To better understand the state of mobile app marketing in 2016, mParticle partnered with Grow.co, organizers of the Mobile Acquisition and Retention Google group and the Mobile Apps Unlocked (MAU) summit, to survey its community members — growth-focused mobile marketers working across a range of verticals.
The findings offer quantitative support for many of the themes surfaced by the speakers at MAU last month in Las Vegas, as well as in the dozens of local mobile growth meetups that Grow.co has been co-hosting with mParticle and Branch in cities across the US and Canada. For example:
- The majority of respondents agreed that engagement and retention KPIs have increased in importance year over year.
- Talent issues were among the greatest challenges, with almost three quarters (72%) of all participants saying their biggest challenge was related to “lacking engineering resources” or “team members” or both.
- Relative to other tactics, mobile marketers did not see “traditional” media as particularly effective.
The study also probed more deeply into mobile app marketers’ data strategies. In another recent study, our partners at Amplitude noted that 90% of brands use an out of the box analytics tool, with the majority of marketers, in fact, using more than 2 or more of such tools. Expanding on these findings, mParticle’s study found that the majority of mobile marketers have instrumented third-party growth and retention SDK’s into their apps – with analytics being only one piece of the puzzle. In addition to analytics SDK’s (such as Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, Mixpanel, and Amplitude), Attribution SDK’s (such as Tune, Adjust, and Kochava) were also widely utilized, in addition to several others.
As a category, Email and Mobile Marketing Automation platforms still had sub-50% penetration amongst our survey sample (a finding confirmed by our subsequent review of SDK data provided by our friends at Mighty Signal). Given the high strategic emphasis participants placed on user engagement and retention, and the widespread belief that mobile CRM is indeed an “effective” use of time and resources relative to most other marketing tactics, the implication is that these categories are primed for significant growth over the next few quarters as mobile app marketers seeks to bolster their loyalty and retention KPIs.
One last finding of note from our study was that bigger apps (in this case, apps with marketing budgets greater than $100k) seemed to be moving away from “point to point” data architectures built around SDKs, as scaling SDKs can become an issue. While the majority of them still utilized marketing SDK’s a sizable minority pursued one of two alternatives tacts: either adopting a “walled garden” approach (building data connections internally, despite the aforementioned resource shortages) or using a software data layer (such as mParticle’s).
One thing was very clear: mobile app marketing has come a long way in only a few years and still is evolving fast.