Building a Zesty, Retention-Focused Movement

Posted on Dec 3, 2019

Episode: S01E23

Podcast Guest: Yam Regev
Role: CMO
Company: Zesty

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In this epic podcast, Yam Regev, the cofounder of Zest, former CMO and Webydo, and expert Ouzo consumer, shares the specifics on growing into a massive community of over 140,000 diehard evangelists. We discuss the value of a retention-based framework, some specific KPIs to chase, when automation doesn’t make sense, and some things that work at a few of the best marketing organizations in the world. Also, Shakespeare and job referrals. Seriously. As a freebie for coming to check this out over here, take a look at Yam’s three tips to be awesome at marketing.

  1. Mastering Google Docs. Why? This is the real place I spend most of my time in. And by mastering it I mean that I’m mainly using it to create templates of briefs, products launches flows, campaign timelines and more.
  2. LinkedIn. Why? Understanding how their algos work can make or break your brand exposure. I’m trying different type of posts, formats and ToV to see what gets more engagement, exposure or whatever our current KPI is. Also their DM is a wonderful way to connect, reachout and initiate biz dev, sales and collaborations. A true marketer need to master these two channels LinkedIn channels and in return their job might be amplified.
  3. My third ‘tool’ is knowledge expansion. Marketers are T-shaped pros by nature. Make sure you follow life-changing individuals that can inspire you not just as a marketer but as modern professionals. For me these are the top ones: Thomas Tunguz, Brian Balfour, Andrew Chen, Fred Wilson


Episode Transcript

Eytan Buchman To market or not to market? That’s the question. When I hear experts talk about Shakespeare, I always debate if Bill even thought about half of the brilliant things that they attribute to him. Then I forget about it and I eat a cookie. But honestly, it’s a question that I think about a lot when it comes to marketers, because there really are two different types, right? There’s some brilliant marketers that just get it intuitively. And then they retroactively explain why they chose to do the things that they did. There’s some others that put together an actual framework and implement it. And I’m kind of more impressed with the second type. The ones who do it deliberately, who think it out have a strategy – a replicable strategy – that they can use to build a company. And that’s what this episode is about, that deliberate method. But first, a quick reminder, the voice in your ears is me, Eytan Buchman, and you’re listening to Marketers in Capes, which tries to bring you actionable marketing tips for marketing heroes in about 10 minutes. I met Yam Regev about three years ago and he’s been on my hero board since. He’s the cofounder of a company called Zest, an incredible educational platform for marketers. But it’s really his public authenticity – both personally and professionally – that sticks out to me. We discussed his marketing philosophy, how he scaled Zest to 120,000 users in just a year and a half, and some of his recipes for creating a movement. But first, let’s let him say hi, Yam Regev My name is Yam Regev, I’m the cofounder and CMO at Zest. I’ve been in the online marketing industry for the past probably 13 years. I cofounded a web marketing agency some 13 years ago, which grew to be quite a big operation. I was the CEO over there for a few years and then I moved to do the product world where I was a CMO of a startup called Webydo, where we generated 300,000 users. During my time over there, I met with my current cofounder for the yellow crime of Zest, His name is Idan Yalovich. And we launched this day one and a half years ago. Today we have 120,000 users, we have almost 40,000 monthly active users. Eytan Buchman If you’re not driving and you like marketing stop right now and install Zest, it’ll make you a better marketer. So what does it do? Yam Regev So Zest itself is a professional knowledge building platform, mainly targeting professional marketers at the moment. Basically what Zest does is that it knows how to filter and match microcontent from the web for each end user and to build probably the best learning path that is very personalized, very on demand, and it’s very goal focused. What you’re trying to do is to build your knowledge away from the content noise. Eytan Buchman I got on the train pretty early, but I remember the first time I was at a conference and one of the guys presenting accidentally showed his browser was asked open and before switching away he took a second to glow about it. I’d seen this happen on Facebook but the offline love fast was proof that Yama and his team had created a real movement. Here’s how we did it. Yam Regev So I believe that the probably the first good thing that we did when we started to build the product / brand / community is that we just were ourselves. I mean being human is something that is so rare these days. Especially in our own vertical, the marketing vertical. Eytan Buchman so we all chase that automation and scale goal. But yeah, I’m actively rejected it when getting started. And I think that’s a core part of his philosophy. Yam Regev And I think that in you know, the first few months when you launch a product, whether it’s in alpha, beta or just relaunch, you don’t want to use any kind of automation, software – you want to create to be as close as you can to your users. You want to hear what they say, you want to hear the lingo , the jargon, you want to know what kind of wallet and keywords they use. You want them to butcher you and to be genuine about the feedback of the product itself. And on the other end, what you need to do is to show them that you hear, that you absorb and that you also implement and undertake what they have to say, again about the brand messaging or about the product features and stuff like that. So we did exactly that. Eytan Buchman A lot of people talk about user research, and it’s really important that you hear much less about the pipeline going back to users, how you communicate to them. I also really liked the idea of getting buzzwords from the users. Good users are always your best copywriters. Yam Regev I think that in the first few months ago of Zest, I was in direct contact with a few thousands of people over the email, which I asked them, you know, what do you think about it? How does it feel when you think about this feature? What do you think about this business model? Eytan Buchman So I was on the receiving end of all this and I can personally attest that while half me knew I was getting a slightly modified email template – probably – the other side felt like I was part of something I was invested emotional pain. And this was not an accident. Yam Regev I think that this human touch really resonates with a lot of users because they felt they are part of the whole process. And another cool thing that we did, and that’s branding wise, is to make sure that our tone of voice is we call it VAC – like vulnerable, authentic and transparent. So we really share, everything and I think that if you follow my work on LinkedIn, on Facebook, you’ll see that everything is out there, we are sharing everything that we’re doing. Eytan Buchman One mistake I made in the past is waiting to a certain size before instituting a brand voice or guidelines. But a little bit of clarity early on is a much better way to shape a direction than trying to pivot retroactively. Either way for Yam at this point, it was time to scale. But slowly. Yam Regev I think at the point where we felt that it’s just too much to do everything so manual, we then gently switched on a few automated machines, especially as far as related to email marketing based on the time triggers or activity figures within the product. And that really, really helped us. Eytan Buchman So regardless of how you try to implement something, knowing what you’re chasing after is really important. I’ve started to see more and more companies like Superhuman or Zest, lower the volume on the acquisition dial and crank retention up to 10 in earlier days. Why? Yam Regev So I think what we had quite in the beginning is our retention mindset. So retention, KPIs are probably the most important things that we had. And I believe that part of the great word of mouth that Zest enjoyed from is coming from this retention-based growth mindset in which we said the kind of parameters that you want to track are like Day 1, Day 7, and Day 30 kind of numbers to see the number of people who come back to our product after the first day day, week or month. And I believe that a DAU/MAU is so important to understand the proportion of monthly active users who engage with our product in single day window, and of course cohorts and analysis. So because we were so devoted to those kind of KPIs, we cared less about the growth, it was all about retention and make sure that people come back and that they see and discover that the value of the product itself. So I believe that being human and being a retention maniac you can say are two core things that really helped us kick off Zest in an open way. Eytan Buchman But still, eventually a company needs to grow. So that’s where this movement came in. Yam made sure that just could give back to their star users too. Yam Regev People we do things for you for three reasons – either it’s for money, good cause, or fame. And I believe within Zest where we’re trying to play is on the last two. It means good cause – so people who use Zest they believe that they are part of a great movement that actually comes to, you can say clean the web or distill the web. Eytan Buchman But beyond the mission, your major to deliver in something even more tangible. Yam Regev And also we can we can give them as much fame as they can. So if the content gets approved on Zest, they’re profile will be associated with it. And of course, as I said, we’re trying to mention them everywhere that we can, so it’s more about them less about us, less about the team. For instance, I’m contributor in Social Media Today, which is a great social media publication. I think it’s one of the biggest the marketing industry. And over there, what we do is that I’m surfacing contributed content from Zesters over there, right? And when I’m when I’m surfacing it up over there, I’m not just mentioning the article but also their name and where they work and stuff like that. So, you know, we call it in some sort of way mutual back scratching. Eytan Buchman This isn’t a sleazy car salesperson handshake. These tactics have actual substance behind them. Zest’s DNA is about helping communities. Yam Regev When you’re being so close to your users, it means that you’re becoming the friends, and I’m talking about real friends. You know what eventually I can I think I helped more than a few dozens of Zesters to find jobs, for instance, just because we will so close in contact and the relationship just went a little bit beyond Zest itself. Eytan Buchman Just to bring this home I asked you I’m about marketers out there that really make his mind pop. Obviously, the first thing he said came down to authenticity too. Yam Regev Drift is doing amazing work. I think that the product is out there, really, thanks to the great team of product people, product marketing and marketing professionals who bring themselves, you know, into the web sphere. So they speak about their own stuff, whether it’s in direct correlation with what’s going on in Drift or just about themselves as professionals. And I believe this kind of authentic kind of no marketing methodology or the way that they just work is engaging and resonates with me. Eytan Buchman Marketers who believe in their product, understand their users know who they are, what they want and talk to them in the right way are the ones who get through the noise. That positions marketers in a very, very interesting place going down the line. For example, what happened at Slack Yam Regev I really love what Slack did. I’m not sure if today they still have the same organization. I heard a few podcasts and video interviews with Bill Macaitis, their former CMO, he was the CMO of Zendesk as well, and the way that Bill structured department is that almost everything was under his belt. The marketing, sales, customer success, even part of the support was under the marketing responsibility. And at some point they even added in the product. What he believed in is that only marketing people – a marketing professional – knows how to deliver and how to change the right messaging throughout the user journey or user flow, so it will engage better and resonate better and convert better eventually. Eytan Buchman So no, this isn’t a marketing power play. If anything, it’s just a way to drive home that successful products maintain an implicit dialogue with their users. I don’t know if Shakespeare understood chiastic structure symbolisms or dramatic irony as much as we think he did. What is obvious to me is it he spoke to people in a way that spoke to them and still speaks to us even though the language is kind of hard. That’s exactly what a good marketer does. Head over to Zest.is to up your marketing game. Or if you’re impressed that in the last two podcasts I’ve managed to reference both the Gilmore Girls and Shakespeare, drop me a five star podcast review on Apple podcast. My name is Eytan Buchman, this was Marketers in Capes and friends, Romans, countrymen. Thank you for your ears.