Getting in Tune with Mobile Marketing

November 3, 2017

This week we welcomed Jennifer Wong, VP of Marketing at TUNE, to share her expertise and experience in mobile marketing. As a booming section of the marketing industry, but one still underutilized by some companies, mobile marketing is becoming more and more important in our digital world and we were thrilled to hear her perspective and insights.


(This recap has been edited for length.)




Jennifer Wong at UW AMA


How mobile marketing got its start


In past years, we’ve seen a mobile-first boom because in-game revenue has been a massive part of businesses’ revenues. Some of our fastest growing companies today, though, are coming from the retail space as advertisers spend more dollars driving consumers to their apps. Now it’s more of a balance between games, retail, finance, and commerce. 


Why it’s important


Now the app stores are very saturated, but people are still downloading apps and discovering them in new ways. Ad dollars always follow where the eyeballs are, so if you’re staring at apps all day, there will be companies paying to get their message in front of you—probably in front of you on your phone. Mobile marketing is the most personal way to connect with someone.




In mobile, you usually look at cost of acquisition (cost per download) and that’s only getting more and more expensive. But if companies can track the ROI on ad spend on mobile, they can tell whether that high price is still worthwhile. However, 49% of companies aren’t measuring user engagement and ROI from mobile. Think about it—you can download an app and never open it; one in four apps are only opened once. A lot of companies now are figuring out how to get users to use their app again and again to build consistency. 


Mobile marketing is a world that is complex. It’s not a neat funnel like branding; in the mobile app world it’s much more complicated, because you can measure so much more in this world and there’s so much data to capture. Do you look at acquisition? Engagement? Re-engagement? What about dating apps or travel apps—you don’t need those all the time once you make a match or book your trip. So those companies need to stay top-of-mind, even if it’s not a utility app you’re going to need every day.


Apps are prime real estate, which is why it’s so valuable for companies’ mobile marketing strategies. If it’s there on your phone screen, you think about it every day, and you can see how companies are trying to take advantage of that by experimenting with push notifications, for example.


How to mobile market the right way


Marketers still want people to download their apps, but the ways people are finding their apps these days is changing. Some channels such as App Store discovery, word of mouth, and social media buzz are reducing year to year because of the rise of Advertising.


Something we’ve seen lately is burst campaigns, which are dying out now. Companies can pay a lot to drive a lot of low-quality installs of the app, which ends up increasing organic app rankings through the algorithm but ultimately you’re paying a lot of money for installs by people who won’t be great customers of yours because they don’t care. Algorithms are changing a little bit, but since the app world is so new it’s something that’s been a little bit of a marketing hack people take advantage of, especially if they have huge advertising budgets. 


This leads to some misaligned incentives, like looking at how many downloads you get a month instead of measuring engagement or customer loyalty. Even if you get a ton of downloads, eventually people start deleting apps to free up storage space and speed up their phone. A lot of apps are made for your best customer: most of the time, you won’t download an app from a company you don’t care about, but you’ll have the app if you love a certain company. Many companies have loyalty-reward type of apps, or use them as opportunities for customer engagement. 


Find the right fit, aka Unicorn Dinosaurs rise again


Unicorns: hot startups w billion-dollar valuations

Dinosaurs: old companies with conventional business models

Both: But some are neither. In fact, they’re both. 


Unicorn Dinosaurs are Fortune 500 companies that were really proactive in transforming their business to be mobile-ready. If a Fortune 500 company had multiple apps as a part of their business, they actually did better on stock market returns than companies that didn’t have any apps. More of the consumer-facing companies had apps, of course—manufacturing firms, for example, usually don’t because they’re less relevant.


(Learn more at


It’s no longer just mobile first or a desktop-only approach, but a question of what is the best? Mobile? Web? Cross-platform mobile and web? You need to decide what’s best for your audience. 


Jennifer’s mobile marketing tips

  1. Capture mobile moments—make sure you’re not spamming users with notifications at the wrong time

  2. Knock your paid/organic multiplier: 1.5 is the sweet spot. Make sure your paid installs are leading to organic acquisition. 

  3. Fraud is not just a desktop issue. Bots faking installs has been a big problem and paying attention to deterring fraud is just going to get more and more important. If you’re using influencers, for example, monitor the quality of traffic you’re receiving to make sure your advertising dollars are being well-spent.

  4. Go beyond the install and focus on LTV (lifetime value of your customers). How can you get them to use your app again and again? How can you use apps to drive purchases or store visits? Think about the bigger mobile strategy—the bigger picture. 

  5. Master the mobile marketing funnel. For example…

Discovery: 50 million see add for my app, then 1 million click on the ad for my app.

Conversion: 50,000 users download my app, then 40,000 users open my app.

Engagement & Retention: 34,000 engage with my app, then 10,000 users deeply engage with my app and have high value.


Level one is always the goal, because you know those customers could be customers for life.



What is key to startup success?

First, develop the right product market fit, and make sure you’re fully understanding the value of why customers are choosing your product over a competitor’s—that’s your competitive position. Second, the start-up mentality is to scale as quickly as possible, but there are also some phases where you can do things manually first while you’re small instead of turning to automation.


Is influencer marketing important in the mobile space?

It’s important in any industry, even in the B2B world. Being an influencer doesn’t mean having a reach of 500 million, it just means you have a fully engaged audience. The most important part of influencer marketing is the authenticity, because influencers are sharing so much of themselves and people are attracted to that.


What is your best advice to creating and defining your personal brand? 

I’m always open to sharing ideas and it’s so valuable to meet other marketers. I’ve always prioritized being excellent at what I do so that I have learnings to share. I’d recommend for anyone and their personal brand that they should leverage their personal success—speaking at events in their fields, for example.


What are some of your favorite books that have helped you professionally? 

My favorite marketing book I always recommend is by Ryan Holiday called Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator. For startups, I like The Hard Things About Hard Things or Lean Startup or Zero to One. If you’re not familiar with the startup industry, reading these types of books will help you learn the right language and topics to have deeper conversations when you meet people in the industry.  



For a more in-depth exploration of marketing with Jennifer Wong, she will be teaching Entrepreneurial Marketing (MKTG 455A) in Winter Quarter 2018. View the syllabus here.



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