From the agency world to director of lifecycle at Talkspace with Jake Bodmer

Posted on 02 Apr 2021
Email MarketingRetention

What we talked about:

  • What’s a good, bad, average conversion rate look like?
  • Should I hire a freelancer for this or should the founders do PPC in day 1?
  • Should I split my PPC spend across Facebook, Google Ads, Instagram, and LinkedIn evenly or should I focus on just one channel at the same time?


Foti: How’s it going everyone? I’m your host Foti Panagiotakopoulos and this is episode number three. And we have with us today, Jake Bodmer, Director of lifecycle marketing at Talkspace. And we’re gonna start with a little bit of an icebreaker, the same one that Positive John asked me on episode 0.

Jake Bodmer: I should have listened to it that damn.

Foti: It was one that I didn’t really have an answer to what judging on what you put on, when you first came in, I think you’re gonna have a better answer than either of us did. So like, have you had your 15 minutes of fame yet?

Jake Bodmer: I mean, yeah, I’ve had, you know, moments and if going to probably what I think you’re referring to Yeah, I had one like, microsecond of fame. Sure, we could go with that. I, I did an extra some extra work. years ago, when I first moved to New York. I was just, you know, hustling, trying to make some extra cash came across this listing for, you know, extra as needed. It was an all night shoot 4pm to 4am. And it actually happen to be the first John Wick movie.

Foti: No way.

Jake Bodmer: And I made it to the final cut for I mean, a brief second right behind Keanu. But yeah, I think only my my immediate family could recognize into like, Oh, that’s Jake, like, in the kind of in the background in that like, split second. Where you know, you would just not you never noticed me unless you were really looking for me.

Foti: That’s awesome. Man. That’s a much better ask. The one that I gave, which was like, No,

Jake Bodmer: nothing.

Foti: I mean, I guess I got, I got a signature from bloody butcher wants a gas station. But I mean, that’s, that’s an ego.

Jake Bodmer: I feel like, I feel like it nothing really occurred, maybe until I was in New York. And then New York is such a tight community. You know, where it’s so many people but you’re really packed in, in a small geography where you’re just bound to run into people. Yeah, yeah. No matter where you like, if you’re there long enough. You will, you’ll recognize somebody who from art music film, like you’ll run into somebody that you recognize and appreciate, you know, their talent and their the work they’re doing.

Foti: So you’re currently still in New York, right?

Jake Bodmer: I’m in the suburbs now, but yeah, not too far.

Foti: in the suburbs, so like Queens or is that Arizona?

Jake Bodmer: Connecticut? Like, an hour plus away?

Foti: Okay. All right. You got you got to distance? Yes,

Jake Bodmer:  it was, it was a necessary move. I have two young children at the at the moment. So it’s, it was like, Alright, get a yard gets get some space for the kids to run around. You know, being in a small apartment in Brooklyn just does like okay, and this is going to be tricky. And with everything going on this past year. It just made sense to kind of get out of the city for a little bit.

Foti: Totally. Yeah. I mean, if you’re gonna be locked down, you might as well have a backyard right?

Jake Bodmer: Yeah. 100%.

Foti: Yeah. So, Jake, I mean, I’d love to jump right in. Sure. And you’ve been you’ve been relatively newcomer on Growth Mentor, you’ve done, I think how many calls you see just mention before we start, like five, six calls?

Jake Bodmer: Five, six calls. Yeah, I’m still I feel like I’m a newbie still certainly learning the ropes.

Foti: So how are you like, generally helping people in growth mentor, or feel free to paint a picture with maybe like a previous session that you might have had a good time on? Or like, you know, what, what? Where are they coming to you? What sort of questions?

Jake Bodmer: Yeah, I mean, I think at the end, I think the general theme for quite like the calls I’ve had so far, I’ve really been people just needing more, not so much the guidance, but a little like that, that kind of backup of somebody saying like, you’re on the right track, like your your head’s in the right space, like you just kind of have to keep at it. You know, for better or worse, there’s not like a, you know, a magic solution to everyone’s problems. There’s no like, one one small trick that, you know, opens up growth. I think it’s, you know, it’s that incremental step, it’s that taking the small test things, you know, try things that are working for you and optimize there, and then things that aren’t working for you, you know, no one to kind of cut bait in and say like, this is just not our channel. This is not like where we can allocate time and resources. At the moment, you know, it’s a for me, so it’s a lot of conversations around. How do you think about optimization? How do you think about testing? What’s that strategy? And then certainly, how do you sometimes go back to either your client or your boss to have that conversation to have like, this is where we should allocate our time and resources and and money at the moment. And so it’s been from everything from, you know, certainly the the acquisition, like mid funnel strategy of like, how do you start testing on the landing pages? How do you start? What should you look for? How do you, you know, quantify some of that what metrics are really should be important for you to bring to your boss? And then farther down, you know, how do you build that, that retention model? How do you do email capture? How do you make sure you’re engaging with that audience, you know, throughout their kind of lifecycle and bringing them back and really optimize for that repeat, purchase and build build really a relationship with the end user or consumer.

Foti: I just want to echo a little bit about what you were mentioning about the coming to you with not necessarily a big problem, per se, but like, just want a little bit of the validation that they’re on the on the right path. I find that very often as well as a common theme. Sometimes people just need to hear from someone who’s been there done that before, like, Look, you know, just just keep doing it. You’re You’re okay, you know,

Jake Bodmer: absolutely. I absolutely, I think I think if I kind of, you know, Foti I was like, Oh, I wish growth mentors around when I was leaving college. Yeah, just because sometimes you had those initial questions, and you’re like, Oh, am I doing? Am I on the right track? Am I thinking about this the right way? And just having people to bounce ideas off of sometimes is really important.

Foti: If you had if you had a growth mentor back then what are some of the things that you wish they would have told you as a much younger, Jake Bodmer?

Jake Bodmer: Yeah, I mean, this will probably kind of date me here a little bit. But I certainly think really, probably the simplest thing would be like, Don’t underestimate probably what Facebook would become. Because when I when I was getting into my early stages of my career, Facebook had, I think, just opened up beyond allowing college, you know, email addresses to access the platform. And it was the first time right around.

Foti: You just dated. Started using Facebook as Lauren 2006.

Jake Bodmer: Yeah, and I yeah, I got on. Yeah, it was like 2005 I think when I initially had a, my first profile, and yeah, it was just, you know, your, your college friends like connecting with people in the dorms. And it was like this cool, like, Oh, this, how you can connect and share files. I remember, people would put like music repositories in there. And you could like, you could share and download, you know, pirated music and movies and all that stuff through through the platform.

Foti: Yeah. So you wish you wish that somebody would have told you that you should have been using it more in what capacity like,

Jake Bodmer: understanding like, where it would go, because at that point, it was, it was not the business that it was, it wasn’t the business tool that it is today. And I think probably just being aware of that, I think would have been really interesting for me, as a marketer, just knowing like this, this channel was really going to just explode. And be one of you know, probably one of the top three, you know, drivers that you know, on acquisition from that people are going to be using in 10 years.

Foti: Yeah, I really could have predicted the insanity that would ensue with with

Jake Bodmer: no, I wasn’t, I was at an agency at the time. And we were like, we’re just setting up social media profiles for people. But it was, but it was still very much, you know, what’s your ad a home spend? Like, what are we doing for billboards and radio and those type of channels?

Foti: So you started your marketing career in a digital agency? And like, how did you progress into where you are currently as director of lifecycle marketing?

Jake Bodmer: Good question. Yeah, I was a, I was more of a project manager getting out of college, but at a at an agency and really working with the individual clients talking to them about their needs, and identifying like, Where, where the agency could kind of come in and build out digital assets, certainly in more traditional marketing arms as well. So a lot of it was simple and not simple. But a lot of it was you know, building out an initial website or coming back in and revamping their existing website, building it, you know, we were using PHP primarily and building things that the client could then kind of self take care of, and manage after, you know, we had kind of completed RSO W’s. And yeah, and then, hopefully, if I was doing my job, right, and we delivered on time, they would kind of stay with us as long term clients and users for different, you know, different marketing ad spends different at home things. So yeah, it ran the gamut of kind of guerilla marketing tactics to just your traditional you know, out of home, billboards, radio, that kind of fun stuff.

Foti: So, tell me, tell me walk me through the period when you transitioned out of agency life, and then you got your first job at a, what was the first job you got out of the agency?

Jake Bodmer: first job, I got out, I mean, I, I did not maybe have a, like a traditional trajectory, I definitely had a variety of like, odd jobs that support each other to pay rent.

Foti: These are the best stories,

Jake Bodmer: oh, man, I mean, I, I did that. And then I actually worked for a streaming radio station, like long before Spotify ever existed, it was a local local station that, you know, we had a couple of maybe 1000 listeners in the New Haven, Connecticut market. And this was, again, right around the time of, like, shortly thereafter, of like the big recession in Oh, 809. And the company themselves, they decided to move from playing really rock music, where we were paying royalties to like an all local platform to kind of save us on that expense. And, and really support the local music scene in and around that Southern Connecticut area. So it was a lot of fun being you know, in your early 20s, working with bands and bars, and, you know, similar like the alcohol distributors, so I I’d say it was a good time, and for in there I was, you know, more or less, you know, working with a pretty small team, and having to do things like, you know, go, you know, you would be both the guy taking pictures and hosting an event at a local bar, nightclub. And then coming back the next day, and like editing the photos and like putting, like your photo gallery up, and then figuring out like, how you promote that and tag people how you were like, you know, trying to make the website better building out, you know, we’re using Constant Contact as like an email list to get back in front of people. So really just doing a lot of general marketing and, and even just live events, hosting things, more or less, just having a really great time as a young 20 something. And beyond, you know, at at weekends and, and even early, like, if we were doing something and I didn’t need to be in the station till maybe later that day, it was Hey, I go work for like a landscaping company guys. I knew were like, hey, like, we’re, we’re laying bricks today. Do you want to come and make some money? And I bet Yeah, sure. Like, let’s go, let’s go put pavers down all day, or let’s cut trees down. And then go to like, the more marketing work at night. So yeah, it was just grinding, hustling. And at the time, just making sure you could kind of pay rent. I’d say my, my first big jump was probably after I moved to New York City, which is at this point, what like eight years ago or so came finally moved to New York City, made that jump and then jumped on with a very early stage startup or again, I was the second employee hired, you know, one of four guys. Two of them were the founders. And again, it was in a streaming music industry, more b2b side of things, they wanted to sell music streaming into, you know, restaurants, hotel lobbies, that sort of places where there would be royalties that that people would normally be paying. And really just building up the entire marketing and sales strategy with like an MVP product. And coming back to the CTO saying, like, this is where the, this is where, you know, we’re finding pain points on our initial dozen customers, really, and then going back out and talking with those that does, you know, because at that point, you could, because we were, you know, we certainly didn’t have that critical mass where it was impossible to get opinions from everybody, I could literally call up somebody, one of our customers and say, Hey, do you have 15 minutes to chat through like your first week or your first month of using the product and give me feedback because that’s important for us to kind of put that back into kind of the next product Sprint’s and get, like new features built out or or some debugging work. And I was there almost a full year. And then, again, great experience. And then I moved from that kind of small enterprise into what I’d say probably my first big like, enterprise, job, major corporation that had was publicly traded. It was everyday health, which is a media company. So I mean, we went from went from a team of at that point, like six or seven jump into a company that was closer to like, 1000 employees.

Foti: Wow 1000s from six. Yeah, yeah, quite the, quite the shock.

Jake Bodmer: Yeah. And I think the big thing you know, when you go from when you become like the little fish into a much bigger pond, sometimes the, you know, the role that I latched on to there was really a role for I was just on the email marketing side, for customers even.

Foti: So that’s that’s is that the moment when you thought, right this is this is gonna be my jam.

Jake Bodmer: I don’t, I don’t know, if I, it really struck me then it was just something where we were doing you know, it was some compute like computer science work and by no means do I do I mean like front end engineering where it goes HTML and CSS work, which I had a lot of familiarity already with it was kind of I was more of a hobbyist at that point and had taken some CS classes in college, which really landed itself within that channel. Because some of those technical skills are a lot of times will at that time were required. There’s a lot more drag and drop companies out there now. But even they kind of allow you to look under the hood and make some customizable tweaks. But at that time, that we were all custom. So you had to kind of you had to know the nuts and bolts of HTML and CSS. And as well as just the the overall strategy and scheduling and deliverability and the really the strategic end of email marketing. And I just kind of enjoyed it. I mean, I say I kind of fell into it, and just found myself liking it more and more.

Foti: So after after you so you stayed there at your first enterprise job for how long?

Jake Bodmer: I was there a little over four years kind of grew into some other roles moved into like a growth and retention role that was more focused on the, like, the overall customer lifecycle from, you know, early prospects, you know, how we collect, how are we collecting emails, to keeping them coming back to our our landing pages, or our web pages, interacting with the brands?

Foti: Hmm. So what was like the biggest challenge that you went through moving from that small startup to a company that had 1000 employees and you’re efficient?

Jake Bodmer: Yeah, I think it was understanding kind of the mechanisms that come with a big company, because as a, for big company, you really do need those processes that, that, from an outside perspective, seem archaic or seem to slow you down. But at a certain point, you kind of need those checks to slow down. Because when you’re, when you’re at a startup, and it’s really small, you’re moving really fast. I think there’s an inherent almost just a general feeling that like mistakes are going to happen. And it’s okay. Because you’re like, oh, we’re we’re pretty small. And we’re learning all the time, where I think as a big company, they want to say, like, if we’re going to make, you know, we want to learn, but we want to learn, again, like more incrementally want to understand what worked, what didn’t. And we certainly, you know, when you’re doing any sort of marketing, any kind of outreach, it’s much different when you say, oh, we’re going to, we’re going to get reach out to 100 people than it is when you say we’re going to reach out to 100,000 people.

Foti: Yeah, the scale is completely completely different. Yeah. Now, is that I mean, right now, you’re currently working at Talkspace? Right. So let’s talk a little talk a little bit about what your role is over there. And what what keeps you busy and excited about going to work every day?

Jake Bodmer: Yeah, I think it’s a really exciting time. I’d like you mentioned, I’m the director of life cycle. And I know, that’s almost kind of a general nondescript title, but really, you re there. And many, I think there are many names, you could probably be called at that point. But it’s really focusing on how we how we engage with our customers, and that customer experience to some extent from, you know, kind of lower funnel once you’re on one of our environments on a landing page. How are we doing any kind of micro conversion like an email capture, or having them download a white paper or just interact with the brand in some way? through, you know, that customer that actually some of the customer acquisition, because obviously, you know, at page any, you know, the page handles will get somebody on to a landing page. But, you know, for the most part, you foreign few, between our, you know, our people actually converting from seeing an ad getting to the landing page and buying the product. I mean, it happens and that’s why we do it. But there is significant, you know, bounce rates across all industries, all products, like everybody has a bounce rate. And so I get to work within kind of that bounce, those bounce activities of who’s not buying at first glance, who needs a little more nudging who needs a little more information, who’s engaging with that interest level is so really, you know, testing how we communicate when we communicate and moving people through that lifecycle of being an early customer, what do they need to know, early to get the most out of the product? You know, once they’re established, you know, how do we make sure they’re continuing to engage with the product over time? And, you know, how are they how do we keep them long term is just a customer who’s enjoying the product, enjoying their experience with the brand. And making sure we’re delivering kind of what we promised, with with with any brand, you want to make sure you’re getting, we’re delivering the value to the end customer.

Foti: So the customer lifecycle management, right, let’s, let’s talk a little bit about that. So that’s also a term that is thrown around quite a bit. I think that generally, to manage your customer lifecycle, you need to break down all the touch points that your customers make them into certain stages. Yep, was that work done by you are was a pre existing as you already have a sort of a map laid out of all of these different customer touch points.

Jake Bodmer: I would say, it’s always a work in progress. Like, luckily, the team’s amazing. And there’s a lot of things that have been pre built out with a lot of the touch points being tracked, because that’s the big thing, right? Like we everybody’s data, you hear it across the board of like data is the key. And it’s not so much that, that you have a lot of data, it’s what can you do with that data? Like having a huge, you know, a huge database is great, but it’s more How do you actively take the small different bits of information and connect them and then use it in some meaningful way? And then certainly, how do you track that progress on the back end, like if we’re going to do something, it’s really important to understand like, every action has a, there’s a reaction. So we’re going to add things in to what we call like our onboarding area, probably, you know, your first, say, your first month, first month of product, like, we want to onboard you and make sure we understand what what bits of information are helpful to the end users, you know, in their different, you know, different use cases, are they super engaged, you know, luckily that we have a mobile app. So you really know like how often they’re in the mobile app. If somebody’s got a hyper user that’s in their daily for, you know, a lot of time is there’s people that are more sporadic only a couple times in the in understanding where those engagements are and where these people are, like, you then start testing. Okay, who needs who needs more information? What kind of information do they need? what’s helpful? I think the exciting part is I, I don’t I don’t have the answers off, you know, it’s not something that’s built into me, I can’t I’m not coming in saying this is clearly what we need to do it is, hey, let’s start testing. Let’s make hypothesis and test around these. Let’s figure out like, what is the best time what is the right? communication, you know, what is the right topic to be talking to people. So it’s, and it’s never the same with any product with any company, it’s always everybody’s a little bit different your audiences are going to change. I think it’s just setting clear paths and goals around how we want to test and learn.

Foti: In terms of experimentation, do you have any best practices, any tips for running experiments where we will have might not have as many users as talkspace.

Jake Bodmer: I mean, I think from like, tests, and then what we want to learn and best practice would be Don’t be, don’t be a Don’t be scared to test like, and never be satisfied, where you think you have the best, you know, fun all the best channel, like, everything can be kind of dissected and improved over time, don’t think you’re going to you know, get it all laid out in one go. And optimized fully. I think it’s always good to kind of go back, check out a funnel performance, check out a flow and email campaign. Understand, you know, hey, we optimized it, and we can come revisit it in three months or six months and do some different tests. And I, I would say, you know, on top, on the back end of that, don’t test just the test, like test with like, really concrete goals in mind. Like, make sure you have, you know, we you know, those you hear and all that that like the SMART goals and making sure, like if you’re going to create a test, like let’s make sure there are things that we know, you know, we want to learn, we have a time limit, like here’s how we measure them. Just so you’re not just endlessly testing and never walking away with like actual knowledge from those tests.

Foti: Quick question, how do you organize your tests, like do you have like, what does it look like? Do you have a Google Drive? Do you use a notion like what’s that look like for you?

Jake Bodmer: Um, a lot of times, we’ll you know, either a spreadsheet, a spreadsheet, which is a running list of things we want to test. And then they usually get moved into, like a project management tool. So we know like, these are the upcoming tests.

Foti: What tool do you use?

Jake Bodmer: I use? I mean, I’ve used both Monday and Asana for those type of things. I think they’re both equally like really great tools for us to any for any team looking for just how do you how do you organize your life a little bit? How do you organize the team? I think, even if it’s the free tier, like, get us one of those. It’s a lifesaver.

Foti: Yeah, I’m, I’m a big Trello user. But right now, I’m just still stuck on Google spreadsheets, I’ve kind of evolved a bit.

Jake Bodmer: Hey, I mean, I think it depends on how you’re, you know, the team structure to write like, sometimes, obviously, if it’s just if it’s just you, like a, like, you know, a sticky note on your desk is all you need some times, but if it’s multiple teams spread out, you know, in this world of being very remote, like, you know, you have to evolve past the sticky your sticky note and get something where everybody can see it. Everybody can kind of make comments add to it.

Foti: For sure, for sure. So like, what’s the one sort of exciting project that you’re currently working on right now testing? Or maybe maybe an experiment? You’re right, I don’t know. Maybe it might be confidential? Yeah, what’s what’s super exciting going on right now?

Jake Bodmer: I mean, I think this, I would say this, no matter. Like, where I was, or what we’re doing, certainly, it’s always something that needs attention is what experiment, you know, as we think through like, what experiments can accompany run, that really helps with that, like, user retention, customer retention? You know, at a certain point, I could, you know, my big example, you know, it’s like, AWS, AWS is one of the most popular brands out there, like from, you know, a database hosting, you know, just a giant, massive company, but even they lose customers every day. And I’m sure they’re focused on this, too, of how do we retain those customers a little longer, one more payment cycle, you know, 30% longer, like, all those things have a huge impact on your revenue stream, and kind of a health product, you know, the health of the business.

Foti: So it’s retention, that you’re excited about that you’re working on them?

Jake Bodmer: Yeah, I get really excited about retention, if we can ever move the needle on keeping a customer happier, for longer, and they again, you know, see the value in the brain and want to stick around a little longer. It just excites me. And it’s kind of an ongoing challenge, too. Because, you know, you can make vast improvements. If you go from three, you know, moving your average, you know, retention rate from three months to 12 months, like that’s a huge improvement. But even at 12 months, like you may not, once you’re there, you don’t get you just say okay, we’re here and we can forget about retention now. You’d say alright, how do we move 12 months to 15 months?

Foti:  Yeah, I’ll close.

Jake Bodmer: It’s an endless, endless battle. But it’s an exciting one.

Foti: For sure. And I think that people are giving a lot more emphasis now.

Jake Bodmer: Yeah, yeah, I think. I think so. I think certainly, you know, when it comes like, especially on growth mentor, platform, I feel like I, I bring a little bit again, like, I’m on that other side of like, how are you growing, but from the aspect of keeping people’s attention?

Foti: Hmm. keeping their attention in a way that doesn’t hurt your brand as well.

Jake Bodmer: 100%? Yeah.

Foti: Because that’s there’s always this sort of balance.

Jake Bodmer: It’s always a balance. I think if you keep the customer in mind and really know what to the best of your ability, kind of know where they are, what what value are you bringing, what problem are you solving for those customers? And keeping that top of mind and making sure you’re kind of empathetic to that, that plight of there’s that that struggle, whatever those are, like, I think, you know, every every app, every product, you’re out there trying to solve some, some some, you know, headache that somebody is having.

Foti: Bullseye, that’s, that’s, I mean, if you just focus on solving the problem and making sure that you’re consistently solving that problem. Yeah, for as long as they’re there in your database, I guess. Alright, so that’s, that’s the key point. Like, why would you want to take their money if you’re not actually solving their problem?

Jake Bodmer: Right, or even time it doesn’t necessarily even have to be money like money a lot. If you’re vying for somebody’s attention or time like you better be bringing something that is, you know, entertaining or educational or some way engaging for those end users.

Foti: Yeah, tick tock.

Jake Bodmer: Right. Right. That’s the value is the entertainment. Right? They, they, they will figure out how to make plenty of money, I’m sure. But it’s it’s certainly, you know, they want you to spend more time in the app.

Foti: Yeah. Now ultimately time time now is a

Jake Bodmer: it’s a commodity. commodity. Oh 100% your your time your attention what you’re seeing is valuable.

Foti: So awesome. I’m gonna wrap this up right now because we’re, we just hit the half hour mark. So, Jake, did it. Yeah, um, can you tell us how people can reach out to you besides on growth mentor, like it’s at LinkedIn or email or Twitter?

Jake Bodmer: I definitely. I mean, I love when people reach out on growth mentor, I think it’s a fantastic platform. I am truly excited to be part of it. And I’m, I’m actually really enjoying every conversation I’ve had so far. Like, it’s, it’s, it’s really eye opening to hear where people are coming from their different perspectives of problems. And again, like just being able to listen and understand those those issues and chatting through some of those challenges. But yeah, LinkedIn is a great one. So it’s just my name Jake Bodmer, I think, at the end of the LinkedIn URL. Yeah, it’s a it’s quite extensive. It’s quite extensive. I mean, I’ve loved you know, that’s your Easter egg, like go find my Yeah, go find my mug and in John Wick one. It’s there.

Foti: Jake, thank you so much. If any of the listeners want to get a piece of Jake’s wisdom, check him out on growth mentor, but until then, thanks so much and till next time.

Jake Bodmer: This was awesome coding. Take care.

In this episode

Foti Panagiotakopoulos Founder at GrowthMentor

As VP of Growth at EuroVPS, I had to make a LOT of decisions, daily. This got exhausting, especially if I had multiple good ideas on how to do something, but wasn’t sure which to choose. Moments like these inspired me to build GrowthMentor. Does this resonate? If so, I’d love to try and help you.

Jake Bodmer Growth and Retention Marketer

12+ years of digital marketing expertise, focused on B2C and DTC growth and retention strategies for enterprise and startup companies. Experienced in Lifecycle Marketing, Retention Marketing, Lead Generation, Marketing Automation, Analytics, Email, SMS, and Push Marketing.

A talk by Jake Bodmer
Growth and Retention Marketer
Hosted by
Foti Panagiotakopoulos Founder at GrowthMentor

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