In a connected age where consumers crave authenticity, companies must make every effort, using everything they know about their audience, to deliver experiences that address needs, anticipate interests or simply go the distance to make their life better. We get a crash course in data-driven “Empathy Marketing” when our host Peggy Anne Salz catches up with Chy Seng, Head of Mobile Growth at Grammarly, a digital writing assistant (via both web and apps) that helps people write more clearly and effectively. Chy, a Mobile Hero recognized for his user acquisition expertise and accomplishments, discusses the role of creativity in creating trust and the metrics that tell marketers when they’ve struck a positive chord with their audience.
So we’re going on with our series, kicking it off once again two weeks later, Chy Seng, Head of Mobile Growth at Grammarly is my guest today. Chy, it’s great to have you here on Mobile Presence.
CS Hi Peggy, great to be here.
PAS Great to have you too, and where are you located, Chy?
CS I’m located in San Francisco.
PAS Okay, so I was just there last week, we could have met - just missed like two ships in the night there, but I have to say, full disclosure, Grammarly, love the app, love the website, love the service, have it integrated with everything, but that’s just me – so I’m a fan, I'm really excited to hear about this because Grammarly’s a different type of app, you know, it’s not about, you know, it is a utility but it also is sort of part of your personal and professional development, in a way. I mean, what do you see as the focus at Grammarly and what you’re bringing there as a growth marketer to Grammarly? It’s not your average app, it’s a little harder maybe to – not hard to sell but it’s maybe a little harder to communicate but it’s a great benefit.
CS Yes, I think we definitely focus a lot here on actually better improving people’s – how they communicate and hopefully that also improves like their connections with other people and be able to achieve some sort of outcome that they’re striving for, so maybe that’s getting that interview that they’ve been trying to get or completely that paper that they’ve been trying to write for a couple of weeks now, or even sending a message to someone they love or someone they care about and trying to get what they’re trying to say through more easily.
PAS And you yourself, I mean, you’re Head of Growth, calling Head of Mobile Growth – is that correct, by the way?
CS Yes, Mobile Growth.
PAS Okay, and you have an interesting track record, I love this because I’ve always said that it’s the gaming marketers who are the pioneers, I mean, they wrote the book on amazing UA and growth and you have a gaming background. What have you been doing before you were at Grammarly?
CS I do, so I actually started in the Bay area at Electronic Arts, started off doing marketing analytics and that kind of got me into where we are now actually, focused on trying to tell a story with data and trying to figure out how we can improve whatever we’re doing with data and that eventually led me to my first UA gig at Warner Brothers here in San Francisco as well, their mobile division, working on titles like Injustice and Mortal Combat and marketing those apps.
And I think there is definitely a little bit of a pioneering spirit in terms of gaming and gaming UA specifically in that we’re always focused on testing something new or trying something new and trying to do as much as we can in as little time as we have and definitely focused on things like launches and productivity and, yes, just trying a lot of things out mostly.
PAS So, is there anything, I mean, just curious what you bring to your job currently. Is it this test and, you know, experiment, test, implement, wash, rinse, repeat mentality that you bring to other apps because of course I’m not certain that they do that in that full sense, you know, there’s not this sense of adventure in some app verticals.
CS Yes, so I definitely feel that I bring that aspect into what I do now especially in apps that aren’t in gaming. That high amount of testing, that velocity, just getting as much learnings as quickly as possible and I feel like there might not be as much excitement or I guess visually stimulating assets as we would see in gaming but I feel like there’s still a lot that you can do and a lot of different takes and I feel like maybe that actually brings a little bit more exploration into apps like Grammarly and Turo that I’ve worked on in the past where we can try much more different styles or creative concepts than with gaming where it’s more focused on like gameplay or the characters that are in the games. So maybe there’s like a little bit more exploration versus a variety in terms of like visual aspects.
PAS And it’s also a bit, you know, it’s similar, you said, okay, the visual aspects but it’s more challenging in non-gaming apps because you have to communicate something and what you’re doing here is, you know, I’m reading all the consumer research, all the user research, all the user behavior research – when you have an app, app marketing particularly if you’re a utility such as yours where you want to show real benefit, you know, you’re helping people up their game, literally, in how they communicate, it’s difficult to communicate that, you know, in advertising whether it’s UA or even deeper in the funnel. I’m just wondering how do you show and we’ll talk about this, this will go into the next segment, I’m sure you could do a whole show about this but how do you show you care as a marketer because you have a different message, you’re just saying, ‘Hey, I’m real, I’m authentic, I’m genuine’ and communicating that is or course a stretch.
CS Yes, it’s definitely a lot more difficult working in spaces that aren’t in gaming and especially with Grammarly, I think our biggest challenge is trying to convey that we’re authentic and that we are trying to help someone but also trying to create something that’s eye catching and something that will grab someone’s attention without being too fluffy and too marketing-focused. So I think that is where a lot of the testing comes through where we try something a little bit more aspirational and we try something a little bit more utility, a little bit more focused on the product and some specific use cases as well.
But I think something that we do really well and something that I feel like does try to convey that we are much more focused on the user and that we are trying to be more authentic is that we do focus more on the positive aspects of what we can do instead of the negatives. So I think there is a lot of negativity that comes with being correct in grammar, being able to more easily convey what you’re trying to say so we try to shy away from any sort of grammar shaming...
PAS Yes, sort of like, you made this mistake, it just cost you your CV or your LinkedIn. I know I use it all the time when I’m chatting in LinkedIn, it’s like I want to be intelligent here, so it’s definitely not that type of approach. In a nutshell, what types of creatives, just at a high level, it’s definitely not the rule that I’ve read elsewhere in a couple of great blog articles, you just use pets, pets will always do it, dogs, cats, that’ll always do it but I don’t think a dog or cat would work necessarily in Grammarly.
CS Maybe not necessarily although I feel like our teams would definitely be willing to try. Yes, so I feel like what really works for us is being able to show not only the UI and what it can do but also those positive moments when someone can be understood more clearly and more easily or sending something off and feeling completely confident that what you had sent was clear of mistakes and has been vetted by someone, being Grammarly, and just feeling that comfort and knowing that what you’ve sent was probably really good.
PAS So, positive feedback as a way to communicate with users, as a way to also grow your user base. We do have to go to a break right now, Chy, but when we come back we’re going to talk about this some more and we’re also going to deep dive into how can you tell and how can you understand how your users are using your product and benefiting from it – key indicators of that. So, loads to listen to, listeners, don’t go away, we’ll be right back.
And we are back to Mobile Presence. I’m your host, Peggy Anne Salz, we have Chy Seng, Head of Mobile Growth at Grammarly. And Chy, right before the break we were talking about how do you show that you care, you know, and it’s a positive experience that you want to deliver in your advertising, in your messaging, but you also want to make certain that your marketing is in lock step with how people are using your app, benefiting from your app, benefiting from your product. What are the key indicators you look at to say, okay, this is how I understand how my users are using my product and where I need to step in?
CS Yes, so I feel like obviously data is such a great place to look for that and here at Grammarly we definitely pay a lot of attention to where people are using us, how they’re using us so something that I often look at and talk to our product team a lot about is which suggestions do people like to use very often and how often do they come up and how often people accept these suggestions. So I think that’s always a great place to look to understand what your users are using, how they’re resonating with it and whether or not they keep coming back after using that.
PAS So, it’s like your onboarding process in a way, you’re suggestions are saying, hey, why don’t you try this or how are you doing with that. So how are they responding to sort of the nudges along the way to really explore the benefits of Grammarly is what you’re telling me, right?
CS Yes, definitely.
PAS And what does – so that’s data, how important are really the user feedback, the reviews, the other indications of how people are enjoying your product or the bottlenecks they might experience, those pain points – is that a real good indicator? I mean, reviews, I wonder?
CS Yes, I definitely think those are great places to look for that, it’s something that I look at pretty often. I actually look at the feedback from even our ads, like on Facebook or Instagram, I take a look at what the comments are, how people are feeling about certain creatives or the product in general and I think that something that’s great about Grammarly is that our product team constantly looks at this and depending on the types of comments that we get or the kind of feedback, these certain pain points that users come across, we take a look at it and we take a pretty hard look at it – a lot of the times, these feedback and suggestions are often integrated back into the app in some way especially if we see a lot of viability in it.
PAS So, a lot of that interaction I’m seeing increasingly between product and marketing, because it goes around, they’re fixing the product, you know, product is fixing the product so that it works, you’re finding things out in your marketing campaigns, they’re telling you how people are using the product and where they’re finding joy, where they’re finding pain points. Another of course side of this is the whole creative side because you want to be engaging, you want to emphasize empathy in your marketing but you also want to show that you care and that’s got to be in the creative, so is there anything you can tell me about how you’ve been looking at that, have you been fine tuning your creatives recently? I mean, everyone seems to be 2020 stretch goals, let’s get those creatives to perform more highly, you know, better performing creatives seems to be the mantra here. How is it for you?
CS Yes, so I approach it a few different ways. I think something that we always have to learn and think about is whether or not a specific channel is resonating with a certain type of messaging or a certain style in creatives, so a few ways that I look at it – there’s like this more aspirational part of it and there’s this more like utility down to the point how we can improve your writing and we can help you. So I always test those two angles.
And I think in terms of the visual aspects, I think something that we always challenge or we always struggle with, especially at Grammarly, is how do we become more visually engaging while showing the value in our app and I think that’s like the balance that we always have to try to strive for. I don’t think we’re there yet, I think it’s something that we have to keep testing and learning from but we do have a lot of great creative people here and a lot of what has worked for desktop translates pretty well into mobile, I think we have a lot of pieces that we can take and elements that we can learn from, from desktop and bring that into mobile but obviously not a lot of it translates that well so we have to tweak it in some way and maybe approach it from a totally different angle and I think that’s where I want to take mobile next is trying to figure out what will work for us and solely for us, maybe there are some elements that we can take and transition into other creatives across desktop. But I think there’s something about mobile that I think we’ll need to look at differently and approach differently.
PAS We have a long track record in UA and elsewhere – I’m wondering also about gameification – we hear about this in so many different other app verticals where there’s an obvious fit – it’s not such a straightforward fit here but I'm wondering are you experimenting with gameification because of course you certainly have the cred to do it, you know all about gaming, you can bring some of that into this and I’ve read a lot about millennial, Gen Z, you name it, they’re built for video games and gaming so it’s also a great approach here, sort of like how am I doing, how do I measure up to my peers – not necessarily a leaderboard thing here but there are some elements you could borrow – are you looking at that?
CS Yes, we definitely are. I think there are some ways that we can incorporate gaming into what we do here at Grammarly and I think some ways that we can do it is probably like a quiz style, so like if we give someone a sentence, there’s some error in that sentence, maybe they can help like choose where they think that error is or what they think it should be and I think that’s a way that we can probably incorporate that and I’m sure there are other ways that we can probably make it a little more exciting but that’s just what comes to mind right now.
PAS So it’s about a lot of learnings, when you’re tweaking, whether you’re tweaking the messaging or the imagery or both in campaigns, and we learn a lot when we fail and when we fail fast and I love these stories because they have such – they resonate with our audience and they have such value because we learn from these. You are Head of Growth, maybe you can share something that you either are extremely proud of or just a mistake that you’re not proud of but you are proud of the results because you did it so much better the second time around.
CS Yes, so I think a really good example is something that I did at Turo was kind of – we were struggling a little bit with creative supply, I would say, I think many marketers often come across this but we were using a lot of photography and video that we would get from like a photographers that we hired or some photographers that we’ve hired and what we really found to work well for us was going out there ourselves and creating footage and content ourselves and utilizing that in ways that we felt were a little bit more genuine just because we were also users of the product and we were also very excited about trying the latest car on the platform or like some car that we’ve always wanted to drive before. I think that conveyed really well into our creatives and
we also utilized our market very well as well and generating user generated content or having people send in footage of what they’ve experienced using our product and I think using those cuts and piecing that together in a really cool creative worked really well for Turo.
PAS And also a little bit of learning about giving up the control – I remember when brands were very concerned about, oh, what do we do when we give the brand back to the consumers, let them go out and sort of make the creatives, do the content of what we will be putting in the advertising. Was that a little bit of push and pull or some sort of tension at your company as well? I mean not now at Grammarly, you’re not doing it there, but before?
CS Yes, so I think it is an issue that comes up with Grammarly as well, or at least like a very specific topic that comes up here too, is that there is a balance that we need to strike between creativity and being able to explore outside the box and going beyond what we’re used to but still staying within the brand in a more conservative way but there is that concern. I think using user generated content does have that more authentic feel but there is a chance that it could stray a little bit from what you’re trying to say and how you want your brand to be perceived.
PAS It’s also, it’s a little bit about being genuine because you do want them to show how they’re genuinely enjoying Grammarly but also again, as you mentioned, that balance. We do have to go to a break one more time, Chy, but when we get back I’d love to hear more about your anecdotes, experiences and maybe some best practice for our listeners. So don’t go away, we’ll be right back.
And we are back to Mobile Presence. I’m your host, Peggy Anne Salz, we have Chy Seng, Head of Mobile Growth at Grammarly. And Chy, before the break, again, walking through some great examples, you know, reasons, some ideas around empathy, how to articulate that in creatives, how to let people take your brand and go and explore and have fun but at the end of the day, we have an audience of marketers and they’re going to say themselves, okay, I get it, empathy sounds like fun, empathy marketing – it’s something different, certainly new territory but does it pay, does it pay to show you care? Can you give me some results from campaigns or some uplift to tell people, yes, you know what – trying to really understand your user and be genuinely useful is a good idea.
CS Yes, I think generally in marketing, I think you do want to be empathetic, you want to understand your audience and I think being able to show that will create so much more relevance in your creatives and obviously improve any sort of conversion rate that you’re trying to improve. And I think here at Grammarly, something that we’ve always done is focus a little bit more on the UI and interface and how those work and how you can interact with them and I think since I’ve joined, something that we’ve done with the mobile creatives is try to show a little bit more of that success and a little bit more specific in terms of where users find that success and how we can help in those specific cases.
And I think doing that has definitely increased our conversion. I think for example some of our social creatives have seen up to a 20% lift in conversion rate to install just by being a little bit more specific and a little bit more detailed into what kind of success they can find by using Grammarly.
PAS That’s interesting, 20% by showing this is what you can achieve, trying to understand that what they want to do – it’s about self-improvement at the end of the day.
PAS And how your users want to improve and how you want to help them improve is what I’m hearing here, correct?
PAS Speaking of improvement, I couldn’t hope for a better segue, talking about 2020, I mean, here you are on the show, obviously Mobile Hero, that means you have obvious marketing accomplishments to be proud of – what do you think earned you the title and what’s next for you in 2020 Chy?
CS I think what earned me the title is just being...
PAS Amazing... I’m just kidding...
CS I guess just having those connections and being able to really partner with other marketers and being able to share our learnings and being able to talk to them whenever we need to and just asking for advice or giving advice, whatever’s needed and just having that communication line open.
PAS Okay, so you’re communicative, you’re sharing, you sort of are the real deal because that’s what you’re doing at Grammarly, also showing that you care in marketing. What’s next for you personally? I mean, we’re at the beginning of the year, I’ll ask you about business in a moment but I love to understand also how marketers are advancing themselves – some people are learning different skills, you’ve got people who are saying okay, I’ll code or I’ll do something in psychology to understand my users better or they’ll just have some fun so that they can actually bring more of themselves to work so to speak. What’s next for you?
CS Yes, I think something that I’ve always been working on is just improving my health overall and I think that’s what I will definitely try to focus on this year as well it’s just continue to improve my health, going to the gym more often, cooking more, eating better, all of that.
PAS That’s always helpful because, you know, you are what you eat, what you do, you know, feed your mind, healthy body, healthy mind, I can see that completely. What about you talked about you give advice to your fellow marketers and that’s one of the reasons you’re a Mobile Hero – in that vein, giving advice, channels you’re exploring, everybody wants to know which channel to go to – Google, Facebook obviously count for most of the advertising, I won’t even go there, there are ways to sort of, I wouldn’t say game it but there are little hacks if you want to share something there but there’s a different channel you’re excited about?
CS Yes, so I think the most exciting channel that I’m focused on this year would probably be partnerships. I think there’s a lot of other related apps that we could work with and a lot of other organisations we could work with as well that would resonate really well with our audiences. For example, maybe something in education, higher education specifically where users are engaging with maybe a forum or have specific questions around writing or grammar. I think that would be a really great partnership for us and being able to work on that would be great.
PAS I mean, I noticed that, as I said, I'm an avid user of Grammarly, one of the first premium probably that there was and I love the fact – maybe you had it before but you’re also noting it more on your, at least on the web app that I'm using on my desktop, that I can send things I want to other people and have them sort of review it, so I’ve got like real human help or maybe just really, really smart AI help in what has been edited overall. Is that what you mean, sort of like advancing that aspect of your product?
CS Yes, so that aspect as well as marketing partnerships so maybe other apps as well, maybe apps that focus on communication and messaging. I think there are ways that we can partner with them and share like maybe be able to market each other would be great.
PAS I get that completely, it’s like super app for education because we’ve seen these commerce apps, go into payments and we’ve seen these GoCheck, you’ve got from ride sharing to commerce to delivery to payments, so it would be exciting to watch maybe Grammarly start some sort of eco system like that, I’ll certainly be watching that and in the meantime, Chy, of course, how can our listeners stay in touch with you? They might want to stay up with – I know you have a blog over at liftoff.io, we’ll get to that in a moment, but overall, what’s the best way?
CS Yes, I would say LinkedIn, I’m always on there, always checking my messages so if you have any questions or want to connect, happy to.
PAS Great, and I’m happy to have had you on the show today, Chy, thanks so much.
CS Thank you.
PAS So that, my friends, is a wrap of yet another Mobile Presence with Mobile Heroes from amazing companies so stay tuned, plenty coming up in the weeks to come. And if you want to read up on Chy or any of the other Mobile Heroes in the series, you can check out their dedicated page over at heroes.liftoff.io.
And if you want to keep up with me throughout the week or find out more about how you can be a guest or sponsor on Mobile Presence, then you can email me, firstname.lastname@example.org, that’s also where you can find my portfolio of content marketing and app marketing services.
And of course, checking out this and all earlier episodes of our show, you just need to go to webmasterradio.fm or you can find our shows on iTunes, Stitcher, Spreaker, Spotify and iheartRadio simply by searching Mobile Presence. So until next time – remember - every minute is mobile, so make every minute count. We’ll see you soon.