Empowering Women in Mobile: An Interview With Rachel Hansen, Customer Retention Manager at Crumbl

In celebration of International Women’s Day, Branch is thrilled to spotlight Rachel Hansen, customer retention manager at Crumbl Cookies. We had the privilege of delving into Rachel’s career journey, insights on professional growth, experience navigating a young and innovative tech company that sells cookies, and approach to viewing every opportunity as a learning experience.

Happy International Women’s Day to all the incredible, strong women in the Branch community!

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your role at Crumbl?

For the last two years, I’ve overseen the customer retention efforts at Crumbl, sitting on the digital marketing team where I manage the channels that bring customers back to Crumbl. Currently, we’re investing in email marketing, push notifications, and paid ads, and venturing into SMS, among other app marketing efforts. Interestingly, Branch was one of the first martech vendors we brought on board, and we’ve just added another, so we’re focused on building up our tech stack to boost our capabilities. We want to stay ahead in the dynamic digital marketing space, and we’re excited about our progress.

Reflecting on your career, how did you get to where you are today? What motivated you to pursue a career in the mobile (cookie) industry?

I attribute my journey to people taking a chance on me. I applied for positions I may not have been fully qualified for, but they allowed me to learn and figure things out on the go. A friend who worked at Crumbl connected me, and being a long-time fan of the brand, it felt like a dream to work here. The mobile aspect of my career wasn’t planned; It unfolded naturally with the company’s growth. 

At Crumbl, we consider ourselves a tech company that sells cookies, with all our tech built in house — including the mobile app, POS system, internal app, and website — by our talented engineers. Coordinating with them for marketing initiatives, like onboarding companies such as Branch, has opened my eyes to the world of mobile marketing. It’s fascinating to connect the pieces and ensure a successful and seamless customer experience in a tech-driven environment where we don’t have an easy out-of-the-box solution. 

How has being a woman in the tech industry presented unique challenges or opportunities in your career?

Being a woman in the tech industry has its challenging moments. When we collaborate with the dev teams, there aren’t many women in the room. It’s sometimes challenging to ask questions when I may be the only one who doesn’t understand as a marketer. But I’ve found that the other tech masterminds are always happy to teach and share their craft! We all bring something unique to the table, and it’s pretty rewarding to see how we can learn from each other and grow together.

In a dynamic field like mobile technology, professional growth is essential. How do you prioritize and foster your own professional development?

For me, prioritizing professional growth revolves around asking questions. I’m fortunate to have a boss who challenges and expects a lot from me, pushing me to solve problems and find solutions. A significant part of my week involves sitting with developers and asking questions about tools and the best ways to make things work. Initially, I felt hesitant about asking questions, thinking developers were untouchable wizards. However, I’ve learned that they love sharing their knowledge and are thrilled when I seek their insights as a marketer. Now, I don’t hesitate to say, “I want to learn; Can you teach me?” Their willingness to help, especially as the only female in the room, has been invaluable for my growth.

Mentorship plays a crucial role in professional growth. Have you had mentors who guided you in your career? How do you approach mentorship of others?

Absolutely. Mentorship has played a crucial role in my professional growth. My manager, Derek, has been a significant mentor and cheerleader, urging me to take on challenges and find solutions. Derek and I often encounter problems where we look at each other and admit not knowing how to tackle them, but we commit to figuring it out together. Especially in the early stages of my career, as I navigate many things for the first time, Derek is always supportive and helps me connect with the right people to find solutions. 

Another mentor is Anne Schultheis from Dutch Bros. She’s the senior director of digital engagement and has helped mentor me and find solutions. Our companies are in the same space but have different problems, so it’s been fun to learn from her and her experience in the QSR space.

What strategies or mindset shifts have helped you overcome challenges in your career?

Remembering that nobody has it all figured out is crucial. It’s easy to get frustrated when things can’t be fixed immediately, but I remind myself that I’m still early in my career, especially at a young company like Crumbl.

Impostor syndrome has been a significant challenge for me, but learning that others around me, despite having more experience, also grapple with uncertainties has been an important mindset shift. Asking questions is key, realizing that I’m not the only one facing challenges or feeling overwhelmed in a role I’ve never tackled before.

Innovation is key in the mobile world. How do you encourage innovation within your team and remain adaptable to industry changes?

My team gets a lot of innovative inspiration from others. We subscribe to emails of similar businesses, screenshot ads and send them in the group chats, and are always looking for ways to get bigger and better. The nature of our quick-paced and ever-changing business helps us a lot here. Our CEO and leadership team drive innovation on the tech side, and we keep up over here on the marketing side with their amazing technology and brand advancements. The recent release of Apple Vision Pro is a perfect example of this: Within two weeks of the launch, we had an app allowing customers to order Crumbl Cookies. 

Adapting these ideas to fit the unique puzzle of Crumbl isn’t always straightforward, but it’s a creative process that keeps us agile and responsive to industry changes.

What is one campaign or initiative that you’re most proud of in your career?

About a year and a half ago, I started testing a retargeting campaign. It was very basic, but at the time, we hadn’t done anything like it. That really changed the way I thought about retention and has inspired several other campaigns/processes since. A colleague and I identified customers and sent them personalized ads and emails based on their previous purchases. This not only performed well for the business but also opened my eyes to the broader possibilities of utilizing customer data in a more personalized way. With the innovative tech resources at Crumbl, leveraging customer data for smarter and more personalized communication became a key focus for me.

Speaking of women in high places, Crumbl launched its partnership with Olivia Rodrigo. Can you tell us a bit about the partnership and what it represents for the Crumbl team?

Absolutely. The Olivia Rodrigo partnership has been an adventure for the Crumbl team. We introduced a new purple cookie that follows Olivia Rodrigo’s tour across the country. Each week, this special cookie is available at stores near her concert venues. The development process was a significant undertaking for our Menu teams, but it has been incredibly rewarding to see it come to life. The customer sentiment around this campaign has been monumental, and it’s actually Crumbl’s first celebrity partnership. It represents a new wave of marketing where we’re getting into the nitty gritty and really asking ourselves what will bring customers back to Crumbl.

We’ve never done anything like it before, so to be a small part of the initiative and help pull it off in the time that we had, I’m proud of that. Watching the campaign come to life has been a cool experience.

What advice would you give to other women aspiring to roles in the mobile tech industry?

My advice would be to consistently challenge the art of the possible, ask for help when needed, and absorb knowledge at every stage of your journey. Whether it’s asking “why” or “why not,” this mindset has propelled me forward. It involves thinking beyond limitations, saying, “Okay, we can’t do that, but how about this or this?” 

Embracing challenges, like public speaking, can be intimidating, but I often remind myself: What’s the worst that could happen? The potential for growth usually outweighs the risks.

Making the most of your current situation and continually asking “why not” can lead to unexpected opportunities and significant career advancements. It’s an exciting time to be a part of mobile tech, and we always need more women represented!