It has been observed that games bravely go where other software will go in about two or three years time. This especially holds true for mobile.

Way back in 2010, gamification was the hot new buzzword. Apps like Duolingo, Fitocracy and Foursquare all launched around this time, each bringing gameplay-styling to non-game areas of life. Across verticals and industries, PMs and strategists took lessons from the first wave of games to make their own apps more sticky, increase retention and boost in-app engagement.

Now the mobile ecosystem has evolved, and so too has the user. The average phone or tablet user is now much more sophisticated and much less patient. In fact, with an average attention span of 8 seconds, a person on mobile is now officially less attentive than a goldfish. A blast push encouraging a user to come back to unlock their check-in achievement might have been compelling in 2011, but today it’s a good way to get your permissions disabled.

The most successful apps in the market build their communication strategy around the core belief that every interaction should add value, inform or entertain the user. Ideally, your communications should do all three. However, having worked with hundreds of mobile app teams across a variety of industries, it is surprising how often basic mobile CRM tenants are missed by otherwise savvy marketers.

What seems obvious to a mobile marketing team in gaming may not be obvious to a team in finance, travel, retail or media. Here are five tips direct from the best gaming teams in the world to super-charge your CRM strategy – without an achievement badge in sight.


At its most basic, localization means that all content served to a user should be in their language of choice. This can be understood from their device-level language settings.

If you’re US-based, you may be thinking language localization is less important than for your European counterparts. In fact, according to the latest data available, 15% of all app users in the US are Spanish speakers, and prefer to access apps in Spanish.

Mobile marketers who take the care to speak to their user base in their language of choice reap the rewards. Our numbers show that localizing language can multiply click-through rates 2-3 times over.

When appropriate, combining this with other “local” information, such as weather, breaking a geofence or real-world events specific to that area will make your interactions even more compelling.

Predictive Modelling

Imagine you have an app which offers a subscription model. If you knew a customer was very likely to renew their subscription anyway, would you offer them a 50% off deal? Probably not.

Now think of the app you’re working on now. Do you have any idea of the likelihood of an individual user to take the key positive action in your app? Again, probably not.

Top gaming companies use predictive modeling to inform their high-value CRM campaigns. Using predictive modeling and targeted campaigns enables you to offer 50% off to the user who is about to churn, but simply remind the happy user that their subscription is due.

One of our largest gaming customers used predictive churn models to boost revenue by 35% in 30 days.

By building in predictive modeling to the CRM audience targeting, marketers can get ahead of churn by proactively making the best offer available to the users who need it most.

Deploying Multiple Flows

When a new user comes to your app for the first time, do they always see the same screen? How do you know that it is the best screen? Have you ever checked?

In every download of your app, are the menu buttons in the same place? What if changing the order of the menu increased clicks on the upgrade button? What if having three menu options instead of eight caused new users to get to the important action 30% quicker?

Does your gross revenue go up or down when the minimum order amount changes? What about changing the point at which credit card information is requested? Will you ever know?

Testing different screens and flows enables you to optimise the most important parts of the app flow. CRM and Product should work closely together to ensure the tightest possible user journey through all communication touchpoints. The greatest push and in-app messaging campaign in the world cannot solve a difficult purchase flow.

Games test everything. If the exact same interface is served to all your users forever, you’re doing it wrong.

Soft Launches

Soft launches are tied to the previous point. Massive game releases usually launch in a single region, such as Canada, Australia or Japan, and remain in that region only for a number of months, with minimal press and limited acquisition spend. There, they iterate on their most important flows, tweak the order certain actions are taken, and try out different CRM tactics on a small subset of their user base.

Only once they are satisfied that the core functions are solid and the strategy is sound do they roll out to their wider audience – knowing that they will deliver ROI on the money they spend on user acquisition.

If planning a new strategy, try taking a single segment and running it against just them for a few weeks. Take in the results, adjust, then roll it out to the full audience.

Targeted Native UI Messaging

One of the most successful push messages sent last year by a gaming client was a Halloween special. The message let users know that brand new Halloween items had been added to the game for that week only, and to try them out quickly before they disappeared.

Serving native UI content which is targeted and seasonal, and supporting that content with push, is a surefire way to appeal. These types of campaigns can be as simple as a Christmas competition, delivered with a natively styled In App Message, or as complex as Taxi app Hailo’s addition of Christmas hats on their location-marker stickman.

Hopefully this article has convinced you that points and stickers are not the only takeaways gaming has to offer. CRM teams would do well to look to gaming to discover the next wave of tools for engaging the ever-more sophisticated mobile user.