HiPPO is an acronym for “Highest Paid Person’s Opinion,” coined by Google Analytic guru Avinash Kaushik. This person can be your boss, their boss, a client, or anyone who makes important decisions for an organization. Much like the surly member of the animal kingdom that they get their moniker from, the HiPPO is usually in a position to trample all over those around them, leaving disaster in their wake. This person often has final say over what goes on a website, even though they may not be the best decision maker in many situations. Ultimately, this person’s opinion ends up seeming to be more important than that of the market you’re trying to attract with your website because they have the loudest voice. The HiPPO often thinks that they know best what their customer base is looking for from your site, and this is where they are most dangerous to the success of your website.
How to prevent the hostile HiPPO takeover and make your HiPPO work for you:
- Proof– Web analytics and tracking results empower marketers to prove to their HiPPO who is visiting their site, what those visitors are responding to (both good and bad), their click paths, entrance and exit links, and where they’re leaving the site from.
- Show analytic data with graphs and charts so that your higher-ups can visualize the results you’re showing them. The information will sink in faster, and doesn’t have to be as closely read through.
- Don’t over-report. Provide the data that is pertinent to the point you are trying to prove. Often, we provide too much data simply because we can. This is overwhelming and often causes more confusion than clarification.
- Testing- Utilize both your ideas and your HiPPO’s with A/B or multivariate testing, and show them why what you have proposed is valuable. Create multiple versions of your site, one with their ideas, and one based on data you’ve received through analytics. After several months, show your HiPPO which site is performing better, and why. There may be aspects of each site that do well, combine them for a third test version. Continue to test until you achieve desired results.
- The Spin– Make it their idea. Take something your HiPPO has said in the past, and use it for the foundation of your plan. Let them know that they sparked a great idea that you feel that both your customers and your company will benefit from. Most people are a lot more likely to agree to something when they feel that it was their idea in the first place.
- Be careful with this –we are not advising you to try to trick anyone or be dishonest, it never works out in the end!
- Be sure to tell them why you think their idea is a good one, and offer more ideas that build on this main concept.
- Be Honest– Any superior is going to respond better to someone they know is trustworthy and above board. Don’t engage in petty or underhanded behavior. If your HiPPO knows they can count on you, they’ll be much more responsive to your ideas and feedback.
- This goes for everyone you encounter internally and externally. If people feel that they can trust you, it makes every aspect of doing business with them easier and more enjoyable.
- Surveys- Most of us thinks that our own plan is the best plan, which is what started the whole HiPPO problem. Ask who matters most –your customers. Your customers know what they want, just ask them, and they’ll tell you. Compile the results of customer feedback and supply to your HiPPO with the results of your analytics research.
- Ask visitors what their goal was when visiting your site, and if they achieved that goal while visiting your site.
- Ask what you can do to make their experience better in the future. People are often irritated by the impersonal nature of the Internet. Give them an opportunity to feel like their opinion matters.
- Respond to your customers when they take time to give you feedback. Even a simple “Thank you, we appreciate you taking the time to help us make your experience better in the future” goes a long way.
- And if all else fails…
- Flattery- Nearly everyone responds well to some honest, well-timed compliments. Your superiors are no different. We’ve all had to resort to flattery in order to get someone to listen to our ideas, be sincere and genuine to ensure that what you say is well received and believable.
Working with our HiPPOs is always going to be a part of doing business. Utilizing some of these tips will help to make that relationship run a bit more smoothly and be more enjoyable. Remember, we’re all working towards the same end goal! The HiPPO is not going away –from our personal or professional lives. If it seems that they have, take a look in the mirror, the HiPPO could quite possibly be you!
Photo courtesy digitalART2