How mobile marketers can prepare for when tragedy strikes

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Am I glad that 2016 is over. From David Bowie to Carrie Fisher and George Michael, the year was full of tragic news of the losses of our childhood and teen heroes.

Tragedies such as celebrity deaths should by no means be considered branding opportunities, but there are times when brands’ plans are affected by the events and they need to pivot quickly. Marketers need to be able to schedule a campaign — and just as importantly, unschedule a campaign — at a moment’s notice. Mobile app owners, in particular, need to ensure that their app doesn’t lag behind other channels.

Looking at the hopefully brighter horizon of 2017, we digital marketers need to make sure we develop the ability to respond quickly to unexpected events, the death of our heroes being an extreme, but all-too-common, example last year.

How quickly can you schedule a campaign in your app?

The first question to ask is: Am I capable of scheduling campaigns at a moment’s notice? Let’s say something big happened in the world, and it’s related to your mobile app; obviously, this is a good opportunity to share your views, celebrate (or mourn) together with your users. It could be related to sports, politics, fashion trends, music — really anything.

Calendar events such as holidays or elections can be prepared for in advance. You can develop special hooks inside your app and schedule your campaign to be fired up at the right mobile moment.

But what will separate you from the pack is the speed and flexibility to fire up an in-app marketing campaign within minutes in response to any event.

How quickly can you unschedule a campaign in your app?

The ability to schedule campaigns with short notice is one side of the coin (and probably the more important one). However, being able to unschedule, stop or remove campaigns quickly is no less critical.

Social marketers know it better than anyone because they do a lot of scheduling. If you’re a social marketer, you probably build your weekly (and sometimes monthly plan) well in advance.

But would you simply let it be, and not touch the scheduling system until next month? The right answer is “no.” You must never rest on your laurels and neglect common sense.

The same reasoning should apply to mobile apps. Let’s say you’re a hair salon chain. Your app is used for scheduling appointments, and you run promotional campaigns in the app for services such as hair straightening, special coloring and more.

Now, let’s assume that in advance of the premiere of the latest “Star Wars” movie, you worked hard to prepare a campaign based on Princess Leia hair styles. You planned to run it in your app for a couple of months, but then, sadly and unexpectedly, the actress died, suddenly rendering the campaign completely insensitive and inappropriate. Are you capable of turning it off, or would you have to wait for the next release cycle to do it?

Is your marketing stack prepared for a crisis situation?

If you’re a media publisher, the answer is probably “yes,” because being able to constantly update your content is your bread and butter. Other industries, though, don’t usually invest in the same way in content management systems. That being said, they do have full-stack technology to support their cross-channel marketing.

In email marketing, you can change or delete content right until the very last minute before it goes out. Changing the content of a web banner is easy; replacing an image, even easier; removing it altogether from layout, still doable. Social, as mentioned before, has the most substantial scheduling tools, but at the same time, it allows you to add and remove items on the fly.

The irony is that despite studies showing that mobile apps have become the main touch point with brands, app development and release cycles hinder agile change and optimization. Mobile apps should be up to date with messaging and no less capable of turning scheduled campaigns on and off.

So, if you’re a mobile app owner, there is no reason for your app to lag behind your other channels, and you’ve got every reason to make sure it’s as fast and agile as they are.

May 2017 be full of life, health, happiness and much more adaptive apps.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Polly Alluf is the VP Marketing of Insert, the automated in-app marketing platform and the author of the beginners playbook to in-app campaigns.


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