Innovation

How GoDaddy changed its DNA to become an insight-driven business

How GoDaddy changed its DNA to become an insight-driven business

“What used to be a developer-led business has become a customer-led business.”

– Cassandra Mally, Director of UX Research, GoDaddy


Forrester’s recent report, The Insights-Driven Business, describes the foundational differences between truly insight-driven brands and their data-aware competitors. There are some compelling characteristics, but underscoring them all is the undeniable fact that the DNA of insight-driven businesses is totally different from their data-aware counterparts. GoDaddy, the world’s largest internet domain provider, is a prime example of exactly that.

Congruent with Forrester’s definition, GoDaddy’s DNA is shaped by a commitment to collecting more and better data, using it more effectively and, above all else, embracing a fundamental shift in the way people at all levels of the business think about, talk about and understand the value of customer relationships. Companies talk about customer centricity as strategy, but it is as much, if not more, a cultural shift. The creation of the culture is what truly transforms a company’s DNA. To co-opt a quote from Stephen Sadove, chairman and chief executive of Saks: “Culture drives innovation and whatever else you are trying to accomplish within a company—innovation, execution, whatever it’s going to be. And that then drives results.”

The creation of a customer-obsessed company

In an effort to keep pace with rapidly changing customer expectations, many if not most companies have adopted a customer-centric strategy—a culture where customer understanding is of the upmost importance.

For Steven Aldrich, chief product officer of GoDaddy, that means developing a genuine understanding of what problems customers have, exploring the best way to solve that problem and ensuring that the solution works for the customer.


“Customer centricity for me means being empathic. Listening for customer feedback. Using data to figure out what customers want. And when you build something, checking back in with that customer to ensure you’ve delivered what they want.”

– Steven Aldrich, Chief Product Officer, GoDaddy


With over 17 million customers, GoDaddy can’t speak to each and every one of them. So, to contextualize their big data and deepen their understanding of customer behavior, Aldridge says they take biopsies from large swaths of transactional data and analyze that information with the GoDaddy Customer Council—an insight community of 10,000 GoDaddy customers. While it is tempting to rely on readily available transactional data, it is not enough to truly understand why customers make the choices they do.

At GoDaddy, that drive to understand the “why” behind customer behavior is driven from the highest ranks of the business. As Forrester points out, executive-level commitment to customer-centricity is foundational to being (or becoming) a truly insight-driven business.

The mandate to be insight-driven must come from the top

Expecting a midlevel manager or functional head to create an insight-driven culture is mission impossible. To be truly insight-driven, businesses require a fundamental transformation in the way people at all levels of the business understand, engage and value the relationship they have with their customers. Leaders like GoDaddy’s chief product officer not only have to believe that customer-validated insight will result in better products and experiences, they have to be willing to put people and process in place to make that possible.

Supporting a shift towards customer-centricity

Few would argue that a hallmark of a truly customer-centric business is having employees who self-identify as customer-obsessed. That is certainly the case at GoDaddy. While filming their customer story in their Sunnyvale offices, Cassandra Mally, director of UX research, spoke openly and enthusiastically about being part of a company that is truly customer-obsessed. But it wasn’t always that way.

She says, “What was a developer led business when I started in 2008, is now a customer-led business. Understanding what the customer wants and needs and having that realized in the product instead of what we thought they wanted.” It’s no surprise that in the early days, there was resistance to elevating the importance of customer intelligence. With the help of their leadership team, a dedicated work ethic and the right technology, the team at GoDaddy shifted from a necessary evil to a strategic partner.

Today, GoDaddy’s customer intelligence team is an integral part of the business at every level. Technology like their insight community allows them to move at the speed the business demands, keep pace with the two-week development sprints and deliver insight that not only validates development decisions but also inspires new ideas and supports the continued evolution of a truly customer-centric culture.

To learn more about GoDaddy’s transformation, watch the GoDaddy customer video. 

How insight-driven businesses capitalize on customer intelligence - webinar featuring Forrester



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