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2020 Mobile App Engagement Benchmark Report

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Digital Transformation

Q&A with Digital Transformation Experts: Josh Fischer from Spotify

Ashley Sefferman  //  November 19, 2020  //  5 min read

Welcome to the third installation of our digital transformation interview series, where successful product and marketing leaders share what’s top-of-mind, how to overcome obstacles, where the marketplace is going, and tips for success. If you missed our last interview with Liz Jensen from Visa, we recommend giving it a read, too!
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As a business concept, we’ve talked about digital transformation for the better part of a decade. But in 2020, digital transformation as we know it barreled ahead at a dizzying pace—causing product and marketing teams to make fast, learn-as-you-go decisions impacting billions of dollars. Due to stay-at-home orders enacted across the globe in response to COVID-19, the mobile channel has seen particularly extreme changes in how companies leverage it to support their broader business goals.

Josh Fischer

To explore what’s changed and what’s next for the future of digital transformation, with an emphasis on the mobile channel, we talked with some of the best minds in digital product and marketing. We’re excited to share their thoughts on what’s top-of-mind, how to overcome obstacles, where the marketplace is going, and tips for success.

Today, we’re excited to bring you thoughts from Josh Fischer, Product Owner of Premium Growth and Retention at Spotify. Josh has led product teams at Shutterstock, Bloglovin’, SNAP Interactive, Interactive One, Amazon, and more.

Here’s what Josh had to say!

Q: What does digital transformation mean for today’s business leaders?

Digital transformation means focusing the needs of consumers that aren’t being met by what exists, and then using the capabilities that digital technology offers us to solve them significantly better. The best digital transformation strategies advocate for the consumer and what they want. Look at how a company like Amazon used modern techniques for warehousing, shipping, recommending and reviewing physical goods in a way that was so much better for customers that they were able to overtake a juggernaut like Walmart in a relatively short period of time.

Q: What are the barriers that usually block the path to transformation?

There is a natural tendency to stick with the status quo. It’s scary for senior people to realize that they know—which has worked in the past—might not work in the future. While digital transformation strategies need to figure out how to serve the future digital needs of consumers and not get antiquated, product leaders need to be sensitive to changing the way people do things.

Recognize you’re asking people to take a big risk, on something they don’t really understand and may well not work. You’re not the first one to claim to know about the next big thing. But if your business doesn’t innovate, someone will. 10 years from now someone will be doing your business in a better way, so you need to make a convincing argument that that someone should be you. It’s a hard argument to make because it’s hard to change legacy mindset, but you have to drive it home.

Q: What holds companies back from prioritizing their investment in mobile customer experience?

Mobile investment is costly, and there are many unknowns within those costs. Sometimes you have to hire new engineers that are very expensive, other times you get people who only want to prioritize one technology or another that your company has little expertise in…for now. Also, converting customers to a digital product can actually steal business from more profitable areas of the current business that have been optimized for years. Think converting CD customers to digital streaming.

As for apps, a big hurdle is customer acquisition: When you have a new app, you are starting at zero and a strategy for fixing that is essential on day one. Even if you build the greatest app in the world, you still must think (a LOT) about how people are going to find it, and going from 1 to 1,000 to 1,000,000 is really hard.

Q: What is the mobile channel’s role in digital transformation?

It very much depends on the company and the problem you’re trying to solve. Mobile offers the ability to solve lots of problems in very different ways. But we’re at the point where mobile, whether web or app, has become the primary avenue that consumers expect for most products. There are companies that can get by without it, but not many. The mobile channel is more than just a problem solving opportunity; it’s the primary tool that people use when they want to interact with a digital product. If you don’t want to invest in it to at least some degree, you’re going to struggle when someone else does.

Q: What’s your best tip for staying agile when implementing changes to your mobile digital transformation approach? How can teams respond quickly to what they learn?

Have very clear goals to get people on board, like “If we do X, we will get Y,” and be realistic around when these goals will be realized. It’s also very industry specific. For example, depending on your business, you can prove your strategy is effective with a small audience before scaling. Or maybe the opposite is true and you can build a large audience and then figure out how to profit. Whatever you decide, you must take accountability for your goals and show the clear progression about what you want to accomplish and when. If you can show 2-3 steps and include clear KPIs for each step, people involved will feel more comfortable with the plan and have a clearer idea for how it will go the right way.

Q: How do you measure success? How can you track the value of mobile strategies?

Again, it depends on your goals (although revenue is always key). A big one is organic growth; as organic can tell you whether or not you are building something that people advocate for, bringing in people you aren’t paying for. When you see how engaging your product is through the organic channel, then you can think about how to add fuel to the fire and to get them to come back.

Another great metric is repeat customers (or DAU/MAU) to prove you’re building something people love. Finally, sometimes you need to find the problem. For example, I worked on an app that had a passionate user base and a large influx of new users, but our growth was slow. A quick review of our funnel and user flow pointed out that our new user experience weeded out all but the most committed users. This helped us realize the core problem we needed to solve and what stories to go after.

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A huge thank you to Josh for taking the time to share his thoughts.

Stay tuned for the next interview soon, and check out our first interview another digital transformation, Liz Jensen from Visa.

About Ashley Sefferman

Ashley Sefferman is Head of Content at Apptentive. A digital communication and content strategy enthusiast, she writes about multichannel engagement strategies, customer communication, and making the digital world a better place for people. Follow Ashley on Twitter at @ashseff.
View all posts by Ashley Sefferman >

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