Episode #485: How to start your mobile project the right way – with Mobilosophy co-founder Mathew Lazarus

Episode #485

The art of crafting a mobile experience is not top of mind to most businesses entering the space – yet. There are apps. There are mobile websites. There are teams that build both. There are marketers and salespeople that sell and market the website and the app and even try to convert visitors of one to the other. While it sounds good and it feels like an experience, there is always a disconnect and the implementation is hammered together without real thought.

This is where we are right now in crafting the mobile experience and it isn’t pretty. What is missing is a little bit of mobile philosophy.

Mathew Lazarus is the co-founder of a company aptly named Mobilosophy. They specialize in helping companies bring their team, business requirements and mobile wishes together to form something that satisfies their customer’s needs (as opposed to their own). This conversation is incredibly rich and touches on team tactics, development strategies, feedback processes (customer and users), testing and QA implementation and answering the single most important question you can to make sure you do this mobile thing properly.


Key takeaways from this episode. Click on the link and the video will take you to that clip

1. About Mobilosophy 1:45
2. How do you innovate and create when change is always happening 2:30
3. How do you work with clients to move them along as things change so quickly? 3:30
4. What do successful teams look like to succeed in mobile 6:50
5. How to set expectations about change while building product 14:30
6. How do you design the mobile user experience 20:55
7. Are app development platforms creating a mobile homogeny limiting innovation? 23:45
8. Key tool to get people testing early and often: TestFlight 25:45
9. Key strategy: Launch the first screen properly 28:30
10. How to leverage the constant customer feedback and why it is VERY important 33:00
11. The importance of the multi-screen flow 38:00
12. How can companies convert browsers into mobile customers? 41:30
13. How to understand if your business is equipped to benefit from mobile 48:30

Raw Transcript

Rob: Hello everybody and welcome to UNTETHER.tv. I’m your host and founder Rob Woodbridge. Well, joining us live from New York City is Mathew Lazarus. He is the founding partner of a company called Mobilosophy. Wicked, wicked, wicked name. They’re a full- service creative and technology agency specializing in mobile strategy, design, development and marketing.
We have got a jam-packed show of tips, advice, practical application of mobile for you. We’re going to talk about the trends in mobile development that’s specifically in the UI/UX world. We’re going to talk about tactics for companies that are looking to engage, convert and retain customers through mobile.
We’re also going to be diving into a little bit about how to create awareness for your mobile whatever. It’s one of the hardest things to do on the planet. Mathew is the guy to be able to guide us through this. And live, what it seems to be a from a sunny, sunny, sunny New York City. Greatest city on the planet, if you ask me.
Mathew, thank you so much for coming on and sharing your knowledge on UNTETHER.tv.

Mathew: Thanks for having me. Really glad to be here.

Rob: Well, it is great. I love New York City. I can’t say, like, I always say this. If you’re listening to this you won’t be able to see this but I point over my left shoulder, way in the far corner, don’t know if you can see that Mathew. That is a New York Yankee emblem. Devastating season. However, well, I don’t have any follow-up to that. It’s a devastating season altogether but it doesn’t take away from the greatness of New York City. So I’m envious of me being here and you being there. So it’s a good start to the interview, isn’t it? Little bit of jealousy right there.
All right, Mathew, tell me about Mobilosophy. What do you guys do?

Mathew: See, we are as you said the mobile strategy, innovation and execution team. We create . . .

Rob: Nice. Strategy, innovation and execution.

Mathew: Yeah.

Rob: I like that.

Mathew: With research in the front.

Rob: Okay.

Mathew: To start it off. We create compelling user experiences and system architectures that are driven by our inherent understanding that change is in fact the only constant.

Rob: How do you innovate and create when change is always afoot?

Mathew: That’s it. Change in itself is threatening and it’s a very delicate subject that triggers people’s sense of fear and uncertainty. So we like to welcome it, bring it into the forefront of the conversation so that when a change request comes up people aren’t freaking out or running away and saying, oh, we’re getting screwed. There’s this openness towards change that ultimately allows all of our teams to be more in sync and more aligned from the beginning.

Rob: You know it’s funny. You know it’s true. The last two years, last three years if you’ve been in this space or you’ve tried to approach this space or brought your business into the space, it has been nothing but change. And people are inventing as they go. It’s like they put one foot down. They reinvent where the next foot is going to go. It’s a very confusing time.
So I always wonder is, like, are we humans, the most resistant to change possible on this planet. Right? But are we ready for this? Or, like, are you selling your clients, are you working with your clients so far in advance or a day in advance? Or is the innovation just kind of, are you moving them along a really, I don’t know, easy continuum right now?

Mathew: Yeah, what we’re trying to do is to help shift their perspectives from the immediacy of the past and the present into a long-term, 15 year road map potentially.

Rob: Wow. Wow. Yeah, that’s ballsy man. Fifteen years. But I think that, I mean . . .

Mathew: Yeah.

Rob: It sets the tone. Right? I think that’s what you’re trying to do is you’re trying to get them . . . maybe the best way to think about this is you’re getting their minds pace into that always changing environment so that they’re at least a little bit more open to change over those, over that time frame. Right? Because it is constant. Change. And you can’t predict 15 years out. Because if not, if you can I got to hang out with you a little bit more.

Mathew: You can. Although, there are some futurists who have put down dates for the singularity, which is kind of like The Matrix, where we eventually merge with machines and obviously that’s in the back of our minds. We’re not pushing. We’re not advocating that anytime soon. Right now some of those things are like Google Glass, wearable technology, lot of the advances in biotech and nanotech. Those are the things that, I think, we can start relating to more so now than we ever really could have in the last few decades.

Rob: Pretty amazing to think, right? Because if you had talked about this five years ago or three years ago even, people would have laughed you out of the room. But now we’re talking about this in all reality that maybe not in my lifetime, maybe in your lifetime, certainly my kids’ lifetime, they’re going to start to see this kind of blending of human and technology in a form that is completely alien to what we would have considered 50 years ago. I think that that’s pretty amazing to see this.
I think the key is, not to try to push too hard, your clients too hard toward this singularity point and understand that they’re only interested in making money, right?

Mathew: Exactly, and that’s why we do like to keep a strong focus on the present in the sense in what is really going on. We have our feet on the ground. We do keep our head in the clouds in that sense. Our strength is the fact that we have a strong team, which is well rounded and stronger I think than any individual consultant. Or even a big organization could really be as fluid and dynamic to create these development, or marketing, or strategy initiatives that cannot only be successfully launched, but iterated and scaled well into the future.

Rob: That kind of brings us to the point of this which is around the business aspect of this entire mobile industry. You’re moving your customers along this continuum. You’re helping them decide, open their mind and figure out how to use mobile.
We were going to talk about the trends in development so that UI/UX implications or trends that we’re seeing and how to start incorporate those in your business, and then the tactics for finding which is marketing, selling to, and maintaining a customer relationship through mobile. Where do you want to start with this, Mathew? Where’s the logical place to start?

Mathew: Let’s start with the team and what your team is looking like these days and what separates successful ones from the good ones and the ordinary ones.

Rob: Sure.

Mathew: [inaudible 07:01]

Rob: We’re having this lag right now, so you should know. We’re having a lag for those who are listening or watching. We’re having a lag between our band widths. It comes and it goes. So, if we talk over each other, my apologies. That’s just technology. It’s Skype and it’s free and you get what you pay for sometimes. We’re going to work through this as best we can.
I’m going to let Mathew do the talking right now, and I will chime in when necessary. So, Mathew, take it away, Matt.

Mathew: With today’s modern team, it’s all about aligning all the stakeholders, all the different departments or divisions, if you will, and putting them in the same room from the outset, or even before that just so you can get everyone on the same page and so there’s no disconnect between each element or phase of the project’s delivery or creation.
For example, back in the day people [no audio 07:59]. You have your strategist in one room and then they would put together a whole plan, run it by the [no audio 08:07] business analysts and the stakeholders and get a sign-off. Then the designers might come in, after which they skin everything, make it look beautiful. Then the developers take it and go off and code it. Those days are gone.
Now to really be successful and to lever your team’s full potential and your client’s potential without getting caught up in bureaucratic inertia or just any type of resistance whatsoever, is that you have to have your development, your design, and your strategy team in there together from the beginning.
Not only that, each individual within that team has to have not so much a generalist approach, but they have to an awareness of what the best practices are in the other segments of their team. For example, a designer has to be aware of development best practices. A developer should know what the standards are when it comes to the user experience or the user interaction.
Ultimately, if you aren’t aligned on that, you risk a huge exposure to basically screwing up down the line. If my developer isn’t in there at the beginning and basically sharing his limitations or understanding of what the designers are putting together, then when they receive those designs, they’re going to say, “Hey, what is this? We can’t work with this.”
It’s going to take you about 10 to 20 times longer than, “I think your designer imagined.” And at the same time, the designers have to be cognizant of what they’re actually putting down because ultimately that will streamline the process in itself.

Rob: Back in the web days, Mathew . . .

Mathew: [It didn’t] . . .

Rob: Just a second. Back in the web days, I mean, we saw this quite often where the designer would create. I mean it was an evolution, right? We moved from desktop designing into application designing and then into web and then websites and then web applications. But some of the designers would create this stuff and hand it to us the technologists to implement. And we would look at it and say there’s just the technology hasn’t been invented that allows us to do that yet.
There was a total disconnect between design and implementation. And I guess that what you’re saying is that if you could treat everyone like that in a silo, development, design, implementation, then you’re going to get those bottlenecks that happen where the technologist, the programmer gets it and looks at it and says, well this is impossible. Right?

Mathew: Or it’s going to run your clients budget beyond, way beyond the scope of what they were ready for. And so even as you’re iterating, this will help reduce the level of effort for all future phases and reduce the risk of changing when functionality evolves and you gain more insight that wasn’t necessarily there to begin with.

Rob: Is it hard to find those people that, you know? Because you’re talking about a craft, a vocation. Right. Design. Programming. Project management. So is it hard to find those people that have, like, if you look at a Venn diagram, which I hate to do, but there’s a little bit of overlap in all the skills. Is it hard to find those people?

Mathew: It’s not easy. And, you know . . .

Rob: Good answer, yeah.

Mathew: Especially when education is compartmentalized the way it is. You have people who are digital media designers, interaction designers, user experience, which are starting to come up more to the top. And user experience wasn’t really a major or a field before how it is today and it’s starting to breakthrough in education. But in terms of I took a few computer science classes but there really wasn’t an emphasis on design as much as there was on the information architecture and knowing how to scale and put objects together.
That, there isn’t as much design in a development course load or development. There are some best practices when it comes to HTML and [CSS]. But there isn’t that kind of seed to that gets planted where you have to have this awareness from the beginning.

Rob: All right. So we got team. Team is important. Bring them all into the same room at the very beginning of the project. Don’t wait and don’t compartmentalize. What else have you got at the beginning of these projects to make sure that they work?

Mathew: Can’t hear you. Can’t hear.

Rob: Okay.

Mathew: Did you get my response?

Rob: Yep. Response is good. Outbound is tough, I think. Hold on. Am I coming in now?

Mathew: Yeah.

Rob: Okay. Here we go. So you’ve got team. Team is so important at the very beginning you bring the right people in at the right time, which is at the beginning of the project. What else can people do to get their projects started properly?

Mathew: Right. I just want to mention that our, we were lucky because our user experience lead was a developer to start on the front end.

Rob: Very smart.

Mathew: Exactly. We were . . . It was great because we were from the outset the developer mind is already clicking and saying, and calculating what could be happening. But at the forefront is always how is this user experience optimized for the product delivery and the process of how we work together?

Rob: Very cool. Very cool. I’m listening to you as I go through this and I’m watching you and I . . . Has anybody ever told you this, totally aside? [Inaudible 13:49] but has anybody ever told you that you kind of sound and look like Shia LaBeouf?

Mathew: I’ve gotten a bunch of different actors. Some, that one I’d consider it a compliment.

Rob: Your voice is . . . Somebody called me, told me that I look like Andy Dick. And I went. I punched them in the head. But Shia LaBeouf, like, I’m listening and I’m like, hey wait. I’m talking to Shia LaBeouf. So if you’re listening, yeah, I’m talking to Shia LaBeouf. He runs this company called Mobilosophy. Right. He’s the spokesperson for it.
All right so, your team is great. Team is important. Sorry for that. I just thought I’d have to bring that up and . . .

Mathew: Please.

Rob: So what else? What’s next in this process of making sure that projects launch successfully in the mobile space? What else?

Mathew: For me, we found very early on that it was crucial to set expectations for all stakeholders from the outset.

Rob: Yes. Yes. With the clients you mean.

Mathew: With the clients.

Rob: Yeah. And with your own internal team as well, I would assume.

Mathew: Yep.

Rob: Okay. Okay. And the whole intent of that is just simply to make sure that, what, it’s not about delivery dates it’s about what you’re delivering, when you’re delivering it, the functionality that they’re going to get. You’re giving them kind of the true landscape of what this is going to look like, not only from an app or a mobile implementation, but also usability, usage, downloads. You’re setting expectations across the board, right?

Mathew: Those for us are pretty easy for us to set as those are the more static elements. We’re saying this date you’re going to get this here, or after we launch we’re going to do this or that.
For us, the biggest challenge has been setting the expectations about change, about what can happen when we are progressing through a project and a competitor releases a new feature. Or there is some new technological development while we’re in the midst of development. We want to basically set those expectations so that change is almost, I don’t want to say welcome, but that it’s built in to our process.

Rob: Is that difficult to do? You don’t get down half-way through a project, and say hey, there’s a new technology. We’re going to scratch what we’ve done or implement something brand new. Do you kind of stay as much to the course as you can, or do you look at those opportunities and bring new technology in that may change or delay the product launch?

Mathew: It’s obviously crucial to maintain the course and to go in the direction that you’ve set out to do with the vision in mind. At the same time, part of our vision of where we’re going is taking into account those things that could affect the success of our product.
Everyone says product-to-market fit, so we ensure that iterating and testing are built into each week when we release a build for our clients. We encourage them to consider the fact that now that they’re holding it and they can see this product. We want them to understand that it’s okay for change to enter into the discussion. If you change something, it has taboo. We want to open it so that no one’s afraid of saying what can happen.
To give you an example, on the product side, when you see something on an application, you say, “Hey, this looks pretty easy to do. Why can’t we just change this right here or there or move this there?” And so, we’ll come back and we’ll sit with our whole team and we’ll break down for them what the effort, timeline, and ultimately the price of said change, what that could be.
They might come back and say, “What is this? Are you kidding? This looks like this is so easy to make.” For us, it was a pretty big milestone when we basically opened up the flood gates and said there are implications across the cycle whether it’s on the server, or the app side, or the UX, that get affected when you’re making these kinds of changes.
From the beginning we opened the entire scope, and we showed them at each point of the process how things affect one another. It was only then that we were able to really be in tune each other’s needs.
Not to throw out a buzz word, but we really found that to be agile and ultimately more successful was addressing this at the beginning and not letting it get to a pint where changes start popping up, and we start bringing what those actual costs are.
We wanted to make sure that was set forth from the beginning so that their expectations were met, and so they also could know on their end. Just like we want our designers to know about development and our strategists know about design, we want our clients to have an understanding and an education of those things so that they can come to us most efficiently as well.

Rob: It’s logical, and I see that quite often is that paper prototyping and putting some kind of minimal viable product on to a device and then letting the user play with it who is paying for it. They look at it sometimes and they go, “Well, that’s no good.”
They have this realization that what they’re building or what they’re doing isn’t quite up to what they expected it to be, so change is about to happen. That I understand, and it’s bound to happen. And the way that you walk around, the way that you handle that, is something that you have to satisfy the client at all needs.
The client has to enjoy or love this product or else it’s going to be a disaster. There’s got to be a few things that you guys are implementing throughout this process, right? So you got to be using some best practices for the user experience and the user interface and the design of the applications, and the development of the applications that kind of mitigate that challenge from the client, right?
So, that they look at it and they are overwhelmed with joy as opposed to being underwhelmed and thinking, like, hey that’s okay, I often ask my wife, “Hey how do I look today, do I look okay?” And she’s like, “Well, fine.” Like, fine is the worst thing. Like if someone says, “Hey, how’s the app?” And you’re like, “Meh, fine.” It’s this connotation that it’s not good enough.
So, what kind of things are you guys doing in the mobile development side UI/UX that showcase, that, kind of, get over that challenge from your clients’ standpoint?

Mathew: Yeah, that’s a perfect segue to I think where this is heading in the sense that on the design side and on the UX, we’ve been implementing what we like to say are interactive wire frames or essentially fluid designs that the user can actually click through.
So, our user experience team actually will create, will really quickly, put together these low-fidelity wire frames that the client can actually click through. That they can put in front of their boss or their team and say, “Hey, click through this, how does this feel?”
We want to get those usability questions out there from the beginning, pushing aside anything, any obvious low hanging fruit that would’ve been missed otherwise. So, interactive wire framing in the beginning has helped us get the flow, recreate the flow as early as possible without necessarily going into [inaudible 21:48] design production or obviously, coding and development.
On the [inaudible 21:57] side, I’m sure you might be aware there’s things like, there’s things that are emerging called back-ends as a service. So, you have things like Parse which was acquired by Facebook, [Kinovate], and these things are essentially allowing the user experience team and the designers focus on the core of what the app is doing and not so much on how to do it.
Because now the back-ends are being packaged and they’re coming in a box and I know that our firm is diving, and other firms in our space, we really can’t afford not to use them at this point because of how scalable and robust they are and how much they speak to this rapid prototyping and agility model.
So, being able to have these frameworks set up in place so that I don’t have to go and build a push notification platform, or messaging, social integration, I don’t have to do that from scratch any more. We can go like this and implement those features and we keep that in mind.
Just as I was saying our UX, our UXers keep those in mind into how they architect their structure because it allows us to accommodate our clients’ budget and scope whereas it might have been impossible to do that maybe 6 months, 12 months ago.

Rob: Yeah, you brought up so many great things there because I think that this industry 2 years ago was very expensive to get an application developed. It was very complex. There were none of these frameworks, there were a couple of rapid application development frameworks or development environments, but it also, and that’s the good side of it, so if you’re out there trying to get an app developed and there are a lot of frameworks that allow you to accelerate this process and bring the cost down because people aren’t reinventing or rewriting code every time.
But on the flip side when you talk about innovation and that ability to bring something new to the client, do you think that all of these frameworks, like Parse and like that whole the standard cookie-cutter stuff like social integration and maybe conversation and some kind of chat group and group chat or something like that, do you think that create this homogeny around mobile applications, that they all start to look and feel and taste and do the same things? Where you’re, kind of, we’re stuck in that mediocrity of app development because of these platforms and what happens is there’s no innovation happening altogether because everybody just wants the same thing. Do you think we’re going to get into that rut?

Mathew: You’d think so and it might sound counterintuitive, but the fact that the cookie-cutter elements of development are already taken care of really frees up our minds and our passion as a team that likes to do things that are new, cutting edge, unique. It actually frees up our own bandwidth to continually push the growing edge, if you will.

Rob: Good answer. Good answer, Mathew. Good answer man.

Mathew: That was a great question.

Rob: All right so that’s one of the things, to use existing platforms. I love it, like Urban Airship is another one that I love simply because it’s plug and play and Amazon now has built-in messaging and they start to enhance their platforms and all it does is enhance your platform or your application at the same time.
What else are you seeing out there? So from a development standpoint, that is core. Get your building blocks in a row, get those done, let somebody else do that kind of coding, bring in as much as you can and then, as you said, free up your mind to be able to do the creative thinking around how, the unique way to implement these things. Is there anything else that you’re seeing from a UI/UX standpoint?

Mathew: Similar to UX and UI there are now products such as Test Flight.

Rob: Very important.

Mathew: Which are quality assurance. So when it comes to developing and iterating and testing, this has allowed it, something like Test Flight which allows you to send bills out to people across different teams and set permissions, that has made it a lot easier to provision people’s devices and to get them testing sooner than later.

Rob: And that’s so important man, isn’t it? To be able get it into somebody’s hands as we were talking about earlier? You have to get it almost immediately there’s an expectation that you should get that in somebody’s hands to be able to test and Test Flight does an amazing job of it.

Mathew: If people don’t like change, then they hate surprises.

Rob: Good statement.

Mathew: Especially when their money and time is on the line. They, the last thing they want to do is see, “Why is this here? What is this?” So being able to test, we like to do weekly bills. So every Monday or Friday or Wednesday depending on the client and any timing needs, being able to see that app evolve week by week helps tie in those expectations and keeps everyone honest and open.

Rob: How soon do you start releasing things to them in Test Flight, because you don’t want to release something to them to early where they start to panic because something isn’t up to par? You don’t want to release too late simply because you don’t want to surprise them with anything. So, I mean, you know, in your projects is there a certain point in time where you say, “Give us 4 weeks and in 4 weeks we’ll give you the first version.” Is there a best practice around that?

Mathew: Well, we found that when we set expectations well we can actually start releasing the first week after development because even when you launch the home screen or the splash screen or the login screen to Facebook, there’s certain subtleties that you’d rather get out of the way there because they will set the tone down the line.
So, for example, the client might say, “Hey can we move the login button a little down over here. Let’s put the terms and conditions there,” and the fact that we can get more feedback on those simple things from the beginning even if it’s on the colors or on the typeface because there’s a difference of seeing it right here than seeing it on a PDF.

Rob: Yeah.

Mathew: And the fact that they can come to us and bring that to us from the beginning we see as more valuable than just saying, “Okay. We’re going to release this to you in 4 weeks” because in the back of our minds we know that we’re going to be able to show huge amounts of progress. We’d rather get start tackling the little things sooner than later because that makes everyone’s life easier. People can’t digest that much information at a time anymore. And we don’t want to put anyone in that position where they have to start getting overwhelmed. We want to help keep our clients sane.

Rob: We used to do that in the web world as well and I see that in mobile right now. It’s like, “Okay, here’s the app. Comment.” And the app could have 30 screens, 20 screens 10 screens if you’ve done it right and it is overwhelming because it’s almost like they . . . would you recommend, I love that approach, get the first screen done properly right? So we’re signed off because you know if you’ve got the same navigation on 10 screens you’re going to get that comment the navigation’s running, or the navigation’s running, or the navigation’s running on every screen. So, wouldn’t it be better to just get, this is what I think you’re telling me, get the navigation right then move on.
So get that out there for comment as quickly as possible. So front screen, nailed, login process, nailed, then the next screen, one screen that has the navigation, nailed right back and forth and then move on so there’s no you don’t overwhelm them. And so is that a sequence that you would recommend?

Mathew: Yes, so not only do you not want to overwhelm the clients but they might be drawing on their internal teams who might have very little to no experience with mobile which, for us, that’s great, and when I say mobile, with mobile development.

Rob: Yeah.

Mathew: Or building, they obviously, hopefully have experience using a mobile device. But it also helps to ease their internal QA teams, whether it’s their friends, their moms, their kids. And in fact, sometimes those people’s feedback is the most valuable. So if I show them a home screen and they say, I don’t really like the color here, or even [no audio 30:31] for the first time is a moment in itself. Where, if we can get that feedback now, so that our UX team can continually reiterate on that, while the development is moving along. Then ultimately the product is more optimized and the iteration is that much more valuable.

Rob: I like that, I like the approach I think that there’s a cap though, there has to be a limit to how much input that you put, I’m saying that, it’s kind of tongue and cheek. But you’re right. You can roll this out, you’re controlling it with something like Test Flight. Right, you sent it out to 5 or 10 people or however many people are necessary. But you’re collecting input as you go, and I like that approach.
I would hate it that your client’s second neighbor, two doors down, their 9 year old kid played with it and hated this button. Right, because then you get too much feedback so you got to know what feedback is relevant, and what feedback is superfluous. Superfluous that’s a tough word to say. Right, and that’s just your experience and you know how to guide the client a little bit, right? I’m going to assume.

Mathew: Yeah, and there is a minimum and a maximum. There is effort involved with getting these testing builds ready for a staging environment. So we also manage that and was say, we can’t release a build to you every day, within your budget that is. I mean we could, but we make sure that there is enough progress that it’s manageable, that it’s manageable in the sense that you can give us enough valuable feedback without sacrificing in either direction.

Rob: That’s logical. All right, so you’ve gone through this process, you’ve got the right team in the room, your team, their team. You’re starting to iterate on the product, you’re building the product out, you’re actually doing many builds, weekly builds, to get feedback, you’re bringing that in. You’re doing it in sequence as opposed to overwhelming them with an app and then sending them on their way. And then having this mass amount of feedback come in, or surprise, which is the worst thing happens.

So now, what about things like engaging with their client base? So if you’re building it on behalf of them and they’re going to push it out to their customer base. Are there tactics that you use to, hooks that you use to bring this in so that they can make money out of these applications or extend the relationship with their customers? How do you bring that into this application, into the apps?

Mathew: So mobile is unique against anything that’s really out there. And the reason that I say this is because mobility as a platform itself is actually changing the way that we can iterate, get feedback and essentially, for brands to communicate with their customers. So if the feedback process is being more optimized, then mobile itself is accelerating the pace but also the scale that things can change and evolve.

Rob: Do you have an example of something like this?

Mathew: I know that sounds [inaudible 33:54]. What did you say?

Rob: I said do you have an example? I mean it’s big, right? You’re right, mobile changes everything. Do you have an example from some of the clients that you’ve worked with where they implemented something like this, where the feedback has come, where it wouldn’t have come, where they’ve reached customers, where they would never had normally have reached customers?

Mathew: Of course. The most basic example, which we’re all familiar and accustomed to is when you’re on an app and they ask you to provide feedback, to rate it and give some insight into the app store. Whether it’s stars or writing a review, and I think customers take for granted how valuable that is to those brands.

But with our clients, we found that the second that the second either their internal QA teams get a hold of it, or their customers download these applications, we find new things, new insights coming in. That would have been impossible to achieve otherwise unless we were in an atmosphere where there’s true engagement not only between the brand and the customer, but between the customers and each other. Because that you can’t recreate in a lab or an office.
So that’s why when Steve Blanks says get out of the building, being able to have that most organic experience where your users are talking to you, but talking to each other, that’s where you get those real unique insights that you can’t really draw otherwise.

Rob: I was just having a conversation like this recently around the fact that what you’ll end up doing here, there’s an opportunity here, especially for organizations that don’t normally talk with their customer base. Right?
Because this gives that ability to quite literally talk with any of their customers at any point in time. And mobile has that ability to bring these two together that at one point were never, ever, ever meant to be together.
So if you sell your wares through a distributor or a store and they handle all the customer service, that’s no longer good enough. Because with mobile and with that enablement that you just talked about, that customer should be able to reach you, the manufacturer of that product and you should be able to have a dialog with them, and you should be able to solicit feedback and carry on a conversation with them.
And if you’re not, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity that should be capitalized on because your competitors are.

Mathew: Yeah, your competitors are. And just given the fact that technology is evolving so quickly, if you’re not asking your customer what they think about things, then what are you really basing your assumptions on? Or who better to base them on than the person who will ultimately be using it?

Rob: Yeah. It’s solid advice. I think that where we’re seeing quite a bit of this, is the active engagement, is that two-way conversation between clients and the companies through this mechanism which is a mobile device and the applications. But there’s also this piece to it, right? Which is if I convince you to download, or not convince, that’s a long word. If I provide enough value . . .

Mathew: Yeah.

Rob: . . . so that you would download an application that I created for my business, that in itself is a brand win. Because now I’m occupying, if I do my job right, I’m occupying one tiny, little quadrant on the front of your phone, or on the second screen, or the third screen of your phone. And that is a brand endorsement, isn’t it? That’s so important for companies.

Mathew: Yeah, I mean just having it there in the mindshare means that I’m more likely to either show that or share that with my friend, and their friends, and so on and so forth, and we all know now if you’re on the train or if you’re at a restaurant and someone goes to the bathroom or if they’re sitting there and you’re rude, and you’re going on your phone almost, I forget what the stat was, it was almost, it was like 100 times like an hour almost sometimes.

Rob: Yeah, it’s crazy. It’s like 150 times a day is a minimum that we’re checking our phone. That’s crazy.

Mathew: And we’re switching between screens 27 times an hour or so.

Rob: That’s nuts. That’s nuts.

Mathew: So when it comes to engagement, you really want to keep in mind not only the fact that mobile is driving this feedback, conversation, this loop, but you also have to be able to lever each platform, considering its strengths and weaknesses.
So, if a user is going to go Google you or go on your website, you have to make sure that your mobile, you know your website is optimized for that viewing experience.
And that’s for obvious reasons. It’s like having a restaurant that’s open from 4:00 a.m. to like 6:00 a.m., and then again sometimes. It’s like you’re there. Your users can find you. But you’re making it really, really difficult.
So if I pull up a mobile site and it’s not optimized, I’m getting out of there. But more importantly, and that’s where we like to come in is to say, okay you’ve engaged them through a mobile site, they’re now a visitor, let’s bring them, let’s convert them to your mobile app because then they’re really your customer. They’re your user then.
They’re not just browsing. And you’re not just against the canvas of all of your competitors and Facebook, the ultimate competitor of mindshare, you’re really creating a unified experience across platforms when you have that kind of presence.

Rob: How do you do that? So, that’s one of the biggest nuts out of all of this. It’s so what. Now I’ve built an app. So what? Right? Because building an app is one small fraction of the cost of getting it onto somebody’s device. There’s creating app awareness, and putting marketing dollars behind it, and making sure that people download it, and making sure that there’s value in it.
We’ve gone through this cycle here which is assemble the right team. Make sure that everybody’s in the same room. Set expectations appropriately. Align everything along the way. Make sure that there are no surprises along the way. Get the product into their hands as quickly as possible. Optimize the mobile website so that there’s no doubt the experience is great when they land on it through Google.
The majority of people now are searching on their mobile device as opposed to on a big screen. So, optimizing the mobile website is very important, and Google penalizes you if you haven’t done that properly.
So, you’ve gone through that whole process, and then the last piece of this is conversion. It’s to be able to get that person who has somehow landed somewhere on the brand or on the product, or bought something, to get them to download this application. And, as I said, development, that whole process we just talked about, is this small compared to the challenge of getting somebody to download it and use an app on a device.
So, how do you help your clients go through that process? As you said, you’re a strategic marketing firm as well for this. So, how do you do it?

Mathew: It goes back to the team and the expectations. From the beginning the marketer has to be in the room. They have to be there sharing their insight, because they bring something to the table that will influence the feature set and the calls to action.
So, a mobile marketer will tell you that if someone’s on your mobile site and you have a mobile app, make sure that if they’re on their mobile device a popup comes up that says hey this is our mobile app. Take them to the App Store right away. They might also…

Rob: Do you really… Is that good advice, though? Do you think that’s good advice?
Just walk through it from a consumer standpoint. I don’t know. I’ve heard backlash about that banner at the top when you’re on a mobile website that says hey we’ve got an app. Let me just walk this from a consumer standpoint.
So, I’m in the middle of whatever, busy street X and busy street Y. I’m looking for something, an address or something to that extent. I type in my search, and up comes the place that I’m trying to find.
Then, lo and behold, all I need is an address and you’ve got this little freaking thing that keeps popping up that says download my app, download my app, download my app.
From a consumer standpoint, does that enhance the brand experience, detract from the brand experience, or do you risk losing some for the benefit of that? Do you know what I mean? Does that seem frustrating?

Mathew: I’d say when it comes to marketing and advertising in mobile, which is a very immediate experience, you can’t overlook the need to, really, you have to tread lightly.

Rob: Yes. We’re finicky…

Mathew: Because, yeah, we’re fickle.

Rob: Yeah.

Mathew: And, if you do anything to piss me off on mobile, you’re out. I’m not downloading you, and you’re deleted if I have downloaded you.

Rob: Yes.

Mathew: Even Google makes this mistake. I’ve found that I’ll be on Google Maps on my phone because I’m used to Chrome. I’m on the browser, and they’ll say hey we also have a mobile app. I react, because I already have the mobile app.

Rob: You don’t know that? You’re Google. You know everything else about me.

Mathew: Right. So, that extra step kills me…

Rob: Yeah…

Mathew: …to say no thanks.

Rob: Yeah.

Mathew: And LinkedIn also. If you’re converting me to the app and I have to either re-login, or the information that I’d pulled up isn’t there on the app, then that’s an extra step. That’s a burden that you’re putting on me.

Rob: I agree. I just think that it’s one of these things that you do absolutely have to tread so very lightly when it comes to these things. Because at some point you don’t want… Like I always say, I believe this firmly even on the web. Everybody puts front and center links to their social networks. Like, hey, go to our Twitter page. Go to our Facebook page. Go to our YouTube page.
I’m like no, no, no, no, no. You’ve got to understand that the whole goal is… You’ve spent all this money and all this effort, and somehow they’ve landed on your page. Don’t send them somewhere else. It’s only logic.
So, for those of you who are listening or watching, if the first thing you see is your social share buttons at the top of your page, well, what does that tell you? You shouldn’t be here. Go here instead.
It’s the same thing when I land on a mobile website. Yeah, you want me to download the application. Show me a little bit of value before that. But, don’t immediately send me away from the page that I was trying to get to. Satisfy that and then three, four pages in remind me that there’s a mobile application that you guys have or that the company has.
That’s why I’m kind of torn, is typically, mobile search I have an absolute thing that I’m trying to find. And, no, it’s not your app, so let me find that thing before I kill you, then you can send me. Once I’ve found that, I’ve had a win. My experience has been great. Then send me on my way. Then let me go and download it. That’s just my opinion. I don’t know. Do you hear a lot of backlash around that?

Mathew: Not as much. I leave that to the marketers.

Rob: Right, yeah.

Mathew: And we have some experts and partners. That speaks to the fact that we like to keep our specialty where it is on the sense our products, because they provide true value as opposed to just gaming a user. That’s where the inherent marketing comes into play because we have these conversations that say with their customers. We talk to their customers and we say, “What do you think about this? How do you feel about that?” We scrape the data, and then we make intentional decisions.

Rob: That’s wicked. I appreciate that. It is a marketing challenge, but if you’re listening or watching this, then you’re contemplating this. Never, never, never under estimate, as you said, the fickle nature of that mobile browser.
Take that into mind when you think about this. Are you trying to satisfy, and you said it in so many words, satisfy the requirement of the mobile user or your requirement? If you’re trying to satisfy your requirement, it’s a very quick end. That relationship will end very quickly. If you’re trying to satisfy them . . .

Mathew: [inaudible 47:01] battle, yeah.

Rob: It is. Once you lose mind share, once you piss somebody off, the likelihood is so low that they’re going to give you a second chance. If they do, it’s going to cost you much more than what it would be just to make a great first impression. It just seems logical to me.

Mathew: The mobile user especially is very unforgiving, and it’s the fact technology is driving us towards a very reactive, immediate state. Which good or bad aside, people aren’t going to reflect. They’re not going to give benefits of doubt any more. They’re not going to put in that reflection. They’re going to say it’s on or off. Just like Caesar . . .

Rob: Exactly, release the lions.

Mathew: . . . unforgiven.

Rob: What else am I missing here, then, in this process? It sounds like we’ve covered the opening. We’ve covered the during, the strategy. We’ve covered a little about the tips of ways to engage, the use of platforms like Parse or any of the other platforms that we’re talking about there to ease the development process and bring that in so you can free your mind.
We’ve also talked about once you’ve got them to you to do an action, then work on converting them. Is there anything that we’ve missed here? Things that we should be talking about to draw awareness to?

Mathew: I would say that if we were to touch on anything else it would be that given the fact that things are changing so quickly . . .

Rob: That’s an understatement, yes.

Mathew: Companies have to ask themselves if they’re equipped enough in terms of their people, their processes, and the way that their products are set up so that they’re most optimized or in the strongest position to harness the immediacy and the ubiquity that mobile has unleashed upon the marketplace.

Rob: Yes, and it’s true. So what do they do about that? I think about this. Companies are wholly and completely, completely, unprepared for what is about to happen. There are a handful of them that are exceptionally prepared. They understand. They see it. It’s plotted. It’s mapped.
But for the mass majority, I still get a lot of people saying, you know what, retailers, “Yeah, you know what, mobile. It’s not going to have an impact on us this Christmas.” You know what? You’re right. That’s right. It’s not going to have an impact on you because you’re not going to be around by Christmas. Don’t worry about it.
How do you, maybe this is the last question. How do you move these guys along? They’re your clients, or maybe they should be your clients. The great thing about it is guys like you and I can make a living for the rest of our lives simply because these guys are Luddites and they don’t move into this world quick enough, and it’s usually reactive.
But, what can we do proactively to be able to make sure that these companies who we care about start using this technology so that we can actually buy services and products from them for some time to come? What advice do you give?

Mathew: Traditionally, as with any development of new technologies, anything that seems to be on the cutting edge by nature is viewed as an extension or an add-on to what you already have. So, if you have a website or if you have a marketing plan mobile might be seen as an adjunct or a complement to your existing assets. So, if you’re chief marketing officer at a firm you might look at your mobile team, if you have one, or your mobile…

Rob: …Which most don’t, yes. Your mobile guy…

Mathew: Right. And they might not because they don’t feel the need to or because it is really difficult to go about ramping up. I mean we all know that the hard things are sometimes the things most worth doing.

Rob: Yes.

Mathew: But, what I would advise a CEO or CMO at the least is to consider mobile not as a separate project or something that can be supplementary or even complementary to your marketing plan. Very often there’s this whole thing going around with mobile first. Sometimes it’s mobile only at this point.

Rob: Yeah.

Mathew: So, marketers have to consider mobile as a core element of their marketing strategy. If they decide for whatever reason to relegate their decisions based on the fact that this is how they’ve been doing things or this is what they’re familiar with then, like you said, they’re guaranteeing themselves to not be around for Christmas.

Rob: Early demise.

Mathew: Early demise, yeah.

Rob: Oh man. You know what? Mathew, I’ve got to have you back on. Because there’s so much that we didn’t talk about just around some of the very specific tactics.
I’d love it if as you go through your day, and you work with your clients, and you build out your case studies to reach back out to me and let’s get you back on to have some in depth conversation around some of the clients you’re working with. You don’t have to name their names, but just the strategies you’ve gone through and implementation.
Because I think that would be fascinating to see something like this in action from start to finish. Then, maybe even get your client on to have a conversation around it as well. Who knows? Stranger things have happened. This medium has allowed us to have these conversations…

Mathew: A little choppy, a little choppy.

Rob: Okay. Let me start over then. Mathew, I think I should definitely have you back on to have these conversations a little bit deeper around some of the stuff that you’ve been doing with your clients. You don’t have to name names about your clients. But, it would be great to get some of the case studies out on a regular basis. Hopefully, you’re up for that – coming back on.

Mathew: Definitely. If I can leave off with one thing…

Rob: Please do…

Mathew: …that we can put into the mindshare. Maybe I should’ve mentioned this at the beginning. When we came up with the name Mobilosophy…

Rob: Great name…

Mathew: Thank you. It kind of dawned on us afterwards, but if you break down the etymology of mobile and osophy, osophy means the science of or the wisdom of. Mobile, now it seems like it means mobile phones or things you can take with you. But, at the essence mobility really does mean change. So, we’re evangelists and advocates of helping organizations foster this wisdom, openness, awareness, and willingness to change…

Rob: Wicked.

Mathew: …without all of the uncertainties and all of the fear that comes with that. So, we want people to be really comfortable with that change without necessarily sacrificing their vision and their ability to do what they do best.

Rob: Mathew, I couldn’t have said it any better. I love the name. I love the philosophy behind the name. So, I’m going to send people to mobilosophy.com. That’s mobilosophy.com for more information. You’ll find out a little bit more about Mathew, his team, his services, and his products. Everything that you need to know is there. You’ll be able to reach out and connect with them.
Mathew, thank you for doing this, man, I really appreciate it. We’re going to have you back on. Promise?

Mathew: Rob, thanks for having me.

Rob: Thank you Mathew.
We’ve been speaking with Mathew Lazarus who is the founding partner at Mobilosophy. Go to mobilosophy.com. Support these guys. Take a look at what they’ve done. Listen to their story.
And, if you liked this episode reach out to Mathew and thank him for being a part of this through Twitter, through email, through Facebook. I don’t care how you do it, but just tell him you heard about him, heard about Mobilosophy, from UNTETHER.tv. It would make my day. It would make his day. Make me smile. Make him smile. Yeah, it really would. Just thank about that for a moment.
Mathew, thank you man.
For those of you who are watching, listening, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, thank you for bringing UNTETHER.tv into your day. We’ll see you next time for another episode of UNTETHER.tv.
Thanks, Mathew.

Mathew: Thank you.

Rob: See you later, man.

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About Mathew Lazarus
Mathew Lazarus Mathew leads strategy, vision and partnerships at Mobilosophy, a swiftly growing mobile agency in NYC. He enables startups and Fortune 50 clients to discover and execute on their mobile potential, enhancing their long term success in today’s volatile landscape. Previously, Mathew’s first company was featured on CNN’s “10 Generation Next Entrepreneurs to Watch.”

About the author

Rob Woodbridge

I'm Rob, the founder of UNTETHER.tv and I've spent 14 years immersed in the mobile and pervasive computing world. During this great time I've helped some of the most innovative companies grow their business through mobile. If you are in need of a mobile business advisor or coach, connect with me here to get things rolling.

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