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Anna Shen* is currently the only paid social marketing manager at the fast-growing grocery delivery startup Instacart. Previously, she was the first acquisition marketing hire at Curology, a direct to consumer customized beauty and telemedicine startup, which she helped grow into one of the top 50 digitally native brands through launching and scaling a multitude of channels across paid search, social, display, and out-of-home. Prior to that, she managed client accounts at a digital marketing agency called 3Q Digital for startups like Square and Opendoor.

On April 9, Anna is going to be live, answering your questions on growth marketing and analytics - especially for high-growth startups -, her areas of expertise.

*Anna is speaking at the #GHConf19 stage.

  • BT


    17 days ago #

    Hi Anna

    Im a ""french" Student and i didnt start an internship yet but i would like to know what are the skills a had to training by myself to be impressive in my first job as a growth hacker?

    Scrapping? Automation(which)? Analytics(how)?....

    Thanks a lot

    • AS

      Anna Shen

      13 days ago #

      Hi, thanks for your question! It's always tough to start out in a career straight out of school, so you're on the right track with asking yourself what marketable skills you can pick up from an internship. My advice is to focus less on the skills you'll develop in short term work, but rather the connections and the opportunities you will be exposed to at the internship because your performance at your internship will open up career opportunities for you. For example, if you get an internship where 60% of the work is something you don't want to learn, and 40% of the work is in skills that you do want to learn, please remember that in absence of experience, just showing up, doing what is asked, being friendly, and keeping an open mind could open up opportunities for you. A company may choose to extend your internship or offer up a full-time role based on your performance. That being said, the skills for a successful growth hacker can vary widely depending on what type of growth hacking you want to do. I would encourage you to get a taste of everything and see what you like best, or if you already know what direction you want to go in, there is a neat tool on LinkedIn that allows you to see what skills applicants have for the roles you want. Try it out and see what skills are in-demand for the jobs you are interested in.

  • JJ

    Jamie Johnson

    13 days ago #

    Hi Anna,

    As an aspiring growth marketer, I would love to understand more about your experience:

    - What different sets of skills are important to learn in the beginning as a growth marketer? How would you advise newbies to learn these skills? Are there any courses (free/paid) you would recommend?
    - How do you stay on top of trends for paid social and/or growth marketing?
    - For each of the companies you have worked with in the past, what type of questions do you ask to understand the company's pain points in growth? How do you set yourself up for success to be able to help grow their business?
    - What type of a/b tests have you devised in your current and past roles that were most effective?
    - Have you had campaigns that failed and what did you learn from it?
    - How do you structure campaigns on paid social for a full funnel approach? What objectives/tactics have you taken to build brand awareness? performance? How do you figure out how much budget to place against each funnel?
    - How have you worked cross-functionally with other teams as a growth marketer in your experience -- creative, engineering, data analytics/science teams, and/or finance?

    • AS

      Anna Shen

      13 days ago #

      Hi Jamie, thanks for your question.

      I have interviewed countless people who have gotten digital marketing certificates, done SEM or paid social bootcamps, and there is nothing more valuable than hands-on experience. I started out at a digital marketing agency with a robust 3-month training program, and by the end of my first year there I was running client accounts. If you're looking to learn and get practical experience, I highly recommend either an internship on a marketing team in-house, or going for an entry level role at an agency where you can get exposed to a lot of different clients very quickly. With regards to skills, anything that will get your foot in the door will help, such as Google Ads or Facebook Ads certification. This is probably less helpful than what you had hoped for, but the truth is that the experience is far more valuable than the skills. Don't waste money on those bootcamps if you don't have to, and try to get exposure to different types of businesses (i.e. e-commerce/direct-to-consumer, B2B, B2C, etc.)

      Re: trends / news, I subscribe to the following: Grow.co newsletter, WSJ's CMO Today daily email newsletter, Ad Age's Creativity Daily and CMO Strategy newsletters, email digests of Andrew Chen and other thought leaders, I visit Digiday and TechCrunch weekly, and I bookmark the announcements pages for Google (https://support.google.com/google-ads/announcements/9048695?hl=en) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/business/news/tags/announcements).

      Re: growth questions, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to discovering the pain points. I would say a common theme would be users not taking the action that people want them to take (which you would learn from certain metrics, such as conversion rate). From there it could be anything. Too much friction? Wrong price point? Not bringing in relevant users? Bringing in poor quality users? Perhaps users are uninterested in the product or don't have a need for the product? etc.

      Re: A/B tests, the way to get the most effective results is to design your tests according to a strategy. For example, a lot of people doing landing page or creative testing start too narrow, such as simply changing the color of a CTA. The way to most effectively conduct A/B testing is to start broad, and then work your way down to something narrow. For example, if you are testing creatives on Facebook, start with testing different concepts. Then from the winning concept, test different value props. Perhaps test different messaging or tone. Test different openings for the first 5 seconds to see what hooks people. Then perhaps test the messaging and how to further refine the ad, call to action, etc. If you start too small, you might find that the first few tests you did were a waste of time once the finding from another test says you should shift gears entirely and toss out whatever you spend thousands of $ on to shoot. Additionally, be aware that smaller changes will require a much longer time to hit statistical significance.

      Re: campaigns, failing is part of learning. That's what testing is. I have had countless campaigns flop, and there was always a lesson to be learned from it. Sometimes the lesson is, don't advertise on Taboola. But other times the lesson is to question my assumptions, or to size the audience better, or to examine the action rates and see if my goals were even possible to achieve in the first place, or if there was anything else I may have overlooked when sizing an opportunity.

      Re: full funnel, the specific channels will vary based on the business, the conversion rates, etc. Re: measuring performance, attribution can sometimes mean that your branding campaigns don't get as much love, especially on a last-click model (which typically favors direct response campaigns). My recommendation is to run incrementality testing to determine the value of each channel in an apples-to-apples way. Incrementality testing allows you to determine, how many of the conversions are incremental? That is, how many conversions would I not have gotten compared to people who were not exposed to my ads? Once you figure out which channels are most incremental, you can decide your budgets accordingly. Note that if you are retargeting people, the pool of people you are retargeting will diminish over time unless you have enough budget behind your prospecting campaigns to grow the retargeting pool.

      Re: working cross-functionally, a huge and emphatic YES. You will need to find ways to communicate effectively with people across all the organizations you just mentioned, and it's important to emphasize goals and communicate why what you're doing is important and what you need from them, and lastly, don't get bogged down in the marketing lingo.

  • DM

    David Martin

    21 days ago #

    Hello Anna,

    I have an issue with my content.

    My website's contents (both designs and the visible contents) have been using by some external sources.

    They have been copying our blog contents and the website contents that we post on our site without having any changes/modifications to it. They are having the same content that we are creating for our site. They are literally copying everything word by word.

    I am worried about my site's quality and its rankings on Google. Please help me to understand how it affects my site.

    Your early response will definitely make me feel positive.

    Thank you!

    David Martin

    3 Share
    • AS

      Anna Shen

      13 days ago #

      Hi David, thanks for your question! I'm not really a legal expert but it sounds like you should register a copyright for your blog: https://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-register.html
      You should make it clear on your blog that your blog is protected under copyright, and then get a lawyer to send a cease and desist letter. If they don't respond, you can probably sue for copyright infringement, but this only applies if there is a copyright registered for your blog content. Please consult a lawyer who specializes in copyright law / patents and other business law.

  • AS

    Alanna Sousa

    13 days ago #

    Hi Anna,

    Thank you for taking the time to join us today! I got a couple of questions for you.

    1) Is there a growth team at Instacart? If yes, how do they interact with your marketing team? And if no, what's your process for testing new ideas?

    2) Looking at the past, most of us would never imagine one day we would be doing groceries with a few clicks. Looking at the future, what do you think it's next big step and how's Instacart getting ready for this next boom?

    Looking forward to meeting you at the #GHConf19 :)


    2 Share
    • AS

      Anna Shen

      13 days ago #

      Hi Alanna, thanks for having me, and thanks for your question.
      With regards to 1), growth is a subset of product at Instacart. The marketing team operates independently of growth with regards to acquisition, but we may sometimes partner with product on initiatives concerning engagement and retention. Re: testing, we brainstorm different ideas and we prioritize them in terms of what kind of impact we think they will have. We balance that with what resources will be required to get it off the ground, and then we prioritize and staff the projects accordingly. Typically this planning happens quarterly.
      With regards to 2), I think doing grocery delivery online is pretty novel, but grocery delivery itself is nothing new. Milkmen were delivering freshly produced milk door-to-door in the 1940s. I think that grocery delivery has made a resurgence because it's what busy people today want. In many industries brick-and-mortar retail has shrunk in the last 10 years, especially department stores and shopping malls, and this is largely due to a shift in customer behavior and expectations. Similarly, I think that in the future the industry will continue to shift toward on-demand services because that's what people are increasingly expecting. I think in the future, greater logistics and automation, dynamic pricing, better product recommendations, and personalized customization of the shopping experience will become more important for grocery delivery, and I think that Instacart is aware of the potential trends.

  • JR

    Juano Rucker

    13 days ago #

    are you answer other questions like off page and on page

    • AS

      Anna Shen

      13 days ago #

      Hi Juano, I'm not sure I'm understanding your question, can you help clarify what you mean by off page and on page?

  • BB

    Bárbara Bonfim

    13 days ago #

    Hi Anna, thank you so much for your time today :)

    1. Considering a company with a strong regional (national) audience and organic reach, what actions would you suggest to enhance its global reach and opportunities generation? Any channel or strategy in particular?

    2. Also, for someone with a Sales background, what should lead their way to a growth hacker career?

    • AS

      Anna Shen

      13 days ago #

      Hi Bárbara, thanks for your question. I have to say every market is a little different. I worked on a client account that was big in the US, and expanded to Canada, the UK, and Australia. Some markets were really hard to get traction in, especially Australia. The initial expansion is the hardest. There was a combination of event marketing, out-of-home (i.e. billboards, etc.), content marketing, and a lot of other top of funnel brand awareness initiatives. Before that I think it's important that you're putting your best foot forward in terms of your brand and how you want it to be perceived (if you need to do a brand redesign, do it before you plan on expanding). Also look into developing "viral loops", or ways that your word of mouth can help you gain momentum organically, such as a referral program. Lastly, paid social and paid search (non branded terms) can help you generate and capture leads/sales mid- to lower- funnel.

      Re: 2., sales can become a natural transition into marketing at a B2B company, where sales can qualify leads, or at a martech company, i.e. doing sales and client support for Google or Facebook ads.

  • AP

    Aditya Phatak

    12 days ago #

    What are the typical hacking skills you need in marketing a new product online?

  • SC

    Seth Cobbs

    11 days ago #

    Are you worried about your many well-funded competitors? Amazon comes to mind. How can you differentiate?

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