Over the holidays, it’s a good idea to clean up your messy house before inviting family and friends to visit. Fix the doorbell that doesn’t work, repair the fraying carpet in the living room, wrap the piled-up packages that litter the living room floor and place them under the tree.

It’s important for marketers to optimize their mobile apps, too, because some of them are like messy houses. They may have great potential, but they lose their appeal as soon as customers knock on the door.

The worst thing marketers can do, in fact, is to set continuously high expectations for their customers and then deliver poor app experiences. Even if apps host awesome campaigns and compelling messages, customers will walk away if the underlying app experience sucks – if it doesn’t work or is more frustrating than satisfying. Unsatisfactory experiences can arise from frustrating sign-in attempts, unflattering interfaces, confusing instructions, poor navigation and myriad other interactions.

Optimize apps for the holidays
Mobile marketers must create app experiences that customers want to return to time and time again, and that requires continuous testing and optimization. Fixes can range from minor tweaks to all-out overhauls, but marketers will not know which leads to success until they test-drive and optimize the apps for the most successful engagement and activity. Three simple tactics:

  • Test the design: Try different combinations of colors, pictures, designs and button placement to see which features prompt the highest click-through rates.
  • Test the copy: Try different promotional phrases or calls to action to see which is most effective and produces the best results.
  • Measure results to find out which configuration, image or call to action increases the amount of time users spend with apps, encourages pass-along to others, or boosts purchases or revenues.

A few recent success stories from some of our clients’ apps, in fact, provide great examples of how optimizing app experiences can create positive results and success:

  • For their app, Travelex tested three different promo code options at the payment interface. Gray text resulted in 27% more conversions (vs. no code), and blue text negatively impacted conversions. The client, obviously, opted for gray-text codes.
  • Instead of automatically expecting customers to know how to use a newly downloaded app, one client targeted new users with helpful three-step tutorials and welcome messages that explained the app’s benefits and features. Two-thirds of users completed the tutorials, and their time spent in the app increased 77% vs. those who did not click.
  • A contest app sent reminders to users who had not signed up within three days, offering a deep-link that featured one-tap contest registration. Users who received notifications signed up at twice the rate of those who did not.

The lesson for marketers? Build a solid app foundation, and then create, test and optimize flagship app experiences that keep customers coming back for more. Doing so will make your campaigns measurably more effective and successful.

In fact, if your app is like a messy house, don’t invite customers to visit until you’ve cleaned up, spiffed up, reorganized and made sure the visit will be rewarding enough to inspire a return trip.