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Scrappy solutions and influential engagement: Everything you missed from Mobile Spree Berlin 2017

No sponsors, no sales pitches, no booths, just 200 mobile marketers rolling up their sleeves and getting down to work. Add in one of Berlin’s finest locations - complete with a Victorian-era pool underfoot - and that was Mobile Spree 2017. For one day, we brought together the industry’s best to trade stories and insights, enjoy one of Europe’s most vibrant cities, and check their egos at the door.

Spree’s not a time to show off. It’s about taking hard-won lessons - like how to get an emerging market excited about high-end luxury goods, how to build a critical mass of users for a dating app, or what happens when the launch of your much-anticipated game doesn’t go as planned - and sharing them with your peers.

This year we set out to focus on three key themes: mobile user acquisition, mobile user retention and engagement, and how to measure mobile ROI. But some of the meatiest takeaways of the day were all about how to overcome major challenges and rebound from failure.

Chatting with Christoph Gerber - "I would have scaled the Lieferando marketing team quicker if I could go back in time." #MobileSpree #MS17
— adjust (@adjustcom) June 1, 2017

Digging deep into problem solving was a major theme for many of Spree’s speakers. Ville Heijari, Rovio’s CMO for Games, explained that they spent a year and a half after the launch of Angry Birds 2 optimizing the product itself:

“There was nothing wrong with Angry Birds 2. But it was like a Rubik’s cube. A Rubik’s cube is the perfect game, but when you put it down, you really don’t think about it. You need to turn it into something you’re emotionally connected to, that you can’t get out of your mind. You need to turn it into a puppy.”

“Angry Birds 2 had a massive launch, but we had a lukewarm reception. What can you do? You can’t ditch it. So we spent a year and a half on diligent product optimization, and we grew. Between July 2015 and today, we quadrupled where we were just after the launch." At a product level, Ville then walked the audience through 18 months’ worth of changes to Angry Birds 2 - stay tuned for a transcript of his presentation.

Viber’s User Acquisition Lead, Moshi Blum, focused on engaging with individuals, in this case dormant users, borrowing from Tolstoy and reminding the audience that ‘every unhappy user is unhappy in their own way.

“Not all lost users are equal - some of them have very negative feelings about your app. But some just aren’t aware of your app’s cool features!”

Re-engaging with your lost users means learning to tell apart those who prefer your competitor from, say, those who simply didn’t form a usage habit. That knowledge affects all of your decisions down the road when it comes to re-engagement.

So what is the right moment to engage with users? Finding those moments - or creating them - is essential to delivering messages that resonate. What are those moments, then, and how many of them are there in a day, and how should you structure your push notifications around that information?

The best way to answer those questions isn’t with generalities, but with specific use cases that marketers can draw their own conclusions from. Andy Carvell, Partner and Co-Founder at Phiture, hit that point home during a Q and A session, where he was asked, "what’s a too-high frequency for notifications?"

"The best system is the one that adjusts itself based on the user’s tolerance. A smart system will say 'Okay, I've sent 300 push notifications and the user opens every one, so I can send him more’. If I wanted to generalize, the best number of pushes is the highest the user will tolerate."

"Push works. They definitely drive more engagement and retention. But you better have something interesting to say." @andy_carvell for #MS17
— adjust (@adjustcom) June 1, 2017

Lotta Weigeldt, Head of Growth at Runtastic, expanded on this idea. When Runtastic can cross-sell premium memberships to users via personalized messages that show how Runtastic is more than a running app, their conversion rate is twice as high as organic or advertising methods. Not only do they personalize newsletters with content blocks based on data such as how frequently a user works out, they create moments to offer personalized content outside of newsletters. This content showcases Runtastic’s wrap-around lifestyle content, from fitness to nutrition.

Here’s an example: fifteen minutes after a user finishes a workout, they receive a push notification that says “Nice workout (user), now it’s time to eat! Here are the 7 best post-workout meals”. This push has a 90 percent higher click rate than normal pushes.

“It’s a small moment, but one where the user really gets value out of it, and you reach your goals and retain them as a user.”

Guillaume Belot, Digital Media Manager at Deezer, echoed both of their statements:

"If the users feel harassed by a too repetitive message, they'll have a bad association with your brand."

So how do you get users interested in your app in the first place? Influencers on social media are one way to get the ball rolling. Paul Malicki, CEO and CMO of Flapper, showed the audience how working with their top followers on Instagram in Brazil was a game changer for Flapper:

“You need to start with influencers and get people to believe in you. That’s even more important in emerging markets. You can contact an influencer agency, or you can find your top followers on Instagram. We found the biggest names in Brazil and contacted them. ‘Why don’t you take a flight in our private jet?’, we asked. From one post, we received 200k likes, with 1.2MM reach - that’s a 16 percent engagement rate. Our Instagram followers grew by leaps and bounds after that.”

Flapper even takes it one step further - they look for closed or ‘secret’  Facebook groups of users that fit their target profiles. Malicki told the audience, “Every emerging market has 'secret groups'. It's very unlikely you can run a business in a tropical country without strategic alliances."

Including influencers was part of a much larger strategy to acquire users for dating app Happn; it was vital to creating a culture of trust, and ultimately changing the online dating landscape, according to CMO Benjamin Lorthiois:

"What we saw was that there was a lot of deception in online dating. It’s expensive, it’s artificial. There’s a tension between the fact that people want to have a physical relationship with others, and the artifice of dating sites. So we realised we had to bring real life back to the dating world - by bringing romance into the online dating space."

In both cases, the reason for seeking out those types of relationships is trust. Trust is the backbone of any thriving mobile community - this theme was further elaborated upon by Ivan de Quercize, Mobile Channels Lead at BlaBlaCar. What sets BlaBlaCar apart from other search engines in the travel vertical is that there's a trusted community on the other end of that search. That is trust is created by peer to peer ratings, mandatory ID checks, and declared profiles. As more and more of their users have migrated to mobile-first communication, BlaBlaCar has included more ways to boost trust throughout the user experience, creating moments like being able to tap for roadside assistance, allowing payments over app at the end of the journey, and prompting riders to rate their trip as soon as their journey is over.

Meanwhile, in the workshop breakouts held in the library at Stadtbad Oderberger, Adjust’s product experts offered small groups the chance to break down the mechanics of how Adjust works at every level. In a double session, Andreas Naumann, Adjust’s Fraud Expert, explained which tool each of the toggles in the Fraud Protection Suite activates and explained that whether to flip the switch is left up to the client. A participant stopped the presentation to ask "well, wait - what would be the advantage of allowing fraud?" Andreas answered:

“Marketers are incentivized to not do it. In some cases, UI managers get paid a bonus (or their job security is tied to reaching their goals), based on reaching installs. So they buy them with click spam, they hit their goals, they’re heroes, and it goes up the ranks. So directors, VPs, even CMOs are judged on those KPIs. Sometimes it’s tied all the way back to the venture capital itself, where they’re being judged on the number of users acquired through marketing campaigns without anyone looking at the rest of their marketing KPIs.

If no one cares about conversion rate, or any other outcome, it gets very attractive to just allow fraud. In some cases, there’s no other way to get there because benchmarks are so screwed. They’d get fired if they got rid of fraud. In a way, fraudsters are delivering a service that the client needs.”

So what's next?

Adjust’s CTO and Co-founder Paul H. Müller punctuated the day’s presentations with a big announcement: we’re going to change the data gets shared across the mobile marketing ecosystem.

We’ve noticed that you set up your networks to compete with one another, and that you share your data with parties who are either inclined or incentivized to share your data in a way you don’t agree with. We want to change that. Paul explained:

“On average, a mobile marketer shares all of their app data with 10 different partners. Some of you are sharing your entire app revenue with Facebook. That gives your partners unprecedented insight into what you’re doing.”

Adjust’s Audience Builder has been up and running quietly, and our clients have been using it in different, exciting ways - to exclude active users from targeting lists, to deliver non-competing lists of advertising IDs to the networks, to create whale lookalike data for Facebook.

So now, from June 15th until the end of September, Audience Builder will be free for all of our clients.

You’re getting back complete control over your data. As Paul put it, “Now we can give out the homework and grade it”. We can’t wait to see what you’ll do with it.

Oh, and one last thing.

You missed a great party!

And that was Mobile Spree 2017.

Watch this space for slide decks, transcripts, interviews with our speakers and more. Subscribe to the blog for the latest updates from Mobile Spree as they happen!

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