A user's view: Simon chats with Viber's Moshi Blum
On a (hopefully sunny) June summer day in Berlin, we’re hosting 200 marketers for the second iteration of Mobile Spree, our very own mobile marketing conference. (And in October, we’re bringing MS17 to San Francisco!)
Ahead of the conference, I’ve caught up with some of the great marketers that we work with around the globe to find just the right speaker line-up for the day. We’re talking about user acquisition, re-engagement, retention, ROI and everything in-between.
Last week I had a chat with Moshi Blum, UA and Mobile Channels lead over at Viber. He’s joining us on stage in the afternoon on June 1st – here’s a taster of what we’ll be talking about then.
Moshi Blum: Thanks Simon. Well, where do I begin? I’ve been with Viber for over a year and a half now, and am in charge of user acquisition and paid re-engagement activities, managing a team of three people. My former experience as a head of paid social marketing at a mobile agency as well as a media and business development manager at a small startup have prepared me for the job at hand.
My team is fully aware that users have options when they’re choosing their preferred messaging app, and we’re constantly looking for innovative ways in all of our campaigns to show them what makes Viber unique.
What’s the main challenges you face making that vision a reality?
As a global company, Viber is active in many markets around the world. In some of these markets we are the industry leaders and in an advanced stage, whereas in other countries we have smaller penetration rates and are in early stages. Basically, we always begin by considering the market we’re in, segmenting it based on our stage there, and then deciding which parameters, playbooks and messages we want to invest in.
Generally speaking, I’m a great believer in acquiring people rather than installs, and users rather than devices. So a lot of the things I focus on are retention, social value, network value and generating critical mass in many markets.
The main challenges we face are related to the fact that we are dealing with over 800 million users’ data. We have to constantly come up with sophisticated big data tools that will help us best analyze our users’ needs and make the right decisions based on our analysis.
Furthermore, we face challenges that are related to growth - how to increase our user base in the most efficient way. Since we are a global application that focuses on many different markets, it’s quite challenging to create proper localization and to address the different stages I mentioned before in each separate marketplace. We are constantly coming up with new ways to create critical mass in early-stage countries and to maintain it in advanced-stage countries.
How do you go about creating that critical mass?
In order to understand critical mass, we must first understand the network effect theory. The network effect happens when a product or service gains additional value as more people begin using it. At Viber, everyone is relevant since everyone has communication needs. When we reach a certain level of population penetration, the market will continue growing without any acquisition support. This point is called the critical mass point and it varies between countries according to the strength of the network effect and our competitors’ position. In each market, we want to find the right audience that increases our penetration while attributing the highest network effect to the other users.
Basically, it’s a mass-market appeal – you want to engage millennials, but you also want to reach out to their grandparents.
Exactly, and this is, on the one hand, a tremendous challenge, but on the other hand, it is also a great opportunity. We can be very creative with our user acquisition strategy and our growth mechanisms. Different age audiences require different ways of communication: creatively, we need to regard each audience with a specific tone of voice and with their specific interests. Our main idea is to address a younger audience so that they will be able to educate their older family members. By going through this procedure, we’re able to create a systematic approach that brings diverse audiences into our app. Our challenge is to address those needs while remaining loyal to our brand’s guidelines.
So once you build up these networks, how do you monetize?
We’re focused on delivering value and building the best platform possible. Among the monetization tools we use are in-app sticker purchases and call credit. We care deeply about our user experience and the seamlessness of our monetization efforts. By using more sophisticated features such as sponsored branded stickers, we’re able to add value to our users while monetizing our app.
What will your talk at this upcoming Mobile Spree be focused on?
I will be focusing on a specific area of our direct response activity that is not that common in the user acquisition environment. However, in my opinion, it is capable of making the difference between a good UA activity and a great UA activity. Re-engaging with your already acquired users is key when you want to leverage the effectiveness of your existing budget. It’s harder to execute and more challenging to track, but once you overcome these obstacles the effect on growth can be tremendous.