How The Motley Fool optimized return on ad spend and saw a 9% reduction in member churn with Twilio Segment and Chameleon

Use Case

Data powered performance marketing




Financial Services and Insurance

Entertainment, Media, and Broadcasting


Twilio Engage


Alexandria, Virginia

The big win

The data platform The Motley Fool had been using wasn’t able to accurately distinguish between prospects and existing paying members at scale. As a result, a number of existing premium subscribers were being included in customer acquisition campaigns, which was making ad spend less efficient. Their team also wanted to create a more personalized onboarding experience for new paying members to increase activation and retention rates.

Personas democratized data across teams, offering a holistic, real-time view of the customer. With Twilio Segment, The Motley Fool’s marketing team could easily suppress active members from its campaigns, increasing the efficiency of operations and ad spend. Getting precise with ad targeting helped them be more efficient with acquiring new paying members. To successfully onboard new members, the team launched Chameleon-built product Tours to point members in the right direction and optimize their first days in the app.

The Motley Fool’s purpose is to make the world smarter, happier, and richer by offering business and investing insight. Founded in 1993 by brothers Tom and David Gardner, The Motley Fool reaches millions of people across its podcasts, newspaper columns, radio shows, websites, and paid subscription services. 

Building a data infrastructure to drive new subscriptions

Along with The Motley Fool’s free website, the company offers premium content – like expert stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and detailed market analysis – on a subscription basis. For the marketing team, acquiring new, premium members is a top priority, and often done via paid ad campaigns. But targeting the right prospects had become a challenge. 

The data platform that The Motley Fool had been using wasn’t able to accurately distinguish between prospects and existing paying members at scale. As a result, a number of existing premium members were being included in customer acquisition campaigns, which was making ad spend less efficient. 

To address this challenge, The Motley Fool’s business intelligence team would have to manually pull a list of existing members from their data warehouse, deliver that to the paid media team, and then manually upload those lists to a variety of ad platforms. But this data still reflected a static point in time, and ran the risk of being outdated. 

The Motley Fool needed a new data solution that fit the following criteria: 

  1. Ease of use in building, managing, and activating audiences. 

  2. Out of the box integrations with Google and Facebook (two main ad platforms). 

  3. The ability to send data downstream to destinations in real-time.  

Democratizing data across teams with a holistic, real-time view of the customer

For The Motley Fool, Twilio Segment was the perfect fit. It was quick to implement, democratized data across teams, and offered a holistic, real-time view of the customer. The business intelligence team no longer had to serve as data gatekeepers for the paid media team’s major ad platforms. The marketing team could easily use Twilio Segment to suppress active members from its campaigns, which increased the efficiency of both operations and ad spend. 

“Twilio Segment is much more of a self-service platform. Whereas before we were limited in how we could message or target prospects and members, we can now build and activate audiences almost immediately.” - Nate Wallingsford, Head of US Marketing Operations and Optimization, The Motley Fool

The Motley Fool also leveraged Twilio Segment’s integrations to personalize member experiences and identify upsell opportunities. Integrating Segment and Chameleon has enabled The Motley Fool to easily send data between these tools, customize onboarding flows, and show relevant on-site ads.

With Chameleon Tours, The Motley Fool saw a 9% reduction in churn over the premium members’ first 45 days and a 20% increase in users taking key stock-buying actions. This contributed to a 39% increase in overall net cash per member.

After the first round of onboarding Tours, The Motley Fool continued to combine Twilio Segment audience management and segmentation capabilities with Tours configuration, styling, and A/B testing options to deliver targeted in-app messages to their premium members.

The ease of sharing data between tools and acting on real-time insights showed a quick return on investment. As Nate Wallingsford noted, “We’re making even more incremental revenue from the combination of these tools. The ROI on it is ridiculous.” 

Personalizing experiences for premium members

By switching to Twilio Segment and integrating with Chameleon, The Motley Fool was able to:

  • Increase operational efficiency by democratizing data, automate manual data upload processes, and reduce the reliance on the business intelligence team. 

  • More accurately target paid ad campaigns to decrease cost per acquisition (CPA). 

  • Personalize experiences for premium members –  from onboarding to on-site advertisements – to increase retention and lifetime value. 

Altogether, this created a loop of success for The Motley Fool as they quickly saw a decrease in churn, an increase in retention, and – overall – a better return on ad spend (ROAS).

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