What is Mobile Marketing Automation?
In general, marketing automation means using software, rules and templates to make it easier to communicate with your customers and prospects. That includes:
Collecting their information (name, email, preferences, etc.) and storing it.
Segmenting your users based on that information.
Building communication templates, personalizing them and figuring out which segments they should go to, and when.
Handling the technical work of delivering your messages.
Reporting on, and analyzing, the results of your marketing automation efforts.
But traditional marketing automation platforms don’t work for mobile. They’re mostly built to help you gather, sort and use email addresses — not to communicate via channels like push messaging and wearable devices. They’re not built to work in real-time, or to incorporate location and other mobile-only data into your marketing activities. They can’t help you fulfill the demands of mobile marketing.
In contrast, mobile marketing automation platforms include the capabilities more traditional marketing automation platforms have, but apply them for the mobile era. This includes functionality like:
Managing the constantly expanding set of mobile channels.
Segmentation and personalization built for 1:1 communication.
Analytics and A/B testing.
Deeper integration with installed apps and other relevant data sources.
If you’re a marketer, sending your message directly to someone’s mobile device is a privilege. It’s permission to talk with your customer at any time, no matter what else they may be doing, and to get exclusive data on their habits and preferences that traditional channels can’t access.
What you send has to be valuable, relevant and personal — a mobile marketing automation platform helps you meet those needs.
Managing Mobile Channels
Email is email. It isn’t changing all that much. It’s everywhere, including on mobile devices, but mobile marketers can now communicate over a constantly-expanding set of channels:
Wearable device notifications
Apple Wallet and Android Pay
Communicating over these channels without a mobile marketing automation platform is complex, not to mention prone to error. Why? Each channel has its own content restrictions and different delivery methods. New channels pop up all the time and communication requirements change each year as new devices and operating system versions are released. Requirements also vary across devices. An in-app message sent to an Android device, for example, has completely different requirements from an in-app message sent to an iOS device.
In addition to the technical complexity of simply sending messages, mobile messaging is more interactive and personalized than a lot of traditional channels. For example, you can send an interactive push notification with “yes” and “no” buttons that let a recipient respond with their specified answer. Or you might send a mobile wallet pass via Apple Wallet and Android Pay that is delivered once, then refreshed when the data source updates.
On its most basic level, mobile marketing automation software handles all this complexity, so you can focus on creating great content. Instead of asking a team of engineers to handle the intricacies of Android or iOS push notification services, you can compose your message, set parameters for its delivery and send it off.
Building all this capability in-house can be extremely difficult and, while it’s possible to work around having a marketing automation platform when you’re dealing with email, it’s much harder when mobile is part of your business strategy.
Segmentation and Personalization
In email marketing, personalization happens in two different ways. You can send different email campaigns based on what’s relevant to a user (or what stage of the funnel they’re in), such as an onboarding campaign for new signups. You can also personalize individual emails with the recipient’s name, or with different information based on their role, for example.
Mobile marketing automation also follows this notion. A mobile marketing automation system will provide ways to tag and group your users based on useful attributes, such as demographic or app usage information. You can collect this data from users by asking them (via a rich page or preference center in your app), or your platform might provide some data automatically — for example, telling you which users have installed or uninstalled your app, or which users are using iPhones.
Personalization also goes deeper on mobile since your customers carry their mobile devices around all day. That means you can target them based on location — either geographically, or with by specific location inside a store, for example. Location is a unique differentiator mobile offers and a key advantage of mobile marketing automation systems.
Real-time Engagement and Automation Triggers
Mobile channels let you engage with your customers and users in real-time — and that’s what your users expect. A push notification with the latest news updates should arrive when news breaks — not hours later.
A high-quality mobile marketing automation platform lets you take advantage of these real-time opportunities. From a technical perspective, you want a highly reliable, trusted platform that handles high message volumes — and the more customers it serves, the better.
Sophisticated mobile marketing automation platforms also offer lots of event data that can be used to trigger real-time communications. For example, the first time a user installs and opens an app, you could send a series of onboarding messages to help them get familiar with the app’s functionality to encourage repeat use and retention.
Analytics and A/B Testing
As you build your relationships with your users and customers, it’s critical to have an analytics platform that lets you understand exactly what’s going on and lets you find opportunities to increase engagement. For whatever messages you send, expect to see basic data like open and clickthrough rates. Most mobile marketing automation platforms will also provide data on app installs, uninstalls and usage.
But, to get the most from your mobile marketing activities, you’ll want to define and report on events that matter for your business. If you’re a retailer, you’ll want to track purchases in your app. If your app serves video content, you’ll want to see how often those videos are watched, and who’s watching them. As priorities change, you may want to zoom in on different aspects of your strategy to see what’s working and what isn’t; custom events let you measure whatever’s important.
Once you have your data, testing your engagement strategies is a powerful way to achieve your goals. Most marketing automation platforms provide A/B testing, which let you test one variation at a time. Depending on how many messages you send, it can be efficient to set up multiple variations at once to speed up your optimization efforts.
Organizations getting the most out of mobile don’t have a separate mobile strategy — they just have a strategy, period. They’re making their user experience consistent between mobile and all other channels, and using what they learn about mobile users everywhere else in their businesses.
A truly powerful mobile marketing automation platform provides simple ways to share data with the rest of your business systems. For example, you might want to:
Send persuasive win-back emails the moment a user uninstalls an app.
Notify a sales associate when a VIP customer enters the store.
Present a can’t-miss Facebook offer based on the product a user just researched.
Feed mobile campaign and audience data to analytics systems to understand mobile’s full ROI impact on the business.
Integrating your mobile marketing data with your other business systems can vastly increase the quality of your marketing efforts across all channels.
Beyond Mobile Marketing Automation
Mobile marketing automation is one thing, but mobile as a channel provides you with so many more possibilities..
But don’t settle for mobile marketing automation by itself — the next phase is a mobile engagement platform that helps you manage all of your customer and user interactions to achieve critical business goals. Want to learn more? Check out Urban Airship’s mobile engagement platform, Urban Airship Engage.
For more on best practices in marketing automation, please follow me on LinkedIn or Twitter at @jwyattd.
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