Ray Pun of Adobe: Mobile App Users are More Loyal than Mobile Website Visitors

According to Adobe’s Digital Index 2013 online shopping data for Cyber Monday, online sales for the day increased by 16 percent year-over-year (YoY) to $2.29 billion. A record 18.3 percent of sales came from mobile devices, an increase of 80 percent YoY. Tablets generated the majority of mobile driven sales at 12.7 percent of total online sales.

These stats back up the fact that we are living in a mobile age. And we’re still in the beginning stages. But now is the time to understand the best way to build long lasting customer relationships in a mobile-first world. Ray Pun, Strategic Marketing Manager for Adobe, shares his insights from Adobe’s mobile trends report, including why mobile app users are more loyal to your brand than those who visit your website from a mobile device.

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mobile app usersSmall Business Trends: Can you tell us a little bit about your personal background?

Ray Pun: I’ve been working at Adobe for the last three years, focused on our marketing cloud business. What I do is lead our go-to market strategy around mobile solutions. Mobile is a very big area across the different aspects of the cloud that we support.

Previous to Adobe, I spent several years working in the telecommunications sector. Before that, I spent most of my career in the enterprise software space. Primarily in companies dealing with business intelligence and analytic solutions.

Small Business Trends: I saw a quote from the CEO of Walmart that said that he believes 2013 is going to be remembered as the year that online went mobile. Do you think that he is correct in that assumption?

Ray Pun: Yes, and I would expect that quote probably comes from an executive who is looking at the data from the various channels that they serve. Certainly Walmart, like many retailers, has been seeing mobile traffic heading towards the 50% mark. I think anytime you see mobile reaching the majority of the audience that is reaching your channels, certainly it causes organizations to rethink their strategy. You can have the desktop Web versus the mobile Web and also mobile applications.

Small Business Trends: You put out a report not too long ago –Adobe Digital Index Mobile Apps Trends. Can you tell us about it?

Ray Pun: At Adobe, specifically through our analytics solution, we collect a tremendous amount of data. Trillions of transactions from both Web and mobile channels and social channels. Basically, all the digital data that consumers are engaging with on a marketer’s site or app.

The key difference with this report is that we took a very specific look at mobile app versus mobile Web. Because when people talk about mobile, sometimes it’s a very broad category. Usually, what I ask customers to do is to be more specific, in terms of, ‘Are you talking about a mobile Web experience that’s accessed via a browser, or a mobile app the consumer downloads to their smartphone or tablet?’

In this case, we actually looked at over 600 brands – Adobe customers – and looked at their aggregated data in an anonymous way, so there’s no privacy issues here. We looked at the data consumption of mobile app versus mobile Web.

Small Business Trends: Can you tell us a few of the key findings that came out of the report?

Ray Pun: When we looked specifically at tablets, we found the average time spent per session in a mobile app was four times longer than in a mobile website on a tablet. In the case of a smartphone, we found the time spent in apps was about two and a half times longer than mobile Web.

There’s a skewing of how much time is being spent by consumers. I think that’s impacting how companies think about their strategies, in terms of the creation of Web versus app experiences.

Small Business Trends: What are some of the main considerations a company should be focusing on as they build out their mobile marketing strategy?

Ray Pun: When you look at these data points, especially the segmentation of data by device, we’ve seen on an hour-by-hour basis, tablets are typically used at home when someone’s relaxing in the evening hours, off on the weekends.

The smartphone is used typically outside of the home. But it’s a very different usage pattern, because when someone’s on a smartphone, it’s typically during the day. They’ve got really small increments of time to check for things like news, weather, stocks, their bank accounts, etc. Versus in a tablet situation, you usually have more time to spend surfing, browsing or engaging.

I think that speaks to different use cases, in terms of how people use smartphones versus tablets. Also, once you look at that from a device perspective, you’ve got to break it down into, ‘Okay, here’s the app versus Web breakdown.’  That certainly comes to play, where apps for the most part, are used to drive engagement with loyal customers. People who already know your brand and are willing to download your app because they have a relationship.

If you’re a bank, a customer has a relationship with you. So they’ll download the app versus using a mobile website, because in many cases the mobile website may not provide the experience that people are looking for, in terms of something that’s really engaging and quick to respond.

Small Business Trends: One of the data points that came out of this is how financial apps are used most frequently and travel apps are used the longest.

Ray Pun: I think that the more sophisticated marketers are realizing that they really need to look at the complete customer journey. I think the reality is that the desktop Web was a very specific use case. It didn’t always provide the utility that mobile provides. Where, for example, with your banking app, you’re checking that throughout the day or on a recurring basis.

Think about your own business. Anything that will drive repeat engagement is an opportunity to improve the relationship with a customer.

Then in the contrasting case of the travel app, more time being spent, but maybe someone isn’t traveling all the time. Anything you can do to make that more efficient, searching for vacations or searching for hotels and airlines, that speaks to an optimization opportunity. Because the more time people are spending in an experience, there’s obviously a reason they’re doing that and so you want to best monetize that.

The longer time spent in travel apps was interesting to me, because that actually exceeded the time spent in media applications. Media typically is monetized through advertising. So a travel business, I would say, has an opportunity to better monetize through advertising. Given that the eyeballs are actually in that experience.

Small Business Trends: On average Android apps are used 40% more often, but people spend twice as much time in iOS apps per month. Why do you think that is?

Ray Pun: I think some of that speaks to the two different ecosystems. With the Apple iTunes store, the controls are pretty stringent as far as the approval process to get an app even approved into the store. Obviously, anything that’s approved and then is downloaded by the consumer, typically is a pretty high quality experience.

In the case of Android, it is a little bit more lax in terms of the controls. But then people might just download the app once and may not come back again. And that will shift the time spent average. So I think some of this is really the ecosystems. We recommend to our customers to look at their specific audiences and to really look at whether the android audience is a key part of what you’re planning around?

Because certainly, from a device perspective, Android shipments are greater than iOS. So the sheer quantity is something you cannot ignore. But then you have to come back to your business model. What are you trying to accomplish? If you’re a media company, obviously having longer time spent drives more ad monetization.

However, if you’re in another business that’s not ad-sponsored, then you really want to drive more frequent engagement, more rapid engagement. So people can quickly find stuff, get their information and then they can move on.

Small Business Trends: Can you tell us where people can learn more about how Adobe is helping customers with this area?

Ray Pun: We have launched a new set of services known as Adobe Mobile Services. These are available from Adobe.com. You’ll see information about what we’re doing in terms of helping marketers to better understand user engagement with apps through analytics.

This is part of the One-on-One Interview series with thought leaders. The transcript has been edited for publication. If it's an audio or video interview, click on the embedded player above, or subscribe via iTunes or via Stitcher.

Brent Leary Brent Leary is the host of the Small Business Trends One-on-One interview series and co-founder of CRM Essentials LLC, an Atlanta-based CRM advisory firm covering tools and strategies for improving business relationships. Brent is a CRM industry analyst, advisor, author, speaker and award-winning blogger.