Whether your audience is businesses or consumers, you know that meeting their demands is not easy. There are a lot of options when it comes to choosing a product - so your product, whether it's a website, platform or app, needs to meet the needs of your key audience, or they will simply choose to use a different product.
A key way to understand these needs is to experiment and test different options, and a culture of experimentation ensures that all team members - from engineering to design to marketing - are encouraged to try new things, learn from them, and apply those insights to make better products.
In this guide, we'll walk you through some practical tips and strategies to help you create this type of culture in your product team, regardless of its size or stage.
Whether you're a startup aiming to disrupt the market or an established company looking to stay ahead, these insights can help drive innovation and success.
Tip 1: Lead by Example
It all begins with leadership. The tone that you set as a product leader will echo throughout the product team - if you do it right.
As a senior product manager or a head of product, you have the unique opportunity to set the tone by leading by example. Demonstrate your willingness to take calculated risks and explore uncharted territories. Share personal anecdotes of your own experiments, both the successes and the setbacks.
An easy way to do this is providing an example of failure. Be open and honest about a time that you had an idea, tested the hypothesis and the results were poor - maybe users churned or didn’t use the product at all.
By candidly discussing your learnings from past endeavors, you create an atmosphere that values the process of discovery over the fear of failure.
Encourage your team to embrace a fail-forward mindset, where each experiment, regardless of outcome, contributes to a wealth of knowledge and growth.
Tip 2: Set Clear Product Goals and Experiment Objectives
Effective experimentation requires a clear sense of purpose, established through the hierarchy of goals and then objectives. Your team needs a clear goal that they are working towards, not a hundred of disparate goals.
Set clear goals such as conversion optimization or decreased user churn so that product teams know exactly what to test and optimize towards.
On a more granular level, each experiment should have precisely defined objectives, that ladder up to the overarching product goals. These objectives serve as the North Star, guiding the experiment and its participants towards a specific outcome.
Here’s an example of how this might work:
- Product leader sets the goal of improving conversion rates on the website.
- Team sets the objective of increasing conversion rates by 20-30% on the payment page.
- Team runs A/B test for payment form to observe which form drives more conversions.
There are a few different ways to establish and evangelize goals so that team members then test towards the right objectives, but we recommend frequent communication with the team. Present to the team and even the company on the holistic goal and provide frequent updates on the process towards this goal and experimentation results.
Tip 3: Provide Resources and Support
To cultivate a deeply ingrained culture of experimentation within your team, it's essential to allocate dedicated resources and time to fuel these transformative initiatives. As product leaders, your pivotal role extends beyond mere oversight; it's about instilling a profound understanding of the vital role that experimentation plays in driving product evolution.
Here are a few easy ways to support your team members:
- Ask product team members what kind of tools they might need to conduct experiments.
- If they are more junior team members, provide them with a list of requirements for tools such as pricing, testing capabilities and the number of technical integrations.
- Allocate a specific amount of time for experimentation efforts. This might look like a certain number of hours each month towards testing or brainstorming efforts on experimentation.
- Encourage cross-functional collaboration to foster a diverse range of experiments. Consider how different teams like design and engineering can work together to experiment and foster those connections across teams.
Tip 4: Foster a Learning Environment
In a culture of experimentation, both successes and failures are celebrated as opportunities for growth. Product leaders should create an environment where insights gleaned from every experiment, regardless of outcome, are valued and shared.
One way to share these results and learnings is through regular retrospective sessions. These sessions promote open dialogue, enabling team members to collectively distill valuable insights that can inform future endeavors.
Again, it's important to encourage a spirit of openness in these sessions. Product leaders should focus on learnings and knowledge-sharing instead of final results.
Tip 5: Understand the “Why” Behind Experiment Results
Once you’ve run an experiment and have the winning result - whether that be a website, app or platform experience - you’ll want to know why a certain experience was preferred by users.
Sprig is one of the few tools that allows products to understand the “why” behind your results. In just minutes, product managers can launch an in-product survey targeted to key audiences to get real-time feedback on the experience.
This means you can run an experiment and then get real-time feedback on what users think about the two different options.
You can start to create a culture of experimentation by implementing these four tips, and we believe that you’ll start to see results quickly. When considering resources and tools for experimentation, make sure to investigate a user insights platform like Sprig.
We’ve made it easy to get started with a variety of survey and experimentation templates in our template gallery from product experts like Lenny Rachitsky and Packy McCormick, Founder of Not Boring.
Understanding the modern product tech stack
A framework for demonstrating research impact