Mobile Marketing 2015: Rethink Customer Acquisition, Intent Targeting

Bright I'm immensely excited about how completely mobile platforms impact our lives.

Not just the hyper-fast access information and being able to call whomever you want wherever you are, but also in more fundamental ways around the globe by empowering farmers to get better rates for their crops, or helping children to learn in new ways, or making revolutions ever more efficient.

I'm a lot less excited when I think about the imagination that we've brought to bear on mobile platforms and business/marketing. Legions of companies (large and extra large) still don't fundamentally grok the sweet power that this platform brings with it. They are slow to grasp new opportunities to rethink customer relationships, to revolutionize products and services, marketing, advertising, acquisition, and to deliver delight and make people happy. They are still stuck, for the most part, in 1980s thinking.

I want to try and fix a little bit of that in this post.

I'll share two examples of companies that are doing something non-normal when it comes to mobile marketing. Specifically they are re-thinking four key success factors that make will make any business successful in the future:

    1. Customer acquisition
    2. Moving from shouting to providing value
    3. Re-imagining what it means to get access to customer data and
    4. Behavior/intent targeting (this one is so cool!)

Two companies, Skullcandy and TripIt, delivering on four amazing outcomes that inspire us to set the bar significantly higher for our mobile efforts in 2015 (or sooner!).

Reality Check / Don't Stink Today, If Possible.

It is hard to talk about AMAZING, INCREDIBLE, LET'S AIM TO REINVENT THE FUTURE marketing when the current state of affairs is so poor. And it is.

Here's a representative example.

I'm on the road a lot and to book an upcoming flight, I take out my Samsung Galaxy S3 (my review + tips) and type in the name of my favorite website, Travelocity. I see a link to Cheap Flights under their search results, I click on it, the page loads, and I start crying…

travelocity mobile experience

How it is possible that in 2012 an organization as successful, as profitable, and as full of intelligent people as Travelocity has still not figured out how to configure their CMS to detect a mobile browser user agent id and serve me a mobile-friendly webpage?

I pinch and zoom and I try to use the page. But my tears are in the way. I give up.

Heartbreaking but Travelocity is not the exception to the rule.

I go back to Google and try Kayak, :(, and then Hotwire, :(. Finally, just when my tears are almost exhausted I type in "cheapflights" and I smile…

kayak hotwire cheaptickets mobile experience

Now was that really hard?

An astonishing percent of travel-related queries now happen on mobile platforms. If you are in the travel business, please consider meeting the lowest bar God could have created: Deliver a smart phone – and tablet friendly – website.

And travel is by no means unique; try any of your normal brands. You'll cry most of the time.

2009 was the year of mobile. It is time to fix your website. Please. Let's not wait and see if this mobile thing is really a fad. It is not too late to be early.

While you are at it, consider having a non-stinky mobile app. This is the lowest bar there is: The simplest, most intuitive way to complete the core tasks of your digital existence.

Remember, at least for now, fingers on these devices belong to a highly prized & desirable demographic. You want to be BFFs with them!

If your company has a non-stinky mobile website and mobile app then congratulations: you have successfully solved the problem of 2009! Celebrate a little.

But then ponder this: Is this the best we can do with mobile?


Re-think Customer Acquisition, Brand Engagement.

Why should we rely on shouting on TV or Radio to acquire new customers? Why should we persistently pimp our products and services on Facebook or Twitter hoping someone will read our feed? Why should we wait for the Bing/Google/Yandex auction to work in our favor to ensure our ad shows up in front of the right people?

Why not rethink acquisition?

Why should we spend our marketing budget on the "99 guaranteed ways to make your video go viral" to deliver a great brand ad? Why should we wait for someone to walk into our store to be wow-ed by our new paint/furniture/experience? Why should we hope and pray that you love our latest ad with the cute baby and get a positive brand impression?

Why not rethink branding? Why not rethink brand value?

Mobile presents a unique opportunity to shift from interruption to becoming a persistent part of someone's life. I'm very excited about this possibility for all of us.

Let me give you an example.

Like everyone in California, I surf. ^)

To fit surfing into my three concurrent jobs, two small kids, and one magnificent spouse lifestyle I need a surf reports app that will give me precise information about the waves.

I do what everyone does: I type that query into Google on my mobile phone. I'm surprised to see an AdWords ad for a Skullcandy app.

Wait. Don't they make headphones? And is it not true that you can't wear headphones while you surf?

surf reports app google query

The ad description is for an app that sounds exactly like what I need, so I click on it. Rather than going to a lame webpage with links to iTunes or Google Play, the ad recognizes the platform I'm on and takes me directly to the app download page on the Google Play store. How unexpectedly delightful!

Two clicks and ten seconds later, I'm in the app!

skullcandy mobile app

You will notice very quickly, as I did, that this is not a "let's pimp headphones aggressively" app. In fact, on the main menu there is everything except pimping. TV and music to deliver a great brand experience. Snow, skate, surf and motox reports are perfectly targeted to the potential audience's tastes.

It takes just one click to find surf reports (auto location detection via GPS is so cool!). I pick the beach with the best waves and place a call to my boss to let her know I'll be working from home for the rest of the day. Data-driven decision making! :)

The Skullcandy app includes other micro-conversions, such as news about the company and its sponsored athletes. If you work hard enough, you can find a link to sign up for a mailing list or the macro-conversion of buying some headphones.

skullcandy mobile app value

But the app overwhelmingly exists to do just two things: 1. Selflessly deliver an incredible amount of value to Skullcandy's target audience and 2. Do so in a beautiful (for their audience :) and immersive brand experience.

For that, Skullcandy gets the greatest gift any company can get from me: Attention. It is manifested as an icon on the home screen of a device that never leaves my side. All because they made my life a little bit better.

I see that icon every day. They've never asked me to buy their headphones (who likes a nag?), but since I've had their app, I've purchased six pairs of Skullcandy headphones for my family and to give away.

I call this phenomenon utility marketing.

from interruption to life presence utility marketing

In normal marketing, we do research and bidding and guessing and demographic / psychographic / behavior targeting and so much more just to guess when to interrupt people with a message about our brand.

Utility marketing is about delivering such incredible value that you simply become part of your audience's life!

Completely coincidently, I received the below tweet just as I was drafting this post. It took me a second to get it, and then a few more seconds to locate the icon (can you find it faster?)…

paul huggett iphone icon

But I was thrilled to see my utility marketing strategy in action!

It made my day. Thank you Paul !!

One other quick favorite example of a company that does utility marketing really well on mobile platforms: Procter & Gamble. My Beauty Adviser, Iams Vet 24/7, Stain Brain , the uber-famous SitOrSquat and the fun Crunch Band are just some examples of apps that allow P&G, at a very low cost, to become part of our lives by helping us look beautiful, solve pet problems, remove stains and find a clean public restroom in a hurry.

So, what is your company's mobile strategy? Interruption or utility marketing? Is there anything compelling and of value that you deliver, selflessely, to your current and potential audiences?

If you don't, it is time to future-proof your marketing strategy, because the world is most definitely moving to utility marketing.

And for now it is pretty cheap. A decent mobile app costs infinitely less than producing a single TV commercial, , and — done right — delivers a hyper-relevant audience with whom you can build a relationship unlike what is possible via any other channel on the planet. And you'll never have to remember to interrupt them, because you'll be part of their life already!

Get off the sidelines. Re-think customer acquisition and brand engagement.

You'll notice that along with the other two benefits above you are also collecting data about your customers (with permission). That brings me to my second in the future when we all do this it is so cool example.

Re-think Customer Data Acquisition, Intent Targeting/Monetization.

Skullcandy and P&G are (with permission) collecting anonymous data about user behavior in their apps. They can learn a lot about what customers do in the apps and improve them to make them even more delightful. [Google Analytics Mobile Application Analytics Suite]

But what if we make data collection the primary purpose of our mobile app and then use that data (with permission) to create hyper-targeted, right moment, right time monetization strategies?

In lay terms: Why not deliver such incredible value to our customers that they are willing to share their data with us, which in turn (with permission) we can use to become smarter about how we money?

Sounds incredible, does it not?

Here's a great example of such a marketing strategy in action, and it is only possible in any robust sense on a mobile platform.

One of my favorite apps is TripIt. I simply email the air, hotel, car rental confirmation to TripIt and they organize it beautifully into a cohesive itinerary for my trip. I can access it on the web, but more importantly, I can have it all on my phone in an app.

As you can see I have the Pro version of the app (note: this is method No. 1 of how TripIt makes money). Here's what a complete itinerary looks like for a recent trip:

tripit pro android app

I also get flight delay alerts, maps, directions and so much more. I'm also a Pro member of TripIt (method No. 2 for who they make money — $49 per year).

The app is really good. And TripIt could stop there.

But why do that?

I'm already giving them so much of my data. Why not use that data to find new monetization strategies?

So TripIt does something very smart. It monitors my trips, and it notices that for my trip to Orlando I've only sent in email confirmation for the flights. The hotel is missing…

tripit orlando

Consider what an incredible gift this is! I'm not randomly searching Google. I'm not upper or lower funnel. I'm not watching the Broncos on TV (Go Manning!) and maybe on the lookout for a relevant TV ad. I'm telling them where I'm going to be, and that I don't have a hotel! No guessing! And time to move into action.

So here's what they do … within 24 hours I get this sweet email from TripIt…

tripit email hotel offer

What are the chances that I booked this hotel?

Super duper high!

I'm sure you are impressed at the data mining and intent targeting efforts of TripIt.

But I don't think you fully appreciate them. Let me explain.

Unlike every other travel company that might attempt this, TripIt did not send me a dumb list of 50 hotels in Orlando. That would have been an easy thing to do based on data mining (lame data mining!).

They actually went through my history, noticed that I usually stay at a Hilton, and they have my Hilton Honors program ID number (scraped from the confirmation emails!).

They use that information to send me an email with one hotel in it. Just one.

When I got this email, as a Marketer and Data Mining connoisseur, I had to smile. It was just so smart.

And when I clicked on Book Now, I was taken to a web page with hotel details and a reservation box (with my Hilton Honors number already filled out!). #omg

Another example, for my upcoming stay in NYC, TripIt noticed I've not booked a hotel yet. Last night I got an email from them to book a hotel. It was not any random Hilton in NYC (there are at least 25 just in Manhattan). It was the Hilton close to the Google office where I stay most of the time! #omg #omg

People don't mind behavior/intent targeting. What people mind is lame unintelligent behavior targeting. Remember that.

TripIt offers a free service as well, but it has managed to create value for itself in three ways: Pay for the pro version of the service, the app, and intent targeted reservations. That is what all marketing in 2015 will look like.

Back to your business. Are you using the mobile platform to exchange data for value? Have you thought of innovative ways you can use that data to create hyper-relevant targeting opportunities based on strong intent signals?

If no, why not?

There is an additional question I ask myself.

Why hasn't Expedia created an app like this? Why is their app, just like every other one, just a "I'll remember to look for your app out of 20 I have and proactively search for a hotel/airline ticket and make a reservation but that is all it will do" app?

Surely it can't be the tiny amount of money it costs — it is small. Surely it can't be the resources required — they have a ton. Surely it can't be that they don't want my intent data — what better way for Expedia to target me with relevant products? Surely it can't be because they don't have the data mining chops — they do.

So, why not? Why not add to their existing strategies of guessing if I need travel services and bombarding me with TV ads or those on Bing, why not create a proposition where they deliver something of value to me, I exchange that for data, and they do smart targeting tied me my already declared needs? Why have marketing only be in the business of interrupting people and praying that it works? Why can't marketing be in the business of creating insane initial value for consumers?

I don't know.

But I hope that people at Expedia, Priceline, United and every other company in the world will pause from the traditional shouting on TV and unleashing a tsunami of digital display ads long enough to consider these amazing new opportunities that bring customers closer to them, give incredible insights into customer intent, and create high converting monetization opportunities.

If you were looking for another incredible example, from a different industry of (with permission) exchanging data for value that is then gets converted into monetization opportunities for a company, look no further than another one of my other favorite apps: Pageonce – Money & Bills.

Pageonce provides single point access to all my finances that would put any bank/financial institution (along with the Quickens/Mints of the world to shame). Banking, brokerages, investments, credit cards, 100% of my bills, and of course allow me to pay said bills – along with real time access to my entire everything financial on every platform I want it!

I can't believe every financial institution in the world is not falling all over themselves to do this. Why not be like Pageonce and exchange value for data (with permission)? Make money on the primary services, but ALSO make money on the data (in case of Pageonce using hyper-targeted relevant card offers or other services – not the annoying kind, rather based on actual consumer behavior and smart data mining)

Chase bank, Fidelity investments, Vanguard, utility companies, (and even Intuit)… why not?

Carpe Diem!

Measurement? Totally.

It would not be my blog if there was not at least a word about measurement.

Everything described above is measureable.

Smart phones run powerful browsers that render javascript and accept cookies and all that other sweet stuff. You can use your standard web analytics tool to measure customer behavior on your mobile-friendly website. Just segment for smart phones and tablets separately.

Yes there are still some :) phones in the world that don't render javascript or accept cookies. These are not monetization opportunities either. So we focus where we can deliver delight and make money.

mobile application analytics

Mobile application analytics solutions provide a very robust set of data about your apps. I'm particularly excited about collecting not just the normal "page view" data for apps, but also behavior data from the app stores (acquisition metrics), unique user tracking, and ecommerce (micro and macro conversion) happening inside the app.

Closing Thoughts.

Mobile platforms present an opportunity to achieve every marketer's dream: right message at the right time to the right person.

But they do demand that we forget traditional unimaginative ways of creating experiences and delivering value like relying on shouting/guessing. The opportunity has not exploded yet, but we are approaching that moment.

In 2015, marketing will look like a turbo-charged version of what Skullcandy, P&G, TripIt and Pageonce are doing. I hope you find inspiration in their work today to start your company's evolution to execute on the possibilities of utility marketing.

Good luck!

As always it's your turn now.

What are your favorite examples of utility marketing? Which companies have you honored with icons on your phone/tablet's home screen? Has your company tried innovative data mining off mobile customer or application behavior data? What are your management's excuses for not creating incredible mobile experience (site or app)?

Please share your tips, stories, feedback and critique via comments.

Thank you.


  1. 2

    Hi Avinash,

    Great post and nice term 'utility marketing'.

    I simply email the air, hotel, car rental confirmation to TripIt and they organize it beautifully

    This is really beautiful, simple and very smart of TripIt.

    Thank you!

  2. 3

    Great post, Avinash. I think the reality is that many folks are still lack the analytics chops to dream up an experience like the ones you mention.

    You have to know your customer and be able to anticipate their needs, and this gets harder and harder as you move away from the rational offerings of your product and into lifestyle territory.

    Granted, it's amazing, and it should be done. I just hope folks aren't fooling themselves thinking they can get to these incredibly useful and intimate consumer engagements without analyzing what they know about the customer and why an app about Tides makes sense (brilliant for SkullCandy, IMHO).

    My best example so far? I work at a college with the goal of recruiting more students. We've been putting together really nice career guides complete with info from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other goodies. Folks come for the career guides, and stay for info about the degrees that will get them to the careers they've identified.

  3. 4
    Sven Cooke says

    A good article.

    Here in the UK is is expected that 4G mobile phones, expected big sellers this Christmas will have the potential to transform the mobile internet experience. 4G technology will allow users to download content at superfast speeds and transform our handsets into complete entertainment hubs.

    It looks like an exciting time ahead.

  4. 5

    I bet we’re not alone, but our leadership team is obsessed with coming up w/app ideas that they can “charge” for – in other words, their focus is on making $$ on app downloads, rather than using the app as a relationship tool.

    I think this mentality sees apps as a way to turn the Internet/mobile into a product rather than using it as a tool.

  5. 6

    Excellent article Avinash!. I really like black picture for Utility Marketing in post above. Simple and invaluable!.

  6. 7
    Jim Sterne says

    Excellent post Avinash – as always.

    These are great examples of what marketing should be, regardless of platform, and mobile gives us so many more tools to play with in the service of customers.

    Always remember that iconic Zig Ziglar quote: "You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” (With thanks to Hiten Shah – @hnshah – for reminding me of this gem!)

  7. 8
    Jonathan ODonnell says

    Perfectly worded as always Avinash. Every marketer should read the above 3x.

    I use the term "needs based marketing" which seems quite similar to above (however I am not as eloquent as you when explaining to clients!).

    Working with many C and B level marketers, it's a really tough concept for them to consume. Lots a blank stares. But really, it just feels like common sense.

    Best, OD

  8. 9
    Ozlem Ergun says

    Hi Avinash,

    Excellent post. It felt like reading a witty, nice story – flows like water. And it's very inspirational too of course.

    I agree utility marketing is a very suitable term. English is not my first language but I find it highly relevant and easy to express in defining the response to customer needs.

    Thank you!

  9. 10

    Great post.

    I do also think that everything go the way as you describe and marketing will be more specific to individual person.

  10. 11

    Hi Avinash, thank you for sharing. TripIt is a fantastic and very focused example, and it's easy to see how they can monetize the channel.

    It's harder to "see" that with Skullcandy. Do you have results you can share from this form of very indirect marketing?

    It's a tough case to make otherwise (at least to senior management).

    • 12

      Gretchen: I'm afraid I'm unable to share the results from Skullcandy.

      If the management team is unable to see the cost – benefit – risk balance, then there might be nothing we can tell them that will change.

      My positioning for management teams as been: The cost is low to develop an app (it is high if you have no customer centric content). The benefit is not having to rent an audience and owning it. The risk in terms of collapse of business if this does not work, is low.

      The amazing thing about the web is that it is so cheap to try and fail (or if you do right, succeed). Unlike say, if you were going to start publishing a catalog, newspaper, chain of stores, etc.


  11. 13

    Hi Avinash,

    A great piece as usual/expected!

    For now, I think tripit is managing to do it manually. If done automatically., then its 2015 :)


    • 14

      Vishnu: I think you were partly kidding, but just in case….

      Actually TripIt has a method where you give it access to your email account (say Gmail) and it will constantly scan it for your travel and automatically add it to your TripIt account. You have to be comfortable with the scanning. :)

      I'm also using a new app, TripCase, which in some ways has better features than the TripIt travel itinerary feature (though not intent targeting built in), and they allow you to just automatically input your six digit confirmation to import all your trip info.

      Finally, Pageonce Travel is not being actively developed (to the best of my knowledge) but it had a very cool feature where you just authorize it to access just your travel accounts (so say United, Hilton, etc) and it would automatically import all your stuff as soon as you make a reservation. That makes everything easy.

      My perfect app: Data collection like Pageonce, rich features like TripCase, and intent targeting like TripIt.

      So you can see lots of room left for innovation, and things are going to get way way better before we get to 2015!


      • 15

        I wasn't kidding but, does the intent targeting work based on the conversations at the mailbox and the location history (from the GPS of the mobile) to send automated hotel recommendations via e-mail?

        • 16

          Vishnu: It depends on the app. I encourage you to download them and give them a try. As you use them you'll see exactly how they are working.

          That said it is now pretty standard for many apps to tell you about local entities, events, offers, and even allow you to control the tv in your hotel room. Those are all user features. My use of intent targeting is not in that context, rather much deeper targeting based on what normally would be considered non-accessible non-phone features reliant data.


  12. 17

    Great post Avinash. Durign a recent trip, I went to Google to find the phone number of the local taxi company. All of the ranking sites had web sites where their phone number was not listed, and for those that had the number, it was not a link that allowed my smartphone to call!

    I love this line from your post: People don't mind behavior/intent targeting. What people mind is lame unintelligent behavior targeting.

    Many companies have my personal info including my birthday. I was surprised to see that only Starbucks send me a direct mail with an offer for my birthday last week. In previous years I used to get a lot more direct mail and email with offers.

    I'm afraid that many brands are getting too comfortable creating Facebook pages that "look pretty" and are forgetting marketing 101.


    • 18

      Julio: Useful Facebook pages are super important.

      But even there we see the same challenges we see in terms of mobile platforms: A lack of imagination. And wanting to do the exact same thing they have done on other channels, shout.

      I concur with you that we have many lessons to learn still, in this new cool digital world, from direct mail/marketing, the "old uncool" world. Lots to learn.


    • 19

      >> All of the ranking sites had web sites where their phone number was not listed, and for those that had the number, it was not a link that allowed my smartphone to call!
      — Julio Fernandez

      Julio… I think *you* make a great point: Is there a future in mobile for actual calls??!

      I know Avinash is a fan of tracking calls as a part of analytics. As mobile becomes more of a force, I'm surprised call tracking isn't attracting more attention?

      From my research, mobile *searches* are still a relative small %, but if we'd like to begin a conversation w/ these highly-distractable visitors… would a direct voice-to-voice make sense? Is it still "too expensive" to talk to our customers??

      All this mobile activity… battling it out for "share of app market"… and relatively little chatter about actually calling. Talk about a "low risk" strategy – encouraging calls, from actual mobile devices, is a pretty simple way to get the "hottest leads" to sales.

      Are calls too much "1980s thinking?" : ]

      Interesting article Avinash! Thank you.

  13. 20

    Hi Avinash,

    Great observation & insights – as always !

    Just curious about the year – "2015" in the title of your post.

    Why do you think it would take 3 more years for companies to take mobile marketing seriously, when the technology is changing so quickly..we did not know about the iPads in 2009.


    p.s. :- Enjoyed reading your book – "Web Analytics – an hour a day".

    • 21

      Neeraj: :)

      The 2015 comes from years of experience of how long it takes for large (and even medium sized) companies to get going.

      So the examples are from today, on technology that come to fore in 2010, but it will take some time for old minds to open to new things and commit budget to push innovation.


  14. 22

    Great post about mobile marketing, all digital agencies that forgot to invest in mobile will be down in next few years.

    I really like your thoughts about how important is different user experiance in mobile than in web.

  15. 23

    Hi Avinash,

    Currently, I'm working with Mobile analytics and wanted to ask you if there is any option from Google Analytics to track visitors from Mobile Apps? Mobile website is trackable now but mobile app, I'm not sure.. Please advise.

    P/S – Our mother company have been in contact with GA Premium and might want to use GA for all our products soon and I'm really excited to work with GA more.

  16. 26
    Toye Apampa says

    Excellent article, place your customers,customer experience first and money will follow.

    P.S Also liked the Samsung S3 review

  17. 27
    Mahmoud Fouz says

    Great post.

    But then why don't you also create a mobile version of your blog :)?

    • 28

      Mahmoud: Ha ha! Good point.

      I don't have a mobile version of my blog because on my Nexus S and Galaxy S3 the blog renders very quickly (there is a lot on the site to make it fast) and if I double click on the page, it auto expands to just show text.

      Adding a mobile version would simply take off the right nav, all else would be the same.

      Of course on my iPad and Galaxy Tab it does not matter.

      But if you think the site looks horrible on mobile platforms, please let me know and I'll be more than happy to find a mobile friendly wordpress plugin that works with my Genesis theme.


      • 29
        Mahmoud Fouz says

        I'm also using the Galaxy S3, and I would much prefer a proper mobile version. Let us know what effect it had when you implement the plugin. My guess: significant drop in bouncerate for mobile visitors :).

  18. 30

    On the don't stink front, wonder if you would comment on US Airways mobile experience.

    Full disclosure we work with them, but not on this mobile site.

    • 31

      Alex: I tried the US Air website on my mobile phone, looks sub optimal.

      I also tried to find a mobile app, could not find any (did find United though).

      So I might not have anything nice to say about US Air! :)


  19. 32

    I think the reason companies like Expedia haven't caught on to this trend yet is simply down to COMPLACENCY.

    They have built their strategy on being very easy to find on the web, but by being so focused on search optimisation rather than trying to deliver true value to their audience they are missing something in the process.

    I would have booked over 10 different hotels and transports when I recently went to japan and what I came to realise is that I wasn't just looking for the cheapest hotel available, I was actually looking for a quicker, more effective way to work out which hotel I might want to pay extra to stay at.

  20. 33

    If you interested in a direct mobile transaction system, do a search on google for "rough orange flakes" with your mobile.

    You should find a listing "Selling: Rough orange flakes – $A-0.10"

    Click on it, and it's immediately in the mobile shopping cart with mobile checkout process. Pretty straight forward integration.

    Or click on this link here:

    Pretty interesting also if you want to buy a product advertised in a printed magazine advertisment. You can simply print a sell anywhere link like "" next to the toll free number for ordering and anyone who copies the link into a browser on their mobile adds the oranges straight into your shopping cart.

  21. 34


    Brilliant post – I'm drinking the kool-aid. Once again, you've haven't just hit the nail on the head, you've pounded it through the table. I love all your points, especially the ones about mining your data (like the TripIt email) to delight you with exactly what you want & need, at a moment's notice (no going through long lists).

    Not to get too far off topic, but what do you think about platforms like that gives companies a platform to advertise (rewards) on a mobile platform non-invasive. Yes, it lacks the full brand immersion experience of a great app that serves a very helpful purpose, but it's another way to skin a cat. It's not necessarily the same as the shouting in ads you mention here…

    Thanks again! I love your blog!



    • 35

      Josh: Kiip is certainly a interesting evolution. Rather than "shouting" at irrelevant moments, to put it a little crudely, you "shout" when I get to the next level of Angry Birds (or anything).

      It is better perhaps, but we can all keep an eye out for if it allows a brand to have a immersive brand experience (a la Skullcandy) based on providing proactive incredible value, or if it is going to allow the kind of data mining of specific monetizable information that adds to the bottom-line.

      It is unclear that Kiip does either. But Kiip is certainly a super cool updated approach to collecting reward cards or getting paper punches with every sub. :)

      To take this even more off topic (you started it!), I think gamification holds very interesting promises overall. And if you think of how it can pervade our life, you can see how a platform like Kiip becomes interesting.

      Life is going to get a lot more interesting!


  22. 36
    Antonio Sanz says

    Great post. Enjoy your common sense approach to digital marketing.

    Rereading Web Analytics an hour a day.

    As a former P&G employee, pls. spell it Procter (with an "e")

  23. 38

    Great article.

    I think that "utility marketing" can be applied to any business. I myself have found utility in many free apps or services only to use a paid version or buy something later because of it. It's brilliant. I think the trick is coming up with great ideas to add value and utility.

    Mobile is the future.

  24. 39

    Hi Avinash,

    Excellent post as usual/expected! Hope this is the first post on m-analytics.

    Out of context I am looking for some standard metrics. I am working on financial domain where my web site deals with on line transactions on mutual funds.

    For web site like this what are the standard metrics that I should compare to, like bounce rate, eCommerce conversion, page views/visit, avg visit duration and so on.

    I would like some kind of post on this, this will really helps for us to cross check where we are right now.

    Thanks in Advance

  25. 41

    Avinash, I'm not involved in any mobile marketing initiatives at the moment. But honestly, this post really makes me excited about the possibilities.

    I hope you'll address mobile opportunities for B2B at some point.


    • 42

      Barett: For me B2B philosophy is no different than B2C, and so the mental model has to be centered around the concept of "utility marketing." The execution will vary.

      If I'm Intel or Texas Instruments or Danaher then I need to think about what it takes to become the part of a current, or potential, customer's life.


  26. 43
    Adem Akturk says

    Hi Avinash,

    Thank you for producing new terms in the market.

    I just wonder do companies have verbs other than selling when they find a potential costumer. For being part of your customer life, you should change product targetting with helping activities.

    Think these activities like streams generate river(buying) they transform customer when they need that product remembering your brand for buying.

  27. 44
    Tracy Kraft says

    Great article – you really took some of the words right out of my mouth, but definitely gave me some good ideas.

    I love the mention of "lame unintelligent behavior targeting." A couple colleagues of min and I discuss this all the time — how these companies all have the opportunity to use our data for relevant, poignant, timely offerings, but continue to serve up ads that are generic and intrusive.

    I hope we, as marketers, can all get smarter so that we, as consumers, are delighted to react!

    Thanks for the commentary!

  28. 45

    Completely identify with the crying after opening a popular site on the phone.

    It is high time these companies realised they should optimize their sites for mobiles.

  29. 46

    Great post, one of the best inspirational posts I've read in a long time.

    What I find being the key enabler for utility marketing and also to some extent your examples of how to rethink branding is really that most of us now have personal devices. We sometime tend to group a lot of trends under the "mobile" umbrella. There's nothing wrong with that, as we all need to simplify things every now and then, but I think that it might be worth highlighting what in mobile that enables us to do these things.

    What is really the reason we can now fully embrace utility marketing?

    The fact that our users are mobile? Probably

    The fact that they now have their own personal device? Definitely

  30. 47

    Great article Avinash – a key point you make is the opportunity to truly create a relationship with customers through the mobile app.

    I think one of the most exciting areas here is the ability to make the messages to consumers more personal. It's not just about delivering utility, it's about delivering a more human experience in the digital medium.

    Much of the benefit of offline retail scenarios is the personal touch we get as consumers – mobile devices are possible routes to enabling deeper connections that are more similar to offline interactions.

  31. 48
    Sophie Nikolic says

    Very inspirational article! I am now working on a mobile strategy – and you have given me some great ideas.

    Thanks so much!!

  32. 49
    Joseph Thomas says

    Excellent article, I love the case study from Skullcandy.

    We're putting on a Webinar on user acquisition via mobile marketing, and would love to hear what you think. Look forward to hearing from you soon!

  33. 50
    Alejandra says

    Wow that was strange. I just wrote an very long comment but after I clicked submit my comment
    didn't appear. Grrrr… well I'm not writing all that over again.

    Anyways, just wanted to say fantastic blog!

  34. 51
    Manoj Kumar Dronadula says

    Very interesting article Avinash.. I hope the mobile has revolutionized exponentially from the time you wrote this article to till date. Can you please write another article with trends and observations.

    Also what kind of metrics and measurements are important for mobile apps (Deep insights would be helpful).

  35. 53

    Hello Avinash, I am a Occam's Razor addict, your insights and articles are priceless and super informative.

    I have learned so much digital marketing knowledge in reading your various articles that I must say, bloggers like you are one in a million!!

  36. 54
    Dominic Hurst says

    Great post Avinash

    I'm interested in measurement of mobile apps specifically in setting up objectives/ goals for a DMMM. You refer to using GA app data in addition to data from app stores (in our case we use appannie) which i totally agree. Previous metrics were just number of downloads which is a nice to know, but not a goal driven metric or one that you can get meaningful insights out of.

    I'm more thinking of percentage of those updating the app, percentage of users using the app compared to non users, percentage of repeat users, growth in screens per sessions etc.

    As for downloads the only metric i want is to know percentage of people that have clicked on the download app promo (displayed on the main site when using a mobile/ tablet.

    Interested in your thoughts as mobile apps aren't really covered in your DMMM posts.

    Thanks in advance

    • 55

      Dominic: The steps you'll follow to create the DMMM for your mobile app business will be exactly the same as is outlined in my post. (Digital Marketing and Measurement Model)

      The sections will be the same as well.

      Your objectives and goals of course won't be, and your metrics will be unique (and almost completely different from your website / web analytics metrics).

      For the latter part, please see this helpful article: Mobile App Analytics

      It provided metrics across Audience, Acquisition, Behavior, and Conversion.


  37. 56

    Wow, even though this post was first written in 2012, it's amazing how relevant it still is in 2017, and it's also amazing how many companies still aren't doing utility marketing in earnest.

    I think it must come from general apathy and risk aversion or too much listening to the hippos as Avinash would say it ;)


  1. […]
    Mobile Marketing 2015: Rethink Customer Acquisition, Intent Targeting 1 Upvotes Discuss Flag Submitted 1 min ago Aleyda Solís Mobile

  2. […]
    Mobile Marketing 2015: Rethink Customer Acquisition, Intent Targeting (Occam's Razor by Avinash Kaushik)

  3. […]
    Mobile Marketing 2015: Rethink Customer Acquisition, Intent Targeting,

  4. […]
    Mobile marketing: Add value and support your customers! Avinash Kaushik has some extremely valuable real-life do’s and don’ts:

  5. […]
    Avinash Kaushik se ha puesto a imaginar, y ha realizado un extenso post sobre por donde piensa que van a ir los tiros con respecto al Mobile Marketing en el 2015. No tiene desperdicio. Mobile Marketing 2015: Rethink Customer Acquisition, Intent Targeting

  6. […]
    Mobile Marketing 2015: Rethink Customer Acquisition, Intent Targeting

  7. […]
    On the Occam's Razor Blog, Avinash Kaushik  shares some interesting ideas about using data mining in mobile settings to generate more conversions: Mobile Marketing 2015: Rethink Customer Acquisition, Intent Targeting

  8. […]
    3. Mobile Marketing 2015: Rethink Customer Acquisition, Intent Targeting – Occam's Razor bl… by Avanash Kaushik
    Avanash is kind of like Seth, Bruce and Madonna: He only needs one name. He’s Google’s digital marketing evangelist. I don’t think anyone knows more about using analytics to derive insights that can drive business. At least, few data geeks have his enthusiasm and communication skills. This is a great piece on mobile marketing, how it’s being underutilized and where it might go in the future. If you’ve ever been skeptical of mobile marketing, this is for you.

  9. […]
    2009 was the year of mobile. It is time to fix your website. Please. Let’s not wait and see if this mobile thing is really a fad. It is not too late to be early.

  10. […]
    Avinash makes a distinction between interruptive marketing that is mostly used today and utility marketing. He argues that marketing today is usually about interrupting people with a message about a certain brand. “Utility marketing is about delivering such incredible value that you simply become part of your audience’s life,” he writes. You can read all about Avinash’s views on the future of marketing here.

  11. […]
    Social media has forever changed the PR landscape. I’ve already spent time on this subject so won’t repeat what you can find here. I will add that analytics and measurements of success have also dramatically changed. The availability of profiles and details are beyond “Big Brother is watching” status such that smart companies can know more about their consumer patterns than the consumer themselves. The best treatise I’ve come across on this was from Avinash Kaushik’s blog in September of 2009 which is still relevant for marketing professionals today.

  12. […]
    A web é sem dúvidas o ambiente onde a transformação de um curioso (alguém que está atrás de informações) em um comprador ocorre de maneira mais rápida e eficaz. É muito difícil fazer com que as pessoas saiam correndo para a loja ao olharem seu outdoor na rua, concorda? Mas ao ver um banner, anúncio no Google ou no Facebook, a pessoa já está no ambiente web, e não precisa sair dele para comprar. É por isso também que o Inbound Marketing é uma grande tendência. Já tem especialista falando até em Marketing de Utilidade, que é aquele que interrompe o comprador no momento mais oportuno.

  13. […]
    QR codes should appear on every printed advertisement to meet the needs of those with high tech gadgets. That way you make it easy for those who use smart phones to visit your website and access your coupons. Put them on every printed marketing item, including business cards, catalogs, brochures and anything else. A QR code is a good way to immediately engage a potential customer who is interested by a printed ad.
    News About Mobile Marketing Ideas:
    3 Ways Mobile Marketing

  14. […] Mobile Marketing 2015: Rethink Customer Acquisition, Intent Targeting | Occam's Razor […]

  15. […]
    Mobile Marketing customer data acquisition behavior targeting by Avinash Kaushik and published on

  16. […]
    È dunque imperativo ripensare la propria presenza online, per “accogliere nel miglior modo possibile il traffico mobile” e capire di cosa hanno bisogno gli utenti che navigano con dispositivi smartphone e tablet. Prendo spunto dal post di Avinash Kaushik, “Mobile Marketing 2015: Rethink Customer Acquisition, Intent Targeting”, per individuare i punti chiave che aiutano a fidelizzare nuovi clienti.

  17. […]
    Avinash Kaushik explains when developing an application for smartphones and tablets, it's important to have the goal of gathering data about individuals in addition to showcasing products and services. Information collected can then be used to create more effective campaigns in the future, resulting in increased customer retention and loyalty. Marketers need to establish how to entice customers to give data, Kaushik states. You know individuals are interested in your brand, so providing them with something that is relevant to their needs after they share data with you is a possible incentive.

  18. […]
    This includes information about local activities, businesses, restaurants and current events, such as a list of top ten things to do in your destination in May. Add social plugins to encourage sharing. Publishing helpful information indirectly related to your business is called utility marketing. It’s the next generation of content marketing, with benefits to SEO and guest satisfaction. (Check out Avinash Kaushik’s blog.).

  19. […]
    This includes information about local activities, businesses, restaurants and current events, such as a list of top ten things to do in your destination in May. Add social plugins to encourage sharing. Publishing helpful information indirectly related to your business is called utility marketing. It’s the next generation of content marketing, with benefits to SEO and guest satisfaction. (Check out Avinash Kaushik’s blog.).

  20. […]
    Avinash Kaushik (Google) explica muy bien el concepto de UTILITY MARKETING para plataformas móviles en Mobile Marketing 2015: Rethink Customer Acquisition, Intent Targeting:

  21. […]
    Multimedia engagement is on a rise and e-commerce has turned into M-commerce. However, legions of companies still don’t get the essentials of the mobile marketing and get stuck in the old-school thinking. According to Avinash Kaushik, in order to make business successful in the future, some key factors needed to be taken into consideration:

  22. […]
    Merchants should study their on-site search logs to uncover search terms their audience uses that describe not just broad product categories, but brand names, seasonal needs and sought-after content. Such information can be used not only to devise mobile ad copy, but to create mobile content worth promoting. In a post on his blog Occam’s Razor, analytics guru Avinash Kaushik details how headphone manufacturer SkullCandy delivers relevant content via an app that reports surf and ski conditions. Thanks to the app, consumers searching for “surf report apps”, who are likely within the brand’s target demographic, view a paid search ad that showcases the brand’s lifestyle savvy.

  23. […]
    Avinash Kaushik suggerisce una riflessione importante per comprendere il concetto di utility marketing. In un piano marketing di base cerchiamo di acquisire dati del nostro target per capire quando possiamo interromperli con le pubblicità. Con l’utility marketing, invece, fermiamo questo circolo e produciamo un tale valore aggiunto che diventiamo parte della vita di un cliente.

  24. […]
    Consumers use their phone for everything nowadays, from socializing to working to checking the weather. So how do we get them to stop what they are doing and look at your advertisement? According to Avinash Kaushik’s article, Mobile Marketing 2015: Rethink Customer Acquisition, Intent Targeting, the key to is to “rethink acquisition” and “shift from being an interruption to becoming a persistent part of someone’s life.” Kaushik suggests providing value in an immersive brand experience and gives the example of Skullcandy’s mobile app.

  25. […]
    Step #2: Set realistic goals for where you’d like your business to go. Know that you’ve reviewed where your business has been so far; think about where you’d like it to go in the future. Would you like to gain more customers? Generate more sales? Build up your social media following? Think about different aspects of your business and set realistic, measurable goals for the new year.

  26. […]
    Know that you’ve reviewed where your business has been so far; think about where you’d like it to go in the future. Would you like to gain more customers? Generate more sales? Build up your social media following? Think about different aspects of your business and set realistic, measurable goals for the new year.

  27. […]
    Publishing helpful information indirectly related to your business is called utility marketing. It’s the next generation of content marketing, with benefits to SEO and guest satisfaction. (Check out Avinash Kaushik’s blog.).

Add your Perspective