Friday, March 28, 2014

Is a Story. About Mobile Product Thinking.

Everyone’s talking about this now — being #mobileFirst. It’s a new strategy startups are adopting. Products are being tweaked considering 80% of users are thumb driven. This is a good thing, but the problem is, mobile strategies haven’t gone past “having a mobile app”. They haven’t completely embraced the mobile ecosystem.

App communications
Relying on email for communication between the app user and developer is old school. Creating a text messaging/iMessage like channel that is in-app for the customers to engage with the app developer is more natural to the mobile experience. Consider having a two way in-app chat. Vinted is a great example. They’ve integrated a direct, native, mobile communication channel in their app to communicate and upsell/cross-sell their products. Very effective!

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When users leave your app, push notifications are a great way to bring them back. Crafting PN’s that have the ability to be clicked through is a test. Here are two push notifications:

PN1: Flash sale- Get 10% off on all hotel bookings

PN2: Hi Dave, we have 10% of on all hotel bookings. Book your Goa tickets for 2000 less now!

PN1 is a direct message. PN2 is designed to be personal and take advantage of a recent event — the user had tried to book a hotel in Goa. PN2 is more likely to be clicked and increase sales. Say bye-bye to robotic PN’s.

In-app banner notification is an excellent way to move users through your marketing/purchase funnels. These notifications slide from the top or bottom and when clicked, take the user to a particular screen within the app. For eg, the recently launched Facebook Paper made use of this in-app banner notifications to educate the customers about various interactions and features in their app.

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Intelligent mobile campaigns:
Remember those beautiful email campaigns you used to create in Mailchimp/Marketo and target a certain segment of your customers? What if, there is a product that can help you create native in app campaigns(in app modal prompts instead of email) based on the data you collect and segment of users? You could do campaigns like — Tell about the pro version of my game to all myAndroid users in Japan that have IAP more than 83$.

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I haven’t come across any product that can help with doing this beautiful in-app campaigns. But developers have tried different hard-coded ways to do this campaigns(not very effective though!). Ratings & Find friends are two of these commonly developed campaigns. Rating prompts are very helpful to drive users to the App stores for a rating & review. Positive ratings/reviews boost app rankings and can lead to being featured in the app in the store. Find friends is a great to increase app engagement.

The problem with these campaigns is, they are hard-coded either to be shown after a certain number of app sessions or when a certain event occurs. These rules, make the campaigns to occur regularly when the event happens or when the user crosses a certain number of app sessions. This is very irritating and abrupts the user experience. Additionally, changing this trigger rules will require additional development effort + time for the update to be reflected in the app store. Wouldn’t it be great to do these campaigns on the fly? (Is somebody working on this?)

Embrace 3rd party integrations.
Using native communication channels and creating intelligent mobile campaigns will help retain customers, increase CLV and in app purchases. Effectively using 3rd party integrations can help with app retargeting and acquiring new users. For eg, say you are an e-commerce mobile app. You can use
1. Twitter card integration: Many customers share product links in Twitter. Its possible to increase sales if we do a simple Twitter card integration with a CTA in the card that says “Buy now”. When users click this button, take them directly to the checkout page in the browser (or the checkout section in the mobile app, if it is installed). Chances are this will bring users back to your app and increase app installs.

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2. Passbook integration: Imagine you have a Pass(with order status) created for every purchase order in Passbook. This will allow users to easily check the latest status of their order. Also, this Pass can be designed to show similar/featured products to retarget the customers. Chances are the user might click on these products and make a new purchase.

Users can disable push notifications for your app. In such a scenario, mobile ad retargeting techniques & 3rd party integrations can bring users back to the app. Once they are in, show a modal asking to enable PN’s for your app.

The end. Lets build better mobile products!

Saturday, March 1, 2014
Midnight at the @Freshdesk office. Working on a big release! Go team! (at Freshdesk)

Midnight at the @Freshdesk office. Working on a big release! Go team! (at Freshdesk)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Working simultaneously on Android and iOS designs is a test. You need to pour yourself into different UX patterns and quickly think through platform specific user behaviours. – View on Path.

Working simultaneously on Android and iOS designs is a test. You need to pour yourself into different UX patterns and quickly think through platform specific user behaviours. – View on Path.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I was inspired by half a bottle of wine

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Back in 2012, I was working with a very diverse team. We had people from all over the world helping companies build their digital business. We had a nice cozy bungalow office in the heart of Pune. It was a late Thursday night and I went to the kitchen to get a quick snack. As I entered the kitchen, I saw a half empty bottle of wine lying with its lid open. I started walking towards the bottle and couldn’t help but visually imagine, how this bottle of wine came to existence. I held the bottle in my hands and I felt inspired. 

Why I was inspired by a bottle of wine?

Contemplate this - Wine was discovered thousands of years ago (around 6000BC). Ancient people consumed this drink to get intoxicated. It played an important role in religion. The Catholic church uses it in its mass. Red wine was associated to “the blood of those who had once battled the gods” by ancient Egyptians. This rich history went through my mind - A recipe passed over through generations and perfected to this bottle I hold in my hand. I felt privileged. 

I am inspired by everything around me.

The mobile I used to write post, the club I go to every Friday or that wonderful piece of software that makes my job easier. I have the tendency to think deeply, about the effort people put into building these objects. The mission that drove them everyday to work and produce these wonderful things we keep using. The stories around how these objects even came to existence. I have always been inspired by the work others do. Be it the autobiography of a great man, a certain incident in history, that wonderful piece of software or those massive manoeuvres that travel outside space in search of life elsewhere.

Your work will always inspire someone and you, in turn will seek inspiration from a different source - it’s a cycle.

Lately I have been listening to this track to get inspired

Photo credit: Kalle Schärlund

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Being at one with your thoughts

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It’s 11:00 am — You are in the office. Most of your colleagues are already here. People have gathered in small groups talking about their progress/updates. You take a deep breadth, go into a silent room and start working.

It’s 04:00 pm — You come out of the room, sit on your desk, stare at something that caught your attention. But your mind’s still thinking about the problem you are trying to solve. You are still not entirely focussed, so you plug in. You don’t play your favorite track. You are only plugged in because you want everyone to know you don’t want to be disturbed.

It’s 8:00 pm — You are heading home. Usually you take a rickshaw but today you decided to take a walk. You are still thinking about a solution to your problem. You are visually imagining different variations in a hope that could arrive at your desired result. You know that this particular design will work but you are not sure if it will appeal to your audience.

Making yourself feel disconnected lets you focus

Simple acts of disconnections lets you focus and boost your productivity and more importantly gives you a clarity of mind. Getting into a silent room, plugging in your headphone or taking a walk down the road lets you pour yourself into a problem and be at one with your thoughts.

It’s 01:00 am — You are still dreaming about your problem and finally you have that Eureka moment. You wake up, open your laptop, try it out in Photoshop and send out an email to your colleagues.