International expansion often means having to adjust strategies for new markets. Babbel, an 11-year-old language learning app based out of Germany learned that over seven years of failing in the U.S. market. With a revived focus on expanding to the U.S., it’s trying a new playbook.
“We started with the idea that in Europe, our motto is everyone can and should learn languages. In the U.S., it’s not for everyone,” said Julie Hansen, CEO of Babbel U.S. “ We had to start by figuring out who is the audience. We’re reaching millennials and boomers. The team needed to be way more targeted in its approach.”
Hansen discusses Babbel’s new data, agency and channel-driven marketing approach and more. Edited highlights below.
Creating a data foundation to design a marketing plan in the U.S. market.
We’re a data-driven company and we looked at a lot of data like, who is buying the product, who is coming to our website. Then we did a co-creation session to refine the marketing. The output was excellent. It’s not cheap but you should do it if you have the time. We looked at who is responding to our ads, who converted the best, what did they say about their motivations.
The conventional and unconventional marketing channels.
After failing for seven years, the company embraced the idea that the U.S. needed a longer leash. We were given a lot of latitude. We’re very channel-driven. We’re not doing a lot of brand marketing. We have an SEM manager, some offline folks who do TV and radio. One of our expertise is creating profitable direct-to-consumer offline marketing. We’re profitably buying TV. We use TVSquared, and it combines TV airings, with our website data and our sales data. It crunches it all into algorithm to tell us this ad on CNN drove these many sales. It works. We’ve had great success in reaching baby boomers on TV, radio and Facebook. By contrast, we’re focusing on social media and podcasts for millennials. Podcasts have been the most intriguing channel. The conversion rates and responses when we pick the right podcasts is unbelievable. When we get it right and the hosts get it right, the conversion is 20 percent. It’s amazing how bespoke it is. But it’s so tough to scale. We don’t have the economics work quite yet. Quora’s SEO is incredible. They have super simple text ads.
Using agencies versus working in-house.
We drive the research and strategy ourselves. We use agencies for TV buying or radio. We use a tool for buying SEM but we do it in-house. The rest we do in-house. Language learning is a niche activity. By the time you onboard an agency and teach them about language learning, you’re better off developing that expertise internally. We’re also so disciplined and metrics-driven. It’s hard to outsource.
Member ExclusiveDigiday+ Research: Instagram wins over Facebook for role in brands’ holiday marketing
Brands differ on how they use each marketing channel during the holidays -- even when it comes to sibling social media platforms Facebook and Instagram, Digiday+ Research found.
How — and why — Candy Crush is in the midst of a 10th anniversary brand refresh
In the years since Activision Blizzard acquired the Swedish game studio King in 2016, employees at the gaming giant have started to internally refer to their company as “ABK” — that is, Activision Blizzard King. But the corporation’s recent financial reports indicate that “KAB” might be a more accurate abbreviation.
Marketers bring Web3 to the FIFA World Cup with augmented reality, NFTs and virtual worlds
The month-long tournament, which begins this weekend, will be the first World Cup since it took place in Russia in 2018 long before “Web3” entered the global lexicon. Now, official and non-official sponsors are hoping to harness the hype with a range of NFTs, virtual worlds, augmented reality tools and other trendy tech.
SponsoredHow brands are measuring incremental performance on CTV
Connected TV is unique among other advertising channels because it combines linear television’s storytelling capabilities with digital marketing’s targeting and measurement. As more marketers leverage CTV advertisements to reach relevant and engaged audiences, they also want to understand the real value they are generating with their investment. Incrementality reporting and measurement allow advertisers to measure […]
U-Haul diversifies its social strategy to tell people it’s more than moving trucks
In recent years, U-Haul's in-house agency has been working to "better leverage social media for brand loyalty."
Google’s Privacy Sandbox is coming to Android
Google's MAID will be phased out, here's what you need to know.