What You Need to Know About Mobile Apps Before Creating Your Own
Mobile applications can be exciting, even essential tools, but the majority fall short when it comes to getting consumers to download them. Is the hype greater than the apps themselves? My company wanted to find out, so it recently conducted a national study to help marketers better understand who uses mobile apps and what makes an app a "favorite."
Our study revealed that even though apps are the new "it" in the world of marketing, retailers should carefully consider whether investing in these new technologies is the right move.
Sixty-one percent of the survey's 7,000 respondents own a smartphone, and 52 percent said they use mobile apps. Mobile apps provide a high level of connectivity with consumers and offer fun technologies, engaging interfaces and sometimes-effective brand experiences. Because of these reasons, 300,000 apps have sprung into existence in such a short time. However, only a handful of apps achieve high adoption and dominate the market — leaving 299,900 fighting for an audience.
On average, smartphone users download 30 apps to their iPhone, iPad, Android or BlackBerry. Even then, they tend to actively use fewer than half of the apps on their phone.
The most popular apps, according to our study, are highly functional, unique tools. Apps that appear in the top 10 lists for both men and women include Google Maps, Facebook, Pandora, Weather, Twitter, Words with Friends and Shazam. All are available for free.
While Amazon received a few mentions, as did retail location apps such as Around Me, no retail apps made the top 10.
Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus
Male and female app users diverge in some interesting ways in their top 10 lists — essential information for retailers who tailor products to one group or the other.
The app used most by men is Google Maps. Women’s top pick, on the other hand, is Facebook. When it comes to search apps, women favor Google, while men choose Yahoo. Women keep things organized with Bank of America and calendar applications, while men go for ESPN and the user review app Yelp. When it comes to playtime, gentlemen enjoy launching birds at pigs with Angry Birds, while women prefer a quiet game of Solitaire.
In terms of spending habits, males (62 percent) are more likely than females (49 percent) to make purchases on their smartphones. That means men are buying more tickets, food and anything else available on their mobile screens.
However, shopping isn't the smartphone’s main purpose — 44 percent of all users said they haven't made a purchase with their mobile device.
In comparison to apps, the mobile web may seem less flashy. But don’t be fooled: Half of consumers use the mobile web as often as they use apps. And for retailers, it may be a better investment to ensure your site is mobile enabled, especially if driving information is the goal.
Because apps are difficult to get right, embedding advertising in ones that have already gained popularity may seem like a cost-efficient strategy. The finding of this study shows this isn't the case. Retailers should be wary of investing in this type of advertising, as half of the survey's respondents said they completely ignore advertising on their smartphones, and an additional 17 percent who do look never click through.
At this point, the buzz and excitement surrounding apps might deliver value to public relations, but it's probably not an effective mass marketing tool. That said, as smartphone use continues to grow and consumers better understand the benefits of the mobile retail experience, the debate will continue. Just keep in mind, the journey from app store to user isn’t easy. In order to crack the code, retailers will need to create an app their customers won’t be able to live without.