Braze Inspiration Guide: Activation — Thread the Needle with Braze

Braze recently dropped their Braze’s Inspiration Guide: an ebook designed to help marketers unlock the full potential of the Braze platform, serving as a roadmap to expand and deepen their marketing initiatives — broken up into three categories: activation, monetization, and retention.

In this special edition of 'Thread the Needle', Nick Burggraf, Solution Lead, and Jessica Leeds, Director of Alliances, chat about the Activation use cases in the BIG, including:

  • Why activation use cases are critical to a company’s success
  • Examples of use cases that are working amazingly well for some brands we know 
  • Some lesser-known use cases that hold the potential for major ROI


Jessica:  Hello and welcome to our special Thread the Needle: mini-series where we're chatting about the use cases provided in the Braze Inspiration Guide and how we're seeing our customers actually apply them in their day-to-day marketing. The Braze Inspiration Guide is designed to help marketers unlock the full potential of the Braze platform, serving as a roadmap to expand and deepen their marketing initiatives.

Today, I've got Nick Burggraf, one of our Solution Leads here at Stitch, and we're going to be talking about the activation use cases in the Braze Inspiration Guide. All right, Nick, so tell us first, why are activation campaigns so critical for keeping customers engaged? 

Nick: Yeah, it's, it's the first moment, right?

It's about forming that relationship, looking at and creating habits, and really being the first touch point. Like that's a hundred percent of how customers get into the brand experience.  So as marketers, you know, our, all of our background is, is in that space. We're responsible for being in tune with that entire customer life cycle management.

And that, that life cycle doesn't start if we're not leading them to the brand experience that we truly know and want our customers to go through, but also on the flip side of that and understanding their interaction with any given brand. So there's like that give and take of: hey, this is what we want them to do because this is how we impact our revenue stream or impact the experience.

But then there's the flip side of you think of like a retail brand: Hey, we're, we're here to meet that the customer where they're at and get insights into their preferences, their interaction points in their journey with our brand, just as much as, as we want them to convert. 

Jessica: Yeah. So when you were looking at the activation use cases in the inspiration guide, were there any that popped out that you see customers doing really, really well?

Nick: I mean, there's a lot in there. That whole first section, if you jump into the guide, there are a few that kind of came off the top. So one of them was on page seven. It's the account creation campaigns. This gets into, it's a little bit misleading because we think of account creation as like, Hey, they've gone through, they're now a paying customer and now we need to have them create an account.

This is like totally the whole anonymous to known type of user or customer interaction. And there's still your customer but they haven't bought anything yet. They're browsing, they're looking at stuff. So that account creation process and the campaign process around it touches both site properties or app properties, because depending on the brand and depending on whether they want to paywall the experience in as much as like go and create an account or on the flip side, like browsing is a good example of, you know, any kind of browser experience you can communicate with customers through in-browser messaging.

And you can look at key points in their experience because of Braze’s robust SDKs, as well as any kind of other behavioral tracking that you're doing, that you can look and tie that back to that anonymous profile. I think that's a super cool one that a lot of brands are doing well, but there are so many different things that I think can cloud people's judgment on like, Hey, what are they actually experiencing?

Because there's this pathway to like: Hey, do we want to send them like they've touched these specific product pages? Do we want that to be the title message? Or do we want to try out a bunch of other stuff that's like, Hey, let's just try to get them to convert? Whether that's popping up and say: Hey, we, you know, you're looking at how long they've been browsing.

 Let's go and pop up like a modal or a pop-up window that says: Hey, like sign up for our stuff and get 10 percent off. It's a lot of different options there and we see our customers and other marketers doing a ton of that. I think there's like one or two others that were good in good insightfulness. It's not a word, but like the onboarding campaigns on page 14, it smells a lot like welcome campaigns. 

 But there is a distinction when I think of onboarding, it's how do we get them more involved instead of just welcoming them to the brand and doing like value propositions? It's what kind of activities and behaviors do we see our other customers doing that create that stickiness with our brand?

So, like bringing it back to like retailer or QSR, like heavy experience and sometimes more transactional. What can we do to offer them things that will get them more sticky with their brand? And is that deals? Is that discounts or is that giving them more kind of editorial content or things that our brand is doing?

I think of the QSR brand that my daughter loves. I'll probably talk about it again. They have really good chicken is like, Hey, what, what are we doing from a social aspect or what are we doing from like in-app gaming, even though it's a QSR brand and things that get kids interested, which creates stickiness with the adults and all of that.

Jessica: So I love to hear the examples of these use cases out in the wild. Are there any examples you could give a little more detail on, like what it meted out for the customer in terms of results? 

Nick: Uh, yeah, so there was one of them, the acquisition campaigns, on page 17, if you're following along in the guide. 

It's primarily about paid media/paid advertising. And there's this anecdote out there that's like, we waste half of our paid media budget, we just don't know which half, which is super funny. But it gets into the kind of like, how do we look at attribution and how do we look at our audiences that we're passing to our ad networks through Meta and X and whatever else. The challenge here is keeping that refreshed for one of our customers. It was in the, I guess it's FinTech technically your financial services, but when you're going through like a retail brand and you want to finance something, it's a larger purchase or you just want flexibility from a cash flow perspective. We see a lot of customers going through that because you pay less and then pay over time and have relatively low interest rates on it or none, just depending on what they're doing. 

But that brand was hoarding a lot of audiences through, both affiliates as well as other, like, Hey, here, here's us, like, here's how you can buy now and pay later and what Braze does from like a throughput on the SDK for purchase events.

And things you can track both on the back end, so through commerce, as well as on the front end too to track those purchase events creates much more real-time audiences or real-time suppression for those folks that are actually making purchases and pulling those members of that audience that are getting advertised to, and you no longer have to pay for that.

And that takes that half of the media spend that we have, that's getting wasted, brings it down incremental percent. The other piece there is that it actually helps stitch together some of the attribution modeling that every, you know, it's always elusive attribution and like, well, what is it first touch or last touch or a weighted system?

The way that Braze can look at purchase events and do suppressions on ads can actually help realize, Hey, this, this can't be attributed. They were served an ad, but it's not attributed there because we actually saw the conversion event happen while they were getting advertised, but we didn't have a click on it.

Jess: So what about use cases in the inspiration guide that were new to you or you'd like to see customers try out and experiment with?

Nick: One specific one and then one that wasn't mentioned, but I think it's, you can kind of allude to it and I think it's kind of tied in, in later in the workbook or the guidebook.

So the initial value campaigns, page 19, are interesting. Think of these as continuing an effort for compelling reasons to convert trial users or convert shoppers who haven't interacted with the brand for a while, but are posts like onboarding or posts that welcome series. I think the new idea in this is that we typically see like a really strong welcome campaign, a lot of users coming through a lot of engagement there.

And then we see those folks drop into, and this is kind of just always dependent on the different vertical, but, drop into kind of the: Hey, this is, we're dropping the newsletter. We're dropping the weekly ad, and that's kind of it. This is like, Hey, let's keep them looking at different touchpoints.

Let's keep them involved on what is that initial value that they're getting from our brand. And how do we like remessage that repackage that so that it's, you're looking at journeys, you're continuing to look at journeys and that those interactions within those journeys and a huge opportunity to showcase additional value, propositions, alternative offers.

I think one of the things on page 19 is like: Hey, these people are almost kind of falling into that sunset category of like, they've, they've gone through the initial relationship with us, but are they breaking up with us? And that gets into like, Hey, can we use this as an opportunity also to gain insights on why they're failing to kind of move with our brand?

Jessica:  So last question, Nick, let's talk quick wins. So the Braze Inspiration Guide is excellent in that it provides the level of difficulty to implement these use cases, but I'm curious if you have any additional thoughts about what might be just a quick win for a brand looking to build a strong activation campaign.

Nick: I think the onboarding campaign is a quick win. So I think I mentioned this too, the onboarding campaigns or those welcome campaigns are kind of part and parcel, they have heavy engagement compared to whatever weekly sender newsletter because it's people getting initially involved.

And with those being like the title campaign for, for marketers and like, Hey,  this thing is solid. I feel like it sometimes can create a little bit of stagnation. Whereas with Braze and with looking at like the Canvas journey, you can update these things and have variant testing and branching logic happening while these things are in flight, which is really cool because you're not having a version and kind of like test against versions.

You're saying, Hey, we want to try something new. I think this is like a call to marketers to say like: Hey, let's go back and look at our onboarding campaigns because there's a ton of opportunity here. To figure out what can make that even more sticky, what branching logic and what, what aspects of the AI components that are embedded into Braze.

Can we leverage to look at, hey, what's the most winsome pathway that we should start routing every customer through? And what's the winsome content here that we should obviously be promoting because it's having higher conversion rate against a control group and against variants one and two? That's kind of the quick win to say, Hey, what are we doing from an onboarding welcome campaign? Because there's a ton of opportunity to keep those numbers even higher.

Jessica: Thank you for your time, Nick. It's fun talking about these activation use cases with you and hearing your examples of how you're seeing customers actually implement these and see results. So for anyone who's listening, who's eager to dive in further, review the use cases, check out the Braze Inspiration Guide linked in the comments of this video, and have a great day.

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