How Coffee Meets Bagel became one of the fastest growing dating apps

Grow your mobile app Brrief (AMA with Sherrie Chen)

Jun Loayza
Sep 15, 2016 · 11 min read

This is a brief of the Grow your mobile app Brrief. The Ask Me Anything (AMA) was presented by Sherrie Chen, Chief Product Office of Coffee Meets Bagel (CMB).


Question submitted by Takatsu

Hey Sherrie, thanks for this opportunity.

To start off, what is your advice for the very beginning of user growth? How do you engage and build a loyal core group of users/followers who will stick with you for a longer term, from MVP on? What kind of target audience/people are you looking for in the beginning and where do you look for them?

I’ve found that from experience whether tech or other projects, it doesn’t seem like my actual circles/friends are the real customers/core users, either they are involved because of bias or just not interested in something someone they know is doing…..

Answer by Sherrie Chen

In the beginning, it is very important to make sure your retention numbers are healthy before starting to spend a lot of money on user acquisition. Depending on how large your marketing budget is, there are a few things you can try. If you have a small budget (or no budget at all), make sure you and your entire team are sharing the product with your social networks. Ask your network to give you feedback so that you can optimize onboarding and the core loop. Even if they are not the core audience, they may be able to help you find and troubleshoot basic UX challenges. If you have a some money for UA, you may want to test out your product by launching in an area where acquisition cost is cheaper than the US just to get baseline retention metrics before you start growing.


Question submitted by Jun Loayza

Hey Sherrie! Thanks for being here.

What is currently the best customer acquisition channel for Coffee Meets Bagel?

What do you think will be the best customer acquisition channel in the future?

Answer by Sherrie Chen

For the last few months, CMB has been trying to grow organically because we were focusing on optimizing our core feature sets and making our algorithms better. We have recently started our UA efforts again, and right now the best channel for us are FB ads. For as long as I have been acquiring users (since 2009), FB has always been a really good source of quality installs (high ltv and retention); unfortunately, CPI has really increased since that time. I believe fb will still be a good source of customer acquisition in the future, but you will need to be very smart about who you target and how you spend your marketing budget.


Question submitted by Naveed Haque

Howdy Sherrie! Thank you so much for doing all this, can only hope that I’m half as successful as you!

1. What’re the most effective ways to get the product in the hands of the user?

2. How do we build awareness of our product? (Outside of social media)

3. What are some valuable methods of soliciting, gathering, and implementing user feedback?

Thanks again for the help!

Answer by Sherrie Chen

What’re the most effective ways to get the product in the hands of the user?
I think the most effective way to get people to start using your product is to make sure your network hears about it and shares it

How do we build awareness of our product? (Outside of social media)
PR has helped CMB a lot. We are also trying this new thing called creative marketing, where we build a side product/idea/marketing campaign that could be useful the user that directs them into our product. Example here is that we are building a website for generating first date ideas — if the site is useful, perhaps it will spread and direct more organic traffic that will later translate to cmb users.

What are some valuable methods of soliciting, gathering, and implementing user feedback?
User testing and surveys help us gather feedback. We also run a lot of a/b tests interanly.


Question submitted by George Visan

Hello! How do you gain users when you’re dealing with a duel market that rely on each other such as in a customer rewards app? I’ll have businesses signed up, and consumers, but each one needs the other on to make it viable. Thanks!

Answer by Sherrie Chen

I built a proto-type for a rewards program for Zynga and our approach was to not launch until we have some defined critical mass of both partners as well as consumers. Once that happens, creating an incentive for both to participate is key.


Question submitted by Daniel Prieto

Hello Sherrie!!!

In a past project that I worked on for an online game. The marketing manager did a two-way campaign in which we used social media (facebook, twitter and youtube). It wasn’t that successful on my point of view, but my higher ops were certain that it would work. What metrics do you need to understand that a strategy is working or not? and how do you choose the correct channel to reach the most users?

Bonus question: What do you think of those marketing campaigns that use banners with a picture of over-sexualised women to gain clicks even if the final content doesn’t have anything to do with the banner? (example: mobile games)

Answer by Sherrie Chen

The metric for success I use is LTV or (or some predictor of LTV). If your app is pre-revenue, good metrics to use are retention and adoption in core loop. You can always turn UA campaigns on/off or adjust the cpc/cpa price of campaigns to optimize for these metrics. Regarding your bonus question — I know what ads you are talking about and I’ve heard that they are actually pretty successful (high CTR). I guess that is the userbase that app is looking for.


Question submitted by Shaker Ahmed

- As a dating marketplace what are the most important metrics regarding the health of the marketplace?

-How do you think about scaling traffic growth? What changes for how you use a channel from when you first identify it’s viability,to using the traffic channel at scale? What question do you ask yourself to make sure that the channels stays viable as you scale it up? What are the
pitfalls to avoid as you scale a channel? How do you overcome said pitfalls? Do you have a process for scaling channels, could you share said process?
You’ve previously stated that FB ads are huge for you. Could you run through your process for scaling fb ads?

Thanks

Answer by Sherrie Chen

Initially, when acquiring users we cared more about getting an audience that will engage in our product and continue to keep our CMB community healthy and happy. Since our app is really dependent on having critical mass in each region (you can’t match with a bot :P) to be successful, we focused on that. As we grew, we started shifting our focus on other things like connection rates and revenue. I think since UA is so expensive these days, having a clear goal of the type of audience you want to acquire + measurable metrics to seeing if you meet those success metrics will help you react quickly if campaigns are not performing as expected. That way, when you see that a campaign or a set of targeting criteria is working well, you can double down on it. Play around with lots of different targeting combinations — results may surprise you.


Question submitted by Takatsu

Thanks for the answer Sherrie!

To add to that, in your experience, to build up your team, did you look for particular kinds of people for UA? For example, did happening across helpful connections or recruiting anyone who was really well connected really change the growth of that aspect? Was there any need for social community-based hands on marketing like events? Or was it entirely based on your app and your features and straight advertising?

And the other question based on your experience with FB ads is whether you have advice for how to target FB audiences? What kind of ranges of demographics did you target for each FB ad? As in, often you read about advice in focusing on a narrow target audience, and running multiple ads, but how narrow in your experience and any other advice regarding FB ads?

Answer by Sherrie Chen

I think what a lot of people miss is the importance of analytics to UA. From my perspective, UA is all about number crunching to make sure that the cost of acquiring your users is less than their value (defined by revenue or engagement). The other important skill is being creative — a good UA manager should be able to find creative/new channels for marketing AND build really interesting/compelling ads.

Regarding your second question, I think it is important to understand your core audience before you start paying to acquire more. Ask yourself — what type of users engage? what type of users pay? what type of users send out invites? IN terms of targeting, I’ve done everything from basic gender and geo targeting to as specific as keyword targeting. My advice here is to just play around with as many combinations as possible that is still within your audience set.


Question submitted by David Potter

In a crowded marketplace such as online dating platforms, what are some strategies for creating a ‘sticky’ product?

Answer by Sherrie Chen

Making sure your product ACTUALLY works. At the end of the day, the problem we are trying to solve is how do we get people in meaningful relationships? If we can help people go on real, meaningful dates, they will come back to our app until they find their special someone.


Question submitted by Shaker Ahmed

Hi Sherrie,

Thanks for doing this AMA. I”m fascinated by marketplaces so i’m excited to learn from you!

1)How do you retain your users, if your user only need to use your app occasionally by nature (ex shopping app)?
If your app isn’t used frequently building up the habit is hard, which makes it even harder to retain the user.
How do you go about trying to stay top of mind so when the user has a need that your app solves they think of you?

2)Can you talk about the most important lessons you’ve learned about building a marketplace?

3)What challenges have you encountered building and scaling the marketplace and how did you solve them?

Thanks!

Answer by Sherrie Chen

I’m thinking back to all the shopping apps I use and I think one thing that helps me go back to them “more regularly” is knowing that I enjoy the process of shopping/purchasing/getting the merchandise. Having that really good experience will help you gain loyalty from your customers. I think one of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that customers behave differently than how you think they will behave and how they *think* they will behave. It is good practice to always test, test, test and use real data to build.


Question submitted by Ntambwa Basambombo

Hey @sherrie :thanks for doing this : What would be your advice regarding the features lifecycle and marketing. For example, should you promote a new feature before launching it or wait after the launch. If the former when is the best time to start promoting an upcoming feature?

Answer by Sherrie Chen

It depends on the feature — if it is a content based feature or seasonal, I would promote at the beginning to get a loud pop in adoption and allow for it to slowly drop as you create the next feature (a good example of this are store features in social games). When I was on frontier, we were releasing up to 2 new sets of content every week and allowing for the marketing/first look to happen right before launch to get users excited. Alternatively, if it is a sale based feature that could cannibalize from core revenue, then I would wait until after launch of the feature because you do not want your users to stop spending in anticipation of the new feature.


Question submitted by Calderon Ramiro

Hi Sherre,
Are there any valuable lessons you`ve learned from failure? Could you tell us an example of how failure has strengthen your UA program in the present?

Answer by Sherrie Chen

I actually learn the most from my failures because it teaches me what I can do better next time. The key is to react and learn quickly. For example, if you run a UA campaign that rewards users with something valuable and realize that these users are not sticking after claiming reward, adjust your the reward or adjust targeting. I don’t see that as a failure, but as a new data point that helps with future development.


Question submitted by Jun Loayza

@sherrie can you share your thoughts about k-factor.

How much do you analyze/keep track of it?

How do you measure it?

Answer by Sherrie Chen

k-factor is bascially a measurement of how “viral” your product is and the basics of it is calculated by multiplying the number of invites of your app sent by the conversion rate of the recipients. When I was working on social games, this was a very important metric for us because a lot of the games grew and were dependent on viral channels for growth (remember all the fb game requests and feed clicks, yup that was us? ). At CMB, because of the nature of our product, this is less important to us. We do not depend on invites as much right now because we first have to figure out a way for users to be more open and proud about sharing that they use dating apps.


Question submitted by Alexander Fung

Hi Sherre,

What do you use to track and measure behaviour on a cross platform? So far I’m using vwo for my landing page.

Answer by Sherrie Chen

We have some homegrown tracking in place for a lot of cross-platform analysis efforts, but we mostly use localytics for our tracking and ad hoc marketing campaigns.


Question submitted by Naveed Haque

Are there any tools to help identify usage/trends and be able to analyze user data?

Answer by Sherrie Chen

I am currently married to locaytics, excel, and sql workbench. Pivot tables should become your best friend.


Question submitted by Alexander Fung

When do you stop doing a test or how often do you change it? A week? biweekly? I’m finding it’s ineffective for me to test online channels (social media) but successful in sponsring events. what do you suggest in testing with parents with children ages 8 to 15.

Answer by Sherrie Chen

I’m not sure what you mean by “test”. For a/b tests, I run them until I collect enough data for statistically significant results. For user testing, we normally do 5–10 depending on the scope of the project.


Question submitted by Shaker Ahmed

What’s the biggest lesson’s you’ve learned about building marketplaces from your time at cmb?

how is scaling a marketplace different from scaling a non-marketplace product?

Answer by Sherrie Chen

I’m not sure what you mean by “marketplace” product? If you are talking about consumer products vs. saas, the biggest difference is with saas you are more dependent on your sales people to drive the growth and adoption of your product. The number of users you have is directly related to how many admins your sales team can sign on. Whereas, for consumer products, you can grow more organically and through a lot of creative channels. Let me know if this is what you are asking.


What is Brrief?

Brrief is an online gathering of people that share an interest during a brief yet meaningful window of time.

Check out and register to our upcoming Brriefs here.

Learn more about Brrief and become a host here.

Brrief is lovingly created by Jun Loayza, Product Manager and UXD at Torre Researrch.

Brrief

An online gathering of people that share an interest during a brief yet meaningful window of time.

Jun Loayza

Written by

Just trying to be the best Papa to my little Juniper and the best husband to my soulmate — Kim.

Brrief

Brrief

An online gathering of people that share an interest during a brief yet meaningful window of time.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade