Marketing that won’t put you to sleep

1st July 2022

Sam Blackie discusses deadly marketing misconceptions, and how Fortnight Studio helped market the Simba app to ‘own sleep’ with the help of rugby’s Maro Itoje and a problem solving approach.

1. What have you learned about marketing in this industry?

Measure consistently

The consistent use of data has become one of our guiding principles. Most will agree it’s integral to marketing but few are measuring it in a way that enables them to refine their strategy. 47% of B2B marketers don’t measure ROI from their content. If you can’t measure, you cannot improve it.

Integrate product and digital

Integrate product and digital marketing from the start. It’s not about having a standout product or a killer marketing strategy anymore. The best results incorporate both in a hybrid strategy that measures KPI, including what data to track, how to optimise user flows, measuring conversion rates, etc.

2. What challenges have you learned to navigate and how?

Explaining to clients the importance of data and investment into a well defined tracking strategy from the start. They are not the most exciting, visual items so are naturally harder to sell but are so, so important. The earlier in the life of a product you collect data, the better your marketing decision making will be. Don’t undervalue establishing historical data from the start.

3. What’s a marketing achievement that you’re happiest about?

Supporting the English Rugby Team for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan with the Simba Sleep app and having superstar Maro Itoje as the personal ambassador of the app. He won ‘Player of the‘ in England’s win against the All Blacks. Is that down to him getting a better night’s sleep? We certainly think so!

Itoje and the team used the app team to enhance elite athlete performance. The success of this led to a longer term partnership with Europe’s leading rugby union club, Saracens. They’re now also working closely with their star player Itoje, to improve his sleep performance.

Of course this organic endorsement is not only a great marketing win for Simba and its app, but also for our data-centric approach. Not only does that data allow us to transform loyalty and engagement, but also to build bespoke marketing for users at scale.

4. What has given you your highest return on investment, and how do you measure it?

Defining an iterative, scientific approach to brand development has been huge for us and has helped so many of our clients.

From the beginning we create clear processes and templates for tracking implementation, automation for event tracking, and data sharing. has also helped us massively improve the performance of our clients’ products in a fraction of the time it would usually take.

The biggest misconception when developing digital marketing products, like apps, is that people want to start with a huge and costly fully-realised product that embodies the original vision. This approach can be deadly. It was for the streaming service Quibi. Sure you can argue that to compete against Netflix and YouTube you need a finished, highly polished version rather than a minimum viable product (‘MVP’). Alternatively, you could argue that it’s a great way to lose £1.2bn if consumers don’t like it.

To be successful:

1. Start small and understand the market response

2. Adapt based on that response for the next step

Thinking about our Simba client again, our insights revealed that, it we wanted to ‘own’ sleep in our marketing, we had to look at solving sleep problems. The marketing should be based around a digital product where we could then promote the physical product to potential shoppers. But you don’t just close your eyes and wake up with a hugely expensive app, you have to iterate super carefully, in short fortnightly sprints. Spoiler alert, that’s why we’re called Fortnight.

I’m not saying Quibi wasted £1.2bn on a hunch and inspiration, but they could have tested product-market fit and iteratively solved a series of small problems through so many development stages rather than attempt to solve one monster, unsolvable issue that resulted in a quick, spectacular demise. 

Whereas Simba, on the other hand achieves around 15,000 monthly downloads, and tens of thousands of monthly active sessions. 46% track their sleep every night using the app, and its daily retention rate is a large 52%. And that gives us an ever growing data set that enables us to develop successful, bespoke marketing campaigns.