Livingbridge Marketing Leaders’ Event: Creating a customer acquisition engine

At our recent Marketing Leaders’ Event, we invited CEOs and CMOs from our investee companies and network to hear from a line-up of experienced operators who have led transformational growth in customer acquisition and retention strategies.


The day was kicked off by Daniel Gilbert, CEO at Livingbridge investee Brainlabs, a digital marketing agency that uses data and automation to drive growth for clients. He took us on a tour of how some of the smartest individuals, companies and industries deliver growth strategies. He discussed how to add more inventiveness into your test and earn strategies and how you can do this to elevate your team to a best-in-class marketing operation and get your entire company into the right growth mindset.

We then heard from Tim Buckman, CMO at BoilerJuice, an online heating oil retailer that we backed in 2016. Tim spoke about his experience in maximising customer lifetime value and supplier engagement through lifecycle marketing, something that has resulted in BoilerJuice being the supplier of choice for over 60% of UK heating oil suppliers and gaining over 50% of UK online market share. Through understanding when a customer needs to order and what the triggers are for that household, the business can work towards a predicted order window and ensure the marketing lifecycle and engagement are aligned. He also talked about BoilerJuice’s exciting new product, its subscription service, that makes this process even easier, creating happier, more valuable and warmer customers.

Of course, the journey to creating a customer acquisition engine rather than sales and marketing teams working in silos is not an easy one, something acknowledged by Dave Kirby and Josh Fidler-Brown from Livingbridge’s Growth Acceleration Team. They talked through how our team can provide the strategic and practical support to help companies get there, working with management and marketing teams at our investees to create a flywheel of growth.

There needs to be close alignment across sales and marketing to deliver this, but interestingly only 13% of the businesses we asked felt that there was full alignment across the two functions. By operating separately, it can be harder to ensure you are delivering the right amount or quality of leads and there can be a lack of consistency across the customer journey. You would also normally see a lower rate of conversion as the two teams work in isolation.

By understanding where this can create rate-limiting factors in the flywheel of growth, it can provide teams with a useful framework for where to prioritise efforts to build best-in-class customer acquisition capabilities. Dave and Josh spoke about where this is being done at a number of our investees, such as Stowe Family Law, Exclaimer and Nationwide Hire.

We were delighted to then hear from Chris Duncan, MD for Platform Partnerships for News UK, publishers of The Times & Sunday Times, The Sun and Wireless Radio, about the digital evolution that he’s experienced. As well as embarking on their own digital revolution, these publications were also changing how advertisers could reach out to their own audience and could still deliver ROI. It was fascinating to hear about the material changes that had to happen to their business model as consumer behaviour changed, and what the impact has been on the publishing model since.

Thank you to all our speakers for such interesting sessions and to all the business owners and CMOs who attended. Our Marketing Leaders events are designed to help our investees take away useful insight that leads to changing behaviour in their own business. It was really interesting to discover throughout the day how all the teams are addressing the challenges around customer acquisition and to think about what actions they could take to build less siloed teams and a more effective growth mindset.

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