Loren Austin

Mobile Marketing Manager • FutureAdvisor

Q&A with Loren

Loren Austin is the Online Marketing Manager at FutureAdvisor in San Francisco. The key to his success in marketing a mobile finance app is using re-engagement campaigns to educate users and convey the value of the app.


What does a quality mobile user look like for FutureAdvisor?
A quality mobile user for us is somebody who has existing investments, perhaps an old 401(k) or an IRA that they don’t know what to do with, and they want to learn more. Users who are going to get the most benefit out of FutureAdvisor are those with an existing investment portfolio that they’re able to link to our app and get free, personalized investment advice.

What tactics do you find work best to convert installs into engaged users?
I’ve been surprised at how well our re-engagement advertising works. The initial install is certainly useful but it only tells a very small part of the story. FutureAdvisor offers both free and paid, managed products. While the free products are great, the fee-based product that we offer to our users is really where our benefit comes into play. The benefits require a lot of explanation, and re-engagement ads offer us an opportunity to continue that conversation with users until we’ve conveyed our value.

What’s the biggest challenge that you’ve encountered in marketing an app?
The biggest challenge to me in marketing a finance app is that requires a lot of education and it requires a good deal of explanation prior to making people feeling like this is something that addresses the problem that they have. Everybody has a unique financial profile. Everybody has a unique financial situation and being able to explain how your product helps fit into that unique situation is very difficult on a small screen.

How do you feel about diversifying user acquisition channels outside of Facebook?
I think in mobile marketing there’s always one big player that everybody seems to flock to. Facebook is really a powerful tool in terms of targeting and how effective it is in reaching potential users. People spend more time on Facebook than on any other single app, so it’s natural that you’d want to spend marketing dollars to reach potential users. However, if you focus on only one channel, you’re going to miss out on a whole wealth of additional opportunities to speak to your audience. As in investing, when you’re marketing, you want to make sure you’re diversified.

How important are the holidays to your business?
Black Friday and Christmas aren’t exactly prime time for investment management, mainly because people are looking to spend their money rather than save it. However, once the holidays are over and people are starting to review their checkbook and pay their credit card bills, they start to think more about how they can grow their wealth in coming years. That’s really prime time for us and when we find our message is most resonant with our potential users.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made as a mobile marketer?
I’d say the biggest mistakes that I’ve made haven’t been doing something, it’s been not doing something. It’s been deciding that something’s not worth my time or not worth testing and that has, been a problem. The biggest mistake I’ve made as a mobile marketer has been not testing enough: Neglecting certain channels, certain mediums, thinking about my marketing initiatives as an isolated way of engaging users. I think that you really need to get comprehensive in your attack and about how you approach your relationship with users that you’re acquiring and retaining.

What’s one piece of advice that you’d give to other marketers of non-gaming apps?
Everyone will tell you that you need to pay attention to the data, and I’m not saying that you shouldn’t, but I’m also saying that you should not neglect the quality of the feedback that you’re getting directly from individual users. While broad trends will be uncovered by sifting through data that you attribute to specific IDs, the stories that your users tell you can be a way to uncover things you otherwise wouldn’t even begin to imagine. You can get a wealth of behavioral data, but the reason why a user clicked that button specifically isn’t really going to be uncovered. You really need to speak to your users, they’re more than happy to talk to you.

What is the most important KPI for FutureAdvisor?
The most important KPI for FutureAdvisor is upgrades to our managed service. We offer them three months of free managed service to try out the platform but getting them to the point where they’re willing to test us out is something that all of our efforts are geared towards. We feel strongly that once they have tested us, they will see the benefit and continue to use us long term. However, everything is geared towards explaining our product in such a way that the value is clear to our potential users.

What do you love about mobile marketing?
The thing that I like most about mobile marketing is the lack of historical baggage. I’ve worked in desktop marketing, but mobile is a new thing, it’s like the wild west, there’s always a bleeding edge to be on and that’s exciting.

What do you see as the next big thing in mobile marketing?
The next big thing to me is going to be a platform shift. You see people wherever you go, heads down, staring at their phones. The shift is going to be getting to the point where it’s heads up, whether that’s augmented reality or some sort of heads up display. We can only refine the screens we stare all day at so much. We need to get beyond that to have a real shift.