You’ve heard it a thousand times: Fill the funnel, see what happens, and segment later. That strategy can fly or it can fail, but is it worth the risk—especially now, when everything marketers thought they knew about their customers is changing?
As part of our Retention Masterclass series, John Koetsier and I talked to Rebecca Nackson, a veteran of iHeartMedia, Audible, and IBM—and the founder of Notable, a team of strategists, creatives, analysts, and project managers that will work with you to build your growth stack and engage your customers. Rebecca was turned off by the “fill the funnel” strategy long ago, and has set out to change the way we think about digital marketing.
“I, myself, handled marketing at a number of companies, and I’ve been across the spectrum in terms of size, and I’m old enough that when I started doing it, this whole thing called digital transformation started,” she says. “And one thing that I noticed between doing this at large companies that had lots of resources, doing it at newer companies that were digital-first, that you can have the right technology, you can have the right tools, but if your team and your tactics are not there, you’re not able to take advantage of those tools. “
Listen to the podcast:
Throw your instincts out the window
A Liftoff survey found that the three biggest concerns of marketers in 2020 were growth, retention and fraud—in that order. Rebecca says the answer lies in the data. You can’t rely on your gut, she says, but today you don’t have to. The advent of smartphones and the mass adoption of the devices meant marketers could know more about their customers than ever before, and the idea that you have to rely on instinct went out the window. And that’s especially true as marketers adjust to the new norm under coronavirus.
“I’m home right now. All of my shopping patterns are changing,” says Rebecca. “We’re looking at the data with our existing clients, and their work is bleeding into the evening, is bleeding into the weekend. They’re not commuting. They’re purchasing products in different ways.”
Everything you thought you knew is changing, and the only way to keep up with your users is to follow the data. How is that playing out?
“The first phase of the response to everything was, of course, to be conservative and to pause things and make sure that we’re sending out a message that’s sensitive,” says Rebecca. But that’s changing as people are home for longer, working on projects and figuring out how to get it all done without leaving the house.
“One thing that really surprised me in consulting is that I find that our clients are actually overly conservative in the messaging that they send,” Rebecca says. “You know, somebody will say to them, ‘I got two of your emails and that was annoying.’ And then suddenly there’s this whole directive [to scale back].” Rebecca warns against ignoring the data, especially on this front.
She adds, “So, if I was preaching to look at the data rather than just trusting your own instinct before, I definitely am going to be saying that now. And for us, I think a lot of people are going to be listening to that advice in a way that they weren’t before.”
Follow your customer’s lead
So, if you’re feeling confused and uncertain about how to navigate the turbulent waters of e-commerce in the age of coronavirus, there’s a simple answer to all your questions—and it’s in your data. For example, Rebecca says that, like a lot of New Yorkers, she’s eating out less now and has extra money to put toward other projects. Smart marketers will notice that she’s more engaged with emails and looking to accomplish home projects while sequestered at home.
Our collective behavior is changing, and the only way to know how to provide your users with what they need is to pay attention to what they’re telling you through the data.
John Koetsier: Do you have funnel vision? Hello and welcome to Retention Masterclass. My name is John Koetsier.
Peggy Anne Salz: And I’m Peggy Anne Salz and we’re your co-hosts for the show.
John Koetsier: Customer acquisition is obviously critical for growth businesses.
Peggy Anne Salz: And you couldn’t be righter John, but you know the thing is, that many marketers they start at it with what our guest today is going to be calling “funnel vision,” which is very simple, fill the funnel … you’ve heard it a thousand times, see what happens, segment thereafter. It’s okay, it can fly or it can fail. But are these times that you really want to take the risk?
John Koetsier: So you’re saying that hope is not a strategy, you can’t just wing it and go on a prayer and make it happen?
Peggy Anne Salz: Maybe three years ago, yeah, but not now. So nope, not a strategy, not in my book.
John Koetsier: Well, wonderful, because with us today is someone who has a unique perspective on mobile growth and where retention fits. She’s a veteran of iHeartMedia and Audible, worked at IBM, and has led marketing in multiple startups.
Peggy Anne Salz: And of course on top of that, and most important, she has her own practice now where she’s talking with marketers, telling them how to grow, how to acquire, how to engage, how to retain their users, their customers, and she’s here with us on Retention Masterclass. Rebecca Nackson, a growth marketer, a slightly I would say put-off-by-some-of-the-strategies turned consultant showing the way now on our show today. Great to have you!
Rebecca Nackson: Really great to be here. Thank you both.
John Koetsier: Thank you so much Rebecca, and we kind of have to start here: it’s our reality. It’s what’s happening in the world, it’s the biggest fact in our lives right now, we’re dealing with Coronavirus. You’re working in your home office. You mentioned that your dog might come by and bark a little bit during this podcast recording. Where are you? How are you holding up? How are you keeping safe?
Rebecca Nackson: I am great, thank you for asking. I am very fortunate, especially fortunate to work in digital marketing, so it’s certainly a very relevant and timely conversation. And I’m just lucky that I can do this and my team can do it from the comfort and the safety of our homes.
Peggy Anne Salz: And that’s another point, I mean you’re at Notable. I’d love to hear a little bit about it and particularly because your team is also growing, another sign of the times I would imagine.
Rebecca Nackson: It has been an exciting nine months. We have just entered the very first Q2 of Notable’s existence. I myself handled marketing at a number of companies and I’ve been across the spectrum in terms of size. And I’m old enough that when I started doing it, this whole thing called “digital transformation” started. And one thing that I noticed between doing this at large companies that had lots of resources, doing it at newer companies that were digital first, that you can have the right technology, you can have the right tools, but if your team and your tactics are not there … you’re not able to take advantage of those tools. So I had, by the time I was starting to see a number of the same issues come up across these organizations with every variable you could imagine. I thought, okay, now I sort of understand where the different levers are and this is why I’d love to consult on this. And everybody at Notable actually comes from the brand marketing side. So I also think that’s something that’s unique about us, is that we always talk about empathy. We quite literally have been in the same position that these marketers are in.
John Koetsier: So you’re not just one of those consultants that has never actually done anything. That’s good to know. Talk a little bit about your history briefly, some of the major stopping points of your career. I mean you’ve got some good brands on your resume.
Rebecca Nackson: Thank you! There’s a lot of luck that’s been involved and potentially some smart decisions along the way. And it’s just been such a fascinating time to work in this industry. And when I mentioned digital transformation, part of that was my very first job was with IBM, and I remember thinking, looking up at the person in charge and just saying to myself, okay … let’s say they’re in their fifties and I’ve just graduated college so I’m in my early twenties, so I can be in charge in 30 years. And by when I was at iHeartRadio, I would say that was the time where when I was first working on the product our digital inventory was what we called “value add,” we just threw it in for free. And then by the time, by the end of my time there everything had flipped.
And so that marketer at the top, suddenly that 30 years of experience did not have the same value. Now, I’ve also worked for companies where there’s a 22-year old running the company and the opposite is true too. You could have great instincts, but there is a level of, experience matters. And I feel this way now that I’m running my own business. There’s this combination of, yeah, I do feel like I have a unique perspective that I don’t want to lose, but on the other hand, I don’t want to be spending time solving a problem that somebody else has solved, right? So in seeing those, I thought I want to bring, there’s the large companies that are looking enviously at the digital first companies, thinking they’re so lean and they’re so nimble and I want that in my organization. There’s the digital first smaller companies that are saying, we don’t have the resources of that large company. So I wanted to bring what was working well in one type of organization to another.
And the topic of funnel vision was similar, bringing something from one side of the fence to the other. Because when I was at iHeartRadio, that’s where I first worked on user acquisition, really top of the funnel marketing to compliment some of the engagement and retention marketing that I had done, and I saw the same thing. I saw there’s certain tactics that they’re using in retention and they’re not sharing that with the acquisition team. And it might just be because we sit in different floors or actually sit in different cities. So one of the benefits … a great thing about an agency is that they can act as this connective tissue in your organization. For whatever reason, many of them good ones, some of them not, you just haven’t been making those connections before. So, yes, a lot of what I’m talking about is let’s get rid of these artificial distinctions that matter to us as an organization, but in no way reflect the way our customers are using our services.
Peggy Anne Salz: And of course that couldn’t be more timely than now, where we’re rewriting the playbook as we speak, right? So it’s exciting times, challenging times. I want to get to challenges for a moment because I just want to sync up on an understanding of the marketer frustration that you have been seeing, maybe even experiencing, addressing. We have some data, there was a survey of some growth marketers by Liftoff, for example, top three challenges that they have, top three frustrations. It was kind of interesting. Okay, this was of course, everything was before our unprecedented times currently, but number one was growth. Right? So that’s number one frustration. Number two is retention. Number three is fraud. I’d just like to have you weigh in on that a little bit, Rebecca, about that order and also it’s kind of interesting because retention is second.
Rebecca Nackson: Yeah.
Peggy Anne Salz: A few months ago, it wasn’t even on the map, right? So …
Rebecca Nackson: Yeah. You know, Peggy, you just made me think that when I’m talking about, when I mentioned digital transformation and how the fact that people are on their phones on digital devices so much. And the level of data that comes with that, and how that really changed the way in which we market, both the way in which we have the ability to understand our users, and then also the channels we have with which to communicate with them. It seems very possible. It will be interesting to listen to this podcast at some point in the future, right? But from what everybody is saying, this is going to be another one of those moments in history where some things are never going to go back to the way they were. So, when I’m preaching to our clients about leveraging data in ways that might not be second nature to them, whatever instinct, whatever gut you’ve been working with, as much as I have thought that, you know I always say the longer that I do marketing the less I trust that instinct, because the more I’ve been proven wrong.
Any of that instinct that you’ve been overly relying on definitely has to change now, because I mean … I’m home right now. All of my shopping patterns are changing. We’re looking at the data with our existing clients and their work is bleeding into the evening, it’s bleeding into the weekend, they’re not commuting, they’re purchasing products in different ways. The first phase of the response to everything was of course to be conservative and to pause things, and make sure that we’re sending out a message that’s sensitive. And now as time is going on, I mean the truth is I’m home, I’m doing a little bit of organization, there’s certain things that I am buying online, right? So if there’s a, there’s this tendency.
One thing that really surprised me in consulting is that I find that our clients are actually overly conservative in the messaging that they send. You know, somebody will say to them, ‘I got two of your emails and that was annoying.’ And then suddenly there’s this whole directive, or they themselves get emails from a product that they use, and so they decide that was annoying, therefore we should scale back rather than looking at the data. And I’m finding some people, their first instinct is to do the same thing right now of, look, we should really pull back. But there’s certain things that I am spending more money on. Either my behavior is shifting, let’s say time of day, or I was having this conversation with somebody … I’m not going out. I’m a New Yorker, so I eat a lot of my meals out, right? That’s a big chunk of money that I’m not spending right now. And so there are some purchases for around the house that I wanted to make. So, if I was preaching to look at the data rather than just trusting your own instinct before, I definitely am going to be saying that now. And for us, I think a lot of people are going to be listening to that advice in a way that they weren’t before.
John Koetsier: That’s absolutely huge. I mean, and that’s a real challenge, a lot of New Yorkers, people in San Francisco, other big cities around the planet, young people, young entrepreneurs, perhaps mid-thirties whoever they are, they may not have cooked something at home before. Boiling water is a challenge, right? I think I can make eggs, do I add anything to the water? You know, this is difficult right and now they’re having to actually order everything in. And so you see like Adobe came out and said, ‘hey, e-commerce is up 20% globally, across the US’ right? Just in everything. And certain categories like groceries have doubled.
Peggy Anne Salz: Yeah.
John Koetsier: Other categories like protective products, Lysol wipes, other things like that are up over 800% right? So there’s a huge change in what’s happening, there’s an opportunity in that.
Rebecca Nackson: Yes.
John Koetsier: But there’s also challenges in that, right? Everything is changing and we don’t know that it’s finished changing. We don’t know when it’s finished changing. One of the things that you talk about is you talk about funnel vision. I wish you could talk a little bit about funnel vision, what you mean by that? What the challenge is? And what the solution is.
Rebecca Nackson: So my career started actually on the product development side, which I think is an ideal way to start it. To me, it reminds me of other associates I know who started in the customer care department. You learn the ins and outs of the product, and I was interested. From there I went to product marketing, and one of the things that I loved about that was when you’re working on the product side, you’re so close to the process that you can become defensive in some ways of all the effort that went into it. And what I hear over and over again in my head when I think back to moving into product marketing was ‘nobody cares, the audience doesn’t care how long it took, how much energy,’ right? Does it work or does it not work?
And I think that that’s the same, like I find that happening in, regardless of what your department is, there’s so many realities of what your business is. A lot of us are feeling this. If we’re working [from] home for the first time, there’s certain things that we’re losing by not sitting next to somebody that we’re used to sitting next to, right? And so when I was talking before about large companies looking enviously at the small companies, that’s in large part because this concept of growth hacking became, because it was a necessity. You have four people that are doing a whole range of things and suddenly when your engineer is also responsible for doing your marketing, or when your engineer happens to sit next to your marketer, you’re going to have this, this happens in our office. All of a sudden you hear something and the marketer would have never thought that that was possible from an engineering perspective, the engineer wasn’t as connected to what the marketing was, and that’s how you got this concept of growth hacking. It’s greater than the sum of its parts, and it’s really scrappy.
And it’s now that we’re working from home there’s an element of that that’s missing. But if you’re at a very large company with offices all over the world, you’ve been dealing with this in a lot of ways. Which is why the process side of what we do, and agencies love to talk about process and clients hate to hear that word ‘process,’ but that’s what we’re talking about when we were talking about process. It’s like, how are you going to keep moving at the rate that you’re moving but be able to translate what you’re doing for everybody else in the organization so that they can chime in, so that they’re not working at odds with what you’re doing, right?
John Koetsier: I love that. I love that and Peggy’s going to ask you a question here, but I have to chime in because I’ve sat in those meetings. I’ve sat in those meetings where an agency comes in and they go to the process slides, the section of the slide deck where it’s the process and it’s like, ‘Oh, seriously, I have to look into your lame ass version of your process, okay, you know it’s pretty much 80 to 90% the same, but yes, you’ve got to impress us with how you do it.’ But I’m glad that yours is a little different.
Rebecca Nackson: Thank you. Yes, I’ll always be part client, part consultant at the same time.
Peggy Anne Salz: Well it’s in your DNA, Rebecca, from your background, right? And I just want to be really clear for our audience as well, you know funnel vision is a big part of this blind spot where this came from. It sounds to me, and I just want to throw this back at you, how did we get here? We were obsessed with user acquisition. Growth hacking was the new black, right?
Rebecca Nackson: Yes.
Peggy Anne Salz: And also the silos, the silos that we inherited, we didn’t really break them down. We sort of celebrated them because, you know, product and performance and engineering they were separate. Is that what I’m hearing here? Just to be very clear.
Rebecca Nackson: Absolutely.
Peggy Anne Salz: Okay.
Rebecca Nackson: So I think there’s two things going on. One of them is there is the flip right that we talked about in digital … is the adage, the old adage was 50% of my advertising is working, I just don’t know which 50% that it is.
John Koetsier: That’s the positive spin on that one. Oh, interesting!
Peggy Anne Salz: In these times that would be…
Rebecca Nackson: Yeah, exactly. You should be so lucky to have 50%. But I mean, when we were looking at outdoor media in television, you didn’t have the ability to quantify and learn in real time. And so what’s interesting to me is that I find that a lot of marketers that I’m working with are making their jobs so much more difficult than it needs to be, because we’ll sit in these meetings and we’ll think through what onboarding is going to look like, what our life cycle messaging is going to look like. When, if we’re looking at the data of where users are dropping off in the product, it should send us some very strong signals of where we need messaging. And because I am a marketer who started in product, I have a big chip on my shoulder about a lot of different things, this one in particular is when the product … like it refers to product analytics, and somehow either marketers think that they don’t deserve access to the product analytics or somebody is keeping them outside of it.
If your marketing is not, if you’re not using your marketing as a tool to get people in the moments right before they’re dropping off, or right after they’re dropping off in the product, then I’m not sure what your marketing is doing. So this idea that those two things are separate has always confused me. So when I was talking about funnel vision, I was seeing one of those artificial distinctions of we’re going to have one team that’s focused on bringing people in the door, and then we’re going to have a different team focused on keeping them there, but they’re not going to share any of that information. And so the one, what I’m going to say now I’m sure, John, you’re going to nod your head about this too … then the people bringing the users in are going to say, ‘Well, I don’t know, we brought all the users in. Why can’t you hold onto them?’ And then you know the people are going to say, ‘You brought us crappy users.’
That is a little bit, also brings us back to the mindset of I am very happy, way longer than it should have taken, but finally, I think this idea of the number on the slide of ‘this is how many users we brought in,’ when those are not people that are actually using your product. And there’s a lot of examples of companies that have failed because they had very impressive topline numbers. So those two things have to work hand in hand. There certainly are some industries where if you have great numbers, now you’ve got a large enough market place and you have some leverage. But if you’ve brought in a ton of users in a way where you haven’t monetized them, and all of a sudden you have to flip that switch on and it’s not built into the DNA of the product, they’re going to leave so that model has never made sense to me.
John Koetsier: Yes, yes, exactly. I mean, it’s almost like we planned this. You may have noticed that we talk about retention in this podcast, so you’re on the right podcast. That’s awesome. We want to talk a little bit, we actually want you to talk about the mindset and the skillset of retention, right? Sure, tools are important but you need more, right? You need the people who are doing it but you also need the right mindset. Can you talk about that a little bit?
Rebecca Nackson: Yeah. It’s actually, I tell a good story of how I got into this business, but the main point that I was feeling in the moment when I decided to consult on this was actually because as a marketer who now needed to be taking advantage of technology and making these kinds of purchases, I found that to be very confusing. I was out of my league where I have to purchase these tools and the salesperson from one company is telling me how the other company can’t do what they’re saying that they’re doing, and I have no way, I don’t know the technology well enough to know what’s true or not. And like any large project, I compare it to home remodeling. You get to the end of this project and you look back and you think that you would do it so differently. And so I thought, I want to consult on this in a way that I was looking for that kind of help. So whether it was choosing the CRM, like the way that I was messaging my users, if it was the product analytics that I was mentioning before, and then there’s a whole host of other tools like a data layer that’s connecting all of these various tools.
And so what I found was that space is made up of salespeople talking about how great their tools are, and then agencies that are talking about let’s say the ‘platinum stack,’ I’ve heard that expression used. As the marketer, I had to go into the CFO’s office and explain how I was going to have a return on it. You know, I couldn’t walk in and say, ‘This is the best tool because this is the best tool.’ I had to say…
John Koetsier: Why not?
Rebecca Nackson: Right. I mean, when I hear the platinum stack, I’m thinking that is not a good thing. I don’t want to walk into my CFO’s office and say, ‘This is, you know, they’re like alright, can we take maybe the silver stack or promotion?’
John Koetsier: We’re going bronze. We’re going bronze all the way. Third place? That’s us.
Rebecca Nackson: So the thing that we talk about at Notable, and this is when the fact that we all have marketing backgrounds sort of shines through, because everything is branded and everything has alliteration. But we thought that this conversation, the stack conversation, the technology conversation, was led entirely about the tool itself. And we think of it as a three-legged stool where you need the team and you need the tactics. And those three buckets that you know, they have to be in cooperation with one another. If you have a massive team and you don’t have the right tools you’re operating very inefficiently. And it isn’t just a matter of convenience, it’s actually very dangerous to have human beings controlling certain things when that should be automated. You’re just opening yourself up for something to go wrong.
John Koetsier: Rebecca, is that the three T’s: Team, Tool, Tactics?
Rebecca Nackson: Team, tool and tactics, yes.
John Koetsier: Can I copyright that? Can I quickly make a claim?
Rebecca Nackson: Yes. That is …
Peggy Anne Salz: You heard it here.
Rebecca Nackson: Yes, that and I enjoy when we’re speaking with potential clients. I love saying, ‘Hold on, let’s talk about what you have available when it comes to your team, your tools, and your tactics, because we might not be here to sell you a new tool.’ Which I think is how most conversations go with an agency of, ‘I know why you can’t get to what you need, you haven’t purchased that other thing that you need, and as soon as you purchase that tool, you’ll have what you’re looking for.’ So we felt like that perspective was missing from the conversation. And a partner of mine at one of these technology companies used this analogy that I love, which is ‘Tiger Woods plays best when he is using really great clubs. But if I go on the golf course with Tiger Woods clubs, I’m not all of a sudden going to become a great golfer.’ And I think that sums it up.
John Koetsier: Rebecca that’s just you. I mean when Peggy uses his clubs, I mean it’s, we’re talking 500 feet, I mean that ball’s going.
Peggy Anne Salz: Yeah, it’s a slam dunk with me, Rebecca, I’m sorry.
John Koetsier: Wrong sport Peggy!
Peggy Anne Salz: I understand, but what I love about this conversation is that you’re also taking a look at what the mindset of marketers is. You know, where there’s a hit, where there’s a miss. And the three T’s, ingenious. But also at some level, as you said, if the team isn’t together, if they aren’t sharing the data, then they can’t blame it on the tools. And I think that’s something I’d love to hear you talk about more, because as you said it’s like, ‘Oh, I need to have this tool.’ But also the flip side is, ‘Oh, it’s not working because of that tool,’ right?
Rebecca Nackson: Yep. It is, I would say more often than not, our conversations with a potential client will begin where they’ll tell us that they’re looking to improve their retention. And so we’ll then ask the obvious question, ‘What is your retention today?’ and they’ll very often say, ‘We don’t know, we just know it could be better.’ So, you know it’s pretty clear to me that there’s a problem there, and that’s because the tool is often there, but going back to our example before, right? I don’t magically turn into Tiger Woods. And so something that also is, I think, somewhat distinct in the services that we’re providing is we’ve been working with all of these tools, both from our time working as a brand marketers, as well as now we’ve had rapid exposure to a number of different use cases with companies of every size and every industry.
So we love to come in on day one and bring that expertise. Another point on that, that seems to resonate with people that we talk to, is that all of these tools are designed in a way that they are very user friendly. And most of them have a lot of great literature and blogs and documentation about using them. And I remember from my own experience, every week I would come in and say, ‘This is the week I’m going to read the documentation and I’m going to figure it out,’ and then every week there’s an emergency in the company. And so when we come in on day one, it’s like we’re rolling out the bit of that information that you need in that moment and we’re doing so throughout the course of the engagement. And so we think about it as two triangles next to each other. We’re on day one, maybe we’re … doing 95% of the driving and the client is doing 5% and the point of the engagement is to completely invert that by the end and hand it back in a better place than we found it, but have trained that team to operate and own this bit.
And so that’s where I think an agency really can come in. We’ve had clients that want us to just own campaign production and we will do that as part of the engagement, but I think that’s the kind of skill and muscle that you can be building in-house. Where we’re invaluable is let’s help you skip all of those mistakes that I’m here to tell you nine out of ten people make. You can just completely avoid that. And let’s jump into the real problems, let’s solve problems that haven’t been solved before.
John Koetsier: I love what you’re talking about in all that stuff, but I really had to smile when you’re talking about growth stack and the platinum stack and other things like that. And you know, I’ve done some stuff on growth stack in a variety of different places from the perspective of an analyst and a researcher, as well as a marketer or consultant. And one of the things that I think I’ve noticed, I don’t know if you’ve seen the Stackies, it’s a competition for who has the most beautiful stack, marketing stack, growth stack … and there’s these amazing, beautiful, gorgeous models and graphs and charts of all these things, and I’m going like, I don’t buy it for a second. I think that 95% of marketing teams don’t have a stack. They have a blob.
Rebecca Nackson: Yeah.
John Koetsier: A blob is whatever sort of accreted over time from this piece here and that piece there, and Peggy liked that piece, and Rebecca liked that piece, and I hate those, and I only use this one. And so it’s an interesting thing to look at that, but one of the things that …
Rebecca Nackson: We call that a Frankenstack, by the way.
John Koetsier: I love it, I love it.
Peggy Anne Salz: That’s great!
John Koetsier: I love it. So with your Frankenstack, or your stack, or your blob, you also need kind of a framework, right? For growth and retention, how you view it, what you do, how it works, how you operationalize it. We’ve discussed several on the show here. We’ve discussed RFM for instance, Recency, Frequency, Monetization … a way of segmenting your users and understanding them. You have an approach as well, what you call “messaging moments” right? Sort of natural intervals in the user journey where some event takes place and users are prime for action. Can you talk about that a little bit? What does that mean?
Rebecca Nackson: Yeah, absolutely. So I had mentioned before that there’s finally this shift between numbers on a slide about, this is our MAU, right? This is how many people have accounts or have opened the app. And at the end of the year, most of us are not, our revenue targets are not tied to somebody opening an app and not doing something with it. So maybe that looks flashy on a slide for investors, but these messaging moments, these critical moments in the app, that’s what we need to be pushing people to do. So when I mentioned before that marketing is driving, it’s your megaphone, it’s this little nudge that you have. And a colleague of mine we’re both talking about, we’re both members of a subscription service, it’s one of our clients. Both of us had these independent moments where we both were intending to take an action in that app and just forgot to do so, which is understandable, right? And it was the marketing that just reminded us and we thought, ‘Oh, thank goodness that they reminded me that I had to do that.’
So that’s what your marketing should be based on, this idea of if I look at where the roads fork, when I look at the users that do the thing that I want them to do, where is that moment where they separate? And the Facebook concept of this was the ‘7 friends in 10 days’ right? And the thing that I love about it is two things: Number one, in that case this moment of this critical action is that we have reason, we’ve got data that shows us that this is that inflection point, that people that add seven friends in ten days, right? So now you can imagine what that onboarding looks like, versus everybody’s tendency is to say, ‘We’ve decided that a new user is new for seven days because that’s how long a week is, or 30 days because those are the slides that we’re putting together.’ And it in no way reflects the reality of your team. And the other thing that people have pointed out about the 7 friends in 10 days is that, might it be all just as effective to do 6 friends in 9 days? Sure. But that there’s this rallying cry, there’s a north star that the entire company can rally around, because again, if I don’t understand this world in which acquisition has a target that’s at odds with engagement. They must be heading in the same direction, and then there’s some early indicators.
All of these terms that I’m using, when you’re watching the Corona press conferences, all of these lagging indicators and early indicators, the terminology is coming up right now. So there are those indicators so that you know today, tomorrow, that you’re doing the right thing to get you to that place. Because what you don’t want to do is have to wait six months to know if your retention is working. And the acquisition marketer’s early indicators should be different from the retention, but they’re early indicators that they’re both heading in the same direction. So that’s what we mean about these messaging moments, is just using your marketing to support reminding people. And by the way, not reminding people who aren’t going to, because that’s another fun thing. I find it’s more important to talk to the people that are under-messaging some of their clients, but let’s also remove some of that waste in other areas.
Peggy Anne Salz: Absolutely. I’m just nodding my head because that’s exactly where we are. I talked about rewriting that playbook, you know, that day 7, day 14, day 30, that sounded really good before. I mean, we got it from the best growth marketers there were the gaming marketers to start with, but you’re telling us, Rebecca, is that there are different intervals. There are these moments, there’s more nudging, there’s thinking about the journey. You know, it’s a huge departure from what it was before and it’s also, if you action on it, you almost have to, again, reconstruct your retention strategies. You can almost drop the day 4, day 7, day 14. Are you doing that? Or is that when you’re telling your clients?
Rebecca Nackson: Yes, I’m…
Peggy Anne Salz: Disrupting.
Rebecca Nackson: Yes, and we are quite literally right now disrupting our disruption because in the Corona era, all of the … and this is the way it should be, I mean, even if this wasn’t happening right now, something else would be, or you would be, if your audience is growing. The users that you’re bringing in today are going to be performing different than those first ones you signed up, right? So you already have to be going back and look and questioning your assumptions. But we were looking at the user moments of the time between creating an account and making a first purchase, right? That’s our north star for this company. If we get somebody to make that first purchase, sure, we’re going to now try to get somebody who makes the first purchase to make a second. But we’ve got the greatest number of people to work with if we can get them to go from creating an account to making that first purchase, and then there’s some early indicators along the way of what they need to do within that window. And when we compare the first two months of the year to what March looked like, the Corona period right, the period in which it really picked up in the US. Both the overall percentage, the conversion rate from creating the account to making the purchase as well as the window, so the conversion rate doubled and the window in which it is happening is one fourth in March what it was.
John Koetsier: Whoa.
Peggy Anne Salz: Wow.
Rebecca Nackson: Yeah. One fourth. So, A, that’s great news. But B, that completely changes the marketing that we’re doing, right? So now everything is shrinking and if they’re creating an account and they’re not making that first purchase within that window we have to message them a lot earlier. If we’re using, if we’re relying on that first, and this is somebody who at least was having a data-oriented onboarding in the first place as opposed to if we had been coming … I’ll tell you this, the conversion window was less than seven days. So if we were coming out of the gate saying our onboarding period is going to be day 0 through 7, and certainly if we were talking about onboarding as day 0 to 30, you know you’re sending that message on day 4 and they’re all gone.
John Koetsier: That’s such a great point. I mean, like A, at any time being responsive to what your users or customers are doing or saying is really, really critical. But B, we’re in an unprecedented time. This has not ever happened to the world. I was talking to a marketer yesterday and we were trying to cast back when has life been like this?
Rebecca Nackson: Right? I know.
John Koetsier: Of course the answer is never. I mean you look at World War II, even that was relatively regional, right?
Rebecca Nackson: Yes.
John Koetsier: Europe and Northern Africa, didn’t hit North America, didn’t hit South America, didn’t hit other parts of the world you know as much, right? This is global. Nine out of ten kids in the world are out of school right now, 1.5 billion kids not in school. So that’s changing everything. It’s changing consumer behavior massively and if you’re not adapting to that and learning from that in real time right now, you’ve got huge issues. You’ll underspend when you need to spend more, you’ll overspend when it’s not right. The stuff that you just saw, conversion rate was really high and the window was really short, that may stretch out. So we’re in the early stages, maybe more people lose their jobs, maybe that’s going to change dramatically as well. So you need to be in tune with that and really, really aware of that. So what I wanted to ask you as well is we’re in this Coronavirus era. What are you advising marketers in terms of spend, in terms of focus?
Rebecca Nackson: Well, so I share that anxiety, right, of I’m looking for the experts. So the bit of it that I do have control over is looking, being informed by the data. What would be the point of sitting around a table and postulating on should we send this email? Is it sensitive? Right? When there is … I gave the example before of I’m home and suddenly I’m thinking about doing these home repairs or home decor that I haven’t done. And that company, those websites that I’m visiting or the app sessions, they have the data to show them that since the, you know, looking at the timeline and we’ve been doing this, we’ve been actually mapping the events as they’re unfolding, the Corona timeline against the product usage, right?
You know that I have been interacting with your product in this time, so why wouldn’t you message me? And you know those users of yours who are not interacting and so it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing type decision. And the other thing that’s great about these tools is that you can also roll it out in waves. So one of the biggest things that I think we do as an agency is sometimes help our clients understand you’re spending too much time thinking about this. I don’t love to always just say ‘test it.’ That’s kind of like a kind of a lazy response sometimes, but there’s a time when you’re just looking around the room like why wouldn’t we, why wouldn’t we just test this?
So that’s what I’m advising people is, you don’t have to make these really difficult decisions in terms of understanding who is using your product and what their … and if you don’t have that data, let this be that reminder of why it’s essential. Every client that we were working with had their own emergency, whether it was for a really great reason or not so great reason why they needed to pivot completely overnight. And this is just for, I mean I hate to say it, but the clients that we’re working with could respond. This wasn’t this, the crisis obviously caught them off guard, but the tools with which they could respond to it, right? So this is where I’m saying before, tools are still one of those three T’s. So you do have to have the right tools, otherwise your team and your tactics are useless. So you have to have that stack if you didn’t have it before, you need to have it in some way. But then the question is, are you going to leverage what the data is telling you because your instinct is pretty useless now that the whole world has changed, the whole worldhas changed overnight.
Peggy Anne Salz: Rebecca, it’s amazing. These lessons, the three T’s, you know we’re so thankful that our podcast, our show comes with a transcript because people will want that. I can’t thank you enough for being on Retention Masterclass. It’s been amazing. Thank you.
Rebecca Nackson: For me as well. Thank you.
John Koetsier: Thank you as well, Rebecca, and whatever platform you’re listening on, if you’re watching, please like, subscribe, share, comment, all of the above. If you’re listening to the podcast afterwards, please rate it, review it. That’d be a massive help.
Peggy Anne Salz: And of course, check out the podcast transcript, we’ll get everything that Rebecca shared with us today. And everyone as always, keep well.
John Koetsier: Wonderful. My name is John Koetsier. Have a wonderful day.