Here is a transcript generated by of The Content Mix podcast interview with Christinne Cuyugan, on app store marketing:

Shaheen Samavati 0:12
Hi everyone. I’m Shaheen from The Content Mix and I’m excited to be here with Christinne Cuyugan, a growth marketing consultant based in Barcelona. Thanks so much for joining us, Christinne.

Christinne Cuyugan 0:21
Thanks for having me. Pleasure.

Shaheen Samavati 0:24
So you recently made the move from Austria to Spain. Can you tell us what prompted you to do that, especially in this strange year?

Christinne Cuyugan 0:32
Well, actually it’s a bigger story. So let me introduce myself. I’m Christinne, I’m originally from the Philippines. I moved to Austria in 2014 to work for a company called Runtastic GmbH. They’re one of the leading health and fitness apps and at the beginning of this year, after working for them for almost six years, I thought that it would be great to actually have a change and start my career in a new country again. With the new country, I have to really emphasize Barcelona in Spain because of two reasons. Barcelona is such a big tech hub for people like me, mobile app marketers. The second and bigger reason is the great weather, Barcelona is super known for the beaches and everything. Coming from the Philippines, that was a no-brainer for me. If I had the chance to move here, I definitely would and I was happy to actually have had that. Although it was really weird timing.

Shaheen Samavati 1:33
Yeah, but you actually came a little bit before the pandemic started, or not before it started, but before the lockdown situation happened?

Christinne Cuyugan 1:40
Yeah, just a little bit before that. I at least had a few good weeks of seeing Barcelona with people and events. Even though we are in a really weird situation, not just Spain, but everyone in the world. I think it’s still a really great place to live, a really nice city to be in and this is coming from someone who’s new, just this year.

Shaheen Samavati 2:04
Yeah, you’ve only really experienced it during the strange time. So imagine how great it will be afterwards, right?

Christinne Cuyugan 2:12

Shaheen Samavati 2:14
So you actually came to Barcelona with the idea of starting your own consulting business? So what’s it been like starting this business during a pandemic?

Christinne Cuyugan 2:25
Well it was rocky roads, because of all the offices being closed. Me coming from the Philippines, it wasn’t easy to just move, there are papers, there are documents, there are bureaucracies I’ve had to pass. So that didn’t come as I wanted it to. I have to say I think that’s part of the training as well because it is a privilege to be here and to have had that opportunity. So let’s say if that was the work that I needed to do to actually live the life that I want, and I’m living now, that was okay. So I think there’s a lot of things that were a little bit harder, just because there was a pandemic. So I can remember the immigration office was closed for at least two months back in March. The Social Security offices weren’t taking any physical appointments, you would have needed like a digital certificate, but maybe you didn’t have a digital certificate. So there was a lot of these things that were going on. But now that I’ve passed it, now that it’s settled, I would really have to say it was still worth it because I really like the fact that I’m able to establish this business to be a growth marketing consultant, because now I can pick up projects that I really like, with products and companies, where I really want to contribute on their growth marketing.

Shaheen Samavati 3:49
Yeah, so can you tell us, what does it mean to be a growth marketing consultant? What do you focus on and what do you offer your clients?

Christinne Cuyugan 3:56
So actually, I’m very focused on mobile apps. So my experience also back in Austria, and also my studies, was all geared about App Store marketing and also user acquisition when it comes to mobile apps. I always tell my, let’s say, older friends, if you ask me anything about the web, I’ll be like, I have no idea. How does that even work kind of scenario, but that’s okay because actually, I have found that niche in mobile app marketing. Mobile is the way to go for a lot of industries moving forward, they need to have a mobile strategy, so it was an opportunity. Back in 2014, if I rethink it, how I came to the mobile app marketing world, I have to say it was just because I found a spot that was open, and nobody was really interested in it and I gave it a chance. I think that was the best unknown, what is going to happen in that pathway for me, decision that I ever made. I wasn’t actually like really deciding to myself, yeah, I will go to mobile app marketing, but I stumbled across an opportunity that made me start my career there and I’ve been loving it ever since.

Shaheen Samavati 5:18
Yeah, very cool. So was Runtastic your first experience there? You’ve worked for some really cool companies, you worked with Runtastic for six years, like you said, now one of your clients is a language learning app called Drops. So you’re working with some really cool startups, more in the consumer space and fun kind of content. What have you learned in these roles, in these fast growing startups, in terms of user acquisition and marketing?

Christinne Cuyugan 5:49
I think with content and mobile, there’s one thing that you will always have to keep in mind and that’s to fail fast. This might sound really weird to some of our listeners but the thing is that, when you’re trying to sell a mobile app, you will always have a lot of features in an app and you’ll never know what really resonates with the audience unless you AB test all of them. I can tell you, there’s so many things you can AB test when you’re working with mobile apps. So the best learning I had, for me, was failing fast. I think in the beginning, when I was starting out at it, I was always super afraid to recommend, can we try this direction because I think… But I’ve completely removed that from my mindset and I always just come up with a hypothesis of what I think would work well as content and I always test it. It doesn’t matter if I think this idea doesn’t make sense. Maybe it doesn’t make sense to you but unless we actually have the numbers to prove that, we won’t know for sure. So I think that’s the the main thing that I’ve learned in all of these companies that I worked for, test everything, fail fast, but learn from it and from there, reiterate on what works best.

Shaheen Samavati 7:06
So fail fast comes from that lean startup methodology, right? So you mentioned you’re a specialist in App Store marketing, can you share any tips and tricks for getting an app to the top of search in the app store?

Christinne Cuyugan 7:21
With App Store optimization, there’s a lot of things that you have to keep in mind but the main thing is to really know Apple and Google. They have different rules and you will have to have different strategies, on how to get to the top of the App Store, when it comes to Apple search and when it comes to the Google search. These two big companies do not agree on how things should work and that’s fine, because they’re two completely different companies. As the Content Manager and as the ASO manager, you need to know what these differences are. So just to give you a couple of tricks, right? On Apple it doesn’t work when you repeat keywords and a lot of SEO managers will be thinking, but that’s counter intuitive. The fact is that in Apple, you only have a couple of characters that you can optimise on when it comes to keyword marketing. So you’re going to have to really choose what keywords you want to promote, what keywords you would like to rank for. By a couple of characters, I really mean it, like super small content. So it’s like 30 characters for the title of your app, 29 characters for your subtitle, I mean, normally, it’s 30 but there’s like a bug that’s been going on for a while now. Then you have a keywords field, which is just 100 characters. So when you think about this, when you’re trying to get an app on the Apple App Store, on the top of the search, you have a total of 159 characters. So how in the world are you going to put up so much content, so much of your ideas, which are the keywords that are going to make sense for your app in 160 characters. That’s the main trick on Apple, because you have to fight the battles that you think you can win and also the keywords that you think will really bring in the correct consumers to find your app. On Google, it’s the exact opposite. So on Google, iteration and repetition of keywords is a really important thing because that’s what Google takes as a factor on what they believe you believe is important for your app. They’re also really strict on spamming, so if they see that the app is using this keyword too many times and it doesn’t even make sense in the metadata, they’re actually gonna think it’s a keyword spamming or a keyword iteration that is not in a good linguistic way so they’re not going to even try. So with these two app stores, aside from these different rules, how to do that, you have to know that they change. It’s not like there’s a dynamic rule or sorry, a static rule and this will forever be the way, that’s not the case. Over the years they have changed the mechanism of how search works at least two or three times in the last two years. So you always have to be aware of these changes. Also, again with the fail fast thing, there are a lot of things that you can test, or AB test in a mobile app store listing. So with the limited things that you could do, you should still try to do that.

Shaheen Samavati 10:46
So this is a novice question because I have no experience with App Store marketing, but besides optimizing the description of the app itself, what else goes into it? What other types of content do you need to create? What are the other aspects of your job?

Christinne Cuyugan 11:05
So yeah, you’re completely right. I haven’t mentioned the other part of App Store marketing, which is also the creative, visual optimization. When you’re looking into new apps on your phone and just think about it, maybe you’re not the kind of person who reads descriptions, because who has time for that? The great thing is that in the app stores, you will always have the possibility to come across your product through screenshots, or even app preview or promotional videos. So these two types of content can always have a million ideas on how to design it, how to really understand what resonates the most with your audience. From that you can actually really, with your content, the visual content, you can create a cycle of optimization that brings you more users. The more people see your app, because of your searched or ranked keywords, they land to your page and then you have to convince them in less than three seconds that your app is worthy to be downloaded in their phone. The best way to do that, under the assumption they don’t read, is the screenshots and the videos that are going to be pressing for the app itself in the stores. It’s already the end of the year and honestly, I have no idea how many AB tests I’ve ran and how many ideas the team have created to really come to a conversion rate where we say, okay, this is good we can still keep trying to make it better and that’s always the thought that you should have in mind. Even though you see that you’re 10% more than you were last year, you can never get too high.

Shaheen Samavati 13:12
So how do you AB test in the App Store when you only have one listing to work with?

Christinne Cuyugan 13:18
So on Apple, it’s a little bit more complicated because you have to include some Facebook pages to create some ads and everything. So I’ll tell you the way that a lot of marketers do it as well. On Google it’s easier because on their platform itself, there’s the Google AB test experiments, where you can test all of these creatives that I mentioned to you. If you have an idea for what kind of screenshots you want, you can create like three to four variants of the screenshots and then you can really have the segment of new users be segmented in equal parts. If you’re actually risk adverse, you can say that you want 50% in the normal store listing that I know works. Maybe your idea is too radical and you don’t want it to decline so heavily if the idea was bad. You can also do that on Google

Shaheen Samavati 14:12
So they have a built in tool for that?

Christinne Cuyugan 14:15
Yeah, exactly. I would say there are going to be two opinions, some marketers test it on Google, and then they apply it on Apple and see how it works on Apple. As I said, on Apple AB testing is hard. I’m actually hoping that they will have a similar solution soon. I’m sure that they’re actually working on something similar, hopefully, but that’s one way to go. The other way to go is really to go through that complicated process of trying to find out how it works for Apple with the Facebook pages, as I mentioned to you.

Shaheen Samavati 14:52
Then once you’ve figured it out and you’ve got the final answer, is that it? Is your job done? What happens after that?

Christinne Cuyugan 15:02
It’s never done but that’s the cool thing, right? That’s why for our clients, for everyone who’s working in this space, there’s always something you can improve even if you really hit the target of your client. You can still say, but we haven’t tested this part, what if this part or system brings in this much improvement? When you think about it, if you’re working for a huge app, a 5% increase in conversion rate sounds small, right? It’s not small, but when you think about the traffic that these apps are getting a 5% increase is more than enough to actually really bring in a lot of revenue that you wouldn’t have otherwise gotten because it didn’t make that improvement. So when it comes to this kind of content, testing on apps, I think, my job is never done, because there’s always going to be things that you can improve. The other point, as I mentioned, they’re always changing this. So actually, there are some apps that if they did not really take care of it, they will decline at some point because other companies might be more successful in testing the ideas they have and then they overtake you. It’s always an ongoing process, as long as your app is out there, as long as you would like to have users see it, our job as an ASO or a growth marketing consultant. It will never be over.

Shaheen Samavati 16:33
Definitely and I imagine the apps themselves are also evolving, so it has to reflect what’s the most recent features and all that kind of stuff?

Christinne Cuyugan 16:41

Shaheen Samavati 16:42
Well, could you share any example? I usually ask about a piece of content, I guess, in your case, it would be an App Store listing that worked really well, or a tactic that you used with content that worked really well, and why you think that was?

Christinne Cuyugan 16:55
Okay, I think the biggest test that I’ve done has always been with videos, because this is about how consumers are reacting to creatives right now. When it comes to content the faster you capture their attention and the faster you’re able to really promote a value proposition of your feature, the better. So this doesn’t just apply to the extra listings, this also applies to ads. So if you’re a growth marketing manager that also invests in social ads on Facebook and Instagram, so on and so forth, you will quickly realise that video is an amazing type of content that you can use to really communicate to the users in a fast way, what your app is about. So the one idea that you need to test is value prop testing in the first 3 seconds of a video. Imagine yourself right, when you’re on your phone, when you’re looking into your newsfeed on Instagram or Facebook, you’re normally just scrolling, scrolling, scrolling away. Unless something really catches your eye, you will not really put your time into even looking what it was. So that’s why whenever I’m doing some content testing and this is really what worked well for me, I always tested what was gonna be in that first three seconds under the assumption that, okay, if they never go through the first three seconds, will they know that the app is about this, and that it’s the best of app for this reason. So let’s say, an example, give me an app that you really like Shaheen so that I can give you some ideas, how to test it.

Shaheen Samavati 18:57
Todist, a to-do list app.

Christinne Cuyugan 19:01
So if you’re working for a to do list app, what are the value props that you can say? Well, first of all, there’s going to be the good checklist, how to manage your tasks in a good way. The second thing would be, maybe you have a calendar that you can put the deadlines on for your task. The third thing maybe, I don’t know how to say this, but it’s also a value prop in itself that the app is making your life more organized. So there are three ideas that I just came up with in my head right now. When you’re putting it in a video, obviously you cannot say all these three things in the first few seconds, right?Maybe you’re a genius and you can, I don’t know. In general, with these three thoughts that you have, test them because then you will understand, okay, I launched these ads, the first one being dedicated to the list itself, the second one being dedicated to having a deadline or calendar for my task and the third one for just really making your life more organized with a list. So from there, I don’t know what will work best to be honest, but you can test that and when you do, you will understand that making their lives more organized was the one that had the most clicks and the one that had the most app downloads on my end, so the conversion rate was really high. So I would recommend that you use this direction in your future ways of selling the app.

Shaheen Samavati 20:32
Wow. It’s super interesting the whole process that goes behind that. It definitely has some parallels to web marketing, for sure but it’s so specific with the App Store and it sounds like there’s a lot of intricacies you need to be familiar with. Super cool, thanks for sharing your insights on that. I wanted to go back to your personal story and about your move to Spain. I know a lot of people in our community live in Spain or are thinking about moving to Spain because we’re in Spain. So I was just curious if you have any advice about making that leap?

Christinne Cuyugan 21:06
Well, advice. I think moving to Spain was my best decision this year, even though there’s COVID, even though it was hard, we had one of the strictest lockdowns ever. My birthday was actually April 23, which in Catalonia, I don’t know if it’s in the case in the entire of Spain. It’s the Sant Jordi and there’s this feast where in the streets there would be a lot of bookshops and people giving groceries to girls. I’m like, oh, man, I missed this because there was a hard lockdown here in Spain. Again, despite all of these things that happened, I think it was worth it. Also all of the bureaucracy and those hoops that I had to join, it was still worth it. So when you’re looking for a certain lifestyle, which is having the good weather, I’m looking outside right now it’s super sunny. It’s 21 degrees later on, it’s the middle of November, if that’s a lifestyle that you’re looking, for example, for me I go for lunch breaks at the beach. I know it’s going to be hard and there are a lot of things that will maybe discourage you but if you have a good plan on what you’re going to be doing when you’re based here, for me I had to make sure I had clients and everything and it would be okay that I’m based here. Second of all, if you’re looking for this kind of lifestyle, then honestly forget about all of those, what ifs, how can I do this? Just do it, because I think it will be worth it. It will be hard but if it’s something that you think you really want to do and you see that this is possible, this is not something that will take me 10 years to do. I would honestly say why not?

Shaheen Samavati 22:55
Yeah. That’s great. You can make it work somehow if you really want it. It’s a great point. So I wanted to ask you about some of your recommendations. First of all, if you have a favorite app at the moment yourself?

Christinne Cuyugan 23:10
Too Good To Go. I don’t know if you know the app?

Shaheen Samavati 23:12
I have heard of it. Yeah, it’s from the Netherlands. Right? I’ve definitely heard about the about the company. I haven’t used the app myself.

Christinne Cuyugan 23:19
I like supporting their cause actually. So what they do is they they partner with restaurants and even supermarkets sometimes. At the end of the day, so a certain period when the shop closes, they put the things that the restaurant or the shop wasn’t able to sell for the day for a cheaper price, so that it won’t go to waste. I love it because food waste is a big problem in the world. I think every one of us is aware of that and any cause that supports that I would recommend. The reason why they’re my favourite app at the moment is I’m using them a lot of times now. There’s not a lot of restaurants open but still at the end of the day, when they have overproduced what they think they would need for the deliveries that would happen during the day. I would like to rescue them. There’s actually a lot of really cool restaurants that participate. So for example, there’s a pizza place that I really love and it’s awesome because normally the pizzas are like eight or nine euros, but because it’s the end of the day and there’s a chance that will just be put to waste, it becomes like three euros. So when I think about it, I’m like, why not?

Shaheen Samavati 23:20
Yeah, that’s cool. I didn’t actually know they were operating in Spain, so I’ll definitely have to check that out. I’ve read news about that company so that’s very cool. I wanted to ask if you recommend any marketing related group or publications?

Christinne Cuyugan 24:59
Group, there’s a couple on Slack actually, so there’s ASO and mobile growth stack forum feature. They’re a big company in Germany, there’s quite a lot of mobile app marketers there which is pretty good because we’re always more than happy to share some insights and knowledge amongst each other. Also there’s Mobile Growth Heroes from LiftOff, which are very focused on mobile marketing. They’re all really good sites, especially when you want to connect with mobile marketers.

Shaheen Samavati 25:34
I see. So it sounds like you’re very active in a lot of different groups.

Christinne Cuyugan 25:38
I am, I have like a million Slack channels.

Shaheen Samavati 25:43
I guess in your role, it’s really important to be really up to date on what’s going on? Speaking of, do you recommend any learning resources or online courses to keep fresh on things?

Christinne Cuyugan 26:00
The great thing about mobile marketing is that the platforms where you can do mobile marketing, they also offer their own courses. So for example, Facebook, offer Blueprint courses, they’re completely free, you can do them at your own pace at your own time and I think it’s very useful. There’s also Google Digital Garage, again completely free. If you want the certificate, I think it costs something but if you just really want to learn, it’s completely available on your own time. I think Apple even just released a new one last month, which is the Apple Search courses. So there’s a lot of these good materials and platforms where different contents exist as you can imagine, because on Facebook, there are different formats of content, on Google they’re different and Apple is completely different as well. So you have to know how each platform works and it’s really great that they offer these learning resources, because if I don’t have the chance to actually work on them. So you know, I have clients that have apps so that’s why I’m really working on this everyday. If I didn’t have this chance, I wouldn’t have any good source of information aside from these courses. They’re free, by the way, because there’s a lot of courses, which is great however it always fades. I think especially if you’re starting out, if you’re out of university like I was when I first started, I didn’t have the money to actually invest on courses that would be useful but it’s just that it was quite expensive.

Shaheen Samavati 27:42
Yeah. It also makes sense, like you’re saying, to get the information directly from the source. If you’re going to specialise on working with certain platforms, take the course from the platform itself, it makes sense. By the way, I didn’t even ask you about paid search but I guess that’s part of what you consult on as well. So it’s not only the app stores, but also bringing people to the app stores through other tools, right?

Christinne Cuyugan 28:02

Shaheen Samavati 28:03
Cool. Well, going into your other recommendations. Do you recommend any marketing or business book?

Christinne Cuyugan 28:11
I have a book recommendation. It’s not completely just about marketing, it’s called Swipe to Unlock, it’s bite sized stories of why things are the way they are in the business world. So for example, why does Tinder offer this for free? Why does Google do this and that? There’s actually reasons, you know, they’re very interesting stories it’s not that you would learn anything that you can implement tomorrow or something. But it’s great to read, because you’ll understand the logic behind why things are the way they are right now in terms of the tech companies that are really huge right now. So there’s a lot of stories from Airbnb, stories about why Kodak failed, for example. So you have a lot of Okay, that’s cool, and having that context it helps you avoid the mistakes that those companies did when they had that thought, and so on. So that’s cool. That’s a really good book, I really recommend it.

Shaheen Samavati 29:15
A good recommendation, and then your best productivity hack?

Christinne Cuyugan 29:20
Well, I can tell you my hack but I don’t know if it’s going to be applicable for everyone here unless they move to Spain. Every morning I try to, hopefully when there’s no lock down, I do some morning beach coffee walks. So I take my coffee, which I have here now. I just walk there because it’s so calming and it’s giving me the correct mood to start my day. Then after that I do a 10 minute self standup. I know it sounds weird, but I need to organize what I want to do for the rest of the day. It’s very useful when you have that because it helps you not go off track, let’s say, so that’s what I do. I think with that, it makes my day. You started right because you’re happy, you’ve got the beach, it was really good, sun in your face and then you think okay, this is what I’m going to be achieving until the end of the day.

Shaheen Samavati 30:16
So I haven’t heard that term. Self stand up, is that like a thing?

Christinne Cuyugan 30:22
It’s my term. I work alone, I’m a consultant. So normally, if you have a stand up it’s with your team or with people, but if it’s just you how do you do that? Like, should I bother my neighbors. Let’s think about it, let’s brainstorm what I need to do today. So that’s why I call it self stand up, because it’s just me prioritizing, but also really saying it out loud. I have a board here with post-its of what I need to do and then I move them throughout the day when I’m finished. It’s really, really important, especially when you have clients that have time based deadlines, you need to have a good overview of that.

Shaheen Samavati 31:05
Yeah, that’s a super interesting concept, you should write something about it, you can start a trend there. It’s like having your daily huddle meeting or stand up by yourself. I like that.

Christinne Cuyugan 31:17
Me and my personalities.

Shaheen Samavati 31:21
Nice. We’re reaching the end of the interview. So I just wanted to give you the chance to give us any final parting advice or takeaways for other content writers or marketers across Europe.

Christinne Cuyugan 31:34
Well, it’s cliche but it is true what they say about content, it is king, it is the queen, it is what is going to make you stand out in a world that is fast paced, in a world that is more and more based on algorithms, what can be shown in the feed and everything. Content that is relevant to your audience and not just because you have a sale or anything, but really purposeful content is what resonates the most. Depending on what industry you work for, you will have a lot of ideas what this purposeful content would be for your industry. But, as I said earlier, you should test that.

Shaheen Samavati 32:16
Yes, absolutely. So it’s the mix of the analytical and the creative that gives the best results I guess. Well, that’s a great note to end on. Thank you so much, Christinne, for sharing your insights with us today.

Christinne Cuyugan 32:30
You’re welcome. As I said, I’m super happy to be on the show. I feel like I’m an insider in Spain now for being here.

Shaheen Samavati 32:38
Definitely. Thank you again for joining us and thanks everybody for listening in. For more perspectives on the content marketing industry in Europe check out and keep tuning into the podcast for daily interviews with content experts. See you next time. Bye Christinne.

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