0:00:00 – (LaToya Bowlah): I think lifecycle does have a little bit of a crisis and maybe all channels as well, where it’s so much garbage in, garbage out, right? Where marketers are just overblasting with promotions because there is sort of this mandate to convert, convert, convert. But there needs to be this balance between converting and providing utility, providing usefulness to your customers. You know, if you are someone who you just made this purchase order like you described, like you’re not thinking about, you know, the next sale or the next prints in season, you are thinking about when am I going to get my stuff?

0:00:43 – (Matt Widdoes): My guest today is Latoya Bola. Latoya is a leader in digital transformation and lifecycle marketing. Her background also includes developing go to market strategies at prominent high growth companies like Nasdaq and Bloomberg Digital, as well as leadership roles at Anthology AI, Bloomberg News and Elevest. Latoya and I talk about the importance of understanding your audience, finding the balance between customer value and revenue growth, and just how critical lifecycle marketing really is to driving growth.

0:01:15 – (Matt Widdoes): As always, don’t forget to subscribe to growth at scale on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. It’s an easy way to make sure you never miss an episode with that. Here’s Latoya Baula. Welcome to the podcast, Latoya.

0:01:34 – (LaToya Bowlah): Thank you for having me, Matt. It’s good to be here.

0:01:37 – (Matt Widdoes): I’m super excited to dive in. So for people who don’t know you, tell us, who are you? Where have you been? What do you do?

0:01:42 – (LaToya Bowlah): Well, first off, I have a confession. This is my first podcast, so congratulations to you or me. I’m excited to be here. And I’ll say, just to add to the intro you provided, I’ve spent over a decade at the intersection of digital automation and go to market strategy. Sometimes by happenstance, I would say probably the first, most pivotal moment in my career was during my tenure at Nasdaq. And it was back when the fintech industry was sort of having a soul searching inflection moment and thinking through how do we become relevant in the digital landscape? How do we take advantage of what is becoming the world of social media, the world of mass digital consumption?

0:02:30 – (LaToya Bowlah): How do we reach broader audiences and tell a story that resonates across new audiences just outside of the typical institutional investor community? I had the privilege of being a part of that story. I like to say Nasdaq is where I grew up in marketing and learned the abcs of full on, full funnel, full lifecycle digital marketing strategy. From everything from paid media to building up their own marketing video content and video strategy to sales enablement to support demand Gen, from a lead gen growth conversion longer funnel lifecycle to building out the bones of their automation strategy to support, whether it’s supporting driving growth on the demand gen side, whether it’s creating new content to continuously engage customers downstream, as well as building out that ongoing engagement and lifecycle strategy, as well as packaging products and taking it to market.

0:03:38 – (LaToya Bowlah): So I’ll say, like, that’s where I got sort of the 360 landscape of marketing and got some grease on my elbows. And then I pivoted to Bloomberg. I was actually tapped by the, the Bloomberg media team at the time. Again, another critical transformation, right? It was around when print was going away, and it was sort of like hysteria in the media world around how do we continue to monetize, how do we continue to deliver exceptional products in a digital world?

0:04:10 – (LaToya Bowlah): And the New York Times were sort of the first to lead that trend in pivoting to a subscription based model. Then you saw the Wall Street Journal and other businesses follow suit. And Bloomberg had this massive media arm in terms of the Businessweek print magazine, Bloomberg.com, which was at the time free. They also had Bloomberg TV, Bloomberg events. So it was just sort of a conglomerate of different media properties across Bloomberg. And so my team was sort of created to say, hey, how do we look holistically across all of these media properties and turn it into a digital product that could compete, you know, in the digital world, in the landscape, compete with the New York Times, et cetera.

0:04:53 – (LaToya Bowlah): And so we built, I think it was the first of its kind, which was a dynamic paywall, dynamic subscription, paywall model. And that was a massive effort across everyone from brand lifecycle product. The data science team was very much in lockstep with me in sort of like understanding who our audiences were, identifying what their engagement preferences were on site to really build out that product, find the nugget in the marketplace that sort of informed the strategy and really take that to market. And so that was sort of my first taste at building a product from the ground up, taking it to market and driving impact and growing that holistically, of course, with the support of my teammates and colleagues at the time.

0:05:40 – (LaToya Bowlah): And from there, I really got very energized by that, right? By understanding the customer, moving them along the life cycle, and also finding that industry insight and using it to take products to market. And so I made the pivot to startup. So that was sort of like a significant pivot in my career. Sort of took the training wheels off from being at large, robust, already well sustained companies, and went to smaller scale startups. My first startup being elvest, where I headed up their lifecycle strategy.

0:06:14 – (LaToya Bowlah): They had never had a lifecycle strategy before, and they were building a new innovation in the marketplace, a robo investing platform, a digital investing platform specifically targeted for women. And so while it was a consumer facing product, it still required a lot of, still had a lot of synergies with enterprise products, still had longer sales cycle. Folks were required to take significant steps before they could set up their investment account or significant steps before they could successfully roll over their ira.

0:06:48 – (LaToya Bowlah): Huge use case for driving product adoption and building out a full lifecycle strategy at Albas. And so I helped shepherd that organization into their lifecycle era and understanding, building automated touchpoints, building customer segments, leveraging personalization, customization and content strategy to just move folks along to the next step in the product lifecycle. Fast forward. I was tapped by Arcadia, which is a climate tech startup, another interesting transformative industry at the time.

0:07:25 – (LaToya Bowlah): And I helped them not only just build out their lifecycle strategy, but really take the suite of their enterprise climate products to market. We went from being a series b startup at the time to a unicorn startup. And that had been a phenomenal journey for me, both overseeing the direct to consumer lifecycle strategy and then also the enterprise go to market strategy. And today, as you mentioned, I am now at another transformative place in the tech industry, which is AI. I think it’s, over the past six months, has earned a lot of media, earned a lot of conversation and mind sharing in terms of not just from a marketing perspective and thinking of how we use this tool, but companies coming up with new and innovative ways to really use that technology to move human processes along.

0:08:15 – (LaToya Bowlah): And so here I am at anthology AI and I head up marketing strategy and we are a consumer insights and predictive platform. We essentially buy data directly from consumers, so we allow them to take part in the data economy. And so we source billions of data points ethically directly from consumers and then use that to build predictive models to support tons of enterprise functions. Marketing use cases, business use cases on top of that for the enterprise world at large.

0:08:47 – (Matt Widdoes): Cool. No, I think it’s such a, I’d like to kind of dive into that, um, deeper as we go along because I think it’s such a valuable, uh, in this kind of privacy first and kind of consumer protected landscape, individuals having control over their data and the ability to monetize it and having clarity and kind of, like you said, ethically sourced data is probably going to become more and more of an opportunity versus, like, less of one. I think people are starting to kind of realize, consumers, general consumers are starting to realize the, the value they’ve been giving away in datum.

0:09:19 – (Matt Widdoes): And it essentially can be a two sided marketplace where everyone’s like, I’m fine with you having the data if I benefit from it in some way, but what I don’t want are 50 new letters in my physical mailbox or a bunch of spam calls. That’s the worst outcome. As a double click on that, who gave my number away? I’d really like to know, why am I getting all of these calls? Was it because of one person or many people? Which creates distrust, you know, moving forward with people when they think about giving their data to a company, which is not good for anybody.

0:09:52 – (Matt Widdoes): Going back to kind of your earliest part of your career at, or one of the earlier things in your career at Nasdaq, I was thinking as you were talking through that, you know, building out the digital arm of that and how complicated that is. Or maybe not complicated, although complicated, but also, like interconnected. That is like how many different people that takes to really get over the, the line that you’re also in a world similar to Bloomberg.

0:10:14 – (Matt Widdoes): We have to deal with all of these traditional media channels at the same time, which is probably a blessing and a curse. Like, you have all of this additional leverage and consideration, but you also have all of these other things to kind of service within that. And then when you think about the automation and how more, how complicated that becomes or more complex, I guess I should say it becomes as you get more and more channels and more and more data points and more and more things that you may want to say or not say to individual consumers that can become pretty big pretty quickly.

0:10:47 – (Matt Widdoes): So I’m curious, like on that, on the automation front, any kind of key learnings from really any company that you’ve worked with in the past as it relates to marketing automation or as it relates to just the general consumer lifecycle or their journey as a customer from kind of first purchase to cancellation or whatever that might be, however you want to frame that, like, any, any key considerations from people that are looking at marketing automation and like where should they invest their money and how maybe even as an extension of that, how that might have changed over the last, you know, five to ten years from your perspective?

0:11:23 – (LaToya Bowlah): Absolutely. It’s a really great question. As you were asking, it made me just think of working in certain landscapes where marketing teams are sort of just innately driven to like, okay, we need to be on Facebook, we need to be on Instagram, we need to be on Google Ads. We need to do all of the things right. And you have sort of that list of typical digital channels in your toolkit that we typically go after. And while that may be true and necessary in most consumer landscapes for digital marketing, and also sometimes in enterprise landscapes as well, I would encourage marketers, when thinking about their channel strategy, to take a step back and really start with the audience.

0:12:10 – (LaToya Bowlah): There were many points in my career where it was proven that we needed both that digital paid arm, we needed that lifecycle owned marketing content engagement arm, and we also needed that traditional marketing mix arm, particularly when you’re dealing with certain segments. I think a great use case if you have a product where you are targeting an audience who is not digital first. There is a whole population of folks of different generations that may not be digital first users. And if you are trying to reach them, if that’s what your product calls for, then you have got to consider, where are your audiences? Where are they showing up? How do we even get them into our ecosystem and meet them in the places where they’re having conversations?

0:12:59 – (LaToya Bowlah): Are they having conversations on direct mail? Are they listening to NPR? Or are, are they digital first users, you know? Or are they international users that have an inclination to WhatsApp instead of Facebook and really honing into that audience strategy and figuring out who are the segments you’re trying to reach, where are the spaces that they play in, what are their watering holes? And using that to really back in to your mix of automated channels, paid channels, programmatic channels, as well as traditional or maybe experimental channels that you wouldn’t necessarily go to, I would say, is the best place to start when thinking of your full channel strategy. And I would say one of the learnings that came through as we sort of tried to find the balance between automation, digital channels and traditional channels in perhaps all of my jobs.

0:13:52 – (Matt Widdoes): Yeah, I think the other piece too is like, even just a few of the things that you’ve mentioned there and in the intro is that, you know, you’ve got consumer insights, you’ve got data, you’ve got lifecycle, you’ve got paid, you’ve got creative, you’ve got, I mean, in the mix of companies like Nasdaq and Bloomberg, you have pr, you have billboard, you have all these other things, not to mention finance. And you’re serving both, like consumer facing messaging and like enterprise, like, are you buying, are you buying access to Bloomberg’s terminal like, that’s very different messaging and use case and, like, benefits than Bloomberg as a leader in data driven financial news. Right.

0:14:32 – (Matt Widdoes): And so I think the thing that we often see, and it’s almost like it’s totally understandable, is that so often people are looking for some silver bullet or they’re like, oh, okay. And in that long kind of bingo card list of things that we need, they’re like, oh, SEO is going to solve it. So let’s go hard. In SEO, it’s the quarter of SEO. And then they realize that in and of itself didn’t do much or wasn’t to the expectation. It certainly didn’t save the day.

0:14:58 – (Matt Widdoes): So, like, now it’s all about acquisition. It’s all about all of these things, you know? And there’s a list of 40 things that you could put on that list. And the truth is it’s, it’s really about all of those things at a certain sequence, at a certain depth at the right time and really in the right hands, too. So, like, yes, early days, you can get by with somebody who is a generalist on SEO, and you can kind of check the first 20 checkboxes on SEO for $5,000 or whatever that ends up being.

0:15:25 – (Matt Widdoes): But ultimately, if you’re going to be like, world class SEO, you, you may have a million dollar headcount dedicated to that full time, all the time, not to mention, like paid, you know, backlinking and stuff like that. So all of these can get very deep. It’s very similar to, also to, like, how much is a house? And it’s like, so many questions for you before you could possibly answer that. Like, what are you trying to get out of it? Where do you want to live? Are you, like, we can get you a sub sub $10,000 house all day long in half of the world, actually.

0:15:54 – (Matt Widdoes): It’s just, is that, is that actually what you’re looking for? And so I think oftentimes people want to have a similar answer to, like, how, what’s it going to take to grow the company? And the truth is, like, so many things, and, and then the follow on question is like, well, where do we start? And so with that, I mean, and you can think of go to market being a brand new company that literally hasn’t found product market fit or just a branch in an existing company like Bloomberg, it’s like, okay, we have this new thing that we are bringing out, and it doesn’t matter whether we are a billion dollar company with tons of money or we are pre investment seed round company. It’s like, okay, what do we, the process and the sequence by which we do things is similar in its nature a little bit. What are kind of some of the core considerations you take into account, either at scale or early stage when thinking about go to market generally and maybe framed another way is like where do you think, if anywhere, people maybe get things wrong or kind of go out of order or spend too much time in one area, when in reality maybe they’re better served taking a different approach? Any thoughts today?

0:17:01 – (LaToya Bowlah): Yeah, this is one of my favorite questions.

0:17:04 – (Matt Widdoes): Oh, good.

0:17:05 – (LaToya Bowlah): It comes up a ton, especially. I mean, it comes about large organizations too, because they’re taking products to market all the time. But particularly in the world of startup, right? Like we’ve got this great idea, it’s special to us, but where do we start? And I would say there is like a tried and true way to think about a go to market. And I like to break it into five very clear parts and components or work streams, however you want to frame it. But the first being that strategic insight. That strategic market insight. So what is that signal from the marketplace you have rallied around that lets you know what you’re taking to market is needed, is going to optimize what signal did you get from either a headwind or tailwind, that your product is going to be essential or that there’s a gap you need to fill or there’s something that you can level up and there’s a clear sort of need and use case for it. So really getting very clear about that strategic insight, I would say step one, because that’s really going to be the driving force of your go to market.

0:18:12 – (LaToya Bowlah): It’s going to trickle down into who you target in the marketplace, how you target them, what you build, how you prioritize, what you build from a MVP perspective and so forth across other teams in the company as well. From a marketing perspective, the second most important thing I would say is that differentiation, your differentiation, is something that is invaluable. And by differentiation, I mean, like, how are you driving, how is your product or solution going, going to drive outsized impact and what makes it relevant?

0:18:47 – (LaToya Bowlah): Nailing those two things is really going to help you convey differentiation in the marketplace. It’s going to help companies cut through the noise and really reach the folks that they’re trying to reach. You know, like, we’re definitely in an age where we are boiling the pot in terms of content and messaging and marketing out there. So the truer a company can get to their north Star in terms of figuring out how they differentiate, I would say is number two.

0:19:13 – (LaToya Bowlah): Number three, is that audience alignment, a huge mistake I see companies make is saying like, well, anyone can use our product. You know, it’s for everyone. We don’t want to exclude audiences or exclude companies or business. And while that may be true, you know, we have a saying in marketing which you may be familiar with. If you’re talking to everyone, you’re talking to no one. So you do have to get very clear on who your primary audience are.

0:19:42 – (LaToya Bowlah): You know, what are their needs? How are they currently solving the problem that you are proposing to solve for them? How does your solution solve it better and really creating a framework of essential audiences, their primary gaps, their primary needs, and plugging in exactly how you fit into that landscape for that audience. And then finally, I would say the other really big component of a successful go to market is identifying your growth model.

0:20:11 – (LaToya Bowlah): So are you in a product led growth motion? Are you, you know, a sales led growth motion where it’s a lot slower and you’re working more? So like in a sales enablement, demand gen capacity, are you going to create digital growth loops and flywheels and move really swiftly, like figuring out what your growth model is? Is it purely, you know, volume in the top? Are you building out that robust, owned, you know, lifecycle strategy, like really figuring out what your growth model is and the key components in that is that final part to a successful go to market and then, of course, how you track success?

0:20:50 – (Matt Widdoes): Yeah, I think, well, what’s great about all of those things is those are actually before we get operators in the room. So like these are all business level decisions, right? And sure, there may be some like product marketers or some other people that come into play there to kind of reach alignment. You probably have some, maybe some consumer insights, people who speak with your customers and design, you know, questionnaires and other things to kind of help drive that and validate that.

0:21:13 – (Matt Widdoes): But like, everything you just said doesn’t require you to have a media buyer or a lifecycle person or anything else, because that’s really just alignment on what are we actually even taking to market? And do we feel like there’s enough of a section carved out there for us to win? I think that desire of consumers to find the perfect solution for what they’re looking for, to your point, like the more niche down that you can be that says we’re this for these people. I saw we just recently shared this, but it was essentially a, like a comparison of Microsoft, I think teams Slack and Discord.

0:21:46 – (Matt Widdoes): And those are all used for the same purpose. Like it’s essentially to talk with people. Right. But how they carve that out, how they define that is uniquely different. So you don’t have gamers on Microsoft Teams and you don’t have, you know, you don’t have businesses running on discord.

0:22:00 – (LaToya Bowlah): Exactly.

0:22:01 – (Matt Widdoes): Although they totally could. But all the businesses are on Slack, or many of them or whatever that might be.

0:22:07 – (LaToya Bowlah): Matt, I also think though, to add to that the lifecycle piece, not at the defining the go to market stage necessarily. That’s predominantly, like you said, a business case, market insights, product marketing, really honing into what the opportunity is, who your audience segments are. The ways in which I think customer lifecycle is really critical here is once you start getting into, like, okay, your buying journey, that moment up until your customer becomes a customer, and then how do we get them from being a customer to being a fully adopted customer?

0:22:47 – (LaToya Bowlah): And then what are the downstream things we need to do to make sure that that customer is driving growth, whether it’s through referrals. Referrals, whether it’s through upsell. So figuring out that buying journey, and especially if you’re going after enterprise clients. Right. Your buying journey may look different based on the kind of organizations you’re talking to. Right. And really getting clear on what are the steps that you’re taking to get folks in. And then once they’re in, how are you getting them activated? How are you getting them set up?

0:23:19 – (LaToya Bowlah): Are they setting up API keys? Do they have to onboard like several team members and make several calls in your tech stack in order to be fully set up? Is it a heavy lift integration? Do we need to constantly set up programs and create automated workflows for them to take those actions, whether you’re doing it through email content or a combination of that, as well as sales outreaches as well. And so I think that piece comes in the growth modeling. Right? Like understanding what is that growth model?

0:23:53 – (LaToya Bowlah): Is it, you know, someone just goes to a checkout screen and hits buy and that’s it, or is it a longer sales cycle? Really defining that, I think is where the lifecycle person and the lifecycle team becomes very critical.

0:24:06 – (Matt Widdoes): Well, and I think too, like lifecycle should be in whether it is a, you know, self serve, click a button, pay $10 low consideration, or it is a speak with a sales rep and sign a check for $2 million a year recurring enterprise thing with all of this interconnectivity and considerations pre and post sale that are going to require a lot more touch in most cases. Life cycle is at the heart of all of that because not just the automation and the like kind of reviving of people who’ve gone dormant, but like strategically these things have or haven’t been done. That means you’re on this or you get this call. Like all of that sits almost at the business layer.

0:24:44 – (Matt Widdoes): And these are just considerations so that we can do that at scale versus having a 100 person sales team all sending different scripts at different times. Some of our worst salespeople never following up with people that said they would do something and didn’t, and creating the framework by which you can make things like getting APIs and stuff done faster through, like, hey, this isn’t that hard. We have a webinar series coming up that we had to partner with product teams and creative teams and maybe even paid teams to get that out into the world.

0:25:13 – (Matt Widdoes): We have this other thing that’s going on or, you know, this bifurcation on account size that might involve finance and sales, and sales has to have a strategy that maps back to lifecycle strategy. And then all of that feeds back into marketing. Because if we see at the top like pre sale demand gen type stuff, if we see that, hey, like we’re really efficient at driving enterprise, they just take a lot more handholding.

0:25:37 – (Matt Widdoes): But all of our competitors are going after consumer, okay, these are like major, major considerations. And what we oftentimes see to the detriment of the business is that when those teams aren’t talking together, the marketing team, maybe the demand side of the marketing team is saying, these aren’t very interesting. Let’s go after this other thing that we see faster return on like a $10 consumer decision.

0:26:00 – (Matt Widdoes): And nobody down the line is saying is thinking about how do we handhold some of these more enterprise level clients where we would need ten of them for every 50,000 consumer driven ones? And like, so anyways, like this is where it comes back to that kind of complexity. And lifecycle is such a part and parcel, I think, to everything. And it really starts in some ways. I think people think of lifecycle as like email and push and these things, but really it’s like the first time user experience, all of those things play into it. The segmentation on like what did they come looking for and how are we going to talk to them moving forward? And that shouldn’t be, regardless of what they came looking for.

0:26:39 – (Matt Widdoes): We talk to them the same way afterwards. But again, people tend to under invest, I think, in lifecycle to their detriment.

0:26:46 – (LaToya Bowlah): I think so too. And, you know, and I’m not just saying this because lifecycle is sort of like where I grew up in marketing, but lifecycle is so unique in that it truly sits at the center of data science when it comes to marketing. It sits at the center of data science, it sits at the center of content, and it sits at the center of automation and really moving customers, sales and customers forward, right.

0:27:14 – (LaToya Bowlah): Because it brings all of those things together when done well and can really significantly shift. You know, the earnings and revenue profile of a company lifecycle has been proven to significantly reduce CAC, right. If you’re able to continuously move folks from coming in the door to that sales moment and then from that sales moment, you’re continuing to build delightful customer experiences through lifecycle and you upsell them further and just build that loyalty, build those growth loops, referrals, etcetera. That’s all in lifecycle.

0:27:49 – (LaToya Bowlah): And it has a ton of Roi for companies when it’s invested in, when it’s done right. So it’s so critical. And even though lifecycle is probably one of the oldest, the channels within lifecycle are probably some of the oldest channels when we think of digital marketing, right, but it’s still the most intimate channels if you think about it, right? Like even today, people cannot function without their email. It is the first thing they check in the morning, it is the first thing they check when they get at their desk. They check it on the train.

0:28:17 – (LaToya Bowlah): You know, they’re constantly interacting with it. And it’s still one of the only channels between email and maybe sms, but still more so, email, especially in the business world, is the only channel where you can have a one to one relationship with someone with your audience. At scale. Right. There’s no other channel where you can recur in my feed constantly at guarantee and have a conversation with me. And so it’s still a fantastic tool to move folks along in a conversation with customers.

0:28:49 – (Matt Widdoes): Well, and I think that there’s two points on that that I would add to, which is because of the intimacy of it and because of the attention it gets from all of us, it’s all the more reason to get it right. Well, it’s all the more reason to, like, communicate there, but even more so to get it right. Because if you, like, violate that and somebody unsubs from you, like, okay, you just, you just like, cut yourself off.

0:29:08 – (Matt Widdoes): But the other thing is at scale in particular, it is essentially an owned and operated social media platform. And you have all these people that are like, we’re going to invest in TikTok. We’re going to invest in this. Invest in this. We’re going to invest in retargeting customers that have lapsed or who didn’t convert on Facebook ads. And we’ll pay $50 a user to reactivate somebody. And meanwhile, they have 50 million email records and they’re not doing anything with it because they’re like, eh. And it’s like, not sexy. And it’s not. You can’t, like, point to dollars in, dollars out. The irony is like, there’s, the dollars are already in the $0 additional in. I mean, by and large, sure, you can look at the personnel cost, but like, that, you, everybody thinks that personnel costs.

0:29:47 – (Matt Widdoes): And so it’s like, well, what are you doing there? And like, if you’ve seen really good email that you’re like, I like this. I feel like my inbox is respected. I’m not, it’s not all sales. Some of it’s helpful. Some of it is. It’s like a reminder. And I’m like, oh, yeah, I’m never unsubbing from that because I eventually want to, like, reengage with that. It’s just now is not the right time. But I have a choice to unsub. I’m going to leave it on because I like this. I’m snoozing it essentially, versus the inverse of that is I just had this happen to me recently. I bought something from a company I was checking.

0:30:20 – (Matt Widdoes): I bought something from them a week ago. I went to my inbox to check where the shipping is, and I have 15 emails from them that are like, spring is in the air. And I’m like, hold on. All I did was buy something that was dollar 60. This is like a pair of sandals. I’m like, I don’t, I don’t need. And now I can’t find my shipping information because I have 15 emails from these people. So I’m like, okay, first off, let’s unsub from that. Cause we’re not gonna let that continue and then find my shipping stuff, delete everything else. But it’s like, you don’t wanna do that either. And so, or you should test into it. And they probably have. They’re like, yeah, we, we intentionally run people off because for the people that’ll tolerate 15 emails in a, in a week, we got you for life.

0:30:58 – (LaToya Bowlah): That’s their audience.

0:30:59 – (Matt Widdoes): That’s the audience. People who just like, I need constant reminders in my inbox of stuff that I haven’t purchased or that I, that I don’t know. I need, but anyways, but yeah, it can be so valuable. And so this is coming from, you know, you mentioned, like, you don’t believe that lifecycle is so important. You don’t feel like you’re biased even though you came up in lifecycle as somebody who did not come up in lifecycle.

0:31:19 – (Matt Widdoes): I think it’s one of, if not the most important channel. I’ve said that from the beginning, even when I was at King and Zynga and stuff. It’s like, hey, why are we, as somebody who’s controlling hundreds of millions of dollars in media, begging the question, like, have we sent a push notification of these people yet? And is the list that we’re targeting through paid already filtered down from the people that have not opened push messages? Or is this just everybody? Because at scale, could we send, I mean, no joke, could we send a billion push notifications and just target the people that didn’t open it?

0:31:51 – (Matt Widdoes): That seems way better than just targeting a billion people, right? And so anyways, I think, and you’ve.

0:31:56 – (LaToya Bowlah): Already paid to get that audience in the door.

0:31:59 – (Matt Widdoes): It’s already. Exactly. And like, why are we gonna pay additional? This opens up a whole other thing where people don’t attach the lifetime cost, the CAC all the way through all the different touch points. Like that is more sophisticated and people should be doing that, but they just look at that first interaction.

0:32:14 – (LaToya Bowlah): That’s right.

0:32:15 – (Matt Widdoes): Yeah. And so it’s like, yeah, we’ve already paid for that. And I think the real magic trick, and people come to me all the time because of my background and paid. And they think that, like, paid is going to solve it. But paid is legitimately, like the 9th or 10th thing you should do. It’s like, start with consumer insight. Start with data. Go to consumer insights. If you don’t have data, just start with consumer insights and then run creative testing for the sake of testing through paid but not big go look at the first time, the landing page, the first time user experience and optimize that. Make sure that’s nice and tight.

0:32:45 – (Matt Widdoes): Then look at lifecycle and make sure all that’s nice and tight. And then go back to paid or even then go deeper into social and some of these more supportive elements. But you’re kind of like going down the line every quarter and then going back down the line every quarter. So instead of like run to the left of the ship, run to the right of the ship. Let’s go really deep in this thing. Forget that thing altogether. Let’s go do this other thing, it’s like, no, they all matter.

0:33:06 – (Matt Widdoes): They matter at different depths and speeds. And it really only works if everybody’s talking to each other. Because if you’ve got all these amazing learnings and lifecycle and we’re not talking about it, and I’m running paid or so and so is running sales, and we’re not all focused on like how do we drive the most value and the like lowest cost of acquisition and highest return on like just general LTV metrics, then we’re all just kind of like shooting in the dark.

0:33:29 – (Matt Widdoes): And I think the real magic trick that people can show is like, don’t change your user acquisition team, just change everything else. Just invest in everything else and watch your, watch your cost acquisition go down. Not because you’ve changed some targeting or even your creative, you’ve just made your funnel more efficient. And that’s this like unsexy thing that nobody wants to deal with. And they’d way rather this magic pill that says, no, no, no, there’s some pocket of people out there that we don’t have to do any work on and they’re just going to buy what we have and we won’t even need lys alcohol because they’re all going to purchase right out of the gate. It’s like that’s also totally unrealistic and unobserved in really any market, but nobody wants to, nobody wants to do the diet and exercise. They all just want to jump straight to the ozempic or straight to the life inspection.

0:34:11 – (Matt Widdoes): And it’s like, well, the short answer may not be what you want, but if you go talk to your doctor, they’re going to say diet and exercise and you’re like, that’s not what I want to hear. See you later. I’m not going to come back to the doctor for ten more years.

0:34:21 – (LaToya Bowlah): So, no, it’s such a great point. I’ve seen clients, customers, companies invest, like, just top heavy investments without having the infrastructure to even support. What do we do with these folks when we get them in the door? And that’s how you end up with dormant customers and then you have to work ten times as hard to reengage them. The other interesting thing that you mentioned was your example of looking for your shipping package and it was being buried in a bunch of promos.

0:34:52 – (LaToya Bowlah): I think lifecycle does have a little bit of a crisis and maybe all channels as well, where it’s so much garbage in, garbage out, right? Where, you know, marketers are just overblasting with promotions because there is sort of this mandate to convert, convert, convert. But there needs to be this balance between converting and providing utility, providing usefulness to your customers. You know, if you are someone who you just made this purchase order like you described, like you’re not thinking about, you know, the next sale or the next prints in season, you are thinking about when am I going to get my stuff?

0:35:32 – (LaToya Bowlah): Like when are you going to get me my stuff, you know? And I think that’s really where lifecycle strategy shines bright, right? The ability to really get clear on your segments, their customer journeys. What are those mandatory product triggers? Is it just purchased, you know, an order? Is it abandoned cart really mapping out those clear product signals that you absolutely need to deliver on your promise to your customers on, and then figuring out, okay, so how do I catapult that value?

0:36:05 – (LaToya Bowlah): What else is going to be meaningful to this user? And being very thoughtful about that, whether it’s through a content engagement strategy, whether it’s through additional promos or things that you might be interested in, but really being thoughtful about how you layer in your engagement strategy with your promo strategy and then your product utility strategy is key. And sometimes the utility piece and the engagement piece get left out of the conversation because we’re so incentivized to go, go, go, convert, convert, convert.

0:36:39 – (Matt Widdoes): Yeah. And you can end up like squeezing the baby too much right where it’s like, okay, we, we, we killed all of our future opportunity. The person unsubbed in the first three days because we were all about like buy all these things. I’d actually be curious to see if that company I’m talking about has tested into that. They probably have. Or maybe I’m on some like slam this person with two emails a day list.

0:36:59 – (LaToya Bowlah): Maybe you’re on like four different segments and they need to clean up their.

0:37:04 – (Matt Widdoes): Yeah, I should go verify that. Like, I, if I have gotten multiples, I have at least gotten one a day. But I’m curious to like double in double click on that last statement, if there’s anything to kind of peel back there on. Just like some of the factors that go into like striking a successful balance between driving revenue growth and creating customer value because you have, like, you only get so many shots. Let’s just say you get a shot a day and in reality you probably don’t with most products or most companies because they don’t have so many things to sell. Like ecom is a little bit different because it’s like we always have something new. There’s always something like whatever.

0:37:38 – (Matt Widdoes): But like how do you balance that desire to, you know, provide value where it might be some tangential thing like let’s take your existing company where it’s like, okay, latest AI news unrelated us. We just know you like AI because you’re with us and we like AI and we’re part and parcel with that. So here’s some cool thing that maybe you didn’t know that is like industry related. Here’s some new prompting that you can use on the, on the enterprise level so that you can pull the data that you’re looking for.

0:38:05 – (Matt Widdoes): Consumer side, here’s some new offer that we have or something where you can monetize your data and then also here’s something to buy. Yeah. What factors kind of go into that? Is it like largely test and learn and leveraging your gut? Is there some like, you know, you think of Gary Vee’s old, I think it’s jab, jab, jab like eight times right hook, where it’s like, okay, we’re going to try to do some ratio of six to eight to one value driven versus these, which seems like that would be really lopsided for most lifecycle campaigns.

0:38:33 – (Matt Widdoes): Any tips and tricks or just like feedback or general like, things that somebody might be able to apply when making those decisions on. How do we drive value and balance that with driving revenue and do they even need to be separated?

0:38:43 – (LaToya Bowlah): Yeah, yeah. It’s a great question. It’s also a really hard question because.

0:38:47 – (Matt Widdoes): It varies so much. Right?

0:38:49 – (LaToya Bowlah): It varies and it’s different for every company and business model. I would go back, and not to be super high level, but I would really go back on like knowing exactly who you are in the marketplace. Like for example, the way that Ups would communicate with you, for example, when they’re delivering a package is very different than you would expect morning brew to communicate with you. Right. Very different cadences because what you’re looking for from them, the usefulness that you’re looking for is very different.

0:39:23 – (LaToya Bowlah): So I would say like, yeah, the.

0:39:24 – (Matt Widdoes): Social contract between the two is different.

0:39:26 – (LaToya Bowlah): The social contract, understanding the role you play in your customer’s life.

0:39:32 – (Matt Widdoes): Yeah.

0:39:32 – (LaToya Bowlah): I think nailing that, not trying to be.

0:39:35 – (Matt Widdoes): Yeah. Here’s your, your best friend bobbing your best friend.

0:39:39 – (LaToya Bowlah): Yeah, totally. If my boss is texting me, you know, Monday through Friday, fine. But if I’m on vacation and like when he shows up at my hotel, that would be strange. So you have to know the relationship you play in your customers life first and foremost. Right. And then that’s sort of the center that you start with, and then you can begin to build out programs around that. So the first layer of programming you’d want to build out around that is what’s essential.

0:40:07 – (LaToya Bowlah): What are the essential product based things I have to convey to my customers to deliver on the promise I’ve made to them. So if you were an e commerce company, that may look like letting them know that your order was confirmed, providing them with tracking information if they’ve abandoned cart, letting them know, hey, we’ve still got this thing saved in the cart for you. Let us know if you’re coming back. So, like really mapping out what those key elements are that you have to communicate. You know, if you are, for example, a robo investing platform like Elvest and someone has started to set up their investing account, you’re definitely going to want to confirm the action.

0:40:46 – (LaToya Bowlah): You’re going to want to let them know what the next steps are. You’re going to want to let them know information about what features and functions are available in their account, right? And so figuring out that first layer of communication, what are the product triggers? What are the signals that I need to communicate to my customer to deliver on that promise? And then from there, you can start thinking through, like, okay, how can I extend value?

0:41:12 – (LaToya Bowlah): So folks are coming to me. For example, if folks are coming to you, set up their investing account. Clearly you have an opportunity to be an authoritative voice or guide in the space along that lifecycle of investing. So how can I continue to perform, provide value to my customers within that lane, right? And then from there, that will sort of help you figure out, like build out what that next engagement opportunity is. How do I continue to provide engagement?

0:41:41 – (LaToya Bowlah): How do I continue to provide information that my customers can use and hopefully eventually come and seek out from me? That’s the ultimate goal, right? You want them to come to you for that kind of information. And within that strategy, you’ll find a ton of opportunities for upsell referral and cross sell and just building out those growth loops. So there are key moments where you want to leverage personalization and automation to do that at scale. I give you a very tactical example. So if you have a running newsletter, for example, and you know that a customer has just had a great experience with their product or in your data set, you know that your customer has just given you a phenomenal score or rating on a product, that is a great opportunity in your next newsletter to show them a module that asks them to refer a friend, for example. And that’s where the power of data automation and personalization comes in.

0:42:40 – (LaToya Bowlah): And so I would say with those three elements of knowing the role you play, building out those primary product touch points, figuring out what your engagement strategy is in a way that makes sense and continues to add value along the lifecycle experience for your customer. And then building in those growth loops would be how I would approach finding the right balance. And that can be different for every company.

0:43:05 – (Matt Widdoes): Yeah. And I think it’s about like mapping out what you hope and would desire would happen as a company and then like marrying that to reality. So in the fintech example, it’s like, okay, they’ve taken some first action on opening an investment account. And then next we need them to fund it or KYC or whatever steps might be in between. And then from there we need them to check on it and like see how it’s doing.

0:43:28 – (Matt Widdoes): And then from there we want them to deposit more money. And then we want them to deposit all their money, right. And it’s like, or whatever that might be. And so it’s like, okay, that’s a great idea, a great story, but not everyone’s going to do that. And you may have this idea that like, okay, for people that deposit more than ten k on first deposit, they’re going to be these high values and we’re doing this at scale. And it turns out that nobody does that. Everybody does 500 or something. And we’re like, okay, let’s readjust them because that’s not actually what we’re observing and being nimble to kind of like walk your way there where, okay, in the early days, let’s just be satisfied with any deposit.

0:44:01 – (Matt Widdoes): And that is actually going to be just the single path because it turns out that 80% of people don’t make first deposit within the first two weeks of clicking that button like we thought they would. And like, by the way, product team or whoever, how can we change that? Like, are there tests that we’re running to make sure that that is easier on first pass? And if so, let us know when those are live so we can retest this thing to see if that was actually the challenge or if it’s more of a market thing. And then like consumer insights team, go talk to the people who actually clicked and didn’t, you know, deposit or clicked and did and ask them why they didn’t deposit more. And like, let’s report back. Was it because it was too hard? Was it because I don’t have that much money? Was it like, whatever it might be, but this is that constant iteration and communication across the funnel to decide, like, what can we do today on top of this framework we’ve built and, like, make sure that the tests we’re running are the next best tests to run based on a variety of data?

0:44:53 – (LaToya Bowlah): Yeah, no, absolutely. And I think that’s where that feedback loop becomes critical. Right. So, like, in the example you gave, you want someone to hit that ten k milestone in terms of investments. Well, what has to be true for them to take that action, right? Do they have to be earning a certain amount that sort of may change your segmentation strategy or your targeting strategy? Do you have to have a connection with their primary bank? That is a product integration that you need to resolve. So really figuring out, like, okay, what do we need to make this true? Or is it a trust thing? You know, did you have, did we have some bad trust that we need to resolve and work on building trust? So really understanding, like, okay, this is the end state that we want what needs to be true to make this happen.

0:45:41 – (LaToya Bowlah): And leveraging that feedback loop to your point, to really identify the strategy, whether it’s a marketing strategy, a product strategy, a sales strategy, or combination of both, to figure out how we get there.

0:45:52 – (Matt Widdoes): Yeah. Yep, totally agree. And again, it’s, this is where it’s like, the short answer is, like, many smart people were working hard on many things and communicating about it, which is like, okay, well, great. It’s like, it all comes back to that. I’m curious, like with maybe for like parting advice to either early stage founders or cmos or leaders of marketing teams, any suggestions or kind of thoughts on how, let’s just say early stage founders can stay ahead of and adapt marketing approaches in kind of an always changing industry like we’re in now, and maybe even layering in this kind of, like, subset of new opportunities that AI, both generative and in a more general sense, AI can drive, you know, value in today’s current tech stack or just general strategic approach, you know, as far as, I guess we boil all that down to just staying ahead of and staying on top of the latest industry changes and opportunities. Any, any thoughts there?

0:46:49 – (LaToya Bowlah): Yeah, I mean, that’s, that’s also a big one. There’s so many things I would say, you know, definitely investing in solid marketing leadership is always a great place to start or understanding, you know, where your team might be falling short or may need more support. So if you’ve got a phenomenal brand, creative team, you may want to think about investing in demand generation. So really looking holistically@your.org. strategy and figuring out, you know, what are the next best investments from a marketing perspective there, I would say, is number one.

0:47:25 – (LaToya Bowlah): Number two, I would also say, like, really investing in knowing your audience. All of what we talked about today, Matt, really starts with the audience at the center of it. And I cannot, like, underscore more how important it is and how invaluable it that can be, you know, in terms of like, just catapulting your growth strategy. And then I think the third, oftentimes we get caught up in the zeitgeist of just bringing on more and more and more tech.

0:47:55 – (LaToya Bowlah): And companies need to invest in their tech stack in tandem with how quickly they’re growing. Right. I’ve been at companies where we’ve got so much tech stack, but no one’s utilizing it because we haven’t yet figured out how to solve some core problems or there isn’t enough resources or a myriad of reasons. So I would say being really like, thoughtful about your tech stack and for the tech stacks you’re bringing on, making sure that you are investing in the teams and partners to take that tech stack to market like, that’s also critical, you know, like with customer IO, making sure that you have a solid lifecycle person internally or a partner like maven to really come and, and take that and do all the things that it should do and doing that in tandem.

0:48:40 – (LaToya Bowlah): And then other than that, I would just say, like, having conversations like this, every time I have a conversation like this, I definitely learn something new and it just opens up my mind to different ways other marketers are solving, like, basically the same problems that we all talk about and have in the industry.

0:48:55 – (Matt Widdoes): So, yeah, it’s reminiscent of a friend of mine who I went to who knows more than anybody else that I know about sales. He’s like my go to person for my biggest sales questions in general. And I was asking him about tech stack in sales and how that plays into a variety of different things. And this was for a fairly early stage startup. And his reaction was zero technology. You don’t need to pick up spot or Salesforce or any of that stuff.

0:49:22 – (Matt Widdoes): Hire a salesperson who can sell and who can track it in excel or on pen and paper. Forget excel, just pen and paper. How many calls did you make? How many sales did you make? What were those worth and how many more? And like, what is define your process first, but don’t let. I think in this particular situation, it was talking about this, this company had struggled to find like a great sales leader. And the challenge is like, all the people they were bringing in to lead their sales strategy were like, okay, cool, I’m gonna spend the first six months building process and tooling and systems and all this other stuff.

0:49:51 – (Matt Widdoes): And his whole point is that’s a complete waste of time. Like unless they can sell the product, there is no tomorrow. There is no, there’s no need for process. Process won’t sell it in and of itself. And so I think to that point, it’s like the timing of that, the tools are only as good as the people using it. So you see that all the time. If we go back to Salesforce, it’s like, yeah, you can have Salesforce built out perfectly. And if you have a hundred person sales team that aren’t mapping and using that correctly, nobody can do anything with it anyways. And so, yeah, it’s a huge cost can be right versus if it’s used, it’s like, like we didn’t buy it as a cost center, we bought it as a strategic advance. It’s just not being utilized. And so I think that data you mentioned earlier, how are we going to measure these things, et cetera, it’s like what gets measured is, gets like matters basically. And so I think that’s a really great point is making sure that you’re investing at the right depth in technology and also not letting that be a blocker for growth where it’s like, well, we can do, we can start selling once salesforce is stood up, it’s like, no, you can, you, you have a phone, you have emailed, you have feet, you have a credit card, you can go meet with people today with or without that. And so I think it’s, again, in that spirit of avoiding and not being drawn to what we think, maybe silver bullet, if you ever think like this is the thing that’s going to unlock it, you’re wrong.

0:51:05 – (Matt Widdoes): And that if you’re getting those vibes, it’s like, okay, let’s take a second look at that and see if we’re missing anything because we have the blinders of greed and desire and hope that make us think if we just had that tech, then we would be able to do it all. And that’s usually not the case or that person or that function or that whatever it might be of the day. Cool. Well, thank you so much for the time today. I feel like we could go, we owe another full episode, I think, to probably AI and maybe we should do a multi person AI discussion because we’ve invested so heavily into that and we are such big believers in it and we’re working with a number of companies in that space, and so it probably would be good to do, like maybe a panel or something like that. But thank you so much for your time today. I’m excited to share this and excited to speak the next time we get a chance.

0:51:48 – (LaToya Bowlah): This was a lot of fun for me, Matt, and it’s great connecting with you, as always.

0:51:52 – (Matt Widdoes): Cool. Well, thanks again for joining us, and yeah, we all look forward to next time.

0:51:56 – (LaToya Bowlah): Alrighty.

0:51:59 – (Matt Widdoes): That was Latoya Bala with a great conversation about lifecycle marketing. Don’t forget to subscribe to growth at scale wherever you get your podcast to get new episodes every week. To learn more about Maven and how we can help drive growth for your company, visit maven.com mavan.com. i’m Matt Widows. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next time.

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