Until now, marketing has been focused on executing campaigns and collecting data to determine how effective efforts have been. The ability to understand customers’ actions and, based on these insights, influence them to move from one stage to the next of the customer lifecycle has been a blindspot. It’s a disconnect CleverTap is addressing with an approach that provides marketers “true” visibility into how customers progress through defined stages, empowering marketers to make the right adjustments In real-time to deliver a great experience and drive revenues. Sunil Thomas, Co-founder and CEO of CleverTap is back for an encore performance with our host Peggy Anne Salz. In this episode of our bi-weekly series Reimagine Growth, they talk about new ways marketers can develop emotive messaging, and explore the techniques marketers should use to map their user base to define lifecycle stages and move the needle on engagement strategies. Sunil also walks us through the Lifecycle Optimizer, a new tool that gives marketers a bigger picture of how different engagements influence users and ultimately increase retention.
So, how do you incent your users, your customers to move through the lifecycle and for that matter why is it a plus to see the impact of a campaign on the entire journey because, you know, that’s important as well – it’s one thing to move them through the journey, it’s another to say it made sense, it made sense to your bottom line, and we’re going to talk about a tool that can help you craft messages to strike a chord with your audience because they have the right words, the right tone, it all fits – we’re going to do all of this and more here today on Mobile Presence and today bringing you Reimagine Growth, a special mini-series on retention marketing brought to you by CleverTap and so this time we’re going to do it differently, we’re going to welcome a man who knows the customer journey because it’s his daily job, he’s an expert in retention because his company has helped improve retention for more than 8,000 apps and he’s the Head of CleverTap, the sponsor of our show. Sunil Thomas, CEO and co-Founder, great to have you here today, Sunil.
ST Thank you, Peggy, it is a pleasure to be here.
PAS And I mentioned before, well, actually I didn’t mention it before because when I said great to have you here, it’s actually an encore performance, we had you kick off the series a little while back and that was a few months ago, that was before, I guess, the new normal. Been a while since we spoke, I'm just wondering, you know, what’s changed for you personally in the last couple of months?
ST That’s a great question, Peggy…
PAS For us all… yes…
ST Exactly, I was going to say better phrased as what has not changed in the past few months.
PAS That’s actually the better question.
ST On a personal front, it is about sort of adjusting, if you will, or reacting to the new world with working from home with the family, with Covid lockdowns obviously. You know, I cannot say that there are no positives, there are actually a lot of positives, I think the first few weeks were crazy because everybody was trying to, you know, family-wise at least at home, everybody was trying to find their ‘space’ and it felt almost like you go to bed with your laptop and you wake up from bed with your laptop but I’ve got to say after the first few weeks, it’s now at least we figured out what it is, we know the four corners of our house where each of us goes in and stay there for a while but we do come out and we’ve started doing a few things like, you know, playing a bunch of board games with the kids, just a lot of things going on in that sense.
So there have been positives there obviously but, you know, there are clearly negatives, you know, in a typical world I hate to get into a plane to travel generally speaking and I was telling my wife a few days ago that, you know, middle seat, 12-hour flight, put me on it…
PAS Now you’ll take it. It’s interesting you’re talking about the developments there and I look upon it as, you know, downtime that we can get something done and I get the feeling that that’s what’s been going on over at CleverTap because, you know, in the interim you’ve done a lot over there. We haven’t maybe heard about all of it out here because the world is such a busy place but you have a couple of new developments. I’m going to take the last one first that I mentioned because I was hinting at it simply because the geek in me just loves playing with it, right?
You have this emotions.clevertap.com, that’s where it is, it’s an editorial tool, helps me do a lot of cool things but what would you describe it as?
ST Yes, so you know, broadly, Peggy, communication like you know is extremely important, more important than ever today, you know, than it has ever been and in these unprecedented times, it’s really critical to use language and emotions that reinforce trust in your brand, you’ve got to be consistent across all your channels and so on.
Most marketers like you know rely on intuition to craft marketing messages and our Emotion Editor is a way that we bring data science and some technology together to allow marketers to create content that drives conversations or communication with the right balance of emotion. So you get to choose, you know, whether you want to list your message with a lot of anticipation in it, a lot of joy in it, some element of fear of missing out in it and so on.
PAS So, the marketer can craft the right message because as I said I’ve been checking it out and interestingly enough for our listeners, when you do check it out – and I do encourage you to do that – it also suggests, you know, which words I need to change. So it’s really a great tool but I’m wondering, you know, there’s more behind it, we can’t get into all of it because there’s a lot of science driving it but I think it’s important to understand these emotions and how marketers can group their messages or focus their messages, improve their messaging – I mean, what is driving all this in the background, what’s the motor here?
ST The motor, we started with basic science, we’re a technology company and there’s a lot of science behind, you know, everything that we do. We started with Robert Bluchic and Robert Bluchic has, you know, a wheel of emotion, if you will, Peggy, and it states that sort of mankind has 8 basic emotions – joy, trust, fear, surprise, sadness, anticipation, you know, anger and disgust.
Now, obviously that wheel has 8 emotions and we’ve applied the problem to user marketing, communication and so we eliminated the starting of it – you are not going to send out angry messages or you’re not going to send out messages that evoke a sense of disgust, for example. So we took the wheel from 8, we came down to 5, joy, trust, surprise, anticipation are 4 of those 5, and then the fifth one was like the raw emotion is fear and we adapted that scientifically to become fear of missing out.
So out of the 8 basic emotions in the wheel of emotions, we’ve picked 4 as is that we can understand, analyze and evaluate and give suggestions for and we modified the fifth one, fear, to become fear of missing out because that is a powerful emotion especially when you’re, for ecommerce and for things that has timeliness to certain deals or certain sales, things like that. So we work with 5 emotions adapted from the wheel of 8.
PAS I mean, that’s super-useful because if I’m thinking like fear of missing out, if I’m an ecommerce app, I definitely want people to feel that there’s something you miss out on, not just a sale, something that obvious, but also other more nuanced messages. Now I can imagine you guys at CleverTap, there’s always a bigger picture to what you’re doing, as you said, technologists and scientists, data-scientists at heart… what would you tell a marketer is a reason to experiment with this because there’s something I’m going to get out of it that isn’t just the wording – I’m going to make people – I’m going to influence behavior basically, if I use this, right?
ST Yes, and the editor, it is a basic editor so it lets you convert wordings or words, placement of words, selection of words etc in order to evoke the right emotion. So, Peggy, in a big picture, if you want to look at it from a big picture point of view, humans make decisions emotionally, right, a lot of decisions we make every day is not always data, it’s about making decisions emotionally and that’s just human and we strongly think that forward looking brands should leverage the power of emotion or emotional triggers, if you will, to drive users to interact, to click, to engage, to convert within their apps. So that’s the big picture. How can you provide the power of emotions to the creator of every message?
PAS And that makes so much sense right now, I mean, all the time, always, in marketing but now more than ever where we’re hearing you have to be empathetic in your messages, you have to really understand where your users, where your customers are coming from, so this allows me, again, leverage those emotional triggers but also stay on the same page with them, drive them, motivate them, activate them.
Great stuff, an emotion I have right now is a little bit of fear of missing out because we do have to go to a break, Sunil, I have to take care of that and get us through but we will be coming back, so listeners, don’t go away, we’ll be right back and we’ll be talking about how you can move your users, your customers, through the customer lifecycle – again, some of the levers that you have at your power, some of the things you can do, so don’t go away, we’ll be right back.
And we’re back to Mobile Presence. Reimagine Growth, my guest today, Sunil Thomas, CEO, Co-founder of CleverTap. And before the break, we were talking about emotion, we were talking about a great editorial tool you have that takes care of that but that’s only messaging, only half the battle. If I really want to get what I want out of my audience and out of my budget, I want to move them through the stages, I want to move them with my messaging.
And we talk about customer lifecycle, getting people through the stages, getting people through the journey, the funnel, whatever – just at a high level, Sunil, so we’re all on the same page, how do you define the customer lifecycle that marketers should think about when they’re thinking about again influencing behavior and moving customers to a better place, to a better state, because ultimately it’s about satisfying, delighting the customer.
ST Yes, Peggy, thank you. So, I think the basic starting point is about creating and knowing what your lifecycle stages are, right, and the realization that comes with it that different users, whether you have 100,000 users, 10,000 users or 10,000,000 users, right, the recognition, the realization that every individual user is in a different stage of their journey with you.
So in a very simple way, there are people who just installed your app and that’s a group of people. There are another set of people who are active in your app, they’re doing whatever your app is meant to do, searching, you know, exploring, getting information, reading, communicating socially with their friends, whatever the app is about, so there are people who are active in your app. And then maybe the final stage in a very simplistic model is people who are buying or doing what you want them to do, whether it’s subscribing, buying, you know, clicking on ads, whatever your model is.
So if you break it down into the three simple stages and it starts there, if you can treat users in different stages differently, that is the beginning of some magic.
PAS And of course the magic and the power come together when I can make the connection as a marketer, I can move people through. I mean, how can I optimize this? It’s a big question but there are certain approaches to optimization and there are certain things that I can do as a marketer that really matter and can really impact the outcome. So, when we talk about optimizing this lifecycle, what are we actually talking about in practical terms?
ST In practical terms, you built an app, you built a business, right, so the reality is users are going through these stages, these lifecycle stages naturally. You know, there’s a set of people who install, part of it go on to be active in your app, part of them go on to purchase or whatever, do the conversion activity that you really want them to do and there is a natural, I don’t know, like a natural drop off rate or a natural progression rate that people do it.
The optimization really comes from giving, when, like, this power of moving customers through these different lifecycle stages is in the hand of marketers. Like you control, you increase that natural rate of movement and that’s where really businesses, you know, gain ROI, businesses control their own destiny and all of that magic happens towards sustained growth and a platform that allows you to identify people in these different stages to experiment with different touch points, depending on their stage, to measure all the time, to iterate your activity and more importantly to automate all of this experimentation is what we have provided to our customers, Peggy, with the Lifecycle Optimiser tool.
PAS So, you know, we talked about before, you know, different stages and you do have to know about that, you have to know the stages, you have to have a framework to understand the journey. We won’t go there now because that’s something we have in the show notes, that could be a complete other show and maybe we’ll do that, who knows, Sunil, but assuming we have our framework and understanding that we need to experiment, measure, iterate, automate, that’s what marketers need to do, you know, that sounds very simple but most of the time you’re pulling or pushing a lever and you’re not really able to see the result, see the result on a cohort, really sort of make that into part of the structure of how you’re approaching marketing. It’s a little bit more like, I’ll do this, then I’ll check over here and see what happened, now I’ll look at my buckets again – it just seems very, very disjointed. How are you addressing that?
ST Yes, so marketers do a lot of campaigns, right, and campaigns are one-off and campaigns might have some segmentation of users in them but the reality is, you know, it’s never based on a lifecycle stage segmentation, like, it’s just not out there that I can get users in a certain lifecycle stage within my app and address them appropriately.
So, it starts with that, right, it starts with setting like we discussed, defining these stages, you know, without getting into technical details of the stages, we offer a three-stage thing for very simple, you know, get everybody out of the block or we offer – you can go up to a 5 or 6 stage lifecycle as you mature is what we recommend people there.
And the reality is assuming that the platform, the automation in the platform, the machine learning, the product helps put people, not helps but actually puts your whole set of users into these different stages and the automation takes care of triggering the right journey per stage as and when a user falls into that stage.
So the real marketing creativity comes not for setting this all up once, that’s pretty easy and that’s straightforward, but when you experiment with going from stage one to stage three, what are the levers that work – we talked briefly about emotions, maybe there’s a different emotion that works there, maybe there’s a different set of messages that work there, different from people pushing people from stage three to stage four, for example. So there’s a lot of creativity and a lot of experimentation and CleverTap as a platform provides you both the measurement and the engagement and action based on those measurements all in one platform, so it makes it right there, you know your results in realtime, you can iterate with the next version of your app, of your message campaign or a different emotion and so on.
So, that the difference, it’s all in one spot, it’s all directly accessible and it’s all accessible in realtime and it’s also not only accessible in realtime but actionable in realtime, so if something’s not going right, for example, you can pull it out or if something’s going really well from a campaign perspective, you can double down and move all your users to that sort of campaign.
PAS I like the fact that, you know, because campaigns, they have a static feel to them – I do this, I see what happens, based on that I’m going to do something else, I’m going to segment the users differently or I'm going to – I’m just going to do something based on that but here I have a more fluid approach to this and I’m able to, you know, move people, see what’s happening and, above all as you said, put all my users through that so I can look and I can see, because I’ve seen this in the dashboard and it’s very cool – you don’t just see what happens because of the campaign, you’re seeing everything around your users – who falls into this bucket, who’s doing this, who’s activated, who’s interested.
So, you get a different view, a different lens to view your customers. What’s the biggest challenge to getting users to the next step? I mean, you do have your Lifecycle Optimiser that gives me this lens but what’s the biggest challenge you’re addressing with it?
ST So CleverTap today works with a lot of apps, I mean, we have 8,000 apps, Peggy, this is a pretty new release, it’s being only a week or two since it’s been in the hands of our customers and the biggest challenge at this point is to just get these businesses define their stages, so I think it starts very simple and you’re making a lot of good progress there but just getting business owners, marketers to say that, hey, these are the three stages, I want to create people who are active differently, people who are interested differently, people who are converted differently, people who have given a referral differently – so you define your stage to set the framework foundation is the first real good step and after that, it goes, I think the challenges after that are much more simpler and actually brings out the creativity of every marketer out there.
PAS And you said it’s fairly new, I mean, just so I understand, so the listeners understand, how do I actually get it? How do I access it as a marketer? It’s been launched, what does that mean? Available, where, when, how?
ST Yes, so it’s part of our basic CleverTap product, we have a base pack or a growth pack or an essentials pack of CleverTap today that you can become a customer of and Lifecycle Optimiser we think is such a core part of how engagement and how automated engagement will be in the future that we’ve packaged it right along with the pack. So if you use CleverTap, you have access to the Lifecycle Optimiser. If you don’t use CleverTap, I do recommend that you start using it – to put a little bit of a plugin. But clevertap.com for all the details.
PAS You’re welcome to do that and I was going to do it as well because I think it’s just important to understand it and to know where to find out more about it. We do have to go to one final break, Sunil, but listeners, don’t go away because we’ll be talking about some growth hacks, how you can optimize optimization, so don’t go away, we’ll be right back.
Welcome back to Mobile Presence, Reimagine Growth. I’m Peggy Anne Salz, your host as always, we have Sunil Thomas, CEO, Co-Founder of CleverTap on the show today. And Sunil, right before the break we were talking about the Lifecycle Optimiser that you have just released at CleverTap but what I’d like to understand is it’s always a plus to get the most value out of a tool, you know, or out of a platform and I’m sure there’s something that marketers need to do to either take advantage of the opportunity, prepare it – what would you say, what’s a growth hack so I can get the most value out of this?
ST I think the best growth hack, I mean, you know, the ecosystem these days, Peggy, has made digital all the more important, right, if you don’t have a digital part of your business that is extremely active, you’re in trouble as an ecosystem adjustment we’ve all had to make. So I think the second eco system adjustment is that user retention is extremely important, it’s going to be really key for sustained growth to be able to retain your users well.
So the growth hack when it comes to lifecycle optimization I would say, you know, just recognize that there is a significant need for it, create your lifecycle stages, measure the numbers to begin with and then see how much you can optimise it, really puts multiplier effect on your user retention numbers and your ability to give users, you know, the context and the experience they need.
So, define your stages, measure it to start with and then put some efforts on using all the creativity to improve those measurements.
PAS That’s a great point. I’m just wondering at a high level because I’m really knee-deep in the meantime in research into retention benchmarks and curves because everyone is really talking about this, that’s the beauty of it, right, everyone is talking about retention and everyone’s trying to measure it and define it. Just at a high level, what do you think is an uplift that a marketer can expect or what is it that I can improve? When I say I’m going to improve retention, what is the value of that, what am I doing for my business?
ST Yes, so retention, you know, monthly retention rate, for example, is a simple way to measure your retention, this is a measure of how many users come back to your apps month over month kind of a thing, and Peggy, without even Lifecycle Optimiser, the automated product that we now have out there, our customers have experienced doubling retention rates within a period of twelve months, very, very common. And these rates, you know, depending on your app, depending on your industry, doubling of a retention rate drives significant, you know, better ROI, more revenue and all of these things – it’s much better than… you have to realize, like, even – these are users who have your app, you know, who’ve been in there once, for whatever reason downloaded it so your best shot at growth really is to getting these users who have some connection, you know, do more in your apps.
So I think doubling retention rates is very, very common in a period of twelve months, it takes time, it takes focus, it takes energy so it’s not a magic bullet that you turn it every day around, I mean, that you start seeing results next day onwards but doubling your retention rates is actually pretty common over a period of twelve months.
PAS And also good reason to look at this if you’re not already. One thing that we’re looking at in the industry and I just want a quick sort of summary thought because it’s just the topic, right, we have a show, I have a show next week here at Mobile Presence dedicated only to talking about the spate of Apple announcements, but a high level, what you’re saying over at CleverTap, you’re talking about these new privacy enhancements make understanding the user context even more important, understanding and satisfying their immediate needs in every micro-moment super important. What does this mean, what’s your take on what this does?
ST Yes, so, you know, Apple’s obviously putting a lot of emphasis on how privacy should be controlled by the user, right, and at CleverTap we’re completely supportive of that. I mean, this is great for the users obviously, and this is actually great for apps – on the other side of privacy, what Apple has done is to make significant enhancements also in the user experience of apps, right, this thing called App Clips, for example, is a nice interactive lightweight app, if you will, that you don’t even have to install fully to use.
So, there are these, you know, it’s a combination, WWDC, if you look at it from a pure app point of view, there is a bunch of, you know, requirements on user privacy and how permissions and things like that have become extremely important but on the other side there is also a bunch of features that make potentially a user experience much, much better with App Clips, with homepage customizations with different things and, you know, the jury is still out, I mean, we’ll see how app developers respond to these things but we definitely are committed to providing the best tools that you can, importance of context is going to be – it’s going to be critical like how your lifecycle management, if you will, is going to be even more critical. These permissions maybe can be delayed, right, like you don’t try to get all the permissions you can from somebody who’s just discovered or installed your app but as she becomes a more loyal customer, that’s when you get more permissions so that you can create better experiences and so on.
So some of these things will play out with time but we are excited for…
PAS And it is like good context for you, like, right time, right place because if I’m going to need to engage more and prove my value proposition more, that means, guess what, I need to have a conversation, I need to have a lifecycle because I’m going to move someone and as I move them from one point to another, we’re going to build trust and then ultimately, guess what, I may get exactly what I’m looking for which is all of the information I need to enhance that experience. So it makes total sense.
In the meantime, we talked about where I can find out more about the various tools, I said at the beginning of the show you can check out, yes, it was emotion.clevertap.com, clevertap.com for everything but how do I stay in touch with you, Sunil, what happens if I want to connect with you personally?
ST My email, Twitter handle, I’m just email@example.com, I respond to almost every email that I get – maybe not as quickly but I will get to them. I’m also active on LinkedIn and Twitter, you can find me there, sunilthomas@clevertap.
PAS Okay, and of course we can also – there’s a lot to learn, fast-paced space, so listeners you can also check out the Reimagine Growth series, that’s a four-part webinar series all about helping professionals like yourselves and growth marketing, product professionals, you name it – a lot of questions during this time of uncertainty, a lot of answers there. You probably didn’t see it last week when it was actually live but you can go there, register, watch it On-Demand, you just have to check it out over at clevertap.com/reimaginegrowth.
And if you want to keep up with me throughout the week, find out more about how you can be a guest or sponsor on Mobile Presence, you can email me, firstname.lastname@example.org, mobilegroove.com is where you can also find my portfolio of content marketing and app marketing services.
As always, you can check out this and all earlier episodes of our show by going to wmr.fm or you can find our shows on iTunes, Stitcher, Spreaker, Spotify and iheartRadio simply by searching Mobile Presence. So until next time – remember - every minute is mobile, so make every minute count. Keep well, stay safe and we’ll see you soon.