Kahuna Blends Analytics, Marketing Automation to Boost Mobile Usage

Drew Robb

Updated · Oct 08, 2013

Marketing software is experiencing a big increase in popularity, with giants like Oracle, IBM and Salesforce.com acquiring companies to enhance their marketing offerings and startups like Brandcast earning venture capital.

What has been missing in the marketing space, said Adam Marchick, CEO and co-founder of Kahuna, a mobile marketing automation startup based in Mountain View, Calif., is a solution that combines analytics and marketing automation in one easy-to-use package. Kahuna's Customer Engagement Engine, launching today, addresses that gap with a platform that analyzes customer behavior in real time and delivers personalized messages to boost consumers' use of mobile apps and increase revenue.

Boosting Mobile App Engagement

Kahuna already has 25 customers, said Marchick, some of whom report that usage of their mobile apps has increased has tripled, resulting in revenue increases of 15 percent or more.

Marchick said the Customer Engagement Engine helps companies “rise above the noise” and ensure their mobile apps appeal to customers in an increasingly crowded market. How crowded? ABI Research predicts the annual number of app downloads from smartphones will hit 56 billion in 2013, while users will download around 14 billion apps from tablets.

Vinny Lingham, CEO and co-founder of mobile gift-card service Gyft, a beta customer using the Kahuna platform, said his company saw a 240 percent increase in user engagement, a 17 percent boost in revenue (from cards purchased), a 12 percent rise in cards redeemed and a 7 percent boost in sharing on social media.

Marchick, a former member of the Facebook team, said the Customer Engagement Engine analyzes consumer usage of Web and native mobile applications and unites all of the information into a single customer profile. The software can flag certain behaviors, such as customers at risk of abandoning a company or customers who have tried a mobile app but are not engaging with it on a regular basis.

The software allows companies to set up values so that appropriate messages are automatically sent to their customers when certain behaviors are detected. The goal is to identify patterns that lead to active usage, sharing and purchasing, and then to encourage those behaviors. To make it even easier, the platform includes 50-plus campaign templates, Marchick said.

Jen Rhee, marketing manager at Gyft, said, “If we see a new pattern that needs a new campaign, we can set it up in a matter of minutes.”

“Understanding mobile engagement patterns is critical for driving both online and in-store sales,” said Chris Mason, CEO and co-founder of Branding Brand, a mobile commerce provider with over 200 retail and brand clients. “And this will become even more important as mobile and tablets become the dominant platform choice for customers around the world over the next year.”

Attracting Investment

Kahuna is attracting investors with its approach. It has secured a $2 milllion-plus seed round from SoftTech VC, Costanoa Venture Capital and a group of prominent angel investors, including Tim Kendall of Pinterest, Raj De Datta of Bloomreach, Lee Linden of Facebook and Chamath Palihapitiya, founder of Facebook's growth team.

Linden, head of commerce at Facebook, said, “Mobile app downloads alone won't create value without converting them into engaged users. This is why customer engagement analysis and engagement marketing is critical and why Kahuna is so valuable.”

The Kahuna Customer Engagement Engine is available for iOS, Android and mobile Web and can be installed in about 30 minutes, according to Marchick.

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  • Drew Robb
    Drew Robb

    Drew Robb is a writer who has been writing about IT, engineering, and other topics. Originating from Scotland, he currently resides in Florida. Highly skilled in rapid prototyping innovative and reliable systems. He has been an editor and professional writer full-time for more than 20 years. He works as a freelancer at Enterprise Apps Today, CIO Insight and other IT publications. He is also an editor-in chief of an international engineering journal. He enjoys solving data problems and learning abstractions that will allow for better infrastructure.

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