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Running modern online sales in a fully integrated team

Elisa

Elisa is the Finnish market leader in telecommunications and digital services. Elisa serves over 2.8 million customers in Finland, Estonia, and internationally.

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Together with Elisa, we have been on a growth journey since January 2018. What started as the optimisation of one team and its results has evolved into a strategic and holistic collaboration encompassing the entire commercial customer journey at Elisa.

Selling better at Elisa

The key objectives, since day one, have been to increase sales revenue, make buying easy, and grow the customer value of Elisa’s customers. With hands-on work and a strategic approach, we have been able to help Elisa succeed and surpass growth targets, introduce new ways of working that have been incorporated widely in the organisation and help them become self-sufficient in running and growing their digital business.

With a growth team approach, we have helped Elisa bridge the gap between sales and IT and bring experts from different parts of the organisation together: marketers, developers, designers and business people, to work in a lean, data-driven way with shared business objectives.

We have learned so much from Columbia Road, and our growth mindset has evolved tremendously. They have been integral in creating growth and positive results in online sales. The strategic partnership has been tight-knit – we are one team working together, which has been the key to our success.

Olli Pohjanlehto, Online Sales Growth Manager, Elisa

From a webshop to running online sales

Elisa had a well-established ecommerce store when we joined their online sales team. They had high ambitions for the webshop and had recognised the growth team approach as something they wanted to try out for boosting sales. Columbia Road’s marketers, designers, developers and a growth owner joined Elisa’s online sales team as full-fledged team members from day one and formed together Elisa’s growth team, which started as a large cross-functional, cross-collaboration team and has stayed that way.

The collaboration has been seamless, with Elisa’s and Columbia Road’s ecommerce specialists working closely together on improving the online sales numbers and operations on a day-to-day basis. The growth team operates Elisa’s online business holistically and hands-on, optimising the entire sales funnel, and functions as an adhesive between different teams enabling a comprehensive strategic collaboration.

The growth team is a catalyst for business development on a wider scale and brings continuity to all business-driven technical initiatives and projects. The team has been a trailblazer in Elisa’s organisation, and its operational model has later been adopted wider in the company. As a pathfinder, the growth team has been at the front line, on the receiving end of doubt and hesitations from the rest of the organisation, but succeeded in changing the mindset and has focused on educating other teams as well.

With time, the growth team has matured in thinking and actions, but the goals, culture of experimentation and data and sales-driven approach have remained foundational elements.

What stands out from the collaboration with Columbia Road is that they are genuinely sales & revenue-focused in everything they do. It has been amazing to work with people with varied knowledge areas and continuously evolve on a personal and organisational level. We’ve been on a learning journey as one team where the line between companies has blurred. The learning curve for the whole growth team has been steep and profound.

Minna Siekkinen, Head of Online Sales, Elisa

Building a modern sales organisation

Elisa’s digital sales and marketing capabilities have been first-class for years, and we have had the honour to support and grow their online business even further since 2018. As a strategic digital commerce partner, our focus has been on helping Elisa to improve their online sales operations from bottom to top. Establishing a new way of selling has been one of the great successes of our collaboration.

Not only have we helped Elisa to increase sales in online channels and find a new model for operating sales, but we have actively helped them to develop their competence internally by helping with recruiting new members to the growth team and growing it internally. Our interest has always been to, first and foremost, help the people at Elisa get better at selling online.

As a partner, our responsibility has been to add value and expand the digital sales organization. We have, together with Elisa, built the current online sales function where we guide from a strategic perspective but also continue to work hands-on growing Elisa’s digital sales revenue. Columbia Road has responsibility widely within the organisation, and our job is to keep the sales pipeline on an agreed level.

One of the bigger themes throughout our collaboration has been to build a bridge between business, marketing, and IT – enabling better functioning, better performing digital sales. In addition, we’re working extensively with digital marketing hands-on, optimising the full sales funnel.

Working in this team has been momentous: Getting firsthand experience on being business-centric and growth-oriented – and seeing and feeling the buzz in real-time is captivating. We’ve had the mandate to do whatever it takes when dealing with the “engine” of Elisa. Tests and data rather than assumptions have directed our work. Witnessing the impact of our contribution is truly motivating

Ilkka Rämö, Growth Consultant, Columbia Road

Omnichannel sales with superb customer experience

To support and optimise digital sales holistically, our approach is to look at the entire commercial customer journey. Recognising the customer at different stages of the journey and offering the right offering at the right time has been a key success factor. The experimentation approach has been brought into all channels to get better and higher conversion rates.

Columbia Road has worked with an omnichannel approach in all channels where Elisa’s customers are to design and implement a holistic approach to digital sales. These channels include digital and physical stores, service portals and marketing, such as social media, mobile, telesales and partner campaigns.

Data-driven ways of working

Continuous learning experimentation permit decision-making based on real data

The basis for a growth team is three-fold:

  1. Do a lot of experimentations
  2. Analyse and learn from the data
  3. Make decisions based on the data

When operating an ecommerce store as large as Elisa’s, a growth-driven approach of continuous testing requires hundreds of tests, some small, some bigger. Experimentation lays the foundation for day-to-day operations. We have been working on Elisa’s entire customer journey, continuously optimising and experimenting with different stages in a very data-driven way.

Growth-hacking-process

At Elisa, the culture of experimentation has taken huge leaps since we started working with the growth team approach. Instead of a waterfall approach, we’ve been working leanly, testing a lot and fast. Data is now driving all actions in online sales: experimentation, work, and decision-making. The culture of experimentation has become the operational model.

Not only does Columbia Road have unparalleled technology, growth hacking, and digital sales experience, but they also combine that with a strong business focus and data-driven ways of working. They challenge us and spar with us, making us learn and become better together. The partnership has felt meaningful, and having Roadies there for us mentally and physically is very rewarding. With their ever-present growth mindset, they are always pushing for more, not just settling for existing solutions but going above and beyond to solve problems and create impact

Jani Veihtola, Software Developer, Elisa

A/B tests as a source of success

A/B testing, a user experience research methodology consisting of randomized experiments with two variants, A and B, has been a pivotal part of leading sales with data. Since the start of the collaboration, the growth team has completed over 500 A/B tests, which have had a significant effect on Elisa’s online sales growth.

Let's look at some examples of real A/B tests that were run by the growth team:

  1. Checkout copy changes
  2. Indicate the expiration date to create a sense of urgency

Impact

  • The growth team has executed 500+ A/B tests that have improved the conversion rate significantly.
  • Elisa’s internal competence to run digital sales independently has been elevated to new standards
  • The strategic partnership has helped Elisa build bridges between functions internally and start running digital sales with a data-driven approach
  • The growth team's way of working has paved the way within the company and has been taken into practice widely in the company.

 

Thriving in online sales is a continuous learning journey. It’s about increasing revenue, making buying easy, and growing customer value. The way we optimise our entire sales funnel in close cross-competence collaboration with Columbia Road has led to significant business results and new ways of working not just for the online sales team but also for other teams in the organisation.

Jussi-Pekka Erkkola, Director, eCommerce & Digital Services, Elisa

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