How this Startup of the Year accelerated user acquisition growth 18x in 10 months

Peter Sharkey on 21 st of Jun 2017
User Acquisition Strategy

User Acquisition Strategy

RangeMe is an award-winning online marketplace that streamlines the discovery process between retailers and product suppliers.

In other words, their platform makes it easy for amazing products like MUSH’s ready-to-eat oatmeal and Yeti Yoga Mats to get found by companies like Target, Whole Foods, and Albertsons.

rangeme homepage

The company has grown 18x in 10 months, and last year won the Digital Commerce Startup of the Year award. In this post, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at exactly how the company achieved this up-and-to-the-right growth. Here’s the user acquisition strategy that worked:

  • Set the foundation with an integrated tool stack
  • Created a fully inbound and automated funnel
  • Acquired leads with nurturing
  • Personalized customer onboarding
  • Organized their team for automation success
  • Understood their customer’s journey

Let’s dive into the details.

1. Set the foundation with an integrated tool stack

Instead of rolling with an all-in-one marketing automation software, RangeMe took a best-of-breed approach to their marketing tool stack. The team picked the right tool for each job and integrated them together to ensure customer data flowed seamlessly back and forth. Here’s their tool breakdown:

RangeMe tool stack

With this stack in place, the company’s marketers are able to be more targeted and data-driven in engaging customers, without depending on analysts to pull reports or designers to spin up landing pages from scratch.

The setup also helps to create a personalized experience. For example, Kevin Klein, RangeMe’s VP of Customer Success said: “In past customer success roles I’ve had, there was always the challenge of having relevant, accessible customer information—things like usage data and subscription data. We’re lucky enough to have all that data flowing into Salesforce, and easily integrated with Autopilot, so personalizing programs based off of that activity is simple.”

This stack has helped RangeMe accomplish feats like onboarding 55,000 suppliers—automatically, personally, and at scale—even with a small team.

2. Created a fully inbound and automated funnel

Inbound funnel

Take a look at the channels on the left side, which include:

  • Email
  • CPC
  • Social
  • Retargeting
  • Referrals
  • Partnerships

Brandon Leong, VP of Marketing & Growth at RangeMe, views these channels together as an ecosystem. In his words: “When you push the gas pedal on any of your channels, you’ll see growth in all of your channels respectively. For example, investing more in CPC leads to a lift in retargeting and referrals.”

Brandon believes marketers should transition from siloed channel thinking to ecosystem thinking in today’s multi-channel, multi-touch world. So what ecosystem are you building around your consumers? How do your channels affect one another?

Once these paid and organic channels do their job of bringing in anonymous leads, the RangeMe team nudges them to get started for free using targeted messaging. From there, those leads are nurtured and onboarded to put their products on the platform and experience value by connecting with retailers. Both the nurture and onboarding journey are automated. Let’s cover them next.

3. Acquired leads with nurturing

RangeMe’s lead nurturing journey is made for database contacts who haven’t signed up yet. Here’s what it looks like :

rangeme nurture journey resized

The journey consists of two sets of three emails that invite the reader to sign up. Those who don’t open the emails receive up to two resends of the original message with a different subject line— a proven tactic for doubling open rates. Why two sets of emails? RangeMe is A/B testing which email converts best with the A/B splitter shape.

You’ll also notice the ejection flow on the bottom left of the journey. As soon as a contact signs up to try out RangeMe, they’re ejected from this journey to avoid the dreaded “oops” email. This nurture journey garnered an 82.3% open rate and 42.15% click rate.

4. Personalized customer onboarding

Once a supplier signs up for a RangeMe account, the onboarding journey kicks off. Its main goal is to encourage users towards posting their first product on the platform. This opens the door for them to be found by retailers—the primary value proposition RangeMe offers to suppliers. Brandon launched the version one onboarding journey when he started at the company.

Version 1

RangeMe onboarding journey

V1 focused on welcoming users, and sent each person through the same onboarding track. The journey A/B tested emails and incorporated Headsup messages to activate customers.

The team shifted gears when their VP of Customer Success came on board. V2 is where the company threw more personalization into the mix to nudge users to upload their first product. The majority of users do so in the first day, but some take a little bit of prodding to take action. RangeMe solved this by first understanding their supplier’s motivation. Why did the supplier sign up? What are their goals? Why?

The aha moment came when Kevin realized that “we have to help users understand that RangeMe partners with them to help them get into Whole Foods, Albertson’s, or wherever it may be. That simple personalization of referred retailer made a huge impact—it’s the difference between receiving an email that says ‘we’ll help you get into retailers’ versus ‘we’ll help you get into Target’ because then suppliers see RangeMe as a partner. That’s when it clicks for them.”

Translation: Personalization is key to RangeMe’s onboarding success. Education also plays a big role.

Version 2

Rangeme onboarding version two

For suppliers who don’t graduate out of the onboarding journey immediately, the company sends helpful content about the consumer packaged goods industry and how RangeMe fits into it. Suppliers learn more and RangeMe earns trust, ultimately leading to a product upload. It’s a win-win for all.

The difference between V1 and V2’s results are striking—RangeMe saw a 30% increase in users who added their first product.

5. Organized their team for automation success

RangeMe takes a team approach to creating their automation. For example, marketing handles the nurture journeys and customer success owns the onboarding journeys, but the departments collaborate since it’s all one cohesive experience to users in the end. Practically speaking, their setup looks like this:

  • Brandon (Director of Growth)
  • Winnie (Marketing Coordinator)
  • Kevin (VP of Customer Success)
  • Louise (Customer Success Manager)

This approach speaks to the larger trend of marketing automation becoming a democratized function instead of delegated to a single guru in a company. Different departments bring their expertise to the table and as a result, the customer experience improves. Brandon is quick to say, though, that their approach is driven by the customer’s needs. It’s not about the departments, it’s about the customer.


The takeaway? Delegate the automation for different stages of the customer journey to the department with the most knowledge about each particular stage. Take a whole company approach, not a silo’d approach.

6. Understood their customer’s journey

The foundation for RangeMe’s inbound funnel, nurture journey, and onboarding experience is a deep understanding of their customer. When we asked Kevin about the key part of their overall program, he said “I can’t talk enough about the importance of really understanding your customer. It may take a few A/B tests to understand their motivations. Embrace that process to get to a place where you truly grasp your customer’s goals.”

So, what did RangeMe’s understanding of their customer and automation efforts result in?

  • 18x customer acquisition growth and and scale with a small team
  • 30% increase in new user activation with thousands of customers onboarded weekly
  • 80%+ open rates and 40%+ click rates by personalizing and testing acquisition emails

All of which happened in 10 months. RangeMe’s story is evidence that starting a customer journey initiative makes a huge impact, not just for marketing, but across the entire user experience.

To learn more about the rise of the customer journey, download this report. If you’re ready to build out your own nurture and onboarding journeys, sign up for an Autopilot free trial.

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