Q&A with Gessica

Gessica is CMO at Paired, an app that helps couples feel more connected. A computer scientist by training, Gessica fell in love with digital marketing more than ten years ago and has worked on both web and mobile campaigns globally. Before Paired, Gessica worked at various digital agencies in Italy. She then moved to Berlin to join KAYAK as a Programmatic Marketing Manager. She was at Blinkist for six years, leading performance marketing and growth, where she found her love for the mobile subscription world.

What have you been up to since you were first featured as a Mobile Hero? How has your career progressed?

A lot happened in the meantime! In 2021, I welcomed my first daughter Zelda and took an 8-month break. During my maternity leave, I reflected on my future and realized it was time to follow my dream of leading an entire marketing team. It was not easy to make that decision—especially since being a new mum and changing jobs felt scary. I made the change in January 2022 to join Paired as CMO.

The app marketing industry has evolved in many ways since you first entered it. Taking a step back, what is something you find interesting or notable about the industry?

What I love about the industry is that every challenge becomes an opportunity and everything moves so fast. I was on maternity leave for less than a year and returned to a completely different world. iOS14 has changed the industry and made things more complex on the paid acquisition side. At the same time, I saw companies—Paired, for example—flourishing because their previous setup was based on appealing to more general audiences. Other companies took a step back, mainly because they needed a specific targeting that was not available anymore. This changed the balance in the industry, with new players suddenly being able to spend much more.

What do you see as the next big thing in mobile marketing?

I strongly believe that you can only grow so much with paid acquisition. In the next few years, we will see much more attention on organic and brand. It's easy to copy what somebody else is doing, and sometimes even do a better job cause you have a smaller and faster team. What differentiates you from the competition is building a brand that is largely recognized by your core audience.

If you could go back in time and give yourself 1 piece of advice when you first started working in mobile, what would you tell yourself?

Instead of focusing on what others are doing and following threads, focus on your core audience and build a strategy that is tailored to your product. Prioritize innovation and think about smart ways to grow.

In the past year, what is one tip you can share which made the biggest performance difference for your company’s mobile strategy?

Rather than look at the profitability of one single channel, try to understand how the different channels work together, how much organic uplift they bring and how you can maximize profit by distributing the budget instead of solely depending on one or two channels.

What’s the most effective messaging you’ve seen work for your user acquisition efforts?

Understanding your audience and how you can make their life better is key. Also, customization and personalization are the way to go.

What's a mistake you see get made all the time with UA strategies, even by smart people and smart companies?

I want to quote an old article from Andrew Chen that I think is still relevant. I see many companies funnel all spending into paid acquisition because of how it shows immediate growth and return. But this thinking makes app marketers forget about what it means to build a long-term sustainable brand. Sometimes, they forget what their product is really about: supporting and helping their users.

What advice can you offer marketers to successfully re-engage mobile users?

My suggestion is to make sure to engage with users before they lose interest. It is much harder and more costly to acquire lost users/customers. It is much easier to fall back in love if they still believe in you.

Let's talk ad creative. Can you offer an insight or two you've gained from conducting your own creative tests?

Gimmicky creatives don't work anymore in user acquisition (or maybe they never did).

Concentrating on a genuine and authentic message will make a difference in your campaigns. To do that, I recommend taking a look at user-generated content and content creators.

With WFH the new norm, and more live events and in-person meetings virtual, what are you doing to stay connected and in touch?

I work at a fully remote company. Of course, I miss the daily office interactions, the wait at the coffee machine and the chit-chat. We try to re-create these feelings by having daily standups to help us feel more connected, weekly playtime, and quarterly offsites where we can meet in person. On a personal level, I try to connect with my local network – and it just so happens that Berlin is the perfect place for that.