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Adelyn used to lead acquisition marketing and growth for Nextdoor, a social network for neighborhoods, until recently. Her previous experiences include strategy, marketing and product management at the Boston Consulting Group, Amazon, and Eventbrite.

Her expertise ranges across a variety of topics including:

Marketing: Conversion optimization, Analytics, SEM, SEO, Affiliate marketing, Display advertising, Social Media advertising (Facebook, Twitter), Email marketing, Retargeting, Community management, Direct mail, Loyalty programs, Branding, Ad creation & brand management, Publisher partnerships  

Product: Growth hacking, User testing, Data analysis, AB testing, Product roadmap definition, Conversion optimization  

Operations: Team management, Conference organization, Event production & management, Vendor relationships  

Strategy: Corporate strategy, Project management, Post-merger integration, Data analytics, Market and consumer research.

She will be LIVE on Thursday October 1, 2015 starting at 9:30 AM Pacific Time for one and a half hours and will answer as many questions as possible in that time. 

  • SP

    Steven Pesavento

    over 3 years ago #

    Hi Adelyn, Thanks so much for joining us today on GH. I loved your presentation on optimizing invitations at WMD.

    In reference to building and growing a thriving online community (like Nextdoor), what factors do you think are most important to build into your product that boost community engagement?

    • AZ

      Adelyn Zhou

      over 3 years ago #

      Thanks Steven, glad you found the WMD presentation helpful!

      To build a thriving community, I would make sure to:
      1. Establish clear mission and values — this will allow the community to be self regulating. There will be trolls in communities, and you need to have a clear mission statement to maintain the integrity of the community. You can always refer back to this whenever questions or issues arise.
      2. Be valuable to members — understand why people join and return to your community, and make sure that you don’t release features that detract from this. Keep returning to your core value.
      3. Build a sense of belonging — people want to feel included and appreciated. Allow people to thank, favorite, or like posts. Allow comments and foster dialogue. These are feedback loops that keep people coming back.

      Feverbee is also has a great guide and articles on creating strong vibrant communities (https://www.feverbee.com/).

      5 Share
  • RT

    russell taylor

    over 3 years ago #

    Hey Adelyn,

    Thanks for lending your expertise!

    I'm hoping you can help us out with some Direct Mail advise. I'm keep hearing about tech savvy startups using Direct Mail to acquire new users all the time. It seems like such an antiquated method, but success stories are everywhere.

    1) Do you have any advice or resources to help growth hackers get started with Direct Mail?
    2) What do you think is the most important factors in a high converting Direct Mail piece?
    3) Do you have any tools or services you use to make Direct Mail more accessible to growth hackers?

    Thanks in advance for the help!

    • AZ

      Adelyn Zhou

      over 3 years ago #

      Hi Russell,

      Yes, direct mail can be a great new user acquisition source. It’s traditional but should definitely be tested a growth person’s playbook.

      Tons of tech companies (Square, Seatgeek, Opendoor, Handy, Munchery, Yelp, etc.) embrace DM as online ad costs have skyrocketed. I’ve also advised many startups and helped them establish their campaigns and see it work extremely well.

      To you questions:
      1) Do you have any advice or resources to help growth hackers get started with Direct Mail?

      First, direct mail can works well especially for location based companies (geographically based product or service) and for B2B companies (those with targeted users lists and higher LTVs). It’s not for every business, but it’s worth a try.

      As for resources, there are few good posts in the growth hackers forum that are good. I recently wrote a 3 part series on how to get started with direct mail on the Lob blog that can help you get started.

      Part 1: Why Direct Mail Is Marketing's Hottest "New” Tool (https://lob.com/blog/direct-mail-marketings-hottest-new-tool/)
      Part 2: The 4 Components of a Winning Direct Mail Campaign (https://lob.com/blog/components-of-a-winning-direct-mail-campaign/)
      Part 3: 6 Tips for Optimizing Your Direct Mail Performance (https://lob.com/blog/6-tips-for-optimizing-your-direct-mail-performance/)

      2) What do you think is the most important factors in a high converting Direct Mail piece?

      There are few main component of direct mail: list, offer and creative. The list is one of the most important but typically over looked parts. The offer is also very impactful. Though I tend to see a lot of people instead focusing on creative too much.

      The other main thin to remember is: Testing, testing and more testing. Approach direct mail as any other growth channel. The iteration time is bit longer, but you should always be A/B or A/B/C/D testing everything you send out.

      3) Do you have any tools or services you use to make Direct Mail more accessible to growth hackers?

      Yes, there are a few easy ways to get started with direct mail.

      One simple way is with Lob.com (the service I mentioned earlier). They provide an API and help manage all the printing and sending that you can check out.
      Another way is with expert direct mail consultants. They can provide more support in customizing your pieces and helping you create a strategy. I know a few great ones, just ping me for recommendations.

      4 Share
      • AL

        Arsene Lavaux

        over 3 years ago #

        Hi @russelltaylor05 : Nice to meet you. Very interesting question. And thank you @Adelynz, loved your powerful, complete response.

        Based on some experience in that traditional channel, at more traditional companies (subscription TV, consumer packaged goods, B2B high-tech SaaS) and more modern startups, I'd totally agree that "the list", how you segment out your target audience, custom message them whenever possible with a solution to their core unmet need and associated offer is key.

        A quick quantitative point.

        What I have seen is that, most of the time, the conversion rate on DM has a bell curve shape (benchmarked on many products I worked on) with the tipping/average point at 1% as a decent order of magnitude.

        Now, the most successful story I have heard from a DM guy I met was for a brand that sells donuts and coffee. They actually sent a mini-box of donut as a "creative DM". It was entirely made out of mailable paper. They got 10% conversion rate, and I am sure they did A/B on the creative component to confirm this was attributed to that test.

        Something to think about, an out-of-the-box creative approach on top of the core 4 components so brilliantly related by Adelyn.

        And based on that, it's easy to plug the math to understand ROI and why higher purchase amounts (more frequent in B2B, think $10k when you close a SMB or enterprise deal) can make even more sense for DM growth hacking.

        Typically, on a traditional DM, if you have decent volume to mail, I'd say over 10,000 pieces which is not much in traditional DM which corporations mail by the millions, you have a cost per piece at about $1 - creative + mailing + postage all bundled.

        Sometimes, I found out, as long as you first nail down your targeting strategy + messaging/offer that it is worth boosting the creative thinking, which can more than double your cost per piece but at times 10x on your conversion rate.

        Food for thoughts.

        Looking forward to other thoughts from this amazing GH community.

        • AZ

          Adelyn Zhou

          over 3 years ago #

          Yes, great comment @renaissance17. The conversion rate on a piece can vary greatly and you really have to test it with cells of > 10,000 to see.

          10% conversion rate on DM is great. I've seen everything in the range from 0.1% up to 20%, and goal is always to be on the outlier end!

    • PV

      Philippe Vdhd

      over 3 years ago #

      Hi Russell,

      Reading the old copywriting classics will help a lot too. I would particularly recommend Robert Collier's letter book. It's pure gold wrapped in a 10$ book :)

    • BS

      Bhaskar Sarma

      over 3 years ago #

      Clayton Makepeace is one hell of a resource when it comes to DM. He is partly retired now but his blog has a wealth of information on the topic. Check out the archives here http://www.trafficplusconversion.com/makepeace/

  • AB

    Aleksandar Bibovski

    over 3 years ago #

    Hey Adelyn, thank you for the AMA!

    Can you tell us how companies like Amazon, Nextdoor and Eventbrite decide should they go with growth hacking strategies or some 'standard' marketing techniques (like PR marketing, google ads etc.)?

    • AZ

      Adelyn Zhou

      over 3 years ago #

      Hi @Biba,
      Most successful companies employ a combination of multiple strategies in both marketing and growth, including SEO, SEM, PR, content, referral, invitation, etc. They do anything that works. :) Though recently, companies have realized that they need to combine marketing with product, and hence the emergence of “growth” teams that are dedicated to a culture of fast iteration tempos and AB testing.

      3 Share
  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    over 3 years ago #

    Thanks for doing this AMA Adelyn. I know you are a relatively new transplant from San Francisco to NYC. How would you compare the startup and growth scenes in each city. Where are the sharper growth people and which is more open and collaborative? Or are they about the same?

    • AZ

      Adelyn Zhou

      over 3 years ago #

      @SeanEllis, you know me so well! Yes, I’m in the process of relocating to NYC and getting a feel of the scene here.

      There are definitely more growth people in SF in the absolute sense, but NYC is catching up. There are quite a few interesting startups out here that have seen tremendous growth such as Wework, Casper, Oscar, Blue Apron and others.

      In the past, people in NYC tended to be a bit more guarded with their IP and ideas. Though recently, I’ve seen it changing. There are more collaborations across startups. For example, my friend Teju, VP of Marketing at Handy, created a “Mail is back” program that united a number of NYC startups to split the cost of and send a joint direct mailer. They use a group to share growth and marketing ideas across companies.

      I’ve also noticed in NYC is that there are these "tech families” or “mafias” :) — there were a few successful early tech companies that have fostered leaders and founders for numerous new startups. My former co-workers from Amazon/Quidsi started or are leading more than a dozen awesome startups (Jet, Handy, Cafe, Primary, etc.) I’ve seen that also with Gilt, Thrillist, Etsy and other earlier tech companies.

      2 Share
  • AP

    Anthony Panepinto

    over 3 years ago #

    Hey @Adelynz,

    Thanks for doing this AMA! Awesome to have you on here.

    A couple questions,

    1. It looks like you're the jack of all trades when it comes to marketing, I've just launched my new startup www.venuevortex.com connecting event planners with venue representatives and I've successfully on-boarded 50+ venues in free trial mode. The next step is getting users, by having a bunch of users sending venues requests that's where the value is generated. What marketing channels and strategies would you recommend to get users on here?

    2. What was the time horizon for Next Door, when things started taking off? E.g. How long until the inflection point for user growth, or was it slow and steady growth?

    Thanks!
    Anthony

  • KA

    karim Abd El Kader

    over 3 years ago #

    @Adelynz

    Hello Adelyn,

    Thanks a lot for Conducting this AMA and for your continuous Value that you are adding to our community:

    I am growth hacker and entrepreneur from Egypt; i am a partner in one of the horizontal classifieds marketplaces; we are doing well but we are being a competitor with OLX which is the market leader here in Egypt.

    Please find hereby this brief as a needed intro. on our situation and to be able to answer my questions:

    * we have 150K unique user per month and OLX has 1.5 Million Unique user per month, so we are 10% of them.

    * They spent millions on marketing and we spent like the budget of one billboard they used for a week on our marketing.

    * Our main revenue stream is online advertising then we will introduce featured ads for users.

    * Our infrastructure is based on geocore classifieds engine; which is the one firstly used by OLX when started.

    * Our differentiation is a better usability and better look and feel which will be featured in our revamp a month from now; i know that you will think that we need to go vertical and but i think that is very relevant to your western markets but here we have many competing products in different categories and they are generating money.

    In the below; i am listing my questions:

    * How we can scale our product with a minimum budget?

    * How we can start creating demand on our online advertising?

    * How we can generated addiction for the product (implementing Hooked model)

    Warm Regards,
    karim.

    • AZ

      Adelyn Zhou

      over 3 years ago #

      Hi Karim,

      Yes, without large budget, you won’t be doing much paid acquisition, but there are definitely ways to grow with viral, referral or invitation traffic.

      Without knowing your product or seen you in the marketplace, you may have already implemented some of the things that I’m about to mention.

      I would first focus on all the non-paid channels. For a classified site, I would make sure that your SEO is as strong as it can be. You have tons of listings and products, make sure you capture all the long tail.

      Within the product, do you also have ways to have people share? For example, tools for users who post on your classified site to post to other sites (e.g. FB, Twitter, their own social media). That way, you’re leveraging the network of your users.

      Third, are there interesting or fun stories coming out of your site as you match buyers and sellers? Pitch those to news sites or make them into content. There are lots of Craigslist posts that go viral and generate a lot of buzz.

      On creating demand for advertising, first figure out who your target ad buyers are. Also see who is buying advertising from you competitors and reach out to them first.

  • NT

    Nicolas Terzian

    over 3 years ago #

    What are the best metrics to evaluate display marketing? If both our CTR is low and the bounce rate is high, does that prove it's not a viable marketing source?

    In the larger picture is display advertising becoming less viable all together, with a savvier internet user not wanting to interact with display campaigns?

    • AZ

      Adelyn Zhou

      over 3 years ago #

      Hi @nicolas.terzian,

      It depends on what you’re using display marketing for. If it’s for branding, then you may not even care about clicks, but just want your ads to be “seen” as a billboard online. Though most marketers want there to be some engagement with their display ads in the form of direct marketing. In that case, you’re right on; CTR, bounce rate and ultimate conversions (sale, new engaged users, etc.) are all important metrics. Personally, if I’m using display as a direct marketing campaign, then I want to measure all the way down to the end of the conversion funnel to new users or sales.

      Display advertising is definitely changing. Over 20%+ of the people in the US are using ad block and it’s as high as 45% in Germany! There are multiple startups trying address this with more personalized ads, different formats, native ads, or in the long run a potential “spotify for online content” play (know of one cool company working on this). We’ll see what happens with time!

      2 Share
  • KA

    karim Abd El Kader

    over 3 years ago #

    @Adelynz

    I loved your presentation on optimizing invites and virality; one question related to this.

    How can you implement these tactics to standard marketplace and a transactional marketplace where users can buy home cooked food from cooks and catering businesses?

    Thanks,
    Karim

    • AZ

      Adelyn Zhou

      over 3 years ago #

      Hi @Karim_Abd_El_Kader,

      Thanks for the kind words. Here are a couple ideas:
      Buyer side: Allow them to share order with friends, encourage group orders, have them post on social media, allow them to gift meals to friends / referrals.
      Cook side: Create dedicated pages for the cooks that they can share with their friends and family; leverage them to help promote your site. I've also heard people finding success with periscope, might be worthwhile to try that for your cooks.

      1 Share
  • MT

    Matt Trush

    over 3 years ago #

    On invites, can you share a bit more on what you're seeing as far as % of actives inviting and % of invitees registering? Also, do you find that people who came from an invite tend to have higher rates of inviting compared to others?

    • AZ

      Adelyn Zhou

      over 3 years ago #

      @trush,
      I've seen it vary widely based on the product. A Snapchat or Instagram which has a viral coefficient of >1 will have each member inviting more than 1 person. That of course is the holy grail. If you’re a social site, then you need all you members inviting. But if you’re an e-commerce company, virality may not be as important because you have revenue and can spend that against paid advertising.

      Yes, in general, I have typically seen invited users to be better users than paid ones. There are of course some invited users that are not as good (if you had a user mass spam their contact list).

      1 Share
  • JH

    Justin Harris

    over 3 years ago #

    Hello Adelyn,

    Thanks for doing this AMA.

    How have you used loyalty/rewards programs as part of your marketing efforts?

    Any best practices for creating customer loyalty/rewards programs for companies?

    • AZ

      Adelyn Zhou

      over 3 years ago #

      @Justinfharris, we created programs for our most active and loyal customers / members.
      At Nextdoor, we had a community forum that was only accessible to our neighborhood Leads and at Diapers.com (part of Amazon), we had an internal customer score.
      To be successful, understand your customers and segment them. If you're in e-commerce, then establish metrics to identify them. And rewards don't have to be strictly monetary, they can be anything from special access, first looks, perks, etc. as long as they make your customers feel good and appreciated.

      1 Share
  • AZ

    Adelyn Zhou

    over 3 years ago #

    Hello all, I'm excited to be part of this GrowthHackers AMA and connect with all you today! Looking forward to all of your questions. :)

  • EJ

    Eric Jenny

    over 3 years ago #

    Hey Adelyn,

    Thank you very much for doing this AMA on GH!!

    Couple questions for you and I apologize if they were answered here already:

    1.) How did you guys define "success" for a neighborhood to know when it would be self-sustaining and determine the 21-day pilot period was enough time for you to know if a user was serious about making a neighborhood?
    2.) How did you guys expand so quickly across the US? Did you start small or go big and see which areas were "sticky" and focused more resources there to understand why?
    3.) Since you guys are pre-revenue, how did you determine what a user was worth to you when acquiring new users? Did you have a certain spend per user in mind from a calculation of CLV?
    4.) How important do you think badges and rewards programs are? If important, do you recommend building it yourself or do you have companies that plug in nicely?

    Sorry for all of the questions and I appreciate any insight, have a good day and thanks again for joining us here!!

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    over 3 years ago #

    If you haven't see this super presentation by Adelyn, it's worth a watch prior to the AMA.

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    over 3 years ago #

    Hi Adelyn - very excited to have you on!

    What key similarities did you see in the approaches to growth & marketing with the companies you've been with and what of those patterns do you think any startup should be thinking about when thinking about growth/marketing?

    • AZ

      Adelyn Zhou

      over 3 years ago #

      Hi @AnujAdhiya,

      All the companies I’ve been with have been very metrics driven and open to testing new ideas and channels. The organizations are also pretty flat and people empowered to make decisions and get things done. Time is of the essence and you need to move fast and iterate to find product market fit and good acquisition channels. And with limited resources, you’re always forced to be a ruthless prioritizer and know to focus on that will move the needle the most.

      2 Share
  • BG

    Bernardo Gago

    over 3 years ago #

    Hi Adelyn,

    What are some of the best methods to get my competitor's customers to make the switch and start using my services?

    I'm in an industry where all my competitors offer the same type of service and the core service can't really be changed. However, we do offer better customer service, better designed UI for customer experience, more service options for no fees, etc.

    I've been trying to incorporate some viral loops within my website to try to turn some of my loyal customers into brand ambassadors, but I'm seeing what else can be done to really spike my growth rate and let users know that my services are a lot better than my competitors?

    Thank you!

    • AZ

      Adelyn Zhou

      over 3 years ago #

      @olimits7, yes, it’s hard to differentiate yourself in a crowded space. Though if you’re a better product and have good marketing, over time, people will find you. Continue building a great product that people love. Focus on retention and getting your users to advocate for you, which you seem to be doing already.

      Try to avoid a race to the bottom. I know of a few companies that was buying daily deal sites to acquire customers in a land grab, but those customers all churned and in the long run, were a distraction.

      Blue Apron and Plated started around the same time with the same service, but Blue Apron has done a better job establishing their brand as a market leader. Similarly, Handy and Homejoy came out the same time in home cleaning. Homejoy recently ran out of funding and sold to Google while Handy is still independent and doing well. The better product will win out in the end.

      2 Share
      • BG

        Bernardo Gago

        over 3 years ago #

        Thanks for the reply! :)

        Definitely makes sense, I just have to keep on focusing on adding the right features to keep my customers happy and hopefully will advocate for me.

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    over 3 years ago #

    One more: Do you have a particular growth experiment that was either a big win or a big learning experience that you can share with us?

    • AZ

      Adelyn Zhou

      over 3 years ago #

      As mentioned in a response to @russelltaylor05's question, we found direct mail to be a great source of new users at Nextdoor. One of the challenges of building a neighborhood social network is that people don't actually know their neighbors and so they can't invite the traditional ways through email and social. So we created a way for neighbors to invite neighbors through mailed invitations instead which worked brilliantly.

  • JH

    Justin Harris

    over 3 years ago #

    Hello Adelyn,

    Thanks for doing this AMA.

    How have you used loyalty/rewards programs as part of your marketing efforts?

    Any best practices for creating customer loyalty/rewards programs for companies?

  • CR

    Conrado Ramires

    over 3 years ago #

    Hi Adelyn, hope all is well!

    My name is Conrad and I am founder of a Brazilian P2P car sharing company, Pegcar, which has a similar concept of US companies like Relayrides and Getaround.

    Currently we are making a soft launch based in some target neighborhoods of São Paulo and we are totally focused on acquiring cars (inventory).

    Given this geographic based strategy and the fact that our model is based in building trust, we are hoping to test and discover the best ways to optimize the cars conversion.

    Could you be so kind to say the set of marketing channels you would use in our case? (it would be very useful If you could mention some Nextdoor.com initiatives)

    Thank you very much for the help.

    All the best,
    Conrado

    • AZ

      Adelyn Zhou

      over 3 years ago #

      Hi @conradoramires,
      Some ideas of tactics you can try:
      1. Community outreach to initially seed a neighborhood. Maybe be worth going to local events and activities. A lot of times, you have to do unscalable things in the beginning to gain initial traction.
      2. Put flyers on cars parked on the street, you know they have cars, and can message that they are missing out by not monetizing this parked car on the street.
      3. Facebook ads geographically targeted, I’ve seen a great one from Flightcar on “your ATM parked here in an image of an empty parking spot"
      4. Direct mail (at least for the renters side, I’ve seen Getaround use it to mail neighbors when someone signs up a Getaround car in the neighborhood)
      5. Offer referral bonuses is something that I’ve seen other car share companies do

      Good luck!

  • TT

    TestimonialRobot Team

    over 3 years ago #

    Hi There,
    If you have a new service or product...What are the first 3 things you do to test for engagement and the first three things you would tweak.

    Gary,
    TRobot

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