According to Ian Carrington, Google’s mobile and social advertising sales director, speaking at Mobile Marketing Live back in 2012, more people in the world have access to a smartphone than a toothbrush.
With that in mind, it’s perhaps not very surprising that there’s no shortage of information about how people interact with websites on mobile. From specific usability testing and scrutiny of Google Analytics data to more generalized but larger-scale projects, we can quite easily gain access to statistics that illustrate how users interact with our websites.
Everyone loves a great icon set. Today, we’re honored to present to you two sets of office and business icons that can come in handy when designing apps, websites as well as for print.
Designed by Manuella Langella, this icon set is completely free to use for commercial and personal projects, including software, online services, templates and themes. All icons are provided in five formats: AI, EPS, PSD, PDF and SVG. Additionally, PNGs are available in four sizes: 64 × 64, 128 × 128, 256 × 256 and 512 × 512 pixels.
Writing content that doesn’t promote engagement is like speaking to an audience that’s wearing headphones – it doesn’t matter what you say because nobody is paying attention (and the few that are don’t care). In order for content to be truly successful, it not only needs to command attention but also encourage readers to interact with […]
Your target customer has zero interest in your CTA. He/she doesn’t particularly care about the call, the signup, or even the purchase. He/she isn’t really concerned about whether your CTA copy matches the value proposition. Your target customer is uninterested in your conversion optimization efforts. You know this. Why am I telling you anyway? I […]
There’s no shortage of performance advice, is there? The elephant in the room is the fact that it’s challenging to interpret: Everything comes with caveats and disclaimers, and sometimes one piece of advice can seem to actively contradict another. Phrases like “The DOM is slow” or “Always use CSS animations” make for great headlines, but the truth is often far more nuanced.
What’s happening in the industry? What important techniques have emerged recently? What about new case studies, insights, techniques and tools? Our dear friend Anselm Hannemann is keeping track of everything in the web development reading list so you don’t have to. The result is a carefully collected list of articles that popped up over the last week and which might interest you. — Ed.
Every week I feature about twenty interesting links. Although I curate this reading list already from more than 50 resources, every week still leaves you with so much news that actually paying attention to all of it is quite difficult. I often hear from people “I must admit, I haven’t read your last WDRLs in detail. Sorry.” What do I reply? Well, I embrace this behaviour. Sometimes it’s not possible to read everything. As Tim Kadlec writes in his latest piece, you can’t know everything: “In fact, we can’t know everything about the web.“
Here’s your challenge. You’ve got this sweet SaaS. It’s powerful, feature-rich, benefit high, and primed for a raving and fanatical customer base. But how do you make it sound as awesome as it is? From your homepage to your content marketing efforts, what are the characteristics that make your SaaS sound sizzling hot? Let me […]
Consequently, businesses have realized the need to effectively use mobile channels for attracting customers. They have started new operations (or scaled existing ones) through mobile websites and mobile apps.
While some businesses — having big wallets — can afford to employ both mobile websites and apps, other companies might have to choose one of them. The choice between mobile apps and websites depends on their cost, usability, required features and the audience they serve.
That being said, studies show that users prefer mobile apps more than mobile websites. This makes for a strong reason to have mobile apps for reaching out to potential (and existing) customers.
In addition, there are various other reasons, too, that make mobile apps better than mobile websites.
Following is our list of the top 10:
Disclaimer: The intention of this post is not to establish mobile apps as a better alternative to mobile websites. The post only lists out areas where apps can offer greater value to businesses than mobile websites.
#1 Mobile Apps Offer Personalization
Personalization is about offering tailored communication to users based on their interests, location, usage behavior, and more.
Personalization is critical in making a mobile User Experience delightful.
With mobile apps, it’s easy to treat users with a personalized experience.
Mobile apps can let users set up their preferences at the start, based on which users can be served with customized content. Apps can also track and observe user engagement, and use it to offer custom recommendations and updates to the users. Furthermore, they can also identify location of the users in real-time to provide geography-specific content.
However, improving user experience is not the only purpose that personalization serves. It can also help improve conversion rate of apps:
The notifications are of two types — push and in-app notifications. They both are exciting alternatives for communicating with app users, in a much less-intrusive manner.
The ability to send instant, non-intrusive notifications to users is so desired that it is one of the major reasons why many businesses want to have a mobile app in the first place.
In-app notifications are the notifications which users can only receive when they have opened an app.
Push notifications, on the other hand, are those notifications which users can receive regardless of any activity they are doing on their mobile device. There have been instances where the push medium of notifications has delivered click-through rates of 40%.
It goes without saying that you have to plan your notification campaigns judiciously. Here is list of best practices to help you get started.
Add-on: There are third party services that provide push notifications services to mobile websites, too. However, these services are in a nascent stage and still have some limitations (some only work on specific browsers, and are not available for all website types). Still, businesses, unaffected with the limitations, can consider to use these services on their mobile websites.
PushCrew, for example, is one of the new service providers that let websites send push notifications to desktops and mobiles.
#3 Making Use of Mobile Device Features
Mobile apps have the advantage of utilizing features of a mobile device like camera, contact list, GPS, phone calls, accelerometer, compass, etc.
Such device features, when used within an app, can make the user experience interactive and fun.
Moreover, these features can also reduce the efforts users would have to make otherwise. For instance, users filling-up a form on a banking app might need to submit their photograph for completion of the process. The app can let users take help of the camera of their mobile device to capture and submit a photograph.
Apps can utilize native features of mobile devices to enhance User Experience.
The device features can significantly shorten the time users take to perform a certain task in an app, and can even boost conversions.
Add-on: Mobile websites can use GPS of a device. However, they still can’t leverage other multimedia features of the device due to various technological constraints.
#4 Ability to Work Offline
It is probably the most fundamental difference between a mobile website and an app.
Although apps, too, can require internet connectivity to perform most of their tasks, they can still offer content and basic functionality to users in offline mode.
The beauty of mobile apps lies in their ability to work even in offline mode.
Let’s take the example of banking app, again.
The app can provide features like tax calculation, installment calculation, and determination of loan limit. These features can work even without the help of an internet connection.
Add-on: Even though mobile websites can use caching to load web pages without an internet connection, they still can’t offer complex features and tools.
#5 Freedom in Designing
Even with all the technological advancements in web designing, mobile websites have to rely a lot on browsers to perform even the most elementary functions. Mobile websites depend on browser features like ‘back button,’ ‘refresh button,’ and ‘address bar’ to work.
Mobile Apps don’t have any of these restrictions.
A mobile app can be designed with a lot of elaborate functions, based on advanced gestures like ‘tap,’ ‘swipe,’ ‘drag,’ ‘pinch,’ ‘hold,’ and more.
Apps can use these gestures to offer innovative functionality that can help users perform a task better. For example, an app can let users move to a next or previous step using the swipe gesture.
#6 New Branding Experience
Since a mobile app is distinct from a company’s website, it has the liberty of offering a new branding experience to users. It means that the company can experiment with new branding styles for the app, which can be different from the regular brand style of the company’s website (or the company altogether).
Going a step further, companies can build mobile apps specifically to transition into a new brand style for themselves.
Mobile apps can be used to create a distinguished brand for your product/service.
Additionally, a mobile app can also allow users to customize its appearance, as per the users’ liking. This will further help in the personalization front of the app.
Add-on: The concept of microsites work on similar lines. Microsites offer a distinct brand experience to users, as compared to their parent sites. They are often used to promote a sub-brand, an event, or a newly-launched service.
Moreover, the average time users spend on mobile apps is also increasing — rising by 21% in 2015 from 2014.
Note: A point to consider here is that users spend a majority of their time on gaming apps and social media apps.
However, we also don’t have data telling us which mobile websites users visit more often (out of the 14% of their time mentioned above). Hence, it’s not possible to make a comparison.
#8 New Stream of Conversions
If you’re looking to increase conversions, mobile apps can be a great medium to push users down the funnel.
Mobile apps can be used to acquire both top-of-the-funnel (TOTF) and bottom-of-the-funnel (BOTF) users.
For instance, utility apps can bring-in TOTF users, which can be later nurtured into BOTF leads. On the other hand, apps like eCommerce already have BOTF users, which have a higher possibility for making conversions.
Add-on: Since mobile apps are much more targeted in nature (through their content and utility), they can be used to tap specific users in the funnel. Mobile websites, in contrast, reach out to a diverse audience.
#9 Brand Presence
Users spend a substantial amount of their time on mobile devices. It’s safe to say that many of the users encounter the apps they’ve installed on their devices, almost everyday. This regular encounter can be viewed as a branding exercise for the apps.
Even when users are not actively using a mobile app, they are still reminded of the brand associated with the app. The icon of the app acts like a mini-advertisement for the brand.
Mobile app icons can work like innovative ad-banners.
The presence of an app on a user’s device helps influence user’s perception about a brand, subconsciously.
This user behaviour can be linked to the Signal Detection Theory, which suggests that users process even those ads which they’ve ignored, at some level in their minds.
Related Post: Why Banner Blindness Shouldn’t Scare You
#10 Apps Can Work Faster Than Websites
A well-designed mobile app can perform actions much quicker than a mobile website.
Apps usually store their data locally on mobile devices, in contrast to websites that use web servers. For this reason, data retrieval happens swiftly in mobile apps.
Apps can further save users’ time by storing their preferences, and using them to take proactive actions on users’ behalf.
There is an even more technical justification as to why mobile apps can work faster.
So, mobile websites are technically slower than mobile apps!
While all this is happening in the background, users get to complete actions quicker on the front-end of mobile apps, again contributing to a delightful user experience.
Mobile App v/s Mobile Site — What Should You Choose?
Developing both mobile website and mobile app for your business can prove to be a costly affair. You might have to choose one of the two channels, based on your budget and business goals. While both channels have their own pros and cons, mobile apps, especially, can help you get higher conversions. Mobile apps can offer greater personalization and operational efficiency, along with multiple other exclusive features.
Content marketing isn’t just for generating leads – it can also help you support and retain customers. Image source.
It takes more than coupon clippings and reward points to win over today’s consumers — they’re looking for value that goes beyond monetary incentive. Businesses that know how to engage their customers and provide unconditional value will be the ones that foster a long-term relationship with their community.
This makes the pairing of content marketing and customer retention a powerful match that can’t be ignored.
The growth team I lead at Outbrain, the world’s largest content discovery platform, provides a real-life case study for content and retention coming together to produce results.
I’d like to share five specific content-based customer retention tactics we’re employing to grow our customer base and revenue at Outbrain – tactics you can steal for your own customer retention strategy.
1. Get new customers trained up fast with educational emails
The sooner you educate customers about using your product, the faster they can derive value from you and become sticky.
According to a survey conducted by SaaS metrics company Preact, 23% of customers churn due to poor onboarding. Especially when you have a fairly complex service, frontloading the delivery of educational content and learning from how new signups interact with this content is critical.
We’ve certainly seen a direct correlation between reducing our churn and improving our onboarding process. To help our customers get acquainted with our platform and understand how our system works, we created a bootcamp training series.
As soon as a customer’s first campaign is launched, an automated email campaign (which we call our Brainiac Bootcamp) is triggered for them. It sends four daily emails that walk the customer through campaign optimization tips, our dashboard and other resources. Here’s a screenshot of the first of four emails:
The first of four emails in our automated email training series.
When we first launched our Bootcamp series, we did a test and control experiment by sending 90% of first-time customers the email program and keeping a 10% control group. For customers who received the bootcamp emails, we saw a direct correlation between content and retention.
Pro tip: If you’re launching a new email campaign, exclude 10% of recipients as a control group so you can say with confidence that the customer’s actions were a result of the campaign, and they wouldn’t have taken the same actions even if they hadn’t received the emails.
We dug even deeper by being strategic about which features required more education than others.
For example, we knew from analyzing the overall behavior of our customers that the more headlines they are testing per individual piece of content, the better chance they have of receiving a higher click-through rate (CTR) when their content is recommended in our publisher network.
This graph shows the drastic increase in CTR when a campaign has greater than 5, 10 and 15 headlines on rotation.
Knowing this, we made sure our bootcamp content helped customers understand the importance of testing more headlines. As a result, those customers received higher click-through rates – and stayed active 1.5x longer than people who did not receive the bootcamp emails.
Takeaway for your campaigns:
Make sure your onboarding process is laser-focused on educating users on the importance of certain product behaviors you know will result in their success.
Through testing, determine which features lead to a higher retention rate – and then be sure to frontload that education. If customers do well, they’re more likely to stick around longer. It’s mutually beneficial.
2. Use live webinars to step up customer training
Webinars are often discussed as an acquisition tactic, but they’re also a great way of engaging more personally with customers at scale. Nothing beats real face-time when explaining a complex product.
We run bi-monthly webinars conducted by our Account Strategists. The content has evolved over time, and it’s always driven by feedback from our customers, as well as questions fielded by our Customer Support team.
A landing page for one of our bi-weekly live webinars.
We put a lot of time into adapting the content we present in these webinars, but also closely measure the webinars’ impact on our bottom line.
Our Business Intelligence team built a report to compare customers’ campaign performance a week before and a week after they attend the webinar. We also look at their metrics two weeks and a month later to see if they’re continuing to optimize their performance based on webinar learnings.
On average, we’ve seen a 50% increase in average spend and 38% increase in cost-per-click (CPC) as a result of these webinars.
You may be thinking that increase in spend and CPC does not necessarily equal success for our customers, who are optimizing for leads and pages per visit. But due to the competitive nature of our content marketplace, a campaign that starts with a higher CPC has a much better chance of receiving any traffic at all.
It’s another win-win scenario – if we can effectively explain this to customers on a webinar, they’re more likely to see results from their campaigns and they’re more likely to stick around.
Use webinars to demystify your product. If you help customers succeed, they’ll help you succeed too. Click To Tweet
3. Always be adding content to your help center
Not nearly enough content marketers are focused on making their help center and FAQs as useful as possible – but help centers should be a vital part of the customer journey.
At Outbrain, we’ve structured our Help Center to reflect our customers’ needs from the pre-signup stage to first-time campaign creation to more advanced optimizations and reporting.
Just like webinars and bootcamp emails, help centers should be works in progress that you’re constantly striving to improve. You can use a combination of sources to help determine what content needs to be developed, refined or updated. These could include:
New product developments that require more training and FAQs: Product releases are exciting, but the platform and its features are only as good as your ability to communicate them to your customers. It’s important to educate customers on how to get the most out of new features — create new training content and FAQs to guide them!
Commonly asked questions sent to your Customer Support team: If your customer support team notices a trend in a particular topic of enquiry, that’s great fodder for new Help Center content.
Google Analytics reports for the top Help Center search terms, search refinements made by customers and most commonly visited FAQs: For example, have a look at the chart below which shows our most commonly searched terms from 2014 and the percentage of search refinements users were making when trying to find relevant content.
Customers searching for FAQs on cancelling accounts or languages were having to further refine their terms to find the content they were after, whereas customers looking for FAQs on UTMs, mobile, tracking or adding content were finding what they needed right away.
We used this report to create more relevant and obvious FAQs to address these trickier searches and saw an improvement in search refinements and a reduction in questions on these topics sent to Customer Support.
All of these measures help customers feel supported the entire way through their journey, and allow them to better understand your product and derive more value. And that keeps customers coming back for more.
Use your search box data to understand what content your customers want but can’t find. Click To Tweet
4. Communicate product improvements and new features with great content
Collaboration between content and product marketing is essential to bringing new features to customers in the most efficient way. The more educational content created around each release, the more customers will continue to engage with and provide feedback on the new feature.
For us, email and our blog are our two most effective channels for sharing product updates with our customers. Our email updates are designed to alert customers to the latest developments, and then we drive them to the blog to learn more.
When we created the ability for customers to upload content in bulk and test multiple headlines and images per URL, we sent out an email announcing the feature:
The goal of adding this feature was to make it easier to add more headlines; a process that had been manual and very time consuming.
By tracking the feature as an event in Kissmetrics, we were able to see that the average number of headlines and images per content increased significantly after our blog post and email explaining the new feature.
The peak in this Kissmetrics graph shows how usage increased after we informed our audience of the new feature.
The concept here is pretty straightforward: the more customers are aware of new tools and features, the more likely they are to use them.
5. Use lifecycle email marketing to segment customers
Email campaigns are still the bread and butter of many a retention marketer’s efforts. With today’s overloaded inbox, personalization of the content based on individual product usage data is now more important than ever.
This is where lifecycle email marketing comes in: reaching your customers at each stage of their journey with you and tailoring relevant content to their needs and experience at each stage.
For lifecycle email marketing to our customers, we use a customer retention automation platform called Optimove to measure the impact of every campaign on revenue and customer lifetime value across five major customer segments:
Our seasonal performance email campaign is a great example of this. Historically, we’ve seen that the end of each quarter is a competitive time on the Outbrain network; more buyers and higher cost-per-click. It’s especially important to communicate that to customers so they understand how to optimize their campaigns accordingly.
When we ran an educational email campaign for our most active customer segment about the importance of adding more headlines to increase your click-through rate (CTR), we saw a 10% increase in the average number of headlines per content campaign among those who received the email – along with an increased CTR in the most active customer segment.
Put your content to work
If you plan to prioritize customer retention as a major driver of growth and revenue for your business, investing in content will be critical to your success.
Here’s a quick recap of the five ways content underpins our entire customer retention strategy:
Get new customers trained up fast with educational emails
Use live webinars to step up customer training
Always be adding content to your help center based on customer feedback and user behavior
Communicate product improvements and new features with great content
Use lifecycle email marketing to segment customers
Over to you — how are you using content marketing to drive your customer retention strategy?
It can be hard to figure out why customers buy from a website and what turns them off. Did they buy because your buyer path through your website was done well, and they were ready to click the Buy button? Or were they turned off by something simple like your font choice because it was […]