Optimizing Mobile Growth in a Post-COVID-19 Era
Mobile commerce had already been on a staggering global growth curve over the past few years, but the global pandemic boosted mobile app spending in the first quarter to the highest in history, and has now dramatically matured the transformation of consumer behavior entirely. The old normal is gone, and an entirely new set of habits and needs have emerged overnight, ones that no one yet truly understands. What we do know, however, is that we are witnessing a new type of customer emerge; we call them the “connected customers.” This term refers to those customers that prefer to primarily interact with brands through digital means such as websites, apps, or Alexa skills. But what do these connected customers want? They want simple and seamless mobile experiences that are both efficient and fun.
Even as businesses reopen in the post-COVID-19 economy, customers may wish to continue interacting with brands solely via their mobile phones—whether for customer service queries, ordering groceries, streaming online, or more. Every business leader should be thinking, “How can we continue to best service our customers, no matter what their interaction preferences are?” Those brands that can build mobile experiences for changing needs, and surprise and delight customers in the process, will safeguard their future.
Here are six key takeaways to remember about mobile growth:
1. Engagement is hard. This is the first time in history that five generations are simultaneously connecting virtually. As more customers turn to digital platforms to purchase products, brands across sectors are having to augment their mobile offerings, to capture the divided attention of this new generation of connected customers. These customers use digital interaction points to do just about everything and are hyper-aware of the overall customer experience they receive when interacting with brands. Having grown accustomed to superior online services across the board, the connected customer expects every new experience to surpass the last. Over 4 million apps now populate the Apple App and Google Play Stores, yet consumers predominantly use just five apps. Personalization, technological innovation, and trust are all core elements to get users to even download a particular app, let alone perform a valuable action.
2. Retention is the foundation of sustainable growth. Customer retention remains an ongoing long-term goal for many brands, as 80 percent of new users stop using the average app just three days after downloading it. If a brand is unable to demonstrate value to users early and often, and turn them into habitual users, the product will not sustain. Companies need to focus on keeping the customers they already have, by decreasing the time it takes for users to complete actions, driving engagement through cross-channel messaging, and increasing the value that the experience offers through habit-forming features. This will decrease dependency on more expensive, and more difficult, customer acquisition to fuel growth.
3. The modern consumer is not a single channel user. Consumers strive for immediate, simple, and consistent brand interactions that make their lives easier—this is why the act of sending direct messages is associated with higher levels of engagement, no matter what. Users who receive messages from brands exclusively using a single channel, whether this is email, push, or in-app messages, produce average engagement levels that are 179 percent higher than those of users who received no messages at all. And when customers are contacted via two or more channels, their levels of engagement are 166 percent higher than the single-channel rate. Leveraging multiple channels could turn that single active user, who is engaging weekly, into a loyal customer who will open an app every couple of days. This conversion rate will prove invaluable in today’s hyper-competitive marketplace.
4. You have to determine your product’s focus. All mobile products play one of three different engagement games: (1) the Attention Game (maximizing the amount of attention the product gets from users); (2) the Transaction Game (boosting the number of transactions it can get users to perform); or (3) the Productivity Game (enhancing the level of productivity it can generate from users). For optimal engagement, brands must work to understand what “game” they want to play and optimize the experience in a way that hits their specific target.
5. Even the best product teams struggle to understand what’s driving customer interest. Knowledge across companies as to what makes their customers’ minds tick is usually fairly limited. Without a consistent way to feed learnings and intelligence back within an organization, it can be challenging to generate the next cross-functional wave of high-impact ideas and truly have data democratization within a firm. Companies must engage in understanding the unique, and dynamic, behaviors of connected customers if they are to inform a new idea in a worthwhile way.
6. Quick testing of new features and messaging campaigns is a huge competitive advantage. Curiosity, observation, creativity, a willingness to be wrong, and a desire to learn—these are all key elements that make successful mobile growth teams. Companies must face that experimentation is complex, with most waiting weeks for analysts just to interpret the results of a preliminary test. Often, these results are too narrow and fail to offer real insight into the impact on the team’s ultimate north star metric. Testing early, and testing often, allows companies the opportunity to fail and scale quickly, leveraging results to either ramp up or ramp down certain features that are critical to the mobile experience.
Rajesh Midha is the chief strategy and operating officer at Bottle Rocket, a leading strategy, product, growth hacking, experience design, data, and engineering firm. He is responsible for all revenue growth and leads business development, marketing, and client services. Prior to Bottle Rocket, Midha led product and design at Quartet Health, a behavioral health company, and before that, he was chief product officer for video chat and messaging app provider ooVoo.