Mastering Digital Change: The Power of Analytics and Optimization
- with Andy McKenna

Andy McKenna is co-founder of Acquitain, a digital marketing consultancy dedicated to helping businesses grow their profits online. 

He is an experienced digital marketing and optimisation specialist, with over 20 years’ experience helping businesses in the UK, US and Australia with conversion rate optimisation, UX and robust test and learn strategies, including A/B testing, multivariate testing and personalisation.

EPISODE SNAPSHOT

[1:16] – Guest Introduction: Andy McKenna is introduced, discussing his background and connection to the host through professional networking on LinkedIn.

[2:06] – Analytics and Dashboard Impact: Andy explains how he was impressed by Scott’s work with analytics dashboards on LinkedIn, sparking their initial connection and ongoing discussions.

[4:35] – Digital Marketing Journey: Andy shares his extensive background in digital marketing, beginning in 2001, and his transition from banking to marketing, emphasizing the evolution of his skills and career over time.

[8:41] – Role Transition to Marketing: Andy discusses his move from working in a bank to taking a marketing role at the head office, detailing his motivations and the new challenges he faced.

[13:20] – Life and Work in Australia: Andy reflects on his nearly nine-year stint in Sydney, Australia, describing the similarities in work culture compared to London and the unique lifestyle benefits offered by Sydney.

[18:49] – Return to the UK and Career Shift: After returning to the UK, Andy delves into how he ventured into conversion rate optimization (CRO), sparked by organizational changes and a new digital transformation project at his company.

[31:15] – Evolution of CRO Strategy: Andy discusses the evolution of his approach to CRO, focusing on the implementation of user research and data-driven strategies to influence and improve management decisions at his company.

[42:46] – Development of CRO Course: Andy talks about creating a comprehensive CRO course during the pandemic, aimed at empowering digital marketers with the tools and knowledge to effectively apply CRO strategies without needing to be experts.

EPISODE DESCRIPTION

In this episode of the Ecommerce Optimizers Show, host Scott Reid welcomes Andy McKenna, a seasoned digital marketing professional and CRO expert, to discuss the transformative power of analytics and user-focused design in Ecommerce. Originally from Tunbridge Wells, UK, Andy shares his journey from a banking career to becoming a leader in digital marketing, emphasizing the critical role of analytics dashboards that initially connected him with Scott via LinkedIn. Throughout the conversation, Andy delves into the pivotal moments of his career, including his significant experiences living and working in Sydney, Australia, and his strategic shift towards conversion rate optimization upon his return to the UK.

Andy also explores the challenges and solutions he encountered while spearheading digital transformation projects, specifically the adoption of a data-driven approach in corporate environments traditionally dominated by “highest paid person’s opinion” (HiPPO) decision-making. Andy aims to democratize CRO knowledge by highlighting his development of a comprehensive CRO course during the pandemic, making it accessible to digital marketers regardless of their background. This episode offers valuable insights into the evolution of Ecommerce optimization strategies and the importance of aligning digital initiatives with user research and data analytics to drive business success.

MENTIONED DURING THIS EPISODE

SPONSOR

This episode is brought to you by Ecommerce Optimizers

At Ecommerce Optimizers, we specialize in helping Ecommerce brands in one focused area: and that’s making your website easier to use so that more of your visitors buy from you. 

An easy-to-use website delivers a highly intuitive, straightforward, and smooth experience throughout the customer journey – making it much easier and more enjoyable to do business with you. This translates into a wide variety of business-building benefits, including increased revenue, higher profits, and happier, loyal customers who buy from you time and time again. 

If you’d like to learn more about how we make Ecommerce sites easier to use and how our services might benefit your business, head on over to our website at EcommerceOptimizers.com and check out all the details.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Scott Reid 0:00
Welcome to the Ecommerce Optimizers Show. I’m your host, Scott Reid. This episode is brought to you by Ecommerce Optimizers. We specialize in helping ecommerce brands in one focused area. And that’s making your website easier to use so that more of your visitors buy from you. An easy to use website delivers a highly intuitive, straightforward and smooth experience throughout the customer journey, making it much easier and more enjoyable to do business with you. Now, this translates into a wide variety of business building benefits, including increased revenue, higher profits, and happier loyal customers who buy from you time and time again. If you’d like to learn more about how we make e commerce sites easier to use, and how our services might benefit your business, head on over to our website at ecommerceoptimizers.com. And check out all the details. All right, so today on the podcast, we have Andy McKenna. Andy has become a friend of mine over the last I don’t know, maybe 678 months or so. He is from Tunbridge Wells, UK, in England, in the south of England. Correct Andy

Andy McKenna 1:16
in the south of England? That’s right, Scott. Yeah. So I’ve been living in Tunbridge Wells for five years now. I’m originally from a place called Winchester, which is kind of what Southwest of where I am at the moment, both within striking distance of London. So you know, I’ve had a kind of working career of commuting to and from London that sort of been the main hour. But yes, that’s, that’s where I am. It’s

Scott Reid 1:45
a beautiful, beautiful area of the world. That’s for sure. So tell us about yourself, what do you what do you and actually, before we get into that, back in, when was it when we met, we actually met on LinkedIn. And in the space? It was probably an August actually,

Andy McKenna 2:00
I think it was back in August. Yeah. And I was first kind of made aware of your great work, as you say, on LinkedIn. And it was basically your dashboards, for, for analytics, you know, and I know that Ruben, who had sort of put you forward recommended you via the great work that you that you’ve done, and you know, I was having a look. And I was thinking, well, this is fantastic. Because obviously, you know, GA for very new, I’m, I’m not an analyst, I’m not a statistician, I’m much more from a marketing background. But you know, I’ve always sort of felt it’s been my duty to, to get a bit more ofay with the whole kind of analytic side of things. So I have sort of delved into Universal Analytics in the past and became quite proficient in Universal Analytics. Ga four has been a bit more of a challenge for me and I so really, I was just kind of looking for anything that would make my life easier. And when I saw your, your dashboards and all the work that you’ve done, I kind of thought, well, you know, this is something that could that could really help. So I yeah, I reached out to you. And we it kind of started from there. We’ve been having regular conversations ever since. And see we’ve got similar interests in the CRO side of things and the analytic side of things. So, so yeah,

Scott Reid 3:44
yeah, absolutely. And thank you very much, Ruben. I’m sure at some point, you’ll listen to this, but it was, it’s been great getting to know, getting to know Andy and, and working with him on a couple of different things. Tell us about kind of what brought you from, I guess the starting point within marketing. So I’d be I’d be really curious to hear that again.

Andy McKenna 4:05
Yeah, sure. So I kind of got into digital marketing, round about probably about 2001. So quite a while ago now. And obviously that was when When did you I mean, it wasn’t even called Digital Marketing. back then. It was online marketing. I got myself a job. So I came from a kind of a banking background. So when I graduated, I actually graduated in languages so I did German and French at university, very quickly realized that that wasn’t going to get me a job very quickly back then kind of needed something a little bit more vocational, a bit more business focused, to go with it. So my parents at the time. They sort of encouraged me I suppose it’s a two to or maybe add another string to my bow. So they very kindly supported me through a Diploma in Business DBA was called Diploma in Business Administration, which essentially is like the first year of an MBA, but in the in its own right. So real eye opener to me, I hadn’t done anything in the least sort of business related. So it introduced me to the concepts of marketing and business strategy and operational operations management and you know, all that kind of stuff. So, and accounting, which I really struggle with, I found it I’m still still kind of a little bit now.

Scott Reid 5:43
Kind of, right. It’s kind of exceptionally dry and boring as well. Absolutely. That’s my personal opinion.

Andy McKenna 5:50
Yeah. Now I know kind of thing now, at least, at least I’ve got an accountant who can kind of do all the heavy lifting. But I kind of at least I understand the concepts now. But you know, any more than that? Yeah. But anyway, yeah, I so I kind of completed the course, back in Well, that would have been what 1996. And showing my age now. But I then actually managed to get myself a job with that. So it wasn’t all completely in vain. And I got a job on a graduate scheme with one of the big UK banks NatWest. And so I actually started off working in a bank branch, which was probably the toughest job I’ve ever done in my life, it was a real kind of education for me, in people management, I mean, essentially, what would happen is a graduate would come in as the assistant manager in a branch, so the, to AC really in a branch. And as you can imagine, you had staff within the branch who had been there for a long, long time, who weren’t necessarily that happy with someone coming at it didn’t know what the hell was going on. And so it was, as I say, a real kind of exercise in, in learning in, you know, eating a lot of humble pie, and really just listening. And, but at the same time, you know, trying to take charge and trying to kind of lead by example. So, it was tough, and we had some fairly significant issues within that branch as well. So, you know, it was definitely a baptism of fire. But I learned a huge amount through doing that, in terms of kind of business processes, but also through of managing a team as well. So, yeah, that was great. But after about a year, 18 months, in that role, I saw that there was an opening in a role in the head office as a marketing role. And I kind of thought, yeah, I want to get out there. And I want to do that, because, and was this in one was working in London at the time was in London. Yeah. So I kind of thought, you know, I, it was a sort of a project management role, I guess, in a product marketing function. You know, this sounds interesting. I want I knew I sort of wanted to get into the marketing side of things. And so that was really where I, you know, my interest in marketing began, where I started to sort of pick up the knowledge and the skills. And I did that for for a few years. And then after a while, I kind of thought, you know, banking is, it’s fine, but it’s probably not really where I’d see myself for the rest of my life. It was I wanted something a little bit more dynamic. And it was around that time that, you know, the.com was really kind of kicking off. And so, just by chance I happen to be talking to is actually one of the guys who I joined on the on the graduate scheme with, and his now wife, girlfriend at the time, was a, she kind of headed up project management within a digital agency, new media agencies. That was cool back then. And they were kind of looking for project managers and I sort of thought, it sounds interesting. I’d it’s an area that I’d be keen on getting into. So I went in there for an interview to had a bit of a chat with them. And you know, we hit it off and they said, Yep, come and come and join. They were sort of in a big growth phase. And it was a real eye opener, having been in a in a big bank where there was a lot of process too much process really going into this kind of new environment where everyone was very young and there was no process in place, everyone was just kind of, you know, flying by the seat of their pants and just, you know, trying to try and get by and service the clients and what have you. And that was really sort of my, my entrance into into the world of the internet. And the I worked.

Scott Reid 10:28
So is this is this like, 98 or so? Ish? Yeah, that

Andy McKenna 10:32
would have been, it wouldn’t have been. But after that, yeah. 99. To that, I think it’s Yeah. The latter half of 2000, I think it was. So worked with some really good brands, I mean, there’s Marks and Spencer, which is a big clothing and food retailer, here in the UK, and some pretty big financial services companies as well. So there’s one called Abby national, which unfortunately, no longer around, but you know, they were quite a big sort of building society slash bank. And it was quite nice as well, just to sort of have a bit of familiarity with the client side of things. But you know, but back then it was very much as I say, you know, just kind of learning on the job. And, you know, we sort of found that, within the agency, we were almost sort of coming up with new solutions that nobody else within, within dotcom internet, you know, whatever you wanted to call it. knew about so we were we we found we’re sort of quite pioneering in a way, just because it was also new, and you certainly didn’t. Areas like SEO, and, you know, CRO just simply didn’t exist. It was it was no Facebook. No, that’s it. It was just kind of design and Dev, and that was it, you know, you have a website have a web presence, no real strategy behind it. Yeah. And so I, as I say, you know, I learned a lot. And then kind of fast forward, it was actually in that we merged, our agency merged with another London based agency that were more kind of movie promotions. That’s where my now wife worked. So we kind of met at work across the divide, as it were, but we, yeah, we sort of started actually working together when we were there. And it wasn’t that long before we jumped ship and decided that we were going to move out to Australia. So we moved to Sydney and Australia lived there for nearly nine years. And

Scott Reid 12:51
what year did you move to Australia in

Andy McKenna 12:53
2003? Yeah, so

Scott Reid 12:55
how was that experience that we swapped, we’ve spoken about that in the past, when I definitely find it intriguing. It

Andy McKenna 13:03
was. I mean, it was probably the most incredible eight and a half years of my life in that, you know, just completely different. Well, I say completely different work wise, it was amazing how similar working in an office in Sydney was to work in office in London, I mean, culture, very similar. Working culture and business culture very similar as well. The sort of world of advertising and digital marketing, pretty similar, but that’s kind of where the similarities ended up just just living there in a beautiful city with, you know, some some great friends that we made, while we were there. And also, you know, some that we’ve met before who just by chance, happen to kind of move either move back or move out there at the same time as us as well. So we were quite lucky. We had a ready made group of friends out there. And

Scott Reid 13:59
what we’re, I’m curious, when you talk about the, the differences, what are a couple of the differences that that that you experience between England and Australia outside of the similarities with with the workspace? Climate?

Andy McKenna 14:19
Yeah,

Scott Reid 14:20
right. Yeah, that’s a big one. Right.

Andy McKenna 14:22
You know, the UK weather and we’re just

Scott Reid 14:24
talking about, we’re just talking about the deluge of rain that you just went through moments ago. So yeah, yeah.

Andy McKenna 14:30
But interestingly, interesting fact here for for your listening hopefully, is an interesting fact. I find it quite interesting. Sydney gets more rainfall in a year than London. Right. Is that right? I would know. Yeah. But that’s because when it rains it, it really rains. And what we had half an hour ago was, as I was saying to you, it was quite exceptional, usually. drizzly grey rubbish, so yeah, it’s that that is a fact apparently. I don’t know if it’s There is, but it’s still true, but apparently, it is. But yeah, so obviously there’s that and I think just what was quite unique or what is quite unique about Sydney is I think, being in a world city or, you know, a sizable world city. But also having, you know, wilderness bushland, so close by having ocean close by, you know, you’re bang on the harbor, yeah, it’s just, you know, a bit of a playground, really, and it’s just a really easy place to live. And they just to have it right out there, you know, just the way of life. And, you know, again, going back to climate that really helps because it enables, it enables that whole kind of lifestyle of being able to eat Alfresco. And but also, it’s a real kind of Cosmopolitan melting pot there as well just, you know, like, like, London is in like New York, and there’s a big influence of, you know, the Far East. And Japan, food

Scott Reid 16:08
must just be only over the top unbelievable. It really is.

Andy McKenna 16:12
It really is. And I know, kind of Melbourne as well, very similar way, you’ve got the big Italian influence, big Greek influence, and, you know, Sydney is, is similar. And so yeah, I mean, cuisine wise, it’s spectacular. Yeah, and culturally, I know, that it’s always been sort of joked about a bit in the past, obviously, culture, but that’s very much changed now as well, you know, there’s, you know, pretty much, you know, whether it’s music, you know, theater, whatever, there is definitely a huge opportunity to, you know, to, to enjoy that out there as well. And, you know, really sort of high quality, high quality entertainment, too. And I’m a big sports nut as well. So, I mean, they’re kind of you get England, Australia. Competition, right, right, in sport, especially the cricket, cricket and the rugby. And, you know, it’s always pretty big. I’ve, I’ve always played cricket myself. And that’s, that that was a big thing for me as well going over there. And just being able to, to enjoy things like, you know, World Cups and Rugby World Cup, which had just started when we moved out there. So that was spectacular. It was hosted in, in Sydney. So yeah, just Yeah, I mean, I could talk about this for hours, but just a place and hard to come back. You know, we came back really for, for family reasons. But I wouldn’t say we regret it. Because, you know, we love living here as well. But we would like to go but the problem with Australia is just so far away, and now very expensive to get to. So, so yeah, it’s but you know, I think something on in the calendar for the next the next couple of years. We’re

Scott Reid 18:17
working in marketing when when you were in Australia? Yeah, yeah. So

Andy McKenna 18:21
I worked, again, sort of in a number of different places, contracting and permanence I worked for, for a bank when I first arrived there. My wife and I also started a business while we were over there, it was actually personalized children’s storybooks, not really, actually go at Yeah, and there was a bit of software that you could actually use, you go in, and you could choose the name and appearance of the characters in the book. And we, my wife did it an English degree. And as I say, I did a languages degree, we both have been very interested in creative writing. And both done a bit in the past. So we wrote this book. And, and we launched it over there, and it never, never really took off. And when we came back here, that was the kind of the idea was to really push this this personalized children’s storybook. But then life and other work kind of got in the way and it never really got any traction. So that was a business event, a business venture that might kind of happened that we were a little bit miffed as well that there was another another company, a small business here in the UK that started off doing the same thing. They went on fragance den, which is the kind of Shark Tank equivalent over Yeah, right. Right. And they got a huge investment from that and really kind of kicked on and now just cornered the market in that so Yeah, I think we would have our work cut out to try and compete with them now, but But yeah, so that was that my wife set up a digital agency when we were over there as well. So yeah, we did various different various different things. But it wasn’t really until I came back over here to the UK, that that I started getting into, into CRO and, you know, it was, I guess it wasn’t even really known as CRO, I think that at the time, it was more of a b testing was kind of a bit of a thing. Real strategy behind it. I was working for an insurance company, actually. And at the time, my role was really to be the sort of customer facing website strategist.

Scott Reid 21:03
And what your what year is this roughly?

Andy McKenna 21:05
So this was two, this was 2012. Okay. Yeah. So the year we, we came back to the UK? And so yeah, I mean, it was very much a case of, okay, we are looking to grow our web presence. When, you know, there were basically four different brands that this this insurer ad, and it was really, yeah, my remit was just to try and grow the websites grow that grow the traffic and improve performance. And so

Scott Reid 21:50
so at that stage of the game, was it kind of like a broad? It sounds like it was a broad initiative to grow their online presence and their perhaps their revenue through the online channel, is that correct?

Andy McKenna 22:04
That’s right. Yeah. I mean, there was, there was a small SEO team. So they were for obviously, you know, acquiring that, acquiring the traffic. And so I would kind of work closely with, with them, I would work closely with the kind of paid media team as well. And then, you know, I and a very small team that I had with me where we’re responsible for, for really the the on site experience, I suppose. But as I say, very tactical. So I suppose that you could say was the sort of the introduction to that whole kind of experience optimization CRO, piece. And, you know, I had done a little bit of AV testing for my own website. So I had familiarity, I suppose with with the tools.

Scott Reid 23:01
And it just was this company, was it? Was it global? Was it just focused on the UK? on the UK?

Andy McKenna 23:08
Yeah, it was on the UK, UK based, and there was a little bit of European involvement, but very, very small. The vast majority of it was, was UK based.

Scott Reid 23:20
There was an English an English site. Yes. exclusively. And yeah. So how did that how did that experience it sounds like you’ve kind of you’ve designed your own destiny, and you created it. It sounds like it was very entrepreneurial, I guess, would be the best way to put it.

Andy McKenna 23:38
It. It was to a degree, I suppose. I mean, I guess within a within a corporate, you can be entrepreneurial up to a certain rank, are always those checks and balances that you can’t go to rogue or to renegades. So yeah, I mean, it was it was good that we were sort of given free rein to be able to improve make improvements on the site, you know, within the constraints of the template that you you’ve got, but I suppose the frustrating part of it that I that I found was there were it tended to be very much kind of top down. Top down recommendations, I suppose you’d say. So it was sort of edgemon saying what should happen and what should address them appear on the website. So

Scott Reid 24:38
so it’s kind of that that that hippo acronym highest paid person? Absolutely.

Andy McKenna 24:43
Which kind of became a common theme is you know, as time time went on, yeah. And yeah, I mean, it was it was sort of it became frustrating and quite tricky, because You know, it was clear that nothing really got tested nothing. And, and, you know, things were done on on a whim, you know, gut feel. And so I think I realized that the processes weren’t in place to really be able to sort of do anything about that. What happened then was we had a new digital director who came on board and his remit was very much, you know, completely replatform digital transformation. So it was really when there’s sort of digital transformation buzzword first came about, and my remit changed from being the sort of customer marketing, online customer marketing person to actually be in the product owner of this, this new replatforming program. And so, you know, new digital rights, it took me under his wing and said, I want you to delete this from a, from a program perspective. And

Scott Reid 26:08
so what year is this? Essentially, you started? Well, yeah, to

Andy McKenna 26:14
2013 2014 2013, I think it was pretty quick after you started. It was, yeah, it was.

Scott Reid 26:23
But prior to that time, it was kind of like the people were making a random, this is my gut feel, this is what I think should change on the website, and then you would implement it. Was that was that frustrating?

Andy McKenna 26:37
It was, it was frustrating. It was and, you know, it didn’t really change throughout the whole of this replac forming process, either. So pretty much a technical project, I suppose you’d say book or that sort of technology based project, because it was replac forming these websites with a view to, to pushing something live, that was a minimum viable product. And really kind of iterating on that once it was once it was live. So it was good that there was that that sort of mindset behind it. But I guess when you know, when the rubber hit the road, is it is it, where it sort of quickly became apparent that that wasn’t the case. Because essentially, you know, invited to, to present the final website to, to the board to the CEO. And essentially, you know, we were told, don’t like it, no good. Have to go back to the back to the drawing board. This is what it should be. So it was kind of like the absolute, you know,

Scott Reid 27:52
it’s a great example of, of what not to do in terms of, from a senior management perspective, clear

Andy McKenna 27:59
opposite. Absolutely. Right. And, you know, I remember coming away from this meeting, feeling absolutely kind of crestfallen, thinking, Ah, you know, all this, all this work we’ve done. And the one of the is actually one of the guys from the consulting agency, who we brought on board. I mean, basically, everything was, was to be done in an agile way. Right agile partner, they were kind of walking us through how to do that we hadn’t done anything agile before, it had been completely waterfall. And one of these guys just sort of turned around man, he said, he said, You know what you guys need? Know what, sir? You need is a you need us a research that, okay, it says, you need user research, and you need CRO I kind of thought, Yeah, I’ve heard of CRO but more. And anyway, I kind of went away from this and thought, yeah, I’m gonna, I’m gonna kind of read a bit more into this and look into the different frameworks and what have you. And we kind of thought, Well, yeah, if, if we want to be able to push back on, on this kind of Hippo mentality, you need to be able to put frameworks in place that enable us to do that.

Scott Reid 29:21
Because, because because they were, in essence, pushing back and just correct me if I’m drawing the wrong conclusion here. But they were, in essence, it was easy for them to say we don’t like your idea and the or the team’s idea on this. We want you to redo it. Whereas with user research, the differences is that they then they would be saying We don’t like what’s going to work for you user. We only want and care about what’s going to work for us. Yeah, and what we think is right, and so that’s a really I’m loving where this conversations going be Because because that is it’s just an really interesting, it’s I think it’s such a relevant story in terms of what? What I’m sure you still see, I certainly see it in terms of how how senior management can think about certain things. And your your story of what happened back in 2012. And 13 is not unlike what we still see, to this very day. And I didn’t mean to interrupt you on that. But I just want to interject and add that point that yeah, and, but but but please keep going on what you were saying with this with this new initiative, and the way that you started to use user research, and the CRO, a B testing type? methodology? And, yeah,

Andy McKenna 30:46
now, I mean, you’re absolutely right, where he’s saying, and, yeah, I mean, it was I, as I say, you know, it was absolutely essential that these frameworks needed to be put in place. And it was the, it was the catalyst, I suppose that sort of launched me into CRO. I think, what I really kind of loved about it, and still do is the fact that, you know, everything is measurable and has to be measurable. Everything has to be rooted in, in data and data insights. Yeah. And I think one of the reasons I like that so much is because it made my job easier, you know, I life easier. And I could, you can print out a sheet of paper and point to it and say, This isn’t what I’m saying. This is what our customers are saying, This is what our cohorts are saying this is, you know, this is what the audience is the personas, whatever you want to call them. And, and then you you know, you run experiments, and you validate that, and it’s just kind of it sort of opened my eyes so much, because, really, yes, it can be seen as a bit of a complex process. But really, in essence, it’s so simple. It

Scott Reid 32:12
was, it must have made your job a lot easier to

Andy McKenna 32:15
it really did, it really did and more enjoyable and

Scott Reid 32:19
satisfying. And yeah, because when you can see the effect of your of your process going back to the process, you know, part of your conversation that was at an inflection point where things started to change internally with with with the with that board and the senior management.

Andy McKenna 32:37
It did. And I think to be fair, you know, there was definitely a readiness and a keenness to adopt that mindset. So that whole kind of, you know, culture we hear about culture of experimentation don’t mean we hear about Peston learn. And, you know, definitely, there was that willingness. And I think from the CEO, well, to be fair, that you know, to, to actually change, change the way that things work, because there was definitely a recognition that the company was a bit of a dinosaur. And they were the first to admit that that was the case and things needed to change, especially if they wanted to compete with the likes of, you know, the price comparison websites and these new kinds of disruptors in the market

Scott Reid 33:25
was Was there any resistance at all, initially, to the new technique? Or the the new strategy in terms of listen to the voice of the customer? Yeah,

Andy McKenna 33:38
I think in a large organization, you’re always gonna get that you’re always gonna get pockets of resistance people who have been there a long long time who just kind of are happy doing, you know, people don’t change, they’re happy they’ve done or whatever. So, yeah, I mean, it my role almost became a sort of an advocate role where I would be going out to stakeholders within the business and really trying to extol the virtues of of working in this way and you know, of test and learn and showing, showing these stakeholders how it could, how it could help them and you know, how, how testing was really what needs to be done. Alright, so

Scott Reid 34:19
Andy and I actually recorded this in two different sessions well maybe to work I think Andy right. I think we I think we’re gonna get it done today. But it’s so it’s several weeks after we just ended what you literally just just listened to so if there’s any disconnects there’s a reason for that is because of several weeks in between here. But that being said, what we were talking about just just a recap, is the or not to recap, but to revisit it is the is the fact that in large organizations, that highest paid person mentality. Eddie, you experienced that as quite a negative but then one She started using research and data to support your findings and your recommendations. That’s when the light went off in the brain, the light bulb, you know, lit up above the head of the of the people in the C suite. And they said, Oh, yeah, that’s I kind of get that now. Now I buy into it. Now, I’m not going to resist you, because I’m not resisting you, per se, I’m resisting my user, I’m resisting the data. And that’s, that’s kind of, that’s harder to do, let’s say, Yeah.

Andy McKenna 35:31
And it helped that it kind of went hand in hand with a digital transformation, you know, with a complete replatforming and a complete. You know, what enabled that, that culture change, I suppose, was the fact that there was a new digital director who wanted to move in that direction. And, you know, what was ironic, I think, was a board that enabled that as well, a board that wanted that to happen, on the one side, but then when it kind of came to the crunch, you know, that sort of Hippo mentality Did, did raise its raise its head again. And so, yeah, I think, once they saw it in action, once we had experimentation up and running, it kind of opened the, the box of the shiny new toy, which was, you know, Adobe target. And at first it was here, it was all all new stuff. And I think a lot of people thought you open the box, and, you know, yeah, you program a few tests. And there you go. And, you know, very quickly, a lot of people realize that, that that that wasn’t the case, you had to have a strategy, you know, you need to have the process, the the framework, the methodology, whatever you want to call it, underpinning it. So that’s how it works. And you need to get people on on site. And so, you know, it is all around that, that kind of democratization that we read a lot about, on LinkedIn, you know, a lot of people talking about it, and it’s so true, you know, you, you do need to get people on site. And it’s not just senior management, it’s your peers, it’s, it’s people in the business, you know, plumbers, who need to, to kind of understand the, you know, how it’s going to benefit them. And I think a lot of it is around innovation. How experimentation kind of breeds that that innovation. And, yeah, it was, for me, that I was sort of given the remit of going out there into the, into the wilderness, you know, and trying to, you know, try and change mindsets and change. And in a lot of cases, they didn’t need changing, which is quite encouraging, you know, a lot of people were just on board with it right from the start, once they understand the benefits, sometimes it is just simply stating the benefits or restating the benefits to the stakeholders. And, and they get it because you know, that they’re not stupid, they can see that there is a scientific rationale behind, right, to try and sort of see what it’s going to work best for, for their websites. And so, you know, in a large organization, there are always those challenges around, around who owns what part of the website, they’re always going to be squabbles around sort of what what gets tested. And really, my role and our role as a CRO team or kind of marketing digital marketing team was to really was to try and reduce those those hurdles and try and democratize it as much as possible and get people from the business into those those planning meetings into those test ideation sessions. And it was fun. But people It wasn’t something new, it was fine. You could gamify it a little bit. And and, you know, we, we learn, prioritization, I suppose the hard way, I mean,

Scott Reid 39:22
that prioritization, that’s a huge one, because there’s so many different avenues to go down. I mean, that’s a talent and a skill in and of itself. Absolutely.

Andy McKenna 39:33
Right. And it was incumbent on me as the lead to really do my research and find out about what there was out there. And you know, a lot of these frameworks then were in their infancy or hadn’t even been sort of invented back then. And then even now, I find a specific framework isn’t necessarily going to work for all companies for all industries and Sometimes you just kind of have to pick and choose your weapon as it were, and the, the PXL framework tends to where I find tends to work really well, for bigger kind of enterprise websites, a smaller business, an E commerce site, you know, whether you need to have that kind of velocity of testing will generally I mean, I found that a simpler, you know, business impact versus versus kind of effort, you know, just having criteria to score by two or three criteria may be, you know, works better, because, you know, you’re not spending all your time on the, on the prioritization. And, and I do think, just sort of dwelling just for a little bit on on prioritization. It’s, it needs to be a balancing act. And I’ve seen in my experience that, and I’m guilty of this myself, you know, sometimes you can spend more time on the prioritization than actually on the test ideation and running the test, and it becomes an industry in its own right. And so, now, I’m very keen for it not to be the case, you need to have something that strikes the balance between being robust, but also not taking up all of your time. Right, God actually, you can’t actually run the experiments. Yeah. Well,

Scott Reid 41:31
you, you know, after your experience, when when as, as you’ve developed your, your CRO chops, your experimentation shops, you you eventually created a course. Which, if I’m not mistaken, I think we talked about briefly at the beginning. But your, your course is something that you did a couple of years ago, during COVID, if I’m not mistaken, could you talk about that, and, and the, and what you’re trying to achieve with that course, your objective for it and kind of like maybe who is foreign? Why? I think that would be really helpful, because that will, you know, will take us to the next next phase of the conversation. Yeah,

Andy McKenna 42:17
yeah, absolutely. So the reason I pulled the course together was Yeah, and it was, as you say, a few different sorts of things converging at one time, one was, obviously the pandemic, where I found that for a number of reasons, the level of of work had dropped off. So I had a bit more free time. And I thought to myself, great opportunity to actually pull all of my learning and experience together in this in this hugely fascinating topic, which has always, always held such fascination for me. And it was almost a sort of cathartic exercise going through and, and sort of piecing together that the process but really went with the angle of, again, sort of democratizing it. So, there are there are courses out there that focus focused or directed at the expert. What I wanted to do was really create something that was not necessarily an introduction to CRO because an introduction, CRO can be quite high level, I wanted to go into kind of just enough depth for it not to be like a kind of degree course, and not certainly not belittling those. I think there are some Outstanding, outstanding material out there, but something that was, you know, long enough and detailed enough to be able to give someone who wasn’t a CRO expert, enough sorts of knowledge and enough information to to make them you know, a an expert, or at least to get them to a position where they could get a job in, in CRO, but really, it’s kind of it’s directed at probably digital marketers, I would say, or people within a marketing discipline. You know, maybe it’s someone who’s in in SEO or in paid search or has kind of got that broader knowledge and who’s interested in finding out a little bit more about CRO, but maybe kind of things, you know, that they’ve got those preconceived ideas that it’s all too hard or you’ve got to you’ve got to be a data analyst to do it or you know, you’ve got to be a psychologist or you know, whatever it is, or a UX expert, but and it’s really kind of exploding those masks and showing actually Neck, if you’re taught the right way, and you’ve got the frameworks in place, and you, you’ve got the approach, right thing that you can do, because

Scott Reid 45:09
the thing is, and I agree with you 100% I think that for many people, in my opinion, at least, the CRO can be very intimidating because there are so many, an overwhelming might be a better, a better way to describe it. Because there are so many different facets and moving parts and different avenues you can go down and you can get really, really, really detailed in the weeds on certain things. And so what you’re that democratization of CRO knowledge, I think is, is personally I think it’s something that is incredibly valuable to in terms of just literally a time savings on these are the things that you should focus on because this is going to ground you and provide you with a very solid foundation from which to work from and to grow from. And that’s if I understand you correctly, that was that’s really kind of like your, your objective with that is to provide that level of, of confidence and experience that somebody is going to get, that might take them a lot longer to sift through it themselves. So it’s a huge time saver and a focused kind of learning track, if you will, is that a correct statement,

Andy McKenna 46:23
but in my opinion, it is the best way to become a what they call T shaped marketer because, like you say, CROs kind of got all of it. It’s got, it’s got the UX element. It’s got the research element, it’s got the analytics, you know, psychology, psychology, statistics,

Scott Reid 46:45
you know, copywriting I mean, it’s sofiero

Andy McKenna 46:47
copywriter. copywriters, massive, you know, and so underplayed, you know, so undervalued and underpaid. Yeah, I mean, copywriting is absolutely huge. And we could probably have another hour conversation about that, you know, content. And, yeah, and so I do believe that it kind of pieces, all of those elements together in a way that I can’t think of any other marketing discipline or digital marketing discipline that that does that. Well,

Scott Reid 47:22
how did you? How did you? Because you did it during COVID. Right? Yeah. And how long is the course total?

Andy McKenna 47:32
It’s about five hours, but

Scott Reid 47:34
five hours of focus learning? And will and what are the sections if you could just talk about this about the sections of the course. And take it on its own, it’s in video, obviously, just for reference, and there’ll be a link to the show notes.

Andy McKenna 47:50
So yeah, it’s called a step by step guide to CRO and hopefully it does what it says on the tin, you know, that that’s exactly what I want to be is, is that step by step guide through the whole process, starting off with an introduction, you know, what is it? Unsurprisingly? And then, you know, what is the optimization process, so kind of talking about setting up the setting yourself up for success, having that measurement framework in place, you know, understanding it, so if you’re doing this as an agency, it’s understanding your client’s business objectives, and being able to map everything you do to those business objectives and having KPIs in place or OKRs, in place to, you know, to make sure that you are, you know, destined for success. And then, from there, it’s the Insight gathering. So, you know, really focusing on that sort of insight gathering, user research, conversion, research, whatever you want to call it. Moving into testing and iteration, you know, what that looks like, why we experiment, and why it’s not a one, one and done, you know, it needs to be an ongoing, an ongoing thing, ongoing activity. And then I kind of dive into, you know, what you should do before experimentation, you know, making sure that everything is aligned. And again, it’s looking at your success metrics, making sure that they are all in place. Making sure that you have done your due diligence in terms of of that user research to really sort of price out those those sorts of problem statements, I suppose that the you would then turn into hypotheses and so you know, there’s a big I’m a bit of a hypothesis freak. And so you need in my view, you need to have a problem statement. You need to have a hypothesis, any experiment that you that you run so it kind of goes into a bit of detail about what it is what Do you need to have it and, and some examples, you know, and what the structure of one should be. So again, I’m, I’m a great one for simplicity, I don’t know, whether it’s that I have a simple brain or something, but, you know, smart, I tend to, I tend to like simplicity. And so, you know, I tried to break things down into, into sort of as simple terms as possible. So, your hypothesis should be an NF, then because it should be kind of rooted in data. And, again, a bit like the prioritization, you don’t want to make an industry out of it, you want it to help you. And so, you know, it needs to be something that can guide you to a quick a quick decision, I suppose, or, you know, to enable you to, to keep that velocity of testing, you don’t want it to slow you down, you want it to, to enable it.

Scott Reid 50:58
But what you’re describing to as your as your, as you’re touching on some of the high points of the of the optimization process, is that it’s not all about the testing, right? That’s, that’s a relatively small percentage of it, when you look at it as a percentage of the whole. And the time, and a lot of your course is focused on the preparation or setting up the test ideation, the research, all the all the stuff and the bits and pieces that have to do that the better job you do there, and the more complete job and the more thoughtful job are gonna lead to better tests, which lead to better outcomes. Right.

Andy McKenna 51:38
So any Right, absolutely right, Scott? Yeah. About that, about that preparation?

Scott Reid 51:43
And and that aspect of the course, I think that would be really helpful.

Andy McKenna 51:48
Yeah, I mean, I, there is a rule of thumb, or certainly a rule that I’ve heard a number of CRO experts talking about, and that is an 8020 rule, when it comes to, to research versus sort of implementation or execution, where 80% of your focus should be on that, that user research because if you haven’t got those, that that meaningful data, or you haven’t got the those insights, then you’re setting yourself up to fail, you’re, you’re only going to come out at the end of it. And you’re right, you know, experimentation, in terms of AV testing, that that’s really just sort of one tool. In the box. There’s, there’s usability testing, as well, there’s no there. It’s a form of validation. I hear a lot of my peers talking about this. And I couldn’t agree more, you know, I think I’ve got clients now who are absolutely fixated with running a certain number of AP tests in any calendar year, and you can kind of understand, understand why. Because they are focused on on their financials, and they’re focused on the results. But, you know, I think, probably one of the things that we haven’t talked about on here, and it’s possibly the most important element of all, is that CRO is all about learning. You might run 20 tests, and only two of them are winners in inverted commas. Right? But as long as you are getting meaningful insights and learnings from those 18 others, then it’s all in vain. And

Scott Reid 53:36
you need that. So is important, equally as equally as

Andy McKenna 53:40
important. Because, you know, a lot of the time, it’s all about risk management. And, you know, what you don’t put live is often much more important than what you do, because you are limiting the, you know, that the impact the negative impact in so many cases. And, you know, I’ve worked and we go back to the, you know, the example that we were talking about right at the beginning, you know, the financial services organization where, you know, when we launched the new website, we actually ran an AV test, old versus new site, it was, you know, really, it wasn’t anything that I’d seen done before. And it was almost sort of by chance that we came about that we essentially we saw that Adobe target allowed you to do this and we thought, well, let’s give it a try. Because what we don’t want to do is launch a brand new redesigned website that’s completely different and that tanks, right,

Scott Reid 54:44
because that has happened before.

Andy McKenna 54:50
dread to think how many I’ve been involved with in the past where that has happened. But you know, there is a way of mitigating against one. Split yourself. That’s between between the two. And as long as you’ve got your crystal clear about your KPIs that you want to measure against, and you haven’t got too many, because, you know, otherwise, it just becomes an absolute chaotic mess. You can run the two together for a short period of time. And again, you can, you can manage that risk. And if you’re, if your conversion rate tanks, your kind of or any of your other KPIs, tank, then you can go in, you can kind of tweak, tweak the engine as it as they work. And, again, reduce that risk mitigate against that. And then you know, when you are finally kind of pushing your new version, the beta version live, that it’s at least performing as well as the previous one was, and then you take your new your new site, and then you just continually iterate on that. So, so yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s another another form of experimentation, I think, which is, you know, risk risk management, experimentation, whatever you want to call it. And I suppose, you know, going back to, to why CRO fascinates or fascinated me so much. When I first kind of came across it. It was I suppose the fact that you know, everything is measurable, whereas in the past, wasn’t everything was done on a whim. And you know, you were told what to do. And you did it. And because it was inverted commas best practice. And, yeah, now you can go back and you can say, well, I’ve disproved that best practice. And we’ve run an experiment that has disproved that or our users or a cohort of users has disproved that through some usability testing, or, you know, however you want to do it. So it’s kind of quite nice to be able to turn around and and disprove things as much as prove them.

Scott Reid 57:01
Absolutely. So we spoke about a couple of sections of the course. Could you talk a little bit about the others? Yeah,

Andy McKenna 57:08
sure. So I touched on the kind of testing and iterate insight gathering, testing and iteration. And then, essentially, what you should do before, during, and after testing, and it goes through those in a bit of detail. And then I talk about what it’s, I call it an introduction to personalization. And, you know, obviously, personalization is a big element of CRO, I call it an introduction to personalization, because obviously, you know, you could write an entire course on that in itself. So it’s really just looking at why why you should personalize what the benefits of it are, and kind of how to go about doing it. And I also talk about CRO for low traffic websites, because that kind of that there is a fear, I suppose that you can’t do CRO if you haven’t got enough traffic. And whilst it might mean that you can’t run a fully fledged AV testing program, it doesn’t mean that you can’t do CRO, you know, there are definitely things that you can do. And, you know, again, it’s, it may be that you need to resort a little bit more to best practice, but also you can look at usability testing, you can actually, there are definitely things that you can do. So I go into, that’s

Scott Reid 58:33
great that you touch on that, because that, that that’s a huge thing for a very, very high percentage, think about all the number of websites that are out there, and how many can you actually test with a high level of confidence? It’s it’s a very small number, so

Andy McKenna 58:49
absolutely. Right. And, you know, it seems a shame that there is a mindset that you can’t, with any kind of rigor, go about validating any changes to those sites is just not true. And so, you know, it’s, as you say, it’s important, I think. And then the final two sections are documentation. So documenting your CRO efforts, absolutely massively, massively important. If you can’t document then, again, you’re setting yourself up for failure, really, because

Scott Reid 59:27
that’s where the value is. That is documentation.

Andy McKenna 59:31
Right? Absolutely. Right. And those learnings you know, and having a, a hub for all of that, all of that stuff. Absolutely, absolutely vital. And then finally, I take a look at email marketing and how you can optimize your email marketing and split testing, email marketing, that folds in so it’s not, you know, it’s not just website it’s looking at that the whole kind of user journey I suppose you do. If you would call it so yeah, looking, looking at email marketing as well. So that’s,

Scott Reid 1:00:09
that’s an that’s unique too, because that’s typically not going to be included in many conversion rate optimization slash CRO courses. So so that’s, I would consider that a huge benefit to any listener to, to look at the, to learn more about your viewpoint in terms of the intersection between all of these different aspects of CRO but also how it integrates with traffic like email. And then I’m sure that you can apply those similar concepts to other types of traffic. So that’s, that’s really, really, really helpful to have that overview. Any. Yeah,

Andy McKenna 1:00:48
and I think you raise a really, really good point there that that conversion rate optimisation, experience optimization, you know, whatever, whatever you want to call it. And, you know, there, I know that there’s a lot of discussion at the moment about whether CRO is actually the right term for it, because it kind of gives it a very narrow scope. And I’m, again, I’m inclined to agree with that, I think, you know, maybe it is experience optimization, or Yeah, I mean, what’s in a name, it doesn’t really matter. But, you know, the fact is that this is all about, about improving the customer journey in improving the the user experience with a brand. And, you know, that could be for a bank that could be in branch, you know, for a bank that could be on the website. You know, it could also be

Scott Reid 1:01:50
returns refunds, I mean, yeah, absolutely. All right. Yeah.

Andy McKenna 1:01:57
Yeah, a reinsurance company. And, you know, so how do we, how do we go about improving that? How do we go about optimizing that experience? And, you know, again, website experimentation is only a part of, and I think it’s incumbent on us as, as CRO experts to almost kind of grow grow this to, to, to, you know, to look at how do we, how do we improve that overall experience in it? What can we put in place to, to do that? And so, you know, I think we’re at a very, very interesting point. Now, you know, yeah, within digital marketing, because, you know, we need to start kind of looking looking broader.

Scott Reid 1:02:47
You just said about 10, you had had made about 10 points that I could think could all be an hour long podcast episode. Yeah. We’ll definitely have you back. I’d love to have you back on Annie.

Andy McKenna 1:03:00
I’d love to come back on it’s been it’s been fantastic. I’ve loved I’ve loved having this discussion. I can talk about it all day. Oh, yeah.

Scott Reid 1:03:09
Well, there’s so many different rabbit holes, you can go down. We’re gonna have a link in the, to the course in the show notes. Yep. And where else where can other people where can they find you?

Andy McKenna 1:03:22
They can find me at my website, which is aquitaine.com. So Accutane is the name of my consultancy,

Scott Reid 1:03:31
which, which you got to tell them the story on what that means. I love it. I love the name. You gotta you gotta give us a little bit on that.

Andy McKenna 1:03:38
Well, the aqui comes from acquire and retain comes from retain. So equity is a place in France and I kind of I’m sitting there looking at acquire and retain one day and thought, Oh, I could say. So that’s kind of what it what it became. So yeah, it’s it’s

Scott Reid 1:03:57
cheeky, the right term. Is that is that is that the correct British term? Cheeky?

Andy McKenna 1:04:03
Cheeky little name? Yeah.

Scott Reid 1:04:06
I’m using that correctly. Right.

Andy McKenna 1:04:09
Yeah, you are. You’re good? Yeah.

Scott Reid 1:04:13
Yes. So Well, excellent. Well, thank you very much, Andy, I again, I really appreciate you taking the time to, to visit on the show and to share your your words of wisdom. It’s been a pleasure. Again, everybody can find andy@aquitaine.com. That’s AC quit a is correct. And other than that, thank you very much. Again, it was a pleasure. And we’ll talk to you soon, Andy. Thank

Andy McKenna 1:04:41
you very much indeed. Now, I’ve enjoyed it very much. And yeah, Scott. Thanks

Scott Reid 1:04:47
a lot. We’ll talk to you soon. Bye. Bye. Bye.