Modern marketing analytics: Understanding the full user journey
- 1. Build a strong marketing analytics foundation
- 2. Understand your channel performance
- 3. Get to know your audience
- 4. Retain your users
- 5. Grow and scale
Marketing can be a bit of a roller coaster. Between the economy, competitor announcements, algorithm changes, and buyer whims, it often feels like “what worked before” is no longer effective.
Savvy marketers stay on top of the changing trends (as much as they can!). They’re also not throwing spaghetti at the proverbial wall to see what sticks; they rely on data and marketing analytics.
In this guide, we want to help you think strategically about the role of marketing analytics within your team and your organization as a whole. We want you to stop chasing numbers that don’t matter and data that has gaps.
Instead, we want you to focus on the metrics that truly measure the impact of marketing—from each of your marketing channels to every step of the customer journey, at all stages of company maturity.
Build a strong marketing analytics foundation
Sales-led. Revenue-led. Product-led. No matter what kind of “-led” your organization considers itself, marketing sits at an interesting intersection between multiple departments. On the one hand, marketing often has its own goals and metrics. On the other hand, sales, revenue, and customer activation and retention often depend on the strategies a marketing team uses.
Marketing teams across industries face similar conundrums. Record numbers of website visitors don’t translate to higher conversions. Users sign up, but it’s unclear which channels contribute to the highest retention. The team launches a beautiful new set of ads, but which are converting at the highest rate—and what do the converted customers have in common? (Or maybe all of the above?)
But these questions are not unanswerable. Marketing analytics is a practice of collecting and measuring marketing data—and using tools that can offer a clear picture of the path from casual website visitors to valuable paying customers.
Of course, we at Mixpanel, being the pioneers of event analytics, have our own opinions on how to approach marketing analytics. But we also asked marketing leaders and pulled in real-world scenarios for each of these topics. Our goal is to get you thinking about marketing analytics across each of these stages, regardless of where you’re at today.
Mixpanel Marketing Analytics can give your team the data it needs to answer some of these questions, so we include examples based on its full user journey analysis approach. We believe the best marketing comes from a combination of savvy creatives and a deep understanding of customer behavior. And we want all marketers to be able to look at their data and reach an “aha!” moment of knowing exactly what to try next in their strategies.
How can you identify the metrics that measure success?
Marketers love numbers. Numbers represent the results of clever campaigns and precise marketing spend, right?
But just like there’s a disconnect when teams operate in silos, there’s a disconnect when marketing metrics don’t correlate with actual outcomes that move the needle in a business.
Marketing analytics tools can bridge that gap, taking your team from elusive numbers to measurable results. It’s like fitting the last few pieces into a complex puzzle.
But for those final pieces to truly fit, your team must ask the right questions. There are an unlimited number of ways you can slice and dice the numbers, but not all of them answer core business questions.
As a marketing department—and a company as a whole—you need to home in on the right questions. Marketing teams are always asking themselves:
- How do I get more clicks on our website?
- How can I capture more leads?
- Which channels are driving the highest rates of signup conversion?
Oftentimes, these questions can be easily answered and turned into marketing metrics wins. But these are only focus areas for teams who don’t have a unified view of a user’s journey—start to finish. When you consolidate your data from multiple sources and connect the dots on how potential users go on to become longtime customers, your questions become things like:
- What data best signals buyer intent?
- What channels have the best chance of driving active users?
- What pre-signup behavior (or lack thereof) is tied to churn?
If you focus on key metrics that span this unified view (known as a “North Star metric” or “focus metrics”), your team can set tangible goals and measure what really matters. A focus metric is usually tied to the active usage of the product you’re marketing, such as weekly active users (WAU) or monthly active users (MAU). When you home in on usage, it will sum up trends in other metrics, like acquisition and retention.
To learn more about defining your focus metric, check out Mixpanel’s Guide to Product Metrics.
How can you lean into the value moment conversion?
Your product’s value moment is an event, an action, or a series of events and actions representing the moment a user found value in your product. It’s when the lightbulb goes on and the user thinks, “Aha, this is the right product for me!”
Everything—your sales, your revenue, etc.—ultimately revolves around those value moments, and retention depends on the sustained value over time. More value moments mean users have more opportunities to build habits around your website or app.
Whether your focus metric is net new signups, increased customer lifetime value, or higher return on ad spend (ROAS), all roads should point in that direction. You’ll be most successful by driving users to the value moments via the shortest route possible. And you’ll retain users by continuing to show them value along the way.
Product analytics can help you identify your value moments by showing you how users are interacting with your website or app. You can visualize the steps of the conversion journey, whether it ends with a purchase or signing up for a subscription.
And the inverse is also true: You can see that users who never complete certain actions within the website or app end up never making a purchase or canceling.
(And it’s also possible to be surprised by what you find within product analytics. You never know!)
Product analytics needs to be a crucial component of marketing analytics. You’re not guessing or assuming that users convert because of X feature or Y event journey. You’re backing up those “gut instincts” with data and then using that data to drive marketing strategy.
To dig further into product analytics strategies, check out Mixpanel’s Guide to Product Analytics.
Immobiliare, the No. 1 real estate site in Italy, offers a platform for homeowners and renters to find real estate property listings. Immobiliare focuses on a simple metric: how many listings a user views per month.
By using Mixpanel, Immobiliare uncovered that the more filters used during the discovery process, the more likely users would contact an agent. Being able to narrow a search was the value moment. Armed with this information, Immobiliare was able to improve engagement with a 40% increase in views per month.
With Mixpanel Marketing Analytics, you can measure how marketing efforts impact the performance of your value moments, whether through the behavior of newly acquired users or the re-engagement of existing users.
How can you build your marketing strategy around the funnel?
Within your organization, you must consider the correlation between your value moment and your focus metric. One way or another, your value moments—and the percentage of users who reach them and how quickly they get there—will impact your overall success.
Marketing analytics include both zoom-in and zoom-out data points, details and the big picture.
You can zoom in on the exact steps that a user takes to arrive at a value moment. Or you can zoom out to look at the top pages viewed before conversion or identify ad landing pages with high bounce rates.
Mark Kilens, Chief Marketing Officer at Airmeet, says he uses a framework when he thinks about marketing strategy.
- Who is the audience?
- Why would they engage with you?
- Why are you trying to engage with them?
- What do you want them to engage with (an offer, a free product, a piece of content, etc.)?
With this framework, you can develop a marketing strategy that focuses on your larger goals—like the success metrics and value moment conversion—and then look at what tactics are most effective at improving those metrics. Marketing analytics tools like Mixpanel allow you to look at results in real time and pivot tactics if needed.
“You’ve got to look at your overall engagement with the assets you own, the media you own, and the overall engagement your audience is having with your brand and product that you can track,” says Kilens. “Can you connect one of the signals of engagement intent to a person or specific account?”
Using its value moment conversion as a signal, Immobiliare launched an app download campaign that converted more than 50K users out of 220K app downloads. It was a combination of aligning the strategy and a specific campaign tactic.
How can you align foundational goals between teams?
Across your organization, cross-functional teams are more likely to achieve their own key performance indicators (KPIs) when each team’s objective is aligned to pave the path to an organizational goal.
Product teams can enhance the customer experience to drive more users to the value moment conversion. Sales can be armed with messaging that focuses on the known value moment. Customer success can guide customers to the product’s value.
Need some inspiration? Check out our Marketing Analytics Board.
A solid foundation for tracking and measuring success with marketing analytics starts with asking the right questions. From there, you can find the data points that paint an accurate picture of buyer and customer journeys. Optimize for your value moment, iterate with campaigns, and monitor the results.
Marketing analytics is not just about collecting data but about putting the insights to work so you can make more informed decisions. You can fuel your organization’s growth by taking individual department success indicators and unifying them with a data-driven approach.
Understand your channel performance
You know that moment when you’re dating someone and think, “Wow, I really like this person. Wonder if they like me back?” You look for clues that your feelings are reciprocated, analyzing every interaction.
Marketing can feel like the never-ending question: Does the audience like me back? And while it’s not the same as a romantic relationship, you’re still trying to form a connection with an individual person—while also appealing to a large audience.
First impressions matter, a lot. Ad spend aside, it’s the moment when a potential customer decides to learn more or click away (potentially forever). Optimizing for that initial moment of engagement—and deeply understanding the next steps that converted customers take—can help you iterate on your demand generation tactics.
Engaging with potential customers goes beyond merely grabbing their attention. You’ve got to get them to the point of “likes you back,” and that involves finding the connections between quality traffic and conversions.
Marketing analytics and products like Mixpanel can analyze who you reach through campaigns and who actually responds by clicking on an ad or completing the conversion action.
What can you glean from an initial website visit?
Google Analytics has long been the staple for analyzing audiences—looking at page views, sources of traffic, time spent on page, and more.
But the rollout of Google Analytics 4 (GA4) has been an endless source of frustration, as many marketing teams can attest. From a difficult migration to a steep learning curve, users have been left wondering how to track their key performance metrics.
Attribution and audience analysis are notoriously complex, and even though GA4 touts them as features, it doesn’t truly solve these challenges. It still relies on black-box attribution models, timeout-based sessions, and pre-defined conversions. And while it can integrate data from Google’s ad network, bringing in ad-network data from other sources (such as Facebook Ads or LinkedIn Ads) is limited.
To put it simply, GA4 leaves marketers with an incomplete picture. The depth of analysis is missing, so you can’t fully assess your campaigns and make adjustments as needed.
By contrast, Mixpanel Marketing Analytics allows you to enrich your page view and user data with additional first-party data, as well as create custom properties that break down your audience beyond the typical direct, organic, paid, and referral categories. Mixpanel also supports ingesting ad data from all platforms so you can compare clicks, impressions, ad spend, and more.
You can also use Mixpanel’s Cohorts feature to group users who have certain characteristics in common, such as users who are new or all from a certain geographical area. You can use your defined Cohorts in ad campaigns and nurture the group towards a purchase or point them to a resource to encourage a buying decision. You can also use Cohorts to identify expansion opportunities in B2B customers or target customers that prefer discounted items when a new sale is coming up.
With a complete overview of your channel performance and user properties, you can identify where customers are coming from, how much it costs to bring them to your site, and which types of users are more likely to convert.
Why does real-time campaign performance matter?
Unless you have an unlimited budget to create and test marketing campaigns (in which case, congratulations!), you need to monitor campaign performance carefully. Without a close eye on accurate, holistic data from all of your performance marketing channels, you can quickly burn through your ad budget.
When you’re focusing on first impressions, the hours and days after a new campaign launch are critical. You’re not only looking for resonance with the target audience but also potential issues. Remember the intern at HBO Max who accidentally sent out a blank email to the entire subscriber base with the subject line “Integration Test”? Mistakes happen.
If you monitor campaign performance in real time (versus waiting for GA4 data hours later), you can rapidly respond to campaign problems. You also might be A/B testing a campaign, notice a significantly better response to one versus the other, and can adjust your campaigns accordingly. Or perhaps some type of external event causes a rapid shift in campaign performance.
Real-time monitoring improves your return on ad spend. If you focus only on long-term performance, you miss the opportunity to seize your audience’s attention when a campaign takes off in a particular channel.
What are the benefits of tracking an audience across different touchpoints?
Part of the reason that straightforward models of audience tracking fall far short is that the buyer journey is far from straightforward. Dark social impacts aside (like your brand mentions in private channels, emails, word-of-mouth, etc.), your marketing analytics will always be incomplete if you can’t connect the actions a user is taking across different channels and within your website or app.
And that user behavior is incredibly difficult to predict. Someone may begin a checkout process on your mobile site only to abandon it. An Instagram ad draws them back, and now the customer buys a product. Was the person interrupted? Did another ad help the buying decision? Who knows. But that multi-touch attribution is critical to honing in your marketing strategy and measuring effectiveness.
Even companies that collect data in a customer data platform (CDP) can face fragmentation. The consolidation of website activity, app activity, and ad campaigns really pulls everything together, like what companies can do with Mixpanel Marketing Analytics.
Uber Carshare was facing this. “We could look at what people were doing on the website, but we couldn’t compare that to what they were doing in the app. We didn’t know how their initial experiences would affect their lifetime value,” explained Keal Wilson, Growth Marketing Team Leader.
Mixpanel provided improved visibility around the signup process. Uber Carshare users were only able to book a car after they had completed signup. Many were dropping off because they couldn’t make a booking immediately.
After making this connection between visitors and incomplete signups, Uber Carshare’s product team tweaked the flow and allowed users to reserve a trip before signing up as a member. As a result, the number of users booking trips on the app rose to 79%, compared to 50% before.
While understanding the why behind a user’s disjointed journey is important, multi-touch attribution allows you to close some of the gaps—even without getting into a user’s head. Instead, you’re optimizing for patterns of behavior: knowing that if you lead users to certain actions, they’re more likely to convert.
How can you support audience tracking with product analytics?
As Uber Carshare saw, you can build even stronger links by tracking a user’s behavior from the point of conversion to ongoing behavior within your website and app. The initial conversion is a critical first step, and reducing the time to convert is a key component.
This is why product and marketing teams need to work closely together. They have to look for links between the top-of-funnel channels and the moment when a website visitor converts to a paying customer. If you’ve tracked the steps of a user journey before, you know they can bounce around to different product pages or mosey through a free trial without ever hitting that conversion moment.
Combining your website analytics with your product analytics can create clearer paths for your potential customers. That might be focusing your ad spend on channels that lead to higher paying customers or identifying patterns in customers who convert the fastest. Marketing efforts can get them engaged, and the website or app itself can capitalize on that enthusiasm—if you can make the connection between the two.
Identity resolution in Mixpanel creates that link. You can combine pre-login behavior (like website visits) with post-login actions (such as app usage). This can take you from those initial website visits through conversion and ongoing website or app usage.
How can you align audience engagement goals between teams?
“Does this person like me?” (or, in other words, like the product) is a question deeply rooted in emotion, experiences, and external factors. While buyer psychology certainly plays a role, the wide variations in lived experiences can make customer behavior unpredictable.
But you can look for the touchpoints that drive different paths for your target audience. And you can identify emerging patterns when behavior shifts across channels and then adapt accordingly.
Can you create a throughline between the top of the funnel and the bottom of the funnel? Absolutely. The data exists; it’s simply a matter of bringing it into a single view that both marketing and product teams can rely on.
Get to know your audience
It’s a well-known phenomenon that people are aspirational when they speak. They tell the doctor that they exercise more than they do. They oversell their accomplishments on a resume. And they self-edit when they post photos on social media, showing a filtered version of their lives.
Author and entrepreneur Seth Godin says, “People don’t believe what you tell them. They rarely believe what you show them. They often believe what their friends tell them. They always believe what they tell themselves.”
When you think about this in a marketing context, it creates a divide between what your audience says they want and what they actually want: the actions they take.
That’s the real trick for marketers. All the market research and customer interviews in the world will be limited by what people say, and maybe even what they think. Real, long-term business success comes from going beyond what people say and focusing on what they do.
How does data tell a story?
Audience segmentation based on what people say will give you traditional buyer personas that rely on demographics, geographical information, income level, and so on. That can be a baseline, particularly before collecting any additional information.
Surveys can take you a step further because now you’re targeting a specific segment of people with questions that serve your business needs. But they still run into the fallacy of what people say, which may contradict their actual intent.
Instead, you need to find the connections between who your buyers are and what they do: which users are taking action and staying engaged.
It’s through these connections that you can tell a strong data story. Like any research, you combine evidence from multiple data sources with a compelling narrative. Users start at Point A, follow a certain path, and end up at Point B. Mixpanel Marketing Analytics examines the full user journey, from initial touchpoints to actions taken within your website or app.
Of course, those paths may be complex, or users may take alternative routes to Point B, but the road is paved by data from the users. It may or may not correlate with a path you’ve already constructed.
Because of this, teams can run into resistance—especially if the data reveals something unexpected. Some people may only like data if it supports an existing narrative, like your team’s carefully crafted buyer personas based on traditional demographic information.
To move past this, teams must embrace a culture of collecting and analyzing data. They need to invest in their own ability to interpret data and learn from it.
Social media management platform Buffer relies on a strong partnership between product and marketing to deliver the best experience to its users. Simon Heaton, Director of Growth and Product Marketing, acknowledges that removing silos takes some effort.
“We also have several cross-functional rituals in place that help build alignment between both teams on key initiatives, like our go-to-market motion or growth strategy,” he says. “Having a well-implemented and trustworthy data strategy is critical for any SaaS or product-led growth (PLG) company. Once that is in place, a product analytics tool like Mixpanel can become the window in assessing the success of your efforts.”
What does the value moment conversion tell you?
Marketing teams could easily bury themselves in data points and the paths buyers take, but you’re ultimately asking a single question: why?
Why do customers take this path?
Why do some customers drop off at this stage and others don’t?
Why do customers keep coming back?
While you can enhance traditional audience segmentation by stages of the buyer journey and get closer to understanding buyer behavior, the real secret sauce comes from the actions that customers take within your app or product. They hit that “aha!” moment where they see the value and determine that what you offer meets their needs.
With that in mind, you can refine your “why”: Why do some customers find value and others don’t? You can then refine your marketing and drive users toward that value moment and remind them of it over time.
Travel ecommerce platform KKday needed a way to track user behavior across its website, mobile site, and mobile app. “Before Mixpanel, we didn’t have the complete map of our user journey. Now that we have full visibility, we can segment our users according to their behavior and better target them,” says Sherry Shih, Product Manager at KKday.
With a full user journey, the team realized that 85% of users were completing a travel booking within 50 minutes, not one to three days as originally thought. The data told a different story about the buyers, and KKday could optimize for this value moment accordingly.
The customers were taking a different path, a shorter path. Insights like this can’t be gleaned without a complete picture of the buyer journey, from casual website visitors to loyal customers. And without acting on those insights—in this case, a very short window of time—a lot of value moment conversions can be missed.
How can you connect the dots between your best channels and best users?
Too often, marketing teams optimize for the moment of conversion: the signup, the first purchase, the subscription. But with nearly endless alternatives or competitors, that conversion means little if the customer disappears after a few weeks or doesn’t become a repeat buyer.
That’s why product and marketing teams should work closely on the value moment conversion: the point at which the customer discovers value, which may or may not be the initial conversion.
If marketing can identify the channels that drive these value-moment conversions, it opens a world of possibilities. Marketing can double down on efforts from those channels and/or refine the messaging in other channels to mirror what is happening in the most successful channels.
KKday saw great results from grouping users into cohorts based on behaviors. “This allowed us to run targeted marketing campaigns on these cohorts to help us progress towards our revenue goals,” explains Shih.
By focusing on user behavior, marketing can home in on the most effective channels. You’ll have a better return on marketing spend because you’re narrowing from “all people who meet this target persona” to “people who are most likely to find value in the product.”
How can you align audience goals between teams?
At the end of the day, marketing and product teams have to be aligned on value. Even if marketing teams speak to the aspirational qualities to draw in new customers, once that potential customer begins to explore the website or app, the value is dictated by actual users’ behavior.
When all teams set aside their perceptions about the intended buyers and instead focus on data-informed insights, they can help customers see value faster. Sales can set the right expectations, customer success can expand value over time, and product teams can strengthen value with new features.
And as a complement to these efforts across teams, marketing can drive the user journey and measure its success. Teams should continuously evaluate marketing metrics to determine if users are “finding the value” and then refine campaigns and messaging accordingly.
Retain your users
How much can users be expected to discover on their own?
You know you have to lead them to a moment within your app or website when they discover value. But the conversion to a paying customer is only the beginning. Longtime and repeat customers have to be shown value over and over; you can’t rely on them to find it on their own.
And you don’t always have the luxury of time. Customers can easily change SaaS subscriptions or disappear from an ecommerce platform, never to return. That’s why continuous customer marketing should have a significant role within your overall strategy.
The good news? You can use analytics to identify the most loyal customers among all paying customers. They’ll have something in common, and you should use that knowledge to your advantage.
How can you develop a customer marketing strategy?
Lead generation is the energy-intensive part of marketing. You’re trying to capture customers’ attention amidst the constant noise from the internet in places like social media, email inboxes, shopping sites, and more.
But once you have their attention, it’s easier. Now you can fine-tune your messaging and focus on retaining their attention instead. At least from the inside, it’s less noisy. Other companies will try to lure your customer away, but now they’re trying to pull them away from something they’ve discovered (your website or app).
Without effective customer marketing, you’ll spend too much trying to draw in new customers when those dollars could be instead used to retain existing customers—a far better ROI.
Of course, not all customer marketing tactics will work their magic on your particular user base. It’s about finding the right content and activities based on your users’ preferences, habits, and how they respond to your campaigns, such as:
- An onboarding email sequence for new users
- In-app messages to highlight new features
- Newsletters with features, tutorials, and customer success stories
- Webinars to connect customers and build community
The right strategy can not only lead more customers to become power users within your website or app, but they may also become customer champions—advocating for your company and brand out in the world. And a real-life testimonial is often worth more than any paid marketing campaigns you may do.
What do your best customers have in common?
To target customers with the right strategy, you’ve got to segment them into different buckets. A campaign you use for customers who have gone dormant will be different than one for those who are primed for an upgrade. Since resources and budget will also play a role, you should home in on the customers who are most likely to drive additional revenue over time. Your metrics can range from retention to upsells to repeat purchases within a certain timeframe.
If you dig into the analytics of your website or app, you can find the users with the highest customer lifetime value and what they all have in common. You want to go beyond demographics and other traditional characteristics of marketing personas and instead look at what they do.
Buffer leans into this tactic. “A lot of our product, marketing, and growth strategy is informed by our users’ behavior in the product,” says Simon Heaton, Director of Growth and Product Marketing. “Having a well-implemented and trustworthy data strategy is critical.”
This may sound aspirational, but in actuality, it only involves asking a few questions:
- What sets these valuable customers apart from other customers?
- What features do they rely on the most?
- How much time do they spend on the website or app versus other customers?
You may even find that your high-value customers fall into different buckets, depending on their activity. For example, one type of customer may make frequent small purchases and another may make frequent large purchases. Since their contributions to revenue are likely different, your customer marketing tactics need to reflect this.
One of the many responsibilities of Annette Cardwell, VP of Corporate Marketing at Lattice, is community. “We are storytellers in a number of ways and via a lot of different channels. Storytelling requires an intense focus on audience, like who is reading, watching, or using your content.”
It’s like training a team. You know what the best players can do. And you can coach other players to emulate the best, even though they may have different skills and strengths.
How can you build a strategy around customer value?
Everything starts with the data strategy. “Once that is in place, a tool like Mixpanel can become the window in assessing the success of your efforts,” says Heaton. Mixpanel’s Marketing Analytics can bridge the gap between your channels and overall customer behavior, such as which channels drive users with the highest retention.
Ticketmaster, the world’s leading ticketing company, relies heavily on data to reach more relevant concert-goers. “According to some data we’ve collected, a large reason people don’t buy specific events relevant to them is that they don’t know about them,” says Christopher Vezzuto, Senior Software Engineer at Ticketmaster.
Ticketmaster uses Mixpanel within its FanBuilder team to understand engagement by user type and company so they can grow and retain the most profitable venues, artists, and performers—expanding beyond simply increasing customer value and also increasing the value of the services it provides. “We can more easily recognize the strengths and weaknesses of our product and continue to deliver a great experience to our clients,” Vezzulo says. The FanBuilder team relies on Insights, Funnels, and Retention reports within Mixpanel.
An approach like Ticketmaster’s can work for some marketing teams, by focusing on the profitability of the product or service provided rather than only on increasing retention. The customer experience, as Vezzulo noted, also matters a lot—even if the experience is a single event.
Between your marketing metrics and behavioral data, you have two distinct prongs of a customer marketing strategy. First, you have the tactics to drive customers into more valuable, more loyal customers. The second are the tactics that can connect your best customer advocates outward to share their experiences in your most valuable marketing channels.
How can you align retention goals between teams?
Customer marketing can’t happen in a vacuum. It requires close alignment with your product team so that you know which customers to target and why. It also requires connecting the campaigns you use (email sequences, in-app messaging, and more) with improvements to your overall customer value and retention.
Customer marketing comes with its own risks. Too little marketing and you lose opportunities to strengthen the relationships with (and revenue from) your customers. Too much marketing and you risk coming off as disingenuous and/or becoming a fast “unsubscribe” by emailed customers.
That’s why you need to be constantly testing, reviewing campaign performance, and analyzing the data. As your customer base grows and your website or app becomes more mature, your customer marketing tactics will need to change. Even external forces (like the economy) can impact your customer marketing efforts.
But the right customer marketing strategy creates a virtuous circle. Satisfied customers will become advocates, which will draw more people to your website and help grow your customer base. And repeat.
Grow and scale
Has your organization reached the point where the marketing metrics of the past no longer make sense?
Or can you see that you’ll reach that point in the near future?
The tactics of the early days will have to change as you bring in more leads, more customers, and more revenue. While brand and insights from your website or app can—and should—remain central to your strategy, you’ll face a new challenge: scalability.
Adding more people to the marketing team won’t be enough. You have to rely on technology to connect disparate systems, automate, and tackle marketing tactics across a larger array of buyers.
How does marketing strategy change as the company matures?
As your company grows, so will your resources. But a larger team, larger budget, and larger goals can’t move your results from a linear growth trajectory unless your strategy changes.
You should continue with the tactics that are working well. As we discussed in previous sections, you’ll want to lean into your value moment conversions, identify your best channels, and monitor your best customers’ website or app usage. All of those will expand as the company grows, and you’ll have more data and scenarios to contend with.
Your strategy will have to encompass a wider and more complex net.
Explore new channels
Smaller marketing teams have to focus on the channels that drive the most growth, but as you grow, you won’t have the same constraints. Even if you’re more aggressive in the same channels you’ve been relying on (blog, search, paid ads, etc.), you’ll only reach more of the same type of customers. You’re leaving the possibility of reaching a new audience on the table.
Since every channel has its own nuances, it’s never a “copy and paste” situation where you can use the same tactics from another channel. If you broaden your scope into channels like growing a community or hosting events, your KPIs will also need to shift to reflect the business impact of these channels.
According to Lattice’s Cardwell, some of the KPIs for these channels include:
- An increase in the number of active members in their Slack community
- RSVPs and actual attendees at meetups and events
- Sentiment scores for specific engagement-related questions on a biannual survey
As the company grows, your marketing team should implement A/B testing, always backed by the goal of influencing customer behavior within your website or app.
And your hypotheses should be backed by current behavioral data. For example, if you notice that your best customers are reaching the value moment conversion by following a certain sequence of events, your testing would include driving other customers to a similar path. Then you’ll measure the results of that test and see if you can increase the number of users in the “best customer” category.
DocuSign wanted to increase its new signer accounts, or users who created a free account after signing a document. The product team knew that there were numerous opportunities to convert free accounts to paid, so the number of free accounts was an important metric.
DocuSign used Mixpanel to monitor an A/B test of new account creations. After analyzing the results and implementing changes, DocuSign increased free account creation by 15%.
DocuSign then ran another test to expose certain gated premium features in order to encourage new customers to upgrade. Drew Ashlock, Senior Product Manager, explains: “When we decided to expose some premium features to our free users, we used super properties and Funnels [in Mixpanel] to track which features drove conversions for our free users.”
This experiment led to a 5% increase in conversions to paid plans, a significant number considering DocuSign sees 130,000 new unique users every day.
A/B testing will fall short of its potential if it takes too long to implement the results of your tests. Waiting weeks or months will cost you new customers and revenue.
Mixpanel’s Cohorts allow you to segment your users by different properties so that you can run tests among groups based on different properties or characteristics. With testing, you might uncover new sources for monetization (such as an attractive pricing or upgrade bundle) or an improved user experience that leads to more conversions or product adoption.
Your marketing team should form a culture of rapid experimentation. This is possible through real-time insights into campaigns and product analytics. You should know exactly what the next steps should be after deploying a change or test. And then, as you monitor the results, be prepared to deploy the changes on a broader scale.
Mary Kate Cash, Head of Growth Marketing for North America at AB Tasty, suggests building a core group of stakeholders across different areas of the business, such as product, development, design, marketing, and ecommerce teams. “If you can get all of the right people around a table to participate in the experimentation program, you will see a vested interest in experimentation and the concept of testing show up in other areas of the business,” says Cash.
She also notes that an important aspect of a culture of experimentation is embracing the idea of failure: “Failure can be just as valuable as a winning experiment.”
What tools can enhance a marketing strategy at scale?
While growing in new channels such as communities or events will need the expertise of talented employees, A/B testing and rapid iteration will require sophisticated tools that can handle the volume of data.
And in an era when the customer expects personalization, you need tools that can pinpoint the exact tactics to use at an individual level rather than relying on broad audience segmentation.
Your team should be prepared to add tools to your tech stack that are built for growth and scalability.
Data collection and analytics
You’ll never have a complete picture of the customer journey if your data is scattered across various sources. Getting the data ingested into a single source is goal number one.
But as the company grows, you should focus more on clean, accurate data. A single source of truth, such as a CDP or a data warehouse, can then be used to forward the data to other tools.
At the heart of growth is data that tells a story. While metrics like website visits and signups indicate some success of your marketing campaigns and audience strategy, the real driver of growth will be customer retention and increasing customer lifetime value. And to drive this growth, you need to know what happens after that initial conversion.
Mixpanel combines marketing analytics from sources such as your website and social channels with insights into user behavior. Through product analytics, your team can track users’ digital footprints, step by step. This lets you see what they like or dislike and what leads them to engage, return, or churn. You can rely on what users actually do rather than what they say they do or what you think they do.
Ad metrics and cross-channel marketing
You can also track key ad metrics such as clicks, impressions, CPC, and ad spend so you can understand if your advertising dollars are worth the money. Compare your campaigns and track your return on ad spend across all channels. You can make decisions about increasing or decreasing your investment based on specific channel performance.
Even while homing in on specific channels with ad spend, part of your growth strategy should include cross-channel marketing. “Rather than implementing a variety of siloed marketing channels, each with their independent knowledge of the same customer, brands should aim to create a cohesive, holistic cross-channel experience,” says Michele Nieberding, Director, Product Marketing at Iterable. “Instead of optimizing each marketing channel in isolation, companies should strive for channel synergy.”
With a cross-channel marketing approach, the various channels (such as SMS, email, push notifications, etc.) need to communicate with one another. “All of the data on each individual customer should be centralized, making every interaction with your brand seamless,” adds Nieberding.
Engagement and targeted campaigns
Once you’ve dug into your users’ behavior through product analytics, you can use that data as the foundation for personalized messages across different channels. With engagement tools, you can send targeted campaigns based on high-value actions, such as viewing a product within your app.
Dynamic engagement is much different from bucketed or timed campaigns, where you’re batching your strategy based on common characteristics (such as sending an email campaign to “all customers who have signed up in the past seven days”). Instead, engagement tools will create meaningful experiences and personalized messaging based on that customer’s actions.
How can you align your team around growth marketing metrics?
Thinking about growth and scalability probably feels like a chicken-and-egg situation.
Do you plan for the growth before it occurs so you’re ready with the right tools and strategy when it happens? Or do you wait for the growth and then add the necessary resources?
Whichever you choose, your entire organization has to be aligned with the decision. You can’t expect an exponential shift in growth or scalability using today’s tactics. Stakeholders across marketing, sales, and product must share the same priorities.
But whether you invest in future growth today or address the growth when it arrives, you have to focus on the marketing metrics that make sense for your organization.
And what makes sense starts with data. Let your users tell the story of their journey and value—and lean into those moments. You can’t force them down a specific path, but you can use the data to encourage future customers to follow the same journey.
Imagine a clean line that traces the moment someone hears about your company to the moment they make a purchase. You can trace the sources that influenced the buying decision, understand the motivation to select your company instead of a competitor, and monitor the person’s usage of your website or app over time, gently nudging them to check out new features or offerings.
Of course, the buying journey in a digital world is far too complex to follow along a linear path. But we’ve also come a long way from designing a print ad based on lofty assumptions.
Without tying together as many data sources as possible, you’ll always face huge gaps in your analysis. If there’s a critical moment between the original ad on a social media site and a longtime, repeat customer, you might miss it—and along with that, the opportunity to encourage other customers down a similar path.
The most successful marketing teams are sharp. They understand the brand, the value proposition, and the buyer personas, yes. But they’re also resourceful and know how to look for those key moments in the journey that can improve overall outcomes. They’re not chasing an assumption: They’re relying on data.
These same teams know that marketing can’t operate in a vacuum and operate on tight collaboration between departments.
They preserve their energy for creative work by letting tools and systems do the heavy lifting.
They home in on the marketing metrics that demonstrate business impact, always keeping the focus metric at the heart of what they do.
Because, in the end, marketing is always about results.
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