Marketing, Quality, Your App & the Horse

Photo Credit: Metalsucks
Wow! The horse definitely completes the equation, doesn't it? Or maybe not until I tell you what I am talking about.
In our bid to "network" and "market" our product to clients and investors alike, we have been participating in various startup events over the past few months. Being a product in the mobile space, most of the events we attended to were in the same space. The general experience has been a great one - we have met a lot of people who are super-excited about the product. Incidentally, we did not see any startup that is solving the same problem as us. But apart from general feeling of smugness, what intrigued me was a deluge of products, solutions and services around getting people to install your app. Just install your app! That's it! Of course, if installs are being tracked, tracking uninstalls too will appear not to far down the line. In fact it is happening now with Uninstall. The idea is to find out the best marketing channels for your app based on the net addition of users as opposed to those cases where we were just calculating effectiveness of channel based on installs. To be sure, nothing wrong with that. The human race is there to market and sell goods and nothing should stop us in that endeavor.
While all this is exciting, there is something missing starkly in this narrative. It is Mobile App Quality. I understand that quality has a pretty wide connotation when it comes to software and it often tends to steer into realms of subjectivity. For the purpose of this discussion, let us agree that a good quality of a mobile app means that the app will work for its user - every single time and in every situation. Low network, No network, bright environments, different Android versions, different screen sizes, different flavors of Android - the list is actually quite long and will only get bigger as devices become smarter and apps leverage the features that these device have.  This is not to say that one should cater to all mobile phone users around the world, but once you have identified your audience, your app better work for them.
You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink
So the most important (and I guess mysterious) part of our equation was the horse - the customer. All your marketing strategies in the world can only get your customer to install the app. What after that? Your uninstalls are not happening solely because of the wrong choice of marketing channel. In fact, I suspect if that is a major reason at all.

Galen Gruman has talked of quality vs quantity in Infoworld in the context of mobile apps. And news items like these bring no solace to the mobile app users. And that is why it is important to ask this question repeatedly - Is my app ready for the customer? What is my test strategy - Testing on devices that cumulatively cover X% of your customers or testing on emulators and devices that you could get your hands on? Studying how your user uses your app? While traveling - which means varying data speeds, varying data network types and varying locations.
At RobusTest, while each of us have many years of experience working on software quality, we still feel it is important to study the user behavior - and for us our "users" lie on two planes. Ones who will use our product and those who will use the mobile app. We need to build features into the product that will help the testers simulate use cases which the mobile app user will encounter. And it is a continuous process for us.
Coming back to the discussion at hand, we realize that marketing your app is like bringing your horse (the user) to the water (your app). But if the water you are offering is not capable of quenching the horse's thirst, your groom will only do as much. In this age of hyper marketing, are you sure that your app is living upto the hype. Let us know what you think!


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