Listen on Apple Podcasts

JS: What was one unconventional growth tactic that works surprisingly well?

Haseeb Tariq: Okay. So there is something which I call humanistic automation. I came up with this thing a few years ago, and I talked about it in detail and wrote about it on Forbes. You just Google Humanistic Automation, you will find the article and the top of the search results. 

AO: I’m sorry to interrupt, but I just want to make sure we get the spelling right, so we can find that on Forbes.

Haseeb Tariq: Sure. Humanistic, H U M A N I S T I C and then Automation. So, the whole idea behind Humanistic Automation is that you have to understand your customers and make sure that whatever you are sending them, whatever messaging, wherever you’re collecting them, which channel you have for trying to connect with your customers you’re being human.  I know that Automation is something all the growth marketers out there, they’re using growth someway or another. And for me, I have been a huge fan of marketing automation.

And so when I started working, especially at Guess, I saw that they were sending an email every single day to their whole list, without understanding who is interested in what kind of product. And then over there, I heard something where I tried to understand the customer by asking them first priority data. If they are signing up for the mobile app, we ask them who you are buying for. So out of those two options, there was like a man or a woman, rather than asking who you are. You’re asking who you are buying for, because I remember my wife’s you buy this stuff from Guess all the time. And she, you know, or by anything for herself, but I love Guess jeans.

So she goes out there, and then buys a new pair of jeans for me. She’s doing the same thing on the mobile app. So by asking that, we segment our customers into different big buckets and now we understand better and use that data. And then when we send something after that, they will understand that they have provided their own information. So we are not using any third party data to send them automated messages.

JS: (3m 12s): Got it. So it’s learning a little bit more about them and being able to customize the messaging around that. I love that. What were some of the other approaches that you had as well? 

Haseeb Tariq: (3m 20s): So for subscription businesses, because I started working at Fox and then later on moved from to Disney, after the 71.3 billion dollars acquisition. I have seen all of the different subscriptions. Obviously I worked in Silicon Valley, I worked with a lot of SaaS businesses also. So, the problem is always how you can retain those subscribers, a lot of people are focused on growth and they bring in a lot of customers. But then after that, when they started using their products, there is no way to retain them. And then when they start thinking about it, it’s too late. So, for that reason I have created something where I focus on three major things.

One is onboarding, onboarding for the trial customers. So,most of the SaaS or subscription businesses are focusing and bringing in new trial customers all the time. So, how you can understand this better is use activation data. So, try to figure out where they’re coming in from, which channel they’re coming in from, so you understand the different channels. And then when they are already signed up for their trial, you provide them an onboarding journey based on where they’re coming in from. So, you’re personalizing it over time.

AO:(4m 20s): Got it. Real quick. How many different options are you doing for onboarding? Like how many different variations according to where they’re coming from? Are we talking like three or are we talking like a three hundred?

Haseeb Tariq: (4m 30s):It is completely based on what kind of product you have. So, if you have three different plans, then obviously you have to focus on those three to start with, and then if it’s more than that, it’s what kind of brand you are focused on. So, if you’re focused on small businesses versus enterprise and you have different plans for them, the onboarding journey should be personalized based on that. And when they sign up and they’re part of the trial, the focus should be to convert those trials to paying customers. At Fox like I mentioned, 85% of them converted. 

I’m not sharing it from my own dashboards when I was working there, this is being shared by Fox News CEO and shared with a variety of writers who wrote a complete article about it. If you want to read more on how Fox First Nation achieved that, you can go read that too.

AO: (5m 12s): No, this is good. Could you give us more about how many different options you had for the onboarding experience at Fox?

Haseeb Tariq: (5m 18s): Yes. I think it’s important, like when someone is coming inside, like I mentioned the first priority, data is the second most important thing. And third one is to make sure you segment those customers, in a way that you put them in different buckets. The way I do it is, if someone is coming to sign up for our trial account or they’re already paying customers and they’re using your product, but versus you have enough data for people who have already churn and left your product. You compare those and then try to figure out what are the similarities and what are the differences between those. The reason behind using all those different data points is that you are not focusing on creating one or two segments, you can create a 150. Based on how much data you have, you can create multiple segments, using those different segments you can personalize their experience over time.

And obviously the major one is which of your segments are more likely to churn. You can create churn based on what kind of features and product they’re using inside the product and use it to upsell too. So it’s not only to minimize churn, it can also increase your revenue.

JS:(6m 14s): What kind of tools do you use to be able to understand these different points and understand attribution? People talk about attributional all the time, but it’s really like something that a lot of people struggle with and they don’t really know how to cobble these things together and unify the data and understand it. Do you have any tips around, and how many tools and what tools and then how do we actually make sense of it and understand what is moving the needle and what is not?

Haseeb Tariq: (6m 48s): I think to start with, the tools you already have, there enough to do some of the basic parts of what is here. And if they’re not, then I heard a product called the Retention app, which empowers success teams with actionable insights and humanistic automation obviously to increase trial conversion and customer retention. But going back to the tools you’re using already, you must be using, if you’re a mobile app you were using our fstar, if you’re a web app you’re using segment, all those different roles, they have some kind of segmentation built in which you can use. But if you’re planning to do something with much more and using the data and a way that you automate most of those journeys, then you can use a tool like Retention app.

AO: (7m 25s): Got it. So tell me what were some of the attributes that you’re looking at when you’re comparing someone who does churn to someone who it is succeeding? I’m just curious if you could dive into that.

Haseeb Tariq: (7m 35s): So you have to be super specific. I think it’s so important that you understand and find reasons that your customers are coming back for. So, at Fox we are focused on watch time, people who are spending the most time inside the app. At Guess, we were focused on trying to figure out okay, if someone is purchasing a product they will not be coming back for the next three, four months. So understanding different behavior and overtime understanding which customers are staying with you. What are the sticky features of your product? So you can push those. 

Another one I can share is that we edited a few features inside our Fox Sports app, where you can favorite the team that you are interested in, and whenever the game is on send them a push notification to bring the customers back. So, focus on making sure that you understand your customer better and then providing them value so they can come back. And understand what are those sticky parts of your product, which is making the lifetime of your customer longer.

AO: (8m 28s): Yeah, no, that’s good. Well, thank you for that. Are there any other parts that if someone was trying to get this 85% trial to paid conversion increase, what other things can consider that you found that work?

Haseeb Tariq: (8m 40s): I think for big brands, like this number is never heard of before. So, when I talk about it and share, everyone is like, Oh, how’s it possible? I don’t think it’s possible. But I think for like a big, big companies out there Fox and Disney and all the others. I think they have enough product users of their own. Disney for example, Disney Plus launched their product, and now they have 27 million subscribers. Obviously, they invested a lot of money on the growth side, but they already had loyal fans and people who have been part of the brand for a long, long time. That if you’d launch something, you will get all of those people coming in using your products. 

So, focus on those first. Focus on your loyal customers first. Focus on people you already know. If you’re a subscription business, a software subscription business, a SaaS, then you can go talk to the people who you have already worked with, individuals you have worked with in your previous companies and then use them. And those people are the ones who will stay with you longer. And that’s how you, for example, for Fox we do the exact same thing.  We’ve worked on Fox News super fans and tried to target them. We knew that they’re already committed to the brand. They will be more likely to stay with us for a long time.

AO: (9m 43s): I love it. What kind of questions were you asking them? I would love to be able to start doing these right away with our company. I’m curious. Any suggestions, like question one, two, three in those interviews?

Haseeb Tariq: (9m 54s): I think it’s completely based on the product you’re using. I’m not sure if I can share exactly what the questions were, but I think a good example is Guess. I think we did a complete onboarding journey where we were asking them what kind of style they are interested in, what kind of clothes they wear. Also, I think the big thing is don’t ask them to write a long paragraph and just give them options, four different options. Then after that, using those four different options, you have three different questions, which are digging much deeper into that specific answer they have already given. So creating those onboarding journeys where you are making it super quick and then also giving them power to provide you the right data. And that is super powerful. Okay.

JS (10m 33s): So, not asking them super open-ended questions, but really being able to provide them with values that are just easy to select and dig deeper into unfolding the insights based off of their answers. So, that makes total sense,  it makes it a lot easier for them to provide data.

Haseeb Tariq: (10m 53s): Yeah. I think that’s the whole idea behind it, gather as much data as you can from the customer. And obviously, there are a lot of tools out there which will provide you a lot of third party data, but problem with now like GDPR and all of those privacy issues, I think a lot of people get completely spooked when they see something that they haven’t given you that data themselves, and then you are targeting them based on that. So, I think it’s kind of a balance. Obviously you have to understand that gen Z and the newer generation, they are more focused and they are more aware of all those tactics, which you are using as a Growth marketer.

So be aware of that and then mix, obviously we have all those different tactics and strategies in our pocket, but be more aware of where to use them and where not to use them.

AO: (11m 34s): Got it. Are there any roadblocks that you would share with someone who’s looking to do this?

Haseeb Tariq: (11m 39s): I think that it takes time, and obviously when you put something like this together to start with, I think you may not have enough data to work with. But if you’re working with any of the big brands out there, I think it’s much easier for you to do a simple task. A good example is at Guess, I was using Mixpanel as a tool, super simple tool. We were using Airship for a push notification and I created a simple campaign, which took me literally 30 minutes to figure out and another 30 minutes to implement. And that one single campaign generated Guess 1.8 million. And the campaign was to anyone who was adding products to a cart and not checking out.

We were sending out a push notification within 30 minutes and then bringing them back and just doing that brought in an increment of revenue. So that was huge. And for big organizations and individuals are out there and listeners who are listening right now. I think they can do these small little tests and have a huge impact with the tools they are already using. They don’t have to bring in any external vendors to do all of that.

AO: (12m 36s): I love it! Because there’s a lot of options in that, you can already go for it, but the point is take what you already have and just work with that. I love it. That’s all I got. Thank you so much, man. I learned so much from this in terms of just how we can help move in this direction. And a lot of it, you just have to apply to your own business, but just understanding the onboarding piece, really understanding your customers and in comparing the customers. And this is huge. So thank you so much.

Haseeb Tariq: (13m 0s): Thank you very much. Thank you for having me and any of the listeners they wanted no more and learn more. Go to, and I have a much deeper training over there, which gives you much more ideas.

AO: Awesome. Thank you so much. Have a great day. 

Haseeb Tariq: Thank you very much.

JS: Awesome. Have a great one.

AO: That’s it. Another great episode of The One Growth Show , the official podcast of growth marketing conference to learn more about upcoming events, visit and subscribe to the newsletter. If you enjoy this episode, let us know. We’d really appreciate it if you’d give us a five star rating, super easy, just click the last star on iTunes, and also share this episode on social media. After all you want your network to know you’re the person they can always turn to for the best growth and marketing content, don’t you?

Follow GMC everywhere:

Transcribed by:

Podscribe logo