Funnels Series with Mark Collins
Upflowy recently had an insightful and informative interview with Mark Collins, the Product Manager for Zip Co. Mark has previously worked at Stripe and SiteMinder, and has always loved the exploration that his roles have allowed him to undertake.
Mark has a background in Sales and Growth, moving to a Product Manager role as one of the first employees at Stripe Australia. The main areas of responsibility that he was looking after were go-to-market, sales, and account management. When he moved to Siteminder, he worked toward launching one of their payment products and assisting map their onboarding flows, helping cultivate growth and understanding pricing.
Mark, Guillaume Ang, and Mitchell Orme recently had a long chat over Zoom. We firstly caught up and learned a little about Mark and his history. We then got stuck into funnels. This is the first blog we've got in a short series that will explore how funnels can be leveraged and about funnels and this is the first blog in the series, thanks to Mark's amazing insight.
Guillaume first asked:
"What's the main goal when you arrive at a company? What excites you?"
Throughout his career journey, there was always a new challenge that Mark wanted to explore, an interest was sparked and there was a desire to master it. Now working at Zip Pay, a larger company, he has far more opportunities to learn. The end goal for Mark is always to investigate that new challenge, understand the depth and then optimize the process.
Mark really enjoys this new role, dealing with far more volume than he originally was, and is now consumer-facing.
Today, we're going to be exploring the idea of the Funnel. In many businesses, a funnel is seen as an extension of marketing, something that you bolt onto the product experience. Mark spoke about how at Zip a funnel is a product in its own right.
The choice to separate the funnel from just a marketing add-on to its own product is linked to Zip Co's industry. In finance, the funnel process does have risk elements, financial safeguards, and official processes that need to be aligned with the industry expectations and regulations.
Funnels at Zip:
When segmenting a funnel, or breaking it down into specific areas, Zip has:
This would be the marketing that Zip does to engage with potential users, the process by which a customer first discovers your product. This encompasses your brand's persona and presence on your website.
These would be the actions done by potential customers as they are entering the required data for signing up. Whether that be the name, email address or mobile number, these data points are really important. The order that these questions can be asked can make a big difference, and we'll explore that in another post!
This aspect of the funnel is a requisite. Zip has to do this every single time. The decision engine involves credit assessments and ensures a fraudulent account or process isn't submitted. No matter how much they can tinker with copy or the length of the funnel, the decision engine stays.
After having discovered the product, entered all their data, and they have been verified against the various financial checks that Zip is required to conduct, they have their account. They've completed the funnel.
Working and Iterating with the Funnel
At Zip, Mark noted that they spend a lot of time focusing on the top of the funnel, the marketing and data entry elements. They believe that through a considered focus in that area, they can better qualify the leads that enter the funnel. They want to be getting yeses to questions like:
- Are these the people that we want?
- Are these people going to use the product?
- Are they going to be healthy/good customers?
Through the analysis of the top of the funnel, Mark and Zip are better able to track the right user, rather than just opening the floodgates and letting everyone through. There is a strong focus on "the best customer", as not all customers are equal. There is money to be saved by owning the space where your best customer lives, rather than trying to spend lots of marketing dollars trying to occupy every space. The transactional behaviour of your potential customers will have insights into how to better map and re-work your funnel.
Guillaume also asked,
How do you incorporate what a customer means to your company in a day to day setting, as well as looking to the future vision of the company?
Mark spoke about the difficulty that comes about trying to context switch from tasks and issues in the present moment, in the day-to-day, when compared to the long-term vision of the company. It is a difficult mental move to look at a bug in Jira and then think about where the company or product should be headed in 12 months.
Mark recommended that the two modes of operation should be split up. There should be dedicated time, for both the day today and the long term.
The majority of the year will be spent thinking about the here and now, but there needs to be time set aside for long-term thinking.
As far as planning is concerned, ask yourself strategic vision questions once a month for a few days, but for the remainder of the month, you should be in execution mode, nailing the day-to-day tasks that keep the needle moving forward.
Previously Mark used to make the mistake where you try to do both at once. The result often becomes, you read up on competitors, but you end up skimming over it. When there is a specific time blocked out in your calendar, the focus is set aside. You'll be engaging that method of thinking, one won't be distracted by other issues, like a new ticket in Jira.
Many think that this is too difficult, or there isn't enough time in the day. Those same people will often block time out for lunch, or go to the gym. The idea of allocating a good chunk of time, just once per month, where you concentrate on planning a vision for the future will help tremendously.
When trying to think about that vision, you need to have an informed perspective, and that comes from speaking to your customers, looking at your competitors, and being open to new ideas. There is also the impact on the global strategy, for many companies, they don't just have a one region plan, but they need to have an international strategy that works together with multiple parts of the world.