Episode #10: Growth Without Paid UA With Dora Trostanetsky

Join our own Esther Shatz and Dora Trostanetsky from SoundCloud, to hear about the audio platform's amazing journey to the top of the charts, without even spending money on UA.

We’re counting till ten already! And in the tenth episode of Mobile Growth & Pancakes, Esther Shatz is in conversation with Dora Trostanetsky, Director Growth Marketing at SoundCloud.

Dora shares why SoundCloud only recently started investing in paid user acquisition, details of how the company onboard users, and how ASO benefits for big brand names.

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

Connect with Dora here:


0:57 – Dora’s Introduction 
1:38 – SoundClouds focus KPIs
2:28 – Introducing SoundCloud
3:28 – SoundCloud’s audience
05:20 – How was SoundCloud able to grow without paid channels?
07:18 – Challenges for Dora upon joining the team
10:25 – Competitor keywords
13:13 – The right strategy for optimization
17:17 – Developing keywords that convert
18:09 – Trends that have led SoundCloud to consider paid channels
19:05 – Keyword strategies that perform
21:15 – Getting people to download and use SoundCloud
25:17 – Reacting to user preferences in the short and long term
32:38 – How does growth continue once a user has been retained?
36:10 – Quickfire questions

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“If you want to thrive in mobile growth: go and educate yourself by spending many hours reading, read everything” 

Dora Trostanetsky

Key takeaways

  • Dora believes that vanity metrics provide an excellent holistic view of the organic growth of a business: monthly users is an example. To go a layer deeper, she checks the number of users that revisit the app daily, which more accurately portrays engagement
  • Dora states that it’s imperative to understand user engagement, and in SoundCloud’s perspective, this is defined by the listening time of the users
  • According to Dora, listening time is the number one metric that shows user engagement and demonstrates that people gained value from SoundCloud
  • SoundCloud has millions of downloads, and the majority of the population of users comes from the USA, UK, and Western Europe
  • SoundCloud primarily relies on organic traffic; the organization has not previously used paid channels to grow users, which is a truly magnificent achievement in such a competitive industry 
  • SoundCloud has recently started experimenting with paid channels to garner faster growth as the field is getting more and more competitive
  • Dora states that content discovery is not limited to music apps anymore; with new competitors like Tik Tok, it’s a wonder that SoundCloud has still been able to grow organically
  • Dora believes that many online and offline factors have contributed to this organic growth. Offline factors like word of mouth and sharing of content between peers. Another offline factor that probably played a significant role was that SoundCloud had been the perfect platform for novice artists to record and publish their work with minimal friction. People often also visit SoundCloud to discover new content, and such artists
  • When Dora joined SoundCloud in June 2019, things were rather haywire; many things were not optimized
  • The first step Dora took was to optimize the keywords, specifically on iOS. While there were a few keywords with low relevance, the app was still ranking relatively high, which led to excellent levels branded traffic
  • This raised the question to Dora: “what would be the result of keyword optimization in this scenario?”. The answer came in the form of significant positive results where SoundCloud was able to garner more traffic from not only from the same sources but also from users searching for other music platforms
  • In other words, at times, even when a user searched for a competitor’s app, SoundCloud would rank, capturing their competitors branded traffic
  • Thanks to this strategy, SoundCloud was able to reach second place for music category apps with just organic growth
  • Dora believes that with organic growth, the process consists of mostly trial and error, where many keywords are tested for results before being permanently incorporated into a keyword set
  • It’s best to test as many keywords as possible, giving each a couple of weeks to gauge results accurately
  • This method can help any organization develop a better set of keywords that are likely to increase rankings. However, this would be a mix and match scenario, according to Dora, where 70% of keywords may bring the majority of the results

Three crucial insights on the connection between organic mobile installs and paid installs

What billions of data points taught us on paid and organic installs?

    Full Transcript:

    Dora Trostanetsky: If you just start in growth, go and read a lot. There are literally all kinds of guides, all kinds of learning centers online. For me, this will be one of the first things to do. Go and educate yourself by taking a lot of hours at the beginning and read. Read all this data.

    Esther Schatz: Welcome to Mobile Growth and Pancakes, a podcast by Storemaven. We break down how and why mobile apps grow. In each episode, we invite a mobile growth expert onto the show to break down a specific mobile growth strategy, how it worked, why it worked and what they would do differently. I’m your host Esther Schatz. Welcome to Mobile Growth and Pancakes. I am very excited to be joined today by Dora Trostanetsky, who’s the Director of Marketing at SoundCloud. Dora, you want to introduce yourself quickly?

    Dora: Hi, Esther. Hi. I’m very happy to be here. Thank you so much for the invitation. Hi, everyone. My name is Dora. I work at SoundCloud. I’m part of the growth marketing team and I’m taking care of organic acquisition, that means ASO, SEO, as well as retention and engagement up until recently. I hope I have exciting and interesting things to share with you today.

    Esther: I have no doubt about that. Obviously, we’re going to be talking about SoundCloud specifically. When it comes to the growth metrics that you’re looking at, what are some of the main KPIs that you focus on when you’re looking at success of organic growth, of any kind of growth?

    Dora: There are quite a few of them. We can talk about the very basic ones that we can also call a little bit vanity metrics. It shouldn’t be the only metric that you’re looking at, but to get a very holistic idea of if your business is growing and how you’re doing, we’re looking obviously at monthly active users, then we’re looking also one level deeper into stickiness, how many of our daily active users are coming back, so what is the Dow and Mau ratio. This is also something we’re looking at. Obviously, for us, it’s very important to understand user engagement. In our case, this translates into listening time.

    For those who are not familiar with SoundCloud, I think I didn’t introduce SoundCloud. It is a music platform where you can find music to listen to or have podcasts to listen to. You can also upload your own music or audio of any kind, and then find an audience on the platform. Obviously, listening time for us it’s extremely important. This is, I think, the number one engagement metric that shows us that people have found value, so we would really want to increase the listening time that users are spending. These are just a few of the KPIs. Obviously, we’re looking at even deeper levels, but this is already a good start.

    Esther: SoundCloud, if anybody hasn’t heard of it, it’s quite a big name. Just to get an idea of scale, are we looking at in the hundreds of millions of downloads? Generally what kind of audience size are we looking at?

    Dora: Yes, we’re looking at millions of downloads, this is correct. Of course, I think without surprise, our biggest markets are US, UK, then Western Europe. Also actually, Egypt is pretty big, Brazil, we have like a lot of markets and we’re very happy that SoundCloud is such an international product. It’s really not only focused in one specific market, but it’s internationally known.

    Up until today, we see actually a lot of organic traffic coming in. Even up until recently, we haven’t done any paid, we were actually really relying on organic, this was our source of traffic, and then we’ve just recently started experimenting with some paid channels because this field is is extremely competitive. You can think of so many other companies doing similar things. Content discovery is not limited to music apps anymore. We have companies like TikTok. Of course, we have companies like YouTube, they’re around for a very long time now. It is a very, very competitive field and it has been pretty amazing journey that we’ve we’ve managed to still grow only with organic traffic.

    Esther: It’s insane actually to be able to grow for years without spending a single UA dollar I think is definitely rare. I think a lot of people listening are going to be very jealous of that fact. What do you think is the overall reason that SoundCloud was able to grow without needing to acquire traffic and acquire users?

    Dora: That’s a pretty good one. Honestly, we’re always trying to pinpoint because there’s so many offline factors. It’s not only online, because online, you can track and you can say, “Oh, we have people sharing,” which is true, people are sharing their content whether they upload it or they liked something, they found something, they share with their friends. I think definitely, also, there are so many offline factors, like word of mouth. People are talking about it, our audience is very young. You can imagine that people going to school or to university, you’re hanging out with your friends, you’re finding new artists and then you share it with your friends.

    Another pretty great thing about SoundCloud is that it really is the place where you find artists that are just starting. There’s bedroom artists that just recorded their first tracks, they haven’t gained popularity just yet. People are going to SoundCloud to discover this completely new content, and really find something new and unique before it really hits the charts, which happens several times. I would say this is also one of the reasons why we continue actually growing organically, really this unique value proposition.

    Esther: Amazing. SoundCloud is a very recognizable brand. I think most people have at least heard of SoundCloud, if not used it, or at least logged in once when somebody sent them a song link or something like that. You came in needing to optimize a brand that is so recognized and increase organic traffic, is it even possible? How does that work? How do you come in and tackle something that it feels like, “All right, you’ve heard of SoundCloud? Either you’re using it or you’re not.”

    Dora: Actually, also very good question. I really like to share this story because myself I was extremely surprised. When I started working at SoundCloud last year June, not last week, this was the time when there was no ASO ways. There were some random keywords running in the background. Nothing was optimized. When I started, one of my first missions was to go and optimize the keywords, and specifically, on iOS. We had this few, not very relevant keywords in the background and we were already ranking super well for the majority of keywords.

    You can imagine keywords like music, music app. We were already there. We were already in the one of the first results, and we were having great brand traffic, pretty good keyword traffic. My first thought was like, “Is this going to work at all? Even if I optimize the keywords, we’re already ranking so well. What will it bring?” Of course, I’ve done it any way because why not, we should see what’s happens, but I didn’t have much faith in it. I thought it’s not going to really move the needle.

    Surprisingly, it did, and not with little, but with a lot. By optimizing the keywords, putting the ones that are, in our cases, very lucky because we already ranked for high volume keywords, which isn’t the case obviously for a company that just starts and wants to build their ASO, but by including very relevant keyword into our keyword field, into our title and subtitle on iOS, we have seen really, really good increase in semantic dictionary, so the more generic keywords that are not brand related, but also very surprisingly, we have seen a great increase in traffic coming from similar brands.

    What happened is the following, the brand traffic did not change much, it was pretty stable, because we were already obviously number one for keywords like SoundCloud or some kind of misspellings that people would do, but for the generic keywords and the similar apps, we actually grew a lot. We started being ranked better for our competitors and it was all linked, actually. I was very surprised to see these results.

    Esther: Just I want to make sure I clarify. The similar apps in Apple, those are when you’re in somebody else’s app store page, you scroll down to the bottom, there’s that area of apps you may also like, or kind of the you didn’t want to download this one, what else do you have? What you’re saying is your keyword work enabled you to show up in more of those similar apps areas?

    Dora: This and also when people type another brand keywords. Meaning, if they type a competitor’s name, we’ll be actually ranked better, which wasn’t always the case before. This is what I mean also but you’re right, similar apps is actually what shows up when you scroll or when you’re on somebody’s private page. In that case, I also include how we’re ranking for a competitor keywords.

    Esther: Amazing. I think sometimes you think about competitor keywords as what chance do I have if somebody already decided that they want to download YouTube, and I’m kind of shoving something else in their face. It’s a very hard sell to be able to put in, but you’re saying you actually saw really solid results from being able to increase those rankings.

    Dora: Absolutely have seen results, and best part was, a couple of months later, when I was doing one of the reports, the monthly reports, we actually hit the second position in the US.

    Esther: Wow.

    Dora: Number two, we’re number three now in category of music with only organic traffic. It was such a great moment. We historically haven’t had this position before and when you look at average per month, obviously, if you look at dailies, it probably happened here and there. We look at average per month for our category-ranking and we were number two. I think it was October last year when this happened, and now we’re swinging between second and third position, but we should also say that our competitors have been very aggressive with spend, with paid acquisition.

    As we all know in iOS what matters most is number of installs. Whoever drives the most installs has a higher position. Nevertheless, swinging between second and third position, it’s still very good, but reaching number two with only organic traffic was the- [crosstalk]

    Esther: It’s insane.

    Dora: [unintelligible 00:12:23] great experience, for sure.

    Esther: No, it is amazing. Category ranking is the kind of thing that once you finally secure your UA budget, that’s when you can start to dream about reaching those top slots. It’s just insane that you were able to do it organically. That’s awesome. I guess it would be great to understand a little bit more practically when it came to those keyword optimization.

    You mentioned a lot of your traffic was coming from brand keywords, you were ranking highly, what kind of work does it take to optimize from that already high situation? What kind of processes did you go through to be able to make that improvement?

    Dora: Honestly, there is no much secret there. It’s really literally a trial and error kind of thing. I would say if you test a new keyword and new keyword combination and if you don’t rank among the top five, I think you should reconsider, maybe okay, [unintelligible 00:13:35] your top 10, it’s debatable. There is no very strict rule about it, but basically what I’ve learned a lot is we tried to, of course, go for the biggest keywords. We tried everything.

    For some of them it worked but for some others it didn’t. We really were ranking number 40 for just keyword, or 30, or whatever and as much as this keyword was very relevant for us, it didn’t make sense to keep it because we were not getting any traffic from it. There is no secret. It really is one thing, go and test as many keywords and keyword combinations, give it a couple of weeks to make sure that this information has been picked up and you’re sure about seeing the right results.

    Even I’ve made this test with leaving one keyword it wasn’t bringing– we were not ranked very well for that keyword but it was such a relevant keyword that I really wanted to let it run for more than a couple of weeks just to see if Apple learned that we really want to-

    Esther: Change their mind. [laughs]

    Dora: Change their mind. I think it partially worked. We probably gained a couple of positions but I don’t think it’s because we left it longer there. It’s just because probably something else changed, but really trial and error. Go ahead and try all kinds of keywords and keyword combinations and this is how you’re actually going to find a set that works for you and after a couple of months of experiments and testing, you’re going to have a very stable keyword sets, probably, let’s say, 70% of these keywords will really bring you good traffic and then with another 30% you can play.

    You can remove them, you can put new ones, and this is how we optimize, but at certain point, you will probably find keywords that work pretty well for you. It won’t be a drastic change. It will be more like a maintenance. At least that’s what happens in our case.

    Esther: I think you said a few things there that are amazing. One is this idea of experimentation, because I totally agree, there’s no magic with keywords. There’s no way to just know that something is going to work for you and, “Okay, I’ve put this keyword in, great, now I’m going to start getting traffic.” I think that that idea and the patience of you’ve got to give a time. You can’t expect three days after a change to really be able to understand what kind of impact there’s been there.

    I think the other thing that you said that I also really connect with is this idea of when you’re already poorly ranking, so for me, I see a pretty much anywhere where you’re, I think you said it as well, under 10 it’s so much harder. Even if you’re running these optimizations, it’s so much harder to push your ranking, and you don’t really see much of a difference if you’ve moved from even 40 to 30.

    It’s not actually tangibly something that makes an impact but when you’re in those higher keywords, if you’re pushing from five to four, from four to three, so on and so forth, that’s where you actually start to have an impact. I think that’s super important of this, not trying to optimize the keywords that you can’t break through. You can’t break through on them adding one tag here or there is probably not going to make that difference.

    I also love this idea that once you’ve done your initial work, you have your core keywords, and then you still have this area to play around with. You’re not sacrificing what you’ve built, you just have this groundwork, and then the add-ons, the little side ones to be able to maintain.

    Esther: Absolutely. I think the biggest lift is really in the beginning when you start the day. After that, you’re very familiar with the keywords and how they work for you, but things change. I would even advise, why don’t you just test even keywords that haven’t worked in the past? You can try again because this obviously changes.

    Esther: Yes. Something else that changes a lot I’d say is your competitor’s space, especially in the music industry. I’m sure you have competitors that are launching fairly frequently, that maybe can shake up the industry, maybe can’t, but their strategies are changing. If your competitors are suddenly bidding really aggressively in certain places, your performance probably also is being shaken because of that. That kind of touching base to make sure the industry hasn’t moved on without you is definitely important.

    Dora: Yes. This is why we’re actually testing also with pay channels. We’ve noticed that everybody is investing so heavily in paid. It’s great to have such a high organic traffic, but it cannot go forever, so at a certain point you have to consider other options, like the pay channel.

    Esther: In general, at some level, the platforms are also changing. Apple are updating their algorithms at some level of frequency, which means that the things that worked for you two years ago, probably don’t work for you in this new iOS and these new rankings. When it comes to measuring the impact and understanding how it works, what are you– We talked about the KPIs you look at overall for growth, but specifically with keyword strategies, what are you looking for to see if a strategy was successful or not?

    Dora: This is a bit of a complicated thing to really understand your true impacts. What we do is we rely on our ASO so we have to wait for that, and then we go ahead and they have a very nice chart where it shows you your generic versus brand keywords versus similar brands volume, so actually you can understand the volume over time. This is where we can get a good understanding of basically a trend, are we going upward or downward, et cetera?

    Another good thing we can see also on the platform is how recognized you are as a brand, so how strong your brand is and what is your visibility on the store. These are good indicators, but then if we want to understand really numbers, then we go to the iTunes Consult and then we look at our search traffic. We usually look at the browse and search because we know that historically, Apple has misattributed some of the results to browse and it started shifting.

    Just in case, we’re looking at both to understand the big picture. This is where we try to understand whether our traffic has increased coming from this specific source. It’s a blend of different sources that we’re looking at to really understand the impact of our organic traffic.

    Esther: Awesome. We talked a lot about top of the funnel and how we get users in when getting them to discover the app. Let’s take it a step further, so you’ve gotten a user to download. I know you’ve done a lot in the world of onboarding flows as well and testing processes there. How does that work? How do you tackle, it’s half the battle getting the download, but you don’t actually get anything– user who downloads and never logs in doesn’t help you all that much. How do you start that process?

    Dora: Yes, that’s one of my favorite topics. Before we get to activation what I would like to mention is that we also work closely with the paid marketing teams at SoundCloud to ensure that the user journey is pretty seamless in a sense that they see the paid banners, for example, and then go to the App Store and have the same design. I just wanted to say that another call out that I would make is definitely work with the paid marketing team, make sure that your screenshots and paid media banners are following the same design post. I don’t know what’s going on with my voice.

    Esther: No, but that is I think it’s something that you see a lot in larger companies, especially when you have different teams covering completely different aspects. If you don’t have the consistent messaging, everybody hits the App Store and everybody hits your app. There’s not much you can do about that and if you have the best UA campaign in the world, if it doesn’t match consistently with everything that happens after, it’s only going to go so far.

    Dora: Right, maybe consistent. Obviously, we’re trying to be on-brand everywhere, but that might sound very obvious and somebody would say, “Yes, of course,” but I have seen different ways. Just because there is the silos between teams, they’re not working closely, so just a small call out to keep in mind. Going back to activation, and activation is also one of my favorite, favorite topics.

    Obviously, depending on your product, you can have a different type of onboarding, some products are so seamless you don’t need a [inaudible 00:22:44] It really depends on the product. In our case, what we really wanted to achieve is get some first signals from our new users of what they like so that we can be more personal in our suggestions on the platform.

    What we’ve done is that we worked with an agency and together with our CRM team, we built an onboarding experience from scratch where we asked people to tell us a little bit more about their music preferences, what type of genres they actually like, and this is coming right after they can sign-up. This is already informing us what people like and it allows us to serve them very personalized messages based on their genre and already try to help them find the content they like on the platform.

    Once they start listening, we’re actually going to educate and how to build their library, how to reconsume this library. This is actually something that we haven’t had before, and it has worked also pretty well. We have seen people engage with more content, liking more content, listening to more music. Definitely, in our case, this type of activation was necessary and I can say only good thing so far. Fingers crossed it’s going to continue like this, but it makes a lot of sense.

    When a user comes in, it doesn’t really know what the value of your product is, so why don’t you just help them out find it as quickly as possible because attention span is becoming shorter and shorter, and think about all the apps you have on your phone. You download something, you sign up, and don’t find the need what you’re looking for, likelihood of you staying is very small.

    Esther: I think that’s a good point. On the one hand, you want to be able to provide a personalized experience, which means finding out as much as you can about the user, getting them to fill as much as they can, but you mentioned also there’s that limited patience. How do you balance that information will make your long-term user journey so much more valuable, but in the short-term, how do I make sure that you have the incentive to fill in all these preferences and complete and not just jump past that?

    Dora: Well, we have to be fair here and say that quite a few people are used to dismiss things, so we see that behavior a lot. A lot of users are dismissing the screens, they are not answering anything, but we’re also mindful of something is that our SoundCloud users are very knowledgeable when it comes to music, so they have very strong preferences. Very often, they come to the platform and they’re like, “I don’t need to tell you what I like, what genres, I already know what I’m looking for. I already know everything about music.”

    We know that we have these very knowledgeable educated people in terms of music, so we understand that some of them they don’t necessarily like to be guided, but for others, this works pretty well. You cannot really avoid that. You will always have people that will skip this onboarding, they will be impatient, or they don’t necessarily find value in it, and this is where iteration comes in. This is where you say, “Okay, let’s see how many people skipped the screen.” Maybe what we’re asking them doesn’t show any value for them.

    This is actually one of the tests I want to share we’ve done at SoundCloud. It’s one of the videos that I want to share, actually. Currently, in our onboarding, when you sign-up, you’re going to see a screen where we actually asked you what you like in terms of music genres. This is helping us inform a little bit more our algorithms and then showing you the right content.

    We had a pretty high skip rate and we were thinking, “Okay, maybe we’re not telling people what’s in it for them.” What is the benefit for them because, obviously, this is to inform us what they like and then show them immediately some results relevant, but we don’t really explain to them what’s in it for them. What we’ve done is that we introduced another screen just before the genre selection screen where we were explaining to the users what is the benefit, why are we doing it.

    We even tested five or six value propositions and we were thinking, “Okay, great. Now we’re giving them the why, maybe they will give us a little bit more as well.” It completely killed the conversion. It was-

    Esther: Oh, my God. [chuckles]

    Dora: It completely killed it. It was really a friction point. People couldn’t care less. They didn’t want to read, so we removed it. We were trying to really give them the why, but it didn’t seem to matter much, I guess.

    Esther: I think this is also why testing is so important because, logically, of course, it makes sense that you’re saying, “I’m about to ask you a bunch of personal questions and make you feel something out. Let me tell you why I’m doing this.” Not that way, apparently. You could see a company putting that in and being super proud of, “We AV tested the design of this page and it’s a great,” and then discovering that, in fact, this was another step that nobody– I guess, it also maybe didn’t hit the reason of why people were skipping that screen.

    It wasn’t because they didn’t understand why, it’s because like you mentioned. Actually, now that you say and I’m thinking about myself as a user and I look at those screens, and I’m like, “I like a lot of genres. Why am I going to pick of these? I don’t need to pick these.”

    Dora: You can pick as many as you like. That’s totally fine. We don’t limit. You can pick as many as you like, for sure.

    Esther: No, I think that’s a really good point that you thought you solved step one, but it was the counter resolving. I want to touch on-

    Dora: [unintelligible 00:29:02]

    Esther: I love fails, you got to be able to see what doesn’t work to really know what actually does. You mentioned before you worked closely with your CRM team on the experimentation but not the product team, is there a reason you go through the CRM team for the onboarding step?

    Dora: Yes. Good question on that one. The product team was actually very involved. What we are doing at SoundCloud is that very often instead of the product team working on a feature for a very long time, we can first try it for CRM to prove the value of this functionality. Onboardings, it was just much faster to get executed for CRM. It’s not ideal because obviously when increasing the product, it can really interact better with the internal algorithms and then have an even bigger impact, but with CRM could be limited for some things, it’s really good for proving the point of whether it makes sense or not, and whether people will engage or not. It also gives you this flexibility of constantly testing things without the need of much engineering work.

    CRM it goes much faster. We’ve known so many tests for our onboarding, so many, and we’ve learned so much that now the product team can take this information and say, “Okay, this is what worked, well, this one didn’t work. This is the type of message that really resonates with the user,” and then they can build it in the product. We see CRM as also a great way to prove that something could work, and then the product can pick it up.

    Esther: I think that probably also enables a testing culture and an ability to test. If you don’t need product to fully design every single experience, you’re able to work with an MVP that maybe isn’t perfect and it’s not the experience you go for, but at least you know the direction now, and you don’t have to start from scratch and then scrap it all and try again in the next time.

    Dora: Exactly, it takes them longer. It takes the product in much longer to do that. With CRM, you can just build it much quicker and then you can iterate on it much quicker. I think it’s a great tool to use for testing, even like product ideas in the roadmap instead of wasting a couple of months on something that might not work, just first try it with CRM if possible. It has worked pretty well for us.

    Esther: Just one to finish this off, we talked about, the top of the funnel, we talked about getting people actually and in using. What happens after? Does acquisition if we’re looking at MAU and DAU and getting the understanding of people who are coming in every day, how does growth continue after you’ve gotten somebody onboarded and through that hurdle?

    Dora: Are you referring to how we retain them longer?

    Esther: Yes. Do you look at users differently when they’re– you’re learning a lot about your users. Do you have buckets, does that change how you work with them in the future?

    Dora: Absolutely, yes. We do have buckets. Absolutely. SoundCloud’s case is very complex because we have a very different type of users. Imagine all the genres you can think of, all the artists you can think of. We have people with very different behaviors, very different tastes, different frequency of usage.

    We’re definitely trying to become more informed and more precise into understanding our audience of what exactly makes them stay. What we have learn in the past, we ran a lot of analysis, a lot of cohort analysis and trying to understand any pattern, anything in common, why are people staying, what is the user behavior they exhibit. Maybe they’re doing something more than others, and this is our indicator of success and retention, and then the answer came back was a little bit disappointing in a sense that we didn’t have the silver bullet we were hoping for. It literally didn’t have a very clear pattern.

    What we looked, we looked at our power users, so people who really listen a lot. They’re very active on a monthly basis. We were expecting to see a very similar behavior, say they like a lot, or they create playlist a lot, or any action on the platform that will show some sort of engagement. It was very interesting to find out that it was completely spread all over the place. We had people that didn’t like much, but they listened a lot. We had others that liked a lot and listened a lot, and then there was no clear winner where we say, “Okay, this specific engagement, a metric is going to be an indicator of success and retention.” This didn’t come, unfortunately, out of this analysis.

    We’re definitely trying to bucket our users, understand engagement, understand frequency, understand type of usage, and then adjust this users also with different messaging, become more relevant for them. What we’ve noticed is that from very highly engaged users, so power users, people who really listen a lot, we don’t bother them much with messages, suggestions or anything, because we know that they don’t like it very much. They dismiss the messages.

    It’s not as relevant because they already know what they’re looking for and they know what they want. It’s important to be very mindful and not go with the same message to everybody, but understand your buckets, what makes sense for them. Especially does it even makes sense to send them anything. You don’t want to disturb or disrupt their experience on the platform.

    A lot of complexity involved for us on that level. Another important thing that we always love seeing, because is one of this growth loops that it’s no secret to anybody or unique to SoundCloud, but it’s obviously we like when people not only find what they like to listen to, but also share it with they’re with their friends, where their networks, with everybody. This is, I think, one of the favorites things for any company.

    Esther: When your users market for you, it’s the best.

    Dora: This is a wonderful [unintelligible 00:35:58] We’re only [unintelligible 00:36:00]

    Esther: Quick fire round. The questions that we ask everyone when they join. First of all, if you could give one tip to somebody who’s just starting out in growth marketing, in mobile growth marketing, what would it be?

    Dora: I definitely have this one tip to give. When I started, I started with ASO couple of years ago, and I had no clue. I had really no clue. I was really to learn everything from scratch. The one tip I have is go online and then find all your resources. There are absolutely amazing resources out there. Back in the days when I was starting, there were very, very few resources, today is more than. If you just start in growth, go and read a lot, just read a lot of this information, they’re literally all kinds of guides, all kinds of learning centers online.

    For me, this will be one of the first thing to do. Go and educate yourself by taking a lot of hours at the beginning and read all these things. This helped me tremendously and answered a lot of my questions. Part of this tip is also joined the relevant Slack groups. There are quite a few now. We have an ASO dedicated Slack group and there are many other mobile related Slack groups. This is where you can ask your questions, connect with the community and read to what other people have to share. I think these two things for someone that starts, and not even if you start, I do it all the time. Just do these things and you’ll be fine. The rest will come.

    Esther: You bring me right to my next question, which is, what’s your favorite mobile growth resource. What’s your favorite area to tap into?

    Dora: I don’t have one. I have too many, all the mobile related one. There’s the Mobile Dev Memo. Of course we have Phiture. We have a lot of ASO great blogs. In CPO, for example, I love it. We have your resource, of course, that I absolutely love. There’s too many actually. [inaudible 00:38:24] and then read them all out, but these are the interesting ones, just the name a few. Of course, more and more people are now writing newsletters. For example, [unintelligible 00:38:36] started, he started. I highly recommend it. It’s really a great read. There are many great sources out there.

    Esther: Is there one person in the mobile growth world that if corona ends, we go back to normal, one person that you’d want to take out for lunch and why?

    Dora: Brian Balfour from Reforge. When all the great Reforge programs and the growth [unintelligible 00:39:11] this will be definitely very interesting conversation. I can learn a lot, but it’s not really limited to this one person, there are a couple more.

    Esther: It’s a good start. Most important question. What is your favorite type of pancake?

    Dora: Oh, my God. cinnamon Pancake.

    Esther: Now I want cinnamon pancakes. Dora, that was amazing. One more thing is just where can people find you if they want to learn more, reach out.

    Dora: I’m literally on all the Slack channels of all the groups, so please feel free to Slack me. Also LinkedIn it’s a great place to connect as well.

    Esther: Awesome, Dora. Thank you so much.

    Dora: Thank you so much, Esther. It was great chatting and wish everybody a great day.

    Esther: That was Mobile Growth and Pancakes. To find out more about StoreMaven and how we can improve apps for performance, visit www.storemaven.com and then make sure to search for Mobile Growth and Pancakes and Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google podcasts, or anywhere else podcasts are found and click subscribe so you don’t miss any future episodes. On behalf of the team here at StoreMaven, thanks for listening.

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      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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