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Building a Tech Stack for a Winning Digital Experience

Building a tech stack for delivering a winning digital experience

For digital-first and digital-only companies, a tech stack is a core component of the entire product and growth practice. To better understand the nuances, we sat with seasoned and battle-hardened practitioners for a panel discussion on how to build a winning tech stack for a seamless digital experience.

Speakers included Nitesh Shinde, CTO of Porter, and Prathamesh Dembla, Head of Growth at Licious for this panel discussion which was moderated by Ashwin SL who is a VP of Marketing, MoEngage. Nitish takes care of Product Experience team at Porter that takes care of Product Management, Data Science and Design. Prathamesh heads growth for Licious and was earlier at Milkbasket – the daily grocery platform. 

How is the tech stack built in these organizations?

Actionable insights from the panel discussion

  • A huge chunk of the tech stack work begins in Google Sheets or Excel Spreadsheets as companies begin their experiments.
  • In addition to all of the above, the ability to cohort customers and segment them is crucial to the success of any business and every tech stack should be an enabler in this pursuit.
  • The ability to do cohort analysis and even qualitative analysis is paramount.
  • All of these insights are fed into a Customer Relationship Management tool that takes care of downstream interactions with the customer.

Comments and insights from the experts on the panel:

Prathamesh Dembla (Head of Growth, Licious)

  • They look at a tech stack in two parts. The first is to derive insights and drive results while the second is to reduce the manual efforts. If we were to zoom in on the deriving insights part, there is a company-level insight and a market-level insight.
  • “How many consumers are searching for what kind of chicken online?” A question like this gives them a sense of the online market for meat in a particular geography. Done smartly, it can also help tell us about the brand value of the company in the market.
  • Another vector of the insights is at the customer level. Things like acquisition to conversion, and conversion flow on the website become very important. Additionally, post-acquisition, how does the customer proceed within the product to things like “Add to Cart” and Checkout page, etc become very important in the context of retention, cohorts, and churn modeling.

Nitesh Shinde (CTO, Porter)

  • They look at the tech stack from an activity point of view – what are the activities that a company does in the context of growth and how does tech facilitate/enable/scale that?
  • This begins with the creation of content and the dispersion of the same via search engine marketing or ads. There’s also a lot of analytics that is done here to measure performance and ROI.
  • There is also another collaboration piece that includes things like reporting and analysis that happens a lot on project management and Business Intelligence tools.

The evolution of these tech stacks as the organization grew

Key takeaways and actionable insights from the panel

  • Marketing is about mass targeting and the traditional way of doing it is via segmentation and cohorts. This means that we are thinking about individuals as groups.
  • However, when it comes to personalization, we know that every individual is different.
  • Thus, it is very important for brands directly selling to consumers to have qualitative interactions to learn more about their aspirations and see how the product can best serve their needs.

Comments and insights from the experts on the panel:

Prathamesh Dembla (Head of Growth, Licious)

  • This tech stack evolution goes through the template of things that they want to find answers for.
  • As organizations begin their journeys, they start with the acquisition funnel to tap into the last mile customer analytics.
  • The next step in this journey is to use a multi-step and multi-touch acquisition tracking tool with metrics like Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC).
  • So the evolution of the tech stack is more around the specific context of the customer as the company grows and finds different ways to serve the same end customer.
  • Moreover, brands prefer using tools that have the ability to find and add context to the inputs that they share.
  • Tools are only a way to measure how customers are reacting to the actions done by a brand – nothing substitutes the importance of talking to customers to understand their pain points and serving them in the best possible manner.
  • Products and offerings in the marketing tech stack come a little later in the lifecycle. While the tools and platforms do help, product-market fit (PMF) is the ultimate truth for companies as it is the only way to get good, sustainable traction. Sending 5x notifications or doing other growth hacks wouldn’t help – tech stack comes into the picture when there’s a pool of data to be analyzed and a bunch of workflows to be automated.
  • Speaking and listening to customers and validating hypotheses there once every two weeks is a very good way to stay grounded in what is happening.

Nitesh Shinde (CTO, Porter)

  • The tech stack evolution in companies can be understood from the perspective of if the company is trying to find PMF or has found PMF and is now looking to scale further.
  • For those yet to find PMF, the tech stack will comprise simple tools that allow us to learn a lot about the customer, enable rapid experimentation, and then iterate quickly based on the insights gathered.
  • Once the company has found PMF and is certain of the kind of audience base that they are confident selling to, the need suddenly shifts to doing things at scale. For example, we would now need to send notifications at scale and automate the processes behind a notification being created to its delivery.
  • Additionally, the priorities for the startup also end up influencing the tech stack. For instance, if the startup is solving for awareness or retention, the most focus and investment of resources will be in that domain.

Tools and technologies to better understand the customer

Comments and insights from the experts on the panel:

Prathamesh Dembla (Head of Growth, Licious)

  • Let’s take the example of an Annual Operating Plan to elaborate on this topic.
  • He called it the GSC Framework – Goals, Strategy, and Challenges. For example, the goal could be to enhance organic traffic to their product.
  • For a B2C company like Licious, the strategy would mean better App Store Optimization while a B2B company like MoEngage would likely rely on Search Engine Optimization.
  • To execute the strategy, the next step would be to study the keywords and see how is the competition performing on them. This exact step is where the role of a tool comes into the picture.
  • He also speaks to the community of Product and Growth folks to understand what tools are out there in the market and which ones among them are actually good when it comes to the choices of deciding where to spend money.
  • In addition to this, he believes that every new investment that has the likelihood of bringing in more revenue gets prioritized.

Nitesh Shinde (CTO, Porter)

  • He believes that it is important to pick the right set of tools based on the operating style of the company.
  • Things like the amount of control needed over the tool, the power of representation and reporting, or some collaboration features in the tool are all important factors while deciding which tool to go out and buy.

How much should you trust the insights coming out of the tool?

Comments and insights from the experts on the panel:

Prathamesh Dembla (Head of Growth, Licious)

  • A good way to decide between things here is the ability to strike a balance between numerical data and the ability to run experiments.
  • For instance, deciding a split in budgets between performance and brand marketing is a common scenario. Brand marketing doesn’t have a direct attribute that can correlate to a numeric output.
  • So, it is important to keep in mind the limitations of direct attribution while also leaving room for experiments.

Nitesh Shinde (CTO, Porter)

  • Porter had an interesting problem – while their customers loved the product, there was not enough social proof.
  • And existing customers weren’t nudged enough to leave ratings on marketplace platforms. Now, this is a tricky situation to be in since no tool would be able to accurately do a root-cause analysis to arrive here and this is where speaking to a few customers in-person helped Nitesh and his team discover this insight.

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