How to Hire a UA Specialist for Your Mobile Gaming Company
User acquisition (often known as UA) is an essential part of the free-to-play mobile gaming business. The nature of lifetime value marketing, and the necessity of feeding the acquisition and engagement beast with vast quantities of paid advertising, makes the position of UA specialist particularly crucial.
There is, however, a clear shortage of “specialist” mobile marketers with a user acquisition skill set.
“The biggest challenge [facing mobile game studios seeking a UA specialist] is simply the dearth of professionals with significant experience on mobile,” says Eric Seufert, VP of user acquisition at Rovio. Most people “get” mobile, but less of them “get” UA. Though it is difficult to pinpoint an exact figure, anecdotal evidence puts the number of experienced, established UA professionals in the sector as low as 10.
So how can your company get your hands on a high-value UA specialist without breaking the bank? Here’s our quick guide on how to hire one of these elusive professionals.
1. Find a multidisciplinary wiz
User acquisition is seen as a very mathematically driven role, which requires serious analytical skills. While that is true, it’s only one part of the role.
According to Matt Saunders, user acquisition and monetization manager at gaming company Naturalmotion, understanding the numbers is only one part of a job that has important creative and interpersonal elements.
“Fifty percent of the job is analytics, so you do need to be analytical,” he says. “But there’s more to it than that. Twenty five percent of the job is interacting with people and 25 percent is about creative skills. User acquisition managers and specialists need to understand creative and come up with solutions out of the box, which means they need to have an eye for what works.”
So while you need someone who can handle the mathematical demands of the job, you also need someone capable of getting into the mindset of the users—or players—you’re acquiring.
2. Look for adaptability as a personality trait
Adaptability is one of the most important character traits of a user acquisition manager.
“Today’s user acquisition specialist needs to be adaptable and have a commercial mindset,” says Simon Hade, COO at London-based Space Ape Games. “They should be deeply involved in the lifetime value side of the equation, advising the product teams on monetization strategies that work best to fuel marketing for current users, suggesting improvements to in-game ads based on experience as a customer, and even testing new game concepts to determine scalability.”
The reason for looking for adaptable talent are fairly obvious. The rapidly changing nature of the UA space, coupled with the multifaceted nature of the role, means that you need to hire someone capable of wearing many hats within a mobile marketing department.
3. Embrace the opportunity of inexperience
The fast-changing nature of the user acquisition space, and the relative youthfulness of it, means there is a lack of experienced professionals in the field. But there is also the opportunity to get someone up to speed relatively quickly and turn them into one of those much coveted experts, if you put the time into it.
Explaining how he got into the industry, Saunders says, “I was with Intel as a product marketing manager and always wanted to move into the games industry, so user acquisition jobs piqued my interest. I understood the marketing and product side, but I had to really learn the data side of it–even though I was relatively good at the mathematics.”
As a result, he started behind. But with a little bit of effort and training, Saunders got up to speed relatively quickly and believes others can do the same.
“One of the good things in this industry is that UA specialists are rare but important. If you hire someone adaptable and willing to take it on, you can (train someone to be) an expert pretty quickly,” Saunders says.
4. Find and adapt other pros for the role
Finally, and arguably the top piece of advice given to me, was to seek out professionals from a variety of backgrounds.
Maths graduates and data analysts are among the more obvious people well-suited to adaptation, but Saunders told me that performance advertisers and finance professionals could also make good UA specialists.
As for Space Ape, Hade says hat they were increasingly looking to hire brand marketers to fill the user acquisition role. “Pure performance user acquisition specialists are becoming less and less important, while marketers with a background in brand development and an eye for good creative are becoming more valuable,” he says. “I’d prefer to hire a brand marketer and teach them performance than the other way around.”
Ultimately, hiring a user acquisition specialist can be challenging due to their rarity and expense. But finding someone who is analytical, has a grasp of the numbers, and can help produce engaging creative is a great way of hiring a specialist without hurting the bottom line.