Mobile Innovators Series: Q&A with Hamilton Bolduc, User Acquisition and Retention at Ibotta

By: Kahuna | March 4, 2015 | Mobile Innovators Series
Mobile Innovators Series: Q&A with Hamilton Bolduc, User Acquisition and Retention at Ibotta

Our guest this week is Hamilton Bolduc, Head of User Acquisition and Retention at Ibotta, a leading “better than coupons” app that sees record-high user engagement—their most recent numbers indicate that 50% of Ibotta users use the app twenty-five times or more per month! Hamilton talks with us about how brands can capitalize on mobile moments to captivate customers. Spoiler alert: it’s all about challenging your assumptions and truly understanding your customer.

How has mobile changed the way marketers are thinking about customer retention and engagement?

Hamilton: Mobile travels with you; you don’t have that experience with desktop. This gives brands the opportunity to connect with customers through a specific message in the moment it is most relevant. Whether users are in a store or at a baseball game, brands can engage them with messages that will enhance their experiences in real-time. We’ve seen great success using this tactic at Ibotta. Our users download our app because they’re looking for ways to save money. If we reach out to them at those key moments when we can save them some money, they’re more likely to be engaged with the app and appreciate the value we provide.

In addition to real-time messaging, personalization has become all the more important. Engagement marketing in the mobile era relies on what’s known about the customers—sending users relevant offers based on what they’ve purchased in the past, for example. This kind of Pandorification—suggesting items based on past behavior—is extremely powerful on mobile because of the intimacy of the platform and the amount of user information being gathered moment to moment.

How should customer acquisition and retention efforts complement each other?

Hamilton: When you think about user acquisition, you’re seeking out buckets of users and giving them relevant content so they will interact with your offering for the first time. You want that experience to continue without interruption after they join the app by giving them more tailored content. The more we focus on that, the greater success we see. It’s about understanding that user, reaching them at the right moment, and showing them the significant value proposition of engaging with your service. You really need to understand what they value and what they want, and then provide relevant content that creates a curated user experience.

In a competitive space like mobile commerce, what techniques can brands employ to rise above the noise?

Hamilton: Rising above the noise comes back to understanding your user. What is the right moment to reach out to them? What’s the most relevant offer for them? It’s about finding opportunities that bring value to the business and the user.

Testing helps you hone in on that right offer and right time for each user. This is probably the most important thing for mobile marketers to be doing, because you don’t know what you don’t know. It’s crucial to understand whether a touchpoint works with certain users and why it works or doesn’t work. Most of the time, you end up learning that different touchpoints resonate with different users; it’s not just one broadsword solution that’s going to get you ahead. You can broadsword up to a point, but then your strategy has to become more sophisticated. When it does, that’s when you start yielding even greater results and being more efficient.

What are some of the common mistakes that companies make when building out their mobile marketing strategy?

Hamilton: Many companies don’t know what their goals are. Success comes down to knowing your goals and then working in a collaborative way with your acquisition and engagement partners. If you don’t know your goals or want to share them, you are losing efficiencies that these partners can provide.

How did you develop such expertise in mobile marketing? What advice would you give to others looking to do the same?

Hamilton: The mobile marketing world is moving so fast. Don’t focus on knowing a specific discipline—you want to understand the ecosystem. Find trusted partners and invest in those relationships. If you have an open dialogue with your partners, they’ll show you how to hone your strategy based on industry best practices.

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About Hamilton:

Hamilton Bolduc is a mobile marketing and technology enthusiast. His experience includes working for Ibotta, Fiksu, and iTriage. Currently, he’s living in Denver and leading acquisition and retention efforts for Ibotta. Feel free to ask him about his strong opinions on quality scores, statistically significant data, and Champions League football.