As a B2B marketer at the Boston-based company Skyhook Wireless, I had the opportunity to attend MassTLC’s Mobile Summit last week, which highlighted many trends of the rapidly maturing mobile technology industry. Speakers from Skyhook Wireless, Care.com, Mobile First Software, GSN Games, Intrepid Pursuits and LoseIt! all shared their perspectives on how mobile technology is changing business strategy and day-to-day lives and how to monetize for success. Here are some highlights:
The Future of Mobile and What it Means for Business Strategy
Michael Davies, Senior Lecturer at MIT, and Chairman at Endeavour Partners, kicked off the summit with a presentation on what is coming next for mobile and what it means for how we do business. He explained that we are at an inflection point where we have a perfect storm of creative destruction-- a combination of smartphones, pervasive connectivity, cloud computing, Internet of Things and big data. He asked the question, “What happens when these forces converge?”
We are at the eye of the storm. With this convergence, customers have instant access to information anywhere, anytime, about anything. Customers are empowered and the customer-to-customer interaction has changed. At the same time the nature of work is changing. Now work is done across different devices and innovation is accelerating and becoming more interactive.
He explains that the convergence affects industries such as transportation, retail, education and healthcare to name a few. Level Up provides simple, easily adoptable payment methods. Fitbit, Basis and Jawbone Up record our health and wellness. And Uber and Waze make travel simpler, easier and more reliable. So what do you do next as a business?
Davies continued, “ We are turning consumers into wizards, we are giving them very effective magic wands with access to data, machine learning and wisdom.” Products now have to keep up with the consumer, and Davies says that automation and machine learning are enabling this transformation of business strategy. Today, mobile, digital, cloud and big data must be pervasive in company strategy. Businesses who are slow to adopt and innovate will perish.
Personalizing the Mobile Experience
Skyhook’s very own Schneidermike, VP of Product at Skyhook Wireless, spoke on a panel with Ryan Charles of Care.com and Henry Cipolla of Localytics to discuss how technologies allow unprecedented opportunities to personalize the mobile experience with the combination of location-based services and data analytics.
Schneidermike explained to the audience, “There is a 30 second window of opportunity, if we are lucky, to provide something vital to a user. Geofencing and persona development allow developers to reduce the friction from the time a user opens the app to the point they see the value.” He states that the biggest revolution with personalization in the last year has been the accessibility of tools and technology that allow you to do the things you have always wanted to do. Now we are inspired to go beyond the slam dunk idea of sending coupons to a user as they are in proximity of the store. Knowing the location of users and the context of their behavior allows you to do more, like deliver relevant content everywhere and provide dynamic user experiences.
Companies can now structure experiences around one individual. Ryan from Care.com gives the example that we now have the ability to figure out who would be the right caregiver for each individual by personalizing the experience based on what a user searches and the criteria they provide. It’s based on proximity and preference to provide the user with exactly what they want in that short window of time.
One of the questions the panelists were asked was: “What is the key to personalization?”
Ryan said “An app should ultimately make the user’s life easier. These are the apps we will rely on in the future and the apps that will stick around.”
Mike introduced the term appticipation, explaining the value of using the gift of someones location and taking advantage of it to provide frictionless experiences before the user even decides they want it or need it. He spoke to the increasing opportunity for companies to provide truly individualized opportunities in the form of modal experiences within their apps. An example he provides is how Walmart and Lowes both use “in-store” mode to provide users with personalized, easy experiences that make sense as they enter the brick-and-mortar store. Apps that make the user’s life easier are the apps that will stand out in the ecosystem.
How to Monetize Your App
The mobile landscape is crowded with a whopping 1 million apps on iOS and Google Play. Nick Bogovich, Executive Director of Mobile at GSN Games, explained that the odds of success are against you with 80% of apps unable to generate enough revenue to support a standalone business. He asked the question, “If success is defined as your app’s profitability, how do you succeed?”
Bogovich says the importance of forming an effective product strategy and UX that supports your app’s mission and strategy. The next thing is to be mindful of how your product will evolve and test early and often.
Charles Teague, the CEO of Lose It! announced that the freemium model has transformed their app, making it a top free and top grossing health and fitness app with more than 100k premium members. Teague says, “The foundation of freemium is a great product and a long-term relationship with the user.” The freemium model works best when the value and the cost are aligned because the more value a user receives, the more they will pay.
Mobile technology is changing the way consumers behave, shop and work. Technologies have to continually evolve to meet the user’s needs and become personal in order to retain their attention. Apps need to provide value to the user and monetize around the value they provide. In-app payments are becoming a new norm for app monetization, meaning that it will be especially important to keep users engaged with the app, not only for the metrics, but also to keep them paying for features of the app.
To learn more about how location-based context can increase user engagement download our CardStar Case Study.