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Dec 10, 2019

CRM Sr. Product Manager at OKCupid, Ana Albornoz, talks about the power of connection and how OKC lets that sentiment permeate their messaging, events, and even the way their messaging systems are set up. PS. They're hiring engineers! *Hosted by Taylor Gibb and PJ Bruno LIVE at LTR 2019*





PJ Bruno: Hi again and welcome back to Braze For Impact, your martech industry discuss digest. We're back again with another episode from our Humanities Series. So thrilled to have with us today as our guest, Ana Albornoz, the CRM, Senior Product Manager at OkCupid. Ana, thank you so much for being here.



Ana Albornoz: Thank you for having me. I'm very excited to be part of the series.



PJ Bruno: We are very excited to have you, and also I'm excited to have my partner in crime here from our success org. Taylor Gibb, how are you doing?



Taylor Gibb: I am doing great, I have to say. I am excited, especially today because Ana and I used to work together. I was the CSM for OkCupid for a bit back in the day.



PJ Bruno: What?



Taylor Gibb: So this is like blast from the past, get to check in on all the great things you've been doing. So, selfishly, I'm very excited as well.



PJ Bruno: Well, I can't believe it. We're here to witness this rekindling of friendship.



Taylor Gibb: It's a reunion.



Ana Albornoz: Exactly.



PJ Bruno: So why don't you just tell us a little bit about, you know, first OkCupid and your role there? Like you know, your journey so far with OkCupid. I'd love to hear about it.



Ana Albornoz: Well at OkCupid, I'm the head of CRM, and I joined two years ago. It's been very, very interesting to be part of this change because we were migrating a little bit from a old Legacy system into Braze and engaging more and more users in learning about what they want, what they need. And so it's been very, very exciting.



PJ Bruno: So when you joined two years ago, was that migration like the biggest challenge? When you came in the door, your boss said to you this is our number one priority? Or what was it like when you came in?



Ana Albornoz: Well, actually it was supposed to be ready to go, which of course it wasn't. But it's been very interesting. By the time I joined, we were already a 13 year organization and as such we had some Legacy and old data and old practices. So I think the biggest challenge has been making it so it is customizable as in get more engageable for users. And it's been a an interesting journey and now we are much more sophisticated and target better. We can react much faster. But this is an ongoing process because we always want to be timely and relevant for our users



PJ Bruno: and I mean, just the dating scene in general, mobile dating in general ... It's just exploded over the past five years. It's become massive.



Taylor Gibb: Absolutely, and you always do a great job of making things really multichannel, if I remember correctly. You've got a great routine of push notifications going out, but you also sent out some newsletters, if I recall, that had things like your top matches for the week. How have things changed in terms of you guys going from using primarily one channel to weaving in a whole bunch of different channels and different personalization?



Ana Albornoz: Well this is ... As I said, it's an ongoing process. We were learning all the time of what is more engaging for users depending on the journal. We are here to make connections. Our mission is really to help people build meaningful connections. And as such, we need to understand what is ... What is relevant for them and when, and we do a very good job of that at OkCupid. We know that users have multiple alternatives, but OkCupid is the only one that give them an option to connect on what really matters and what matters to them at a particular time. So we accommodate all those ... Those insights into our communication and try to be mindful of what is relevant and what is more important for users at a specific time.



Taylor Gibb: And if I recall correctly, you also have celebrations oftentimes at your office of people who have met through OkCupid. You even said that there was a wedding proposal at one point.



Ana Albornoz: Yes.



Taylor Gibb: I love that. And I do know, as well, that a lot of people at Braze have met through OkCupid their husbands and wives.



PJ Bruno: That's true. Jordan did, right?



Taylor Gibb: Jordan did. Yeah.



PJ Bruno: Jordan Houghton Mace.



Ana Albornoz: I'm so happy to hear that, actually. Yeah, we know that 30% of couples nowadays met at a dating app. We know that that's the place, especially now people look for other alternatives. You know, outside of the traditional school, work, church groups. And so we are there for the users to be able to connect on what matters to them. So we constantly are updating our questions and actually use a lot of Braze into that. Making sure people go and answer those relevant and current questions.



PJ Bruno: And you mentioned 30% of people are meeting on dating apps now. And there's so many, you could list off a bunch right now. And so how do you guys use that competition to like differentiate yourself? It's like obviously you want to stand out amidst the crowd cause there's so many options. Like how do you say ... And I love what you said about your mission to be connecting people. I feel like it probably all comes back to that, but I'd love to hear more.



Ana Albornoz: One of the main things is we value the ability to talk to our users. It's not about what we want to say is about what they need to hear or learn. Like letting them know that somebody matched with them in a timely fashion. Letting them know that they are getting, you know, that they ... It's a good timing for them to update their picture. Telling them about the question. I think actually questions is one of the best examples for that because we are all at all times trying to be current, not only for ... Not in general, but localized as well. And so we do send notifications to let people know that they should come and answer those questions. And with those questions, then we are able to match them and also to give them good topics of conversation. So, it's not only about matching them with people that there are ... That are aligned, but also that they have a first good date when they have topics in common and ideas to talk to about. So [inaudible] that's one of our main differentiators.



Taylor Gibb: I also am a little bit curious. I know that some dating apps have trouble knowing what to do after someone finds somebody. You know, like the goal is always to create a relationship. How do you guys deal with the fact that, you know, ultimately people will be either deleting your app or perhaps just using it differently?



Ana Albornoz: That's an excellent question. I think when we say that our mission is to create connections that matter, not all of them are going to end up in marriage. So the fact that they come back eventually is also a good story. So we're very mindful of them ... Like if they in a relationship or they delete our app, and we understand they might be in ... Trying at least to build the relationship. But many people also come to us with a good stories, not ... A success story is not only weddings or anniversaries, which we get a lot and are very, very excited and moving. But also when they come back and say, you know, I met this great person, it didn't work, but it was fine. It was meaningful. It was healthy.



Taylor Gibb: Right.



PJ Bruno: And also, you know, we're talking about connections, right? We're talking about communication. You guys facilitating that. They say the best tech stack is one that feels invisible. You're not thinking about the mechanism that sent you this message. You're just like, oh, this just feels natural. You know, in light of that, let's get in the weeds a bit about your tech stack. Like what's some cool tech that you guys have launched that you got to be a part of in the past year?



Ana Albornoz: So I have to say that integrating Brace Currents to or with our Looker data has been very, very useful. It's been challenging because we have massive amounts of data. As you can imagine. You know, we're not known for an algorithm for nothing. We do manage a lot, a lot of data and use it as wisely as possible. But, but you know, integrating was difficult. But now that we integrated, it gives us so much light into what works, what doesn't, what affects beyond just, you know, open and clicks but actually move people to do certain things. If you're telling them about a message, you can see whether they actually replied to a message. If you tell them about a match, you can see what happened afterwards and so on. So integrating to have more visibility about what is happening has been really useful. And you know, we are an infant in that area because we complete integration not that long ago, but so far it's very, very good.



PJ Bruno: Of course, being able to get that data out and do stuff with it.



Taylor Gibb: Yep, and one thing I remember from working with your team is that you're some of the most thoughtful and detail oriented in terms of just parsing through the data and using it for really interesting and purposes that move the needle. I think that thoughtful approach is what sets you apart. And it does make you feel like a more human dating app, which is of course what we're talking about here in the Humanities Series. So, obviously it was a shoe in to have you here today, but I think that it's worth pointing out that that's something that you've always excelled at.



Ana Albornoz: Yeah, I mean for us being able to ... To be perceived and being aware that people on the other side, the recipients of this messages are our people. Actually we built our whole mission, our whole work around never forgetting that it's humans trying to fulfill a basic need which we all have ... Which is craving connection. And that's what we are here for.



Taylor Gibb: Wow.



PJ Bruno: That's beautiful. Wrapping up here, what is something that you're really excited about looking to the future for OkCupid? An initiative? A piece of tech? A new process or team? Some collaboration? Anything. What are you most pumped about?



Ana Albornoz: This quarter, we launched our very first international marketing campaign in India, and it's been a huge success. So we are looking for 2020 to more markets that are relevant to the dating app scene. So we are very exciting to go there, knowing that it's different. Understanding that we need to learn better what makes sense for those markets different from here. Customizations is key. Not only about content, questions, their holidays, and also which channels make sense for them. Knowing that for other countries probably email is not as relevant, for instance, but push is. And maybe their schedules are different from us, it's not the same day off. Things like that, which are small but meaningful when you go outside. And actually the whole thing of expansion is a big effort, not only CRM team, but the whole team has been working very hard. So we're growing, we're growing very, very rapidly. And we are looking for exciting people. For people that are sharing our vision, that are learners, that are excited about the user, that are looking to make a difference in people's lives. Every day I come to work, I start working ... I am excited about reading those messages about weddings and anniversaries, and kids. And people sometimes messaged us three years later like, "You know, three years ago I met so-and-so," and hat's that's very very moving and exciting. And as far as our mission goes, this one is very hard to top up.



PJ Bruno: Fantastic. And so if you're listening out there, it sounds like OkCupid is hiring and so-



Ana Albornoz: We are, we are. Visit us at and see all the openings that we have and apply.If you feel that this is a mission that is speaking to you, and that you are a learner, and you are driven by developing your own skills and giving yourself into our great mission, just come to us.



PJ Bruno: Please join the love revolution. Ana, thank you so much for being here.



Ana Albornoz: Thank you for having me.



Taylor Gibb: Good to see you again.



Ana Albornoz: Same here.



PJ Bruno: Taylor Gibb at my side, always much appreciated.



Taylor Gibb: Anytime.



PJ Bruno: And you guys, thanks for stopping by and joining us. Take care.