The Radical Evolution of Mobile Apps

Feb 04, 2015 • Android, Apps & Software, iPhone
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Photo courtesy of James Theophane via Flickr

We all want to make things easier. That’s what the Internet does. And apparently, that’s what mobile applications do better – just ask the fast-growing number of app users. This is the consequence of the switch from desktop and laptops to mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. A recent study by Nielsen showed that an average American adult spend some 34 hours per month using mobile internet on smartphones compared to 27 hours via personal computer. Of that smartphone internet time, mobile apps take up 86% of usage and only 14% access time via the mobile web.

Apple’s app store launched five years ago is among the leaders of this evolution. Since then, apps became a means for people to communicate, play, work, or shop. Google followed immediately and introduced Android. Just one year after their respective launches, Apple and Google exceeded one billion app downloads. The mobile apps trend is also covering all devices today as it expands to tablets and PCs. By 2016, app downloads are estimated to reach 44 billion and app-to-person messaging is seen to overtake text messaging.

What’s in an app?

So what do people like about the mobile app technology? For starters, mobile apps give users an interface containing only what they need and want. A research from Indiana University also points that aside from the information and personalization, apps provide the connection between the user and the brand they know and trust.

Add to that is its ease of use. It’s fast, lean, and mostly free. In short, if you are always on the go, apps are your best friend. It is a good thing that there is an app for everything today — work, social media, games, shopping, travel, photography, and schedule of movie screenings. It is no wonder that the average apps user spends 139 minutes per day browsing them, according to a report by Flurry, a company catering to app developers.

OMG! We need an APP!

The growth of the mobile app technology is something that companies, big or small, are riding on. Fifteen years ago, with the wave of the Internet, companies had the oh-my-god moment and thought they should create themselves a website immediately. Today, that oh-my-god moment refers to a mobile app. The premise is simple: if you want to engage with your customers, go where they are and where you can matter.

A mobile app increases general interest and improves attitude towards a brand. Most of all, apps give a brand better visibility. Apps largely depend on smartphones and since people check their phones by the minute, sleeps with the phone beside them, and just can’t live without them, your brand automatically occupies that special place in their customers’ lives.

Branding with an app

The mobile app revolution also gave birth to mobile marketing. Suddenly, maintaining a company website and a social media account is no longer enough. The competition has gone mobile and by the looks of it, it will probably stay there for a long time.

Through mobile e-commerce apps, businesses give information, engage with customers, and ultimately build a stronger brand. In 2013, Forbes Insight and Adobe surveyed companies with revenues of at least $250,000. A majority of these companies have already employed the use of customer-facing apps. 83% of respondents said that the common use for mobile apps was to communicate with customers, 79% use it as a provision for customer service support, 74% for product information, 69% for facilitations of transactions like payments, and 67% for brand management.

An app is also a way to keep in touch with customers even after they made a purchase and in the process, build loyalty. The survey further noted that 31% of company executives said mobile apps are used to retain customers.

If brand loyalty is the objective, it seems businesses were right about creating an app all along. A survey by the Call Center Times showed that mobile apps are the new shopping companion. Results showed that 73% have used a mobile app to make a purchase or assist them with buying decisions. Over 78% also reported that they use mobile apps to make payments, request delivery, check billing, as well as take part in interactive chat.

Creating an effective app

The question is: What will it take for users to download your app and keep them on their phones? How do you make your mobile marketing strategy effective? What will it take for users to engage with you through an app?

Mind your content and make them personal. Do not put everything on an app, just the ones your users need. Do not fill your interface with clutter that will only make the app hard to navigate. Make everything simple and make sure in-app features are easy to click through. Make display ads tolerable. In general, display ads are well-tolerated in a mobile ad but if you were to make it longer, make sure it is relevant. Choose the right category for your app by knowing your strength and surveying competitors. This will help your users find you easier and help you rank better in downloads. Create a unique icon and make it eye-catching and build an amazing landing page.

To improve engagement, coordinate your app with existing channels like the web, e-mail, and social networking sites. Encourage users to rate and review the app. Personalize push notifications and send consistent messages by leveraging data in a central marketing database. Sign up with analytics apps to measure response rates and stay ranked organically.

Mobile apps are changing the way we do business. Companies can no longer just rely on their company website and social media accounts to do wonders for them. As the world goes more mobile by the minute, so must their marketing strategies. As the evolution of mobile apps do not seem to slow down, so does mobile marketing strategies. There is no doubt that if businesses want a stamp of APP-roval for their brand and products, mobile apps are definitely the way to go.

John Anderson

John Anderson is a Web Developer, Creative Content Director and a Commissioned Artist. He is particular in watching web and social media changes and uses. He is interested about various internet trends and enjoys his day job as a cartoonist and commissioned artist.

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