In this edition of App Marketers in Quarantine Answering Questions, Ludmilla tells us about the features they launched during the pandemic, her advice for staying connected with her team and a lot of great book recs!
Juanita Zavalía from Jampp’s Business Operations team interviewed Ludmilla Veloso, VP of Operations for AirBrush app at Meitu. Meitu is a global innovator in mobile video and photography apps, including proprietary facial recognition and virtual makeup try-on technologies. Since launching in 2008, Meitu has built a suite of apps such as Meitu, BeautyCam, Airbrush and MakeupPlus that are installed on more than 1.1 billion unique devices. In 2016, Meitu went public on the main board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
Ludmilla is a heavy social media user (beta tester of several new networks) and likes to keep up with the latest trends, with interests ranging from crypto to VR and machine learning. Ludmilla is usually based in Brazil, with a secondary base in Shenzhen and eventually in San Francisco. She has experience working with international markets.
Juanita: How have you been adapting to WFH? How have you stayed connected with your team?
Ludmilla: Most of our team already had home office situations, so that wasn’t necessarily new. I believe the first weeks were a bit different. We already had at least one day a week where you could take a home office day. While the first two weeks were an adaptation, overall everyone got used to it. We do have a task manager, we use Asana, and we also have many channels of communication. I think having a task manager that everyone in the team knows and can easily use to share tasks or reach out if something is not clear enough, was very helpful.
Juanita: And you are already used to working with China, and all over the world being in Brazil, that's something you did before the quarantine, right?
Ludmilla: Yes, we already had international teams in several locations so it's not new for us. It is now the new normal for us. All the international offices are now in the process of being closed, so we will carry on our culture of WFH in all the overseas offices.
Juanita: What do you like to do in your free time, have you picked up any new hobbies? Do you have any podcasts or books to recommend?
Ludmilla: I play the guitar, so I have been taking some classes. I’m also learning Chinese, so I have been using the time to take more lessons as well.
As for book recommendations… I have lots!
Juanita: A lot of marketers are using the “extra time” indoors to learn more about the industry. What's one piece of advice about app marketing you can share?
Ludmilla: We didn't really feel like this situation gave us any extra time, it feels like things are moving even faster than before. Maybe because we are a Chinese company and this started in China, so they are way ahead of us.
In general, what we learn more and more is that the value of the product is what we need to be constantly striving to improve. How can we increase the value we deliver to our customers? If I could give a piece of advice in terms of what you can learn is learn to be customer-centric, and read a lot.
Juanita: How do you think the pandemic and subsequent safety measures will affect the industry in the long term?
Ludmilla: I think overall for the digital economy things have just moved faster than it was predicted. So when you are looking at ecommerce and online-to-offline (O2O) services or anything that would make the offline economy go online, that's being sped up. You can see that things are moving really fast and in my opinion what we are going to see in terms of change is us learning how to be more customer-centric for all the products in the digital economy, becoming more efficient with current problems that we have, and finding new solutions. But I only see good things for the digital economy.
Hopefully, we are also going to see that people that previously did offline jobs will start doing online jobs, and that'll probably be a way to prevent worldwide unemployment... The traditional economy needs to look into how they can become platform businesses and how they can work together with their employees and the people in their networks to move to an online model.
Overall we just jumped ahead 5 years, hopefully we also jump ahead five years in terms of understanding that we can't destroy nature, and all the other things. We have to be more careful with our choices for everything.
Juanita: Nature had a big break right now.
Ludmilla: Yes, I hope we also take some time to think on how to move ahead 5 years in our social relations, in our impact on nature, and in furthering the inclusion of people instead of the exclusion of people.
Juanita: Have you seen any particular trends in user behavior since the outbreak?
Ludmilla: Overall, we see that people are using the apps for longer periods of time. Likely, people are having longer sessions because they are editing lots of photos they took before the quarantine. We also do have the background filter which is seeing a lot of success at this time. This would be the biggest trend: more time, more sessions in all the apps. We are seeing this not only in AirBrush, but on other Meitu apps, as well.
Juanita: Speaking of the background filter, can you tell us a little bit about the new features you launched during this period?
Ludmilla: We launched background, foodie filters, we launched more filters as well. For COVID-19 specifically, we also run some inside promotions for our existing users; like “buy an annual subscription and get one month for free for your friend”. We also gave discounts for people that were coming back. So those are the main things we did. We also launched a new hair color filter, but that filter was independent of the quarantine. The background and foodie filters were specially designed for our current scenario.
Juanita: Did you launch any new creatives along with the filters? Do you have any tips for marketers testing creatives?
Ludmilla: Test a lot! Really! We are currently testing... I think 50 creatives for User Acquisition we do internally on Facebook and Google, and we test a lot! We run as many experiments as we can with the resources we have. My advice is to test and keep testing, nothing is wrong, you just need to test and trust the data.
Juanita: Absolutely, and you guys do a lot of creative testing on programmatic too. What other capabilities or criteria do you look at when choosing a programmatic marketer?
Ludmilla: Transparency. Transparency and not feeling that I'm chasing the partner. We just terminated a contract with a partner because we felt like we were always chasing them. Our team is not a huge team, we have very high goals, we are very professional, but we are not a very big team, so we already have a lot on our plate. So we want our partners to be proactive, to propose ideas. We have partners to outsource part of the work, so we look for a cooperation that facilitates what we need.
And transparency, obviously, because it’s necessary for us to go ahead with an increasing budget. And when you start working with Meitu, the relationship is more important than the amount spent, because with time the spend is possible and there are other apps that can be added to the partnership, but having a relationship is much more interesting, and when we manage to trust each other, we have better results.
Juanita: Is there anything else you want to share?
Ludmilla: I do have some advice for people leading their teams in different locations, or just WFH. Something that really works for us is having the team take Friday as a learning day. On that day we don't schedule meetings and we don't do anything that would interfere with this “thinking time” (before the pandemic this was typically the day people did home office).
Juanita: So how does it work?
Ludmilla: We ask everyone to take this day to write down what they learned in the week, and what the main obstacles were. We also take note of the wins. Everyone has to write down three wins from the week: stuff that you are proud of, things that you've done well, and that can also include stuff that you've done personally.
It has worked really well for us. It's not a day off, it's a day of looking back to understand what you've done that's worked, what you've done that you can improve, and what you can do to make yourself better. I've been doing “the three wins” practically since I joined Meitu in a leadership position, I have been the leader of different operations in different countries throughout these four/five years, and I've always used the wins to help people focus on what they need to do.
Juanita: And then they report that to you?
Ludmilla: Yes, they report to me and some of the big wins actually get reported to China.
Juanita: That's a really good practice, great advice, thank you so much for chatting with us today, that’s a wrap!
Now more than ever, it’s so important to stay in touch. We’ve learned a lot from our customers and industry friends over the years, and with this Q&A series we hope to share their advice and insights. If you have any advice, book recommendations or insights to share, let us know!