More than numbers: How a “bad hookup face” helped Pinterest increase virality and retention.

Angel Steger


Director Of Product Design


Angel Steger
Angel Steger

Episode Summary

Today on the show we have Angel Steger, Director Of Product Design at Facebook.

In this episode, we talked about what it’s like designing a building for over 2.7 billion users, how focusing on activation can increase retention, and how giving users a feeling of ownership had a big impact on Pinterest’s user activation.

We also discussed Qualitative research at Pinterest: How a bad hookup face helped increase their messaging response rate, and how Dropbox and Pinterest use internal experimentation systems to help avoid bad user experiences.

Seeing Like a State

Mentioned Resources



What is it like designing a building for 2.7 billion users. 00:02:12
How allowing users to name their own boards made an impact on early activation at Pinterest. 00:13:56
Qualitative research at Pinterest: How a bad hookup face helped increase Pinterest’s messaging response rate. 00:19:53
How Dropbox and Pinterest use internal experimentation systems to help avoid bad user experience 00:25:47
How would Angel turn things around for churn and retention in 90 days. 00:28:11
What’s the one thing that, Angel wished she knew about churn and retention. 00:24:19


Andrew Michael: [00:00:00] hi, Angel, welcome to the show.

Angel Steger: [00:00:03] Hi, thank you for having me.

Andrew Michael: [00:00:05] It's a pleasure. It's great to have you today. for the listeners, Angel's the director of product design at Facebook, and actually started a career as an architect and made the switch. When she was asked the question, how would you like to work on a product that has a hundred million users?

I think this question helps to quickly realize that you'll never have the opportunity to build a building that big, privately Facebook. Angela was the director of product design Dropbox working with the customer growth in business platform groups. And prior to that, she was a product design lead for multiple cross-functional growth teams at Pinterest.

So my first question for you, Angel, is what's it like designing a building for a 2.7 billion plus users?

Angel Steger: [00:00:43] Unbelief, you will never know everything. so you always have to be an inquiry and curious, and very attentive to the data.

Andrew Michael: [00:00:54] The, I found a fascinating reading on your LinkedIn profile, that this was the question that you had asked [00:01:00] and, making the switch and also interested in the parallel  between the two.

obviously it was early on in your career that you decided to make the switch from architecture to design and moving into sprung design, but maybe talk us through a little bit through that mindset as well. Then that question that was probed to how to drive you into the career that you are today.

Angel Steger: [00:01:19] Yeah. so at the time I was working at an art gallery in San Francisco and I was meeting with some friends of mine who had a self funded startup. And, so we were both really starving, fine arts and self-funded. And so we would meet in Chinatown and have the world's dirtiest dims on the cheapest and some the kind where if it just goes cold, do you like, let it go.

You don't try to eat it again. And, but they got purchased, actually by Rupert Murdoch. And, so they were like, Hey, we know you do a physical design. Have you ever thought about this digital design thing? And by the way, what do you think about working on a product that has a hundred million users?

And this was MySpace at the time at the height of their fame. And they didn't create my [00:02:00] space. They created a company, a news aggregation company called new Ru, that was, purchased to integrate with my space and, I was floored as a designer of physical things. You just never think of numbers like that.

And I had never thought about tech that way either. it's just a tool that I used and suddenly it was this thing that enabled you to deliver services and capabilities at this tremendous scale. And when you think about what you create and the impact of what you create, it's. Mind-boggling that we can reach that many people and hopefully do well by them.

not hurt them, but deliver, new empowerment. And so exactly value. And so yeah, I learned a lot on the job. thank you, nepotism. I didn't have a lot of experience. I had, got fired from my job for sassing, my boss and used my severance pay to purchase books on HTML and CSS.

And so taught myself to code built a really [00:03:00] crappy initial website. And, by virtue of nepotism was hired. And, had to develop a pitch for why my architecture skills were relevant. What I said, which, at first I built out this matrix of talking points and then eventually over time I realized that what I thought was, bullshit actually was reasonably valid, which was, number one, architecture is this incredibly complex. Paradox. What is a building? Is it the walls? Is it the holes? Is it the way that people are choreographed through the walls and the holes? the answer is yes, all of it. and I think, if you look at an app is the same thing, right? Like your app isn't the UI. it isn't, it might be like what people do with the UI, but it's also how people interact with each other.

Across it, architecture is one of those fields where you have to think at multiple scales, you think about, the city, the street, the human body, you think about [00:04:00] multiplayer. You think about how it evolves over years. And if, if you work on platform, it's very much the same, you have to think about, where do you think you might be going?

What are the possible futures that you might want to explore? And how do you, make. Calculated guesses to determine, what kind of foundation you build for those types of things. And that actually has served me pretty well because my training basically got me to think about multi-year very early on.

And then, as I became a product manager and then when I went back into design, I could make intelligent platform decisions that, would save us millions of dollars. It definitely pays off. I think everyone from tech comes from a few different places typically.

And, there's so many different ways to translate skills.

Andrew Michael: [00:04:44] Absolutely. And I love the parallel in it as well. Like I could just, as well as asking the question, I could just start visualizing in my mind to how the similarities between a building and actually an app and. the way you just described it now as well, just visualize it more in my mind.

Now [00:05:00] I walk into a building. I'm going to see it.

Angel Steger: [00:05:04] the one critical difference is that it's a lot less expensive to change software. if you want to iterate, iterating on a building is really not a good idea. I remember studying a few architects in school who did it, and they made maybe Three buildings or two buildings in their lifetime because their clients were like, what the hell dude?


Andrew Michael: [00:05:25] absolutely. Yeah. That's obviously the biggest thing I think you mentioned was the scale and the ability to iterate and test really quickly. And maybe that's also a good segue and to another topic as well that I was interested in is, mentioned earlier that you were working and leading design.

For a couple of cross-functional growth teams at Pinterest. and I know obviously Pinterest in the early days, like retention being one of the big and main metrics that they're focused on if meeting the main metric, but probably still at a time where there wasn't a million blog posts on the topic.

There wasn't a million experiments that [00:06:00] had been run and, A hundred different podcasts talking about the topic. So I'm interested to hear from your side, what was it like at that time going into a company like Pinterest, where retention was central to the business's success and working in design, what were some of the things that you were working on in those early days and where were you seeking and getting inspiration from?

Angel Steger: [00:06:20] Yeah. great question. I joined  when we were at 450 people and, I think maybe just under a hundred million users. And, it was as part of, I joined a team that was already fairly, established in growth. some very well known people. Casey winters, John Eugen, who are, regularly write about growth.

and already we had a culture set up where we were every week reviewing, what are we learning about the customer base about our users? about what types of interactions really work? the teams that we had at the time were activation [00:07:00] virality. And I think that I think it started with basically two teams.

And initially, like if you look, if you listen to the naming of those teams, we're really focusing on, initial, like officially activating people. And then, making sure that we had reach because, Pinterest is not technically a social network. And so actually is not a viral product inherently.

And. so we're very concerned about growth and reach. we then started to branch out into things like resurrection, as well as ongoing user state health and engagement and notifications. And, the primary thing we were really focusing on was activation. And, why does that relate to retention?

if you do, you never activate people to begin with, you have no hope of retaining them. And when you think about, we used relationship analogies a lot, which I think is useful because, you can get very fancy and, very theoretical about things, but really, all you're doing is building a relationship with the [00:08:00] customer.

And, when you think about a romantic relationship, if you were like, Hey, how do I avoid a breakup? or how do I get back together with my acts? Like the, I think the worst is like resurrection, right? Like how do I get back together with my ex cause like, the answer is never break up in the first place.

Yeah. Then, then obviously you pull that thread and you're like, Oh, clearly we need to focus higher up the chain. let's look at healthy state, retention. and so if you're like, okay, let's make sure that people are engaged. And you're like, actually, If the right way to make sure that people are engaged is to take advantage of them.

they have that day zero catalytic energy, right? Like when someone just starts to engage with your product, they're super excited. They're curious, like this is the most energy they'll ever have to invest in you. And so you have this like special window to engage them, give them value as quickly as possible.

So that they're like, that was good. I want more, And that really happens in activations.

Andrew Michael: [00:08:57] I'm loving the analogies today. [00:09:00] first is all like with the parallels between architecture and building ups and now breakups and activation and resurrection, I think and it makes perfect sense and is a great way to describe it.

I think trying to save a relationship after you've already broken up and resurrecting it is. Like almost a lost cause. And we know that, from past experiences, many others, but if you spent the time and if you spend the time in the beginning yeah. That relationship to do things, Like you said, like when things are so exciting and, asking the right questions, getting to know your partner, like making sure that there's alignment in the value prop that you're both bringing to the table.

I think ultimately you're going to set yourself up for success for a relationship, having those conversations early on, making sure that you, Focusing on activating that relationship. And it's the same thing, with your product and your customers.

Angel Steger: [00:09:45] Yeah. The one distinction I will make is that, Reactivation is much harder in a real relationship than it is in a virtual relationship.

Assuming you haven't burned the customer. if the customer never really understood your product to begin [00:10:00] with, there is a chance that, you might have another pass at them. especially if you have a, a company like Pinterest, which, the primary driver of traffic is SEO.

like the next search that yields a Pinterest result. Like you might have another swing at it, but, yeah. In a relationship, you start

Andrew Michael: [00:10:17] coming

Angel Steger: [00:10:18] back to that and someone's what have you done for me lately and it's or nothing.

Andrew Michael: [00:10:23] Exactly. yeah. Let's go a little bit deeper then as well, at your time at Pinterest and specifically as a product designer there, working within with these growth teams and you mentioned let's take activation and area of focus where each week you would get into these meetings, share learnings that you have, about your customers and experiments and things that you're running.

But. As a product designer specifically, like thinking about activation in mind, what was your process looking like in all of this, within the growth team? what is the role that you are playing, obviously, besides the obvious of designing the experience, but, how are you conducting research? How are you working with the team to make sure that we're sharing these learnings and like, how did that look?

[00:11:00] Angel Steger: [00:11:00] Yeah, first I will say that regardless of function, everyone was a shared owner. In making sure that we were successful. we had designed, catchphrases for what we were after. And we would say those in every single meeting, X number of Mao's or, X number of whatever.

and it was the metric. the other thing that we would talk about affiliated with the metric was like, what were the key indicators that someone was getting value? I w I'm not sure what those are. But, it was like, this set of behaviors in this sort of timeframe and, you can gamify that a little bit, and mistake that, but, the important thing to always keep in mind and that we always kept in mind was that the metrics is a proxy for what you're after.

what we're after is activation the metric is a proxy for activation. And Regardless and making sure we had a holdout group too. So if we, if we gave him the metric, it would start to reveal itself. so one was just, as part of a designer is part of the cross functional team, like absolutely understanding, like what signals do we have that someone is actually getting that value as quickly as possible.

[00:12:00] And, on the, design and design research side, qualitatively understanding, what is. The critical thing, that people need to go through. What are the critical things that people need to understand about the product in order to get value? And so in the case of Pinterest, Pinterest is a app that, it helps people find ideas and.

the sign that someone has healthy finding ideas is, they like find one, find an idea that they, they save it within a certain period of time. And I should highlight also by the way that I was like not on the activation team at the time. So I'm technically representing the work of Scott Tong and Casey winters.

we were a small crew, we talked a lot, and their work was very educational for me. And so we. Made sure that, they got that value. And some of the things that we looked at in terms of experimentation was like how much of this is stuff that we can really guide the user through versus how much of it.

Do they need to actually [00:13:00] create themselves. So I call it the Betty Crocker principle. yeah, Betty Crocker, if this is a us product, by the way, in case a global audience, Betty Crocker is like a cake mix and, you get to make a nice cake, but you don't have to measure all the ingredients yourself.

and Betty Crocker had interesting thing where in theory, like everything. And the cake could just be put in the box, like it could be powdered, everything could be a powder. And then you just add some butter, some milk or some water and bake it and then you have a cake. And what, what they saw from that research was that when, when people just.

Added water to the box of powder. People didn't really feel like they were baking. And so they weren't invested. And that was the same thing was true for Pinterest where we, when people, created a board, we saw that, if we automatically gave the board a name that actually took the sense of creation away from them and that sense of personal investment.

And We can [00:14:00] suggest board names, but the person actually has to choose what the name of the board is in order for them to successfully activate because of that there's mental shifts that have to happen where people actually decide that they're invested. And actually then the naming is a significant moment.

And would you understand that. From the data, like maybe not, and really, depending on how you measure, if you weren't careful you could run an experiment with, maybe you're like, Oh, like we have, leading indicators looks good and then you don't maybe see like the long tail effects of, what that looks like, because you've given into your proxies versus the the holdout group.

I think that was a really interesting thing. especially just for me as a designer to understand that there are. Things that occur in your interfaces that create internal shifts for the customer. And you have to be cognizant of what those, functional and emotional moments are so that you can choreograph them intelligently.

Andrew Michael: [00:14:59] Yeah. [00:15:00] Makes a lot of sense. And like you said, as well from the data, you only get half the story, like really having that qualitative and quantitative view helps you understand it. And I always had, in case he knows himself as well, working with, Brian Belfor, on the interim class, on the reforged materials.

this is something they talk about quite a lot. For listeners, if you haven't had a reforged as well, it's a really fantastic, higher level education courses that they're doing. They do have a good course on retention and engagement, but something is all they took a lot about is making sure you have that good balance between the qualitative and quantitative and sometimes using those quantitative data to inform what the qualitative research is.

You're going to be wanting to do to understand, and really get the why behind the words that you're saying. Let's go a little bit more into this as well then. Cause it's really interesting and I love the energy analogy of the, baking in a box. When you're going out about trying to figure out these sort of moments in the user journey and really trying to dig into sort of those moments where they like getting [00:16:00] that store value, that, feeling of ownership or where they're getting their sort of first win within the product.

How are you conducting these qualitative research? Is it interviews? Is it focus groups? what are the ways that you were doing this of interest?

Angel Steger: [00:16:14] Yeah, I think there's actually A lot of methodologies that you use and like it's useful to use them in concert. first off was actually like metrics, looking at the data.

and then, I think if you want to understand whether or not something is going to sit well with customers, like sometimes. you can have experiences that perform well metrically that actually don't really don't leave people with a good feeling. And again, going back to what we discussed earlier, it's about a relationship and, whether or not your business model is based on engagement and ad revenue, or, a subscription service model.

you always want a relationship where the product value they're getting out of something is greater than whatever economic [00:17:00] or eyeball value they're putting in. And, and sometimes that can be hard to measure again, because a lot on growth we optimize for, we want to run the experiments quickly.

And you look at your leading indicators and then you try to shorten to the shortest measurable time window so that you can, make a call and either ship or shut down pretty quickly. And sometimes you miss what is happening to your relationship with the customer.

If you only look at the metrics and one of the better ways, there's a lot of ways to measure customer relationship, there's, Yeah, NPS. There's the, would you be disappointed if you didn't have it at score? I asked her, I think actually is qualitative research and I know that's a, it's expensive.

It's a luxury that not everyone has though. You can get crafty with them, gorilla DIY research, And one example I would give is, when I was working on revamping the sharing flow. So over my 10 years at Pinterest, I think I like eight or 11, [00:18:00] the sharing flow, the sharing rate. and one of the things that we saw initially, when we redid sharing was.

performance wise, like our first experiment, three X, the sharing rate, which is crazy, tells you like how bad the first experience was. Like, it's not Oh, I'm so amazing. It's more of just whew. It was rough before. and when we took it to qual, so we had optimized for speed and, so we made it really easy to pop up people that you knew, tap them, immediately share content with them.

And, when we took it to qual, what we saw, and this was like, I'll tell you, it was like body language, a little bit of what people said, but like first it was their body language, which I would describe as, a bad hookup face, which was like what that's over already. And, What happened was we had optimized for sending really quickly, but that was a fundamentally incorrect hypothesis.

That speed was the [00:19:00] most important thing. We know that the people who were likely to share were the closest people in someone's network, your friends, your family, your besties, your children, And, a lot of times when you have relationships like close, so you don't actually need a lot of context because you're sitting right next to each other on the couch, you're always in communication.

that face, they looked surprised at how fast the experience was. And so we dug into it a little bit and realized that, when you're sharing an idea, there's a lot of different. it's, most pins are based on images and, so when you're sharing something that looks like an image, there's an image has infinite amounts of content in it.

And, within an image might be, you might have image of a living room and you might be trying to have a conversation about a chair in that living room being like, wow, wouldn't this chair look great for our house. And, they need the ability to set that context. And we wouldn't have known that without having talked to the customer.

And, it [00:20:00] was really important because we wanted people to send. Messaging within Pinterest because, if they send me a Pinterest, then we have their contact information and their email address, we can reset it. And we can we have additional ways of reaching out to, the recipient to engage them.

Versus if they send via an external sharing plan for him, we just don't really know that much about what happens. Like you could maybe track the link, but that's about it. And. we learned that people actually really emotionally needed this additional step to feel confident, setting the right context for the recipient.

And we added the ability to include a personal message, which literally doubled the amount of steps that it took to share content. Yeah, but what happened was the metrics went down slightly, but the response rate went up, which is when you're working on sharing and virality, it's not about just lobbing information over a wall.

You're, it's a cycle, right? Like the value cycle of sharing something is to get a response. No one likes sharing to avoid. That's [00:21:00] not fun. Nobody talks to a wall. and doing the right thing by the customer, understanding their emotional, context, their expectations made them feel more safe.

Sending also made it more successful for the recipient to have context, to be able to successfully respond. And we would have never learned that if we had just looked at the numbers, we probably would have like high five each other and gone home.

Andrew Michael: [00:21:24] Yeah. I love that as all psyche, she ran experimented to win, and let's say normally we just high five yourself in going, but really spending the time to actually measure that.

Not just from a quantitative perspective or from a qualitative person active, had you the experience for the user, or if you just made something a little bit more fostering almost in a way like vanity metrics, but in this case, probably they did have some value on its own, but just really understanding that point.

Yeah. Double that value that you got out of it.

Angel Steger: [00:21:54] Yeah. There's one more point that I would like to emphasize about that, which is we saw it in their body language that it was not a [00:22:00] good experience for them. Like it was unsettling. And, what that told me was that even if we had initial lift, it would not be sustained because it wasn't a good experience for them and people don't repeat experiences.

That aren't good. like we probably would have seen initial lifts and then it would have gone down because people are like, eh, actually yuck. I would rather just share link. and then we've lost that re messaging capability.

Andrew Michael: [00:22:25] Absolutely. I think this also one of the misleading things sometimes with experimentation as well is like you say, you could have a, initially a wind, what looks like to be a wind, but slowly over time, the experience that you've created, might've just been easier at that point.

But from a actual end user experience was not ideal. A great,

Angel Steger: [00:22:42] Yeah. And then tying it back to the longterm relationship. imagine it's not just my team experimenting on virality. Imagine many teams across the company are experimenting like this. When you shave the quality of the experience that way, then you have the customer experiencing many [00:23:00] disappointing unsettling untrustworthy experiences.

And then that becomes your narrative with the customer. And that becomes how they remember the relationship. And, brand trust is one of the hardest things to recuperate from if you damage it. So it is, it was a precious asset and, people. People remember you when they feel like you're on your you're on their side, like

Andrew Michael: [00:23:26] absolutely this thing maybe goes back to the beginning of the conversation as well about building the building and thinking a little bit longterm and taking into consideration all the different aspects of the building that you have.

And, that it has to be a coherent, good experience throughout as well. Having a building, that's got shitty toilets that are broken and living a wrenching smell, but the rest of the willing looks, pretend the front is not going to create a good experience for the homeowner, for the person who's working in their building.

Likewise, having that vision to understand like how this is obviously a big challenge. I think many organizations [00:24:00] face as they scale experimentation and. How like maybe a Dropbox or Pinterest or even a Facebook, are they dealing with this as a whole to make sure that, the experiences across the board and African parents, and they're not just over optimizing for metrics and then ruining their experience, like, how is this something that you avoided, in your career?

Angel Steger: [00:24:19] Yeah. I think, it's a, it's always an aspiration. I don't think we ever fully avoid as much as we would like. I think there's a few things. One is, having a design systems, team and design systems components, really helps. just because there's a bunch of standards that are built in.

I think that is also true with platform thinking in general. So both at Pinterest and at Dropbox, one of the things that I worked on was, for example, for experimentation, What should be the default set of behaviors for something like a popup, modal dialogue. if we want to surface a new feature or something to you, like how should that behave?

And, different [00:25:00] teams have different levels of experimentation. Expertise, right? Like some, growth team. It will be very into the user behavior. really interesting user mindset, assuming it's a mature and healthy growth team. not every product team is necessarily that facile with data.

and or that facile with experimentation, some teams tend to work on like longer-term feature sets and then when they run on a run, experiments can be like a little naive and. it's not because people are trying to do the wrong thing. It's like the absence of knowledge. And when you have a system and both Pinterest and Dropbox have internal systems that enable you to launch, experiments, you can say what are the right defaults?

Because everyone at your company will typically use the default. If you make the default a healthy default that, from the data and from customer, Feedback is healthy. you can, yeah, still that default so that, for example, if someone gets a pop up to learn about a feature that when they dismiss [00:26:00] that it doesn't just immediately come back.

The next time they visit that page. you're like I said, no means no. stop, don't create the zombie. Experience that keeps coming back to life. listen to my feedback. I said, I wasn't interested. I closed the box. I clicked or I scrolled away, there's passive and active dismissals.

and that involves a cool down period. And then a limited number of exposures, like having intelligent defaults. and this was, work that, wasn't scoped. This was just work that I decided that we needed to do. because it's not just bad for the customer. it's bad for anyone who's running experiments, right?

if there's a little box that we use to inform people about things and people misuse that box, they stop, being able to build good defaults, essentially you can prevent people from devaluing your component because if a component, surfaces irrelevant information, people will learn to ignore that component and then you have to build new [00:27:00] components to actually communicate with people.

And, that is really important because you don't want to have to rebuild components.

Andrew Michael: [00:27:07] Yeah, I liked as well. Like the system you're talking about as much as the design system, but it's like a user experience system as well. And the natural flows that need to happen, unexpected behaviors. So sending a standard practice on what teams can and can't do with user behaviors as well.

is really interesting. And limiting them, but also limiting them in a good way that allows them then to run experiments freely, knowingly that they're not going to destroy the end user experience or damage the brand, like you said before as well. next thing I want to ask you about, because I see we're running up on time, a question that I ask every person that joins the show.

and, let's imagine a hypothetical scenario now that you joined in your company. And after joining this company, you see the trend in retention is not doing well at all. And the CEO comes to you and asks, you to try and lead things and turn things [00:28:00] around for them. But they're looking for results really quick.

They want to see a dent in the first 90 days. what would you want to be doing with your time in those first 90 days to try to turn things around for the company for churn and retention.

Angel Steger: [00:28:11] Yeah. number one, I'd be asking about what data we already have. a lot of times when you have a retention issue, it sometimes points to an organizational issue where there are people who have been raising the flag forever, about certain issues and those just aren't getting traction.

and oftentimes it's just about making sure that you gather the right information and hear what's there. I think the other thing you can do is you can look at, who is successfully retaining and why, depending on what stage or businesses in, that may be not necessarily a useful cohort.

effectively, I think. I would start talking to customers. I would look at people, who have, tried recently, churned out, understand what's going on.

you could probably start, reaching out to churn. Customers is hard because typically they don't want to reengage with you, but, it's worth a try. and if you can also, [00:29:00] if you have a paid service, for example, a subscription that people are canceling, you can start doing qualitative data in the cancellation flow and just start to pay a lot of attention there and you might be able to recruit participants as well from that.

let's see what else? it really depends. It really depends on what you do as a business. it could be so different.

Andrew Michael: [00:29:20] Yeah, the strategies can change quite a lot. So what you're saying now is all having exit flow data. There would be if someone's going to cancel, asking the reason for cancel and really trying to quantify and qualify, like the reasons w was that the main thing there.

Angel Steger: [00:29:36] Yeah. I think you really want to understand why, is it. Has it, because your thing is too hard to use, is it a usability issue or is it actually primarily a value issue? And if it is actually, if it's a usability issue, then you know where you need to spend your time.

Like you just need to focus on the quality of that. And that might mean like engineering investment. It might mean, UI changes, on the other hand, if [00:30:00] your product value is just simply not. You know what it is that people like, people come for something, but what they come for may not be what you deliver.

And so understanding what is the Delta between the value, the perceived value that people were initially attracted to versus, what you capably delivered is important. I think especially if you're in the early stages, you can get adoption, but people are, if you have one, one hard and fast notion of what your business is for, you might actually discover that people are trying to use it for something else.

And that might actually be where you need to pivot towards, because the need, you thought wasn't actually there.

Andrew Michael: [00:30:36] Yeah, making sure that you're constantly iterating and paying attention to those signals. cool. So maybe last question as well for today. what's one thing that, you know today about churn & retention that you wish you knew when you got started first on, trying to tackle the problem.

Like what is a perception that's changing your mind completely from the beginning until today?

Angel Steger: [00:30:59] That is a [00:31:00] great question. I think what grew stronger was my understanding of the value of building a habit. when we talk about activation, I think sometimes people miss that, like activation is about a longterm set of engagement that you're jumpstarting and like engagement is something that is not just about, Having one really great reason to come to your product or service, but actually having multiple because, use cases change over time, right?

Like life changes, people change. And, if you only have one use case that can be incredibly fragile, because that use case might go away, and so having multiple use cases that you're able to build habits around, that is what gives you. staying power. I think the other thing is, recognize the competitive landscape, right?

my uncle, for example, has done a lot of research on happiness and he, [00:32:00] gives a really great example of when you have your first car, Ever, maybe the, maybe what you can afford is like a used Honda, you're so proud of it cause it's yours and you got it.

Now it's the second car you got was a used Honda. You would not encounter the same amount of, and when you think about that with regards to products and services, one is Even just your product alone, you have to continue to impress people and evolve and deliver value, Because, what is impressive initially will age and then, and and we know those services that haven't changed and we know how we feel about them cause we're users of those services.

So don't be that service, right? yeah. Think about that plan intentionally for that. And then, the second thing is the competitive landscape changes, right? when, a Blackberry was really cool until an iPhone came on the market and then you were like a Blackberry, what, who, and like making sure that [00:33:00] you understand, how am I doing relative to the competition?

what are my, what's my differentiator delighter? what is the thing that like, I have to come here for. I can only get here. They can only get, can not get anywhere else. Like that value is relative and it's not absolute. And so if you Pat yourself on the back for absolute value, like you will miss the boat, you might get it initially, you might get that activation.

And then, over years, you'll start to see that, you're. 20% target year over year is getting harder and harder to get.

Andrew Michael: [00:33:32] Yeah. I love both of those points as well. I think like the use cases specifically, like personally is hands up, share your service today has a specific problem. Like you managed to solve that once you solve that they have new problems.

if you're able to transition them into new use cases and solve them as they grow in sophistication as well. I think that's. An amazing way and not an insisted education, but just in different needs, is an excellent way to keep them engaged and very, but it's really funny that you mentioned the example of the car because literally, probably [00:34:00] three, four days ago, I left my house and as I was driving in my car now, like a car passed me.

That was my. The first car that I had when I first had a car. And I literally thought about that experience was that because there was a young person driving the car. And I was seeing that, I remember the first time I got that call, like how proud I was, how I felt about it. And then today, if I had to have the same, probably wouldn't feel the same.

So it's literally just you describe my morning, like three, four days ago.

Angel Steger: [00:34:28] Cool.

Andrew Michael: [00:34:29] so yeah, I think we run up now on time, Angel, but I really, really appreciate it know. Excellent. Chatting to you. is there any sort of final thoughts you want to leave the audience with anything they should be aware of?

Or how can they keep up to speed with what you're working on?

Angel Steger: [00:34:42] yeah, I think, follow me on LinkedIn, I think is probably the most, accurate way to stay up to date. I write a little bit, have some stuff in the works. definitely if you want to, join us for Reforge, and the guest speaker and fall.

And, yeah, I think other words of advice [00:35:00] that I'll just offer is just always remember that it's about customer value. And so what you're. Whatever you're trying to measure. Look for making sure that you're measuring that people are getting, the value they came for 100%. And then hopefully, maybe a little bit more maybe, like I think sometimes human beings, our aspirations are articulated.

Aspirations are significantly. Smaller than what our real aspirations are. And sometimes, if you can really understand customer mindset and get to the real aspiration behind the suit of aspiration, that's where you really start to have people strongly emotionally connect with what you do.

and that. That connection, it doesn't a hundred percent save your business, but what you can do if people feel understood and recognized and valued in the customer relationship is you buy a people's [00:36:00] patients and you buy their forgiveness because you've earned it.

And, I think that's really important when we're trying to learn, and develop and build things is like having that relationship where people are willing to be part of that journey with you, because they're happy and they're rooting for you because they feel like their success is tied to your success.

that's a really good place to be. and I think people don't understand that or don't think about that nearly as much as they should.

Andrew Michael: [00:36:31] Absolutely. I think that's a fantastic way to end the show today. so thanks so much for joining angel wish you best of luck now in the new role at Facebook and hope to hear from some of the stuff that you mentioned, you'll be sharing as well.

We'll definitely be picking up and reading whatever you bring out. So thanks a lot for joining.

Angel Steger: [00:36:48] Thank you for having me.


Angel Steger
Angel Steger

The show

My name is Andrew Michael and I started CHURN.FM, as I was tired of hearing stories about some magical silver bullet that solved churn for company X.

In this podcast, you will hear from founders and subscription economy pros working in product, marketing, customer success, support, and operations roles across different stages of company growth, who are taking a systematic approach to increase retention and engagement within their organizations.


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