Learn all the key elements of a world-class mobile marketing platform.



Learn all the key elements of a world-class mobile marketing platform.

What Is A Mobile Marketing Platform?

Think about your smartphone. How much personal information do you have stored on there? If a total stranger hacked into it, they could get a pretty good understanding about who you are.

Mobile is an extremely personal platform. Because of this, it’s also unforgiving. Send someone the wrong push notification and they won’t think twice about deleting your app for good. You need to capture key insights about your users in order to properly engage with them how they want, when they want. But how do you accomplish this?

Cue mobile marketing platforms. Think marketing automation (e.g. Marketo, HubSpot, Pardot) for your mobile app.

Mobile marketing platforms give you the ability to send engaging mobile marketing campaigns to your app users (push notifications, in-app messages, etc.). The best-in-class platforms also grant you deep user insights so you can optimize those campaigns for success.

So how do you know what to look for? In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know about mobile marketing platforms so that you can come armed to vendor discussion with the right questions.








Today, investing in mobile is at the top of the list for many enterprise brands; and it should be. Mobile apps have proven their weight in gold. In 2016, we spent an incredible 900 billion hours using apps across the globe, up 20% from 2015. And while the majority of enterprise companies have been slow to prioritize mobile; the success being enjoyed by early adopters is undisputable:

There’s no denying that mobile is increasingly the first-screen preference. But with that preference comes high expectations from users. It’s not enough to simply have an app. Your app needs to deliver a world-class experience mobile users now expect in the form of personalization and cross-channel capabilities.

How do you deliver on this tall order?

In order to deliver a personalized app experience, you need a mobile marketing platform that makes it easy to use data from multiple sources to build meaningful insights on every user.


But what if I just want to send a few push notifications?

We can’t tell you how many marketers we’ve heard tell us, “Personalization is great, but right now I just want to send a push.” And while this is a great place to start, don’t let short-term goals hinder long-term success. You need to make sure you invest in a platform that is flexible enough to grow with your organization’s needs. The fact of the matter is, users are going to continue to demand a personalized app experience. If you don’t chose a platform that allows you to grow and eventually deliver on these expectations, you’ll find yourself having to go through the vendor selection process all over again in a year.

Below is an example of how you can grow your push notification strategy over time with the right mobile marketing platform: 

         CRAWL                        WALK                            RUN

Click to enlarge


How do you find the right Mobile Marketing Platform?

Finding the right mobile marketing platform requires research, but there are certain universal needs marketers should make sure they address. In this guide, we outline what mobile marketing means today, and the “must-haves” to look out for in choosing a mobile marketing vendor. Plus, we’ve included a bonus checklist for you to have on-hand as you research potential solutions!








The Data is In The Details.

Before we dive into the key elements of a world-class mobile app user experience --here’s something ANY platform you evaluate needs at its core—powerful analytics.

Powerful analytics are important for a number of reasons, here are just a few:

  1. You can’t improve the app experience and deliver relevant messages if you don’t know who your customers are and how they’re using your app.
  2. Analytics are critical for identifying different groups of users, which can form the basis for the audiences you send specific messages to.
  3. You want to identify who your most valuable users are and where they come from. This makes it easier to hone your acquisition strategy so that you aren’t wasting time and money acquiring bad users.

 Why Not Have a Separate Analytics Solution?

We often are asked if it’s okay to use one platform for analytics and another for marketing. The answer is that in most cases, it’s not a good idea. Obviously, since Localytics combines analytics and marketing in one platform, we think it’s pretty important, but this is more than just a sales pitch. If you choose to go with two separate solutions for analytics and marketing, it becomes very difficult to make your analytics actionable. Here are some additional issues that are often encountered when separate solutions are used for analytics and marketing:

  • Data is siloed - Certain teams or personnel have access to the analytics tool and others have access to the marketing tool. Analysts can’t understand how the data they are seeing is being driven by marketing campaigns and marketers can’t see the analytics they need to be data-driven.
  • It’s difficult to maintain - When you are using two solutions, your app developers are burdened with twice the work: they need to integrate and keep two SDKs up-to-date and often need to add every event tag twice.
  • There are two vendors to deal with - This means two vendors to get through your company’s approval process, two different points of contact for support, and two relationships to maintain.
  • All marketing platforms should have data insights - Think of your current marketing automation platform. Odds are, it has all of your campaign insights right inside the tool so that you can optimize for success, so why treat mobile any differently?

Below is a handy checklist for evaluating the data capabilities of mobile marketing platforms:

Does the platform track the following high-level usage metrics?

  • Sessions
  • Session length
  • Unique Users
  • New Users
  • Location
  • Purchase Frequency
  • Gender
  • Device
  • Push Enabled
  • Acquisition Source
  • Acquisition Campaign

Does the platform allow you to do the following with user data?

  • Create user profiles to store key information for segmentation and personalization
  • Filter reports so that you can view analytics for specific groups of users and split reports so you can compare analytics between groups
  • Create custom in-app events to track users’ actions inside the app
  • Understand the paths  users take as they navigate through your app (screenflow)
  • Monitor user retention over time
  • Use predictive analytics to predict what a user will do in the future
  • Track app uninstalls
  • Segment users based on in-app behaviors
  • Create user funnels to understand the path to conversion and where users are dropping off
  • Track revenue and the lifetime value of your app users
  • Import and export data to other systems using APIs without incurring charges 


Does the platform grant you the following insights on your mobile marketing?

  • The ability to A/B test your mobile messaging against a control
  • Understanding the impact of your mobile messaging:
    • Conversion
    • Engagement
    • Revenue
    • Churn









Achieving mobile greatness starts with your mobile engine -- that is, the platform that powers all of your mobile activities. Below we explore the key elements your mobile marketing platform should have:

1.) Powerful Targeting

To create truly powerful mobile app user experiences, you need to target users based on what they have done in your app at a very granular level. This allows you to serve users highly relevant and compelling messages that significantly outperform.

The ability to combine profile and event data is key to creating an individualized user experience, which keeps users engaged. Here are a few ways to create individualized mobile messaging:

  1. Creating an audience based on their profile attributes. This could be anything from users who have had only one session in the app in the past 30 days, users who have favorited a certain item, or more simple demographic information about the user.
  2. Creating an audience based on their behavioral attributes. These attributes mainly consist of users who performed specific events while using the app, such as adding an item to their cart or users who read a specific article.
  3. Creating an audience based on both profile attributes and behavioral conditions. This could be sending a push notification about new content to users who have read a similar article in the app before, but have not had a session in the last week.

Consider the following two scenarios:




News app sends breaking news about a Boston Red Sox trade deal to all users who regularly consume baseball content





News app sends breaking news about a Boston Red Sox trade deal to all users who regularly consume baseball content and have ‘Red Sox’ listed as favorite baseball team

Mobile is an unforgiving platform. If you send the above broadcast message to fans who don’t care about the Red Sox (Ahem...Yankees fans?) many will disable push notifications or even churn. Detailed user targeting allows you to send messages to the right audience at the right time.

Quality > Quantity.

2) Multiple Messaging Channels

Good communication is key with your app users. Just sending push notifications? Then you’re missing out on engaging with app users through other highly effective messaging channels, such as in-app and inbox.




Even more important than communicating with your users across different app messaging channels? Making that communication personal and relevant to them. Your mobile marketing platform needs to be able to send dynamically personalized messages, based on a user’s profile data and in-app actions.

Here’s the difference:


Click to enlarge


Your mobile marketing platform should put your data to work for you, so that you can segment and tailor all of your mobile messaging to be very specific to your mobile users’ unique interests.

3) Strong Campaign Reporting

To succeed in mobile, it’s essential to be data-driven. You need to have deep insights into how your marketing campaigns are influencing user behavior so that you can prove ROI. This is especially important given how fickle mobile app users are.

So what kind of data insights and reporting do you need out of your mobile marketing platform?

  • Data to understand which messages resonate and which ones don’t so that you can optimize and send more high quality messages over time. Basically, the ability to move beyond conversion rate to get a holistic view of the impact your messaging is having. Think about how many push notifications you receive - how many do you swipe-through right on the spot? Just because your CTR is low, doesn’t mean your push wasn’t well received. Often times, users will read the push notification but not open, with intentions of acting on the notification when they have free time. On the flip side, if you send a really bad push notification, a user might just immediately uninstall your app. Understanding this level of detail about your mobile messaging is essential to driving user retention and ROI.



  • A/B/n testing (multivariate testing): Marketers live or die by A/B testing when it comes to email and website pages, so why should mobile marketing be any different? Testing out different copy, imagery, and overall messaging is key to understanding what resonates with users, and how to optimize accordingly. But since trying out new tactics can be a bit scary, having multivariate testing, or the ability to send messaging to a varying quantity of users (say, 80/20) is key. This way, you can test out new messaging on a small subset of your audience, while the majority receive a proven message and avoid avoid risking overall campaign performance for the sake of a test.




  • Having a control group: A control group is a small group of users who don’t receive a campaign, despite qualifying for it. The reason marketers use control groups is to truly understand the impact of their campaigns in terms of influencing user behavior:


As the above highlights, if you just look at Message A vs. Message B in a given campaign you’re running, you’ll presume Message A the winner. However, in this particular case no news is good news to your mobile app users. Those who didn’t receive any messaging actually converted at a higher rate than those who did. Without a control group, you’d end up sending a message that suppresses conversion...


4.) Platform That Supports Omni-Channel Marketing Strategy

Your customers expect to be able to interact with your brand how they want, when they want, across a variety of touchpoints. And they expect that this is done seamlessly. Making sure that your mobile marketing platform plays nicely with your marketing stack and CRM is critical.

Here are the omni-channel capabilities to look for in a mobile marketing platform:

  • Flexible integrations
  • Use APIs to share and receive data with your various platforms, including:
    • Audience data
    • Campaign data
    • Customer profile data
    • Event data
  • The ability to access the raw data your marketing platform collects for things like creating an omni-channel user database or advanced analysis in a Business Intelligence tool.


5.) Flexible platform that grows with your needs

You want a mobile marketing platform that has advanced capabilities but understands your unique business needs. In other words, your platform should grow with you. Many companies are looking to crawl before they walk, and that means they simply want to start sending push and in-app messages. But if you invest in a point solution just for push notifications or a platform with limited targeting capabilities, can you imagine the headache you’ll get when you want to do more?

You need a mobile marketing platform whose price and structure scales with you as you grow. A platform that you can add additional capabilities to over time as your mobile marketing becomes more sophisticated. That way, you won’t have to find and learn a new product as you mature.

Here are some initial offerings to consider:

  • Does the platform offer all of the core functionalities you need  or will you need to invest in multiple platforms?
  • Does the platform allow you to do basic tasks like mobile messaging, but also offers more advanced capabilities you can grow into?
  • Can the platform take in data and leverage it effectively?


6. Scalable Pricing: There are several different ways that mobile marketing platforms charge for usage. It’s important to be aware of this, and understand the pros and cons of each as you scale. Here’s a breakdown of the most popular mobile marketing platform pricing models:

1) Total Number of Users

  • Pros: This is very cost effective for smaller apps with less users
  • Cons: You are being charged for every person who has your app installed on their smartphone, even if they never open your app

2) Monthly Active Users

  • Pros: A much fairer way to charge for services based on the amount of people who actively use your app
  • Cons: Different platforms define Monthly Active Users (MAUs) differently. For example - some platforms will charge based on who you message, even if they’re not actively engaging with you. This can discourage you sending re-engagement push notifications.

3. Additional Charges: As with any platform, additional charges can occur. Do your due diligence to understand the following:

  • How the mobile marketing platform handles overages
  • Any fees associated with importing or exporting data between your various platforms


(And we've got the checklist you need)


(And we've got the checklist you need)

According to Ad Age, 75% of all content consumption will happen via mobile by the end of 2017. And while many companies have started investing in mobile apps, they’ve given less thought to their strategy and execution. Treating mobile marketing campaigns as a one-off promotion is a surefire way to fail.

But since mobile is just one channel, it’s important to think of it in the context of your business plan. Do your mobile users browse in-app before making purchases in-store? How many of your users are engaged enough that they would use a mobile coupon? Essentially: how are your mobile users acting within and participating as a part of your overall marketing and sales funnels?

Knowing this will help you create a more valuable app and a stronger marketing channel for your brand, and having the right mobile platform as part of your marketing ecosystem is key to pulling this off. Choose the solution that best fits your needs as an organization.


Download Your Free Mobile Marketing Platform Must-Haves Checklist: