SXSW Mobile Saturday Recap: When Success Means an Always Vanishing Customer

We get it — a lot goes on at events and SXSW Interactive is no exception, so it’s easy for everything to meld together. But good news! We’re here to help — here we’ll recap the fourth of our five Mobile Saturday panels to share key takeaways and themes so you can maximize your learning. Stay tuned for the fifth, and final, coming next week!

User acquisition costs are at an all-time high (~$3 a pop according to Fiksu), so attaining and retaining app users is key. But for brands like Zillow and eHarmony, succeeding at doing so comes at a cost — an always vanishing customer base. In the fourth Mobile Saturday panel, “When Success Means an Always Vanishing Customer,” panelists discussed effective acquisition strategies for their brands and techniques to cater to different customer groups for an improved experience.

Users are More Engaged on Mobile than Desktop

Stephanie Capretto, strategy consultant at Urban Airship, opened the panel by asking panelists about new features and differences between their app users and desktop users. Not surprisingly, despite the increased acquisition cost, panelists shared that their mobile audience is more engaged than the audiences on other channels, such as desktop.

Zillow’s Mobile Product Marketing Manager Sara Buzak said its app users are the “most engaged” out of all “users going across all [of Zillow’s] platforms.”

For matchmaking company eHarmony, Inc., mobile also dominates. Elizabeth Downs, vice president of acquisition marketing at eHarmony, Inc., shared that seven and a half years ago when she started, 5% of their audience was mobile. Now she said, it’s much more —  65-70%.  

Tracy Kobzeff, director of product marketing and monetization at eHarmony, Inc., said they “see much higher engagement rates for our mobile and web users,” but that after the first day of downloading, “mobile users are much more likely to convert.” They also see a strong Android engagement.

Mobile Fits into Brands’ Overall Acquisition & Mobile App Retention Strategies

When asked how eHarmony’s mobile app strategy fits into its overall acquisition strategy, Downs said that mobile plays a significant role. Despite having a large focus on TV advertisements, mobile as an acquisition channel is paying attention to, “because people look at it all the time.” When running television advertisements, eHarmony’s team occasionally includes pictures of the app at the end to encourage downloads.

Consider Customer Lifecycle When Creating Your Mobile Marketing Strategy

As echoed in our second Mobile Saturday panel, personas and funnel planning are still a consideration when building an app strategy. In identifying a user’s needs based on where they fall in the conversion or funnel process, brands can properly identify specialized paths, even automating communications based on a user’s behavior.

Buzak said that at Zillow they use personas — each with their own name — focused around buyer, renter, seller and homeowner. She said it’s important to consider “what having a home means to you in those different stages,” as “messaging is different for each of those people,” complete with separate home pages. She emphasized making sure their communication with users “is relevant to who [they] are, where [they] are, whatever that might be.” Buzak also noted that “Zillow gives control to the end-user,” which helps guide process. By using personas to guide its app strategy and design, Zillow’s team can build its app more efficiently and create tools to serve each segment.

At eHarmony, Inc, Downs said “one of our key objectives is to build different funnels across different platforms.” She added that eHarmony is testing where it places its payment screen to identify how people are getting through the conversion process as well as when people are most receptive to move toward making the process completely mobile.

eHarmony’s Kobzeff also noted that its user base changes around seasonality — “we see a spike around New Year’s Eve.” At Zillow, seasonality is also a cause for their audience number to wax and wane, as homebuying often heats up in the summertime.  

Using Location and Data to Drive a More Personalized User Experience

Data can help brands understand where someone is during their lifecycle and location to better  personalize a user’s experience. On getting data, Buzak said it’s “one of our biggest motivators for getting users to register.” When people register for the Zillow app, “we can give them a much more personalized experience that’s unified [across platforms].” The real estate app also does a lot of A/B testing and benchmarks against itself, pushing for continual improvement, she noted.

Zillow uses geolocation to alert potential buyers about nearby open houses. “We can send you a notification when a house you’re nearby, that you’ve favorited, is open,” Buzak said, making it even easier to head out for a day of home shopping.

eHarmony also uses geolocation to send localized content. For example, on Leap Day (February 29) in the UK, it’s customary for women to propose to men. The matchmaking service used that tradition as an opportunity to share a real-life success story, introducing a campaign that showcased a woman proposing to a man — live streamed on TV and on the site. “We sent a push notification to everyone in the UK market about it,” Kobzeff said. eHarmony saw a “tap rate over 90%” and the campaign drove a lot of views to their website as well. Kobzeff noted that because the smartphone is so personal, they always try to ensure content is very customized and relevant.

Be sure to check our blog this week and next for other panel recaps, or get the whole scoop on takeaways from our Mobile Saturday event by downloading our overview: 15 Key Insights from Mobile Saturday at SXSW.

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