Getting the right hook: How a golf app developer is using wearables for retargeting

James is editor in chief of TechForge Media, with a passion for how technologies influence business and several Mobile World Congress events under his belt. James has interviewed a variety of leading figures in his career, from former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, to Steve Wozniak, and Jean Michel Jarre. James can be found tweeting at @James_T_Bourne.


The American novelist Nicholas Sparks, in Dear John, writes: “No matter where you are in the world, the moon is never bigger than your thumb.” Let’s paraphrase that slightly: no matter where you are in the world, there will be someone, somewhere, writing a piece on wearable technology and how it can be deployed in marketing.

Some companies, however, are ahead of the game. Take Shotzoom. The company, by its own definition, “creates market leading mobile experiences that empower active lifestyles and enhance the fun of sports and fitness.” Even though the company has a variety of products, its main app is Golfshot, which combines GPS, stats and best practice tips to “guarantee” a lower score, whether you’re a scratch player or a Saturday afternoon hacker.

The company was one of the first to sign up to a new capability announced by mobile marketing tech provider Fiksu, which tracks user behaviour on the Apple Watch, such as launches, registrations and purchases. Shotzoom had already developed a product for Android Wear, and was one of the first to follow suit with the Apple Watch.

Ben Addoms, the president of Shotzoom, notes the relevance for golfers. “For us, wearables are really an obvious fit because we’re in a market where there’s been a well-established application around for some time now,” he tells MarketingTech. “Golfers have been buying golf-specific watches for years, so we already knew there would be demand for a watch version of our app, both on iOS and Android.”

From Shotzoom’s perspective, they can identify active users of its Golfshot Apple Watch app, and delve further into converting free app users into subscribers through retargeting campaigns. That much seems fairly straightforward, yet Addoms notes another important use case: reactivating lapsed users when the new golf season starts.

He explains: “This is an effective strategy for both our smartphone (left) and smartwatch app users. By collecting data about our users, we’re able to identify those active users of the free app who could be a good fit for the paid version, and can retarget them across a variety of networks, including Facebook and Twitter.”

The prospect of customer data being collected and then used in different campaigns can tread the line between useful and downright creepy. Location-based services, in particular, can be a nightmare for this if you don’t get the wording right. Addoms insists he is “fairly confident” Shotzoom’s strategy is helpful and relevant, as opposed to ‘creepy’. “We know these users are already interested in our app and we are trying to help them get the best user experience possible,” he notes. “If we see a user is using the free app regularly, they could be missing out on a lot of enhanced features available through the paid version of the app.”

The freemium side is key – recent research from Avangate shows six out of 10 users will only subscribe to a service if it has a freemium option. As the millennial workforce becomes ever more pervasive, that number will only go up. Shotzoom’s Golfshot Pro – which also has the carrot of a free one week trial – offers extended features such as personalised club recommendations and 3D flyover previews of each hole. Here’s the irony, however: Shotzoom had experienced success with paid apps before coming to Fiksu, but a freemium business model was uncharted territory.

“We were presented with the challenge of validating a freemium business model for the first time,” Addoms explains. “We decided to partner with Fiksu because we needed an experienced partner who could help us develop a profitable mobile marketing strategy for this new business model.”

He adds: “We’ve learned more, faster, and been able to take advantage of opportunities to grow with more confidence because Fiksu has the technology and mobile expertise necessary to succeed.”

Reviews of the Apple Watch app aren’t all complimentary, with one patron on the App Store landing page noting “it’s the best of what I have found but think it can be so, so much more”. Another asserts: “The Apple Watch app continues to lag. I want to keep my phone out of my pocket and in the cart or in the bag. I don’t want to constantly open my phone app just so the Apple Watch refreshes.” Addoms doesn’t appear to recognise these criticisms. “The golfers who use Golfshot have had nothing but positive things to say about our Watch app, as they are thrilled to no longer have to take their phone out of their golf bag while on the course,” he says.

Naturally, it’s still early days for Shotzoom as it explores wearables, both from a technological and a monetary perspective. But it’s a refreshing, relevant use case for wearable technology to really make a difference with users. With more than one million downloads of its original app, across 50 countries, there are plenty of golfers still to target.

If you are interested in wearables, please visit IoT Tech Expo Europe in London’s Olympia this December, 2-3, 2015. 

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