Companies have a system that works, and they stick with it. That ideology stems from a fear of lost users/customers/profits. The concern is that by implementing a new app or new features they will confuse or frustrate users. That is a reasonable fear, but not one that should hold a company back, as such reticence also prevents companies from implementing positive change and useful new features.

Brute-force user acquisition doesn’t work (the way we want it to).

Digital marketing professionals have spent years finding ways to get users to download mobile apps. Those strategies work; their success metric is downloads and they see a lot of success, but it isn’t sustainable success. Marketing professionals can get apps on phones but can’t keep them there:

  • 20 percent of all mobile apps are only used once.
  • 70 percent of downloaded mobile apps are uninstalled within a month.
  • Only 10 percent of retail app users spend money within the application.

A great deal can be inferred from these absurdly low retention rates. Clearly there is something intrinsically wrong with the 20 percent of mobile apps that are immediately uninstalled. Perhaps they are bloated, difficult to use, or poorly designed. Perhaps they are simply misleading, which is to say that they do not provide the user with the desired functionality. For an app to survive the initial culling it must be well-built and provide the promised functionality.

We can see that users don’t see the long-term use or utility in 70 percent of the mobile apps that they download. The user may find these mobile apps frustrating in some small way (too many push notifications, etc.), but in a way that builds over time and culminates in an uninstall. Perhaps the search features of the mobile app are obtuse and clumsy; it is also possible that the application does not deliver the content that the users are interested in. For an app to survive the initial culling process it must integrate with users’ lives in a nonfrustrating, unobtrusive way and provide users with content that they care about.

These figures show that only 10 percent of retail app users find the process engaging, convenient, and satisfying enough to lead them through the sales funnel. Some users only utilize mobile e-commerce apps to price-check items that they have a passing curiosity about or to perform price comparisons while they are in brick-and-mortar stores.

There are, of course, other messages in the numbers. There are other causes and determining factors at play, but they show that developers, UI designers and marketers are not doing the best job possible to produce the best product. It says that customers are not having the optimal experience.

Build it better.

If a better mobile app is built, users will stick with it longer. If a more useful app is built, users will interact with it more.

If an organization is concerned about sidelining a primary mobile app while it is reworked, development teams could opt for an “app constellation.” An app constellation is a series of mobile apps with highly specialized content and utility. Rather than building one app that does five things, teams can split existing mobile apps into smaller apps with specific functionality.

This allows companies and teams to polish individual functionality aspects. These mobile apps can provide the same overall functionality, and even integrate with each other, while providing marketers and developers with insight into what, how, and why customers interact with particular application aspects. Think of this as an aspect of personalization as it allows users to opt in to specific features that they find useful (or out of features that they don’t).

Leverage behavioral insight to produce better products.

  1. Is it easy to use?
  2. Is it fun to use?
  3. Is it convenient?
  4. Is all of the information easily accessible?
  5. Are we badgering our users with notifications?
  6. Are they deleting the app?
  7. Are they actually using the app?

When an organization contextualizes the information at its disposal, it gains a more accurate view of a situation. When that same organization compiles its acquired information and builds an omnichannel approach to user information, it gains the ability to deliver accurate and desirable information to its users.

Look at the data and determine out how to use that data as a roadmap to success. Marketing and development teams will be able to parse when, where, why, and how users interact with mobile applications. If that infrastructure is in place to aggregate, analyze, and understand this information, then there is no excuse for ignoring it. The techniques and tools that digital marketing professionals have are always changing. Customer insights will show when teams are on the right track, and when they aren’t.

The customer’s experience is king.

In past years ROI was measured in downloads, social media engagement, and in-app purchases. Those outdated modalities are still important, but pale in comparison to the importance of customer experience. A positive experience keeps a mobile app on their device. A great experience moves it to the home screen. A terrible customer experience gets the mobile app uninstalled.