The Best Mobile Marketing We Saw This Summer

Read Time: 5 - 10 min

Here in Boston, there are 2 major events that signify the end of summer; Pumpkin Iced returning to Dunkin Donuts and Allston Christmas. So while the weather might tell a different story, for all intents and purposes the fall season is upon us. And that means it’s time to reflect back on the great work our peers produced over the summer so we can move into fall with a fresh perspective on what good mobile marketing looks like.


We’ve had our ears and eyes on  the pulse and our fingers locked and loaded on the screenshot shortcut to capture this summer’s best mobile marketing. So let’s take a few minutes to tip our hats to the apps that managed to serve up some kickass mobile engagement this summer:


1. Best Onboarding Walk-through: Google Photos



You continually hear us harp on the importance of app onboarding, and here’s why: retention rates can increase by 50% when you have a solid onboarding process. This is  because users gain a solid understanding of not only how to use your app, but why to use your app.


Google Photos does a perfect job at infusing their app’s value into their onboarding walkthrough so new users fully understand its capabilities. Using visuals, they clearly convey why their app is a must-have for photo lovers who want to ensure their digital images are safe and easily accessible.


 Top Learnings for Mobile Marketers:

  • Having a “Get Started” CTA at the bottom of every onboarding screen assures new users they aren’t trapped and can begin using the app at any point;   which enhances the user experience.
  • Permission to push’ should come at the end of a strong onboarding process when the app’s value is fresh in the user’s head. It should also highlight the benefit the user gets from turning push on, making them more inclined to oblige. 



2. Best Permission Asks: AIRBNB, OpenTable, and Pokemon Go


Convincing app users to enable certain features can be tough. That’s because phones are very personal, and we don’t like to be bombarded by unnecessary noise. And while we know that we’re only trying to add value to the user experience, our users have  undoubtedly been burned by apps in the past.  Therefore, they are hesitant to oblige. How do you get users to say yes? Timing is everything.


While Google Photos provided a perfect example of inserting permission to push at the end of a compelling onboarding walkthrough, that is not the only place where the ask is effective. Apps can also work it into a user’s session, but should ensure that it is highly relevant to the task the user is currently performing.


OpenTable asked for text permissions immediately after I made a reservation by asking if I wanted to be alerted about any updates. PokemonGo let me know I can’t catch Pikachu in the real world without giving the app access to my camera (I blame my husband for this one). Both are perfect examples of right ask, right time.  


 Top Learnings for Mobile Marketers:

  • The standard iOS push alert is dead. Every push request should be media-rich, and match the styling of the app.
  • Tie your request to an action a user is performing within your app. Make sure you lead with what’s in it for them.
  • Move beyond standard CTAs like “OK”; be more creative the the 3 above apps.



3. Best “Rate Us” In-App Requests: Buzzfeed, TuneIn, and Waze


Getting users to rate your app can often times feel more difficult than competing in a triathalon. Ok, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you get my point. And since mobile marketers everywhere realize the importance of positive ratings (ASO, anyone?), we need to get as creative as possible when it comes to the big ‘rate my app’ request.


All three of our best in class examples do a perfect job at matching the in-app request to the look and feel of their app. BuzzFeed and Waze’s messages both channel the playful style of their app while TuneIn sticks to its no frills decorum.

And while the styling may differ, the delivery is dead on for all three apps. BuzzFeed and TuneIn ask users to rate on the spot in an attempt to mitigate negative App Store reviews by directing unhappy users to submit feedback directly to them. Waze takes a different approach, including a short blurb positioning reviewers as do-gooders.


 Top Learnings for Mobile Marketers:

  • Since it’s a difficult ask, ask with some style. Ensure you stay on brand, but mix it up a bit and A/B test different styling and messaging for rating requests to see if you can get a boost.
  • Serving up a like/dislike choice as part of the request is a smart way to buffer negative responses. If someone clicks like you can push them straight to the App Store to submit a formal review. As for those unhappy users? Use it as an opportunity to gain valuable feedback about what’s hindering their experience.  

4.Best In-App Alert: Nest, Runkeeper, and Pokemon GO


In-app messages have a plethora of uses and when used effectively can increase engagement by 3x. So far, we’ve highlighted how useful they are for permission and rater requests. But in-app is so much more than a pretty pleaser. It can also notify users of new features, alert them of a change, or help guide them through the funnel.

Nest used in-app alert to let me know that my central air unit was offline. Not fun news when it’s 90 degrees out, but it gave me the ability to address the problem immediately so that my condo was nice and cool when I arrived home. Runkeeper’s in-app let me know about a one day promotion they were running to celebrate a local marathon. As for PokemonGO? An unfortunate necessary reminder: don’t Pokemon and drive.


Top Learnings for Mobile Marketers:

  • All in-app messages should be rich media messages that match the look and feel of your app
  • Move beyond requests and use in-app it to trigger timely information relative to the end user and helps move them through the funnel. When used effectively, it’s been known to increase conversion by 4x.



5. Best Push Notifications

Given the amount of bad push notifications we’re all subjected to, it was a nice surprise to find just how many good ones I could pull from my own collection. Because of this, I’m setting up this section a bit differently.

Push notifications have been around for a while, but it’s been fairly recent that mobile marketers have actually been getting them right. And while the recipe for a perfect push is pretty clear (personalization, clear CTA, enticing), sometimes you need to see the end result to know what you’re gunning for. So with that in mind, below are the seven best push notifications I received this summer, and exactly why they were so effective:


 Best Geopush: Expedia


I received this the morning we were checking out of our hotel in Santorini. Seeing how checkout times vary, especially internationally, this helped me to plan our morning accordingly. 

 Top Learning for Mobile Marketers:

Geopush is a new yet incredibly powerful tool. It should only be used to send users highly relevant information personal to them. 



 Best ‘Happening Now’ Push: Starbucks


Going into work on a summer Monday when all you want to do is hit the beach is depressing. But getting a notification shortly after you arrive in the office about new afternoon pick me ups is a definite mood booster.


 Top Learning for Mobile Marketers:

Timing is everything. Starbucks strategically sent this push out early in the AM to get people thinking about it throughout the day so they could  plan accordingly. Plus, the push was descriptive so I knew exactly what to expect, and when.



Best Reminder Push: OpenTable


Let’s face it. Sometimes, you make a reservation a bit in advance and then completely space on the day of or forget the time. This notification from OpenTable is the perfect friendly reminder. It gives you all the relevant information surrounding your reservation (restaurant name and time), plus, it’s sent to you a few hours in advance to give you time to get your act together if you forgot.


 Top Learning for Mobile Marketers:

Reminder push notifications can be incredibly helpful to your users and as a result, can boost engagement. Send reminders to users based on in-app events (items left in shopping cart, update fitness goals) and be sure to include any relevant information directly in the push.



Best Transactional Pushes: StitchFix & Instacart




Transactional push notifications are exactly what they sound like: notifications sent after a user converts. Both StichFix and Instacart do a great job with these.

StitchFix weaves in a friendly tip to their transactional push. While this is non-traditional, it makes sense since the user experience is subjective based on whether or not the user  enjoyed the clothes picked out for them. On the other hand, Instacart’s push effectiveness is in its simplicity. Sending me a notification that my groceries were on the way with an estimated time of arrival ensured I was ready for delivery.


 Top Learning for Mobile Marketers:

Sending a transactional push is a great way to follow-up or confirm details about a user’s purchase. Be sure to include all pertinent information, and most importantly, make sure the timing of the push is based on the time of the transaction.


Best Reengagement Push: Trivia Crack


 I nearly laughed out loud when I received this push. Having not played Trivia Crack for over a year, it was clearly a ploy to get me to re-engage with the app. And guess what? It worked. As a kudos to the marketing team over at Trivia Crack, I reopened the app and played a game. Plus, once I was in there, I remembered how fun it was.


 Top Learning for Mobile Marketers:

It ain’t over ‘til it’s over. Until a user officially deletes your app, you still have a chance to win them back. That’s why it’s extremely important to have a re-engagement strategy that includes a compelling reason (or even desperate plea) for them to return.



Best Breaking News Push: New York Times


The New York Times does a great job at deciding what constitutes breaking news, and to whom. Seeing as I’m in the tech world and consume many business and technology articles within the NYT app, this breaking news story is spot on for me and has everything I need to know right in the push.


 Top Learning for Mobile Marketers:

 When it comes to breaking news, think before you push. I once got a breaking news article from an app at 3am that said “Man Smoking  Near No Smoking Sign Arrested”. Suffice to say, I wasn’t pleased and deleted the app. Make sure to segment your audiences by important  demographics and in-app actions so that you’re sending the right news story to the right person at the right time.


Looking back at all the great mobile marketing that occurred these past few months , it’s no wonder the summer seemed to fly by. We’ve all been hard at work trying to tackle the mobile engagement crisis, and many have succeeded in a big way. Congratulations to all the apps featured here, and thanks for being this summer’s mobile marketing heroes.

Did you see any great mobile marketing this summer? Share below!