After multiple failed attempts to be available to attend the CRAP talks, I finally managed to get myself along to CRAP #7. Having met Bhav regularly over my years in the analytics industry at our own meetup, Web Analytics Wednesday, and knowing him to be a regular contributor to the networking sessions, I was keen to experience his own take on an event.
What intrigued me about the intention for the meetup was that it catered to many areas of interest in the e-commerce space, and three disciplines which all interlink so effortlessly. Being most familiar with the first three letters in the abbreviation (conversion rate and analytics), I was interested to learn more about how the final letter of product fit in with the collective.
My colleague Mischa was in the same situation as I…hearing about how much the meetup had gained credibility and grown, always with the intention to attend but never having the time. We decided to go together to this one, expecting to be educated by the carefully selected speakers on refreshing new discoveries in their respected fields of expertise.
The location for CRAP #7 was deservedly in MOO’s stylish and spacious office performance space (a location worth coming down for alone!) There was a great turnout in terms of the crowd, with many of Bhav’s devoted Brain Trust members making room for the chairs by sitting on the steps at the back! The volume and vibrancy of people from the industry made it feel as though you’ll always get the opportunity to speak to newcomers the more frequently you attend.
Not only did we leave the event with some amazing insights (see below in detail!), but we also enquired about joining Bhav’s loyal Brain Trust when the opportunity to apply was raised in the closing comments. As a result of this, Mischa and I are now on board with assisting in the organisation of events, which is what makes this event so special. With the ability to bring our experience doing the same for Web Analytics Wednesday, it feels empowering to belong to such a successful meetup in the space!
Whilst CRAP #7 introduced the video recording of the events (by the lovely Usabilla!), this doesn’t mean the written word can be ignored! I’d like to think my capturing of the atmosphere as an audience member is given justice in this piece, as I’ve now assumed the position of Chief Content Creator within the Brain Trust, working on all blog posts for CRAP!
Despite the uninformed potentially perceiving the CRAP meetup acronym crude or self-deprecating, we never expected coming to CRAP #7 was leading us into a talk about exactly that. Crap. The valuable content however, was far from it! As you can imagine, there was pun after pun around this topic, which helped as a light relief (!).
John’s talk was around the applicability of geographical data to any customer strategy. By using a blend of council, business and crowd sourced open data, he created density surface diagrams around how many public toilets they were in relation to people in the UK, proudly creating his own metric—people per loo (or PPL).
Segmenting the data into more detailed analysis, John descended from counties within the UK down into constituencies to demonstrate the inequalities in relation to politics and deprived vs thriving communities. This ratio index map assisted the understanding of how finding trends and patterns in the data geographically can improve your business in multiple ways by identifying competing organisations where your service overlaps and deciding where to open more outlets to maximise coverage.
He closed the talk by summarising that spatial data now is so much more easily accessible, and geographical optimisation techniques are able to be adopted by those without Masters’ degrees in geographic information systems (GIS). He addressed the point that this important tool acts as a vehicle to explore further relatable ideas and give insight into alternative perspectives in order to bring data to life.
Listing some notable puns here before moving on – they can’t be missed! Look out for:
Tom Kerwin – A/B tests ain’t for settling your team’s agreements
Tom’s talk focused on the effectiveness of A/B tests in the right context and how crucial it is that they are being planned with the best possible intention in mind, rather than being driven by the vanity (or negative opinions!) of your team members.
Using the metaphor of trying to dig in a child’s sandpit with a JCB to describe the one person who pipes up in the team to use an undeveloped A/B test idea as a ‘solution’ to your individual opinions of what ‘better’ is, this easily turned into a discussion point for the audience. There were even a fair few contributions from Bhav’s career history, as he recalled real life situations around A/B tests.
Tom posed if a definition of ‘better’ can’t be agreed unanimously across the team, then it needs to be decided that it’ll be one thing which delivers value to the business (or a commercial metric, such as revenue, for example) and one thing which delivers value to your customer.
There’s always a way this is measured. Think of how a ‘north-star metric’ develops over time the more it is tested. By monitoring a customer’s response to an A/B test or significant change in your offering, then the space can be explored, and meaningful discussions can be had by the team around what has been proven to be important to the user. At least this will make a difference!
Tom mentioned that of course it’s difficult to know what to prioritise if you have a team with many conflicting but equally strong opinions, but he concluded by saying the key goal is to make sure the company is learning something from each test about their customers. As long as those qualitative tests are running more continuously and regularly over time, the company will learn what is important.
Finally, Alice Newton-Rex concluded by talking from experience around growing a product team in a highly regulated industry start-up. Having achieved evolution with her own team and learning about when to adapt to ‘survive and thrive’, she drew a parallel with the image of repotting a plant. Allow me to explain!
Alice began by explaining how she started her journey with World Remit four years’ ago, as their first ever Product Manager hire, during a delicate transition period when the founders were allowing her to make decisions for an idea they had nurtured from the very beginning. Hence, the seed was planted!
As she grew accustomed to establishing what she could innovate and perhaps where the compliance obstacles lay, she began to hire a product team for diversity. Alice believes this is especially important if you are a business which serves different types of users (from different cultures, backgrounds, genders, ages) then you need to be inclusive of a team which reflects these modifications.
She focused on the importance of repotting the plant of your growing team when the roots begin to chafe up against the side of the plant pot and how this restructure needs to begin with outlining clear missions and KPIS which not only have the outcome of delivering on a project, but the outcomes beyond this and creative ways of solving more.
With a management style which advocates success existing on the edge of chaos, Alice has witnessed the most active way to see this in action is to empower and engage the team when questions around frustration surface (i.e. using internal team members on a particular project rather than outsourcing to a third party).
Whilst the struggles and intricacies of developing a team from one Product Manager to heading up a team which includes eight Product Managers now, Alice has fruitfully succeeded in cultivating an innovative team who feel as though, for now, they’re in the right pot!
So, if you’ve not had your first experience at CRAP yet, I hope reading this has enticed you enough! Not only does the event always present interesting and exciting speakers, but what separates CRAP from other events is the sheer collaboration which goes into organising them to be the best they can be for the audience and speakers alike.
This goes beyond the Brain Trust, in that Bhav and his co-organisers regularly meet or speak with the take-over brands to discuss the topics of each talk. They are never off-the-shelf and always tailored to boost the popularity of the speaker without being salesy, but also provide valuable take-aways for the attendees. Bhav has also spares time on the night to introduce something different – a speaker who has nothing to do with conversion rate, analytics or product to take you away from being too work-orientated (and next time, you may be surprised by what you get to see!)
With hotels.com hosting CRAP #8 on July 10th showcasing a diverse roster of speakers, I can promise you you’ll have more fun signing up for this than watching the World Cup semi-final!