February 7, 2018

#MGS2018: Growth Strategy, Tactics… and Pirates

Written by kevin-c


Ajay Sampat at the Mobile Growth Summit 2018

Today, our head of Growth at TextNow, Ajay Sampat, gave a fireside chat at the Mobile Growth Summit 2018 in San Francisco. Ajay gave us a nice preview yesterday, but for everybody not currently attending the event here’s a more in-depth look at what he discussed.

How, Why, What

Simon Sinek’s modus operandi. Fun fact: If you can hit the Why circle with a dart, it’s worth twenty points!

Before we get into the meat of the growth funnel model, and Ajay’s recommendations on how you can optimize mobile growth, let’s start with the basics: our methodology, and our tech stack.

Our modus operandi takes a page from Simon Sinek and his seminal book on business development, Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. — Sinek talks about how although starting with the why is important, great organizations are able to keep the why clear year after year. A good growth strategy starts with a clear understanding of the why before you can move to the how and what.

With TextNow, our why is: we are a cross-platform communications pioneer. We disrupt the status quo of the telecommunications industry by being a benefits and cost leader. And we apply scalable unit economics to be able to build cool technology.

Great, there’s the why sorted. So how are we achieving this noble goal? By using a model that is both structured enough to give us good information and nimble enough to shift quickly based on business needs. Sean Ellis, one of the gurus of growth development, created the data-driven template we use here at TextNow:

Sean Ellis’ Growth Process

So: come up with ideas, prioritize those ideas, test those ideas, and analyze the results. Which will generate more ideas, which you then prioritize… well, you get the idea.

The Part Where I Get To Talk Like A Pirate

So there’s the why, and the how. You’ll never guess what’s next. (See what I did there?)For the what we use a growth funnel model, also known as its much more fun to say acronym AARRR:

Avast, mateys! Here be your growth funnel!

This comes from another growth guru, Dave McClure, who coined the term Pirate Metrics over a decade ago, as it applies to app development. Ideally, of course, every user acquired would decide to activate, and those users would be retained, etc. Practically speaking that doesn’t happen, so the growth team works on optimizing each level of the funnel to keep as many users as possible as they move through, and we utilize different strategies at each level.

What strategies? Well, for example: making sign-up and on-boarding as frictionless as possible to capture acquisitions, using Autofill to help speed up the sign-in process, giving users the option to choose a number from a list rather than simply assigning a number (allowing users to pick numbers that might be easier to remember), and giving away fourteen-day trials to our Premium subscriptions.

This is where the tech stack comes in. A tech stack is the combination of software products and programming languages used to create a web or mobile application. Obviously, choosing the right tech stack to support growth is fundamental to the success of an app development. Here’s what ours looks like:

A stack of tech

For example, at TextNow, we strengthened new user monetization early in the marketing lifecycle by working with Leanplum to identify, manage, and target specific users to serve contextual, well-timed ads or notifications. The strategy relied on unique algorithms to send push notifications at times that were optimal for each customer, providing a truly customized user experience. Using this personalized approach, our retention rates shot up over what we got with untimed messages, while ad revenue boosted an impressive 43 percent.

By coordinating multiple communication channels, like push and email with one lifecycle solution, and dynamically A/B testing the in-app experience to make sure you’ve got it right, it allows you to deliver a seamless mobile app experience that increases lifetime value for higher retention and revenue rates.

Hit the Ground Running

I mentioned onboarding previously, and this really can’t be stressed enough: onboarding is a critical factor in an app’s retention strategy. Users that engage with an app early in their lifecycle are more likely to become loyal, long-term users.

You can ensure new users understand how to use and get immediate value from your app by finding what resonates with them, and that means a whole lot of testing. Remember the how and Sean Ellis’ process wheel, a few paragraphs above? At TextNow we continually experiment with new ideas — think easier logins, new emojis, password protection — and optimize against the results. The power of experimentation allows us to give your customers what they want before they even know they want it, ultimately lifting retention to offset costlier growth strategies.

Mobile businesses that rely on their data to understand and consistently stay ahead of customers’ needs are better able to utilize acquisition, retention and monetization strategies to get stand out from the competition, keep their customers happy, and grow their business. By staying data-driven and open to experimentation, TextNow is able to continually evaluate our mobile platform’s effectiveness and tweak it as needed to provide the best possible experience for our users and our bottom line.

Q&A with Ajay.

This is just a small peek into Ajay’s growth work, and just a slice of today’s talk at the Mobile Growth Summit 2018. You can follow more about the Growth Summit on Twitter, under the hashtag #MGS2018. And if you like what you read here, and want more of it, you can check out more from Ajay on Medium, and his previous article for this blog on business intelligence.

Interested in joining the Ajay and the Growth team? Head on over to our job page to see our current job listings for TextNow!