RueLaLa’s Director of User Experience ‘Can’t Live Without’ Data

In today’s multi-channel marketing world, data is almost an afterthought. Of course you’re going to rack up a whole bunch of data if you’re selling products through digital channels. But how do you use that data, and what does it tell you? And more importantly, how often are you flat out ignoring what your data is telling you and making your own “informed” decisions?

Tom Weisend RueLaLa

Tom Weisend, RueLaLa

Tom Weisend, Director of User Experience at RueLaLa, says data informs all of his decisions and warns against the inclination to “trust your gut” when making decisions about how you market to your customers. Tom uses data in different ways and to different degrees, every single day. He uses it to help improve his customers’ shopping experience, perhaps RueLaLa’s most critical aspect to the company’s success. That’s why data is the “One Thing” he can’t live without. Let’s turn it over to him to elaborate…

1. As an marketer and retailer, what’s something you can’t live without? And we don’t mean coffee. We mean anything from a technology tool to a partner, to an employee or a team, to a cool trick you do on Excel to a shortcut you take in your programs…

My first thought is a little nerdy and academic, but the answer is Data.

2. Can you explain what this is – if necessary?

Data is all of the feedback we get from our Members, both in the form of direct correspondence, and indirectly, in the form of analytics and metrics.

3. Why can you NOT live without this?

In designing clear, simple and likable user experiences, you can’t always (or ever) just trust your gut. The answers are always found through feedback. What are our members most often doing on the site? Review the analytics. What’s frustrating to our members? Listen to the customer service calls and read the emails. Check our Facebook comments. Without data, we’re designing in the dark.

4. How often do you use it and how long have you been using it?

I use it every day, but in different amounts. Yesterday, we did some user testing around messaging for a new policy. The day before, I was combing through the historical data on conversion rates. Kind of like a well-rehearsed jazz ensemble, the art is understanding what pieces to use, when to properly inform the tasks at hand. Sometimes you need a trumpet solo, other times it needs to just punctuate the rhythm.

5. If lightning struck tomorrow and you suddenly didn’t have this one thing, what would you do to improvise?

I hate to think that mere lightning could deprive us of our data, but I think I would go direct to members and start building our arsenal all over again.

6. How can other people get this too?

Observe, listen and learn. Don’t just react. I’m not (always) the smartest person in the room and my gut reaction isn’t always telling me the same thing our valued members are.

BONUS: And what’s the non-work related thing you can’t do your job without? This is where the coffee, or anything else comes in…

I have developed a serious jones for Diet Pepsi/Diet Coke. It’s stocked in a refrigerator about 15 steps from my desk. Since I don’t drink coffee, I count it as my caffeine of choice. Gee, so maybe my real answer to your question about what I can’t do my job without is a good rationalization or two.