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How to Hire a Killer User Acquisition Manager for Your Mobile Game

hire a killer UA manager

The following post is from guest author Eric Seufert. Eric is currently the VP of User Acquisition and Engagement at Rovio and is a quantitative marketer with years of experience in mobile marketing for games. In 2014, Eric released the book Freemium Economics through Elsevier, and he maintains the website Mobile Dev Memo.

User acquisition managers are difficult positions to hire for in mobile gaming. Because mobile marketing is a fairly new field, there simply aren’t many people in the job market with direct experience running mobile app marketing campaigns. When the scope for user acquisition experts is narrowed even further to those with gaming experience, the task of bringing on new team members can seem impossibly daunting. There are far fewer people with relevant experience than there are open positions to fill. 

Complicating things further is location. Whereas mobile gaming studios are spread fairly evenly across the globe, people with mobile marketing experience tend to be located in ad tech, mobile ad network, and traditional advertising hubs like San Francisco, London, New York, Berlin. A small developer in Croatia or Kansas may face a situation in which no one within a 100 mile radius of her office has ever heard the terms Cost Per Install and Insertion Order.

So now what?

The bottom line is this: Hiring experienced mobile gaming user acquisition professionals is often less practical — especially in terms of cost — than hiring smart, ambitious and eager generalists who can be trained in the craft. For developers located far from the aforementioned mobile hubs, training a talented yet inexperienced new team member might be faster, less expensive and just as productive as engaging in a months-long international recruitment search.

This reality begs the question: What are the most important traits a potential user acquisition manager should exhibit? And what experiences best lend themselves to a transition into mobile user acquisition?

Keep Analytics Top of Mind

Generally speaking, user acquisition is thought of as a quantitative discipline, and to some extent it is — analytics forms the basis of any developer’s user acquisition effort. Mobile marketing managers should have an analytical disposition and be comfortable in an environment in which most of their work will revolve around optimizing a selected set of metrics. But a user acquisition manager doesn’t need to be a mathematician or a statistician. For the most part, even in smaller studios where each employee wears multiple hats, the most challenging quantitative work (LTV modeling, user segmentation, behavioral prediction, etc.) will be handled by an analyst.

Find Someone Who Embraces the Unknown

What mobile user acquisition managers must be most comfortable with is uncertainty and incremental change. They’re constantly evaluating new sources of traffic, advertising imagery, new advertising formats and other very measurable aspects of marketing campaigns to deliver the best possible traffic to a mobile game and maximize return on marketing investment. These activities require some specific traits that can be honed in a variety of analytical roles and not just in mobile marketing: attention to detail, the ability to juggle multiple ongoing projects, strong communication skills and a talent for synthesizing lots of disparate information into a single, coherent statement.

Recruit Creatively

Product analysts often make for great user acquisition managers, even without experience in that field, because their work is very similar to the day-to-day requirements of user acquisition: testing product variants, optimizing features against a specific metric and reporting results in a digestible form to managers.

Likewise, desktop web marketers often find the transition into mobile marketing quite painless. Pay-per-click (PPC) desktop advertising campaigns are run very similarly to mobile ad campaigns, and some ad formats — such as Google AdWords and Facebook Ads — are operated from the exact same interfaces on both desktop and mobile. The big hurdle for desktop advertising managers to overcome in moving to mobile is re-orienting their thinking around performance to a Cost Per Install mindset (which generally requires more attention to in-product behavior than is considered with PPC campaigns), as well as mobile platform peculiarities (such as the fact that ad clicks forward to product pages within a platform’s app store and not directly to app downloads).

Hire From the Ground Up

Training new mobile marketing team members (as opposed to hiring experienced experts who can add value from day one) obviously involves some trade-offs, such as delayed productivity and a higher immediate burden on existing team members. But as the demand for mobile marketing professionals increases and they become ever scarcer in the highly competitive mobile labor market, some developers may face no option but to train new recruits. In those cases, they can take comfort in the fact that there are indeed suitable candidates available, just with different job titles.