• Advertising
  • Understanding Consumers

Why In-App Marketing is So Critical Right Now

Matt Kaplan
Content Strategist
8 min read
Posted on May 20, 2020

In the midst of literally everything happening in the world right now, in-app marketing may well be the last thing on your end – even if you’re in the mobile app marketing space. But, if you want to have a direct connection with both current and potential users, then you need to have a high quality in-app marketing campaign in place today. This was true in the past, but it’s especially the case today. 

Note: This is the second post in a three-part blog series. As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads and dramatically disrupts life as normal, here are our thoughts on what our trusted customers and partners can do to weather the storm. To read the first post on understanding consumers today, click here

In this second post, we discuss while why marketers of all stripes need to reach consumers through mobile devices and what a good in-app marketing strategy looks like today. What do brands need to know. 

Understanding the In-App User Experience 

As we noted in the previous post in this series, it’s critical to first and foremost understand the consumer and what they need right now. Once that has been established, you need to then speak directly to them through the media of choice.  

And, increasingly, that is mobile – and by extension the close to 2 million apps now available on the major app stores. April 2020 data from eMarketer highlights this reality: 

  • In 2020, close to a third of all media time will likely be devoted to mobile. In comparison, around 28% of all media time will go towards watching TV and around 15% towards desktop/laptop use. 
  • Americans are expected to spend just over three hours a day on average using smartphones, which represents a close to 14% increase from 2019 figures. 
  • Well over 90% of all time spent using a smartphone is devoted to apps. 

So what does this all show? In short, if you – as a marketer – want to reach consumers, then it’s a good idea to do so through mobile apps. 

This is especially the case with people across the world stuck at home right now. For example, in the U.S., a huge chunk of the population reports playing mobile games and using social media and communication apps more frequently in early April. Americans may have plenty of media options in the home, but mobile is still critical and used often.  

For some marketers, this is a big shift. After all, reaching consumers effectively on a smartphone is very different than reaching someone through TV or even radio. How media is bought, measured and seen differs dramatically on these smaller digital devices.  

But, it’s a shift that marketers need to make – especially right now.  

What Quality In-App Campaigns Should Look Like 

Some brands have been laggards when it comes to in-app marketing. Why is that? 

Historically, the goal of most in-app marketing campaigns was just to get someone to download your app and then engage with your app. As a result, in-app marketing was assumed to just cover tactics like app store optimization (ASO), push notifications (i.e. in-app messages spurring people to use the app or leave positive reviews) and ads with a strong call to action plus download-oriented landing page.  

This isn’t to say that all that isn’t in-app marketing. In fact, for some brands, looking at who opened the app and left good app reviews is still key. 

But, this isn’t where in-app marketing starts and ends. In-app marketing can and should cover a lot more than all this. Even companies that don’t have their own app and/or don’t have performance-centric goals can still very much benefit from in-app marketing. 

Mobile apps can be a great vehicle for telling a branding story. Mobile-first ad formats like fullscreen videos with interactive end cards or rich media interstitials can be a great way for a brand to both reach an audience at scale and capture their attention. Wendy’s is a great example of how mobile marketing can drive and complement branding efforts. 

Of course, as with anything else, the devil is in the details – especially today. It’s critical to understand how consumers feel about advertising and what they expect from your messaging and your brand. Many of us are dealing uncertainty and anxiety right now, and the last thing any brands needs is to come across as tone-deaf during a pandemic. 

As a final point, it’s critical to take one step back and discuss why marketing at all is even necessary right now. After all, considering current economic and practical realities, does it make sense to try to spend limited budget to reach people who have little discretionary income. 

But, it does make to still try and advertise if and when possible. Gaining mindshare is hard, but losing it is easy. Now is the time to reach and directly communicate with consumers.  

Of course, it’s critical to ensure these communications are done with the present conditions in mind. In this present moment, empathy and humanity are crucial. Ideally, the marketing will resonate so much that they will compel users to share that messaging. 

Benefits of In-App Marketing Today 

With everything happening in the world right now, brands may not see in-app marketing – or even marketing at all – as necessary right now. After all, the current situation in the world has had a dramatic impact both on the brands themselves and, of course, on all of us as humans. 

But, brands will benefit from investing in in-app marketing right now. Not only is it an ideal way to reach audiences at scale, even with most of us at home, but it can help brands maintain mindshare and communicate directly with their target audiences. 

Be sure to stay tuned to the third and final installment of this blog series, where we’ll be talking about how brands can identify and understand their best audiences, even while just about everyone is at home. 

About the Author 

Matthew Kaplan has over a decade of digital marketing experience, working to support the content goals of the world’s biggest B2B and B2C brands. He is a passionate app user and evangelist, working to support diverse marketing campaigns across devices. He is currently spending his free time watching too much TV and engaging in various cooking projects. 

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