How to do User Acquisition with a Small Team
In our industry, user acquisition is often done by small teams with very particular expertise. It’s a lot of work for a small team, but even one or two people can do amazing things with the right balance of skills. The trick is to figure out how to balance each person’s expertise and create an environment where everyone is constantly learning new things and advancing their skill set.
Since many app developers have a small UA team (or a UA person), we’ve compiled some practical tips for success with a lean UA operation. In a nutshell:
- Play to your team’s strengths, but rotate responsibilities periodically to build skills
- Prioritize what you really need when you’re hiring
- Make professional development a priority
Here’s a more in-depth look at each of our suggestions.
Combine the “aces in places” approach with rotation.
If you have a small team, consider splitting work based on strengths. Some refer to this as the “aces in places” concept. Everyone will have their specific expertise within app marketing, so allow them to focus on those areas (for example, video networks, social media channels, working with agencies, or DSPs). Our friends at Space Ape Games took this approach with a twist: About twice a year, they’d rotate the responsibilities of buying channel ownership, leading creative, ASO approaches, and general testing.
This strategy helped Space Ape perfect their day-to-day work experiences and learn from each other. Everyone got to work within their sweet spot, but by swapping responsibilities from time to time, team members gained additional knowledge about different aspects of UA. Being flexible and learning on the job is core to the philosophy of continual growth that many organizations embrace.
Figure out common patterns in workflow and apply them across the board.
In many organizations, dedicated members of the user acquisition team manage specific channels but share the responsibilities of data reporting, analysis, and campaign management. In smaller teams – especially busy ones – sharing knowledge on the fly is important for collective learning. Sometimes, the most important components to managing work lie in figuring out patterns among various tasks and seeing how the team can standardize them in a template across all or some of the channels. This approach helps everyone move more efficiently in an already fast-moving environment.
When you’re hiring, prioritize “must-haves.”
Hiring for mobile user acquisition is challenging, there’s no doubt about it. It’s not easy finding candidates who are truly specialized in mobile UA and have relevant experience. Consider making a list of core “must-haves.” These might include a passion for working with data and its analysis, making data-driven decisions, a hunger for creative research and innovative ideas, and a natural tendency toward taking initiative when it comes to new products and testing.
When posting a job, you may want to make a list of other industry knowledge or skills that are at least relevant to data-driven user acquisition. This can be helpful for hiring data analysts and other roles. In the end, bringing good people into the organization comes down to relying on your network and well-connected recruiters, as well as participating in events that get people excited about our company.
Make a point of fostering professional development.
With a small team, it’s easy to get so caught up in the day-to-day that you lose sight of the big picture, particularly of how growing careers advances the company and the individuals who work there. Here’s a benefit to consider that will not only help hire new staff but also improve the expertise of the team you have: Offer a personal training budget that allows each employee to take a course or attend a training conference in something that advances their knowledge.
From the Pocket Gamer events to the Mobile World Congress and everything in between, there are live and virtual sessions and classes that can help your user acquisition team stay on top of the latest trends and technology so they can be at the top of their game. When their skills improve, not only are they happier and more confident, they’re also better at what they do. Additionally, attending these conferences is an opportunity to meet a new candidate who may help grow and improve your UA team even further.
Creating and executing user acquisition strategies can be challenging with a small team. But small can be mighty, and of course, your app’s growth and revenues depend on continually gaining quality new users. With smart marketing strategies, some out-of-the-box thinking, and the right people (or person!), you can effectively grow your app business, even with one or two people – and grow your own expertise at the same time.