Natalie is Associate Director of the EXP team at 2CV Research
Natalie is Associate Director of the EXP team at 2CV Research

The world of mobile apps is hot news, there is no denying that. However we at EXP feel there is a real disconnect in terms of desired behaviour and consumers actual behaviour when it comes to app usage…

On the one hand:

  • There has been a proliferation of mobile apps and it is suggested that from 2010 to 2011, “the number of mobile retail apps increased by 350%”. (source 1)
  • As well as an increasing number of apps available, we also see the average number of apps that people are downloading has risen to an immense 41 per person in 2012, which is up from 32 in in 2011. (source 1)
  • And it’s not only the number of apps that people are downloading that has increased, the amount of time people are spending using apps in on the up too, and apparently has over taken the amount of time people spend browsing the web on their computer. That’s a lot!

So with more apps available, people downloading more and users spending more time interacting with them, all appears to be very positive, no?!

Well maybe not…..there are a number of studies that highlight some key discoveries within this noisy app landscape:

  • 26% of apps are used only once after being downloaded,
  • Our Mobile Planet’ suggests that under a third of those apps downloaded onto iPhones are actually used within the last 30 days
  • Another study suggests that 80-90% of downloaded apps are deleted eventually
  • Amongst consumers that made an in-app purchase 44% did not do so until they had interacted with the app at least ten times
  • On average, a user who makes an in-app purchase will do so 12 days after first launching the app…..there is a lot of time and commitment required!

With these staggering growth rates that show no sign of slowing down anytime soon, and a power struggle in terms of the commitment required from consumers, there appears to a gap that needs bridging.  The answer, well the need for a deeper relationship is evident when encouraging this longer-term usage amongst these increasingly promiscuous app users…..so how can EXP feed into this?

Evaluation is the key!

A recent branded app test carried out by EXP had some very interesting findings. The branded app allowed people to claim free product after they went through a series of desired stages, what we call the user funnel:

1)      Download the app

2)      Claim the free voucher (weak conversion from download stage)

3)      Redeem the free product (strong conversion from redemption stage)

We found that conversion from stage 2 to 3 was strong, so once people had invested time into the app they were more likely to redeem the product.  However fewer users got to this final stage as there were not many people entering stage 1. Essentially many people were unaware of the app and therefore the voucher in the first place!

By increasing awareness levels more people would be fed into the funnel initially, resulting in more users redeeming their free product at the final stage.

Of those lost at each conversion stage of the funnel i.e. NOT claiming the voucher or NOT redeeming the voucher, we found the biggest barrier to be consumers ‘forgetting about it’. A key recommendation from our project was to remind consumers to redeem their voucher, essentially jogging their memory and keeping it top of mind.

So what’s the best way to remind people, well a study into the power of SMS echoes our findings and suggests SMS could be the way forward in positively impacting on:

  • Relationship – SMS can be used to build a closer relationship between the app maker and their customer by sending regular, personalized updates with relevant information about the app.
  • Recommendation – Additional app sales can be driven by embedding ‘invite a friend’ functionality powered by SMS, allowing users to share an app they love with friends and peers.
  • Reactivation – Because SMS allows developers to communicate with users who have deleted their app, text messaging can be used in an attempt to re-engage

So knowing what the app does in terms of user’s behaviour is all well and good but what about putting this into a competitive context? Within the study above we asked about competitive apps which again allowed us to make actionable recommendations to really optimise the app offering going forward.

And what about going another step further to explore the offline impact of the app? What about understanding how the app has impacted on the brand as a whole?

Well for those of you that are familiar with EXP you will know that while exploring the specifics of any digital (or live) offering is key, we without fail evaluate the impact this has on the brand.  Identifying which brand metrics have been positively (or adversely) affected as a result of digital activity and how this affects actual purchase and consumption habits is a priority for us, essentially we want to give you the full story to feed into strategic comms planning.

By  Natalie Beaver – Natalie is Associate Director of the EXP team at 2CV Research. EXP is a team dedicated to the evaluation of branded consumer experiences, although Natalie has previously worked to research brands and other forms of communications. Natalie particularly enjoys understanding how brand perceptions are impacted amongst consumers that have engaged with a branded experience and how insights can be used to optimise activity going forward.

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