Mobile Heroes logoAs marketers in the non-gaming mobile ecosystem try to quickly catch up to their gaming counterparts, “Mobile Heroes” brings you a weekly series of articles offering insights and education for marketers of non-gaming apps. Read the whole series here. Brought to you by Liftoff. Meet the heroes here.

Growing your mobile business and acquiring new users for your app does not always begin with the first advertisement and end with the point of app installation.

According to Iryna Newman of Invoice2go, the opportunity to scale user acquisition lies in understanding where users are in their purchasing readiness, and applying a two-step or even a truly multi-step approach to engage and acquire new customers.

“The problem that mobile marketers face today is that it’s very tempting to focus on acquiring the so-called ‘low hanging fruit’ — users that convert very quickly after installing your app, or first coming across your product. It seems great, but really there are many users who could be paying customers and highly valuable, who aren’t ready to convert depending on where they are in the customer lifecycle,” she said.

Learn more about Iryna at Mobile Heroes.

Mobile invoicing that’s good to go

Invoice2go, founded in Australia and headquartered in Redwood City, provides a streamlined, easy-to-use mobile invoicing solution for over 200,000 contractors, tradespeople, and other small business owners on the go. Newman, Invoice2go’s Director of User Acquisition, has found success for her organization by paying attention to where, when, and how to connect with potential and current customers in order to best engage and deliver a compelling invoicing solution.

“Scale is the biggest challenge for most user acquisition channels. Finding efficient pockets of users is straightforward, but it is much harder to find 10 to 50 times the number of subscribers at the same price,” she says. “Scale may come from the top of the funnel, but there is a great opportunity to re-engage users once they are already in the funnel. For SaaS apps, in particular, the sales cycle never ends, so you want to think about nurturing users along through that journey.”

A quality mobile user for Invoice2go is someone that has the propensity to become a paying subscriber. In order to optimize the customer growth opportunities, it’s important for Newman to identify, segment, and create compelling messaging and touch points for small business owners who meet this description. To achieve growth with scale, Newman looks past the “low-hanging fruit” approach towards the vast long tail of potential customers.

“If you take this initial approach, there’s a huge percentage of people you’ll miss who didn’t convert upon the first visit or install, but they may convert to a purchase within 20 days, for instance,” she says. “The question is how you maintain the conversation with these users, stay top-of-mind, and get in front of them so that you’re there when they’re ready to make a purchasing decision.”

The two-step approach

There is an increasing shift among mobile marketers today in user acquisition strategy towards investments happening both in marketing automation and re-targeting. As with Invoice2go, these two components are enabling marketers to execute on a more effective, two-step approach to acquiring paying customers.

Newman focuses on app install campaigns to generate the highest quality installs, then leverages mobile retargeting and automation to educate and drive usage among prospective buyers early on — in this way, leading to paying subscriber conversions and reducing the overall cost of acquisition.

Strategy 1: Automate for scale

Most marketers have a limited marketing technology budget and need to make a good argument for any spend. This can already be challenging if you’re trying to build a case for licensing a particular solution based solely on the cost of acquisition of your initial installs. It’s much tougher to build a case for spending on automation software when the user conversion doesn’t happen on the first install, and might occur on the second or third campaign. That said, the potential payoffs can be enormous.

Inbound marketing automation software leverages all the information you’ve gathered about a user to understand their needs, and then delivers the content this user needs, when they need it, in order to make a purchasing decision. True automation also takes into account the evolving needs of your prospective purchasers, and the interactions they have with you across all of your marketing channels, not just email. An automation platform will collect data from behavioral inputs across multiple channels such as social clicks, views on a pricing page or consuming a particular piece of content, and then uses these channels to send marketing messages and guide the user down the purchasing funnel.

“Most companies today market on multiple operating systems, across several interest groups, countries and probably have multiple call-to-actions and creative templates that they’re testing for effectiveness,” Newman says. “When you have that level of complexity and want to test out different content within that experience, you can’t do it manually. So, taking advantage of CPA bidding and automation platforms is critically important.”

To achieve real growth and scale, Newman believes that marketers will benefit from getting more granular in their testing and targeting. Thanks to great partners and solutions in the market, it doesn’t need to be done manually through countless spreadsheets and ad hoc campaigns. For instance, Invoice2go leverages Liftoff, a cost per action (CPA) optimized mobile acquisition platform for driving user growth. “What Liftoff provides me is a straightforward, user acquisition platform to find large segments of users on the exchanges with a high propensity to convert,” she said.

For Newman, as with many mobile app service providers, this is often just the first step in converting new installs into paying customers. Marketing automation then comes into play — and Newman can develop campaigns and rely on algorithms working in the background to then make decisions on how to best optimize her campaigns and engagement with users.

Strategy 2: Retarget to drive conversions

Retargeting after the initial install is all about closing the gap between ‘That’s kind of interesting’ and ‘I want to make a purchase.’

The composition of your content, how it’s delivered, on what screen, and in what context is important to the customer’s journey. Timing and consistency may be the most important component of all.

“The big idea is frequency,” says Newman. “If we need to touch somebody six times before that person is ready to make a purchasing decision, then we want to be able to touch that person from multiple channels to get there faster.”

For Invoice2go, Newman’s team thinks about how, when, and on what screen they can actually communicate with prospective paying customers, and what they can do to meaningfully engage when the opportunity is right.

“This forces us to think about having different types of conversations with different buckets of users based on where they are in their journey,” she says. “There’s a time when we need to be talking to customers about free trials, there’s a time when we need to be talking about limited time offers, and there’s a time when we shouldn’t be talking to them at all. And, when we do have the customer’s attention and they’re ready to be engaged with us, we focus on providing a caring experience and delivering a genuine message with a solution tailored to their needs.”

A more sophisticated approach to user acquisition

With 200,000 small business customers and growing, Invoice2go’s approach to acquisition provides a workable, cost-effective blueprint for other marketers pursuing business customers: focus on sourcing channels for high-quality users and measure well to know what’s working, automate your marketing efforts where it makes sense, and re-target strategically to increase engagement and conversion.

The magic in this approach, according to Newman, is allowing marketers to move beyond the potential traps of only focusing on the “low-hanging fruit”, and moving into a position of achieving scale effectively through a streamlined multi-prong approach.

“Mobile marketers are starting to get out of the weeds and spending an increasing amount of time on more strategic decisions,” says Newman. “As a result, I think we’re going to see a lot more sophistication coming from marketers down the road.”

Mobile Heroes, sponsored by Liftoff, shines a light on successful non-gaming app marketers. Visit the site where marketers share their experiences and knowledge.

Sponsored posts are content that has been produced by a company that is either paying for the post or has a business relationship with VentureBeat, and they’re always clearly marked. The content of news stories produced by our editorial team is never influenced by advertisers or sponsors in any way. For more information, contact