Native Insights #3: Apptentive Interview

A warm welcome to the third instalment of our Native Insights series – an interview with Apptentive. In the Native Insights series we are speaking to some of the market’s most innovative companies to bring you groundbreaking insights on all things mobile, native advertising, app development and much more.

Ashley Sefferman Apptentive This time we spoke to Ashley Sefferman, Head of Content at Apptentive, a mobile customer engagement company focused on building a dialogue with app users to humanise the mobile experience.

 

Can you introduce Apptentive and what you do?

Apptentive’s mobile customer engagement software helps companies listen to, engage with, and retain their customers. Integrated into thousands of mobile apps, the product gives brands the opportunity to identify who to talk to, intelligently engage user segments, and mobilize customers to take action through in-app messages, surveys, and ratings prompts. We’ve powered over 120 million customer conversations on more than a half a billion mobile devices around the world.

What’s the secret to Apptentive’s success so far?

Apptentive has a unique philosophy we talk about a lot: “People, not users.” Since our company’s beginning, we’ve found that the problem with most modern software and most company adoption of software is that it’s distancing. The technology seeks to automate and extract the human elements out of interactions, rather than interacting in a humanized way with the person at the other end of the screen.

What kind of communication opportunities does Apptentive offer its clients?

Apptentive has four distinct features within our product, each offering its own communication opportunities:

  • Message Center allows you to turn your app into a communication channel and have two-way conversations between you and your customers, inside your app.
  • Ratings Prompts help our customers drive 5-star app store ratings and intercept negative customer feedback.
  • Notes helps our customers inspire their customers to take action. Our customers can use a Note to highlight new features, invite customers to take a survey, encourage app version upgrades or share a new piece of content.
  • Surveys allows our customers to find out why their customers feel the way they do.

What kind of benefits does in-app communication bring?

In-app communication allows brands to use mobile as a vehicle to listen and respond to their customers, without forcing them into a disjointed experience by making them leave the app.

People use apps differently than they use desktop or mobile web experiences, which has shifted customer expectations for communicating within apps. Mobile customers expect their in-app experience to continue as-is when they need to leave feedback, rather than being booted from the app to leave feedback and having to revisit the app to pick up where they left off.

Communication is all about allowing for a two-way street between two parties, and the more intuitive and sleek a brand can make the experience, the better the result will be for everyone.

Communicating in-app also allows brands to communicate intelligently with their customers at the right place, right time, and with the right people. The data brands can collect through their apps are endless, and can be used to improve the customer experience if leveraged correctly.

What role does communication/feedback play in user retention and engagement?

Listening to your customers and iterating based on their feedback is the only way you’ll ever engage them in a way that will drive loyalty and retention over time. Today’s mobile customers expect to be able to leave feedback, and if a brand isn’t asking for it/isn’t making it easy for customers to leave feedback in-app, customers are bound to silently walk away and find another product to meet their needs.

Data from one of our recent reports shows that brands who proactively engage with their customers in asking for feedback see a 4x increase in engagement and retention over time:

Apptentive Interview

What kind of role do you see mobile native advertising playing in user engagement?

The most effective, successful mobile native advertising campaigns have begun to adopt non-intrusive, human elements in the way they’re displayed. Today’s best ads think about engaging their customers rather than selling to them, which offers a better experience for all parties. Long gone are the days where a high click rate was more important than a high engagement rate; today, engagement trumps clicks every time.

In order to understand what type(s) of native ads will engage the highest number of mobile customers, marketers have to understand their customer journey and what makes customers tick from a usability standpoint. I predict we’ll see this trend of strategic engagement over interruption continue as mobile adoption continues to skyrocket.

What do app developers need to consider when designing for good UX and good engagement?

Two main points: non-intrusive engagement and proactive engagement.

  • Non-intrusive engagement: As discussed above, it’s imperative not to interrupt your mobile customers when attempting to engage them. When designing for a good user experience, be sure to learn the right place, right time, and right group of customers for your brand to interact with. Start by learning your customers’ journey through your experience and ask yourself, “Would I, as a customer, respond positively to this point of engagement?” each time you consider adding a new in-app message.
  • Proactive engagement: Rather than waiting for customers to reach out, brands should proactively engage with their customers. It’s as simple as following the “give before you get” rule. If you don’t initiate conversations with your customers, even just a simple note thanking them for their time or saying hello, it’s less likely they’ll feel compelled to reach out until they’ve encountered a negative experience. Set the standards of two-way communication early by saying hello first, and customers are more likely to continue the conversation as their loyalty increases.

Ashley Sefferman is Head of Content at Apptentive. A mobile marketing and content strategy enthusiast, she writes about mobile apps, loyalty, inbound marketing, and making the mobile world a better place for people. Follow Ashley on Twitter @ashseff.

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