Guest Post: Retargeting for mobile messaging

How an old marketing tool becomes new again

by Brendan O’Kane, CEO with OtherLevels

Imagine the following scenario: – you’re deploying an email campaign to promote a new product launch. You’ve crafted your messages and sent them out to several audience segments that are likely to be interested. The result: 40 per cent of customers who received the email make a purchase. But 60 per cent didn’t buy? Would you leave it at that? Certainly not! You would send them a follow-up email.

Through decades of experimentation and the refinement of tracking and analytics, online brands, offline brands and retailers have mastered the art of retargeting.

This is done through catalogues; direct mail; telemarketing,;web banner advertising; search engine marketing; and email.

“This tried-and-true technique is starting to establish a presence in the mobile industry using push notifications, SMS and other forms of mobile messaging”

Retargeting boils down to well-informed persistence: – when customers don’t convert, marketers send and monitor a series of follow-up messages.

These test new offers; different copy; or multiple calls to action to ensure that no opportunity for a conversion is missed.

A great example of successful direct mail retargeting is the ubiquitous ‘trial offer’ disk campaign that AOL carried out during the ‘90s.

According to former CEO, Steve Case, while AOL spent about $300 million on those disks, their number of subscribers rose from 200,000 at the company’s 1992 IPO to about 25 million a decade later.

That growth was due in part to the company’s persistence in retargeting consumers who received a disk in the mail but did not sign up.

Tactics included offering more free hours of online time; focusing on different benefits of the service; and changing the size or colour of the package.

Then measuring every possible outcome: – didn’t subscribe; subscribed; or passed along to someone who did.

Today, this tried-and-true technique is starting to establish a presence in the mobile industry for marketers using push notifications, SMS and other forms of mobile messaging.

Retargeting tactics applied to mobile

How would retargeting work if you were launching a push notification campaign through your mobile app to promote a product?

First off, you would run an A/B split test – meaning you would send out different versions of one message to determine which is most effective in driving conversions.

Then, in order to maximize ROI, you would send follow-up messages to those who didn’t convert, just as you would with desktop email or other media.

You might even send follow-up messages to those who did convert to increase ROI even more.

So, let’s say you’ve conducted an A/B test which showed that your winning message, B, had a 10 per cent higher conversion rate than message A.

In order to retarget non-converting customers, you’d first consider all possible outcomes of the split test for each message: – open with conversion; open with no conversion; and no open at all.

You could retarget in any of these ways: -

  • Everyone who opened message A but did not convert is sent the winning split test message.
  • Everyone who opened message B but did not convert is sent a more enticing message, perhaps offering bonus points.
  • Everyone who didn’t open either message A or B is sent a message with a more urgent call to action.

Each of these approaches can help you make sure you’ve left no stone unturned in your quest to maximize sales.

Making sure your messages make it past the finish line

When it comes to retargeting, think of it like making it to the proverbial finish line.

It’s the last-mile sprint that gives marketers one more chance to engage; re-engage; and convert.

Covering every point along the analytics path – action analytics followed by A/B testing followed by retargeting – is critical to driving engagement and conversions on mobile for today’s brands and retailers.

If you are retargeting some of your campaigns but not mobile, you are missing out on major opportunities to engage with your customers on the devices they love most.

Taken as a whole, mobile analytics provides the intelligence needed to help you get the absolute most out of each and every message you send – and make it across the finish line every time.

Author biog

As CEO of OtherLevels, Brendan O’Kane brings more than 20 years of experience in the online and mobile ecosystem. Under Brendan’s leadership, OtherLevels’ expert team of programmers, designers, analysts and marketers gauge the effectiveness of mobile marketing messages for top game developers, brands and publishers around the world.

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