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Exclusive Interview with Ross Sheil, Head of EMEA Mobile for Twitter

Twitter has grown in to one of the best known & well used social platforms around with millions of users. Companies have seen this as an ideal opportunity to grow their reach and grow their brand. Now, companies have begun to utilize Twitter ads to drive sales and create leads. A profile on the platform has become a must-have for any company looking to exploit social channels. In the lead up to his session at Apps World London 2016 discussing how to build continued stickiness, Ross Sheil, Head of EMEA Mobile for Twitter, spoke to us about building a mobile marketing strategy and converting a user to spend.

Can you tell us a bit about your background and your position with the company?

I am Head of Mobile for Twitter EMEA, I joined Twitter as an early employee in 2012 and build out Twitter's first mobile team globally focused on growing our partner's app business' across gaming, consumer, and other verticals. Our team is focused on providing premium service to some of the world's largest app brands and setting them up for success both on and off-Twitter.

To what extent should consumer stickiness be part of mobile marketing strategy?

Consumer stickiness is crucial, churn is the silent killer of many app businesses's. Stickiness can be achieved in numerous ways but mostly through optimizing for experience first and monetisation second. Some app developers focus on monetization first which is important but through optimising for experience, stickiness will drive monetisation in your product organically. In paid marketing there are numerous strategies to drive stickiness like re-engagement, in my opinion, re-engagement is really a misnomer, it is actually engagement. App developers should not wait for a user to churn before re-engaging them - companion marketing to optimize for purchasing yields through 'engagement' should be the focus, games apps are experts in this area. A very large trend in optimising for stickiness is app marketers building their own cross-promotion technology where they can cross-pollinate their user-bases and move them into sticky conversion flows across a network of apps to achieve network effects, this is a strong strategy and helps the advertiser achieve a constellation effect in the app store where they are not reliant on one single strategy or game.

Can an app continue to grow without having a retention strategy in place?

Yes but not optimally. All apps should have a strong retention strategy in place to optimize for DAU, where they don't their app becomes a leaky bucket and can never achieve the perfect storm of organic, paid & platform marketing to achieve virality. There are numerous companies that help optimize for retention like LeanPlum, Appboy, and many others, I would advise all app developers to think strongly about where 'retention' fits into their marketing stack, it should be high on their lost of priorities, the best app marketers are those that have high levels of communication between product and marketing teams to rigorously measure the effect of each on retention, Spotify and Skyscanner are two leaders here in their tribes & squads org structure which optimises for outcomes and prevents silos between teams.

How can a brand continuously engage with their audience through mobile without becoming repetitive?

The key to this is focusing on storytelling, whether you are a metrics-driven performance marketer or a brand marketer you need to be an expert storyteller bringing your product to life through mobile marketing. Every platform now offers the ability to tell rich, immersive, compelling narratives - on Twitter as an example marketers use all of our rich video canvases like vine, periscope, gifs, conversational video to join the dots across their story and leverage solutions like Mobile App Promotion via Twitter Audience Platform to move those users down the funnel to install and purchase whilst continuing the story and dialogue with their consumer, this is crucial - every good marketer needs to ask themselves the question 'what story am I communicating and how do I plan to measure the effectiveness of that story ?'

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What do you believe drives a consumer in the digital domain?

Consumers are driven by 'The Now', they are seeking out 'what is happening now'. At Twitter we call this #LIVE where we enable our consumers to discover fresh, impactful & relevant content at the right moment and at the right time. We are also seeing a seismic shift towards video, on Twitter there has been a 220x increase in video views in the last 12 months and 93% of our video views are mobile, this is the medium where the consumer now expects your brand to be in. Video, mobile & live for us is what drives a consumer in the digital age.

What will make the consumer spend?

The consumer will spend through relevancy, they are seeking out relevant content in a mobile-first environment. We see strong trends and patterns of purchasing behaviour on Twitter, it starts with app discovery, Twitter is a strong discovery platform for apps, 61% of our users have installed an app in the last 4 weeks with 40% paying for apps and 30% paying for in-app purchases that index significantly higher than other platforms.

This relevancy is driven through a powerful targeting suite where you can reach users who have installed different categories of apps, reach users based on what they are tweeting, and of course leverage Twitter's rich interest graph and compelling native creatives on Twitter Audience Platform that break through the noise and clutter of standard display.

Which mobile trends are really exciting you for this year and in to the future?

I'm excited about the app streaming space there is a lot of new tech in this area that will enable partners to live stream gameplay and their app experience on Twitter, I feel this will be a huge trend in general but particularly for gaming & esports.
In the industry we see a lot of budget shifting to video, I think this trend will continue into 2017 with more immersive video formats like 360 and live gameplay achieving mainstream adoption.

Native will also continue it's rise, native is now at the core of Twitter Audience Platform we have partners who are achieving very strong ROI on native, native is huge for the millennial audience 60% of millennials prefer native over any other format so it's an important trend for app marketers to invest in.

Who are you looking forward to meeting at Apps World?

The appsters are always a highlight for me to understand what upcoming mobile startups are innovating across Europe so I'll be watching the appsters pretty closely. As an aside from that I'm curious to hear how the CTO's at Tesco and Asos are approaching the evolving customer journey across mobile and future-proofing their business's in this space.

Which topics do you expect to dominate at this year’s Apps World?

Video, App Streaming, Live & Programmatic!

To catch Ross's session "How do I get continued stickiness through an app?" book your pass for the Mobile Marketing Conference at Apps World London 2016 October 19th-20th.

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