Segment and Succeed

OtherLevels - Len Schneyder - HeadShot 131125Today’s consumer has lots of options, writes Len Shneyder, senior marketing manager at OtherLevels. They interact with brands on multiple screens, seek recommendations from peers and social networks, and make purchases from wherever and whenever it suits them. At the same time, marketers are beginning to view their channels as porous: customers move in and out of them depending on where they are and which device is nearest. It’s no secret that second screen viewing is a real phenomenon taking place during primetime broadcasts and at practically any time of the day. So too are the shopping behaviours we’ve come to call ‘showrooming’ and ‘web-rooming’. Success in today’s multi-screen, omni-platform and cross-channel marketplace is establishing fluid segments and appropriate messages to encourage consumers’ actions back into the funnel.

The mobile marketplace can be frightening to marketers used to defining segments by simple demographics such as age, gender, location (if available), last purchase, click rates, etc. These are fairly standard metrics by which decisions on offers and communications are made and have been very effective for email and the web. That’s in stark contrast to the mobile realm, where the user is mostly anonymous, but the device they use to interact with mobile apps has a wealth of information that can be leveraged to uncover specific patterns of interaction.

Understand the options
Among the various data points available to mobile app publishers are metrics such as the last time a user logged into a mobile app; the IP they used to log in (a form of geo location even if they didn’t enable GPS location); the language of the device; and naturally, if they opted into push. Using this basic set of data, companies can build out communication strategies that nurture users toward conversions and track their app usage in and out of segments.

Not every user opts into mobile push notifications, but this shouldn’t deter smart marketers. Besides push notifications, marketers can deliver in-app messages for users when they log into a mobile app. These messages can be incentives that lead to specific parts of the mobile app (deep linking), offers or even prompts to users to opt into push notifications. A user that clicks on an in-app message and opts in to receive a push notification can then flow from a previously non-opted in segment to an opted-in segment. Segmenting by opt-in is a baseline level of segmentation.

Lead the way
By some estimates, a quarter of all users abandon an app after using it just once. That’s because mobile app users are fickle, and marketers must understand this if they are to create content and communications strategies for true engagement and, ultimately, conversion.

Users who download an app should receive a welcome message on day one.They are now in a ‘Recent Download’ segment. If they download the app but never logged into it, they are in the eCommerce equivalent of an ‘Abandoned Shopping Cart’ segment, and the goal is to drive them back to the cart – or in this case, the app. A user who downloads an app, logs into it and then returns to the app on the second day should be placed in an ‘Engaged’ segment. Each user segment that’s based on frequency of usage should be targeted with a different communication. For non-engaged users, a marketer may want to prompt them to log back into an app, while an engaged user might be a good target for a coupon.

Triggered messages
Tracking app usage and the time between logins allows app publishers to create triggered messages that can steer users back to the app or to take further action. The rate at which users switch segments can be astounding, so it’s critical to test messages that nurture users from download to conversion by a/b split message testing, using criteria such as delivery time, tone and push versus in-app. A user that logs into an app each day for three days, interacts with it, and then doesn’t log into it for a week moves from an ‘Engaged’ segment, to a ‘Highly Engaged’ segment, to a ‘Disengaged’, dormant segment.

These kind of transitions require marketers to carefully craft communications that encourage app usage. The key here is to not over-message the user. Instead of using only push, for users opted into push, a marketer might chose to send a push with a familiar message like “We miss you, don’t you miss us? Come back and play!”

Upon opening the app, a secondary, reward message can be waiting, offering a discount, or vice versa. This two-pronged approach can be split tested in a myriad of ways. For example, a marketer can lead with encouragement: “You’ve reached level X! You’re almost achieved Y! Come back and prove your mettle!”

Long established as successful techniques in digital marketing, these approaches have until recently been viewed as non-applicable or difficult to enable for a mobile audience that is perceived to be anonymous.

Anonymity is a myth
By establishing segments that track app usage by day, marketers can define segments in very finite terms. When users take action on push or in-app messages, their segment can change and open them up to a myriad different communication options. Even if a marketer can’t identity a user by name, or tie their device to an email address, that doesn’t mean that they are anonymous. In this case, frequency and clickthrough rates become the identifying criteria, and thus define segments that quickly change in shape, size and the kind of appropriate messages that drive desired outcomes.

The most successful mobile marketers understand that the bullhorn approach to mobile communications is wrong, and breeds more disengagement than results. Establishing short, continuously-updating segments with specific automated messages is the key to preventing user churn and providing analysis on what’s working and, more importantly, what’s not. Automation is essential, too. Mobile users flow in and out of segments, so to combat and anticipate this, each level of usage should be handled with different automated messages. By creating these milestones of usage and dormancy, and automating the delivery of messages to them, app publishers can gauge the efficacy of their messaging and figure out where the drop-off point is for usage within their app.

Marketers have learned (or they should have) that there’s no one-size-fits-all scenario. Although every user may receive the same welcome message, subsequent communications must be tailored in response to their unique actions and expressed needs.

Mobile marketing is an incredibly fast-paced business; messages are small and compact and the cost of delivery is negligible. These features allow marketers to quickly iterate and test different messages against segments and refine each iteration or campaign. Taken as a whole, messaging mobile populations is about stimulating an interest in using the app. That is accomplished by defining reasons for returning to the app and strategically launching big, blanket campaigns that incentivize the audience as a whole to return, click and convert.

Len Shneyder is senior marketing manager at OtherLevels