In a rather surprising move, during the 2015 Thanksgiving shopping week retail giant Amazon.com offered mobile app only deals. If you wanted a 50″ HDTV for only $150 (wow!), you simply had to download the app on your smart device – accessing the web from your mobile device didn’t count, you had to have the app downloaded. Amazon was not alone in this move. Target offered 10% off simply by creating a wish list on the Target Kids App. Other retail giants offered deals first on their app and then online. Shifting the focus entirely from desktop to mobile app engagement is certainly a bold move. At the same time, with 1.2 billion smart phones in the world, and 25% of the US population accessing the internet primarily through their phones, with 10% exclusively through their phones, maybe this mobile app development strategy is not without merit.
Eight years after the launch of the first generation iPhone, arguably the biggest game changer in customers’ behavior towards their phones, there are still many companies across the US who have not fully embraced the world of mobile consumers. In 2014, 45% of all US businesses didn’t have a mobile app or responsive website. Things have certainly improved since 2014 when 28% of US companies admitted to not having a mobile app development strategy. By 2015, only ~11% of US companies did not invest in mobile app development. Despite all this progress, when Google changed their algorithm for search in April of 2015 basically de-prioritizing search results from companies that were not “mobile-friendly”, a staggering 40% of the Fortune 500 companies were negatively impacted by the change since their websites were not mobile friendly.
What all this data shows is that many companies continue to operate in the mindset where the desktop/laptop experience takes priority over mobile. For those businesses that have a mobile app development strategy, new features and functionalities are still internally conceived with the web being the priority and mobile being an extension of the web.
Companies across the board continue to struggle to define the optimal mobile strategy for their business. In this article we explore the top ten reasons why you should make mobile strategy a priority in 2016. The benefits of a “mobile first” strategy speak for themselves from both a customer and a business perspective.
With 51% of total web viewing occuring on mobile, you need a mobile app development strategy.
Customers literally carry their phones with them everywhere. They wake up in the morning shutting down the alarm and checking the weather on their smartphone. They spend their time in transit to work looking the entire time at their 4-6” screens. They take breaks during the day and they carry their phones with them. They leave work and still their eyes are on their phones. They go out to dinner or to meet with a friend and even then they sporadically glance at their phones. I have even heard of people checking their phone during face-to-face job interview. The point is, the smartphone is with us all the time. I have forgotten my keys at home, my lunch, even my work laptop, but never, ever have I forgotten my smartphone when walking out the door. The smartphone is the technology I spend most of my time on each day, every day. And I’m not alone. According to Internet Trends 2015 Annual report, people spend more time on their phones than on any other device.
If people spend so much time on their smartphones these days, your business strategy must account for that.
2. Customers want to find what they need, fast, and based on their location.
The Uber app is a prime example of a company offering customers a service, based on location and need.
Turning on your location on your phone, you can catch an Uber or a Lyft. Or, on a road trip, you pull up your Orbitz app to find available hotels nearby. Perhaps you go to your Yelp app to search for nearby restaurants. Sure, many websites offer location-based services that let you enter your zip code to find results but smartphones eliminate the need for customers to manually enter any information and instead provide the instant gratification of finding what they’re looking for based on their location. Location based services have become so second-nature to most customers that in 2015, a staggering 75% of all US customers looked for offline, location-based services on their smart phones.
3. Notifications allow you to get to your customers in real time.
The old algorithm of engaging with customers only when they reach your website is gone. Push notifications have made it easier for any business to get in touch with their customers by sending critical information (your order has shipped) or marketing offers (check our sales on the app) directly to the user. In the past, the most effective method of pushing content, products, and offers to a user was via email. Even in today’s world, emails remain a very effective method of engaging with customers with the average click-through rate hovering around 3%. However, in a surprising turn of events, push notifications are far more powerful mediums of communicating and engaging with your customers than emails ever were. Accengage, a company that specializes in push notification technology for mobile apps, analyzed five billion push notifications sent to 150 million app users. The findings? A phenomenal 6% of all customers clicked on a notification across all industries and OS types. That makes in-app push notifications 100% more effective than your email marketing campaigns. What this means for a company is that they are 100% more likely to convey a message to a user through push notification than through email. This is what makes push notifications so powerful.
39% of Americans check their email 1-3 times a day with only 34% of them regularly checking their email throughout the day. In contrast, customers check their phones 46 times a day. This has redefined not only how people interact with the digital space but also how companies relate to their customers.
We check our phones so many times a day that companies can get to us “in the moment”. For a short 2-3 seconds you get my attention and if you know what you’re doing you can convince me to act based on the information you provide me with. And that’s what a micro-moment is: in a few seconds, companies with mobile apps can deliver quick information, based on which I can either act (buy this!) or consume (your pizza is on the way).
And your opportunity is huge: not only do you reach me through a push notification but you also provide me with the relevant information and options inside the app enabling me to act in the spur of the moment or return at a later stage. With so many opportunities to engage with me during the day, your likelihood of being effective is much higher when you have a mobile app then through any other means.
Personalization is King on mobile.
Here’s the greatest thing about a mobile app: once authenticated, a user need never log in again. In contrast, on a website you can only keep the user online for a limited amount of time either because of online legal regulations or because a user will clear their cache, making you lose the connection with that customer. On mobile this is not an issue. When a customer taps on an app the opportunities are endless. You can show him personalized deals and recommendations. You can take him straight to your homepage or to any other page that you think will convert him. You can show him his previous activity on the app or suggest something new. There are no limits to how well you can personalize a user’s in-app experience.
Consider the page I see when tapping on the Groupon app. This app has completely personalized user experience based on what they thought was relevant for me: informing me of an existing deal, reminding me of deals I previously looked at, and trying to sell me on a new type of service they’re offering which I’ve never tried before. That shows just how powerful a mobile app can be based on the data points they’ve collected about me in the past. Don’t miss out – personalization is key on mobile!
Get honest unbiased feedback through the app store ratings and reviews.
As many companies have realized over time, true unbiased feedback is hard to get. Any business that tries to be customer focused will have strategies for engaging users and getting their honest opinion. In a website setting, that is more difficult to achieve. Typically, it’s done through a pop-up which most users will almost automatically, without reading, dismiss. In the app world the conversation is different because the user has a clear way of communicating their point of view. In a website setting if a user doesn’t like what they see they simply abandon it. On an app, especially if they don’t like it, they will leave comments. And though a company might take a hit in download rate if their feedback is too negative, they can easily gauge customer interest, likes, and dislikes, and that way they can easily adapt their mobile strategy. More importantly, when pushing down an update, the company can clearly and concisely call out what’s been fixed based on user feedback, as in the examples below:
As we can see from the weather app, the developer is very quick to thank users for their feedback and call out what changes they’ve made based on user input. The Google app also calls out what is clearly a set of optimizations made based on customer input (improved navigation and load time improvements). Not only is this feedback mechanism good for the business, it’s also good for the customers; it shows that companies listened to them, and that as a user they have a voice in this interaction.
Collect critical information from your customers in a convenient way or allow for easy alternatives on a smartphone.
We’ve all been there. You get to the point where you want to make a purchase and now you need to pull the credit card out of your wallet, enter the 16 digit number, the expiration date, the first and last name and the CVC code. When we’re really determined to buy a product we begrudgingly do all that. But with a smartphone the process is much easier. With software like card.io any app can simply use the option to allow the customer to simply position their credit card in front of the phone’s camera where all but the CVC code is “read” by the app on your behalf. This advancement not only makes the collection of billing information easier and more convenient to the user but it also eliminates the potential for failure (not entering informational correctly) for the user, something your traditional desktop cannot do.
With an app, you have the customer’s full attention.
Firstly, if you think smartphone users spend their time on their phones surfing the web, you are mistaken. 80% of the time spent by a user on their smart phone is inside an app with only 20% of the time being spent on websites. Secondly, by the very definition of an app, once you’ve captured the customer’s attention they will spend more time on your app than engaged in other activities or using other apps/websites. In the traditional desktop world, the user can simply open new tabs and move away from your website. On a smart device, from a user’s point of view, it is very inconvenient to abandon the app, go to another app or website for comparison shopping, and then return. What that means in the mobile world is that if you can attract the customer to your app then your chances of providing relevant content that will result in a conversion are much higher.
Improve overall engagement with your customers.
If you played all your cards right and ended up with a user downloading your app then you’re in a good position to engage with that customer. Firstly, the user took the trouble of downloading the app instead of cruising in and out of your website. Secondly, your app is now taking up top real estate on a user’s screen. That puts you in a great position to engage with that person. For example, users are more likely to tap on an app if they see a notification count next to it because they see it almost as an unopened email that they need to look at.
Offline mode allows for uninterrupted engagement.
Shazam’s offline mode makes users’ experience enjoyable even when mobile data is off.
People find themselves in offline mode all the time. Your office might have poor reception. Perhaps you’re on a plane. Or at a cinema, waiting for a movie to start. The point is this happens to all smartphone users. All the time! And when that happens, companies with native applications that support an offline mode are in a great position to delight and engage their users. When your app is loaded on the customer’s phone you’re not so reliant on network or Wi-Fi connectivity which allows you to continue engaging with your users. Some companies that are dependent on the cloud to function properly will even go the extra mile and save the user’s input for later when the user’s phone regains network access.
Frankly, I’m surprised mobile app developers have not yet found a way to trigger notifications to smartphone users with spotty internet connectivity in an attempt to differentiate themselves as an app a customer can use during the internet down times. Give it time!
As we can see, in the world of mobile app development there are 9 strategies not present in the desktop/laptop space which allow for meaningful conversations and relevant product/service targeting campaigns. Most importantly, these 9 strategies are effective and useful for a business because they focus on making the experience convenient to the user. From Shazam’s ability to save a song tag for when I regain phone reception, to Uber’s capacity to match me with a driver based on my location, to Google’s tools that remind me when to head out the door based on an upcoming appointment, to the companies that allow me to scan my credit card and save me the hassle of manually enter the information, these mobile app enabled abilities focus on the customer.
As we all know, the most successful companies are those who make customers’ lives just a little bit easier and help customers fulfill tasks in a faster and more efficient manner. Is your company positioned tactically through a mobile strategy to help your customers get what they need?