Freshworks: Analyzing customer touchpoints and sales performance with Google

About Freshworks

Founded in 2010, Freshworks provides 11+ software-as-a-service marketing, support, and sales products to more than 40,000 customers, including prominent technology and automotive companies. Freshworks also provides an AI-powered enterprise platform that aims to improve customer experiences, enhance employee productivity, and enable an ecosystem of developers and partners.

Industries: Technology
Location: India

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With Google, Freshworks is analyzing and optimizing the performance of thousands of marketing campaigns that contribute most of its revenue and gaining a full-lifecycle view of customer interactions with its business, products, and services.

Results

  • Sharpens focus on campaigns to drive a 50% return on investment
  • Drives a fivefold increase in leads with eight times the number of campaigns, due to new local language capabilities
  • Reduces database spend by 40%

Analyzes and improves the performance of 4,000 marketing campaigns per year that account for 70% of revenue

Founded by current Chief Executive Officer Girish Mathrubootham and current Chief Technology Officer Shan Krishnamasy in 2010, Freshworks provides business software to 50,000 customers in 140+ countries. Freshworks delivers 11+ products and an AI-powered software-as-a-service platform that aims to improve customer experiences, enhance employee productivity, and enable an ecosystem of developers and partners.

Its products include Freshworks CRM, customer relationship management software that provides AI-based lead scoring, and phone, email, and activity capture and Freshping, software that offers website monitoring.

The business that became Freshworks started operations with a single product—Freshdesk—that targeted the customer service software market. “We aimed to create a product that integrated support with businesses’ social ecosystems,” explains Ramesh Ravishankar, Senior Director—Marketing at Freshworks. “For example, Freshdesk enables customers to integrate Facebook pages and Twitter handles and manage them from a helpdesk. It also allows them to engage customers through WhatsApp to resolve queries more quickly.”

These features complement more traditional customer service features such as live chat and the conversion of support emails into trackable tickets that a helpdesk can resolve. In 2014, the business launched a product called Freshservice, cloud-based IT service-desk software that provides support for tickets lodged by email, self-service portal, phone, chat, or in-person. Two years later, the founders released Freshsales and established Freshworks as the umbrella brand for existing and new products.

Freshworks positions its product suite as providing marketing, support, and sales for the customer journey from acquisition to the end of the relationship. It targets businesses with up to 5,000 employees with software delivered entirely from the cloud and uses software-as-a-service products to run its own business as well.

Freshworks runs up to 4,000 marketing and advertising campaigns per year worldwide that account for about 70% of its revenue.

Search key to business success

From day one, Freshworks aimed to go global, and this meant understanding market dynamics, category landscapes, and geographic nuances before moving into a new country or region. For example, the business would classify a market as “mature” or “emerging” and customize its go-to-market strategies accordingly. Understanding local and regional nuances was particularly important in helping the business tailor content and creatives for its non-English markets that comprised 15+ countries and 11+ languages.

Freshworks opted to leverage search trends to prioritize markets and categories based on revenue and client opportunities. The business now relies heavily on Google Search for lead acquisition and to build on the potential of leads most likely to become customers by identifying look-alike audiences with similar characteristics. “Global search trends enable us to understand situations from a macro level, understand what the competition is up to, and which competitor to take on in each category or geography,” says Balaji, Manager - Digital Marketing. “This was especially useful in 2020 as it enabled us to determine macro trends during a period of immense uncertainty.”

Freshworks had also deployed a Google Cloud data infrastructure to support its marketing and analytics requirements as its product portfolio expanded. This data infrastructure enabled the Freshworks performance marketing team to base critical decisions on information that revealed:

  • The return on investment in campaigns
  • Which marketing channel a customer conversion should be attributed to
  • Whether customers took a desired course of action (such as proceeding from browsing a website to buying a product) and whether that conversion delivered revenue

Solve for lead quality versus volume

However, sales teams were hampered by inefficient business processes caused by a lack of real-time data and insight into the quality of leads.

To resolve these issues, Freshworks needed products that would complement Google Search and its Google data infrastructure, such as the Google Analytics Measurement Protocol that would enable the business to send the data generated by user interactions with its products and services directly to Google Analytics.

“We wanted to determine lead quality in real time,” says Balaji . “However, we wanted to wrap this into a strategic upgrade of our lead-generation capabilities that would support our ambitious market expansion plans.”

A two-pronged strategy

Freshworks worked closely with Google to come up with a two-pronged strategy.

Phase one involved identifying demand and opportunities using a Market Prioritization 2x2 Framework that accounts for demand against cost per click and cost per action.

Steps in this phase included reviewing focus categories such as helpdesk and customer relationship management, and prioritizing markets on the basis of geographical level demand variations, enabling the business to sustain leads from high-growth regions.

"We found the Market Prioritization 2x2 framework vital in understanding priorities from a non-English standpoint,” says Balaji “This drove our direction on where to grow and by how much. Subsequently, it enabled us to prioritize languages to translate pages and product content and delve further into identifying the language, ad messaging, and keyword themes to target."

The second phase involved identifying emerging categories such as online chat support, remote collaboration, AI automation and chatbots, and driving efficiencies through best-in-class Google solutions. The Google team also highlighted sudden spikes in demand that could kick-start campaigns for key Freshworks products.

Google also shared weekly global query trends at a geography and product level, allowing Freshworks to identify and react to opportunities. This included increasing Search coverage, including query coverage for English and non-English categories, and driving search excellence and hygiene by leveraging Google OptiScore to identify optimization opportunities.

In addition, Google supported continual A/B testing across campaigns to improve key performance indicators.

Monitor and adapt customer touchpoints

With Google, Freshworks now monitors, analyzes, and adjusts the performance of various touch points customers interact with as they move from the sales funnel from browsing to purchase. The business is also using customer and revenue data from Google Ads campaigns to understand return on investment at a granular level—enabling efficient and sustainable growth and measured expansion into new geographies. Freshworks’ digital marketing teams have used the Google Campaign Translator services offered by the Global Language Optimization team to launch local and regional language campaigns spanning countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Latin America, and the Asia-Pacific. Since 2016, the business has increased by eight times its number of campaigns, driving a fivefold growth in overall leads.

In addition, the business is using Google tools to understand data in real-time, enabled by seamless integration between Google Analytics, Display & Video 360, and Google Ads.

Measurement Protocol supports scalable analytics and the business has a deeper, granular understanding of its audiences. This more complex view helps Freshworks create look-alike audiences to grow its list of prospective customers. The fusion of Google Analytics data with data from Freshworks’ customer relationship management system enables the business to build an end-to-end view of its customers and their interactions with its products and services.

Freshworks now keeps all customer-level data in a single location, and all marketing teams can view the data captured through Google Analytics.

Quick identification and rapid reaction

Perhaps most importantly, Freshworks can quickly identify areas of opportunity and improvement and react with a speed not possible when using traditional spreadsheets.

The business is using Google Data Studio to visualize real-time data from Google Ads, and is looking to integrate all data pipes across all channels to provide comprehensive, beautiful reports and graphs to improve decision-making.

“We were early adopters of Data Studio and have used the tool to run reports since early 2017,” says Venkatesh, Data Scientist. “We initially limited our reporting to Google products and services due to the native sync. However, with marketing data moving into Google Cloud, we had access to a nimble and powerful visualization tool with Data Studio that enabled real reporting and collaboration on the cloud and delivered a great, intuitive user interface. Today all of our digital team’s reports are delivered through Data Studio.”

“Google products and services are extremely easy to use and business friendly,” says Venkatesh. “Google and Tatvic—the Google Cloud Marketing Platform Sales Partner and Google Cloud Partner we used to support us in the project—helped us onboard and build expertise over time.”

Project complements use of BigQuery

A BigQuery analytics data warehouse sits at the core of the Freshworks data infrastructure. “The clear integration with Google Analytics 360 and Google Ads, and the ability to bring data from other sources into the Google Cloud environment, prompted us to move to Google Cloud, primarily BigQuery,” says Venkatesh.

The business worked with DataLink Networks on the migration to Google Analytics 360 and the initial deployment of BigQuery, before engaging with the Google Cloud technical and account teams. “Over the last four months we’ve reached out to Google Cloud to see how to better utilize BigQuery and other services,” says Venkatesh . “Google Cloud’s experts have been in constant touch to help us.”

BigQuery powers prediction, automation, and optimization

BigQuery now resides at the center of Freshworks’ three levers of prediction, automation, and optimization. “BigQuery is the lens and warehouse that provides a single location for customer relationship management, advertising, and website information,” says Venkatesh. “It provides a full life cycle view of every business and individual that interacts with our products.”

From the moment Freshworks creates and launches a marketing or advertising campaign, data about decisions such as spending on a particular keyword, ad clicks, and website visitors who convert into leads flows into BigQuery.

The analytics data warehouse enables the business to understand how much it is spending, the channels and mediums through which customers connect with the Freshworks ecosystem, and the quality of assisted or attributed leads generated. Combined with a holistic view of customer revenue and contracts, this enables Freshworks to determine whether a campaign is effective and the changes required to deliver improvements.

Integrating BigQuery with customer relationship management systems enables Freshworks to sharpen its focus to the right campaigns, regions, and keywords, driving a 50% increase in return on investment.

Freshworks is also using Cloud Storage to store internal files from its customer relationship management system before moving them into BigQuery and Cloud Source Repositories to store code for use by production jobs running in virtual machines aggregated into custom machine learning groups.

“Working with Google enables us to analyze data for insights, target campaigns effectively, and grow into international markets. The seamless combination of Google Cloud products such as BigQuery with Ads helps drive efficiencies and create new opportunities for our business. We look forward to collaborating with Google on further initiatives and welcome its increased presence in India."

Ramesh Ravishankar, Senior Director—Marketing, Freshworks

Google Cloud supports self-service

The Google Cloud data architecture enables Freshworks to promote a self-service model that enables teams to generate the data and reports they need to make decisions and act, without requiring assistance from technical specialists. Management can gain insights into trends around spending and revenue, for example, while business teams can identify whether products and services meet customers’ needs, and which products and services may be experiencing challenges such as increased competition or failure to meet changing customer expectations.

“Real-time, machine-learning-based visitor scoring helps us target the right audience through our Google Ads remarketing campaigns,” says Balaji. “That meant we could target the top 20% of our audience and deliver higher chances of conversion, at just 30% of the spend required for traditional remarketing campaigns.

“The seamless integration between Google Cloud products like BigQuery, BigQuery ML, Google Analytics, and Google Ads enabled us to score visitors and push near real-time visitor information, in the form of cookies or first-party data, into the Google Ads platform.”

The native sync between Google Analytics 360 and Google Cloud enabled the business to reduce the time to transfer data between marketing platforms and an enterprise data lake hosted on another cloud to six hours from three days. “As BigQuery charged us by the size of a query rather than the redundant data that was stored, we reduced our database spend by 40%,” says Venkatesh.

The Freshworks Data Growth and Analytics team worked closely with Google to optimize both BigQuery query costs and the Compute Engine instances used to run the analytics data warehouse. The teams reduced query costs by 44% in November 2020 relative to August the same year, and drove down Compute Engine BigQuery costs by 70%, driving considerable efficiencies into a core cloud service that hosts all of Freshworks’ digital marketing machine learning experiments. The improvement is shown in the graphs below:

Graph displaying values for Compute Engine, BigQuery, and Invoice from May '20-December '20
Graphs labeled "BigQuery analysis cost" and "Compute Engine cost"

With its investment in Google Cloud’s data and analytics products delivering extensive benefits, Freshworks is exploring the potential of Ads Data Hub to elevate and make campaign performance more predictable. Ads Data Hub enables customized analysis while enabling organizations to upload first-party data into BigQuery and join it to Google’s event-level ad campaign data. “Our team tells us we can use Ads Data Hub to target our ads to website visitors more effectively,” says Ramesh.

Furthermore, the business is evaluating the potential of BigQuery ML to operationalize machine learning models for structured and semistructured data, and AutoML to train models for its specific requirements.

With Google, Freshworks is continuing to fine-tune its marketing campaigns. “With Google, we ventured into uncharted territory for our business,” says Ramesh. “However, with an integrated suite of Google products, we can measure every marketing dollar’s contribution to revenue.” The combination of Google Cloud and Google Ads enables the business to connect to potential customers, work with those customers best suited to its model, and drive efficiencies through its operations, while Ads Data Hub presents an opportunity to enhance campaign targeting.

Tell us your challenge. We're here to help.

Contact us

About Freshworks

Founded in 2010, Freshworks provides 11+ software-as-a-service marketing, support, and sales products to more than 40,000 customers, including prominent technology and automotive companies. Freshworks also provides an AI-powered enterprise platform that aims to improve customer experiences, enhance employee productivity, and enable an ecosystem of developers and partners.

Industries: Technology
Location: India