Q&A with Gessica

This Q&A reflects Gessica's time as Senior Director of Growth, Performance Marketing at Blinkist. Currently, Gessica is CMO at Paired.

Gessica currently leads the performance marketing team at Blinkist, a mobile learning startup that gives people the knowledge they need from nonfiction books to become their best selves. Computer scientist by training, Gessica fell in love with digital marketing nine years ago, and has since worked on both web and mobile campaigns globally. Prior to Blinkist, Gessica worked at various digital agencies in Italy and then moved to Berlin to join KAYAK as a Programmatic Marketing Manager overseeing all social media investments in EMEA, LATAM and APAC.

In your own words, tell us about the apps that you manage?

With Blinkist, we want to inspire millions of people to keep learning. Blinkist is a mobile app that takes the best non-fiction books and distils the key insights that you can read or listen to on the go. With Blinkist I can get the essence of a book in just 15 minutes. If I like it, I then read the entire book or listen to the audiobook.

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How did you get started in mobile marketing?

While studying Computer Science at University, I landed an internship as a web developer at a marketing agency. Over time I was given more projects and ultimately became responsible for managing an e-commerce store selling, of all things, sex toys.

During this time I began experimenting with various aspects of marketing and ultimately discovered my true passion. Several years later I moved into mobile. It was increasingly obvious that the web was just one channel and that mobile was becoming the primary way in which to engage and transact with consumers. And I wanted to be a part of it.

What do you like most about mobile marketing?

People are on their computers for eight, maybe 10 hours a day. But when it comes to their phones, they are always connected. They use their phone for everything: work, entertainment, relaxation. Mobile marketing allows you to communicate with your users 24/7. At the same time, marketers have the data not only on what the users are doing at any given moment, but also when, and where. This allows us to better target our audience and be more relevant more often.

What does it take to succeed in mobile marketing?

A creative mindset, putting users first, and the perfect attribution and tracking system setup. I recommend talking to your potential users -- and not just about your product. You need to really understand your users to identify the right messaging, channels and platforms for your campaigns.

What does a quality mobile user look like to you?

Overall, I think every user is valuable. They can love or hate your app, use it a lot or just open it once. But all users have something of value to offer, including, helping you understand how to better identify and target higher value user segments and which segments to avoid.

When it comes to specific actions and engagement within our app, we have defined a heavy user segment. These are users who engage at a higher rate, renew for a longer period of time, and are more profitable. Through correlation analysis, we have been able to identify a set of actions that best characterize these users and optimise our campaigns to not only acquire more of them but also to predict the profitability of our user acquisition efforts.

What strategies work best to convert installs into engaged app users?

It depends on the vertical and business model. We all live busy lives, so it is important to convey your message right away. Your user has just spent their precious time installing your app. They have high expectations and hope. They are pumped. That's why it is so important to tell them right away why your app is amazing. And when this doesn't work to get them engaged, there is a lot more you can do. Get them back through in-app messages, push notifications, email or remarketing. Personalization also helps. If users feel like you are talking with them directly, they will be more inclined to listen and engage.

In the past year, what is one tip you can share which made the biggest performance difference with UA or re-engagement of your app?

When it comes to UA, we tend to focus on the usual two-three channels. It works in the beginning, especially when you have limited resources. But once you grow, you can't rely on just a couple of channels, otherwise, seasonality and competition may kill your UA. And that's a disaster, especially if you rely heavily on performance marketing. To scale one channel from 10K to 1M is complicated. A better strategy would be to scale 10 channels with 100K. So my suggestion is to diversify.

How do you stay ahead of changes in technology?

The best way I find is to put yourself out there in the industry. Meet with your peers, attend conferences, meet new people, join groups and discussions. Almost one year ago I started a podcast called Mobile Growth Nightmares, together with my friend Andy Carvell, one of the best growth marketers in the industry. Through this initiative I met a lot of incredible people in the mobile industry.

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

The channel mix is changing, Facebook is becoming less powerful, users are migrating to new platforms. Right now, it is not clear what the next Facebook will be, but I'm sure we will get a better idea in the next few years. Automation is also a big topic. I see a lot of companies relying on automation platforms while also developing their own internal solutions. (For example, Blinkist) That also means that the skills of an account manager will change: soon, we will all need to learn how to code.

What advice can you offer to help marketers combat mobile ad fraud?

I know this may be controversial to say but I would suggest avoiding Networks. When buying traffic directly from platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Search etc) I never had issues with fraud. But as soon as I tried buying directly on networks, while I would see many installs coming in, in-app interactions were typically close to zero. For this reason, I recommend to focus on platforms first, and try network later on.

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