The Mobile Equation

April 7th, 2016

One under-represented area of growth optimization is the mobile web to app handoff and tradeoff. This area of growth is about the key decision of what to do when someone arrives at your website on a mobile device. Do you attempt to get them to sign up or transact on our mobile website? Do you prompt for a mobile app download? Do you make mobile web available at all? Different companies have made different decisions of what to do here. What I want to talk about is how to make that decision with data instead of just on a “strategic” whim.

To do this, you need to know your company’s mobile equation. The mobile equation is: when I optimize for an app install instead of mobile web usage when someone lands on my mobile website, do I receive more or less engaged users? The way to answer this question is to experiment. Optimize some people towards mobile web usage, and some people toward mobile app download. Cohort these users, and see which group has more engagement over the long term.

Keep in mind that engagement can also be optimized though, and where the baseline ends up is the result of multiple factors:

  • the quality of mobile app onboarding
  • the quality of mobile website onboarding
  • the quality of the mobile website itself
  • the quality of the mobile app itself
  • the quality of the mobile app prompt
  • where you prompt for app download
  • the country of the user
  • the landing page of the mobile website

At Pinterest, when we did this baseline, even though prompting for app download decreased signups significantly, we still received more users by optimizing for mobile app download because the activation rate was so much higher. That meant more people got more long term value from Pinterest by a little more friction upfront. So, we got to work in optimizing all of the steps of the mobile app funnel. We tested over 15 different app interstitial concepts. We redesigned the mobile app signup flow multiple times. We made the mobile app faster. We also started preserving the context from what you were looking at on mobile web to what we first showed you on the mobile app. We saw significant increases in engaged use from all of these experiments.

Learn your mobile equation. It will help drive your strategy as well as some key growth opportunities.

Currently listening to Rojus by Leon Vynehall.

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