How I Grew This

[Greatest Hits] Head of User Acquisition @ Hopper: Makoto Rheault-Kihara- Strategic Paid Social, Massive Growth & The Culture That Empowers It

Episode Summary

Makoto Rheault-Kihara leads user acquisition at Hopper, one of the fastest-growing travel apps with over 60 million in sales to date. Makoto was previously the Director of Marketing at Cruisehub, an OTA aiming to modernize the cruise industry and lead search engine marketing at Busbud, a bus travel booking platform in 80 countries. Hopper differentiates its paid social strategy by focusing on user acquisition AND long-term trust through investing in paid social and other mobile ad channels. They use Facebook as the primary focus of their paid social ads with TikTok as a growing secondary channel. Paid social is becoming a lot more abstract and therefore more creative. Makoto believes paid TikTok ads must be kept fresh, platform-focused, and generated at a higher frequency. The pandemic did affect the travel industry but Hopper still achieved a 110% YoY growth last year and is on track to do over $1B of business this year. They did this by following a diversification strategy based on customer needs and expanded into hotels and car rentals. Hopper’s customer-obsessed culture and self-contained, autonomous teams have helped them grow multiple product arms simultaneously. A weekly catch-up call and an executive team focused on cross-team communication help these siloed teams at Hopper learn from each other’s challenges and successes. Sometimes ads that marketers like don’t appeal to actual customers and may end up performing worse than some simple customer-oriented ads. Over time, Hopper moved to these customer-centric ad creatives which helped them reduce expensive failures and triple their RPM (revenue per 1000 impressions). At Hopper, Makoto focuses on maximizing the overall contribution margin of a cohort and on-target rate to check their ability to drive revenue from specific target purchases or user actions. Because Hopper diversified across three generic categories (hotels, flights, car rentals), their ad targeting still focuses on great creatives and has not changed much since IDFA deprecation in iOS 14.5. Interested in joining the Hopper team? Click here to check out their open positions!