How Elevate Labs Drives Incremental Purchases and Retention With Braze
Founded in 2014, Elevate Labs is a mental fitness company with around 50 employees. Their first app, Elevate, has won Apple's App of the Year award and helped over 50 million people improve their communication, math, and memory skills. The company's second app, Balance, is a personalized meditation and sleep app that helps people reduce stress, improve sleep, enhance focus, and more. Balance was just awarded Google’s Best App of 2021.
I spoke with Alex Shuck, Director of Product Marketing at Elevate Labs, to learn how Braze enables the team to bring all of their creative customer engagement ideas to life in support of a powerful retention program that delivers results.*
You've been a Braze customer for several years. What made you decide to try out—and stick with—our customer engagement capabilities?
I selected Braze at my previous employer, Grubhub, about seven years ago, and when I joined Elevate, I was excited to find we were long-time customers. Braze always stood out as being the most flexible, the right size for our needs, and the most powerful. We are able to do everything so seamlessly within Braze. We can go from concept to implementation as fast as we possibly can. You know, if I can grab push notification copy in the morning, it'll be live before the day's out.
Who are the primary day-to-day users of Braze at Elevate Labs?
The team that uses Braze the most is my team of three, myself and two product marketing managers, who each focus on one app. I oversee everything and am really hands on with developing and measuring campaigns.
We work with copywriting and design teams to develop assets based on the creative briefs we put together. But otherwise we act like a utility knife when it comes to everything else—putting together the final layout, logic, and timing, and measuring the campaign afterward.
Our campaigns are often an extension of the product, so we also work with our product managers, engineers, and QA folks to check the end-to-end process from Braze into the product and back.
How involved is your engineering team with Braze? How do they help you get value from Braze?
They're highly involved. For every new feature and release, we consider the Braze implications with our engineering and product teams.
If we're testing a new onboarding flow, we make sure that information is flowing into Braze exactly right. We also make sure that any existing communications are working well off based on that data. It's a constant flow of working with engineering to make sure that everything looks correct. And then in the opposite direction, we regularly audit our events and user flows and make sure that customers are getting the right messages.
The third way we work together is when we're building new promotional features with Braze. Right now, we're looking at new ways to offer customers discounts, and Braze is an essential part of how that will be deployed. We make Braze a part of the scope at the beginning.
Can you walk us through your campaign process, from conceptualizing to building and executing to finally analyzing and optimizing?
We have a six-step process that we informally go through. It usually starts at the beginning of the quarter with ideating on what our next campaigns will be, based on our business goals. We have some fun brainstorming techniques. It's interesting doing brainstorming as a completely remote team, you know, recreating the digital whiteboard. Within the realm of these goals, we think about what we could and should do. And that's usually a cross-functional process; whoever wants to join us, please join us.
Then our team will go through the process of hypothesizing, refining, and prioritizing those ideas. We take the big pool of everything we could do and refine the exact "why, who, and when" hypothesis around the exact user behavior.
Most importantly, we think about: What’s the customer behavior we’re trying to influence and why will they care?
Then we put together a creative or project brief as the end result of that.
For the next four stages, we spend the quarter developing the actual creative with our copywriting and design teams. We'll prioritize how and when we launch these campaigns and then measure the results.
And then the most important thing is to iterate. Every time we close an experiment, we try to understand exactly why it succeeded or didn't, and exactly what next steps we should take on that touch point and feed that back into the cycle from the top.
What advice do you have for effective collaboration with other teams?
We have become avid Slack users. Doing work in public channels on Slack is the most effective way for us to make sure everyone's on the same page—that everyone knows what's going on, that there's awareness across the organization, and that everyone's looped in. I encourage brand new team members to put any questions they have in a public Slack channel because, more likely than not, someone else will have that same question.
What are your most important metrics?
There are hundreds of metrics we could track, but for me, it all boils down to incremental purchases and incremental retention. The more that we encourage individuals to use our products, the more that we help people find the value in them, the better—and, at the end of the day, that's what matters the most for everything we do.
But that's not to say that we don't care about our comparative benchmarks for things like click-through rate and unsubscribe rate. We don't consider these to be vanity metrics. They are an important way for us to understand how people actually feel about our communications and input into our broader goals.
How do you measure the value Braze helps you deliver?
We look at it two ways. One is the actual ability that we get from it—the business value, related to the ability that our team has to basically make any idea we have come to life.
The other thing that we look at a lot is our incremental campaign lifts, in order to demonstrate the value of our retention program. I look at the campaigns we've launched and the value that we've generated from them.
Any specific Braze features that you really love?
The development of Canvases over time has been really impressive to me—being able to see your entire user flow for a specific campaign in one shot, and being able to both A/B test the entire flow and the touchpoints at the same time. It helps us think holistically about the user journey.
Hundreds of innovative small and growing companies like Elevate Labs, Doktor24, YNAB, IDAGIO, Branch, and Grover are using Braze to disrupt their categories and achieve success within their industries. See for yourself why Braze is the secret weapon startups turn to to gain a competitive advantage, engage thoughtfully with their users, and ultimately drive business outcomes like user growth, conversions, revenue, retention, and more.
*This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Sunny Manivannan is the VP and GM of Global SMB at Braze, and thoroughly enjoys being a Boston sports fan in New York City. Previously, Sunny served in various marketing and general management roles at Coupa Software (NASDAQ:COUP), and was formerly a management consultant at McKinsey & Company and an aerospace engineer at General Electric.