Natasha Upal

VP Growth & Marketing

Natasha began her career as a UX design consultant for Telco giant BT. Following deregulation, Natasha joined Fidelity-backed COLT Telecom to launch Broadband services. As Marketing Director of Yahoo! Search Marketing Europe, Natasha led the small business channel across twelve countries, spearheading a $40MM incremental pipeline. She also held senior roles in Canada with notable global brands Aviva Insurance group and Financeit, a Goldman Sachs FinTech disruptor. Now as VP of Growth at Clover Inc, a Toronto-based Social Networking mobile app, Natasha is driving scale across the US, Canada and Australia.

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In your own words, tell us about the apps that you manage?

Clover is one of the top ten iPhone grossing apps in the social networking category for the US market. We offer a user-tailored approach to dating, providing singles the opportunity to apply detailed filters, select on-demand dating features, never lose a swipe and join Mixer chat groups. Clover is an app-only service and we see the most success in the 18 to 34 year old target demographic. We create and run all of our campaigns with our small but talented in-house team.

How did you get started in mobile marketing?

At my last company, our B2B service offering included a limited functionality mobile app while the web-based portal remained the key focus. Therefore, marketing was primarily geared around the sales team and web-based user acquisition. As Clover is an app-only service, mobile marketing drives 100% of our growth. We started running performance marketing campaigns on social media platforms and App Keywords since inception of the company.

What do you like most about mobile marketing?

When I embarked on my marketing career, mobile marketing did not exist. At my first job with BT Research & Innovation Labs, we had a prototype concept speculating that one day we would all wear something called “office on the arm” where you could connect to the outside world and perform all your essential work tasks.

We never imagined the possibilities for advertising and communication. The ability to deliver a multitude of ever-evolving images, video, and messaging to a precise target audience in nano- seconds anytime and anywhere is incredible. To be able to test, tweak and optimize campaigns in real time so that we are improving every single minute of every single day is a marketer’s dream come true.

What does it take to succeed in mobile marketing?

First and foremost, ensure that you have an agile team. Having the aptitude to test, tweak and iterate is paramount in such a fast-paced industry. In-house expertise can help, or if you use third parties, treat them as an extension of your team.

Be sure to stay extremely close to your data and have all of your funnel metrics at your fingertips. Be clear on which ones are true leading indicators by monitoring them on a daily/hourly basis and be prepared to respond accordingly.

Make an effort to be smart with your budget and the tools you choose, since there are so many great (and not so great) options out there but only a handful will deliver real substantive value for your unique use case.

And finally, do not forget about the heart of the matter, the content. Smart, timely creative content that resonates with the target audience and is seamlessly merged with traditional (online and offline) brand development tactics.

What does a quality mobile user look like to you?

At Clover, a quality user is someone who is serious about dating and is actively looking for engagement and connection with others. They are also telling their friends about us. Ultimate success for us is when they find their love match on our app!

What strategies work best to convert installs into engaged app users?

We found that setting our mobile ad campaigns to optimize towards conversion events rather than clicks or installs really ensures that we are targeting and delivering towards the kind of user who is serious about dating and is more likely to convert.

In the past year, what is one tip you can share which made the biggest performance difference with UA or re-engagement of your app?

Find easy, fast, and cost-effective ways to feed your ad engine! For example, we discovered that some content that performed well on our social channels for app installs converted just as well into paid ads. This led to unlocking segments of our target audience that had been traditionally hard or expensive to attract. At the end of the day, no matter how well you manage your UA campaigns, you will always get better and more cost effective results with well performing creatives that resonate and grab attention.

How do you stay ahead of changes in technology?

I allocate five percent of our team’s time and resources to investigating, researching and testing to ensure we remain ahead of industry offerings and developments. By managing our UA in-house, we are able to test new technologies quickly and run a lot of small tests. One example of this is a new self-serve platforms or DSP. We also keep up with all of our suppliers and ad network/platform providers through regular touch-points and with our peers at industry conferences and online forums.

What do you see as the next big thing in mobile marketing?

In a post-Cambridge Analytica world, there are shifts happening in the industry that are forcing mega platforms like Apple and Facebook to change the way they do business. Tighter regulations on products, privacy, and ad targeting will likely create challenges that may lead to a ‘cleaning up’ and consolidation of both product and marketing.

On the flip side, I see a great future in the rapid development of VR applications for both advertisers and publishers. At the moment the technology is not quite there yet for a truly mobile experience, but once we have real integration between mobile apps and VR, the possibilities for both advertisers and providers will be game-changing.

What advice can you offer to help marketers combat mobile ad fraud?

To some degree you will never be able to completely eradicate all fraud. Most mobile marketers will likely be a victim of it at some stage. My best advice is to leave it to the experts. Do your research, talk to your peers and consider using a reputable third party ad fraud detection and prevention service.