment. The company was expanding its offering, moving from exclusively selling lottery tickets online (an ecommerce model) to also providing lottery software. This shift required a renewed focus on the customer and a commitment to a customer-driven product roadmap.
The company needed a much deeper understanding of user engagement within the product. They had some basic tracking in place, but the product team needed to understand retention, churn, and how users were actually engaging with the product.
“I had actually originally started looking at experimentation platforms. But I quickly realized we were nowhere near ready because we didn’t even understand what customers were doing, let alone what behaviors we wanted to modify or encourage,” says Patrick. So he sat down and outlined a 4-step vision for Jumbo Interactive’s digital experience technology stack.
Our tech stack must:
- Allow us to get our customer data pipeline in place,
- Allow us to understand and improve our existing conversion funnels,
- Allow us to find new insights to encourage innovation and enable long-tail analysis,
- Allow us to optimize and innovate through experimentation
While your company may not be shifting to a new business model, you may very well be in the midst of an accelerated digital transformation. If your company is in any kind of transition moment, it is particularly important that you align platform success with high-level business success. This will help you make sure that the technology you bring on is tied to impact that leaders care about.
Step 2: Demonstrate platform value at every stage
Securing budget for a new platform is often a time-consuming battle for product leaders who face internal politics, competing priorities, and doubting stakeholders.
Depending on past initiatives, you may be up against skepticism about usefulness, added value, and future adoption. And when it comes to digital, there is often an internal learning curve to tackle. You’ll often come up against questions like: Do we really need this? Will people use it? How do we make sure it doesn’t become shelfware?
In Patrick’s case, he knew that he wouldn’t get the buy-in or budget to onboard multiple digital experience technologies all at once. Not to mention the fact that his team didn’t have the capacity to properly onboard multiple platforms simultaneously.
He needed to be patient and methodical; he needed to implement the right platform at the right moment to unlock budget for the next platform. And he knew he needed to prove value at every step of the way on his journey to the ideal DX technology stack.
Jumbo Interactive addresses data plumbing with a customer data platform
Patrick began by evaluating various customer data platforms. “I knew we were going to bring on multiple platforms in building our digital experience stack,” he explains. “I’m a programmer by trade and I also knew that we were not going to do custom integrations for all the various platforms—that, frankly, is the way of the Dodo.”
WHAT IS A CUSTOMER DATA PLATFORM (CDP)?
A Customer Data Platform is a tool that helps you bring reliable data to every team. That means it helps you with one or ideally all of the below:
- Data collection: Taking customer data from a number of tools.
- Data processing and consolidation: Combining that data to create unified profiles of your customers, their traits, and broader audiences.
- Data activation and execution: Deploy those profiles to other tools to personalize your customer’s experience.
It ties everything together. Read more about CDPs at Segment.com.
Fortunately, the marketing team at Jumbo Interactive was already doing a proof of concept with Segment—a leading customer data platform. Patrick was able to piggyback off of their POC and demonstrate quick value, securing Segment access for all relevant teams.
With Segment in place, the Jumbo Interactive product team could quickly and easily set up custom events and push that custom tracking across all of the connected platforms in its stack. With the infrastructure in place to support the free flow of customer information, Patrick turned his attention to the customer’s digital experience.
“Segment proves its value with every platform we onboard. With FullStory, for example, I didn’t have to rely on a team to set up an integration. I was able to get the platform up, running, and recording (custom events included) within minutes,” Patrick explains.
Jumbo Interactive gets the whole picture with a digital experience platform
While he was considering how to properly connect sources of customer data, Patrick was also considering the sources of customer data themselves.
“We had basic analytics in place—but this was mostly monitored by marketing. We didn’t have any real insight into engagement within the product. We were doing some user testing, but because of circumstances within our industry, this type of research is extremely costly and time consuming,” Patrick explains. “It’s unwieldy at scale.”
Jumbo Interactive was missing key insight into user behavior in the wild. To provide an ideal digital experience across devices, they needed to understand user behavior at an aggregate level (the scale of an issue) and they needed to be able to zoom in and see the individual user’s experience (the root cause of an issue).
Patrick also knew that his team didn’t have all of the answers; in fact, they didn’t have all of the questions. He needed a platform that would provide customer insight based on paths and funnels the product team could predict as well as insight based on user behaviors they couldn’t predict. So he began evaluating digital experience platforms.
WHAT IS A DIGITAL EXPERIENCE PLATFORM?
Digital Experience Platforms are designed to help businesses continuously improve the digital customer experience across sites and apps. A digital experience platform helps you with one or ideally all of the below:
- Visualizing digital customer interactions in the wild and connecting these interactions to key business KPIs
- Proactively surfacing top opportunities to optimize digital experience
- Enabling teams involved in digital experience (product, engineering, UX, etc.) to understand issues, prioritize fixes, remediate bugs, and measure the impact of improvements
Are you currently evaluating digital experience platforms? This guide walks you through the most important considerations.
This search led him to FullStory. “We got on a free two-week trial of FullStory. Because we already had Segment in place, we were able to get FullStory set up really quickly. And the trial clinched it, for us,” says Patrick.
“On the first day we had FullStory up and running, we identified an error that hadn’t been recorded properly by our bug tracking tool. That error had been occurring for almost six months and was probably costing us a couple of thousand dollars a day. I was able to easily show our COO and our Head of Product what was happening, how we addressed it, and the outcome. It didn’t take much convincing after that.”
"On the first day we had FullStory up and running, we identified an error that hadn’t been recorded properly by our bug tracking tool. That error had been occurring for almost six months and was probably costing us a couple of thousand dollars a day."
Over the past several months, Jumbo Interactive has identified several business critical bugs that they would not have found without the help of FullStory. FullStory also provides much needed context to user friction across the digital experience; the product team is able to prioritize improvements that will add clear value to web and mobile users.
The insight they’ve gained into how people are engaging across all platforms has led to multiple feature enhancements and one complete redesign of a key customer funnel.
Step 3: Foster adoption and be transparent about your successes and failures
Patrick is adamant about the importance of fostering widespread adoption of digital experience technology. One of his biggest areas of focuses has been eliminating the disconnect between product and engineering at Jumbo Interactive. Because nothing kills agility quicker than silos.
“It’s been awesome to see our development team get really excited about FullStory. This is stuff they built and FullStory shows them the pain users feel (or don’t feel) when they’re in the product. It has definitely lit a fire,” he says.
The engineering team at Jumbo Interactive has adopted FullStory completely, building their own documentation around the platform and embedding it into their day-to-day practices. “I get messages from our developers about things they’re seeing or noticing in FullStory all the time, now,” laughs Patrick. “It’s been really exciting to see them embrace it—and that really comes down to exposure. Once you can see what the platform does, it’s easy to get excited.”
Patrick is also adamant about being transparent about his team’s wins and losses. “We do public quarterly updates, warts and all. We’ll show instances where we used FullStory and kind of missed the mark. And we’ll show instances where we drove a really quality outcome.”
This transparent knowledge-sharing has garnered a lot of positive feedback and interest from across the organization. Patrick and his team gain credibility and continue to show how they use Segment and FullStory to drive value.
Patrick isn’t close to being done when it comes to assembling Jumbo Interactive’s digital experience tech stack. He is currently building a business case for supplementary product analytics and an experimentation platform.
“We’re building an undeniable set of good core practices that have outcomes attached to them. And we’re able to communicate that. Which means when I go to my boss to ask for the next platform and they can look back at the value we’ve proven with each new platform. It makes it much easier for them to say, ‘yes’,” says Patrick.
As you think about building your own digital experience technology stack, keep these key steps in mind to unlock approval and budget:
- Understand the key objectives that are important to your business and align platform success with these objectives
- Demonstrate the value you’re generating from each platform at every stage
- Foster platform adoption across teams that impact the customer’s digital experience and be transparent about your successes and failures