The mobile growth tech stack: how many tools do you really need?

Tech Stack


Implementing an effective mobile growth tech stack for your mobile app is a balancing act. With so many tools to choose from and data points to measure, it’s easy to understand how no two stacks are created equal. We explore this recently at a Mobile Growth House event at SXSW. The panel of marketing and product experts came up with some interesting and varied takes on mobile app marketing and approaches to building your mobile growth tech stack, how to select the right tools and how to make sure everything runs efficiently, and at scale.


“We use Amplitude for analytics, Appboy for our CRM and Tune for attribution,” said Kevin Shiuan, Sr. Product Manager for cannabis product discovery platform MassRoots. “Those are the main three I think are necessary to get started with any growth stack.”


Stephanie Pilon, Head of Product Marketing for attribution platform Adjust said while the company doesn’t specifically advise people to use one service or another, the nature of their company requires them to use a variety of services.


“We connect into every service you could imagine. I think that’s because we’re sort of the first guys to get the data and then you can use us to pass it on to the other people you want to work with depending on your goals from a marketing point of view.”



Richard Sgro, Director, Solution & Partnership Engagement for mParticle, says everyone has some sort of mobile analytics tool, and what caliber of tool you use depends on how far along the app has progressed.


“It’s either a free tool like a GA or a Flurry or people move into paid tools like Amplitude, Mixpanel. After that, it’s a question of how do you want to action the data. Are you going to use a tool like a Salesforce Marketing Cloud because you’re a large enterprise brand who does a ton of email, or are you a little more mobile-focused so you use something like an Appboy or an Iterable? There will also be tools in place for attribution tracking; we see all the big players, Branch, Tune, Adjust, Appsflyer and so on in the stack,” he said.


Sgro continued, “As you sophisticate, you push beyond into personalization and that’s where you can get into tools like Optimizely or a Leanplum. The common stack is definitely analytics plus acquisition plus marketing automation.”


Another emerging trend explored by the panel is capturing and segmenting specific audiences around event data for the purposes of retargeting.


“You want to build segments so you can go out and target those users with a compelling message to either bring them back to the app or get some action out of them,” Pilon said.


Pilon says another powerful tool app marketers are employing is complementary cross-app promotion. He pointed to some problem areas that lead to higher prices for advertisers around bidding.


“If you took a look at retargeting even further you look at things like stopping cannibalization or lowering the cost of a bid because I think there’s a lot of bidding on the same user that drives the price up. Sowe can eliminate that by sending really targeted lists to one partner and not cannibalizing users anymore,” she said.


Diving further still into retargeting, Mario Aichlseder, VP, Strategic Partnerships for fitness app Runtastic, spoke to the importance of directing that flow based on what is relevant to the user.


“With 15 health and fitness apps available, fitness being quite a complex process, and having a holistic suite of apps out there, it is very important to be relevant to the user ensuring whatever message we send is really dedicated to them. So, knowing if the user has that app installed and knowing the whole event and engagement history of that user within the experience is good to have right at our fingertips.” This attention to detail is why runners have reviewed Runtastic as one of The 5 Absolute Best Running Apps — 2017.


When it comes to building internal tools versus leveraging third-party ones, the panelists talked about the potential trade-offs and considerations.


“For us, because we’re very product focused, I want to make sure we spend all our engineering resources in places that really matter. We try to identify what actually needs to be in-house,” Shiuan said.


“In the beginning when you try to build your product and try to find out what people are engaging with and really love about the product, building a lot of these things in-house doesn’t quite make sense, because if you don’t even have a product, what’s the point of having that baseline growth stack there?”


Some CRM tools price based on active users, which can get expensive as you scale, so choosing appropriate tools based on product stage is critical.


“If you look at very basic toolsets, both mParticle and Adjust allow you to be flexible and super fast in development,” Aichlseder said.


“Then depending on the stage you either focus on getting the product market fit right or you later on focus on segmenting the users and focus on providing them the right messages. If your main goal is to optimize, look into A/B testing tools. If your main job is to get engagement up in the long term, look into CRM tools.”


Check out the full session and all the content from The Mobile Growth House event at SXSW.





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