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Mobile marketing automation (MMA) is how big businesses improve monetization, engage deeper with customers, and get you to come back, time and time again.

We know the space well. We’ve surveyed developers with over 900 million monthly average users to find the best mobile marketing automation platforms. And we’ve analyzed 1.8 million apps in both the Google Play Store and the iOS App Store, detailing 23 MMA providers in a report that spans 20,000 words.

But using MMA solutions can become extremely complicated, especially when you are building messaging flows, nurturing campaigns, and managing trigger-based events on a day-to-day basis.

Today, Appboy — which featured as a “best bet” in our report for mobile-first/only and omnichannel MMA — has launched Canvas, a new way to visualize and link multiple campaigns via an easy-to-use interface.

I spoke with Bill Magnuson, cofounder and CTO at Appboy, back in May, at the company’s LTR event in San Francisco, where I saw a preview of today’s release.

“We want to provide a way of linking together multiple campaigns that makes sense,” Magnuson told me. “Canvas helps marketers design and conceptualize flows, but it isn’t just for marketers. It helps my entire team see how all of this connects in a way that anyone can understand what we’re doing and suggest improvements.”

That’s key, because often it is someone in non-marketing departments that comes up with a better way to engage with prospective and existing app users. But it is hard for those people to visualize the “”Beautiful Mind”-like diagrams most marketing automation platforms create.

“The goal here is visualization, understanding, analytics,” Magnuson said. “We looked at our power users to see how we can make all of those elements easier for everyone.”

Don’t discount Canvas as being simple, however. It lets you create multichannel campaigns, based on real-time analytics, which allow you to respect the urgency of each channel. Email, for example, is a very different beast from in-app push notifications, and Canvas understands that. Canvas also allows for cross-channel auto scheduling, and you can link canvases together to connect flows right across the customer journey.


“You could have implemented this with campaigns, but you wouldn’t have,” Magnuson said. “The stress of working with a tool that could send a message to millions is palpable. Ease of use isn’t just about onboarding or documentation, it is about helping solve execution issues, reducing stress, and implementing sophisticated strategies while removing complexity.”

Canvas also includes powerful analytics to better understand the impact of your marketing.

“Canvas helps with the correlation/causation issue that is prevalent when, like Appboy, you don’t track a person as a device,” Magnuson said. “If you have sent messages, or if you haven’t, it is hard to attribute those actions to a result. We use probabilistic attribution to better determine the activities that lead to results, and we show you that right here on Canvas.”

What about the future for Canvas?

“We want to add predictive features in time,” Magnuson said. “Automated decision-making is important. It is about answering important questions for marketers. How can we provide a better result for the marketer without them having to make that decision, or even understand which questions to ask? How long should this message delay be? Which branch should I take? Which channel should I use?”

And the driver behind creating Canvas?

While every publisher knows that app analytics is critical, and wouldn’t think of shipping a game or app without some kind of analytics solution embedded, most aren’t nearly as aware of MMA as perhaps they should be. In our study, we registered a 1.5 percent market penetration for MMA solutions among app developers, and while that has grown since then, there is still a long way to go. Yet, the results for those that use MMA tools are outstanding.

“Ease of use is the route to ROI in tools like ours,” Magnuson said.

Certainly, making these tools more accessible will help to improve market penetration, and enabling visualization of mobile marketing flows so that anyone can understand them can assist with removing the silos between engineering, marketing, and other departments, a problem that — according to our latest research — is rife.

In addition to Canvas — which is available from today — Appboy has also announced that it is adding support for Facebook Messenger and Safari Web Push, two new channels that marketers can take advantage of throughout its MMA portfolio.

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