Willful’s Tracy Laranjo on how the Experimentation Community has made her a better Experimenter

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Hi Tracy, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us! How have you been? 

Thanks for having me! I have enjoyed every moment of not squishing myself onto a crowded subway or streetcar every morning. If you’re from Toronto, you know what I’m talking about. 

Ha! I can see how one wouldn’t miss that. Let’s start off with a bit about yourself. Could you please share with our audience what is it that you do and a bit about your career journey up to this point? 

I’ve worn several product and marketing hats over the last year and a half at a startup called Willful, the leading platform in Canada to write your legal will online (yes, your will). Some of these hats have included lifecycle marketing, paid acquisition, referral marketing, helping build our product team from scratch, and now I focus 100% on conversion optimization and experimentation. 

My path before Willful has been just as dynamic with roles in CRM and content marketing, but the highlight was definitely doing QA on eBooks at Canada’s top eReading company. Colleagues usually get a kick out of finding out I was paid to manually review X-rated graphic novels for content violations (sorry, Mom). 

Ha! Well at the very minimum, I’m glad your mom reads Experiment Nation. So, wills. That must be a tough area to experiment in. Are there any challenges in the will space that you feel most industries don’t have to face when it comes to experimentation?

Our experimentation processes look the same as any other industry, but maybe with an extra level of sensitivity toward copy and creative. For example, optimizing forms can be tricky when your form presents a heavy question like, “What would you choose for your final resting place?” 

Our customers trust us to generate some of the most important documents of their (after)lives so we practice extreme due diligence when experimenting with copy and product features to align with provincial estate planning legislation. Fortunately, Willful has a great team of legal advisors so I’m confident we won’t have that issue. 

Weirdly enough, the biggest experimentation challenge associated with being an online will creation platform is clarity. There are a lot of legalese involved in estate planning so the team is constantly challenging ourselves to take a step back and view our platform from the eyes of first-time will writers and non-tech savvy users. When I see users misunderstand the aspects of our platform, my spidey senses start telling me we have an opportunity to optimize.

How big a role has experimentation been to your company’s growth thus far? And what kind of role will it play in the future? 

I’m really lucky that I work with a team that is excited by experimentation and progressive leaders that prioritize decision-making based on hard evidence. 

We’ve learned as a team, sometimes the hard way, that unvalidated assumptions and dramatic (vs. evolutionary) redesigns can be the difference between making or missing ambitious growth targets. Experimentation has given, and will continue to give us, a team-wide discipline of putting data and the customer’s voice before personal opinion. 

At a personal growth level, I can be a stubborn person at times so experimentation has personally challenged me to question all my assumptions and to always bring the receipts before making a decision. 

Changing gears. You’ve been working on Experiment Nation for a while now. Since you’ve started is there anything interesting that you’ve learned about CRO in general or about the Experimentation community that’s stuck out thus far? 

I joined this community to learn from the best of the best in CRO. After doing so, I quickly learned that 1) There are a lot of BS tactics for experimenters to cut through and 2) CRO =/= just throwing an A/B test on your site and calling it a day. 

Real optimizers cut through the “hacks” and click-baity tactic lists. They dig right into the live chat transcripts, they talk directly to customers… they get their hands dirty and do the research to formula hypotheses that address: 

  • Where are we leaking revenue? 
  • How much is the leak costing us? 
  • Why is there a leak in the first place?

If your hypotheses don’t aim to solve real (and significant) customer anxieties and friction backed up by solid data, what’s even the point? You wouldn’t just dive right into SEO without conducting keyword research. CRO requires intentional research as well. 

I have to ask, as someone who has seen the other side of the curtain of Experiment Nation, did anything surprise or disappoint you? You don’t have to tell me. But tell me. LOL 

Haha! I was surprised and delighted by the diversity of the EN community. I didn’t expect to find as many female-identifying optimizers as I did. There’s no fun in a community where everyone looks and thinks the same. 

The only disappointment about EN is that you haven’t put out more courses in a while.

Ha! No pressure there. Finally, it’s time for the Lightning Round!  Are you a Bayesian or a Frequentist? 

I can be swayed either way… convince me.

Considering that you’re stubborn, I’m not sure I can! OK, if you couldn’t work in Experimentation, what would you do? 

I dream of starting a mobile dog grooming service. 

Well, you can still make it happen you know. Describe Tracy in 5 words or less. 

Lifelong learner and serial hobbyist. 

Who has inspired you the most in this field so far? 

Joris Bryon (Founder of Dexter Agency) – His book Kill Your Conversion Killers has had a tremendous influence on my CRO philosophy and process. 

Who should Experiment Nation chat with next? 

Shanelle Mullin (Experimentation and Analysis Lead at Shopify) – Pretty much the coolest person I’ve had a virtual coffee with so far this year. 

Thanks so much for chatting with me today!

Thank you!

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