How to romance your mobile consumers

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There's nothing like a good old-fashioned romance between a man and his phone. Actually, Theodore Twombly fell in love with his phone's operating system after they started dating. Theodore is the main character in "Her," a provocative movie about how people personify technology to the point where we can "fall in love" with our devices. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the beguiling, sultry voice of the operating system is Scarlett Johansson.

As companies move to engage mobile users, they would be wise to approach acquisition and mobile database building from a customer-centric perspective. Mobile phones aren't just the receptors at the end of a powerful new marketing channel. They are an extension of people, carrying their friendships, photo and video memories, self-expression, and social connection to the world. Keen marketers would be wise to develop relationships with customers and their best friends, and not just use that friend to get to the person you want to talk to.

You had me at LOL

Starting mobile relationships with customers and building a mobile database requires connecting with people genuinely, and making them feel special.

The best way to increase mobile opt-ins is with people you know, your customers, and social media followers via email, on-site or in-product messages, newsletters, and social media accounts. Asking customers to text a keyword to a short code is quick and easy, though success mostly depends on the offer. For the general public, the offer is even more important because they are less familiar with you and what you have to offer.

To attract high-value users, tie the offer to your product. For example, opting in to monthly text coupon codes attracts people interested in your product, rather than offering a "chance to win an iPad" where users won't even remember your name.

Be creative as well. Redbox is renowned for its campaign where users send a text and get a coupon for anywhere between 10 cents and $1.50 -- a sort of discount slot machine. Others include memorable words: "text STEAL for a 50% discount," "text BFF for 10% off or LUV for 25%."

We just "get" each other

Google has a message for you: Optimize mobile delivery or suffer the consequences.

Google now punishes non-optimized mobile delivery for misconfigured sites for smartphones (and many other criteria), so if you don't do it yourself, you may drop in search result rankings. The same goes for mobile load speeds -- more than one second and down you go again.

Consumer response is clear. Approximately half of mobile users won't return to a company's mobile properties if they're not mobile-optimized, even if they like the brand. And the majority of users move quickly to another site if they don't find what they're looking for in a rapid fashion.

As always, tracking is imperative. There is a proliferation of mobile analytics platforms for a variety of mobile activities. Appsee, Google Mobile Analytics, and Mixpanel are powerful tools among many others. Deciding which to use depends on exactly what you're measuring.

Do you tell your friends about me?

I recently received a brilliant referral message from a friend. He had filled in a short "mad lib" about me and why I would love an offer for a particular designer clothing brand: "Joseph, I know you attempt to look great for happy hour so you'll get 20 percent off any of the new fall collection, just because of your epic friend Forrest." If he had posted "Get 20 percent off the new fall collection" on his Facebook timeline, I wouldn't have noticed and perhaps not cared.

Dropbox is famous for its successful referral campaign, rewarding customers with extra storage space for themselves and any friends they refer to the cloud storage service. The Give-Get construct -- give $10, get $10 -- has been used thousands of times for decades. The reason Dropbox succeeded here was because its offer was so attractive: extra storage space for free.

With a mediocre offer, customers won't share with friends unless you improve the presentation of the offer, so make friend referrals a one-to-one proposition. Don't ask users to simply post an offer on their social accounts, impersonally blasting their friends. I opened the referral email mentioned above because it was from a friend. The message was funny, customized for me, and sent to me because he knew I'd be interested in the product.



Alon Even
Alon Even June 25, 2014 at 9:21 AM

Joseph, thanks for your great article.

I agree that tracking the app users is imperative.

I'd like to stress the importance of measuring, understanding and improving the user experience in the app. Google Mobile Analytics and Mixpanel you've mentioned are good tools for providing traditional analytics. In other words, they focus on measuring key metrics (such as number of users, the OS version they use, geographic breakdown and more). But, they don't tell app developers the full story, emphasizing the numbers instead of reasons.

In order to understand why users are take the actions they take, you need to go beyond the key metrics that traditional solutions like Google Analytics provide. This is where mobile visual analytics takes center stage, enabling you to understand exactly how your users interact with your app. A good example fior such a tool you've mentioned above is Appsee (www,