At a glance

  • 7 websites launched on a single platform
  • Sites running in 17 languages
  • Removing the reliance on IT and developers


ACCO Brands is a leading supplier of consumer, academic and office products, with a long heritage and a wide product portfolio. The company operates in multiple markets across Europe and relies on Optimizely as its primary technology partner to deliver engaging and personalized digital experiences to its customers.

In this interview, Bjorn Barnard, Digital Marketing Director at ACCO Brands EMEA, shares how Optimizely and its partner Wunderman Thompson have helped ACCO Brands overcome its user experience, content management and search engine optimization challenges, and achieve impressive results in lead generation, content efficiency and performance.


Jason Ekundayo - Optimizely: What's your name and your job title and where do you work?

Bjorn Barnard - ACCO Brands: I'm Bjorn Barnard and I'm the Digital Marketing Director for ACCO Brands EMEA.

Can you tell me a little bit about your role and what you do at ACCO Brands?

Bjorn Barnard: Sure. So, at ACCO Brands, as Director for Online Strategy, we're responsible for digital marketing strategy and execution across Europe. We break that down into four pillars of activity.

We've got web development, which happens on the Optimizely platform. We've got performance marketing, which is our paid activity across search, social channels, Amazon and display. We look after marketing automation, which refers to ACCO’s email and product recommendations on the website. We also use Optimizely products for that.

We also spend a lot of our energy looking at localization as a service, because at ACCO Brands we have 10 primary brands across Europe and they're available in generally 25 languages each. So, 10 brands with lots of languages and lots of products. It really keeps us busy!

What does ACCO Brands do and what is the value that your company provides?

Bjorn Barnard: ACCO Brands is a leading supplier of consumer, academic and office products. We are listed on the New York Stock Exchange. We've got a long heritage going back over a hundred years. You'll find our products in categories such as whiteboards, paper, shredders, sit-stand desk converters, footrests, laptop docking stations, glue guns, gaming controllers and more. So, we sell into large corporates, SMEs and consumers alike, really wide product portfolio.

When did ACCO Brands start using Optimizely's platform?

Bjorn Barnard: At ACCO Brands, we've been an Optimizely customer since 2014. More recently, we migrated and adopted the Optimizely One platform in 2020. That was about four years ago and that's really when we started to partner with Wunderman Thompson, who have been our partner from the start, in order to work with them to deliver and improve customer experiences on the platform.

We have the best of breed content marketing platform, but we have not necessarily been using it to deliver the best end user experiences and that's what we've been working on over the past few years.

What role did your partner Wunderman Thompson play in the implementation of Optimizely One platform?

Bjorn Barnard: So Wunderman Thompson helped us specifically with our adoption of the Optimizely One platform. At ACCO Brands Europe, we outsource all of our technical development and web development to Wunderman Thompson.

We rely on them to help us strategize our architecture. They deliver all of our technical developments; we rely on their QA and UI resources and we really partner with them as an extension of ACCO Brands' marketing team to deliver the digital experiences that we wish to deliver to our end users.

The project process we adopted with Wunderman Thompson that started the project is we ran several e-commerce best practice audits, comparing the customer journeys that we're running on our websites. And from that we created a body of work and a series of bite-sized projects that we could deliver over an extended roadmap.

Were you looking to integrate Optimizely’s Customized Commerce solution with any other tech platforms or software? If so, what were they?

Bjorn Barnard: We gave our partners, Wunderman Thompson, three main technologies to integrate with on the Optimizely One platform. We have our own bespoke PIM system, which presents challenges. We already use Optimizely Campaign for our database and email marketing activities. And then we integrate with our dealers using Prisync by Commerce Connector to send leads to our channel partners.

What benefits does the Optimizely One platform provide to you and your team that were absent previously?

Bjorn Barnard: Since we've been using Optimizely One platform to the extent that we are now, we've really seen improvements in content management efficiencies. The platform we're using gives us control that we need at a central level, but the flexibility for our local markets to localize content as they see fit.

We're doing that much quicker now, 61% quicker in fact, thanks to our leveraging of Optimizely's project feature. and guidance by the team at Wunderman Thompson.

So, we integrate now with MemoQ, which is our translation management software to that we have. In addition to that, we have also seen an increase in where to buy leads going off to our channel partners. That's really important for us as we don't sell directly. Our improved UX has driven an 80% increase in the first four months of this year with more leads going off to our customers. So that's something that the team is really proud of, and our customers of course are also really happy.

We also make use of Optimizely's Visitor Group functionality to deliver personalized landing pages to users coming in from paid activity. That's not only good for us in terms of conversion events, but it's also good for our channel partners because on those landing pages we're able to, based on the incoming URL using Optimizely's visitor group functionality, present content that leads customers directly off to specific dealers and at a marketing level that allows us to work with our dealers and invest some of their rebate monies and marketing development funds in paid activities that benefit the wider business as well. So it's a win-win for everybody.

What features and solutions are you using from Optimizely One platform and how do they help you achieve your goals?

Bjorn Barnard: We use a range of features and solutions from Optimizely One platform. We use Optimizely CMS to manage our content across multiple brands and languages. We use Optimizely Campaign to run our email marketing and product recommendations on the site. We use Optimizely Search and Navigation to improve our site search and product discovery. We use Optimizely Visitor Groups to create personalized landing pages and content based on user behaviour and attributes. And we use Optimizely Analytics to measure and optimize our performance and conversions.

How does Optimizely impact or improve your personal day-to-day working life?

Bjorn Barnard: In my role as a Digital Marketing Director at ACCO Brands Europe, Optimizely is a platform that I'm very comfortable owning. It delivers the products and the features that the wider team needs at a central level, but it's also there to support our local teams.

Optimizely and Wunderman Thompson are our primary partners. Optimizely provides the platform and the features that we require our partnership with Wunderman Thompson allows our central and local teams to really harness the power of the platform.

What have you got planned for the future with the Optimizely One platform?

Bjorn Barnard: So, together with Wunderman Thompson, we operate a rolling development roadmap. We are heading towards an upgrade of our Optimizely 11 CMS to Optimizely 12 and that's huge for us. We're looking forward to the 25% performance increases that Optimizely have promised and shown that has been delivered for other customers.

Our partners at Wunderman Thompson are also very confident that we'll see those benefits ourselves as well. Also, once we've updated to Optimizely 12, we've got headless e-commerce on our radar!



Products used

Customer's website