Adobe Marketing Cloud sports new mobile app features

With the addition of new mobile app features, Adobe Marketing Cloud strives to make enterprise mobile apps more compelling and user-friendly.

Consumers are used to apps in their private life that require few clicks, are easy to use, and provide them with the right context and navigation to suit their needs in that moment. But enterprise applications are still lagging on these fronts.

This week, Adobe hopes to address these pain points with the release of Adobe Experience Manager, Mobile, which enhance mobile apps' personalization features and usability, and Mobile Core Services for the Adobe Marketing Cloud. The new mobile app features are designed to make it easier for organizations to identify customer location, and for users to navigate these apps for relevant information. The goal is to bring enterprise app experience closer to that consumer standard.

Companies want to build "apps that are just as usable as those in app stores," said Ray Pun, strategic marketing lead, mobile solutions for the Adobe Marketing Cloud.

As mobile functionality becomes more embedded in companies' everyday operations, it's critical to be able to create easy-to-use apps that personalize a user's experience. But to do so, companies need the tools of the trade -- marketing application software that can enlist location data and other contextually relevant information.

"Adobe not only makes the development of these apps easier, it also makes management and deployment of these apps more efficient," said Brent Leary, a principal at CRM Essentials LLC, a CRM consultancy. "Additionally, the integration with Adobe Analytics allows you to quickly analyze how engaged your customers are with your apps."

There are three components to enhancements to Adobe Marketing Cloud (Mobile Core Services) that center on new mobile app features:

Location-based services. Adobe now supports a company's collection of GPS data in the background, even if a mobile app isn't being actively used. To date, companies are trying to use location-based data to learn about their customers, but this can be difficult if a consumer's app is turned off on his or her phone.

With new location services in the Marketing Cloud, companies can gather this data regardless of whether the app is on. If a consumer enters a geofenced area without the app on, location data can still be detected.

Deep linking. Today, companies often send messages to consumers with links that take them to a default URL, with no contextual navigation -- such as a company homepage -- rather than a page with information relevant to the message. With deep linking, a mobile device can guide a consumer to a more topically relevant page.

You can define push notifications to be more relevant to where people actually launch in the experience.
Ray Punstrategic marketing lead, mobile solutions for Adobe Marketing Cloud

"You can define push notifications to be more relevant to where people actually launch in the experience," Pun said. Sending consumers to the right place on a site, rather than just a generic page, has become increasingly important as tailored, personalized messaging becomes the currency of marketing.

"It seems like something straightforward, but it's complicated," because iOS and Android don't play together, Pun noted. Note, though, that consumers are skeptical about push notifications. According to Forrester Research's State of Mobile Apps for Retailers, only 32% of 511 respondents are willing to receive push notifications. The frequency with which messages are pushed was cited as a concern.

Mobile messaging. The technologies in Adobe Marketing Cloud will now share the same messaging platform to enable tighter integration, where all services use the same architecture and the same software development kit.

Adobe also is releasing application programming interfaces to enable companies to use custom plug-ins for back-office data from CRM, ERP, inventory management and other applications. This functionality is important for companies trying to call up data from other systems in real time.

Data integration yields ROI

Baltimore-based Under Armour is using the mobile app feature enhancements to import 160,000 product SKUs from its inventory management system into its mobile app. The athletic apparel retailer has made the move to promote sales rep efficiency and reduce costs.

Sales reps are on the road and often trying to sell these wholesale products into companies, such as Sports Authority. Now, they can use the mobile app to get up-to-the-minute, accurate data on products available for order, because the inventory management system is integrated with Adobe Experience Manager Mobile.

Under Armour expects to save $4 million in missed orders thanks to the app, and $1 million in printing costs.

Mobile apps are still immature, though. Companies are waiting to reap the full benefits, including reduced costs, efficiency and better insight into customer behavior, which Adobe's Pun acknowledged.

Part of this immaturity involves concern about the privacy of consumer data. According to State of Mobile Apps for Retailers, only a third of consumers who shop using retailer apps are willing to share their location with retailers, and only 24% who use retailer mobile apps are willing to share personal information.

"Folks are mature when it comes to the Web, when it comes to things like recommendations and personalized email messages," Pun said. "But with respect to mobile, it's still nascent. Part of the challenge to uniquely identify folks is difficult, especially when a user isn't logged in and is anonymous."

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