Using Data-Driven Marketing to Grow Travel Apps – Post 3 of 4


In Post 2 of our travel app marketing series, we discussed the right metrics against which to optimize your mobile app promotional programs. Today, we’re going to examine some travel specific use cases in which taking a data-driven marketing approach can help drive significant ROI improvements.

Once you are collecting the right data on key customer events in your Android and iOS travel apps, it’s time to put that data to work. Use individual and audience insights to power segmented and customized marketing programs. Here are seven key mobile app marketing use cases in which customer event data can play a huge role in improving revenue, customer engagement rates and profitability.

  1. Optimized Vendor Allocation
  2. Broad-Based Mobile Retargeting
  3. Broad-Based Cross-Device Retargeting
  4. Reactivating Cart Abandoners
  5. Bringing Lapsed Customers Back to Buy
  6. Advanced Lookalike Modeling
  7. App Cross-Marketing

1. Optimized vendor allocation: Collecting data on all of the paid and organic events that drive installs and other desirable actions is the first step toward having the information you need to assess vendor performance and efficiency.

Analyze the results of each of your media partners so you can delvier the right mix of media to maximize return on ad spend.
In addition to enabling you to allocate your spend in the ways that are most accretive to your Android and iPhone app revenue goals or other KPIs, you can also ensure that you don’t pay multiple vendors for the same install. “Deduplication” can drive a savings of 20% or more on your overall CPI. The more partners you use, the greater the potential for duplication.

Field Insights: Apsalar mobile app analytics and attribution clients have used this technique to radically increase the size of their customer bases. The payback from ROAS-optimized vendor allocations is immediate AND lasting. Deduplication also offers immediate ROI benefits. It usually reveals that high quality media vendors are far more efficient than those that seem to offer remarkably efficient CPIs.

2. Broad-based mobile retargeting: Retargeting is the fastest growing sector of app marketing, and among the fastest growing for digital and mobile marketing in general. And the reason is because it works outstandingly well. By concentrating on high-potential app user segments, you increase your share of voice with these “consumers that matter,” and can deliver customized messages geared to need states.

Here are two examples specific to travel apps:

  • Apps can target segments of their users who explore destination information but have not demonstrated intent to transact. This engagement state often represents a very big chunk of travel app users – one that can be cost-effectively reached with tailored messages that drive deeper engagements.
  • OTA apps can target users who have transacted for a low margin item, like an airline ticket, but have never used the app to make a higher-margin hotel or rental car reservation.

Field Insights: Our data for app marketing campaigns show that travel apps were among the first movers for broad-based mobile retargeting. Early interest was focused on using retargeting to drive more high-margin events, like hotel bookings. Now the use of retargeting is growing to encompass more event types, including some that relate to increasing exploration and search engagement rather than driving immediate revenue.

3. Cross-device mobile retargeting: Through partner-ships with device graph companies, it is now possible to anonymously target individuals across screens by connecting third-party cookies from the PC and mobile web with device advertising IDs from the app world. The number of companies doing this at the time of this writing is small, but we expect these figures to climb rapidly in Q4 2015 and 2016.

Field Insights: Pioneers in cross-screen app user targeting tell us that they do so to avail themselves of the low costs per impression in PC (and mobile web) Display. Device graphs also help these clients gain a richer understanding of customer interests and behavior that they also can put to use in remarketing.

4. Cart abandon reactivation: This use case is one of the key drivers of the effectiveness of retargeting. By reaching out to users who have demonstrated strong in-tent signals but have not yet transacted, it is possible to drive a significant portion of these users back to transact.

The percentage who return depends on at least six criteria:

  • Category dynamics
  • How fast retargeting starts after abandon
  • Price point
  • Size of discount offer (if any)
  • Whether it would be a user’s first- or a repeat-purchase
  • How many retargeting messages are received

Field Insights: Cart abandoner targeting works if your app has sufficient scale to accumulate enough abandoner IDs to meet the audience targeting minimums for your preferred vendor(s). IIf you do not have that scale, you would do well to focus on broad-based retargeting until your business has achieved greater scale.

5. Bringing lapsed users back to buy: As we all know, the number of apps on a typical mobile device far exceeds the number that are used regularly. Recent figures from Nielsen in the US show that the average smartphone bears about 100 apps, of which about 15 are used regularly.

Many mobile apps lose more than 80% of their customers in just the first month after the install. Given those dynamics, it is critical to keep your app top-of-mind, and one way to do that is to remind users after N days of inactivity. Understanding past travel exploration and booking patterns is critical here; it obviously makes a lot more sense to re-mind a lapsed user who books a trip every week than one who only books a few times a year

Field Insights: This tactic works for driving re-engagement with an app as well as encouraging incremental purchases. Care should be taken to understand the typical travel industry buying patterns of your app users so that you know when and how often to deliver your messages. Driving sustained use of companion iOS and Android apps is a fairly uncommon tactic thus far in the industry, because there is little direct revenue attributable to those apps. But as more and more travel companies seek to replace labor with self-service apps, the financial case may become more enticing.

6. Advanced lookalike modeling: Travel companies have been leveraging lookalike modeling for acquisition efforts in the PC realm for years for both marketing programs and app development insights, so it should come as no surprise that it is a fast-growing area for app marketing. Likely, many of the app media partners you work with are already leveraging lookalike models on your behalf.

Lookalike modeling is most effective when a brand collects and analyzes all of its installs and customers FROM ACROSS ALL MEDIA VENDORS, in order to understand the complete picture of its customer base. While sophisticated media partners can do a good job with lookalike modeling using only the installs that they drive, there is no substitute for the broadest possible view. Another key element of brand-centered lookalike modeling is the opportunity to identify more target audience seg-ments. By arming your media partners with ALL the segments, you will empower them to drive even better results for your brand.

Field Insights: While more brands are taking steps to collect and leverage all of their customer data, too many punt on this challenge, with the result that they limit the scale that they can obtain for their app business. By creating a common data store of customer profiles from across all vendors, a brand can not only safeguard its information and prevent data leaks, it can also ensure that all of its marketing programs are informed by the best possible customer insights.

7. App cross-sell: Users of your related apps are a natural place to start prospecting for new users/customers. First, the cost to acquire them for the second app will likely be much lower. Second, the strong customer profiles that you have for the first app will help you segment users to identify ideal targets for your new app. You can then deliver segmented in-app messaging for better response rates. You’ll be able to do so by examining.

Field Insights: In our interviews with marketers, we heard that sometimes there is territoriality tension between marketing teams for different apps.

Really try and break this down in your mobile app marketing. In addition, it’s helpful to explore ways to get creative in messaging to attract cross-users. While the users of one app are likely a good prospect base for another, you need to unlock your teams’ creativity in order to make the best use of resources and drive the highest response rates.

In tomorrow’s post we will discuss how to get more people to convert in-app, and provide some final thoughts and recommendations.

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