Red Badger is a digital consultancy based in the UK. They’ve helped blue chip companies like Tesco, the BBC, and HSBC transform their digital presences, but focus primarily on retail, media, fintech and public services. One of the fastest growing consultancies in all of Europe, Red Badger has recently set out on its own kind of digital transformation by building a cutting-edge Insights team—and we reached out to their new Director of Insight, Jimmy Muldoon, to learn more.
Name: Jimmy Muldoon
Current Role: Director of Insights at Red Badger
Location: London, UK
This is the a post in our Modern Product Partners series in which we interview prominent product and growth leaders from today’s forward-thinking digital agencies. We’ll draw from their ideas and experiences to learn about modern practices for building successful digital products.
William Zhang: How did you end up at Red Badger?
Jimmy Muldoon: Before Red Badger, I headed-up a digital strategy and analytics agency—before that, I worked in marketing and performance management for companies like Sky. In my past life, though, I worked in academia where I gained a PhD in Biological Chemistry. Being an ex-chemist has made me more attuned to a lot of the questions around data and experimentation that we run into on a daily basis at Red Badger.
WZ: What’s the core idea behind Red Badger’s Insights team?
JM: Insight is a word that gets misused a lot. Some agencies and companies talk a lot about all the insights they’re getting or delivering when all they’re really doing is using Google Analytics or a basic Adobe Suite reporting setup.
Insights aren’t just about having data or even about having the ability to work with andInsights aren’t just about having data or even about having the ability to work with and visualise some basic trends and metrics. visualise some basic trends and metrics. It’s about understanding the data in a business context and being able to act upon it.
At Red Badger, we think of data and building digital products in terms of three levels:
- Reporting: Your basic Google Analytics set-up, for example—essentially a raw feed of data, lightly sorted and organised
- Analysis: The next step up from reporting—this is combining, manipulating and segmenting data, looking at customer journeys and stepping beyond vanity metrics
- Insights: The step where data becomes action—where you’re using tools like Amplitude to work out what you can actually do with your analysis, and what recommendations you can make.
This isn’t to say reporting and analysis aren’t important —you need the right tools to drive data collection and analysis if you want to generate insights.
Red Badger’s Insights team, though, is our way of leaning into the idea that actually helping companies make changes and act is a different sort of problem and one which we’re uniquely positioned to help them solve.
WZ: What’s your biggest piece of advice for companies looking to improve their digital offerings?
JM: A lot of companies today are trying to better personalize their user experiences, but there don’t seem to many great examples out there that are beyond ‘you may also like’ recommendations.
The biggest piece of advice I have here is that if you want personalization, you mustIf you want personalization, you must have a really solid data foundation to start with. have a really solid data foundation to start with. Then, you need a tool that will let you confidently judge whether your changes actually produced the desired results. The actual personalization doesn’t need to be all that complicated to begin with.
For one client, we introduced some basic personalization of the home page for returning shoppers, and we found that there was a 21% increase in conversion for people who saw that personalized home page. That turned out to be an incremental fix worth about 2 million pounds.
The actual mechanics around what we did there weren’t complicated—the key was knowing our numbers, knowing what we were trying to manipulate, and being able to track the effects of the change at a deep, granular level.
WZ: How do you approach problem-solving for your clients?
JM: When a client comes to us, we focus on adding customer and business value, as quickly as we can.
At the same time, one of our biggest goals with each engagement we take on at Red Badger is to upscale our client’s team so they can move forward after our engagement and iterate, experiment, and improve their digital products and services on their own.
That’s why we work hard to make our process collaborative and generative:
- First, our team decides what data we need to gather.
- We use that data to inform our decisions about what actions to take, and prioritize the import of those different decisions.
- Our team of engineers, testers, and designers will come in and implement the changes.
- Over time, we’ll pay attention to the data to see if the changes are working—if they are, we show why, and if they’re not, we learn from that.
Some clients know they’re missing things and could do a better job with their analytics, and they’re enthusiastic to change things up.
Others are busier. In those cases, it’s best to find one small change that you can makeIf you can show a client that that one small change produced some meaningful increase in a metric they care about, you can prove your value and make it the beginning of a great relationship. almost immediately. If you can show a client that that one small change produced some meaningful increase in a metric they care about, you can prove your value and make it the beginning of a great relationship.
WZ: What are the best books you’ve read about how to build great products?
JM: Two books—Simon Sinek’s Start with Why, and Eric Ries’s The Lean Startup—have had a huge impact on how I think about both selling and building products.
When you’re developing a product, it can be easy to forget that the reasons you have in mind for why people need your product or need to come to your site aren’t always the same reasons that your customers have.
Start with Why is a reminder to think about the “Why?” behind your business or your product, not just the “How” or the “What.”
The Lean Startup is all about starting small and working in sensible, incremental batches—rapid analysis before building, wireframing, simple MVPs. As an ex-chemist who spent 4 years in a lab doing experiments, iterating and testing out models before investing fully in a direction for a project ticks all my boxes, and I’m glad that we actually buy into this and practice it at Red Badger (instead of just claiming to, as some organizations do.)
It’s easy to say that you’re using “lean” principles. But actually taking that experimental approach into building products, using tools like Amplitude as your laboratory equipment, is a way to make sure you build a better product the first time.