Shamanth Rao

Director of Growth
PuzzleSocial-logo

Q&A with Shamanth

Shamanth Rao is the Director of Growth at PuzzleSocial in New York. His experience in search marketing, ad tech and mobile marketing has shaped him into an expert on mobile growth.

How did you get into mobile marketing?

I got into mobile marketing by way of the worlds of search marketing and ad tech. I headed up a small Google Adwords partner agency, and then led an Asia-Pacific wide team at the mobile ad network InMobi. I was able to leverage this foundation in direct marketing and mobile ad tech in my next role, where I drove growth for Bingo Bash, which was one of Apple’s top 10 apps for iPad in 2013 and 2014, and for my current role where I drive growth for Daily Celebrity Crossword, which has consistently been a top ranked word game on the app stores.

How do you stay ahead of changes in technology?

I don’t consume massive quantities of information. My friends at Grow.co run a great email newsletter and email list focused on mobile growth that I regularly read. Other than that, I like to meet industry folks one-on-one and at events.

What do you like most about mobile marketing?

I like that I’m always learning something new. The industry has evolved dramatically over the last few years – from running banner ads on CPM to hyper-targeted rich media ads and CPA campaigns. Working in mobile marketing keeps me excited to go to work every day.

What does it take to succeed in mobile marketing?

Having a long term view of growth that encompasses the financial viability of the business.

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

Ignoring downstream retention and performance. We’ve run campaigns where the initial ROI of users in their first few days looked good because these users were relatively cheap. After taking a closer look at our data, we realized that their downstream retention and monetization (beyond their first few days after install) were not so hot. Therefore, what we thought was an ROI-positive cohort based on the initial data turned out to be one where we lost money.

What does a quality mobile user look like to you?

A quality user for us is one who has made it a daily habit to solve our puzzles every single day.

What strategies work best to convert installs into engaged users?

Because we’re a game that’s proven offline for decades now, most users who install are familiar enough to start playing our game. With that said, we also have an in-game tutorial that is a key part of our first-time user experience that guides users through the gameplay to make sure users understand the core value of the game.

What is the biggest challenge marketing your app?

Acquiring cost-effective, quality users at scale. There’s always a tradeoff between scale and price – and that is a constant battle that we fight.

How important is diversifying user acquisition outside of Facebook?

This is absolutely critical. Facebook has to be one channel in a portfolio – and we take care not to be overly reliant on any single channel.

How important are the holidays to your business?

Holidays are only marginally important for us, because we’re a daily crossword game. There are new devices in the market that drive incremental usage, but our primary goal is to have users form a daily habit of solving crosswords, irrespective of whether it’s holiday season or not.