This sponsored post is produced by AppLovin.
There’s a reason why mobile games now generate more revenue than online games: When it comes to marketing and customer acquisition, the mobile gaming industry has it down. Mobile game developers make the most of their marketing budgets, and they use data to inform the user experience and acquisition. Competition is fierce in the gaming vertical, so game developers have to continually innovate not just their products, but their marketing strategies.
Given how different mobile gaming is from other verticals, you might think that mobile gaming’s approach to marketing isn’t remotely relevant to the mobile marketing goals of other verticals. But that’s not the case. In fact, there is a tremendous amount that any brand looking to expand its mobile presence can learn from the pioneers in mobile gaming.
Here are the most important lessons learned from mobile game marketing that are transferrable to many brands:
Lesson #1: Forget about budget and focus on ROAS when spending on mobile marketing
Unlike traditional marketing, mobile games companies are nimble with their marketing spend. They are smart about their spending, and when it makes sense, they don’t hesitate to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a day if the company can see that it’s going to get a strong return in revenue. In other words, they focus on Return On Advertising Spend and respond accordingly.
Mobile gaming marketers can pull this off because they have the tools and the attribution to see what actually works. Because every penny spent on mobile is trackable, nearly instantaneously, game brands can pounce on something they see is working well. They capitalize on what’s working and aren’t afraid to invest more when the return is right.
That’s a fundamentally different approach than that of traditional corporate America. Marketing budgets for traditional brands might be planned quarters, or even years, in advance. Traditional marketing can have a big impact on a brand’s bottom line — but proving this can be difficult. Because mobile marketing spend is trackable, you should be able to fight for a more flexible — read: agile — budget for marketing your brand on mobile.
So if you’re a brand looking to expand your mobile marketing, experiment a little and then let the data tell you where and how to spend.
Lesson #2: If you’re not mobile-first, fake it
Mobile gaming companies were some of the early success stories in monetizing for mobile primarily because of the frictionless purchasing — the in-app-purchases — that the app stores enabled. With the IAP model, users can buy easily because they only have to enter their password or click a confirm purchase button to complete a transaction. No credit cards to enter nor third party logins to remember.
The lesson learned then if you’re an incumbent brand is to make transactions a cinch through an app that makes your brand feel like it’s mobile-first. Start from the ground up and build a beautiful, seamless app experience — one with end-to-end commerce capabilities. Make sure a user can search, view discrete items, add to cart, and check out without ever having to leave your app.
And those mobile ads you buy showcasing a product? Make sure they are deep-linked so the user can go directly to that item in your app, not to your brand’s home page. Build your app as if your website doesn’t even exist, with no ties whatsoever to the legacy model — your legacy model is convenient for you, not for your users. (One major brand that really “got it” that its mobile app UX needed to be entirely different from desktop is Target, which had the foresight to view mobile as “its new front door.”)
Also keep the big picture in mind: these days more searches come from tablets and mobile phones than they do from desktops, so it’s crucial that your brand be right there, ready to sell in those “micromoments” when users are looking to find and buy, quickly.
If you’re an entirely new brand, then you should prioritize your mobile app over desktop as in terms of marketing and sales, mobile is going to be increasingly where the action is.
Lesson #3: Know your mobile users to succeed
We are past the tipping point: more than 50 percent of e-commerce transactions take place on mobile. Your job then as a brand is to compete for your users’ attention in the platform that matters the most.
Mobile game companies have taught us that two things need to be in place to have a killer app that generates great revenue: 1) an easy and highly functional purchasing process with easy check out; and 2) a fantastic user experience that keeps players playing and coming back for more. Only with those things in place, as well, can retail and services brands also win in mobile. In order to get these things, you need to focus on data, and what users are telling you with their interactions.
It’s easy enough to say “have a fantastic user experience” but how do you get there? Mobile game companies have taught us to capitalize on every bit of data you can get. Interactions count, no matter what they are, because every single one gives you information. Analyze this information to see at what points people click, purchase, or abandon carts in your app. What is the average session length needed for a transaction? You have to be able to identify this kind of information so you can design an app with the user experience in the forefront.
Knowing your user also depends on making the most of IDFAs (identifiers for advertisers). IDFAs are similar to cookies on the Web, and they are measurable. As a marketer, IDFAs are your best friends because even though they are anonymous, they allow you to get a good understanding of what users are doing in your app. You can learn a lot about your customers, what they want, and their engagement patterns. For example, mobile gaming companies know what their players are doing in their game. They track where players get stuck, what items they buy (in-app purchases) and how quickly they complete each level or task.
Brands with retail apps can also look at user interaction to identify how users browse and search for items, where they get stuck, and when they convert. If many of your users abandon their carts when it comes time to enter payment info, add an Apple Pay or Android Pay (coming soon) option to ease checkout. (But don’t wait to find this one out — assume this is true and have it from the beginning.)
In the end, if you’re a brand looking to expand your mobile presence, it’s about taking the next step in marketing, on the most immersive, engaging, ubiquitous platform in history. Remember that in mobile marketing, data will tell you if you’re on the right track. Be smart but fearless. Always look at your ROAS, build a beautiful app that feels mobile-first, and invest and plan with the understanding that mobile is where many of your customers not only are now, but will be more and more in the future.
Mark Rosner is Chief Revenue Officer at AppLovin.
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