Spotlight on… Dave Armstrong
Dave Armstrong is User Experience Insight Analyst at Penrith based theidol.com. He took time out of his schedule to speak to us about his role, his work and how a CIM course has helped his career.
What is the Idol and your role there?
Theidol.com is a driving force behind a number of insurance comparison websites and products within the UK and has been for over 20 years now. The company develops comparison systems and web-based technologies within the financial services sector and has ongoing relationships with well-known comparison sites and UK insurers. It is based in Penrith, Cumbria.
My role has two main functions; firstly to analyse our properties during and after development to ensure user experience, usability and accessibility are optimised for our customer base, and secondly to expand, analyse and interpret data from multiple sources in order to further ease the customer buying process and positively affect conversion rates.
How do you make theidol.com a great place to work?
Aside from the on-site gym, pool table and table tennis league? It is a great place to work and much of that comes from listening to the wants, needs and wildest dreams of the various teams in the building. Every effort is made to maintain a positive environment where people can manage their own time, take a break when needed, take a course where there’s a knowledge gap or totally change their role if they’re not enjoying it. Even though the company has expanded over the last few years, there’s still a great ‘family’ feeling.
How did you become User Experience Insight Analyst? Why do you think shifting an organisation’s thinking is important?
I started off as a junior web developer but had some background in SEO and basic self-taught marketing. A couple of years later as the company expanded, I moved into a marketing management and design-based role before establishing the marketing team at the company. We grew a bit more, then the time came to finally gain some knowledge, which is where CIM came along. Halfway through the course, I was really interested in the development of marketing dashboards and the processes involved with data analysis. The company and the marketing team grew some more, and I was approached to start a new squad focusing on business intelligence, making use of what I’d learned through the CIM course. As for the importance of this in the organisation’s thinking, it shows again that as team members develop their skills and become interested in other areas, a gap in the organisation is sometimes uncovered that would facilitate a shift in role. In my case everything aligned at the right time; I’d just taken on a bunch of knowledge that was perfect for the role, and the need for a business intelligence function became obvious.
What do you think other organisations should be doing that they don’t?
I don’t have much to compare to, but I would say it’s important to keep communication going with team members and providing that support, patience and trust where it’s needed. Over the last few months with COVID, that level of support really has been valuable. But basically, organisations should be aiming to give their teams as many reasons as possible to be happy where they are and feel valued, whatever their role is.
How do you think this kind of role relates to marketing? How did your qualification contribute to what you are doing now?
Business intelligence, or any data science or strategic role for that matter, has a huge influence on marketing and organisational decision making. For example, I’ve been able to develop data dashboards that provide customer usage insights that now feed directly into redesigns and new builds. The use of data and analysis removes a lot of guesswork when it comes to what size or colour a call-to-action button should be, where a visitor’s eyes track down a page and so on. And because some of the smallest changes can produce some of the largest gains, I think it’s an incredibly important aspect of the business. The CIM course struck a good balance in highlighting the importance of analysis, UX and data science as part of the overall marketing decision-making process alongside the importance of goals, market research, audience segmentation and budgeting. I believe a marketing manager should have that level of understanding from UX and data strategies, and those in business intelligence should also have a solid understanding of marketing.
Do you get any spare time and what do you do with it?
My spare time is completely devoted to time with my family, trying to keep on top of the house, trying and failing to keep fit and watching Marvel movies. Although I did make the time over lockdown to build a full-size football stadium in Minecraft!
Dave was interviewed by Veronica Swindale, CIM Vice Chair – Education and managing director of CIM accredited study centre nesma, where Dave studied.