Product Loyalty: Building For “Skimmers”

Imagine an audience that wants to eat up everything you do. How do you serve them and generate product loyalty? Here’s what I learned as CPO at theSkimm as we built it up to one of the top three grossing news apps. Simply put, if you solve problems – you’ll create deep relationships.

theSkimm Origins

Our founders were TV news producers at NBC, and they realized that nightly TV news wasn’t reaching the female millennial audience at all. There was a fundamental disconnect.

Some basic questions they asked were:

  • How can we fit into someone’s daily routine in a way that makes sense?
  • How can we solve their problems?

They started by taking a look at the daily life of a millennial woman. What does she do with her time? How can we relate this to product loyalty?

They knew that many people look at their phone early in the AM. So they rolled out the Daily Skimm to go right to their email inbox to give a quick rundown of headlines every morning.

The beauty of this was that it built a habit. It fit in with an already established routine.

Moving Forward

When I came on board, theSkimm already had a strong loyal following, and we wanted to build new products. So we asked users what kind of information would make them feel more empowered. They told us they wanted to know about important events before they happen For example, this includes events like the State of the Union, election registrations, big concerts, etc.

Also, we knew that people use email, calendars and texting everyday. So, we targeted our product loyalty strategy to where they were everyday. The plan was to integrate our product into their calendar app.


Even before the MVP stage, however, we wanted to test the content first. This was especially important for theSkimm, which is all about content.

Since we didn’t even have an engineering team yet, we just set up a private Google calendar and shared it with 50 beta testers. We tested things like book recommendations, events, reminders and more. The moral of the story is that people loved it. They were thrilled to have content curated directly in their calendars.

Community Leverage Launch

As our subscriber list grew, we wanted to launch something to leverage the product loyalty of core users committed to the brand. The community activation strategy we came up with was the Skimm’bassadors program. These were highly engaged users who became a true extension of our company. They got early app access, and we even gave them condensed PR and marketing training.

When we launched, we shot to the top of the AppStore. We got thousands of five-star reviews within an hour. Apple even called us to ask if we had patched something. It was one of the best days of my life, but even more important it was harnessing the power of community.


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About the speaker
Dheerja Kaur Robinhood, Product, Consumer Experience Member

Dheerja Kaur is the Chief Product Officer at theSkimm, a company that focuses on delivering news and information into the routines of female millennials. Prior to joining theSkimm, Dheerja was a product leader at ESPN - working across all of ESPN's digital products and spearheading major initiatives. Key projects included the internationalization of ESPN digital properties, Grantland, some of their flagship apps and a relaunch of

About the host
Tim Holley Etsy, VP of Product
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