The members of the Boston tech / innovation community that attended VentureFizz / Dissero's "Scaling to 1M+ Users - Customer Acquisition Strategy" event arrived at Microsoft NERD with high expectations that they would learn how to acquire more customers for their businesses and startups.
The knowledge and experience shared by the panel that included Ed Macri of Wayfair, Scott Healy of Care.com, Sarah Welch of Gazelle, and Brian Carr of Springpad, was more than those in the crowd on Wednesday night could have imagined.
Moreover, the night presented unbelievable opportunities to network with hugely successful marketing pros, and to be entertained by the witty banter and expert moderation of Matrix Partner’s Antonio Rodriguez.
Here are some key takeaways from the event:
1. If you have any type of panel that is focused on entrepreneurs, startups, or technology... get Antonio Rodriguez as your moderator.
Rodriguez was on fire all night and had a laundry list of prodding questions for the panel.
He seemed excited to be hosting the event, and said as much, starting off by telling the crowd, “I couldn’t say no to this panel when I saw who was on it.” He added, “We can be a bit insecure on this coast when it comes to massively and happily acquiring tons and tons of users-but these folks can drop some knowledge.”
2. The panel was a perfect mix of marketing folks who know how to build buzz and attract customers in a myriad of different ways.
There were more references to the Googlebot and LTV CAC (Lifetime Value and Customer Acquisition Costs) than at any recent local event that I can remember.
But expertise in the marketing sector aside, all of the members of the panel understand the need for companies to experiment in a variety of different channels in order to find out the best variety of successful avenues to attain customers.
Where that will be in the near future can be inferred by the panel’s answers during the “Lightning Round”. Rodriguez asked about the best acquisition channel in the next few years and where the most future money could be earned from an investment today.
Springpad’s Carr was firm in his belief that “Content” is the future, but everyone else on the panel was bullish on Facebook. The general belief is that Zuckerberg’s company is going to figure out at some point how to harness the incredible volume of Facebook users. When that time comes, Facebook should become THE channel for companies who create “real” buzz to acquire customers.
Wayfair’s Macri summed up the current and growing reliance marketing has with the Facebooks and Twitters of the world. In response to a question about social media’s role in acquiring users, he responded, “We don’t view [social] any differently than we do search [engines, ie. Google].”
3. Springpad’s Brian Carr has so much knowledge on marketing and mobile that he can barely contain it.
Before the event explored user acquisition through mobile devices, Rodriguez and Carr had a couple of humorous exchanges as Carr waited in the wings for his chance to wow the audience with his mobile wisdom.
Some of Carr’s favorite tidbits of data:
* 7:00 PM is prime mobile usage time * The average person has forty-three apps on their phone and uses eight on a daily basis. * You can get a 6% increase on app purchases by changing the picture on the app store homepage.
4. Experience in the startup world is an irreplaceable asset, especially the experience of learning from mistakes.
Gazelle’s Welch typifies the story of how to become a master of marketing in the tech / innovation sphere.
Before her time at Gazelle, Welch spent a few years honing her marketing and media skills at TripAdvisor. Her time helping the internet travel giant grow gave her insight, both good and bad, on the best approaches to customer acquisition.
At both TripAdvisor and Gazelle, Welch learned from the highs and lows of SEO. Experiencing success and failure can be vital to learning how to maintain and attract users. She referenced a recent error during a site upgrade that bumped Gazelle down Google’s search rankings. As she said, “The pain from #1 to #8 for a week while we solved that problem was material to our business.” What Gazelle learned from this was very valuable in understanding how Google rankings can work.
5. We should be celebrating the success stories of the four companies represented on the panel.
Scaling to this level of growth is not an easy task and we need to show off these (and the many other) success stories locally.
* Gazelle has pretty much cornered the market on iPhone / device returns.
* Care.com is, in the words of Rodriguez, “A big ass business that doesn’t make nearly as much noise as many small businesses.”
* Wayfair is growing so quickly they are integrating their marketing with television and seeing great results.
* To describe Springpad, Carr referred to some of the love that they have been receiving from Mashable over the past couple of years basically identifying the app as the love child of Pinterest and Evernote.
Dennis Keohane is a teacher, journalist and contributor to VentureFizz. You can follow Dennis on Twitter (@DBKeohane) by clicking here.