When DoorDash partnered with The Cheesecake Factory in December to give away 10,000 free slices of cheesecake, the food delivery app set up a cross-functional war room to deal with the logistical complexity.
Free food is always a strong customer acquisition tool, but if marketing pushes an offer and product isn’t in the loop, users may not know how to redeem it. If there aren’t enough Dashers to deliver orders, the wait times will be too long. Without teamwork between product, engineering and marketing, the system breaks down.
“Without incredibly tight collaboration between product, engineering, performance and brand, every activation and promotion we do would fall flat,” said Jen Rapp, the company’s VP of marketing, who joined DoorDash last year after marketing exec roles at Toms, Patagonia and Arc’teryx Equipment.
“But we don’t just do this for promotions, we do this naturally all day, every day,” she said. “It’s very important that we’re integrated.”
Founded in 2013, DoorDash delivers in more than 1,000 cities across the US and Canada and partners with national restaurant chains such as IHOP, Wendy’s, PF Chang’s and, of course, The Cheesecake Factory.
Rapp spoke with AdExchanger about how she’s helping DoorDash blend brand and performance and steering the marketing department during a period of substantial growth.
AdExchanger: DoorDash raised another $250 million in August and now the company is valued at $4 billion. How does being in serious growth mode affect how you approach marketing?
JEN RAPP: When you’re in growth mode, your marketing needs to change, but you also need to maintain the overarching, 30,000-foot view that never alters. At the end of the day, we’re still building a brand, regardless of how fast we’re growing.
That said, we’re shifting our energy and dollars to new areas of growth, and at DoorDash, that means new geographies. When we enter a new market, we first need to introduce ourselves and explain why customers would want to use us over one of our many competitors. From there, every touch point along the way is geared toward helping people move from the new user phase to the true customer phase.
When does someone become a true customer?
We’ve found that it takes three orders before a person becomes a loyal customer. We look at this as our magic moment. Our communications strategy and all of our marketing touch points are designed to get consumers to try our product at an early stage, because we know that once they try it our service is strong enough that we’ll be able to get them to cross that three-order mark. Once they do, we start to feed them content rather than focusing on getting them to the trial.
How would you describe DoorDash’s marketing strategy in a nutshell?
All of our marketing emphasizes these two points: that we can bring good into people’s lives –for example, by giving them back some time in their day – and that we have the selection to satisfy your craving. DoorDash has more partnerships with national restaurants than any of our competitors.
In terms of channels, we’re very much a digital marketing-first company and we have been since our inception. What’s newer to us is the brand marketing side, which is where my experience is, and that’s really why I was brought into the company. I make sure that all of the digital marketing we do, especially direct response, is on-brand, beautiful, engaging and drives home our messaging.
How does DoorDash use data?
We’re a data-driven company from A to Z, not just in marketing. We have a robust in-house insights team that dives into customer behavior, their wants and needs, and an in-house analytics team that allows us to measure everything we do, whether that’s an influencer activation in a particular area or the quality of users we acquire through a certain promotion.
How much focus is there on performance versus brand marketing?
I have a peer, Micah Moreau, who leads performance marketing. He is very left-brained and I’m very right-brained. Working together is where we can have the biggest impact. A large portion of dollars is spent on performance marketing at DoorDash, but we’re also dedicated to building the brand. It’s easy to become a commodity – this is true for a lot of technology companies – so you have to give people a reason to love you and stay with you.
Everything we do from a brand marketing perspective is digital, even if it’s offline. If we do an event in New York City with influencers, for example, it can become a source of content that we post to social channels, send out in emails, that our influencers point to. Brands like us that aren’t investing hundreds of millions of dollars in marketing have to take real-life moments and make them into digital moments or you can’t achieve the scale you want.
The recent mural sweepstakes campaign you launched to promote Project DASH seems like another example of using digital to amplify an offline effort. What is Project DASH?
Every restaurant has excess food at the end of the day, some more and some less. When I joined the company, we found out that 78% of restaurants want to give that excess food to an organization that will feed it to hungry people, but most don’t because they just don’t know where to give it or how to get it there. Transportation is the biggest issue, but DoorDash is a technology company that’s good at solving complex logistical problems.
Through Project DASH, we facilitate food pickups and through our relationship with Feeding America we can get that food where it needs to go. Since we launched at the beginning of the year, we’ve been able to rescue over 34,000 pounds of food so far.
With the sweepstakes we launched in July, we created three murals – one in Boston, one in New York and one in Austin – to drive consumer engagement. They’re eye-catching, they make you want to know more about what we’re doing and they’re something we can deploy locally and then make national. We have 60 influencers on the campaign, which has resulted in 170 social posts and 7.5 million impressions. That’s from just three murals in three cities.
It’s interesting that you describe DoorDash as a technology company rather than as a delivery company.
Our core competency is solving tough logistical problems through technology. Today we’re a platform that connects people with their favorite restaurants and grocery stores. In the future, it could be anything. The world is our oyster.