A Conversion Conversation with Salesforce’s Brandon Brackett
Experimentation is a team sport where the teams are really really big and often don’t see each other or hear each other but still have to score the same goals. As with most sports, the path towards success is strong communication.
Today, I spoke with Brandon about how Salesforce approaches communication, where he thinks practitioners can leverage email more, and what Experimenters need to get comfortable with in order to succeed in this field.
Editor’s note: This interview took place in early February prior to current events.
Hi Brandon — thanks for connecting! How are you?
Doing well. Already (like all of us I’m sure) off to the races planning for the year ahead, reflecting on the success and failures of last year and trying to avoid the certain doom of midwest winter that is looming around the corner.
LOL I wonder whose winter is worse, the midwest or Eastern Canada. Either way, I hear you.
Let’s start with you sharing with us a bit about yourself and what you do?
First, thank you for reaching out. I’m always excited to talk about Experimentation and learn from others in this space. I guess you could say my career kicked off with music. It was my creative outlet that took me across the country multiple times during my college career. I was lucky enough to have this experience as it taught me fundamental business and life skills. I loved the creative aspect of writing music, playing in front of people and getting a reaction (some not so great at times…). As my musical career was coming to an end another chapter was blossoming and with it, I brought my passion for creating something new. That next chapter was tech. I’ve been in the tech field now for about 15 years. I’ve had many roles over my career that have leveraged many of my skill sets. From tech support to email marketer, from design and UX to manager/coach, and much more. I’ve worn many hats that have helped shape where I currently am. Right now I manage a Digital Experimentation Team for Salesforce with some of the best and brightest.
That’s very cool! Salesforce is a pretty large company — could you share with us how you’ve set up your CoE to support all that work?
Sure thing. We’ve always prided ourselves in being overly transparent. As we started this team a few years back I heard a lot of other teams and individuals in this field overly state the importance of transparency and documentation. We’ve set up a plethora of ways to share our news, learnings, roadmaps, etc. We’ve built a robust knowledge base to store our learnings, training material, articles, downloadable resources, dashboards, etc. We also send out monthly newsletters to the organization to showcase our program updates, host Lunch & Learns, schedule regular cadence meetings with our regional Experimentation teams and other cross-functional teams.
What challenges did you face as you helped establish the experimentation team at Salesforce?
The biggest challenge with our program is the cultural shift. We had an abundance of knowledge, skills and people. However, the culture was the biggest need that is still an active work in progress and continual effort that we try to improve on daily.
If you don’t mind me asking — how do you measure success for your Experimentation efforts?
Our program is measured in many ways. Experiments come in many different shapes and sizes so our primary metrics often change as well. We are here to ultimately impact our business in a positive way. By driving a better user experience, enabling visitors to find the information they are looking for, and help escort them along the way to becoming our next customer acquisition.
“Our biggest ‘best practice’ is to over-communicate and share.”
Have you discovered any best practices in terms of nurturing a culture of Experimentation? And how do you measure your progress in this regard?
Our biggest “best practice” is to over-communicate and share. We share every test that we launch to inform the organization and align cross-functional teams. We share every result and learnings of every test as well to help inform decisions based on factual data. Progress here is shone when decisions are made based on testing efforts, past learnings help guide future direction, and teams start to adopt our resources and program framework as a step in their overall project kick-offs, etc.
How has this sharing of information been received? Are people actually consuming it?
Yes, absolutely. Depending on how it’s shared (Newsletter, Knowledge Base, Presentations, etc.) we’ll get different reactions. Mostly it’s very encouraging. The individuals and teams who are consuming our content have great feedback and ask the right questions. Being that Salesforce is so large we hope to keep growing the amount of individuals we can reach with our insights.
You have quite an impressive background in email marketing. What are some of the experiments you’d wish people would stop running through email?
Thank you. Email was a big part of my career before Salesforce. I worked at a company called ExactTarget (which was acquired by Salesforce in 2013). I had client-facing roles for big logos where I helped deploy email campaigns, and then ultimately ended up in Marketing where I was designing, building and deploying email communications for our own events, newsletters, and customer-related communications. I don’t know if I have any experiments through email that I wish would stop. When I was more active in email development and testing it was very junior at the time. I really just focused a lot on subject line testing.
“I wish email would be tested more into prospect journeys…”
What are some that you wished they’d run more of?
I wish email would be tested more into prospect journeys and leveraged as a critical tool to impact metrics for a test by furthering the narrative with your prospects. There is a plethora of opportunity there in my opinion.
“Start to learn and understand UX, Analytics, Statistics, Design, Development.”
What advice would you give someone interested in entering the field of Experimentation?
Get comfortable using your left and right sides of your brain (embrace being a middle brained individual). Start to learn and understand UX, Analytics, Statistics, Design, Development. Most importantly don’t be afraid to fail. And remember a failed test is not a failure, it’s a learning.
Finally, I hope you’re ready because it’s time for the Lightning round!
Pacers or Colts?
Is “both” ok? I’m a Hoosier, so I bleed basketball but LOVE Football as well. I’m lucky enough to have these great teams in my backyard.
Frequentist or Bayesian?
What Experimentation events are you looking forward to in 2020?
CXL Live looks like a good one this year.
Also, Click Summit is great. More intimate than most. You get to really connect with other attendees.
Brandon, thank you for joining the conversation!
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