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The sheer scale of optimisation opportunities demands an integrated approach

How integrated account teams helped us unlock £1m of potential revenue in just 12 weeks. 

By Jane Gleadall, Co-founder, Biglight.

Mobile optimisation has been a major theme for us this year, with brands recognising that the effort involved in making their mobile sites easier and more pleasurable to use is quickly paid back in increased revenue and improved customer loyalty. A real win-win.

But the prize is actually bigger than this. Yes, mobile is still the biggest challenge and the biggest opportunity, but there are potential upsides from optimisation in all channels. From our perspective, the more we analyse, redesign and test, the more we understand the revenue impact that optimisation can have.

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That’s why we start every new engagement with an in-depth Opportunities Audit, using a range of quantitative and qualitative techniques to identify and prioritise opportunities for improvement. By combining this with our benchmark data, we then attach potential revenue increases to any optimisation programme.

But, as we all know, potential revenue is worthless, so for most of our clients following an audit, the conversation quickly turns to how this potential value can be unlocked and turned into hard cash. Fast.

So it becomes all about delivering big results quickly.

An Integrated Approach

So that is exactly what we set out to do at Biglight – frankly, we had to if we were to respond to the pace of change that our clients want to deliver.

I won’t pretend that finding and putting in place a new approach was simple or straightforward. The truth is, it was a process of trial and error – really the same kind of experimentation we deliver for our clients.

In the end, we arrived at a solution that works in other creative industries and in project delivery, but which I haven’t seen applied in our own: the integrated account team.

Typically, in a business like ours, with a really broad and diverse set of experts – insight, testing, creative, UI design, development, UX, content – the approach is to operate specialist teams. So, the UX guys work together, as do the creatives, the UI designers and so on – an account manager makes sure clients get access to the skills they require, whilst overseeing progress towards the metrics that matter.

Make no mistake, there are real benefits to that approach, which is why it is so prevalent. It’s good for skills development, with experienced specialists looking after the development of junior team members, and it’s good for knowledge sharing within those disciplines.

It also has limitations however. It’s inefficient, it inhibits cross-discipline creativity, and it encourages a siloed mentality – for instance, with the potential for UX specialists and creatives pulling in different directions.

Taking an integrated approach overcomes those limitations at a stroke – with the right checks and balances in place, it delivers huge value for clients, without losing the specialist skills development that’s a feature of the siloed approach.

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Faster, better, stronger…

Today, we’ve moved to an ‘integrated account team’ set up. The service we deliver to every client is provided by teams that blend the right specialist skills – UI, UX, creative, testing, insight, content – and are led by specialist delivery managers. Where feasible, a client has its own, dedicated account team.

The benefits that flow from that are huge.

First, it’s far, far more efficient. A client working with an integrated account team typically gets more done in one morning with the team than they do over the course of four or five meetings with separate specialists.

It delivers better ideas and creativity too. Separate teams inevitably mean a bit of retrofitting as, for instance, a piece of creative is put through its UX paces (or vice versa), then assessed for development feasibility. Instead, an integrated team can collaborate on every aspect of client work, informed by their active participation in the Opportunities Audit.

The result tends to be a greater focus and better solutions – and, because the whole programme is drawn together by a delivery manager, everything is measured against commercial practicalities as well as client metrics.

Overall, that means we can move much, much faster while delivering innovative solutions that, when tested, have a higher probability of delivering positive results – for example, one of our teams is currently running at test success rate of close to 50%, compared to the industry average of 20-30%.

In part, that’s also because we also get together all the specialist disciplines at least once a month to share insight and lessons learned – everyone knows what works and what doesn’t.

…And it works: The million pound opportunity

As ever, the proof of the pudding is in the eating – and in this case, the results have been pretty tasty. I can’t name names, but our work with one major client over the last 12 weeks offers a case in point.

Following an extensive Opportunities Audit, the client wanted to move very quickly towards delivering results, so we created a dedicated account team – and I have to admit that we were in for a surprise.

Over the 12 weeks that followed, we created and launched more than 30 tests on their mobile and desktop sites across 4 European markets, all based on opportunities identified during the audit. An incredible pace of experimentation.

The results were astonishing too. In doing this, we identified improvements to their sites that, taken together, will deliver a combined revenue increase of close to £1m over the next 12 months.

To put that in context, that same process would normally take 12 months or more to carry out.

That’s just one example of course, but the power of the integrated account team approach is now obvious – and the sheer velocity and quality it delivers has the potential to transform the economics of experience optimisation.