Growth hacking: the key to better serving your customers

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

Can you hack growth? Koen Koppens of Relay42 explores.

‘Growth hacking’ is a buzzword that’s been floating around ever since entrepreneur Sean Ellis coined the phrase in 2010, but what exactly does it mean, and what can it do for you? How can we put the zeitgeist to good use for a more customer-centric approach and enhanced one-to-one marketing?

A popular misconception of growth hacking is that it’s finding shortcuts, but it’s not that - it means discovering new ways of doing things through experimentation. By harnessing the right combination of data, technology, and creativity you have at your fingertips, at the right time, you can deliver the right one-to-one customer journey, to many - in a fully personalised way. With the aid of technology and innovative thinking, you can build on basic decisioning and media optimisation; to orchestrate messaging across all available channels and realise one-on-one personalisation - just like one of our airline clients did.

Building the basics: optimise media spend

Data-driven technology is the enabler which helps ambitious marketers unlock customer data and deliver on their untapped preferences. An objective is to generate compelling advertising without haemorrhaging money - how can you make your ads really speak to your customers? This is where data management platforms (DMPs), personalisation, and journey orchestration come in. A DMP is a platform which orchestrates and automates seamless customer journeys - and you can kickstart this with a simple case to increase customer relevance and reduce budget waste. With a DMP, if a customer has converted (through any channel - including offline), you can stop marketing across all channels in real-time, with display ads communicating with owned channels - then orchestrate upselling or cross-selling as the next step. With clients that have perishable product inventory, such as airlines, the need to automate customer targeting based on context is greater than ever.

Building journeys: messaging orchestration

Growth hacking enables you to make smarter decisions about which channels to use, and when - orchestrating nuanced journeys which make sense for your customers and adding complexity, i.e. how many times your message is delivered, where, and at which point in the customer journey. When it comes to serving customer-centric experiences, the intuition of using the right channel at the right time is a must. For instance, airlines use our DMP and journey orchestration to create accurate one-to-one dialogue, and sequence this dialogue in a way which makes sense. Understanding that emails are personal but don’t inspire as much urgency as push messages allows for the logic that push messages are only appropriate for holidaymakers with intent to purchase, not people who are just researching holiday choices. By using a DMP, you can automate this logic in real-time, just like our customer-centric airline client. Originally, they emailed 100% of their opt-in customers who had their app, and were interested in an upcoming flight. Push notifications were sent after a fixed period, in order to inspire urgency to book. With our DMP, they were able to reduce costs, as well as customer annoyance by sending push messages to only those who hadn’t opened the email and converted, creating a tailored customer journey which considered the best place and time for each platform.

Building hyper-personalised journeys: matching audiences with individuals across channels

Often, using owned data is enough to reach your desired audience. But what if you could go further and find interested people for your product, then pinpoint the precise audience for your purpose? Using smart technology allows you to take owned data and match it with second and third party audiences, using this as a hyper-relevant target group.

Back to the global airline, who aggregated both audience and owned data to find the golden ticket - an overlap segment of people who had searched for a flight to a destination - for example, Barcelona; directly on their website. But they had also indicated their interest in Barcelona via a second or third party. This qualified segment could then be selected in the DMP, and used for a Barcelona email campaign. Cross-checking this high level of relevancy generated outstanding results, seeing a surge in value per email.

By employing growth hacking, you ensure that the message you’re sending across both online and offline channels - in addition to paid channels - is cohesive and delivered to the right person, at the right time, and in the right quantity too. Create a win-win situation where you not only create journeys which cater to your customers, but also optimise your marketing. Cultivate an experimental mindset like those who think and do differently. Reap the business benefits, loyalty of customer-centric thinking and smart technology by combining technology, creativity and data - and exploring what it has to offer.

Read the guide about how our leading airline client achieved customer-centricity through innovative thinking and technology.

Koen Koppens, is product manager and co-founder at Relay42.

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