by Jim Garrett
Our Certified Usability Analyst of the Month, Stacy Sherman, focuses every day on delivering a best-in-class buying experience by applying best practices and a holistic test and learn approach. She brings twenty-three years of sales and marketing experience and related education and certifications to her digital marketing optimization position at Verizon Wireless. With her drive, experience, success, and CUA, smart money would be on her achieving her goals.
Can you tell me about your role there?
I joined Verizon almost two years ago to optimize the customer experience on-line, making it easier for prospects to order our products and services as well as enabling existing customers to upgrade and add-on services with ease. I can sum up my role with one acronym ‚Äď TAAR (Test, Analyze, Adjust, Repeat).
Are you on a team?
Yes, indeed. It is a team effort at Verizon. I work with very smart people throughout the company, including creative, legal, IT, project management, analytics and others. I also work with reputable external partners who support a variety of activities in our “test and learn” process. The positive results we’ve obtained are due to collective efforts.
What team initiates the projects?
The optimization projects I work on are initiated from multiple sources. I come up with experiment ideas, having studied site data and customer feedback.¬† My peers and leadership teams will also bring recommendations to me, and we’ll partner together to gain the desired information. Our external partners also play a big role in generating test ideas from competitive reviews and data analysis. The key to success is maintaining a testing roadmap and constantly reviewing priorities, because not everything can occur at once. In fact, it’s essential to run experiments in a methodical order or you run the risk of validity threats while testing.¬† I maintain our experimentation roadmap as well as communicate plans throughout the organization to drive prioritization and resource alignment. I also keep a repository of experiments to guide current and future decisions.
Do you track the improvements you make?
Absolutely. I leverage quantitative data from various systems to track pre/post changes. In addition, I monitor consumer qualitative feedback.¬† Every morning I get automated reports that allow me to see what’s working well and identify pain points at a page level.¬† Written feedback from customers serves as an excellent source for optimization projects.¬† After we make a change on the site to address feedback, we typically see a positive result right away.¬† Measuring performance is routine practice for everyone at Verizon and the fact that everything is so measurable is a key reason why I enjoy marketing!
¬†In terms of your CUA training, how did that help prepare you for the testing you are doing now?
Though much of it was reinforcement, my confidence has increased. I understand best practices, more than before taking the class. I also see differently. There is a visual component that ties back to how people view websites and the actions they take. I continue to reflect on the information we gain from this process and apply the insights to my job to positively impact conversion rates.
Can you talk about some of the projects you’ve been working on?
I’m working on a series of projects that involve determining how to best serve customers via our website. The quantified results are confidential, but I can say that within the first five days of launching various experiments, we obtained valuable insights and made strategic, measurable changes. ¬†There is a project that I can speak to qualitatively, which is related to site search.
Our test proved that when the search bar was prominent on the page (defaulted open), more people searched. That didn’t surprise us, but what did prove insightful was the fact that increased search volume did not lead to higher sales. After digging further into the data, we recognized that the search results did not match the user’s expectation (or “mental model” as referenced in CUA class). The test reinforced the need to optimize the search experience and became part of a larger plan. Bottom line: having launched so many experiments, I’ve come to learn that small changes can make big differences. In addition, what we think will happen (test treatment winner) isn’t always the case, which is why experimentation is both fascinating and important.
Where do you see all of this going – the digital, tablets and the mobile – with future developments?
When I first came onboard in 2013, all of my time was improving/optimizing our desktop experience.¬† However, the amount of traffic to Verizon’s mobile and tablet platforms has grown exponentially. Thus, my role expanded to test and optimize across all three platforms. My goal is to achieve a consistent intuitive experience, while keeping in mind the unique differences among the platforms.
Where do you find the satisfaction, where do you find your passion?
My passion is digital marketing and conversion optimization. I love my job because everything is measurable in the digital space, and I can make intelligent business decisions based on data versus opinion. I’m fortunate to work at a company like Verizon where testing is not only embraced but is a way of life. It’s incorporated into our everyday process, which I think is so wise.
A personal goal for me is to partner with others beyond my division and expand our test and learn culture.¬† A holistic approach enables us all to “win.”
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