Posted 1/13/2016 12:56:17 PM by RICHARD HARRIS, Executive Editor
As the app market continues to explode (see our recently published article “App Usage Grows by 58% in 2015 and Shows No Sigh of Slowing Down”) app publishers will have to continue to improve and update their app marketing tactics as competition continues to increase. We visited with Drew Burns who is the senior product marketing manager for Adobe Target and works to evangelize the practice of iterative testing and content targeting in the digital marketing world.
ADM: What are the top marketing trends to expect in 2016 – why is it important for developers to pay attention to these?
Burns: As mobile traffic is now overtaking desktop traffic across almost all industries, we are definitely seeing a shift among our customers to “Mobile First”, where design and content is now being developed for the mobile device first, and then scaled up for the desktop.
From a mobile app perspective, there is a greater interest and adoption in more location-based targeting, leveraging in-app messaging and push notifications as well as iBeacon technology to deliver personalized offers relative to proximity to a store or competitor’s location, or a more curated experience at a store or stadium. This will no doubt involve create and development resources to generate variations of these elements for testing and targeting in the mobile app experience.
Location-based targeting also has a connection with discussions we are having with our more advanced clients, related to our next gen efforts in the area of optimization and personalization within the “Internet of Things” – internet-connected but not web-based experiences, such as in-store kiosks, appliance/car screens, etc. – where a connection to location-based targeting via the mobile app can lead to a curated experience via triggered personalized screens at a mall, store, airport, stadium/theater or other venue.
While mobile app marketplace has matured, brands and developers still see a high abandonment rate – what drives users to abandon apps, and what retention strategies should they turn their focus to ensure relevance in a crowded marketplace?
Mobile apps play a very important role in customer retention and lifetime value, and while we’re seeing greater investments in mobile apps, companies are only beginning to see the potential of refining the user experience and understanding how and when to engage with personalized messaging and offers for their customers through the app.
Most apps are downloaded for a specific function, and then shelved or removed once that initial function is complete. A good retention strategy is to look at refining and promoting the benefits of more regular usage of core function of the app, be it discounts, time/cost savings in the case of securing a boarding pass or depositing a check in the bank, etc. Testing and targeting push notifications through the app or even prompts from the mobile site or website about ease of executing a task within an app is also valuable.
ADM: Your Adobe report noted that only 36 percent of companies with strategic plans optimized content on the user level. Can you explain why optimization is so important?
Burns: Thank you for this question! Optimization allows content producers and decision makers to validate the decisions they make about user experience, marketing campaigns and offers, etc based on how they ultimately impact the metrics that matter most to their business.
Far too often, even if there are analytics and optimization solutions at play, these decisions are being made based on a high level view of the visitor population, without discretely tracking the performance of key segments of the population or testing new campaigns or improvements to see how they impact performance. This is why optimization should be done first, and accessible at each touch point for mitigating risk and making sure we are confident in the content choices that are being made.
ADM: What are common misconceptions you’ve seen around optimization and personalization?
Burns: A primary misconception is that optimization and personalization should be separate teams and efforts. It is only through testing and optimization that we can weigh the impact and value of different personalization efforts at each stage of visitor and customer engagement based on the KPIs that matter to different areas of your business.
So there is benefit on both sides for having these initiatives working hand-in-hand, and in fact optimizing first, prior to making decisions on personalization. Another major misconception is that both of these are difficult to accomplish, when a phased approach – what we call crawl, walk, run – is supported by our solution and there are best practices and a well-worn model and path to follow to maturing up to more advanced levels fairly quickly.
ADM: What are some ways developers can optimize and personalize apps to improve the user experience beyond the homepage?
Burns: An approach that is often overlooked is testing and targeting in-app messaging urging a customer to post a positive review in the app store after they’ve successfully completed a task within the app.
Good reviews in the app store leads to improved download and usage rates. Testing a reduction in steps to accomplishing a goal e.g. placing an order, booking a room, and targeting mobile-specific offers based upon more contextual data based on a user’s location are also effective methods for improving adoption of and satisfaction with an app.
ADM: What are the benefits companies have seen when it comes to testing and optimizing consumer experiences? Can you give us some examples?
Burns: Absolutely – the most obvious is clarity on which potential experience will have the best impact on their relevant metrics, be it engagement (time on site/ high value page consumption which can produce higher ad revenue), conversion (sale, average order value, return per visitor, registration, account signup, etc.) and even customer lifetime value scores.
It can also have direct impact on cost/time-savings in terms of quickly determining the best creative or UX from different options, or reducing costs related to calls to a call center or other areas of the business through self-service. It can also be very effective in quickly identifying new content or user experiences that don’t have the expected effect on app engagement, conversion or loyalty, and may lead to positive results to the business, so they can be quickly discarded and reports/learnings/recommendations can be shared and socialized throughout the company.
ADM: Are there any drawbacks or risks to be aware of?
Burns: Yes! Testing, and for that matter analytics, should never be done in a silo. For example, acquisition campaigns or channels such as email should not be optimizing and personalizing content or automated recommendations without an eye towards how these connect and impact the corresponding onsite experience e.g landing page and further down the funnel.
There should also be a core team or governance managing the efforts across the board, so that everyone is aware of tests that are concurrently running or results that have been achieved. Also, there are certain guidelines that should be adhered to in terms of test structure and administration to avoid pitfalls like false positive readings; these include waiting until statistical confidence is reached or using automation such as machine-learning algorithms to ensure that the results you are seeing are accurate and repeatable at a high confidence level.
ADM: How can companies scale their personalization efforts?
Burns: Great question. It’s definitely a process and should be done in achievable stages, which is why we promote a maturity assessment that we’ve built, where you can set benchmarks quarterly to ensure that you are growing your program over time but also keeping tabs on areas where you might need a little more focus. Socializing success and educating areas of the business as well as executives on the strategies and benefits of personalization can also lead to greater adoption and success more broadly across a company.
ADM: In what ways will developers leverage mobile for personalization efforts in 2016?
Burns: Mobile needs to be a primary focus for personalization efforts in 2016, because it has become the default channel. Visitors conducting research or customers doing a search or looking to consume/convert from their given location will be accessing through mobile, and so ease of use and relevancy/ease of finding what you are looking for will be key. Also more targeted incentives and better customer service via mobile will also set companies apart in terms of customers feeling like they are personally valued and served via their mobile devices.
ADM: What trends pose challenges/are disrupting the norms for mobile app publishers in 2016?
Burns: A challenge that has existed and is quickly being resolved by solutions like Adobe Target is making mobile apps easier to adapt and optimize in a similar guided visual fashion to other channels such as web and mobile sites, without heavy lifting and development work due to a need to rebuild and republish an app once changes are made.
In addition, having a flexible mobile app SDK that enables a seamless integration between an analytics and optimization solution will be very valuable, as well as the ability to implement within any type of mobile app regardless of platform.
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