This Week in Growth Marketing 8:

Growth Science Pillar: Optimization Across the Entire Customer Lifecycle

Abigail Nwaocha
Jun 19, 2017 · 17 min read

This week in Growth Marketing is a curation of 10 of the best Growth Marketing and Growth Hacking post (In no particular order) published on Medium within the week. If you’d like your post to be mentioned in the next week’s episode, please leave a comment with a link to the post. I’ll check it out to determine if it’ll add value to my readers.

Alright let’s get into it!

PS: I‘m working on a List- style Customer Acquisition Strategy article, and I’m looking for sources with successful and failed customer acquisition stories. Here’s the link to the form in case you’re interested:

The biggest mistake that business leaders make in trying to drive growth is focusing on just customer acquisition through marketing. This is a problem because their customer retention and engagement are usually suboptimal, which means that the resources that they leverage to increase acquisition are squandered when those hard-won customers abandon the product right away. This is called the “leaky bucket problem,” which perfectly captures the futility of this approach. For this reason, the third building block will be learning how we can drive growth by optimizing each stage of the customer lifecycle — the third pillar of growth science.

Exclusively focusing on optimizing acquisition through marketing is unfortunate because it has led businesses to miss out on the full potential of growth optimization. The main thing to understand is that the effects of growth optimization are multiplicative and improvements compound. This means that you can often accomplish greater total growth by making many little improvements rather than just one big one. In particular, it’s better to optimize the entire customer lifecycle including acquisition, engagement, and retention. Let’s explore how this works.

Let’s imagine that you are a very good marketer and are able to improve your customer acquisition by thirty percent by experimenting with various marketing messages and different channels such as online advertising and inbound marketing. That’s great progress, but you can do better.

You realize that many of your hard-won customers are abandoning your product right away, so you talk with the customer support folks and realize that many new customers have trouble with the initial setup.

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“Content Marketing is a commitment, not a campaign,” said Jon Buscall, Head of Moondog Marketing, and we all know how tough commitment can be. Content Marketing is often the last thing to be done and it has to be done right if you want to reach out to your customers in a meaningful way.

Our hub in Koramangala recently hosted an event titled ‘Content Marketing 101’ that was conducted by Natasha Lorraine Menezes , the Co-founder of T.W.E. (The Words Edge).

Through the course of her session Natasha took us over 10 Content Marketing growth hacks that we’re going to go cover in this blog post. This is in no way an exhaustive list, rather it’s intention is to simply get you thinking in the right direction.

So let’s get right to it.

1. Generate shareable content

Make your articles relevant to your audience. How do you do that? Well, start by creating well researched articles and put them forward through the right distribution channels so that they reach the correct target audience. Do this and watch content do wonders for your business.

This infographic was put up by Zomato on its social media handles, and it worked like a charm as the graphic was yummy enough to make people hungry.
Not to mention again, to make your content relevant, you need to give your readers/ customers the content they love. Apparently there’s a survey that says 20 percent of Indian users love inspirational content. So inspire away!

2. Connect with your audience

The best possible thing to do is to make your audience connect and relate to the content you create. One way to do this according to Natasha is to have your buyer personas in place. Remember, the more indepth your research, the better your final tailored product will be.

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The most obvious application of growth science is in software, which includes popular categories for innovation such as mobile apps and cloud-based software. Growth science is particularly enabled in this space by excellent tools for conducting quantitative experimentation on the design of these interactive products. Product owners can test variations of design (e.g. which button color gets more clicks) as well as functionality (e.g. does adding a particular function increase key engagement metrics such as total time spent using the app).

Similarly to product development, a lot of marketing for physical products and services is done online where a great ecosystem of experimentation tools also make it possible to optimize marketing channels and messages. For example, it is now very easy to test variations on messaging in email marketing or to compare the effectiveness of channels such as pay-per-click advertising to email marketing.

Beyond tools, there is rich community of growth hackers, marketers, and product designers that share ideas and best practices. In our opinion, all these factors have led to the advancement of a holistic approach to growth in the software space, which other industries can certainly emulate.

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If you happen to be working at an early stage SaaS startup, chances are that you have probably run into one of these challenges yourselves at some point of time.

(1) The shift in company objectives

Back then, Beaconstac, our beacon platform was still in its early days. Everyone at our product team was busy tweaking the platform in order to make a full stack beacon solution that would cater to the proximity marketing needs of businesses across various verticals.

Needless to say, with the product getting fast in shape, our company objectives soon shifted from ‘Brand Recognition and Exposure’ to ‘Lead Generation’. And we, at the content marketing team of Mobstac, found ourselves up against a tight deadline to make this shift happen — in a little over a quarter, or in other words, a little over a span of 3 months.

(2) Small team, Big goals

Like any other startup, the content marketing team at Mobstac then constituted of a small group of dedicated content champions. We were a team of five people — a Content Marketing Manager, a Senior Marketing Associate (yes, that’s me), two Content Marketers and a Graphic Designer. At that point of time, in Nov 2015, we were generating a total of about 365 leads/month, with a blog traffic of about 9,596 users.

But in order to make content fuel our company’s growth while driving sales at a higher rate than any other marketing tactic, we needed to rev up our content marketing strategy. Needless to say we were looking at increasing our lead counts by 2x by the end of Q1 2016.

(3) Being an early bird has its cons

When MobStac made the switch into beacons, we had the badass advantage of being one of the early companies to be blogging highly insightful pieces on the impact of beacons in the proximity marketing space and how they were fast changing how businesses reached out to their customers. We also did a few guest blogs on leading media publications such as Internet Retailer, Proxbook and so on.

While all of that went a long way into helping Mobstac make a brand name for itself in the beacon market, it didn’t really back us up much on driving our lead generation plan to the next level.

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Building a product or business needs meticulous planning which needs to be relevant to current market dynamics and has to be futuristic too. Having said that , its important to understand that this will not happen overnight , it requires a lot of investments in terms of time, energy, money & people. But its possible if done with right kind of mindset and vision in place. Here i will try to make my case by a story which may resonate with every old & new age entrepreneur and can be a guiding tool for those who are planning to venture into new startup.

Start Small , Fail Small and Succeed Small and you will make it Big Someday

Lets understand it by a use case :

Minimal Viable Prototype :-

Raghav (Fictional Character)had a dream that one day he will have his own restaurant which will serve world most loved cuisine all at one place. Lets take this case forward about how raghav can achieve his dream . First thing Raghav needs to be very clear about is that it will not happen overnight and he has to go small , by taking one step at a time. If he wants to open the fancy restaurant from the very first day which will have all the desired amenities matching to the world class standards , he is doomed to fail.

Instead if he spends some time in understanding his customer by physically surveying the market/area where he decides to open the first prototype version of his dream restaurant , introducing the cuisine apt for the current market , he will achieve his first milestone of getting his first customer by spending few thousands bucks.

This few thousands of bucks he can borrow from his family or relatives or also can lend it from his close friends. So now with small fund in hand he starts with small rented place which has all the basic amenities to cook & serve the food , with sufficient workforce to ensure order is prepared with min turnaround time. His MVP has been launched with very little investment which gives him enough support to get his MVP validated in real market.

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Retention is a tricky beast. It can sneak up on you and sink your entire endeavor. Getting your new user retention experience right often takes iteration and patience, but it’s always, always, always worth the effort.

We’ve been working to improve retention at Sidekick — a HubSpot product — for the better part of a year now. And with the help of our excellent team, we’ve found some success after running numerous growth experiments to solve our retention challenge.

Note: the data in these — and the following — charts are all fake; but the lessons are 100% real.

The Importance of Retention

“If you have poor retention, nothing else matters.” This was said by my colleague, renowned growth marketer, Brian Balfour, and it’s absolutely true.

With bad retention, monthly cohorts slowly slink into sadness. It makes all the effort you put into acquisition seem useless.

But good retention keeps a company energized. It can give you more at bats to get your marketing or your product right, and it brings in more revenue.

Do you know what’s even better than good retention? Negative churn. Negative churn is that holy-smokes-awesome phenomenon that reflects users that sign up for your product, and spend more money over time; offsetting revenue lost with churn with upgrade revenue.

This could be from upgrading to a paid or higher paying plan, or from adding team members in what we call a B2C2B strategy.

The benefits of better retention are vast:

  • A higher LTV of your customers, which can be reinvested into a greater customer acquisition budget.
  • An increased virality as there’s more happy users to spread the word, which lowers your CAC significantly.
  • Shorter payback periods, especially with a free-to-paid business model like that of Sidekick.

A user’s journey can be broken up into three stages of retention, each with its own challenges:

  1. Week 1 — can you get your users to use your product more than once?
  2. Mid-term (Weeks 2–4) — can you establish any pattern of usage?
  3. Long-term (Weeks 5 and on) — how does your product become an indispensable tool?

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Meal kit delivery services are reinventing the home cooking experience and offer busy consumers an increasingly popular alternative to shopping at grocery stores, ordering take-out, or eating at restaurants. The significant growth in meal kit spending in recent years has attracted a lot of new entrants into this space, forcing industry players to look for creative ways to differentiate themselves in order to acquire and retain fickle consumers. In this post, we’ll decipher the strategies and tactics the leading meal kit delivery companies use to break through the noise and stand out in a crowded market.

Meal kit delivery market: what’s cooking?

Consumer spending on meal kit services in the US increased by 236 percent from 2015 to 2016, reaching an estimated $1.5 billion, according to Cardlytics. The long-term opportunity for the industry lies in capturing a greater share of the overall grocery and restaurant markets, which have an estimated combined size of $1.3 trillion in the US, according to the Euromonitor study commissioned by Blue Apron in connection with its IPO.

The industry’s current triple-digit growth rates are hardly sustainable, however, says Susan Porjes, author of the Packaged Facts report on meal kit delivery services. Several studies found that the sector’s growth has slowed as of late. Subscriber growth for meal kit delivery companies fell to under 60 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016, on a year-over-year basis. That’s down from more than 200 percent increases in each quarter of 2015.

Two main factors are to blame for the slowdown: high customer churn and intensified competition.

High customer churn

Meal kit providers are confronted with a high customer churn rate. More than half of meal kit subscribers cancel their subscriptions within the first six months, and customer retention rates are around one in four after 12 months.

Why such high churn? For some people, once the novelty wears off they realize that they don’t want to be tied to a subscription service that may limit their flexibility and can be burdensome to manage. And with food delivery services, such as GrubHub and DoorDash, there are other options out there. Others cancel the service because of the negative environmental impact of the huge amounts of packaging waste being generated, which includes cardboard and otherwise reusable gel packs that weigh more than the food does.

Meal kit delivery services tend to give big discounts or freebies to lure subscribers. They spend $30-$80, and some as much as $100, to attract each new customer. If that upfront cost doesn’t pay off in converting trial runs into real subscribers, that overhead can really affect the company’s bottom line. In recent months, several meal kit delivery companies, including Sprig, SpoonRocket, and Maple have shut down, citing the high cost of customer acquisition amid mounting losses.

Intensified competition

Meal kit companies are also facing an onslaught of competition from newcomers and big food brands alike, which prevents them from reaching meaningful scale. By some estimates, there are about 150 meal-kit preparation and/or delivery services companies in the U.S., including niche operators specializing in ancillary segments like smoothies, snacks, and desserts. The business model has also been adopted in international markets, with roughly 50 meal kit delivery companies in operation outside the U.S.

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Demand and Expectation

Customers expect and demand exhilarating experiences every interaction. Since no two customers are the same, personalizing content, channel, user interfaces, experiences, and messages goes a long way in progressing customer relationships. Showing highly relevant content to individual users increases engagement and conversion every time customers interact with your web or mobile app.

Personalization is ubiquitous

We see varying degrees of Personalization on a regular basis.

Almost 90% of customers expect personalized experiences and close to 98% of large organizations are personalizing content in one way or the other but in varying levels.

Products and services personalize experiences and interactions to create highly relevant experiences with users to provide better engagement, experience, retention and ultimately growth.

Personalization vs. Customization and Configuration

Configuring a car is not personalization, but it gives clear insights to the marketers what an individual or groups of individuals are selecting.

Serving content based on explicitly stated preferences is using explicit feedback to drive personalization. Apple Music, LinkedIn Pulse have long used explicit feedback to jump start building personalized content for new users.

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It’s nearly four years since I left behind 7 years in FMCG marketing to enter a brave new world in a digital business, and two years since that business, Skyscanner, pivoted from a traditional digital marketing model to a more lean and agile marketing approach. Over the last few months I’ve found myself spending quite a bit of time with ex-colleagues, giving me a chance to reflect on this move, the differences in my career now and then and what I’ve learnt along the way. Here are some of those lessons that might help you, if you are thinking about making a similar jump in the future.

1. As a marketer, you are no longer king of the world

In a business where you truly own the 4Ps, you are quite literally the king of your brand. Nothing happens either without your say so or at very least input. Product innovation and ad development might be done by someone else, but only to your exacting brief, for example. You have some element of control over everything.

In a tech business you have much less control over the product. The rockstars tend to be the software engineers who are constantly pushing the boundaries in what is possible when it comes to product innovation, not marketers driving the ideas based on endless rounds of research.

There’s a couple of quotes I love in this regard, the first is from Steve Jobs, which I think takes this point a little to the extreme but I agree with the sentiment.

The second is from the beer writer Pete Brown with a quote that I think epitomises the tech approach to product innovation, applied to my old role in beer.

Someone working for a marketing consultancy once asked me if a big global brewer could create craft beer.

“Of course,” I answered. “They’ve got the brewing expertise and access to the ingredients.”

“So how would they do it? What would they have to do for it to be craft beer?”

“Simple: they just have to put the brewer in charge of the process and let him or her brew what they want, without interference from the marketing department or the accountants. Then they need to skip their usual process of innovation funnels, workshops, endless rounds of research and approval ‘gates’ and just get it on to a bar as soon as possible and see if people like it. If they do, just scale it up from there.”

“Oh, they’d never do that.”

“Well, they can’t make craft beer then.”

This transition can be hard at first. Giving up influence over your brand can feel like a dilution of your importance as a marketing professional, but it can be massively exciting.

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In a word, yes. But, if you’ve never heard the term “near-shoring”, you wouldn’t be alone. Wikipedia defines near-shoring as “the outsourcing of business processes, especially IT processes, to companies in a nearby country, often sharing a border with the target country.” Basically, outsourcing means sending work to distant foreign borders, whereas near-shoring keeps work and projects close to home. And while outsourcing services is not a new practice, partnering with Canadian tech companies is a mobile growth hack gaining in popularity. Near-shoring to Canada isn’t just a cost-effective measure, it’s a strategic business move that will propel your mobile stategy forward.

Let’s say you’re an American business owner. You have a great idea for a mobile app, but you’re not exactly sure how to get started. The first question you are likely to ask yourself is, “who’s going to develop this app?” Maybe you have in-house resources at your disposal, but that does not necessarily mean that developing the app yourself should be your go-to strategy. According to, “By the end of 2017, market demand for mobile app development services will grow at least five times faster than internal IT organizations’ capacity to deliver them.” That is a ton of mobile development on the horizon. Would your in-house developers be able to keep up with demand, while at the same time staying on top of core projects? If the answer is no, handing over your mobile project to a specialty mobile agency just might be your solution. The mobile era is here, and you don’t want to get left behind. Here are some significant benefits of near-shoring with Canadian mobile agencies.

1- Proximity:

In mobile development, time is money and every moment of productivity counts. When collaborating companies operate during similar business hours, loss of productivity is minimal. This, in turn, facilitates collaboration between team members, a critical aspect of the software development process where SCRUM methodologies are utilized.

During the development process, timing is everything so having the ability to talk to your teammates when you need them is invaluable. As a leading-edge mobile agency that embraces Agile development methods, we get just how important team connectivity is. We start every new project with a big kick-off meeting where Account Managers, Developers, and Project Managers are all present. Thanks to our proximity perks, being in attendance for these sessions poses no issue for our American clients.

For clients who absolutely cannot be present, temporal advantages allow them to attend virtually, via video chat. Next; we send development prototypes to our clients with an essential piece of software called InVision. By utilizing InVision, we give our clients access to their prototypes as soon as they’re ready. In turn, clients can then give us decisive feedback, keeping project timelines on time.

Take our work with HarperCollins, for example. Their main office is located in New York, and their Harlequin division is housed in their Toronto office. We were able to seamlessly coordinate across the two main offices to bring their mobile project to life. Thanks in large part to the proximity and temporal benefits between New York, Toronto, and Ottawa, all parties involved felt like they were dealing with their in-house staff.

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The Growth Metric

Every business needs growth, but what constitutes growth? as marketers this is a question we must answer.

Abigail Nwaocha

Written by

Growth Marketing consultant for Startups, Small businesses & Agencies| lover of written art | LGBTQIA

The Growth Metric

Every business needs growth, but what constitutes growth? as marketers this is a question we must answer.

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