Mobile is a technology unprecedented in the history of humanity, which is today more common than the pen… or the toothbrush! It has become indispensable for many of us, to the extent that it has become an extension of our brains. But mobile has especially significantly contributed to augment our requirements on many aspects such as ergonomics, aesthetics, personalization or immediacy. The consequence for brands? As consumers, we have also dramatically increased our expectations regarding customer experience. We now want seamless experiences everywhere, as fluid and accomplished than the experiences offered by our smartphones.
Logically, 64% of brands attach great importance to mobile marketing in their digital strategy (source). The latest Adobe study (source) also shows that brands are strongly interested in optimizing the customer experience.
A few years ago, the main question was “Should we invest in mobile?”. Today, brands have now moved to “How to provide the best customer experience on mobile?”.
Mobile, a complete disruption of marketing
The adaptation of digital marketing medias for mobile is now essential:
- Email – more than half of the emails are opened on mobile
- Social Networks – mostly used on mobile
- SEO / SEA – searches on mobile have exceeded those of desktop in 2015
- Website – visitors and Google require a mobile friendly
But this is only about transposing on mobile existing channels, whereas the mobile revolution is based primarily on mobile applications.
Yet, success is far from easy there, as users remain overall dissatisfied with the experiences available in apps (60% are disappointed – source).
This article focuses primarily on apps, but the recommendations provided can also be used on others channels.
The main cause of failure for apps is the fact that brands have first considered them as a new communication channel: many apps were seen as “advertising campaigns” and then flopped. And indeed, even if the brand content approach can sometimes work, mobile usage are very different:
- Most apps are primarily useful and solve a problem.
- Information and content either have a utilitarian purpose, or are made for content snacking, to keep busy during quiet time (transport, waiting time, tv ad, moments of solitude). It is the same for entertainment (games, movies, music).
- Social networks are a mix of all that (including the curation of content), apart from person-to-person communication.
It is therefore important to take into account the useful dimension of mobile. We must then consider the apps as full-fledged products, products to be built, that will solve problems for their users. This “User Centric” thinking is the foundation of Product Management, the discipline that makes the link between marketing, technology and user experience (UX).
Some brands therefore logically begin to offer free apps that are useful and can also be used by non-customers. From a recognized retention tool, the app has also becomes a conversion tool.
For the free apps that are monetized through in-app purchases or subscriptions, the challenge is to convert the “free” users into buyers or subscribers. Like in inbound marketing, the user is a prospect.
Experience is what matters
What’s the takeaway? The user is a future prospect who will become a customer only if he is happy with the app experience (or even better, delighted!).
Disruptors today (unicorns and startups mostly) all rely on the experience. They create new highly differentiating experiences that bring a lot of value to their users. Then, they extract this value through a business model (platform, subscriptions, sales, data, advertising …).
And even when these disruptors do not start with the mobile (mobile first strategy), the mobile experience is at least a key component of the overall experience (Uber, Airbnb, BlaBlaCar, Deezer (read mobile unicorns on Techcrunch).
Then, the right approach is to focus on bringing value to its customers (current and future), by helping them out. That’s what Jean-Paul Agon, the CEO of L’Oréal, said recently: “It is clear that the digital changes everything. We must rethink everything differently. Today, L’Oréal no longer sells cosmetics but beauty services.” (article)
Their new app L’Oreal Make Up Genius is a perfect illustration of that point of view. Soon, L’Oréal might be selling makeup subscriptions apps!
In his recent speech at Mobile World Congress, Pete Blackshaw from Nestlé even sets up the user experience as a religion, and considers it the best way to solve the ad blockers issue (source).
Basic recommendations for a good mobile experience.
Invest on the entire channel to have a mobile experience from start to finish. What’s the point to have responsive design in emails, if the links in these emails lead to a non-mobile friendly website?
Pay attention to the first contact / the first impressions, which are the app store pages, the landing pages of the app, the splashscreen, the login / register in the app, the app landing page…
Work on the onboarding, especially for new users. It is also common that the experience for new users degrades over time, or bit by bit with the app updates.
Allow the user to be interrupted (SMS, call, bus arriving…). Design for interruption principle.
Facilitate the password recovery whenever it is forgotten, which is crucial on mobile. This procedure must be 100% mobile friendly and well optimized. The login via social networks can also overcome partly this recurring problem.
Respect the consistency principle, which is so important to Jakob Nielsen, for the UX of your apps (Here are few slides on consistency).
Finally, analyze the data, allowing you to identify areas for improvement but also to detect problems that would appear on a new version of the app.
Some strategic tips to create engaging experiences on mobile
First, it is ideal to start from uses and user behaviour. The insights from the qualitative marketing and data analysis will help you to spot product opportunities (new feature, new app, new service, etc.). Then, you will need to evaluate and assess these opportunities (see article).
Another approach is to work on getting rid of sticking points. Services such as Hotels.com, La Fourchette, Captain Train or Expedia managed to completely eliminate friction through their apps. Very simply and within seconds, you are able to achieve something that was complicated before. Again, data analysis will allow you to detect where mobile can be a way to improve the overall experience.
Another direction is to position your mobile services as companions of your physical products or services. For example, the Disneyland Paris app goes with the ticket of the visitor, or the Peugeot app is conceived to be a companion of your car. All mobile apps which are used to interact with connected objects should also follow this model.
Similarly, the pattern of “coach” mobile strategy starts to appear in different industries. The application is then used as a coach, even for users which aren’t brand clients. Obviously, with such an engaging experience where the brand is helpful, the link created with the consumer is very strong. There are Nike + as a sport trainer, Axa Drive as a driving coach, Nestlé Becoming Mom as a pregnant women. But the most striking example is L’Oreal Make Up Genius – the makeup coach that allows women to test makeup on their skin thanks to augmented reality (see video on the case study). To understand this pattern, you need to ask yourself the right questions: “Which advice need the consumers I target? Who are the coaches that operate in my industry? Can this service be offered as an app or a mobile service? ”
Finally, wherever possible, opportunities for customization must be maximized. For example, customized notifications specifically for the user have an interaction rate much higher than generic messages. Other ideas: let the user choose for what he needs to be notified, allow the storage of favourites, offer suggestions or personalized news feed… The final step is to take into account the context: place, time, people who are present, but above all the intent (what the user is doing or about to do). Google already offers modules that allow Android apps to be “context aware”. We are at the beginning of a new contextual marketing enabled by the mobile.
Mobile = Internet of Me
Even though mobile is only one of the contact points within the overall experience, the mobile experience has become crucial. This is also where the requirements are the highest. Understanding your projects with a “mobile first” thinking will allow you to meet all the current high requirements of your customers.
Investing today in your mobile experience also helps to prepare the future. Virtual reality, retail robots, physical buttons, wallets, IoT / beacons, digitization of the physical world: even though these promised are currently far from concrete, the contact points with high expectations in terms of experience will probably multiply.
The next big change announced is about virtual reality, a major topic at Mobile World Congress this year. Apple, Google and Facebook are all investing to make these technologies accessible, and companies like Marxent are already working on visual commerce experience.
Finally, we have now fully entered the era of the Internet of Me, a world centred on the person and not on the brands. The mobile, the most personal item of all time, is only the first step.