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A Product Designer’s Tips to be Effective and Insightful in a Design Sprint! (1/2)

Product designer 1

(Monday understand, Tuesday imagine, Wednesday decide, Thursday protype, Friday test. The emotions of a Product Designer during a Design Sprint)

 

I have been a product designer for ten years now, and have taken part in several Design Sprints. This article aims to give you some tips for a stress-free, effective experience during one of these workshops – and more importantly, to avoid pulling an all-nighter on Thursday to put the finishing touches on your prototype!

What I like most about Design Sprints is the challenge. As a designer, I am dropped into a team where I don’t know anyone and assigned a topic I am unfamiliar with. I am given a very short timeframe to learn about the key issues the company is facing and to deliver relevant suggestions and a high-quality prototype by the deadline. It completely takes you out of your comfort zone, but you learn so much in 5 days, so the complete exhaustion you feel by Friday evening is worth it! It’s “uncomfortably comfortable”; you know the schedule, because it’s often similar between projects, but you still can’t be entirely sure how things will unfold, since the participants and background change each time.

 

Here is a reminder of what a Design Sprint is and what product designers do:

  • A Design Sprint is an innovative process that brings you from idea to actual user-tested prototype within 5 days. Its main advantage is that it helps companies bring an idea to life and test it out quickly before investing.
  • A product designer is a designer who is able to work on the product’s UX and UI while taking into account the company’s main strategic issues in the design. This is my own definition, because there is no clear consensus online!

 

Ultimately, our mission during a Design Sprint is to produce a faithful, realistic prototype of the concept in record time. It is important to remember that the prototype has one purpose only – it is a testing launchpad for the Sprint Team to iteratively learn and improve the design choices.

At SQLI, the squad that takes part in Design Sprints is made up of a team of senior professionals that covers every key expertise in design: 1 product designer, 1 user researcher and 1 facilitator. We like to create high-definition interactive prototypes that facilitate immersion in the target experience for testers.

 

 

Before the Design Sprint

Preparing UI kits

Everything that does not add value in being stylized to create the prototype can be prepared ahead of time. In order to save time on prototyping day, the designer can prepare a “UI kit” in advance of the sprint itself – this is a way to ensure the team focuses on the high-value aspects on prototyping day. Based on Atomic Design, these files can include text styles, buttons, form fields, basic icons, a color scheme, grids and navigation tools. If the designer is lucky, they can work on a project with an existing Design System and a defined graphical charter and components. On the day of, the designer will have bricks they can simply assemble and relevant items to create. Depending on the style they will want to create and the graphical charter, they will then change the primary color and the rounding of buttons.

These “UI kits” can be specific to mobile or desktop use and can be prepared either for Sketch or Figma. Depending on the topic and the pre-existing environment, we can decide that one or the other software is better suited to create the prototype.

Is the company expecting the output of the sprint to be a source file with fixed mockups in order to later iterate and move to production? In this case, it is best to use Sketch along with Invision, Figma or Adobe XD. Or is the company expecting an amazing prototype that looks larger than life? In that case, it might be best to use Proto.pie or Flinto. Does the team exclusively work on PCs? In that case, avoid using Sketch, as it only works on MacOS. Does the internal design team only work with Figma? Then avoid Adobe XD.

 

Our role as designers is to determine the optimal tool based on the company’s constraints and our own personal mastery of the various tools.

 

A Product Designer’s Tips to be Effective and Insightful in a Design Sprint! (2/2)

I have taken part in several Design Sprints as a Product Designer. This article aims to give you some tips for a stress-free, effective experience during one of these workshops – and more importantly, to avoid pulling an all-nighter on Thursday to put the finishing touches on your prototype!

 

Monday: “Understanding”

This is the day with the heaviest mental load – there is a lot of information to process that we will later use throughout the Sprint.

At SQLI, we hold a problem-framing workshop a few days ahead of the Sprint. This first meeting is an opportunity for sprinters to share any information we have ahead of time and to write up a first draft of the problem at hand. This is when the designer clears the fog they have just walked into!

 

Asking questions to understand the background and the key issue.

When we are unfamiliar with the topic, we have a very short timeframe to understand the context, surrounding issues and especially the terminology. We should not hesitate to ask any questions we may have and ask for terms to be explained so we can ask the relevant questions during the workshops and offer appropriate solutions down the road.

Product designer 3

He who asks a question runs the risk of seeming silly for 5 minutes, but he who never asks a question runs the risk of seeming silly all his life, Confucius

Picking up on keywords

A good portion of the first day is spent conducting interviews of experts who are not participating in the Sprint, but who we believe have information they can give the sprinters that will help them better understand users’ needs, business stakes and the scope of possibility (legislation, technical constraints, etc.), which will give the sprinters food for thought and make them more likely to offer relevant solutions as they execute their mission.

All of the sprinters must take notes during these interviews. It is not a good idea to trust your short-term memory in this context because of the sheer volume of information we have to process on Monday. I recommend that you take note of words that frequently come up in conversations with experts that use what you feel like are keywords to you. They will be useful to build the “How might we?” and the “Jobs to be done” challenges.

HMW: “How might we?” questions reframe problems as opportunities in order to foster ideation.

JTBD, or “Jobs to be done”, is a theory that aims at drafting a clear statement of the intrinsic motivations of users (on an emotional, social or functional level), the expected results (job) and the difficulties they are encountering when trying to reach them[1]. Jake Knapp does not use this theory at all, but at SQLI we have built it into our process, because we agree with Clay when he says that “Innovation becomes much more predictable – and far more profitable – when it begins with a deep understanding of the job the customer is trying to get done.”[2]

Remember that the interface to design must, of course, be ergonomic.

The terms “ergonomic”, “fluid” and “pleasant” only yield cookie-cutter formulations that could apply to any design project.

Example: “HMW imagine a more fluid experience?” “HMW design an ergonomic interface?” “HMW make users have a pleasant experience?”

To avoid generating irrelevant HMWs, do not hesitate to remind your sprint team that the designer’s fundamental role is to design an ergonomic, fluid and pleasant experience! You can simply suggest to the facilitator to add an instruction to forbid the use of these words when writing HMWs. This will also encourage participants to be more specific in writing challenge statements and to provide much more inspiring HMWs.

Example: “How might we help teachers more effectively prepare their lectures?” “How might we reassure users on matters of hygiene and safety?” “How might we reassure users about the use of their personal data?”

 

Tuesday: “Sketching”

Tuesday is the busiest day in terms of individual work. Each sprinter must imagine and draw their solution based on all of the information they have collected thus far. As a designer, this is the time to bring all the rich experience we have acquired in past projects and intelligence to the table to help the team and the sprint, and sometimes even to rescue the ideation phase.

 

Generate suggestions based on different references.

Sprinters sometimes have trouble moving away from their usual work tools and getting out of their comfort zone to do an interesting benchmark. I recommend that you offer visual references from outside of the field of the product being showcased, this will stimulate the team’ s creativity and, with a bit of luck, help them imagine more varied and innovative solutions when sketching in the afternoon!

 

Preparing an intelligence file ahead of time

If you have trouble remembering everything you saw in the tools, you can prepare a file before your sprint with screenshots of the various tools. This way, during benchmarking, you can go through them and only suggest the most relevant ones for the specific context. You can lean on services you use on a daily basis for the benchmark – design, video streaming, Google services, online stores, social media, task managers, banks, music, health, booking services and instant messaging. You will always find an idea that can be repurposed as a solution in the sprint!

 

Wednesday: “Decisions/Storyboard”

This is the day where your team will converge on a solution and start to flesh it out.

Product designer 4

Bringing the group together

You will need to work with the facilitator to focus the group on designing the storyboard in order to avoid changing the concept and the test journey that has been chosen. It will be very tempting to change a lot of aspects of it, but you need to keep the spirit of the sprint in mind – it does not have to be flawless!

 

Storyboard on MIRO

When working remotely, Miro or Mural can be used for the collaborative workshops in your Design Sprint. The sprinters can quickly discuss and iterate surrounding the storyboard, directly in the window in their web browser. This gives everyone a global view of the content that has been defined and the workload.

As soon as the concept and the test journey have been agreed upon, I work on creating a brief summary of the chosen storyboard on Miro, using the items from the “wireframe library”. This gives us a clean, comfortable foundation for discussions with the other sprinters. Personally, I try to spend less than an hour on this. For more agility, I get the components I will need out ahead of time. You can always practice before the sprint to become familiar with the tool you will choose.

Then, with the sprinters and the facilitator, we get into the nitty-gritty of the storyboard to define the type of content that will be added to the screens. By “type of content”, I mean for instance “Date” or “Name of transportation” – it will then be up to the sprinters to decide whether to use 03/16/2021 or 03/17/2021 depending on the test scenarios. It’s also possible to take a wider view, such as “in this inset, we need customer information” – it will then be up to the sprinters to define what information is relevant and should be displayed for the user.

 

Product designer 5

Be careful with test scenarios

Once the test journey has been decided on, test scenarios need to be defined. It can take some time for sprinters to agree on which scenarios should be tested and lose sight of how much work it will take to design it down the road.

 

Add sticky notes for the copy to provide

Do not hesitate to add sticky notes in every location where copy needs to be written in order to get a ballpark of how much content needs to be produced. This will help sprinters divide it among themselves (with help from the facilitator) in order to make progress effectively. The designer should not waste any time thinking about content on Thursday – they need to be able to count on the other sprinters to provide the content.

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Define the best tool to prototype

Only once we have assessed what kind of prototype needs to be made based on the constraints we will go over can we select the tool for the job. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to pick a tool that we master: this is not a good time to try out a new tool!

 

Create a first draft prototype

At the end of the day, I start quickly creating the storyboard in my prototyping software. This is because, even if we may feel like we left no question unanswered after storyboarding, when we start actually building the prototype, new questions will be raised that would have been hard to predict earlier on in the process. These questions can quickly be resolved with the team on Thursday morning.

 

Thursday: “Prototyping”

Thursday is the designer’s time to shine! By getting ready for this day with a few tricks of the trade, you can avoid falling into common traps of prototyping.

 

Progress reports/Communication process

Ahead of time, define with the facilitator what the communication process will be for the day in order to avoid needless interruptions. The designer must have optimal working conditions – their concentration and productivity must be protected. Over the course of the day, 2 or 3 short meetings can be held to give a progress report on the design to the teams and make note of any changes needed.

 

Personally, when working remotely, I essentially base my work on the board, which is continually refreshed with content from the sprinters and remain fully focused on my own. If I am missing anything, I write it on a sticky note on the Miro board, and if it’s urgent, I can ask the sprinters through videoconferencing.

Product designer 7

Focus on UX

This is probably the most important thing to keep top of mind. Your goal is to create a medium to test the value proposition. This is not a good time to reinvent the wheel. It is not possible to deliver a “pixel-perfect” project or to rework something you aren’t entirely pleased with multiple times. The UI is only there to serve UX.

 

Prioritize screens

Discuss with the facilitator and the decision maker to define which screens are “mandatory” and which are “nice to have”. Your goal is to focus the team’s work on the right aspect of the project and to ensure the sprint will be completed.

 

Turn down large changes

Some sprinters might want to go back and change aspects of prototyping. It’s important to know how to assess cost/value/risk for each of these requests and to say no to avoid compromising the prototype and the sprint itself! One good way of deciding whether it is worth it is to ask yourself: “Do we need to test this feature to answer the Sprint Questions?” If the answer is “no”, you will easily be able to explain that this can be done after the Sprint, if needed.

 

Take breaks

This one seems obvious, but in the heat of action on Thursday, it can be easy to forget to take a break. When the brain gets overheated, it is harder to make progress and mistakes are more likely to happen.

 

Use different-colored sticky notes for content

I color code my sticky notes for copy to supply in order to have and provide a global view of progress and what is still missing.

 

Keep the user researcher in mind

At SQLI, the senior user researcher works on Thursday to ensure objectivity is maintained and that the exercise remains under control. They will need to become familiar with the topic of the sprint and the prototype in order to prepare the interview guide and evaluation grid by Friday morning. I try to quickly have a first draft of all of the prototype’s screens so that the user researcher has material to work with:

 

Friday: “Test day”

Share any needed improvements with the entire team

At the end of the sprint, after user tests, we like to take some time for everyone to give their impressions, to summarize the main discoveries and identify the high-priority actions after the sprint.  As designers, we can see things that other participants may not have noticed, and we should not refrain from sharing our observations. This way, we all complete the sprint with the same information.

 

 

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Every design sprint is an enriching, worthwhile adventure. I personally love being challenged and learning new things – this makes design sprints the perfect playground! I hope these tips will help you get ready to take part in a Design Sprint – or even encourage you to do one in the first place! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask them in the comments section.

 

 

 

 

 

Illustrations by undraw.co

[1] Theory espoused by Tony Ulwic (inventor of Outcome Driven Innovation)

[2] Book: Competing against luck. To learn more about JTBDs, watch this excellent video by Clay Christensen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGuSM3yUxik

GOOGLE SEARCH RANKING UPDATE: GET ABOARD THE EXPERIENCE TRAIN

Some time ago, Google announced an update in the approach for the ranking of websites in their search results. Page experience signals were going to play a crucial part in the results and Google scheduled the roll-out for this update in May 2021. At Wax we’ve already been investigating this update to the core and Lighthouse scores are of the utmost importance for every new project we embark on. This is why we felt the need to communicate our findings on what we’ve learned in this process.

Google’s plan for this roll-out is to gradually implement it in their search results system; it won’t play its full part until the end of August 2021. That being said, let’s dive into some of the key features of this update!

 

What is the Google Page Experience Update?

As previously mentioned, the update will consider several page experience signals: these signals are a measurement tool to see how users perceive the interaction on your webpage. The reason why this is so important is because Google wants to ensure that their users land on the best performing pages out there. (< 15% of all existing webpages are underperforming according to these metrics).

The new page experience signals combine Core Web Vitals with the current existing search signals such as mobile-friendlinesssafe-browsingHTTPS-security and intrusive interstitial guidelines.

Google

As you can see in the image above, the core web vitals are currently focusing on three assets: loading, interactivity, and visual stability:

  1. Loading: this is the loading speed of a webpage. It is the point in the pageload timeline when the main content is likely to have loaded.
  2. Interactivity: this is the time from when a user has done a first interaction on the page, to the time the browser begins processing that interaction (for example, a click on a button).
  3. Visual stability: this means that users of your webpage don’t want to encounter annoying layout shifts and unexpected movements of page content.

Google2

Webmasters should be aware of these three indicators and do regular checks on PageSpeed Insights and the dev-tools Lighthouse. Metrics already show an increase of 70% of the use of these tools to measure page experience. At Wax Interactive, we are working with these tools on a daily basis. Additionally, we are noticing that the rules of getting a 90+ score on both mobile and desktop are getting stricter along the way; the penalties are getting bigger and bigger if you’re not able to provide what Lighthouse is asking for!

 

You don’t need to AMP your articles anymore

Google News is a tool that shows related articles to a search keyword; these stories will be shown at the top of a search results page. Until the update, webpages that have AMP (Accelerated Mobile Page) implemented on them, would be preferred over other articles to show as top stories.

With the new update, your page can also rank in the top stories without an AMP, so great user experience and Lighthouse/PageSpeed results will get your stories in the top results!

Please note that AMP shouldn’t be completely abandoned! This is still a great tool to help your website with speed, security and mobile features, and its features will still align with the Google page experience in 2021.

What does this mean for your SEO?

Google will keep on investing in their other algorithms, so by upgrading your page experience, you won’t automatically have the best scoring website in the page results. Great content is still number one when it comes to ranking highly. But let’s say that there are two websites with similar content; the one with optimized page experience will win in the rankings!

Visual label of page experience

Google has stated that as of next year, it will implement a way of distinguishing websites that meet all their page experience specifications with a visual indicator. (Like what they have done in the past with the AMP webpages). These websites will score a lot better in organic page results than websites that didn’t take this into account. Don’t get us wrong, website content will still be the number one indicator to get ranked in the search results, but if there are two websites with similar content, the one with optimized page experience will win in the rankings!

What can you do?

If your website has been developed at Wax after May 2020, chances are that you’re already up to date with these requirements! Like we’ve said earlier in this article, we’ve put a lot of time and effort into taking these new measurements into account, even before they would be implemented in the search results ranking system. It’s also just best practice to have a fast-loading website to keep your audience on it!

If you’re new to this phenomenon and you own a website, go to the following link to run a check yourself to see how well your current website is scoring on this test:

 

Take the test

If you get a score of 90+ on both mobile and desktop, you’re fine! If not, get in touch and we can help you with analyzing and/or implementing solutions for you!

 

Environmental responsibility and digital: two key points for optimized customer experience 

Environmental responsibility has never been more relevant. According to a study conducted by Oney and OpinionWay on sustainable consumption[1], 90% of consumers expect brands to make a real commitment and help them consume better. While the current health crisis has accelerated this profound shift towards better consumption, it has also put the focus on better communication, which provides greater support and reassurance in a society that is searching for meaning.

How does the digital customer experience serve and strengthen brands’ environmentally responsible actions? What are the two areas where optimization can help to enrich the experience and strike the right balance between commitment and efficiency?

 

Building trust through transparency

In the face of the many recent greenwashing scandals, consumers are no longer as trusting and are wary about brands’ claims about environmental responsibility, which are often perceived as opportunistic marketing tools. It is no longer enough to simply claim to be a green or responsible brand: saying it is one thing, proving it is another. Consumers are well aware how difficult it is for brands to achieve targets such as carbon neutrality and zero waste. Nobody is expected to achieve the impossible, which is why the general public demands transparency above all.

The e-commerce and ROPO (Research Online Purchase Offline) booms are proof: digital holds a select position in the buying process. It is essential now for brands to use digital to highlight their commitment and attract consumers’ interest, whether directly on their own websites or via social networks, for example. How can this be done?

  • Through regular updates: news and thoughts about sustainable development (such as the replacement of a material, the optimization of a logistics process or an innovation underway) are steps forward that reflect a real and ongoing commitment.
  • Through relevant certifications and standards: with an ever-growing number in the area of sustainable development, they offer brands an opportunity to back up their claims with tangible, objective evidence, which is always more reassuring for consumers.
  • Through storytelling: history, origins, aspirations and values are all ways in which brands can develop their communication strategies to link environmental responsibility with their DNA, give their green actions authenticity and highlight evidence of their commitment.

 

Ensuring coherency, always

According to ADEME, the French Agency for Ecological Transition, the carbon footprint of digital, information and communication technologies is equivalent to that of civil aviation over a one-year period. So how can a responsible digital strategy not be considered when thinking about sustainable development? Digital does not seem to be a real priority in companies’ green transformations, however, unlike production and logistics processes, or offline media, for example.

It should be! Digital makes it possible not only to ensure a constant commitment, but also to reconcile ethical requirements with profitability targets. Which good practices can help integrate environmental responsibility in your digital strategy?

  • An eco-designed website, combining minimalism and performance. From design to integration, and the choice of CMS to hosting, each design stage is an opportunity to deliver sustainable improvements that will lead to a slimline, fast, functional, attractive and even search-engine optimized website.
  • Targeted and personalized marketing campaigns based on big data. This is a very good way to prevent digital pollution, by optimizing the volume of communications, as well as to avoid large numbers of unread emails being stored indefinitely in inboxes.
  • Responsible marketing campaigns in the “age of better consumption”. Competition for Black Friday and sales, where brands are seen as being responsible for uncontrolled consumption (fast fashion, food waste, constant push marketing, etc.), is encouraging them to be more sparing with their promotional offers.

Digital is a powerful tool to increase the number of touchpoints between consumers and brands, and this is a real asset when it comes to convincing people about a topic as sensitive as sustainable development. For some, it is an opportunity to regularly gather a mass of information and experiences, in order to make enlightened choices. For others, it is a chance to build the relationship based on preference and loyalty that consumers expect, step by step.

However, at a time when ethics and authenticity are key, it is essential to bear in mind that environmental responsibility is a long-term investment, where humility and regularity remain the best guarantors of a recognized commitment and a lasting customer relationship.

 

 

[1] https://www.oney.com/etude-consommation-raisonnee/

Online, offline, everywhere: Coronavirus as the driver of omnichannel commerce

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed weaknesses in many areas of the economy and society and revealed the true scale of our shortcomings. The consequences of underestimated or deferred issues, such as home schooling, have become very apparent. In the past year, politicians, parents, teachers and students have learned the painful lesson that, without up-to-date learning strategies, without an efficient infrastructure, without data protection compliant platforms and without all those involved having the necessary media skills, the virtualization of education cannot succeed.

The same is true of the digitalization of sales and marketing: The coronavirus lockdown has accelerated the paradigm shift and mercilessly exposed existing weaknesses.

 

Coronavirus has shone a light on the challenges of selling

 

For a number of years, Amazon, Zalando, Apple and others have been demonstrating the advantages of incorporating both brick-and-mortar and digital channels into Customer Experience and User Centricity strategies. Many retailers and brands were already following suit before the coronavirus pandemic, others were hesitating – often with drastic consequences – as during the first lockdown, sales models without digital sales options, such as eShops, digital marketplaces, social media or affiliate platforms, came to a standstill almost overnight.

An increasing number of market players are drawing their own conclusions from this enforced “emergency stop” – but not always the right ones! As simply establishing or optimizing an online shop solution is not sufficient to set yourself up successfully for current and future sales. Branding, marketing and sales will fundamentally and permanently change, irrespective of the end of the pandemic. Coronavirus is merely shining a light on the need for action. The focus: Omnichannel.

 

In the future, omnichannel will be at the core of every commerce strategy

 

Customers interact with brands, products and offerings via different touchpoints within various digital and brick-and-mortar channels. It must be possible to address the customer’s situation-based needs by means of these touchpoints and channels – for example, providing information or product advice for positioning within the Relevant Set1, as well as the actual sale or increasing loyalty within after-sales.

Omnichannel consistently focuses on the customer. High-quality seamless networking of channels is crucial for a compelling brand and product experience. The aim is to communicate consistently with the customer across all channels and for the customer to be able to access “their” sales offers at every touchpoint at any time.

This orchestration principle2 is currently experiencing massive change as the result of progressive digitalization and the coronavirus pandemic – on the one hand, in terms of smart functionality within touchpoints and channels and, on the other hand, in terms of the role that the individual touchpoints and channels play within the customer journey.

 

Showrooming and webrooming are being redefined

 

“Showrooming” and “Webrooming” refer to typical shopping scenarios or end-to-end journeys within the networking of digital and brick-and-mortar channels:

  • With showrooming, the customer draws their inspiration from brick-and-mortar stores and then seeks advice and broadens their product knowledge within digital channels (eShop, comparison sites, expert blogs, social media) and also makes their purchase online.
  • With webrooming, the customers uses digital channels to obtain information on a product or a brand. Depending on the product, the customer also sets up a configuration online but then makes their purchase in a store.

During the coronavirus pandemic, many small, local retailers have made a virtue of necessity and used showrooming in a modified form, by specifically designing their store displays for product presentation. In this case, a call to action – for example in the form of QR codes – links to either the retailer’s own webshop or to digital marketplaces, where the customer can buy the products presented.

In recent months, larger operators, above all, have redefined webrooming: In conjunction with the click and collect model, they have transformed their brick-and-mortar retail spaces from a point-of-sale to a point-of-experience. Customers find and order their desired items via the brands or the retailer’s online channel and then collect them from their local store. Despite same day delivery, the need for this kind of shopping experience has increased during the coronavirus pandemic, because delivery services are frequently overstretched and are, therefore, less reliable. Furthermore, there is also a desire for a “hands on” product experience, which cannot be entirely replaced by virtual product presentations.

The orchestration and roles of channels are thus experiencing a distinct shift. It is largely the role of the brick-and-mortar store that is changing: The store is now primarily operating as a presentation space, in which products are staged and brought to life, with more in-depth research and the purchase transaction increasingly moving to digital channels.

 

Brand management, customer centricity and logistics are becoming more challenging

 

Not only in lockdown, but definitely amplified by changed coronavirus shopping behavior, customers, who would previously have preferred not to shop online, are also turning to digital services – and will also continue to use them after the pandemic. Brands and retailers must face up to this fact. There is therefore an urgent need for action in terms of ensuring a presence, offerings and sales options on digital channels and, if necessary, expanding them further.

The vendor’s own online shop is not sufficient for this, but rather the omnichannel principle described above must function properly. The availability of products on digital marketplaces and a presence within suitable social media channels is crucial. It is important to achieve an intelligent balance between the loss of control in terms of brand management and becoming an authentic part of the customer dialogue, by highlighting the relevance and usefulness of the brand, product or offering for potential customers and continually adjusting it. What is absolutely essential is a precise knowledge of target groups and their persona, as well as an understanding of the individual customer’s actual requirements during the particular phase of the customer journey.

In terms of technology, the challenge is to consolidate data from all the systems in which user information is collected and stored (e.g.web analytics, CRM, eShop, ERP, etc.) to establish a “Single Point Of Truth”. All market players, regardless of their size, are facing this challenge i.e. in future, retailers and brands without appropriate digital infrastructures and platforms will barely be able to compete.

Product information, the individual customer’s needs profile, as well as logistical aspects, such as inventory management for the various touchpoints, must be available across all channels – both digital and brick-and-mortar. It must also be possible to flexibly adjust orchestration of the channels to changes in the customer’s shopping behavior – in order to ensure in the future, in situations such as lockdowns, that trade does not grind to a halt.

 

And what about B2B?

 

The same paradigm shift also applies to the B2B market. When sales representatives or consultants are no longer allowed to visit their customers during a pandemic, or on-site appointments need to be reduced for economic reasons, sales dialogue needs to take place virtually via digital platforms. And, in doing so, the customer expects exactly the same shopping experience as for private B2C shopping – but with the special characteristics of a B2B sales process, such as shopping lists, bulk discount prices, purchasing limits for employees, bulk consignments, etc.

 

The recent experience of the coronavirus pandemic makes it essential for all retailers and brands to face up to the “Sales Shift”. The digitalization of marketing & communications, sales and business processes is a must. What is absolutely vital is a digital infrastructure, which is based on intelligent and powerful software solutions. The first step is an intensive analysis of the customer journeys of target groups and the development of an omnichannel strategy based thereon.

 

 

1 In Marketing it is a phrase for a brand or product of interest to a potential customer. A product or brand which is in the relevant set is likely to be bought.

2 The principle of harmonizing all channels in terms of communication, branding, interaction and transaction options.

The highest bid wins...or does it really?

If you are involved in digital advertising, you probably know that Facebook’s advertising delivery is based on an auction system. In short, this system determines which ad will appear in a user’s feed.

In a “regular auction”, the winner is usually the one who places the highest bid – this is not the case with Facebook. If you are aware of the factors that determine who is the winner in this type of auctions, I am convinced that you will create a better foundation for successful campaigns. Are you curious to find out what these factors are? Continue reading!

 

2 winners, or maybe even 3?

Facebook’s ads have two goals that aim to make two specific target groups winners. First and foremost, they want their advertisers to reach their set goals for the platform. Without advertisers, the platform’s revenue would be modest as the majority (98%) comes from advertising revenue. The second objective is linked to the users of the platform. Facebook strives to deliver positive and relevant content for each unique user.

If we combine these two factors, it is quite easy to see that there is a third winner in addition to the advertisers and users – Facebook themselves.

 

How does the auction work?

When your ad ends up in Facebook’s auction system, it will compete against other ads aimed at the same defined audience. Because the number of ad slots is limited, the winner will be chosen based on three factors that together make up a total value. The formula for this is as follows:

[Bid] x [Estimated activity rate] + [Ad quality] = Total value

So what determines if your ad will appear is completely based on the “total value” factor. This includes your bid, Facebook’s estimate of how your target audience will react to your ad and how relevant the target audience will find it.

 

Ad Quality

If we take a closer look at [Ad Quality], it takes into account the relevance and quality of your ad for the specific audience. To get an indication of how well your ad is tailored to the user, you can use the metric “Quality Score” in your columns. However, Facebook itself states that the measured value does not directly affect the auction – but can be used as an indicator.

From Facebook’s side, the value is based on data from how users reacted to historically published content on the platform, organically as well as paid. It is important to keep in mind that the measured value “repetition” is also included. If a person has seen the same content several times, the user value is reduced. What happens after a click is also included in the equation, ie how your website performs.

 

Bid

There are a number of different ways to operate when it comes to bidding strategies and the possibilities are many. Instead of writing a novel here, I encourage you to get in touch with us, we are happy to tell you more and maybe write an article about this area in the future.

 

Estimated activity frequency

Each ad has an optimization goal, usually a conversion that you want a person to perform, such as driving traffic to a website or generating reach. Estimated activity frequency shows how likely it is that someone will meet the goals you set.

The metric is based on what a person has previously done and the ad’s previous performance.

 

5 tips on how to join the auction

  • Create landing pages that load quickly and with good quality content. Good quality means that the page is not filled with advertising, sexual material or other content that Facebook’s advertising policy does not appreciate. This probably feels pretty obvious, but it is always important to keep in mind that what happens after a click is also valuable to include in the equation.
  • Place the correct bid. Automatic bidding usually works very well, but if you have a good understanding of what you can pay for a click / view / purchase, it can be smart to also A / B test what works best for you.
  • Customize your content according to the goal of the campaign. If, for example, your goal is to get a certain reach, then use content that can contribute to this. Maybe in the form of a video with something that attracts attention and creates a desire to share the content with friends.
  • Create engagement! Use texts and images that encourage you to take a certain action. This action should of course be based on the target group and where in the funnel the potential customer currently is. For example, if the target audience is unknown to your brand, you should not ask them to buy anything from you, on the contrary – offer them something of value and encourage a discussion instead of making a purchase in this first step. It is important to point out that you should avoid attempts at creating “click baits”. Facebook’s AI will automatically detect this, leading to poorer results for the ad.
  • Think about the frequency! In a target group with cold traffic, you should not exceed 2-3 views, as you can be perceived as annoying. In a retargeting campaign, however, we can allow a slightly higher frequency as we know that the target group has shown an interest in the offer. Imagine that a completely unknown person repeats the same message to you several times, compared to your best friend doing it – who are you willing to listen to?

[SUCCESS STORY] PIERRE FABRE: Renewed clinical trial recruitment journey

Pierre Fabre is rethinking the recruitment and management of its skin research center panel. In order to ensure the good management of this activity of Pierre Fabre, SQLI has imagined and developed a new recruitment and management tool for this panel.

Going live at the end of 2019, the platform facilitates the volunteers’ journey and the Skin Research Center team accompanies each of these people with more fluidity.

Download the Pierre Fabre success story

Create value for the entire customer journey by maximizing your digital advertising

It is said that only 3% of your potential customers are ready to buy right now. If you then start your marketing at the “buy now” step – it means that you could lose the remaining 97% of the traffic that is not there, yet. Maybe they need to get to know you first before they are ready for a purchase?

I suggest we take a look at the famous funnel.

Valeur parcours client 1

To reduce the risk of potential customers going to a competitor when a purchase is in progress, we need to start higher up the funnel with our advertising. Whether it is on Facebook, Instagram, Google or in another medium. Some platforms are better suited for earlier steps in the funnel and others closer to the end, the important thing is that you have decided on the purpose and goals of each specific channel.

 

How to get started

If we start looking at the beginning of a customer contact, we can compare this with the contacts that take place in real life. Imagine for a second you are out on a first date. You will probably not propose marriage to the person you are with on that first date (and if you should decide to do it, your chances of getting a yes are probably quite low…). Instead, you need to start by creating an interest and gradually show who you are. Whether it is in an entertaining, inspiring or educational way. It works exactly the same when it comes to digital marketing.

 

What type of content is suitable for each target group?

 

1. Cold traffic

Suppose you are a brand new acquaintance of a person who has never heard of you before. Which is the optimal way to introduce yourself? Would you start by asking the person for something or would you instead choose to start by offering the person something? I know which approach I would choose (at least in advertising). In order to try to capture the interest of the person I would definitely start with offering something. Now, I’m not talking about material things. There are lots of other things such as knowledge, entertainment and inspiration you can use to create an interest.

By offering something, you not only create more interest, your advertising costs will most likely also decrease.

 

2. Cool traffic

When you advance from the first “cold” step, a person has seen your ad and received a first message. Then it’s time to talk about who you are and what your company can offer by demonstrating knowledge about your products / services and create trust with the members of your target group. For example, you could show a “how-to video”, create a quiz or link to a blog post where you offer more knowledge and experience. It’s all about building trust and thereby creating traffic to your website to capture the visitor with a pixel.

 

3. Hot traffic

So-called “hot traffic” consists of people who have visited your site, scrolled around (maybe even on a specific product), but have not yet made a purchase. In these cases, it is time to convince the visitor that they are about to make the right choice, ie purchase something in your shop. The question you should ask yourself now is how you can show that your particular product / service can make a person’s life easier and more hassle-free. You can do this, for example, by clearly showing what advantages your offer has compared to your competitors’ and why it is sharpest in the segment you operate in? Maybe you could also offer free shipping and free returns?

 

4. Burning traffic

Burning love! At this stage, the purchase has already been made, but the customer journey certainly does not end here. Now it becomes important to thank your customers, ask for a review or maybe offer them something extra just because they purchased something from your store. Give them love and I am sure you will be able to increase the lifetime value of each customer. Keep in mind that 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your customers. If you can increase the value of each customer, you will generate significantly larger sales and also create a loyal crowd of customers who are happy to tell their loved ones about your greatness.

 

[Pro tip: Create target groups for each action you can measure so that you can also adapt the message according to each step in the customer journey]

[SUCCESS STORY] RADIANCE MUTUELLE: a website in order to maximise its visibility

Radiance Mutuelle’s objective was to increase its audience and improve the contact process within an omnichannel logic.

The site addresses three distinct targets, with priority given to individuals

Due to the Covid-19 crisis, the project was conducted entirely remotely using Microsoft Teams

Download our radiance mutuelle success story !

How to leverage agility in e-commerce

Although most e-commerce projects have up until recently been using the V-model, it’s impossible to not have noticed the growing preference for the agile methodology. Business and dev teams alike have been won over by its efficiency when it comes continuous development projects. The transparency it creates between the stakeholders minimises friction and frustration, allowing problems to be resolved further upstream and providing the dev team with more independence that, in the long term, makes them more responsible and capable of owning the delivered products.

So, where’s the problem?

Many e-commerce projects suffer from constraints such as a set budget, fixed deadline or rigid list of specifications. In these circumstances, how can the dev team estimate its user stories during sprints if everything is already so set in stone? It goes directly against the principle of business flexibility and risks indirectly leading to a V-model form of project management and thus creating frustration amongst teams.

Another common error made by inexperienced teams is the belief that carrying out a project in an ‘Agile manner’ means that everything will go smoothly. In reality, simply saying your running an Agile project doesn’t mean you actually are. It requires a few prerequisites such as engagement and maturity on behalf of all stakeholders; not only those part of the project team, but also anyone else in your ecosystem (upper management, team managers, other teams, etc.).

Does that mean that agile methodology and e-commerce projects are incompatible?

Rest assured that it is entirely possible to use an Agile methodology with e-commerce projects! The first step is to analyse early on, from the kick-off if possible, the possible frictions and find a solution for each one. That might mean one or several people taking part in an Agile training course, writing down the main principles that will guide the production team (independence, transparency, engagement, etc.) or assigning an experienced Scrum Master (if it is a SCRUM) who will be available at the start of the project, if the team thinks they need it.

Great, but what about the list of specifications I have to adhere to?

While it’s true that a dev team needs visibility on the project so they can adapt their work accordingly, let’s not forget that a need expressed at the start of a project is most likely to change as development progresses. A specific need may be refined or, inversely, might be deprioritised or even scrapped.

Why not simply provide a loose outline of the need so that everyone has a general idea of the end product, and then wait for this need to be refined naturally and for the project to progress enough before drawing up a list of concrete specifications? This approach avoids the team taking two steps forward and one step back, which would incur additional costs and delays. When working in an agile manner, you don’t need to precisely and definitively plan out all the functions from the outset — leave some room for the need to evolve.

It is also important to note that a developer who spends time on a function, only to see it abandoned a few weeks later by the business team, may feel frustrated and less motivated for future sprints. It’s essential that teams remain motivated and stimulated if the project is to run as smoothly as possible.

I also have a deadline and a budget…

One thing is for sure, the dev team will always be the best placed to estimate the various functions to be developed. The more they talk with the Product Owner, the more independent they will become, honing their estimations and mastering their velocity (production capacity).

For the business team, the important part is prioritising the various functions as best as possible. They must sincerely question how necessary each one is for the first version of the end product. Ideally, they should deprioritise the more immature ideas and plan a V2 right from the start, postponing less critical needs until after the release of a functional MVP, or even waiting for feedback from the first version to redesign and adapt functions accordingly. It’s a win-win situation: it saves the dev team time by enabling them to later refine its design, documentation, unit testing, performances, etc. and also ensures a better time-to-market for the client.

My Dev Team/Product Owner don’t understand me

It’s important that for each sprint, everybody knows their role and responsibilities and the responsibilities of the other team members. The dev team must be engaged, transparent and guide the Product Owner when the need manifests itself (writing specs, technical support, testing).

For a Product Owner, being the middleman between the business and dev team is not always easy to do for the entire duration of the project. They need to remember that the dev team knows the project best: the product owner must listen to what they say, accept their choices and heed their warnings. And that also means saying no to the business teams if necessary.

Lastly, it is also good to remember that the dev team and Product Owner are all part of the same project team and need to work together in harmony. They both need one another.

 

While a set budget, rigid list of specifications or fixed deadline may seem like obstacles to applying Agile principles, what often happens is that they become less of a problem as the project progresses, since the business team matures in its thinking and all the teams become more invested. Being aware of them and planning ahead thus gives you more peace of mind when taking on the project and enables you to aim for success in an Agile manner!