Category Archives: strategy and planning

Creating an Effective Personalization Strategy

Creating an Effective Personalization Strategy

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Personalized Strategy? We can DO that!

As marketers, we all know that the easiest way to reach all of our customers at once is to use one generic, cookie-cutter strategy across multiple devices and platforms for many different industries, right? Wrong! (But we all knew that) This would be a great strategy if we didn’t want to connect with any of our customers on a personal level. Here at Digital Operative, we use an extremely personalized approach to understand your business, your goals, and your current and potential audience to help create a more connected brand ecosystem.

Chris Goward and Optimizely have defined a roadmap for creating a personalized strategy that touches on many of the processes that we at Digital Operative have instilled into our practice for developing highly-personalized strategies for all of our clients.

Step 1: Defining Personalization  

They begin with realizing the difference between segmentation and personalization.  Segmentation is to aggregate similar groups together where personalization represents the ultimate goal of customizing the customer’s experience to their individual needs and desires based on in-depth information and insights gathered from extensive research. We pride ourselves on scouring the market through primary and secondary research to learn the how, what, who, when, and where of your business. Our strategy and planning begin with gathering essential information and data needed to asses your current position. Every insight we find brings us closer reaching your audience on a personal level.

Step 2: Is personalization right for you?

Goward invites you to ask yourself three questions to help determine your eligibility for creating a personalized strategy.

  1. Do you have enough data about your customers?
  2. Do you have the resources to effectively personalize?
  3. Do you have a process for validating personalization ideas?

Strategically speaking, Digital Operative utilizes a personalized mix of branding, human feedback, and data to create a unique strategy that will allow us to understand who your customers are, what type of resources are needed to effectively reach them, and the most effective process for validating our insights. We use a refined approach to select only those insights that produce value. A lot of data and research is great, but can be worthless without a sound process for finding how such data can be of value.

Step 3:  Personalization ideation

Once we have collected the necessary research and data and boiled it all down to valuable insights, we then need to take a look at how to create customized ideas and messaging that will resonate positively with your audience. Below we list Goward’s comments on the use of three different methods for exploring personalized insights.

  1. Deductive research, which begins with your assumptions about how your customers will respond to messaging based on existing theories
  2. Inductive research, which is driven by insights from your existing A/B testing, that as you test, will materialize into personalized insights
  3. Customer self-selection, where you ask your users to self-identify, segmenting themselves, which triggers specific messaging based on how they respond

Here at Digital Operative, we dive into market research, customer feedback, and competitive landscaping to begin building a personalized Customer Journey Map that shows where your customers are, where they are headed, and what they are doing to create messaging that will resonate with them the most. In alignment with your goals, the Customer Journey Map dictates the most effective digital media mix, creative messaging, technology platforms, and marketing channels.

Our audience development strategy utilizes an audience-centric approach that chooses segments based on your business fundamentals. We develop personalized personas based on the insights we gathered that uniquely identify all the different audience segments that lead to creating more personalized messaging in which customers can relate.

I know the implementation of a personalized strategy can be a daunting task, but Digital Operative has the resources and and creative minds to understand your customer’s needs, develop a personalized Customer Journey Map, and keep up-to-date with all industry research to ensure proper execution throughout the process. Still have questions? Reach out, we’d love to chat strategy and planning with you!     

Using CRO

Why So Many Ecommerce Companies Use CRO (And Why You Should, Too!)

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The name of the game is CRO, and if you’re not already playing, then you’re a few steps behind the competition. Thankfully, contrary to the sentiments of The Biebs, it’s not too late!

At this point, you’re probably wondering, “Well, what exactly is CRO?” No, we didn’t misspell the name of the bird nor did we misspell the name of the 1994 action-packed blockbuster (although, to be fair, the film is an absolute certified Fresh classic—check it out sometime, folks).

What is Conversion Rate Optimization?

The acronym refers to conversion rate optimization. Conversion rate is the likelihood that a website visitor will go to your site and convert; to do what you want him/her to do—whether that’s make a purchase, download an app or sign up for a newsletter. Conversion rate optimization, on the other hand, is improving certain aspects of your website to get your visitors to convert through deep data analysis and rigorous user testing. Easy enough, right? 59% of companies polled by Econsultancy seem to think so.

Having a great website is more than just using engaging content and Google-proof SEO tactics to garner site visits. Now, make no mistake: site visits are important, but getting them is merely the first step. Those visitors have only just entered the funnel, but we want to bring them all the way through by compelling them to act—to convert.

To put it quite simply, CRO could spell the difference between someone who simply goes to your site and another visitor who goes to your site and performs an action that you intended. Site visits are nice to have, but in the grand scheme of things, you want visitors to convert. These “conversion points” come in the form of purchases, shares, sign ups, reviews and even building wishlists.

Enter Website Optimization & Testing

If you aren’t getting the results you want, chances are your conversion rate isn’t up to par. That’s where CRO comes in. Here at Digital Operative, we affectionately classify CRO as “Optimization and Testing.” It may not sound as cool, but it makes more sense and is just easier to understand. While CRO may refer exclusively to sales in some instances, Optimization and Testing means making a website better in all aspects—from average order value (AOV) to per visit value (PVV) and even revenue per visit (RPV).

3 CRO Tips

Here’s 3 Free CRO Tips for Your Ecommerce Website

  1. Attribute Expansion via Site Search – Start by looking at your onsite search data to see what combinations of keywords visitors are using to get to products they want. You can use these keyword insights to see if they can help expand attribute opportunities to improve layered navigation or filtering on category pages. Simply put, this will only improve findability for the visitor as well.
  2. Reduce the Form Fields People! (Keep context in mind) – Obviously reducing hurdles like twenty form fields is going to increase conversion rate, but you also need to bear in mind the context of each form field as in a larger group some fields will get a lot of engagement. Add on the whole mobile layer to this and you’ve got to keep it simple as stated in this Optimizely post on CRO hacks.
  3. Be Better Than The Average Conversion Rate – Every industry has it’s standard conversion rates and in the ecommerce space it’s around 1.84% or 1-2%. Instead of just aiming to be average, look at the top 20% and make that your target. If you’re looking for historical data, check out the 2015 Q2 Ecommerce Quarterly from our friends over at Monetate. Thanks to our other friends over at Hubspot, you now can choose to be a Donkey or a Unicorn …
10 unconventional proven databacked cro hacks

source: 10 Unconventional CRO Hacks



If you are interested in smart decision-making and substantive results, then turn to us. In just 90 days, we helped soccerloco increase their online sales by 26%. Our team of seasoned CRO professionals is armed to the teeth with a sound methodology, a scientific perspective and a data-driven approach. With such an array of tactics—such as split testing (a.k.a. A/B testing), multivariate testing (MVT), remote usability testing (RUT), on-site optimization and heuristic evaluation—and a proven track record, we have what it takes to ensure that your website is improving and performing against your most important KPIs. Contact us today, and let us be your digital guide!


Opticon_Consumer Journey

Digital Operative Heads Back to Opticon!

By | events, strategy and planning | No Comments

For the second year in a row, Digital Operative is sponsoring Opticon and we couldn’t be more excited. Opticon is an annual conference where marketers, product marketers, and developers meet to learn, showcase, and share the best practices in experience optimization. This is a great event for members of the experience optimization and testing community to come together to learn some valuable information and give others some advice. Opticon will take place June 17-18 at Pier 27 in San Francisco, California.

Hosting the Opticon conference is Optimizely- the world’s leading web optimization platform. This is one of Digital Operative’s chosen clients and Optimizely works to help businesses deliver unique web experiences to their visitors and helps them to make better data-driven decisions.

We are so excited for this year as DO is sponsoring a roundtable discussion and our very own Eric Hanser is leading the talk! Eric is our Director, Strategy and Planning and the roundtable topic is centered around “Consumer Journey: Tools and Tactics to letting customers guide your testing choices.”

“Optimization and testing is the only unbiased way to take the guess work out of UX and visual design decisions on your site.” Says, Hanser “But, deciding which elements get tested in the first place can often still be a matter of personal choice. The goal is to find a way to listen to your customer’s needs, wants and barriers and to let them guide in the development of your testing plan.”

Last year Eric was nominated by Optimizely as testing hero of the year and since then has gone to the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, which is the largest outdoor show in North America, and spoke on the Culture of Optimization. If you’re thinking about attending, use the special promo code “DigitalOperative” when you register to get you $100 off a ticket!

Kevin Nguyen

Another Intern Has Arrived — Welcome, Kevin!

By | Internships, strategy and planning | No Comments

It’s that time again where we tap into our series, “12 weeks – what it’s really like to intern for a digital agency”  and welcome our next class of digital interns. Over the course of the next 12 weeks we will focus on bringing you a fresh perspective from our Strategy, Marketing and Design interns on what it’s really like to intern at a digital agency. To start we will focus on DO’s Strategy Intern, Kevin Nguyen.

Hi! My name is Kevin Nguyen and I am the new Strategy intern here at DO. I am originally from Washington (Go Seahawks), but since I’ve lived here for more than 15 years I consider myself a San Diegan. I am a soccer, basketball, and football fanatic, but when the sun shines you can normally find me in Pacific Beach playing beach volleyball. When the sun sets, I can be found on the streets of PB or on my couch watching television shows and live sporting events.

  • Where do you go to School? What is your Major? When do you plan on graduating?

I am currently finishing my final semester at San Diego State, where I am studying advertising.

  • How did you hear about Digital Operative?

I was researching San Diego agencies that offered strategy internships with the goal of surrounding myself in an environment that would allow me to learn relevant skills to further my professional development. DO seemed like the best place to do this, so I applied!

  • What do you hope to learn from your internship?

I’d like to learn more about branding, conducting research for clients, consumer behavior, trend analysis, and client engagement.

  • 1 week down – 11 to go……How do you feel after your first week of interning?

I feel excited! In such a short amount of time, Eric and Steven have already given me valuable knowledge and work experience. They’ve tasked me with interesting projects and have been great at answering any questions that I’ve had.

  • What do you hope to do after completing your internship and graduating from college?

I am very interested in working with clients and am looking to apply to agencies that offer entry-level account management positions. Ideally, I would like to retire as an Account Executive who has handled many high-level and unique clients.

  • Tell us something interesting about yourself?

Jimmy Fallon is my hero, I was Vice President of my fraternity at San Diego State, I can hold my breath underwater for more than 3 minutes, and I eat In-N-Out for dinner about 3-4 times a week.

Inter-bye - Alina

Another One Down — Goodbye, Alina

By | Internships, strategy and planning | No Comments

It’s that time again, when we say goodbye to another intern and wish them well as they embark on the new adventures that are in-front of them. In this post, we will recap Alina’s experience with DO. She started 12 weeks ago  and wrote about what she hoped to achieve in our series, 12 weeks – what it’s really like to intern for a digital agency. We asked Alina to answer a few questions about her experience and this is what she had to say:

How would you define Strategy? and how was your role crucial to the success of the Agency?

Strategy is all about obtaining the right information one needs to build the story about and around the customers. My roll was crucial to the success of the agency because I worked to build multiple stories so the strategy team could back up their reasoning as to why their recommendations were important. It was great to see the whole process unfold.

Who were your mentors at DO and How did you like working with them?

My Mentors were Eric & Steven and I can’t express enough how much I loved working with them.

What did you learn from your internship?

I learned not only how to juggle multiple projects, but to be a better and more efficient researcher. A huge part of the strategy department is obtaining information that you know you need but have no idea how to find it. It’s a challenge that I enjoyed taking on and definitely mastered much needed skills that will help me in the future.

You’re finished……How do you feel about completing your internship?

It’s bittersweet! I’m excited to move forward in life but I am quite sad to be leaving and I will miss all of the people, the work, the treats, bagel friday and of course the cute pups.

Do you still want to go down the same career path after you graduate? Why/Why not?

Definitely. I love agency life and want to get a job at one asap!

What was your favorite part about working with DO?

I loved all the things that I learned, which was on a daily basis thanks to Eric and Steven. Every day was different and I was able to pack in good variety of projects that reminded me why I entered this industry in the first place.

Would you recommend the internship program to your classmates?

Highly. This internship is extremely hands-on. DO not only taught me more about what agency life was like, it gave me so many various types of experiences. A lot of people assume that it’s important to get any job that will hire you out of college but it’s also important to find a place where you know you will grow and learn as much as possible and I am so thankful for all that I learned and experienced at DO.

What were a few of your favorite memories while interning for DO?

Halloween was a blast, I tried my best to win! Everyone dressed up it was really fun. I also loved the holiday party. I was able to help Shannon with the DOey awards and that was really great to see the whole process unfold. And last, just the day to day things I will miss the most. Walking into the office and saying hello to everyone and then starting on my next project was the most rewarding of the whole experience. I already miss it!


Marketing Strategies 2015

2014 Is So Last Year……Is Your Company Ready for 2015?

By | analytics, digital marketing, PPC, social commerce, strategy and planning | No Comments

2014 is soon to be something of the past, with only 3 weeks until we say “Goodbye 2014” and “Hello 2015” – it’s crunch time. Is your 2015 Marketing plan ready?

We’ve put together the Top 5 Digital Marketing opportunities you should have on your list to successfully conquer 2015.

1. Optimization and Testing

A/b testing vs. multivariate testing on landing pages and websites. There is always something you can test and gather data on. If you aren’t testing you are missing out on some great insights of your consumers and weak points in your users’ path.

2. Social Commerce

Do you know the ins and outs of social advertising. It’s not just about Facebook and Twitter for advertising. There is also Linkedin, youtube, Pinterest, Google+ and third party services like outbrain. When it comes to social commerce did you know you can easily target specific demographics and serve ads to particular audiences that are on your mailing list?

3. Email Marketing Campaign

Be sure that you have analytics installed on all of your pages along with Google Tag Manager. This will help in determining consumers paths and where traffic is coming from and how you can improve. This goes hand and hand with optimization and testing. One is nothing without the other. Do you have your AdWords auto-tagged?

4. Analytics and Tracking

Be sure that you have analytics installed on all of your pages along with tag manager. This will help in determining consumers paths and where traffic is coming from and how you can improve. This goes hand and hand with optimization and testing. One is nothing without the other. Have you included AdWords tracking?

5. Paid Media

Do you know who your audience is? Do you have budget dedicated to specific campaigns, including Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Valentines Day, etc.? Did you know that on Thanksgiving Day over 50% of all online shopping was done via mobile devices by mostly females? Make sure you are setting device specific allocations and know how to use data to improve your campaigns. It’s important to align with all marketing channels so you don’t have any missed opportunities. Communication is the key.

We have more tips where these came from and are ready to help you rock 2015. Drop us a line, because it is important to know exactly who your audience is and how to reach them.



Holiday Branding

Just Because The Holidays Are Here – Doesn’t Mean Your Brand Can Take A Vacation

By | holidays, strategy and planning | One Comment

Creative, fun, and engaging campaign ideas often flow at this time of year as we marketers brainstorm how to capture the most sales and drive brand awareness during the holiday season. Your customers meanwhile have developed a relationship with your brand, and they have an expectation about your brand personality. Do these seasonal creative ideas coincide or collide with this established personality, messaging, visual style, and tone of voice?

Let’s first have a quick overview of how branding originated, how it has changed and where it stands today.

In marketing terms, “branding” came about simply to differentiate one product from another. With naming and visual identity, brands could attract consumers and, hopefully, keep them loyally purchasing their product. As the years passed from those early days of marketing, branding came to mean SO MUCH more; brands soon represented everything consumers thought and felt about products and/or services. People started to have relationships in their minds with brands, and it then became a marketer’s job to maintain clarity and consistency of branding in order to maintain and nourish those relationships.

In today’s digital world, the relationship people have with brands goes much deeper than ever before. Consumers come into contact with brands via a huge variety of touchpoints, from physical stores, television, mobile devices, tablets, desktop computers. They maintain “conversations” and “relationships” via a huge variety of marketing channels and social media.

So, what does all this have to do with the holiday season? Well, you do not have a different brand in the holiday season than you do during the rest of the year. Your customers should still have a the same relationship with your brand in June as they do in December. As your creative juices flow, make sure you’re doing so with those parameters at the front of your mind.

Make sure the tone and voice with which your brand normally speaks is the same voice used during your holiday promotions. If you have a just-the-facts, super-serious brand, but during the holidays your start using an overly-casual, borderline-flippant tone of voice, your customers will experience at minimum confusion and at most alienation.

Similarly, your visual brand can very well accompanied by some seasonally appropriate merriment, but make sure you don’t stray from your core identity or you might be hindering brand affinity. Changing visual style is certain to raise an eyebrow and build doubt in the mind of your customers.

One perfect example of a runaway holiday promotion comes to us from Target. Since 2010, Target has built its holiday campaign around a maniacal, price-obsessed housewife who trains early to fight the crowds on Black Friday and throughout the holiday season. While getting a good deal has always been important to the Target brand, it certainly has not been central to the brand in the same way or to the same degree that this campaign conveyed. In fact, Target is making a concerted effort this year to distance itself from this style of holiday campaign. Jones, Target’s CMO recently stated:

“In the last few years, we drifted too far away from some of those elements that make Target, Target.”

While the words and visuals you’re using in a campaign or promotion can and should be seasonally appropriate, the tone and style should be remain in-line with your brand. For more on branding or holiday strategy & planning, reach out to our strategy team.

Alina Beynun

Our New Strategy Intern Has Hit The Ground Running

By | Internships, strategy and planning | No Comments

It’s that time again where we tap into our series, “12 weeks – what it’s really like to intern for a digital agency”  and welcome our Fall class of digital interns. Over the course of the next 12 weeks we will focus on bringing you a fresh perspective from our Strategy, Marketing and Design interns on what it’s really like to intern at a digital agency. To start we will focus on DO’s Strategy Intern, Alina Beynun .

Hello! I’m Alina, the new Strategy intern at DO. I am 26 and from Idaho. No, I was not raised on a potato farm but I have most likely experienced all stereotypes one might associate with the state.  When I’m not learning away at Digital Operative, you’ll either find me at the gym, the beach or exploring a new area of San Diego. I love to read, browse Reddit, go to Yoga, and most of all, travel. I will admit that I’m a bit of a travel addict.

 Where do you go to School? What is your Major? When do you plan on graduating?

I went to The University of Idaho and majored in Advertising with an emphasis in Communications & Spanish.

How did you hear about Digital Operative?

I heard about DO because I went on an agency research binge and loved all aspects of the company.  Good vibes, great work and now I get to be a part of it for a few months!

What do you hope to learn from your internship?

I hope to learn all aspects of the strategy / account side so when I get a job at an agency I am fully equipped with the strongest abilities to be successful.

1 week down – 11 to go……How do you feel after your first week of interning? 

My first week has been great. I’m already learning a ton and I love that I’m given work that’s not only relevant but it’s necessary for the strategists to create a successful plan for the client.

What do you hope to do after completing your internship and graduating from college?

I hope to get a job at an agency. I’m still very passionate about agency life and the work that’s created and I’m ready and excited to officially jump into this field.

Tell us something interesting about yourself?

I moved by myself to Alicante, Spain in January of 2011 with out knowing a single soul in the country. It ended up being the best decision I’ve ever done and I’ve been obsessed with traveling ever since.


Welcome to the team Alina…We know you are going to be a success here and after two weeks, it’s no surprise as to why the strategy team needed to have you as their intern.

Digital Operative Strategy and planning

Optimization and Testing: What’s Your Problem?

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We all have problems, which can certainly be annoying, but they aren’t always a bad thing. Problems, especially when talking about website optimization, can be opportunities for improvement. And that’s exactly what our Strategy & Planning department professes: site optimization projects should always start with a problem.

You may have encountered someone who or maybe you yourself have read a list of tests ideas and immediately wanted to run a battery of random tests, and I assure you, this isn’t optimal. Firstly, you might solve some cosmetic glitch but you won’t likely solve the underlying issue. Secondly, websites, consumers, industries, etc. are all a different, so whatever solution worked for one company might not (and likely won’t) work for you.

Starting with a problem works, and it is done by discovering the weakest points on your site, prioritizing which are the most critical, fully developing tests around those weak points, optimizing that area until it is no longer the weakest, and moving to the next weakest point.

Well, how do you identify your site’s weak areas? Again, it’s not from opinion, suggestion, or a hunch, it’s from data. Use a combination of site analytics and user testing to determine your problems areas and their severity. Site analytics alone won’t uncover everything. Data, qualitative and quantitative together, will fully uncover your weak points.

Proper analysis will likely unearth a great number of problems, but you won’t be able to test everything, certainly not all at once, so next you’ll need to prioritize your possibilities. There are several ways to do this. One might be finding tests that have a balance between the highest impact and the lowest difficulty. Whichever problem floats to the top, start with that one.

Now that you’ve identified your site’s problem areas and sorted them by importance, its best to fully conceptualize the other necessary parts of a test, such as KPI (key performance indicator) and hypothesis/es. Thankfully, this is easily done when starting with the problem–those metrics are inherently contained in the problem that you’re solving for.

Finally, with the problems started and sorted and measures of success developed, start testing. Keep in mind too, that tests themselves might have weak areas. A good experimenter will understand the flaws and limitations of their tests, and if deemed important enough, might run a second round based on previous findings.

In summary, when starting a round of website optimization:

  • First, use data to uncover weak points in your users’ path
  • Second, prioritize these weak points based impact vs. ease
  • Third, develop key metrics such as hypothesis and KPI(s) for each test
  • Fourth and lastly, implement the tests, uncover findings, test again if necessary. Repeat the process until you have zero problems (which will be never).

So what’s your problem? Contact us and let’s get started.


2014 Outdoor eCommerce Survey

By | digital commerce, ecommerce, strategy and planning | No Comments

At Digital Operative we work with our clients to build better relationships with their customers at the intersection of commerce, content and community. Our mission is to deliver cross-channel customer experiences that ultimately help our customers’ businesses grow their awareness, engagement and revenue. To help our clients be effective in the the outdoor space, like any other industry, we need research and data. So, our strategy and planning team created a 54 question survey in order to allow us to share valuable insight into the current digital commerce environment within the outdoor industry. Our CEO, BJ Cook states:

“Driving an initiative like the Outdoor Retail Survey is all about garnering a better understanding of how today’s Outdoors & Active Lifestyle companies are seeing their own position within the worlds of ecommerce and digital marketing. We’re hoping to gain participation from the industry’s current and up-and-coming digital leaders to paint a full picture. We see this as a great opportunity to provide insight  and do our part in giving back to the industry.”

All of the data collected and analyzed from this survey will provide outdoor industry leaders and online retailers critical gaps, opportunities and solutions to help their company be agile and responsive to the ever-changing expectations of online shoppers.

Reasons why brands should participate:

  • Insight to outdoor industry trends
  • Clarification to online shopping behaviors
  • Results of the survey before anyone else in the industry has access
  • Opportunities to be industry leaders through founded results

The following subjects are covered:

  • Industry Overview
  • Digital Marketing
  • Target Audience & Demographics
  • Social Media
  • Mobile
  • Omnichannel
  • Conversion rate optimization
  • User experience

If your company is a part of the Outdoor industry and you would like to participate in our 2014 ecommerce outdoor retail survey, Click here. The companies that participate in the survey, will personally be emailed the compiled results before anyone else in the industry has the data.


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