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What Makes a Good Growth Manager?Deconstructing User Acquisition Managers


In the fiercely competitive mobile gaming industry, the role of a user acquisition (UA) manager is pivotal for the success of a game & a gaming studio. In fact, I am of the opinion that If you have a 𝙜𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙩 game with 𝙖𝙫𝙚𝙧𝙖𝙜𝙚 monetization & user acquisition, it can't scale profitably. But if you have a 𝙢𝙚𝙙𝙞𝙤𝙘𝙧𝙚 game with 𝙨𝙩𝙧𝙤𝙣𝙜 monetization & user acquisition then it can (up to a certain point)! Of course, to be really successful in the mobile gaming industry today, a gaming studio needs to really focus equally on all three: Product, Monetization & User Acquisition.


Given the important role of UA Managers in the success of a gaming studio, have you every thought about what makes a good UA manager? How do you spot a good UA manager? How do you train someone to become a good UA manager?


Because I've worked with many growth managers over the years and also have had the pleasure to train and coach many, I have thought about this really thoroughly, breaking down all the elements hollistically that make really good UA managers.


There are quite a lot of growth managers out there but what differentiates them from the really good UA managers?


Here are the elements I've identified that make great UA managers. This is a topline view of the Matrix I have built & have actually been using to train & upskill UA managers at gaming studios.


User Acquisition Manager Shamsco Training Courses

UA Hard Skills


Starting from the obvious, UA hard skills include things like knowing how to set up campaigns, change creatives, pull reports & make the required operational changes on the campaigns.


Many people in the industry believe that a good UA manager = Experience + Hard Skills. Maybe they don't openly admit to it, but if you think about how they evaluate applicants and most importantly how they train junior team members, it becomes more obvious that this is the case.


If you are a Senior UA Manager or Head of Growth and had to train a Junior Growth Manager, of course hard skills are super important, but they are really not enough to make a good UA manager.


UA Soft Skills


A good UA manager cannot properly do their job as efficiently & effectively in silo. A UA manager maybe would, but a great UA manager wouldn't. UA managers need to work with the different teams internally. Just having a working relationship also won't do it in today's super competitive landscape, where profitability margins have become tighter. I have seen first hand the positive direct effect that good cooperation between teams has on revenue & profitability many times. They key to achieving that is building strong processes.


Such a process for UA is the creative process. It's quoted as one of the top 3 pain points in UA teams in the recent Games Forum Intelligence Report where many UA managers were interviewed. I can also coroborate that with my experience having worked with 40+ gaming studios. It's one of the elements I very often help clients' with: building a robust creative process. Very important: I also train UA managers to lead and manage strong creative processes. You need a particular set of skills to be able to succesfully achieve that.


UA Critical Thinking Skills & Reflexes


I have met so many UA managers with years of experience that have poor critical thinking skills & reflexes.


If a Google campaign is spending $10,000/day and you wait one more day to do a change or make a bid change of +5% instead of +15% it will probably make a massive difference. Many UA managers don't have the right reflexes to understand that.


Cultivating these is also a very important part of coaching junior UAMs. Of course, in theory, the more experience you have, the higher your critical thinking skills and sharper your UA reflexes, but this is also a skill that can be taught.


UA Theoretical Knowledge


It might sound obvious, but deep UA theoretical knowledge doesn't just mean what CPI, ROAS or ASO is. It's really understanding how the different metrics impact each other. Why is it particularly important? Because this knowledge gives us the power to really be in control of the growth activity.


What do I mean by that? Let's say performance suddently drops on a UA channel. Your UA theory knowledge should help you pinpoint exactly why you are now seeing lower ROAS, break down the problem thanks to your strong analytical problem-solving skills & devise a plan & action points.


The recently launched Gaming Growth Masterclass aims to build strong working theoretical knowledge. You can check it out here.


Experience


Nothing too groundbreaking here, it makes sense that the more campaigns a UA manager has ran, for more channels, games, companies, the more rounded their experience will be in terms of also knowing how to handle different scenarios & situations.


Confidence


Saved the best for last. Did you know that the amount of confidence a UA Manager has in theirself & their job impacts how good they actually are?


Low confidence is not good for obvious reasons but neither is very high confidence. I have worked with some UA managers that had very high confidence mixed with not great hard skills and especially critical thinking skills & reflexes: recipe for disaster! 🙈


In my experience, if you want to visualize it, this is a good & productive confidence level to have:


Gaming Growth Manager

Junior UA managers usually start with low confidence & it's also one thing I help them healthily build up in my training process (we don't want to enter the "danger zone" of over-confidence either 😂).


It's not easy to find good UA managers out there and this is why many gaming studios choose to hire junior professionals and train/upskill them or even move people from other functions (like marketing, ASO etc..) and reskill them to become UA managers, if they are open to that of course, and why wouldn't they be, it's the funnest job at a gaming studio! 😁



Feel free to reach out if you think your UA team needs training or upskilling.



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