As the fall-out from COVID-19 continues, over the next few weeks Adjust will be sharing insights from our clients and partners, giving mobile marketers some actionable intelligence on how to navigate this new world. We want to plot a course from the old paradigm of ‘mobile-first’ to a new one of ‘mobile best’, in which mobile marketers must constantly rethink what goes into their strategies to remain on top.
In our second installment, we look at how marketing is evolving rapidly in the current situation and give some experts the space to share how marketers can future-proof their strategies.
Using Data By Design
COVID-19 has accelerated broader trends toward digital touchpoints — figures from Boston Consulting Group (BCG) indicate that in March online retail sales grew by 74% in average transaction volume compared to the previous year. This has not only heightened the need to unlock data, but also, to do so by design.
“With more people on digital devices than ever before, that means not only leveraging more data, but leveraging your organization to use data more effectively as well,” says Rebecca Nackson, the founder of growth consultancy agency Notable, and formerly of iHeartMedia, Audible, and IBM.
Amaryllis Liampoti, Partner & Growth Director at the BCG Digital Ventures Center and former VP of Marketing at Rocket Internet sees this moment as the opportunity for organizations to lay the groundwork for lasting change.
“Companies are collecting lots of data, but not necessarily using it effectively,” says Amaryllis. “Having the mindset to actually build hypotheses and test what the data could tell you is really where companies need to be.”
Mobile business models, such as hyper-casual app games, have gained widespread attention for being relentlessly data-driven, attracting heavy-weight investors like Goldman Sachs along the way. “Hyper casual gaming studios have developed a product strategy that fuses user acquisition with monetization and retention,” says Moshi Blum, Adjust’s General Manager in Israel and former Head of Growth at Viber, “The entire direction of product development is determined by these three levers working in parallel and constantly refined based on what the data is saying.”
Rethinking Retention and Retargeting
With new demographic groups joining the ranks of mobile users in the app economy, it’s never been more important to rethink user behavior for retention and retargeting purposes.
“Many companies have failed despite having very impressive topline numbers,” says Nackson, “if you’ve brought in a ton of users in a way where you haven’t monetized them, and all of a sudden you have to flip that switch on and it’s not built into the DNA of the product, they’re going to leave.”
Rethinking the window between, say, getting users from the account creation stage to making the first purchase proves doubly important when the demographic make-up of your user pool changes and the outside circumstances of user behavior shifts as well — both brought on by the COVID-19 crisis.
“In March of this year, things changed dramatically”, according to Nackson, “The conversion rate doubled and the window from ‘account open’ to ‘first purchase’ is 75% lower than what it was before. That completely changes the marketing that we’re doing.”
In the short to medium term, these changes to habitual norms will create a greater pool of potential users for most app businesses, according to Mick Rigby, Founder and CEO of Yodel Mobile, an agency that specializes in marketing campaigns for scaling or launching apps.
“The expansion towards non-core target audiences and the use of social sharing and virality strategies should be a big consideration for app marketers for the rest of the year.”
Irina Heiligensetzer, Head of Display and Programmatic at Territory Media, believes that COVID-19 has led to big changes in user behavior, citing increases in online reach, sales, and registrations as evidence of a new focus from consumers.
“These positive changes have also been felt on social platforms, across all age groups.” Heiligensetzer states. “For advertisers, the challenge has always been to find the right way to communicate during such a difficult time.”
With the market evolving and monetization strategies in flux, Heiligensetzer argues that it is critically important to think about new budget allocations. With non-standard users entering the funnel and wallets under pressure as jobless figures rise, Heiligensetzer advises: “Loyalty programs and user re-engagement campaigns are also key to winning consumer spend.”
Understanding the Life Cycle
With the window of time to purchase shrinking, creating an onboarding flow in the abstract isn’t going to cut it.
“I find that a lot of marketers that I’m working with are making their jobs so much more difficult than it needs to be,” explains Nackson, citing examples of companies that invest huge lengths of time meticulously planning out the ideal user onboarding process. However, rather than creating a system that works for the ideal user, we should focus our attention on how users actually are.
When considering the life cycle in the post-COVID era, timing is the key to any successful messaging. After you’ve analyzed the behavior, the focus needs to be on directing the users towards key actions.
“These critical moments in the app, that’s what we need to be pushing people to do,” Nackson explains. Facebook’s guiding star for user onboarding is their ‘Seven friends in 10 days’ philosophy. The goal for new users is to prompt them to start building networks within the app, which shows them the value Facebook can provide them.
“Here’s what I love about it,” Nackson adds. “in the moment of critical action, we’ve got data that shows us that this is the inflection point, that people who add seven friends in ten days stay,” Nackson explains. “So, from this, now you re-imagine what onboarding looks like.”
But this has ramifications for all sorts of elements. When you’re considering cohorting, it’s important to choose a solution that has the maximum flexibility for creating cohorts. If monetization windows continue to expand or contract, it simply doesn’t make sense to define users by rigid temporal divisions.
As Nackson says: “Everybody else is saying, ‘We’ve decided that a new user is new for seven days because that’s how long a week is.’”
Your life cycle is unique to your app, and you need both your data analysis and monetization funnel to consider that.
For a future-focused marketer, a flexible approach to retention and monetization windows is key to continuing to thrive in the rough and tumble world we’re now in. And building data into all elements of decision-making is no longer a ‘nice to have’, but is the key differentiator, as the app economy becomes more relevant around the globe.