Interview with Kerstin Exner about Conversion Conference

Kerstin ExnerAs one the of the many great speakers presenting at Conversion Conference London I was interested to hear about Kerstin’s experience previously as a product manager within ebay and now product manager for The Guardian’s dating website Guardian Soulmates.  It was an interesting interview as Kerstin uses testing more for internal conversion optimisation and improving overall engagement and not just straightforward purchases. For her the testing is an integral part of a data-driven product strategy.

Kerstin is presenting a great session at Conversion Conference on day 1 from 12noon “Designing a test – from hypothesis to result: how mature is your test design approach?

  1. How was the change going from ebay selling physical items to virtual goods with Guardian Soulmates? Actually eBay is not really selling physical goods. eBay is a marketplace to connect buyers and sellers. This is not dissimilar to a dating site, which is basically a marketplace with the goal to connect people. A lot of the same principles apply.
  2. What are your preferred channels for traffic when doing testing?  I am a Product Manager, not a marketer and due to that our testing setups may have been a bit untypical. Our focus for the testing has been on increasing conversion and engagement within the product rather than focusing on a specific acquisition channel.
  3. What’s been the impact on the growth of smartphones on mobile product development around design? Smartphone and especially tablet traffic share is growing quickly, especially in the dating world. We are currently working on making the site responsive, because we think this is the best experience we can deliver for our customers.
  4. How do you design a test & optimise for conversions based on gender or sexual preference? We have not done any differentiation by gender or sexual preference so far, but we do know that men and women sometimes use dating sites differently, so this is definitely a consideration for the future.
  5. TheGuardian has gone global so has that changed what tests you need to design now? At the moment Guardian Soulmates is very much a UK centred part of the Guardian. A dating site needs to have critical mass in a location to be successful. It cannot be taken global as easily as a news site.
  6. Has the improvement in attribution modelling in tools like Google Analytics helped measurement of tests? We use Omniture Site Catalyst in conjunction with Optimizely to track our tests. This has definitely helped to get a more comprehensive picture of users’ behaviour than the single goal tracked through Optimizely itself.
  7. What is one vertical/industry that you think always leads testing design and conversion optimisation? It would have to be consumer e-commerce in all its forms.
  8. What’s some new software/tools that you think people should consider trialing or exploring? I would recommend Optimizely as a testing tool. It is really simple to set up tests and just get started.
  9. What are the main points that you want people to get from your presentation? Just get started with some simple tests even if you don’t have a complete test strategy lined up. You will learn from your tests and refine your hypotheses as you go. And don’t be disappointed when a test fails. You’ll learn just as much from things that don’t work as from things that do work.
  10. What are some of the other sessions/speakers at Conversion Conference that you are looking to see? There are a lot that I find very interesting. Some highlights for me to pick would be Leigh Caldwell, because I am interested in the psychology of pricing working in a subscription business. Catherine Toole, because I think good copy is one of the most important and underrated aspects of a website. Paul Rouke and Stuart McMillan on responsive design, because that’s a hot topic for us.
  11. Where can people find and engage with you online? You can find Kerstin on Linkedin

Thanks Kerstin for your time in answering these questions.  If you want to catch Kerstin speak and save ££££ on tickets for Conversion Conference London you can use our discount code LOSTAGENCY13 and you can register and find out more here.