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Interviewing Growth Hackers: Matteo Balzarini of Ryanair

Conversion Rate Optimisation

Matteo Balzarini is a conversion optimiser at Ryanair, as well as running his own growth hacking blog.

Matteo Balzarini

Matteo’s career path, in the lead up to joining Ryanair, is made up of some interesting roles; he has worked for Christie’s auctioneers, for an accounting firm and has worked in mergers and acquisitions (M&A). I was intrigued as to how these roles have influenced his career choice, and what he took from those roles.

Al Mackin (AM): Before you became a growth hacker you had some cool roles – did you take learnings from these when you became a growth hacker?

“Christie’s gave me an interest in the artistic side of things, but there was no digital involved.

“I would say accounting gave me way more attention to detail and focus on analytics, and that’s why I started liking analytics. I used to work on company financials, and I liked the psychology of marketing online – those two things came together.

“My accounting role gave me a love for numbers. Whilst in M&A, I worked with IT companies and that gave me a good overview of the strategic level of startups and how they get funding.”

AM: How important are qualifications in the growth hacker role – Google has a huge number on offer.

“Employers look for them, it’s an easier way to assess candidates. I would definitely suggest doing them.

List of certifications on LinkedIn

A few of Balzarini’s certificates

“Recently I went through the Hubspot qualification and it was also a very good introduction to inbound marketing.

“Google qualifications give you a good base, especially the Google Analytics one. The problem is though that the tool advances fast so the certificate may not be perfectly aligned when you take it. They [Google Exams] don’t replace the actual practice, you learn the basics and how the tools work but at the same time it’s not enough. There are a lot of challenges that come up when you start to use tools.”

AM: What do you find most exciting and interesting right now?

“I always like the idea of persuading people, and [finding out] what primes them. A lot of marketing work is about understanding what [your audience] want and talking to them the best way possible.

“One thing that I love is the idea of building habits with products, I always think about how can I take this product, talk about it and show it to customers in a way that leads them to use it on a regular basis.”

Editor: You can learn more about habit-forming products in Balzarini’s article How to Keep Your Customers Hooked.

Digram of The Hook technique of habit forming

AM: Do you think that Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) and Growth Hacking are about making people happy?

“People should associate good feelings with your website. There are some websites that stress me out, like hospitality websites that say “there are just X rooms left”. I know I need to book fast. I think the opposite is way better, you should care and give something. The more you understand who you have in front of you, the more you know the best time to engage with them

“The post-purchase email is powerful because everyone looks at it (editor: transactional emails have 6 times higher open rate than bulk mail). You usually get a breakdown of what you’ve bought but it’s an email that everyone looks at. It’s a hidden gem, you can add additional content in.

Facebook Lookalike audiences are powerful – instead of just targeting, Facebook helps you find the right people who will be interested in your business and services.

Visual demonstration of Facebook Lookalike model

“How lookalike audiences work”

Visalyze – They analyse the most influential users for your own site and your competitors, the system spots the users who have a broad reach on the social network. You can then reach out to these people.”

AM: What tools do you love to use?

Google Analytics – it’s connected to Adwords and Webmaster Tools etc. It might be complicated setting it up but it gives value.

Mixpanel – everyone told me that it’s a good way to create profiles of your users.

Editor: Mixpanel sets itself apart from other analytics reporting tools by focusing on people, not pageviews: it “lets you measure what customers do in your app by reporting actions, not page views.”

Mixpanel animation

Customer.io – One of the things I like most is trying not to use your customers. I like the idea of not letting my userbase go. They [Customer.io] help you set up automatic emails based on events that happen on your website.”

Editor: Customer.io are trying to encourage marketers to stop sending bulk mailings to their whole mailing list and instead send smart, targeted emails at the right times for customers. You can read more in Stop Blasting Your Email.

In a later conversation Balzarini expanded on his approach to email marketing:

“The best approach in emailing your customers is to do so in a very personalized and direct way, without fancy HTML newsletters that make them feel just “another customer” and not a value person for you and your business. This leads to the idea of building highly personalized emails to be sent in specific moments of the customer journey (e.g. signup, profile completion, long time without login etc.)

“I’m also trying Easy Retention – if a customer cancels a subscription you can email them, and you send different emails if they’ve been with you for one month or six months.”

AM: Is marketing automation the future of Growth Hacking?

“Personalisation is the future, more and more customers are tired of the same ads being thrown at us. As it is for emails, the more they seem personal the more effective they are.

Editor: Spanish pet supplies etailer, Animalear, show good use of personalisation on their site.

Screenshot from Animalear website

“I see the value in creating a lot of content, but the more unique the content then the greater the opportunity to attract new users and for your content to become viral.  I see more and more articles that are just lists, I understand the concept of creating lists but it’s better if you really try to make it different.”

AM: What would you do differently in your career?

“I would start building my skills earlier, there are so many courses online for free and you can learn technical and design skills. I spent a lot of time thinking about how to do things, but I never put myself through courses to learn specific skills as I started out learning by doing. I’ve spent the last two years working on them, it would have been easier if I’d done it [earlier].”

Thanks to Matteo for sharing his experience.

Want to read more about Conversion Rate Optimisation? Read our interview with two agencies, and find out how they view Conversion Rate Optimisation.