Interview with Roboboogie Optimization Strategist, Duncan Lawrence

Duncan Lawrence

Having a great idea is one thing, but how can strategy be utilized to bring that great idea to life? This month, we’re talking with Roboboogie Optimization Strategist, Duncan Lawrence, who knows all about turning a vision into reality. Read on to learn more about what strategy means in the optimization space, and to get an inside look at Duncan’s thoughts on the importance of data and where the industry is headed.

How do you describe what you do?

I have the best job in the world – I come up with ideas and my amazing team of analysts, designers, and developers help make those ideas come to life.

However, that usually doesn’t suffice as an explanation. My more granular description is that I work with client partners to understand the needs of their organization, develop strategies to help them meet their goals, and organize experiments to continually test, optimize and learn about their community.

What is a belief regarding the industry that you have that others in your field might not agree with?

To be a successful strategist it is important to never stop learning.

Creating strategies that work requires me to ask questions of our clients and their communities, challenging the status quo but understanding why it is the way it is, and integrating the history of the experience with the potential future. Each project requires an incredible amount of learning and a willingness to continually refine  my understanding and assumptions over time.

What is a skillset that you use every day, but never thought you would have to?

Documentation, documentation, documentation.

I create and review a staggering amount of documentation. The complexity of our optimization programs and the number of simultaneous programs running requires a documentation process that enables the entire team (including the client) to effectively collaborate. I have tried all the tools available, but I keep coming back to always starting with pen and paper, then digitizing and distributing. It may sound tedious, but it keeps me focused on the work at hand.

How do you approach solving problems?

What’s a problem if not an opportunity to experiment? Problems within a single webpage, a user journey, or even a person-to-person communication concern are opportunities to repair and improve. But no matter the opportunity, my process holds similar:

  1. Identify the opportunity
  2. Research, collect and document all relevant data, related work, and best practices
  3. Ideate on the possibilities, rating feasibility, combining where it makes sense, and prioritizing
  4. Hand off experiment strategy, ensuring data collection matches the intent of the strategy
  5. Analyze and iterate

What is your advice for turning a strategic idea into reality?

Understand the limitations of possibility, but find a way to justify the value.

As a strategist, it is key to have an understanding of development frameworks, UX/UI best-practices, and what it takes to bring a project to life. This allows an understanding of  what can be accomplished. Sometimes strategies aren’t feasible, but there are alternate solutions that gain the same or similar insights or value.

For example: with a hypothesis that users are more likely to purchase a product if the only products they see are the ones they want, it is tempting to jump into one-to-one personalization, presenting a fully customized experience that delivers exactly what the person wants.

However, the time and money investment to fulfill that strategy is unjustifiable without the data to back it up. Reflecting on the why of the strategy presents a few different, lighter weight options that give us the opportunity to gain insights into the user to determine if there is reason to continue the investment:

  • Review available data, or collect additional data, to determine the feasibility of large-scale implementation
  • Experiment with the number of presented product to see if there is an ideal number of products that result in conversions
  • Pick one subset of people to create a fully personalized experience within a testing tool

What advice do you have marketers who are interested in harnessing both quantitative and qualitative data to make decisions?

As an industry, we often forget that there are actual people engaging with each experiment. We either go too deep on the qualitative data and get too focused on a single person’s experience, or we go the other way and focus only on the datapoints that are devoid of the individual human journey. That is why Roboboogie has created a process of integrating the two, understanding the value of both types of data for understanding optimization efforts.

As a strategist, I recommend starting with the quantitative data to create an outline of the journey, then filling in the gaps with qualitative experiences to create a story that has meaning.

Quantitative data creates the framework for a user journey, essentially setting up the chapters and major turning points of the story. The data showcases what happened, but not the why. Qualitative data helps bring life to the journey. The human element explains why the quantitative data is showing the experience. By combining the two, a strategist can uncover the why of a datapoint and better understand the people whose lives they are impacting.

What optimization trends are you currently most excited about?

Hyper-personalized, intentional experiences are what I am currently most interested in. As an industry we have spent the past 5-10 years building increasingly robust systems and experiences that honestly do too much, intimidating users into inaction and disengagement.

We are increasingly seeing a pull back from experiences that throw all options in front of the user and instead present the options in a meaningful manner. Smart tech, like Siri and Alexa, are great examples of this: they have the power to perform an incredible number of actions, but a user doesn’t need to sort through options. They get the job done, quickly and effectively. That is what every user experience should aim to do.

Thanks for sharing your strategic insights with us, Duncan! Tune in next month for another interview with a Roboboogie pro.

The Power of Personalization with Lytics’s Kim Toomey

January 2018 Camp Optimization

On January 18th, roboboogie had the pleasure of hosting Kim Toomey of Lytics as she spoke at Camp Optimization on the importance of personalizing your marketing efforts. Kim unpacked the history of personalization, the role it plays in decision making and provided some simple tactics to start personalizing digital experiences immediately. The talk was fun, engaging and informative and post-talk Q&A conversation was lively and challenging. Unable to join us this month? Don’t worry – we’re here to highlight a few key takeaways from our bi-monthly event.  

Camp Optimization January 2017 - Lacie, Aaron and Jesi sharing conversation and a drink and roboboogie swag

Introducting Kim Toomey

Before we dive into what personalization really entails, here’s a brief background on Camp-O’s speaker, Kim Toomey, and the marketing platform, Lytics. Kim has been working in the agency realm for 10 years now, and has built out an impressive portfolio. Her experience extends all the way from SEO work to landing page design, and hits almost everything in between. Kim now finds herself in the role of Customer Success Manager at Lytics, a company that offers an advanced customer data platform (CDP). Our friends at Lytics provide an excellent service, and as a bonus they are located right here in sunny Portland, Oregon.

Camp Optimization January 2017 - crowd socializing

Why Personalize?

Personalization seems to be a hot trend in the marketing world, but is it here to stay? You bet! Here at roboboogie, we are firm believers in the positive effect of personalization and we have data to back it up. Effective personalization always takes a user’s best interest to mind and delivers an exceptional experience – that also has a strong measurable impact on ROI. There may come a time when there is too much personalization, but fortunately we’ve yet to cross this road.  However, it is important to keep these potential barriers in mind as you look to serve your customers. It’s our belief that personalization shouldn’t extend so far that you compromise your brand just to serve a specific clientele. Fortunately, we are at the forefront of this trend, as companies continue to adopt and recognize the power of personalization.  Not only does it open optimization opportunities, but it also makes the user feel like an individual and adds a level of humanity to our often automated world.

Harnessing Customer Data

Kim discussed the edge creating customer profiles gives your business by utilizing a customer data platform (like Lytics), and the effects it has on maximizing marketing spend. Knowing your customer and using your data to best serve their needs is critical to boost conversions. But, before we go any further, let’s provide some context on what goes into customer profiles. Profiles can be created from a large spectrum of detail, but the principle is to collect relevant user information and use this information to guide your content. Customer data platforms can be as simple as collecting demographic info and the acquisition channel, but can get as detailed as including session navigation paths, previous site interactions, checkout-flow history, and related demographic trends. Hopefully an example will provide some essential context here, but don’t worry, I’ll keep it simple. Let’s say there is an on-site promotion for new customers to receive free shipping on their first order, but this ad is displayed to every user who navigates to the site, new or returning. Clearly, if a user has already purchased, they would likely react unfavorably to seeing an unredeemable promotion. However, if a customer data profile is in place, the returning user would be served a unique site variation with user-specific information. The last thing you want is to upset a repeat customer, and if a CDP is in place this will ensure your site is serving the most relevant information for each user.

Camp Optimization January 2017 - Kim Toomey Speaking

Expected Results

You’re probably thinking, “this is all great, but is it worth both the time and monetary investment?” The Lytics team seems to think so, and here at roboboogie we are all-in as well. One direct result of adopting user-specific personalization starts with a significantly decreased cost per acquisition. Think about it: if you can segment and target your ideal customer, then focus on the needs of this demographic for conversions, intuition would say your conversions should go up. Let’s say your marketing efforts are only converting 10% of users who see your content. Wouldn’t it make sense to focus on those converting to optimize their user experience? Once you’ve optimized their experience, the next step is building out more customer profiles and attracting others that show similar behaviors. 

Camp Optimization January 2017 - crowd gathered in conversation

Where do I start?

This can sometimes be the most challenging part of any new venture. We’ve found going into the unknown with a positive mentality helps increase the odds of success. One practice we love is that of frequent, iterative testing, and always remembering to harness learnings from any missteps to inform strategy moving forward. With personalization, it’s important to keep in mind that not everyone will convert. Personalizing your marketing efforts doesn’t result in 100% conversion, but with the right tactics, you’re likely to see a boost in both conversions and ROI. A great jumping-off point into personalization is A/B and MVT testing. A personal staple of roboboogie’s and Lytics’ culture alike. Testing provides a clear path to let the numbers guide any decision around creating and optimizing personalized experiences. We can attest to the power of testing, and it serves as a solid foundation for entering the world of personalization. If you have any questions about personalization or you’re like us and share a similar passion for anything marketing related, be sure to get in touch!

Camp Optimization January 2017 - Kim Toomey - speaker

Join us next time!

If you’re kicking yourself for missing out on Kim’s presentation, don’t! We’ve got something awesome in the works for our next installment of Camp Optimization on March 15th. Our very own Lacie Webb will be diving into the topic of Design Thinking, and the impact it has on optimization projects. Reserve your spot, mark your calendars, and if you’re like me and could use a friendly reminder, be sure to sign up for our newsletter below.

Written by Tyler Hudson.

What is a conversion worth?

Calculating conversion value from non-revenue events

We are fortunate enough to be part of a new era in the digital marketing world. The amount of data at our fingertips is astronomical, and the value generated from applying that knowledge has the power to make or break an organization. Data has enabled insight into ROI-based decision making in a way where action and outcome can be measured to the dollar.

The Challenge of Non-Revenue Generating Conversions

Assigning value to explicit revenue events is simple, such as ecommerce where more transactions equal more revenue, but it becomes more difficult for industries without 1 to 1 measurement.

It is growing common practice to extrapolate the anticipated revenue of a micro-conversion that will likely lead to a revenue event. A example of this is with B2B lead-gen websites. The lead itself isn’t a revenue event, however over time the average value (revenue generated from lead) can be calculated. This can be dialed in further with lead-scoring to attribute value based upon likelihood to convert.

However, in many cases it is difficult to make a connection between a micro-conversion and the revenue outcome of the event. This is particularly highlighted with online conversions that intentionally conclude an online experience, but that we intuitively know has increased likelihood of a purchase – such as directing users to a brick-and-mortar location.

This type of user journey presents challenges for tracking the benefit of online interactions, as once a user identifies a brick-and-mortar to visit and exits a site, they can no longer be tracked (unless a universal ID is attributed that connects online users to offline customers – such as a user account). The disconnected user experiences can be tricky to attribute a value to,  but isn’t impossible.

A Real Life Example

A food industry client recently came to us with this very problem. They had a web experience, with an array conversion points (content engagement, newsletter sign-up, coupon download, location finder, etc.) and yet were struggling to attribute a value to the various conversions to help make informed efforts to optimize the user experience. 

For the sake of privacy for our client, let’s dissect a similar experience on to attribute values to non-revenue generated conversion points. The primary functions of the site are to allow users to discover offers, explore the menu and find locations. None of these users paths include conversion points that directly generate revenue.

Content consumption (more engagement, page views, etc.) is a sign of user intent to convert – purchase, sign up, etc. Looking at the primary navigational paths mentioned above, engagement with any of these areas should increase a potential fast-food consumer’s propensity to make their way to their nearest Carl’s Jr. restaurant.

Unpacking the User Journey

Let’s assume a user arrives, visits a number of pages engaging with content and is compelled to find a restaurant to fulfill a newfound burger craving. They then navigate to the locations page. The user searches and identifies his/her nearest store … and then concludes his/her session.

No cash has been exchanged between this user and Carls Jr. – but did the location finder use have a conversion value? You bet!

By calculating the current amount of value that the on-site conversions (like location finder feature) are generating, it is then possible to focus resources on conversions that will provide the greatest financial impact.

Working with the Data Available

How then is a conversion value attributed to Carl’s Jr. location finder engagement? The calculation varies based upon data available. A common misconception is that only if a large, detailed data-set is available will this process work. Although this can help with the confidence of a calculated sum, simply having a base value gives something to optimize from.

Let’s take a deeper look at starting to break down our calculation case for Carl’s Jr.

  1. Let’s start with Average Meal Cost – This metric should be fairly easy for Carl’s Jr. to provide: a simple average revenue per mean. (Alternatively, average revenue per visit layered with industry margins (even with some fuzzy math from something like this) get us in the ballpark for calculating value.) For the case of Carl’s Jr., let’s assume this figure is $7.00.
  2. ​Then add what I am calling the “Location-Finder-Use-to-Purchase-Rate​” – The idea here being attributing the likelihood of a user utilizing the location finder tool online and their propensity to buy as a result. In other words, “we believe 1 in 4 users who engage with the location finder will go make a purchase.” This could be a tricky one to nail down, but a series of user tests, or even an office survey would give us what we need to intuit a starting point. For the case of Carl’s Jr., let’s assume this figure is .25%.

Calculating the Conversion Value

With Average Meal Cost & Location-Finder-Use-to-Purchase-Rate​, along with our Current Location Finder Engagement Rate and Web Visitors Per Month (pulled from web analytics platform) the VALUE of a location finder engagement is simple calculation away. 

x (
Location Finder Engagment Rate
Average Meal Margin
) =
x (
) =
V = Visitors
LF = Location Finder Engagment Rate
AM = Average Meal Margin
PR = Location-Finder-Use-to-Purchase-Rate
900kWeb Visitors
Per Month
22%Current Location Finder Engagement Rate
$7.00Average Meal
x (
) =

And there we have it. For this case, we have assigned a value generation of $346,500 per month to the location finder conversion point on site. We can also dial this back to a per-conversion value of $.38 per conversion.

Clearly, there are many ways to look at improving this calculated number over time, and it is highly recommended to do so. This is about setting out to assign a starting point. Optimization of the data input to get there is a continual process.

Once values are attributed to conversions, it is important to add those metrics to your analytics platform and performance reporting. (For us, that most commonly occurs in Google Analytics. Watch for an upcoming post on adding value tracking to goals in GA.) The benefit of defining values for conversions is it provides multiple success metrics that can be tracked for over the course of marketing and optimization efforts to better understand behavior and impact in a measurable, meaningful way – and a documented value for celebrating optimization success.

Optimizing for Increased Conversions

Simply assigning a value to conversions as part of your approach to analytics and reporting will yield insights for better decision making and understanding of your customers.

But where the value really shines, is within the optimization process. With values assigned to all conversion points, web and marketing needs can be weighed fairly with a better understanding of the overall financial impact of conversions in relation to each other. From there, the highest ROI opportunities can be addressed first, and the impact can be measured.

Continuing with our example above, let’s assume Carl’s Jr. identifies a low effort, high yield update they can make to their location finder conversion funnel (this could be through additional content, navigational paths, incentives, etc. – we recommend testing all these things!).

For this example, the visitor to location finder use goes from 22% to 25%. All of a sudden we have a notable uptick in revenue:

x (
) =

Assuming it is a sustainable optimization, the investment has yielded an impressive $567,000 per year!

It’s Difficult, But Worth the Effort

Each digital ecosystem requires its own set of data measurement practices and conversion value assignments. Whether there is black-and-white revenue generation that can be attributed, or if a little extra math is needed, the reward is worth the effort. 

We’ve worked closely with clients across many different industries and helped attribute conversion value – from eComm social share, to friend referrals, to student applications, to location finder searches. Just give it a shot – it’s worth the payoff.

Want to pick our brains around defining conversion values? Drop us a line, we’d love to chat!

– Written by Jedidiah Fugle.

2017: A Year in Review

roboboogie team posing for a holiday team photo

Happy 2018!

It’s a perfect time to reflect on the accomplishments and notable happenings of 2017. Thanks to the dedication, skills, and passion of the entire roboboogie team, 2017 was a year of considerable growth and success. We doubled both our office space and staff, deepened relationships with our existing clients, and set sail with some new brands we love and admire.

We designed a whole bunch of really engaging, high-performing digital experiences and helped all of our clients significantly improve their conversion rates… all while having a whole lot of fun. But, we couldn’t have done it without the close collaboration, commitment, and partnership of all the smart marketers we work with. So a huge thanks to all of our clients for being really awesome!

Here’s a list of our top ten moments. Let’s all toast to another successful year in 2018!

1. What happens in Vegas…

In October roboboogie sponsored its third Opticon event. Opticon is Optimizely’s annual thought leadership conference and this year we headed to Las Vegas. We’re proud of our close partnership with Optimizely and have been BFF’s for over 4 years now. As a leading testing and personalization platform, Optimizely always inspires us at this well organized, well attended event. This year was no exception. We learned a lot, had a blast, and met some really smart marketers. Read all about it on our blog. 

roboboogie team at opticon 2017

2. Happy Customers Convert

The ‘cobblers children’ adage rings true at every agency I’ve ever worked. It’s no exception here at roboboogie. We’re extremely good at distilling brand positions and messaging for our clients, but it is really difficult at times to tell our story elegantly and concisely. We’re just too deep in our own forest to see through the trees. However, this past year we stumbled on three words that we think say it all – Happy Customers Convert. It’s become a simple guiding mantra that reminds us to always keep learning about customer desires, and to design digital experiences that delight. Happy Customers Convert made its debut at Opticon in the form of face coasters and t-shirts.    

3. Fall Retreat

Twice a year we take a couple days to step out of the office with the entire team. Our latest retreat in November brought us to Seaside, on the Oregon coast. A healthy dose of Oregon coast weather didn’t stop the team from getting out for beach fun, good food & drink, and shenanigans around town. Retreats are perfect for team bonding and getting to know your teammates out of the office context. We celebrated some individual contributions and successes of 2017, and got to know each other and ourselves a bit better through a really insightful leadership skills mapping exercise.   

4. PDX Robo Race

The ‘work hard, play hard’ mantra is certainly one we live by at roboboogie. We also embrace ‘adventure’ as one of our cultural tenants. With that in mind, we took a full day in July for an adventure-race scavenger hunt set in our amazing city of Portland. The agency divided into two teams (Eigoobobor (roboboogie backwards) & Team Skittles). Each team was given a series of time-released clues to activities and destinations around the city. The team completing the most challenges (photo documented), in the shortest amount of time was to be declared the winner. After 50 challenges, 8 hours and 13 exhausting miles of urban hiking and creative problem solving around town, we realized both teams were fiercely competitive and the challenge ended in “a draw.” It was an amazing day of competitive fun, exercise, and some serious team bonding and revelry. If you are up to the challenge, you can check it out here. Here are some of the challenges the teams completed throughout the day:

team challenges at the PDX Robo Race 2017
team challenges at the PDX Robo Race 2017

5. Newsletter, Blog, and Social Media

2017 was also a year of marketing growth. We exponentially expanded our content marketing efforts to build awareness for the agency. I am extremely proud of the discipline the team has shown in prioritizing this work. Their dedication and creative talents have helped raise awareness considerably, and has also helped us attract some amazing talent. Big props and thanks to the internal marketing team. Here are some stats from 2017:

  • 5 monthly newsletters
  • 31 new blog posts
  • 17,107 likes over 233 Instagram posts
  • 513,369 impressions over 2,270 tweets

We hope you’ve enjoyed what we’ve been sharing, and we are excited to build on this momentum in 2018.

roboboogie social media highlights of 2017

6. Camp Optimization

Two years ago we started a local optimization meet-up. Since that first event in August of 2015, we’ve hosted 15 Camp Optimization events and met hundreds of smart marketers and designers. Each meet-up, we invite a guest speaker to talk about a topic relevant to design and optimization. This year we saw attendance consistently grow for each event. We learned a bunch from the talented folks who generously took time to speak and present – thank you so much for sharing your passions. We also made friends with some really cool people working in (or interested in) the field of digital design and optimization. In 2018, we plan to keep growing the event and would love to meet you. Come out, have a drink on us and network with some smart, like-minded folks passionate about design and optimization.

Learn more about Camp Optimization and get a recap of the topics discussed, or sign-up to be a presenter. Click the photos below for a full recap of each event:

7. Agency Partnerships

I often describe roboboogie as a right-and-left-brained organization. We love geeking out in customer data and analytics, but are also extremely passionate about design and creative. We know good design is critical to optimizing conversions, and look to data to inform our design decisions. So, it’s no surprise we love collaborating with other like-minded agencies.
In 2017 we had the privilege to collaborate with the amazingly talented creative agency, Struck. If you are not already tuned into them, Struck is an extremely strategic creative agency, with a killer portfolio of amazing work. Thanks, Struck, for including us in the fun and for bringing our data-backed wizardry to the amazing work you are doing for your clients.

roboboogie + Struck partnership

8. Rockin’ Wacom

We’ve had the privilege of working with Wacom for the past three years. What started as a single engagement optimizing email acquisitions on their blog, has grown into an opportunity to optimize much of their digital marketing ecosystem across a number of business units including the Wacom eStore, Bamboo blog, and several landing pages and microsites.

In 2017 we had the opportunity to create customer journeys, conduct user testing, design and implement over 90 A/B tests, and design and optimize several content marketing campaigns. We’re extremely pleased to see so many folks at Wacom embracing the test and optimize culture, and could not have accomplished any of this without the close collaboration with the incredibly smart and creative marketers and designers we work with. We’re excited to build on the successes of 2017 into 2018 and beyond.

roboboogie + Wacom

9. New Clients

Designing and optimizing digital experiences for any brand requires you get to know their target audience. That task is much easier when you are their target audience. 2017 brought two notable brands we’ve been long time fans of to our roster, Adobe and Yakima Products. While their products and businesses are vastly different, the majority of the roboboogie team frequently uses both their products. Sure one gets us outside to participate in our favorite outdoor activities, and the other keeps us productive indoors knocking out killer designs, but we love them both. We’re really excited for what we’ve accomplished in 2017 working with them, and looking forward to continued success in 2018.

Adobe logo
Yakima logo

10. One team, one dream

The team is what truly makes roboboogie great. We’ve got an amazing team, and I am extremely proud of all that we’ve achieved in 2017. We’ve got a lot of happy clients who love working with us, and are seeing great success with the digital experiences we’ve created for them. Check out our employee highlights to read more about our thoughts on all things optimization. Big thanks to the entire roboboogie team for your unwavering dedication, positive attitude, hard work, and incredible talent. You inspire me everyday, and make coming to work fun (even though my face in the this photo does not reflect that joy #alwaysgoofin).

team roboboogie posing for a holiday pic in their Sunday's best