It’s Groundhog Day: Are You Making These Mobile Marketing Automation Mistakes Over and Over Again?

In the 1993 film, Groundhog Day, the protagonist (played by Bill Murray) is forced to relive a single day in his life over and over again until he gets it right. The comedy stems from the fact that Murray makes the same mistakes over until he finally realizes he must change his approach in order to attain happiness in his life.

Two years after that movie premiered, in 1995, the commercial Internet was truly born with the release of the Netscape web browser and early directory services like Yahoo.

Since then, I’ve seen marketers living through their own groundhog day. The technology changes but the mistakes remain the same. And we can’t seem to stop making them.

So it’s no surprise that many of the mistakes mobile marketers are making now, are mistakes that digital marketers (including me) were making way back in 1995.

Here are three of them:

  1. Ignoring what people do after you have their attention.

In the early days of the Web, companies were focused on making a compelling home page, the “front door” of a web site. Then they focused all their energies on driving web users to the home page and tracked “page views” as a compelling metric. We early digital marketers gave little thought to what that user’s experience was when they first landing on our web site and what we wanted them to do after they saw our beautiful home pages.

Today, many app publishers spend their time thinking about user acquisition. Many mobile app makers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars or more on driving downloads.

Then, little or no attention is given to the first time user experience. What happens when they first open an app? How do they discover all the great features you worked so hard to develop? Where do they touch their screen to interact with the app? How do you provide them help and support when they need it?

Fortunately by using a mobile marketing automation approach, you can craft a first-time customer experience that is unique and personal, and drives real business results.

To give one simple example, by replacing the default push “opt in” message we all receive the first time we open an app with a customized opt-in request, delivered later in the user experience, and explaining why push opt-in is beneficial to the user, you’ll increase your push adoption rates measurably.

  1.  Forgetting what to say after the first encounter

In the Groundhog Day movie, Bill Murray tries repeatedly to engage the attention of his romantic interest, played by Andie MacDowell. At first he fails to learn his lesson - and rejection is a daily occurrence. But over time he hones the message and finally learns how to craft his behavior so McDowell will respond.

Similarly, in the early days of the web, we were focused on high volumes of unique users to our web sites, rather than paying attention to the needs of those people who returned over and over, signalling their interest in us and our brands.

And in the same way, a common mistake made by mobile app marketers is to focus efforts on the (undifferentiated) millions who download and failing to deliver for those return visitors who are, in fact, the people who pay the bills in a mobile app business.

The truth is that many people who download your app may never even use it. There are metrics other than downloads that relate more closely to lifetime value including frequency of app usage, signing up for premium services and content and making an in-app or physical purchase. Pay attention to them - and give the users who keep coming back what they are looking for.

  1. Treating all customers the same

In the early Internet days, there were no user personas, no personalized content. There were only brochure web sites, with the same information presented to everyone who came, no matter who they were or what they cared about.

Today, most mobile app experiences are the same for every user, whether this person is a casual downloader of apps or a high-value, revenue generating user.

Modern mobile marketing automation professionals know that they can (and should) change the mobile app experience for each and every user, based on the user’s lifetime value to the firm, the individual’s preferences (based on what they say and what they do in the app) and what the marketer’s goal is for the user’s experience.

The way to do this is to pay attention to what you know about the user, what they tell you about themselves and what you can infer about them via their behavior within the app or perhaps through third-party sources of information (like your CRM system or predictive analytics solution).

But what if your user doesn’t want to tell you about themselves or you don’t know much?   That’s fine. You should keep track of what their implied interests are when using your app and customize the experience for when you DO know what they may want, including the type of deals they respond to, the products they search for and their recency and frequency of app usage.

And here’s one bonus “Groundhog”:

  1. Sending the wrong message

The promise of the Internet was true one-to-one marketing.  With technology and universal access to customers, we could send the right message to the right person at the right time.  And we would do that using email, a straight path directly into our target customer’s cranium.

So what did we do over and over again?  We send the broadest offers to the widest possible distribution list in hope of getting a small fraction of people to pay attention to what we were saying.

Even today, many mobile marketing automation professionals are satisfied with spraying all of their users with the same offer and praying to get enough of a tiny slice of response to make their shouting into the wilderness pay off.

On this groundhog day (which is really rather one of the strangest customs we still observe), let’s recommit ourselves to not committing the same mistakes over and over again. There are plenty of new ones to make after all! And for some more best practices, have a look at our new white paper, “The Top 10 Mobile Marketing Automation Best Practices.”