Get Real with Braze and Endowus: Exploring the Growth Journey of One of Singapore’s Rising Stars
There was a tangible buzz in the air as Braze APAC kicked off the first in-person event at our brand new office in Singapore—a series named “Get Real with Braze” with our client, Endowus.
This series aims to bring together brands of all sizes to pick up a few tips and tricks to raise the bar for customer engagement. We’re hoping to cut out generic fluff and bring the real deals to the attention of our customers. It gives customers a chance to come together and discuss pertinent pain points while getting inspired by brands doing this right. For this kick-off event, we had a casual 30-minute fireside chat, followed by a Q&A session, networking, and an open bar. The event received an overwhelming response, with a 78% attendance rate of creative, innovative brands looking to spearhead change.
I spoke with Jason Teo, the Endowus Head of Growth Marketing, and John Li, Team Lead of Software Engineering, to discover how to connect every business initiative back to users—their needs and how they connect with the brand.
Endowus has skyrocketed from its humble beginnings in a shophouse. What kind of challenges did you see in the early days, how have you evolved, and how has it brought you to where you are today?
John: When we started, we were a group of 10 people wearing multiple hats, trying to work with different products that fit with the company’s requirements at the time. Over different phases of the company’s growth, we’ve evolved to find better products that fit us. One of the challenges we saw was that at some point in our journey, we hit a bottleneck: We wanted to create more segmentations within the CRM platform, like cross-channel touchpoints with the website, in-app messages, push notifications, and emails. But what we were using at the time, wasn’t very good at synching with our own data warehouse.
Braze was one of the options we looked at, and we quickly realized how outstanding it was. That was also where our journey with Braze started.
Personally, I feel that growth is a great evolution of marketing because it speaks directly to the impact marketing can have on the business. What role does growth marketing play for Endowus? What stage are you at now and could you share some interesting bits with us?
Jason: Two years ago, most people were not that familiar with Endowus, but today I can confidently say that if you go out, you’ve probably seen our ads in many places. When we started, like any other company, our focus was on acquisition so we were doing a lot more performance marketing. Now, we’re at a different life stage of our business, which is where we’ve started thinking, “We have the recognition of clients and they’re visiting us regularly—so how do we get them to take the next step?”
We want to engage customers more and get them to convert. And once they convert, that's where we need to develop even more channels where users can perform even more high-value actions. Customer advocacy is also something that we’re looking at. Everything that we do has a clear user-centric north star, and that is what has driven the whole growth marketing arm at Endowus.
What are some of the tangible payoffs you have seen with this journey of retention and creating a lifetime value for your customers?
Jason: Being user-first is what’s important to us. That’s our biggest payoff. When you spend a lot of money on a campaign, you think about what you should be selling—is it the brand, is it the products? But we went on a completely different route. We decided, why don’t we use this campaign to ask our clients to speak about us? Like, how they feel about us, how they use our product, and how we’ve changed their lives. We embarked on an advocacy campaign that aimed for exactly that, and this has been the biggest payoff for us because it really allowed our business to take off.
Shifting gears a little to the theme of collaboration, a common thread we have seen through our conversation with even the most successful companies (not enough headcount, scarcity of resources, the works). Since both of you work in very different functions, could you share a little bit about how your teams work together efficiently?
John: On the engineering team, our principle is that every good engineer has to be a product manager. I think engineers tend to understand the product better when they’re more involved in the product development lifecycle, versus just being told to “move this button from here to there” or “trigger this campaign at this amount.” We need to share the “why” of the product and the changes required, for better communication. Another point on communication is understanding the jargon that is being used on both sides. Our product and marketing teams spend a lot of time with the engineers on a weekly basis, understanding statistics and using these as a north star that points to building better user-centric products.
Jason: John pointed out something that’s really important, which is unifying the jargon. This is one of the common reasons in other companies why marketing and engineering folks cannot communicate well. The engineers and product managers at Endowus really put in an effort to understand what the marketing terminologies are. They even use the jargon themselves now, which is rather unheard of in some places. From a marketer's point of view, we try to make communication easier by being very, very clear in terms of the use case. It’s not just a matter of saying you want to segment users, it’s about why you need the information you need. If you’re not clear about this, engineers will not know what you want to achieve. Understanding each other’s jargon and work habits really makes a difference in driving collaboration across teams, while reducing unnecessary back and forth.
Looking ahead to the future a little bit. We’re hearing very positive news from Endowus for the future–You’ve gone into a new market, you’ve made strategic new hires to grow the business–What will be your areas of focus in the next 6 to 12 months?
Jason: I think it's still very early for us as a business, so one of our areas of focus will continue to be the existing market. The point of growth marketing is that there’s always something to improve on. We’re working on improving our user activation and trying to focus more on our clients. That's why we’ve onboarded Braze—Because we’re trying to reach our clients at the right time with the right message. There’s a lot more for us to explore and optimize. We’re also moving into Hong Kong, which is a new market for us. As much as we would love to just copy and paste each previous learning for Hong Kong, I think every market needs you to go back to the drawing board and look at the difference between the users.
We also really want to drive financial literacy with curated content, along with selling our business. It’s a delicate balance, and we want to try and reach beyond just savvy investors to folks out there who don’t know about investing and take them from zero to one, and then from one to 100 in their financial knowledge.
John: On the engineering side, we’re looking at restructuring the team to work in a more concurrent manner. We’re splitting the foundation of the Product & Engineering team into multiple functions, platform, user onboarding, investing and growth teams with a more focused scope, and very defined metrics.
If you’re talking to someone who is just getting started, in the martech role, what would your advice be given the journey that you've been on?
Jason: Test everything, question every assumption and have a clear user-centric north star. This will also help you have a very clear success metric, that will help guide the way you use your resources.
John: I’ll take this down a bit of a personal angle. Be curious about what your users might be thinking, have empathy, and look at things from their perspective. Plus, keep your eye on the latest trends so that you can brainstorm the workarounds if you’re faced with challenges.
With whatever you’re thinking of doing, you need to start now. The changes with first-party data are on the horizon, and it will be in your favor to be prepared. Plus, if you’re just getting started in the world of technology, choose something that works, something that is the enabler of what you want to achieve. Resources are scarce, don’t waste them on bug fixes and wondering if something is working.
If you’re looking for more on what customers want from financial brands, check out our exclusive 2022 Financial Services Insights.
We’d like to take this chance to thank John and Jason for their time once again, and for sharing with all of us and our customers on the growth journey of Endowus. Technology and data being used to forge stronger connections is an important theme here at Braze, and we’re happy that we’re playing a small part in this journey. We’re hoping to keep these insightful conversations going with the next Get Real with Braze!
Yi En Chye
Chye, always the explorer, was the first member of the Braze Industry Solutions team member in APAC. An observer of consumer behavior, believer of evolution, and practitioner of connecting the dots. Also an audiophile who’s lost part of her hearing.