Testing Mind Map Series: How to Think Like a CRO Pro (Part 21)23rd Sep 2022 –
Interview with Steph Le Prevost
If you’ve been in the world of optimization for any length of time, you’ll know that there is an endless supply of advice out there. But sifting through all the noise and zeroing in on the tips that will make the biggest difference for your business can be a challenge. That’s why we’ve gathered some of today’s leading experts to help you find that golden nugget in a mountain of rocks.
In this interview, CRO expert Steph Le Prevost talks about her early days dabbling in optimization and what she does now at Conversion.com. She provides her top tips for maintaining the right mindset in experimentation, from learning using a variety of resources to having resilience and working hard to practice multiple skills.
Because optimization isn’t just about testing–it’s about research, analysis, reporting, psychology, people skills, presentation skills, project management, mathematics, a willingness to learn, UX practices, design practices, copywriting, technical understanding, and so much more.
So whether you’re just starting out on your optimization journey or you’re looking to take things up a notch, don’t miss out on Steph’s expert insights!
Steph, tell us about yourself. What inspired you to get into testing & optimization?
To be honest I fell into it. I was working at Specsavers, writing SEO copy for the website, doing some web admin, analytics and working on digital campaigns. One day my manager had a one-on-one with me, showed me a piece of software called Qubit, and said that they had been onboarded to start experimenting on the website. I had no idea what optimisation was at this stage, and no idea what it would lead to. She trusted me to move forward with the relationship between us and Qubit, and work on an experimentation program.
Four years later, hundreds of experiments down the line, and here I am.
It was a rough ride getting to grips with experiments, the stats, how to form a decent strategy and I definitely learned the hard way on a lot of things. But I persevered and stayed because I love the variability of the work, the human insight, and the fact that you are always learning.
How many years have you been optimizing for?
Four years, but I would say the last 9 months at Conversion.com have been the most intense as I am purely focused on Optimisation.
What’s the one resource you recommend to aspiring testers & optimizers?
If you have seen my LinkedIn you’ll know I am no stranger to the CXL courses. I recommend these to anyone getting into experimentation and people who have been doing it for years – like I said earlier you are always learning, there will always be something you do not know in this field. CXL isn’t the be all and end all though. Being a good Optimiser is a mindset, you can learn everything on CXL and all the other places offering qualifications and courses, but unless you have the passion, drive, inquisitiveness and ability to analyze, you won’t be great at it.
Besides that, I believe Optimisation is something you have to love to do it well. Think about it, you work so hard to derive insights, come up with well rounded hypotheses and all signs point to a winner, but then boom you get a loser or worse an inconclusive result.
It can be disheartening if you don’t have the right mindset, you need to want to learn, have resilience and consistently work to improve your efforts.
Answer in 5 words or less: What is the discipline of optimization to you?
Always learning, always growing.
What are the top 3 things people MUST understand before they start optimizing?
- People – you need to know your stakeholders/clients, their communication style, how they work, your users, their behaviors and understand that human behavior is weird, read up on behavioral biases
- Data – you need to understand the statistics at a basic level, how to analyze data and derive insights across quant and qual research methods
- Story telling – no one wants to look at an overly complicated graph or spreadsheet to understand the experiment. Whether you have clients or internal stakeholders, you need to be able to present experiment summaries/findings/conclusion docs – whatever you call them – well & tell a story with that data. This is especially important when you come to review your program and the insights over all.
How do you treat qualitative & quantitative data so it tells an unbiased story?
I treat them with the same amount of skepticism. I always ask myself, ‘Is this data meaningful?’ and ‘Do I trust this data source?’. If something looks fishy I investigate it and ask questions. For example, if I am not sure a goal is tracking correctly, I’ll check the setup and speak with the client. If a user seems to be telling me what I want to hear or to advance, I’ll flag the test and set up a new one.
I always look to combine my data as well, ideally, a hypothesis is supported by multiple data points across both qual and quant.
The other thing that can help is showing someone else what you have found and the picture you’re painting, a fresh set of eyes or two will soon point out an alternative hypothesis. This has become a standard practice for my pod at Conversion.com when we look to summarize experiment findings. There have been a few instances where an alternative or even opposite hypothesis has been offered once someone else has seen the data, and it prompted further analysis to dig deeper. It’s always worth another person’s interpretation, especially if you know you think differently.
What is the most annoying optimization myth you wish would go away?
That optimisation is just A/B testing or experimentation and that’s it.
We all know optimisation is not that at all, it’s not just experimentation and it’s not just A/B tests. It’s research, analysis, reporting, psychology, people skills, presentation skills, project management, resilience, mathematics, a way of thinking, a willingness to learn, UX practices, design practices, copywriting, technical understanding, and so much more.
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Thanks to Steph for sharing so many valuable insights! What advice resonated most with you?
Keep an eye out for our next interview with a CRO expert who takes us through even more advanced strategies!
And if you haven’t already, check out our past interviews with CRO legends Gursimran Gujral, Haley Carpenter, Rishi Rawat, Sina Fak, Eden Bidani, Jakub Linowski, Shiva Manjunath, Deborah O’Malley, Andra Baragan, Rich Page, Ruben de Boer, Abi Hough, Alex Birkett, John Ostrowski, Ryan Levander, Ryan Thomas, Bhavik Patel, Siobhan Solberg, Tim Mehta, and our latest with Rommil Santiago.