Interested in learning what's next for the gaming industry? Join gaming executives to discuss emerging parts of the industry this October at GamesBeat Summit Next. Learn more.

Mobile’s not really the new thing anymore. And marketing automation, in spite of the fact that it is tripling annually and still unused by more than 90 percent of non-tech companies, isn’t all that new anymore either.

Mobile marketing automation, however, is certainly heating up. And yeah, it’s pretty new.

“Mobile has been the future for 10 years now,” Adam Marchick told me today. He’s the CEO of Kahuna, a mobile marketing automation company that just raised $11 million to hit the market harder.

“Around the time the iPad came out, it started coming true.”

VentureBeat just released the VB Marketing Automation Index report.

Also, check out our GrowthBeat conference on marketing tech.

The same day Kahuna announced its new cash, the well-established Urban Airship announced its own brand-new mobile marketing automation solution, which allows marketers to build automated real-time marketing workflows for millions of customers or potential customers, and integrates with Apple’s iBeacon local commerce product.

Traditional marketing automation vendors such as Silverpop — if you can use “traditional” for an industry that’s less than a decade old — are also bringing out mobile features, with Sitecore offering mobile-ready solutions for existing content and marketing strategies.

But being mobile first changes everything, Marchick says.

“Mobile marketing automation is fundamentally different from web marketing automation,” he told me.

“A lot of the old marketing automation systems assumed that one person had one device and assumed that if you knew someone’s email that was good enough. That’s just not true anymore. And lot of marketing automation companies think mobile marketing is small emails … and that’s just not true either.”

Adam Marchick

Above: Adam Marchick

Image Credit: LinkedIn

That last part, I’m sure, is at least partially tongue-in-cheek. But the key point is valid: We use many devices now, and we respond much quicker and more frequently to mobile messages such as SMS and push notifications than we do to email or other, older forms of communication.

Mobile marketing, of course, and even mobile marketing automation of sorts has been with us for some time. Appboy, for instance, has offered mobile marketing solutions since 2012. The difference is that most mobile marketing solutions are mobile marketing for mobile solutions. In other words, they’re app download, app engagement, and app retention plays.

Kahuna is interesting because it’s a mobile-first marketing automation platform that can be used for marketing anything, not just a mobile app.

The company claims that it more than doubles customer engagement, with response rates hovering around 20 percent for its push messages. Marchick says that’s because the company, which is thoroughly staffed and funded by ex-Facebookers and other fast-growing startup people with very significant growth hacker credential, knows what to send and what not to send.

“If you use LinkedIn, you probably get a lot of emails from LinkedIn — and you probably click on a lot of them,” he says. “That’s because it’s not spam, it’s useful information. It’s not about sending 10 messages. It’s about sending the best one message.”

VentureBeat's mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative enterprise technology and transact. Learn more about membership.