This Q&A reflects Kyle's time as Head of Partnership and Affiliate Marketing at Acorns. Currently, Kyle is VP Marketing at ConsumerDirect Inc..
Kyle Sausser is Head of Partnership and Affiliate Marketing at Acorns, a leading saving and investing app. Tech sales and strategy consulting lured Kyle for the first decade of his career, but he later discovered entrepreneurship and helped launch an e-commerce DTC startup called Ready, Set, Food. Ever since, Kyle fell back in love with marketing and now tenaciously helps the up-and-coming make saving and investing easy, attainable, and automatic at Acorns.
Read Kyle's latest article: "Winning Creative Strategy: How to Balance Brand and Performance in Mobile Advertising"
Acorns is a financial wellness system that makes investing, saving, earning, and learning incredibly easy and automatic. We use behavioral psychology to help people build good financial habits, understand and grow their money, and ultimately take control of their financial future, all in the ‘background of life.’ Acorns aims to get everyday people addicted to saving and investing and have it happen in a positive, effortless manner.
I worked in the same building as Acorns in 2016 and was enamored with their mission to help the up-and-coming financially. Fast forward four years, I ran into a friend from elementary school who was an engineering manager at Acorns. I was brought on to build an affiliate and partner marketing channel. However, my responsibilities have grown to mirror the evolving needs of the company. I also manage paid acquisition channels.
Mobile marketing offers the perfect blend of analytics, design, experimentation, and creativity. The possibilities are nearly limitless. I love to think through different strategies, test hypotheses, iterate, and ultimately find a path to success.
Mindset is everything. Carol Dweck's The Growth Mindset is an absolute must-read for any marketer. She analyzes how we perceive and internalize failure. A fixed mindset views failure as a byproduct of our personal limitations or deficiencies. A growth mindset sees failure as the cost of learning and one step closer to success. I remind myself of this daily and try to incorporate empathy, resilience, and mindset into everything I do.
Having consistent UX from ad to app store listing to onboarding is incredibly important to attracting engaged users. Are we making it simple for people to understand what Acorns is and the jobs we can help them accomplish? For example, we emphasize Round-Ups or Recurring Deposits throughout our UX because enabling those features is a strong indicator for good LTV.
We closely analyze customer acquisition costs (CAC) on a cohort basis. This helps remove the variability in funnel performance that naturally occurs over time with different paid channels. We use this insight to adjust budgets and channel strategy to invest in the channels with the most promising CAC.
Don’t treat all app users equally. Design creatives that re-engage customers with the highest LTV, even if it is at the expense of fewer conversions. Supplement this strategy with email incentives that can reach users with limited ad tracking enabled.
Don’t try to force the user to make the connection between your ad and the CTA. Make it abundantly clear in under two seconds. No metaphors. No gimmicks. Show them a clear value proposition, in-app imagery, and a BIG CTA.
Run incrementality testing early and often. Even if you inherently trust the partner and their fraud prevention tech stack, never outsource this completely. We try to have ‘always-on’ incrementality running for our top channels and quickly identify bad actors, even before our partners can.