Insight/Action/Outcome: The growth team at Gathern knew something could be optimized when they noticed their conversion rate was half the industry average. The growth and product team ran experiments and performed market research to better understand the needs of different customer cohorts. Using Amplitude, Gathern more than doubled its market share from 30% to 63% in just ten months. They’ve doubled retention rates and reduced the cost of acquiring customers by almost 60% compared to 2022, shifting the company to profitability. They couldn’t have achieved these numbers without harnessing data.
In 2019, Saudi Arabia opened to foreign tourists, reversing its decades-old inbound travel policy and launching a visa regime for 49 countries. This change created a market for short-term rentals to complement our country’s hotels. It was a golden opportunity for the peer-to-peer vacation rental platform Gathern to grow our business.
Gathern allows property owners to list accommodations—including villas, apartments, farms, and chalets, removing a significant hurdle in the Kingdom’s peer-to-peer (P2P) rental market. We make listing and finding accommodations accessible, connecting property owners to vacationers seeking alternative accommodation to stay.
There was little visibility into user behavior.
Our company was growing, but there needed to be more clarity between what we were doing and what we needed to do. We wanted to understand who our customers were and how they were behaving on our platform. With tourism being a new industry in Saudi Arabia, Gathern needed more insight into the expectations of vacationers, and that meant collecting user data and tracking customer journeys on our website and applications.
As Gathern's VP of Growth, I oversee several teams that guide the right customer through the right channel at the right time, matching user preferences to available accommodations. The performance marketing team oversees paid social platforms and search intention flow, including SEO and SEM. The growth hacking team is responsible for activations and getting users to enter our funnel and embark on a customer journey. The retention hacking team guides users through our funnel, ensuring a consistent and engaging customer experience that maximizes conversions.
Despite our successes, we needed to understand more and dig deeper into our customer behavior, and we couldn’t measure the impact of our UX decisions. Although we had experienced 3X growth, there was a lot of room for improvement.
The start of a data-led culture
At the time, we had very basic analytics tools. We were using Firebase and Google Analytics, but neither could record sessions or track the behaviors of more than one million active monthly users. We couldn’t deep dive into our funnels to see where users were dropping off, nor could we gather data in one location to make it actionable. So, I requested new analytics tools, including Amplitude Analytics, which I had used to create data-driven growth initiatives at other companies.
Amplitude is the most powerful and intuitive analytics platform I’ve used.
Amplitude is the most powerful and intuitive analytics platform I’ve used. It allows me to explore specific topics quickly and easily and extract actionable data that drives decisions. It offers better funnel tools and integrations than competitors like Mixpanel, and its automated dashboards allow me to visualize complex data as colorful, easy-to-understand charts. I’ve used many other platforms, and Amplitude was the easiest to onboard and had the shortest time to value - from implementation to uncovering insights our team could use. It took Gathern one month to revamp the event structure and integrate it with Amplitude. This was a one-time investment as we also used the platform as CDP (Customer data platform) for the rest of the marketing automation platforms. Within the same month, the Growth team discovered the platform functionalities using the demo datasets. This allowed us to kick off our first user journey analysis a few weeks after rolling out.
We weren’t sure it was the right time to invest in a new analytics tool, but I insisted that having data at our fingertips would have a massive impact on our business. I worked with Amplitude’s engineers and our integration team to implement a barebones version of Amplitude as a proof of concept. Next, I worked with our integrations and products teams to create a workflow that identified where customers dropped off and sent this information to a marketing tool that generated a full customer journey automation communication.
It took four weeks to set everything up and flow event data into Amplitude. We used our findings to build a case for Amplitude and a better analytics stack that filled gaps in our knowledge of user behavior, specifically looking at conversions, retention, and lifetime value (LTV). At Gathern, there was an opportunity to develop a more robust data culture, which would have enhanced our understanding and utilization of valuable insights. Once we showed that we could pinpoint and address drop-off points in our funnel, the buy-in was near instant, and we received the budget and go-ahead to fully adopt the platform.
Identifying user behaviors and developing new features
Today, our growth and product teams use Amplitude to identify user behaviors and develop and experiment new features. The growth team builds cohorts to analyze how customers move through our funnels, discern patterns, identify acquisition panels, and qualify users. They share this information with the product team for further analysis, along with recommendations for new and improved features.
This process leads to internal discussions and negotiations about new features. We create narratives about customer journey gaps and funnel drop-off points, propose solutions, and implement them. Once new features go live, we track critical KPIs in Amplitude, including conversions, retention, and LTV.
The UX and UI teams also run experiments to track users through our funnel to see what flows and features are working and whether customers are routed to the correct pages. They perform pre- and post-analyses to confirm the impact of interface changes and make the necessary adjustments, iterating to eliminate drop-offs and pain points.
Crucially, Amplitude helped us understand how our customers decide to rent a vacation property. Our aha moment came when we analyzed our funnel from the conversion leads perspective. We realized that users who converted took a few hours and looked at almost 24 listings before finally choosing an accommodation—even after filtering the results by location, price, and amenities.
We knew something was not working because the industry conversion rate for P2P rental sites is 2%, and we were getting half that. The growth and product team ran experiments to revamp the customer journey to match customer expectations. We also did market research and interviewed different customer cohorts to better understand their needs. Which resulted in doubling this figure in less than ten months.
Now, we can clearly see user behavior and can target people more effectively depending on why they drop out of the funnel. That figure has dropped to nearly 5%, saving millions of Saudi riyals on a monthly basis.
Based on our findings, we modified unit listing pages to show the most relevant information to our customers, resulting in a 1.7-point increase in the conversion rate. We also changed the number of filters on our landing page. When you open our application, there are nearly 600 filters. We used Amplitude to track user behavior and reordered the filters, promoting the most relevant filters and adding advanced and quick filters to guide users to properties meeting their criteria. Following this change, we saw almost double the figures in our conversion rates, night, and overall revenue.
Leveraging data to improve our bottom line
We’re growing fast, and Amplitude helps us deliver what our customers use the most. We use it to segment our customer base accurately, personalizing marketing campaigns and services to match the behaviors of different customer segments, thereby increasing engagement and retention. We also identified ways to streamline costs and marketing efforts by tracking the performance of marketing channels and campaigns and allocating resources to the channels with the highest ROI.
We previously spent a considerable amount of our revenue on customer incentives. Now, we can clearly see user behavior and can target people more effectively depending on why they drop out of the funnel. That figure has dropped to nearly 5%, saving millions of Saudi riyals on a monthly basis.
Retention is one of the most important factors in any industry, allowing companies to increase CLTV/CAC ratio. Retention is defined by customers doing any repeated transaction. Usually, this lowers the dependency on user acquisition, directly impacting the bottom-line revenue. Based on reports of Saudi Arabia's domestic tourism data, the benchmark is estimated to be three to four travel trips per year.
Thanks to Amplitude, we more than doubled our market share from 30% to 63% in just ten months. We’ve doubled retention rates and reduced the cost of acquiring customers by almost 60% compared to 2022, shifting the company to profitability. We couldn’t have achieved these numbers without harnessing data.
Thanks to Amplitude, we more than doubled our market share from 30% to 63% in just ten months.
Amplitude has transformed Gathern into a data-driven company. Accessing data has empowered us to experiment without worrying about making mistakes and see the impact of seemingly minor changes. We will continue to leverage Amplitude’s powerful and robust features to drive growth, better understand our customers, improve our product, and provide a valuable service for visitors wishing to experience Saudi Arabia as a tourist destination.