Mobile Growth & Pancake #2: Gaming Growth with Nadir Garouche

Episode two of Mobile Growth and Pancakes welcomes Nadir Garouche, Growth Marketing Manager at Oh BiBi. Nadir discusses his unique take on gaming communities: How they help him validate tests, develop new ideas and boost conversion rates.

In this episode of Mobile Growth & Pancakes, Esther Shatz is joined by Nadir Garouche, the Growth Marketing Manager at Oh BiBi, a French mobile gaming studio. They discuss ASO and the role of the community in generating higher CVR’s.

Nadir shares his experience from nine years in mobile growth, specifically how gaming communities help him validate tests, develop new ideas and boost conversion rates.

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

Connect with Nadir and Oh BiBi here:

Timestamps:

00:40 Introduction to Nadir and his role at Oh BiBi
02:00 This episode’s chosen strategy
03:40 Key KPIs 
07:05 How to find your community
09:20 Validating an idea
11:00 Nadir’s community infiltration strategy 
13:50 Community vs. testing and tool-based strategies
14:55 Quick-fire questions

Listen to the full episode here:

Or listen on:

Apple Podcasts
Spotify
Google Podcasts

Key takeaways from the episode: 

  • Nadir has over nine years of experience in game marketing. He is currently working as a Growth Marketing Manager for mobile game developers: Oh BiBi. Nadir previously worked with Tilting Point in Barcelona where he led the ASO team, built portfolio games, and worked with different clients as a part of their growth marketing agency. He also has experience managing SEO, UA and ASO for Spil Games and Gameloft.
  • To drive growth, Nadir emphasizes enhancing user engagement and diving into communities on social platforms for qualitative feedback and to source ideas to improve CVR.
  • 70% of new ideas can be generated by testing, brainstorming and studying competitor’s though the remaining 30% need to be gathered from the community. As surveys are time-consuming, community input should be requested once every 2-4 months. 
  • Nadir’s team also “infiltrated” a subReddit to gain feedback on icons prior to testing in the app.
  • Nadir’s advice to aspiring mobile growth marketers is to get a general sense of the gaming world, particularly action games. Learn how monetization works, try to understand what the community wants and then leverage digital platforms such as Udemy, Reddit, and YouTube for learning. 
  • Nadir mentioned that follow hashtags such as #uacritics on Twitter and Linkedin are one of the ways he stays up to date with the industry.

“Analytic tools speak with numbers, not explanations. We perform surveys to gather opinion”

Nadir Garouche

Main Transcript:

Esther Shatz: Welcome to the podcast, Mobile Growth and Pancakes. I am joined today by Nadir, who’s the Growth Marketing Manager at Oh BiBi. I’ll let you introduce yourself a bit further.

Nadir Garouche: Hi, so my name is Nadir, I’m from France. I’m currently based in Paris. Currently working with a mobile game developer called Oh BiBi, which makes one main title, which is called FRAG. It’s a mobile game shooter. Previously, I was working with Tilting Point, which is based in New York with offices in Ukraine and Barcelona. I was based in the Barcelona office. I was there for a few years. I was in charge of ASO back there. I was leading the ASO team, so working on ASO for Tilting Point’s portfolio of games, but also for those of its clients. Tilting Point was also acting as the growth marketing agency for other publishers and studios.

Previously, I also was working at Spil Games, which is a mobile game, web, and PC game publisher, based in the Netherlands. I was mostly in charge of everything, ACO and web UI. Also, did a bit of ASO for them when they started to launch some games. Also, I worked at Gameloft. A long time ago, actually, in between that, I was doing my own thing, let’s say. At Gameloft, I was also involved with mobile marketing and mostly with ASO.

Esther: You’ve been in the industry for a good long time.

Nadir: Yes. I don’t see it as a long time, because there is something new all the time and it’s always changing. It doesn’t feel like the same thing that I was doing, let’s say, five or 10 years ago.

Esther: For sure. I totally agree. Even just thinking about the early days of our foray into ASO, it’s such a different arena now. Let’s get into the topic at hand. You have a really interesting strategy that I want to discuss. Can you share the specific mobile app that you did this for?

Nadir: Actually, I’ve done it for a lot of apps. I haven’t tested it yet for the titles at Oh BiBi, but it’s something that I was doing a lot at Tilting Point. It’s about testing icons and all kind of assets. Even if you have a lot of ideas from studying your competition, from studying other apps, other games, from running tests, sometimes you don’t know why something is working or not working. You’re like scratching your head and you run out of ideas.

One thing that I tried one day, I was talking with the marketing team of a game and I told them, “Look, we have tested a lot of things.” It was for a puzzle game, it’s called Languinis. It’s a puzzle game, like mixing match-three with a scrabble. We were not able to find new icons, even though we’ve been testing new variants for a year. We couldn’t find something that could beat the previous icons and screenshots for a year. What I wanted to do was to involve the community, because the game has a pretty strong community of people. Going on Facebook and asking for help, or [unintelligible 00:14:37] also exchanging ideas or just sharing feedback on the game.

Esther: You mind if I stop you for a second? When you say you were having trouble improving your performance. First of all, what was the main KPI that you were looking at? Was it CVR? Was it something else?

Nadir: Yes, it was CVR. It was improving CVR. We always try and beat current assets by at least, I’d say, 20% before we apply something. That was the idea. In that case, what we’ve done was to try and involve the community. We basically did a survey, where we showed three types of screenshots. Let’s say, one of them puts the emphasis on the gameplay. Then the other one puts the emphasis on the characters that you can meet in the game. You have some animals in the game that are there when you play. They cherish you when you play, they cheer you up, et cetera.

For us, the hypothesis was that the characters were not so important but we couldn’t figure that out by just doing a test with Google Play Experiments or with tools like [unintelligible 00:16:03] or anything because tools they speak with numbers but they don’t speak with explanations. By doing this survey, we ask people, “Look at the first series of screenshots, the one with the gameplay, what do you think? Then look at these other series of screenshots, the one with the characters. What do you think?”

What people told us was that yes the Languinis, which were the characters in the game, are actually missing. We also had a series where we had the characters but really small. That’s what they told us. They told us the characters are not represented in the screenshots so we don’t really see them. For us, we were like, “Okay, maybe they make a point.”

Because we always assumed that the characters had some importance so we always put them either big or small but we never paid attention to that.

Then with this input, we would [unintelligible 00:17:10] redesign our screenshots. Then we run an experiment with larger characters. We put them really- let’s say taking three-quarters of the real state of the screenshots and then finally we got– I think by then we had maybe– The result of the Google Experiment was something like maybe 25% which we hadn’t–

Esther: Wow. You knew you rarely see that in a Google Experiment. [chuckles]

Nadir: Yes, sometimes you have such good numbers. For us, it was really really exciting because that’s not something that we could have assumed before because people like the game because of it’s game-play. Of course, there were characters but we could not really know that they really liked seeing them in the game.

Esther: Basically you found a community of already existing players from the app and that’s who you were talking to. First, how did you find the community? Was it through the app itself or were you searching elsewhere?

Nadir: For that particular game it was Facebook because the audience was mostly on Facebook. The audience was mostly women, let’s say 30 plus. That’s where they were interacting with the community management team. What we did was we just posted a normal Facebook post where we said, “Okay, we’re working on our new game page for stores. We’d love to involve the community. Can you please take a survey?”

We have tons of responses. I think maybe at least 100, maybe more. People were willing to share their inputs. People must be wondering, why did I ask current users and not new users. It’s because current users who like the game behave the same as new users who then download the game and enjoy it. That’s why it makes sense here. It did make sense because we indeed saw a bigger CVR afterward.

Esther: Yes, I like that. I think it’s actually really clever because you’ll see a lot of surveys before launch. Even if we’ve seen surveys and people we find don’t self-report well, meaning you say that one thing is appealing to you but when we actually look at what people are doing in the game and what’s caused that performance shift, it doesn’t connect with what they’ve reported.

When you’re going to a community, they already built an attachment to the game. They’re able to identify what they like about it already and I would assume that this creatives you have a leg up that you’re not just going to improve your conversion rate, you’re going to also probably improve your downstream metrics because you’re looking at the group of people who’re really heavy players and logging in and are excited to participate. I think that’s really really smart.

Also, I like the way you’ve balanced the quantitative with the qualitative. You went to the community for the ideas, and you validated in testing to make sure that what you were looking at actually made sense in your audience.

Nadir: Yes, exactly. That’s a way to validate an idea because sometimes you might think that you’ve picked the best assets, but you don’t really know why. In that case, when you ask the community, when you ask people, they will tell you why exactly. They will tell you is because of the character, because of the colors, because it’s complex to understand, and complicated to understand. They will provide you real input. It’s good to have both, it’s good to have metrics, from Google Experiments, from tools like yours, like [unintelligible 00:21:10] and the other ones, and to have let’s say inputs.

Esther: Has it ever backfired? Have you ever in the examples where you turn to the community, have they ever voiced something that you didn’t see performing well on the top of the funnel and conversion rate?

Nadir: Yes. For another game, in that case, it involved characters because it’s a story game, you basically meet a lot of characters in the game and you collect them. We also sometimes turn to the community to find new ideas or to validate an idea. In that case, we turned to Reddit because on Reddit the game which was more oriented towards teens and young adults, let’s say 15 to 25 years old. That community for that game was actually very active on Reddit because the game was really artsy, they were always making some art of their own, artwork of their own, and they’re really talking a lot about the conquerors, new episodes of the game, et cetera.

What we did there was actually cheated a bit, but I will explain. Basically one of our marketing team members infiltrated the community. I know it’s bad, but trust me.

Esther: It’s genius because this is where you’re hearing everything you need to hear now.

Nadir: Yes, a lot of other companies do that. It maybe sounds bad, but in the end, that’s a way to get close to your community, and if you don’t do anything wrong, I see it as perfectly ethical. I will explain it. Basically, we were running some experiments for some icons, which involve lots of characters. You had tons of characters, male, female. What we wanted to ask the committee was what they think of the icons we were testing. How we did it, I told the team, “Post a thread on Reddit and said, ‘Look, I cannot change the icon.”’ Actually the title didn’t change the icon, the image has been tested. The post was asking the community, “What do you think? What do you think of the new icon they’re testing or they’re using?” People are saying, “No, I don’t like this character, because he’s a cheater or blah, blah, is not fair. I prefer this old guy that they removed while ago.” That was perfect input for us because we really got something that we didn’t have before.

We then went back with the creative team and we used some character that they mentioned that they missed, removed some that they said they didn’t like anymore, and we tested that again, with the experiments and it validated the input that we got from our friends, that community.

Esther: I think that has probably also, it’s a secondary effect if you’ve got lapsed users who have the app still downloaded on their phone but haven’t logged in a while, you can change the icon and catch their attention, especially if it’s a beloved character that went away, that might have affected why they weren’t playing heavily.

Nadir: Exactly. Yes.

Esther: That’s awesome. You use your infiltration for good, not for, for evil.

Nadir: Yes, not not for bad things, not for compromising anything. I’d say, I recommend, of course, don’t abuse it. We haven’t done it a lot. I think we’ve done it just twice for two games. That’s it. Don’t do it often because otherwise, people will notice. Sometimes you might make mistakes like using your own name. or something like that but I think it’s important. Yes, you should try if you have a community you should try. Be there and sometimes, yes, I think it’s worth a shot.

Esther: I agree. What would you say is the ideal frequent– When are the times that you should turn towards the community versus when are the times that you want to stick to testing and other more traditional tool-based strategies?

Nadir: I think you can find 70% of new ideas by just testing and brainstorming and looking at what competitors are doing. I think that should be your main driver because it’s also time-consuming to know the community, it takes a lot of time. I would say, yes, 70% should come from your own research, 30% from the community. Yes, if you ask often I would say do that. I don’t know, once every three months or four months involve your community and see if you can find really new ideas for your icons or for your screenshots or your videos.

Esther: It makes sense. Perfect. That’s the meat portion and now I have our quick-fire round of questions that I ask everyone when they come onto the show, so get ready. First of all, if you could give just one tip to somebody who’s aspiring to be a mobile growth marketer, or just starting their journey, what would that tip be?

Nadir: I would say if you want to venture into that industry. First, you have to have a good sense of apps and games. Especially if you want to work in games, make sure you understand a whole mobile game, especially if you’re to make mobile games operate. What are the top games out there, see how they have changed through the time? Understand how they monetize users, understand what the community likes about the game. I don’t think there are many training programs at schools or universities about mobile growth. I’m not aware of any–

Esther: Not that I have heard of. [chuckles]

Nadir: Me either. I would say the best way to start will be to start with an internship if you are still like after grad if you just graduated. Someone asked me actually the other day online on Reddit, it’s a group that I was. Someone asked me, how would someone go into mobile marketing for games. At some point, if they are doing something I should say it should come from the eCommerce world or if you should come from– Let’s say if you come from apps but not games. I think the best way would be to use your free time and after work time to study.

They’re many like you can use Udemy, you can use Reddit, you can use YouTube, you can use a lot of areas to learn about let’s say ASO for games or how to run a Facebook campaign for games and stuff like that. I’m sure around you, you have some people who make their own games like some friends, so I will ask them, “Yes, you want me to help you with, I’ve read about ASO of games if you want I can help you with your game or I can help you with your Facebook campaign.” You can also do, like connect with the community. Of course now with the times of COVID depending on where you are, it maybe tough to–

Esther: Different type of connection, yes. [chuckles]

Nadir: I’m in Paris now. There are some meetups, so you can,– I think it’s the best way to make connections. That’s how I made a lot of connections for my career before the times of conferences, et cetera. I go to meetups and I go to let’s say a mobile game development meetup or mobile growth meetups in your city. You can also find things online right now. If you go to meetup, you also have lots of virtual meetups and then join some Slacks, the popular ones.

Esther: You’re tying really well into the next question, which is your favorite mobile growth resource. Maybe your favorite channel or your favorite app blog?

Nadir: Actually my favorite channels are, I would say LinkedIn and Twitter. Public ones where I just follow. Like on LinkedIn I make sure I follow–

Esther: All right. We have an infiltrator to this part,

[laughter]

Esther: to this part of the interview… joining the last few minutes she wanted to hear.

Nadir: [unintelligible 00:30:32]. I would say LinkedIn and Twitter. I have some search terms and some hashtags that I follow on Twitter to get updates on topics… the ones I’m involved with a lot like ASO mobile games, UA critics, iOS 14, [unintelligible 00:30:55] network, et cetera, et cetera. Same thing with LinkedIn. I am not involved with many Stack groups. Actually, just the main one that I’m spending a lot of time, actually not so much anymore because of time but was the ASO Slack Group. I think it’s a really nice community and it’s very diverse. You have people from all kinds of backgrounds and companies.

I would say if you’re new in the industry, I will say join that one, Also joined Mobile Dev Memo from Eric Seufert. I think it’s not for everyone, meaning it can be if you’re a newcomer to the–

Esther: A bit intimidating?

Nadir: Yes, because it’s a tough boys club. It can be intimidating. Sometimes it can be quite political, quite scary, and a lot of animosity but it’s full of great info. This is where you have all the latest trends shared and the latest news articles about Apple, about Facebook, et cetera.

Esther: Who is the person in the mobile growth world? Let’s assume Corona is behind us. Who would you most want to take to lunch and why?

Nadir: There are a lot of people. Actually the ones that I wanted to meet actually I met them before COVID at those conferences, like App Growth Summit, Mobile Growth Summit. I’ve already had lunch and drinks with a lot of them. Actually, I think the ones that I want to meet are the ones that no one knows about. I would like to meet let’s say, the smallest UA people. Let’s say at Plarium or at Playrix or all these companies that I know they’re doing a good job, but personally I’ve never met them because I know they go to conferences but they hide their names.

Esther: You want the people who aren’t giving the speeches but the people who are doing.

Nadir: Yes. That’s the one I want. For instance, now I would like to talk to, I don’t know who’s the lead UA/marketing for let’s say Raid from Plarium but that’s the guy or the girl that I would like to talk to, to have coffee or lunch with.

Esther: If you’re listening, head UA at Raid, you know who to call. You thought that was funny? Last question, and it’s the most important one. We’re called Mobile Growth and Pancakes and I have to know what your favorite type of pancake is?

Nadir: I’m a more sweet one, I would say just a normal one, let’s say the Canadian one with maple syrup with a nice cup of coffee.

Esther: You have a Canadian citizen right here so I think she’s inclined to agree. Her father’s Canadian. Good, pure Canadian maple syrup. Amazing. Madea, can you just tell people if they want to find you and maybe learn more or read up on what you’re doing, is there anywhere where they can check you out?

Nadir: Yes. Sure. I think the best way is LinkedIn. This is where I’d say I share the most. You can just find me on LinkedIn, Nadir Garouche, just my name. I’m also on Twitter, not frequently posting but I’m there and happy to share things with people. I’m on Twitter, my handle is just Nadir. Just my name. You can find me easily. Also, we mentioned the ASO Stack, this is the Slack that is where I go at least once a day so people want to catch me. Also if they’re not connected with me on LinkedIn or anywhere else, they can DM me there or ask questions, I’m an open book.

Esther: Perfect. Okay Nadir, thank you so much. Super helpful and super interesting.

Nadir: You’re welcome.

About Esther Shatz
Esther is a UX nerd with a natural aversion to sunrise, morning people, and birds. After consulting on website UX for clients like Disney, Walmart, and Skype, she moved into the world of mobile and now obsessively searches for new App Store tricks to share with her clients and random passerby. Hobbies include coffee, hula-hooping and making soup.