Golf GameBook’s Mobile Strategy Goes Above Par

Client: Golf GameBook
Agency: Global Rev Gen/Fiksu Inc.
Objective: Strategically target passionate golf fans, earn top ranking in Apple’s App Store, and encourage ongoing engagement

The Aim: The industry standard for mobile app engagement is a number that probably keeps most marketers up at night. According to research from Localytics, roughly 26% of all mobile apps installed are only opened once—and then utterly disregarded.

“That means a quarter of all mobile marketing budgets are literally being wasted,” says Salvador Klein, founder of digital performance marketing agency Global Rev Gen.

This was not the fate Golf GameBook had in mind for its live scoring app. The free application, which was developed by mobile startup GameBook Oy with help from Finnish golf pros, is the lynchpin of GameBook’s online golf community. Players can use the app and accompanying website ( to search out, join, and track real golf games by location and date, as well as to view live leader boards and share stats, photos, scores, and comments. To log into the online community, users need to provide basic information, including email address, country of residence, and gender.

As a start-up company, Golf GameBook’s marketing has to be “super smart and carefully thought out,” says Olli Lehtonen, marketing manager for Game- Book. “And when you have a mobile app, the most effective way to market it is, of course, within the mobile channels.”

The Strategy: Golfers on greens across the planet have their phone in their pocket during a round of golf, and the number of potential installs among them is ostensibly limited only by awareness and smartphone ownership. But GameBook wasn’t just looking for a surge in downloads—it wanted active users who would continue to reengage, rather than download the app once and then forget it existed.

To that end, GameBook called on Global Rev Gen and mobile marketing platform Fiksu to drive interest in the app from serious, dedicated golfers during the 2012 PGA Masters Tournament weekend in Augusta, GA, while at the same time pushing the app into a top slot in Apple’s App Store rankings.

Global Rev Gen managed the overall marketing strategy, while Fiksu launched a series of “burst” campaigns during which GameBook concentrated a substantial portion of its advertising spend on incentivized traffic sources during high-profile PGA events to create a steady stream of active, loyal users—essentially buying the traffic that was most likely to be effective and efficient.

Invaluable in GameBook’s case were incremental organics, which refers to the concept that an app with a higher App Store rating will receive more organic downloads simply because it’s more visible and not because it was advertised. Because the download rate of an app is highly variable, GameBook rolled out various burst campaigns to test how each affected the amount of downloads and whether it improved the app’s overall ranking.

“It’s a bit like billboard advertising: The visibility helps drive awareness and product use, which in this case is an app download,” explains Chris Shuptrine, senior director of client development at Fiksu. “A lot of the time it’s difficult for people to understand those benefits that go beyond just the absolute downloads you drive, but without the incremental organics, we wouldn’t have hit top ranking in Apple’s App Store.”

Simultaneously, Global Rev Gen supported the effort with creative assets and strategic media buys on relevant mobile ad networks, such as iAd and AdWords. And throughout the process, Fiksu continued to test mobile traffic sources to identify which ones were working best. Fiksu provided reports to Global Rev Gen, which, based on the numbers it was seeing, tweaked and reinvested as needed to optimize spend and engagement.

The overall outcome was a mix of high exposure—GameBook’s high rank enabled it to stay at the top of the App Store during the PGA weekend, one of the biggest golfing events of the year—and the acquisition of repeat users, Shuptrine notes.

“The concept of good quality users cannot be overestimated,” he says. “It’s not just about driving traffic where you want to drive it, but also about finding those users who are going to [continue] opening the app.”

The Results: The results of the burst campaigns for GameBook were well above par. During the PGA Masters weekend, the app made it into the top five in the sports category of Apple’s U.S. App Store—at one point even hitting number one—and remained in the top 10 for the majority of the weekend, with an average ranking of number four. Global Rev Gen also saw a 40% conversion rate among users—15% higher than the industry average.

The elevated App Store ranking helped GameBook score a 7x improvement in free organic downloads during the time period around the Masters, which it wouldn’t have seen without the paid bursting—as well as a 10x increase in daily downloads as a result of the overall campaign.

The Takeaway: Part of what led to GameBook’s success was its willingness to take risks strategy-wise—essential in the fast-paced, ever-changing world of mobile marketing, says Fiksu’s Shuptrine. Getting too focused on a particular marketing approach will only stifle the creativity required to hit a mobile hole in one.

“We have a lot of people who approach mobile marketing with Maslow’s Law: ‘When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail’—they’re married to just one strategy,” Shuptrine says. “But app marketing really is a totally unique experience.”

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