App Data Mining
The more you know, the better you are. This adage applies to a million situations, and it certainly applies to mobile app development of all kinds. It makes sense that personal information necessarily informs how an app performs; all customers want personalization when using mobile apps, but they have multiple reasons to be suspicious about what they provide. For example, this study reported that over 1,300 apps collect customer information, like phone numbers, email addresses, and locations, without expressly getting permission.
It’s a fine line to walk; mobile app developers that are on the up and up truly want the maximum of personal information to optimize the User Experience, but just one question too many can cause users to immediately uninstall. Applied UX and UI with the user is much like a personal relationship that one might have with any other person. Words, tone, intent, and motivation matter, and even explaining and giving context can make or break any single interaction. This shows that a psychological and empathetic connection can be just as or more important than any flashy feature on your app.
So, how do you go about getting needed data while keeping your customers happy? Let’s take a look at a few app data mining techniques that seem to work.
Effective Data Mining: Getting Started the Right Way
Say you start a membership with a personal trainer at a local gym. Your trainer walks in, takes a quick glimpse at you, then brings you straight to the bench and tells you to push up 225 pounds. You’d probably feel fairly uncomfortable with that, no? Now, take that same scenario and transfer it to a brand-new user of an app…say, a fitness/retail/news app. All of these examples should be asking a few questions as part of the onboarding process, like fitness goals/preferred items/topics of interest.
The user should want the app to know more about them from the beginning to give them a better experience, so developers should get these questions formulated and posted for the first or second time a user opens the app. Just don’t overwhelm customers with too many questions right from the start.
Make It Simple (And Fun)
We’ve all labored through typing out complex registration forms and answering endless questions, and many frustrated users will just give up and quit. If you’ve got information that you need to get, consider integrating your UX team to make the data entry process easier and quicker with fun ways to do it. Instead of typing in answers or pulldown menus, consider placing predetermined likely answers in bubbles that the user can easily select and tap on the touchscreen. This process can be done quickly and easily without any user inconvenience, and this matters; every second of wasted time or frustrating experience needs to be accounted for and corrected in the initial stages of a downloaded app.
It’s also a good idea to let the user know how much they need to do by somehow clearly marking their progress through any given line of questions. If a user has to spend time on making their experience better, they at least want to know how much further they’ll need to go to get back into the app. Use helpful messages like “You’re almost there!” or some visual cues that show how much more there is to go. App Developers should certainly put lots of thought into how they present these, design-wise.
Give The People What They Want
Everybody wants a little something extra. And, quite often, these incentives for the users really don’t hurt the bottom line of the app. So, why not get creative and reward your users by trading points, rewards, or extra features for the vital data that gives your app sustained success?
To go a step further, many people like to have a choice. Giving the option between a good discount or free shipping empowers the user to offer you invaluable market research with enthusiasm, and that’s a big return. Other apps offer additional features, extra lives (or other gaming valuables), or other perks that your users might value. Make sure you are analyzing data of the most (and least) popular choices, to better inform your future offerings.
Consider making this a gradual process, dripping these little bonuses here, and thereafter certain milestones are hit. This is more than a fair trade as users are concerned, and can even motivate them to reach a certain milestone to answer more questions for additional perks.
Data Mining through The Social Circle
Many apps give the user the option to log on to the app through a social media platform, like Facebook and Instagram, and there’s a good reason why. Users get to register and log on quicker, but the app now gets a huge amount of customer data insights; products liked, businesses recommended, etc. Also, it’s likely that the access given lets your app be somehow featured on the user’s feed, giving your app positive exposure to all the user’s contacts. Offering a social login option to save the user a few seconds can pay off quite well.
Just Explain Yourself (Why You Need the Data and What Are the User’s Benefits)
So, we’ve talked about slick UX options, trading in-app treats for information, and progress charters. The most effective data mining technique, however, is probably technology-free. Simply testing your UX by talking to your customers and explaining how and why these questions are asked of them can be a remarkably simple and effective way to connect with them, and this makes sense. Everyone is craving more personalization and connection with their technology, so feel free to talk to the user through the app like they were sitting next to you. Compliments and friendly advice always work, and even a sincere “How are you?” or “Good to see you!” go a long way.
It may be completely reasonable to use data mining in order to keep the app more secure and functional. Just tell your users in easy-to-understand language that properly explains the reasons, and they’ll likely hand the data over without a thought.
Ultimately, it’s the user’s prerogative whether or not they want to give your app the personal information it needs. Your job is to make it as comfortable, easy, and understandable as you can, and then make your app optimized for success.