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The Empowered Marketer: Jessica van Rooyen of Uber Eats

Marketplaces everywhere always have a two-sided challenge. You have to both engage your target audience of buyers, and find and engage the right sellers who are a good fit for your specific market.

It’s far from easy! Even if what you’re selling is as delicious as food from Uber Eats.

Jessica van Rooyen is the Regional Marketing Lead for Uber Eats Canada, the massively successful offshoot of Uber that delivers food to your door. She’s tasked with growing the service not only into new markets, but also with new restaurant partners. She previously spent 7 years at Unilever, working across personal care and food products before transitioning to Uber Eats.

She explained that she’s constantly looking for new ways to drive awareness for the brand in new markets.

In this exclusive interview, Jessica shares:

  • How she pushes adoption for new customers
  • Why deep personalization is key to driving engagement
  • How promotions and marketing partnerships power demand
  • …and much more

Listen to the Full Conversation

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Read the Top 4 Takeaways

1. What’s one of the big marketing challenges you face in offering a service like Uber Eats? Is this a hard audience to market to?

One of our biggest marketing challenges is actually driving awareness. That continues to be a priority. As a nascent category, our challenge is to help define the role of food delivery in people’s lives — that there doesn’t need to be this guilt or special occasion mentality towards it.

We’re not just Chinese food and pizza. We have tons of healthy options, and you don’t need to feel bad or lazy about ordering. Honestly, you’re optimizing your time and that will let you reinvest it into places that matter to you. So bringing people along that journey is what makes the marketing role really exciting.

2. Who is the target demographic that you’re looking at for expansion right now? Maybe your tech-savvy 20-somethings are already using Uber Eats, but are you pushing up in age or in specific areas?

We started in really large cities in core downtown areas, but as we’ve scaled, we’re going into smaller markets and demographic shifts. I think that defining your target market is a combination of who is already using your product, but also what is your competition doing? Who’s going to benefit most from the product that you’re offering?

We do a decent amount of segmentation work and look at our own data to understand, for example, are we winning with college students? We can make some assumptions around the fact that you’re typically ordering from a campus area or it’s typically late night or typically for one, then maybe you’re a student. But we’re also trying to pair that with some third-party data, working with different vendors to understand who are you from a demographic basis. From a combination of these two things, we do know that our core audience is those urban Millennials and young families. And that is not surprising considered that’s where we started.

But just because we’re targeting them doesn’t mean we’re just building for them, right? So there are lots of opportunities for other audiences to appreciate our service. So it’s definitely our target market but it’s not our only market.

3. For that market, what tactics are most effective for reaching them? Are you using Instagram ads or Google ads? What channels are really working well for you right now?

One of the coolest things about being part of the Uber family means that we can tap into people who are already using Uber. So if you think about the fact that someone who downloaded the Uber app and is using our ride services, they’re probably highly disposed to wanting to use something like Uber Eats. That’s a sort of internal audience that we have to convert. But we also really lean heavily into digital channels, knowing that that’s where our audience is.

We focus on sort of all the social channels that you mentioned. But we’re also starting to investigate and experiment with traditional media, like direct mail or out-of-home. And throughout all of those experiments, we’re really making sure that we’re testing and learning and building in methodology to understand does out-of-home work as well as pay digital, and how can we make sure we’re optimizing our spend there?

4. Uber Eats is also a marketplace, which means you have that multi-sided business where you’re trying to attract consumers, but you’re also working with restaurants. How do you manage those relationships and bring in new restaurants to join the platform?

There is so much that goes into thinking about how do we maintain balance across our sides of the marketplace. We need to grow demand steadily so that supply can grow. We are constantly working with our ops team to make sure they’re always prepared for the upside that could come from any promotion that we’re running. Then we also work super closely with our delivery partners as well as our restaurant partners to understand what are the problems that they’re having with the service? What are the opportunities they see that we can surface to our product teams internally and make sure we’re actually building something that’s working for them.

My team is also shifting our strategies and thinking more about how can we be better at onboarding and facilitating awareness amongst those B2B communities — our delivery partners and our restaurants. On the restaurant side, we have a really phenomenal outbound sales team that works to bring restaurants onto the platform. But as a marketing team, how can we help increase the amount of inbound that we’re getting? This means experimenting with paid media.

We’re doing some advertising in trade publications, and right now we’re actually working on a trade show strategy. So how do we show up at the right trade shows with the right message to the right collaterals so that we can help restaurant partners understand the value we can add to their service?

Then for restaurant partners, one of the big values of coming onto the Uber Eats platform is discoverability. And the idea that as a marketplace, a lot of people are getting eyes on your restaurant who potentially wouldn’t have known that you exist because you’re outside of their core neighborhood. And so the chance to actually just be on the platform but then to one-up that and actually do co-marketing is a huge selling point for them.

We make sure we’re picking the restaurant partners that people really love and making sure that we’re showcasing them on the platform.

To learn more about Uber Eats, visit www.ubereats.com.

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