Mobile marketing and the age of ‘there’s an app for that’ seemed to dawn at lightning speed thanks to new technologies and an almost insatiable demand for apps that promised to make every aspect of daily life easier. Yet while apps of course still exist and continue to be developed, some commentators have begun to question whether smartphone users are becoming increasingly apathetic towards them. This raises the question, how can marketers create an app strategy that provides for the needs of their target demographic and ensure apps remain a part of the marketer’s toolkit?
Apathy towards apps?
According to a recent article by Econsultancy, ‘people just aren’t that bothered about apps anymore.’ Econsultancy cited research undertaken by Google, which found that ‘87% of users say that – even if they are loyal to a brand – they don’t feel the need to have its app on their phone.’ Likewise, ‘53% say they have never downloaded their favourite brand’s app.’
This data is at odds with the astronomical amount of time many of us spend using mobile phones on a daily basis, which should lead the observant marketer to ask – what went wrong? Econsultancy highlights a few reasons for the lack of customer interest in downloading new apps. These range from a lack of knowledge about a brand’s new app being available, to a failure of the brand to communicate the benefits that could be gained from downloading their app. When so many sites are now mobile optimised and able to fulfil a customer’s needs, the value of an app has arguably waned if it is unable to deliver anything over and above what can be found online.
What can marketers do?
This so-called apathy towards apps is not an irreversible trend, and there are a number of things that marketers can do to ensure that their app provides value, not only to the customer but also to a brand’s marketing strategy as a whole.
1. Work on visibility
With one of the key factors feeding customer apathy towards apps being a lack of awareness about their existence, brands must work on visibility if they are going to drive traffic to their app.
A large part of the problem is the overwhelming amount of apps that are available to smartphone users, with eMarketer noting that as of 2017 ‘Apple’s App Store [was] home to over 2 million mobile apps, and the number of apps available on the Google Play Store [was] even higher—at 3.6 million.’ With this is mind, making your app visible by optimising its appeal and store credentials is a must if you want to attract users to its benefits.
Simple techniques such as ‘optimising an app’s core assets—such as the icon, title and description— […] can help marketers push up their app store ranking without spending a dime on media buys.’ This can help to channel those users already interested in downloading an app and ensure they convert into actual users that can be marketed to and retained going forwards.
2. Give your app a USP
Similarly, given that many app users feel there are limited benefits to downloading a brand’s app over using its mobile-optimised website, marketers need to focus on providing a reason that inspires people to download. This USP could be unique offers for products purchased via the app, app-based loyalty programmes or new features that simplify and add value to a user’s daily habits.
One app that has strove to provide users with an added-value experience is cloud storage service Dropbox. According to an article by Mobile Marketing Magazine, Dropbox has recently unveiled a series of new app features ‘aimed at making it easier for users to collaborate on content while on the move.’ These features include ‘bring[ing] together file activity with file previews, with users able to pull up a list of events including edits, shares and viewer history with one tap’ and a ‘centralised Home screen has been added to the mobile app that brings users straight to their most important items, with starred files and recent work gathered into one place.’
By focusing on utility and simplification of in-app navigation, Dropbox has sought to make its app indispensable to commuters, overstretched managers and any busy worker who wants their documents available at their fingertips. By tapping into the demand for instant gratification and increased productivity, Dropbox has cleverly positioned its app in terms of clear benefits to the customer.
3. Measure to improve your app
Just like split-testing for email or ROI monitoring for your OOH campaign, developing and maintaining an app must be built on concrete measurements that provide actionable insights.
According to Mobile Marketing Magazine, ‘measurement solutions can help you understand how users move through your app, and how you can compare their journey to someone else who arrived via a different source.’ Additionally, the article argues that ‘measurement also gives marketers much more information about what goes on in their app, such as tracking user events, uninstalls (and reinstalls), and key data on user lifetime value (LTV).’ All this information helps marketers to understand their customers’ behaviour and identify trends that can be used to target specific groups of users with their campaigns or initiatives.
By combining these three factors, brands are able to combat customer apathy towards apps and ensure that apps remain a central feature of their mobile marketing strategy.