The field of mobile product management is rapidly advancing. We’ve written quite a bit about what’s currently working in mobile product management, but today, we’re switching gears to look ahead to the rest of 2017 and beyond. covered so much

To understand what’s next for mobile product managers, we asked mobile PM survey respondents (check out our full survey results here) to tell us what they’re paying the most attention to in the mobile product management industry. The full list was long, but there were a few ideas that were repeated multiple times throughout the list we think you should keep on your radar.

7 trends mobile PMs should watch

1. Changes in user expectations

Now more than ever, customers have three primary expectations when it comes to mobile: they expect the experience to look good, be meaningful, and allow for their ever-changing needs. As omnichannel engagement with brands we love becomes more ingrained in our customer journeys, what we expect to get out of the experiences constantly evolves. In order to deliver, mobile PMs must listen to and engage with their customers more than ever before to ensure they understand customer sentiment and can align their product with quick-shifting customer needs.

Apptentive pro tip: To set yourself up for tracking customer sentiment, we recommend the following:

  • Understand willingness to recommend your product through NPS.
  • Give the opportunity for open-ended feedback rather than just ratings and reviews.
  • Monitor your brand’s social channels and community comments.
  • Encourage easy, direct customer feedback across your entire digital experience.

2. In-app payments

Mobile wallets have been trending since 2015, and in the last three years, we’ve seen Apple, Google, and Samsung all launch their own versions. In-app payment options are more secure and remove the need for consumers to carry plastic cards around wherever they go, so it’s no surprise many consumers have jumped on the mobile payment bandwagon. Banks like Wells Fargo, Citibank, Chase, and others have all integrated mobile payment options into their apps due to consumer demand, and mobile payments are becoming less foreign and more status-quo. Although some retailers have had a difficult time adjusting to the new normal of mobile pay, we foresee customer adoption increasing dramatically in 2017 and beyond, which will help brands across all industries get on board with in-app payment options. If your company doesn’t allow for mobile payment in your current experience, consider adding it to the product roadmap before the year is through.

3. Personalization

Personalization has moved from unique to the norm across digital experiences over the last few years, but we predict we’ll see incredible up-leveling in the year to come. Personalized experiences are now expected across the mobile channel, and PMs are beginning to move beyond standard best practice to offer truly incredible experiences within their products. The ability to microtarget customers based on past interactions with your brand brings a personal touch to customer engagement, and leveraging features of mobile devices (like GPS) can provide a personalized experience that will blow your customers away. The tremendous amount of data we can track around mobile customers allows companies to segment people into small target groups, which can make interactions highly targeted, more impactful, and more meaningful. Interactions based on the customer’s preferences in the micro-target will be better received than one-size-fits-all messages.

4. Customer-centric software development strategies

The stereotypical profile of software engineers focus on individualism; they often work in silos, can’t be bothered by general business priorities that fall outside of the engineering org, and certainly aren’t interested in interfacing with customers. Although this stereotype may still be accurate for some, in general, the profile is an archaic, offensive persona of the past. Engineers who thrive in today’s increasingly customer-centric organizations are just that; they care deeply about customer experience, strive to align their projects with the business’s bottom line, and put the customer at the heart of everything they build. With the adoption of shorter sprint cycles, agile methodologies, and breaking down silos between internal teams, engineering orgs are more focused on customer experience than ever before. Building customer centricity from the product ground-up is the new best-practice for 2017 and beyond.

Apptentive pro tip: Our engineering org has set standards that constantly put customers at the heart of their project queue, but it didn’t happen overnight. Learn from what’s worked for us by following these tips:

    • Allow engineers to regularly share projects with the rest of the company (especially customer-facing folks) to take feedback, answer questions, and explain project importance. We share this on a weekly basis, and it’s hugely beneficial for all teams.
    • Shorten your development cycles to two-week sprints, and constantly iterate on your queue in order to shift priorities. If there is a bug or issue that’s causing serious customer pain, don’t hesitate to move it to the top of the list.
    • Add a “hack week” to your to-do list. We give our engineers a “hack week” twice a year to work on any project that isn’t in our current queue, so long as it’s meant to delight our customers. Some of our most exciting features have come out of hack week, and it gives our team a chance to re-energize, learn something new, and step outside of their regular schedule to catch their breaths.

5. Mobile augmented reality

From rapid advancement to Microsoft HoloLens, retail app experiences like Wayfair, and the sensational splash Pokemon GO made last summer, we’d be remiss to not include mobile augmented reality (AR) in our predictions lineup. AR is predicted to drive $108 billion to the VR/AR market by 2021, and companies are rapidly offering AR experiences within their mobile apps. Some of the best in-app AR experiences have pushed boundaries within their industries that have set them up for massive recognition. We can’t wait to see what new AR experiences pop up in the later half of the year.

6. Retention

Your app may see thousands of new installs every day, but how many of these installs become active, engaged, and profitable customers? On average, only 25-40% of new customers will re-launch an app after the first week. This number diminishes as time goes on, ultimately falling to 4% one year out. Not only does retaining customers cost less than acquiring new ones, it’s also a signal of how well your customer experience is being received, which is typically tied to how well a mobile product is doing, which is typically tied to your personal business success (see how that chain of events connects so smoothly?!). Now more than ever before, it’s imperative to put retention at the top of your mobile PM metrics list in order to lower costs, shift the focus to building instead of fixing, and to ultimately build a better product.

7. Data-driven decision making

The data needed to make mobile business decisions is more available in today’s product management world than it ever has been, but availability doesn’t mean it’s easy to understand. Real-time mobile analytics tools like Flurry, Amplitude, and TUNE can offer additional data that is sure to be helpful, but may also add to the noise if not used properly. The data-driven decision making trend for 2017 is two-fold: First, mobile PMs will need to scrutinize the level of data they use to make decisions; too much or not enough data can drive decisions in the wrong direction. Second, the time period in which data is processed and assessed will determine whether or not mobile PMs are successful in picking up on micro-trends within their customer base, which can lead to huge product game-changers.

Apptentive pro tip: Here are five tips to boost your mobile customer retention:

    1. Launch a “Voice of the Customer” initiative to gather more feedback directly from customers.
    2. Use contextually relevant messaging and proactive engagement strategies when engaging customers in-app.
    3. Let customers know you care and that they are valued.
    4. Give customers a reason to come back through new content, in-app promotions, flash sales, and more.
    5. Understand the math of the app business to help measure your retention strategies

To read more about the trends driving mobile product management in 2017 and beyond, and to level-up your mobile product management skills, grab your free copy of our guide, Mobile Product Management: New Trends & Data for 2017.