Evolution of Mobile and the MAX Imperative: Exchange of Value – Part III of a Multi-part Blog Series

Steve Tan VP and General Manager, EMEA & APAC Airship

David Murphy, Editorial Director & Co-founder at Mobile Marketing Magazine and co-founder of Masterclassing, spoke with Airship’s Steve Tan at the Closing Celebration of Airship’s MAX Month in London on June 29, 2022. 

In Part I, David discussed the origins of mobile marketing and how mobile has changed over the last few years. In Part II, he outlined MAX success factors. In Part III, he describes his personal experience – and exchange of value – with several apps.

Steve: If you could choose one company that is doing it really well, from how their app is rated and can be easily found, to a good onboarding experience and personal engagement, to providing the customers with continuous reasons to stay loyal to their brand and using their app, which one would you choose and why?

David: In terms of getting the app discovered and the good onboarding experience, it’s difficult because the apps that I use regularly have mostly been on my phone for quite a few years now and I don’t tend to go looking for an app to do something without knowing the app I want. That said, I know that if for some random reason tomorrow I were out and about and needed to check whether something would fit in a space in my house and I didn’t have a tape measure, I’d go straight to the App Store searching for a tape measure app. The first apps I would see when I searched for “tape measure” would be those that have taken the time and care over the screenshots, the app’s description, and the ratings they have encouraged people to give over the years. App Store Optimization is a massive thing and it’s something I imagine a lot of brands don’t take as seriously as they should, based on conversations I’ve had with companies that help brands with this.

In terms of a personal favorite, I’ll give you two. One is The Trainline. Not the most exciting thing in the world, but when I need to be somewhere – happily, we all do again – it has transformed journeys that I make often, such as from my home to Waterloo or Victoria Stations. If I’m a long way from home and I open up the app, it knows where I am and will suggest the closest station as my starting point. If you have a Railcard, once you have the train you want, you can buy your ticket through the app and get the ticket delivered to your phone. In other words, you can go from possibly having no clue how to get from A to B in time for a meeting at noon tomorrow to having the ticket with a few clicks.

The other app that does things really well for me is Duolingo. I’m sure I’m not the only person in the room who can tell you that my horse drinks water in Spanish as a result of using this app. I started on it when I was on holiday in Costa Rica a few years ago taking three- or four-hour trips on poor roads with wi-fi on the bus. Initially, I had the free ad-funded version, which they seemed to make just irritating enough so if you’re serious about learning Spanish, paying 8 quid a month seemed like a no-brainer. The ads themselves are a bit annoying, to be honest. Apologies to the brands in the room, but they do interrupt the process of trying to learn the language. And when you’ve made a certain number of mistakes, you’re locked out of the app for 12 hours or so.

I started paying a couple of years ago, and maybe because I’m paying for it, I haven’t missed a day since. I’m on something like a 750-day streak, and one of the reasons for this is that the app itself is great fun to use. It’s broken down into genuinely useful real-life topics like Opinions, Online, In town, In love, Travel, Work, Shopping and Requests.

Also, the whole thing is gamified. I’m currently in the Emerald League, which is about the third highest out of 10, I think, with 30 other people. Which suggests that there are 300 people in the world on Duolingo right now. Actually, the app has around 40 million Monthly Active Users (MAUs), so there are thousands of Emerald Leagues and other Leagues, but it doesn’t matter. When you see you’re about to be demoted because other people have been logging on more than you, you take the time to do a few lessons.