Despite small numbers (a Mobile DevMemo survey shows only 11% of teams have more than 10 people), UA teams are expected to achieve big wins for their app. To find out how you can get more out of your resources our host Peggy Anne Salz catches up with Derrick Nguyen, Sr. Marketing Manager at Credit Sesame, a fintech company allowing customers to access, understand, leverage, and protect their credit all under one platform. Derrick, a Mobile Hero recognized for his app marketing achievements, shares advice from his blog about how marketers can cultivate healthy skepticism that will ensure they get value for money from vendors and partners. Finally, he offers top tips for developing ad creatives that deepen consumer trust.
So we are continuing our series which is actually one of our most popular here at Mobile Presence and our guest today is Derrick Nguyen, he is Marketing Manager at Credit Sesame, and I’m excited about this because Derrick has come to tell us about a topic that’s really important especially for small companies wanting to make a big impact and that is how to market your app and reach your marketing goals with a shoestring budget.
So we are all waiting for this one, Derrick, no pressure. First of all, welcome to Mobile Presence, great to have you.
Hi Peggy, thank you for having me.
Yeah, Derrick, as I said, you know, this is the topic because I’ve done a lot of research looking into the size of UA teams, marketing teams. Many obvious – well, I wouldn’t say the majority but a huge number of ten and less, very stretched, so it’s interesting to hear how you’re going to tell us a few shortcuts here but first of all you and yourself at Credit Sesame – I mean, you are Marketing Manager there but what makes you a mobile marketer, what lit that spark to start you off?
Well, what initially got me interested in mobile was an inspiration from my wife, actually. She started off in the space before I did and she was in UA on the mobile side of things and I was just kind of in awe of all the kind of new things that she would come home to tell me about that was happening in mobile and, you know, that for me coming from the web-based marketing side of the world, it felt like that was going to be a natural transition to kind of jump into kind of this new frontier, this new industry and I really wanted to be a part of it. So, through her it kind of sparked my initial entry into mobile.
And you know, mobile’s exciting because it’s at the intersection of everything, I was telling someone that recently – it isn’t the skill set it used to be, it is very, very data driven but you can come at it with a number of skills – you can come at mobile marketing with a degree in anthropology and you fit because it’s about addressing human audiences and inspiring them and triggering actions. So what is your background? I understand what lit the spark but what talent do you think you bring to your position as an individual?
Yeah. My whole professional career has actually been in marketing, performance-based marketing actually. So from the get go, I’ve always been about performance-based metrics and really striving towards specific goals and obviously we do that in marketing, but marketing is much more than that. There’s this holistic approach that encompasses both there’s art and science merged into one and I really enjoy that aspect of marketing combining those two.
And so that is kind of the mantra I kind of take when I look at how it applies to mobile marketing because there’s a lot of elements to what is just naturally happening right now as human behavior just becomes more and more immersed and just leveraging mobile devices as part of their daily use. But at the same time too that is also kind of the more recent digital channel by which we advertisers kind of communicate to them.
And of course I said at the top, you’re a Mobile Hero, that’s part of our series, we have people on the show such as yourself who did this, practitioners, thought leaders – what do you think is the accomplishment that earned you the title Mobile Hero or perhaps what kind of Mobile Hero do you think you are? I mean, it’s great they sort of map to the Avengers, maybe you’re the – I don’t know, having met you in person by now, Derrick, I say there might be a little bit of Clark Kent in you buy maybe Superman underneath – I don’t know, what do you think, tell me.
So there’s – I guess there’s two parts to that question. In the beginning, why Mobile Hero, why being considered a Mobile Hero? I would say not one specific thing but probably an accumulation of different things over time. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Liftoff across two different programs so actually have done a decent amount of work for a numerous amount of years so I think probably they – they probably see something in my sense of style, my perspective on how I manage programs and I guess maybe they felt it was time to kind of highlight that and share that with the space.
And with regards to your second point, Clark Kent, I think that’s definitely humbling. I think, you know, I can relate – there’s this mystique about him where, you know, he’s this kind of this genuine guy who has vulnerabilities and yet he’s also – has the potential – he has unlimited power, I guess. But when it comes down to it, I think there’s the human element to him that I can really relate to just because as a marketer I think we, and especially a data driven marketer, we tend to always get lost in the details, the numbers and I think we always have to remind ourselves to take a second to step back and realize, hey, like we manage all these budgets, we have all these number-based goals but there’s a lot of human-based elements to this job as well that we kind of tend to overlook sometimes.
And so, yeah, I think it’s an interesting call out with regards to like, you know, who I compare myself to.
Well, also talking about human, that’s what I like about the blog you’ve written and we’ll talk about that later and where our listeners can check it out themselves but it is human, it is genuine in the sense that you’re saying, look, you have sometimes limited resources, limited marketing resources but you have to do the most you can with them and you can do the most with them really. I mean, I’ve seen this also at a Ted talk once, you seem to think that sometimes the more a solution costs or the more effort something takes, the bigger the problem is that you’ve solved and actually doing it in simple ways can have amazing results and that’s what you share and that’s what I like. So, on that note, are you actually writing this blog from your own sort of really deep personal experience? We’ll get to the takeaways in a moment but it’s interesting – have you had to struggle with a shoestring budget?
Yes, you know, it’s a stark contrast coming from where I was previously at a Fortune 500 company where the budgets are much larger, you have a lot more flexibility in what you want to execute and you have so many options at your disposal. And now moving to a start-up, you know, I realize I don’t have those luxuries anymore and taking a step back and looking at what I’m supposed to accomplish, you kind of have to be a lot more strategic, more surgical about how to get the job done and that comes down to just kind of like being honest with what’s in front of you and then just understanding what your true tools are for execution.
So, let’s walk through a few of these, we can’t do it all, that’s what your blog’s there for and we’ll send people off to that link later. But, you know, if you could condense your to do list down to maybe a couple of recommendations, you know, how to get the most mileage out of your resources, what to do – I like some of them that are really straightforward, it’s like don’t – think about what you’re asking for in your reports and do it in a certain way that you’re not taxing your whole team with that task, for example. Some of it’s commonsense, very human indeed. Let’s hear a couple of them, what’s your top recommendation? If you could give anyone listening in the one thing they need to do to make certain they’re getting the most out of their limited resources, what would it be?
I would definitely recommend keeping it simple, keep your goals simple. I mean, is it to acquire more users, is it to hit a particular CPA, whatever it is, I like to think of the metaphor and I’ll bounce off of your mileage quote. But I like to think of it as like imagine being able to drive and having a full tank of gas and how you kind of – how you kind of view the way you drive when you know you have a full tank of gas and compare that to when you have, you’re running on empty, when you have an E showing up on your car. Think about how differently you’re driving when you know you have a low tank of gas. You’re going to be very, very deliberate about every time you push the brake, every time you push the gas, how you’re going to roll.
I think the same thing is applied to when you have very limited budget, you try to – you kind of weed out any kind of over-exaggeration on goals and things like that and you break it down to what’s simple. You need to get from point A to point B, what’s going to get you there and cut out all the noise in between and just focus on that simple task. I think that’s very important.
So, simple task meaning just to get an idea – how many tasks should a small team undertake at the same time? You’re saying keep it simple, does that also mean X number of goals per – because you have to set realistic goals but you have to set a limited number of them because you have limited resources and limited size.
Yeah, I think – it can come down to like having one or two, you just don’t have the luxury to even explore that many options, most times it’s going to be user growth or a specific ROI or a specific cost number and sticking to that. Other metrics like incrementality tests or re-targeting and things like that – those can probably come later but you don’t have the luxury of even exploring experiments like that.
That actually fits with what I’m hearing out there, re-targeting, it is important and we’re all going to have to do it but you have to get to a certain size first, you need statistically significant data, you need to have an audience that you can segment that way and re-target so I absolutely do chime in with you although I’m not a marketer, this is what I’m hearing. You can’t be too ambitious at the very start, you will be overtime but you have to get there first, you can’t start in and say this is what I’m going to do and you haven’t really covered the basics yet. So, makes a lot of sense. We do have to go to a break for a moment but I’m eager to get back, Derrick, because I know that you have a lot more to offer and some exciting interesting, even controversial advice around how to sort of set and tune your BS meter as a marketer. So loads of reasons to come back, listeners, don’t go away, we’ll be right back after the break.
And we back to Mobile Presence and we have today Derrick Nguyen, he is Marketing Manager at Credit Sesame, also a Mobile Hero and Derrick, right before the break we were talking about how do you get the most out of limited resources and I’m getting some of the inspiration from a blog that you wrote recently that I just love because one of the things that you also have is a profile about yourself where you give advice to other marketers and you tell them that, you know, what it takes to succeed in marketing - I was never expecting this answer, that’s why I have to zero into it – have, you know, your BS meter fine tuned to detect false claims. That’s unique – are you speaking from any particular experience here?
Yeah, I’d say so. I mean, I’ve done quite a bit of work in the affiliate marketing space and there’s so many positive benefits out there, there’s also a lot of false claims that are made and, yeah, I’ve come a long way in learning from a lot of mistakes I’ve made falling victim to these.
So, let’s share some of that so that our listeners can avoid some of these pitfalls, learn from you, be a better marketer because of it. You know, what are some of the red flags to watch for, it specific wording in an email, specific pitch to you on a cold call on LinkedIn, what is it to watch?
Yeah, I’ve noticed some common themes especially with regards to mobile marketing, you’re more likely going to see a lot of these common terms being thrown around – fraud-free, programmatic DSP to some degree – let me restart over there. I definitely wrote this down because it’s something a lot of guys always throw out.
That’s fine, just take – we’ll keep my question and we’ll take a 10 second pause and you can restart your answer. So my question was, you know, what do we have to watch?
So, Peggy, good question. You know, there are some common themes and specific terms within emails that do always catch my eye and most common ones I tend to notice would be words like, “fraud-free” or “no fraud”, “programmatic DSP”, we’ll get into that, “premium inventory”, “exclusive inventory” and usually there’s always some pushy sales guy behind the email.
So, I get it 100% because, you know, to your point, 100% fraud-free doesn’t exist because if that was the case, then the industry would be a lot different. I mean there is some level of fraud that is there and you don’t necessarily have to accept it but you have to acknowledge it. So, going back to your own experience, if that’s what to watch, what is it that the marketer has to do in those cases? Is it just like turn it off completely or just put it in a different perspective because there are, for example, programmatic DSPs, that’s perfectly acceptable but maybe it’s the context of that wording that’s different.
Definitely. I’ve encountered fraud definitely in our programs and, you know, fortunately the MMPs do a really good job kind of reporting on this and I work with partners who also are pretty up front with me about sharing these instances and, you know, at least knowing that fraud exists and having partners admit that to you as well definitely opens up a line of communication as a starting point to deep dive into this particular problem.
I mean, that’s the point, it is a problem but it’s about communication to understand it and to your point also, you know, messaging that is genuine. So basically when you see 100% fraud-free, when you see exclusive, that’s something very, very different – it’s not going to set off the BS meter to see that but it is going to be when it’s like all black or all white because it doesn’t happen in marketing – is that what you’re telling me?
Yeah, nothing is ever too good to be true. You know, in digital, a lot of things don’t add up all the time and so when they don’t and you’re intuition tells you something doesn’t feel right, something doesn’t sound right, these questions aren’t being answered – I’m not going to take the first answer they give us, I’m going to keep probing, it helps to be curious, to want to know how things work.
And that’s to your point, also, in your blog you talk about also watching the over-reliance on technology. What does that actually mean, though, in practice?
You know, data is always going to be very important to telling a story but data can also be manipulated to conform to what you’re looking for and so you always have to be kind of wary about just looking at the numbers and really trust your intuition first and then using the data to help support or debunk your original hypothesis.
That sounds about right, that’s what I’m also hearing as well is to use the data as a source of truth – is that the way you’re using the data, does it sort of balance with, you know, it’s going to prove right or wrong but your gut instinct is going to tell you what you need to prove right or wrong.
Completely true. I think, you know, you just want to have a healthy level of skepticism when you kind of engage in the analysis of the numbers but always taking a step back to kind of look at it from a high level and does this all make sense?
I mean, it sounds like commonsense and at some point many mobile marketers hit that point where they just – they have cultivated this talent but it’s hard to start, you know, it’s hard to say when do I listen to the art side of mobile marketing, app marketing, and when do I listen to the science side? Do you have any tips about how to keep that balance because it is ultimately a balance – tip over too much to data, and you might be ignoring commonsense. Tip over too much to commonsense, of course, and you’re not really pushing the boundaries on any new channels or strategies or campaigns because that’s what the data would tell you to do. So how do you keep the balance yourself?
That’s a good question and I always tell myself, you know, what are we doing all of this for and kind of remind – going back to reminding myself that this is - the ultimate goal is about acquiring customers for your brand and that helps me kind of merge the two science and marketing together because ultimately that’s what we’re trying to do as UA managers and obviously those lead to two different ways of achieving that goal.
Credit Sesame is a different type of app, if this was gaming or commerce, it might be very different but you’re a fintech app as well and that brings an element trust and an element of professionalism more to your marketing – I wouldn’t say more than the others, I won’t disrespect them – but I have to be able to trust you and you have to be able to segment me properly to make me feel like I’m – that this is a customer relationship and I need to invest, you know, money here or I need to have my personal finance as part of what you’re going to help me manage. Is there anything special about what you’re doing at Credit Sesame to not only be an effective marketer but also a trustworthy one?
Yes, you know, we recently re-branded to kind of update our logos and everything, our colors and you know we’re entering this new stage in our company’s life-cycle where we want to develop a message that’s relevant, that it’s updated and at the end of the day is going to be consistent because to customers consistency is very, very, very important and that’s what’s going to ultimately build their trust and their confidence in us as a brand is by always being reliable to them.
It’s a tough one to communicate though, to be fair, because if it was like buy one, get one free, if you’re a commerce app, you just kind of communicate the offer – okay, it’s got to be relevant to me but you communicate that offer. Now, you are helping me manage my life – how do you – I wouldn’t say how do you show that in a campaign but are there things that you would avoid, maybe, in messaging or creatives because this is an intangible that you’re communicating to me.
Yeah, I would say we want to be genuine with our message, we want – personal finance is a very intimidating topic for a lot of people and we want to come and appear to be very open and give people the message that everything’s going to be okay – let’s not be intimidated by that and I think one of the campaigns that we found very successful is actually through a lot of personal stories and testimonials of people who had seen a lot of success with using our product and we think that’s a very important part of building the trust with customers.
And how do you – just curious, what would be an event or something that would tell you that you’re on the right track? I mean, a lot of marketers listening in, they have to understand, you know, did the message strike a chord but also did I reach a KPI? What would tell you that you have succeeded in being trustworthy?
Especially with regards to mobile marketing, you know, we want to make sure that we see a lot of people engage with our product, whether that’s from logging in consistently in a certain cadence per month or actually moving forward with the next steps within our product to help them achieve their credit based goals. So, we have KPIs that are indicators of what tells us if they are committing to those steps that we show them within the app.
Well, you know, we have a lot more ground to cover but we do have to be going to a break so what I’m going to do is just quickly go to a break, bring you back, Derrick, and we’re going to talk about some of the things that are high on your radar and also important to the marketers listening in. So don’t go away, we’ll be right back.
And we’re back to Mobile Presence. I’m your host, Peggy Anne Salz. We have Derrick Nguyen, he is Marketing Manager at Credit Sesame. And Derrick, you know, you were talking about Credit Sesame and some listeners, particularly those who are your users will know that you have gone through a re-brand, you’ve recently re-branded – how far along are you in that process?
Well, we just finished our first phase so the majority of our consumer and public related properties have been updated and we have a second phase but it’s going to be a lot more subtle and probably less dramatic as the first phase.
Dramatic, now I have to ask what that means – what was dramatic about your re-brand?
I mean, we changed colors, we changed the logo, so there’s a fresh new look on our web page and the actual product itself once users log in.
And how do you do that in campaigns, to say, “Hey, we’re fresh, we’re new”? I mean, it is exciting, eye catching but you also have to sort of like pull your existing users with you so you’ve got a level of like “Come to us, you know us” and then “Come to us, we’re new” so you’ve got new and old mixing. Any best practice you can share?
You know, I can also speak to our experience and I assume a lot of companies have a different way of doing it – some change overnight and I’ve witnessed that too. But for us, we actually – we did change overnight but we were also very upfront about notifying everyone including visitors that there’s a different look about us. We made it known the first week on our home page that, you know, we’re telling everyone there’s something different about us and so we were really upfront about that and we informed everybody.
And when you say channels, did you use all of the above or use, you know, a lot of people use TV and radio spots for app marketing, you’d be surprised – what channels worked for you?
We pretty much had to overhaul all the assets across all of our channels and so – including television as well – and we are, you know, rolling out a bunch of fresh new commercials which will carry over with the new re-branded look and taking over the old stuff. Everything else has been swapped out as well to maintain brand consistency which is again very important for customers.
And what about sort of like the content marketing, the native advertising, telling the customer story, the hero, so to speak, you’re a Mobile Hero yourself, but the customers, the hero and you tell the hero story to get people excited about what your app, you know, what your service can enable – what level of that is part of the re-brand strategy?
You know, fortunately, those elements don’t change, you know, we may have a new fresh look, fresh logo and everything but we do for our customers stays relatively the same. You know, we want to empower them to best utilize credit in the best way they can and we do that through performance storytelling and that element does not change for us.
And talking about performance, I’ll wrap up with an interesting question – I get this quite often so I ask it – people ask me what should marketers do if they have their last resort, what’s the thing you do when you absolutely have to move the needle? So, if you had your last $2K in budget for example, where would you invest it to get the best performance results and why?
With that last $2K, I’d say – I’d probably give it back, obviously I don’t need it.
You know, I think mobile marketing is, again, just a component of a much more bigger picture which is all of marketing in general. You know, I want to see other channels have to bring to the table and if that resource is better spent there, you know, but I realize I’m only one part of a much bigger organisation and so I have to keep that in mind.
So, really it’s the idea that, you know, if you haven’t sort of reached a certain level by a certain time, the last $2K isn’t going to do it, it’s not put it into any particular channel or doing anything particular, it’s more about holistic marketing, is what I’m hearing here.
Totally, it’s always about the bigger picture.
Well, it’s also about your blog and other assets that we’ll be sending our listeners to but in the meantime, Derrick, you’re so genuine, you really are human, I’ve met you, I’ve totally enjoyed it, love to continue the conversation with you. What about our listeners, say they want to catch up with you, they want to find out more, maybe even just ask human advice from you – what would be the best way to stay in touch with you?
Yes, I mean, connect on LinkedIn, I’m more than happy to definitely have a conversation.
Cool, that’s open, that’s honest. And you know, as I said, love to have you back and obviously, you know, you want to read up on Derrick’s story or any of the others in the Mobile Heroes in the series, that’s of course over at the dedicated page over at heroes.liftoff.io. So, great having you today, Derrick, I hope to have you back again.
Yes, thank you for having me.
Awesome, and of course listeners, you know, if you want to stay tuned for more Mobile Heroes and more in the series, you know where to come. And of course 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, Mobile Groove is also where you can find my portfolio of content marketing and app marketing services.
And so, my friends, that is a wrap of yet another episode of Mobile Presence. You can check out this and all earlier episodes of our show by going 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.