Mobile App Marketer

Q&A with Gerardo Castillo @Chatbooks

By Morgan Friberg | June 11, 2019

Gerardo Castillo, Director of Performance Marketing at Chatbooks, a photo book and card app, sat down with us to talk all things app marketing. With over six years experience in digital marketing, Gerardo is data driven, analytical and focused on running efficient app marketing campaigns that deliver great ROI. He has a passion for digging through data sets, creating pivot tables as well as Tableau visualizations to gain better insights into ad performance. Gerardo has managed multi-million dollar ad spend accounts for many companies.

What is Chatbooks?

Chatbooks is on a mission to make creating a photo book as easy as taking a picture. The $10 photo books, which automatically pull photos from your Instagram, Facebook, and Camera Roll via 5-Star iPhone and Android apps, are designed to tell the ongoing story of your life with zero effort.

What is one thing you learned in the last year about mobile marketing that had the greatest impact on campaign performance?

For us, it’s definitely been our attribution tracking of specific channels. Back when I started at Chatbooks, we used to only analyze campaign performance on Facebook and Google. Once we teamed up with Kochava, we realized we were blind when it came to most other channels. For example, we wanted to track performance of our sponsored podcasts and influencer marketing, but learned it’s very difficult to get meaningful performance data.

So within this past year, we’ve implemented an onboarding and post-purchase customer survey where we simply ask people, “How did you hear about us?’ or “What influenced you to buy?” What was alarming was that, according to Kochava, our CACs from influencer marketing was roughly 4X higher than our target. However, once we started surveying consumers, we learned that our CAC was actually coming in significantly lower than our target, thus revealing a good return from influencer marketing.

What would you say is the next big thing in mobile marketing?

That’s a good question. The one thing I continue to hear a lot about is incrementality testing. It’s surprising to me that there is a general lack of understanding of what it is and how it works. For me, this is the biggest tactic that needs to become a standard practice in app marketing versus an ongoing discussion

What is your experience with influencer marketing? How do you manage it?

For us, the ideal influencer is a parent with kids. We used to manage influencer marketing in house, reaching out to influencers that fit out target. Eventually we switched to working with an agency that operated on a performance basis.

It was a good move for us as the agency has connections with a lot of larger influencers with more followers, giving us a broader reach. It has also allowed us to do more offers and message testing.

What are some best practices in marketing apps in your app category?

Chatbooks is considered an e-commerce app given that our users purchase printed books. But our model has a very long tail. It’s not a product where you simply log in, and make a purchase. Our users take their time to create photo books. For this reason, we really focus on enhancing the app to make it easier for users to upload photos and and touch them up before ordering the printed product.

Does Chatbooks run re-engagement campaigns?

Re-engagement has been a real struggle for us. Last year we were working with Smartly, who introduced us to incrementality testing. We also ran re-engagement campaigns with Facebook, which initially appeared to be a success. We quickly realized, however, that our re-engagement campaigns that we thought were performing great were simply misattributing conversions from users who would have converted organically. We are still trying to figure what users to re-engage and the best time to re-engage them.

What surprises you about the mobile industry today?

Definitely the growth of the industry. It’s amazing to see. It’s staggering how many vendors there are given the size of the industry. It makes it difficult sometimes to identify the best vendors to work with. We’ve gotten to the point where, given that the industry is saturated with vendors, I find myself relying upon the advice and opinions of other app marketers.

How do you monitor mobile ad fraud?

We rely on Kochava, our MMP, for that. They make it pretty easy with their dashboards, but there’s been a few occasions where we’ve had to dig deep into our data to get a handle on what we are seeing. Kochava is unbiased in their evaluation and good at presenting the data in black and white terms, which is good.

What key digital ad formats drives your best performance?

Early on, we’ve had very long form, three and a half minute videos on Facebook that just killed it for us.

Since then, the ecosystem evolved. We now run simple motion ads with multiple images that move with text overlays. This ad format now continues to outperform static images and photos. The long videos that used to work very well no longer work.

The image content that works for us is product placement. We have one product image of a stack of books in a certain angle that, for whatever reason, time and time again, outperforms. We can put it this one image on a table or a night stand. It always performs best.

How do you see pricing strategies evolving in mobile advertising?

Kochava is doing some pretty cool stuff. They’re trying to bring in blockchain to give more transparency to all their media buys. I think the industry is going in that direction—it will be more transparent across agencies, providing greater visibility into what they are doing and what they are charging.

Name one book, resource or person that has influenced the way you think about performance marketing.

For me, it’s the marketers I meet at conferences that have the biggest influence on how I think about performance marketing. While there are also several publications I find of value, such as AdWeek, I usually learn the most from 1:1 conversations I have with other marketers I meet at conferences. This is how I can uncover the truth of what is really working.

Read other insightful Q&As with leading mobile app marketers in the industry.