In this new series, we chat with leading app owners, creators and marketers to get their insights into what app success looks like and how they're engaging users. Plus: what do they see working when it comes to mobile, and how do they use analytics to inform marketing? If you want to participate, please email email@example.com.
For this installment, I spoke with my good friend, SchneiderMike, the CMO of GasBuddy. GasBuddy recently launched a major initiative to grow their business by expanding their executive team, and they are now hiring for other key positions. I spoke to SchneiderMike about the evolution of GasBuddy and how they are structuring their team for mobile.
Let’s start with a little context - tell me more GasBuddy and your role as the CMO.
GasBuddy’s story is simple. It’s “Find Cheap Gas.”
We’re a business that people adore because the value is immediate and impactful: cost savings. The community has literally saved billions of dollars. Our primary means of delivering this value is through a free app (Apple Store and Google Play).
As CMO, I’m the evangelist for a frictionless user experience. That means I’m responsible for growth, the brand, growth, user metrics, growth, retention, growth, win-back, analytics, growth, and growth.
We’re friends so I have to ask - with gas prices dropping, why make the change?
Saving is saving.
With GasBuddy, you’re always going to be able to find the cheapest prices available. There is always an opportunity for consumers to save money on gas whether prices are high or low.
We save people money when gas prices are high and when they’re low. We can save a single consumer $300-400 on gas.
I came here because I saw an opportunity to take what GasBuddy does to the next level. To truly make it great.
I love the entrepreneurial mindset. As long as I’ve known you, you’ve loved disrupting the status quo, creating something better out of areas that can be challenging for people. How are you and the team thinking about the next stage of GasBuddy’s evolution?
GasBuddy has 15 million monthly active users, and our apps have over 50 million downloads. Not only are those impressive numbers, but that’s all been done organically.
From a marketing standpoint, we’re focusing on the next stage of the user lifecycle: how to move from just acquiring users to also engaging them. The way to do that lies with the user experience. Experience is the new channel. Instead of thinking about websites where eyeballs go, we need to figure out how to let brands interact with the customer in a way that makes sense to them. A way they will love.
In today’s world, there are a lot of levers you can pull to improve users’ experiences - their location, what you know about their behaviors, where they are in the user journey and where they’ve come from.
Mobile has a lot to do with how we think about that experience. Our users typically are looking for their cost savings while they’re on the go, which means we need to understand how their experience is impacted by the context of their phones.
Personas are a huge piece of the puzzle. For our personas, it’s not just location-based behavior: it’s their app usage and their online and offline behavior. It’s understanding who they are across channels and as a user on the go.
If experience is the new channel, how are you keeping a mobile mindset when it comes to understanding your users?
We have a center of excellence around data that is made up of a cross-functional group of product, engineering, data science and marketing people, which helps us be smarter about our users. This center of excellence informs everything we do, from our efforts to understand our users, to the way we segment our audience, to how those insights are used in our messaging and content.
How are you measuring success?
We’re focused on five key areas:
- Increasing our retention rate while simultaneously...
- ...Increasing monthly active users.
- The metrics that help us understand if we can we get someone to come back and why. Was it the creative, the message or the UX itself?
- How well are we engaging all of our user segments, with a particular focus on spotters (users who spot low gas prices), the seekers (people seeking the best prices), and the new buddies (new users).
- Did “new buddies” successfully make it through the first user experience. If not, why? Where did they get stuck?
Experience is central to what you’re doing, and the user is clearly at the center of that. You’re actively expanding your team to help create that vision. Tell me more about your new positions (and which ones are still open!).
I’m looking to create a whole new user marketing team. This is the team that will help our users through their lifecycle with us. They will care about data and about the customer journey. There are essentially three parts to that team:
- Membership & Loyalty
- Retention & Winback
We’re also looking for a Creative Director, designers, and analysts, as we know the experience of both our owned media and our product are central to the value our users get from us. We need to understand how that’s working.
We also have openings in product marketing, who care about the velocity of how well we’re doing it all - what does it take to get someone from the top of the funnel to the bottom?
What qualities are you looking for in your team?
Our ears are open for the best candidates. We are hiring data addicts, designers, and storytellers to help GasBuddy tell the narrative beyond “Find Cheap Gas.” Most of all, we are looking at the experience. Talk to me if you’re passionate about consumer data, marketing or designing the next-level experience.
SchneiderMike, thanks for sharing your expertise! I’m looking forward to hearing more as your story unfolds.