How We Scaled from 80k to 6m Users

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10

Jordan Gladstone (Director of Marketing at Dave - Banking App) discusses how Dave achieved its stunning user growth and Unicorn valuation. What worked, and what didn't work?

Source:
How We Scaled from 80k to 6m Users
(no direct link to watch/listen)
(direct link to watch/listen)
Type:
Presentation
Publication date:
June 17, 2020
Added to the Vault on:
June 19, 2020
These insights were shared through the free Growth Gems newsletter.
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💎 #
1

You can start by making ad creatives using your phone. Even with just selfie videos you can test a ton: different hooks (starting with a question, moving the camera in the first 2 seconds, etc.), different call to actions, sunglasses on or not, etc. - selfie videos, friends, etc.  

02:52
💎 #
2

Then start filming other people to be able to show the app more. It helps figuring out which messaging works as well as test different thumbnails (e.g. empty gas), showing or not the app (showing the app works better), actors, locations, etc. 

03:43
💎 #
3

Something that has worked well for Dave is responding to Facebook comments on their ads "as Dave" (they now have a style guide with what Dave likes). It allows for ads to look more organic and creates more engagement, leading to lower CPMs.  

04:40
💎 #
4

You only need limited resources to be able to respond to FB comments. Do it yourself at the beginning, find unemployed comedy actors and later you can get community managers.  

06:03
💎 #
5

Before you invest big on TV, do a test with a scrappy creative (with enough quality to still be approved). Dave started with a $250 creative and it actually crushed it in performance (more than some expensive agency ads created later) and they put a lot of money behind it. 

09:10
💎 #
6

Be very flexible during the learning phase with TV, especially if you come from digital and used to understanding attribution perfectly. A CPA on TV is going to look very different from Facebook but you will see huge scale on TV as well as an halo effect on other channels allowing for bigger overall scale. 

11:06
💎 #
7

Dave only focuses on evergreen creatives, not on anything seasonal. If it can't be always on and evergreen, they don't do it. 

12:47
💎 #
8

Try best practices (e.g. Facebook) but if it's not working, think outside the box. There might be a way that works better for your app.  

14:15
💎 #
9

What's going to take you from 0 to 1M users and from 1M to 3M is probably different things. Some things stop working so you have to constantly force yourself to change and try new things.  

15:35
💎 #
10

For creative production Dave organizes shoots to be able to produce hundreds of creatives by having 6 different setups (1 that looks like a kitchen, 1 like a gas station, etc.), different actors (different ethnicities, different ages, etc.) and "cycling people through". 

17:57
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💎 #
1

You can start by making ad creatives using your phone. Even with just selfie videos you can test a ton: different hooks (starting with a question, moving the camera in the first 2 seconds, etc.), different call to actions, sunglasses on or not, etc. - selfie videos, friends, etc.  

02:52
💎 #
2

Then start filming other people to be able to show the app more. It helps figuring out which messaging works as well as test different thumbnails (e.g. empty gas), showing or not the app (showing the app works better), actors, locations, etc. 

03:43
💎 #
3

Something that has worked well for Dave is responding to Facebook comments on their ads "as Dave" (they now have a style guide with what Dave likes). It allows for ads to look more organic and creates more engagement, leading to lower CPMs.  

04:40
💎 #
4

You only need limited resources to be able to respond to FB comments. Do it yourself at the beginning, find unemployed comedy actors and later you can get community managers.  

06:03
💎 #
5

Before you invest big on TV, do a test with a scrappy creative (with enough quality to still be approved). Dave started with a $250 creative and it actually crushed it in performance (more than some expensive agency ads created later) and they put a lot of money behind it. 

09:10
💎 #
6

Be very flexible during the learning phase with TV, especially if you come from digital and used to understanding attribution perfectly. A CPA on TV is going to look very different from Facebook but you will see huge scale on TV as well as an halo effect on other channels allowing for bigger overall scale. 

11:06
💎 #
7

Dave only focuses on evergreen creatives, not on anything seasonal. If it can't be always on and evergreen, they don't do it. 

12:47
💎 #
8

Try best practices (e.g. Facebook) but if it's not working, think outside the box. There might be a way that works better for your app.  

14:15
💎 #
9

What's going to take you from 0 to 1M users and from 1M to 3M is probably different things. Some things stop working so you have to constantly force yourself to change and try new things.  

15:35
💎 #
10

For creative production Dave organizes shoots to be able to produce hundreds of creatives by having 6 different setups (1 that looks like a kitchen, 1 like a gas station, etc.), different actors (different ethnicities, different ages, etc.) and "cycling people through". 

17:57
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💎 #
1

You can start by making ad creatives using your phone. Even with just selfie videos you can test a ton: different hooks (starting with a question, moving the camera in the first 2 seconds, etc.), different call to actions, sunglasses on or not, etc. - selfie videos, friends, etc.  

02:52
💎 #
2

Then start filming other people to be able to show the app more. It helps figuring out which messaging works as well as test different thumbnails (e.g. empty gas), showing or not the app (showing the app works better), actors, locations, etc. 

03:43
💎 #
3

Something that has worked well for Dave is responding to Facebook comments on their ads "as Dave" (they now have a style guide with what Dave likes). It allows for ads to look more organic and creates more engagement, leading to lower CPMs.  

04:40
💎 #
4

You only need limited resources to be able to respond to FB comments. Do it yourself at the beginning, find unemployed comedy actors and later you can get community managers.  

06:03
💎 #
5

Before you invest big on TV, do a test with a scrappy creative (with enough quality to still be approved). Dave started with a $250 creative and it actually crushed it in performance (more than some expensive agency ads created later) and they put a lot of money behind it. 

09:10
💎 #
6

Be very flexible during the learning phase with TV, especially if you come from digital and used to understanding attribution perfectly. A CPA on TV is going to look very different from Facebook but you will see huge scale on TV as well as an halo effect on other channels allowing for bigger overall scale. 

11:06
💎 #
7

Dave only focuses on evergreen creatives, not on anything seasonal. If it can't be always on and evergreen, they don't do it. 

12:47
💎 #
8

Try best practices (e.g. Facebook) but if it's not working, think outside the box. There might be a way that works better for your app.  

14:15
💎 #
9

What's going to take you from 0 to 1M users and from 1M to 3M is probably different things. Some things stop working so you have to constantly force yourself to change and try new things.  

15:35
💎 #
10

For creative production Dave organizes shoots to be able to produce hundreds of creatives by having 6 different setups (1 that looks like a kitchen, 1 like a gas station, etc.), different actors (different ethnicities, different ages, etc.) and "cycling people through". 

17:57
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  • Discuss key insights (and any other mobile growth topic) in the members-only community.
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Notes for this resource are currently being transferred and will be available soon.

Dave is: expense forecasting, overdraft alerts, advances, side hustle, dave banking. Trying to get people out of living paycheck to paycheck.

What Dave started with - Creatives

There is so much you can do, but they focused on ads and therefore needed creatives.

[💎@02:52] You can start by making ad creatives using your phone. Even with just selfie videos you can test a ton: different hooks (starting with a question, moving the camera in the first 2 seconds, etc.), different call to actions, sunglasses on or not, etc. - selfie videos, friends, etc.

[💎@03:43] Then start filming other people to be able to show the app more. It helps figuring out which messaging works as well as test different thumbnails (e.g. empty gas), showing or not the app (showing the app works better), actors, locations, etc.


What Dave started with - Facebook comments

[💎@04:40] Something that has worked well for Dave is responding to Facebook comments on their ads "as Dave" (they now have a style guide with what Dave likes). It allows for ads to look more organic and creates more engagement, leading to lower CPMs.

[💎@06:03] You only need limited resources to be able to respond to FB comments. Do it yourself at the beginning, find unemployed comedy actors and later you can get community managers.


Takeaways

  • Don't sit in rooms for hours thinking about creatives. Go make things.
  • Fail small and build on wins. Minimum budget used to be about $30 a day. Keep building on your tests.
  • Lack of resources aren't an excuse.


TV advertising

Turned on TV with Tatari when they saw CPA increase along with spend increase.


[💎@09:10] Before you invest big on TV, do a test with a scrappy creative (with enough quality to still be approved). Dave started with a $250 creative and it actually crushed it in performance (more than some expensive agency ads created later) and they put a lot of money behind it.

They are now creating TV ads that are somewhere in between: scrappy side focusing on the app but with a higher production value.


[💎@11:06] Be very flexible during the learning phase with TV, especially if you come from digital and used to understanding attribution perfectly. A CPA on TV is going to look very different from Facebook but you will see huge scale on TV as well as an halo effect on other channels allowing for bigger overall scale.


Ask yourself: will it grow or shrink your growth? In the early phases you have to focus on what grows the business and build new things.


[💎@12:47] Dave only focuses on evergreen creatives, not on anything seasonal. If it can't be always on and evergreen, they don't do it.


Think about what can drive the most value. For example Dave doesn't have any organic social media.


Some things are not worth the time. For Dave: complicated multi-touch attribution. Unless it is going to make you change things drastically, don't waste time on an academic project.


Q&A


  • [💎@14:15] Try best practices (e.g. Facebook) but if it's not working, think outside the box. There might be a way that works better for your app.
  • [💎@15:35] What's going to take you from 0 to 1M users and from 1M to 3M is probably different things. Some things stop working so you have to constantly force yourself to change to try new things.
  • Jordan's job changes every 2 weeks to a month.


At the beginning they could always spend more on performance but at one point they could not scale efficiently, and small incremental results were not moving the needle.


[💎@17:57] For creative production Dave organizes shoots to be able to produce hundreds of creatives by having 6 different setups (1 that look like a kitchen, 1 like a gas station, etc.), different actors (different races, different ages, etc.) and "cycling people through".


Besides TV most creatives from Dave are for app install ads. They do some retargeting but it's mainly app installs.


Having a mascot is valuable. Dave used to be just a white guy but then they made it a bear. It doesn't help a lot for acquisition but people do talk about the mascot in reviews and it probably creates a more personal relationship.


Dave mostly does national campaigns and optimize for specific actions in the app. They did try more local campaigns as US states were reopening.


To track TV impact they use spot attribution in their dashboards. They send a baseline or organic installs and the 5 min after a TV spot airs they see a spike, track the lift and attribute that to TV. Even though it's not perfect that's what they optimize for and report on, but really the big plus of TV is the scale it allows and the halo effect.


Rethinking about building the team she would now hire less junior people and more people that can own things.


Tools

  • Early days: Adjust and Google Sheets.
  • Now: AppsFlyer for attribution, a couple of tools for spend data and visualizations in Tableau.


Scaling came from trying a lot of things, adding more channels.


Programmatic is not a significant proportion of their spend. Channel mix changes a lot but in general they try to keep it a pretty even mix.


At the beginning they optimized for installs but now optimize further down the funnel. They pay close attention to which events they optimize for.



The notes from this resource are only available to premium members.
↘ At this point, you know what to do ↙
Upgrade Your Plan

Dave is: expense forecasting, overdraft alerts, advances, side hustle, dave banking. Trying to get people out of living paycheck to paycheck.

What Dave started with - Creatives

There is so much you can do, but they focused on ads and therefore needed creatives.

[💎@02:52] You can start by making ad creatives using your phone. Even with just selfie videos you can test a ton: different hooks (starting with a question, moving the camera in the first 2 seconds, etc.), different call to actions, sunglasses on or not, etc. - selfie videos, friends, etc.

[💎@03:43] Then start filming other people to be able to show the app more. It helps figuring out which messaging works as well as test different thumbnails (e.g. empty gas), showing or not the app (showing the app works better), actors, locations, etc.


What Dave started with - Facebook comments

[💎@04:40] Something that has worked well for Dave is responding to Facebook comments on their ads "as Dave" (they now have a style guide with what Dave likes). It allows for ads to look more organic and creates more engagement, leading to lower CPMs.

[💎@06:03] You only need limited resources to be able to respond to FB comments. Do it yourself at the beginning, find unemployed comedy actors and later you can get community managers.


Takeaways

  • Don't sit in rooms for hours thinking about creatives. Go make things.
  • Fail small and build on wins. Minimum budget used to be about $30 a day. Keep building on your tests.
  • Lack of resources aren't an excuse.


TV advertising

Turned on TV with Tatari when they saw CPA increase along with spend increase.


[💎@09:10] Before you invest big on TV, do a test with a scrappy creative (with enough quality to still be approved). Dave started with a $250 creative and it actually crushed it in performance (more than some expensive agency ads created later) and they put a lot of money behind it.

They are now creating TV ads that are somewhere in between: scrappy side focusing on the app but with a higher production value.


[💎@11:06] Be very flexible during the learning phase with TV, especially if you come from digital and used to understanding attribution perfectly. A CPA on TV is going to look very different from Facebook but you will see huge scale on TV as well as an halo effect on other channels allowing for bigger overall scale.


Ask yourself: will it grow or shrink your growth? In the early phases you have to focus on what grows the business and build new things.


[💎@12:47] Dave only focuses on evergreen creatives, not on anything seasonal. If it can't be always on and evergreen, they don't do it.


Think about what can drive the most value. For example Dave doesn't have any organic social media.


Some things are not worth the time. For Dave: complicated multi-touch attribution. Unless it is going to make you change things drastically, don't waste time on an academic project.


Q&A


  • [💎@14:15] Try best practices (e.g. Facebook) but if it's not working, think outside the box. There might be a way that works better for your app.
  • [💎@15:35] What's going to take you from 0 to 1M users and from 1M to 3M is probably different things. Some things stop working so you have to constantly force yourself to change to try new things.
  • Jordan's job changes every 2 weeks to a month.


At the beginning they could always spend more on performance but at one point they could not scale efficiently, and small incremental results were not moving the needle.


[💎@17:57] For creative production Dave organizes shoots to be able to produce hundreds of creatives by having 6 different setups (1 that look like a kitchen, 1 like a gas station, etc.), different actors (different races, different ages, etc.) and "cycling people through".


Besides TV most creatives from Dave are for app install ads. They do some retargeting but it's mainly app installs.


Having a mascot is valuable. Dave used to be just a white guy but then they made it a bear. It doesn't help a lot for acquisition but people do talk about the mascot in reviews and it probably creates a more personal relationship.


Dave mostly does national campaigns and optimize for specific actions in the app. They did try more local campaigns as US states were reopening.


To track TV impact they use spot attribution in their dashboards. They send a baseline or organic installs and the 5 min after a TV spot airs they see a spike, track the lift and attribute that to TV. Even though it's not perfect that's what they optimize for and report on, but really the big plus of TV is the scale it allows and the halo effect.


Rethinking about building the team she would now hire less junior people and more people that can own things.


Tools

  • Early days: Adjust and Google Sheets.
  • Now: AppsFlyer for attribution, a couple of tools for spend data and visualizations in Tableau.


Scaling came from trying a lot of things, adding more channels.


Programmatic is not a significant proportion of their spend. Channel mix changes a lot but in general they try to keep it a pretty even mix.


At the beginning they optimized for installs but now optimize further down the funnel. They pay close attention to which events they optimize for.



The notes from this resource are only available to premium members.

The detailed notes taken for a resource are an easy way to see the gems in context to get a better understanding. They also include any relevant visuals from the source.
↘ At this point, you know what to do ↙
Request Access

Dave is: expense forecasting, overdraft alerts, advances, side hustle, dave banking. Trying to get people out of living paycheck to paycheck.

What Dave started with - Creatives

There is so much you can do, but they focused on ads and therefore needed creatives.

[💎@02:52] You can start by making ad creatives using your phone. Even with just selfie videos you can test a ton: different hooks (starting with a question, moving the camera in the first 2 seconds, etc.), different call to actions, sunglasses on or not, etc. - selfie videos, friends, etc.

[💎@03:43] Then start filming other people to be able to show the app more. It helps figuring out which messaging works as well as test different thumbnails (e.g. empty gas), showing or not the app (showing the app works better), actors, locations, etc.


What Dave started with - Facebook comments

[💎@04:40] Something that has worked well for Dave is responding to Facebook comments on their ads "as Dave" (they now have a style guide with what Dave likes). It allows for ads to look more organic and creates more engagement, leading to lower CPMs.

[💎@06:03] You only need limited resources to be able to respond to FB comments. Do it yourself at the beginning, find unemployed comedy actors and later you can get community managers.


Takeaways

  • Don't sit in rooms for hours thinking about creatives. Go make things.
  • Fail small and build on wins. Minimum budget used to be about $30 a day. Keep building on your tests.
  • Lack of resources aren't an excuse.


TV advertising

Turned on TV with Tatari when they saw CPA increase along with spend increase.


[💎@09:10] Before you invest big on TV, do a test with a scrappy creative (with enough quality to still be approved). Dave started with a $250 creative and it actually crushed it in performance (more than some expensive agency ads created later) and they put a lot of money behind it.

They are now creating TV ads that are somewhere in between: scrappy side focusing on the app but with a higher production value.


[💎@11:06] Be very flexible during the learning phase with TV, especially if you come from digital and used to understanding attribution perfectly. A CPA on TV is going to look very different from Facebook but you will see huge scale on TV as well as an halo effect on other channels allowing for bigger overall scale.


Ask yourself: will it grow or shrink your growth? In the early phases you have to focus on what grows the business and build new things.


[💎@12:47] Dave only focuses on evergreen creatives, not on anything seasonal. If it can't be always on and evergreen, they don't do it.


Think about what can drive the most value. For example Dave doesn't have any organic social media.


Some things are not worth the time. For Dave: complicated multi-touch attribution. Unless it is going to make you change things drastically, don't waste time on an academic project.


Q&A


  • [💎@14:15] Try best practices (e.g. Facebook) but if it's not working, think outside the box. There might be a way that works better for your app.
  • [💎@15:35] What's going to take you from 0 to 1M users and from 1M to 3M is probably different things. Some things stop working so you have to constantly force yourself to change to try new things.
  • Jordan's job changes every 2 weeks to a month.


At the beginning they could always spend more on performance but at one point they could not scale efficiently, and small incremental results were not moving the needle.


[💎@17:57] For creative production Dave organizes shoots to be able to produce hundreds of creatives by having 6 different setups (1 that look like a kitchen, 1 like a gas station, etc.), different actors (different races, different ages, etc.) and "cycling people through".


Besides TV most creatives from Dave are for app install ads. They do some retargeting but it's mainly app installs.


Having a mascot is valuable. Dave used to be just a white guy but then they made it a bear. It doesn't help a lot for acquisition but people do talk about the mascot in reviews and it probably creates a more personal relationship.


Dave mostly does national campaigns and optimize for specific actions in the app. They did try more local campaigns as US states were reopening.


To track TV impact they use spot attribution in their dashboards. They send a baseline or organic installs and the 5 min after a TV spot airs they see a spike, track the lift and attribute that to TV. Even though it's not perfect that's what they optimize for and report on, but really the big plus of TV is the scale it allows and the halo effect.


Rethinking about building the team she would now hire less junior people and more people that can own things.


Tools

  • Early days: Adjust and Google Sheets.
  • Now: AppsFlyer for attribution, a couple of tools for spend data and visualizations in Tableau.


Scaling came from trying a lot of things, adding more channels.


Programmatic is not a significant proportion of their spend. Channel mix changes a lot but in general they try to keep it a pretty even mix.


At the beginning they optimized for installs but now optimize further down the funnel. They pay close attention to which events they optimize for.