Operations Analysis

In the business model, business process analysis, and pricing analysis posts, recommendations were made for a new social media strategy on Twitter. The new strategy targets, among other things, higher-quality customer service, leveraging current food trends, and focusing on providing value through specialty diet information-sharing and product highlights. This analysis will extend the above discussion into how Blue Apron can integrate the recommendations into its operations. It will also incorporate a Total Quality Control (TQC) analysis.

The goal of the suggested social media strategy is not necessarily followers or likes for their own sake. While those are positive things for a company to have, the goal for this strategy is to drive some key performance indicators. The goal is to increase engagement and brand loyalty through the use of Twitter so that strategically selected KPIs reveal a return on marketing investment that supports increased profit.

Zaryn Sidhu, an international digital marketing strategist, suggests the following steps to implement a social media strategy that will form the basis of the proposed operations. Sidhu (2018) suggests that businesses:

  1. Align business goals and KPIs: For Blue Apron, subscription cancelation rate, number of new subscriptions, average customer value, and customer acquisition costs are all measures that a good social media strategy can positively impact.
  2. Define a target audience: Since budget constraints are a common reason that people cancel a meal kit subscription, the initial recommendation is to target higher-income individuals who feel passionately about following a specialty diet, either due to health concerns or simply a chosen nutritional dedication.
  3. Determine the platform strategy: The informal culture of Twitter coupled with the large, active user pool makes this platform a good place to cultivate brand loyalty and engage with current and potential customers. Additionally, Blue Apron is not targeting younger people with its specialty diet focus, therefore, Twitter is a more age-appropriate place.
  4. Identify messaging tone and purpose: Brand-building will be particularly important along with a casual tone that’s friendly, consistently supportive, and perhaps sometimes playful.
  5. Determine the content strategy: Blue Apron content should focus primarily on providing value about specialty diets with helpful, practical, short-form information that is supported by evidence, when appropriate. It might also be a good exercise to explore internet memes as part of the content strategy since they’re so popular on Twitter specifically. Though extreme caution is required to avoid brand controversies.
  6. Determine an amplification strategy: Dedicate some budget spend to Twitter ads with a conservative approach in which ads are done, at most, weekly. Additionally, the ads connect to the content for the week, amplifying the most successful posts, comments, etc. The primary purpose of the ads would be lead generation.
  7. Determine a governance strategy: It’s not feasible to respond or react to every single comment or post. Decisions must be documented about when to respond, when to block, how often to review, who is responsible to review, what types of actions require approval
  8. Monitor: A weekly or biweekly review should be done to look at the KPIs from step 1 and strategize adjustments.

Keeping the above strategy in mind, a five-year plan must operationalize the above items and support steady, achievable improvements in the KPIs being monitored. Figure 1 provides a view of operations along with some key related strategies that are important for the next five years.

Figure 1. Blue Apron operations model with customer and analytics influence.

The five-year plan would unfold as follows:

  • Year 1: The focus in the first year would begin with the proper infrastructure for executing the new proposed workflows in the business process analysis. This includes finalizing the social media strategies outlined earlier, building out Power BI reporting capabilities around the above-mentioned KPIs, and developing the policies/procedures for communications between the assigned analyst, the social media manager, and company leadership. By the end of the year, the social media manager will have already begun executing the new strategies that feed data and insights to the company.
  • Year 2: This year will continue to build on the gains of the previous year in data collection and driving sales through campaigns that track post influence. Techniques like data mining and A/B testing help the social media manager and analyst determine the post types and commenting procedures that produce the most engagement and seed the most sales.
  • Year 3: The focus this year is scaling up marketing efforts on Twitter. By then, the company will have collected significant data and determined better strategies to engage with current and potential customers. With increased revenue, the model can be scaled to hire 1 or 2 additional social media managers and analysts to extend into new specialty diet areas.
  • Year 4: The focus this year is infusing the Twitter strategy with advanced techniques, perhaps with the guidance of a temporary consultant. The goal would be to make sure all policies and procedures are optimized as well as applying the advanced social media strategies strengthening brands and cultivating brand loyalty at the time.
  • Year 5: By the end of the final year of this plan, Blue Apron will have achieved levels of income, subscribers, and orders that mimic those achieved in 2018. Then, the company can conceive a more ambitious plan for the next five years to regain the success achieved in 2017 immediately following going public.

Table 1 shows the expected trajectory of the above improvements including a goal of reducing customer acquisition costs, which is current estimated to be $460, much greater than the $94 quotes by Blue Apron (“Retention Problem,” 2019). Blue Apron must reduce ad spend costs down to the bare minimum on all other social media platforms to instead focus fewer, more strategic dollars on Twitter.

Customer Acquisition Costs$460$400$275$200$150$94

Table 1. Expected subscriber growth, order growth, and customer acquisition cost reductions over the next five years.

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