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App deleted after one use: What should brand do?

App Store

It is not enough to simply launch a mobile application. Brands need to support it with marketing and social efforts to keep consumers engaged after the app is downloaded to their device.

One of the biggest challenges in mobile is application discovery and awareness. However, to succeed in the space, marketers must overcome that.

“You need to support your app with marketing on catalogs and mailings, email announcements, your main site and in-store,” said Chris Mason, co-founder/CEO of Branding Brand, Pittsburgh.

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“The best way to avoid deletion is to make sure your app is not worth removing,” he said. “Building an app that truly services loyal customers and automatically updates are the two fundamentals to success.”

Key strategies
Mobile app stores are growing by the minute.

Marketers are rolling out various applications to keep up with tech-savvy consumers.

However, simply launching a mobile app and leaving it to the consumer to find is no longer good enough.

Additionally, many times, consumers download an application, use it once and then delete it.

“There are creative as well as behind-the-scenes best practices,” Mr. Mason said. “From a content standpoint, it is important to offer fresh, value-added material that is unique to the device and its capabilities.

“Things that set routines, like daily reminders, items of the day, or mobile-only offers are great ways to keep people coming back,” he said. “That said, you can have the best idea in the world, but if the app fails on execution, it doesn’t matter.

“When possible, go native. Avoiding Web mashups lets you optimize user interface and experience. In addition, securely saving credentials can improve experience by allowing repeat visitors to skip the hassle of retying information that could have easily been stored at their request. Finally, build in a way that allows you to push updates to your app without constantly submitting it to Apple. Nothing is worse that having to continually download new versions of an app.”

All in
Smart marketers over the last several years have learned that utility is what drives usage and usage drives brand affinities, per David Gill, vice president of The Nielsen Co., New York.

The development of utility should be at the forefront of mobile app strategy and to do that, brands need to understand their consumers.

“Consumer segmentation is increasingly important for marketers, as many behavioral patterns tend to align more with lifestyle and  socioeconomic conditions than just pure demographics,” Mr. Gill said. 

“Additionally, effective mobile apps are able to use time, place and intent to solve for very specific behavioral patterns – checking snow reports before a trip to the mountain, or browsing recipes using a specific product,” he said.

“Apps that provide real value to the consumer will create the recurring usage patterns brands seek to develop long term ROI for their mobile strategies.”

Stand out
It is certainly difficult to stand out from the crowd, especially if a marketer is working with a limited budget.

Craig Palli, vice president of business development at Fiksu suggests that  smaller developers should go slowly at first, doing very targeted marketing and building a community.

At the same time, for many developers, that approach takes too long to get good traction.

"There are some contrasts between mobile and online marketing, here," Mr. Palli said. "Geographic target is expensive and limited, demographic targeting is difficult, and more sophisticated targeting based on intent is even harder.

"What mobile developers need to keep in mind is that there's a big gap between what they'd like to be able to do and what they can actually do in terms of targeting specific types of users," he said. "Finding the exact combinations of creative, timing, and ad networks that provide the best ROI is essential."

App deletion is becoming a growing problem for brands and marketers.

However, it is a perennial problem.

"There are two main reasons people delete your app - they don't like it, or they don't use it," Mr. Palli said. "The first category is primarily due to not meeting users' expectations: your landing page description was misleading, the functionality isn't as good as expected, or it's just buggy.

"Finding and addressing these types of problems should be a core part of your ongoing app development and maintenance work," he said. "The second type of deletion is by someone who just doesn’t use your app – they might like it fine, but they don't have reason to keep using it. This is a problem you can address through marketing - give them a reminder or a reason to come back and you can increase your longevity.

"In my opinion, the real problem today isn't app deletion – it's acquiring the right users in the first place."

Marketers looking to overcome app deletion obstacles should give users the right experience and a reason to come back.

Registration can help. Users are becoming more comfortable with registering, committing personal info to an app – and then this makes them less likely to leave as they are more connected to the app.

It also gives them an avenue to reach out and re-engage. 

However, Mr. Palli advices that marketers be careful because asking for a registration too quickly can drive up deletion.

"There are some great ways and some not-as-effective ways of delivering those messages," Mr. Palli said. "Where possible, email and direct social outreach are dependable options.

"Push notifications are a common way to try to bring users back, but many people tend to turn them off when first downloading apps," he said. "It'd be nice if reengagement campaigns worked as well in practice as they do in theory.

"Not many ad networks support them, they can seem intrusive, and it's actually very difficult to find those targeted users among all the publishers and ad networks out there." 

Leading the pack
Currently, Apple's App Store has more than 700,000 apps listed and no one is going to take the time to sift through all of those titles, even if the  perfect app is in there somewhere. 

"To promote an app at launch requires playing all the cards in the deck marketers are already used to using to promote their digital offerings," said Marlon Rodrigues, director of marketing at Polar Mobile. "Old school techniques like PR pitches really work for some segments and are making a comeback!

"On-going app engagement continues to be a challenge for brands," he said. "App deletion is a real problem, but equally bad is the volume of apps that are downloaded and only used once. 

"The average user has dozens of apps on their device, regardless of platform.  Outside of a few 'killer apps' like social media, messaging apps, email and the browser, the fight to be on a user's home screen is a non-trivial one."

User engagement is an important consideration in the design process, rather than an after-thought at the end of a project. 

Simply adding social share buttons will not save an app that inherently does not give you an on-going reason to engage with it regularly.

"A good design process on-boards the user during the first installation and allows them to personalize their experience, thereby forcing some investment and a more fitting experience on future visits," Mr. Rodrigues said.

"Small things such as using push notifications and alerts also help keep the app top of mind when they are used responsibly to convey relevant content to the user. 

"Finally, integrating user feedback into subsequent versions of the app can remove non-obvious blocks to sustained usage, so treat user questions and comments like high-valuable unpaid consulting opinions."

Ongoing challenge
The biggest challenge marketers face is that mobile apps are very hyped, but there are very specific circumstances where an app actually makes sense for a brand.

These circumstances are not always retail-oriented.

“People don’t tend to use smartphone apps for retail purposes as they do for everyday personal interactions, like social networking, news or banking,” said Patrick Stack, manager of digital strategy at Acquity Group. “Another challenge is that it’s very difficult to convince a user to download a specific retail app when there are so many other retail apps that show products from different retailers all in one central location, like Amazon.

“Those are the retail apps people are downloading rather than retail brand-specific apps,” he said. “Marketers must have a strong, everyday relationship with their customers to motivate them enough to download and actively use their app because, in most cases, the extra work involved in going to the app store, finding a retailer’s app, downloading it and using it is more than consumers want to do. 

“Why would they go through all of those steps when they can simply access a retailer through a mobile browser?”

According to Mr. Stack, a key issue brands and marketers face is not so much growing rates of app deletion, but rather that the average growth of smartphone users downloading apps is slowing.

There is a lot of saturation with smartphones and apps because consumers most likely to download apps and give them a try, which is mostly the younger generation, already have.

Smartphones are growing with older users who are a little less comfortable downloading apps or trying new forms of technology, so they are less likely to seek out brands’ apps.

“It looks like we’ll see a slowdown of new app downloads in the future, and that will prove problematic for brands and marketers,” Mr. Stack said. “Another growing problem for brands and marketers in regards to apps is that mobile browsers are becoming more sophisticated.

“As HTML5 adoption grows, there will be lesser need for a native app because users will have an equally powerful experience on their mobile browser,” he said.

To solve the ongoing mobile app problem, Mr. Stack suggests marketers consider why their brand needs an app.

A lot of brands fall into the hype of a mobile app when they really do not even need it and this can introduce maintenance, development and technology costs that are not necessary and could be better spent on a mobile Web site.

From there, brands should think about how their customers relate to their brand.

“Are they accessing you on a daily basis, like they would a banking or news app?” Mr. Stack said. “If so, consider an app since your brand has frequent consumer interaction.

“There’s a lot to gain by shaping that interaction in a brand-specific way,” he said. “If you’re a retail company where consumers are more likely to browse your products and then compare with other brands, then you must have a clear development advantage and superb brand loyalty where consumers only purchase from you.

“It’s very difficult for retailers to get a captive audience on their native app because shoppers are more likely to browse numerous retailers. Above all, marketers must be honest with themselves. Don’t fall for the mobile app hype if it isn’t right for your brand.”

Final Take


Associate Editor Rimma Kats covers media, television, research and social networks. Reach her at rimma@mobilemarketer.com.

 
Related content: Strategy, mobile apps, Branding Brand, Chris Mason, David Gill, Nielsen, mobile marketing, mobile

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