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Mobile marketing automation is poised to double in size in 2015 — or even triple — according to a new report on VB Insight.

Currently, MMA is only about 1.5 percent penetrated.

Big apps like Subway Surfer and Plants vs. Zombies use MMA to boost monetization, and major brands like Starbucks, Walgreens, and ESPN use MMA to increase engagement and enable omnichannel marketing.

But what it actually is and what it does isn’t always clear to app publishers.


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Boom-beach-general-2375 mobile developers with over 900 million MAU
told us what’s working in mobile marketing automation

If you mash together modern app analytics solutions, old-school CRM, and web-based marketing automation solutions and then reinvent them for mobile, you’d end up with something like mobile marketing automation. It’s analytics down to the individual user level that are immediately actionable: not just the what of analytics or the who of CRM, but also the communication of a marketing automation system.

And, for many solutions, MMA includes the levers and controls to change your app’s experience on the fly depending on who is using it, plus update it without going through the app store police.

The giant in the space is Urban Airship, which is integrated into close to 30,000 apps on Google Play and iOS.  But relative newcomers to the MMA space from the mobile ad and analytics spaces like Localytics and Tapjoy have tens thousands of installs with their existing solutions, and are introducing their clients to mobile marketing tools.

Mobile Marketing Automation features ranked by app publishers

Above: Mobile Marketing Automation features ranked by app publishers

Image Credit: VB Insight

Tapjoy, which bought Korean MMA player 5Rocks to get into the space, sees the future of MMA as a key component of a full solution for mobile publishers that includes user acquisition, engagement, and monetization.

“Right now there are a whole bunch of point solutions doing these things,” CEO Steve Wadsworth told me. “The long-term outcome is a single solution that includes all these things … and that leverages a single dataset.”

Marketing cloud provider Adobe is another major player, already integrated into another 10,000 apps. In addition, Adobe has “tightly coupled” its mobile marketing solutions with PhoneGap, an extremely popular cross-platform development platform that hundreds of thousands of developers use, making it easy for developers to add analytics and marketing elements to even more apps.

“From an app developer standpoint we’ve invested in ensuring it is easy for marketers to use these services,” Adobe VP Suresh Vittal says. “If you have analytics and want to share them with PhoneGap … it’s the click of a button.”

Add up other vendors like deltaDNA, Upsight, Swrve, Appboy, Kahuna, and LeanPlum, and you’ve got 90,000 apps potentially using marketing automation.

What app publishers say mobile marketing automation delivers

Above: What app publishers say mobile marketing automation delivers

Image Credit: VB Insight

According to the study, however, only about half of the apps that have integrated a mobile marketing solution’s SDK have really begun implementing MMA in a significant way. The big opportunity is coming as that happens, and as existing analytics and monetization providers add marketing to their feature set.

That includes massive players like Salesforce and Optimizely.

Salesforce, which has been getting very serious about marketing technology broadly over the past few years, offers mobile marketing automation services as part of its omnichannel vision to enable brands to use all their data, including from mobile, to understand and influence the customer journey.

“The more we talk to customers … the more clear it becomes that successful companies are figuring out how to harness that data,” says Salesforce VP Gordon Evans. “If you can’t integrate it and get it into a single platform and orchestrate it … you’re in a bunch of silos.”

Optimizely, which has around 10,000 clients, has just started providing mobile marketing services with an iOS launch last year and an Android version coming shortly. With Salesforce at well over 100,000 customers and agressively expanding its solution for each of them, plus Optimizely building its solution and certain to introduce it to the company’s web optimization clients, there’s a host of new MMA users coming in 2015 and beyond.

According to one of the 375 mobile developers surveyed for the report, mobile marketing automation will reach its potential when it ceases to exist as a separate functionality.

“The greatest failing of so-called mobile ‘marketing’ automation systems is that they continue to refer to themselves as marketing rather than a core feature of any modern mobile app,” the cofounder of an app development house said.

The full report is available from VB Insight right here.

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