💎 Growth Gems #69 - Creatives, Cross-promotion and Growth Fundamentals
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This week I’m sharing gems on growth fundamentals, cross-promotion for games and coming up with new creatives. These insights come from Sean Ellis, Ethan Carr, David Philippson and Matej Lancaric.
🥇 TOP GEM OF THE WEEK
Growth Fundamentals: product-market fit, north star metric, onboarding
When the hosts of 2 great podcasts do a cross-episode, good discussions happen!
It’s fundamentals time.
💎 Without Product-Market Fit, you can’t drive sustainable growth. If people don’t keep using your product, eventually you’ll be losing people at a faster pace than you’re bringing them in.
💎 The only way to know if an app is a must have is to put it in the hands of customers. Then, ask them how they’d feel if they could no longer use the product: not disappointed, somewhat disappointed or very disappointed. Next, learn all you can about users saying they are very disappointed.
⛏️ Going Deeper: Ethan shared that companies often fail at growth because they don’t understand their product market fit, and he suggested using a tool like PMFSurvey (there are others too) regularly to understand where they are on the Product-Market Fit continuum. I really liked the idea of the continuum and looking at this regularly, because PMF is not a binary thing. Like Andy Carvell shared (Growth Gems #63), eventually you can also have multiple product-market fits.
💎 There’s this belief that if you put more features in a product it will be more valuable for people. It’s hard to iterate on something that’s already complex.
💎 Complexity can scare new users. You first need to onboard people on a specific use case, then you can convert them to the next features.
💎 There’s time between getting to and understanding your PMF, and operationalizing growth. Before you get to the operationalizing of growth, you have to build the initial growth flywheel.
💎 When you’re experimenting with new channels, you also have to make sure the business model is right for this channel. Examples: relying on virality, a high price might slow down growth; relying on Google Ads and competitive keywords, you probably need a high price.
💎 You run much better experiments when you talk to customers. Having at least one customer conversation every single day is super powerful.
💎 What you try to do with the North Star metric is reflect how much aggregate value you’re delivering to customers. This is more sustainable than focusing just on revenue. Example: for Uber, multiple small rides is better than a long ride even though revenue might be the same. Because it involves more customers, therefore more habit-forming opportunities.
💎 You can debate your North Star Metrics for 6 months, but then you don’t benefit from its power during that time. Commit to something now and if you need to change it later, you can.
💎 Speed to value doesn’t necessarily mean getting users from point A to point B (aha moment) without anything in between. It is more about speed to deliver on the value proposition in a credible way and convincing users that they’ll be successful. Example: Noom with 60 steps in the onboarding process but each step gets the user feeling like they’re making an investment and the more you go forward the more you get positive feedback and make progress.
⛏️ Going Deeper: below is the list of their Principles of Sustainable Growth (learn more at https://breakoutgrowth.net/)
💎 Don’t jump into tactics. Putting a countdown timer on your onboarding because someone else did it isn’t the answer to your onboarding issues. It’s about experimenting into it.
User Acquisition: cross-promotion
This time, it’s Shamanth Rao (CEO at RocketShip HQ) that hosts him in a recent episode of the Mobile UA show The ascendance of cross-promos in a post-ATT world.
This is a fascinating topic to me, given that many companies are growing their app/game portfolios or deal with promoting multiple products.
💎 You can cross-promote by taking the ad network capability in-house, and run it yourself but only for your products. This involves blacklisting your own publisher sites with ad networks so you can stop serving your own ads inside your own inventory (i.e. you do that yourself).
💎 ATT has been a catalyst for cross-promo. Cross-promotion is important again because the data advantage that advertising platforms had has been taken away.
💎 A potential objection to doing cross-promo is that you don’t want to serve ads to high-value users, you want to retain them. But consider churn and likelihood to churn for these users: there might be a specific time where serving cross-promo ads to high-value users is beneficial.
💎 Cross-promo within a game company/portfolio should be reciprocal. There should be this virtual circle of high value users remaining within the portfolio “walls”. It needs to be a top objective of C-level to think about portfolio LTV, which requires rethinking the strategy, especially for companies that have acquired studios (that each have their own goals).
💎 It can be hard to make cross-promo work when there is low affinity between game genres. But if you have two relatively similar games, they will most likely cross-promote well.
💎 When doing cross-promo, bidding companies themselves can start including their own first-party data in the bidding logic: how long have they been playing, are they a depositor, have they come through a paid or an organic channel (it’s a strong positive signal if they came from paid), etc.
💎 In the past, intelligence was on the demand side. In the future, intelligence is going to be on the supply side. Cross-promo is just one example of that.
⛏️ Going Deeper: David can actually see a future where ad monetization managers are going to start requesting that their first-party data gets included in the bid stream. To some extent, this is already the case with dating apps with age/gender.
Of course this data needs to be used for a decision taken in real-time, not for creating profiles (you know, privacy and all). It would be more of an input in the machine learning of the advertiser.
For this to be possible, a consistent taxonomy of first-party data would be needed across the industry.
💎 Cross-promo ads should be in the monetization stack and compete against other external revenue. For that to be the case, it has to be supported by mediation.
⛏️ Going Deeper: so what’s required to do that?
Having multiple games with same/close affinity,
Working with a partner that has iOS and Android SDK, supported by your mediation stack (i.e. supported by ironSource, MAX, Fyber, Admob which should cover 99%),
Having a bidder you can control so you can respond to the impressions coming from the SDK and decide how much to bid.
💎 Every bid that goes to cross-promo comes with a price. There is no money exchange within the company but you still bid $X and recognize how much you spend on cross-promo monthly so that you can calculate the “return on opportunity cost”.
⛏️ Going Deeper: this is apparently quite a new topic, even for companies running cross-promos. But it’s an important one to align for team alignment because an Ad monetization manager might miss his target if it’s not understood that serving cross-promo ads is not just money lost but actually brings revenue from another app of the portfolio.
Creatives: automation, testing
Matej Lancaric (UA & Marketing Consultant), Felix Braberg (Director of Ad Monetization at N3TWORK) and Jakub Remiar (Head of Monetization at Traplight) have published many new episodes since I featured How to Soft Launch a Mobile Game - Ad Monetisation Perspective in Growth Gems #64.
This time, Matej shared his thoughts and tips on finding winning creatives in two & a half gamers session #17 - the creative framework, tips for inspiration, recession & games.
💎 To brainstorm creative concepts you can look at competitors’ creatives, but if you’ve been running UA for a long time you should also make an assessment of your past creatives that worked well and didn’t work well.
⛏️ Going Deeper: for this assessment, Matej recommends to involve the UA manager but also more “creative thinkers” (creative lead, motion designer, etc.) and potentially even people from the product/game team.
When it comes to the tools to see competitor creatives, you probably know them already but here is a list: Facebook Ads Library (free), TikTok Creative Center (free), Mobile Action, Sensor Tower, Data.ai (App Annie), AppMagic.
💎 You need to understand very well how the CPI vs. LTV equation works. This is more important than caring about how the creative looks like.
💎 It’s sexy to talk about creatives based on personas, but personas have been here since the beginning of marketing and are not that easy to use. The best performing creatives are the ones taken from the casual game genre.
💎 You need to have at least one new concept a week if you don’t want to see performance drop.
⛏️ Going Deeper: some of Matej’s favorite sources to find new creative angles are YouTube/TikTok videos with a large amount of views, sports events and memes. You can learn more about how he approaches this in this deck👇
There are also similar insights in Growth Gems #15 👇 or this Mobile Action webinar.
💎 If you use seasonal creatives, be sure to have seasonal creatives throughout the whole funnel: ad, icon, screenshots, feature graphic, ideally even an event within the game. Also make sure to take them all out once the season is over!
And before I leave, a quote from this two & a half gamers session:
“LTV always dictates the level of spend” - Matej Lancaric (UA & Marketing Consultant)
See you next time. Stay savvy!