I've been thinking a little more about the subject of in-app marketing. Last time we talked about why targeting mattered (it always matters when it comes to marketing). You could call that talking to the right people. But it is just as important to talk to them at the right time.

What do I mean by that? Well, there are all sorts of offers I could build an in-app marketing campaign around. But are they relevant to the user groups I show them to? Are they meaningful, helpful - something of interest to the player at that moment in time? To use the real world analogy - retailers don’t usually promote swimsuits in November, and banks don’t usually attempt to sell wealth management products to students.

In both those cases, it wouldn’t be appropriate and it wouldn't be effective. In one context due to external factors (the seasons of the year), in the other due to the customers current position during his or her journey through life. And it’s that last factor that is of particular relevance to in-app marketers.

Any user or player has a typical ‘lifetime’ within an app. It may be days, weeks, months or - more often than you might suspect - years. But at each stage in that lifetime requirements are different. What is useful, helpful and relevant changes. To use one simple example, it’s increasingly common to provide decent amounts of hard currency at the start of the user lifecycle. That means it is NOT the time to promote a real money buy-in.

Instead, in that situation in-app marketing should be all about suggesting ways to spend that currency that maximize engagement and retention. That’s the specific need that a typical user has at that moment in time. A campaign with that focus is likely to be more successful, deliver greater ROI, and for that matter mean a superior user experience.

The broader point would be, align campaigns to consider both what the user would find helpful at that time, and to take advantage of any demand that your app or game may be creating at that moment in time. We’re all familiar with the ‘squeeze’ within free-to-play games. Smart in-app marketers know that that specific moment in time - when demand is at its highest - is the right time to offer players compelling reasons to buy-in and convert for the first time.

If you think that this idea sounds obvious, ask yourself a question: when was the last time you saw a message suggesting you download another app - just after installing the one you are using? Probably pretty recently. Does that make much - or any - sense? How many games fail to convert users because whilst they deliver plenty of ‘stick’ via a gameplay squeeze, they don’t offer a compelling enough ‘carrot’? It’s surprising just how little app developers are targeting messages by which stage in a lifecycle the user is - but at Swrve we think it’s about time they did!