Guy Marion is Founder and CEO of Brightback, the first automated customer retention software for subscription businesses. Previously he served as Chief Marketing Officer at Autopilot, where he spearheaded Autopilot’s go-to-market strategy and operations.
Guy has spent the past decade at the forefront of the shift towards all things Cloud & SaaS, having helped grow several enterprise companies into successful businesses. He has also served as Senior Director at Zendesk where he helped rapidly grow Zendesk’s core SaaS business. Prior to Zendesk, he grew and eventually sold his own company, Codesion, to CollabNet Inc., where he served as VP/GM of Cloud Services.
Guy holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Stanford and a Ph.D. in Paleoceanography from The University of Queensland.
DANNI WHITE: Tell us a little about your company, Brightback.
GUY MARION: Brightback is on a mission to make customer retention the new acquisition. The biggest challenge facing today’s high-volume subscription businesses, both direct-to-consumer and SaaS, is identifying, delighting and retaining users throughout the customer experience. Brightback helps high-volume businesses like Copper, Crazy Egg, and SparkPost reduce churn by testing offers and personalized workflows designed to solve unmet customer needs while delivering critical insights needed to improve. We’re headquartered in San Francisco, but are growing as a remote-first team. The team brings decades of experience addressing these challenges in leading SaaS, consumer and subscription businesses.
DW: You recently raised $11 million for your subscription-based retention and churn management software. Tell us about the product.
GM: Understanding why customers cancel is one of the most valuable moments in the subscriber lifecycle, but it’s an unbelievable blindspot for most companies. Brightback has built the industry’s first benchmark of why subscription customers cancel, which customer segments are approachable and what offers or fixes will retain them long-term. Our customers leverage Brightback’s continuous learning framework to engage their customers in the right place, at the right time, with the right offer for the right reason, thereby reducing churn by 10% to 20% while preventing future loss.
Brightback launches workflows for subscription businesses to engage their customers at the right moment, test out personalized offers and trigger real-time alerts, all of which satisfy the user’s needs while making companies smarter about how to save customers and improve. Brightback’s revenue attribution system measures exactly what revenue is retained, and offers a testing framework to ensure the impact on the bottom line.
DW: In what ways has the need to ensure customer retention by driving experiences toward engagement become critical over the last few years?
GM: From Amazon to Netflix to Dropbox, businesses have embraced the subscription model to deliver better experiences and grow predictable revenue streams. 90% of subscription revenue is earned after the initial purchase, so companies must do everything they can to extend the lifetime value of the customers they fought so hard (and paid so much) to acquire.
And make no mistake, today’s consumers are in control. Customers can sign up in just a few clicks, but it only takes a few clicks to cancel, too. Subscription services need every advantage they can get to build a competitive moat and retain more customers. To win, companies need to put their customers’ experience first, which means making it faster, easier and more delightful and personal—from acquisition to cancellation.
DW: Can you share a case study or two on how the solution has helped companies reduce subscription cancellations and enabled data visualization?
GM: Copper is a leading CRM for G Suite and an early customer of Brightback. The team at Copper wanted to automatically identify, segment and assess the reasons customers were canceling, so they could better meet customer needs and reduce churn. This would enable Copper to improve its service and free up their busy customer support team from manual, time-consuming cancellation processes. Using Brightback, Copper found a 15.4% increase in saving customers from cancellation with productivity gains as well. Copper team members are alerted when a customer wants to cancel and why, so the right person reaches out for the right reason. Since using Brightback, Copper has been able to cut support ticket resolution times by nearly half.
DW: What tools does Brightback integrate with to ensure a cohesive customer experience for its clients?
GM: Because customer data is spread across systems, platforms, and departments, even simple acts of customer retention can feel out of reach. Brightback connects with CRM, marketing automation tools, messaging applications and more to make customer activities and insights more visible. We integrate with Slack, Salesforce, Segment, Zendesk, Zapier, Totango and Intercom to personalize interactions with customers at the point of cancel and send valuable findings to the right team at the right time.
DW: In what ways is retention now seen as a viable growth strategy for companies?
GM: The mantra for SaaS and subscription companies have been acquired, grow and acquire some more. As an industry, we invest millions in acquiring customers, but we don’t make an equal investment in retaining those customers. That’s changed. The blockbuster IPOs in the past year have shown that profitable, efficient companies are rewarded. The reality is that if your product isn’t retaining users, it won’t help much to continue pouring more water into a leaky bucket. Growth without retention may increase vanity metrics like total sign-ups, but it won’t expand your active user base substantially.
DW: What is your outlook for the company and product specifically over the next few years?
GM: The best way to retain and delight customers is to solve their problems before they even realize they have one. There are a finite set of reasons why customers quit a service, and everyone wants to be treated as an individual. Brightback is developing the specialist infrastructure and data systems needed to enable any company to deliver an Amazon-like customer experience, without distracting them from core product development and delivering value to customers.