What drives App uptake and usage?

As the growth of media consumption on mobile devices continues to outpace desktop, many brands are seeking to jump into the mobile application pool as a means to engage their audience/customers.

But before you dive into the App deep end, make sure both your strategy and product are waterproof.

The expanding reach and popularity of Apps may appear, at first glance, to be fertile ground for growing a brand.  However, the App playing field is both an extremely competitive and crowded space with over 1.5 million Apps already clogging up stores.

So before you spend time, money and energy on building an App, it’s worth taking a moment to consider your objectives and whether they match what an App can offer.

Square one in your decision-making process is to remember: An App is not a website!

That may seem like a painfully obvious thing to say, but the key differences between the two platforms are often misunderstood and/or overlooked.

Apps and websites should aim to serve different purposes and functions. Every mobile engagement strategy should seek to create a synergy between these platforms. In an ideal world, where a brand already has a website (and a strong social media presence), an App should serve to compliment or streamline – not duplicate – what can already be found online.

Above all else, an App needs to be a TOOL which makes the user’s life better/easier/simpler. If built correctly, an App can become an integral part of a user’s life, creating the kind of partnership with a user that is invaluable to any brand.

The vast majority (almost 80%) of App users actively engage with no more than three Apps on a regular basis, meaning the competition for a user’s attention is pretty stiff. For an App to make the cut, it MUST add value to their lives beyond the initial download, whether it be in practical terms or in entertainment.

Remember, an App ‘lives’ on your phone, not on the internet, making it a closed environment, which is a massive hurdle if you have the wrong objectives, but a huge benefit if you’re doing it right.

This represents a significant mindset shift for marketers. The App user shouldn’t be targeted as a vehicle to carry a marketing message to other users via ‘likes’ or ‘shares’. Instead, the goal is to build a stronger, personal bond between the user and the brand. Unless the core function of the App is linked to social media, the interaction between user and brand happens in a personal, not public, space.

What all this means is, if brand awareness is your goal, then a responsive website with easily-sharable content should always be your first port of call. Likewise, if you are aiming to generate revenue through banner advertising, then a mobile website probably offers a better publishing platform.

A good App is easy to find (via search and in-store), easy to use and it regularly incentivises users to re-engage. A good App can be partner for life, but more than 80% of Apps are unlikely to be used a second time after download.

So, before you make that first impression, make sure your product is ready to add value to a user’s life.

By Ross Hastie,
Head of Publishing (Africa) at Ole! Media Group