Missed it? You can still hear our power panel of mobile marketers share secrets from the front-lines about turning casual users into die-hard customers who stay engaged and purchase again and again. 

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Driving user engagement and loyalty is key to the success of RetailMeNot, the savings destination giant, and Hotel Tonight, the rapidly growing mobile-first Expedia and Travelocity challenger.

“I hear a lot of marketers talk about acquisition in the mobile space,” says Marissa Tarelton, CMO of RetailMeNot, “and not enough talking about how they actually keep the valuable customers they’ve paid so much to acquire.”

Tarleton and Amanda Richardson, VP of Product at HotelTonight, joined VentureBeat analyst Wendy Schuchart for our recent free webinar, “Killer mobile app user loyalty,” to discuss how their user-first strategy boosts engagement by up to 10x and propels their bottom line.

The tools you need

“Marketing automation tools are a big part of what we try to do,” Tarleton says. A tool should be customer-oriented, agnostic of device, and allow you to be truly relevant, Tarleton continues. It should also be integrated across mobile, and have strong location-based technology to ensure that you’re relevant and timely.

Richardson adds that near-real-time data is essential, as well as the ability to export into a data warehouse. “The ability to make sure that we can actually retain and own the data long-term, and slice and dice across the different tools through our data warehouse, is pretty essential to our success,” she says.

But most importantly, she adds, a tool should allow you to see a whole picture of the user’s experience, rather that isolate channels.

Giving to get

“One of the opportunities in marketing is to use the onboarding process to give customers a reason to identify themselves,” Tarleton says. “You can deepen the relevance and the timeliness of the relationship by them identifying.”

Richardson emphasizes the give-to-get expectation. Be thoughtful about what kind of content, what kind of change in experience, what kind of additional features the user can obtain by exchanging a little bit of personal information to gain user trust.

“There’s so much clutter in the app environment in particular,” Tarleton adds, “that I think consumers will give you a chance and provide information up front, but very quickly uninstall if the relevance factor is not there.”

Making loyalty happen

“It starts with watching the signals our users are experiencing,” Tarleton says. “We can determine if a customer is having a positive experience, or if they’ve shared our app or a savings opportunity. And at that point we offer up ways for them to share and engage with us.”

It’s really important that you capture a win, she adds, based on the signals that you have on the consumer, and then deepen the relationship as soon as you can — as quickly as possible.

“Make sure you don’t abuse that relationship,” Richardson adds. “Make sure you’re thoughtful about what you’re saying and when. It’s like dating. Don’t appear too desperate.” If you over-email, over-push, inundate a consumer with content that is not relevant, you’ll quickly drive them away.

Keeping them loyal

“The best way to make a loyal user isn’t to have great tools,” says Richardson. “It’s to actually fulfill your brand promise.”

No amount of creative and no amount of communication tactics are going to make up for a really bad experience, she says. Invest your time and energy in your user experience and your full brand experience, rather than trying to find a tool to layer on top of something that’s not really meeting the expectation of your users.

Personalization, Tarleton says, performs significantly better in response rate and engagement rate with the consumer. “In email in particular, you can see up to 10x improvement in interaction with a consumer if it’s relevant to them,” she continues. But it needs to be done right, and it needs to be integrated through all communication channels.

Preventing churn

“It’s about knowing what’s going to get someone back into the app experience or the product experience to prevent the churn,” Richardson says.

RetailMeNot uses a variety of different tactics to re-engage a customer at the point of potential churn. “One might be education about a new type of product or offer,” Tarleton says. “Another might be that we have an app, so that they know we can help them save while they’re shopping in a mobile environment in store.” In some cases, she adds, they turn to lapse prevention offers, and actually pay money to prevent the customer from lapsing.

Most importantly, says Richardson, is to have a target. “You can’t get everybody to be loyal,” she says. “Rather than trying to shift all your different tools and all your different channels to satisfy an infinite number of users and requests, think about who you want to be loyal, and focus on getting those users. Because you’ll never satisfy everybody.”

To gain more insight about the tools to use, an in-depth look at personalization, and more, check out our free webinar, “Killer mobile app user loyalty,” now.

Don’t miss out!

Access the webinar on demand right here.

In this webinar, you’ll learn:

  • What combinations of push, in-app messages and email messaging convert casual users into fans
  • How to leverage personalization to add user value
  • How behavioral triggers should drive app messaging


  • Marissa Tarelton, CMO, RetailMeNot
  • Amanda Richardson, VP Product, Hotel Tonight
  • Ehren Maedge, VP, MoEngage


  • Wendy Schuchart, Analyst, VentureBeat

    This webinar is sponsored by MoEngage.