Nat Robinson


Q&A with Nat

Nat Robinson is the GM at MileIQ in San Francisco. His focus is on driving subscriptions of MileIQ’s mileage tracking mobile app by educating users on earning more valuable reimbursements.

Read Nat’s latest blog post on how to ensure growth for your subscription-based mobile app.

What does a quality mobile user look like for MileIQ?

A quality mobile user for us is one that’s engaged in using the app, which is a little different for MileIQ. It runs quietly in the background and automatically detects when you’re driving, then asks you to classify those drives as business or personal. A quality user just needs to have the app running, they don’t have to actively use it.

How do you turn app installs into quality users?
Right from the get-go, when you open the app we communicate the value of MileIQ with tutorials. We also use email to help new users understand the value of our app very quickly. We try to get drivers to what we find is an “Aha!” moment for them. Then, they can easily see the value of their business drives adding up and turning those miles into money.

What is the biggest challenge in marketing MileIQ?
A lot of people think that they can just do mileage tracking manually. What we found out from users and our data is that when they track mileage manually, they miss out on about 20% of the miles that they could be tracking. People tend to underestimate the amount that they actually drive for business. The challenge for us is educating users about how using a subscription service can help get them reimbursed for more money. In most cases, our users recapture the value of our subscription cost in just one 11 mile drive, so we just have to help get them over that hump where they’re asking, “Why is this a subscription-based app?”

How do you re-engage with users to keep them active?
We use notifications and emails to alert users when they’ve reach a level of relevancy in the app, whether they’ve hit a point where they should classify the drives they’ve made or the dollar amount they’ve reached in terms of business deductions. We use proactive re-engagement to help users get more value out of the app.

How do you feel about diversifying user acquisition channels outside of Facebook?
Like any mobile company, we use Facebook today to acquire users. But we also are worried about how those economics degrade over time. We are heavily investing in other channels to diversify beyond Facebook. Things like Liftoff and even non-digital channels – we’re currently experimenting with direct response television, radio, podcasts, and direct mail.

How important are the holidays to your business?
For MileIQ, our seasonal holiday is April 15, tax day. Our users are thinking about mileage tracking and mileage deduction when that question comes up on their tax return, and that’s when we become top of mind.

What are the key actions you want MileIQ users to engage in?
We started with installs and optimized for that, then as we got better and more mature, we moved down the funnel and optimized for sign ups. Today, we’re optimizing around subscriptions, that’s the most valuable action a user can take.

What does mobile user acquisition mean to you?
To me, it’s about the way we do a couple different things. One is, “How do we get in front of people who are looking for something like us?” Another one would be, “How do we get in front of people who don’t know they need something like us?

There’s such a variety of ways we can do both of those. You’ve got to try and do both of them pretty much equally well. Obviously there are different economics and education in those different audiences.

What piece of advice would you give to marketers of non-gaming apps?
Be diligent about your metrics. It’s very easy to make assumptions, especially the wrong assumptions. You want to get the best data you can before you run a test, the best data you can during a test. Then really check if that data matches your expectations at the end.

What does it take for someone to succeed in mobile marketing?
In mobile marketing, you can’t be afraid to try new things. It also helps if you have a good combination of analytical ability and creativity, but you absolutely need to be adventurous.

What do you see as the next big thing in mobile marketing?
Customization. Being able to understand who your user is very quickly and customize the whole app experience for them, from onboarding to daily use. For us, that might be running a campaign on Facebook for realtors then re-orienting the app around real estate agents and what their business is, even to the point where we would customize parts of the app for that particular vertical.


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