There are 2 types of mobile engagement: Inherent vs. Enhancement. The CMO of Home Depot has it nailed.

There are 2 types of mobile engagement: Inherent vs. Enhancement. The CMO of Home Depot has it nailed.

Today at the Mobile Marketing Association's NYC Forum, the CMO of The Home Depot, Trish Mueller, gave a gangbusters presentation on the impact mobile has had to her company.

As she was showing off what The Home Depot's mobile app can do, she mentioned that users of the app can literally place a physical bolt onto the screen of an app to correctly size the bolt, making it easier to find the bolt in the store:

You can find more fascinating stats from Trish's presentation below, but to zoom out and be more macro for a bit: The app's bolt functionality is an awesome example of something that my co-founder Isaac and I have been discussing a lot recently:

There are two types of engagement in a mobile app. Inherent Engagement, and Enhancement Engagement.

Engagement is a huge problem in mobile. Think about it -- how many apps do you have on your phone that you never open?

And the problem is only going to get worse. That's why I say that there's a mobile engagement crush coming and that a number of Fortune 1000 CEOs will be fired for missing it.

So let's talk about inherent vs. enhancement engagement:

Inherent Engagement:

The core function of an app has to provide some value on its own. Trish's Home Depot app bolt sizing mechanism is an example of this. It's a core function of the app. There are other things the app does that are also inherently engaging, such as being able to use augmented reality to see how an item in the store would look in your living room before you buy it.

Another example of inherent engagement is a banking app that lets you deposit your check just by taking a picture of it.

Or the Contour HD Camera app, which lets me start recording video on the camera just by tapping a 'record' button on the app.

Or the startup Automatic, which is liberating data from the car dashboard with its app in ways that humans really care about.

Inherent engagement is a very business-specific thing. A business has to really think about how it can add value to its customer base. And if you don't think your business is mobile, you're wrong. Every business is mobile, because every user will want to interact with you through a mobile device. If you can't think of ways to inherently engage your customer base, then you just haven't thought about it enough.

Enhancement Engagement:

Enhancement engagement, on the other hand, is very different. It's like an overlay that is not business-specific. Examples of enhancement engagement include:

  • Gamify the app. Turn something boring into a competition for users that keeps them coming back. Leaderboards are a similar example of gamification in an app.
  • Add a social overlay to the app. This is exactly what my startup Socialize does. Adding this social overlay can double engagement in an app and increase organic downloads significantly.
  • Enable targeted notifications in an app. This ties into social above, for example, with Socialize's MicroTargeting and SmartAlert functionality.
  • Personalize the experience in the app. It's crazy that everyone has the exact same experience in an app when they open it up. The app should be personalized to each user's interests.

There's a ton of opportunity for platforms in the 'enhancement engagement' space, because it isn't app-specific, but rather it's human-specific. I.e., we're all social creatures.

Isaac gave a great presentation on inherent vs. enhancement engagement at a recent conference for CMOs. Here's a video of his talk. You can find his full slides here.

More from Trish, the CMO of The Home Depot:

Back to Trish's presentation today: Hopefully I'll be able to post here full slide deck here, but below are some highlights she provided about how The Home Depot (THD) is approaching mobile:

  • Trish views mobile as Personal, Adaptive and Valuable. She mentioned a few times how intimate a connection it is with the userbase; how it creates a "one-on-one connection".
  • 1/3 of THD's traffic in 2012 came from mobile, which is incredible, but even more incredible is that 60% of traffic was mobile during Black Friday last year. (!!!)
  • During hurricaine Sandy, THD sent notices to customers in affected areas on how to prepare their homes. This is a great example of enhancement engagement mentioned above. She mentioned that push notifications increased traffic by 60%.
  • THD views both mobile web and mobile apps as equally important.
  • Every single store layout is mapped out and can tell you where an item is in the store. A scannable bar / qr code tells you more about product.
  • Mobile search converts more than desktop - BUT they convert in the store! This means that from a strict mobile ROI perspective, the numbers can be misleading because users search on their phones then buy in the store -- they don't buy on their phones as much as they go to the store, but mobile drives both behaviors and must be accounted for as such.