How To Fight the In-App Feedback Perception Gap| By |Ashley Sefferman

As a customer, app publishers can seem largely unapproachable. Whatever feedback that manages to make it past their floodgates will simply enter a black hole of unsolicited requests. But for publishers, this assumption couldn’t be further from the truth.

Most publishers understand the value of in-app feedback and genuinely want to provide a customer-centric mobile experience. They believe they are doing everything they can to solicit feedback and proactively encourage customers to shoot them an email or leave a review. However, what many fail to understand is that the two channels used most for soliciting in-app feedback (email and app store reviews) don’t resonate with their customers or their mobile lifestyles.

This disconnect causes a perception gap. Publishers think they’re making themselves accessible through their app, but customers disagree. The gap ends up making app publishers look like this…

Michael Scott feedback

…instead of like this…

Buddy the Elf feedback

There’s a better way for app publishers to ask for feedback that will not only improve their customer experiences, but can help them build a better product. This post shares tips to help you be a little less Michael Scott and a whole lot more Buddy the Elf when it comes to leveraging your mobile experience for in-app feedback, helping you close the perception gap and build a better product.

Here are four tips to improve your mobile app’s real-time in-app feedback strategy.

1. Ask for feedback at the right mobile moment

We talk about finding the right mobile moment to engage with customers quite a bit, but it’s so important to get right that it’s always worth reiterating. You may spend weeks putting together the best survey, poll, or in-app prompt to gather customer feedback, but if it’s shown at the wrong mobile moment, consider all your hard work a lost cause. Prompting customers at the right time and place within your app is absolutely crucial to receiving their feedback.

Here are a few tips to find the right mobile moment within your app to ask for in-app feedback:

  • Prompt customers for feedback after they complete a high-value action. Feedback is important, but it’s not worth disrupting your customer experience. For example, instead of asking them to complete a survey right when they launch the app, ask them about their purchase experience after they’ve completed the cycle and are closing their purchase confirmation.
  • Target the right customers. Serve your in-app feedback prompts to specific, targeted groups of customers based upon actions they’ve taken within the app or personal information, such as account type, location, or amount spent within the app. Utilize these targeting tools to ensure you’re asking relevant questions to people who have the right experience with your product or application to provide meaningful feedback.
  • Be mindful of your customers’ time. Feedback is a gift, and it takes time for customers to weigh in with their thoughts. For every minute a person spends sharing thoughts around their experience with you, remember they could be doing something else, like spending time with their loved ones, focusing on themselves, or getting work done. The frequency in which you ask for in-app feedback will, by and large, determine how helpful the feedback truly is, so don’t abuse the channel by asking for it too frequently.

2. Leverage feedback to improve your product

When it comes to improving your product, nobody is better at weighing in than your customers. Effective feedback loops should be designed within your mobile experience. They should be a frictionless part of the customer experience and designed in a way that resonates with the needs of a mobile customer: quick, non-intrusive, and optimized for mobile screens.

To see this optimization in action, consider how you prefer to communication on mobile. If you’re anything like me, you prefer texting to calling, shorthand answers over long responses, and you expect any requests on your time, such as survey requests, to be cognizant of your time. Once these mobile customer needs are taken into consideration, the result is a mobile-optimized feedback loop, or a communication channel specifically designed with your mobile customer in mind. Plus—not surprisingly—Apptentive research finds 98% of customers who prefer to leave feedback for companies directly in-app are likely to do so when prompted. That’s a whole lot of customer insight!

In-app feedback research results

Mobile surveys, questions, or in-app prompts are a seamless way to uncover customer needs you haven’t considered in your app or mobile web experience, which can help you prioritize features, backlogs, and bugs, back up your product roadmap decisions, and in general, make your mobile experience better. But don’t just take my word for it—check out how one of Apptentive’s international customers leveraged in-app feedback to make better product decisions.

3. Use surveys and polls to deepen customer insights

Are you curious to learn more about behavior, or just want to know what your most supportive customers think? Consider using mobile surveys and polls that enable you to collect structured feedback within your mobile experience from your customers.

These types of prompts allow app publishers and mobile marketers a way to make real-time decisions on projects by polling customer groups about marketing or product ideas. Whether you lean on NPS surveys, short mobile-optimized surveys, or a one-question poll, you’ll be able to hear directly from customers to understand what they’d like to see more of and what they’d like changed. Once the question(s) is live, the customer feedback rolls in!

A massively important component of mobile surveys is asking the right question. Disrupting the customer experience by asking too many questions yields the opposite effect of what you’re aiming for, so it’s important to get it right the first time. To start, take some time to identify a single concrete research question that you hope to answer with the results of your survey. This will provide a benchmark for your data analysis and can help to keep the survey short and concise if you constrain yourself to asking only those questions necessary for addressing your research question.

Research questions are generally classified as either attitudinal, behavioral, demographic, or technical. Here are examples of each question type:

  • Attitudinal: How do new customers like my app?
  • Behavioral: How do customers interact with my app? What are their most common use cases?
  • Demographic: With which age bracket is my app most popular?
  • Technical: How can my app be improved, in the eyes of my customers? Once you have carefully selected your research question, several of the remaining steps will ensue naturally–including your target audience and the type of data you need to collect.

4. Personalize your messaging

When we look at customer segments, it can be easy to forget our customers are individuals. Even the best mobile marketers trade unique characteristics, habits, and preferences of the customer as an individual for a big-picture view of the “customer” as an abstract concept. This myopic viewpoint is not only flawed, but costly.

Despite similarities across in-app actions, purchase history, demographics, or other mobile behavior, each customer has their own relationship with your company, and it’s imperative to nurture the relationship one-to-one whenever an opportunity arises. Personalized messaging, like one-to-one marketing, is the manifestation of how we incorporate everything we know about our customers’ loves, likes, and dislikes into their mobile experience. It’s also a great way to treat customers as individuals, and to speak to them in a more direct manner.

Every message you use to communicate with customers in-app is served to a person from who you are trying to gain insight. When creating in-app feedback messaging, write your content as though you’re speaking to a customer one-on-one. Beginning with phrases like, “What do you think…” and, “How do you feel…” lets customers know you’re interested in understanding them and their experience personally, rather than diving right into a question.

Wrapping it up

Leveraging your app for real-time feedback can open up an entirely new channel to directly communicate with customers. Although it can be challenging, connecting with customers through your mobile experience is a personal, effective way to learn more about their preferences, and to ultimately build a better product.

I hope the tips above are useful and easy to implement into your in-app feedback strategy immediately. If you have additional tips or thoughts on what we’ve covered, I’d love to hear about it! Please share your thoughts in the comments below to get the discussion going.

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Leveraging Freedom and Creativity to Impact Retention in Mobile Apps| By |Andreas Vourkos

A great power to use when looking to engage users in an app or product is giving them creative freedom. When people are allowed to be creative, they engage more with a product and once that creativity gets social it all becomes fun, not to mention highly addictive. Moreover, when people are not limited to predefined paths or actions in an app’s usage, giving them additional options or even absolute freedom can spike interest for an app.

A creative being

People are by nature creative beings. Creativity gives subconsciously a feeling of satisfaction and grabs the attention of the participant. When people are given the option to become creative, they can provide solutions to problems and make tasks fun. This feeling of satisfaction engages a user in the process.

“Creativity is a drug I cannot live without” – Cecil B. DeMille

I had an opportunity to see for myself how that creativity feeling could be used to grab the attention of people and engage them into a specific cause: while working on an interactive installation project, my team had to create something that would motivate people to recycle batteries. Based on that concept, we decided to create a magic flute where people could generate music simply by throwing their batteries down the flute holes. When this installation was placed in the biggest mall in town, it was really astonishing to see that not only children but adults too, got in line for a chance to compose their own music piece while recycling! Recycling was not boring any more, but a fun and interactive game.

retention

Lego is a great example of how leveraging creativity can be fun and addictive. With Legos, people can connect and assemble pieces in many different ways to create different structures, buildings, vehicles or whatever triggers their imagination. Building upon this concept has created the Lego empire, making it one of the most popular brands out there. Legos transcend age and time and will probably continue to do so for a long time.

If you are wondering if people can get creative, it wasn’t that long ago that Facebook brought out emoticons in the “Like” button. A lot of people used those as a voting mechanism soon after. Remember seeing anything like this around?

Creativity for fun – The social aspect

So, does this apply in apps too? Leveraging people’s creativity within an app can really engage people and make their usage fun and challenging. All this, when it involves multiple users as well as social media can really make an app stand out from the crowd.

A really good example of this concept is the Dubmash app. The Dubmash app, allows users to create their own videos and lip sync different songs, making the process really creative and fun, especially when sharing the result with friends and other players.

How about pantomime? We are all familiar with the age-old game of pantomime. As mentioned before, when creativity is combined with social mechanisms, the fun can really start. And fun brings in masses of users, also making them loyal players. This explains the wide reach of apps like Charades. In this app, users are provided with specific words on different topics and they win by being most expressive and creative when describing these words to their teammates.

The famous Pictionary follows the same concept. It is a game where users get creative and draw specific words to the other players, who they try to guess what the word is. We have all been there. It’s fun, competitive and addictive. The Draw something app has taken advantage of that concept. In that app users have to guess what others are drawing in an addictive and creative endless social loop.

The same concept was applied in the Viber messenger app. During message composition in a chat, users are allowed to send over a doodle, making communication a lot more fun.

Creativity that creates addiction

Leveraging creativity to create addicted users in a product is not that uncommon in the apps world. A great example is Tinder. In the Tinder app (or any other dating app) users are given the option to like or dislike a person and if both like each other, then they can start chatting. The absolute goal is to meet that person in real life. Initiating that chat though, is really challenging. It requires a lot of creative thinking in order to grab the attention of the person on the other side. Pretty much like real life. A user’s profile may get dozen of matches daily, but turning even one of them into an actual live date depends on their creativity. And that challenge is highly addictive!

But what about those that cannot take that extra step or are simply not that creative? Well, there are numerous apps that capitalize on this and share “creative lines” to get the process started (yes, there is a business opportunity everywhere). A simple app store search will show you how many such apps there are.

Freedom as a power

Nobody likes being told what to do. Most people do not even like to follow a path that has been predefined for them. Giving users the feel (even if that is not actually true) that they have the power to do things their own way in order to take advantage of the value of an app, can make them engage even further.

Giving the freedom to users to leverage their creativity is a really common approach. It has been used in games for years. Instead of giving users specific steps to follow, game designers let them be creative and have multiple options of proceeding through the game. Let’s have a look at SimCity, for example. Not everyone can level up in the same way. The player acting as Mayor is given a blank map to start with, and must expand the city with the budget provided. What a great opportunity to show how creative you can be! Other games, (i.e. the Age of Empires), are also great examples of this approach. Users define their own strategy and creativity in the game and they can achieve the win in a number of different ways. This approach makes users addicted and they end up playing for hours, since their progress is relevant to how creative their strategy can be.

Giving freedom of usage to users will always bring about new ways to achieve goals in ways that keep them engaged. Personalization is a part of this freedom that can be given to a user. It’s similar to the free-to-define strategy in the Age of Empires game mentioned above or the free-to-construct anything Lego concept. It lets you create what you want and customize it however you wish in order to use in an app. You can see that in social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Medium, Instagram etc. People visit them daily, checking their timeline or wall. Have you ever thought what your timeline really is? Since you joined that platform you were given the freedom to customize and follow whoever you wanted to, during your daily interaction with the platform. More or less, your wall is the puzzle you created based on your interests or needs. These two personalized points of contact with the app are what brings you back every day.

When we initially started work on Pollfish, our aim was to move from traditional surveys to a more mobile-appealing environment, within mobile apps. When designing the product, we decided that a mobile-appealing survey should only include single choice and multiple choice questions, what we call “closed type” questions. We decided that we should not use open-ended questions where users could type whatever they were thinking, since we thought nobody would bother typing on a mobile phone screen. We did not realise that we were actually limiting users to a few predefined choices. I still remember the day when we decided to change that. It was nothing short of an epiphany for us. Removing limitations and giving freedom to users on how to use our platform and how to provide actual feedback on product questions resulted to enormous feedback, increasing completion rates and retention in future surveys. Removing these barriers and letting users free, brought about a significant increase in user participation and retention on the platform.

The Prisma app is a prime example of how combining creativity, social mechanisms and freedom of choice can make an app a success with highly engaged and interested users. Prisma is an app that transforms photos to paintings by using AI. This is accomplished by giving users the ability to choose from a set of predefined filters. With Prisma anyone can be an artist! In a recent announcement, Prisma now let users free to create their own filters and then apply them to their own photos. This can be seen as capitalizing on the above-described concepts and giving users the freedom to express their own creativity and then share the results with others.

To conclude, humans are by nature highly creative beings. Investing in creativity and combining it with social mechanisms can make things fun and addictive and really drive in-app engagement. Users that are allowed to be creative, make choices and take initiatives, will enjoy any task or process you ask them to be involved in. Removing barriers and leaving users free is the underlying secret that can make a change. And most of the time, that does not mean that you are compromising your initial app design. Perception is everything, and if users perceive themselves to be the deciding force in the app it can definitely help. Allowing creative freedom in an app is an integral part of good app design.

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How Evolving Technologies Are Fanning the Shift in Content Consumption| By |Alan Rita

The invention and popularization of TV during the first half of the 20th century changed the way the people communicated and interacted with the world around them. It saw people move from art theaters, carnivals, and circus shows to their living rooms, huddled around their TV sets. TV became a powerful tool for content consumption, a position they still hold in the modern world.

The tech boom of the 2000s, catalyzed by the internet, expanded options for content consumption. Suddenly, content wasn’t restricted to TVs anymore. Consumers could watch their favorite movies, TV series, music, and other digital content on PCs, laptops, and smartphones just as easily as they would on TVs. Plus, with improved bandwidth and better cloud infrastructure, content could be accessed in real-time.

For businesses, the evolving nature of technology has spawned new ways of content creation and marketing. Many disruptive technologies continue to drive content creation strategies for reaching out and interacting with customers. Check out how the following tech trends are changing the way businesses are approaching content creation.

1. Content Streaming

Driven by tech innovation and the cord-cutting generation, streaming has finally caught on. Over half of American consumers now stream their favorite TV shows and movies, highlighting a shift in content consumption that increasingly favors access over ownership. Traditional multimedia accessories such as Blu-ray discs and DVDs are gradually being replaced by Netflix, Hulu, and other OTT provider subscriptions.

Streaming has become popular over the years as bandwidth restrictions become less of an inhibitor. Plus, consumers have access to a large selection of content on-demand, which means you can stream your favorite music album from Spotify at the gym or watch an episode from your favorite TV series at the office.

Do check out the infographic by Ooma in this link for an idea of how the landscape is shifting from DVDs to Netflix.

2. Social Media

It’s hard to imagine how life was before the invention of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms. Social media has completely transformed the way we consume content. We spend close to 20% of our time on the internet on social media, dwarfing other media categories like video, music, and other media forms that only take up 12% of our time.

Additionally, social media marketing agencies are using almost every other content platform to drive visibility on social media, which should see content marketing becoming more popular on social over the next few years.

3. Mobile

Mobile devices have almost single-handedly driven the shift in content consumption over the past few years. Between 2013 and 2015, content viewership on smartphones grew by 78%, which accounted for over 92% of the total growth in content consumption.

Smartphones are also being used to access more types of content compared to laptops and PCs. In a Hubspot survey, a majority of respondents said they would want to access social media, videos, and news articles on their smartphones over other devices, including PCs and tablets. As smartphones and mobile apps continue to evolve, the mobile platform will remain an important differentiator for content creation agencies in the coming years.

4. Artificial Intelligence

In 2016, investments in artificial intelligence touched the $2.4 billion mark, over three times more than the $700 million recorded three years prior. AI also turned heads at the CES 2017 in Las Vegas where it made its mark in everything from consumer products to next-age autonomous cars.

AI is also revolutionizing content consumption in a number of different ways. Many home entertainment gadgets and electronics like the Amazon Echo and DingDong will help you choose music and content according to your mood and taste.

Smart AI algorithms are helping music producers create music, which has the potential to lower the costs of music production for video games, apps, and online videos.

5. The Internet of Things

Like AI, the Internet of Things is exciting everyone who happens to get trapped in its complex matrix. Even though the concept of the IoT is still in its infancy, the intricate web of “things” or devices within the matrix are making it easier to access content, create immersive experiences, and improving personalization at all levels.

IoT makes it possible for gadgets to recognize an individual via sensors and present customized content for that individual on-demand. A good example is a smart watch that monitors your vitals and, for instance, and shows relevant health-related content on a connected smart TV.

The Future

Even with all the advances in tech, there is still so much more in store for content creators and consumers. Developments in this area won’t come without their challenges, especially regulatory and security issues. However, with the right, innovative approach, technology should improve overall quality for consumers while improving profit margins for businesses in this space.

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