Activate 19 officially wrapped up one week ago. Growth-hungry marketers from across the country joined us to talk shop and get to know the growth marketing community. As you might have guessed, everyone shared a of wealth and knowledge over the course of those three days; we’ll be sharing that soon!
Until then, we’ve sifted through the content from 40 different sessions and identified seven actionable takeaways that you can put into practice today.
1. Map out your entire customer journey
Know before you grow—this recurring theme was touched upon by multiple speakers at Activate. Fender discussed the importance of gaining a deeper understanding of your customers’ journeys and shared how doing so improved their outreach efficacy at each stage of the funnel.
Fender’s team dedicated several months of time and energy mapping a typical guitar industry customer journey and then carefully compared it to the Fender experience. What they found was eye opening—important steps along the path weren’t properly supported, multiple conversion barriers were unknowingly being created, and the content they were serving wasn’t reflective of their customers’ experiences.
Fender’s tips for a finely-tuned experience:
- Determine how and why customers are coming to find you and how that affects their paths forward
- Identify all milestones, challenges, and conversion opportunities along the journey and strategize your responses accordingly
- Put it on a wall, get the perspective of different customer-facing teams, make adjustments!
2. Command attention with emails that shine
Once you’ve mapped the journey and identified your must-have messages, you’ve got to make sure those messages look great! Really Good Emails joined us for a live review of real emails and pointed out the design elements that make messages pop.
Though sometimes an afterthought, layout and formatting pay their parts in appearing credible with the consumer eye. Stack Overflow reiterated this notion and explained how creating a system of message design standards elevated their email game. They invested in building organization-wide message templating standards and now every single message they send maintains a consistent look and feel. Be it transactional, informational, or marketing-centric messages, their design structure keeps the messaging experience looking sharp.
Really good tips for eye-catching emails:
- Compile a wide range of emails that you send and critically assess the look and feel from a consumer’s POV
- Devise the right layouts for your different message types and make sure your stylings complement your customer’s intent
- Document everything so your team can always easily refer back to guidelines
3. Put all that data to use
A hot topic at Activate 19 centered around marketing’s evolution from personalization to individualization. Providing better, higher-touch consumer marketing experiences are becoming table stakes and the brands that do it best are generating results by leaning heavily into their data.
Redfin and Shoprunner discussed the impact that they’ve seen after enhancing their messaging with data from a variety of different sources. For Redfin, this equates to unique campaigns that are demographic- and behavioral-data specific. Shoprunner employs similar approaches leveraging shopping data for customer-specific recommendations and individualized browse abandonment campaigns.
Buying-into data-driven campaigns:
- Look inside your marketing technology stack to determine the customer data that’s available but not yet leveraged
- Consolidate your data sources and update customer profiles with new events and profile attributes for deeper levels of segmentation
- Create campaigns rendering dynamic message content based on behavioral events
4. Go (channel) surfing
Brands win when their content spans multiple channels. Why? Consumers are channel-agnostic; we want meaningful information when it matters most for us—content trumps channel, so long as we get it.
We championed this notion inside our keynote and unveiled additional channels by which brands can reach their audiences. Trulia spent their session discussing how expansion across channels enables them to reach new audience segments and increase their action-prompting abilities. Even for such a major decision as home buying, Trulia’s customers display higher rates of engagement and are increasingly converting to premium service tiers once receiving personalized cross-channel messaging.
Changing channels to something better:
- Enhance your current engagement strategy with a cross-channel approach that fits your customers’ relationship with your product
- Evaluate how each sequenced message sent helps or hinders your customer’s next “best” action
- Consider incorporating social retargeting efforts for engaged customer segments to nudge them forward
5. Get creative and be authentic
Accomplishing more with our marketing is a bond we all share, but that’s easier said than done. We’re marketers; our ideas are a dime a dozen and often far exceed our own production capabilities. But we must not settle—it’s up to us to push the boundaries and deliver immersive experiences!
Disney’s former Head of Innovation & Creativity, Duncan Wardle, electrified the room with his keynote address about unleashing our imaginations. When creativity, curiosity, and intuition come together, we can produce truly special results. Zillow shared a somewhat similar sentiment during their session, but focused on cultivating engagement and trust through authenticity. Discovering new ways to not only delight, but empower customers with control over their experiences is how brands find favor with the modern consumer.
Build unforgettable moments and enhance the experience:
- Ask “What if?” and “Why?” when exploring creative ways to solve marketing challenges
- Re-engineer your outreach approach by finding out your customers’ motivations, wants, and needs while engaging
- Invite your customers to influence their experiences by interacting. Use that data to alter the content, cadence, and channels of your outreach to better reflect their tastes
6. Create your own best practices
As you might have imagined, the concept of growth was a keystone theme behind every Activate speaker session (it is the growth marketing conference, afterall). Part of achieving growth means bucking the trends of tradition simply because they’ve been deemed “best practices.”
Jen Capstraw of Iterable and Women of Email fame reminded us to take a hard look at our allegiances to best practices. Naturally, we all want to know what works, what’s safe, what guarantees success, and so on. But other brand’s truths are not our own. Learn from best practices, but don’t be afraid to challenge convention and experiment; trust your judgment, observe the results, iterate and optimize from there. Remember, best practices do add value—they’re findings based in data, but not your data.
Best practices for breaking from best practices:
- Identify and critically assess the effectiveness of your outreach practices that carry a “best practices” label
- Take industry-related best practices with a grain of salt until you can test that same premise using your own data
- Follow the only two rules of marketing experimentation: be legal and be relevant
7. Usher in a new era of automation
Automation is a growth marketer’s best friend and they’ve advanced quite a bit since becoming a martech colloquialism decades ago. Multiple speakers gave us a look at how they’re using highly sophisticated automations and replacing many of the manual tasks that once inhibited their output.
Opendoor reminded us to devise a thoughtful automation strategy before getting started. Understanding your customer’s end-to-end journey is a prerequisite to planning a meaningful automation blueprint—without it, you’re putting your customer’s experience at risk. Trello built atop this notion and gave a complete walkthrough of how to use APIs and data feeds to confidently personalize automated messages at different lifecycle stages. Highlighting multiple use cases, Trello showed how smart automations are saving them more than 22 team hours per month.
Organize strategically, automate effectively:
- Map out your customer journey and highlight opportunities to automate messaging that support the pre- and post-advancement criteria (lead follow up, onboarding, repeat buys, etc.)
- Prioritize automations based on how critical they are to meeting your company’s goals
- Scale your personalized messaging effort by building templates which automatically populate dynamic content fields based on customer data
Activate 19 was loaded with nuggets like these! We’re updating the Activate website with the recorded sessions soon so you replay the sessions you loved and get a front row seat to those you missed.
Want to live the experience for yourself? Join the waitlist for Activate 19 – London! We’ll be traveling across the pond and present another full day of growth marketing with some of the most innovative marketers from around the world.