“Horseshoe CX” – Why Closing the Loop is Critical in 2021

It’s fair to say that between the pandemic bringing on radical shifts in consumer behavior and major announcements from Apple and Google around digital identity and privacy, 2020 upended things for mobile product and marketing leaders. As a result, many Branch customers and their agency partners have told us they’re looking to take destiny back into their own hands by reexamining the full customer life cycle and putting more emphasis on their owned channels and first-party data to drive growth in 2021.

Along these lines, we saw many companies use the winds of change to justify smart investments in essential tech like message orchestration platforms (Braze, Iterable and Airship), responsive email personalization (MovableInk), infrastructure to organize and make use of all of the incoming data (mParticle, Segment and Adobe), as well as product analytics (Mixpanel and Amplitude), to better understand and optimize mobile customer experiences. 

While companies are gearing up with the right mobile-centric technology and data infrastructure, there quickly comes a realization that a “last mile” challenge exists that not even the best data or the most responsive and personalized messaging can overcome: complexity and fragmentation in the overall mobile ecosystem. 

What is Horseshoe CX?

We’ve all experienced clicking a link from our mobile device, only to be frustrated when we’re routed to the web (even though we have the app installed), forced to install an app we’re not sure we want, or made to go hunting for the information we just clicked on. 

As illustrated above, the patchwork of mobile operating systems, channels, and platforms not only creates a massive amount of friction at the end-point for consumers, but also makes it difficult (if not impossible) to get a complete picture of mobile customer journeys. This challenge effectively creates an open-ended horseshoe out of what would otherwise be an ideal cycle of building targeted and personalized experiences that grow your business. 

Untold customers give up on frustrating or broken linking experiences, while a lack of consistent data across platforms and channels makes it difficult to know how to tune your campaigns and experiences. This becomes the weakest link in your infrastructure that causes experiences to underperform and investments in other parts of your tech stack to underdeliver.

Closing the Loop with Intelligent Linking + Multi-channel Attribution

So how do product and marketing teams close the loop this year and more firmly take their destinies into their own hands? What’s required is a holistic solution to mobile fragmentation at scale. 

Intelligent linking, mobile identity resolution and multi-channel attribution at scale is a difficult problem. At Branch we know this because our company was created to solve this challenge and we’ve been hard at work on it since our founding. 

Too often we see companies solving the problem in much the same fragmented way as the ecosystem itself. Custom linking solutions that are brittle, costly to maintain, and only cover a few channels or use cases. Or assuming they’ve got mobile attribution solved by investing in a solution for a single channel like paid media. 

What’s required to holistically solve mobile linking, identity resolution and multi-channel attribution at scale?

-Multi-channel linking solutions that cover all of your mobile use cases

-Direct integrations with all of your marketing platforms, ad networks, email service providers and analytics tools

-An easy to use interface to manage links and campaigns at scale

-Robust data sets and sophisticated modeling to resolve web-to-app customer identity across billions of mobile users

Don’t assume you have the mobile fragmentation problem solved if you have single-channel mobile attribution.

Single Channel Mobile Attribution is Not Enough

In the new world where Apple and Google are moving the mobile advertising industry toward aggregate data (as only measured and attributed through their platforms) and brands have renewed their commitments to first-party data from known users, single channel attribution is not enough. Today, paid media measurement and attribution for mobile is often siloed from other analytics, and mobile user behavior is either similarly siloed or a blind spot altogether in broader customer analytics and planning.

Moving forward, the new mandate from brands to their technology and agency partners is to determine what are the steady, reliable sources of data that they will be able to anchor their analytics on for the foreseeable future. Many are hard at work on future-proofing their data strategies by hardening privacy policies, shoring up user consent practices, and consolidating mobile datasets (which also means a new level of scrutiny on data sources).

What’s it Worth? Well…a Lot!

When looking at the value of closing the loop, what seems like an incremental set of improvements can quickly add up to very large top- and bottom- line dollar numbers. 

It starts by fixing the friction problem using a full-scale linking platform instead of custom-built, more limited solutions like Firebase, or nothing at all. Doing this in a single channel like email messaging, it’s not uncommon for a brand to see an immediate 1.5X improvement in app installs and opens. Further, typical install and re-engagement rates can improve 5X or more within a relatively short period as intelligent linking is applied to other channels like paid media, social posts, and web-to-app conversions.

 How Closing the Loop Creates Value

On the inbound side of the loop, more accurate, multi-channel attribution drives better allocation of your ad spend, a reduction in fraud, and greater leverage of low-cost, owned channels. Ultimately, closing this part of the loop enables decisions that make your dollars work harder to drive net growth in native app usage – where customers engage longer, spend more, and achieve higher LTV. 

Now you’re beginning to see how integral this piece of the puzzle is to optimizing the overall cycle of mobile customer engagement and getting the most out of your growth efforts and tech investments. This easily adds up to millions and an ROI that’s tough to match.

Toss out the Horseshoe in 2021

At the risk of mangling my metaphors, I’ll leave you with one last thought. You’ve probably heard the expression “close enough only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.” Hopefully, I’ve convinced you that Horseshoe CX isn’t anywhere near close enough to count for mobile customer experience in 2021. Make a commitment to closing the loop this year with intelligent linking and multi-channel attribution.