This provocative article by Tony Aube in TechCrunch explores the invisible apps / artificial intelligence trend, concentrating on using AI developed applications in a messaging context, potentially developing to the point where a U/I is no longer necessary in many useful applications!
It’s fantastic reading for investors, entrepreneurs, developers and designers.
But what’s the advice for marketing on all of this?
After all, unless your product is included automatically in a system, you do have to convince people not just to install and use it for the first time, but to value it enough ongoing that they recommend, or perhaps buy extra features. That’s pretty tough to do if you don’t have a U/I to communicate with customers.
Even if your invisible app is saving them lots of time and hassle, if it is perfectly seamlessly integrated, they may not even be aware of the value your service is bringing!
How do we know?
Because our service can run in entirely automatic “invisible” mode, where address books are completed and updated totally behind the scenes.
That’s obviously great for our users who want to “set it and forget it.” They take 1 minute to authorize Evercontact for Gmail or Office365, set it to automatic mode, and after that they have nothing to do to ensure that their address book is always up-to-date even if their contacts change jobs or phone numbers.
But our business relies on our clients remembering that we are there working hard for them behind the scenes. How can we get them to recommend us to their companies or refer us to their friends if they forget about us?
How do you make value clear for something that is invisible?
We do need contact with our customers, which means either a UI interface that they have to use, or sending them regular messages. Which kind of goes against the whole “forget it” idea.
And if you get it wrong, you risk putting off your clients to the point where they uninstall your system just to stop the messages.
Our worry is the very people that our service is the most valuable, busy professionals who can’t afford to lose time manually updating contacts or leaving messages to the wrong contact number, are the ones that will most appreciate us in hands-off mode. The last thing they want are email reminders and suggestions for things that will take up their valuable time.
Of course we’re talking about technology, but the problem is a very old one. A perfect example is insurance companies, you don’t want to think about it until you need it. But the companies need you to think about it, and you need to as well to make sure you are protected.
It’s a balancing act
You have to find the sweet spot in between making the value clear and leaving your customers alone that all businesses have to face, from deciding when to harass window shoppers to how to set the default alerts on an Apple Watch.
In our case, we currently start out all new signups in manual mode instead of automatic. That way they can not only check our recommended contact additions and updates to make sure we are perfectly accurate, but this also gives us a chance for them to see the value of our service in action instead of moving straight into “forget it” mode.
But establishing our value can be dangerous for our business
Busy professionals don’t always notice or have time to read the email where we tell them how they can set Evercontact on automatic mode without receiving email notifications and having to approve each update we find.
So some of them assume that the service is too time consuming, or another annoyance to contribute to their inbox overload and uninstall.
Read No UI is the New UI here:
We are continuously experimenting with how best to balance the invisible with the communication we need to grow our business. So far we don’t have all the answers, but we would love to hear your thoughts.