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GrowMobile has been tracking billions of events a month for its mobile app marketing platform for a while. Beyond helping companies acquire users, the company is now adding a new platform to track the activities of those users and keep them engaged with an app.
Engagement is certainly a buzzword for companies that are dealing with the rising cost of user acquisition, and GrowMobile’s goal is to offer a unified platform that makes it easy and convenient for mobile marketers. The San Francisco company, which publicly traded app marketing firm Perion Network acquired for up to $42 million last year, is offering a free trial for its engagement platform.
“We’ve done a lot of work in user acquisition, but the market is evolving,” said AJ Yeakel, the president of GrowMobile, in an interview with VentureBeat. “With engagement, the goal is to keep users. We are offering a complete marketing offering, a single unified platform from user acquisition to social to engagement.”
The target customers include game developers, app makers, agencies, and brands.
“It’s been huge effort to bring these products to the market,” said Yeakel, who’s also one of GrowMobile’s founders. “One thing we haven’t done in the past is offer a free trial. It’s a cool way for them to test the waters with no risk.”
The engagement tool makes it easy to track which users are at risk for dropping out of a game. Then it lets you craft a marketing campaign targeted at getting the user to come back and engage with the app. The mobile marketing messages to the user can include anything from free in-app purchases to social prompts. Marketers can run A/B tests on which messages work the best with different kinds of customers. You can test whether you get a better response by offering a lapsed user a “free life” or an “extra life.”
Since it was acquired a year ago, GrowMobile has expanded its team with new hires, with the total number employees getting close to 150 at three different locations. The company is trying to create a global presence by adding more offices. In user acquisition, GrowMobile has hundreds of customers. Now it is trying to get more of them to try engagement.
Founded in 2012, GrowMobile built an automated tool for managing user acquisition across dozens of ad networks. It has a self-serve function that lets mobile marketers create campaigns, upload their creative assets, syndicate marketing, and review analytics — all within one dashboard. Perion acquired MakeMeReach earlier this year to make it easier to manage campaigns across social channels.
“We let you make sense of data, think about the bigger picture, and make the execution easy,” Yeakel said.
Engagement and re-engagement is an equally complicated process, and it is the newest piece of the mobile-oriented platform.
“The buyer faces a complex ecosystem,” Yeakel said. “Our clients run into this day-to-day. Most companies don’t have teams to deal with all of these intricate issues. Many are mundane. This takes away grunt work.”
It’s a crowded market. Rivals in mobile marketing include Fiksu and Fetch Media. In analytics, GrowMobile competes with Localytics and Mixpanel. And in engagement rivals include Swrve, Kahuna, and Urban Airship. But all of the companies are fairly young, and the winner may be the one that makes everything work together easily and conveniently, Yeakel said.
Overall, every company is trying to build out the equivalent of mobile customer relationship management. Josh Garcia, the business development manager for engagement at GrowMobile, showed me a demo of the engagement platform. You can see a flow chart of what happens in the campaign if the user reacts a certain way, and what kind of response messages can be sent in response. You can track target metrics such as one-day retention, seven-day retention, 30-day retention, and average revenue per user.
Each campaign is customizable. If a user takes you up on an offer of a “free life,” you can set up what comes next in the campaign. The flow chart visualizes what happens at each point, and you can drill down on the details.
“The whole point of retention is to try to reduce the churn,” or loss of users, Garcia said. “Whatever happens, you don’t want a leaky bucket, or an app that leaks users.”
Right now, developers can test it for 15 days with no commitment.
Yeakel, who started the company with Brendan Lyall and Minglei Xu, managed marketing spending at Zynga and helped launch 20 games there.
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