15 Mobile Insights You Can’t Miss from SXSW 2016

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“User utility is everything.” That, in a nutshell, was the key takeaway from Urban Airship’s fourth Mobile Saturday event at SXSW 2016, an annual gathering of industry thought leaders focused on what’s next in mobile.

And that should come as no shock — or should it? The idea that “utility” for the user should be the mobile industry’s primary goal just sounds intuitive, but unfortunately it has not been a singular focus for many brands as the mobile world has exploded. Fortunately, brands are taking note, and focusing more on growing and sustaining mobile engagement.

The Speakers Told Us So

Consider quotes from many of the panelists from the event:

“If you provide the utility, and you create a trust with your fanbase along the way, it’s going to be more palatable when you do start to deliver types of marketing- and sales-driven messages.” — Michael Conley, Vice President, Digital, Cleveland Cavaliers

“By doing that [pulling in app extensions], it means you can have the best of every app but not have it suffer from trying to do so many things.” — Ben West, Co-Founder, Eventbase Technology, Inc.

“We generally don't complain about use of advertisements if it has utility.” — Merrill Brown, Director, School of Communication and Media, Montclair State University

And the Audience Agreed

Key for driving in-store behavior with mobile: engaging content, easy/efficient experience, rewards loyalty #mobilesat #sxsw @amerrit

— Mia Hegazy (@MiaHegazy) March 12, 2016

Evaluate product long term on how users engage, not just at the moment. Else you’re building product for yourself. #mobilesat #sxsw2016

— Dan Polinsky (@danpolinsky) March 12, 2016

New trend in app dev: Services like Slack serve as containers that 3rd parties develop within (vs. creating new app communities). #mobilesat

— Britton Upham (@txupham) March 12, 2016

Respect Mobile Engagement

Brands have taken note that the space on a mobile device is precious — and that utility will be key to keeping it and satisfying the needs of their most engaged users. Mike Conley, vice president of digital with the Cleveland Cavaliers may have said it best: “At the end of the day, all this stuff we’re trying to automate — there’s a human on the other side of it. And that human on the other side is ultimately the one you’re going to have to impress.”

For more takeaways from the event — including the best strategies for app user testing, the barriers to omnichannel marketing efforts and how mobile engagement channels are growing beyond the app — check out our “15 Key Insights from Mobile Saturday at SXSW 2016.”