Advice on Mobile Growth From 12 Top Execs

Megan Dobransky

Aug 25, 2022

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When it comes to mobile growth, there are no better lessons than those shared directly from people who have gone through it and seen success for themselves. We compiled some of the best advice from the How I Grew This podcast, hosted by our very own CMO and Co-founder, Mada Seghete.

Use viral loops to accelerate growth

Image of AllTrails CEO, Ron Schneidermann, with the quote "We've been spending a lot of time lately talking about viral loops and how we can better leverage the strength of our community to go out and accelerate our rate of growth."

Ron Schneidermann is the CEO of AllTrails. He has spent the past six years helping grow the company, which is now one of the top five health and fitness apps in both Google Play and the Apple App Store.

“Triage a different area of the funnel every quarter. One quarter we are going to tackle signup rates. One quarter we’re going to tackle conversion. One quarter we’ll tackle churn … It’s not just top of the funnel. You know, top of the funnel sometimes is outside of your control … The challenge is to get users’ attention … We have a flywheel business, and so, really thinking through what drives a flywheel, new user activation, etc. We’ve been spending a lot of time lately talking about viral loops and how we can better leverage the strength of our community to go out and accelerate our rate of growth.”

Listen to the full podcast now.


Really think through personalized app onboarding

Image of Patricia Martorana Senior Product Manager, Mobile Growth, NYT with the quote "...rethinking what we're introducing when in terms of onboarding and really prioritizing the kinds of behaviors that we want to use or to get introduced to.”

Patricia Martorana is the former senior product manager, mobile growth at the New York Times. She led the cross-functional team to grow the subscription footprint and design the customer journey within The New York Times news, cooking, and games sections.

“I would say the biggest thing that we’ve had that’s helped with growth from a product perspective was really rethinking our access model, and how we consider different user states, and how we differentiate between a non-subscriber state and a subscriber state. Some of that is introducing specific UX tied to the moment a user is in. So new messaging units …rethinking what we’re introducing when in terms of onboarding, and really prioritizing the kinds of behaviors that we want a user to get introduced to.”

Listen to the full podcast now.


Experiment with different referral types

Image of Yoann Pavy, CEO of Nude with the quote "There is a loop within that because someone receiving the link could also refer to someone else. There's some interesting mechanics within that...”

Yoann Pavy is a growth marketing leader. His main passions include disruptive businesses, growth marketing, and culture. Currently, he is the CMO of Nude, a UK-based FinTech app that helps first-time homebuyers save faster for their deposits.

“We built a giveaway type of lottery feature inside the app, which is effectively a referral mechanism. Instead of doing the more common £10 — I’ll give you £10, you give me £10 of monetary returns — we give entries to a lottery that we change the amount and the frequency over time. There’s an element of surprise. It’s not guaranteed, but over time, your entries stay. If you stay for six years, over six years, we’ll have an infinite amount of chances for someone to refer someone else to us … And the one we just launched, which is really also very interesting for different reasons, we call it ‘Gift Time.’ That’s also something that no one else right now in the market is doing, which is allowing someone to share a payment link on the web for their friends and family to contribute to their Lifetime ISA [Individual Savings Account] directly … I think it’s very interesting from a growth point of view because it opens the web ecosystem. There is a loop within that because someone receiving the link could also refer someone else, could also be a potential customer as well, or not, depending on their age and who they are. There’s some interesting mechanics within that … And then you can add a layer of paid marketing and all the usual suspects.”

Listen to the full podcast now.


Refresh offline to online with QR code strategies

Image of Ben Okkenga Senior Product Manager, RTL2 with the quote "What we are currently experimenting is showing QR codes on TV. We can use some kind of overlays inside the show to promote some different storylines or some interactive quizzes."

Ben Okkenga is the senior product manager at RTL2, a TV network from Germany. He is responsible for RTL2 projects and products, like the gaming website, mobile apps, and smart TV applications.

“Especially from social media, we are linking inside the app. But also what we are currently experimenting with is showing QR codes on TV. Whereas, we are a TV station, and in showing our TV spots on our TV shows on air, we can use some kind of overlays inside the show to promote some different storylines or some interactive quizzes or something like that. This is something where we directly try to connect the TV show or a specific episode with the app so the users can, for example, do a review quiz about past episodes or something like this. We are always trying to improve our ways to get more and more users inside the app and experimenting a lot with different ways for it.”

Listen to the full podcast now.


Know your customer

Image of Carman Wenkoff  EVP & Chief Information Officer, Dollar General with the quote "...we just have to get to know them. Who is this customer? How can we keep them engaged even well after the pandemic and make sure that we're also serving their needs?"

Carman Wenkoff  is the EVP and Chief Information Officer at Dollar General. In this role, Carman has led the company’s digital transformation, implementing technology advancements to both enhance the brick-and-mortar retailer’s offerings and elevate the overall customer experience.

“Most of our growth comes from new stores, and so just supporting that, in itself, is big. But during the pandemic, we also had a whole different segment of customers come into our stores that typically wouldn’t. And so we’ve developed strategies with the marketing team … Like first, we just have to get to know them. Who is this customer? How can we keep them engaged even after the pandemic and make sure we’re also serving their needs? And we’ve been pretty successful with that, too.”

Listen to the full podcast now.


Be flexible and learn 

Image of Nicole West VP of Digital Strategy & Product, Chipotle with the quote "Do all the research, do all the user testing—and then look at the analytics, do the additional learning, and be ready to make changes.”

As VP of digital strategy and product, Nicole West has been at the helm, guiding Chipotle through a digital transformation in which digital ordering hit meteoric heights. Now, digital orders account for over 20% of the company’s sales.

“With every big release, it doesn’t matter the amount of user testing, prototyping, research that we’ve done, or how well-prepared or planful we’ve been. There will be surprises … In our first new big releases, I thought, ‘Why doesn’t every customer adopt this and love it right away, just like our users in user testing did? This doesn’t make any sense.’ So understand that you’re going to have quick hotfix releases following any big customer-facing feature release, and know that that’s okay. Do all the research, do all the user testing. Get it out. Then be ready to look at the analytics, do the additional learning, and be ready to make changes.”

Listen to the full podcast now.


Focus on different customer segments

Image of Travis Trembath Vice President, Fan Engagement, PGA TOUR with the quote "We really try to match the content on each platform with the type of fan that's engaging in those platforms. And certainly mobile is a huge part of that."

Travis Trembath is the vice president, fan engagement at PGA TOUR, which is the premier sanctioning and organizing body for men’s professional golf, representing the best players in the world.

“The thing that’s interesting about sports is you’ve got fans that are consuming in 20 or 30 different ways. We’re trying to get people to download the app, we’re trying to get people to attend tournaments, or trying to get people to watch the telecast, or trying to get people to shop at a PGA Tour Superstore … And so, we think about all these different activities that we’re asking fans to do, or different ways that fans can engage with our product, and we try to think about it in terms of different fan types … We really try to match the content on each platform with the type of fan that’s engaging in those platforms. And certainly mobile is a huge part of that, whether it’s driving new users to our social platforms or getting fans onsite at a tournament to download the app and use that to help guide their experience around the golf course. Mobile certainly has a big hand in a lot of those different channels and is key to both growing our fanbase and growing our database.”

Listen to the full podcast now.


Use every message to build your brand

Image of Gessica Bicego CMO, Paired with the quote " ...put the performance world and the brand world together and think that every message that goes out there is an opportunity for you to display your brand."

Gessica Bicego is a computer scientist with a deep passion for marketing. She is currently the CMO at Paired, an app that focuses on helping users build deeper connections with their partners.

“I think in the past there has always been this split between performance and brand. I don’t believe in this because I think whenever you put a message out there and someone can see this message, you are ultimately doing a brand. The issue is, I think a lot of startups and companies … forget about the brand and you think only about performance, KPI, and reaching a certain efficiency. I think if you really want to build a sustainable, long-lasting brand, what you need to do is put the performance world and the brand world together and think that every message that goes out there is an opportunity for you to display your brand. For example, would you display your brand in a channel that brings you short-term results but hurts your brand in the future? Probably not. I think companies that really focus on performance marketing tend to do that.”

Listen to the full podcast now.


Embrace public relations to reach future customers first 

Image of Cameron Adams, Co-founder and Chief Product Officer, Canva with the quote "[PR] is really valuable because it really helps you shape what your customers are going to say and their mindset as they come into the product."

Cameron Adams is the Co-founder and Chief Product Officer at Canva . Canva belongs in a small group of tools that completely shift how people and brands approach design.

“PR has played a massive part. Our relationship with the media has been really good. And even since the early days of Canva, we’ve always thought about the story we’re telling with each of our product launches, or funding rounds, or whatever, and being able to think about that story [lets us] send a really clear message out to journalists. It’s really valuable because it really helps you shape what your customers are going to say and their mindset as they come into the product. And [this] helps you find the right traffic.” 

Listen to the full podcast now.


Take risks

Image of Alex McNamara Head of Growth Marketing, Cruise with the quote "...with everything, you can get paralyzed by risk, but if you don't take any risks, you'll never get anything done."

Alex McNamara is the head of growth marketing at Cruise, leading the charge for Cruise’s first customers. Cruise is building all-electric, self-driving vehicles to improve life in our cities and transform the future of transportation.

“One of the really interesting things is being in a company that is … not only first to market but one of the first to market in a new market. Because you’ve really tried to teach people a new habit … I think, similar to when Uber and Lyft first came out, they had to teach people that summoning a stranger from the internet and getting into their car was a normal, safe experience … What we’ve been doing is encouraging people to share on social channels … and people love it … The good thing is most people have an unbelievable first time that they want to come back and try it again … There is risk. I think with everything, you can get paralyzed by risk, but if you don’t take any risks, you’ll never get anything done. So I think it’s just what level of risk you’re willing to take.”

Listen to the full podcast now.


Work directly to build trust with partners

Image of Martijn Lancee Director of Business Development & Growth, LinkedIn with the quote "The challenging part working directly with the Android OEMs is that you have to build that trust. Try to negotiate strategy before you sign an agreement with a cost per install.”

Martijn Lancee is the director of business development and growth at LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, where he has grown as a product leader over the past four years. 

“I would highly recommend [developers] at least launch a test with Digital Turbine and ironSource to understand how preloads could potentially work for you. And if you have the resources, like a dedicated business development or product manager who can do the deals directly with the Android OEMs, typically you’ll get more bang for your buck. The ROI should be higher than if you work through an intermediary, which makes sense … The challenging part, working directly with the Android OEMs, is that you have to build that trust … Try to negotiate strategy before you sign an agreement with a cost per install.”

Listen to the full podcast now.


Have a singular team focus

Image of Tracey Weber SVP of Digital Products, UX and Operations,  CVS Health with the quote " ...they're given the ability to go figure out how to solve it and have the customer in the center of the solve, not the business.”

With over 25 years of experience in leadership roles across multiple consumer industries and extensive digital operations, Tracey Weber is currently the SVP of digital products, UX, and operations at CVS Health.

“A singular focus does help, which then leads us to say, ‘Well, you can’t always have just one focus.’ But how do we have fewer focuses so our teams can at least get a little bit of that feel of everybody rallying around something? … Try to make it clear what that simple rallying cry is. And then just having empowered teams that know they’re given the ability to go figure out how to solve it. And have the customer in the center of the solve, not the business.”

Listen to the full podcast now.


Want more advice about mobile growth? Listen to the How I Grew This Podcast now! 

Branch provides the industry's leading mobile linking and measurement platforms, offering solutions that unify user experience and attribution across devices and channels. Branch has been selected by over 100,000 apps since 2014 including Adobe, BuzzFeed, Yelp, and many more, improving experiences for more than 3 billion monthly users across the globe. Learn more about Branch or contact sales today.

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