Latest numbers from audience measurement company comScore show we are doing more than ever on smartphones and mobile apps. Its latest Mobile App report estimates that mobile represents "almost two out of three digital media minutes," with mobile apps approaching 60% of total digital time spent by consumers by platform. “In-app” is becoming our collective default state as we reach to mobile apps for advice, assistance (and, of course, entertainment) every step of our daily journey. It’s also why 2017 will see more marketers use their mobile app presence to offer and enhance marketing that is more aligned with what consumers want in the “mobile moment,” those micro-moments throughout the day when people reach to their devices to access what they need most.
Against this backdrop, mobile apps - particularly if they deliver content- and experience focused marketing – enable relevant and seemingly spontaneous brand interactions “in the moment” that open new opportunities to execute moment-marketing that combines data analysis and creative excellent. In advance of his panel “The Intersection of Creativity, Experiences & Delivery Models” at The TCM Institute Summit & Awards, Jan. 23~24 in San Francisco. I caught up with Dustin Amrhein, Solutions Leader with Insert.io, an automated in-app marketing provider, to discuss how marketers must reinvent the mobile app marketing experience to remove friction, increase engagement and ignite “moment” marketing and communications via mobile apps.
Mobile apps are part of the toolbox of capabilities marketers need to reach and engage consumers. But only a handful of apps make it to be the “brand in the hand” of their target audience. What is driving the disconnect between app usage, which is high, and retention, which isn’t?
Yes, I think so, I mean the reality of the world right now Peggy is that marketers are pursuing a number of different goals that the organization expects them to achieve with their app. Whether it’s about driving more in-app revenue, retaining more users, or increasing time spent in the app, part of the solution is linked to providing a great experience that gets the UI and the UX right. But the retention rates the industry is seeing out there, which are as low as 10% to 15%, are a sign that marketers have to do more.
We are waking up to a mobile world, where we as marketers must be more proactive about the way that we engage users, the way that we market to them and the way we help them in the mobile moment. In apps it’s about being more proactive in how we nudge and guide users through the app experience. Traditionally, the response has been to go build new features, bake different engagement tactics into the app, and in general, rely on the development team to do all of this. That approach is out of step with consumer expectations. For one, your development teams are already overworked. They probably already have a backlog of “more features” to develop. Even if there isn’t a backlog, the nature of mobile and apps pushes organizations to respond more quickly.
We saw this and decided that we want to empower marketers and app owners to directly control in-app campaigns, and that includes everything from building and designing the campaign, to selecting a target audience, to placing campaigns in an app. Being able to respond to the consumer is just one part; marketers also have to observe the results of the campaign and optimize to offer the right choices or offers in the right context.
In this scenario, the mobile app listens and responds to the consumer, but it also respects the real-world context of the consumer and the brief mobile moment when the right marketing or communication is crucial…
Yes, absolutely. At Insert.io we talk about creating an engagement or marketing hub for mobile apps, and building out a rich set of features that put marketers in control of this. However, at the same time, there is kind of a bi-directional connection happening – one is the relationship marketers have with their customers in the physical world, and the other is in the digital world enabled by the app, websites, and other properties. Data is the connection. There is the existing set of data about customers that marketers want to use to fuel in- app campaigns, which is why we are focused on an open approach that allows the marketer to use this data to improve targeting. It’s all about creating a loop where connectivity and the real-life notion of an engagement hub come together, and where the data we collect about what people are doing and not doing in your app and how they respond to campaigns, comes together. The outcome is a single set of data, a single source of truth about my customer, that influences all the interactions across all the different channels, allowing marketers to optimize campaigns with all these different touch points.
This requires a single view into the data, but might it also require marketers to see beyond the mobile channel?
We are seeing organizations starting to shift from a channel orientation to a more customer-focused and experience-driven approach to marketing. Frame marketing in this way, and you see it’s about identifying your key personas, your key customer segments and then devising campaigns that are based on that customer group - what they do, what they like, where they go, and how they prefer to interact with you. This takes channels out of the picture, replacing a channel orientation and a focus on technology, with a customer focus. The big challenge for marketers is how to move from channels to what will give them a single source of truth about the customer. To get there I don’t need technology; I need a holistic picture of how I interact with personas and meet their specific needs across all my different touchpoints. But it’s also a huge trend as forward-thinkers and marketers are starting to change their organizations to be more aligned – and more capable – to market to customer segments and personas.
You speak about challenges and trends ahead that marketers need to recognize. What should they do to prepare?
Marketing can often go awry when campaigns are, well, annoying. The moment that is chosen to engage with the consumer is on the brand’s terms, not the consumer’s. The time at which the ad is served or the context of the campaign makes no sense when we look at the entire user journey. The times and circumstances under which we choose to present an offer - in the app and through the other channels we chose to support that offer – need to be contextual. This means considering what consumers have done in the app in the past, and taking into account other data about how they have interacted with your brand – regardless of the channel. This is where the industry needs to go.