Micro-Moments: Reflexive Mobile Actions that App Marketers Can Leverage By Sarah Noone

What are micro-moments?

Micro-moments, a term originally coined by Google, are mobile actions that are brief in nature. In these moments, the user’s intent is to find an answer to a question, find somewhere to go, find something to do, or buy something — as fast as possible.

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Why micro-moments are important

The number of smartphone users is steadily on the rise. In 2014 there were 1.57 billion users and in 2020 that number is forecasted to increase to 2.87 billion. This steady rise in usage also means a rise in micro-moments.

In other words, more people will be able to look up virtually any piece of information in the blink of an eye. Search engines within browsers and mobile apps that can load answers/results in milliseconds make this possible.

According to a 2017 study conducted by Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, individuals over the age of 18 spend more time engaged with their mobile device than they do with a desktop or laptop. And research firm Dscout ran a study back in 2016 that shows we touch our phones, on average, about 2,617 times a day.

People are using their smartphones to quickly find information in the small moments where they are waiting in long lines or sitting on a train and there’s an opportunity for brands to get in front of them.

How micro-moments work

  1. A smartphone user has a question they need an answer to. (Which of these products on the shelf have the best reviews? Where are the closest office supply stores near me? What is the weather right now?)
  2. The user takes out their mobile device and enters their question into a mobile browser or app.
  3. Almost instantaneously, the user receives an answer or a variety of options to choose from.
  4. The user takes action. (They purchase an item, go to a certain location, consume new information.)

Examples of micro-moments

According to Google, micro-moments are grouped into four categories:

  • Find an answer to a question. A fan of a specific TV show uses their smartphone to search for recaps or reviews of the latest episode. This search lets them view a list of various personal blogs and entertainment websites to get the information they need.
  • Find somewhere to go. A tourist is walking around a busy downtown area in search of a place to eat. They pull out their smartphone and search for a specific type of cuisine with their favorite food/travel app in hopes of finding a nearby restaurant.
  • Find something to do. A driver sees their check engine light turn on and wants to investigate the reason. They search Google looking for answers and find how-to guides posted by popular automotive retailers.
  • Buy something. An individual is about to have guests over their house and forgot to pick up a bottle of wine. They pick up their smartphone to research the best nearby liquor stores. Then they open their favorite wine app to see which wine is best for the price. From there, they go to the nearby store and get the perfect bottle.

Micro-moments for app marketing

When someone chooses to use a browser app on their smartphone (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc) in place of a topic-specific app, this represents a marketing opportunity for mobile app teams.

To drive eyeballs to your app, you can answer questions on an owned or third party website (Quora) that are related to content inside your app. When people arrive on these pages from search engines, you can link to your app’s landing page and encourage them to download it for features that don’t exist on the open web.

In addition to this, you can create partnerships with online publishers who rank high in search results for topics related to your app. When people arrive on their website for an answer to a question, you can “upsell” them to your more feature-rich app. Or you can skip the partnerships and extra content creation with PPC and, for a price, have your app rank #1 in search results.

Additional resources

If you’re interested in learning more about micro-moments, Google has a lot of great resources. They coined the term after all. Just keep in mind that when they’re talking about searches within mobile browsers, many of the same concepts can apply to searches made within mobile apps.

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Hiscox Reports Vast Majority of Organizations Face Cybersecurity Shortcomings By Andrew Heikkila

Cybersecurity has already become a major topic among businesses operating in our increasingly digital world, and with each passing day the severity of the issue just seems to grow. News just came from across the pond revealing that every one of England’s National Health Service trusts officially fail the security standards required of them, according to The Guardian.

Echoes of widespread deficiency are corroborated by the latest Hiscox Cyber Readiness Report 2018, which found that 73 percent of firms surveyed face major shortcomings in cybersecurity readiness. The Hiscox team surveyed over 1,000 department managers, IT specialists, and key professionals at US companies large and small. Other findings include:

  • 69 percent of respondents rank the threat of cyberattack and fraud as the top risks to their business.
  • The average IT budget of respondents was $11.65 million, with 10.6 percent of that budget being devoted to cybersecurity. 60 percent of respondents believe this spending will increase by five percent or more.
  • Of the organizations making an investment in cybersecurity efforts, 54 percent indicated that employee training helped reduce the number of cyber hacks and incidents. Furthermore, 43 percent of US companies reported conducting cybersecurity exercises, such as phishing experiments, to understand employee behavior and readiness.
  • The average cost of cybercrime to organizations with more than 1,000 employees was $1.05 million, with the highest costs topping $25 million.
  • 58 percent of US companies with more than 250 employees have cyber insurance, while only 21 percent of US companies with fewer than 250 employees can say the same. In addition, more than half (52 percent) of US small businesses say they have no intention of securing cyber insurance, while only 9 percent of their larger counterparts say the same.

Interestingly, individual consumers seem to already sense that these shortcomings exist, with 77 percent of Americans reporting that they are concerned about financial information being stolen or compromised. After the infamous Equifax hack in 2017, this should probably come as no surprise.

Data Breach Prevention Strategies

As the Hiscox report showed, over half of the businesses that invested in cybersecurity efforts indicated that employee training and cybersecurity exercises proved effective in reducing incidents. In fact, the aforementioned Equifax hack has been blamed on the failure of a singular employee to update unpatched software. It’s important to understand that this accusation comes from the former CEO of Equifax, and so it perhaps should be taken with a grain of salt. Nevertheless, it represents the same disconnect that happens in far too many companies; if one person fails, the entire organization is at risk. It’s everybody’s responsibility to become and remain knowledgeable of cybersecurity best practices.

On the organization’s end, Bill Mann, CPO at Centrify, suggests adopting what is called a “zero trust” model. Here’s how he explains that concept, in an interview with TechRepublic’s Dan Patterson:

“…let me explain what zero trust is in very simple terms. We inherently trust too much in our environment and our inclination to trust too many things has really led to us relying upon forms of security which are really not helping us in the new world order. Think of it in the old world order, you had a firewall which was a perimeter. We used to trust that the firewall was going to keep the bad guys out, but the reality is that the bad guys are already in our environment. Also, the reality is that we’ve got a lot of mobile workers and outsourced IT and we’re using stats and infrastructure as a service so a danger is also not residing within the walls that the firewalls were previously protecting.”

Zero trust comes down to knowing your user, the device they’re connecting to the environment, and restricting their access so that they only have the privileges they need to do their job. This can be achieved by replacing BYOD with corporate hardware and asset tracking.

Beyond tracking employees and the hardware they use, you should also take steps to manage your data. Record Nations recommends using a document management plan, which details the process from creation to destruction of internal documents and data. They write that there are typically eight essential components to include in every document management plan:

  • Conduct a complete inventory of all your existing records.
  • Determine who will be responsible for your record management process.
  • Develop a record retention and destruction schedule.
  • Evaluate and determine the best methods for storing and managing your records.
  • Create and document proper company policies and procedures.
  • Create a disaster recovery plan in case of data breach or other emergencies.
  • Implement your document management plan and train employees.
  • Maintain and audit your program for efficiency and effectiveness.

Of course, these strategies will only get you so far, and only represent a very small amount of the multiple facets of cybersecurity. The fact is, the fight to defend our data and digital infrastructures has just begun, and will rage for a long time to come — and if we ever hope to mount an effective defense in the future, we must overcome our cybersecurity shortcomings in the now.

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Here’s What You Need To Know About Voice Assistants and AI By Britt Armour

Voice interfaces are advancing at an exponential rate in industries of all kinds, ranging from healthcare to banking, as companies are racing to be part of this revolution. 2017 saw explosive growth in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning for everyday use.

What’s Causing the Shift Towards Voice?

The main driver of this shift toward voice user interfaces are the changing user demands. There is an increased overall awareness and a higher level of comfort demonstrated specifically by millennial consumers. In this ever-evolving digital world where speed, efficiency, and convenience are constantly being optimized, it’s clear that we are moving towards less screen interaction.

The mass adoption of artificial intelligence in users’ everyday lives is also fueling the shift towards voice. The number of IoT devices such as smart thermostats and speakers are giving voice assistants more utility in a connected users life. Smart speakers are the number one way we are seeing voice being used, however, it only starts there. Many industry experts even predict that nearly every application will integrate voice technology in some way in the next 5 years.

Why Adopt A Mobile Voice Strategy?

Mobile phones are already personalized, more so than any website. Additionally, there is very little screen space on mobile, making it more difficult for users to search, or navigate. With larger product directories and more information, voice enables consumers to use natural language to eliminate or reduce the manual effort, making it a lot faster to accomplish tasks.

Comcast brought voice search to their remotes to allow Xfinitity customers to quickly browse and find their favorite shows or the latest movies with certain keywords, for example, an actresses name. Brands need to focus on better mobile experiences for their consumers and voice is the way to do so. Users are searching for quicker and more efficient ways of accomplishing tasks and voice is quickly becoming the ideal channel for this. Whether that’s finding out information, making a purchase, or achieving a task, voice is the new mobile experience. It’s clear that brands are racing to figure out their voice strategy. With over 10 million voice-activated digital assistants that have been sold already, there’s a reason why this is.

Here are a few other statistics that prove that the voice landscape is shaping up to have significant potential:

Voice User Interface (VUI) Continues To Advance

This is only the beginning for voice technology as we will see major advancements in the user interface in the years to come. With the advancements in VUI, companies need to start educating themselves on how they can best leverage voice to better interact with their customers. It’s important to ask what the value of adding voice will be as it doesn’t always make sense for every brand to adopt. How can you provide value to your customers? How are you solving their pain points with voice? Will voice enhance the user experience or frustrate the user?

There are still a number of barriers that need to be overcome before voice will see mass adoption. Technological advances are making voice assistants more capable particularly in AI, natural language processing (NLP), and machine learning. However, as consumers are becoming increasingly more comfortable and reliant upon using voice to talk to their phones, cars, smart home devices, etc., voice will become a primary interface to the digital world and with it, expertise for voice interface design and voice app development will be in greater demand.

Voice Is the Future of How Brands Will Interact With Their Customers

Advancements in a number of industries are helping digital voice assistants become more sophisticated and useful for everyday use. Voice has now established itself as the ultimate mobile experience. A lack of skills and knowledge make it particularly hard for companies to adopt a voice strategy. There is a lot of opportunity for much deeper and much more conversational experiences with customers. The question is, is your brand willing to jump on this opportunity?

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How to Protect Your Cryptocurrency By Kayla Sloan

Recently hackers stole cryptocurrency worth millions from a Tokyo cryptocurrency exchange. According to CNN, it could be the largest theft yet of this type of digital currency.

Since this is not the first time cryptocurrency has been stolen, it raises concerns about how best to keep it safe. This may be particularly true for business owners who accept, or plan to accept, cryptocurrency.

However, there are steps you can take to protect your cryptocurrency.

Ramp Up Your Security

1. Cell Phones

Some hackers will troll social media in search of discussions with investors centered around cryptocurrency. If they target your conversations, they will look up your posted phone number and email address.

The next step is to call your cell provider and trick them into transferring your phone number to their own phone. After accomplishing that the criminal can access your business cryptocurrency account by resetting the password.

To avoid this type of attack you can contact your cellphone provider and ramp up your security to the highest level. Add complex passwords and authentication questions only you would know the answers to.

2. Email

Take a similar approach with your business email accounts. Use the highest levels of security you can and create long, hard to break passwords.

You can also create an email account you only use for your cryptocurrency transactions for your business.

3. Computers

Difficult and complex passwords should also be used for your business computers. Use antivirus software and be wary of phishing schemes and phony websites or emails.

When making cryptocurrency transactions, make sure you are using the correct wallet address. Recovery could be difficult if not impossible if a mistake is made.

4. Entrust a Relative or Friend

If you are the only person who knows how your business cryptocurrency is stored it is more secure. On the other hand, if something happens to you, how would your benefactors access it? Would your business fold without this knowledge?

You may need to entrust one friend or relative with the information on where and how your business stores its digital currency.

Use Multiple Cryptocurrency Exchanges

Don’t buy, sell, or exchange cryptocurrency using only one website or business. Instead, diversify among several and store your digital money in more than one place. This will help you to protect your cryptocurrency.

Using multiple exchanges reduces the possibility of everything getting hacked at once. But it also helps if your emails and passwords are different and complicated for each of them.

Since exchanges are also vulnerable to thieves, don’t store your cryptocurrency in your exchange account. Instead, remove your digital currency from the exchange as soon as possible after trading and store it in a secure location.

Store Digital Currency Offline

Consider using a storage device not connected to the internet to keep your digital currency safe. Then, lock the device up in a secure location such as a safety deposit box.

You can store your cryptocurrency on a strongly encrypted flash drive. But you could also use a computer not connected to the internet. Keeping your cryptocurrency off the internet can prevent it from being hacked and stolen.

Utilize Two Factor Authentication

You can protect your cryptocurrency with two factor authentication. That entails using more than just a strong, complex password for your cryptocurrency accounts.

A random code is generated each time you access your account. When you log in, you must enter the new code each time. Using two factor authentication makes stealing your cryptocurrency that much harder for thieves.

The digital currency of investors has been hacked more than once in the past few years. But that doesn’t mean you can take measures to protect your cryptocurrency. Use some of these ideas to keep your cryptocurrency safe from hackers and in your own digital wallet where it belongs.

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What We Can Learn From The Most Highly Rated News Apps By Kate Hawkes

In almost any area of life, it’s hard to make progress without first forming an idea of what you’re aiming for. In mobile business terms, this means examining some of the most successful apps as case studies, highlighting examples of best practice and areas in need of improvement.

To put this into practice, I downloaded five of the most popular UK news apps to see what lessons we can learn from those who seem to be getting it right. Taking into account the star ratings users had given them as well as the total number of app store reviews, I picked user-favourites Sky News, The Guardian, Flipboard, Bloomberg and Readly. Some of the best sources of inspiration are the apps that are already achieving success in the sector: by looking at the elements the users of these apps are enthusiastic about, they offer ideas for how to approach moments in the app experience that can be difficult.

News apps are a particularly interesting example: in theory (let’s ignore fake news and bias for a moment here, if we can), they should all be delivering essentially the same content. Whilst the differences in app popularity are partly resulting from the quality of the writing and the viewpoint of the reporting, the experiences they deliver through onboarding, interactions, and alternative ways of engaging with content can all contribute to an app’s popularity too.

The use patterns of news apps also make this especially challenging: unlike a travel app that you might turn to a few times a year, most users check news apps several times each day, meaning that any snags in the user experience are magnified. Becoming a popular app is not an easy feat, but despite the odds, the news apps I’ve trialled here all have thousands of users giving them stellar reviews. These reviews can benefit apps through boosting acquisition numbers, and indicate high customer satisfaction and engagement rates. Essentially, however, what all those thousands of glowing reviews translate to is that these apps seem to be doing a lot of things right – clearly, there are some lessons to be learned here.

Smooth onboarding by showing, not telling

When 25% of users will only open an app once, having so many users stick with these apps long enough to positively review them is a sign that they’ve mastered the first time user experience. As we’ve all experienced first-hand, that original app experience can be make or break. Recently, I’ve downloaded dozens of apps in the name of research, and I’ve deleted the majority of them almost immediately, because they simply haven’t made my first experience good enough to secure a second attempt.

A major factor in this can be how much instruction, if any, they give to new users. By pointing out features and how to use them, you not only start to build a user-app relationship, but also ensure that users don’t get faced with an unfamiliar screen that makes them give up within seconds. The Bloomberg and Readly apps both have elements that need some explaining; to make the experience more efficient and engaging, they’ve opted to show rather than tell. Bloomberg used an animation of a phone screen to show exactly how to access a new feature, whilst Readly used a carousel of simple diagrams to demonstrate and describe the touch screen commands.

Onboarding screens in top news apps

Don’t let monetization become intrusive

The use of intrusive or untargeted ads and subscription promotions is amongst the most commonly complained about topics in app store reviews, and yet these are obviously necessary to monetizing an app and making it profitable. These five news apps are somehow managing to strike the balance between great customer experience and effective monetization.

There are a few different approaches being used here: Sky, for example, features small, unobtrusive banners along the bottom of the screen. The Guardian app includes embedded ads similar to those used on their website, but the clever part of these is the small ‘hide’ button in the corner. This acts as a convenient conversion point between free accounts with ad-generated income, and a paid subscription.

If you’re a regular free user and the ads have begun to bother you, you might click that ‘hide’ option, which then triggers a screen that suggests upgrading to the paid app version to remove the ads completely. Those users who click to hide the ads are likely to be interested in this feature of the premium app, so this effectively targets the subscription suggestion to the people who are likely to appreciate its benefits. This prevents the upgrade message from imposing too overtly on the reading experience, and probably increases the conversion rate. Optimize this kind of message in your own app by A/B testing the screens users are shown with variations on text and image: comparing the data on these will help maximise conversion rates.

Guardian subscription screens, top news app

Push notifications aren’t one-size-fits-all

Notifications are a necessity for news apps – breaking news isn’t breaking news if you only see it when you remember to check the next evening. With many users having more than one app on their phone that reports news, there’s competition for your notification to be not only the first but also the most attention-grabbing one on people’s screens. If there was no option for updates, you’d be likely to have many users leaving, but the same would also be true if the notifications are irrelevant or badly timed.

I accepted the notification permission request on all five apps, and what I recieved was a very mixed bag. As an example, I woke up to three notifications about the State of the Union speech, with varying degrees of success. Sky notified me at a reasonable hour, promising the kind of summary that would be useful to start my day with. Bloomberg notified me bright and early, but with a lengthy piece of text that didn’t fit onto my screen. The Guardian pinged a push notification onto my phone at 1.55 AM, waking me up to tell me that the speech was about to begin.

The key lesson from this is to make sure your notifications are targeted to suit the users who’ll be receiving them. Ensure the messaging displays perfectly on any device they choose to view it on, and time your push notifications to only alert users during the times they’re usually most active in the app.

Push notification screens top news apps

Building app store popularity is a matter of listening

It really is impossible to keep every user happy all the time. App store popularity is in part due to being smart about how you request, respond to and learn from reviews. Whilst very few people read through reviews in as much detail as I did for this article, many new users might take a look at the number of stars, the number of reviews, and whether any complaints are being dealt with.

The first two of these can be boosted by targeting your review requests to users who have just completed an action or had a positive experience, and asking if they’re satisfied before requesting a review. The latter is a matter of responding to users – several of the apps I looked at had a good track record of replying to comments, and many reviewers gratefully acknowledged when the app had reacted to their criticisms. Reduce the numbers of negative reviews by using customer data to inform your marketing strategy, A/B testing new types of interaction, and making it simple for users to converse with you inside and outside the app.

So, what have we learned? There are valuable takeaways to be gained from looking at popular apps, although not all of them are through examples of best practice. These apps are a useful source of ideas for different ways to go about tricky areas of the user experience, from easing onboarding to dealing with complaints. If you have the time, it’s worth doing a similar experiment with popular apps from the sector you work in – the best way to improve user engagement is to experience what being a user feels like, and the results might just surprise you.

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5 Tips to Improve Your Data Quality By Rudly Raphael

4832970 / Pixabay

Every good idea should be supported by extensive research. Businesses can’t afford to go to market with a new product that hasn’t been properly researched. If you’re unconvinced, let us remind you of “new Coke”, which was launched in 1985 after Coca-Cola lost market share to their rival, Pepsi. Coke’s decision to alter their traditional recipe resulted in major outcry from consumers, who inundated the company’s call centers with more than 400,000 complaints. Coca-Cola apologized and took “new Coke” off the market, returning to their tried and true recipe, to the relief of their customers. Where did they go wrong? While they did test the new formula on 200,000 subjects, they tested on taste alone, disregarding the fact that consumers make purchasing decisions based on habit, nostalgia, and loyalty as well.

The only thing worse than no data is bad data, because bad data will lead to bad business decisions. We’ve compiled a list of 5 best practices to improve the data quality of your research.

Keep it short and sweet. Goldfish have an attention span of 9 seconds; adult humans have an attention span of 12 seconds. The order of the questions and the time it takes to fill out will play a vital role in the respondent’s answers. Ask the harder questions at the beginning of the survey, and limit open-ended questions, which require more effort to answer. Make sure each question is designed to get you relevant information, so you’re not wasting your respondents’ time.

Have a clear purpose. Before conducting a survey, establish a clear objective. What are you hoping to learn from this research? Do you have a clear objective, target, and the right methodology? Test, test, and test again before deploying your survey to ensure you didn’t lose sight of your objective.

Allow for “not applicable” and “prefer not to answer” where appropriate. 31% of people say they give an inaccurate answer to a survey question because the question doesn’t apply to them. By always giving respondents an option to choose “not applicable”, “other”, or “prefer not to answer”, you can control the quality of your data.

Make it user-friendly. By making the survey accessible both online and via mobile, the respondent rate increases greatly. Put yourself in the respondents’ shoes, and think about what would help you while completing a survey. Ensuring respondents have enough room to easily read and answer your questions, keeping header labels that define sections in view, and making the touch points as large as possible will create a better user experience for the respondent.

Avoid bias. Question bias, or a leading question, is when the design of a question or the way it’s asked leads respondents to answer one way or another. For example, the wording in the following question is leading the respondent: “Do you agree that the iPhone is the best smartphone on the market?” You may not even be aware that you have worded a question for a particular answer, which is why you should always have someone else review your survey with a fresh set of eyes.

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5 Tips to Improve Your Data Quality By Rudly Raphael

4832970 / Pixabay

Every good idea should be supported by extensive research. Businesses can’t afford to go to market with a new product that hasn’t been properly researched. If you’re unconvinced, let us remind you of “new Coke”, which was launched in 1985 after Coca-Cola lost market share to their rival, Pepsi. Coke’s decision to alter their traditional recipe resulted in major outcry from consumers, who inundated the company’s call centers with more than 400,000 complaints. Coca-Cola apologized and took “new Coke” off the market, returning to their tried and true recipe, to the relief of their customers. Where did they go wrong? While they did test the new formula on 200,000 subjects, they tested on taste alone, disregarding the fact that consumers make purchasing decisions based on habit, nostalgia, and loyalty as well.

The only thing worse than no data is bad data, because bad data will lead to bad business decisions. We’ve compiled a list of 5 best practices to improve the data quality of your research.

Keep it short and sweet. Goldfish have an attention span of 9 seconds; adult humans have an attention span of 12 seconds. The order of the questions and the time it takes to fill out will play a vital role in the respondent’s answers. Ask the harder questions at the beginning of the survey, and limit open-ended questions, which require more effort to answer. Make sure each question is designed to get you relevant information, so you’re not wasting your respondents’ time.

Have a clear purpose. Before conducting a survey, establish a clear objective. What are you hoping to learn from this research? Do you have a clear objective, target, and the right methodology? Test, test, and test again before deploying your survey to ensure you didn’t lose sight of your objective.

Allow for “not applicable” and “prefer not to answer” where appropriate. 31% of people say they give an inaccurate answer to a survey question because the question doesn’t apply to them. By always giving respondents an option to choose “not applicable”, “other”, or “prefer not to answer”, you can control the quality of your data.

Make it user-friendly. By making the survey accessible both online and via mobile, the respondent rate increases greatly. Put yourself in the respondents’ shoes, and think about what would help you while completing a survey. Ensuring respondents have enough room to easily read and answer your questions, keeping header labels that define sections in view, and making the touch points as large as possible will create a better user experience for the respondent.

Avoid bias. Question bias, or a leading question, is when the design of a question or the way it’s asked leads respondents to answer one way or another. For example, the wording in the following question is leading the respondent: “Do you agree that the iPhone is the best smartphone on the market?” You may not even be aware that you have worded a question for a particular answer, which is why you should always have someone else review your survey with a fresh set of eyes.

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