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Treat Your Mobile Strategy Like a Startup

Shanthala Product Marketing Mgr
April 18, 2012

There is no doubt mobile is becoming a new channel of revenue for businesses. Given the growing rate of smartphone adoption and the growing number of smartphone users using their mobile device to shop (not just transact), brands are now more than ever beginning to explore the benefits of mobile. eMarketer reported that at the end of 2011, sales from mobile reached $6.7B (up 91.4% from 2010), and predicts mobile commerce revenue will rise to $11.6B in 2012.

So how do you take advantage of this opportunity? What are the various things a business should consider to gain full benefit of this new channel?


I recommend treating your business’ journey into the new, promising world of mobile like a startup. A great example of this is ‘Dave McClure’s Startup Metrics for Pirates’ – Acquisition, Activation, Revenue, Retention and Referral (AARRR!)–which I’m a big fan of. It touches critical aspects of a consumer engagement cycle that can be optimized to build a successful business–and that means with mobile, too!

To better explain how AARRR can relate to creating your mobile strategy, I’ve mapped out the 5 starting principles and metrics to follow in relation to mobile, using examples from the Velti & National Geographic Last Lions Mobile Campaign as well, below:



Acquiring customers is naturally the first step for growing your mobile business. There is no point in building a mobile application or mobile site if you have no users accessing it!  Just like a retailer who wants customers to walk into their store, you want your customers to begin interacting with your mobile content. Here are a some popular channels to initiate a conversation with your mobile customer:

  • mobile media
  • QR codes
  • text call-to-action
  • email
  • generic search engines


METRIC: Measure the audience from each channel. Segment them by volume, cost and performance, and choose the one that best suits your budget and goals.


National Geographic printed a QR code on their movie posters and newspaper ads, and ran mobile media ads to acquire their mobile audience.



A retailer doesn’t want to just attract customers to their store. They want them to walk around the store, browse, and interact with their products. Similarly, you want your mobile audience to engage with your mobile content whether it is on a mobile site, app, text message or media. It could be browsing a catalogue, watching a trailer, scheduling a drive or simply responding to a text call-to-action–whatever it may be, you want your customer to do something (your KPI) with the mobile content. Activation is the key for building an ongoing conversation and relationship with your customer. So invest in features that meet your customer needs. Use real-time data to understand user preferences, and constantly optimize to delight them. A happy customer is a repeat customer, and who doesn’t want that?



Upon snapping the QR code, users were taken to a mobile site where they could either watch the trailer, learn more about the movie, download a wallpaper, or find a theater — all activation points!



The ultimate goal of any business is to generate revenue, and this holds true even more so for mobile. Though mobile represents only a small percentage of the overall revenue, it still plays a significant part in moving a customer closer to purchase. Offer features like: pick up at store, mobile-only specials, click-to-call or chat with representative that complement the shopping experience while enabling the actual conversions via other channels.

METRIC: Use end-to-end data analytics tools to understand the entire conversion funnel – which acquisition channel led to the actual conversion. Optimize and gain!


Though Life in a Day tickets were not sold on the mobile site, mobile users could locate the theater on the map and call the theater — enabling conversions via another channel.



Similar to a retail store that wants their customer to revisit their store over and over again, repeat visits are key for growing the mobile business. Mobile offers an array of options to encourage these repeat visits. Push notifications, media retargeting, emails and messaging alerts are a few ways to reinitiate the conversation with your customer. Take advantage of the personalization that mobile offers to entice customers to engage with your mobile content again.

METRIC: Similar to acquisition, measure each channel and pick the one that meets your business needs.


National Geographic created a mobile community to keep in touch with their mobile users and develop a mobile based relationship with their audience.



Word of mouth is the most generic (and trusted) form of referral. When customers enjoy their shopping experience at the retail store, they tend to share it with their family, friends and co-workers. Similarly you want your mobile users to share their mobile experience with your brand. With the rise in social media and advancement in technology, instant sharing is now a reality: incorporate Facebook and Twitter into the mobile experience; include the tried-and-true methods of sharing by email or messaging.

METRIC: Measure and analyze each referral channel, and optimize the ones that have the most impact.


National Geographic encouraged sharing via social media channels to spread the word about the movie.


Though mobile is still new to many businesses today, it is predicted to grow rapidly in the next few years. Take advantage of the opportunity to develop a loyal audience right from the beginning of this new developing channel. Build and measure your mobile initiative around the 5 principles and metrics above, and you’ve got yourself a long-term mobile-based relationship with your customer.


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