We’ve all read about the surge in mobile activity over the last few months being reported by all the internet stars like Facebook, Google, Pandora (as reported by CNET), and looking at the data and reports, mobile is something you have to embrace – now!
Because the way we use mobile phones has changed so much, the way we build and conceptualize for that use must also evolve. On top of this, many new wheels have been invented, and concepts like crowdsourcing becoming crowd funding, and social media becoming social business are going to keep on happening, so as we evolve as users, we must help evolve our businesses as well. For this we must learn from the use of our customer’s mobile phone.
Open knowledge standards have begun to emerge in mobile development, especially with Apps and HTML5 which keep accelerating the pace of evolution and complexity. Data has also gained a lot of hype, but maybe the vision is still lost in grabbing as much data as possible. Let’s be practical, you sometimes only need 2 or 3 data points to understand how a campaign converted, or a purchase happened, all of which can be measured on the user’s mobile phone. Let’s look into some of the key principles to keep in mind while planning a mobile strategy or developing a mobile presence.
#1 Frequency and “stickiness”
Apart from simple and addictive gameplay, mobile games (apps) have done one thing really well – test and evolve. They live off learning when you are more prone to stop playing, so they test different messages, layouts and emotions to keep you in, or comeback quickly.
Lesson: the more usage your app gets every day – more valid data it can provide about your user, the context of the engagement, and the more commercial value it holds.
#2 The “swag” factor
Another huge “sector” within the mobile ecosystem are fitness apps. They have blasted in 2014, outgrowing mobile average usage by 3 fold, becoming the hottest app development areas (maybe the data processor on the iphone helped a little). Most of them measure your activity, health and they allow you to track your performance over time with really cool graphs, but they also allow you to share these with everyone! How many Endomomo and argus updates have you began to see on your timeline? Has any of them sparked at least curiosity on trying it yourself?
Lesson: visualization and gamification are not dark arts – they are musts!
#3 The “like a boss” user experience
If you want to charge, do it like a boss – linkedin, dropbox, wordpress all let you use the basic service for free, but you quickly realize it is so good you want more. The key is making it really good at least at one thing, preferably one thing a lot of people need. You can then test what to charge for. The mobile is your virtual store – if people don’t go in, they won’t buy. So get them in and give them a reason to buy.
Lesson: be awesome first, ask for money later!
#4 Mind the data
You must be smart about the use of data, and bear in mind that it should at least be used in at least three ways:
- Monitor and improve the overall business performance. If you publish news, make sure people are reading them, and then, that they share them, and then analyze the trends to optimize what news you’re going to produce and show, and finally, what are the personal preferences of each of your users. Almost as important as analyzing is how this information travels through your organization.
- Use the full potential of the mobile phone as a sensor! Over 90% of all smartphone users keep it at less than 1,5 meters, which means it’s the most accurate sensor for what people do, when they do it, for how long and where. Use this data, and remember you just have to find a value exchange to give to your clients, and that will make it fair to use that information. Remember what Millenials have to say about this!
- Open your data and embrace crowdsourcing! 3 Million heads think better than 5, and with the right measures in place, you can learn a lot from what other people can do with your data. I ran a hackathon with just a few weeks of data and got 3 new potential business opportunities from college groups. Dive into organisations like The ODI, research the open data examples, and contact university groups – somewhere your data is the missing link, learn to benefit from it, it’s low cost and high return.
Lesson: It’s not only about the data; it’s what you do with it. Editorial, Adsales, Product, Strategy – they all need data because it makes research a measurement of reality, instead of an extrapolation exercise.
#5 Omnipresence is a reality
If you’re multi-platform, be multi-platform; Your users certainly are! The whole thing is about making them more efficient. Evernote, Candy Crush, Netflix – they all have one thing in common – they’re smart. You don’t have to tell them who you are, what you like or what you’re there for – the services learn and know this, because elsewhere that information already exists. Don’t expect users to double their efforts just because you’re cool. Most Social Networks have APIs you can tap into and learn all of this with low cost and high return in user experience. They even allow you to break closed ecosystems like IOS and easily share information across your own devices (if you’re building enterprise solutions, this is a must!).
Lesson: being in the right place, at the right time, with the right tools is possible! Just be smart and use all the tools you have. After all, the web is open to everyone!
Bonus advice: The key information you need to turn good into great is available somewhere – make sure you get help from partnerships or bizdev teams. Remember partners and customers are also users.
I’ll wrap up with a few straightforward examples on how to achieve some of these, and achieve full mobile potential.
If your users visit your app more than once a day and for periods of time of 30 minutes, you can use the location data collected to understand what routes do they use your app. Do they use it between 9 and 5 on weekdays? – they’re probably using it at work! That probably means you have something that’s useful as an enterprise solution. Do they use it while they’re commuting? Maybe you can tailor your media strategy around time of day, key terminals and underground or trains. (Check out Telefónica’s Smart Steps)
Are you trying to send alerts to your clients but can’t seem to get the response rate above market average? Try to seize key moments from your clients to trigger social media interactions, using them to capture location data and demographic segments of customers by behavior. You can then use this information to extrapolate to populations in an area and target your LBS (location based services) campaigns when you know a client is in the area of a shop. You can also serve the most accurate promotion using social info and with the appropriate tone because you know their age group, occupation, etc. (Check out Adsquare)
Health Care Game changer?
Consider a more far-fetched (but not so distant) scenario in which clothes are connected and they monitor your vitals. What’s the potential in this?
On a personal level, you can use this info to understand if you’re healthy or not, and share that information with your doctors for more accurate treatment.
On a community level, the healthcare providers can predict what they should be concerned about and if their healthcare policies are working or not.
On a global level you can use this info to detect if there’s a public disturbance happening anywhere in the world if everyone’s vitals in an area would shoot up.
It’s happening now, on a mobile near you!
One thing the mobile era has brought is the possibility to measure actual behavior, and the possibility to do so in real-time, and interprets that information on the fly.
The challenge for companies is to either reinvent themselves in this framework, or help build it. And in the heart of the change are users, so listening and learning from them is a good start, and the mobile phone is the first of many sensors that will in the future replace research, as we know it.
Another big change to be aware of is one-size-fits-all doesn’t cut it anymore (in most cases). At some point it has to get personal. Users expect it, and technology and information are available to do so.
That’s why technology led companies are becoming user centric all around – they know it’s about each individual user. The mediators of that change are the interfaces users engage with – and the mobile (smart) phone is the leader of this revolution.
Embrace it now, or it will leave you behind.
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