Author’s Note: Andy Carvell is a mobile marketing genius. Former Mobile Growth and Retention for Soundcloud, Co-Founder of Phiture Mobile Growth Consultancy, Mastermind of the Mobile Growth Stack. Clear your schedule.
You know Soundcloud, right?
Well, we asked the guy who led their incredible mobile growth for like, 5 years to come school us on his go-to mobile marketing strategies.
Spoiler: He did, in a big way.
And since we have a really hard time keeping growth tactics to ourselves… we’re gonna tell you what he told us.
Mobile marketing is different
Even if you already rock this stuff on web, mobile is another beast. It’s not intuitive. What’s good for web doesn’t always translate to phones, tablets, … phablets. The metrics are different — the app environment is event-driven.
(Ever tried using Google Analytics for a mobile product? Exquisite pain.)
Mobile marketing is consistently one of the weakest points in people’s product game.
Andy Carvell saw that firsthand when he got to Soundcloud in 2012. Back then, nobody was thinking holistically about how to prioritize mobile product marketing.
So, he created a framework for it. Behold!
Yeah, so just do everything on this chart and you’re golden.
This is a stack — like everything else in tech these days, which makes me wonder if we were all systematically denied pancakes as children.
You pick tactics and technologies based on your goals, build them on top of each other, and make them play together nicely. The mobile growth stack helps you choose what to focus on, what not to focus on, and when to get help.
We’ll dazzle you with some of Andy’s favorites. Then, if you’re still yearning for a river of syrup with a pat of melty butter on top, hit up his Medium for more.
App Store Optimization
First tactic and I’m already about to contradict myself: this one is a lot like web product marketing. Perhaps that makes it a great starting point.
In short, you’ll want to polish up your App Store listing. Make sure you rank well for keywords related to your app. Do some good ol’ fashioned conversion rate optimization throughout your marketing funnel. That includes off-page optimization — any landing pages, ad campaigns, and non-App Store content you have.
From our training with Andy, it sounded like someone from his crew could write a book on ASO.
What? There is a book?
Nab your copy of the Advanced App Store Optimization eBook and you’ll get this growth strategy pretty well handled. It was co-authored by Gabe Kwakyi, co-founder Incipia (they build and market apps), so you know it’s solid gold.
The best way to describe content marketing is to use an example.
Let’s throw it to Sandra Wu, Content Marketing Specialist at Blinkist, and see how they do it:
We’re a reading app that condenses key insights from nonfiction books into quick reads and listens. Most people wouldn’t even know such a product exists, let alone understand why we built it. With Facebook, we get to explain ourselves in two sentences. With content marketing, we get to share our mission in detail — we offer quick insights from books, so people can learn faster and become better versions of themselves.
The goal is to create or use content you already have to enlarge the idea of your mobile product in the minds of your audience — without necessarily selling them directly.
We’ve got tons of advice around content marketing, which you are now Officially invited to check out.
You and I wouldn’t be here if we didn’t want everyone to help us propagate our creations (*cough* share this on LinkedIn *cough*). Naturally, your mobile marketing should optimize your app for viral loops. Little moments that make others want to share, too.
As Andy said:
“Virality is great if you can get it. It’s worth investing some time in. But you can’t force it.”
This comes from knowing your customer. If you pay close attention to behavioral analytics (more on that soon), you may discover those moments.
Skyscanner, for instance, found out people were taking screenshots of their itineraries and texting those screenshots to others. So, they gave their users the ability to share itineraries via text link after they took a screenshot.
It’s less about creating new virality and more about enabling the virality inherent in your product.
The depth of data your mobile app can provide you about your customers far exceeds web analytics.
Send them to the mobile context from other properties you own whenever you can. Take them from web to mobile. From email to your app.
Pinterest will let you preview pins from the web if you’re on mobile — after encouraging you to download the app.
And as soon as you tap a pin, you go to the app download screen. Which brings us to the next tactic…
Deferred Deep Linking
We haven’t quite wrangled the pigs yet. But look — they’re just beyond the sign up / log in screen.
That’s Pinterest’s way of of saying, “We promise we’ll give you what you came all this way for.”
This kind of Deferred Deep Linking can be very effective at creating trust and compelling customers to complete actions.
Persistence pays off. 😉
First Time User Experience
That’s how long you have to show your customers the value of your app before they uninstall it and chuck their phone into the river.
Here are a few examples of ways to engage your new customers quickly.
Partnerships and Integrations
Building relationships is key to mobile marketing success.
That includes relationships with other products.
Done right, it’s super effective and good fun for everyone involved.
Mobile Attribution SDKs
Now we’re moving into the technical end of the mobile growth stack.
Which means we’ve got obscure acronyms like SDK. 🙁
Good thing there’s Wikipedia. 😀
A software development kit (SDK or devkit) is typically a set of software development tools that allows the creation of applications for a certain software package, software framework, hardware platform, computer system, video game console, operating system, or similar development platform. To enrich applications with advanced functionalities, advertisements, push notifications, and more, most app developers implement specific software development kits
To put it bluntly: If someone else has already built it, you don’t have to. And you shouldn’t.
There’s a whole constellation of SDKs out there. 90% of the time, you can solve your problems by licensing one or more of them.
Problems like A/B testing, payments, chats, and attribution (the other obscure term in the room).
Behavioral Analytics SDKs
What’s really awesome is when you integrate your analytics SDK with your attribution SDK. Then, you can do things like segment by acquisition source and mobile marketing campaign.
Mixpanel and Amplitude are a great pair to try that out with. In fact, Amplitude puts behavioral analytics in a very neat nutshell:
Track all the actions your users make in detail and better understand what’s working and what’s not
Once you’ve got your mobile product fully instrumented, you can start to do true A/B testing. Two of our picks:
Hey. I’ve been throwing a lot of dense technical copy at you.
Here’s a herd (flock?) of ostriches to cleanse the palette.
Now, let’s talk about your data.
If you’re just starting out with your Mobile Marketing and Growth Adventure™, odds are you don’t have a data scientist — or a burning desire to build your own data warehouse from scratch.
Sure, there are plenty of 3rd party data visualization and management services.
But trust us: you don’t want to rely solely on a third-party analytics setup.
For starters, you won’t own your data. You also can’t personally guarantee the privacy and security of your data. And as you grow (and hire that intrepid first data wizard), you’ll want more flexibility and control over your data without obligations to third parties.
Early stage startups can get away with it for just a little while. For long term growth and scale — which is what we’re all about — you’ll want your data in the palm of your hand.
It really seems like this section should have a callback to the pancakes riff from earlier, doesn’t it? Well, to be honest, it feels kinda forced. So I’m gonna skip it.
That’s exactly the attitude you should take toward the mobile growth stack.
If a tactic feels forced, stop and ask yourself: “Should I focus on this? Should I not focus on this? Do I know someone who could do this better, faster, and ultimately cheaper?”
No shame in asking for help.