Sami Khan

Senior Director of Marketing
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Q&A with Sami

Sami is the Senior Director of Marketing at Acorns in Newport Beach, CA. Bitten by the entrepreneurial bug at a young age, Sami quickly realized that the success of his app was directly tied to marketing and vowed to become a mobile marketing expert.

How did you get into mobile marketing?

When I was 22, I started a photo sharing app, but spent way too much time working on development and not enough on marketing. It was the failure of my first start up that inspired me to never fail at marketing an app ever again.

What do you like most about mobile marketing?

The instant feedback. The quick learning. The fast thinking. It’s almost addictive, watching the data pour in and trying to figure out how to make that next click even more valuable.

What is the biggest mistake you made as a mobile marketer?

The biggest mistake is thinking your hunch is the only path to success or thinking a single feature will make something viral. Until you have the data, a hunch is more like a shot in the dark, hopefully in the right direction.

What does it take to succeed in mobile marketing?

Without a doubt, to be able to think outside the box. Digital marketing is, in many ways, the wild west. No one knows where the next hit will be, so you have to keep trying, iterating everywhere you can. Acorns is a new app of it’s kind; it allows anyone to start saving and investing. Potential users not only had to understand the magic of our app, but actually download and use it.

What does a quality mobile user look like to you?

I think the industry as a whole can agree that stickiness is the ultimate goal. A user that keeps coming back is better than just another number in your download count.

What strategies work best to convert installs into engaged users?

I believe you’ve got to set the expectation of what the app will do as clearly as possible. Don’t mislead with a vision of a promise land that doesn’t represent your app. Again, the sticky user is the one we want, so how can we get that particular user in the app? Be honest, let the creative and placement help convince the user that this is the right app for them.

What is your biggest challenge marketing your app?

For Acorns, it’s all about getting people to be patient and understanding about investing. For many, it’s their first time into the world of investing. Mobile apps by nature tend to be perceived as something short term, but the commitments we want our users to make can make a lifelong impact.

How do you stay ahead of changes in technology?

I’m always reading mobile marketing blogs and newsletters to learn from others in the industry. I also make it a point to attend events and conferences with other mobile marketers to get their take on trends in technology.

How important is diversifying user acquisition outside of Facebook?

As a marketer, I don’t think you ever want all your eggs in one basket. You become dependent on that channel and your entire paid growth trajectory is based on the pricing of that channel. What if it gets more expensive in 3 months? Can you sustain growth? It’s always good to diversify.

How important are the holidays to your business and what season is the biggest time for you?

New years resolutions are the best time for any wellness app. In many ways, Acorns is a wellness app; we are redefining financial wellness. We want all Americans to become more financially fit.