What Duolingo can teach brands about multi-channel marketing

What Duolingo can teach brands about multi-channel marketing

What Duolingo can teach brands about multi-channel marketing

Scartlett Soodhoo

Copywriter

26 Jun 2024

Whether it was a New Year’s resolution or an epiphany after that dreamy Spanish holiday, most of us have dipped our toes into the world of language-learning app Duolingo. If you haven’t, then you’ll likely recognise the brand’s iconic green bird that has become somewhat of a hilarious influencer across social media. This is thanks to the recent shift in Duolingo’s marketing towards entertaining, gamified and multi-channel content.


So what exactly does their strategy look like and how has this sassy green bird helped maintain a monthly customer base of 74M people? Let’s find out!


 #1 In person: boosting presence with personality

At the core of Duolingo’s viral success, is a unique brand personality, projected through the humanisation of their mascot, Duo. This cheeky character is the face behind Duolingo’s famously passive-aggressive push notifications (more to come on that!) and is also the star of their highly entertaining TikTok content. This content varies between funny sketches and attempts at viral challenges but also spotlights its appearance at high-profile events including the Barbie World Premiere. These bizarre appearances demonstrate Duolingo’s impressive ability to elevate brand awareness by tapping into pop culture and speaking to the interests of its Gen Z and Millennial audience.

#2 Push notifications: marketing that sends a message

For app-based products, push notifications present endless opportunities for brands to engage active and inactive customers through pop-up messages. For Duolingo, these push notifications are a way to remind people of their daily lessons, using personalisation to speak to users directly. These notifications have become a notorious source of amusement across the internet for their guilt-inducing and humorously threatening nature, even earning itself a spot as a topic of one of comedian Munya Chawawa’s famous sketches.


#3 Social media: don’t neglect conversation for content

We of course can't talk about the multi-channel marketing strategy of Duolingo without acknowledging their tremendous success on channels like TikTok, where they now have over 11.7 million followers. At the core of Duolingo’s social content is a strategy known as ‘unhinged marketing’. This increasingly popular technique involves tossing caution to the wind and swapping conventional content for that which is unexpected and often chaotic. This unhinged marketing is cleverly executed by Duolingo through consistent storylines such as Duo’s feud with Google Translate and crush on Dua Lipa, which reduces the ‘salesy’ vibe that is so often present in marketing, and instead allows them to focus purely on entertainment. 


As well as posting hilarious content, Duolingo is also great at boosting engagement across their channels, often generating organic content and even memes through their quirky replies to comments and posts.


#4 Influencers & partnerships:  collaborate with the world around you

For multi-channel marketing (or any marketing for that matter) to be successful, you have to be quick to adapt to the world around you. Producing quick, responsive content that is relevant to hot topics is an instant win for brands and something that Duolingo does excellently. Following the success of Game of Thrones, Duolingo worked with the show’s linguist David J. Peterson to produce a course on High Valaryaian, one of the main (and made up) languages spoken by the characters. This course received a boost in marketing prior to the release of the highly anticipated GOT prequel, House of Dragon, with its very own trailer shared across socials, traction from various press outlets and appearances from Duo himself at the 2022 Comic-Con.

Other relevant and exciting partnerships from Duolingo include working with UK influencers Chunkz and Filly, as well as their collaboration with the hugely popular anime entertainment company Crunchyroll to teach Japanese. Each of these feats demonstrates the importance of incorporating flexibility and reactivity into your marketing. Want to know more about staying ahead as a marketer in an ever-changing digital world? We’ve got a blog on just that.


#5 Email: make your customers feel good (or guilty)

Much like the app itself, Duolingo uses gamification and interactivity within its emails, generating weekly, monthly and yearly round-ups of customers’ progress through their courses. Not only do these emails feel highly personalised to the individual, but they also encourage customers to re-engage with the Duolingo app by motivating them with rewards and badges or guilt-tripping them through humorous reminders of their absence. 

As well as these round-ups, Duolingo also uses their emails to raise awareness of new app features and courses. Just like the rest of their marketing, these emails swap sales vibes for entertainment and truly make customers feel like they are part of a community. To not be receiving these emails would definitely provoke FOMO!

Ready to become fluent in the language of multi-channel marketing? Reach out here to ActionRocket to discuss how our specialist team of CRM strategists and brand, design, copy and code experts can help!

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