Marketing Automation for Mobile Apps: You Asked, We Answered


When we consult our clients on app growth strategies, we often get quizzed on user engagement and app churn. This isn’t surprising considering user engagement is key to a successful app business and churn is an app owner’s worst nightmare (see more here). The answer: effective marketing automation.

Today, the average app loses 77% of its Daily Active Users (DAU) within 3 days post-install. Getting the user’s attention from the moment they download the app increases your chances for sustainable app growth. 

Marketing Automation not only helps you to engage with your users but also allows you to learn more about their habits and create a personalised user experience. Even though push notifications, in-app messages and email campaigns are familiar to many of us, implementing effective omnichannel marketing automation strategies can often be challenging.

Therefore, together with our partners at OneSignal, we collated some of the most pressing and popular questions regarding marketing automation. If you want to more about implementation, execution and optimisation, keep reading!

Q: What tech stack do I need to execute the best-automated campaigns on mobile?

A: When launching an app there’s a wide range of tools that you can consider, but there are three that are crucial for launching and scaling apps:

  1. An attribution tool, such as Appsflyer, Adjust, and Branch, is going to tell you where your users are coming from. This means that before the users reach the app store and download it, we know exactly which of our acquisition channels is performing the best. 
  2. An in-app analytics tool, such as Mixpanel, Clevertap or Amplitude, will tell you what users are doing in the product, understand where they drop off, and where they convert well. 
  3. Finally, we have your marketing automation tool, such as OneSignal, to enable communication with the users and build relationships with them, leading to longer-term retention.

All of these tools work together to give you a full picture of what users are doing and allow you to act on the data. You can read more about it here.

Q: How long does marketing automation tool implementation usually take? 

A: Unfortunately, the answer to this question is, ‘it depends.’ Attribution may take about 2 days to implement. In-app analytics is going to take a little bit longer because this is where you’re tracking most of your in-app conversions through in-app events. With a long spec sheet for implementation, it may take about 1-2 weeks. Because we’re just setting up the implementation of the SDK for your marketing automation tool, this can take less than a day especially if we’re not setting up APIs as well. That means you can have a functional marketing automation tool up and running in as little as 15 minutes. 

Being able to integrate your marketing automation with your analytics tools gives us a whole host of data that we can use to personalise our campaigns and add value to the users.

Q: Any tips for mobile app startups who are just getting started with automated customer journeys via their marketing automation tools?

A: Start simple and focus on value. We don’t want to worry too much about daily optimisations or a high volume of campaigns as that will be different for every single app and customer base. We recommend prioritising campaigns strategically. 

The best way to do this is to map out your user journey and focus on value:

  • The A-ha moment – this is the moment when the user initially understands the utility of the app. This could be the first time they go onto your home screen, or, it might be once they complete the onboarding. 
  • Their first experience of value – usually a direct experience with a value-driven feature that drives a positive user experience. In e-commerce, it might be favouriting an item or even purchasing it. 
  • Habit forming – getting users to repeat their value-driven interactions within the app. For a gaming app, this could be daily or weekly game plays.

Your main focus should be on sustainable growth, which is all about iteration. Campaigns you may look at as a starting point are: 

  • An omnichannel onboarding (or welcome) journey in the first week following sign-up. Aim to answer how you help users to understand what the app does and how it can add value.
  • Automated messages that are triggered when the users have been inactive for x amount of time 

Once you’ve collected some data and understand what your users are doing within the app, you can then split them into different buckets:

  • Casual users: who use the app occasionally but don’t drive much revenue 
  • Core users: the majority
  • Power users: who are extremely engaged in your product 

The key is differentiating these user buckets and pushing people towards specific behaviours that we see drive long-term retention.

Q: How many automated journeys or messages should be set up every month via marketing automation?

A: It depends on the volume of the user base and how complex your app is. For example, an app like Facebook, which is a feature-rich social product, would want to reengage users at a much higher rate compared to a much simpler app. 

Kicking off with a few small campaigns to gather data is the best way to start. See how your campaigns perform and then break them down into different types of users. 

Q: What mobile app metrics and stats should app owners look for to identify top-performing mobile app campaigns?

A: Most often people would focus on open rate and clickthrough rate. However, they’re the most obvious. Not every user converts immediately and their actions depend on the industry. If you’re sending a notification about an offer on a piece of clothing for your e-commerce app, it’s going to take less consideration than for someone choosing a hotel, a higher-value purchase that requires bigger investment and more research. Consider how long it’s going to take for users to convert. 

Q: What is the right amount of messages to send? Too little risks losing customers and too much can feel like spam. How do you find the balance?


  • Focus on value over frequency. It depends on your vertical and the type of behaviour that you’d expect from a user. A language learning app would likely implement daily notifications for habit-forming purposes as the user has committed to the time and effort required to learn. Think about the nature of your product.
  • A/B test different journeys. This will help you to understand what frequency works best. Start with low frequency and build up incrementally. When you notice that notifications become less effective, that’s likely a sign that your frequency is doing more harm than good. 
  • Turn to the user for that information. A lot of apps now give users the choice of how frequently they would like to receive notifications, whether that’s weekly, monthly or daily, which gives you a clear answer.

Q: How can app owners successfully plan a multi-channel strategy using in-app messaging, push notifications and email? 

A: Each channel has its advantages. An email may not be as time-sensitive as a push notification. Push notifications, on the other hand, can be intrusive if over-utilised, and SMS is somewhere in between.

The most effective app campaigns are omnichannel and consider the advantages of each channel to positively impact your metrics. Think about frequency, opportunity windows and send-time optimisations. E.g: you can send an email followed by a push notification 3 days later, and if the user is engaged, they are served an in-app message. It’s all about how you can run channels in tandem to deliver results.

Top tip: we suggest leveraging in-app messages via your marketing automation tool to impact in-app conversion, which, if successful, can be built into your product roadmap. This could save you development resources in the long term. 

We hope you enjoyed this post and we provided you with useful tips on marketing automation campaigns that you can start implementing into your strategy today. However, if you have any further questions on this or any other app marketing topic, use this link to book a call with our app growth team. We offer a free app growth consultation with no strings attached!

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Smokehouse Yard, 44-46, St John Street, London, EC1M 4DF 🇬🇧