When you commit to creating a brainstorming team for experimentation, you want to keep a number of things in mind, both for building the team and for executing the meetings.
First, build a broad team. This should include people outside the experimentation team, but whose viewpoint is still important. Bring diverse perspectives into the room when you brainstorm. Stakeholders from different parts of the company can help identify new experimentation opportunities that provide fresh takes on familiar parts of the site or app.
For example, the optimization program manager should consider:
- Stakeholders who are directly involved in experimentation
- Analysts who work with your site or app’s data
- Developers involved in creating new features
- Designers who create new digital assets
- People at the company who see your visitors at different stages of the customer journey
Let’s talk about that last one. It’s vital to include the people who answer the phones and deal with your customers every day. These people have an incredible amount of insight into what’s working and what’s not, because someone frustrated with your online experience is very likely to get on the phone or ]hop on your customer service e-mail or web chat to express their confusion or frustration.
Also, visitors come to your site or app at a certain point on the customer journey. What parts of the company do they see before and after? A holistic view of the customer life cycle can feed new questions into your brainstorm process.
For example, if some visitors are driven to your site through an email campaign or Google ad, your SEO or content marketing manager may have insights about effective value propositions to carry through on the site. Or, customers may purchase on your site and then work with an account manager. The account manager, whose key priorities are retention and loyalty, can help brainstorm ideas to optimize for repeat purchases.
It’s best to meet regularly and in-person, if possible. For some mature optimization programs, the ideation session also presents an opportunity for a brief retrospective on experiment results once you initiate the process. Monthly meetings will help you feed what you’ve learned into the process and prioritize areas to experiment on next.
Bring a prioritized list of the pages on your site that have the biggest impact on your business goals. Frame your brainstorming session to focus on each of these pages in order of priority.
In each session, try to get 5 to 10 questions you can evaluate through experimentation.
Customers excited about experimentation often jump straight into hypothesis generation or even experiment creation. Experiments created this way may help to alleviate certain frustrations, but they often fail to get at the root cause of those frustrations: assumptions about visitors or other discontinuities that surface in the site or app design. Instead, redirect that enthusiasm to ask productive questions and probe untested assumptions. Think about your business model, your visitors, and your product roadmap to find opportunities to optimize.
At the end of your ideation session, you should have a set of focused questions or assumptions that you want to evaluate through experimentation or personalization. Organize this list by location, or where the experiment would be focused - for example, the home page, product details pages, or the checkout funnel.
Establish a description of the visitors you’re focused on. Are you evaluating first-time visitors? Customers who make large purchases? Visitors who use the search function? Identify specific audiences you’ll target when you start experimenting or personalizing your experiences.
You should defer judgment in brainstorming sessions. Focus on generating questions, not answers. When brainstorming, participants shouldn’t feel pressured to design experiments or present changes, just to explore the “why.”
When you leave a brainstorming session, you’ll have input that will help you revise your idea into a complete hypothesis and create an experiment plan. Brainstorming with your team focuses the process and allows you to think more carefully about what to change in the online experience to optimize for certain visitor behaviors.