jonny longden

Please describe your job: What do you do?

I run the Conversion division of Journey Further, which is a performance marketing agency and consultancy.

This role for me is the culmination of a long and unique background in CRO and experimentation spanning over 13 years in agencies, consultancy and client-side. That experience has given me a particular perspective on the world of CRO, which I believe is broken in a lot of ways and needs fixing. This is my passion and what I do: I want to open the world’s eyes to a better way to think about experimentation and to be able to achieve the benefit from it.

Journey Further is the perfect environment for me to do this because the whole agency was founded on the principle of fixing what is broken in the world of marketing and performance.

Talk us through a typical day…

I have an incredibly talented and capable team who deal with much of the execution for our clients, so my time is generally divided between: all aspects of business development from marketing through to sales and pitching; strategy and product development i.e. innovating what we do, and how we do it; helping with clients at a more strategic level, and of course, getting stuck into the weeds of actually doing research and running experiments where I can.

I love engaging with, and learning from, the external community and also like to produce a lot of content, so that’s something that I always try to make time for.

How do you maintain an effective work/life balance?

Quite a long time ago I realised that not maintaining work/life balance is actually just incredibly counter-intuitive and counter-productive. I’ve worked places in my life where it was the cultural norm for people to stay in the office working all night (literally), and very quickly you realise what that does to the quality of your output.

I think the key is good organisation and prioritisation. Of course there are going to be times when things get stacked up and you just have to clear things out of the way, but most of the time, simply taking a step back and working out what is really important and what effort is required can make things seem a lot less fraught.

Years ago I read a book called ‘Getting Things Done’ by David Allen, and although I don’t follow it exactly, it has been the basis for the way I organise my life and work.

How has strategy changed at your company?

The pandemic hasn’t hugely changed our vision or the way we’ll get there, although interestingly it has accelerated the market demand for our proposition.

Looking back to when I first got into digital around 13 years ago, most businesses accepted that they needed digital but didn’t really want to have anything to do with it, so they outsourced it entirely to agencies and gave away virtually all responsibility for it.

Since then, and quite gradually, businesses realised that digital is actually a fundamental part of their business, and that they needed to take strategic control of it. The pandemic is really just a catalyst that has stepped this gradual change up to another level.

Journey Further was founded on this basis anyway; we exist to enable companies to become mature experts in digital performance.

How has customer behaviour (or your clients’ customer behaviour) changed during the pandemic?

This has actually been deeply fascinating for me. There’s a famous quote attributed to Plato: “Necessity is the mother of invention” – and it has been amazing to see this play out exactly during these times.

Underneath it all is the power of inertia. Customers who have never bought anything online suddenly had to do it, and found that it wasn’t that difficult after all. Why did they think it was so hard before? Inertia. Companies who for years have struggled deeply with the concept of digital transformation suddenly managed to completely transform in the space of a few weeks. Inertia.

This is super interesting because it just shows how much of what generally holds people back from doing things is actually just vapour and nothing. It’s positive because maybe people will see that they can achieve things with a different mindset and culture.

What do you predict for the future?

Specifically, in relation to digital experimentation, I think there’s going to be a bit of a revolution where businesses finally understand the power it can bring when it’s done properly.

What’s holding this back is really old management structures and ways of working that create very ego-driven cultures, and I think we’re on the cusp of this stuff changing dramatically; something which is also being accelerated by the pandemic and home working.

What advice would you give a marketer right now?

There’s really no need to guess about anything you do with your digital business, or a lot of other non-digital parts of business as well. There’s so much data and so much opportunity to experiment and learn. It’s not difficult. Just break free from the inertia and get the right help from experts and you can achieve so much.

Digital Transformation: Agility and Innovation Best Practice Guide