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Expert Interview Series: Mike Molinet of Branch on Mobile Development Trends And What They Mean For Marketers

by 20th April, 2017

Mike Molinet is the co-founder and COO of Branch, the industry-leading deep linking company, where he oversees all aspects of the daily operations at Branch and works with partners to help them leverage the power of Branch links.

Apps and mobile development have been trending for several years now. Are apps as important now as they have been, or is it starting to wind down?

Apps have been and will continue to play an even more critical role to drive user growth and engagement for businesses of all sizes. Study shows that the average time Americans spend on smartphones has increased by a dramatic 40% in the past two years. With the ability to provide a much better and smoother user experience compared with the mobile web, mobile apps outperform mobile web in every stage of the sales funnel.

Furthermore, your mobile app users are 18x more loyal than mobile web browsers based on this study from comScore. With the mobile trends continuing to sweep across America and the rest of the world, the importance of apps will only increase.

A lot of small business owners want to get into app development, but don’t have the resources. Why is it a good idea for brands and business owners to develop apps, if they aren’t already?

For all the reasons mentioned above, I highly encourage all brands and business owners to build their own app if they haven’t already, especially if you’re in retail, media, travel, and hospitality. Having an app will often help you unlock new growth opportunities and more ways to engage with your customers.

Are there any useful mobile development resources that can get someone started?

Thanks to the internet and the contributions from the mobile developer community, you can find abundant mobile development resources available for free. For example, the video tutorials from Ray Wenderlich on iOS development is a very popular resource site frequented by mobile developers of all levels. Once you get the app up-and-running, having an effective growth plan would be the next critical step. That’s why we’ve built the Mobile Growth online community as a platform to help you learn about all the best practices from mobile growth experts from around the world.

Agile programming has been gaining popularity in recent years, particularly in regards to mobile development. Can you talk a bit about Agile, and what makes it such an attractive solution for developers?

Agile is more of a project management methodology than programming strategy. Essentially, it is a response to the phenomenon of software projects becoming increasingly complicated, by rejecting the idea that a software project can be planned fully from the start and instead embracing a more iterative methodology. It’s especially useful when working on projects with many unknowns, as planning a project ahead of time when large amounts of it are unknown is impossible. The scope and complexity of mobile app development projects often fall under such scenarios, which drives the agile project management methodology.

Responsive design is one of the major advantages of mobile development. What have been some innovative responsive designs that you’ve seen or worked on?

Responsive design has become an important component of web development driven mostly by the wide adoption of smart mobile devices and updates from Google search engine that has factored mobile-friendliness as a ranking criterion. A key trend we’ve observed among many top-ranking websites is that often times they would also have a top-ranking app. So there’s a huge opportunity to turn mobile web traffic into app installs and some of the best brands are already doing that.

For example, Pinterest has a full page takeover but has it built into the homepage so that it scrolls up. This is acceptable for mobile SEO purposes but drives a significant portion of organic traffic into the app.

What are some of the most powerful opportunities of mobile development, particularly for brands?

Deep linking technology has gained considerable adoption over the past few years by enabling brands to drive app growth and consumer engagement across all marketing channels while delivering an optimal user experience. Our studies show that deep links can effectively increase app performance in terms of signups, engagement, retention, and the lift sustains over time.

What are some ways that apps can be used to disrupt the old intrusive advertising model? Why is this important?

Apps provide brands with the opportunity to design a unique and smooth experience tailored to your user base. You have control over the entire flow and functionality in which case ads wouldn’t be an issue anymore. In terms of potential disruptions to the existing ads market, Taylor Davidson has a brilliant post on how apps would shape user experience and ads strategy along with some wider ramifications.

One of the greatest strengths of apps and mobile technology is detailed, granular data. How can this data be useful for marketers? What should they look for?

Traditionally, mobile analytics has been siloed within individual platforms with limited data and diminished insights into what’s driving app installs and user engagement. The ability to unify all those different data segmentations would provide marketers with a complete view of the entire mobile customer journey from website, to mobile website and apps. In fact that is one of the problems that Branch can help address. By powering a multitude of marketing communications, marketers can now view channel performances that have been unmeasurable previously. Our partnership with all major analytics platforms enable marketers to see a comprehensive view of the effectiveness of all marketing channels, as well as user flows. Marketers can also build user cohorts from their existing dashboard based on these unique data and create customized campaigns to achieve optimized results across all channels.

It’s becoming increasingly important for businesses and brands to seem real and authentic, instead of generic and faceless. How can mobile development help a company stand out from the rest?

Mobile devices are the most personal items that people own. If you think about it, your phone is always near you, even when you’re sleeping – making mobile development an incredibly important part of authentically connecting with customers, readers, and users.

One way I’ve seen businesses create these real experiences is by creating unique push notifications. Whether that is using emojis or hashtags or casual wording, it makes it seem like the notification you just received actually came from a real person, instead of an automated system.

One of the biggest trends in mobile development is integrating digital marketing with physical sales. Have you seen this trend used in any particularly innovative ways?

No matter how big or small a business is, it’s paramount that they have a mobile optimized website for potential customers. Over 50 percent of people now search on their mobile devices, and many businesses that rely on physical, in-store sales could lose business by not optimizing their website for mobile. If the resources are there, building a mobile app and driving users to that app from the mobile web is an innovative way to harness the power of search. We’ve seen Jet.com increase their mobile app installs by 3x, just by adding a banner to their mobile website that encouraged users to download their app.

Want to find out more about optimizing your marketing strategy? Contact us today!

Simon

Simon has worked in the software industry for over 20 years; intent on always producing work of the highest standard and creating software products that genuinely makes things better for people. Simon has previously held positions ranging from Developer, Technical Consultant, Head of Development through to CTO and more recently founder and CEO of several high profile technology companies.

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