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Mar 10, 2020

Collette Mosca, Lead CRM at Busuu, talks mission for global connection and the guided approach of the beloved language learning platform.  *Hosted by Taylor Gibb and PJ Bruno LIVE at LTR 2019*






PJ Bruno: Hello again. Welcome back to Braze for Impact, your MarTech industry Discuss Digest. I'm PJ Bruno, and we are here at LTR 2019. I'm so happy to have with me our first guest of the day, Collette Mosca from Busuu. Welcome.



Collette Mosca: Hey. Thanks for having me.



PJ Bruno: Absolutely. Thanks for coming into our little covert booth here. And also to my right, a very good friend of mine and coworker at Braze on the success org, Taylor Gibb. Thanks for coming.



Taylor Gibb: Well, thank you so much for having me. We're sitting here at LTR in this little kind of submarine. I'm feeling very cool. I like it.



PJ Bruno: Collette, really great giving us her time. Lead CRM Manager at Busuu. For those of you who don't know, Busuu is a language learning platform for web, iOS, and Android. Is there anything else I should add to that, Collette?



Collette Mosca: No, that's pretty much exactly what it is.



PJ Bruno: That's pretty much it?



Collette Mosca: Yeah.



PJ Bruno: Great. And so she's coming here to share with us a little bit more about Busuu, and her time there, and the human factor. This is kind of the theme for this series in general, talking about how we can still have a tech stack that has thoughts toward attribution, analytics, and action, but also a little layer of love along the way, too.



Taylor Gibb: A layer of love. That's what we're going for here at LTR.



PJ Bruno: I think that's important.



Taylor Gibb: And nothing says love like languages, right? Or at least you can't say that you're in love with someone unless you're using their language. Which is the reason a lot of people choose to learn a language, I've heard around the grapevine. I don't know Collette, if you have a lot of love connection through people who learn the same language. You're bilingual yourself.



Collette Mosca: Yes. Yeah, it's quite interesting actually, because we do get our users contacting us and saying that sometimes they found love through our app, which is amazing.



PJ Bruno: From a trainer?



Collette Mosca: Yeah, through the app itself. Because one of the features that we have is conversations. So you can link up with native users. So if you're learning English, you can link up with English native speakers, and do exchanges on that. So we have had a couple of love stories on the app.



PJ Bruno: I love it. So let's dig into that a little bit more. Because maybe the more old school training systems, when it comes to learning languages, it's not so much based in community, it's more like here's a module, here's what you learn. But Busuu more or less from the start was based around a community, right?



Collette Mosca: Yeah, so one of our biggest aims is to break down language barriers. And the way we do that is through a number of different ways. But also we have built this Busuu language community, and it's a native community. So what you do is you choose what language you want to learn, but also you're a native speaker as well. And the aim is that you can connect with people in the app, and also help each other learn each other's languages. And so it's all about building a community and learning a language together.



Taylor Gibb: Wow.



PJ Bruno: And I love that along with the idea of community and building a language, you guys are very concerned with the communication that goes out with the company, and how you can foster that feeling of community, and the basic mission of Busuu. So how do you go about that? How do you choose messaging that reflects that mission of community?



Collette Mosca: Yeah, so we try to be as personalized as we can with the information that we have. And also we use email in-app and push. And again we try and choose the right channels at the right time when it suits someone. So for example, one of our features that we launched, which is the study plan, we get told when someone wants to study, at what time, and the frequency. So we choose when to message people based on what they give us to try and give that personalized touch rather than ... Say if someone says they want to study three times a week at 6:00 PM, then we'll send them reminders at that time rather than every day be like, "Oh, can you study?" No, we'll do it based on what they've said.



PJ Bruno: Makes sense.



Taylor Gibb: That's great. And that really does make it feel like human coming from you as well, right? You're connecting with other people, but at the same time you're providing this information to Busuu as a brand, saying, "Here's when I'd like to study. Do with this information what you will." And it sounds like you've made some really great personalized tailored messaging in the form of push and email based on that. And I may be jumping the gun a little, but I also heard through the grapevine that you guys are nominated for one of these very personalized messages for a campaign award here.



Collette Mosca: Yeah. No, we're really excited about that. It's a campaign that actually took us a lot of time to do, and it's building on from the study plan, where we were getting a lot more data on our learners. And we wanted to really embrace that data and target the message a lot better to our users. So apart from day and time, they also tell us why they want to study. So again, we made some subtle changes. But for example, for people who want to learn for travel, or if they want to learn for work, we've tried to slightly change the messaging to suit that particular user more. And yeah, it's made huge improvements. And we're really excited about the award actually, because it was a lot of effort. We brought in Connected Content with that just to make it really in real-time data. And once we launched that we saw really huge improvements. So it's nice to be recognized for it.



Taylor Gibb: Wow.



PJ Bruno: The coveted Torchy Award.



Taylor Gibb: That's it. Absolutely.



PJ Bruno: They only give out five a year.



Taylor Gibb: It's true.



Collette Mosca: There's only five?



PJ Bruno: Or ever, because we've never done it before.



Collette Mosca: Oh really?



Taylor Gibb: That's what they say. You're going to be one of the first five in history.



PJ Bruno: That's a big deal.



Taylor Gibb: Very, very exciting. And I love the subtle shout out to Connected Content there. It's one of, I think, most dynamic features of Braze. It sounds like you're using it in a really thoughtful way. Bringing that in at the time of send. Now, I hope you don't mind if I ask, when you say you've been able to see great results from this kind of campaign, what kind of things are you looking at? It obviously opens on things, obviously engagement. But is there any sort of other measure you're looking to you to make sure that a campaign was successful?



Collette Mosca: Yeah, so retention is a big one for us. So basically them coming back into the app more frequently. For this campaign, one thing that we did change is we noticed that initially ... It's interesting because people will say, "Oh, when do you want to study? For what time?" and stuff. And people are very optimistic to begin with.



Taylor Gibb: Oh, well absolutely.



Collette Mosca: So they're like, "I want to study every single day for an hour at a time-"



Taylor Gibb: 6:00 AM.



Collette Mosca: Yeah. Literally they're very enthusiastic.



PJ Bruno: Very easy to make a routine.



Collette Mosca: Yeah. And I guess when they put such high standards, it's easy to kind of drop off. So we try to notice when people weren't meeting their goals. So we then again changed the messaging to kind of, rather than just saying we send a weekly report out, and rather than just saying, "Oh you've done zero this week," which can be quite depressing. We changed it. And so rather than saying you've done zero, we kind of changed the message and made it more encouraging, and trying to get them back into it. Or, for example, if they said that they wanted to learn every single day for an hour, and we could see that they're not doing that, we would encourage them to amend their study plans to make it more realistic to them. And in doing that, we saw a huge improvement in terms of retention. So getting people back into it. Because obviously it's a bit depressing seeing an email which just says zero. So we tried to remove that, and we really saw a big increase in retention from that.



PJ Bruno: So updating that study plan was like a conversion event that you guys looked to.



Collette Mosca: Exactly. Yeah, yeah, exactly.



Taylor Gibb: Wow. That is so cool. And I must say, as someone who has an inbox littered with 0.0 days this week from perhaps other language learning systems, I'm excited to give Busuu a try. The other thing that really intrigued me is that you do have, I believe, programs or at least distinct messaging for kind of learning for the workplace. Which you alluded to a little bit earlier. Have there been challenges that come alongside that in messaging for people who are maybe learning to fall in love or travel, and then people who are doing it to try to perhaps get another job?



Collette Mosca: Yeah, so for the workplace, it's one of our biggest reasons actually, if people want to study. And mainly that's English, globally. It does change, but generally it's English. What we've done is we actually have specific courses for business English. So looking at particular vocab that you would need in the workplace, and just vocalizing on that. And again, we've seen that very bespoke targeted vocab which someone needs has been really helpful for them to reach their goals. We do also offer a B2B arm of Busuu in the same light. Because obviously breaking down language barriers isn't just an individual thing, but it's also from a business perspective. And having that language fluidity in the workplace is really important. So we now offer that as a feature from a B2B side. And yeah, It's a very similar tool in terms of that you have from a B2B side, but we offer the insights from an employee perspective as well.



PJ Bruno: Is there also a community aspect to that B2B side?



Collette Mosca: Yeah, it's exactly the same. It's exactly the same. So we don't differentiate that at all. The only difference is from a B2B side, you have a few more features. So for example, we have a bespoke retail course. We have a lot of retail clients. So you can imagine someone who works at Zara or somewhere like that, they deal with different nationalities on a day to day basis. And it's really important for our clients to be able to speak to their customers. And so Busuu offers that capability.



PJ Bruno: Do those bigger companies like Zara, do they feel the need to vet the teachers in some way?



Collette Mosca: So we don't have teachers on Busuu. So it's all a language app. We have an education team that builds the courses, but we don't have individual teachers.



PJ Bruno: Gotcha. Okay, cool.



Taylor Gibb: That's great. And so you guys are enabling, through your app, other retailers, other businesses to succeed and to become more human in turn with your humanity? This is a double down on everything we're preaching here at LTR. And I have to say personally, the aspect where you can communicate with other people who speak the language, and really hear and see the way that they use it is a game changer. I tried to learn Mandarin for years. I'm still very bad at it. And I remember one case in which I was trying to tell someone I was really full from lunch, and I kept telling them that I was a dumpling. And so anything to do to alleviate those little tiny things. I think it's just unbelievable.



PJ Bruno: You know what I'm actually curious about is there's always new words popping up all the time. And so does that create a ton of conflict? Just because here's an example, you know we have our own terms for our stuff. Like a "multi-step campaign journey" is canvas, right? And so we were considering taking our documentation and using Google translate. But Google translate will just make up words for things in Mandarin or in Japanese. So I'm sure you've come up against that a lot.



Collette Mosca: Yeah. And this is where, like I said, we have an in house education team that basically their job is on a day to day basis to look at the course, and to amend it. And also our users are amazing. They'll contact us even with a slight thing to let us know if something isn't right, or if they'd like to see more of something else. And we're constantly taking that on board and trying to amend our course so it's the most useful as it can be. And it's funny, even within languages you have very different variations. So for example, if you learn Spanish on our app, we'll also tell you the difference between Spanish in South America, and Spanish in Spain. Because you have very different forms of language within the two. So we'll often say, "Okay, well you need to use this formal tense in Spain, but in South America you don't. You'd use this." And we kind of try and use both aspects because obviously, as you mentioned before, it's not just you have English and that's it. You have very, very different variations of English. And it's the same for most languages as well.



PJ Bruno: I've got to say, it's kind of inspiring to see the position that you're in, being a bilingual person coming from Italy, growing up in the UK, right?



Collette Mosca: Yeah.



PJ Bruno: I mentioned earlier Simon Sinek. In the new book that he has out he talks about kind of how you can motivate a workplace and people to kind of just go beyond what you'd expect from them. And it's a just cause, having that cause, having that mission. And it sounds like your personal mission aligns very well with Busuu's. So ...



Collette Mosca: Yeah. No, definitely. I was very fortunate because I was brought up bilingual. So I know a lot of people when I say this to people that are a bit jealous of it.



PJ Bruno: I'm jealous just sitting here.



Taylor Gibb: Yeah.



Collette Mosca: But I was fortunate. Yeah, I was fortunate. But in that, to me it's normal to have two languages, and I think it's important as the world evolves that you have more interconnections with different languages and different cultures. So knowing different languages is so important. And obviously the mission of Busuu is to break down language barriers. So it kind of just fits.



PJ Bruno: And so when it comes to the World Cup, is it Italy or is it England?



Collette Mosca: Yeah, I'm Italy. Yeah.



PJ Bruno: Wow.



Taylor Gibb: Oh my gosh. Controversial.



Collette Mosca: Yeah. This is a common thing.



PJ Bruno: Let me know if I need to edit this out later.



Collette Mosca: No, no, that's absolutely fine. But yeah, all my English friends are always ... Because I moved to England when I was six, so pretty much most of my life. And obviously I sound like this, I have a very strong English accent. But I would always say I'm Italian. So it's always strange for ... Yeah. So, Italian football team. Yeah.



PJ Bruno: Let's go. Italia.



Collette Mosca: It's good because they are better so than the English team.



Taylor Gibb: That worked out well.



PJ Bruno: They do have a better track record, that's for sure.



Taylor Gibb: It worked out in your favor on that one.



Collette Mosca: Yeah, exactly.



PJ Bruno: All right. Well, thanks so much for being here, Collette. Just wrapping up, anything big that we should look to see from you guys in terms of initiatives, what's something new for you that you're really excited about for the next plateau for you guys?



Collette Mosca: Yeah, so the main focus coming up is really taking what we did with the study plan with using the Connected Content, really highly personalized things, and kind of moving that into other campaigns in the coming months. So that's a real focus. But then also we want to extend our channels. So SMS is about to be launched.



PJ Bruno: Here we go.



Collette Mosca: Yeah, so we've never done that at Busuu. So we really want to try it and see how our customers react to it. Because we do have a lot, especially in Asia, that would register with their phone rather than email. So we see it as a huge opportunity for us to communicate in a different channel to our users.



PJ Bruno: Big time. You've got to do it. I love expanding into SMS. I'm excited about it. Taylor, excited?



Taylor Gibb: Very excited. I love different languages, different channels. You guys are reaching people where they want to be reached the way that they want to be. This is what I preach as a success manager all day, every day.



PJ Bruno: Collette, thanks so much for being with us.



Collette Mosca: Thank you.



Taylor Gibb: It was so good to meet you.



Collette Mosca: Thank you, lovely to meet you both.



Taylor Gibb: Yeah, yeah.



PJ Bruno: Taylor, thanks for riding shotgun.



Taylor Gibb: Hey, anytime you want me to be in this spookily-lit booth, I will join you. And Collette, you'd better come back here sometime, too.



PJ Bruno: Please do.



Collette Mosca: Will do. Thank you.



PJ Bruno: All right. And thank you guys for joining us. Take care.