October 10, 2018
The State (and Future) of Digital Marketplaces
Looking to increase cart fulfillment through your app? It all starts with a great user experience. Prolific Interactive is a mobile app design and development company focusing on the modern retailer. We asked Bobby Emamian, CEO and Co-Founder of Prolific, how mobile-focused brands can use their apps to grow revenue.
1. What makes a successful mobile app? What factors increase conversion on mobile?
There are a lot of little factors that build up to a really successful mobile app, but the most important aspect to focus on is the user. The app stores have done a great job of creating transparency between the users and the brands, communicating the customer’s wants and needs to app developers. At Prolific, we may represent the brands when we are creating their app, but it’s ultimately the brand’s responsibility to understand their customer and determine how they can provide value to that customer. More than any other platform, mobile is a highly consumable channel, so brands are missing out if they are not giving their user the best mobile experience.
Creating a native experience that is separate from the mobile site is one of the best ways to ensure conversion. Among the brands that embrace native mobile, we consistently see their apps having 2-5x the per-user conversion rate compared to the accompanying mobile sites. However, this is not to say that apps are superior in importance. They don’t work against each other, but rather serve a different audience. Mobile sites are for the casual or unfamiliar customer, while apps are for the most loyal customers and those looking for a more convenient or personal way to interact with a brand. Brands that mimic or frame the mobile site and call it an app are not satisfying the desire of those key users.
Additionally, it’s important to use what the device and software gives you. A common misconception in the mobile world is that you have to create these crazy features and do something that’s never been done before, but the success truly comes from the actual products. If you understand that your products are your bread and butter, this platform will offer the best and fastest way for your customer to consume your products. In the end, don’t dilute the content in any way, stick to the basics, give the customers what they need and create a beautiful native experience.
In order for a mobile app to truly succeed, you must have a customer engagement strategy in place. Be sure that every new user fully understand the value of your app with a comprehensive onboarding strategy. Focus on keeping your users engaged with your app with personalized push notifications. When users truly enjoy engaging with your app, it will be successful.
2. How does Prolific help brands and retailers optimize mobile conversion?
At Prolific, we always have a product team that’s trying to gather user feedback and improve the app experience, but at the same time, we want to be exploring new variations and better ways of doing things. This is where the growth team comes in. The team will gather feedback from user interviews, the app store, and feedback forms on the app, as well as track press reports and compile analytics on what people tend to use the most. Every week, they take all of that information and turn it into real features and functionalities that users are demanding. The road to validation is much faster this way because we are following a user need, and the risk of failure is much lower. Additionally, by following the guidelines that Apple and Android provide to us, we can give the users something they understand and are familiar with, rather than trying to be too unique and creating an experience they won’t like.
3. How does m-commerce differ from e-commerce? What strategies contribute to m-commerce success?
The difference between the two is mainly personalization. Our phones are with us day and night and are in constant use, creating a different relationship between the brand and the customer than a laptop does. When you turn on your computer, you’re sitting down and consuming the content in a less immediate and convenient way; computers don’t cater well to a fast-paced, on-the-go lifestyle in the same way that smartphones do. Additionally, m-commerce apps allow a brand to learn more about a user who is willing to share their information and their preferences, leading to personalized reactions between the user and brand.
Push notifications are one great way to personally communicate with customers in a manner that can’t be duplicated on a desktop. Push is therefore one of the best ways to retain customers and increase loyalty, and brands who aren’t using push will notice their app usage declining over time. With m-commerce, we always have to continue to personalize and communicate with the user. The dynamic ability of Kahuna to reach that user in a personal way dramatically increases conversion.
Another major difference is discoverability, which explains a lot about the user’s willingness to trade information for personalization within apps. The vast majority of traffic to e-commerce websites come from search engines, social networks, and referring websites. If a user downloads an app (say the Zappo’s app) and has a good experience the first time around, chances are that app will become their new go-to when they are shopping for shoes on their phone. Because they have identified this app as a new tool in their pocket to shop for shoes, they are willing to exchange personal information for increased personalization.
4. Can you give an example of companies who have seen success?
Rent the Runway and Modcloth are two brands we have worked with who have achieved great success after committing to a native strategy from the very beginning. They have also done a phenomenal job of iterating and learning from their users, creating new value every day. They have personalized the shopping experience for each individual, saving customer preferences and making informed recommendations for every user. Rent the Runway even offers a style quiz that allows users to filter results by color, size, style and specific occasion. We can see from their app store ratings the kind of success they are having because they listen to their users.
Gilt is another brand that’s done a great job of creating for mobile from an early stage. They are committed to always enhancing their products and have created a massive user base of people who continue to shop on mobile and tablet, a mark of success that many brands strive for. The reason they are where they are today is because they’ve used all of the experience and knowledge they gained to their advantage.
5. What advice do you have for companies thinking about creating a mobile app?
My advice for companies is to give their app the time it really deserves and to never treat it as something that can be launched and then forgotten. This is a tool that is going to build relationships and engagement with customers in a deeper way than ever before, and it’s the most important tool you have to show how much you care about your customers. A mobile or desktop site can pass as being a generic, identical experience for every user, but when the app is not personalized to them, they take notice and stop coming back. Take your app seriously and be ready to learn how to improve every day.
It’s an extremely exciting time to be a part of the mobile space. The app market is growing rapidly, new tools and innovations are being created every day, and more and more users are discovering the brilliance of today’s smartphones. If your company has ever considered developing a mobile app in order to grow your brand and engage with your loyal customers, now is certainly the time to start. You won’t regret it.