Mobile, an essential pillar of your customer experience

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.

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