Head of Growth, OK Credit
How OkCredit runs and scales Growth Marketing Campaigns.
Who hasn’t heard of marketing funnels? It is a concept almost as old as marketing itself. Marketing funnels divide the typical customer journey into five distinct stages – acquisition, activation, retention, revenue and referrals – and show the symbiotic relationship between each.
However, in a world where customers make split-second decisions about what to buy and when marketers realize they need to step out of the linear mold as it is simply not sustainable. Anuj Prakash, Head of Growth and Marketing at OkCredit, is a firm believer in the idea that sustainable growth can’t come if product and marketing teams are pulling in different directions.
During an appearance on Spilling the Magic Beans, a popular podcast hosted by Rocketium, Anuj gave listeners a rare behind-the-scenes look at the paid digital advertising playbook of OkCredit, one of India’s fastest-growing FinTech brands.
What are Growth Loops?
The silo mentality is well-entrenched, to say the least, and the marketing funnel stands out as the perfect symbol for it. It can have some serious consequences.
“When we’re operating in silos, it’s entirely possible that one team grows at the cost of the other team,” Anuj explains.
For example, poor quality leads from the marketing team can impact retention and revenue for the sales and customer success teams respectively.
In a time of shrinking ad budgets, Anuj’s team has pivoted to a relatively new marketing concept called Growth Loops. This strategy is at the core of some of their hugely-successful campaigns.
Anuj is quick to emphasize that OkCredit was not a marketing-first company. “We are kind of obsessed with product-like growth and because that’s the most sustainable form of growth,” he says. That is why, at OkCredit, growth loops are baked into the product in such a way that the “product itself ensures growth”. In other words, the product features are intrinsically designed to drive user engagement and growth.
Growth loops leverage the product usage of existing customers to attract new users without having to spend more money. It builds on the natural affinity between customers and those in their network to qualify leads and convert them. Unlike a funnel, growth loops are self-sustaining. This makes them an ideal alternative for brands that want to make every penny of their marketing spend count. Anuj also credits growth loops with eliminating the rivalry between marketing and product at OkCredit and enabling them to “get on the same page and work towards a single goal.” The company has evolved a differentiated marketing strategy over a period of time that layers “one or two loops together to get a more enhanced effect on growth.”
How OkCredit Leverages Loops to Drive Sustainable Growth
User needs vary widely depending on whether they are manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, or wholesalers. When an existing user enters a transaction against one of their customers into the OkCredit app, a notification is sent to them. This notification could be a reminder about a pending payment or even a confirmation of payment made in full.
OkCredit’s acquisition strategy is centered around driving app installs through these transaction notifications that a user might send to their wider network during the course of day-to-day trading. Anuj emphasizes the inherent sustainability of this approach as “.” It is clearly a much better alternative to the “spray and pray kind of marketing” characterized by diminishing returns.
In addition to contextual messaging via transaction notifications, Anuj also uses hyper-personalized paid ads to retarget new users and upsell existing ones. At any given time, the company has between 30 to 50 ad campaigns active across channels.
However, their approach is very judicious and is aimed at getting “users who are likely to stick with us and who have a very strong affinity with our product.”
Anuj outlines 3 key strategies that you can use to solve the same problem.
1. Get crystal clear on the customer persona you’re targeting
Anuj puts a lot of emphasis on diving deep into customers’ needs to truly understand where they are coming from. It is “one of the most important things when we are looking at targeting,” he says. Focusing on a single persona has served OkCredit well since its early days when they first started developing the core product features.
In many ways, this is a growth loop in and of itself.
“One initial persona helps us create adjacent personas that may be intrigued by that particular feature,” Anuj explains.
It enables the team to cross-promote product features to “users who are already evolved on one use case to tell them about the other use case.”
However, this is no small task. The market has a wide range of user personas based on factors like literacy level and business categories. The company’s segmentation strategy had more than 1000 different cohorts, Anuj says.
There is no room for second-guessing in the post-pandemic scenario. “It’s entirely possible that the user is facing a more primitive difficulty, that I’m not able to open my shop in the market and you’re asking me to come and manage my accounts or collect payments on the app.”
To make sure that users only see the most relevant ads, the OkCredit team uses marketing automation to move them into different campaigns based on whether or not they took the desired action. The goal is to specifically address a challenge a user may be facing in real life.
2. Creative Testing and Iterations
It goes without saying that hyper-focused targeting requires extensive experimentation and testing to convert successfully. The trick is to clearly articulate “the main hook that will stick onto them so that they actually try the payments feature.” This is where having a tight integration between product and user data really helps.
The team narrows down to “four or five groups of creatives” based on quantitative and qualitative insights, including “any kind of reviews that we receive on the app,” Anuj says.
The basic value propositions or pitches are then tested extensively across specific segments to find out what works before the team finalizes the ad creative. This is where the design team gets involved to refine the basic creative concept developed by the marketers and “scale the campaign to more segments of their audience base.”
3. Consistent onboarding experience:
The final link in the chain is putting a feedback loop in place. It could play a key role in driving activation and retention. The average app loses 77% of its Daily Active Users (DAUs) within three days of installation. More often than not, it’s due to a lack of consistency.
“There needs to be a lot of synchronization between what is promised and what you experience,” Anuj says.
This is another reason why product and marketing should be completely in sync. OkCredit tries to overcome the consistency problem by showing users in-app messages to gauge whether their expectations were really being met.
Anuj recommends that brands map customers by the exact value proposition that led them to convert and ask for feedback within a few days of downloading or activating the app.
The key takeaway from the conversation would have to be this: marketing and product teams need to break out of their silos! It is perhaps the only way to ensure a consistent and smooth user experience.
Anuj recommends a ‘cradle to the grave’ approach where the two teams work together across the customer journey – from building new features and cross-selling them to ensuring a great user experience. He speaks from first-hand experience.
After all, this philosophy has helped OkCredit expand its user base across more than 2000 cities today and they appear to be just getting started.