If there’s one thing I keep telling marketers, developers, and app publishers, it is this: Optimization is like free money.

But regardless of how many times I mention this, the data doesn’t lie — less than 3 percent of marketers use tools specifically designed for optimization. Free money, it seems, isn’t in vogue, but it is still there to be had.

Today, Apptimize has announced series B financing to the tune of $12.4 million in a bid to provide all app developers, marketers, and publishers the benefits of mobile native app optimization.

Apptimize, founded in 2013 with offices in Menlo Park, California, offers app developers the ability to A/B split test new features and lets product managers experiment with new optimization ideas without coding or having to wait for app store approvals. This raise takes its total funding to $18.5 million.

In addition to its optimization features, Apptimize offers an interface that allows app developers to test anything they can code. The platform provides full analytics, feature flagging, staged rollout, results segmentation and filtering, and advanced targeting, all of which comes together to support agile app development.

How will the funds be used? Nancy Hua, CEO at Apptimize, made things abundantly clear to me.

“We’re having a customer conference November 7-8 in San Francisco called Mobilize, and hiring badasses across the board.”

So talent acquisition is high on the list, but that’s not the only thing on the hit-list for Apptimize in the near future.

“Customers are using us to execute on their mobile strategy by deploying totally new features to their audiences,” Hua told me. “For example, to beta groups, staged rollouts to different countries, special features to premium users, or even targeted down to the individual user. This level of control enables customers to have more confidence when making changes to their mobile products.”

Staged rollouts, in particular, are important in today’s app marketplace. With so much competition among apps, and mobile attention rates declining rapidly, “ship it and iterate on the way” doesn’t work anymore. Your app needs to be perfect, so soft-launching in a small country that has a similar demographic to your target market makes sense.

That being said, optimization tools are still a low priority in the mobile marketing stack, when all our data suggests that they shouldn’t be. How are we going to change that?

“Testing rarely makes the roadmap because engineering can never deliver at the rate the business requires,” Hua said. “Everyone aspires to test and be data driven, but this is a major cultural change.”

So a shift in attitudes is needed, according to Hua.

“We believe testing has to be easier and fit into the workflow of the whole mobile team so that people see value immediately and can start proving out the ROI before investing in a major cultural and workflow change,” Hua said. “Testing is supposed to be a best practice, but a data-driven development system requires strategic thinking and investment, so our value is not just in the technology — we partner strategically with our customers and share rare data on what we know works so that we ensure they have successful results.”

US Venture Partners led the round with participation from Glynn Capital Management, Goldcrest Investments, and Western Technology Investments. Dafina Toncheva at US Venture Partners will join the Apptimize board of directors.

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