Aggregate (verb): to form or group things into a cluster
According to new research from App Annie, the average smartphone owner uses 9 apps per day, and 30 per month.
When you consider that for most people, these tallies will include heavyweight apps like Facebook Messenger, Google Maps and Snapchat, it becomes clear that most other apps face a struggle to secure a place on customers’ handsets. It’s a case of be useful or get deleted.
Here at Magpie, we’ve dedicated ourselves to the task of helping apps make the cut – and the key method we use to do it is service aggregation.
What is aggregation?
We can see aggregation at work throughout the whole history of commerce.
Think of markets, of supermarkets, of shopping centres – they’ve all thrived by giving people all the things they need in one place. You might say they’ve aggregated products and services into single retail experiences.
More recently, Compare the Market disrupted the insurance industry by aggregating quotes from multiple suppliers into a single-page view. Time after time, aggregation has proven its power to transform the way things work.
Magpie does aggregation for apps.
Service aggregation & data aggregation
We deal in two different – but profoundly linked – types of “aggregation”.
On the one hand, there’s the aggregation of multiple digital services into individual apps or other forms of digital container. One app; multiple services. We call this service aggregation.
Our approach to service aggregation revolves around augmenting an app’s core service with useful complementary additions. For example, we might add a personal planner tool to a banking app; a location tracker tool to a travel planning app; and so on. By aggregating multiple services into a single app, we make the app more valuable to the customer – and therefore less dispensable.
We would venture that the opposite of service aggregation is app proliferation – the packaging of individual services, by the same brand, in standalone apps.
And behind the scenes, there’s data aggregation. This simply means the sorting of information into datasets.
Service aggregation and data aggregation work spectacularly well together. As the customer uses each service, data can be inferred and aggregated. This allows us to use data from one service to improve another.
For example, if a travel insurance app also features a travel planner tool, we can feed destination into the travel planner according to the destinations covered by the user’s travel insurance purchases. By engineering different services to automatically enhance one another, we can deliver a better, smarter experience.
Let’s see how aggregated services look in practice…
The screenshots above show how aggregated services can be presented on a smartphone screen.
On the left, you can see Magpie’s aggregated services ecosystem in its un-branded form.
On the right, is how this ecosystem looks when it’s built into a branded app.
The user can select the various services offered within the app interface, with no need to navigate away or log into another app. Brands can choose which services from Magpie or of their own they wish to include in their app.
Having access to multiple services in one app is captivating. It gives added value; it provides new reasons to keep an app and use it regularly; and it may even redefine your brand’s strategic position in relation to the customer.
It makes your brand, and your app, more important.
Aggregating services onto your app will likely prove especially effective if your core service is for occasional use only. An excellent example of this idea in action is the Italian telecom brand, WIND.
A few years back, WIND was struggling to get people to keep using its app – because quite simply, how often would the average person check an app solely dedicated to their mobile provider?
The solution the brand struck upon was to make their app more useful on a day-to-day basis, through the addition of a travel ticket purchasing service. Within the space of months, the struggling app gained millions of users – many of whom were clearly attracted by the travel booker function.
Through aggregating a winning combination of services, WIND had turned their unpopular app into a daily staple for millions of Italians.
How user actions translate into data in the backend
Every data-point gathered via an app can be aggregated into a dataset that triggers targeted communications to the customer. This could range from details typed into forms right down to behaviours like dwell time and exit rate. It’s also possible to import data from other channels and databases to create an even richer overview of the user.
Getting customers to switch from analogue to digital channels can be tricky – but once the balance starts to tip, the reciprocity between data and service aggregation can help build tremendous momentum.
The better your aggregated services, the more they’ll get used. The more your services get used, the more data you’ll gather. The more data you gather, the better your aggregated services can become… and ad infinitum.
This benefit doesn’t stop at the parameters of the app. In fact, the data an app gathers can be used to influence and shape every targeted communication from the brand to the customer.
Why bother making an app popular in the first place?
We’ve spent this whole article talking about how aggregating services and data can improve apps and make them more popular – but we haven’t really touched on why businesses need to do this in the first place.
The answer, in two words, is digital transformation.
Apps are an important resource – if not the essential platform – for transferring customers from face-to-face interactions to digital ones. The sooner you can get your customers to fully adopt your app, the sooner you can reap the benefits of reduced staffing costs, expedited customer service and future-fitness.
Today, the average number of apps your customers use probably won’t reach double-figures. If you want your app to get used, it’ll need to be exceptionally useful.
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