Editor’s Note: In our ongoing quest to bring our readers authentic content with a unique point of view, we’re excited to share this article in letter form from our author, Saad Khan of Rosetta Stone, that was originally shared as a letter between colleagues. We hope you enjoy!
Dear readers. What follows is the advice I offered someone when they asked me for my apparent expertise in mobile marketing. They published it to a broader team within their organization (with due permission of course), and rather passionately insisted that I post it publicly. So here it is, in an only slightly edited form. If you know mobile is the way to go, but aren’t quite sure how to get there, check it out.
Thank you for having me over last week to talk all things mobile, loved talking to your team and I’m glad they enjoyed, or rather tolerated, my straight talk and sailor’s mouth very well 😀.
First, let’s get a few things out of the way before we go into the real topic here, shall we.
While I’m both honored and flattered at your reference to me as an expert in the field, I must politely correct you on that. Fact of the matter is, I’m not really sure anyone is an expert yet, some just know more than others and are more open to experimentation and learning new things. The mobile space as we know it today is still in its infancy, let alone MMA.
While we are at it let’s take care of some acronyms too that everyone these days seems to throw around to impress each other. MMA (Mobile Marketing Automation), ASO (App Store Optimization), CDA (Contextual Data Automation), CPML (Cost Per Mobile Lead), MAU (Month Active Users), MBU (Monthly Billable Users), and so on and so forth, but none of this matters unless you have your end goal set straight and a game plan to get there.
Now let’s talk about MMA and your end goal.
As for your end goal; if you want to go after the wallet first, you’ve lost me (the customer) already. If you just want me to be one of the millions of users of your product or service for free, to be able to boast millions and millions of MAUs, and you have no business plan in sight to monetize, then not only did you already lose me (the partner), if you haven’t noticed I’m running in the other direction. I’m long gone. (And talking about running, do run as far as possible from those who still have the word “impossible” included in their dictionary).
But if you go after my (the customer’s) heart and capture it first, and always keep it first in our relationship, then we’re in business and you have both my heart and my wallet. So how do you actually do it? Well since you are already thinking mobile first, you’re trying to make that shift in thinking sooner rather than later. You are in luck; mobile marketing automation is evolving and growing fast. If you equip yourself with the right set of tools and the right philosophy, then success is only a matter of time.
I don’t like making tooling recommendations but we’ll talk about a few that I like using myself since I did promise your team I’d drop a few hints. Though let’s first set the record straight: if you are simply relying on push notifications and in-app ads or messages, with no analytics integration and no automation, then you are missing all the goodness and you need to change.
MMA done right can work wonders for your engagement metrics and bring added value to your customers; it can win their hearts. There is something very personal about a mobile device even when used mostly for business; there is some magic in the touch—a pointer never felt so up close and personal. It’s with me all the time, it’s on me most of the time, and just I use it. This is right on the money for smartphones. If I was a betting man I’d say that in the coming times through a natural process of evolution it is the smartphones that will morph most into attaining that singular device status that is most used, most carried, and is our BFF. Tablets will morph with your everyday laptops/desktops and capture that space and phablets will morph with your phones and cease to exist at some point. But one way or the other all our devices will only get more connected and more ubiquitous so let’s think mobility but device agnostic for now, let’s just think of that piece of technology that never leaves our side or sight. Maybe unfortunate but I’ll admit it (if you promise not to read too much into it)—two things I reach for first thing after waking up every morning are (1) my Apple Watch, and (2) my iPhone, my Sherpas for the day, every day.
I want the apps running on my devices working for me, not against me. If you give me information that I am looking for, the information that helps me with my day and life in general, I will seek more of you. But if you bombard me with nonsense, I will hate you with a passion, and a customer lost to this kind of technological hatred is very expensive to win back.
Think about all the data you have access to; you know where I am, where I am headed, you know how I interact with your experience, your product, you know or can find out what is near and dear to me, so build on top of it. I absolutely do not find push notifications from, say, United to be intrusive when they are updating me on my flight info without me opening the app or having to constantly worry about missing some critical update. I honestly don’t know why Starbucks doesn’t ask me if I want coffee every time I pass by a Starbucks and it is close to my regular buying time. Why doesn’t my car dealer let me know that while they would love to see me, I’m good for another three months on service—but they do have a special APR promo running if I want to upgrade? Hello, Pebble Beach golf course, I’d love to see which celebrity still made it to the 2nd round of AT&T Pro-Am without digging through heaps of information.
It’s all about creating simple pleasurable experiences, give me an “ah-ha” moment, and you’ll have added years of loyalty to your brand. These are lost opportunities and most of the time folks are sitting on top of heaps of data which they either don’t know how to make sense of or don’t have a way to use, even as they continue to collect more.
Common statements I have heard: My analytical data is separated from my actionable data. Our app is well tooled, we can send push notifications but we can’t segment or pre-program them to trigger in response to specific events.
My friend, time to bite the bullet and fix it; of course it’s going to cost you a pretty penny since you are behind the curve but some things are table stakes here if you want to survive, perform, and outperform your competition.
You must have something like Appboy that gives you a singular view into your analytics coupled with marketing automation and an EMS (email messaging system). Now please don’t tell me that email is dead, just think about the number of hours you spent in your inbox over the last 10 days and then honestly tell me there weren’t moments I could have gotten you right there and then had the timing been right. Choose your marketing automation wisely. This is not something you switch every day. We all know automation gets better as the data gets richer and the data’s never getting richer if you’re switching services every year and don’t ever forget the cost of a build. Get some decent crash reporting in there. You want your dev teams to be able to get to the root cause of issues as fast as possible to fix and release fast, use Google Analytics, Crashlytics, Instabug, etc.; take your pick, see what will work best for you. I’m a big fan of data analytics but allergic to collecting data if you’re not going to use it. I do find Appboy to be kicking it up a notch on the execution side and since I’ve mentioned Appboy twice by now it’s disclaimer time; I have never received any compensation from Appboy material or nonmaterial.
And last but not least, don’t forget the most important thing—your customer; build in something that would allow you to interact instantly, solicit and manage feedback. AskingPoint is a good one too look at. And in all this don’t forget your internal customer who will be executing your campaigns using some of these tools. Pick what provides your team with the most simple and efficient way to execute. Complicated interfaces could be impressive in demos but a pain in the behind when you have to use them day in and day out. Here my winner so far has been Appboy for following the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) Principal.
As I said before, no marketing automation is too intrusive or disruptive to a customer’s experience with you as long as your marketing and its automation delivers added value to your customers’ experience and in turn higher value to your business.
It is time to think and plan beyond a single transaction, and instead plan based on a lifetime of transactions and interactions you want your customer to share with you. Predict their needs, and adapt to fulfill them in ways that delight them.
Good luck with your upcoming initiative. You have a wonderful team—manage their focus and they will deliver a stellar experience for your customers.