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ROI and engaging experiences in an increasingly fragmented mobile world

By Marci Weisler

Over the last few years, we have seen an amazing influx of new mobile devices, with replacement cycles speeding up and many hoping for the latest shiny screen.

With the holidays approaching, both phones and tablets are guaranteed to be high on many gift lists. For marketers, it is more opportunity to reach consumers at many points in their daily lives, but it also introduces many levels of complexity as the continual launch of new mobile devices adds to the mobile application fragmentation and, in turn, places an increased level of strain and stress for mobile app marketers.

Bits and pieces
To most effectively overcome the fragmentation obstacles of new mobile devices, and ensure maximized ROI, there are some key tenets that marketers should keep in mind to offer their users the best experience on mobile without degrading the experience or breaking the bank.

First and foremost, your goal should be to create a great user experience.

To do this, you need to keep technical considerations in mind, but at the end of the day, it comes down to the user experience.

The consumer will engage if they like the experience. She does not care how you built the app or your considerations, but it is a good experience that keeps her coming back, which in turn drives usage and monetization. Remember, phones are used differently than tablets, and apps are different than mobile Web.

In order to create that great experience, you need to keep a constant eye on the market. What devices are your consumers on? What version of the operating system has the most penetration? When iOS 6 was released last month, more than 60 percent of iOS users upgraded within two weeks. Apple makes it easy, and encourages this, so do not worry about the stragglers on early versions.

For a number of reasons, including a more difficult upgrade path, Android users are often on older versions. If you develop for Gingerbread and higher, you cover 80 percent or more of users accessing apps via Google play. This is a great reference dashboard.

Related to this, keep an eye on the moving user metrics so you can drop support for older versions when there is no longer a critical mass of users. This gives you more flexibility to enhance your features and add new ways to delight and engage users.

For new devices and platforms that do not yet have as much market penetration, you may be able to seek incentives from manufacturers or platform providers who are anxious to get great content as it then drives more adoption and more usage, becoming a virtuous circle.

Since you will be supporting both older versions and more current versions, maximize the best features that go across versions.

Do not build to the least common denominator, otherwise consumers are likely to have a bad experience and not repeat it.

Devising strategy
Determine how the experience should differ by both device and platform, based on the technical capabilities and constraints and the way users consume on the device, often more lightly on a phone and more immersive on a tablet.

When experiences vary by device, be sure they complement one another so that a user with both a phone and a tablet has consistency and fluency.

Another key thing to keep in mind is to take advantage of the improved integrations in operating systems to scale and drive adoption and usage.

Facebook and Twitter are now seamlessly integrated into iOS 6. By building in useful ways to share content and linking the shares to app downloads, this is a way to drive both usage and adoption.

To conquer fragmentation, you may want to evaluate cross-operating system/cross-device platforms, development tools or providers who make it their mission to help you scale your business in this expansive environment.

Unlike custom development, many of these solutions give you the flexibility to grow, adapt and expand as the device landscape evolves.

On that front, remember that it is not just about building for mobile and launching. The ongoing management and maintenance is critical, as you will constantly need to adapt to usage patterns, new opportunities and new device adoption in the market.


Fragmentation will continue to expand, but by understanding both your consumers and the market, today and as the market evolves, you can deliver great experiences and grow your business.

Marci Weisler is chief operating officer of EachScape, New York. Reach her at [email protected].