Thought Leadership
Making Business Sense: Mobile User Acquisition for B2B Apps

chang-fu-breezeworksChang Fu
Director of Marketing
Breezeworks

Chang is Director of Marketing at Breezeworks and is responsible for distributing the product and growing the customer base. He manages the company’s product marketing, analytics, and non-paid & paid user acquisition. Previously, Chang held marketing roles in mobile gaming and financial derivatives. In his other life, Chang is a trader, traveler, sports enthusiast, and gamer.


 

Being that a significant part of paid mobile user acquisition is done for mobile games and consumer apps, how does mobile app marketing for a B2B app differ fundamentally?

By definition, the audience for a business app is much smaller than that for a consumer app. There are over 300 million people in the US and less than 10 million businesses with employees in the US. Given this disparity and the fact that many times, we’re primarily going after the decision-makers, the targeting for a business app needs to be more precise, resulting in less mobile partners out there who can target that finely and efficiently. Second, we have to be picky about inventory – someone who is listening to Spotify, matching candies, or checking ESPN is unlikely to be in the mindset to get organized and grow a business. Obviously, that doesn’t mean we never reach these people during toilet time. We just have to be setup to engage them again when they’re in a business mindset. Lastly, looking at a fully baked CAC (customer acquisition cost) and LTV (lifetime value) is quite different since there’s a lot more operational/support costs with a B2B app. Also, most pricing models like freemium or free trials are subscription-based. The most comparable thing to a B2B app is a paid dating app – except with B2B apps, there’s lower churn, little virality, and higher expenses.

 

How do you leverage dayparting, or other types of targeting to ensure users are exposed to an ad at the right time? Are there other channels you use to ensure user onboarding is maximized?

We target by what’s available through our partner, whether that’s demographic & interest info, online browsing & purchase history, or 3rd party offline data. As for day-parting, it makes sense conceptually but it’s been hard to prove it’s value with confidence, especially when there are ad-serving delays and volume issues.

User onboarding and engagement is absolutely crucial for us. We use email, push, ads, and even sms to get users to finish signing up, and to proceed to our ah-ha moment quickly, and create a habit around our value proposition (and of course, subscribe). At the end of the day, we’re trying to help tens of thousands of businesses change their behaviors, and we’ll succeed only if it’s super easy and intuitive.

 

What are your thoughts about cross-device targeting?

Breezeworks is available on Web, iOS, and Android so our users sign up and access our product on any of those platforms. In regards to targeting, we think it’s important to take a step back and think about our customer personas. Let’s use the example of an admin assistant who dispatches plumbers for a 8-person plumbing company. Many times, these admins discover us on a computer. Once they’ve signed up, they get pinged to download our app using a Branch Metrics link and we engage them on both the web, and mobile.

The purpose of this example is to show that we find different customers on mobile, versus web, and as long as we have the right messaging and a conversion funnel that works for each (which leads to the right price paid for each customer), we’re agnostic to where they come from.

 

How about ads on desktop? Have there been any channels outside of search and retargeting that have worked well?

On desktop, search represents a significant portion of intent-driven traffic, people who are specifically looking for a business product like ours, or a feature we have. Software review sites, partner app stores like Square or Intuit, and affiliates can be another good source of intent-driven traffic. As you get into web display (excluding retargeting) and online cookie-based traffic, it becomes harder and harder to get the ad unit, the targeting, and the messaging right, especially if you’re measuring from a performance marketing standpoint. What core problem can we solve for this person? Is he or she ready to take action? That’s where A/B testing, multiple paths on the website, and content come into play. Web display, excluding retargeting, is tricky in that there’s a significant trade-off between scale, targeting, and quality- at least in the SMB B2B space

 

What is your take on view-through attribution and what % credit range do you typically attribute to partners?

Having web and mobile signups, as well as web and mobile conversion events, makes attribution far from a cake-walk. We like to keep things simple on a day-to-day basis, and look at last click attribution, while periodically seeing how numbers change, based on a position-based attribution model (where the last and first interaction has a heavier weighting). We use view-through attribution when applicable, such as the default 1 day view-through for Facebook video. At its core, a proper attribution model is about making sense – for the product, the audience, and the messaging.

 

What KPIs do you use to measure success at each step of the acquisition process? Is it different for mobile than the web?

The great thing is – whether you’re B2B, B2C, some crazy mix, on mobile, on web, whatever – everyone needs KPIs to measure performance. The further down the funnel and the higher the correlation, the better that event is at predicting revenue. For us, although earlier funnel events are different between mobile and web (mobile has an install, and a web visit has a different content experience than an app store visit), funnel events post signup are similar. We look at post-signup events during the trial period at a company level and designate events, and sometimes a combination of events, as predictive of revenue. Just like how Facebook has ‘7 friends in 10 days,’ and Slack has ‘2k messages’, we have a combination of jobs, and billing events that represent a simplified ah-ha moment.

 

Since yours is a paid service, do you see different trial to subscription conversion rates for users acquired on mobile as compared to the web? If the conversion rates are different, why do you think this is the case?

We absolutely do, but we think there’s a variety of factors at play here. First, the audience demographic, and mindset varies on a mobile signup versus a web signup.

Second, the user experience, or what we influence, differs quite a bit. We had the initial hypotheses that users signing up on mobile expect a simpler, and more intuitive experience, whereas our hypotheses on web involved more paths/options. We’re still testing this but I expect to continue to tweak things, and adjust so that we can tailor the experience for the right audience, mindset, and device.

Third, the support and help options are different. Lastly, payment is different too. In-app purchases versus web payments each have their pros and cons, and do influence conversion rates. The important thing is to have the measurement tools to understand how each factor influences the conversion rate, and to be able to isolate for causation.

 

How does your transactional email onboarding process for the web differ as compared to mobile?

Instead of segmenting email onboarding by device, we split it by persona and engagement. We also use 3 main types of automated email: transactional (based on user actions like referral, scheduling a job, etc.), marketing (call to action & engagement), and personal (developing a person-to-person relationship).

 

What role does content marketing play in your overall user acquisition strategy? How do you know what % of your budget to allocate to paid user acquisition vs. content marketing?

Content is currently a small part of our overall marketing strategy but I expect it to grow over time, especially as we start attracting businesses with over 5 employees that find us on the web. Although content is measured differently from our direct response campaigns, the core logic is identical. What are the relevant costs to content generation & management, and what’s the time or cost of organic & paid distribution? What $ ROI will we get from the organic and paid traffic, and what’s the payback period or the ROI during the period the content is relevant? Are there other non-acquisition benefits to this content, like engagement, support, or PR? All these questions should be answered when properly allocating spend.

 

Being B2B, how have the major platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn worked out for you?

B2B is an extremely broad category and platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can excel for the right audience.

For us, since our audience is more likely to go to Home Depot than call Thumbtack, or would go watch Nascar rather than attend Dreamforce, and probably drive a Ford truck rather than drive a Tesla– some platforms like Facebook are stronger than others. The simplest rule in marketing is to be where your audience is, and it’s easy for us to forget that when we’re in the weeds.

 

In your opinion, what is the future of mobile and web user acquisition for B2B companies?

Web marketing for B2B is relatively mature, so I will focus on B2B mobile specifically. As we all know, B2B apps are currently a tiny portion of the app market, but it’s been steadily growing; helped by the likes of Thumbtack, Invoice2Go, MileIQ, Slack, and QuickBooks Online. Many of these apps actually started on web, but have seen significant mobile traction with users migrating to multiple devices over time.

With a growing B2B mobile app audience comes richer and more expansive tools to acquire and engage users, as well as to measure results. Our customers have longer decision-making processes, and require more touch & nurturing; I think Facebook, Twitter, and others in the mobile ecosystem have vastly expanded the content, ad, support, engagement, and measurement tools available to B2B marketers over this last year. Even with the many improvements, I think there’s still holes and inefficiencies, especially when trying to visualize all the touchpoints, while still retaining the best-in-class tools for function. I look forward to when a people-based approach can be completely realized without giving up quality– when it’s not about the unrelated things they did on this iPhone, that Galaxy Note, this IP address, that conference, but instead, about that person and companys’ continuous experience & journey to becoming our customer.

 


 

Running your own service company is hard. As a small business owner, you are expected to excel at every role — salesperson, marketer, taskmaster, accountant, dispatcher, and receptionist. Breezeworks’ mission is to put cutting-edge mobile technology in the hands of service professionals like you. We build products that improve your quality of life and help you serve your customers better.

Led by CEO Matthew Cowan and CTO Adam Block, Breezeworks is a tight-knit team of tech folks and small business specialists. We’re backed by a group of inspirational technology and business leaders including Marc Benioff, Max Levchin, James Murdoch, David Sacks, Jeff Skoll and Peter Thiel, and investors Allen & Company, Obvious Ventures, Charles River Ventures, Harmony Partners and XSeed Capital.

We have an enduring faith in the power of small business, and we’re focused on building the technology to help your small business succeed. Our customers are our greatest asset and we love to hear from you.

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