Marketing automation means a lot of things. It’s an umbrella term that covers everything from intelligent, data-driven campaigns to deep audience segmentation.
Within this category, mobile marketing automation has emerged to cater specifically to app marketers. While the principles remain the same, mobile marketing automation connects directly to mobile-only messaging channels like push notifications and in-app messages, giving marketers a holistic view of their campaigns. By integrating mobile marketing automation into your marketing platform, you can run multi-channel campaigns and transfer web-originated user behavior data to mobile and vice-versa.
The best way to understand the value of mobile marketing automation is to break it up into actionable pieces. In this blog, I’ll reveal six mobile marketing automation secrets in just six minutes:
Secret #1: It All Starts With Customer Intelligence
Automation starts with data.
Most platforms collect data automatically, but it’s important to look at what type of information is being collected to ensure you’re able to glean actionable insights. Does your automation platform track open rates for push notifications and emails? Can it track in-app user behavior, such as time spent on screen?
When in doubt, it’s better to have more data rather than less. The first secret to mobile marketing automation is to pick a platform that collects data for each user across their customer journey.
A rich user profile generated from data collected by a mobile marketing automation platform
This should take into account, among other things:
- Technology: Android vs. iOS, OS version, etc.
- Lifecycle stage: Newly onboarded vs. loyal user
- Localization: Where in the world do they live?
- Demographic information: Age, interests, and so on
- Behavioral attributes: When was their last in-app session? Purchase?
Secret #2: Divide and Conquer
Once you’ve accumulated enough data on your users, it’s time to segment those users.
There are a few different approaches to segmentation:
- Split users based on value. Engaged users are likely to add revenue in the long run, while infrequent users might be close to churning. You’ll needy different marketing campaigns to engage them with the right message.
- Divide users based on more high-level attributes like age and gender. This might seem too broad, but some messages are universal enough to be delivered to most of your audience.
The beauty of segmentation is that you don’t have to commit to a low-level or high-level approach. Pick the level of granularity that’s right for the job. Most automation platforms enable teams to create segments based on any combination of factors. High-level attributes and behavioral details aren’t mutually exclusive—you can create a segment of high-value users that are also within a given age range, for instance.
Secret #3: Users Love Triggered Messages
Are you using triggers to send users specific messages at the cue of an in-app event? Think of a retail app: What happens when you add a few items to your cart but don’t check out? Many apps send a push notification the next day, prompting you to complete the purchase. This is an example of a behavioral message, a message that’s sent when users complete a given action.
At first, sending messages based on behavioral triggers sounds like a nice workflow booster. Instead of stressing over time zones and manually scheduling each blast, you can set a message to fire once a given event is triggered and forget it. But the impact of triggered messages isn’t to be trifled with. In one of Leanplum’s reports, we found that behaviorally triggered push notifications are opened 9x more often than generic blasts. We aren’t the only ones who came to this realization—Forrester explains that data-centric, behavioral messaging is a big part of mobile marketing today.
Clearly, triggered messages aren’t just a matter of convenience for the marketer. 9x is a huge engagement boost that’s only possible with automation.
Secret #4: You Can Personalize Non-Triggered Messages, Too
Triggered messages are effective, but they’re not always an option. How do you announce a storewide sale or a new app feature through behavioral triggers?
Sometimes, you have to blast a message to your entire audience without any segmentation or behavioral filtering. Luckily, there’s a way to give even these blasts a personal touch. One solution is to include user attributes in the message copy (in email this is often called a token). The obvious example is to use the recipient’s name, like in the example below but you can go much further. If you’re announcing a storewide sale, you can instruct users to “Click for discounts on [category]!”, automatically filling in the field with the last category the person browsed. This message could be sent to all users who’ve launched the app before, yet it feels personal and targeted.
If you’re not up for tweaking your content, you can still improve the message’s send time without any segmentation. Some platforms automatically track what time of day each person uses the app. With this data, you can automatically send messages at the optimal time for each user—no need to manually create segments for morning people and night owls.
Secret #5: Coordinate Multi-Channel Campaigns
Each mobile channel has its quirks, and automation platforms help marketers distribute the perfect content for each channel.
Let’s use push notifications as an example. Push notifications are fantastic for reaching people outside of your app, but users must opt-in before they can receive notifications.
How can you reactivate dormant users if they haven’t opted into push notifications? Try email. Instead of manually sending these messages as the need arises, incorporate different messaging channels into a single lifecycle campaign. This helps you focus on the big picture. Each situation might demand a different messaging channel, but the overall goal of the campaign should be consistent.
You can use a multi-channel messaging strategy to move users through the mobile customer lifecycle:
- Onboard new users with tutorials that help them understand the app
- Engage users with a series of content or promotions relevant to their interests
- Encourage booking or shopping conversions with cart abandonment campaigns
- Reactivate users with new app features or personalized deals
- Persuade users to submit App Store reviews or share your app across social media
Secret #6: Check Your Work
Remember how the first of our six secrets was to start with data? Marketing automation is a cyclical process. Analyzing the results at the end of your campaign is critical for planning the next campaign.
If your mobile marketing automation solution is integrated with your marketing platform, you’ll be able to measure cross-channel campaigns across the customer lifecycle, revealing how prospects first engaged with your brand and on what channel, and how they continued to interact with your campaigns over time. Lifecycle campaigns are easier to analyze than standalone messages because they’re unified. You can measure a campaign’s effectiveness with big-picture metrics and mobile-specific metrics like in-app events (e.g. purchases), app usage frequency, and session length. And these metrics are critical for running campaigns that convert.
While it’s tempting to optimize messaging campaigns for open rates, what really matters is whether the message added value for users. On one hand, a too-good-to-be-true promotion accompanied by a catchy headline might earn push notification and email opens, but users will be disappointed if the promotion isn’t what it appeared to be. They might fall dormant and forget about the app if they think your messaging is spammy. On the other hand, a humble dormant user reactivation message might not be opened as much, but it could affect your 30- and 90-day retention.
Without a full-fledged lifecycle campaign, you’re forced to analyze marketing metrics in isolation. Stats like push notification open rates are still important, but they don’t provide the depth required to plan a full campaign. And there’s always the chance that high message engagement on the surface is hurting conversions and retention further down the funnel.
Making the Most of Mobile Marketing Automation
Phew! Are we still under six minutes? As you can see, mobile marketing automation isn’t as arcane or technical as it first seems. With these six secrets, you have all the facts you need to get started. Do you have any secrets to add to this list? Share them in the comments below.