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Analysis

Four Ways To Cut Through The App Cluster

In a world of app-ditching consumers, you can make your mobile app stand out, retain users and turn a profit. We’ll show you how

Adebisi Adewusi
July 05 2018

The app store is a crowded universe, really crowded. As of January 2017, 2.2 million mobile apps were available to download for iOS devices and Google Play offered 3.5 million apps in December 2017. While 197 billion apps were downloaded in 2017—and recent projections state by 2021 total app downloads will jump to 352 billion—users only stick to a few apps. 25% of app users open an app once and never return.

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If these stats make you wonder if you’re ever going to reap the rewards of your mobile app, don’t feel discouraged.  In this article, we’ll show you a few tricks  that’ll help you increase your app engagement and rake in some money.

Create Value

App users don’t download shopping apps because they look good on the home screen. According to this survey of 505 e-commerce app users, 68% of respondents used mobile shopping apps to “receive deals and offers.” Meanwhile, the “flexibility to buy at any time,” “compare products and prices,” and “save time at the store” garnered 64%, 62% and 54% respectively. Consequently, to establish loyal and repeat users, your app needs to solve a specific problem or give uses some sort of value. Wonder how major retailers create value for customers via mobile apps?  Take a quick look at Walgreens, Walmart and Starbucks.

Walgreens: One of the ways Walgreens keeps customers locked in to their app is by offering mobile perks. Within the Walgreens app, customers can clip coupons and earn “perk” points for purchasing certain products. These points earn discounts on future purchases. According to Deepika Pandey, Group Vice President, Customer Experience, Direct and Digital Marketing at The Walgreen Company, 70% of Walgreens’ customers engage with the company through mobile platforms and 50% of digital sales are derived from the same . Not bad for a brand over a 100 years old.

Walmart: Walmart also helps their customers save money through its mobile app. The “Savings Catcher” feature on the Walmart app, allows customers to scan their receipts and check competitor prices. If the Savings Catcher finds a lower price for an item in the user’s area, it returns the difference to the user’s Walmart account in Reward dollars. As of November 2017,  Walmart’s app  was the second  most popular app mobile shopping app in the US after Amazon, with a monthly mobile app audience of 82.54 million users.

Starbucks: With Starbucks’s Mobile Order & Pay feature, customers can pay in advance before picking up their menu items. This feature not only saves them time, but also allows customers to avoid long queues at Starbucks locations. As of the close of 2017, Starbucks’ Mobile Order & Pay represented 30 % of the brand’s total transactions.

The takeaway? Mobile users love rewards, saving money and are pressed for time.  If your app meets one or more of needs, it’ll shine for eons.

Enable Visual Search

Sometimes, consumers can’t find the right words to describe the items they want to search for or purchase, so they search for what they think is the closest description. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always result in any findings. 74% of consumers say that traditional text-based keyword searches are inefficient in helping them find the right product online. With visual search, however, you can remove the friction associated with text-based search, increase customer engagement with your app and increase average order values. Apps powered by visual search allows visitors to search by image, instead of text, and match relevant products to specific images.

Visual search is great for business and can have a direct impact on engagement. BloomReach found that in a three month period, visual search was associated with more product views, return visits, and an increase in average spend. Out of the 30.3m visits to the e-commerce sites, visual search users viewed 48% more products, were 75% more likely to make a return visit, and placed orders worth 9% more than those who didn’t use the technology. Richard Jones, director of Product Management for ASOS, states that shoppers using the visual search feature tend to remain in the ASOS app for a longer period of time. Neiman Marcus reported an rise in app usage, engagement, and customer satisfaction after it deployed its own visual search tool Snap.Find.Shop.

The world is driven by images. The sooner you power your app with visual search, the sooner you’ll get your customers to stick with your app.

Get Social: Lessons From China

While it’s nice for customers to have access to your inventory via your mobile app, you’ll have to do more than that if you want customers to regularly use your app. One strategy you can use try to increase app engagement is social commerce.

With social commerce, you can build a solid fan base and drive app engagement by integrating social media networks, content sharing, and community-based features in your mobile app. Technavio estimates that annual social commerce revenues will exceed $165 billion by 2021.

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Take a look at the success of Alibaba’s Taobao app. According to the company’s management, users open Taobao an average of seven times per day.

So how did Alibaba up engagement?

The brand added social features to the Taobao app so that users could share products, offer product recommendations with each other, participate in live streams and participate in a dialogue with other users. Alibaba built a community using Taobao. The idea behind the approach was that the more time users spent on the Taobao app interacting with content, the greater the chances of them buying a product. This strategy clearly paid off. According to Alibaba’s 2017 financial results, engagement on the Taobao App raised the number of mobile monthly active users to 580 million an increase of 31 million mobile users from the previous quarter. The Taobao app also helped Alibaba see a 56% climb in revenue in 2017.

Your mobile app is more than another sales channel. Use it to build a community of loyal users who use the app to stay connected.

Consider Voice Technology

The rise of voice-enabled devices and digital assistants such as Google Assistant, Alexa, and Siri, show consumers are adjusting to voice-driven experiences. A recent Strategy Analytics survey found that 24% of respondents already own at least one smart speaker and among current owners of either an Amazon Echo or Google Home device, more than two-thirds are planning to buy another smart speaker within six months. Additionally, voice is beginning to replace typing in online queries. According to the Mary Meeker 2017 Global Internet report, 20% of mobile queries were made via voice in 2016 with around 95 % accuracy.

In response to these behaviours, retailers are already jumping on the voice shopping train by partnering with tech platforms. For instance, Walmart recently partnered with Google to offer hundreds of thousands of items for voice shopping via Google Assistant. American retail store Kohl’s, is integrating voice search functions into its application, enabling users to find products more easily, potentially resulting in greater impulse buys. Including voice functions into your mobile app will reduce the steps your customers need to make a purchase and increase app engagement. Voice shopping is not a thing of the future – it’s here and consumers are adopting it.

Conclusion

Apps are amazing. But if your customers aren’t using your app, you might as well not have one. To get customers engaged with your app, provide value, enable visual search, get social and take a chance with voice technology. Apps come and go, but only the best survive.

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Adebisi Adewusi

Adebisi Adewusi is a freelance B2B writer and a Huffington Post Contributor. When she’s not creating compelling content for businesses, you’ll find her capturing moments with her Nikon d600.

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