Marketer or Engineer?

Turning a fear of numbers into a passion for numbers to succeed in growth marketing.

I sat on the sofa to the right, in case you were wondering.

This is part of my Valley interview series, featuring a diverse range of marketers. For some context, read this post to learn why I went to the Valley and then this post to see what I learned.

If he rattled off his skills, you wouldn’t guess that Axel Amar was a growth marketer. With a commanding knowledge of statistics, experience working with SQL and Python, and the ability to write code, he might sound more like an engineer than someone that went to business school. But for Axel, those are just some of the necessities of the role.

An Odd Start

Axel started at Turo, a P2P car rental service, in early 2014 as a growth intern. For many business students in France, San Francisco might not seem like a popular destination, but Axel was not new to travel. He had already completed a data internship in Malaysia and was looking for a new challenge. Growth marketing may seem like an odd jump for most, however many skills were transferable.

For startups like Turo, everything you do needs to be backed by data. Whether it’s an ad campaign, an incentive program, or even a small tweak to the signup process, it needed to be quantifiable. Being comfortable with numbers, Axel had little trouble building a case for his work.

Turo has since grown to more than 150 employees with $80m+ in funding

From Intern to Manager

After completing his final year of school, Axel returned to Turo full-time in July 2015. Despite having lots of good ideas, the team didn’t have the resources to implement them. Developing marketing campaigns and analysis are not always the top priority for engineers and data scientists. So Axel did what any marketer would do; he learned how to do both.

Having a solid base in statistics meant picking up SQL and bits of Python for practical use wasn’t that challenging, and an existing background in programming allowed him to champion the project himself. Just a year later, Axel was promoted to Growth Manager and a lot more responsibility.

Not an Anomaly

While Axel’s story does sound extraordinary, he assures me it isn’t the case.

Being able to understand and present basics statistics is key to be a successful marketer. Some business degrees have a lot of mathematics and statistics classes, especially in Europe. On our Growth team, David studied both business and engineering and this versatility helps him a lot in his day-to-day work

Even with a well-rounded background, Axel is still trying to learn more. He mentioned that being able to present well and visualize data is a key skill in growth marketing.

Makes sense? Let’s give it a shot.

Say we wanted to test an idea on the Turo web page below. We’ll break down the process and list the data we need to back it.

Hypothesis: By changing the copy from “Rent a car Anywhere” to “Make Your Own Schedule” and the button from “Find a car now” to “Explore the City”, conversion to renting a car will increase.

Reasoning: People use Turo because public transportation is hard to plan, and they want to see the city on their own schedule.

Data Needed: Percentage of people that use Turo (1) outside their home city (2) for more than one day (assume vacation), top frequented cities for Turo, walkability of city, reliability of public transportation in city

Data to Track: Frequency of multi-day rentals in target cities, drop-off rate on web page compared to old page

This is a simplified example, but the case is clearly outlined and is a lot easier to pitch if backed by data. Even if the campaign fails, it was not a ‘random test’ but rather a calculated attempt at increasing conversions.