This is part of a series of blog posts written by the MozFest staff that provides a glimpse behind the scenes of planning and executing the world's leading festival for the open internet health movement.

The smallest decisions can make the biggest difference in not just one life, but many.

What started as a small decision by a couple of people on the Mozilla Festival team to take a growth hacking professional development course put processes in motion that resulted in nearly 10,000 people from around the world attending a virtual event for internet health: the Mozilla Festival.

The Small Decision: Growth Hacking Master Class

With MozFest’s recent move to a March time frame instead of our traditional October date, the production team had some extra time between festivals to strengthen and focus our work. Since I had a professional development goal tied to my job as Communications Manager, I started to look for ways that I could improve my communications skills while also contributing to our goals as a festival. I found a growth hackers course on Udemy, an online course platform, and saw that it aligned with both what I wanted to achieve in my work: growing MozFest audiences through digital communications AND it aligned with my colleague Marc’s work as Digital Producer regarding strengthening MozFest digital platforms. I asked him to be my study buddy and we jumped in.

Purple banner with white text: Growth Hacking Data Deep Dive

What is Growth Hacking?

Growth Hacking is about collecting and using data in a smart way to optimize your digital content strategy and improve the customer/audience journey.

But here’s the thing. Growth Hacking is a data driven approach...and I dislike data, spreadsheets, and anything analytical very much! I love words, writing, and storytelling. This was a course that I knew going into it that was going to stretch me and would be challenging. Coming out of this course and all the work we’ve done for the past year, I still don’t like it. But it has taken us places with MozFest and has yielded incredible results. I was able to be creative in our experiments (more on that below) and in the narratives that showed up across our emails and website. Plus, Marc was a great partner who thrives in the analytical world and data is in his job description.

While the centre of this work is data, we were sure to uphold Mozilla’s standards for data privacy and collection; following our lean data approach and using only data already available to us through Mozilla-approved vendors. You can find more information in Mozilla’s Privacy Policy on how we handle your data.

Growth hacking might not sound like it is for everyone, but in our experience, it’s just about finding the right combination of teamwork and flexibility to try new things!

The Big Difference: Building Audience Engagement Funnels

We began growth hacking MozFest by documenting what we knew - who is our audience, where do they hangout online, and what steps do they take to engage with the festival and the internet health community? After looking at our current situation, it became clear that there were recurring common themes in our audience and processes.

The biggest piece of work that came from us taking the growth hacking course is that we designed, built, and implemented 5 engagement funnels into our digital marketing strategy for the festival. An engagement funnel is a determined path that the audience moves through during their experience with the festival.

A step-by-step overview of a marketing engagement funnel for newcomers to the festival
MozFest 2021 Newcomers Engagement Funnel

The 5 funnels we built targeted five different experience:

  • Newcomers (those who have never been to the festival)
  • Returners (those who have been to the festival at least once)
  • Tech Audience (those who identify as having technical skills and/or hold a professional role that requires technical skills)
  • Word of Mouth Referrals (those who hear about the festival through a friend, influencer, or organization)
  • Virtual Build Up (those who hear a call to action to participate in a mini-event produced by the festival prior to the big virtual festival that is MozFest)

For each of the funnels, we put ourselves in the shoes of specific participants and imagined how they would find the festival and what their experience would be as they took each step along their journey with the festival. For example: how do they go from finding us in a google search to showing up at the festival with a ticket? Or, how does someone who has been to MozFest 5 times stay engaged with the community? This provided a skeleton for us to work.

The Big Results: Running Experiments

Each funnel is broken into stages. Our funnels have 4 stages:

  • Awareness
  • Interest
  • Desire
  • Action

Within each stage, we decided on experiments to run to see where we could increase engagement at each step along the experience journey. These ranged from small tweaks in our processes to big decisions where we needed the help and support of other teams across the Mozilla Foundation and from our loyal community.

Here is a snapshot of a few experiments and their results.

Blog Experiment

We started including a branded MozFest footer at the bottom of every blog with a clear call to action to sign up for our newsletter. (Look at the bottom of this blog to see it!)

"Users are directed by a CTA to sign up to the newsletter" An upward trending line chart plotting the thousands of newsletter signups (X axis) over time (Y axis)
Mozilla Festival graph showing amount of users signing up for newsletter from blog

Email Experiment

We changed our sender name in emails to be more personal instead of general. Our emails are now sent from “Sarah Allen,” our festival’s director, instead of “Mozilla Festival”.

"A person invitation is sent to existing ticket holders inviting them back to attend for another year" Average CTR after send name change - 2.10% (increased 51.2%) Average Open Rate After name change 20.6% (increase 1.7%)
Data on Click-Through Rate and Open Rates after changing sender name in Mozilla Festival emails

Word of Mouth Experiment

We created and executed a trail Ambassador program where a handful of community members helped us spread the word about the festival with their networks around the world.

Ambassador Data: Average read time for blogs with external authors is 3:07; Readers of blogs with external authors is 1,016; Ambassador Twitter impressions are 217.2k and reach is 112.4k
Blog and Twitter data from Ambassador Program Trial Period

Social Experiment

We ran a nostalgia campaign on Twitter during the month of October to engage with previous ticket holders who had been to the festival before.

Nostalgia Campaign data: Twitter engagement during campaign saw a 310% increase in profile visits, 639% increase in followers, 66% increase in impressions, and 658% increase in mentions. Slack messages rose by 5.8% and daily active members rose by 8.7%. Website users increased by 39.2% and website sessions per user rose by 24.9%.
October 2020 Nostalgia campaign data across Twitter, Slack, and Website

Connect With Us

Our small decision to take a professional development course had a big positive impact on the growth of MozFest’s global audience and community engagement.

  • We had nearly 10,000 people register for MozFest 2021, a number that no one on the team would have ever imagined possible.
  • Over 25% of ticket holders self-identified as being technical focused, an area where Mozilla Foundation is aiming to focus as we all work towards building more Trustworthy AI.
  • And we saw incredible engagement from communications campaigns that we trailed, with 658% increase in mentions during our nostalgia campaign in October.

Just to name a few.

There is so much detail, more experiments, and more narrative that could go into this story of how and why this small decision impacted not just the work of a couple of people, but the experience of thousands who attended our gathering for digital rights and equality. To learn more, we’d love for you to connect with Kristina (@kristinag) and Marc (@marcwalsh) on MozFest’s Community Slack.

Kristina Gorr serves the internet health movement as Communications Manager for MozFest through using her passion for writing to raise awareness and uplift opportunities for others to get involved in critical conversations about web literacy, digital inclusion, privacy and security, and openness, to name a few. Her littles ones are always around, so be sure to say hi when they pop on the screen.

MozFest is part art, tech and society convening, part maker festival, and the premiere gathering for activists in diverse global movements fighting for a more humane digital world. To learn more, visit

Sign up for the MozFest newsletter here to stay up to date on the latest festival and internet health movement news.

Related content