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Mobile Apps, Meet Marketing Automation

by: Bryan Brown (@getvision)
13 November 2013

Personalized Mobile App exampleEverywhere you look, it seems people are interacting with their smartphones. I know I rarely go more than a few minutes without checking mine. Little wonder, then, that we’re closing in on 1.5 billion smartphones worldwide.

That’s a lot of customers and prospects with the digital world at their fingertips, wherever they happen to be. And from implementing multiscreen design strategies to employing more sophisticated SMS programs, marketers have been looking at new ways to engage these mobile contacts.

A key part of this puzzle, of course, is mobile apps. A 2012 Comscore Study found that 80 percent of mobile media engagement occurs via mobile apps

Imagine being able to capture all those app interactions and reflect them in your emails, Web content and other communications. And imagine creating a personalized experience in the app itself, serving up offers or displaying personal information you’ve collected on other channels and extending that experience into the mobile app. Marketing automation, meet the mobile app.

Yesterday’s Mobile App: Siloed and Anonymous

With all the mobile use occurring today, you’d think mobile apps would be a marketer’s dream come true. But traditionally, mobile apps have been left in their own data siloes, outside of the reach of marketers and disconnected from other marketing channels. As a result, app users have remained anonymous, and the app experience hasn’t been personalized or linked to communications in other channels. Within that context, is it really that surprising that 26 percent of apps downloaded are only used once?

Technical limitations aside, many savvy marketers have been thinking about how they might align the mobile app experience with their overall marketing efforts. For example, with all the mobile engagement taking place, wouldn’t it be great if you could:

  • Capture the interactions that are occurring within the mobile app and use them to deliver a better customer experience
  • Make the app experience itself more personal and rewarding
  • Use other marketing channels to help ensure that customers continue to engage with your app

Well, the good news is that when you integrate your mobile app with your marketing automation platform, you can get take advantage of these exciting opportunities and many others.

The Mobile App: Real-World Scenario #1

Let’s say you invest considerable resources in creating a super-cool rewards app. A customer opens your app, takes several actions that tell you a little more about her, and unlocks a couple of rewards.

So far, so good. But the next day, she visits your website, and there’s nothing there to reflect the interactions she had in your mobile app. No mention of her new reward points, no related offers on display and no content tied to her behaviors in the app.

A few days later, you send her an email. Again, there are no invitations to redeem her reward points and no cross-sell offers based on her app behaviors. Predictably, the customer’s engagement level decreases.

Mobile App, Meet Marketing Automation: With the right integrations in place, you can use dynamic content to display the customer’s rewards points when she visits your website. Similarly, you can highlight the offers she unlocked in your app when you send her future emails.

The Mobile App: Real-World Scenario #2

A customer is shopping in your store, sees a flyer for your new app, and downloads it. But with all the devices, platforms, channels and, yes, mobile apps out there, the customer forgets about it, and two months go by without another interaction.

Mobile App, Meet Marketing Automation: You set up a program so this inaction triggers a reminder message – via email, SMS, the Web or a combination of all three – that reminds the customer of the value your app offers. For example, you might say, “We haven’t seen you back in the app in a while. Return today to take action “B” to unlock more cool rewards.”

The Technology Behind a Mobile App Integration: How It Works

The good news is that with the right technology, you can now capture and make accessible your customers’ mobile app behaviors just as any other tracked behavior in the same marketing database. These customer actions can then be used to trigger personalized content or messaging programs unique to that individual, boosting relevance and providing a more consistent experience across channels. You can even use information from your centralized marketing database to inform a customized experience within the app.

To get your mobile app and digital marketing platform working in sync with one, define what information from app behaviors you want to capture, and whether you want any actions in the app to trigger something to happen, such as adding contacts to a certain program or sending them a one-off email.

Then, you’ll need to communicate this information to your developer, who will get the SDK, plug it into your app (existing or new) and set up the necessary data flow. Fortunately, it's not an overly complicated process.

If you want to get a little more sophisticated and serve up customized content in your app based on the user’s behaviors, you’ll have to do a little more legwork. For example, you could have your developers create natively designed UI that inserts personalization based on profile data stored in your marketing automation platform for each app user, such as the contact’s rewards points.

Connecting the Customer Experience

Over the last few years, savvy marketers have increasingly used behavioral marketing automation to transform email, employing dynamic content, triggered messages and sophisticated programs to transform the medium from one-to-many to one-to-one. Now, you can use marketing automation well beyond email messaging, extending a more personalized customer experience to your mobile app, website and anywhere else someone interacts with your brand.

The future of marketing is here, and it’s personal. Are you doing everything you can to give your contacts an individualized customer experience tailored to their needs, interests and expectations?

If you have any questions about how mobile apps and marketing automation can work together, or if you have related ideas you’d like to bounce around, please post your comments below or send me a tweet @getvision.

Related Resources:

1) White Paper: “Creating Real-Time Individualized Campaigns Around Every Imaginable Customer Behavior

2) Video: “Customizing the Web Experience for Every Customer Through a CMS Integration

3) Blog: “Personalizing Content on Every Channel

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