Manchester-based conversion rate optimisers User Conversion helps online businesses boost sales and increase revenue. MD Mark Leach tells BQ all about his career so far and how the business operates.
What is it the company does?
User Conversion is a specialist user experience and optimisation agency, working with e-commerce businesses to grow their conversion rates and reduce their cost of customer acquisition.
We use a bespoke conversion rate optimisation process, based on our in-depth understanding of user behaviour to deliver significant conversion and revenue increases for our clients.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
My day-to-day role is to lead our team of over 30 experts, ensuring they have all they need to work effectively to service our clients, some of the biggest online brands in the UK.
I am also involved in directing the strategy of the agency, working alongside founder and head of optimisation strategy David Mannheim and Optimisation Director Ryan Jordan to build on our current successes and focus on continuing to deliver best-in-class service as User Conversion expands.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
My background is in marketing, and I started out working in a number of brand management roles. I took the role of senior brand manager at family-owned wallpaper firm Graham & Brown after a placement year spent in the wallpaper industry. During my time there I realised the possibilities e-commerce offered for online brands and I moved into e-commerce and digital in 2013, taking the role of Head of E-commerce at Graham & Brown.
I formed the first ecommerce team at the company and helped to grow online revenue significantly over a three year period.
I then moved to online retailer Missguided where I established and led an in-house team of experts, delivering significant increases in conversion rates.
I progressed to being head of e-commerce and managed the implementation of a range of new processes, including an award-winning online checkout process, as well as launching an iOS app which increased mobile conversions by over 30%.
This year I’ve made the move to an agency role as a fantastic opportunity came up to join User Conversion and lead the team there. For me, this is my dream role, leading a team of passionate and highly-skilled specialists in conversion rate optimisation.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
Perception, notably self-perception. The ability to adjust and understand your behaviour and the impact it has on others is the single biggest advantage for a leader.
What has been the biggest challenge in your current position?
Giving myself ample time to learn, listen and observe. I came in to a fully functioning business that didn’t need me interfering. So I had to go against my instincts and sit on my hands for a while so I could discover where I could add value, which is much more effective in the long run.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
I train at the gym every workday morning. I wake at 5:30, get the first train and spend at least an hour powerlifting. I’ve also been fortunate enough to learn some very effective coping techniques, which centre around being mindful.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
It changed a lot, but I remember waking up from anaesthetic after breaking my arm at nine and telling everybody I wanted to be a goalkeeper.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
Fingerprints on screens. Drives me mad.
I used to threaten written warnings, but these days I just have a cleaner and cloth to hand.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
Personally I see us being much bigger in scale, but will be very happy if we’ve managed to do it whilst retaining our core values.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Never stop trying to be better. When you think you’ve made it, or you see some success, that’s when you’re the most vulnerable to failure. Don’t celebrate success too long, and keep asking what’s next.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
That it all comes down to you. And that you will ultimately have the career you deserve.
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