Everyone talks about big data, but you’d be surprised how many companies underestimate the importance of real-time actionable data in the day-to-day decision-making process. Ensuring anyone in the organization can access this data in a timely manner not only optimizes resources to grow and iterate faster, it is also a game changer and a requirement for any company that considers itself data driven.
For the past 10 years, I have had the opportunity to work at the crossroads of marketing, product and technology. I am the founder of Bocalista, a digital media startup focused on mental health and wellness, providing Spanish-language educational content for Latin American millennials. Bocalista was the first Latin American media property to use native advertising to acquire users and quickly grew from a solo operation to a team of 20 journalists, marketers, developers, and designers with a presence in more than ten Latin American countries, Spain, and the United States.
We developed proprietary software that leveraged millions of web traffic datapoints and used AI to optimize engagement and monetization in real-time, resulting in 100 million visits, 500 million page views, industry awards, and a top-five ranking in Latin American health-related websites. At that point, I moved on to my next adventure.
A growing business with overwhelmed data analysts
I joined Leal as VP of Growth in 2019. Leal is a Colombian fintech company that helps more than 5 million Latin Americans save on everyday purchases and access digital financial services. When I took the job, we were mainly a B2B company that aggregated loyalty programs for businesses and provided them with the tools to understand their customers, send segmented marketing campaigns, and help them increase customer engagement. Our consumer-facing app was mainly informative, allowing purchasers of our customers’ products and services to check their loyalty point balances.
We have since added a B2C model and retooled our app to create an immersive user experience that allows consumers to collect and redeem valuable cashback points when purchasing groceries and other products online and at brick-and-mortar stores. Users can link to online purchases and scan paper receipts to earn Leal Coins (our in-app currency) to redeem for goods and services, including gas, mobile telephony, Netflix and Amazon gift cards, food, and groceries.
The enhanced functionality of our app helped grow our user base from 1 million to 5 million. We doubled the number of businesses using our services from 500 to 1,000 and expanded into Mexico and Central America. In February 2022, we secured $10 million series A financing, co-led by IDC Ventures and Rakuten Capital, representing the Japanese giant’s first investment in Latin America.
Our growth was propelled by the hard work of our 20-strong growth and app development team, comprising mobile developers, UX/UI and QA experts, marketers, content creators, and analytics specialists. Leal had two data scientists with the skills and knowledge to answer questions for all our 100 employees and various teams. They were overwhelmed, spending all their time writing database queries to extract raw data and answer business questions, and it took them days or weeks to fulfill requests.
A lack of real-time data can hamper a company’s ability to quickly resolve product issues or interpret the results of marketing campaigns.
Because Leal did not have a proper analytics visualization tool to help interpret real-time data, we had to go through data scientists, who became the bottleneck as it took them a significant amount of time to generate every report we needed. These delays hampered our ability to quickly resolve product issues or interpret the results of our marketing campaigns. We rarely considered data in our marketing, product, and business decisions because it wasn’t available. And there was no easy or accurate way to aggregate data residing in our different systems. Manually collating data took a long time, was prone to errors, and led to limited insights. It was impossible to build a data culture, scale our analytics efforts as the quantity of data grew, or track KPIs like user retention, customer acquisition cost, and lifetime value (LTV).
My previous experience at Bocalista taught me the importance of real-time analytics for decision-making processes. Leal is a far more complex entity with B2B and B2C functions, online and offline components, different types of products, and various stakeholders. I researched solutions that could scale to this complexity but still provide accessible insights to the executive and growth teams as well as other functional areas with business needs that could be answered with data—without relying on our data science team. I read online reviews, consulted specialized analytics websites, and talked to industry experts and other startups to identify the best available solutions. Amplitude Analytics came out on top.
360-degree behavioral analytics
I chose Amplitude because it is a 360-degree behavioral analytics platform. It helps us understand how consumers use our app and what they do offline. It is easy enough for anyone in the company to use without previous analytics experience. We no longer have to ask our data scientists to author and run SQL queries. Instead, we can point and click our way to comprehensive insights presented as easy-to-interpret charts, graphs, and tables.
Amplitude also integrates with our CRM, attribution platform, and our A/B testing tool. It allows our teams to capture and leverage data from multiple sources, leading to high-quality business intelligence (BI) that enhances and enriches our understanding of user behavior.
One of the earliest uses of Amplitude was to streamline our registration and login process. We suspected we were losing users between the time they downloaded the app and the moment they clicked on the home screen. But we weren’t sure about our hunch, and we didn’t know where in the onboarding process we were losing people. Amplitude helped us validate our assumption and confirm the number of lost users and why.
Thanks to these insights, we changed the layout of the registration screens, updated the copy, and optimized the user experience. We tested our changes and confirmed our hypotheses by running A/B tests and analyzing the results in Amplitude. Making these changes to our onboarding process significantly increased the registration completion rate.
Providing granular insights to all teams
Unlike other BI tools, Amplitude is robust enough to cover all our analytics needs and is very user friendly. It’s easy to create new dashboards that offer granular insights into user behavior relevant to different teams within Leal. Our marketing team uses Cohorts to personalize and target communications to specific customer segments. Our product and apps teams use Funnel Analysis Charts to locate pain points in our customers’ journeys and refine our interface and user experience.
One of the biggest benefits of Amplitude is tracking the results of different marketing channels. As part of our growth strategy, we started using social media influencers to attract younger customers. Amplitude integrations allow us to link our attribution platform and measure the conversion and behavior of users who downloaded the app after interacting with influencers.
We found out that influencers could be much more cost effective than other channels for user acquisition and in-app conversions, but also introduce the risk of bringing some users with a shorter retention and LTV. This kind of insight would have been much more challenging without Amplitude.
Envisioning Amplitude as a company-wide tool
I always envisioned Analytics as a company-wide tool. We’re a startup with a limited budget, so I wanted to invest in a product that would have widespread uses and benefits. From day one, I worked to define the use cases where Analytics would give us value. That also helped me communicate to the Amplitude team what we needed and why.
You can cover more ground faster if you recruit early adopters as platform champions and ambassadors.
I am astounded at how much the platform has spurred our growth, but I would have done things a little differently in hindsight. Although our executive team was onboard, I spent a lot of time, energy, and effort convincing others why we needed Analytics and what it could do. I realize now that I could have covered much more ground faster if I had recruited early adopters as Analytics champions and ambassadors. You can have more power with multiple evangelists rather than going it alone.
Building a data-centric culture
It was a lot of work, but it’s been worth it. I knew we had created a data culture within Leal when teams I wasn’t directly leading started asking me to help them use Analytics to answer their daily business questions. I also began to notice people across the company use Analytics to track OKRs because they now have visibility and transparency into data and metrics that show we are achieving our goals. I estimate that 40% of our company now uses Amplitude, demonstrating how far we have come in using data to back our business, marketing, and product decisions.
I estimate that 40% of our company now uses Amplitude, demonstrating how far we have come in using data to back our business, marketing, and product decisions.
I expect Amplitude will continue to shape Leal’s app and drive our day-to-day activities and long-term strategies. The easily accessible platform enables everyone to make smarter choices, iterate faster, and optimize internal resources to help our customers earn valuable rewards.