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Hi there, I'm Annabell Satterfield, PM of Growth at BitTorrent, which has developed a portfolio of products focused on leveraging the power of distributed computing. I have been working on the client products for the last two years, most of that time on the mobile apps, which hit profitability and 100mm installs earlier this year. What made this possible: (1) Our team has chosen to integrate growth and product into the same team-- the product team is also the growth team. I'd love to delve into this more if you're interested. (2) We power most of our experiments (including product MVPs) based on hypotheses pulled from market research and other qualitative data. (3) The mobile team-- led by a rockstar product leader, Pramod Sokke-- is the most dedicated and talented group of people I've ever worked with: An Nguyen, Brandon Chinn, Chloe TsengJoe Joyce, Nandhita Kumar, Rebecca Chu, and Stella Gin. My take on the intersection of product and growth: If you think of a consumer product (including the acquisition funnel for the product) as a delivery device for a user value proposition- whether it's delicious food fast, or an emotional connection between friends- and you think of the product roadmap as experiments designed to either build core value, or get users to experience the core value as quickly as possible and as often as possible, it's natural for growth and product to work closely together. Follow me on twitter at @als355

  • MB

    Morgan Brown

    about 4 years ago #

    Hey Annabell,

    Thanks so much for doing this AMA with us! Can you talk a little bit about the team structure at BitTorrent?

    What was the structure like before growth was integrated with product?

    What was the catalyst for that change?

    How long has the growth team been around?

    Are there multiple growth teams or just one?

    Thanks!

    • AS

      Annabell Satterfield

      about 4 years ago #

      This is a fantastic question. I want to make sure it gets a good answer- Let me give that one a little thought and post that answer here this afternoon. I really think that the growth+product structure is a powerful one, and that the product itself is the biggest lever for growth that one can pull.

      • AS

        Annabell Satterfield

        about 4 years ago #

        Thank you so much, Morgan. It's absolutely my pleasure.

        There is only one growth team at BitTorrent, and that's the product team currently working on the clients, headed up by Pramod Sokke. I'm the only Growth PM at the company.

        How does this work on our team?
        Pramod is head of products for all clients on all platforms. He's very data-driven and understands growth, so we develop the roadmap based on the KPIs we need to move.

        If the KPI to move is revenue, for example, we look at the levers available to us, and estimate their ability to move that KPI (if we move lever X 10%, KPI Y becomes Z). We try to be indifferent as to whether something is a growth lever or a product lever (example: onboarding vs. a new feature).

        We choose a lever and then determine if we need to do any research before generating hypotheses for experiments- if so, we determine what's needed and get that data (qualitative/quantitative). We develop and prioritize our hypotheses and experiments based on 'impact x effort' and put our best experiments on the product roadmap. Some of these experiments are product MVPs, and some are growth initiatives. Then we execute and measure, doubling down on what's working.

        The best part of this model is that 100% of the people on the team are focused on the best, highest yielding initiatives, done in the right order. In a one-product company, I could see this eventually evolve to a product team and product VP working closely with a growth team and growth team VP. Hopefully, the synergy and cooperation would still exist in that structure-- and I suspect that a slow evolution to having a growth team would make that possible. Too many companies hastily staple on a growth team to 'manage growth' rather than make growth everyone's responsibility, which it is.

        How my team's structure moved from Product and Marketing to (Product+Growth):

        When Pramod launched the mobile apps (right before I was hired), most of the larger products had one dedicated PMM each. PMMs handled go-to-market, positioning, and comms. Product threw things over the proverbial fence to marketing. Product marketing KPIs were centered on installs.

        I had already planned to do growth from the get-go, and even went so far as to draw Andy Johns' growth funnel (http://bit.ly/1IMur5s) in my interviews, explaining that I wanted to work with product 'on the whole thing.' I was strongly supported by my first boss, Tim Leehane, to go ahead. All was well, as my first item of business was to grow installs; I was aligned with the marketing organizations's goals and the product team's goals. I made a tremendous amount of progress on acquisition, progressively increasing our QoQ install growth rate (slope) by double digits every quarter.

        The rest of the change from PMM to growth PM happened last year, which was a combination of the following:
        (1) A long history of working with Pramod on all aspects of product and growth, nearly from the get-go
        (1) My personal interest in learning about and wanting to experiment more around the leading edge of growth- retention, engagement, and product strategy
        (2) The evolving needs of the product last year required us refocus on engagement and monetization. Pramod and I saw it was the right thing for the company. (See Geoffrey Moore's 4-gears model here for more on what I mean: http://linkd.in/1L4Au5U)
        (3) Pramod's encouragement. His leadership style is to develop a culture of empowerment that motivated each person to do the very best possible work they can do.
        (4) And hence, misalignment with my department's KPIs and structural changes on their side

        I made the request to change roles, and the product team kindly brought me in under their wing. They've since tried to clone me, but haven't been successful as of yet.

  • TK

    Tushar Kirtane

    about 4 years ago #

    Hi Annabell, thanks so much for this AMA.

    I'd love to know if you have any thoughts about how to think about growth of a new product that could potentially cannibalize growth of another one? Specifically, I'm curious about how to think about growing a paid version of your product at the expense of your free product or the introduction of a mid-tier product (e.g., Evernote Basic vs. Evernote Plus vs. Evernote Premium)?

    What are the considerations your growth team would think about when it came to growing 1 tier / product and how it might impact the growth of the others?

    How would you prioritize where to focus growth efforts and weigh the tradeoffs?

    Thanks!

    • AS

      Annabell Satterfield

      about 4 years ago #

      Hi Tushar, good question-- could you please reach out to me directly on LinkedIn? I'm afraid my answer re: framework/approach would be a bit long for this posting. Thanks!

  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    about 4 years ago #

    Thanks Annabell for sharing your experience and knowledge with the GH community. I noticed that this is your first PM Growth role. My question is how have you decided what a PM growth should do on a daily basis? Did you look externally at another company for guidance or pretty much evolve the role through trial and error? How does it differ from your earlier Product Marketing Manager roles at BitTorrent?

    • AS

      Annabell Satterfield

      about 4 years ago #

      Hi Sean- thank you again for the opportunity to do this AMA with you.
      To answer your question, when I joined BitTorrent, it was under a wink and a nod from my first boss, Tim Leehane, that I would be able to go do growth under the title "PMM."

      I started off doing acquisition, and got more and more involved in the product side of the business as my PM, Pramod Sokke recognized the value I was bringing in and encouraged me to do more. There was a point last year where it was clear that the KPIs I wanted to keep moving (like engagement and retention) were more product/corporate than marketing (as we were defining marketing under our CMO), and I requested the formal change. I now report to product.

      The title change was the result of a natural evolution coming to its natural conclusion as I've been figuring out where to best leverage my skill set, but I think I've been doing growth the whole time.

  • BO

    Bryan Ogden

    about 4 years ago #

    Hey Annabelle - In a review of these questions most seemed aimed toward an abstract or generally based conception of growth - that perhaps could be applied to any organization or product dissemination. Can you say something about working with the nature of BitTorrent as a distributed platform? How have you leveraged the platform itself? What challenges have you encountered external to market forces? How do you navigate these? 100mm installs is a global phenomena - specifically as a result of BitTorrent what trends in the digital marketplace on a planetary level do you see that you may be effecting?

  • JB

    Joseph Bentzel

    about 4 years ago #

    Annabell:
    Interested in hearing more about how your 'Skip the Cloud' positioning & messaging for Sync, your filesharing product, is playing in the market.

    Anything you can share re: user/customer feedback would be welcome. Thanks in advance. JB

  • AD

    April Dunford

    about 4 years ago #

    Building on Morgan's question about team structure - is there a separate "Marketing" team and if so how do you draw the line between what marketing does vs what the growth team handles?

    • AS

      Annabell Satterfield

      about 4 years ago #

      Hi there, yes, there is a separate marketing organization at BitTorrent. This is a good question, because this is something we're still working out. I make requests to implement website changes post-testing to the marketing team to implement. They also work on design creative for the website. Comms is entirely handled by marketing, which is headed up by our amazing VP of Communications and Brand, Christian Averill. Everything else is taken care of by my team, which includes Product.

      • AD

        April Dunford

        about 4 years ago #

        Thanks for the reply! I am starting to think this is the structure of the marketing team of the future - there is a group that works on "marketing" in the broader sense which includes proved lead gen tactics. Then there is a separate group that is focused just on testing new things. Once new things are proven, they graduate to the Marketing group.

  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    about 4 years ago #

    Another question... Can you give any examples of how research has helped your team formulate more successful growth experiment ideas?

    • AS

      Annabell Satterfield

      about 4 years ago #

      Yes! So, I would be happy to talk about the 300% direct revenue growth we got last year-- this is revenue driven from our Premium Pro mobile upgrade.

      We pushed our a research survey to our mobile users with (essentially) the product/market fit question (we use the P/M question now) and an additional "Why haven't you yet purchased (premium product)" question in our research to zero in on a cohort of core users who will pay for in app upgrades (those users who did not answer "I don't pay for apps or in-app upgrades).

      The rest of the survey included features (written in language focused on user benefits of the features) with a Likert scale against each feature, asking them to tell us what they would most like the new Pro product to include. We told them that a small number of survey-takers could get a fee Pro upgrade-- we did that in order to encourage them be honest. We used that cohort's feedback on features to optimize our growth+product roadmap-- and because each feature was what our core users that pay for app upgrades were willing to pay for, each release gave us a bump in daily revenue of 30% or more.

      That was the product feature part of the research. Going back to the "Why haven't you yet purchased (premium product)" question-- other multiple-choice answers included "It's too expensive," "I've never heard of it," and "Irrelevant features." Basically- this told us where to focus- price, promotion, or product. It seems that promotion was our biggest opportunity. So we added a persistent upsell button on the mobile app. That experiment alone increased our daily Pro revenue 92%.

      • SE

        Sean Ellis

        about 4 years ago #
        Very cool! I just Tweeted that last part. So basically you learned that people didn't know about the Pro version, which was the reason they weren't buying it. Pretty simple solution once you know the problem :)
        • AS

          Annabell Satterfield

          about 4 years ago #

          Thanks, Sean- yes, that's right. And quantitative research can shortcut you to the "why" of the problem efficiently in many cases.

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    about 4 years ago #

    One more: Do you have a particular growth experiment that was either a big win or a big learning experience that you can share with us?

    • DL

      Dylan La Com

      about 4 years ago #

      +1!

      • AS

        Annabell Satterfield

        about 4 years ago #

        Hi Anuj and Dylan, I'd say that the experiment on the feedback mechanism (in response to Dylan's question about unappreciated mobile growth levers) was a memorable one. I was so happy when one of our engineers asked what else he could do to grow the product-- he was seeing the value of what we were doing and wanted to do more.

  • DL

    Dylan La Com

    about 4 years ago #

    Thanks for doing this AMA Annabell!

    Is there a particular mobile growth lever that you feel is under-appreciated or generally not focused on enough?

    • AS

      Annabell Satterfield

      about 4 years ago #

      I think there's a lot to be said about ASO. I'm often surprised by the rates companies pay to acquire users. This makes sense in the case of high LTV-generating products like Uber and some gaming apps, but most apps don't generate enough revenue to justify the spend.

      We don't pay for installs. The great majority are driven from searches within Google Web and the Play Store-- and we leverage that channel for acquisition quite a bit. We also drive users from our desktop product.

      We also do what we can to impact the conversion rate on the apps' Play Store pages (they convert to installs at a ~60% rate). Example: we built a mechanism in the app to encourage users that are happy with the app provide feedback in the Play Store rate us in order to keep the Play Store page conversion rate up-- this increased the 4 and 5 star reviews in the Play store 900% in a week and increase our daily install growth rate ~30%.

  • LS

    Logan Stoneman

    about 4 years ago #

    Hey Annabell thanks for doing this, it's incredibly rewarding to peer inside the mind of individuals who are farther down the same path I'm starting on.

    I'm always curious on what inspires people to pursue a career in growth. What brought you to focusing on this aspect of business, and is it what you have always wanted to do with your life?

    Oh and what book recommendations do you have in the fiction genre?

    • AS

      Annabell Satterfield

      about 4 years ago #

      Hi Logan,

      Good question! I think it was a combination of curiosity, a little bit of a rebellious streak, a compelling need to make things grow.

      It started at Yahoo!-- where I had exposure to dozens of products and teams, and started wondering why some products there were able to attract their own users, and others weren't able to retain the users that were being handed to them by Marketing. That's a nut that I've been working on cracking ever since.

      My path consisted of me essentially asking questions and not stopping until I found something that made sense. Sean Ellis and Andrew Chen's posts on growth hacking made sense to me. And I've been questioning assumptions and causing trouble ever since.

      Re: the book recommendation-- I've been a closet Jane Austen fan my entire life :p Classic books fan, classic movie fan and techie- go figure.

      • LS

        Logan Stoneman

        about 4 years ago #

        Thanks for the insight Annabel. I love the controlled anarchy that lives within several of your career moves. There's a yin and yang in everything, so the classic vs. techie approach makes complete sense.

  • CK

    Corey Katouli

    about 4 years ago #

    Hey Annabell,

    Thanks for sharing your insights. I was wanting to know how you structure your growth experiments? Is there canonical approach or is each experiment structured differently depending on the goal?

    Also, how do you go about choosing your acquisition channel?

    Thanks again!

    • AS

      Annabell Satterfield

      about 4 years ago #

      Hi Corey,

      Yes, there is definitely a structure to our process. We first figure out what lever we can move that would give us the biggest bang for the buck given our goal. Let's assume that daily revenue is the metric to move. Would increasing direct revenue (premium upgrades), increasing ads eCPM, or growing installs 10% move the needle more?

      We then look at whether we need more data to understand the value of the levers under that (see the Pro revenue research I mentioned to Sean in response to his question). If we have enough info to make a tiered set of hypotheses, we'll write those down. We'll then create a list of possible experiments (I also pull for a massive list prioritized in a similar to Sean's tool, Canvas), ordered through a weighted decision model based on impact x effort.

      Targeting: For revenue-driving experiments, we focus on geos that currently drive most of our revenue. For other experiments, we focus on other geos. (All English speaking for the sake of expediency.) We push out the test against a control in most cases, and work with Chloe, our data analyst, to measure and report impact. We then localize.

      In those cases where we can't first run an A/B test, we'll push out the test already localized and measure the lift.

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    about 4 years ago #

    Hi Annabell - thanks for this - very excited for this AMA

    Can you talk about what the biggest challenges you’ve encountered with growing BitTorrent have been?

    • AS

      Annabell Satterfield

      about 4 years ago #

      Our users care very deeply about their privacy, so there is very little data that we can collect and use, and nothing that ties to the user. We rely on more generic metrics like TTA/DAU (total torrents added over daily active user). And qualitative data helps fill in the gaps.

  • JG

    Joey Gibli

    about 4 years ago #

    Hey Annabell,

    The success you've had at BitTorrent is incredible! I'm a rising sophomore in college and a newbie to this field. I'm interning at a travel startup in product development and marketing. My question is about the interplay between growth and product:

    Which do you think is more important to focus on for a startup, growth or product? Do you know of any effective ways to balance and prioritize individual strategies?

    Thank you!

  • NS

    Nidhi Sapra

    about 4 years ago #

    Hi Annabell,

    Thank you for doing this. If I design a product roadmap as experiments, what is the best way to track progress and identify red flags and important milestones along the way?

    • AS

      Annabell Satterfield

      about 4 years ago #

      Hi Nidhi, it's a matter of pushing out your experiment (either your MVP or growth initiative), measuring impact on the KPI the experiment intended to move.

      If it didn't move the KPI: stop and find out why the experiment failed and determine if you can pull any learnings from it or if you need to redo the experiment due to poor methodology or implementation.

      If it did move the KPI and met your expectations, see what you can do to optimize it a bit more. You're on to something, so milk it until you get diminishing returns.

  • AS

    Annabell Satterfield

    about 4 years ago #

    Thanks, everyone, for your questions! Thank you, Sean and Morgan! I had a great time doing this AMA with you.

  • MD

    Mikhail Dubov

    about 4 years ago #

    Annabell,

    What is your opinion on usefulness of Net Promoter Score for Growth? Do you guys measure it?

  • BC

    Babs Craig

    about 4 years ago #

    Hi Annabell,

    This is coming at the right time. I'm currently being thrust in a position where growth is expected. And it is very easy sometimes to feel like I'm acting without a road map or any guidance of sorts. What resources would you say recommend for someone going into this field to build their knowledge base and begin to stand on their own feet. Thanks!

  • SP

    Sugaun PJ

    about 4 years ago #

    Hi Bittorrent,
    How many users kicked you out of their machines after you were caught mining?

  • WS

    Wael Salman

    about 4 years ago #

    What was the growth technique that had the most impact on your growth at Bittorent!!?

  • BU

    Bruce Ungersbock

    about 4 years ago #

    Integrating growth and product is a brilliant idea but its very easy to do when you have a handful of products like Bittorrent does. What would you suggest when faced with growing a company that has thousands? Would you go for a brand oriented approach?

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