Mike Van Kempen is currently Chief Operating Officer at UNest. Previously, he was Director of Growth at Acorns, a leading micro-investing app disrupting the space. He led Acorns’ analytics team for 2 years before bringing a more data-driven approach to the Growth team.
Learn more from his Mobile Hero profile.
Four years ago, while working at my previous startup, I came across an app called Acorns. They were seeking to give everyone the access and capabilities it takes to invest. There were no $1,000+ minimums that the traditional brokerage firms were charging; no previous knowledge of the stock market required. All you had to do was link your credit or debit card and the app automatically rounded up your purchases to the nearest dollar and invested it into a diversified portfolio. I immediately signed up for their beta release and soon after I was an Acorns customer. Not long after, I was given the opportunity to join the company as the Manager of Analytics. I signed my offer letter, packed up my bags and made the move out to the west coast.
The next two years went by FAST, as we were rapidly growing. In June 2017 I was given the chance to take my data background to the Growth team. I accepted the role as the Director of Growth where I got to jump head first into user acquisition. Working for a high growth company like Acorns has been both exciting and challenging – requiring a strong commitment to doing what is necessary to support our continued fast-paced growth.
To succeed as a growth marketer, I place a great deal of emphasis on thoroughness and process that enable both myself and my team to drive performance. Here’s a peek at a typical day in my life at Acorns:
The day begins when I first wake up and do a high-level review of prior day activity to ensure we’re operating smoothly. My top action items for the day, which include things like launching new campaigns and implementing new tools, are prioritized and any morning fires are put out before heading into the office.
I arrive at the office. The day begins with a deep dive into the prior day’s data. Every morning we closely monitor the 25+ channels we are running UA on and analyze what went well and what didn’t. For channels that are underperforming, we dig in to see the root cause and optimize accordingly. For channels that are doing well, we keep the gas pedal down at full power.
Our Growth Marketing Manager sends out a report to the executive team with the complete channel breakdown which includes user acquisition by channel, costs and monthly run rates. Every leader on the team knows how we’re performing, so if anything looks unusual, we’ll dig in to understand why and provide updates as to what we are doing to remedy it.
Mid morning is usually around the time that I dive into reviewing ad creative performance by channel. My team members will provide a creative performance report that we then review together, looking at creative that is under performing or over performing and then brainstorming strategies to improve the underperforming creative.
Lunch time. While I generally eat at my desk, I try to give myself a break from work to catch up on current events around the world.
After lunch is when we do our midday performance check-in, specifically looking at how UA is driving new investment accounts on Acorns. If our numbers are up or down we will dig into the drivers and rectify any issues accordingly.
The next part of my day goes towards exploring new channels and catching up with our vendors. To continue growing we can’t get complacent; we always have to explore new channels and new ideas. We also have to be actively involved with all of our vendors. With Liftoff, for example, we are constantly communicating with our account team to see how we can improve our existing performance and continue to build our relationship. We are always looking for feedback from our vendors to make sure we are running our channels as effectively as possible.
Most of my afternoon is typically spent on bigger initiatives that can take up to a few months to complete, like integrating new software or onboarding new partners. Afternoons are good for working on projects that will get us to the next phase of growth.
I leave the office around 6:30 PM and head home for dinner.
Like many others, after dinner I spend some time catching up on emails and work I wasn’t able to get to during the day.
Once the clock strikes midnight I do a daily recap on how performance was for the day. If we’re right where we need to be, my day comes to an end. If numbers aren’t up to par, it’s time to investigate and provide the executive team an update so there aren’t any surprises in the morning. As I’m sure many in the UA industry can relate, when you’re responsible for a multi-million dollar ad budget, growth doesn’t rest.