5 Killer Mistakes That Cause Mobile Apps To Fail

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1 5 Killer Mistakes That Cause Mobile Apps To Fail

2 Introduction The mobile app is winning the war when it comes to future engagement with consumers. Two facts should make that apparent: 1 A recent survey revealed that a full 48% of year olds see the mobile as their most important screen. Compare that with the 17% I think who said the same for TV, and think of the budgets many consumer brands put into the TV space. 2 comscore data suggests that mobile app use has overtaken pc web use in terms of total time online. When you consider the amount of time we all spend in front of our machines in work that s extraordinary. Meanwhile app usage is outscoring mobile internet usage (again in terms of time online) by a ration of 5:1. The conclusion is clear the war is over and the mobile app is won. If you re serious about engaging with your consumers on their terms - it s time to double down on your mobile app strategy. But time and again we see the same mistakes undermining what in many cases are great mobile apps. And we want to change all that. This whitepaper introduces and discusses the 5 killer mistakes that can render any app (no matter how awesome) a failure. Enjoy! 2

3 1 No Clear Business Objectives At the heart of a successful app strategy is a clear definition of what success means and what the business is trying to achieve. What that almost certainly doesn t mean is having a great app. What it is also unlikely to mean is lots of people installing my app. A clear business objective is more likely to be a specific revenue target, or a target number of engaged, long term users. It may even be a metric measured outside the app. In each case the point stands - it is essential to understand what that objective is an work towards it, rather than just waiting for it to happen. Take the revenue target as an example. Revenue is the result of purchases, and in any digital environment purchases do not just happen. A great deal of thoughtful design, A/B testing of common workflows, and targeted, carefully worded campaigns are required to make it happen. But we can only go through this process if we understand our business objectives clearly. If we continue to believe that a good app and installs are sufficient, we won t understand the metrics we need to move, and we won t create the campaigns and user experiences that will get the job done. Instead we ll be left wondering why our wonderful app isn t actually making any money. Don t let that happen to you! At the heart of a successful app strategy is a clear definition of what success means and what the business is trying to achieve. 3

4 2 Poor Onboarding Here s a startling fact. 21% of people who download an app never look at it more than once. If you are lucky (and to some extent this depends on which vertical you are operating in) you might be looking at about 30 to 50% of your installs still using your app after one week. And things go downhill from there. Of course, in any digital business some attrition is inevitable. But bad attrition will kill you. All your acquisition and development spend is for nothing: because you can t keep people in your app. And a prime cause of bad attrition is poor onboarding. What do we mean by onboarding? Well, firstly it s not necessarily a tutorial in the conventional, rigid, sense of the word. But rather a method of answering the questions that if you fail to answer them effectively will end up causing your users to give up: Why am I using this app? What else can I do? How do I use it? 4

5 Far too many apps ignore this requirement. They launch the user straight into the core experience and leave them to their own devices. No wonder so many fail to engage beyond the first session. So first of all, start thinking about initial user experience, and build out a smart onboarding process that stops your users getting confused or frustrated. Look to create (dismissible) screens that answer the questions above and ensure users understand what to do and how to do it. Look to create some form of funnel analysis in order to understand exactly where you are losing users, and take steps to remedy those issues. And finally - remember that great user experience relies on user data in the form of A/B test results. Don t assume you know the answer - test it! 5

6 3 No Organic Discovery If you don t build your app to encourage organic acquisition (or more to the point, free acquisition), you are likely to fail when it comes to delivering on your business objectives. Put simply, you have to do everything in your power to create word-of-mouth and bring people to your app without paying for them (whether that payment is direct or indirect.) Because the biggest mistake you can make is focus on paid acquisition and ignore the truth which is that you won t deliver ROI or success unless you generate organic acquisition. Yet again, the important lesson is that whilst a great app is a necessary part of that - it is not enough in itself. To demonstrate that, consider the role of social sharing and ratings in organic acquisition. When it comes to the former, you should be doing everything in your power to make it as easy as possible to make social sharing happen. Encourage your users to share achievements (and if you don t have natural achievements in your app - create them). In fact, if appropriate, pit users against each other. This is one area where apps can learn from the games industry, where competitive social techniques drive user engagement. the biggest mistake you can make is focus on paid acquisition and ignore the truth which is that you won t deliver ROI or success unless you generate organic acquisition. 6

7 Encourage users to share, and make sure you test how those invites are delivered. We have seen increases greater than 500% (seriously) in social sharing after A/B testing the language used in the process. App store ratings will have a significant effect on organic acquisition. They help convert browsing users, and good ratings improve chart position. They matter enough that simply asking users to rate your app would be a mistake. Instead, develop a plan for driving higher ratings rather than any ratings. Central to that effort would be targeting and in-app messaging. The goal is to only have users who love your app to rate it. That s relatively easily achieved by, for example, presenting an in-app messaging asking for feedback to you before then asking those who give positive feedback to rate. Simple - but are you doing it? 7

8 4 No Relationship Building The more you learn about any individual user, and then tailor their experience, the more value they will get from your app, and the less likely they are to leave your service for another. At the heart of that process is not necessarily the marketing activity itself the push notifications, the in-app messages, the changes in user experience and so on but really the learning and targeting that underpins it. So make it your business to ensure that you re reporting and learning from every significant event and every significant user property, because that enables you to build the dynamic segmentation rules that underpin really effective relationship building. That information might cover how much your users spend (or if they have spent at all), how many sessions they have enjoyed, how long they have been active in total, any demographic data you have available, device information - the possibilities are almost endless. make it your business to ensure that you re reporting and learning from every significant event and every significant user property 8

9 If you don t collect this data, and you don t actively use it to tailor experience, you are failing to build relationships and you won t move users from simple installs to active participants in delivering on your business objectives And that s where closing the loop comes in. Data is irrelevant without action. Now you know a user is an individual: treat them as an individual. Show messages - whether in-app or push - to specific segment groups that deliver relevant offers, at the right time, and talk their language. And don t forget you can and should tailor and personalise in app experience in the broad sense as well. It s not just conventional marketing campaigns it s customized, optimized everything always with the goal of delivering on those business objectives. 9

10 5 Building For The Wrong Audience We ve learned this from many Swrve customers over the years: always make sure you know who you are building for, and make sure the experience you deliver is what they want - not what you think they want. One organization we worked with had devised a fantastic onboarding process. Everyone agreed it was clever, sophisticated - the perfect way to introduce users to the way the app worked. The problem was that everyone in this context was the people in the organization themselves. An A/B test against a much simpler alternative revealed the truth: the actual app users prefered the latter - and retention increased by over 10%. So In every case, at every turn failing to design for the actual target audience is a fatal mistake that can kill your app stone dead. You can t afford to do it, and A/B testing is always your best reality check. A/B testing is the process of serving competing variants of a given app experience and establishing which one outperforms the other when it comes to your KPIs. always make sure you know who you are building for, and make sure the experience you deliver is what they want - not what you think they want. It s important to note that contrary to popular opinion, it s not just about the colour of a button, or the text written underneath it. You can and must A/B test everything. Use your analytics your data and real-world user testing to prompt alternative approaches, and get out there and find out what REALLY works. If you don t you re in trouble! And lastly, remember you have or can have multiple audiences, and personalize on that basis. Whilst this approach is commonplace online it remains a minority activity in the world of mobile apps. It won t be for long. 10

11 ABOUT SWRVE Swrve is mobile marketing automation. Swrve is the world s leader in driving engagement, retention and revenue in mobile apps and games. The Swrve platform delivers everything product and monetization managers need to ensure their mobile apps succeed where it counts. We do this by building long-lasting, profitable relationships with their users and driving the bottom line as a result. Swrve is trusted by some of the world s largest and most successful mobile app businesses. We handle billions of events a day and process data in real-time for multi-million DAU titles. If you d like to join them, drop us a line at Swrve Includes: A/B testing - to optimize user experience and improve retention rates Targeted in-app campaigns - delivering the right offers, to the right audience, at the right time Push notifications - driving engagement even when users are outside the app Real-time optimization - automated campaigns reacting in real-time to user behavior in the app All the analytics and segmentation you ll ever need

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