All posts by Robi Ganguly

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5 Ways to Turn Your Mobile App’s Haters Into Evangelists

Editor’s note: The following content is an updated version of a post originally published in 2012. Changes include new links, updated examples to reflect changes in the mobile environment, new supporting images, and more.

Some days are better than others.

Ever sit down to your morning cup of coffee, open up the app store, surf to your app, and come across a fresh one-star rating with a three-line rant that wasn’t even about the app?

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Some app reviews are real downers.

Your stomach sinks, you shake your head, and you wonder if you’re doing it all wrong and why people have so much fun hating on your company. Rest assured, fellow app publisher: You are not alone.

The negative comments are going to come.

If you’ve never had a negative comment or someone critique what you’re making, it probably means no one has seen what you’re working on. Given the choice, most of us would rather have some audience for the things that we build rather than none at all.

If you’re in the app business, though, it’s particularly important to have a large group of customers providing feedback from their experiences. With over 1 million apps in the each of the major app stores, you’re either building an audience or dying on the vine. When you get past a few hundred thousand downloads, it’s certain you’re going to get a steady stream of feedback. But once you make it to that level, will you be ready to handle the heat?

Negative sentiment is temporary, if you recognize it as such.

Today’s consumer shares their opinions publicly and often. Sometimes those shared opinions include the experiences they have with companies. Unfortunately, happy customers are less likely to proactively share their opinion in public than unhappy customers. Frustrated customers look quite a bit different: In 2015, your frustrated customer knows that if they tweet at a company and have a few hundred followers, they’re going to get a better response than trying to politely wait on hold.

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Don’t let your customers end up here.

People who have a complaint want to be heard and to vent to the company their frustration stems from. Sounds pretty scary, but it turns out this isn’t all bad if you handle the situation correctly. You see, unhappy customers are driven, in much the same way you are:

They actually care about what you’re working on.

Every complaint you get represents a person who cares about your app enough to raise their hand and talk with you. By raising their hand, they’ve presented you with an opportunity to impress them. They’re giving you the chance to improve their experience. If you’re like our customers and have the ability to respond, your job has become increasingly easier.

The companies we work with are finding myriad ways to turn customers who were initially complaining about their app into evangelists with a few key tactics. We think they’re so fundamental to a great mobile experience that we’d love for you to know them, as well.

There are five incredibly important approaches that will help you drive evangelism at scale:

  1. Avoid getting defensive

    Is your goal to make the best app possible? If so, take negative feedback constructively. Most people are afraid negative feedback can ruin their company’s image so they rail against it, fighting it as if they could convince a frustrated consumer to see the error in their feelings. What this really says to your customer is, “I don’t care about your problems or making my product better, I just want to hear good things.”

    Differentiate yourself in the market by responding with an open-minded and collaborative approach. Having a discussion with an upset customer lets them know even if something goes wrong or if there is something that they don’t like about your app, you’re not going to fight with them about their opinion.

  2. Be objective and fair when you evaluate complaints

    When customers have a gripe, they are sharing their experience. It’s important to set your ego aside and understand that the complaint is about how they experienced your app. Can you be objective and hear them describe what’s going awry? Can you stop yourself from telling them they’re doing something wrong? Being objective and fair often requires you to swallow your preconceived notions about how your app is supposed to work and how people are supposed to use it. If you can step outside of yourself well enough in order to actually admit your app isn’t working the way they’d like it to, you show customers you can see their points of view and want to treat them in a fair and respectful manner.

  3. Be generous

    Admitting you made a mistake goes a long way, but sometimes it just isn’t enough. There are times you have to make things right by offering more than apologies and your time. Yes, that’s right—you might have to give something away.

    Think back to the last time you dealt with a business who did something wrong and then offered up an item of value. How did that make you feel? Was it about the value of the item? Or was it about the fact that the business took a step it didn’t have to take to make your life better? Being generous isn’t about a blanket set of actions to give customers free things; it’s about doing something special and taking steps most businesses refuse to take because of perceived costs or constraints of process. Being generous often has a huge reciprocal effect: Customers want to be generous in return, often with effusive thanks. Often, your generosity becomes a story in and of itself (like this United Airlines example), and that’s something worth sharing.

  4. Communicate through the entire process

    Most people hate automated emails, ticket systems, and voice prompts to help them solve their problems. They want to communicate directly with another person and either work toward a resolution or know that they’ve been heard. Communicating with these customers starts with acknowledging that you’ve heard their feedback, and if you’re going to follow-up with them, informing them of the next step.

    It’s important to keep customers updated about what is going on with their input. Have you decided to include their input in your roadmap? Are you making product changes or have you taken it in and decided not to do anything? Close the loop. Make sure your customers know real people are involved in dealing with their feedback and their effort was appreciated, even if they won’t be getting the resolution they were hoping for. When you exhibit this kind of care, customers better understand the nuance and thought process your company goes through. It’s much harder to demonize a company who has shared how it struggles with important decisions.

  5. Involve them in your success

    Imagine receiving an email that reads:

    Last month you brought to our attention the fact that our app does not allow you to share your videos on Facebook and that you thought this was really important.
    We are now working to add this to our latest update. Within the next few weeks, you will be able to share videos on Facebook from our app. We’re ecstatic you took the time to make this suggestion and we really appreciate you helping us to make our app the best it can be.

    How would you feel if you got this email? Validated. Heard. Involved. If you get that message, the feature isn’t just a feature of the app—it’s YOUR feature, too. When you show off the app in public, you can point out you’re the reason that video sharing to Facebook exists. Do you think that you’d be more likely to use and share that app?


    When you let people know they’re part of your journey to success and that you’re listening to them, they go from critic to team member. The more team members you can convert from your critics, the better. Not only will the tone of the conversation be different, but their likelihood to evangelize your app, your company, and your service goes way up.

There’s no silver bullet, but you have lots of tools.

Each of the above tactics is valuable and when combined, they’re incredibly effective at converting your critics to evangelists. The real key to success here is to instill a pattern of behavior in your team which understands your vocal critics actually care about what you’re building, and many of them will want to help you become better if given the opportunity.

There are few feelings more satisfying that converting a former critic to an evangelist. It’s a reward in its own right.

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Top 10 Tips To Giving Awesome Customer Service

Editor’s note: The following content is an updated version of a post originally published in 2012. Changes include new links, updated examples to reflect changes in the mobile environment, new supporting images, and more.

Ask any consumer what their number one reason for shying away from buying through a mobile app is, and they will tell you something along the lines of, “If the purchase doesn’t go right, I’m not going to have any help!” Asking a person to part with their hard-earned money is a struggle all businesses face, and customers want to feel confident that if something goes wrong in their transaction, your company will be there to make it right.

Back in 2012, PWC predicted how customer experiences could be transformed through mobile. In January 2015, Gartner released a study concluding weak customer service on mobile is harming customer engagement. Now that we’ve moved customers into a zone where they’re comfortable using a mobile app (and in many cases, where they prefer using an app over a desktop experience), expectations around the quality of service they’ll receive have changed. Now more than ever, offering top-notch customer service through your mobile app is imperative to your brand’s success.

Unfortunately, too many businesses still see mobile as a huge land grab and aren’t worried about irritating a handful of people with poor customer service. The problem, however, is that customer engagement and loyalty are the keys to long-term brand success, and a poor experience is more damaging now than ever before.

Do you see mobile as an opportunity to deepen customer relationships and accelerate your company’s growth? Do you want to make sure you offer your customers a solid reason to do business with you? Do you want your loyal customers, those who have developed a relationship with your company through years of visiting your stores, ordering over the phone, and registering with your website, to feel loved and appreciated in your mobile experience?

If you answered yes, we have some important advice to share on how to give world-class customer service in your mobile apps (and everywhere else, too, really).

10 Tips for Awesome Mobile App Customer Service

1. Listen

Listening tops the list because it is the most important thing your brand can do. Let your customers talk and tell you what happened, or how you can make it right. Your brand shouldn’t assume anything. Are you making it easy to listen to your customers? Are you giving them obvious channels to communicate with you, inside your apps? If you’re not actively investing in listening capabilities, you’re missing a lot of easy wins with your best customers.

Listening to customers opens the door for changes that must be made across all parts of your marketing, product, and business strategies. Check out these posts for further reading on what listening to your customers can do.

2. Get feedback

Collecting feedback doesn’t just mean you should send out surveys about your service. What getting feedback really involves is encouraging suggestions from your customers. You have to be proactive about feedback, you must get feedback from customers by starting more conversations.

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3. Anticipate needs

Anticipating customer behavior is a skill for all customer success teams to master. Spend time learning what your customers want and need before they tell you in order to offer the best experience possible. Mobile is ripe for opportunity in allowing brands to learn so much about what a customer has done and what they’re currently doing, but it’s up to the brand to use this data to build richer profiles and understanding of its customers. Any opportunity to demonstrate your brand actually knows its customers is an opportunity to impress them and delight them.

4. Be fair when saying no

There are times when a customer wants you to do the impossible, and in those moments, it’s easy to lose your cool and approach them in an unfair manner. However, if you have been fair in your response, the customer will be more receptive to the things you can do for them to make their experience better.

Brands lean on different ways to say no: no with more detail, an explanation around why the request isn’t possible at the time, or even an apology is much better than a flat out “no.” When you involve the customer in the process or the challenges you’re facing as a brand, you invite them to see you as someone with a complex job working at a brand that cares, rather than as someone who rejects them.

5. Know your customers

If your customer base is not technologically savvy, you can’t talk to them like they are Steve Wozniak. Alternatively, if you have a highly skilled customer base, don’t talk to them like the just bought their first smartphone. It’s crucial to work to understand your customers by asking them more about their experience, what their names are, and what they’re trying to do with your app and your company to offer them the best customer service experience possible.

When you deeply understand where people are coming from, you can help them figure out how to get where they need to go. The first step to understanding your customers is through implementing app analytics to understand what they are doing, in addition to communicating with individual customers to learn about why.

6. Trust your customers

It’s an unfortunate fact that there are people out there trying to get something for nothing, but if you assume this behavior of of everyone—especially your customers—then you are sure to anger a fair share of your customer base. If you’re focused on the long-term, you know that customer trust is hugely important to loyalty.

Trust your customers and they will learn to trust you, as well.

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7. Say “yes”

From a customer’s perspective, “yes” is the ultimate favor a brand can do for them. Whenever a customer has a reasonable request, try as hard as possible to accommodate them. Saying yes a couple of times will go a long way with most people as it induces positive feelings and a sense that the company is invested in helping them out. Whenever you’re about to give a quick “no,” take another look and consider a simple “yes” an easy win.

8. Validate customer concerns

Never argue with your customer or put them on the defensive. When a disagreement arises, do anything you can to understand their frustration before you figure out a way to help them. Validating their frustration and showing that you see how they feel is the first start in fixing the problem. How each person feels is their own emotion, and as a customer service provider, you can’t tell them that it’s wrong without likely exacerbating the situation.

9. Give more than expected

Take Nordstrom as an example. Nordstrom is a brand who always gives more to its customers than expected when a person returns a purchase or complains about a product, and they have lifelong customers as a result. The ethos of the company gives every employee the freedom to do what is right for the customer rather than providing just the bare minimum. Oftentimes, this model completely surprises and delights the customer in a frustrated time, opening the door to build loyalty and trust.

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10. Make your customer feel appreciated

Last but not least, making your customer feel appreciated is a point that’s implicit in much of this advice. When you treat and every customer as a person, and when you appreciate their feedback, their time, and their business, you’ll make different decisions. If you truly focus on making your customers feel appreciated, you’ll be well on your way to delivering an experience that is exceptional and, in mobile, we know that the experience matters more than anything. Treat your customers with respect and appreciation at every opportunity.


Ratings Prompts Don’t Have To Suck

This is a new and improved version of a popular post published on May 30, 2014.

Over the past year or so, many people in the development community have sounded off about “rating nags” and the “please rate me” dialogs that some apps show, with perhaps the most pointed critique coming from John Gruber, of Daring Fireball. He shared his frustration with the usage of ratings prompts and said:

I’ve long considered a public campaign against this particular practice, wherein I’d encourage Daring Fireball readers, whenever they encounter these “Please rate this app” prompts, to go ahead and take the time to do it — but to rate the app with just one star and to leave a review along the lines of, “One star for annoying me with a prompt to review the app.”

Several other people have chimed in on the topic, having a somewhat public, flowing, long-winding debate about the practice of reaching out to customers for better ratings. Sadly, a deeper discussion about the app store, consumer decision-making and why ratings matter was touched on, but largely left alone as most focused on the execution of the prompts.

The debate has two basic sides, where those who think the practice is offensive/lazy, siding with Gruber, Marco Arment and others dismiss all points to the contrary. On the other side, we heard from Cabel Sasser , Chris Gonzales, Dan Counsell, and Wil Shipley who had arguments in favor of reaching out to customers. A key point that they made: Penalizing hard working developers and publishers hardly seems fair when the app store represents such an important piece of the distribution and customer connection puzzle.

Somewhere in the middle, Daniel Jalkut offered a nuanced view of the situation that asked more questions than it answered, challenging us all to explore what is truly best for the consumer. Taken in sum, this discussion is about so much more than rating nags and the annoyance we feel when we’re bothered in an app.

This is about much more than ratings. It’s about more than improving an app’s rankings.

This is about how companies communicate with their customers in the mobile world.

For many companies, mobile is the primary medium of communication with their customers and the number of companies who are mobile first will only grow. Each of us carries a little communications device that buzzes and blinks all day long, alerting us to news, updates, and information. These messages build up – messages from our friends, our family and yes, the companies we’ve allowed into our inboxes, given our phone numbers, and whose apps we’ve installed.

We do not have to guess how this plays out – we already know. There are reasons why developers employ prompts, why websites have numerous pop-ups, and we can only expect to see more of these on mobile. These messages increase revenue, retention, ratings, and customer interaction. Overuse of these tactics is well documented, and while inappropriate interruptions can make a difference to a companies’ metrics, we know that appropriate, non-intrusive, implementation can make a larger one.

You don’t boycott a store because a clerk asked if they could help you or become annoyed when a cashier asks if you were able to find everything all right.

What is needed is a better answer to the question: “How can I communicate with my app customers without driving them crazy?” The answer has to come from the app developers and publishers, not the app customers. Nor can we rely on the app stores to make meaningful changes.

Starting a campaign to rate apps 1 star if they prompt for a review or calling developers greedy and desperate are not constructive and don’t take us to a healthier communications environment. You don’t boycott a store because a clerk asked if they could help you or become annoyed when a cashier asks if you were able to find everything all right.

Let’s Start Talking With Our Customers, Together

This is really about companies wanting to talk to their customers in an elegant, helpful, and relevant way without being annoying. So, what is the right way to communicate with customers inside a mobile app?

By working with thousands of companies on these problems we’ve discovered that there are a few clear guidelines that can form the basis of better behavior by apps:

  • Don’t interrupt customers in the middle of tasks or at app launch
  • Identify and enable communication at key moments in the customer’s journey – when they’re happy, frustrated, or lost. Identifying these moments should be a natural part of any app’s design process
  • Instrument your communications activity so that you know what the impacts and outcomes of your messaging strategy are – working with hard coded solutions that don’t make you any smarter about your customers’ preferences is a recipe for disaster
  • Iterate, experiment, and be able to make changes on the fly

Some Myths and A Better Way to Communicate

In the debate about ratings prompts a lot of strong feelings based upon personal anecdote formed the foundation of much of the analysis. Significant assumptions about consumer behavior at scale made its way into commonly held beliefs. What has been sorely lacking, however, has been actual concrete data.

“If you don’t know what happens when you send a message, you might as well not send the message at all.”

Here at Apptentive, we think a lot about customer communication and the experience for the end consumer. For years we’ve instrumented every message and communication we power for our customers, measuring what the outcomes are.

We’ve held ourselves to a standard that says, “If you don’t know what happens when you send a message, you might as well not send the message at all.” This perspective has served our customers and our team well. It helps us to deliver best practices, improve tools, and shed light on an area that is severely lacking in data. For example, we know that:

  • Just asking people to rate the app is ~5 to 10x less effective than starting a conversation about whether or not the consumer is happy
  • The actual words used in the message to the customer can dramatically change the % of ecstatic customers who talk about your app in the app store and impact the % of ratings that also result in reviews
  • Showing a ratings prompt on launch is 50% more likely to result in the app being closed than if it’s shown at any other point in the app
  • Customers who are asked about their opinion with an app who are unhappy are >400% more likely to return to the app than the average app customer. It turns out that being informed that the company actually cares about your opinion can change the dynamic
  • When you give people choices about what action to take, only about 20 to 30% of customers will actually exit the app to do something else.

This topic isn’t just something we believe in and write about, however. We’re building the solution to these problems. Over the past 4 years, we have a sophisticated communications system focused on enabling you to listen and talk with your mobile customers. Our company is betting on the fact that you, and app publishers everywhere, want to treat their customers well and with respect.

We believe that while in-app communications are inevitable, they don’t have to be annoying, unsophisticated, and a necessary evil. We know that it’s possible to connect with your app customers at the right time and we know many of you truly deeply care about the mobile customer experience. Your passion for the consumer experience is why the ratings debate prompted such strong opinions and discussion in the first place.

It’s Time We All Got Better At Talking With Our Customers

Poorly implemented ratings prompts raised awareness around how easily a mobile experience can be ruined. It’s time to re-examine all of our customer interactions and ask ourselves if we can do better. Are there better places in the app to ask for feedback? Are there places where customers might need help and appreciate a company reaching out?

As we said earlier, this conversation is just the beginning. We know there are strong opinions about this and encourage you to add your thoughts below. Many of you are our customers, colleagues, and fellow app enthusiasts and we value your words. We plan on taking the thoughtfulness and execution behind customer communication to a level beyond where it exists today on mobile and even online. We encourage you all to communicate with your customers the right way as we all work towards creating products that people love.


10 Inbound Marketing Tips for Mobile Apps

This is a new and improved version of a popular post published on March 21, 2012.

Inbound Marketing

With over a million apps available today in both of the major app stores, it’s natural for companies with mobile apps to look around for easy ways to stand out in the sea of apps. While there are numerous paid channels for boosting downloads, it’s not always affordable or desirable to be spending money in order to generate momentum for your app. In fact, spending money to promote your app before you’ve determined that you’ve got a real success on your hands is an almost certain route to failure.

We’ve seen far too many early stage app projects die because they spent more money on User Acquisition (UA) than on product iteration and finding product/market fit. This is true for the small startup, but particularly painful when it comes to apps from the world’s largest companies and most popular brands. The all too common “orphaned” app from a big brand communicates that the company hasn’t really figured out mobile and isn’t trying in an ongoing manner – not the perception that companies want on the part of their consumers.

A better approach to launching your brand’s mobile app and generating momentum is to utilize a healthy mix of inbound marketing as a means of getting your first coverage and downloads. With companies like Moz and Hubspot raising awareness of the benefits of inbound marketing over the past several years, more people than ever before understand that providing useful and relevant information for your target audience is one of the best ways to generate interest and awareness for your product.

Every mobile team can take these 10 simple steps to increase their inbound marketing efforts for their apps. This will help you find more organic customers, the ones who will truly help you find product/market fit and iterate to sustained success.

If you’ve got questions, let us know in the comments or ping us for a demo

1) Set yourself up on Social Media

We’re always shocked when a company doesn’t have a Twitter or Facebook page for their app(s) (we’re on Twitter and Facebook btw). Regularly timed tweets, discussing progress on the product, making points about features and capabilities and highlighting interesting uses of your app are all easy to share on social media. For large brands with existing social presences, this might not require a separate app-focused handle, but we’ve seen companies be successful building a specific app-focused Twitter handle.

2) Talk with your friends

Inbound marketing isn’t just about online activities – at its core, inbound is the process of making sure that the right audience finds you and your app. At the beginning of your app’s development, be sure to actually talk with your friends (and colleagues) about the app. Involve them in the testing and let them play with the app, on their own. If you can involve them in the process early on, they’ll be much more likely to help promote your launch and assist in the discovery of early adopters, because they’ll understand who should be using the app and why.

This can extend beyond just your friend network to folks who have a reason to be an advocate for you, by the way. One of the reasons that we’re big fans of appbackr is that the process of winning backrs to your apps creates a team of people who share in your success, giving them a reason to help spread the word. This is why the largest consumer brands are starting to see success with advertising their apps through their other channels. Companies are utilizing the space on their grocery bags, websites and products in order to spread the word to their existing customer base to drive downloads.

3) Create a core destination to house your content and marketing efforts

Publishing an app in one of the major app stores is simply not enough. You need to take ownership of your app’s presence on the web and this means choosing a core destination and investing in it. For example, our friends at Chewsy have a fantastic site for their food rating and dish discovery app.

Do you have an existing website for your business? Create a section on it for your mobile app. If you want the app to become a standalone brand, go get the domain and start building it out. Remember, you can often take your app’s name and add “get” as a prefix or “app” as a suffix.

4) Start creating content

Now that you’ve got a central destination that you’re going to be investing in, you should start filling it with content. Select content that is relevant to your app and zone in on exactly what unique value you can offer to your audience. Are you all about restaurant quality in a certain locale? Have a game that’s great for kids? Write about restaurants or kids games.

Importantly, content isn’t just about writing blog posts and creating new materials. These days, curation of relevant information is as important (if not more) as creating content. Share great resources and information that are relevant to your selected topics. Create a reason for people to come find you and stay for a little while. The good folks over at Buffer do an awesome job with this, check out their post on adding cool symbols to your tweets.

5) Words are good, videos are great

If you’re making a mobile app, the experience with your app is the most important thing right? Get used to creating short videos about how to use your app, what the benefits are and what a typical use case might be.

People love videos, especially short videos and if you can manage to make the video informative and entertaining, you might be really on to something. We’re not saying that all of your videos are going to get shared and “go viral”, but if you make something worth sharing, you can guarantee that good things will happen.

6) Share your data and experiences

With so many apps out there, other app developers are hungry for lessons learned and data. If you want to be part of the conversation, monitor your own data and performance and then share it out. Your unique experience can be helpful for others in the space and there’s no better way to attract the attention and links from other developers than to be open about what you’ve done well, what you messed up and what you’d completely avoid in the future. It might be scary to share too much, but realize that the uniqueness of your app isn’t in the numbers, it’s in how you connect with your consumers. We’ve seen a lot of great examples of this, here is a good example:

Importantly, large companies that are more open with their development process do a better job recruiting mobile developers. Share your story, you might find people who want to join you because you do.

7) Listen to your early customers for feedback

This is a topic near and dear to our hearts here at Apptentive, of course. Companies using our in-app feedback and communications tools service regularly tell us about the victories that come out of their customer interactions. When you launch an app, you’ve got, at best, a guess about who is going to use it and why. Once it’s in the wild, your job is to figure out what you were right about, what you missed on and how you can improve.

The best way to do so is by listening to your customers and engaging with them as you make updates. When it comes to creating evangelists who will share your app with others, nothing is better than being responsive and engaging. Anonymous customers become trusted advisors and advocates when you make it easy for them to give you feedback, without the hassle. Every brand is in the business of building evangelists and promoters – doing so at scale is difficult, but possible, within your mobile apps. When you use Apptentive, of course :-).

8) Ask the right people for ratings

When it comes to earning an install, there is nothing more important to your app’s success than the overall ratings and most recent reviews. The vast majority of app downloads occur after someone has viewed your app’s page in the app store and most of their attention is focused on the ratings and reviews section. As a result, when it comes to inbound marketing in the app stores, you need to always be on top of what people are saying about your app.

Many app developers take the approach that it’s just enough to prompt people to rate their app, but this is really insufficient. Too often, these prompts, by being about the developer rather than the consumer. This can turn people off and lead to bad reviews and app exits. Instead of prompting everyone, instead focus on understanding what people think of your app and only when you’ve understood that they’re happy with your app, should they be prompted to rate you. Our “Ratings Done Right” approach to this is one take that really helps companies find customers at the right moment in time and understand how they’re feeling. Listening to the typically “silent majority” helps drive company goals forward much faster than just focusing on the vocal minority of unhappy critics in the app store.

9) Get involved in the relevant communities

If you’re adding value to the app ecosystem and have learned along the way, be sure to share your knowledge. Whether it’s sharing technical lessons or talking about the subject matter of your app, there are sure to be devoted communities to the topics that are relevant to you. Spend 30 minutes a day researching and finding places on the web where others are sharing and join the conversation. Add value with advice, humility and respect and the benefits will accrue over time to your app, as an audience of people who trust you come into contact with what you’re working on.

10) Make sure you’re making it easy!

We can’t tell you how many times we’ve come across a site for an app and found the links to download the app to be non-existent. Make sure that you’re using the right links for downloading your app wherever you establish a presence and get good at tracking those links as well. Using tools like, you can track the links for social sharing and get the added bonus of knowing exactly what’s working.

Apptentive Team - Customer Love

Effort Over Time – How Apptentive is Building a Diverse Workforce

Diversity in the workplace is important. Companies build better products, and better teams when they have diverse thinking.

At Apptentive, we talk about diversity a lot. We don’t have it all figured out. We are transparent about wanting to build a diverse company – diverse in all senses of the word – and transparent about the fact that we have work to do. We’ve made big strides – for example 50% of our leadership are women – and are committed to building a great team.

We don’t want to be in a situation where we look back on the company we’ve built two, three, four years from now, and what we’ve done is institutionalized a homogenous culture.

In the last few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to share our story with Fast Company, The Puget Sound Business Journal and now KUOW.

Growing up in Redmond, I often listened to KUOW. I never thought I’d actually get to hear myself on it, but I got to chat about proactive culture building with Marcie Sillman on The Record.

Robi at KUOW Interview

Here are some of the key points we discussed (this is the clip if you prefer to listen:

Don’t beat yourself up over where you are:

Initially we pretty much stank at diversity. For the first year and a half we were bootstrapped. When we raised some money and began hiring people we hoped we’d see people of all backgrounds applying – but that wasn’t the case.

Marcie asked me: What did we do to turn it around?

Our initial approach was reactive and we had to be proactive. The best thing we did is we talked about it on a regular basis instead of sweeping it under the rug. We asked ourselves, why do the candidates applying look like us? Talking about it kept diversity on the top of our minds. We are fortunate that Seattle is a very progressive city. We went to lots of events – events for women in tech, STEM for youth, etc. We talked to people to learn how to reach people from different backgrounds. We asked who they knew and who we should be talking to. We asked who could help us get better at this.

Be Intentional; Invest For the Long Run

I’ve learned through entrepreneurship that things don’t happen unless you make them happen. You don’t get a company built by hoping, you can’t build product or sell your product by hoping. The same is true with hiring and building your company culture; you have to make it happen.

Marcie asked me: What kind of tradeoffs have we had to make for this goal?

We don’t think of ourselves as making tradeoffs. Tradeoffs imply there are costs there. I think of this as an investment. Today we are a 30-person company. We are very ambitious about our goals. We’re looking to find people who can help us achieve our goals. Does it take longer to find the right people? Yes. If the best person in the pool of applicants is still not the right person, we don’t have to hire them; instead we increase the size of the pool. We always try to pick the best candidate for us. We’re taking our time to build the team that’s perfect.

Open and Regular Dialog Are Part of the Effort Required

Marcie asked me: Is there one question that bubbles up the most?

I hear the question, “Does diversity mean that we hire less qualified candidates?” That’s the latent question in a lot of people’s minds. Thankfully people at our company are comfortable asking the question. The good news is it doesn’t mean we are lowering our standards.

Why is this so important? Why does it matter beyond Apptentive? What does it mean to greater community?

To the extent that we can be successful, we can serve as a role model. We can show that some expectations are wrong. A lot of companies think it’s so hard, that they give themselves a pass. We see this differently – it’s not going to change right away but we have to work on it constantly. I see it as a continuum where effort over time will lead to results. It’s not effort over a month, it’s effort over time.

So, for those of you reading this, is your company building a diverse team? What has worked and what hasn’t worked? What are you learning along the way?

[If this philosophy resonates with you, we’re hiring:]

Apptentive Team - Customer Love

Show Phone Business

Is 2015 the Year of the Customer?

This article was originally published February 5, 2015 on CX Journey.

Mobile customer experienceWe’re one quarter into 2015, and it couldn’t be more apparent that Customer Experience is on everyone’s agenda – or at least on those of the 95% of retailers surveyed by Boston Retail Partners, who identified customer experience as a top-three priority in the new year.

As both an outsider and an insider in the Customer Experience movement, I wanted to share (and weigh in on) three CX predictions made manifest through firsthand conversations with hundreds of companies leading the way in customer experience and engagement.

#1 Customer Experience will become the major differentiator

In the news: According to Deloitte, 82% of brands perceive customer experience as a competitive differentiator. And this number is only rising.

By 2016, 89% of companies surveyed by Gartner plan to compete primarily on the basis of customer experience. And by 2020, customer experience is expected to overtake both price and product when it comes to differentiating a brand.

My take: Customer experience is absolutely a powerful differentiator. However, I’d caution that in order to create sustainable value, your CX strategy must be intertwined into your entire business and not simply a function of marketing.

For the long term win, Customer Experience Management needs to be a continuous process of collecting – and acting on – customer insights. It needs to be a comprehensive strategy with engineering, analytics, sales, marketing, and all job functions sharing the same appreciation for the customer and aligned with the same objectives.

#2 Customer Experience Management will become a designated job function

In the news: The number of openings in CX Design has skyrocketed, and CX as a priority is permeating every part of an organization – from marketing to engineering to the C-Suite. According to AT&T’s Office of the Customer, “CX knowledge will be required at higher levels in every position in the organization. This will come in the form of education, skills training, support, enhanced data, expanded partnerships, and a new focus on innovative design skills and talent.”

At the highest level, we’ve seen the rise of the Chief Customer Officer (CCO), an executive with the authority and visibility to create a culture of customer-centricity. While there were fewer than 20 CCOs in 2003, the Chief Customer Officer Council today recognizes over 500 CCOs across the world – including 22% of the Fortune 100.

My take: The numbers here are hard to deny. Even in companies that don’t take the CCO route, I expect to see a breakdown of silos between CMOs and CIOs. I anticipate marketers and information analysts honing in on the same metrics and digging for the same customer insights in the pursuit of an exceptional customer experience.

#3 Customer experience will be realized as a major revenue driver

In the news: Customer experience has traditionally been a touchy subject for many executives. Yes, it’s important. But how important?

Creating a customer-centric culture can be a big investment and, if not done right, can take a lot of guesswork about what your customers actually want. Customer experience is all too often seen as a discretionary cost and not a revenue driver. In 2015, that’s all subject to change – and rightfully so.

In addition to building a brand, creating customer loyalty, and providing opportunities for differentiation, we’re seeing customer engagement fueling sales. Consumers are not only influenced by engagement, they desire engagement. A Moxie study revealed that 72% of consumers want to be engaged by their favorite brands – and are happy to spend more if engaged.

My take: We’re expecting to see investments in customer experience offer up a tangible and measurable impact on the bottom line. Advances in marketing analytics will shed much-needed light on the increased spending, lifetime value, and the power of referrals from happy customers.

Investments in customer experience will be seen not as another cost to incur but as a way to cut costs. Given continued increases in acquisition costs, particularly in a space as crowded as the app stores, I’m expecting brands to place a renewed emphasis on retention marketing. I’m anticipating a shift in priorities and a focus on reducing churn by doing more to delight current customers through loyalty and CX programs.

Furthermore, the smarter brands get about collecting actionable insights, the better prepared they are to design actionable objectives – aligned with measurable goals – around their customer experience strategy.

It won’t be easy meeting these three predictions in the next 3 quarters, but we’re excited to see what’s in store for the customer experience and are already witnessing CX pioneers pave the way for customer success.

Customer Love

What Customer Love Means To Me

This article was originally published on LinkedIn.


In Business, this word isn’t used often enough. It’s an emotional word, full of pressure, expectation and questions that most companies aren’t yet focused on answering:

  • Will customers really love us?
  • Can we really expect that they’ll care about us when we’re not around?
  • If we aren’t loved, how could we possibly hope to change that?

However, at Apptentive, we talk about Customer Love so much we even have a hashtag for it: #customerlove

Customer Love is the key to our approach to our customers, our business and our team. It’s something we strive for every day, because we view love as an act. We know that we have to invest our energy and time in truly demonstrating our love for our customers, to make sure that they feel our care and attention on an ongoing basis.

We’ve written about our thought process and framework for the customer experience before, so the concepts here aren’t all brand new, but this is how I think about delivering on our promise to our customers. It’s really all about the L.O.V.E when it comes to the key actions that are necessary to really deliver Customer Love:


Every great relationship is a two-way street. Unfortunately, too many companies really shy away from this approach to their customer relationships – they talk at, but don’t listen to customers, leading to huge communications gaps. When companies truly invest in listening, across the entire organization, they are able to glean insights and learn more about where they should be going next with their product, service and business.

In addition, true listening means that you’re letting your customers feel heard. It’s natural in business that not every customer is going to agree with you 100%, but that’s understood by customers. At the very least, when they complain or make suggestions, what they’re hoping for is to be heard and understood. Listening is a tool in making customers feel loved because it gives them the knowledge that their opinions matter.


Observation is a crucial trait in understanding the people around you, the teammates you’re working with and your customers. When you observe their behavior in your app, with analytics and log files, you’re able to make conclusions about what is interesting to customers and whether or not your assumptions are correct.

Observation is also about identifying what is truly important to your customers. When you watch how they spend their time, really understanding their lives and their needs, you can build better solutions to their problems and challenges. When you and your organization move to a mode of behavior that’s deeply invested in understanding your customers, your observation skills are often key to those insights that lead to massive improvements in your product.


Validation has a lot to do with how you underscore and invest in the customer’s true needs. When a customer takes the time to tell you what they think, they’re raising their hands and investing in you and your company. It’s absolutely crucial, regardless of their message and thoughts about your company, that you validate them – letting them know that their feelings are valid and that you care. Validation is not about telling them that you’ll do everything they ask for but rather ensuring that your connecting on a level that indicates that you understand they have feelings too. Saying things like, “thanks for that suggestion, we really appreciate it” can go a long way in making your customers feel validated.

Validation also comes in the form of working with your team to take your hypotheses and to share them with customers. Over the past several years, the Lean Startup concept has really taken hold and taught us that when ideas meet customers in an open and accepting manner, products get better faster. The more your team really understands that their work and concepts are for customers first, the more they’ll invest their time in validating their concepts with actual customers to ensure that they’re delivering the best experience possible.


The final action necessary for any team that’s focused on Customer Love is that you must truly engage with your customers. This means reaching out and talking with them proactively. Today, too many companies make it hard to reach them and send messages to customers only to drive sales activities.

However, truly loving companies make a point of reaching out to customers to invite conversations, feedback and venting. When you really embrace customer love, your team wants to talk with more of your customer base and creates opportunities for customers to talk with you. Finding the right time and the right place to really reach your customers makes your customer base feel loved and makes it so easy to talk to you that they can’t help it.

Customer Love

Customer Love is A Requirement, Not An Option

The future of the customer experience requires that every company adapts to the changing times and finds new ways to truly earn customer loyalty. Love is the real requirement – if your customers don’t love you, you need to truly invest in the actions that will get them there. Because customer love is an act, not a static place, every company can work to get there and you’ll have Apptentive there, along the journey, continuing to invest in the actions that have gotten us here so far.


Shifts In The Mobile Conversation: Takeaways From ModevCon

Apptentive CEO Robi Ganguly speaking at ModevCon 2014

Apptentive CEO Robi Ganguly speaking at ModevCon 2014.

I recently traveled to DC and presented at ModevCon on growing mobile app retention and revenue by investing in customer engagement. Over the course of the two-day conference, I had the opportunity to speak with leaders in the mobile app industry and attended a number of breakout sessions on app design and the mobile experience.

Throughout these sessions and conversations, three themes kept coming up as an indicator of where mobile (and the way we talk about mobile) is headed: the rise of enterprise apps, the importance of mobile customer relationships, and a heightened focus on the customer’s experience with your app.

1. Mobile enterprise apps are on the rise.

Mobile-first isn’t just for startups. Across the globe, enterprises are using mobile to redefine themselves and innovate.

Skip Potter, Capital One’s Vice President of Engineering, cemented this point in his opening keynote address. Capital One has been an early adopter of mobile payments and other new technologies that make banking easier. In his presentation, Skip went over his experience with rolling out an array of native apps across multiple platforms to better serve the needs of Capital One’s 62 million customers. Building not only a “mobile-first” but an “API-first” mentality into the company’s culture, he was able to design a scalable mobile infrastructure and leverage the growth of the mobile market to expand Capital One’s business and increase its customer value.

Skip best summed up the trend of large enterprises embracing technology and mobile solutions when he defined Capital One not as a bank, but as a tech company that just happens to work in the financial services industry.

2. The conversation is shifting to emotional dynamics.

We’re not the only ones talking about Customer Love. Throughout ModevCon, I noticed conversations shifting from usability to desirability when it comes to valuing an app. With over 1.3 million apps in both the iTunes App Store and the Google Play Store, it’s no longer enough just to create an app that’s useful. You need to build an app that people want to use – even as they’re presented with an array of equally useful apps that seem to address the same need.

In a ModevCon session titled, “Win Hearts, Win Users with Emotional Design,” Erin Daniels of Design for People showed the power of empathy in e-commerce. By tapping into their customers’ emotions, Erin revealed, mobile publishers are able to truly delight their customers.

Delighted customers, in turn, will be more engaged, more apt to promote your app, and more willing to make a purchase through your app as a result of the trust you’ve built.

3. The mobile experience is becoming less about the app and more about the people.

No matter the topic, there was one concept that each of the sessions ultimately circled back to – the customer experience.

But in contrast to previous discussions around user interface and accessibility, speed, and usability, this year’s conversations took a broader approach when it came to defining the mobile experience. The customer experience today has less to do with the design of your app than it does with the meaningful interactions you have with your mobile customers. It’s the customer who is becoming increasingly mobile, and it is the job of the app to reflect and integrate with the consumers’ changing lifestyle and expectations.

Dan Katz, ‎the Vice President of Technology Solutions at INADEV Corporation, took a particularly interesting approach to this conversation as he discussed his project of introducing mobile and augmented reality experiences to the hallowed grounds of the National Mall. INADEV was given the opportunity to “reinvent the customer experience” at the National World War II and National Korean War Veterans Memorials in Washington D.C. by designing an ecosystem of experiences, systems, and apps to enhance and enrich an already powerful experience, showing that the impact of a strong customer experience reaches far beyond the app. (Read more about INADEV’s work with the National Mall here.)

Apptentive CEO Robi Ganguly speaking at ModevCon 2014

How have you experienced these three shifts with mobile and the way we talk about it? Or perhaps you have a different perspective on where mobile is headed?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!


Product Release: Global Text Localization and Translation

This week we are pleased to announce one of the most exciting new features for current and future Enterprise-tier customers that we’ve ever worked on: Localization and full Multi-Language Translations for every Apptentive powered interaction.

For mobile app publishers and managers operating on a global scale, addressing every potential app customer in their preferred language is now an expectation and a requirement. We heard your feedback and we focused on building a rock solid tool for our clients, and a seamless experience for their customers.

We already offer a useful library of translations for our default Ratings Prompt text in 16 different languages today. That basic level of translation is available to *all* of our Apptentive customers today. We have just added additional tools specifically tailored to our Enterprise class customers with a globe-spanning customer base. This new feature is designed to work with the existing workflow you have with your localization team, and will now allow you to translate every line of text coming from Apptentive that is shown to your customers – including Survey questions, Ratings Prompts and Upgrade Messages. We believe that this feature – which is available to our Enterprise plan customers or as an add-on to a lower-tier plan – is unique in the marketplace for its breadth and flexibility.

Our CTO Mike Saffitz had this to say about the new feature release:

“I heard from several of our global customers that if we could give them the ability to easily translate any messaging prompt they loaded into our system into any other applicable language across all of their localized apps, it would set us apart from many of the other mobile marketing and engagement software companies out there. I’m happy to say that we’re now ready to turn this feature on for our upper-tier customers.”

If you are an eligible customer, our Director of Customer Success Christy Culp will send you an email notifying you of where to find the new Translations capability and apply it to your in-app customer messaging communication. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to send Christy a note and request a walk-through (

Thanks for continuing to inspire us to innovate and prioritize the features that can push your global business to be more engaging, useful, and valuable to your customers. As always, we appreciate your feedback and welcome it for future Product Roadmap planning and prioritization via our usual channels: in the Comments below, via our GitHub account, or simply by sending a message to us. Happy translating – and keep earning your app customers’ love, wherever they may be around the world.

Screenshot 2014-10-20 at 8.40.13 PM

Our Thoughts on the New Google App Ratings Filter

Recently Google quietly released a new feature in the Play Store which was quickly noticed and remarked-upon by many: the ability to sort app search results by rating. The first incarnation of this feature (and one must assume that future updates will allow sorting by specific Star levels) is extremely simple: 2 choices only, “All ratings” and “4+ Stars”. This Android Authority post was one of the first-breaking that we noticed pointing it out, and as they pointed out it is a modest step in the right direction but doesn’t solve for all the challenges, writing, “…this may not catch some new apps with just a handful of reviews, and, second, apps with tons of fake reviews will still go through.” Screenshot 2014-10-20 at 8.40.13 PMIt’s a relevant point that new and low-install apps could be unfairly penalized until they build up a sufficient quantity of ratings, while this BRG article notes that  the feature could also unfairly reward new or low-install apps with a modest number of ratings that happen to skew positive or are being ‘gamed’ by biased ratings (as the stats folks say, until the number of ratings for a given app reaches statistical significance).

These are interesting initial considerations, but for the last couple days we’ve been thinking about the more strategic implications of this move for the Play Store and Android apps overall – now and in the near future. This is Google we’re talking about, after all. 2 years ago (almost to the day), Android Authority ran this post questioning the larger issue at play here: why it was taking so long for Google to apply its deep experience and expertise in information organization, discovery, and qualification to its burgeoning app marketplace. The post not only questioned when Google would start to enable a variety of quality, price, and other app characteristic sorting and filtering, but also wondered when the Play Store content would start to be more prominently featured in organic search results — and how.

We thought we’d take a few moments to comment on this development and build on the rich online conversation that’s been unfolding about the new feature over the past week. Here are a few of our initial considerations as Google starts the process of introducing more flexible options for mobile users to find the right apps in the Play Store for their needs – particularly for app developers, managers, and publishers.

1) Ratings and Reviews Now Matter More Then Ever – Across All Key Platforms

This may seem like an obvious point – but the fact that Google *didn’t* offer this feature until now meant that developers and publishers could effectively hold app user Ratings and Reviews in a lower regard for Android apps than they needed to for iOS apps. As the Google founders themselves showed the world 15 years ago, a search is quite simply the beginning – and therefore the action closest to any person’s process of information discovery – of a decision. Even though the Play Store was gathering and displaying Ratings and Reviews against apps post-search (at least in the Play Store, if not effectively in broader search results), that is not nearly as valuable as enabling this piece of information to qualify the discovery process during the search process. A capability – feature, or logic, or the combination of the two – that an individual user can apply “a priori” in their search experience is a great deal more valuable than a feature that must be applied “ex post”. This is a direct result of the fact that a capability that is applied earlier in any manual discovery process is more valuable than one that is applied later. There are two reasons for this: first, it is more efficient for the individual user; and second, it is more precise as a mechanism for organizing and presenting the inferred results that a given user desires.4173GNCNV3L._SL500_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-big,TopRight,35,-73_OU01_AA300_

In other words, by elevating the ratings sort capability during the search Google has made it both easier and faster for users to find what they really want. In so doing, Google has basically affirmed for mobile app developers that (a) ratings and reviews really matter – a lot, and, (b) they want to elevate the importance and weight they ascribe to this aspect of any given app on their platform. The implication here is not a small one for mobile app developers and publishers overall – and for Android app managers specifically: app quality, as judged by real app users, is now one of the most important meta-data characteristics of every single app in the Play Store. The downstream implication of this is that every Android app publisher now has an imperative to manage a strategy for ensuring that users consistently (a) see high value in each app they release for Android, and, (b) are encouraged to express their satisfaction with the app value in the form of public ratings and reviews in the Play Store. It’s as if Google has – in one feature-update stroke – said to Android developers and managers, “We now consider high ratings for apps in our marketplace to be a primary user download consideration, and you should too.”

2) Android Apps Are No Longer Allowed to be the “Also-Rans” of a Company’s Mobile Strategy

Whether or not they publicly acknowledge it, there has been an undercurrent of bias among corporate marketers and entertainment media publishers that iOS apps are the clear priority and biggest business opportunity… and that an Android app is either a ‘check the box’ gotta-have or a distant 2nd priority to their iPhone and iPad apps. We fully recognize that this is a gross generalization – there are many publishers who have lead the market with Android-first innovation, and many companies who for several years have looked at their mobile OS usage and business-benefit data and allocated development resources with equal (or proportionally-appropriate) priority for both platforms. However, we don’t think we’re being controversial in stating that Android as a app platform has for too long been considered an under-appreciated second child – never able to live up to the higher expectations and preferred first-born status of iOS. [As a father of three, I’m reminded of the Tikki Tikki Tembo story that I’ve read my daughters on many an evening.]screen-shot-2013-07-16

And for a while, this was probably a defensible point of view. Research consistently showed that iPhone users were early-tech-adopters and indexed higher than other mobile OS platforms for income and digital media content consumption — all statistics that made mobile marketers salivate, and gave easy-to-repeat statistics that allowed them to defend their iOS-first priorities and justify their disproportionate investment of money and effort towards the Sunnyvale giant’s products and platform.

However, the last several years have forced objective mobile business managers to revisit their biases and revise their marketing and development priorities. The run-away growth of Android in recent years which has made it the definitively dominant mobile OS platform globally, according to IDC (linked), Gartner (chart at right), and others. Increased competition in the U.S. market among both wireless carriers and their smartphone hardware partners has made mobile OS platform switching more commonplace. A good deal is a good deal, and Apple and Google now are in the software *and* hardware game – and Google’s willingness to take a break-even or loss-making deal on their hardware and software in favor of winning their way into consumers pockets has harvested a lot of early-iPhone-adopters. [Some killer hardware innovation by Samsung, HTC, and now Google’s previous Motorola hardware unit has earned a lot of new and OS-switching U.S. and European customers also.]

Simply put, Android apps are now vitally important for any global media or brand enterprise – now more so than ever, in light of the platform’s pervasiveness. Maintaining a lower-quality, or feature-poor, Android version of an app that is better on the iOS platform can no longer be explained away with glib stats about difference segment profiles with iPhone users or ignored because Apple developer expertise was earlier to market. App marketers and publishers better have financial and usage data to back up their development investment priorities – and it better align proportionally. Google hasn’t elected to belabor this point by using “the stick” – instead, we view this new ratings-sort feature in the Play Store as an important signal that they intend to provide more “carrots” to motivate app managers to focus on what their diverse, increasingly-global mobile customer base really wants and values. In our view, this is one small example of a much larger key strategic shift in Google’s ability to signal how they intend to help – and reward – app publishers who prioritize app quality in their Android-specific app development and innovation efforts.

3) Mobile Customer Needs Come First – Ignore Them At Your Peril

Finally, Google’s ratings-sort feature acknowledges (at long last) that their Play Store app discovery capabilities have under-delivered to their growing customer base for too long – and they intend to change that. Our prediction is that this is just the first step. We will continue to pay attention to the new tools – and improved quality of Play Store + organic search results – that elevating the importance of app customer evaluations motivates them to create. So here’s the final strategic question we’ll leave you with: “If the most efficient company in the history of the world at organizing and presenting useful information to Internet users is signalling that they intend to raise their emphasis on effective discovery of quality applications, what do YOU intend to do to ensure that your Android app(s) perform at their best for customers?”289008691_2d063fdf97

If you are running a business that is dependent upon mobile customer experiences and commerce – and really, who *isn’t* these days – are you paying enough attention to driving app quality on all of the key mobile platforms? Are you using all of the data at your disposal – both public data like app store ratings, reviews, and meta-data, as well as private data like user mobile OS share and ARPU – to ensure your development and marketing efforts are appropriate? Are you letting historical bias (or just your own personal mobile OS platform preferences) guide an under-emphasis on Android app improvement, quality, and customer regard? Most of all, are you listening to – and engaging with – your mobile app customers with equivalent empathy and focus, regardless of which mobile platform app they are using of yours? In our view, these are some of the important strategic questions that this seemingly small Play Store experience improvement provoke.

As always, we welcome your comments and views on the topic. We know where we stand on the matter: every mobile customer is unique, valued, and valuable – and every customer deserves to receive the highest-quality experience that your resources and developers can deliver. But don’t believe us – just look at Google. They just raised the bar on expectations for app quality and customer evaluations of same. Our bet is that they intend to raise it further still as the mobile marketplace continues to grow and mature.






Dreamforce #DF14 – Relationships Always Matter Most


This year the spectacle that is’s “Dreamforce” conference / hubbub / bizdev scrum / fiesta has reached new heights of both technology – and cultural – impact. It is one of the most important events all year for software and digital marketing people because it provides the chance for people usually at a distance to see each other in the real world and improve our personal and professional relationships with each other.

There as ample evidence of this theme in the names and featured content of the actual sessions this year, too. Fully 74 of the sessions listed included the word in the title or description.

Therefore, we thought we’d take that lens and apply it to our summary of the week.

We have the benefit of a first-person vantage point on Dreamforce this year. Our CEO Robi participated in a panel entitled “GROW OR DIE! From Idea to IPO: Fund and Grow your Startup which was part of the Startups @Dreamforce content track on Monday. Robi spent the remainder of the week there also — forming new relationships, renewing old ones, and generally observing the whole thing. What follows are some personal observations of his about how the theme of real, personal relationships struck a chord with him during the conference.

Direct Dispatches from @RGanguly at the ‘Relationships Festival’, #DF14:

A few choice quotes from the conversation between Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman @WEF and Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton, natch) during the Day 2 session featuring them:

  • “The world needs dialog. Because dialog builds trust.” – Klaus Schwab, Founder @WEF #DF14
  • “You have to sustain the community” – Klaus Schwab, Founder @WEF #DF14
  • “You have to have face-to-face trust interactions and constant digital communication” – Klaus Schwab, Founder @WEF #DF14
  • “The Leaders of Today need: Passion & Professionalism, Vision and Values, The Heart, and, these days strong nerves” – Klaus Schwab, Founder @WEF #DF14
  • “At Dreamforce, ethics are as important as electronics” – @hillaryclinton #DF14
  • “If you are not in dialog, if you are not communicating and building trust, you are not building relationships.” – @hillaryclinton #DF14

Hillary Clinton also shared stories of how leaders (FDR, Kennedy, Eisenhower) used to have time to recreate and think: human beings haven’t changed that much, but the scrutiny, the attention, the negative approach has created very difficult hurdles for those who want to serve and want to lead, to do so. Her point was that the media has intensified scrutiny over time, while the amount time spent reporting the actual news has dramatically shrunk. In discussing this, she made a point that I thought was particularly insightful and really something worth keeping in mind:

“Technology has put a higher premium on face-to-face meetings and encounters. To go to them. To listen to them in their settings. In unlikely settings. I don’t think there is any substitute to spending that time together.” – @HillaryClinton

For us, one of the key takeaways from Dreamforce is that it presents a chance for us all in this industry to remember what the words behind the acronym ‘CRM’ *really* mean. It is a moment in time when we should all recall that “Customers” matter most. When we can all remind ourselves that “Relationships” are what create the most value in business, as in life. Managing both requires not only powerful software, but a little time spent together – face to face – in the real world sometimes.

Cheers from the conclusion of #DF14, and from all of us @Apptentive.






October Events Round-Up: Apptentive at Home and Away


It is the start of a busy few weeks here at Apptentive, and with a healthy list of events at home and abroad we thought we would kick off this week (and #Dreamforce #DF14 !) with a short round-up of where we will be and how to find us.

DreamforceHeaderStarting off the annual Salesforce San Francisco SaaS festival TODAY, our fearless leader CEO Robi Ganguly (@rganguly for those seeking to meet up with him this week in SF) is participating in a panel titled, “GROW OR DIE! From Idea to IPO: Fund and Grow your Startup. The panel kicks off a track at Dreamforce focused on Startups and is located at the Westin St. Francis at Noon today. If you’ve just arrived in San Francisco for the big event, or you’re a resident looking to learn as much as you can about startup success strategies, head on over to check it out. Robi is joined by an impressive array of other young company leaders. Even if you can’t make the panel discussion today, Robi will be in San Francisco attending DF14 and taking meetings all over the city this week — consider this an open invite to track him down on Twitter or email and connect.

Screenshot 2014-10-01 at 10.12.03 AMLater this week, we have both education and social events to highlight.  First, on Thursday October 16th at 10:00 a.m. PT / 1:00 p.m. ET, Robi will be participating in a great webinar (really a Google+ Hangout) hosted by our friends at the Application Developers Alliance on the topic of “Measuring Customer Lifetime Value: Know Your Customers, Increase Revenue“. If you are a mobile application program manager, product manager, or marketer who is accountable to your company for more than just app downloads/installs, don’t miss it.

Screenshot 2014-10-13 at 11.35.43 AMLater that evening, we are back in the real world as we host our usual monthly ‘Appy Hour‘ event here in Seattle for the mobile development and management community. This month we are delighted to be holding the event at Rhapsody’s corporate offices! We hope that many of our friends from previous Appy Hours will come out for the evening and meet new colleagues, share ideas or projects they are working on, and enjoy themselves. Appy Hour is our way of saying “Thanks” back to the mobile development and marketer community here in our hometown – the more the merrier, and find out more + RSVP here.

And that’s just this week!

Looking ahead to the near future, we will be continuing the ‘Appy Hour‘ events in San Diego (on November 6, building upon a successful and well-attended event recently – also @EvoNexus) and with a soon-to-be-announced ‘Appy Hour’ in Los Angeles as well. We will update all of our Angelinos in the next week or so via this blog and our social channels once the Los Angeles event is finalized!

Lastly, wanted to let everyone know that we’ve started cataloguing all of our planned Events and speaking activities on our “Press and Events” page on the site. If you ever are wondering where we are headed and what we’re doing IRL, feel free to visit that page and click through to the Meetup or Conference/Event pages to find out more and plan accordingly.

All the best from us, and we look forward to seeing you in person at one of these events in the next few weeks – or in attendance virtually at the LTV webinar.

[Oh and while we have your attention, the big Seattle Interactive Conference is happening this week as well. Although we won’t be sponsoring or speaking at it, if you’re going to be in town and want to meet up please get in touch or just leave a comment below with your Twitter handle. Cheers.]