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September 28, 2022

Leader Spotlight: Fabien David of Notion on using LTV-optimized campaigns to scale growth

Maya Caspi
Head Of Product Marketing

We recently hosted a webinar, in partnership with the World Forum Disrupt, and it was about how LTV-based user acquisition can help B2B businesses grow in a profitable way. The webinar, which you can learn more about by clicking here, featured a distinguished lineup of speakers from top PLGs, as you can see in the image below.

The amount of insights that were shared was simply mind blowing, as the speakers each made the case for LTV-based acquisition, and discussed the advanced methodologies of optimizing campaigns for maximum ROAS. In fact, the insights were so good, that we decided to dedicate a blog post for each speaker, starting with Fabien David, the Performance Marketing Manager of Notion. Notion is a global team collaboration SaaS company, offering tiered subscription plans, ranging from freemium to enterprise, with more than 20 million active users worldwide. 

You might remember reading about Notion from one of our previous blog posts, in which we shared the details of how we enabled their team to optimize their campaigns towards the predicted value of their customers, resulting in the reduction in CAC, and the substantial uplift in ad spend ROAS. 

Indeed, Fabien David was one of our main contacts there, and he expanded on that experience in the webinar, in addition to offering up some actionable insights for teams that are new to this approach. But before we get into all that, let’s give a little background on Fabien David.

About Fabien David

Fabien is a master of user acquisition, and has a wealth of experience in all-things-growth for both B2Cs and B2Bs. Through the past decade of his career, he leveraged performance marketing to drive strong user growth for an impressive roster of companies, which include the likes of Airbnb, Yahoo and Notion. 

One really interesting factoid of his career is that during his eight years as part of Airbnb’s growth team, guest bookings soared from 10 million to over a billion worldwide. Fabien played a critical role in expanding AirBnB’s market share in Europe by launching vacation rental destinations, and that category currently accounts for half of Airbnb’s total bookings. Before that, he was a Partner Development Executive for TripAdvisor from September 2010 to December 2011. Fabien also has experience as a freelance SEO/SEM expert, from January 2012 to October 2012. It is also worth mentioning that Fabien is certified from The Knowledge Academy as a SCRUM Master, and in Google AdWords Certification Program.

Since he joined its growth team in 2020, Notion has become the fastest growing business app, expanding to over 25M users, and hundreds of thousands of teams. He played a major part in building out Notion’s performance marketing engine from scratch, and continues to scale it globally to invest millions of dollars across the major paid growth channels.

I mean, what else can we say here? He’s the jack of all growth marketing trades, and also the master of them all!


Rundown of Fabien’s insights

Challenges faced by Notion

Fabien started by talking about how getting smarter data proved to be challenging for the Notion team. By that, he referred to well-segmented data that correlates with someone who will end up paying, and end up being like a customer with a high lifetime value. 

His team was constantly iterating and trying to find good levels, and good signals to leverage, to train machine learning to optimize for the right outcomes. But for a product like Notion, the journey to acquisition for the top of the funnel is pretty straightforward, but then getting someone to think to convert and invite all their co-workers, and then become an enterprise customer is quite a long journey, and those sales cycles are long. 

The company is using a lot of the users that they acquire through PLG as a lead for sales, but it's a little tricky when it comes to finding right balance

Notion’s main KPIs

Fabien shared that Notion looks into LTV to CAC ratio, and they have been looking at the payback period as well. 

When he initially started working on the program, they didn't have any data scientists, so they didn’t have any LTV. That was one of the first things on their agenda after hiring data scientists, to figure out LTV. Fabien acknowledges that LTV is never gonna be perfect and it's always gonna be an area to improve on.

He also shared that Notion is a very collaborative product, and so there are two types of signups. You can sign up as a single player, or you can sign up as a team. Teams are very valuable to them, because those are their future customers. Those are the people who will actually be a lead for sales. As such, they encourage that, and send that signal. They look at people that signed up as a team, and activate so it's not it's not just a low intent sign up.

Barriers to LTV adoption for companies

Fabien answered this portion by generously plugging Voyantis. 🥹

We expanded more about this in a previous post, which talks about how his team was looking for a solution to further fuel its growth by scaling user acquisition, while maintaining healthy unit economics. At that point they were bound to the native ad networks limitation of short-term conversion windows. Results were okay, but not particularly ideal, which is typical for B2B SaaS companies that optimize their campaigns for upper-funnel events, by applying rules of thumb and proxy-metrics.

It didn’t take long for him and his team to realize that what they needed was the ability to predict which users would eventually convert to paying customers and yield high LTV. This was largely due to the fact that the vast majority of their users convert to paying customers after a period longer than the ad network’s native conversion window. You can read more about that case study here

Notion’s onboarding process

This part was super interesting. Notion briefly halted their onboarding process, and noticed a downstream before reigniting it again to help determine which sign ups would be more/less valuable. You definitely need to hear this part out.

Efforts that showed the greatest value

In this part, Fabien stressed on the importance of having alignment with the product growth team, and working together on things like the onboarding quizzes, onboarding in general, and making changes that drastically improves conversion rates, launching experiments and optimization.

You can do it too!

The fact that LTV-optimized campaigns helped increase Notion’s team activation rate by 21 percent, and their six-month predicted ROAS increased by 38 percent is amazing, but to be honest, you can easily obtain similar results for your company as well! So long as you’re a data-driven product-led B2B SaaS company of similar size that is ready to get on board the LTV optimization train—your team can also dramatically scale growth and reduce CAC.

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