November 7, 2016

Revenue in Simplification: Steve Madden Case Study

“In short order Clearhead has become a critical partner on our journey toward data-driven decision-making.”
-Mark Friedman, President of Ecommerce, Steve Madden

Steve Madden, one of the most iconic brands in footwear, was started with an $1,100 investment and a single store in Queens, New York. Today it is sold in over 80 countries worldwide and the company netted $1.4 billion in sales in 2015 alone.

One aspect of the business that’s helping to drive Steve Madden’s growth: ecommerce. To further increase the momentum fueled by online sales, the Steve Madden Digital Team looked to create a testing and optimization program that would bring rigor and data-first process to their digital UX.

With that in mind, they came to Clearhead with three specific objectives:

  1. Improve conversion rate on
  2. Implement/leverage Optimizely
  3. Expand Steve Madden Digital’s technical resources.

Mark Friedman, President of Ecommerce at Steve Madden, also had the overarching goal of changing the culture to embrace test and learn as a way of life.


One of the first experiments Steve Madden and Clearhead collaborated on revolved around the online checkout flow. Steve Madden’s online checkout process was bogged down by lengthy verbiage and many distractions. The team was looking for a way to increase checkout conversion rate by eliminating superfluous information and keeping customers focused on the sell.


Together Clearhead and Steve Madden developed the following hypothesis:

Steve Madden Digital's Hypothesis Statement

To test our hypothesis we simplified the cart page. The team pared down copy, removed a shipping promotion and removed information about types of payment accepted.

Test Details

Test Type: A/B
Primary KPI: Order Conversion Rate
Tools: Optimizely, HotJar





This test was a winner! The simplified checkout flow led to a 3.81% increase in order conversion rate.

What contributed to these positive results? The paring down of text helped move both the product summary and estimated order total higher on the page, nudging visitors to continue through the checkout flow. Additionally, removing clutter on the page helped visitors focus on the primary goal of the cart page: getting information about the order and advancing to checkout.

Clearhead delivered the results of this test to the Steve Madden team in the format of a data story. Data storytelling is a key component of Clearhead’s methodology, as it allows the insight delivered by each test to be easily shared and consumed throughout the organization, from the c-suite to the practitioner level.  This reinforces the importance of test and learn throughout the culture.

Beyond the Test

More important than any single test was the change in mindset for the Steve Madden Digital team. Today its culture is one of bold experimentation, allowing continuous and iterative testing to guide future growth. Read the full data story.

“In short order Clearhead has become a critical partner on our journey toward data-driven decision-making. Clearhead’s strategic approach to UX and digital product development ensures that our investments will solve our end-users’ biggest problems and, by doing so, will also yield significant ROI for the business. Clearhead’s approach has also enabled me build a “test & learn” culture across the enterprise.”
-Mark Friedman, President of Ecommerce, Steve Madden

Clearhead’s PSM Methodology

Before diving into tests, every Clearhead engagement begins with Problem Solution Mapping (PSM). While many clients are anxious to dive into solutions first, at Clearhead we believe everything is an experiment. Since everything is an experiment, there is no outright solution. Rather, there are solutions hypotheses that should be tested and validated.

To ensure that testing efforts are focused on the most critical areas of the business, the first step of PSM is gaining alignment from all stakeholders on the goals of the business.

From there, we worked together to uncover the most pressing problems that stand in the way of achieving those goals, prioritizing them to determine the top Problems Worth Solving. These Problems Worth Solving serve as the fulcrum for all testing and optimization efforts. Only then do we dive into solutions hypotheses.


Ready to embrace test and learn? Let’s connect.