Etsy on Keeping Mobile Users Happy

This is the sixth in a series of interviews with top product managers at mobile-focused companies. The interviews include exclusive content covering best practices, KPI optimizations, mobile predictions and more.

Arpan Podduturi, Etsy’s Group Product Manager, met with Kiip to discuss platforms, promotion and app success. Check out the interview below.


Image source: Facebook

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned as a PM for a mobile app?

We’ve learned that it’s critical to build consistent customer experiences across platforms – web, mobile web and apps. This is the customer expectation: one unified and coherent product across platforms. The challenge is in aligning product teams across your organization.

We started with a small mobile team working on streamlined apps. In the past year, we decided we needed fully featured apps, and we’ve worked on distributing app design and development across our entire product team. Our mobile product strategy is now our product strategy – we’ve created that alignment. If you have a website, and you want your app to be really successful, all teams must be responsible for owning their product experiences across platforms.

What key metrics do you monitor and optimize to build successful mobile apps?

We have two primary customers we design for: our shoppers and sellers.

For our shoppers, a key metric is the ratio of daily active users to monthly active users (DAU/MAU). Our goal is to be part of shoppers’ daily behaviors. We want our shoppers to visit us every day, which of course helps our sellers get discovered and make sales. When we make design changes and roll out new features, we’re always focused on how we impact purchase conversion rate. Customers who use Etsy’s apps have higher purchase rates and higher lifetime value than web users. We’re not sure if this is correlation or causation, so we’re nudging web customers over to our apps to see how purchase rate is impacted when customers aren’t just self-selecting into our apps.

For our sellers, we’re more focused on how quickly a seller can get in and out of the shop management experience. We monitor average session lengths and try to reduce them. We want our seller experience to be efficient and direct, so we see a lot of value in business critical notifications, automated workflows and project management tools. Our goal is to give sellers just the information they need when they need it, and to get them back to doing what they love: making. We don’t want our sellers to have spend a lot of time managing their business, and we don’t want them to have to reach for their laptops, especially when they’re in their studio or workshop.

What’s your favorite third-party tool? Analytics, user attribution, A/B testing, etc.

We’ve rolled most of our own services. We collect our own analytics events and we have teams of data analysts and data engineers who help us make sense of data and answer product questions. We rely on Crashlytics for crash monitoring – it’s a great tool.

What’s one complementary service that you wish existed for developing mobile apps?

I’m hoping iOS will handle app switching better. Google has some nice options for deeplinking into other apps, and iOS could benefit from a similar feature. We have a deeplink schema to jump customers to shops and product pages in our apps.

What are your thoughts on mobile apps vs. mobile web?

We look at mobile web as top of the funnel for mobile users; it’s the introduction to our product and a critical part of our mobile experience. But our app users engage more deeply with us and have proven to be more valuable over time. So there’s a balance on mobile web between presenting a really solid shopping experience and guiding shoppers and sellers to our apps. We look for targeted scenarios to promote the app from the mobile web. For example, if a customer has visited our mobile website multiple times in a week, we can be more aggressive in promoting our apps. We think that’s a customer who’s more likely to be interested in our native experiences.

What mobile commerce trend are you most excited about?

There’s a lot of buzz about beacons and I’m interested in how we can use them at Etsy. The exciting thing about Etsy is we have an amazing collection of entrepreneurs, makers and craftspeople all around the world. Their items are in pop-up shops, studios, workshops, craft markets, boutiques and department stores. I’m interested in building experiences around the products that our shoppers brush up against in the real world. The goal is remove the need to take out your phone, but to still add value to a shopping experience through recommendations, bookmarking, social context or by providing background information about an item. Can we tell the story of the maker or how the item was made in a frictionless way using beacons?

What’s one mobile app prediction you believe that most people do not?

I’m not sure if this is an uncommon belief or not, but I don’t see apps as a passing phase. People have talked about mobile web versus apps, but I see mobile apps driving and dominating mobile experiences for a long time. The ecosystems will make app discovery, recommendation, maintenance and app-switching easier. Developer tools will continue to improve and give publishers more control over launches – more akin to web ramp-ups. The barriers to shipping often will continue to diminish.

As an experiment, I recently went a week in NYC without using apps, except text – just mobile web. Using mobile web alone was a completely different mobile experience; it was not a good one. Most of the key social experiences are missing and many shopping experiences are slow, broken or not optimized for phones. Apps make these experience work. They put your phone into hyperdrive.

You can see the original interview here. Come back to the blog next week to read an interview with Mark Geller, HauteLook’s Head of Mobile.

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