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Anatomy of a Growth Marketer: Kevin Hsu

Anatomy of a Growth Marketer is an ongoing blog series showcasing top talent in the field of digital advertising.

Savvy companies are building in-house teams to manage their most important marketing channels. They recognize that outsourcing leads to missed opportunities, and they care enough about the customer journey to train and invest in talent that can maximize insights gathered from data.

Great in-house advertisers are the lifeblood of digital business growth. They are methodical and analytical, using results from real-time reporting to iterate on best-performing creative and copy as well as to identify under-performing campaigns. A seasoned performance marketing specialist is expected to wear many hats, and may be responsible for a significant percentage of spend (resulting in significant company growth).

How can digital-first companies attract this caliber of in-house talent — and more importantly, how can they retain it? We consulted user acquisition expert Kevin Hsu for insight.

Kevin Hsu

Kevin Hsu

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What is a typical day in the life for your role?

My role is to lead user acquisition and growth. That means digital advertising to affiliates, and to any other paid channel — whether it’s physical copy, to video, to TV, to radio, to podcasts; it really encompasses anything that moves the needle and helps us become greater in size.

Very early in the morning I will check how our products are doing from our sales side, to identify opportunities that we should be jumping on and also figure out what isn’t working. Then I run through all the performance metrics as to where we stand in the month and how we performed the previous day at a very high level; so, click through rates, conversion rates, registration costs, cost to acquire a customer and our general yield.

Immediately after that, I step into a meeting with the entire marketing team.

We scrutinize every initiative, every campaign that’s going on. We implement a test and analyze the actual numbers that come through, and constantly iterate. Pretty much every person on the team goes through what their findings were for the previous day and what next steps will be.

Everyone will have their work cut out for the rest of the day; we’ll have everything laid out by the end of that meeting. For me, it bounces around from there depending on new initiatives I’m taking on. It could be improving product; from the technology standpoint, working heavily with our dev team.

We scrutinize every initiative, every campaign that’s going on.

It could be talking and taking calls to understand every major player within the podcast landscape and forming a specific plan so I can step over to our CEO and pitch him later in the day.

A big part of our team and DNA is to be metrics focused. We have our own analytics team here, so one of my bigger projects is sitting down and crunching numbers; figuring out what metrics we should be looking at and what interesting things that we found from running these analyses.

How has ad automation software helped your daily life?

The thing that really stands out is the focus and effort on client services; having account managers that are actually responsive, that return emails within a very specific amount of time, making sure that a solution is found — it’s one of the biggest reasons why I am fiercely loyal to Nanigans.

What are the characteristics of a great in-house advertiser?

Being able to analyze very granular metrics is a pretty significant part of the job, for sure.

A really good user acquisition and growth marketer is fundamentally trying to learn and grow. You see this personality and archetype within the startup culture; people who are extraordinarily hungry and willing to do whatever they need to do to get it done.

How can companies attract and develop in-house advertising talent like yours?

Especially with very small startups you attract talent through cash comp, equity, or title, but companies need to build a great product; to be selling something that marketers can get behind. In talking to other firms about their ongoing recruiting process, the biggest attraction is having the overhead to focus on and believe in digital advertising growth. And to give autonomy to the digital marketer at the end of the day, and a lot of leeway; that sandbox to explore.

A really good user acquisition and growth marketer is fundamentally trying to learn and grow.

When companies are so focused on identifying very specific roles, it really deters the user acquisition marketer from wanting to join because it’s directly stunting their creative and business development capacity. Giving a marketer the ability for trial and error and testing new things is a tremendous upside and very appealing for a potential employee.

We don’t know all the answers. We continue to test and challenge ourselves to learn. That’s how we wind up winning at the end of the day.

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