The Download: Brooks Bell, CEO, Brooks Bell Inc.

Brooks Bell is an established leader in the emerging industry of conversion optimization. She started her firm, Brooks Bell (or “the Company”), in the early 2000s to help bring a data-driven mindset to digital marketing departments, and quickly became an industry leader.

The Brooks Bell team helps companies optimize their websites to make them easier to use, and easier to buy from. The team optimizes the sites by running a series of experiments, known as “A/B tests,” which try out different designs to see how customers react to them. The experiments use advanced statistical methods so that the results are based in science. The Company also uses consumer psychology in making the new designs, insuring that they are improving the experience and understanding consumers better over time. Their goal is to learn something new about their clients’ customers in every test, and also to drive business impact for their clients. The Company has generated over $1B for their clients in the last decade. They work with industry leaders in retail, financial services, media and technology.

Today, Brooks’ goal is still the same: to help companies discover the people behind the data using advanced analytics, optimization and personalization strategies.

A recognized thought leader in analytics and entrepreneurship, Brooks has been featured in publications including Inc. Magazine, Forbes, the Washington Post, and Techonomy. Most recently, Brooks spoke at the 2016 Democratic National Convention and has moderated events for Bill Clinton, venture capitalist Chris Sacca, and Chelsea Clinton.

Brooks co-founded HQ Raleigh and ThinkHouse Raleigh—two communities that help empower, foster, and cultivate companies that produce long-term job growth and positive social impact. She is dedicated to social issues and serves on the board of WalkFree.org, the largest movement in the world dedicated to ending modern slavery. She has also served as the president of the Entrepreneurs Organization, and as a board member of the Digital Analytics Association and the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce.

A native of Alaska, Brooks earned her B.A. from Duke University in 2001.

1. What is in your pockets?
I don’t have any pockets because most women’s clothing do not have pockets. I actually listened to a good podcast recently about pockets, the whole history of pockets and how women’s pockets have always been either not there or much smaller than men’s pockets and how that’s limited women’s mobility and ability to be useful. The history of pockets is really interesting and I literally have no pockets in this outfit I am wearing. Check out the 99% Invisible podcast, Pockets: Articles of Interest, by Avery Trufelman.

2. What exciting thing has happened recently for you or your organization?

This year we launched our very first product called Illuminate which is an insight engine and test repository. It’s offered as a SaaS subscription model, and it’s something we have been working on for three years.

It is especially interesting and exciting for us because we’re a service company in a pretty niche space, but we have expertise in experimentation and have observed a few problems in our market that truly need to be solved with software. We embarked upon this software-building adventure three years ago, learned a lot about how hard it is to build software within a services company, but finally made our way through that and successfully launched it this year.

We’re now integrating it into our own process, getting lots of demos, and we are experiencing high interest within our industry for what we built. We built this software to solve a very specific problem – it is much more difficult to learn from your test than you would think.

Learning from tests is hard because they are very technical. Unless you were a part of the team that designed the test, it is difficult to know what happened, or why it matters, or why it works. It’s hard to get a narrative or story out of your test, which is what you really need to do in order to learn from it later. It is easy to drown in the amount of data after a test. Maybe the test made your company money, but it can be hard to figure out why it worked, or what you learned about your customers. What we are seeking to do is to improve the testing workflow so that people are much better at creating the narrative, documenting it, and synthesizing it into transferable insights that about customers that you can easily find later and more effectively share within your organization.

3. What is your favorite coffee spot?
I have tea throughout the day but I also like to have a decaf skinny mocha from Starbucks every day, which is essentially chocolate milk.

4. What keeps you up at night?
Well not the caffeine since I don’t drink caffeine, and not my dog anymore since we kicked him off the bed. But in terms of thinking about the business, being an entrepreneur gives you sort of existential stress about being responsible for your employees. You think about their lives, careers, and helping them support their families. You think about building their skills and keeping them inspired and motivated. What I have to accomplish is to help them to work together, work hard, and work smart. That responsibility keeps me up at night.

5. What is your favorite restaurant or happy hour?
The place that we (she and her husband, Real Magic founder Jesse Lipson) like going is Tazza Kitchen at Cameron Village. It’s close, they don’t take reservations, it’s cozy, and the food is good. And I feel like I always see someone I know there.

6. What is next for you or your organization?
We just opened a West Coast office so we’ll continue to build out the team in San Francisco. Another big strategic shift that we are making is personalization. Our focus has been in experimentation for the last decade and personalization is really what is built on that. We finally have the technology that helps personalization follow through on its promise and we have a skill set to help companies go down that path, so that will be an area we emphasize in 2019.

About Brooks Malone 14 Articles
Brooks Malone is a NC CPA and Partner with Hughes Pittman & Gupton, LLP, and leads the Technology practice group. Brooks is also listed contributor to the National Fast Trac Tech Curriculum that was funded by the Kauffman Foundation. Brooks was named one of the 40 Under 40 in May 2005 by the TBJ, received the Outstanding service to Entrepreneurs Award in 2008 by CED, and named to the Leadership Raleigh Hall of Fame in October 2011. Brooks is a graduate of North Carolina State University and is active at American Underground and HQ Raleigh.