Fast-Growing Real Estate Startup, Zumper, Scales Leads by 384% with Advanced, Predictive Recommendations

Finding a place to call home in a competitive rental landscape can feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack – except that haystack is also full of fake needles, spam, and a slew of competitors. So how can renters find their perfect fit, in their dream neighborhood, for the right price? 

Zumper’s mission is to answer such questions.  Their end-to-end rental platform aims to make renting a place to live as easy as booking a hotel. But, no two users have the same journey and as their user base grew, their marketing team struggled to deliver timely consumer centric marketing based on shifting user preferences and an ever growing catalog of listings. 

After legacy systems failed to meet their needs, and their engineering team exhausted their resources to build and maintain a platform in-house, they found Blueshift – it was a fast, flexible system that could keep up with millions of listings at any given time, and the team loved that it was AI-powered, rather than rule-based, because our recommendation engine that covered all their use cases. In a short time it became clear that Blueshift was the only platform that could check all their boxes and grow with Zumper simultaneously. 

Hyper-personalize and scale campaigns with advanced recommendations and triggers

Once the Zumper marketing team had made Blueshift their home, they set out to use our AI powered platform to revolutionize their user experience and put the power of customer data in the hands of their marketers. Blueshift’s ability to process Zumper’s vast amount of customer data in real time has surfaced some fantastic results for the fast growing real estate brand:

“Blueshift’s AI-powered recommendation engine allowed us to better serve our customers with targeted marketing and personalized campaigns at scale,” said Kristy Ng, Director of Lifecycle Marketing, “The platform enabled us to turn user behavior into experiences that capitalize on actionable insights that were critical to customer experience.”

The platform quickly provided value and became an integral part of the multi-channel marketing approach within two months of launch. Their lead submission grew by 384%, click-through rates skyrocketed, and message volumes expanded by 198% with no change to resources used by Zumper’s team – besides Blueshift, of course.

Next steps

After experiencing staggering growth with Blueshift onboard and scaling up 1:1 automated campaigns, the Zumper team plans to extend our personalization features onto new channels, including onsite content and paid campaigns on Facebook and Google, to continue to provide an engaging user experience – no matter where users navigate.

Take an in-depth look at how Zumper achieved success by downloading the full case study, or, if you’re ready to start investigating how AI might help grow your own marketing efforts, you can request a demo.


Blueshift Leadership Spotlight: Josh Francia, Chief Growth Officer

My path to Blueshift started way back in 2011 when I was leading the CRM efforts for an online travel company. After several years of double-digit YoY growth, our external technology systems started to break. We went through three ESPs in six years before realizing they were never architected to scale to our innovative aspirations. The solutions on the market at that time simply couldn’t handle the amount of data we were piping in, or what we ideally wanted to do with it. With no suitable options, building our ideal solution was the only approach we had left to try.

With help from my team and our incredibly supportive manager, we identified our needs for real growth and set out to build a system that could accomplish five key goals.

  1. A single profile view for all customers that contained every touchpoint and would stitch together anonymous and identifiable sessions.
  2. Algorithms to run against these profiles to predict future behaviors.
  3. Enough storage for product data from 200k+ hotels, rental cars, and airline deals.
  4. The ability to recommend personalized deals through a lightweight but powerful templating language that supported things like looping and in-memory variable storage etc.
  5. Speed. We wanted to be lightning fast. Like, send 2 million 100% personalized emails out in 1 hour fast.

We got to work and in roughly six months had a system up and running. It was challenging (to say the least) working through petabytes of data and never-ending legacy systems. In addition, it seemed that everyone who knew or built those systems had left the company years ago, leaving us to piece together a jigsaw puzzle of customer data loose ends. Luckily, we had the support of the senior team to fix the system and fix it fast. The resulting platform, and I use that term generously, was rough around the edges and only worked through command line prompts, but it worked.  

To say that taking a risk on a new way of thinking about data and how to use it across our marketing was rewarding would be a gross understatement. We somehow managed to patch together the makings of a CDAP before the industry was even close to defining it. And with this innovative build, the company was able to process 10+ million records, score them, and provide real-time product recommendations every single day.

Ultimately, this meant high double-digit YoY revenue growth for the next four years that I was there.

Building vs. Buying Customer Data Activation

Fast forward to December 2016. I had just joined LendingTree and on my first day, then-CMO asked me to “fix” the CRM system. They too had outgrown their infrastructure and needed a replacement. It all sounded eerily familiar. Because of my previous experience, I knew exactly what they needed, but this time was hoping someone had built it. My previous experience taught me that internal product builds that live outside the core product offering are almost always short-sighted and quickly become a maintenance nightmare.

I started my research and found 30 — yes, 30 — companies that claimed they could help us achieve those same 5 goals I identified at my previous company. After dozens of sales calls, demos, and sandbox accounts, it became clear that 29 out of the 30 either couldn’t or couldn’t do it at the scale we needed. But one company stood head and shoulders above the rest. A startup out of San Francisco called Blueshift, that was founded in 2014 by former Walmart and Groupon marketing and tech guys who’d faced challenges similar to mine.

I was impressed with Blueshift’s technology from day one. It reminded me a lot of the system my team built at previous company but with a UI, production level code, and support. It was built to scale infinitely, which is hard to find in the SaaS space. We signed with Blueshift and in about 60 days were up and running. All our customer data and events were loading in real-time and we were ready to go live.  

Not everyone was excited to bring in a new, unheard of, and untested system. Two executives told me “Blueshift better work” and that I should have considered some of the big marketing cloud players. I told them I had, in fact, researched some of them, but realized their technology wouldn’t scale or allow us to do what we needed to do to drive significant growth. Big cloud players become big through bolt-on acquisitions, not core engineering. It was painfully evident that the bolt-on product offerings were nothing more than a re-brand of the archaic and obsolete architecture that I had broken so many times before. I said, “You’re just going to have to trust me on this one.”

LendingTree launched Blueshift in June 2017 and it was an instant success. We drove more revenue through Blueshift from June 2017 through Dec 2017 than we did the entire year before.

Everyone on the team quickly became a believer and we continued to iterate and evolve. We added predictive modeling, journey flows, and audience syncing with Facebook and Google for our paid marketing campaigns. The results continued to impress with record-breaking YoY revenue growth each year.

Joining a Winning Team  

I’ve been a professional marketer for long enough to confidently say that I know the direction the industry is moving in. It’s not just the companies I’ve been a part of; organizations of all types are finding that their existing systems just aren’t enough, that in-house builds are too demanding, and that big cloud players aren’t all they claim to be. But understanding why they’re not enough and exactly what’s needed to solve today’s and tomorrow’s issues is another story.  

In late 2018, I reached out to Vijay Chittoor, Co-Founder and CEO of Blueshift and I said, “You guys have built something amazing, but the problem is that it’s so far ahead of what most marketers think they need that you first have to educate the market and the marketer. It’s like building a rocket ship when people were just getting used to the automobile.” Vijay asked me to join the team and help them craft that story.   

So that’s what I did. I joined Blueshift as their Chief Growth Officer in March of this year to help other B2C marketers and businesses experience sustained step-change growth year after year.  Combining innovative thinking with AI-Powered scalable technology unlocks the key to unlimited 1:1 personalization at scale. It is, without a doubt, the only way to exceed customer expectations and leapfrog the competition. I’m excited to help your business grow. Let’s get started!

Use AI techniques to personalize and optimize your communications to reduce subscriber churn.

Stop Subscriber Churn in Its Tracks with These 4 AI-Powered Campaigns

Churn is a natural part of every business. However, no organization likes their users to churn. So, what should you do (especially after you’ve been trying tactic after tactic to no avail)? Use AI techniques to personalize and optimize your communications.

According to a recent “State of Marketing” report, there’s a 50% chance that customers will switch brands if brands don’t anticipate their needs. The goal of marketers is to build strategies and campaigns that will (1) keep active customers engaged, (2) re-engage “at-risk” customers, and (3) bring churned customers back into the fold.

So, what can growth marketers at subscription companies do to reduce churn?

1. Intervene before it’s too late!

“Newsletters are stupid,” said by Alex Shultz, Facebook’s VP of Growth. He believed that most companies today are sending marketing emails that are just spam. Why? Because that same newsletter will be sent to everyone in their email list — to someone who has been enjoying your product for three years and to someone who has just signed up to your site yesterday. No distinction at all, no personalization, no understanding of who that individual person is. Schultz said that companies should be focusing on notifications and triggers-based emails, SMS, and push notifications in reaching out to their customers.

Growth marketers will keep their customers engaged when they provide delightful, relevant content while personalizing it based on their customer’s expressed and perceived preferences. One way to do that is by relying on 1:1 marketing, with no two users receiving the same message at the same time.

IN SHORT: Keep customers interested in your products or services by sending personalized offers or incentives using targeted email or push notifications. (Hint: NEVER rely on a single channel to drive repeat engagement.)

2. Strike while the iron is hot. Quick, send them that enticing incentive!

According to a Pegasystems survey on customer engagement, 56% of top-performing companies are investing in AI to personalize and continuously learn from customer interactions. Today’s AI-powered productivity tools make it possible to anticipate customer needs which allow marketers to tailor highly-personalized campaigns to keep customers engaged.

One example is by using trigger-based email marketing, an example of a customer-centric, behaviour-based marketing approach. Recent Forrester Research showed that trigger-based email marketing campaigns can generate 4x more revenue and 18x greater profits. Subscription upsells are one way of retaining active customers by sending them personalized messages containing information on products they might be interested in. Offering incentives to customers to switch to the next subscription tier can also help in convincing them to upgrade their subscription.

IN SHORT: AI can easily help growth marketers gauge their customers’ willingness to accept an upsell.

3. Out of sight, out of mind? Go remind them.

Abandoned carts may mean that the customer has forgotten he added an item to his cart or he really didn’t want the item.

Growth marketers can still turn abandoned carts into revenue. Remember, these customers have already expressed an interest in the products and are engaged with the brand, all they need is a little nudge to complete their purchase.

With the help of AI, growth marketers can send targeted recommendations that are similar to the one that the customer already added to his cart. These recommendations may include product information on new arrivals, price drops on items with which the customer has engaged, or “back-in-stock” notifications. Even if the customer didn’t really want the abandoned item in his cart, his interest may be piqued by the new recommendations. These triggers are especially good for mobile push notifications since they are “newsworthy”.

4. Win them back.

Win-back campaigns involve the re-activation of churned or “about-to-churn” customers. Winning back churned customers so they can be active again is never an easy task. Move back from using traditional marketing campaigns which lack sufficient real-time data and insight.

AI helps in analyzing vast volumes of customer data especially in identifying the characteristics of high-value past customers. But for AI tools to work effectively in your win-back campaign, you need to feed it with the right data and algorithms.

Growth Marketers Guide CoverA well-designed AI system can streamline an organization’s complex processes. Leveraging marketing AI can provide a significant, tangible lift to an organization’s customer engagement efforts. You can learn more about how Growth Marketing drives increased user engagement by downloading our whitepaper.



Top Metrics Growth Marketers Need to Know

Top Metrics Growth Marketers Need to Know

As a follow up to our article about what Growth Marketing is, we next take a peek into the metrics that every growth marketer must measure. (Depending on your exact industry, there will be other metrics as well, which we will cover in later articles.) As a refresher, we defined Growth Marketing:

“Growth marketing drives increased user engagement, by extending the boundaries of the product into marketing channels.”

Growth Marketers Are ALL About the Metrics

We’ll focus on the first half of the definition that states “Growth marketing drives increased user engagement”. This statement is all about measurable results. In order to measure the results, we must first understand what KPIs and metrics we will use to gauge success. To say that growth marketers are numbers oriented is an understatement. Growth marketers are obsessed with metrics — they must look at deltas across time and cohorts to show growth in customer acquisition, customer retention, and customer win-backs.

How are we trending? What is our engagement looking like? How many users are we churning? How long does it take us to be profitable for each new user/customer? Am I really growing the business?

The metrics in this article will build the foundation for any Growth Marketer to be able to answer these questions. To provide order to the metrics, we will categorize the metrics through a simple series of lifecycle stages:

Activation – new prospects
Retention – drive incremental engagement and revenue from existing users/customers
Win-back – bringing churned users/customers back

Activation Metrics for the Growth Marketer

Activation is a stage reached when a user completes an action that’s indicative of getting value out of a product. What constitutes activation might be different for different services; e.g. a social app like Twitter might consider a user activated when they follow a certain number of other users within a given time-period; an e-commerce company might consider a user to be activated when they make their first purchase, or on a rolling basis, consider someone to be active if they have made a purchase in the last 6 months.

1-day & 7-day activation rates:
This metric gives a quick leading indication of how activation rates from a channel are trending. Marketers know that activation could often take months after acquiring a user, but they want a quick indicator of activation for new or recent sources of traffic. 1 & 7-day activation rates, coupled with simple data science models, can help forecast long term activation from the given cohort of users, and can be used to quickly estimate time-to-payback.

Time to payback by channel:
The amount of time it takes to recoup the cost of customer acquisition (CAC), through profits from customers. This is a measure not only of the efficacy of activation, but also of retention & monetization efforts.

Abandonment rate:
The percentage of customers who fail to complete a “conversion” event inside a single session.

Abandoner retargeting conversion rate:
The percentage of abandoners who are successfully converted based on retargeting efforts across multiple channels. Typically measured within a well-defined window of time, like 7 or 30 days.

Retention Metrics for the Growth Marketer

User retention is about continuing to engage activated customers so that they stay active. Customer engagement is the most important area that Growth Marketers must focus on when users/customers are in this stage. Always provide value. How do you know if you are providing value or that your users see value in what you provide? A savvy marketer will start with these two metrics:

Churn rate:
The annual percentage rate at which customers stop being active.Stickiness:
Typically measured as the ratio of DAU/MAU, this measure if most used in categories like gaming that truly depend on daily & frequent engagement. Stickiness is a good indicator of whether customers are returning frequently.

Win-Back Metrics for the Growth Marketer

Users who were once active, but have since lapsed, can be won-back into becoming active customers again. This is one of the hardest ways to gain active users, since these users potentially lapsed due to the product losing some relevance for them. It’s like raising the dead, however, it must be a part of a Growth Marketer’s strategy. To measure the success of Win-Back campaigns, there is on metric in particular to focus on:

Re-activation rate:
The percentage of previously lapsed customers who become active again within a given time period.

The Tip of the Iceberg…what next?

This is not an exhaustive list. It is meant to give Growth Marketers the metrics they need to identify success and address areas of improvement. These are the foundation to being successful as a growth marketer and owning these metrics for your organization gives you tremendous insight into the health of your business, marketing strategy, and customer base.

Watch out for more posts about growth marketing, and check out our comprehensive guide here for everything you need to know about the subject.