Mobile Innovators Series: Q&A with Khalid Meniri, User Experience @ Harper’s Bazaar, Moda Operandi & SixAgency

By: Kahuna | March 17, 2015 | Mobile Innovators Series
Mobile Innovators Series: Q&A with Khalid Meniri, Lead Creative Director at SixAgency

This week, we’re hosting a Q&A with Khalid Meniri, the founder and lead creative director of SixAgency, an award winning interactive agency that designs and develops native apps and website solutions. Clients including Harper’s Bazaar, L’Oréal, Disney, Prada, Taylor Swift, Moda Operandi, and Forever21 have benefited from his leadership. In this interview, Khalid speaks about the building blocks of great customer experiences on mobile and the marketing strategies that complement them.

What makes a great mobile customer experience?

Khalid: A great mobile experience is simple, digestible and intuitive. Here’s why: the human brain doesn’t work like a hard drive; it’s more like a warehouse where all of our memories are stored but not all of them are organized coherently. This makes it much more difficult for humans to learn how to do new things without significant attention. And with so much going on in our lives today, the mobile user’s attention span is brief. This means you want to introduce mobile experiences based on what users already know as opposed to something complicated and unfamiliar.

At the same time, mobile has come to mean something completely different than the web. It’s intimate, real-time and travels with you, and you must also design with that in mind. You should be able to identify a mobile experience purely by its design.

How can marketing complement the customer experience on mobile?

Khalid: Marketing through mobile is the bridge that connects your customers to you in real-time, whether it’s through content, promotions, or other interactions. The most successful marketing campaigns have three characteristics: authority, authenticity, and relevance. If you have those three key elements, then you can effectively communicate your message through mobile and inspire genuine and long-lasting customer engagement. The brands that get mobile right are the brands that will win the future.

For example: If you’re speaking to Baby Boomers, the best way to create a conversation is to connect with them in the present tense — start a dialogue around what’s relevant, speak honestly, and speak through the voice of someone they respect.

What companies are doing this well? Have a mobile presence that you think is strong? What makes their approach so effective?

Khalid: Circa is a great example of a mobile-first company that really understands what the modern news reader wants to experience through his or her app and uses messaging to enhance this value proposition. Circa doesn’t just send messages about breaking news; the app delivers relevant breaking news to their customers based on known reader preferences and behaviors. People who subscribe to the app can be confident that they will only be contacted with news relevant to them and will not be bombarded with messages. It’s all about personalized content delivered at the right time.

Harper’s Bazaar is another strong example. Harper’s Bazaar is approaching mobile from a different perspective, given it is a well-established brand that’s wisely using mobile to expand their audience and attract a younger demographic of readers. On mobile, Harper’s “fashion emojis” campaign has carried out those efforts well: fun, interactive content that spoke to a younger crowd, delivered to their preferred device. This campaign earned the app a flurry of downloads that translated into new, younger readers for the magazine.

What are some of the common mistakes that companies make when building out their mobile presence?

Khalid: The biggest mistake for mobile-first companies is mistaking “simple” for “easy.” Companies will see a simple and elegant app like Instagram and think that they can copy it for their own purposes, when it actually took a huge engineering effort to build. The architecture and design of the app are merely done so well that it looks simple to anyone not involved.

For companies with an established web presence that want to break into mobile, the biggest mistake is trying to mimic all the features of the website. My suggestion has always been to identify the one thing you want your app to do and do that extremely well.

I also recommend taking a data-driven approach to both your product and marketing strategies. This is why I’m such a fan of marketing tools like Kahuna and product tools like Mixpanel. Data should be a key component of how you define your brand’s vision. If you can figure out what your users really want and not just base your work on assumptions, you can save a lot of time and money creating a customer experience that’s truly delightful.

How did you develop such expertise in mobile marketing? What advice would you give to others looking to do the same?

Khalid: I just jumped into it. I actually never studied anything related to mobile, not even design. When I moved to the U.S., I spent most nights at the 5th Avenue Apple Store teaching myself Photoshop. When the iPhone came out and the SDK was released, I knew exactly what I wanted to do and simply got into it. I had no experience, not even agency experience. When you initially dive into something and focus on it, you’ll make a lot of mistakes, but you’ll learn and build a community around you. As long as you push yourself, you can do it.

About Khalid

Khalid Meniri is an award winning creative director and founder of SixAgency. Khalid began his career as a mobile network architect for Siemens, soon becoming a User Experience and User Interface designer and working on digital initiatives for some of the leading professional beauty brands. With the launch of the iPhone in 2007, he started SixAgency, partnering with forward thinking brands including Harper’s Bazaar, Moda Operandi and Tommy Hilfiger.

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