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Create a mobile strategy that works

Create a mobile strategy that works Kevin Rice

Mobile has completely changed the way people communicate, eat, and shop. Consumers have immediate access to an infinite amount of products and services -- and it's sitting right in their pockets. They can compare prices, read reviews, and access discounts anytime, anywhere. The days of waiting in line for food, cataloging coupons, and driving from store to store are steadily disappearing. And yet, while everyone agrees that mobile is transformative, many brands are still asking the question: what is our mobile strategy?

"Strategy" itself is a term that is so frequently used by brand marketers, it often has little-to-no meaning. Mobile strategy is even more abstract and, in many cases, overlooked. Many brands think that because they have checked the "has a mobile app" box, they have a solid mobile strategy. But an app alone is not a strategy. Holistically improving your customer experience through mobile takes quite a bit more than just checking that box.

It requires an organizational shift from the traditional, waterfall-style approach to digital projects, to a more fluid, continuous and iterative methodology. Mobile is an ongoing concern and needs to be treated like a product, rather than a project. However, with the right mobile strategy -- and process for creating that strategy -- you can generate value for your brand, every step of the way.

Creating your mobile strategy

Here are some of the processes that your business can use internally to get the ball rolling on a complete mobile strategy.

Design thinking
Mobile is a primary vehicle to improving your customer experience, as well as enabling your workforce to be more efficient, so you should sincerely understand your customers and employees. Start with empathy, which is the first step of applying design thinking to strategy. By understanding what your customers (and employees) currently feel, think, and do allows you to brainstorm mobile experiences that will make them feel, think and do in a way that is more aligned with your brand's mission.

After you develop empathy for your audiences, you need to clearly define the problem(s) that you are trying to solve for them. The following fill-in-the-blanks statement can help in this step:

How might we [blank] a [blank] to [blank]?

When completed it might look something like:

How might we help a busy, overworked Millennial to eat healthy while traveling?

Prioritization and planning
If you have ever worked in an organization that practices agile development, then you have probably heard the term "story point estimation." This is a way of evaluating the level of effort it might take your specific team to implement a simple user story (i.e., user can register an account, or user can select a product). In this application, the process is not meant to be an exact science, but a general gauge of effort. If your team (internal or external) has a good understanding of their capabilities, then they should be able to determine how many story points they can implement in a given release period, and how many points it takes to implement all of the features and content you have laid out on the index cards on your whiteboard.

Now you have features and content, an understanding of effort, and some constraints, allowing you to prioritize features into a long-term roadmap over many releases. Make sure that your team is ready to be flexible with this roadmap, however, as it will need to be refined after every release. In order to truly tailor this experience to the user, you will want to pay attention to user feedback and insights gained from analytics; and leave room to add features requested through these channels.

Communications strategy
Research shows that 70 percent of apps are deleted within 30 days of being downloaded. So after all of that work to create your strategy and mobile experiences, you have a very small window to demonstrate your value proposition before the user is lost forever.

While push notifications and geolocating are excellent communication tools within apps, don't immediately ask for permission to do either. Without proper context, you will often get denied. Be sure to visually and verbally communicate the value proposition of the app right out of the gate. Tell users what they will get with push notifications and how you can improve their experience if they give you access to their location. 

Push notifications are a great way to funnel customers through the mobile user lifecycle. If a customer abandons the app before creating an account, you can trigger a push notification that reminds them of a special offer available for new account holders. If a user goes dormant for 48 hours, a push notification can remind them of the app's value proposition. After the initial engagement, you can send manual push notifications informing all of your users of special offers or promotions. These can also be location sensitive, which gives users more incentive to provide their location. 

Start by determining the types of messages you want to communicate to your users, and then identify the value they will receive from these messages. This will ensure that users will appreciate your communication, and be more inclined to engage with your brand. 

Analytics strategy
The only way to begin improving something is to measure it. With mobile we are looking to optimize acquisition channels, in-app behaviors and, ultimately, prove ROI. 

Here are some of the metrics you should be measuring:

Attribution: Download source and revenue by individual

Usage: Active users, sessions, session lengths, frequency, retention, etc.

Audience: Interest of users (your other apps + category), personas (type of your users), demographic info

Technical: Devices, carriers, firmware versions, errors

Events: Define events, see user paths, create funnels

Sentiment: App satisfaction and reviews

Hathway CSMO Kevin Rice's entrepreneurial spirit and drive to understand the digital landscape across industries allow him to solve real business problems for the large brands Hathway works with. These skills have helped Rice grow Hathway, a mobile...

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