January 21 2021

In the third quarter of 2020, mobile devices generated almost 51% of global website traffic. According to the Sensor Tower report, global consumer spending in mobile apps reached a record $111 billion in 2020. This figure represents 30.2 percent year-over-year growth from 2019 when app stores generated $85.2 billion. It is therefore imperative for marketers to find new ways to reach their increasingly on-the-go audience. This is where mobile marketing automation comes into play.

When it comes to growing in such a competitive and lucrative market, user engagement and retention is vital for your growth strategy. But in their zeal to acquire more users and improve the app experience with new features, user engagement and retention often takes a back seat for marketers.

Mobile marketing automation is one of the trends that will dominate app marketing this year. But before we get into the benefits of using mobile marketing automation for your app, let’s see what mobile marketing automation is and how it differs from traditional marketing automation. 

What is mobile marketing automation (MMA)

Marketing automation refers to using software along with a set of rules and templates to make it easier for a company to communicate with its customers and prospects. This includes collecting their information, segmenting users based on that information, building out communication templates, personalizing them, and defining which segments a campaign is supposed to go to and when.

All you need to do is set it up once and it keeps running as per the defined rules. Without such automation, marketers will have to do all this manually, which makes it an impossible task given the vast amounts of data businesses collect and process these days.

Traditional marketing automation platforms that are built for desktop don’t work so well for mobile apps. While they can still be used to gather user information like their location, device, and their browsing habits, they don’t enable communication via channels like push notifications or in-app messages.

On the other hand, mobile marketing automation platforms enable marketers to gather important user information such as their location, mobile device info, demographic, their in-app behavior, and other user properties.

It then helps you use this information to create user segments and target them with relevant campaigns to steer users to desired behaviors.  It lets marketers set up one or more actions that need to be performed on these user segments, their referrers or even their in-app friends. These actions include sending them a push or in-app notification, setting user properties or callbacks to your server for custom actions like sending an email or SMS through your email/SMS provider.

Benefits of using mobile marketing automation 

1. Automate your user engagement campaigns 

Every user interacts with an app in a different way. Their in-app journey is what determines how engaged they will remain and when they are most likely to churn. Using mobile marketing automation, you can avoid the latter – without having to manually step in every time.

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First, create different user segments based on their in-app behavior. It’s important to start segmenting users into different cohorts that emit similar in-app behavior, both positive and negative. Negative behaviors are those where users don’t take the desired actions.

Then use mobile engagement automation to set up drip campaigns based on actions they are more likely to take with a little nudge.

For example, you would want to remind your users to:

  • Finish account setup if they haven’t done it in the first few days
  • Log in to sync the data between devices regularly
  • Start the first quest if they haven’t started during their first session
  • Invite their friends to the app if they haven’t invited any during the last week

The list of use cases is endless but the underlying problem is the same “Remind the user to perform the desired action {X} after time {Y}”.

While you’ll hook the player’s interest immediately by doing so, you’ll also increase the word-of-mouth promotion for your app.

2. Re-engage your inactive players automatically

A smart app marketing automation platform will help you identify and segment inactive users. It will also enable you to set up campaigns that are targeted to win them back before they churn.

Considering how retention is less expensive than continually acquiring new users, re-engagement campaigns are a necessity for apps. And best of all a good marketing automation platform can enable marketers to automate and setup up such campaigns with ease.

According to data by GetSocial, average day 7 retention can be as low as 30%, and in some instances even lower.

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For example, you can create a new user segment with users who haven’t opened your app in the last 7 days or had less than the desired number of sessions in a given period. Additionally, you can use data prediction platform like Yokozuna data to predict when users are about to churn.

Then create automation where these users are sent reminders every weekday to come back to your app with relevant promotions that include promo codes, discounts, etc.

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Example of GetSocial Smart Flow mobile marketing automation feature

Read more: 7 Simple Strategies to Re-Engage Your Inactive App Users

2. Deliver highly-personalized user experiences

What are you more likely to read – a personalized message that revolves around your interest or a promotional one?

The personalized message. The same holds true for your app users. A personalized message that is contextual and relevant to their in-app activity or the way they use your app, is likely to get more engagement than a generic one.

A mobile marketing automation platform like GetSocial will enable you to customize the user experience on a 1:1 basis at scale. Using social behavioral attributes, device, and custom properties, you can ensure relevant messaging at all times with mobile engagement automation.

Let’s give you an example.

A user makes a few in-app purchases a week ago. Post which, he doesn’t make any purchases. This behavior shows how invested they were in your app but haven’t been so recently. By setting up marketing automation, you can offer a discount on a purchase they are likely to make or you want them to make to encourage repeat purchase behavior.

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Example of GetSocial Smart Flow mobile marketing automation feature

Such automated campaigns will not only keep your active users engaged, but also help you drive higher in-app monetization.

4. Automate multiple channel communication

If you want to keep your users engaged, you need more than one way of reaching out to them. But a multi-channel user engagement strategy can be hard to plan, execute and monitor the performance of.

With an app marketing automation platform, you can take advantage of push notifications, in-app notifications, or custom delivery with webhooks and user properties on auto-pilot. The platform will automatically use individual behaviors in your app to trigger timely campaigns that boost your user engagement rate.

Read more: 13 User Engagement Campaign Ideas for Mobile Marketing Automation

How to Use Marketing Automation for Better User Engagement

Now that we are up-to-date with what mobile marketing automation is and how you can benefit from it, let’s look into the types of automation you can set up to boost your engagement and retention rates. 

Types of mobile marketing automation

Every app has different target users. Every user has a different way of interacting with an app. That’s why there is no one-strategy-fits-all approach when it comes to app marketing automation. You need to analyze your user data, understand them and put that data to use to keep them engaged.

Here are the different types of mobile engagement automation that you should set up:

1. Audience-based automation flows

This type of mobile marketing automation refers to setting a flow that automatically gets triggered when users enter or are part of a defined user segment. The campaign runs on a given schedule for a pre-defined Audience – which is your user segment dividing your total user base into a segment based on data attributes like app sessions, purchase behavior, or any in-app event.

The schedule to run the campaign can be set to anything from ‘every hour’ to ‘on the second Sunday of every month at 10 am’. The minimum frequency to run a mobile marketing automation flow is an hour – after all, you don’t want to lose your users to spam!

This type of marketing automation is useful when you need to segment your users based on historical data such as users whose last session was over a week ago, or users whose last purchase was a month ago and the purchase value or count was greater than a specified amount, etc. In our 3rd masterclass, we will share several examples that are used by marketers to accelerate their engagement.

Let’s look at some campaigns that you can build with audience-based flows.

I. Re-engaging inactive users

As we shared in our 1st masterclass on MMA, a smart app marketing automation platform like GetSocial will help you identify and segment inactive users and enable you to set up campaigns that are targeted to win them back before they churn.

If you notice that a certain segment of your users hasn’t interacted with your app for 7 days or more (duration can be shorter or even longer as per your needs), it is time to jump in and prevent them from churning. These are either users who don’t see any more value in what your app offers, have found an alternative to it,  or simply have forgotten about your app. You can narrow this segment down further for e.g. by filtering users who have made at least one purchase and live in the US.

Reach out to them with a quick reminder of their last activity on the app or offer them a discount on an in-app purchase that they were considering during their last session.

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You can also use gamification to re-engage these users. For instance, sending a push notification that tells them about a friend’s progress in the app or how their score was just beaten in a game is a great way to spike their interest again.

Or call in the help of email newsletter software to bring them back to the app, with a (daily or monthly) leaderboard update, invites or social happenings like birthday events similar to social channels like Facebook and LinkedIn do. The frequency of the messages should be adjusted to suit your app users. You want to maximize engagement, while not overloading them with constant messages.

II. Rewarding users to keep them motivated  

Everyone needs a little motivation. Pretty much similar to how a little nudge from friends goes a long way when it comes to following a fitness regime!

Use mobile marketing automation to continually keep your users motivated to come back for more app sessions. And sometimes, when gamification isn’t enough to achieve higher engagement rates, you need to make an offer that your users cannot refuse. That’s where you should use a rewards program in your app marketing strategy. For example, let’s take users in your audience that haven’t interacted with your app or a certain desired feature after they failed repeatedly at a certain game level.

Reach out to these users with a notification that offers them a privilege or access to an in-app item that lets them complete that level – but in lieu of a small action. It could be inviting 5 of their friends to the app (using GetSocial Smart Invites) or asking their in-game friend to gift them with such in-app item.

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The trick here with audience-based app marketing automation is to understand your users, their needs, what’s stopping them from coming back for more sessions, and what are they more likely to convert on.

2. Event-based automation flows

This type of automation is set up when you want to trigger your engagement campaigns as soon as an event occurs in your app. These mobile engagement automation campaigns are triggered in real-time where you don’t have a need to act on historical data.

You define the event that triggers the automation in realtime and filter it by event and user properties that are tracked along with the event. For example, when a user makes a purchase above a certain amount (say $100) send the users a discount coupon for their next purchase thereby encouraging repeat purchases.

A few ways of using event-based mobile marketing automation flows are:

I.Rewarding referrers for every invited user completing the onboarding (delayed rewarding)

Apart from just letting them know of the rewards they get for completing an action, you can combine the campaign with your referral program for better engagement and conversion rates.

As part of your referral campaign, you inform your users what they gain for successfully inviting their friends to your app and when their friends complete a certain in-app action. For example, “Refer a friend and receive a $10 account credit when your friend makes their first purchase”.

To achieve this use event-based marketing automation flow which gets triggered the first time any user makes a purchase and rewards the referrer of that user. Since GetSocial already knows the referrer the setup is relatively straightforward.

In addition to this, you can keep them motivated to send more referrals, by letting them know how many of their invited users have signed up and how many more they need to reach the next reward point.

This way, you’re ensuring two things. First, you’re keeping the existing user engaged and encouraging them to send more invites. Second, you are gamifying the process and letting them do the nudging required to get you new installs, improving your referral to conversion rates.

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Read more about verified or delayed rewarding and how you can implement it, here.

II. Rewarding users for performing certain in-app actions

Another example of an event-based mobile marketing automation flow is rewarding your users for their in-app activity or the milestones they achieve.

Let’s say your data analyst has discovered that users who follow 5 or more friends are retained better than users who haven’t.  As a marketer, you want to ensure that such data are actionable and you want to encourage your users to follow at least 5 friends in lieu of in-app rewards. You set up an event-based marketing automation flow where users are rewarded as soon as they follow their 5th friend.

What you set as their in-app activity can be anything. Completing their profile, posting on the in-app Activity Feed, making their first purchase, completing level 50, or inviting their third friend.

III. Notifying users of their friends’ activities

So far, you have been putting a user’s data to use for setting up an automation flow to keep them engaged. Now it’s time to experiment with using their friends’ data for the same.
reward-pn

With event-based automation, you can notify a user when a friend completes a certain action like when they finish watching season 1 of “Stranger things” on Netflix. With this, you have essentially built a social recommendation system. This type of marketing automation campaign focuses on using human psychology. When we see our friends doing something, we get intrigued by it and are nudged to do the same.  All it requires is someone telling us what they have been up to!

3. Prediction-based automation flows

Having gone through audience-based automation that looks at historical data, and event-based automation that looks at current real-time data, let’s get futuristic with prediction based automation. This is where you can leverage platforms like Yokozuna data, which provides a thorough understanding of player behavior and predicts accurately their actions in order to develop amazing data-driven games. You can understand the player dynamics of your games,  what makes your players churn, when and at which point are they churn, etc. Using these predictions you can proactively target users who are about to churn with marketing promotions.

For example, as soon as a player is predicted to churn, thus becoming part of the “potential churners” segment, they can be targeted with a promotion.

Takeaway

If most of your users are on mobile or getting into mobile, then it is highly recommended to add MMA to your marketing mix. You may be able to manage your marketing manually with a small set of users, but as your database grows it will become inevitable to automate your marketing efforts to ensure personalization at scale.

Additionally, a smartly executed and automated user engagement campaign will keep your marketing costs optimized and generate better ROI for your acquisition campaigns. This will not only help you retain your users but also convert them to advocates for your word-of-mouth promotions.

With user acquisition getting costlier by the day, top-grossing apps are fully invested in mobile marketing automation to drive their user engagement and referral campaigns.

CTA mobile marketing automation