Successful Mobile App Engagement Strategies That Drive Results, Featuring MLB (Major League Baseball) Advanced Media

by Roger Woods

posted on 07-12-2016

Mobile app engagement has become key to an effective digital-marketing strategy. However, brands still struggle with putting a successful engagement strategy in place. Those that have — like Major League Baseball — are finding tremendous returns and building deeper relationships with baseball fans everywhere.

Back in the day, our engagement opportunities with brands were so limited. For instance, I collected basketball trading cards as a kid, and my David Robinson (San Antonio Spurs Center) rookie card shined the brightest in my eyes. This was a single, static connection with his personal brand as well as the team’s brand. The team had no way to open a deeper relationship from that single, static connection.

Today, mobile apps provide a dynamic, two-way engagement. But, not all launches go as expected. Many apps are doomed for the app graveyard — and usage decay can be rapid for some apps. Customers expect more from their mobile experiences nowadays, with 26 percent of apps being used only once. Factors that contribute to poor mobile engagement include:

Successful app engagement leaves the user saying “This app understands me. It keeps me engaged or finds info for me quickly so I can move on.”

So, what makes an effective mobile app strategy?

From Build to Engagement — Focus on Optimization.
Success begins with planning, keeping your eyes on the ball that is optimization. How do we optimize our mobile-engagement strategy? What should we focus on to acquire and sustain a mobile app relationship? I see three key buckets, including:

  1. Defining how the app will be promoted and delivered. How do we drive users to the app store, and once they have downloaded the app, how do we sustain long-term engagement?
  2. Evaluating what mobile behaviors are telling us and then leveraging those behaviors into updates, new releases, and new functionalities. What do the numbers — such as session frequency, unique opens, location, etc. — tell us about preferences and needs?
  3. Determining what optimizations and messaging will drive routine and extraordinary use of the app. How do we optimize push messaging or in-app messaging to drive additional engagements?

Personalized Mobile App Experiences Are Crucial.
Successful mobile engagement can’t happen without delivering a personalized mobile app experience. Mobile is the most personal channel you have — people put your real estate on their devices. Customers want relevant, personal experiences with our brands. Therefore, we should serve personalized, contextual app experiences.

For example, during my Summit session with Will Edmondson and Damien Eckert, co-directors of analytics for MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM), Will mentioned that MLBAM provides mobile digital operations for all 30 major-league teams. It’s mobile app strategy provides the same quality experience to fans all over the world but serves personalized, contextual content about teams based on location, user behavior, and other criteria.

MLBAM believes mobile is the first screen for engagement with MLB.com. So they are rolling out a fresh mobile customer-engagement platform by bringing together the in-stadium and out-of-stadium experiences. Digital ticketing, flexible loyalty programs (in which rewards can be redeemed in stadiums), in-stadium refreshment orders, and easy purchases of MLB merchandise are all parts of the experience whether you’re at the ballpark or at home.

What Is the Value Proposition?
Now that we’ve built the app to deliver a personalized experience, what content, offers, and other elements can we send via mobile that present value that the user can’t obtain anywhere else? To be effective, we have to think of when and where our customers use their devices and then anticipate their needs and serve value in a timely, delightful way.

For instance, baseball fans can use the MLB app to watch live action, see current scores, and view game highlights. As a bonus, fans can see history in action — like a no-hitter going on at another ballpark — and easily follow the action from their seats.

Data Is the Clutch Performer.
Of course, delivering a contextual, personalized experience relies on data. MLBAM’s Damien Eckert explained that MLBAM’s mobile analytics uncover how fans are consuming baseball content in-venue, identify fans who frequently attend road games, and surface other valuable insights. Damien mentioned in-app messaging and geolocation (via beacons) as being crucial to their ability to connect. They found 74 percent of fans are watching in-game highlights, while 85 percent are checking scores for other games while sitting at the park.

Data must be actionable. MLBAM looks at how they can leverage the data to serve in-game messaging, to suggest merchandise or refreshments, and to offer future tickets for home games while the action is going on.

So, personalized, contextually relevant content that drives a dynamic, delightful experience is critical to an effective mobile app strategy. We must deliver value in the mobile experience that isn’t available elsewhere. Finally, we must rely on the frequent “mobile moments” in which our app becomes the cleanup hitter, recognizing that the bases are loaded and delivering a homerun in the bottom of the ninth!

How are your mobile moments playing out? Let me know what you think by reaching out on Twitter or LinkedIn. You can also learn more by watching the full Adobe Summit session.

Topics: Digital Transformation

Products: Analytics