We're gearing up to welcome customers to San Francisco as GDC commences today, and many of our friends in mobile gaming will be in town.

Swrve is hosting a session for customers and prospects. We gave much consideration to what we should present. There were plenty of options - the extra functionality we have added in the past year; A/B testing of In App Messages and Push Notifications, custom metrics for each campaign, recurring push. We could talk about our Open Platform - as we make it easy to create a unified and holistic marketing strategy by linking up data from email and web and mobile.

But in the end, we decided the clearest and most relevant topic was the mobile conversation.  I know it seems quaint to think about having an actual conversation on a phone. If my teenagers actually *call* me, someone's in trouble or they're looking for money.

Any conversation involves two main components, talking and listening. This afternoon we'll be exploring both in the context of the user's journey through the app. We think of that user journey in terms of states they pass through on their way to full engagement, and hopefully conversion or evangelism. And it is conversation that ultimately moves them through that process.

Here are the conversation pieces we'll be advising to our games customers today:

For new users: Listen! As with any relationship, the first thing you want to do is discover what you can about the other person. Where does the user come from? Be sure to track your acquisition data so you can see ROI on your user acquisition costs.

Are you making a good first impression? Use funnel reporting to assess how far your users are getting through your tutorial or onboarding experience, and if they are spending some time in the app using it independently.

Make sure to engage those who are ‘evaluating’. They have come back of their own accord and therefore are expressing interest, but probably haven't got the the core value proposition of the app as yet. For games, we recommend a first purchase special - when players make a small investment, they're likely to stick around to see value for their purchase.  If you gift them with sufficient resources, you allow them to play and enjoy your game without roadblocks, hopefully for long enough to get them to that sticky point.

Look for all kinds of value from ‘Engaged’ users. Once users are consistently using your app or game, you've established a relationship and it's perfectly appropriate to ask for a favor. One campaign we highly recommend is a “Rate My App” request. When presented with consideration, many users are willing to leave a positive rating in the app store. We all know that the disgruntled individual is the most likely to voice their opinion (not that you should ignore that feedback) but the happy user just doesn't think to leave their review. All of which means many apps have a rating skewed towards a dissatisfied minority. A smart ‘rate-my-app’ campaign can drive happy customers to the app store and those with a complaint to deliver feedback direct.

Of course, not everyone will follow this linear path. There will be people who use the app once and drop away (Bounced), those who were once ‘Engaged’ but you haven't seen them in a while (Lapsing) and, sadly, those who haven't been around in an awfully long time (Disappearing).  

For each of these at risk groups, you should create and deploy recurring push campaigns to catch users right as they are slipping out of view. Don’t wait too long - in most cases when someone is gone, they really are gone!

Each campaign provides you with new opportunities to listen to your users by examining how they react and behave after they see a message for you, allowing you to further refine the conversation. Truly great mobile marketing happens when those conversations deepen over time and true loyalty and hey - even love - develops!