Discover more from Growth Gems
💎 Growth Gems #103 - Lifecycle Marketing and PR
This is a free newsletter where I share the key insights from the best webinars, podcasts, panels, and talks on growth...And dive deeper! Try it below👇
This week, I’m sharing gems on:
These insights come from Jessica Alderson, Roman Hughes, Amanda Record, Stephen Liset, and Kate Chamberlain.
🥇 TOP GEM OF THE WEEK
1. PR: when it makes sense, reaching out, measuring
I’ve crossed paths with Jeff Wang (VP of Growth at Hiatus) several times now since we’re both in NYC and go to some of the same mobile growth events (it’s not hard, there aren’t that many).
He’s sharp, I love that he’s interested in different topics and that he seems to work a lot as well (that’s comforting).
Anyway, he’s this week’s guest miner!
At the time of this writing, I was helping a friend get their mobile game noticed with zero budget. In the indie game scene, PR was a common path, so I wanted to learn more.
I also feel like niche topics are underrated as more mainstream topics are more relevant but also more saturated to talk about.
Jessica from So Syncd clearly succeeded in the “zero” budget game of PR, so I was inspired to learn new marketing tactics from her.
💎 PR isn’t the most effective marketing tactic for all companies. It’s a bit more of a branding play, which is especially powerful for apps that need to build trust (e.g., dating apps like So Syncd).
An early-stage advisor for her dating app told Jessica to avoid being a “tacky dating app” that only does direct response.
While I do think performance marketing can only get you so far before branding and product have to come in, having a strong performance marketing engine seems important to me at all stages of a company’s growth, especially early on.
Getting the revenue flywheel started early on compounds a company’s abilities, and it’s never too early to make the most of your branding efforts. I think branding and performance should go side by side in the same way Nike signs athlete sponsorships but also has an optimized ecommerce platform.
Reaching out to journalists
💎 When crafting your app’s story, think about how people will relate to the product and how it might impact them directly. Will it save them time or add fun to their lives? That’s how journalists think when deciding on what story to pick up.
💎 How to get journalists to pick your story up:
Look for stories covered that did well in the same vertical six months or longer ago, and that journalist is likely to want to cover it again but after a delay
Have a clear, unique selling proposition, or your story won’t stand out
In her App Promotion Summit talk, Jessica mentioned two types of PR efforts: Responsive Requests vs. Proactive Campaigns.
💎 Not every journalist in the same publication covers the same things: journalists tend to have a beat or topic they write about.
Journalists want to get clicks, and you need to understand who they write for. Techcrunch might not be the way to go if you're a niche app.
Journalists have their own personal interests and will react more positively if they are genuinely interested.
💎 When doing PR, you will need a lot of persistence, and you should expect a low response rate from journalists. However, getting featured in one big publication gives you the credibility to get more easily featured in other places.
Example: here is the effort that Jessica was putting in:
Working full time for a week, making personalized emails and finding contacts.
Writing to 100 to 150 journalists and getting one reply back, which did end up as a feature.
Still, in her APS talk, Jessica mentions that it’s a matter of trial and error and a numbers game.
I find this approach in line with my own content-based marketing engines. It’s not surprising to me that a lot of successful marketing follows the same formula of experimentation, iterating, and being prolific in getting content out there.
Here’s her suggested template when reaching out:
It’s not just about persistence and templates; you might need to think outside the box and find angles/studies related to your app’s category.
Luke Zahradka, from my team, used to work in PR for Musement, an international booking platform for travel experiences. He shared a few examples of how he got the company published:
Sylvain also shared some good ones from Babbel:
Bonus points when the angle can be repeated over time (every year, etc.).
💎 Measuring PR is hard, less quantitative, and not that accurate. Example: a lot of how So Syncd measures the impact of PR is if people will mention to the team that they’ve heard of the app.
In her talk, she also shares that you should gauge the effectiveness of your overall PR efforts over a long period of time (6+ months). In the beginning, you might see spikes in traffic per coverage released, but in the long term, you should see a higher base level of organic downloads.
As someone who primarily does digital advertising and is used to seeing results at least every week, this is a difficult pill to swallow. There’s also a time-based risk related to delayed learning where experiment results today are always better than experiment results tomorrow.
2. Lifecycle Marketing: customer relationship, collaboration, personalization
Gems from Roman Hughes (VP Marketing CRM at Rappi), Amanda Record (Director CRM at GOAT), Stephen Liset (Head of Retail Partnerships at Shopify), and Kate Chamberlain (Sr. Manager, CRM at SimpliSafe) in Building Relationships Across the Lifecycle at Forge 2023
Guess for what verticals lifecycle marketing is particularly crucial?
eCommerce/retail (well, and betting apps): they need to drive repeat purchases.
This was a relatively short panel, but I found it valuable. I hope you do, too.
Many of those insights highlight how lifecycle marketing can only succeed via cross-functional collaboration, particularly with the data team.
Relationship with the customer
💎 Building a good relationship with the customer is like teaching someone how to ride a bike. You need to intervene as little as possible so the user organically takes advantage of the product. Still, you need to understand the key moments at which you need to nudge the user and educate them to ensure that they’re in it for the long run.
(0:18) by Roman
By now, you might know I like a good analogy (they also make good LinkedIn posts!), so this resonated with me.
Around the same time, I stumbled upon the Bowling Alley Framework in a post on onboarding by Wes Bush.
Pretty much the same concept: you define a path (there’s no one unique path, but you have to simplify), then you create the product and conversational bumpers that help users follow that path and achieve their job-to-be-done with your product (or at least get them set up).
💎 You’re the one responsible for building a good relationship with the customer. You want to be seen as one brand, and you need to see them as one customer.
(01:40) by Stephen
Stephen shared that during the pandemic, he’d get the same burrito delivered from the same place three times a week. When he finally went into the store, they had no idea who he was because they didn’t have the technology to do that.
He also explained that different people use different channels, and the same person can use multiple channels. Your strategy and the way you communicate on those channels doesn’t have to be the same, but it all has to feel like it’s coming from the same company, and you need to treat a given person like the same person across all channels.
💎 Lifecycle marketing is a close collaboration between product and marketing. The advantage of marketing in CRM is that you can test things very quickly before you scale them.
(01:07) by Roman
💎 As lifecycle marketers, be best friends with your data team. Share your vision and what you want to achieve, and bring them on as partners. Don’t start by submitting tickets for data points and dashboards.
(05:50) by Kate
Roman advises articulating how much business impact you make through the data the tech/data teams share. It’s a lot of work for the team, so you want to bring them in and show them how you exploit what they’re setting up.
They need to be part of the task force that strives to achieve objectives because data allows you to personalize and drive macro goals you have that, without data, are almost impossible to reach.
💎 If the product team is launching a new feature, learn the success metrics they are looking at. Build communications to support their effort, then share the adoption rate you drove for the feature.
(09:30) by Amanda
💎 When starting with Lifecycle marketing, try to break your problem into more digestible pieces: Which are the most impactful initiatives, and where will you draw the most results from? Tackle the first smaller problem, then move on to the next one.
(07:45) by Roman
💎 Once you have the foundations in place (data, tooling), you need to understand how often users are coming to you, what actions you’re trying to drive, how the people that leave early look like, and how the ones that stick around look like. Create segments of customers (loyalists, ones-and-dones) and reverse-engineer the high-value actions so you can isolate the parts to know what to focus on.
(08:50) by Amanda
💎 A high-value engagement action leads to a higher revenue value over a longer period of time (e.g., at GOAT, it is downloading the mobile app or favoriting items). Once you’ve confirmed what’s a high-value action, you can move to something more specific: do they need to perform that action a certain number of times, a certain number of days, etc.
(10:30) by Amanda
She later mentioned that at GOAT, they initially started with defining high-value actions by looking at a 7-day window and are now starting to look at a 14-day window.
💎 Have a holdout group to understand how much extra revenue value is driven by the key actions you’ve identified. This allows you to define where to invest more time/effort because you know that it will lead to additional revenue.
(12:20) by Roman
💎 For personalization, you want to start with the data that your customers give you: customer service calls, chat service, channels they use the most, etc.
(03:40) by Kate
A lot of subscription apps have questions during their onboarding. This is great first-party data to use as soon as possible to engage or re-engage users.
💎 If you know early in the funnel why users are coming to your product, different versions of your lifecycle onboarding should speak to their motivation. Example at GOAT: people coming for sneaker releases -> make sure you deliver on what they’re looking for, then cross-sell.
(13:25) by Amanda
💎 Use the adjacent user framework to classify people by the “maximum action” they’ve done: user looks at two products, user favorites an item, etc. By looking at it this way, you’re getting smarter about targeting people and increasing relevance for what you’re communicating to users because you’re getting them to the “next level”.
(14:05) by Amanda
In the context above, it seems to be a different approach: users can reach different engagement levels, and you classify users accordingly to communicate with them in the best way possible.
Before I leave, here is a quote from another Forge talk on communications frequency (they won’t actually tell you, but you’ll see it in the data)
“Your users will tell you when you’re sending too much” - Matthew Donovan (VP, Marketing Technology and Ops at FanDuel)
See you next time. Stay curious!