Episode #23: Designing Affiliate Marketing Funnels with Marichka Baluk

In this episode, we're joined by Blinkist's Director of Online Marketing to talk about affiliate marketing metrics and how to succeed in a time of a global pandemic.

In this episode of Mobile Growth & Pancakes, Esther Shatz is joined by Marichka Baluk, Director of Online Marketing at Blinkist. Marichka talks about lessons from the pandemic, affiliate marketing at Blinkist, and web funnels for mobile-first apps.

Check out all the other episodes of Mobile Growth & Pancakes here

To connect with Marichka:

Timestamps:

00:46 – Maricha Baluk intro 
02:53 – Affiliate Marketing and its metrics at Blinkist 
18:01 –  Lessons from the pandemic
23:47 – Web acquisition for mobile-first or mobile-only apps
34:36 –  Advice for mobile growth experts entering the web funnel game
36:20 – Quickfire round

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Ten actionable tips for increasing App Store CVR




    A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow

    Marichka baluk

    Key Takeaways:

    Marichka has been in the Growth industry for about 10 years after starting as a general online marketer and then specializing in performance marketing. 

    To succeed in affiliate marketing, simplify your affiliate set up and automate the verification and validation of data so your affiliate managers get only clean data. This helped Blinkst save 2-3 hours per week in overhead work. 

    Blinkist monitors affiliate partner performance with daily targets, conversion rates for free trials and purchases with each partner, and the revenue each of them generate. 

    Before making any transition, first, you must understand the limitations of your current platform, define your process to include an overlap period between the old platform and the new platform, and use external help (if needed) in managing that transition (internally and/or externally). Blinkist did this transition during the Christmas break and that created a lot of problems in their communication with affiliate partners. 

    Your funnel should strike a balance between pushing for conversion and providing value. Early push for conversion might turn the customer off but giving too much value without asking for free-trial sign-ups is also not good for the app’s business.

    If yours is a mobile-first or mobile-only app, creating a web landing page to encourage mobile app usage will be tough. To solve this problem, understand the exact needs of your incoming customers and use that to optimize your app acquisition on the web. 

    A Blinkist user converted via the website has to be encouraged to use the app to experience the full benefit. Blinkist tried to mirror their app experience with a book into their website to explain the exact benefits of the app. 

    Someone with experience in mobile app growth who is now looking to start building web funnels would need to forget everything they learned about acquisition funnels and start the web funnel from scratch.

    Download the full ASO user behavior bible

    Everything you need to know about how users engage with your app store page




      Full Transcript:

      Esther Shatz: Welcome to Mobile Growth & Pancakes. I am joined today by Marichka Baluk, who is head of a whole lot of networks [chuckles] at Blinkist. Marichka, you want to introduce yourself?

      Marichka: Yes, absolutely. Thanks so much for having me here. Hi, everyone. My name’s Marichka. Yes, I lead quite a bunch of channels in the performance marketing team at Blinkist. Currently, these comprise Google Ads and all things display, search, and also affiliate. I also take care of a couple of growth topics for the Blinkist team, for instance, data and also CRO, and especially web user acquisition funnels. Yes, a whole lot– The title sounds pretty nuts, but well, that’s the reality of it, I guess.

      Esther: [chuckles] You’ve been in the growth industry for 10 years now, something like that, more?

      Marichka: Yes, I started as a general marketer, online marketer 10 years ago completely by accident. I’ve been in the industry doing both growth and specifically performance marketing for all this time now.

      Esther: A happy mistake, we’ll call it, [chuckles] 10 years ago?

      Marichka: I don’t know if it’s a mistake. It was a lucky strange chance and something I definitely did not envision for myself. I was supposed to be either an English teacher, or a linguist, or– I don’t know, something maybe with overall business direction, but I’m very happy where I ended up, for sure.

      Esther: Nice. I think one of the things– This podcast will come out a bit later. We’re recording it, but we’re recording it on the eve of iOS 14.5. It’s about to be released. I think one of the things that’s super interesting with you at Blinkist is, focusing on some of the other networks and other channels that you’ve been experimenting with in the past year.

      Let’s kick it off with affiliates. What brought the world of affiliate over to Blinkist? Why was this something you felt you needed to tackle?

      Marichka: First of all, it’s definitely a very ominous day. I’m very excited to see what the new reality is going to look like. I know we’ve all noticed a lot of changes already with the previous updates on the iOS end, but, yes, I think even before the news that came about a year ago from Apple, we at Blinkist were realizing that the funnels that we were using were strongly reliant on mobile app installs.

      We definitely wanted to diversify that and to tap into as many alternatives as possible. Because web acquisition proposes such a great benefit of saving 30% on your margins because you’re not really paying out to Apple or Google on the stores, we were really intrigued by making a web acquisition grow. For us, that was one of the easiest ways to tap into it, of course, through affiliate channels.

      Affiliate actually has been part of Blinkist marketing portfolio for years. I think we installed our first platform in 2013 or 2014. We did not do a good job with it at all. I’m not sure if I should actually say the platform– Actually, the platform look is quite okay. I think our setup was a problem. We worked with HasOffers before and a lot of things that we set up in terms of event tracking, first of all, were not automatically having any proofing on our end. The marketing manager, who had to deal with it, had to basically check back in on numbers and reject events, if necessary. A lot of financing and invoices were super granular and hands-on work.

      Affiliate for the longest time was the channel where we got those inbound requests, managed them, and responded to questions if affiliates had any. Once in a while, we did some sales with them and provided a bit of material, and that was it. At some point, we started talking to a lot of companies because we always try to share knowledge and talk to companies that are not necessarily our direct competitors but are learning and having similar problems. We realized that our affiliate share in our marketing mix was very low.

      That being one of the channels that will, in most cases, bring positive ROI always, we try to realize what is wrong with our setup and how can we make it better? At that point, actually, I stepped in to take over the channel. We decided to migrate to a different platform, set up processes from scratch, simplify a lot of things, and make sure that we have the capacity within this setup to also do more outreach to different partners, onboard new types of partners, and grow the network.

      Esther: Being more selective of the affiliates that you’re working with or was that something different?

      Marichka: I think being selective is one thing, but for us, it was more about being able to not be stuck in day-to-day operations and being able to rely on the system itself to do a lot of work, so automating quite a bit of things. Right now, we are working, for instance, with Impact Radius, and we decided to set up events, not through the Pixel or Adjust as it normally is done. We decided to send events via server-to-server from our backend.

      Basically, what does it mean for an affiliate manager in the day-to-day? It means that all the purchases that they receive on the affiliate platform are 100% verified and then if a cancellation happens, we register that as well. We basically need to just look at overall numbers a couple of times a week, and we do not need to go into reviewing certain conversions, rejecting certain conversions, et cetera. One huge part of the job has already fallen off and is not necessary anymore.

      Esther: You save a lot of time, basically, by making sure that you own directly the events that are being passed rather than relying on any third-party tool? Interesting, how much time do you think that saves, let’s say, in a week, on an average week?

      Marichka: I think a couple of hours, for sure. I would say two, three hours because I think it depends quite a lot for the company that does affiliate. I know that there’s a lot more issues with fraud on mobile for us, for sure. If we tap more into the mobile direction, we do see spikes in the more upper-funnel actions and in clicks.

      I imagine that if we were registering that through an Adjust Event or in Pixel, we would have to go very deep into partner-level performance and also the spikes throughout the day and then try to justify that and discuss that with partners. All of that is gone now.

      On a normal week when nothing happens and we’re not having any strange performances, that’s probably going to be around two hours or three hours of time. On the weeks when anything like that would happen, I think it’s even more.

      Esther: How are you measuring ROI for affiliate efforts? What are the main KPIs you’re looking at? What are the things that you take into account when you decide to change the process, the provider, everything that you’re looking at?

      Marichka: On day-to-day, we have, basically, ROI goals attached to every channel that we run, no matter how performance-driven it looks to the outside marketing world. Affiliate has its targets. Of course, basically, we receive the revenue already and we pass it back to the platform. We noticed that already on the platform side, but there’s also internal reporting where we pay attention to these numbers all the time.

      Basically, yes, we look into the conversion rates across the partners to make sure that the audience that they are sending to us is looking healthy and on average, on par with what we normally see for our acquired audiences. Basically, how many signups do we see converting into free trials, how many purchases come out of that? Simple checks like that help us understand if the partner is doing things correctly or if some events are generated, but they are not converting further down the line to be reached out, and try to understand how we can support them or if there are any issues on their end.

      Of course, ROI and the revenue that is incoming from the partner is the main KPI. Since we’ve worked on the revenue share model with our affiliates, we are normally in positive numbers, but we also have our targets but then those targets, we basically look at overall performances and what else we can squeeze in as like any flat deals editorial [unintelligible 00:11:10] to boost performances with our specific partners.

      Esther: How granular can you get on a partner level? Can you control the level of engagement that you have with individuals, or is it more casting a wide net setting, specific KPIs, and whoever falls into it gets automated into that process?

      Marichka: I think because we are not so big yet, we are pretty hands-on. I wouldn’t say that’s very sophisticated, but we definitely have the visibility of specific partner performances. I think if we were working with more networks which we are planning out right now and trying to figure out how to scale further, that would be a very different situation.

      Oh, an important note to understand why we work this way, is to– Basically due to the fact that the partners that work specifically for Blinkist, are maybe, not the most popular verticals or segments of affiliate partners across the web because our product is so content-driven. The best types of partners for us that have amazing conversion rates and have very high intent audiences are the ones that are around learning entrepreneurial topics, basically, blog owners, content developers.

      Those partners are something that we learned to cherish over time because the value of their audience is immense. It’s normally very, very high intent people that are super relevant to what Blinkist is catering towards their users. We try to look at those partners specifically, especially knowing who drives bigger audiences. Basically, if they are delivering good results, we always are trying to do more partner-level deals with them from time to time. We give them some incentive for their audience so that they can push this even further. Whenever there’s any new hot titles coming into the app or any specific book lists become free, which we sometimes do, especially around certain social events, et cetera, then we mention that to them because we know that that will convert very well.

      Yes, I think because we have this automated process of verifying the performances of the partners, and we pay anyway payout based on the purchase, it’s not so crucial for us that some of the partners are at a much lower scale than the others. We are still trying to support the overall list of partners with some tips on how to grow it, but, yes, as long as they are having proper tracking, their audience is converting in some way, then I think it doesn’t really stretch us too much in terms of management of the channel.

      Esther: Can you give an idea of how many affiliate partners we’re talking about? What’s the scale of activity?

      Marichka: That would be actually a very different answer depending whether we are talking onboarded partners or revenue active partners, or even any action active partners. I think we have a bit over 1,500 partners on the platform right now. However, only probably less than half of them are active, and then the revenue share, of course, is even a smaller part of that.

      I think a lot of them have been either part of our affiliate program historically, and have migrated from one platform to the other with us, or we worked for a while with an agency and didn’t have those rules and conditions for approval set up very, very specifically. I think that led through quite a lot of partners that are registering everywhere or whatever, and then maybe do not really act on it, or partners that maybe for whom our guidance is not specific enough to help them transform this sign up into the partner program into valuable traffic and revenue there.

      Right now, actually, me and the new affiliate manager in our team who’s doing amazing jobs– Hi, Fabienne. We are trying to understand what requirements we want to have so that even smaller content creators that have some scale and have relevant audiences come through and actually are on boarded into the program. We don’t have too many of those inactive partners that are just creating the bulk and making it seem like this is a huge one but in the end, they don’t really bring results.

      Esther: I think you mentioned, you focused a lot on this project because affiliates weren’t making up the percent of incoming traffic that you’d hoped. I don’t know how much you can give us details, but around what percent of your installs, your revenue is coming from this affiliate channel now that you’ve been working on the optimization?

      Marichka: I’ll be very rough and not very precise here because I think– I think that would be around below 10% right now, it was way lower before. However, we are aiming to grow this faster and to get to a more significant chunk of the revenue, not because of so much of specific channel ambitions or anything, but I think it’s important to understand how much that relieves the goals for the other channels that are basically all working as segments of the same system, and the business goal is across all of those channels.

      The bigger the share of those positive ROI channels is in the mix, the more margin the other players have to use in their campaigns.

      Esther: Let’s say, you’ve probably learned a lot, I’d imagine over the last year or so. If you could go back again, back in time, and start the project again, what would you do differently?

      Marichka: Oh, so many things. The thing is that we realized the business case for it, we understood that our– We were migrating at the end of 2019. The first great lesson, do not migrate over the Christmas holidays.

      [chuckling]

      One would think it’s something very basic. For us, it turns out it wasn’t. That also was a combination of different factors with the contract renewals, with older platforms, with new platforms, when the engineers said that they would be ready, and when they were actually ready. We had great technical support, but there’s always something coming up, and the testing always takes up way more time than you planned for it.

      I think one thing that we did not realize was how much stress it is for smaller businesses, that a lot of our affiliate partners are, to make those changes, to go through the links that they have anywhere on their sites or social platforms, et cetera, update those, onboard themselves maybe into the new platform, change the tracking on their ads, et cetera.

      Esther: Super interesting because you’re so used to working with the monster platforms, the Facebooks, the Googles of the world there, it doesn’t matter what time it is or what. They’re 24/7 and they’re evergreen, and they have their processes and of course, their issues but it’s a good point with affiliates you’re working with– People, less the big machine and you can’t expect that adaptability.

      Marichka: Yes, absolutely. I think after that, I was already discussing with a couple of companies that were migrating after us. When they were saying, “Yes, we are planning this stage for a couple of months here and then this stage for the next couple of months” I was like “Okay, we did everything for probably a month and a half.” The difference just really is striking to me. I’m so, so grateful for all those affiliate partners that stayed with us through the turmoil of the transitioning period.

      Basically, maybe, just a bit of insight on how we decided to approach it. We had one platform, we understood the limitations of it. We actually had an agency that was recommended to us by some of the other companies, supporting us through setting up the new platform, but also through the communication with affiliates. We decided to just basically prepare technically and then transition in a couple of steps and in a couple of stages of communication with the affiliate and then shut down the old platform after some time.

      I think basically, the communication that we sent out was not the best time because it was mid-December. We were following up and closing everything at the end of January. A lot of partners then reached out to us for support saying, “My links are not working” or “I’m not seeing the performances here anymore.” They missed out on all of these emails. Definitely would have done this differently and would have planned out for a bit later, maybe.

      One thing is that it’s always pressing– Especially when you look at your business goals at the end of the year and big plans for the next one, to make things happen as soon as possible. I think we are always leaning in that direction. I think another thing is that you can never test things out to 100% or at least we didn’t manage so.

      Within the first couple of weeks, we actually– All our superbly set up server-to-server process was sometimes having delays, so the events would be sent with a different day timestamp or something. The affiliates would sometimes see no events on one day and then double the events on the other day. We had to then go back and implement a lot of checks and alerts within hours of the same day so that we could send– Basically fix these things automatically and send the events in as stable a way as possible throughout the day.

      I think we did not appreciate how much partners were looking at those metrics as the guidance to their competing management communication, or even estimations of their revenue for that specific month. I think those are definitely two very specific things that I would pay way more attention to.

      I think we smoothed it out and sorted it out over time, but we definitely would have been in a good place faster if we considered those and planned for those a bit more [unintelligible 00:23:24].”

      Esther: I feel like it happens every year. I feel I’ve told my team maybe every year, “Don’t worry, the holiday season is going to come, we’ll have some time to relax. Everything’s ready, everything’s set up.” Somehow everything goes wrong.

      That is all still– No matter how much you prepare, happening right around them. I think that definitely makes a lot of sense. Do you think those apps where it’s less relevant to focus on affiliates? I believe Blinkist, you have a web version. You don’t require an app to use the Blinkist service. Do you think that makes a difference in whether it’s profitable to go for affiliate marketing?

      Marichka: Yes and no. First of all, Blinkist does not have a full product on the web. We have just the basic functionality because reading makes sense sometimes on desktop and we see a small share of users sometimes do that, or especially research specific titles. We have those like rudiments of the product, the product that is an audio player and the reader.

      I think the fact that you can try it out, like sign up and actually try it out and to read some insights from specific titles, already that definitely helps. However, that comes so much later in the funnel that I think the understanding whether we have the product on the web or not, is not the most crucial part in the decision-making when the user actually converts.

      Another thing is that we know that having an app installed is crucial for us to have the user come back to us.

      We don’t want to just acquire a new customer and make them pay. We know that they will renew only if they build a habit of using the product. For us, it’s actually a bit more of a double-edged sword and a challenge. The more we push users through web funnels, which are working okay at a certain scale for us right now, we see that we need to make a connection with the app and inform users as soon as possible and make sure that the user also installs the app.

      At that point also, it’s very important to make it clear that they need to sign in, into something that they already purchased. This is not probably the best thing that we do from the perspective of our customer support team. However, we see this happening smoothly in more and more cases, the more we test out the explanation and the connection that we put with the app on our web acquisition funnels. I think it’s good to have this as a product on the desktop. I think it definitely helps out because we know we see how much users want to actually engage and understand what this content looks like.

      I think as a proposal and the marketing offer, it’s something vague but when you see the test itself written by the experts in the field, it actually sounds interesting, engaging, and very educational. We want to put that front and center, but it comes a bit later so I think that the availability of the product doesn’t make so much of a difference.

      Esther: You have to basically find the balance between the taste of just making sure that you get the sense of what it could be, but making sure that you’re not giving– I don’t remember who was saying this to me a couple of weeks ago. We talked about there’s an instinct to give a lot without forcing signups and without necessarily forcing– I think I was talking to a fitness app about, “Do you let a user put in their credit card from the free trial stage, knowing that might affect their free trial, but knowing that if you’re going to maintain that user, you have to have that commitment in place.” Sounds similar here with you needing that commitment to download the app. You don’t want to give too much out at a time but without anything, then you can’t create that push.

      Marichka: Absolutely. I think the latter has been a big challenge for us in overall user acquisition. Until we’ve resolved that, or at least resolved it at the current stage, maybe we’ll have some major improvements and breakthroughs in the future. Our web funnels actually were not working.

      To clarify that a little bit, we were trying to acquire users through not just like affiliates and podcast influencers, those landing on specific landing pages or overall on the homepage quite a bit. That is a very high intent audience that probably has already insight into what your product is because either the podcaster will explain it a little bit, the influencer will give a review, et cetera.

      When we tried to test the web user acquisition funnels with search, it was a completely different story. We were getting users who were either looking for a specific title or specific topics or things like, what do I need to learn about small business or whatever, stuff like that. That’s our audience.

      Those are the questions that we want to answer, but then we have to make a jump within one landing page from, you are curious about this to now pay €2 for us per year. It was very hard for us to explain that on the web. We realize how much we were taken for granted with our mobile app install flow and the whole store environment that we were benefiting from because you own the app store, you already get a realization.

      This is an app. They have reviews, their ratings are good and the screenshots are showing a little bit of what they are doing and then you see a little bit of a long description. You see what they are trying to do here. There is so much context in an environment in which you’re prepared to receive it. When you’re looking for things like that on search, or even come from broader audiences somewhere on display on the web, you have none of this.

      First of all, tried a lot to explain that this is an app and we have all this content, et cetera, et cetera, but that was not resolving and not moving the needle so much for us until we realized that we needed to put a sample, a taster of our content, front and center on our landing pages, so we added that into our recommended book card, the audible style on the homepage. We also have a lot of these book title pages specifically for search, where basically, it’s a landing page dedicated to information about a specific book. When we put below, just the general information, a sampler, a bit from the insights that we are providing and show on the side the contents that there are 10, maybe, more of those insights from the specific book, I think our improvement in the signup rate was a little bit above 40%, with just that test.

      Esther: Wow.

      Marichka: It’s a very basic thing to get to once you’ve done it. It’s a tricky task to do because it requires way more development resources, and just connecting that content in places which are, maybe, not best suited and do not connect very well. We were postponing this test for a while. We were trying to put a demo of the app in the hero section of the page, put more screenshots, explain the features, show how this content is made, et cetera.

      That was not really helping, but that was something that we were able to do with front-end developers and designers very quickly. When we got to these heavier, more resource-consuming tasks, but the task that actually answered this whole question of, “What is this product? Can I touch it, taste it, or try it?” That immediately made the whole ball click. The biggest share of our campaigns on search meet their goals.

      Esther: So interesting. I think a lot of developers often look at it the other way, especially if you’re a business that’s been around pre-app stage, and you’re more transitioning into an app, you find the store challenging in a lot of ways because you didn’t get to customize the flow. It’s not a landing page that you’ve set up specifically for this purpose.

      Your point is, I think, really important that there’s an inherent commitment in the app store, that you know you’re downloading an app at the end of it. The question is, “Do I download it or do I not? Let me understand this app, let me not.” You know exactly what you’re getting to. Whereas on the web, you have this more low commitment. [chuckles] You barely have to download it on the web. You’re going to a web page, you expect to see something, and get your neat answer there.

      You do have to find a way to translate that. You’re looking at a product not a web page, or looking at something that you commit into and not a one-off deliverable. I don’t think I’ve ever thought about it that way, the advantage of the app stores. [chuckles]

      Marichka: Yes, definitely. I think one thing that I observed with a lot of companies that I talked to is that, whatever the company starts doing first and puts this initial effort into is normally something that works better for them. I think I know a bunch of apps that are 100% hybrid, and could be used on both desktop or app stores.

      I think if they started with the web, maybe earlier, they just have the thinking in that funnel, specifically predominantly and they approach things a bit more from that funnel perspective and from the learnings there.

      Even though they are even more fitting into the app environment, the acquisition is relaxed behind. I think it’s also important in which basket we put our eggs first in. I think we really develop our skills, the team, attitude, as well to resolve that initial challenge.

      When it comes the time to branch out and do something that is completely different and has probably to be approached in a completely different way, it’s very hard to disregard things that we’ve learned and look at it as from the blank page, to start again.

      Esther: Basically, if you’re looking at a mobile growth expert who’s starting to enter the world of web and looking to understand funnels there, you’d say, “Erase everything you know, pretend you’re learning it more or less from scratch, and take it from there?”

      Marichka: Absolutely. I think that’s something that we are now trying to do because we see even the differences on the web, between desktop and mobile, where the behaviors are so different. It’s like it’s still the web but we realize that for some channels, we have resolutions on the desktop but they are not working on the mobile web.

      For the others, we have flows that work on mobile web and that don’t work on desktop. It’s so interesting, and every time you have to break your brain a little bit, and basically, approach a completely new problem, completely from scratch.

      Yes, that’s a great attitude, I think for a growth marketer to have, to be able to look at the things completely afresh.

      Esther: Yes, I think it’s also helpful advice not just when you’re moving from mobile to web, but now we’re moving from paradigm shift of how we’ve marketed on mobile until now and the user-level data that we’ve been used to getting. I think a lot of is [unintelligible 00:35:55] lab, [chuckles] [unintelligible 00:35:55] I think, we’ll know maybe a little bit more but it’s this idea of, instead of just looking to substitute and find a way to fit the newer environment into your previous activities, take that step back, see from this clean slate what works for me and what doesn’t, and start iterating off of that instead of trying to fit it into an older paradigm that’s not relevant anymore.

      Marichka: Yes, absolutely.

      Esther: Okay. You’re ready for our quickfire round?

      Marichka: Sure, let’s do it.

      Esther: [chuckles] You already answered the first one, so you could say the same thing if you want, but if you could give just one tip to somebody who’s entering the mobile growth world, what would that one tip be?

      Marichka: Oh, I actually have a good one. That was something that my first CEO in my first company, in my first job, repeated to us almost daily. Basically, it’s this old saying that “A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.” I think we are always challenged in ways that have not been discovered before. For every company, every specific platform, every new acquisition, the flow funnel stage is a completely different reality because they have very different conditions from everyone else. You’re always in the situation of where it’s so much unknown.

      As a perfectionist myself, who’s really struggling with that, I understand how much that slows you down, that petrifies you a little bit. I think doing something already, getting those learnings faster today, in and out until you have all the answers, especially with– Even iOS 14.5 coming on Monday, I think, that is something to keep in mind for all of us and myself, too. I hope that helps and inspires someone.

      Esther: That’s very good. I feel that belongs on an office wall, that’s a solid quote.

      Marichka: Yes, it’s a very pinteresting quote, pretty [unintelligible 00:37:55], yes.

      [laughter]

      Esther: Okay, what is your favorite mobile growth resource?

      Marichka: To be honest, I read the news probably like everyone else across multiple blogs of the agencies platforms, et cetera but I think my best resource from which I take the best learnings, and then get inspired, and bring into life is the exchanges with other people. I think what we have here in Berlin specifically, where I’m based, is this amazing environment of companies that actually are happy to talk to each other and discuss specific challenges. I have those about affiliate, about mobile acquisition, and about web, and those are the ones that give me more clarity and understanding than any use cases that I see on medium or on the platform sites here and there.

      Esther: True. Maybe I’m biased, but I actually think the mobile community is learning-oriented more than they’re competition-oriented. I find if you’re in the Slack Channels or you’re in those agencies, everybody just wants to share, and build, and discuss. It’s pretty cool.

      Marichka: Yes, absolutely, same feeling, for sure.

      Esther: Okay, who in the industry would you most want to take for lunch and why? Assuming you can take people for lunch again soon.

      Marichka: I think I’m very sentimental and basic today. I don’t know if it’s Friday, or a busy week, or whatever. I actually think I would love to meet my team because I hired two people in the time of the pandemic. One is just starting, one has been with us– Actually took over all affiliates and is doing a great job since the start of the year and we were not able to hang out. I think if we meet we will not be discussing the numbers or the growth tactics at all.

      I think I was talking recently at an online conference, and I think getting into a room of one of Berlin’s app events would be great. I actually miss this whole banter outside of conference rooms as well, so that would be nice, too.

      Esther: Agreed. Definitely agreed. Okay. The most important question is, what is your favorite type of pancake?

      Marichka: Ooo, I’m a pancake fan and my boyfriend is a huge pancake fan, too, so we’ve tried multiple different kinds. I would say– I don’t know the proper name, but it’s either cinnamon roll or cinnamon swirl pancake. The one where you actually drizzle sugar and cinnamon syrup and it basically resembles the cinnamon roll. That’s my favorite combo, I think.

      Esther: Oh man, I really want a pancake now. [laughs]

      Marichka: I might go and make some, I don’t know. Hopefully. Push some meetings and make it happen.

      Esther: [laughs] Okay. Amazing You cannot airmail one over here, to Tel Aviv, and I’ll have one, too. [chuckles]

      Marichka: Yes, let’s figure out some big scientific solution to that now. Yes.

      Esther: [laughs] Amazing. Marichka, thank you so much for being with us. Where can people find you if they want to reach out and see what you’re up to?

      Marichka: I think the best place would be LinkedIn and I’m extremely happy to expand that [unintelligible 00:41:29] people that I’m talking to and sharing insights with each other, so you can find me as Marichka Baluk there. I’d be really happy to start the conversation.

      Esther: Amazing. Thank you so much for joining us today. Enjoy the pancakes, I hope you do make them.

      Marichka: I must now. Thanks so much. This was a lovely conversation for me, too, and thanks a lot for having me. Happy weekend, everyone. Happy iOS 14.5.

      About Esther Shatz
      For some it goes: Moses -> the elders -> People of Israel. For most of us here it's simply: Everything that happens in the mobile world -> Esther -> Storemaven. When not on maternity leave, Esther is leading all consultancy and product marketing activities as Senior VP.

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