Brain and Arrows Graphic

This is the first in a series of posts regarding data analytics for growth marketing.

One of the superpowers growth marketers possess  is the ability to decipher human psychology with data. They say that human behavior is unpredictable, but there is also a law of large numbers. When we analyze patterns of data across millions of users, the key metrics are surprisingly predictable and remain the same unless you do something different with your product.

Saving Money With Data

When Will Bunker and I started experimenting with new ideas for social/mobile dating apps in 2009, we used Facebook ads as our playground. We came up with five hypotheses to test. One of the ideas gaining ground in those days was to use Facebook and its “friends of friends” referrals as a way to introduce matches. It made sense based on what I saw in India with arranged marriages. To our surprise, out of the five different messages and target audience combinations we tested, the worst-performing message in terms of click-through-rate (CTR) was “men introducing friends to other friends.” Men just did not want to refer other male friends to potential matches. Looking back,  that was rather obvious, but with the data that we collected we were able to test our hypotheses without actually designing and developing an application. Another startup with a similar idea ended up raising  a lot of money — and fizzled out. We saved ourselves a couple of years of our lives and a few million dollars using data and testing effectively.

Teaching Software New Tricks

One powerful concept with consumer internet is that software improves as more people use it. When I use a website or an application, the software learns how I use it, and gets better for the next visitor. This constant loop of improvement is what made Google the giant machine that it is today. This improvement is achieved by capturing the clickstream which includes events for everything that users do with the application. Based on usage patterns, the software can be tweaked to fit the behavior that users display.

Digital marketing software suites are going through a transformation right now as they move from mere analysis to actually predicting user behavior. It is powered by advances in big data technologies like Spark and Hadoop that allow handling massive amounts of data at very high speed.

Keep an eye on this blog for follow-up posts about how these emerging tools give growth marketers the superpowers to go inside the human brain and build applications that fit their behaviors.

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