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We are working with CourseSmart in their search for a Site Optimization Manager, in San Mateo, CA. As the world’s largest provider of digital course materials, CourseSmart connects education publishers to consumers by providing an efficient distribution platform for their best-selling content in digital form. CourseSmart provides services to four business segments …

  1. Online direct retail for students,
  2. Indirect distribution of course materials to students through bookstores,
  3. Online faculty textbook evaluation services, and
  4. Institutional solutions that include faculty, student and bookstore services.

CourseSmart’s rapidly growing digital library includes more than 90% of higher education core textbooks available as eTextbooks in use today. This catalog offers thousands of textbooks across hundreds of courses, as well as an ever-expanding catalog of eResources. eResources are the largest and fastest growing segment of the digital course materials category that include online interactive learning environments such as tutorials, homework, quizzes, videos and eTextbooks and more.

ETextbooks can be purchased on CourseSmart for up to 60% less than print, and offer users the ability to print only what they need as well as highlight, zoom, take notes, search across an entire stack of digital texts, and connect with classmates or instructors. CourseSmart eTextbooks are available instantly and can be viewed on a laptop, computer, or any web-enabled mobile device.

CourseSmart is also committed to providing equal and instant access to course materials anywhere for everyone. CourseSmart’s leadership in accessibility promotes equal access for all to higher education materials. The company provides a comprehensive accessible experience with a W3C compliant site and accessible reading experiences through texts and readers optimized for those with print reading impairments. The company recently received a $1.1 million grant from the Department of Education to provide low-cost eTextbooks for students with disabilities.

CourseSmart is located in the San Francisco Bay area.

A high-growth company, consistently delivering triple digit growth, CourseSmart offers a dynamic start-up environment with peers who are experienced entrepreneurs and passionate about the role digital course materials can play in the future learning environment. CourseSmart’s investors include the 5 largest textbook publishers, Pearson, Cengage Learning, McGraw-Hill Education, John Wiley & Sons, and the Bedford, Worth, Freeman Publishing Group.

HARRY’S COMMENTS: Without a doubt, my favorite part of any client engagement is the project kickoff call, which involves a one-hour Charlie Rose-like conversation with the hiring manager. These conversations are wide ranging, and don’t merely center on the job itself, but often delve into a number of extremely high level issues such as …

  • What is the mission of your company? Why?
  • Do you find this purpose personally inspiring?
  • Is this purpose authentic – something true to what the organization is all about, and not merely words on paper that sound nice?
  • Can you envision this purpose being as valid 100 years from now as it is today?
  • When telling your children and other loved ones what you do for living, do you feel proud in describing your work in terms of this purpose?

Sometimes I’m blown away by what I hear, as in the case of CourseSmart, a San Mateo-based company that seeks to improve the world by making education more affordable, accessible, and easier to use, especially for people with disabilities. And in part, CourseSmart seeks to do this by making education more social – which improves the value of course materials within the context of each individual learning environment.

A more noble mission I cannot imagine.

If you want to work somewhere where you can have a positive impact on our world, then here is your chance. Plus, all five of the major trends shaping commerce are fully represented here: Mobile, Social, Local, Global, Cloud. Work for CourseSmart, and there is no way that in three years you won’t be a better person, plus you’ll have a more future-oriented skill set.

The professional equivalent of Neapolitan ice cream.

Most up-and-coming ecom executives complain that their job scope is too narrow.  They prefer hard-to-come-by roles that involve functional variety. Well friends, this role is the professional equivalent of Neapolitan ice cream. There are three primary flavors of responsibility in this role: Conversion Rate Optimization; integrated SEO; and Creative Production (with the creative piece being the least immediately pressing of the thee).

Although I am not at liberty to disclose the client’s ecommerce metrics, I can tell you that this is not a small business. CourseSmart is growing very rapidly — in part because its lean operations are tightly aligned behind a smart strategy, but also because of the social and economic trends that support the company’s business environment.

Online education is growing in popularity and respect.

About 20% of American undergraduate students are enrolled in computer assisted distance education courses. Moreover, the number of students taking online courses is growing at a rate far greater than higher education enrollments, and as of fall 2010, more than six million students were enrolled in at least one online class, according to Sloan Consortium’s Online Education in the United States study.

Without a doubt, these trends will continue to drive robust demand for CourseSmart’s products and services – and as the company’s overall market grows, you’ll be expected to have an impact on CourseSmart’s conversion rate, amount of organic traffic, and bounce rates.

To do that, you’ll need to leverage your ability to help integrate CourseSmart’s efforts in Search Marketing (SEM); Search Engine Optimization (SEO); Social Media; Web Analytics; Web Design / User Experience; and Website Performance and Monitoring. The job is big but doable, and the team is fantastic – and that’s why you’ll be a certified ecommerce ninja when you leave.

If you ever do.

As usual, I’m packing and armload of proprietary information on the job, the company, the industry, and the market in which CourseSmart operates. If you’d like to apply, please scroll down to the bottom of this posting. Also please note: Due to CourseSmart’s great relationship with Optimizely, you’ll need some proficiency in HTML, JavaScript, jQuery, CSS, regular expressions.

Please Tweet this job, and you’ll be automatically entered into our monthly drawing. Just do it and see what happens: 2010 prizes included $100 Amazon gift certs, Dean & Deluca steaks, and Keurig coffee machines …

Position Overview:

The Site Optimization Manager will drive A/B and multi-variate (MVT) testing efforts to improve web page performance and web site conversion. (S)he will also manage SEO and the relationship with the company’s SEO vendor to maximize organic search engine traffic and conversion.

In addition, this person will manage the production of site content and visual design for new features and functionality on the CourseSmart web site to ensure optimal user experience while satisfying business objectives. The Site Optimization Manager reports to the Director of eCommerce within the Marketing department but will work closely with internal and external cross-functional team members to achieve business goals.

Key Metrics:

  • Organic traffic and conversion plan
  • On-time delivery of assignments to specifications within budget
  • Performance of new features as defined by feature success criteria


Conversion Rate Optimization (40%):

  • Manage multi-variate (MVT) and A/B testing program for the web site.
  • Partner with business owners to define tests and develop test plans.
  • Set up and run experiments using 3rd party testing tool.
  • Work with designers and web master to create variants and test pages necessary for testing.
  • Monitor and report on the performance of A/B tests.
  • Leverage data to provide insights and propose new testing scenarios.
  • Research and recommend testing tools.

SEO (30%):

  • Lead the effort to grow organic search engine traffic and conversion.
  • Leverage SEO vendor to develop and implement SEO strategy, campaigns and programs.
  • Draft BRDs for SEO development work.
  • Coordinate with SEO vendor and product management to provide requirements and implement recommended features and web site improvements for SEO.
  • Work with vendor to ensure that new web site content, designs and feature introductions are optimized for search engines.
  • Collaborate with SEM team to find synergies.
  • Track, analyze and report on SEO on a regular basis.

Creative Production (30%):

  • Drive and manage delivery of all creative assets for copy and visual design for new customer-facing web site features.
  • Partner with business owners, product managers and other stakeholders to define creative requirements and schedule.
  • Submit detailed work requests providing business objectives, customer insights and creative direction to design and copywriting partners.
  • Coordinate feedback and approvals from business owners and stakeholders.
  • Manage work flow, review cycles and creative deliverables to meet release schedule deadlines.
  • Escalate and communicate schedule and scope changes that may impact the Marketing team.
  • QA content and creative elements pre and post implementation.
  • Ensure that creative elements maintain brand integrity.
  • Ensure creative costs are within budget.
  • Draft copy and create wireframes as needed for projects when additional design and creative resources are not available.
  • Leverage available site metrics to analyze feature performance to recommend appropriate adjustments and future enhancements.

Position Requirements:

  • BA/BS or equivalent
  • Experience with landing page optimization using Google Website Optimizer or other A/B test tools and knowledge of test methodologies desired
  • Proficiency in HTML, JavaScript, jQuery, CSS, regular expressions
  • Familiarity with SEO best practices
  • Experience and demonstrated success managing and implementing on-page and off-page/link building SEO programs
  • 3+ years web production experience managing creative functions across copy editing, visual design and web design, preferably in an e-commerce environment
  • Thorough understanding of web design process
  • Strong ability to understand different customer segments and tailor user experience to the needs of each segment
  • Effective organizational, project management and time management skills
  • Ability to work independently yet collaboratively, with multiple functional areas
  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Desire to learn and develop new skills
  • Proficiency with one or more creative applications (Visio, Axure, Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.) highly preferred
  • Comfortable using Google Analytics or other reporting platform a plus

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