Episode #26: Growing Your App While Building Credibility with Jeff Perkins

In episode 26, we talked then CMO of ParkMobile (now CEO) Jeff Perkins, who shared secrets on building a marketing strategy and balance product vision with responding to user feedback.

In This episode of Mobile Growth and Pancakes, Esther is joined by Jeff Perkins, the newly-promoted CEO at ParkMobile – a parking app that is available in more than 450 cities in North America, with 25 million users. Jeff and Esther discuss Jeff’s secrets to building a sustainable marketing strategy and how to balance product vision and execution and responding to user signals and feedback. He also shares brilliant insights that can help your marketing team in customer retention.

In the second half of the podcast, you will love Jeff’s strategies for building trust in a new marketing role and how that can lead to building trust with new customers.

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

To connect with Jeff:

Timestamps:

00:48 – Jeff Perkins and ParkMobile Intro
04:10 – How to create a sustainable long-term mobile growth strategy 
08:46 – Balancing your product vision with being user-responsive
12:38 – How to turn “problem unaware” customers into advocates of your app
14:43 – The role of marketing in customer retention 
19:35 – Contribution of product managers in marketing analytics
24:55 – Building trust in the company in a new marketing role
35:09 – Quick-fire round

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    You can’t wait for consumers to come to you. You have to go to them and make sure you understand their needs and wants, and that you’re developing a product roadmap that’s going to meet those needs over time.

    Jeff Perkins

    Key Takeaways:

    • Jeff Perkins is the CEO of ParkMobile, the #1 mobile parking app in North America with around 25M users and offered across 450+ cities. He was previously the CMO and Head of Product at ParkMobile, before being promoted to his current position. Jeff’s book “How to Not Suck at Marketing” was published just a few weeks back and is up for grabs. In this book, Jeff writes about how to be nimble and keep up with the ever-changing marketing landscape. He describes it as “a survival guide for modern marketers”. 
    • Create a product roadmap with customers’ needs at heart. Constantly keep updating your knowledge about their needs, and be ready to respond when their needs change. Customers don’t like to be tied down to choices, so provide multiple solutions to customers’ problems as their needs may not always be the same. 
    • Design the product roadmap with what customers want right now and what you know will make their lives easier in the future – even if they don’t know about it. Customers usually want to solve immediate needs and are not as aware of the market developments as you. The maker of the app – is. So their inputs can certainly help you create a more complete app.
    • Remove bottlenecks and create a seamless product experience. This will convert freemium subscribers into paid customers and introduce them to new technology they wouldn’t have explored without your app. 
    • Marketing needs to create retention content around customer’s most common churn points. Being proactive about the customer’s life cycle helps prevent them from leaving.
    • Having the right analytics tools helps but the project manager has to be curious about finding ways to grow the customer base and prevent it from shrinking. Product managers must take the lead and provide direction to the analytics teams for metrics and signals they want to monitor. 
    • When you start a new marketing job, pick initial goals that you can deliver fast. Your long-term goals will also help the company, but your CEO, CFO, or board may not want to wait for results. Always pace your work based on your credibility in the company.

    Full Transcript:

    Esther: Welcome to Mobile Growth & Pancakes. I’m joined today by Jeff Perkins, who is CMO of ParkMobile. Jeff, before you tell me why I suck at marketing, do you want to introduce yourself quickly, and give a little bit of your background?

    Jeff: Of course, and I would never say anyone sucks at marketing other than myself at times. I am Jeff Perkins, I am the Chief Marketing Officer and Head of Product at a company called ParkMobile. For those who don’t know, ParkMobile is the number one app for parking in North America. We have about 25 million users, we’re available in 450 plus cities. You could really use the app to pay almost anywhere you go for parking, either on-street parking or even making a reservation for a sporting event. We’ve had a really great track record of growth, over the last couple of years. The company started in 2008, and just every year, we’re growing really fast. It’s been a really, really fun ride.

    Esther: Amazing. You’re writing a book that I believe is set to come out this year, called, How Not To Suck At Marketing?

    Jeff: Yes. They’re telling me August, but this is my first book. I’m learning, in the publishing world, sometimes August doesn’t mean August. Hopefully, it’s going to be August because I’ve written it, and it’s in someone else’s hands at this point for the editing process. I wrote this book over a couple of years, and I finally, really in 2020 during COVID, had a little bit of time to really sit down and focus and get it packaged together. The idea of it is that, marketing as a profession is very hard in a lot of ways. It’s always changing and evolving. You really have to be very nimble to keep up.

    The expectations on marketers today is generally very high, versus what many marketers deliver. I say that this book is really a survivals guide for the modern marketer, and how do you do your job, do it well, and try to avoid getting fired? It’ll come out soon. The reason I called it How Not To Suck At Marketing is that I was speaking at a conference, this is several years back, and it was one of these conferences that has multiple sessions going on at the same time. The key is to have a catchy title for your session.

    I thought it’d be fun to have a session at this marketing conference called How Not To Suck At Marketing. That’s what I went with. When I got to the room where I was going to present, I got there about 15 minutes early, and it was like standing room only already. It wasn’t because anyone knew who I was, just everybody was really interested in this title, How Not To Suck At Marketing, because I think, for marketers, oftentimes, we all are like, “Oh my gosh, I am totally screwing this up.” Or, “I’m totally not good enough.” I’ve learned a lot of lessons the hard way in my career, and I hope that other marketers can learn from my mistakes.

    Esther: Not to get to meta, but it sounds like given that you knew how to market your session on marketing pretty well, and take the title that works and turn it into a book, I think it’s probably a good start. When we look specifically at the world of mobile, ever since, I assume, a lot of with the book of your writing took place, there have been a lot of changes. iOS 14.5, we knew it was coming, but there’s been a lot of repercussions of that. It feels like every few months we get a tidal wave of something new, something different, something’s happening.

    How do you look at marketing in such a structure as, it’s not the best practices frozen in time, it’s not the best practices for this given moment, how do you take something like that and make sure that you’re using principles that last beyond just the limits of the time period you’re in?

    Jeff: The way I think about that is if a mobile operating system release can wreck your business, you don’t really have a business. I mean that. If a Google algorithm can change your business fundamentally, you really have to look at the core fundamentals of your business and realize that your business maybe not as strong as you think it is, in some ways. That’s a hard thing for a lot of companies to look at.

    At ParkMobile, we are a company that in many ways, location services are very important because we believe it creates a better user experience. At the same time, we also recognize not everyone’s going to want ParkMobile to know where they are. We always default to doing what’s best for the consumer. If the consumer wants to be anonymous, we’ll let the consumer be anonymous, but we do try to educate the consumer on the value of your location services being on, and let us at least know where you are because it then will surface the most relevant parking options for you.

    The way we look at it is, it’s really up to the consumer, though. If the consumer wants to be more anonymous in their journey, we will enable that. If they want to have their location services on, we think it creates a little bit of a better experience, we’ll enable that. We recently actually added an option, because one of the things we saw with consumers today is that they don’t like to be locked into a binary choice in any way. In the industry we operate in, the parking industry, for many years, your only choice was to pay at a parking meter.

    Nobody wanted to pay at a parking meter. It was a horrible experience, you have the coins. Then they said, “Well, now you can pay at a parking meter or you can pay on an app.” We have an option for you, at least. People said, “Well, why do we only have to pay on an app or a meter? I want more options. Why do I have to create an account if I want to pay for parking? Can I do a guest checkout?” Really, what that shows you is that consumers essentially are never satisfied with whatever option is out there.

    As people that are building products, you have to realize that and say, “All right, whatever need we’re going to meet today, there’s going to be another big need six months down the road that we’re going to have to meet.” It’s that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs architecture that a lot of us talk about, and it’s hard because consumers are never satisfied. If you have a philosophy that you have to constantly meet consumers where they are, that will serve you very well. We had a lot of consumers not wanting to download a full-featured mobile app and set up an account to pay for parking.

    If you think about it, that makes a lot of sense, because I don’t go into the city that often, I don’t pay for parking that often, why do I have to download another app to my phone? Why do I have to give ParkMobile all my information to just pay for parking, and it’s like $2 for the hour I need to park? That’s a very rational thing to think if you’re a consumer. We created a lightweight web app, in addition to our full-featured mobile app.

    In our lightweight web app, someone can go in quickly, they don’t have to download the ParkMobile app, pay for parking quickly, they can check out as a guest, so they don’t have to even create an account. That’s just a great example of, always trying to meet consumers where they are. You can’t wait for consumers always to come to you, you have to go to them and make sure you understand their needs and wants, and that you’re developing a product roadmap that’s going to meet those needs over time.

    Esther: How do you strike the balance between– I think, definitely, there’s a lot to relate to in– I’m thinking about myself now when I travel in the US, I definitely don’t want an app that I’m going to keep because I’m there for two minutes, and park on my phone. It makes total sense and it sounds like the kind of thing that would work. I’m trying to think, for example vaguely in my mind, probably on Silicon Valley, of when you give your users full say. They’re telling you the things that they want to see. Sometimes they’re off. Sometimes users have this, what they want to see isn’t actually an experience that makes sense for them.

    How do you balance having a roadmap that is in line with the product that you know is important, and that you have the vision for, with meeting your users at what they’re telling you? Where’s the cutoff? How much can you plan from a product vision perspective on your end, versus being totally user responsive?

    Jeff: You have to look at the user research directionally, all the time. You can’t let your users dictate your roadmap because users aren’t experts in parking apps like we’re experts in parking apps. We do know that we have a certain amount of expertise that the user doesn’t have, and it’s that expertise that’s really going to drive, not just what we do today, but what we’re doing in three to five years, as we see fundamental shifts in the industry. For one example, something that a consumer is not asking for now, but we’re building towards is the autonomous vehicle. We know, in five years, you’re going to have a lot of self-driving cars on the road.

    We’re spending a lot of time and energy now building technology that will enable those autonomous vehicles to pay for parking, to lift a gate at a garage even when there’s not a person there to pull a ticket and to be able to transact for different services when the car’s in a garage. If there’s an autonomous car, it’s still going to have to probably get cleaned, get serviced, at some point, while it’s out taking people from point A to point B. We’re spending a lot of cycles now thinking through what that looks like in the future, and how ParkMobile can be a part of that. Again, that’s not something a consumer is asking for in any way today.

    Esther: Not a burning need. [chuckles] Yes, definitely not.

    Jeff: As a technology company, you know that if you’re not working towards that future vision, somebody else is. If you’re not a part of it, you will get left behind in many ways. A lot of what we do is focus on what’s coming next and how do we keep up with what’s coming next, but at the same time, staying very close to our consumers on things that they want to see in the app that we can address now. The mobile web app was one example. We’re always looking at things like that that make the consumer experience a little nicer, a little better, a little more seamless.

    You have to balance. You don’t want to go all one way or all the other, but as a marketer who leads a product function, I do lean very heavily on listening to the consumers, making sure that our app today is meeting their needs as best as we can, and then using a lot of that research and insight to drive features into our roadmap. A consumer is not going to give you the idea that’s going to be your next big thing, but they will give you the inputs that are going to help you make the app a lot better around the margins. That’s really important.

    In a day, we’ll have anywhere from 15,000 to 20,000 to sometimes, on a weekend, like on a Saturday, we get 40,000 people downloading our app, and we convert almost 90% of them into a paid transaction, which is really good.

    Esther: Wow. There are some very jealous listeners right now at that stat, I think.

    Jeff: A lot of mobile apps are very envious of that, but you also have to look at our app, which is really a utility. If you have to park, you have to use our app. We look at that, but then we still look at that 10%, we say, “What’s going on with this 10% that are not doing a transaction?” Sometimes there’s an issue in the user experience, getting them signed up. Sometimes there’s something confusing in the flow for them. In some cases, they get into it and they realize, “Oh, I really don’t want a mobile app. I’m just going to pay at the meter.”

    It’s looking at that because if we could just convert, with 40,000 people in one day, downloading the app, you convert 1% of those who previously weren’t going to use the app into a user, over a course of a year, that really adds up to a lot of revenue. We’re always looking at those things where we could improve the user experience, make it more seamless, and try to convert that small number of people who don’t convert into a park or trying to get them to take that next step. That’s a big part of what our product team does, is just more like, what are the areas that are just becoming bottlenecks for people?

    The other side of that is also the people who pay once and never come back. How do we get those people back and make sure that they’re paying more options? Then you have the people who were using the app, and then we lost them. Why did we lose them? You’re always looking at that because if you’re only looking at the acquisition side of it, and just patting yourself on the back because you acquired 40,000 users in a day, you’re realizing there are a lot of leaks in that bucket that you need to patch along the way as well to make sure you’re actually retaining those users.

    Esther: Let’s talk about marketing’s role in that process because I think in a lot of cases you end up, you guys have the benefit of having somebody who’s managing marketing, who’s also managing this product side and creating that funnel. In general, I think there’s a lot of cases where you fall into marketing’s job is to bring the user in, and then the product’s job is to take the user the rest of the way, which is probably a pretty dated way of looking at it.

    How does marketing tie into this process of looking at specifically answering consumer needs, answering these consumer desires in a way that is bringing you in those 40,000 users, but also still working on not losing them, not having that churn on retaining them?

    Jeff: We spend a lot of time really trying to understand those points where people will churn. We just are constantly doing research with our users. One thing we found, which was a really big point when people don’t come back to the app was around expired credit cards. Your credit card is expiring, and you just don’t put in a new credit card, it becomes inconvenient. The marketing team started an email campaign prior to the credit card expiring. With an audience as big as ours, we have thousands of people, every day, their credit cards are expiring in our system. That’s a big, high probability that those users will churn, and we may not see them back ever.

    We just started messaging to people, “Hey, your credit card is expiring, your credit cards are about to expire. Last chance, make sure you update your credit card.” It was amazing how many people then went in the system and updated their credit card in the app, just by doing that gentle nudge, getting people to get their credit card updated. We are lowering the probability that those people are going to churn, and we’re going to lose them. It’s those kinds of things, just studying all those breakpoints in the app experience where you have a chance of losing someone, and making sure you’re doing everything you can to eliminate that issue.

    The other thing we see is we get people that download the app, set up an account, and they either don’t add their license plate number, because maybe they’re not in front of their car, or they don’t add a payment method. If they don’t do either of those things, they’re never going to do a transaction. Once they’ve set up an account, now we have their information. Then we have different marketing campaigns that really kick in to try to get them to put their credit card in, to try to get them to put their license plate number in.

    Again, it’s all designed around knowing that they can’t proceed to convert into a real user unless we get those pieces of information. Getting those gentle nudges in place.

    We’re saying, “Hey, you just got your account started. You’re ready to go. These are the pieces of information we need so you can get parking.” It’s really those things, that I think really prevent the churn from happening. Then there’s just broader education. When people download the app, it’s usually at the point of purchase. There, you park, you see ParkMobile is accepted, you say, “Oh, I’d rather pay on an app than at this clunky meter. I’m going to download the app, set up an account, and pay.”

    What you probably don’t know is that in addition to the location where you’re paying, the probability is we’re also available in the city next to the city where you’re paying, and we’re available maybe at the sporting arena or the college or university down the street. There’s a lot of education that we have to do on all the places where you can use ParkMobile. We use things like geofencing. As people have the app on their phone, we can alert them, “Hey, you just went from Washington, DC, to Philadelphia. We’re also accepted in Philadelphia.” When you enter the city, you know, “Oh, cool, I could use ParkMobile here.”

    It’s a very helpful way to be a bit intrusive with your app experience. One thing we know is that I can’t just do push messages all day to ParkMobile users. They’ll get super annoyed, they’ll hate to tweet us. We have a very specific role in their lives, which is, “I use ParkMobile to pay for parking, so don’t send me anything that’s not related to parking.” We have a rule with our team where any communication that goes to the user, it really has to help with their mobility journey. It’s not just reminding them how much we like them as our customers, it’s, “Hey, this is information that’s going to help you find parking, get parked faster, and have a better experience when you’re on the go.”

    Esther: Yes, I actually just had the most annoying push notification day. I relate. I’m curious where within ParkMobile, and maybe you can talk also about how you wish it was ideal, but it sounds like you have a lot of signals. There’s analytics in place to tell you, “This is something that’s going to increase the likelihood of churn, this is something that’s going to block users from coming.” Who owns those analytics? Whose job is it to sit and say, “I’m finding these moments, let’s say somebody has to tackle this”? Should it sit within marketing? Should it sit within a product? Is it an analytic team, a data science team?

    Jeff: We have an analytics team that looks at a lot of those things. The people that I think really focus on finding the insights are the product managers who own these products. If you are the product manager on the ParkMobile app or the ParkMobile web app, that’s a core part of your job, is figuring out what’s working, what’s not working. If something’s not working, creating a solution to fix it, and getting that on the roadmap. It’s a really collaborative process, actually, between the product team and our analytics group, to study what’s going on in the app.

    What we look for in our product managers are people who are very intellectually curious. Really, I think in an organization, you hope everybody is like that. You really want that in your product managers because a good product manager should always be asking, what if this? What if that? To try to figure out, how do we make the app as good as it can be? Figuring out, what is our goal of the app? Our goal is to get people to pay for parking, and do that multiple times. You drive up the lifetime value of that user. Anything that prevents that, is really bad.

    Good product managers really have to focus on, how do we get them in the app, signed up, using the app, retained over time? The expectation is that if that’s your job, you are deep in the weeds of the analytics around that, and trying to figure out, “Okay, what are the things we need to do to improve?” Even if it’s a little thing, sometimes it makes a big difference. How do we improve conversions at every step of the way? How do we reduce churn at every step of the way? That’s really the big focus. That’s the big focus for us.

    We’re fortunate because we have great toolsets that enable us to look at our web data, which enable us to look at our app data. We use a tool called Braze. It sits behind the app, and that’s what we use for all of our engagement. Those tools really give us a lot of insight into what’s happening, and the levers we can pull to drive the behaviours that we want.

    Esther: Have you ever been just horribly misled by your data? An example of a time where the analytics seemed to be telling you something, you went in place, you went all in, you tried to answer a solution and it just completely backfired?

    Jeff: I don’t know that I’ve been totally misled by the data, but I have underestimated, often, the time, sometimes it takes to really make a change where you see a quantitative impact. The marketer and the executive in me, always want to see a stimulus and a response. Like, “Hey, we did this, and this happened.” Sometimes when you’re working on a product, it’s more of a slow burn. You do things and over time, it makes a big impact, but when you do it initially, you’re like, “Oh, well, we improved our conversion by 0.001% week over week.” Then you get, 52 weeks later, and you’re like, “Wow, conversion is actually up 10% now.”

    The thing that I think you have to look at when you’re either in marketing or product is the sustained commitment to what you’re doing overtime. There’s not a lot of things you can do that are just these quick hits where you’re going to see these immediate hockey sticks in your results. You hope there are those things, but for the most part– If you change components of your signup process, for example, you may not see that impact for a long time. Eventually, if you did it right, and you really studied it, and you did the right things, and you tested it, you will see that impact over the long term.

    That’s the view you have to have, is everything you’re doing is not just a quick hit, but it’s more of a very strategic, purposeful activity that’ll improve your metrics, improve your business over the long term.

    Esther: I think that’s something that’s really challenging for a lot of marketers because you’re in an industry where we look at channels like Facebook, and channels like UAC in Google, that you are accustomed to these really rapid– This was part of that trauma of iOS 14.5, is I don’t get to have my immediate metrics and my immediate [unintelligible 00:24:52], and what’s my return, and what’s my– I think it’s challenging to be able to get the budgets that you need, to market for something long-term.

    How do you balance that? How do you know that you’re actually spending your quarterly or yearly budget in such a way that can lead to this long-term growth, which on some level, has to rely on not the numbers right in front of you, but on these projected numbers?

    Jeff: It’s always going to be a challenge because marketing is part art and part science. There’s the stuff you can measure directly, and the stuff you can measure indirectly. I think taking a step back from just what your marketing budget is, I think it’s important for marketers to really focus on building organizational credibility. I think that’s a really important aspect of being a marketing leader that I think oftentimes, is overlooked. Like, when you start at a company, you’ll always do you, “I’m going to take 30, 60, 90 days, look at the landscape, understand what’s going on, and then come up with my plan, and then go execute.”

    That’s usually what most marketers do when they enter a company. That’s the right thing to do, but at the same time, you have to go in with your eyes wide open, that executives are going to look at, your CEO is going to look at, your board is going to look at. They’re going to look at you and say, “Hey, this is someone I expect to drive immediate results.” The long-term view of marketing, sometimes doesn’t align with what your CEO wants, or your CFO wants, or your board wants. What I’ve always done when I start a new job and start getting ramped up, is I try to figure out what I want to do longer-term, and then I try to figure out what I can do very fast.

    A lot of times when I started at a company, I’ll just go in and say like, “Oh, our collateral is all terrible, I’m just going to go update the collateral. I’m going to update our corporate brochures.” You would be amazed, just by doing those little things, how people start to look at you and say, “Wow, in like two weeks, Jeff just updated all of our collateral, and it’s amazing.” “Oh, wow, Jeff just built 20 landing pages. Jeff just got this campaign off the ground.” You have to do these things very fast, and take a velocity approach, like getting a lot of stuff done quickly to show that you know what you’re doing, you’re not screwing around, and you’re putting runs on the board, essentially.

    What you find is that, in an organization where people see you as being someone who’s highly effective at your job, oftentimes, they will then give you the benefit of the doubt on the things that take longer. They’ll say, “Well, Jeff’s really good at his job. Jeff’s very competent. He’s already done a lot of things. He clearly knows what he’s doing. We’re going to let him test into the optimal marketing program for the company. We’re going to go in knowing that he’s probably going to make some bets that are going to work out, and he’s going to make some bets that are not going to work out.”

    You build credibility, you set expectations around what it takes to really figure out the appropriate allocation of spend, and then you go at it. You don’t get too precious on any one marketing tactic. You say, “I’ve worked in a lot of companies in a lot of industries, and one thing I found is that some companies crushed it with AdWords, paid search. Crushed it. Other companies, paid search, you might as well have been throwing the money in the fireplace. Some companies’ social media, crushing it. In other companies’ social media, no one cares.

    You realize there’s no playbook to this stuff. You have to feel your way into what the optimal marketing plan for your company is, and that takes time. The way to buy yourself that time is to show that you know what you’re doing up front, and build that credibility. That’ll serve you over the long term with your company.

    Esther: This is excellent advice, not just in marketing, but maybe in every aspect of life, which is essentially you’re saying, you have to find your quick hits. The things you know to do, the things you know will be helpful, the things that are universal. This is, I’ve come in, I fix, I solve really quick, I get that credibility, I get to the point of, “Okay, he knows the quick wins, he’s effective, so we trust him to now guide us.” Instead of just react, to be able to say, “Okay, look, I’m doing something in this scale.”

    We’ll let you do it because we’ve seen you be effective, we’ve seen you hit that kind of– If I’m at your quarterly review, I can put a big checkmark on things that you’ve done in that initial stage without jeopardizing that, I guess you said organizational credibility, without it being, “Well, he’s still here and I’m still not seeing any results. Why did we bring Jeff in the first place?” I think that’s really solid advice.

    Jeff: Yes. The last thing you’d ever want to hear about a relatively new marketing person that was brought on board is someone who’s not in the marketing function, but like someone in finance, or the CEO saying, “What’s that person doing all day?” That, believe me, I’ve heard that exact thing said. If there’s one piece of advice I would give to marketing leaders when they come in, don’t come in and make your first initiative like ripping out the marketing automation tool and installing a new one. Don’t make that your first project because it’s going to take 12 months, you’re not going to show any results. By the end of it, you’ll probably be fired because it’s a very time-consuming thing.

    That’s something you do after you’d build that organizational credibility. People are like, “Oh, this guy knows what he’s doing.” Then you could take on those longer-term projects. If you do that, or even like a rebranding. Rebranding is really hard. Maybe that’s not the first thing you do. You might walk into a company and hate the brand. Don’t take that on first. Maybe take that on as your phase two [chuckles] of your plan. Get those runs on the board first, to show that you know what you’re doing.

    Esther: Yes. I think you probably also minimize potential animosity in that way. I’ve seen it also when somebody comes in and just wants to tear apart what everybody’s been working on for X amount of time before they’ve validated, “I’m doing this for us and for our value, and because I know what I’m doing. Not just because I’m trying to copy-paste what I’ve done previously, and kind of pull it in.” I’m interested also in the– I’d imagine you’d have a similar philosophy on the product side, right? Which is you’re coming in and you’re not focused necessarily on– Let’s say you’re coming in fresh and taking a leadership role on the product side, not ripping everything up to start with.

    What are some of the quicker wins, in a product capacity, that would be able to establish your credibility and the way that creating a ton of landing pages, redesigning collateral, those more instant levels that you can take on from marketing?

    Jeff: I think the same rules could apply to products. Where you want to go in, you want to study what’s working in the app, what’s not working in the app. Really digging deep into consumer insights around the app. Then figure out, “Okay, here’s my punch list of stuff that I think we should be doing.” Looking at that list, and then saying, “Okay, these are the things that are going to take a long time, these are the things that we can do relatively quickly.” Focusing on the quick wins first. You don’t want to go in as the product [unintelligible 00:33:15] and just say, “We have to re-architect the entire thing. Just tear it down and rebuild.”

    Maybe you do have to do that, but that’s a really big project. Whereas you can go in and say, “Hey, if we just add this button on the signup screen, we might reduce our drop off from account conversion by like 5%.” Do it, show the results, and build that credibility that, “Hey, we made this minor UX change, and look what happened.” Just doing those things. To be honest, every product out there has like a million of those things in there. Don’t get so enamoured with the big picture. Like, “Hey, we need to rip out the foundation and pour a new foundation.” Maybe you need to do that over time, but figure out the things you can do now, to build your portfolio of wins.

    Esther: It aligns nicely with what you say about meeting your user. If you look at it from you as a service provider to your user base, not just internally within the company, but if you’re meeting your users where you are, basically it’s not, how do I redefine the world of parking for everyone who’s coming in? It’s, how do I create instant satisfaction? Something that’s maybe smaller. A light web app that just gets somebody in, and gets them to pay, and gets that foot at the door.

    Then they give me enough trust to let me actually start going deeper, and taking my services further, and giving them more from my offering when I’ve hit that immediate fence of getting them that happy win and that quicker win.

    Jeff: Yes. 100%

    Esther: Jeff, are you ready for the quickfire round?

    Jeff: Yes, let’s do it.

    Esther: All right. If you could give just one tip to an aspiring mobile growth marketer, what would it be?

    Jeff: One tip for an aspiring mobile growth marketer would be, be very flexible in your approach to your work. Meaning, don’t be so rigid that you can’t constantly course correct, because your job is to essentially figure out what works. Like I said before, the same tactic may not work on different apps. Be very flexible, don’t believe you have all the answers, and test and learn as you go.

    Esther: Favorite mobile growth resource?

    Jeff: Favorite mobile growth resource is my network of people that I talk to constantly. You could read everything you want to read online, the best resource you have is your network. I always recommend to people, find other people in your industry, take them to lunch, in a COVID world, have more Zoom calls with them, because really, that’s where you’re going to get your insight. For example, I talked before about Braze. I talk a lot to other companies that use Braze-on their mobile apps. What are you doing? What’s working for you? Here’s what’s working for us. Sharing those ideas and best practices.

    I think that your network is your biggest asset, whether you’re trying to hire some new people for your team, whether you’re trying to learn something new, whether you’re trying to select a vendor. My resource is my network.

    Esther: Ties in very nicely with the next question, which is, let’s assume we’re post-COVID world, who’s the person in your network, in the growth industry, maybe somebody just outside of your network who you’d most want to take for lunch, and why?

    Jeff: The person I would probably most like to take for lunch, and I keep talking about Braze in this, but they’re a good partner for us. Sara Spivey is the CMO of Braze. The reason I’d want to take her to lunch is she’s super cool, and really fun to talk to, and really interesting. Two, unlike me, she sees what marketers are doing across like 100 different apps for their clients. The good thing about that is that I could ask her, “Well, who’s doing this well?” She’ll point me to that person. “Who’s doing this well?”

    She’s a great person to connect with, that will then help me solve my problem through her network. As I said, she’s super fun. She would be someone I would want to have lunch with when we’re back to in-person type meetings.

    Esther: Okay. Most important question is, what is your favourite type of pancake?

    Jeff: Favorite type of pancake would be, in Atlanta, there’s a place here called Highland Bakery. They have a pancake that’s a sweet potato pancake. I say that, it would sound kind of gross, but it is the most amazing thing you’ve ever eaten. The sweet potato pancakes from Highland Bakery, that’s my favourite pancake.

    Esther: Okay. I believe you only because we also have a place in Tel Aviv called Orna and Ella that makes sweet potato pancakes, and it is– They’re known like everywhere for these sweet potato pancakes, so I relate. I accept your answer.

    Jeff: I don’t like sweet potatoes, but I love these sweet potato pancakes [crosstalk].

    Esther: Wow. Even stronger push. Jeff, where can people find you if they want to hear more, see updates on when your book will be out? What’s the best place to keep track of yourself?

    Jeff: People can connect me on LinkedIn. Just look at Jeff Perkins ParkMobile on LinkedIn. My Twitter is Jeff Perkins, the number eight, so @jeffperkins8. Everyone should check out the website hownottosuckatmarketing.com. That’s the website where you can get information about the book release, I also have on there a really good list of recommended marketing resources, and I have a marketing acronym glossary because marketers love our acronyms. We’re one of the few functions, I think, few professions where a lot of marketers could actually talk in complete sentences using only acronyms. It’s important you know all the acronyms, and I have a whole list of them on my website.

    Esther: That’s genius. I have to tell you, I never realized how many acronyms we use that are not relevant anywhere outside of marketing, until we hire new people into the team, and you see the look on their face when you’re saying, and they’re just, “What are you talking about?” Kudos. I’ll take a look and see what I’m missing there. Jeff, thank you so much for joining us and for sharing all these tips. This was amazing.Jeff: Thanks, Esther. It was great to be with you.

    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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