Mobile apps are changing how we interact with brands. Today 86 percent of the average US mobile consumer's time is spent using mobile apps or 2 hrs and 19 minutes per day, according to a report from Flurry Analytics. With gaming apps the most popular (32% of time spent) followed close behind by social and messaging applications, including Facebook (28% of time spent). Lucinda Newcomb, VP of mobile and site product management at Sephora, explains that native mobile apps allow companies to interact with a "highly-engaged audience" through a channel that offers a completely different customer experience compared to all others.
"Apps require effort; you have to find and download them," Newcomb said. "Audience is more engaged and loyal. Once the customer is there, an app helps a brand offer a highly engaging experience."
The importance of the app experience
But simply having a mobile app won’t cut it, especially with so many of them available and ever increasing across devices and platforms. According to eMarketer, by 2017 160 billion app downloads will occur worldwide - double the current number. The landscape is highly competitive especially with Google and Apple influencing downloads by highlighting the most popular apps. Getting someone to download your mobile app is a colossal challenge in itself. To further compound the challenge, user retention rates of apps over the first six months of use absolutely depend on the quality of the app, according to eMarketer. Simply put, mobile users refresh their app collection frequently, and if yours isn't up to par, it will find itself in the recycling bin.
"There's little doubt that a consumer's decision to download and regularly use an app depends on the quality of the app, the relevance of the app's content and the ease of the user experience," the eMarketer report noted.
How to achieve an optimal app experience
According to Young Entrepreneur Council’s article Misconceptions About Mobile App Marketing That Can Stunt Valuable User Growth for Forbes, an important misconception is that mobile analytics software is for product people, not marketers. Marketers tend to ignore this powerful data that explains how users flow through an app and the overall health of the app. KPIs such as retention and engagement are essential to marketers, but it is also critical to understand your users' intent, needs and experiences while in your app. Only by combining customer feedback with mobile analytics can you truly understand the in-app experience to drive retention, engagement and conversion.
Apps are now an integral part of modern marketing. As you develop and roll out your apps, remember that it’s the in-app experience that will make the difference. The key to standing out from the crowd and winning in the app market is providing the experiences your users need and expect.