The big story in mobile last year was not one of device penetration (smartphone adoption already exceeds 80% in many countries) or new installs (which is relatively flat) but one of engagement. In 2015, app usage, as measured by both MAUs and time spent, increased significantly, according to Nielsen, in categories ranging from productivity to ecommerce to travel to home and fashion.
It cannot be said that there’s a single “killer app” for mobile, be it a WeChat, Uber, or PokeMon Go. Mobile is eating the entire consumer software world and transforming entire industries. That’s why App Annie projects the app economy to be worth more than $100 billion by 2020.
To succeed, however, apps need to have more than just a strong product and a fancy UI. Apps need to offer a truly great user experience, fueled by the intelligent application of customer data. The reverse is also true: a neglectful approach to data is just not an option.
Smart uses of customer data in apps can take many forms, ranging from user acquisition and on-boarding, to engagement marketing and multichannel optimizations. Where once they needed to be custom built for each platform and app by developers, they can now be accessed through software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions, or “app data services”.
The Periodic Table of App Data Services
Morgan Stanley has reported that fully 91% of marketing technology purchasers prefer best-in-breed, multi-vendor architectures to “all in one” stacks. That’s certainly the case in mobile, where the range of tools available to mobile app marketers and developers is large and growing.
On average it’s estimated that apps have 14 embedded Software Development Kits or SDKs (also referred to as “third-party libraries”). SDKs can serve a variety of purposes. There are SDKs for payment processing (such as Cardio, Paypal, Braintree, Stripe, Venmo) and SDKs for user login and authentication (such as Agilebits, Google SignIn, 1Password). Roughly half of SDKs in apps are marketing and customer experience related, covering use cases such as analytics, attribution, A/B testing and user engagement. This latter group of marketing and customer experience services is the focus of our Periodic Table.
Each of these different tool categories can have a significant, positive impact on marketing outcomes.
But be forewarned: collectively, when not managed properly, having multiple SDKs can bloat the app with messy code and create data traffic jams that degrade the customer experience. (We call this Accidental Data Strategy Syndrome, or ADSS for short. This post can help you diagnose if you or an app you know might have it.)
While implementing one SDK per each one of these services is a common implementation path, it is not the preferred one. A smart alternative is to use a customer data platform, which enables you to get economies of scale from a single implementation. With mParticle, for example, app owners can collect data through the mParticle SDK and then syndicate that data out to all of the different services they require, without any additional engineering work required to bring a new service live or the need to maintain multiple code libraries. Scroll down to hear how some of the leading app marketers have benefited from this approach.