Targeting Mantra / Alter Agents

How to Boost App Engagement With Mobile Marketing Automation

October 20, 2015

How to Boost App Engagement With Mobile Marketing Automation

You have a sleek app with a smooth UI, seamless navigation and amazing products. After much anticipation, you acquired thousands of mobile users who have installed the app. Now, the question is- What’s next after the install?

You want to engage with the users and bring them closer to your brand. To increase user engagement on your app, you need to adopt mobile marketing automation (MMA).

This includes sending personalized automated messages to users across all communication channels based on real-time user behavior in the form of push notifications, in-app messaging, social media advertisements, emails, etc.

To elaborate on it, here are  the four ways to boost app engagement with mobile marketing automation:

1. Personalized Push Message: Lifecycle Specific

The days of bulk messaging are long gone, so are for one-size-fits-all messaging. According to the report from Salesforce, brands who send the most personalized alerts yield 50% engagement, and hence, leading to a purchase.

To personalize the message, each message must be crafted for a different customer based on his level of engagement with the brand. The end goal of sending a custom message is to prompt more engagement with the brand.

Each messages carries a different goal, such as:

– to habituate new users into using the app daily. A series of well-timed push messages that is sent consistently can help you achieve this.

– to demonstrate the app’s value for one-time users so that it registers in their minds.

– to re-engage a dormant user by introducing or reminding the app’s new features.

– to prompt further purchase for active users and turn them into loyal customers.

This can be achieved through push notifications or in-app messaging through targeted advertising offers that are focused on increasing engagement, virality, or retention.

Adding on to this, Paolo Perazzo, CEO at Companyons, Inc., maker of Kyber shares how they drove their app engagement through contextual messaging that simplified the daily activities of their users.

Kyber integrated with calendars, reminders, maps, Uber, Slack, IFTTT, etc., and offered a daily view of to-dos, reminders, calendar events. Apart from that, they also sent a morning notification reminding the user if she has a task scheduled during the day.

For example: Your first meeting is … at ..

To determine which strategy worked best, Paolo explained that they carried out an experiment.

We removed the agenda email in the morning. We got hundreds of ‘angry’ users asking the feature back! This proved that the feature was something our users liked. As we turned the morning notification on, we saw spikes of users coming back to the app, and they continue to come back.”

Kyber morning notification

He also admits that from engagement to retention, Kyber saw a much increased rate due to these features.

What you can learn from Kyber:

Step 1:

– A welcome email as soon as a user registers with the app

Kyber Welcome Email

Step 2:

– On day 2 after installation, send a 3-day course explaining the benefits of the app all during the first week. Studies say that you build engagement and addiction to the app in the very first week itself.

Day 2 tutorial

Step 3:

– Send an email after 5 days of user inactivity to ask the user why she stopped using the app. Understand the problem of the app, get feedback, and potentially re-engage the user.

5-day inactive

2. Target user segments

To map out a proper marketing channel for your app, you need to segment your users into distinct categories. This will help you understand and choose the segment of users to target based on your campaigns.

To segment your users, there are commonly four factors that you need to consider:

i) Demographics: gender, marital status, age, etc.

ii) Context: location, weather, event.

iii) Time: time of the day, day of the week.

iv) Behavior: in-app behavior, usage pattern, etc.

Now, once these groups have been made, you can start targeting them with your personalized messages and campaigns.

For instance, based on the in-app behavior, if a user never made a purchase from the app, you should stop sending in-app purchase promotions. Instead, focus on engaging them with your app and retaining them.

Based on demographics, your notifications can be on the latest sale for women, infants, etc.-

The segmentation can also be based on the country, like a separate message for app users from U.S and separate ones for users based in India.

Brian Stumbaugh, the Digital Marketing Manager at Barefoot Solutions reinforce this strategy by using a demographic targeting.

We take the time to segment users into targeted groups similar to how Facebook Ad targeting functions. The idea here is that once these tightly grouped segments are set, we can begin to create custom messages that are targeted to those demographics specifically.

This ensures that these messages are gentle reminders rather than annoying pop-ups that negatively impact the app experience.”

Apart from giving a pleasant experience to the user, it also gives you an actionable insight on your user base for better targeting. Once you have an insight on the user behavior, it becomes easy for you to identify your segment holding the highest value.

3. App Engagement Ads & Campaigns

Once users are segmented, it becomes easy to surmise on the app engagement ads or campaign.

Here, you need to focus on connecting with people who already have your app. While planning your ads/campaigns, here are few pointers that you should keep in mind. You campaign should:

– encourage users to try your app again

– remind or prompt them to take a specific action

– help them complete an activity they already started

– increase user engagement

– recommend users to try out specific features

Considering the increase in use of mobile devices, investing in your mobile marketing is a plausible idea. That said, you should be able to choose your channels or the platforms that drive the best results for you.

Here are some examples of such ads on across different channels like google search and twitter.

According to Sam Romain, CEO of Dominate With SEO, positioning yourself in the right mobile marketing platforms is necessary so that the end user gets more exposure to your business. Sam further shares how his company managed their app ads –

What we like to do at my company is to use a large budgeted retargeting platform. Our best success and response rate has been from Facebook ads.

facebook ad analytics

I believe that is because on a mobile device, a timeline ad on facebook takes up more real estate, therefore, capturing more attention from the viewer.”

Remember, a winning mobile app engagement ad reminds users about your app’s value and get them back to your app. So unless your ad is doing that, you should re-consider planning it again.

Another effective way to expand your user base and boost interaction at the same time is the app referral campaign. Judging on how 33% of app downloads are influenced by recommendations by acquaintances, this is a high value campaign.

Laxman Papineni, Co-Founder of AppVirality Inc, also amplifies on app engagement while advocating the need for app referral campaigns.

Engagement may mean different things for different apps marketers along with the method of building it. But making the app a part of a user’s daily life still remains a task. That’s where it lies the need of backing mobile marketing automation with a characteristic growth strategy.

Unicorns like Airbnb and Uber have mastered this by providing In-app referrals.

This strategy encompasses all the elements that have helped them in understanding user behavior and building advanced user segmentation, thus propelling their users to make a purchase.”

However, before you kickstart the campaign, you need to make sure that your app allow users to invite other users directly to your app.

Here is a quick run through at some other points:

– Offer rewards, in the form of loyalty points or other credits, for every referral.

– Announce the rewards through push notifications or in-app messaging.

– To have maximum engagement, offer a higher reward over a limited time period.

4. Engage With Mobile

When it comes to mobile apps, it is the control of the app that causes a disrupt between the customer and the marketer. According to Rebecca Brooks, a marketing analyst having worked with brands like Google, Hyundai, HP, the biggest disconnect is the idea that marketers can have any control or influence over how a customer engages with a mobile app.

Rebecca points out that marketers should focus on activities that motivate customers and not  notifications, gamifying elements, or friend networking to boost engagement. Why?

Customers are not waiting by their phones hoping your business app will communicate with them. They turn off those notifications and reject irritating their friends by networking through apps.

Successful mobile apps recognize that the customer should be in charge of the engagements and provide content that is relevant, engaging, and encourages repeat visitation. Or, they forgo an app altogether and engage customers in mobile in a new way”

To explain this, she cites the example of Domino’s Pizza’s concept of tweet to order #easyorder pizza delivery.

“They took an emoji which was already commonly in use and re-purposed it as an immediate ordering opportunity. Engagement that is simple for the customer has obvious benefits, and distinguishes Domino’s from the competition.”

Easyorder tweets

Domino’s took an innovative person-centric approach and attempted to leverage their user’s behavior across devices and platforms. They became a part of the user’s experience by opening up the lines of communication at the right time.


According to a report by VentureBeat, the current penetration of mobile marketing automation is only 1.5%, although it is expected to triple by the end of 2015! Although this shows how mobile marketers are missing out on a lot of revenues, this also reassures marketers that there is still huge room for improvement.

Given the vast techniques and variety of marketing challenges, it can become difficult for marketers to know where to start. You can start with the four places discussed above, implement them in a methodical manner and increase your app engagement as well as your conversion.

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