Are you a mobile app owner or product marketer? TUNE Partner and CEO Peter Hamilton will be speaking at VB’s Mobile Developer Roadshow in Seattle on March 24 where we’ll be sharing the latest trends and case studies in mobile app acquisition and monetization strategies. This event is invite-only: Find out if you qualify here. 

The Roadshow’s four stops include: Seattle (March 24), Vancouver (March 25), Toronto (April 1), and Montreal (April 2). Get all the info here. 

There’s a lot of talk about solving for cross device marketing in the mobile space today, but in a conversation with Peter Hamilton, Partner and CEO of mobile attribution analytics company TUNE, the discussion quickly turned to the challenge of multi-touch.

Hamilton’s referring to multi-touch on single devices, and according to him, marketers haven’t yet figured this out. He says this is an essential step before cross-device can be effectively mastered.

Consider a user on their phone who sees an ad and clicks on it; they then see a different ad at a different time, still on their phone, and click on that; some time later, they see a promoted Tweet, click on the link in the Tweet, and then download the advertised app — all on the same device.

“The biggest challenge for mastering cross-device is that the industry today does not even take into account multi-touch,” says Hamilton. “We provide multi-touch in our platform today but we really don’t see that people are using the information to make judgments,” says Hamilton. “People should be asking, ‘How is it going to change the way I market or the way that I build our flow?’”

Some of those clicks in the scenario above clearly aren’t the final click that sealed the download. But they all played a role in the customer journey. “Some advertising channels and partners contribute to high-value customers even if they’re not the last click.” says Hamilton, “They provide a lot of what we call assists — they touch the user in various ways, they create awareness, improve brand recognition.”

The goal is to see the correlation between all these touchpoints and channels. If you can see that an awareness channel was highly correlated with conversions for high-value customers, you may consider increasing your spend there. Says Hamilton, “You can start to figure out those kinds of things, but as a marketer you have to be willing to care about it and wanting to dive in to understand what is overlapping.”

What about engagement?

There’s not a marketer on the planet that doesn’t want to identify their highest-value customers and get more of them — or as important, get them to spend more.

Yet, in Hamilton’s estimation, reengagement is still a very small piece of the mobile advertising pie while user acquisition takes up the lion’s share. Of course, app installs are essential but “if you’re filling up the top of the funnel,” says Hamilton, “and people are leaving your app because you don’t have an effective way of engaging them, then you’re losing twice.”

By ignoring the valuable data today, marketers sacrifice accuracy in their communication. A marketer who blasts an email to every single customer encouraging them to return may be blanketing customers who are already very active. The interaction may not only be lost on that high-value customer, but carries the risk of turning them off. The goal is to target — and reengage them — appropriately with the right type of message in a way that makes sense to them based on their activity.

Brands versus mobile app developers

The huge success stories of the mobile world fall clearly into two categories: utilities and gaming. They’ve driving the innovation in mobile marketing and have perfected it to a science, mixed with a good splash of art. We’re talking about the unicorns like Uber and Airbnb who have created beautiful user experiences and been able to scale by buying mobile inventory in scale, understanding what channels work well, and which ad networks perform best. The mobile game giants slice and dice data to understand what constitutes their most valuable customers and mine those customers to continually grow their bottom line.

According to Hamilton, brands can definitely learn from these leaders. Even though many brands use the mobile channel for engagement rather than direct sales, according to Hamilton, they need to know what engagement they care about — which is usually the hardest nut to crack for a major brand.

“Often times the team has just been handed this mandate to build a mobile app and create a mobile experience — and haven’t really determined the long-term mobile engagement metrics that means it’s successful,” says Hamilton.

One way to learn from the mobile experts is for brands to align themselves with an app developer that’s doing something similar to them or connecting to a similar audience. Yet in the end, Hamilton says, figuring out a commerce strategy in mobile is often what will drive success. “If I’m a brand and I really want to do well in mobile, if I start to make revenue through it in some way, then my board is going to buy in, everyone is going to buy in, and we’re going to get more investment.”

Where next in mobile?

While many companies have been driving innovation on proximity using geofencing and iBeacons, connecting the dots with data is just beginning to take hold. For Hamilton, it’s about connecting with people in ways “that are useful, rather than annoying.”

He gives a use case example using the brand Sephora. Let’s say a customer who already has the Sephora app has been browsing Sephora’s website and looking at a specific item. A few days later, that same customer walks by an iBeacon in a geofenced area close by a Sephora store, and they receive a notification letting them know that that very item is in stock — and if they come in and grab it right now, they can get 10 percent off. “It’s about getting really intelligent about the whole experience,” says Hamilton. “I have the intent about an item, I wanted to buy it, and you’re just giving me incentive, rather than sending me some random coupon that pops up on my phone when I walk down the street.”

Hamilton predicts a bigger shift seeing a world in the near-near future where the phone becomes a second screen. Instead, we’ll be turning to watches and other devices as first screens. He predicts that we’ll start taking our phones out of our pockets less and less, and when we do, it will be for concentrated tasks, not checking notifications. “Those that do well in connecting to a user all day long from their watch will usurp some folks who are not able to make that pivot well,” he says.