I app-solutely need one… Or do I?

Topic: Technology

App overload
Over the last few years I’ve spoken with many customers about how to improve customer interactions or their own internal processes, and the one word that seems to appear in almost every conversation is ‘app’.
Businesses either have one that offers their customers some form of information or access to their account, or they believe they need one to connect with their customers and compete with other businesses. They understand that for most people, the majority of time spent using a smartphone is in apps and feel that they need to tap into this market.

Are apps where it’s at?

Earlier this year my colleague wrote an article titled Apps vs web: is there a happy medium? This explored a survey of app developers, which found that the average cost to develop an app was $6,452.
Of course it’s not about the cost, but the return on investment – but that’s by no means guaranteed. The 2016 Deloitte Global Mobile Consumer Survey reported that “most users download just 0.00001 per cent of the millions of apps available.”

But I only want to check the weather!

In the same paper, the activity that was most used via an app was checking the weather, with 56% of people saying an app is their preferred method for doing so.
If I take a look at my own smartphone, with the exception of my Vodaphone app, the only business related app is for my bank. The rest are all social media, sports related or games.

“The majority of smartphone owners have downloaded 20 or fewer apps. Only ten per cent have downloaded 30 or more… Even among 18–24 year olds the majority have downloaded 20 or fewer.” – Deloitte

App installation statistics

How many apps do you have installed on your phone?

Why isn’t app adoption higher?

Apps are most successful when they’re being used for a regularly repeated action – playing a game, accessing social media, or reading the news.
For more irregular activity, such as paying a bill, providing information such as a meter reading or a change of circumstances, or registering for an event, while you might wish to deliver the superior user experience of an app, the likelihood of the app being downloaded for this sort of activity is fairly remote.
There’s also the simple fact that most people don’t want to have their smartphone clogged up with multiple apps.

What about mobile web apps?

“Native and hybrid apps are installed in an app store, whereas web apps are mobile-optimized webpages that look like an app.” – Neilsen Norman Group

Mobile web apps shouldn’t be confused with a mobile optimised website: the latter is generally a desktop website that has been reshuffled to fit a smaller screen.
Mobile web apps are built with the mobile user first and foremost in the developer’s mind. They focus on delivering a friction-free experience on a smaller screen, and typically only have one purpose in mind for the user – to complete a goal. They facilitate self-service, thus giving customers more choice and helping you reduce costs.
However, unlike a native app, mobile web apps don’t have to be downloaded or updated. Access to our mobile web app platform, Mobile Journeys, is usually triggered from a link delivered via SMS, email or social media.

Three things that really make the difference when it comes to getting customers to self-serve:

  1. Motivation: the customer has to want to complete the goal. In this context, it’s about educating your customer as to why it’s important that they do. Sometimes that’s the threat of penalties; sometimes it’s the promise of a great reward!
  2. Ability: the ease and simplicity of completing the goal (here’s an infographic exploring the six most effective ways to achieve this).
  3. Trigger: the method by which they’re prompted to take action. Different customers will respond better to different triggers (email, SMS), and your service provider should be able to provide you with (at least) detailed analytics so you can optimise future campaigns.

These are the basic principles of behavior-based design, which, if you’ve read all the way to the bottom of this post, it’s worth you looking into!
Are you exploring an app right now? Or have you built one that flies in the face of this article and is a qualified success? Let me know in the comments…