Mobile Saturday at SXSW Panel Preview: When Success Means an Always-Vanishing Customer

In anticipation of our March 12 Mobile Saturday event at SXSW, we’re spotlighting our speakers, their panels and discussion topics for the day.

Joining us for our “When Success Means an Always-Vanishing Customer” panel is Sara Buzak, mobile product marketing manager at Zillow, and Tracy Kobzeff, director of product marketing and monetization at eHarmony, Inc. Also on the panel will be Tracy’s colleague, eHarmony Vice President of Acquisition Marketing Liz Downs.

Urban Airship Digital Strategy Consultant Stephanie Capretto will moderate the discussion on the secrets to sustaining successful mobile businesses when acquisition costs are at an all time high and mobile app retention is an ever-present challenge. They’ll touch more on the art and infallible science of efficient acquisition, the latest innovations and strategies for lengthening customer lifecycles as well as their secrets to sustaining successful mobile businesses when the cards seem stacked against you.

Working at an online dating website that’s designed to foster long-term connections for its users means Tracy and Liz are all-too-familiar with (and hope for) customers no longer needing their app. For Sara, it’s helping people find their home sweet home to settle into for the long term.

We asked Tracy (TK) and Sara (SB) to answer a few questions about their own mobile engagement perspectives to help set the stage.

Aside from your own, what is your favorite mobile app, wearable or IoT (Internet of Things) device and why?

TK: Shazam is a perennial favorite. I can’t count how often I am shopping in a store, eating in a restaurant or driving in my car and hear a song that I just have to know about and add to a playlist for later. The app is just as relevant for me today as it was five years ago.

SB: I love the Starbucks app. I am not a coffee drinker and yet I still use it, which should tell you something. I love that I don’t have to remember my wallet and I can order and pay directly from my phone and keep track of all my gift cards. Everything is in one place.

What technological advance do you hope happens in your lifetime?

SB: Teleportation — I get car sick and love the idea of getting where I want to go in seconds, rather than spending hours in the car. Also, how amazing would it be to spend an afternoon in Paris on a whim?

What keeps you up at night? What gets you going in the AM?

TK: I’m a big organizer and list-maker, so I often lay awake at night making lists in my head: top priorities for work the following day, errands that need to be accomplished, friends I want to catch up with, etc. In the morning I get inspired by playing favorite, upbeat songs on my drive to work, getting a good caffeine jolt and identifying at least a couple projects I can tackle that day that will leave me with a feeling of accomplishment.

Do you have a few nuggets of general advice for companies embarking on mobile initiatives?

TK: Think mobile-first and, if that’s an uphill battle, try to ensure the customer's’ mobile experience is at least at parity with their desktop experience. There should be a seamless transition across platforms to keep customers happy and coming back, regardless of what device or platform they are using. Also, be respectful of customers’ personal space: a smartphone is very personal, so don’t abuse in-app or push messaging. Rather, make it a highly personalized complement to their experience with your brand.

SB: My biggest piece of advice for mobile initiatives is to not lose sight of what your company is about and why your customers love your brand. There is always a new gadget or technology that you can design for, but the best mobile initiatives are those that utilize new technologies in ways that make sense for their business and enhance the consumer experience.

If you’re in Austin, TX for SXSW Interactive on March 12, come join our fourth year of mobile magic! We’ll be just a block away from the Convention Center at the Courtyard Austin Downtown.

To learn more about our other panels and our Mobile Saturday event, check out our Mobile Saturday @ SXSW event page and sign up for updates. During the event, we’ll be sharing insights from @urbanairship using #MobileSat on Twitter. And be sure to check back for post-event content!