Mobile marketing is an industry that never stops innovating, and Lomit Patel couldn’t be happier. As IMVU’s VP of Growth, he’s always seeking out new approaches to acquiring and retaining users, knowing that the next technological leap could arrive overnight. From working in new marketing channels to experimenting with AI and machine learning capabilities, Lomit has his eyes on mobile marketing’s next big thing.

Tapjoy recently contacted Patel to discuss his experiences with the industry and where mobile marketing could go in the coming years.

What We Learned:

  • Test Your Spend – What works today might not tomorrow. Marketers should be constantly A/B testing spend across a diverse media mix.
  • Personalize –  The biggest opportunities in mobile marketing will be those leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence to develop better personalized user experiences
  • Invest In Data – Time spent on data-driven marketing practices like fraud detection, data aggregation, and finding quality users outside of Facebook and Google will pay the greatest dividends

Tell us about IMVU and your role within the organization.

IMVU is the world’s largest avatar-based social networking app with over 200 Million registered users worldwide. It’s currently rated as a Top 10 social media network and Top #3 Grossing Social Networking App.

I’m the Vice President of Growth at IMVU, responsible for driving user acquisition, retention and monetization across our mobile and desktop platforms.

You’ve worked in online marketing for almost twenty years. What have been the most significant changes you’ve seen take place?

The most significant change is how online marketing has become so dominant with the majority of user acquisition budgets being spent there instead of offline marketing. This has lead to consumers becoming both blind to the constant stream of advertising around them and wise to the tips and tricks advertisers use to catch their ever-waning attention. You have to be very data-driven to leverage all the different tech stack tools to better optimize your online marketing efforts across the entire user journey for your acquisition, retention and monetization efforts. I love the rapid pace of innovation in online marketing as it continues to open up so many new opportunities to test, iterate and scale growth across different channels and devices (where users are spending all their attention).

What has stayed the same?

What’s stayed the same is that there is no shortcut to user growth. We continue to run a lot of A/B testing experiments to optimize online marketing spend across a broad diversified media mix, because something that works today is not guaranteed to work tomorrow. Ultimately, it’s about always being focused on your customer and trying to differentiate your value proposition from the competition. 

IMVU is a fairly unique product that combines aspects of video games, social networks, and messaging apps. What sort of unique challenges and opportunities does this lead to in your work as a marketer?

The biggest challenge is clearly articulating our value proposition to new users so they get to use the product as soon as possible. Our users don’t have a clear linear path like most games and hence they need more guidance on how to use the product to truly experience the IMVU “Aha!” moments.

The flip side is this challenge is also very exciting for us as marketers to run a lot of experiments across the entire lifecycle of the user journey to help new users be successfully onboarded with personalized user experiences to enable us to better engage, retain and monetize users to increase their LTV.

IMVU is also a multi-channel product with SKUs on desktop and mobile. Does that complicate growth operations?

I see us being a multi-channel product as a benefit because we have more options to acquire and engage cross-platform across desktop and mobile channels. We have a good cross channel attribution system with users with unique CID and emails that enable us to better track the user journey across platforms. 

Any complications lie in ensuring our products and engineering team have the resources to manage more platforms and maintain a consistent user experience.

What do you consider to be the biggest untapped opportunities in mobile today?

The biggest opportunities will be leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence to develop much better personalization and customer centric user experiences across multiple platforms.

Following closely behind are global developments to expand the footprint for growth and 5G offering opportunities to leverage more AR/VR to improve user experiences

What would you say are the biggest challenges facing mobile marketers today?

The biggest challenges facing mobile marketers today are:

  • Increased competition for capturing user attention  
  • Data aggregation and discrepancies of all user acquisition activity
  • Identifying the optimal attribution methodology to measure success
  • Fraud definition and alignment across MMP and partners  
  • Finding quality users at scale outside of Facebook/Google
  • Reducing friction in the user path to purchase
  • Poor retention rates with most new users becoming inactive within 7 days

At IMVU, we enable customers to overcome this starting with quantitative and qualitative research data to help run A/B testing across user flows, campaigns and creative, customized re-engagement campaigns, and leveraging AI & ML technology to optimize performance, attribution and reduce fraud.

What new developments in mobile marketing, technological or otherwise, are most exciting to you?

I’m most excited to see more AI/ML driven technologies drive great performance with a far more efficient, hands-off management approach in executing complex user acquisition campaigns, deeper personalization across the entire user lifecycle and an enhanced view of the customer journey for attribution across platforms at scale to get data-driven results far beyond manual capabilities.

Are there any upcoming projects for IMVU that you’re able to share with us?

We are continuing to work on developing the next generation of Avatars as well as richer AR and VR experiences.

Tapjoy would like to thank Lomit Patel for taking the time to join us. If you’d like to brush up on more mobile fundamentals, check out “What Is In-App Marketing?” for a deep dive into strategies and tips on developing your own unique in-app campaigns.

This article first appeared on Tapjoy


Lomit Patel is the Chief Growth Officer of Tynker, with 20 years of experience helping startups grow into successful businesses. Lomit has previously played a critical role in scaling growth at startups, including Roku (IPO), TrustedID (acquired by Equifax), Texture (acquired. by Apple), and IMVU (#2 top-grossing gaming app). Lomit is a public speaker, author, and advisor, with numerous accolades and awards throughout his career, including being recognized as a Mobile Hero by Liftoff. Lomit's book Lean AI is part of Eric Ries' best-selling "The Lean Startup" series.