app-based marketing definition

App-based marketing: definitions and drivers for success

There is no one app-based marketing definition. Instead, there are hundreds of different kinds of campaigns that revolve around apps. 

Just like the traditional television advertiser must change their tactic depending on the audience of the channel, mobile marketers must adjust their message based on the kind of app-based marketing campaign they’re using. Understanding the major categories of app-based marketing is a good starting point for brands that wish to leverage this strategy.

app-based marketing definitionFour of the app-based marketing categories brands should pay attention to are SMS, mobile search engine, proximity, and in-app marketing. Many brands already use a combination of SMS, proximity, search, and in-app marketing to improve their market share. Any brand seeking to create a successful mobile app-based marketing campaign should become versed in all four categories.

App-Based Marketing Strategy #1: SMS Marketing

Some consumers will choose to receive messages via text or other chat apps on their phone. It’s estimated that by the year 2020, 48.7 million people will have opted-in to some kind of business SMS program, where a consumer agrees to have a brand contact them via text message. Brands frequently get consumers to opt-in to SMS campaigns through:

  • In-store visits: Salespeople may ask consumers for their phone number during a purchase.
  • Online signups: A consumer may fill out a contact form or give a business their phone number to reach them via SMS.
  • Existing customer databases: Brands may use contact info from existing customers to send out SMS notifications for special or personalized offers.

SMS marketing can be used to notify a consumer of a special event in a store, or even to mark a special day. Some brands send out birthday greetings and discounts to consumers via SMS as a way to create a connection. This strategy offers a personalized feel to messages from the brand, which can help when the consumer is searching for a product.

App-Based Marketing Strategy #2: Mobile Search Engine Marketing

Search engine marketing is a key part of any brand’s digital marketing campaign, and mobile should be a factor in that. Mobile search marketing needs to be optimized specifically for mobile, as mobile and desktop search results differ 80% of the time. Mobile search engine apps return different results from desktop search results, so brands need to consider a few different areas to include when optimizing mobile search.

  • Branded keywords: This is particularly important for well-known brands. Owning their branded keyword works, as it keeps loyal customers focused on the brand. If potential customers search your brand’s name and the first result is a similar, cheaper competitor, they could be swayed to try something else.
  • Local SEO: Brands that serve a specific local market must have a mobile site that is optimized for location. In addition, having an automatic result come up in Google Maps or another app helps when a consumer is looking for something in your category.
  • Proper phrasing: Brands need to think not just about how online consumers search, but also about how mobile consumers search. Mobile users may rely on shorter search phrases or use more abbreviations. Brands must be optimized for the phrases consumers are most likely to choose while on mobile.

Optimizing a brand for mobile search isn’t limited to search engines. In addition, brands want to consider popular review apps, which consumers can use to share their opinion of a brand. These can also be considered proximity-based marketing apps, as the sites are often tied to physical locations.

App-Based Marketing Strategy #3: Proximity or Location Marketing

Proximity or location-based marketing campaigns are good ways for brands to connect with consumers when they’re on the move, which is often the case when they’re using mobile. Many brands, retailers, and restaurants are leveraging proximity devices, and today more than 15 million sensors deliver app-based, location-specific advertisements and event notifications.

Proximity and location-based advertising uses sensors or geotargeting to connect with consumers via their mobile devices. Apps that use such technology offer high potential for sales conversion, as they connect with consumers who are in a buying mindset.

App-Based Marketing Strategy #4: In-App Marketing

Brands can create their own proprietary apps as part of a mobile marketing program, or they can choose instead to partner with a third-party app. In-app advertising primarily works with third-party apps, where brands can reach out to established users of the app. This is a strategy that Shopkick uses in its app-based marketing platform where it connects shoppers with the brands that hope to turn them into customers. There are a few different ways to use in-app advertising, including:

  • Banner ads: Simple pop-up ads that appear when a consumer is using an app.
  • Incentivized video: Consumers receive a reward for watching a brand’s video. Consumers like this method of in-app advertising which allows them to gain rewards points or game gear for participation. This method has high conversion potential.
  • Rewards programs: Rewards programs that allow brands to provide shoppers with points for engaging with products in-store are popular with consumers. Shopkick’s program, for example, allows brands to interact with consumers while they’re in the shopping aisle by offering kicks—rewards points—for behaviors such as scanning items.

These three in-app advertising strategies work by introducing a product to a consumer who may be unfamiliar with it, or who may not have used the brand or product in a while. They are designed to get consumers to engage with the brand in the app and to increase brand recognition. The goal is to get these consumers interacting with the brand in the physical world after they first learn about it in the digital one.

There are virtually hundreds of ways to advertise via apps, and brands need to choose the methods that will be the most effective for targeting their audience. Using a combination of methods—from SMS advertising to proximity-based apps—can improve conversion and help brands reach new markets. The app-based marketing definition of success may change based on your brand’s individual strategy but should always be designed to connect with mobile customers.

Shopkick leverages many different app-based marketing strategies through an innovative app that helps our partners reach consumers at the right time. For more information, contact us.

Image courtesy JacobLund



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Dima Volovik

EVP of Product and Engineering

Dima Volovik is the EVP of Product and Engineering at Trax Retail — Shopkick.

Dima Volovik is the accomplished product and engineering leader who led teams to deliver innovative and commercially successful e-commerce products, marketplaces, and enterprise solutions for Amazon, Comcast, Fandango, and Universal Music. Before joining Trax, Dima was the Director at Amazon, where he led product development and Engineering for Amazon Appstore and Amazon Prime Video, CTO at Fandango, and Paciolan, head of technology at Golf Channel/Golf Now, and Global VP of Direct to Consumer Technology at Universal Music Group. Dima’s expertise includes developing consumer products, marketplaces, and enterprise solutions.

Dima grew up in Baku, Azerbaijan, where he received his MS in Electrical Engineering from Azerbaijan Oil Academy, and he currently resides in Los Angeles, California, with his family.