Disciple Drives Growth & Triples Customer Lifetime Value in 2 Years

An industry leader in SaaS solutions for the creator economy, Disciple provides a cloud platform that offers creators a custom online community space that encourages more engagement and targeted communication between hosts, community members, and peers. It has helped digital creators to build unique and targeted app-based communities around their content. Outside of mainstream social media channels, Disciple is giving wings to a clutch of cultural entrepreneurs propelling today’s creator economy.

Disciple’s challenge: Improve community experience, marketing campaigns & scale rapidly

As a start-up addressing a new and burgeoning market opportunity, Disciple wanted a solution that would integrate a growing number of data sources required for in-depth analysis of its sales and marketing funnel to accelerate its business growth. The right solution would enable them to rapidly evaluate sales performance, funnel stage conversion rates, cost per lead, spot trends, and identify opportunities. Additionally, they were looking for a solution that would help their small customer success team scale to manage an increasingly larger number of community hosts aiming to delight and retain their members with the community app experience overall. 

Disciple opted to go in for a data warehouse to integrate a plethora of data sources and wanted a business intelligence solution that would simplify granular analysis of sales and marketing data.

Gain in-depth analysis of sales and marketing funnel

Sisense was selected to provide the semantic layer on top of the company’s new Google BigQuery data warehouse. Immediately after deploying Sisense, they were able to connect to all their data sources like Hubspot, Google AdWords, Google Analytics and Facebook Ads, and visualize the data through interactive dashboards. With Sisense, trends surfaced quickly. The teams could drill down into the data with filters for insights to more targeted marketing strategies that would reduce cost per lead and increase conversion rates. At the crux of Disciple’s highly targeted marketing campaign lies the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). Defining the ICP in the dynamic and constantly evolving creator economy is a challenge, and is often an ongoing, adaptive and iterative process. Disciple discovered that with Sisense Fusion, they could perform the required advanced data analysis, filtering by location, demographics and behavior to hone in on the ideal customer profile. Mark Downey, COO, Disciple, says “Sisense helps me slice and dice the data in the sales funnel in lots of different ways really quickly, without needing somebody to help me.” 

By filtering down to each category, the Disciple team can get a granular view of what the funnel looks like to identify where leads have come from, for example, a US or UK IP address. Sisense Fusion Analytics makes it simple to identify the behaviors of a lead with high buying intent versus those just researching. Says Mark, “These slices have helped us define what our ideal customer looks like and how early in the funnel we can identify them. Being able to chop, slice and pivot the data quickly and easily at scale helps us adapt the ICP over time, so we know who the product is resonating with over the last six months.” 

As the ICP evolves, Disciple is able to adjust the marketing campaigns and messaging to become more specifically targeted towards those audiences that are more receptive to their product and stop paying for generic social media clicks that don’t convert. “Our underlying metrics have gotten significantly better over the past two years because of the analysis we did on who’s a great customer, who’s a good lead that should talk to sales, what channels they’re coming from and how do we acquire more like that,” adds Mark.

This data-driven strategy has resulted in Disciple attracting and retaining 6 times more customers, driving 75% improvement in their customer churn rate and growing LTV by 200%. Customer churn rate has also reduced significantly from the pre-Sisense era when they ran broader campaigns.

Data-driven prescriptions to improve the community experience

Disciple’s Customer Success Managers initially used the agency model of work, with each CSM manually checking the level of performance and engagement of each community to ensure they were thriving, an approach that didn’t scale as more creators migrated to the platform. With Sisense, the company’s CSMs now have an overview of all the communities and can easily see  when communities are trending high or low on key metrics. Instead of scanning 600 communities, they can target the 5 or 10% that are out- or underperforming and prioritize outreach to community hosts that are most in need of guidance for better outcomes. “Since using Sisense, the increased visibility on how our customers are performing has helped us most notably establish health score benchmarks,” says Samantha Andrews, Senior Customer Success Manager, Disciple. “We can confidently identify customers at risk which has positively impacted our retention rate.”

“We use the data to diagnose the issue, and then our CSM prescribes a series of community marketing tactics to the hosts to improve the KPIs like retention and engagement, etc.,” says Mark. For example, if the CSM notices that the community has a lot of members but they’re not posting enough, hosts can be prescribed a series of engagement-driving actions that will encourage more active participation to improve that metric. Typically, following this prescription results in the community moving back into the green from the red or amber alert, and with the numbers trending back up towards success and expansion. Reliable metrics have improved the efficiency and effectiveness of the team, enhancing the quality of the customer success service delivery at six times the scale with no staff additions.  

Community managers, whether they are Disciple customers or not, also have the opportunity to engage with experts, other hosts and the Disciple team for support and knowledge-sharing within The Collective, Disciple’s own community for community managers. Disciple further leverages the power of their own community by funneling some of the data that comes in from new leads signing up, back into their Hubspot CRM to target prospects that show a higher likelihood of converting via organic referrals. As Mark says, “What better way to get proof or validation when you’re buying a SaaS product, than to talk 1:1 with a few customers that we didn’t cherry pick? They can find customers in The Collective ask about Disciple and they’ll get honest feedback, and hopefully the prospect can make the right decision.”

Results: Higher adoption, increased ROI

The team reports higher adoption rates internally, with CSMs and their Community Team checking the customized Sisense dashboard every day, for insights to community performance metrics like how many new members, how much engagement, which posts are trending up or down and so on, while also exploring the data further to answer their own data questions. With Sisense analytics, the company has been able to show increased ROI, driving 100% business growth by attracting and retaining more customers and enhancing the quality of customer success management without needing to hire additional staff. “Before we deployed Sisense, we were running a duct-taped system of exporting/importing csvs, homebrew scripts and overly complex spreadsheets,” Mark says. “I can’t imagine going back to that way of working now, the benefits of having a consistent and reliable source of truth reporting all of our key performance metrics has been a huge factor in Disciple’s rapid growth.”

Disciple Dashboard

Disciple is beginning to explore premium pricing and monetization opportunities around potential value-add services providing customers with more insights and more actions via direct access to their community performance metrics within the Disciple platform. There is also the potential to embed the Sisense software into the Disciple platform in the future.

“It was a big commitment for Disciple to deploy a data tool due to the initial cost involved. ”As a result of the time to value and the ROI we have received since using Sisense, it has been a great investment.”

Frankie Feast, Financial Controller, Disciple