This is the fifth 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.
Shane Hall, The Hunt’s Head of Product, met with Kiip to discuss the changing face of native apps and community building. Check out the interview below.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned as a PM for a mobile app?
Mobile has brought us back to the idea of shipping software. In the agile web space, you get used to the process of continuous shipping, updating and fixing. Everyone is looking at the same version at the same time. But for mobile, you have to make a serious mental shift. The software we’re shipping lives on a mobile device and is potentially never updated again. We have to pay a ton of attention to two main things. One, the pure quality and functionality of the app. You can’t ship bugs. Two, deciding which content lives in the client and which content comes from the server. Anything we might want to modify or experiment with down the road comes from the server.
Of course, in addition to these technical lessons, we obsess over reviews and listen to our users. This isn’t mobile-specific, but at The Hunt we have really embraced the community aspect of the product. Communities are very different from just social networks – you can join a community and get value immediately. You don’t have to build up your own network first. We’re ultimately trying to drive community interaction, rather than just curating cool products. User retention is high when people feel connected to a community and have meaningful interactions. When people feel like part of community, they want to spend time on it regardless of the direct commerce utility.
What key metrics do you monitor and optimize to build successful mobile apps?
Our core metric is user retention. It’s the best indicator to understand if we’re building the right product. Another key metric we measure is net promoter score – how likely are our users to promote our product to their friends and family? This is a proxy for word-of-mouth and is a great indicator of whether or not our users are getting value out of our product.
What’s your favorite third party tool? Analytics, user attribution, A/B testing, etc.
Most of our analysis is done in-house by our data scientists. The third-party tools we do use are MAT for install attribution, Amazon for A/B-testing, Segment.io for data capture and of course Google Analytics. We then use RJMetrics for understanding our database metrics and Amplitude for visualizing behavior, events, funnels and retention.
What’s one complementary service that you wish existed for developing mobile apps?
Prior to the last year, I would’ve said a terrific A/B-testing platform. But so many excellent ones have popped up in the recent months. Install attribution is still a challenge for us. MAT is great for advertising, but a bit difficult for virality. A lot of this is just difficulty with the App Store.
What are your thoughts on mobile apps vs mobile web?
We don’t have an Android app, so our audience is split between desktop web, mobile web and iOS. It’s very important to have an excellent mobile experience for our Android users. Ultimately, having an app will generate better retention and engagement, because of features like push notifications. Additionally, apps are a more intimate experience for the user, with access to photos, contacts, etc. This makes it a much stickier experience. Maybe in the future, the line between mobile web and mobile app will be blurrier. But right now, if someone is deciding between building a native experience or an excellent responsive experience, I’d say go native.
What mobile commerce trend are you most excited about?
More now than ever, shopping is starting from social media. It used to be magazines, but it’s changing quickly. There’s a tremendous increase in photo sharing [on social media], but little attribution for where to buy the items in those photos. People are getting inspiration from YouTube videos, Facebook, Pinterest and more. There are now huge influencers who aren’t celebrities in the traditional sense, but have huge followings because they have great style.
What’s one mobile app prediction you believe that most people do not?
Some people believe there’s a coming tidal wave of Android that’s going to wash over and crush iOS. Based on our user base, we haven’t really seen that. The Android user base is certainly growing, but I’m not worried about iOS becoming a small chunk of the market.
You can see the original interview here. Come back to the blog next week to read an interview with Arpan Podduturi, Etsy’s Group Product Manager.
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