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Mobile App Developers: Use Messaging To Activate Users, Monetize Engagement

Topic: Books, Mobile Apps, Research | Author: Peggy Anne Salz | Date: February 19, 2013

mobile app engagementText messaging, long recognized as the most effective direct marketing channel ever invented, also sits at the core of the capabilities app developers must build to connect with their communities, encourage app advocacy and take back control from app stores to properly market their apps.

This is the key takeaway of COMMUNICATE, CONNECT & CURATE: 3 ways you can encourage mobile app re-engagement with SMS, a new whitepaper that I have written based on input from mobile interaction specialist tyntec and interviews with mobile authorities including Tomi Ahonen and Jon Mew, Director of Mobile & Operations, IAB UK.

Drawing from these insights the white paper identifies three rules for app success:

  • Communicate: Reach out with what matters most, make your customers interested – and make it a no-brainer
  • Connect: Help your users share the apps they love with in-app invites
  • Curate: Take charge of your app and build a community

This new white paper also picks up where my first white paper, Achieving App Impact: Using SMS To Encourage Interaction, Drive Loyalty, left off. There I presented reasons why mobile app developers should harness text messaging to ‘mobilize’ their app marketing and — ultimately — delight their target audience. (Read the summary analysis here.)

App case studies

In this new white paper we go one step further, using real-life case studies to show how companies are using messaging to make real money.

In the case of BLUE LION mobile GmbH — a German company that has developed Qeep, one of the world’s largest mobile social discovery platforms with more than 16 million users in over 200 countries— text messaging is used to reach and retain high-value Qeep users. In practice, BLUE LION has developed a detailed process to reach and reactivate app users who haven’t used their app for days or weeks, and bring them back into the community. These targeted campaigns achieve an impressive response rate of “slightly above 10 percent.”

Meantime, GET IT Mobile Inc., a U.S.-based company that provides app publishers a unified platform for delivering mobile apps from any online or offline marketing channel to any mobile device, regardless of operator, platform, app store or delivery method — uses text messaging to wrest the control of the user experience back from app stores.

In this scenario, GET IT establishes a one-click or one-text call-to-action that makes it  a no-brainer for users to download the apps they want. Why should app developers go the trouble of sending a download link directly to the user’s mobile phone? Because it’s smart business. As Steve Gleitsmann, GET IT President, puts it: “Telling your audience to find your app in an app store is like sending them into a warehouse piled high with competing products. “Using a mechanism like text “ensures that people download your app when they get to the app store, not a similar app from your competitor.”

GET IT also manages the user experience in a unique and clever way because it cookies people though the engagement experience and therefore has the ability to pass that information to the app. As a result, the platform can continue the interaction that prompted the user to download the app in the first place. (However, this is not a default behavior and has to be incorporated by the app developer).

So let’s say that a user is reading a breaking news article on a web page and then decides to download the app. The GET IT platform can make sure that the first page they see after installing the app opens to the page containing the linked news article. In other words, all users have to do is click on the link GET IT sends as part of the text message and they can literally access the app and the content where they left off.

Tomi Ahonen: Communities Dominate Apps

The white paper also highlights concrete ways app developers could use text messaging to enable — and monetize — conversations between community members, and provide a valuable feedback channel to show they listen to what their users have to say.

A huge hat tip to Tomi Ahonen, an independent consultant included in the Forbes list of the Top 10 Power Influencers in Mobile, for his great ideas on how app developers can borrow a page from the business models of LinkedIn (premium) and other major social networks and charge to broker the contact between members.

His advice to mobile app developers: Build your own community, and create ties that bind by enabling frequent ‘conversations’ via SMS. You will not only encourage engagement; you will build stickiness into your app.

Watch the conversions

Whether you are an individual app developer poised to take your good idea to greater heights, or a company mapping out a more comprehensive engagement strategy with mobile apps at the center, it’s both exciting and terrifying to think about the opportunities ahead. But don’t limit yourself to strategies that drive, measure and monetize app installs. There are also huge opportunities around app re-engagement.

Don’t think this is just for the benefit of your customer. There is also a hard-nosed business model at play here because campaigns that only count app installs are on the way out.

According to Peter Hamilton — CEO of HasOffers, a company offering tracking software for performance marketing complete with a MobileAppTracking solution, which is integrated with every major mobile ad network ­—there’s s shift underway to thinking about (and monetizing) re-engagement after the install. Significantly, this paves the way for affiliate programs that recognize — and reward —ad networks, publishers and even other app companies for the contributions they make.

Again, text marketing belongs in the toolkit of capabilities companies need to trigger deeper engagement after the install — and get paid for it.

My take:

As I stated in a recent press release: “The endgame is all about engagement after the install. Encourage it through your app, strengthen it with sharing and cement it with community. But don’t stop with your users. You can also create, cultivate and nurture a business ecosystem that will recognize — and reward — all players for doing their part to re-engage your users— again and again.  CLICK THE BANNER TO DOWNLOAD THE MOBILEGROOVE WHITE PAPER

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