Turing Festival | 6 takeaways for Waracle

14th September 2016

Turing Festival, Edinburgh’s International Tech Festival, was in August, so why has it taken a month to publish this blog? No, we weren’t too busy enjoying the rest of what Edinburgh Festival Fringe had to offer! But, here at Waracle, we attend relevant conferences on one condition…the conference delegate must host a brown bag meeting to pass on their learnings to the rest of the mobile team. So yes, that’s why I’ve delayed this blog – it’s hard to get a slot in the busy schedule but now I’ve hosted my brown bag meeting and now’s your chance to be a fly on the wall and catch up on my 6 key takeaways from the conference. Oh, and if you’re wondering, what is a brown bag meeting? It’s a casual meeting, typically people bring their own lunch and learn something new from a colleague.

If you’re involved in tech, marketing, or both, you may have heard of, or indeed attended Turing Festival. If not, I highly recommend it. Attending was a no-brainer for us, after all, we are Scotland’s largest mobile app development and Internet of Things (IOT) company and the Scottish conference was right on our doorstep with a great lineup of tech industry speakers.

Brown bag meeting – 6 Key takeaways from #TuringFest

Turing Festival included two days of speakers, all highly relevant in their own industry for Product/People or Full Stack Marketing, but together there were a lot of common themes coming across at the 2016 conference and a lot which I felt are close to the heart of everything we do at Waracle Mobile – especially with lots of talk on agile – which is exactly how we, at Waracle, innovate and deliver mobile app strategies faster. So, what was I keen to share with our mobile team? Here’s my 6 takeaways from Turing Festival:

  1. Product is your people
  2. Audience is your unique marketing point
  3. Build, measure data & learn
  4. Do the hard work to make it simple
  5. Embrace change & have adaptability
  6. Have curiosity & a desire to learn

1: Product is your people

It’s no surprise that I came away with the clear message that your product is your people – after all, day 1 was named product/people! But John Peebles of Administrate got the message across very clearly by saying, if you make your customers successful, you’ll make your team successful and you’ll make investors successful. In other words, just make people successful. Your product is your people. This made me think about a recent project with The Famous Grouse Experience in which the initial Ideation Workshop played such a key role in figuring out what success would mean for their customers, themselves and for our team. Creating an initial backlog of customer stories, helped create an initial roadmap of the whole project and kept the correct emphasis on people. So whatever, business you are in, it’s so important when designing a product that you think about your audience first.

2: Audience is your unique marketing point

In such a competitive environment, it’s important to keep remembering that competitors cannot replicate your audience. Samantha Noble of Koozai reminded everyone that their audience is their unique marketing point. I think it’s important to be reminded of this and certainly from experience, the power of remarketing is not something to be ignored and using remarketing lists is something that works well particularly for mobile apps. For example, if you’ve a shopping app you might want to remind people to purchase items they’ve abandoned in their basket. To do this, you just need to set up remarketing for your app, and create a targeted campaign. It can also work well if you want to recommend that certain app users try specific features. Ultimately if you want to increase how often people use your app then a remarketing campaign will do just that.

3: Build, measure data & learn

In the Waracle Optimisation department, we pretty much spend our week analysing client data, reporting on findings and making optimisation recommendations. (That’s when we’re not busy tracking our own mHealth data for the latest office steps challenge – just joking!) Anyway, I was delighted there was so much emphasis on data at Turing Festival including Hilary Roberts of Skyscanner stressing the importance of split testing and learning from the outcomes.

Ok, everyone has heard of the build, measure, learn methodology but in a world where it’s continually necessary to optimise products, there now has to be a greater emphasis on measure. Inevitably the question is – how to report your data in a dashboard, but Andy Young of 500 Startups talking about data-driven growth, pretty much said the best dashboard is a spreadsheet. That’s a relief, we create reporting dashboards in Google Sheets but we automate as much as possible.

It’s only by tracking and analysing data, then making changes that we complete the build, measure, learn cycle. Lucie McLean, Head of Product for Children at the BBC spoke about optimising apps and summed it all up that ‘apps are for life and not just for Christmas’. Here at Waracle, we couldn’t agree more! We were also pretty interested to hear Lucie had managed the Olympics 2012 app – that must have been a fun project!

Speaking of fun (and still data!), one of the most entertaining presenters was Oli Gardner, co-founder of Unbounce talking about data-informed design. Design definitely matters. But when it comes to design, you need to remember that design brings joy but it also brings confusion. That’s why you need to track your user activity and analyse your data to improve design. For example, tracking the behaviour of app users can help change design of screens to optimise performance. Actually, proving this point, Janna Bastow of ProductPad put the success of their product down to focusing on the product metrics that matter. By studying their client data, they could alter their trial experience and help get out of their ‘plateau of doom’.

4: Do the hard work to make it simple

Pete Herlihy from Government Digital Service led a great session called Why No-One Should See your Best Work. Let’s face it, we’ve all been guilty of getting engrossed in product and talking about things like a ‘website redesign’ but we shouldn’t be looking at it from this angle. We should be thinking about the challenge of the website redesign from a different perspective – think about it as a challenge of service transformation.

A key takeaway here, something which should apply to all mobile app design, is that the best user experience is often no interaction at all. And that’s why your mobile app users should never see your best work – cause that’s the hidden code to make the best user experience.

Will Reynolds, founder of Seer Interactive named his session The People Behind the Queries. He basically said we need to make people do fewer queries by thinking “What was the query before the query?” Again, by putting in all of this thought up front, you’re doing the hard work to make things simple.

5: Embrace change & have adaptability

Emily Webber from Tacit clearly said – we need to be embracing change and not bracing for change. Change affects everything – I guess when our clients introduce a new mobile app to their clients, that’s change. That’s why it’s important to have a marketing plan in place to launch a mobile app. As Emily said, “Uncertainty can cause more stress than inevitable pain.” Emily spoke about agile and getting into the habit of changing – again that’s something we’re strong advocates of at Waracle. Another great takeaway from Emily was to always have a vision for your team if everything was as good as it could be!

Courtney Seiter from Buffer spoke about remote working and her emphasis was that communication removes uncertainty and communication helps people embrace change. Buffer seems to be a big advocate of Slack, going so far as to say Slack IS their office! I don’t think we’d go as far as to say that, but we’re big advocates of Slack here at Waracle – it definitely keeps our remote team informed. Courtney also got us thinking about employee engagement and what makes people engaged at work – like a sense of purpose, flexibility, trust and inclusion. She started her session with the shocking statistic that only “Only 13% of employees are engaged at work”. That’s a pretty worrying statistic globally!

6: Have curiosity & a desire to learn

When Mike McGrail of Administrate got on stage, it was pretty reassuring to hear that the very fact I was attending Turing Festival meant I had the right desire to learn and had the all important curiosity which according to Mike is a must have marketing soft skill along with adaptability and empathy. Empathy was a common theme throughout the conference and for example is something people can improve upon by teaching as they go. If you’re interested, the hard skills necessary for marketers these days are Writing, CRO & Analytics according to Mike.

Nathalie Nahai – Web Psychologist and author of Webs of Influence: The Psychology of Online Persuasion spoke about How to use Personality Traits to Write Copy. This is where it is important to have the curiosity to learn about your audience and is actually something our CEO, Chris Martin spoke about in a separate brown bag meeting.

So what did Waracle think about Turing Festival?

Was the conference worth attending? Yes definitely – great, knowledgeable speakers and a good opportunity to network in the tech marketing world. It was great to meet innovative companies like iHandover, InclusIQ and lots of innovative companies from Codebase. We were initially surprised that there wasn’t a dedicated session on mobile or wearables (ok, some of the presenters were wearing a FitBit!). We think that how businesses respond to being mobile is so critical to success and there needs to be a Think Mobile First element to every marketing strategy.

Overall, the conference reassured us that the agile way in which we work with our clients is key to our success. We do like to put in the hard development work to make things simple and we have an obsession with data to complete the build, measure, learn cycle effectively. As for curiosity and desire to learn, I think that goes without saying – we’re definitely a curious bunch! Why else would we be running weekly brown bag meetings!

Did you attend #TuringFest?
What were your key takeaways?

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