General

A Recap of CleverTap’s GrowthHackers AMA

On 14 Dec, we held an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on GrowthHackers. Our Head of Marketing, Almitra Karnik, spent almost an hour and a half answering questions asked by a group of enthusiastic marketers around everything – from user retention strategies to B2B SaaS demand-generation ideas to growth marketing tips. The questions and answers will remain on the growthhackers AMA page, so do check it out if you’d like to read the full transcript.

Fortunately, we managed to answer every question during the event. Here’s a quick read on our favourite questions.

Taru Bhargava: Hey Almitra! I see that you have not only worked for traditional companies such as Cisco and EMC but also with pure SaaS brands such as Twilio and CleverTap. What are the similarities and differences from a marketing standpoint and what’s been your approach to handling both?

Hi Taru – Great observation.
Marketers today need to use not only innovative growth hacks to grow their business but also look at the fundamentals of marketing such as 4Ps, etc. If you can truly combine these approaches without losing focus on the customer, then you can achieve phenomenal growth.

  • Channel is huge: Irrespective of the size of the company, marketers should definitely think about leveraging the partner ecosystem beyond inbound and outbound efforts. The more people you have who can open conversations for you, the higher is the probability of acquiring customers.
  • Optimally use self-service vs high-touch vs hybrid approaches: At my previous jobs, we sold various products across self-service vs high-touch channels. Based on my experience, pure self service works very well in the $1000 range. Once you go beyond $1500-$2000, a sales touch point is needed.
  • Invest in content marketing: Using content to generate awareness is huge for companies of all sizes. However, there ability to generate deals depends on the size of the deal and the product you sell. Website, white papers, should be used with the end objective in mind – and don’t lose track of the AIDA funnel. It applies everywhere
  • Use Social Media: Don’t dismiss any channel because it might not have worked for others. Experiment and learn. At CleverTap, Quora is a very popular channel we use to engage with our users and guess what – it does give us customers too!

Anuj Adhiya: Two Questions

a. What would you say are the top 3 things that need to happen within the marketing organization (be it people, process and/or something else) for marketing functions to truly tie to revenue growth and acquisition?

Hi Anuj –

  1. Sales and marketing need to be aligned and there should be clear objectives outlined for both the functions.
  2. Build reporting dashboards that help figure out the attribution sources and tie it back to ACV, ARR, etc
  3. Double down on channels that work and don’t over-optimize the ones that don’t

b. What are the biggest traps that you think people fall into when trying to execute around this?

Vanity metrics is one big issue when your systems are not aligned or you are using too many tools that don’t talk to each other. Also don’t have inbound vs outbound contribution set in stone. What works for other SaaS businesses might not work for you. So learn for yourself!

Javier Feldman: Can you talk about one growth experiment that was either a very big win or provided a critical insight?

  • We changed our powered-by to link to the actual landing page/blog of the feature. For e.g.: by linking a push-notification powered-by link to the best practices document on push notifications instead of the clevertap.com or pricing page, we saw almost an 150% increase in engagement on those pages.
  • A/B testing on websites is challenging. We tried an experiment where one of the messages resonated a lot more in certain geographies while others saw a steady decline in the conversion numbers. We now split A/B tests by geography and sometimes by acquisition sources as well.

Danielle Olivas: What are the main mistakes that you think most app developers make while trying to market their apps?

Hi Danielle – There are many! But here are a few I like to highlight:

  1. Build and they will come – You need to make sure you think about ASO and top of the funnel so you can promote the app to your target audience as eloquently as possible. Just putting the app on the App Store is the beginning and not the end.
  2. Don’t use the success metrics of your web app to evaluate the performance of your mobile app – trust me they are different!
  3. Marketing shouldn’t be an afterthought. The way we think about secops and devops as part of the product development lifecycle, add marketing there too. You will be amazed at the results.
  4. Create channels for users to voice their opinions and address them as best as you can. Also documentation should be easy to understand and follow so you can boost the self-service trajectory.

John Phamva: 3 Questions

a. What tools are you using at CleverTap for experimentation and analytics right now (other than your own product)?

Hi John!
We use hootsuite, wordpress, salesforce, unbounce, VWO, trello, hubspot, outreach, GA and Clevertap. We are also looking at Five Second Test

b. Where does your data live, ie, what is the “source of truth”?
Our data lives in Hubspot, CleverTap and Salesforce. We try to tie these together through API calls to reflect changes in deals, custom events, etc

c. What collaboration tools does the team use?
We use slack, google messenger and of course phone and email

Amit Sharma: What are the less-used but highly valuable channels/trends in marketing?

Here are my top 3 picks:

  • AI/ML: AI and ML are some big trends that marketers need to keep an eye on. To be able to prescribe suggestions to marketers, based on the target segment’s behavior, the probability of conversions and the ROI on marketing campaigns even before they are run – are pure gold.
  • VR: Many campaigns run ads that create an experiential experience for their users. It might be trying out a dress at a store and feeling the adrenaline akin to a test drive.
  • Beacons: Geo-location and merging the physical and digital worlds is what it takes to create a true omni-channel strategy. ABI Research estimates suggest 3.9 million BLE beacons shipped globally in 2015 and this number is expected to grow by 40% in 2019. Proximity marketing is a frontier that marketers need to experiment on.

Alok Chitre: What is the culture that marketing teams need to imbibe to support data-driven marketing teams across geographies?

Hi Alok. Here are 5 things I highly recommend.

  1. Consolidate your martech stack to reduce ambiguity and ensure data integrity
  2. Run reports that help the team understand what is working and what needs to improve along with KPIs and timelines
  3. Use tools such as Trello, hootsuite to streamline your content reviews, social media, etc.
  4. Define success metrics such as lifetime value, user retention metrics and definitions such as SQLs, MQLs, PQLs earlier on so there is no confusion when your systems start cranking up the volume of leads
  5. Have daily scrums so everyone knows what they are supposed to work on and what they need to prioritize to help another team member

Roxana Siu – What are some in-app messaging strategies that you recommend and have worked for you in the past?

Hi Roxana!
So good to see you here. In-app messages are extremely contextual and a great way to engage with your users. So make sure you make the most of it.

1. Segment your messages: To make sure customers pay attention to the message they receive, it’s important to send personalized messages to certain segments rather than blasting a common note to every single app user.
2. Celebrate Customer Milestones: As customers reach milestones, celebrate their activity with a personalized message. At CleverTap, we have seen that adding the name of the user in a message helps increase click throughs by more than 10 percent.
3. Engage Customers as they Come or Go based on time: Have you considered when your message should appear? This tip might surprise you because it’s not necessarily something that everyone thinks about. CleverTap helps gets insights based on industry so our customers can find the most opportune time to send the messages.
4. Create Original, Concise Copy: Your message should be original and short. You don’t have a ton of space, so you should only use a few words. This is especially important if you’re including an image. You don’t want the message to look crowded.

Neeru Sharma – I saw your Linkedin profile and it seems you moved back to India after almost a decade in silicon valley. What were your reasons? Would you recommend this move to folks who are thinking on similar lines?

Hi Neeru! That’s a question I like to always answer and can go on for 90 mins:)

  • Huge market and professional growth: Mobile economy is booming and the number of app users is incredible. B2B SaaS is ramping up and there is a lot you can bring to the table and also learn from a global perspective.
  • Hiring can be a challenge: Being in Mumbai, finding the right talent can be time-consuming. Finding folks who want to learn or even understand B2B SaaS products needs patience and mentoring.
  • Adapt and adapt fast: There might be some learnings so don’t be afraid to to unlearn. Try what you know, acknowledge and adopt what you see but eventually use data and KPIs to make the optimal decisions ASAP.
  • Don’t forget the big picture: No place is perfect.. You should always remember why you made the decision and then move forward instead of questioning it all the time.

Tanushree Shenvi – What are your top User Acquisition channels?

Hello Tanushree – I am glad you asked this! Our top channels are referrals, organic and PPC. We invest a lot in customer case studies and referral marketing since we strongly believe that our customers are our best spokespeople. We give incentives to promote the product and also our customer success teams make sure that these relationships are continued way beyond the sale. With content distribution and aligning keyword strategies with our product value proposition, we are able to own and drive growth around specific keywords.

  • Referrals using powered-by help us get customer goodwill.
  • PPC helps to get the word out there faster than organic and we get the air cover to help accelerate our organic efforts
  • High-touch sales talks about many customer case studies and use cases when they meet potential customers and we use our customers as brand ambassadors and evangelists
  • During events, we make sure we announce a big feature along with a customer so this helps our PR and amplification efforts

Bhaskar Sarma – Hey Almitra, glad to see you here. What is the one mobile hack that successfully drove growth in the short to mid term?

Hi Bhaskar… Here are a few actually…

  • We experiment a lot with our user retention strategies. For eg: we used multiple channels to announce our product launch but kept the messaging consistent – inside the product, via emails, videos, push messages, on the website, product hunt, etc. Our emails not only talk about the launch but tie it to what people do in their CleverTap accounts.
  • We internally have looked at billions of messages across industries and use cases and figured out what messages resonate across what channel and what device for a user. This helps us to keep a track of the open rates and CTRs that are likely to get the maximum engagement
  • Based on this and by evaluating their user account, we tailor the message to make sure it looks personalized. For eg: if someone has used funnels, we will make sure the example we give them in their message or deep-link is somewhere related to it.
  • The best part is since we have the benchmark from our customer base, we can actually predict the outcome and also course-correct midway if we are way off while running the marketing campaigns
  • We are also training many of our customers to use such an omni-channel +in- product marketing strategy to help improve their conversion rates. Some of them have seen almost a 300% increase in their response rates.

Rohit Srivastav – What are some best ways to implement Push notifications?

Hello Rohit – That’s a great question. Push is very popular and we see many of our customers use it all the time. As reported by VentureBeat, segmented campaigns that are triggered by specific user behaviors can perform up to 2,770% better than the same campaigns ‘blasted’ to the entire user base.

  • For broadcast messages, we have seen less than 3% CTRs. “Check out our Sale.”
  • For basic text along with messages based on user demographics we have seen +4% CTRs. “Check out our Sale for Women”
  • For messages based on context and user action, we have seen +5%.”The Gucci shoes that you were looking at are at a 20% discount.”
  • For personalized messages with user action awareness, we see +10% CTRs. “Hi Amanda. The red Gucci shoes that you were looking at are at a 20% discount”
  • If you add emojis+gifs, this number increases to at least +15%.

Pooja Sriram – What should mobile marketers keep in mind as they approach 2018?

I see some of these influencing marketing decisions a lot in 2018.

  • It’s been predicted that in 2018, people will spend about 36 minutes watching videos on their mobile devices, where they’ll spend just 18.5 minutes on non-mobile devices. Hence gifs, responsive in-app messages and videos will be huge.
  • AI and ML will be play a big role. The power to predict and prescribe differentiated marketing campaigns to deliver unique user experiences will be on the rise
  • Boost use of your mobile apps and get people to redeem mobile coupons, or have users share your content on social media using mobile gamification.
  • Create smart content for in-app and push to personalize based on geography, user actions, demographics and predictive analytics is the way to go
  • Understand and leverage micro-moments to help quickly monetize your users. The more moments you can identify the chances of connecting with your users increases manyfold.

Agneesh Bhadury – Hi Almitra, What B2B demand generation ideas have worked best for you?

Hi Agneesh – We have seen a phenomenal YoY growth because of very targeted activities around events, Analyst Relations and PR. Some concrete tactics that have worked for us are:

  • Channel Marketing: Work with partners that understand and complement your value proposition
  • Content creation: Build content that aligns with Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action. This will help you to move folks down the funnel faster and build a content strategy that wins
  • Provide valuable insights: Providing nuggets based on your customers’ use cases helps give industry benchmarks that competition cannot copy. This gives an edge that only your users get
  • Social: Use social media, guest posting, content distribution etc to promote content
  • Sales and Marketing interlock: Make sure these two teams are aligned, use the right tools and talk the same language. I would highly recommend Hubspot and salesforce

Jeff Aboud – What are your takeaways for marketing newbies?

Hi Jeff! Here are 4 key areas that new marketing enthusiasts should focus on:

  1. Be accountable: You will be a manager’s dream, if you can own projects and deliver solutions to a problem. Don’t come up with a problem. Come up with answers. Use tools such as hubspot, CleverTap, GA to show how your efforts are moving the needle.
  2. Be a team player: You might be a great individual but if you are not helping your team, you are not going anywhere. Trello helped us streamline our content reviews and raise the bar on content.
  3. Empower others to be better: Everyone does their job. What you can do that will add value is help others grow and learn.
  4. Create exceptional content: Read and subscribe to many blogs. Get books that help you define a structure for solving challenges and frameworks that will stay with you, irrespective of your current job.

Neeraj Thakur – Hey Almitra, good to see you in here! What is the difference between push and in-app messages? Any tips on using them in an omni-channel marketing strategy?

Hello Neeraj.
Push notifications are the simplest way to gain attention from a wide audience – all at once. They also elicit a response almost as soon as the message lands. In-app is extremely personalized and the CTRs on that can be substantially higher than push. However, you need to be more sensitive to the messages here and be highly relevant.

  • For abandoned cart, Hybris reports that 97% of shopping carts are abandoned on mobile. Here a push with user behavior patterns would be a huge win.
  • For opt-in requests, an in-app is the ideal way to go since it is right in the app.
  • For new feature announcement, in-apps are the best bet since you are telling them about the feature where they will activate it. You can further segment your audience based on their usage of other features and promote the new feature accordingly.
  • For beacons, use push notifications to get your users’ attention.

Certain use cases respond better to certain channels. Suppose you want to target a user who is not completing a transaction, use channels of communication that bring that subtly to their notice and drive the action to completion. Similar messages across channels will help them to focus on one activity and take that seriously. Omni-channel no longer applies to just connecting the physical and digital worlds. It is now used to align various channels in the digital world itself.

Sunny Singh – What are the top three ways your make it convenient for your customers to be loyal? How can we leverage these when it comes to a marketing software like hootsuite, buffer and crowdfire ?

Hi Sunny – A universal strategy will not work for all brands but the ones you have mentioned can definitely benefit from focusing on these 3 phases:

a. Acquisition: This is all about making sure that you understand where your users are coming from. Products such as Segment and Branch are ideal to figure out the audience segment that is likely to come from a specific source. You can tweak and double down on sources that work for you
b. Retention: Our customers have often mentioned that retention costs almost 9X than acquisition. These costs are not only the marketing costs but also sales efforts, competitive displacement conversations and lost brand value due to a bad experience with your product. I highly encourage marketers to focus a lot of their tactics on this since negative brand = lost $$.
c. Engagement: When you use push or emails that are not only personalized but also based on user action, you will see at least a 10X increase in response rates. This is where you have an opportunity to upsell and cross-sell your service by suggesting complementary products or where you can encourage current evangelists to promote your product to their network. We have seen our sales pipeline grow due to referrals and case studies all the time.

Vijay Mandeep – Hey Almitra, Glad to see you here. What can today’s CMOs do to better improve top-line revenues and be successful?

Hello Vijay. Today’s CMOs are not only responsible for traditional marketing activities but with SaaS business on the rise, can contribute a lot to the top-line and bring predictability to revenue forecasting. However, the need to make sure to:

a. Capture Relevant Data: Perform data-mining across existing silos to develop a single, centralized view of the customer.
b. Align with your Customer’s Expectations: Optimizing segmentation to tailor offers to the individual customers rather than mass marketing indiscriminately, and reducing costs at the same time.
c. Make Real-time Data-Driven Marketing Decisions: Getting to monetization faster by increasing the favorable outcomes and reducing the unfavorable ones using AI/ML. Enable effective engagement with consumers based on their buying history, preferences, frequently, location and much more.
d. Build a Culture of Innovation: Outlining all the possible touch-points with which your customers interact and all the data your customers create through these interactions. This exercise will not only help you understand your customer better, but also outline all the ways in which your company shapes your customer’s experience of your brand.
e. Contribute to ROI and improve KPIs and Business Metrics: Creating dashboards that give visibility into business metrics like ROI for specific marketing channels, the time it takes for a customer to start paying and marketing-influenced models that show deeper analysis than first and last touch attribution.

Divya Sharma – Hey Almitra! What are some of the growth hacks you have successfully used at CleverTap?

Hey Divya..We maintain a working growth document that the entire team and leadership add to to think out-of-the-box. Beyond the proven marketing activities, here are some we have experimented with:

  • Using a powered-by link in our notifications that links to the landing page of the type of notification. For eg: in-app would go to that landing page and not to clevertap.com
  • Looking at our martech tools and reaching out to them to do a case study with them. This helps them to show credibility and we can actually bubble advanced use cases that their customers and prospects can benefit from.
  • Our emails are extremely targeted. We not only use the email metrics but also their in-app product behavior to understand their activation, onboarding, engagement timelines and build a cross-channel email+push strategy to nudge to adopt our product faster. And guess what – we use clevertap to do so.
  • Data helps us to make decisions faster. We have built a super integrated martech stack where every marketer can actually look at the MQL/SQL and $$ brought into the company because of them.

Aditya Behere – What is CleverTap focusing on in 2018? What kind of insights can the community look forward to thanks to Behavioural Analytics in the next year?

Aditya – That is something we are very excited about. We are focusing on a lot of interesting offerings that will bring immense value to customers. At CleverTap, we look at our customers/prospects and the market to adopt and prioritize features so we can continuously provide differentiated value to our users.
a. AI and ML: The ability to prescribe and predict outcomes is huge for marketers. This is something we have experienced in many of our conversations with analysts and customers. We will continue to build on this offering.
b. Building diverse user experiences: Building a one size fits all approach is something that doesn’t work. Your customers are different. Why should their experiences be the same? Capturing the right mobile moment and creating new ones to hand hold your users to the next step of their app journey will be a huge opportunity.
c. Personalization at scale: In order to identify micro-moments and build messages according, requires a platform that processes millions on data points in a fraction of a second. Hence we will continue to focus on our architecture to make it more robust and scalable.
d. Build long-term relationships: This is what we truly believe in. Our customer success team has always been a big differentiator for us. To make sure the customer is able to adopt and see value ASAP is their charter. We fundamentally believe that our job does not end at selling the product. In Fact, we take it as a commitment to make sure our customers are successful. They win – we win.

Zeneya Asrani – What are your thoughts on AI and ML and how that applies to marketing? Is it just a fad?

AI and ML are here to stay!

  • AI in Content Marketing: Content Marketing is a mixture of art and science. Creators create content and marketers distribute them to the deserved and desired audience. AI today is impacting both these aspects of content marketing, more than we know. With AI, you can find out new topics and also write content to best suit your audience.
  • AI in Social Media: Scraping data, building buyer personas, enriching CRMs and macro-sentiment analysis have been some of the applications. Using this to build messages that resonate with a happy or unhappy customer would be interesting.
  • Bots will open new channels: Slack brought them to the light, Messenger brought them to the mainstream, and they are not going to stop anytime soon. The conversations between customers and brand will be more AI driven than ever.

Keyur Shah – Can you tell us about a CleverTap customer and how your AI/ML offerings help them create better engagement strategies?

We have a few customers who are power users of our ML and AI offering. One of the biggest brands in APAC with over 50 Million downloads uses us heavily to look at different segments of users from the probability of conversion. Based on predictive modelling they then create differentiated personalized marketing campaigns and invest $$ so they get the optimal ROI. This helps them to quickly get users to see value in their services with targeted offers so they are always working on the segment that is most likely to bring the most $$ in the least possible time. This ability to have all this data helps them perform intelligent A/B tests and see results in no time.

Glen Harper – When you started CleverTap, what was the opportunity that you saw as untapped (there are clearly a lot of analytics companies)? I’d love to get some context on that initial vision and if that continues to be CleverTap’s main focus or whether you have shifted significantly as the market has evolved?

Hi Glen – The plethora of point solutions that solve one specific problem leads to complexity and makes the marketers life painful. As a marketer, we struggle with:

  1. Loss of revenue and decrease in customer lifetime value: The inability to have access to customer insights in real time and be able to quickly action upon them makes it impossible to build influential and successful mobile marketing strategies.
  2. Single Source of Truth: Your mobile marketing ecosystems need to be built as customer experience platforms. Relevant data from all sources should act as an input so marketers can better understand and influence their current and prospective customers.
  3. Complex Martech Stacks leads to slowed growth and lost revenues: Integration efforts required to run multiple point solutions is time-consuming and leads to slow go-to-market.
  4. Resource constraints: The $$ required to purchase and run multiple martech solutions increases as the role of marketing evolves from a peripheral cost-center to a value-added revenue-center.
  5. Data Integrity and Security Concerns: As data is ingested from one system and reported via another, the ability to trust the results gets compromised. This also creates cross-functional disharmony that adversely affects positive business outcomes.

We are building a powerful mobile marketing ecosystem that enables marketers build differentiated experiences for their users. Using a strong tech platform that processes billions of data points in milli-seconds and gives marketers access to advanced customer insights, CleverTap helps solve challenges around omni-channel marketing, marketing automation, and personalization at scale. Also the opportunity to build this solution and marry that with advanced AI/ML techniques is the most exciting past of this journey.

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