Author: Lewis Hughes

How to Maximize Your App Launch and Maintain Growth

You’ve got the idea, you’ve done your market research, and you’re confident – more than confident  – that your app could, if launched successfully, be one of the big hitters. But with 36 billion downloads; $34bn in consumer spend and consumers in 12 major verticals spending over 4 hours every day (and rising!)  in mobile apps, your competition is fierce.  Finance, gaming, retail, QSRs and travel – whatever your big app idea is, you can bet that there are a thousand others ready to launch alongside you – how will you take yours from concept to launch, and maintain growth in your chosen market?  

Over 160,000 apps are launched every month on iOS and Google Play stores, so your strategy for launch and growth requires robust planning and seamless execution.  Without both, you’ll be set adrift without a sail, left at the mercy of forces that will, in all likelihood, see you sink without a trace. 

What a successful app launch looks like

Even though we’re all operating in a crowded market, mobile app success is still a very real possibility for those that plan their launch strategy well in advance of d-day. Doing your market research, staying on top of the latest app and consumer trends, and being able to demonstrate your value proposition in ways that your audience can quickly grasp are the building blocks that will help you to stay on track:

1. Understand the Competitive Landscape

With over 5 million apps in the Apple and Google Play stores, you’ve got your work cut out for you –  whatever your idea, chances are that an app, or one very similar, already exists out there. Your challenge is to ensure your app becomes the preferred choice of your target audience, and as such, the insights you glean prior to launch are going to be critical to your app’s long-term success. Here are the key areas you’ll want to focus on as you plough through the research stage:

  • Establish which apps out there are similar to yours, and identify exactly who your competition is. What do their downloads look like? How many users? Are they making any money? What are they not doing well?
  • Take a deep dive into your competitors. Download and use their apps, scrutinize them inside and out, identify what they’re doing well, any friction points, and what your app does better (or worse). For launch specifically, you’ll want to do an in-depth sweep of their app store entry – cost; app title; description; screen-shots/video demos and reviews, as well as which languages the app is available in. 
  • Pull as much information as you can on your target market. Who are they? What apps do they currently use? How well are these apps performing? What does growth look like for these apps? What don’t your target audience like about these apps (reviews will be gold dust!). Knowing these details in depth will help you to set realistic goals around future growth, which means you can plan well in advance on how you’re going to get to where you want to be. 
  • And establish a solid keyword strategy. Having everything in place without defining your keyword strategy is a rookie mistake – don’t make it! Research in-depth the search volume and levels of competition for the keywords your audience is using to find the apps in your space so that you can identify the ones that will work best for your app. This is a bit of science, so if it’s not your area of expertise, find that expertise somewhere else – guessing isn’t a good idea when it comes to keywords, and your strategy could make or break your chances of success.

2. Prepare your launch strategy

After completing the market research stage, it’s time to focus on the execution of your app launch, and for this to stand the best chance of success you’ll need a solid launch strategy in place ensuring that every step you make is a) for a clear reason, and b) executed properly and on time:

  • Get your app out in front of the public before you officially launch. Crafting a robust marketing plan which encompasses social media, paid advertising, PR, user referrals and a dedicated website are the basics, and if you have the time and the inclination, there are a few sites that curate new products and apps and which can help get momentum behind your big idea before you launch it. Product Hunt is the main one, but you’ll need to make sure that whichever platforms you opt for that your app is ready to go – or at last at the MVP stage – before adding it.
  • Identify and leverage key influencers. Leveraging influencers as a way of driving user acquisition is part of any savvy marketer’s toolkit when it comes to mobile marketing. Don’t overlook this element of your launch strategy! Establish the industry influencers who are actively contributing to conversations in your industry and talking about products and apps related to your offering. Reach out and make contact with these people … you’ll find them on Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube, but make sure you’ve got your ducks in a row before you do so to avoid wasting their time and looking like an amateur. This means pulling together a compelling pitch that stands a good chance of persuading influencers to promote your app – it will pay dividends!
  • Optimize your app store description. You’ll want to spend time planning exactly how you’ll craft your app description – remember, your app store page is the place where your audience will discover what you’re offering, and you’ve got limited space to do this. Make sure you include the app name; relevant, clear, and informative screenshots, and if possible, short, snappy videos that help you convert casual browsers to users –  the whole point of doing this right is to get your users excited about downloading and using your app, so it pays, literally, to spend time nailing this part – this is where your keyword research comes into play. The higher your mobile app ranks, the more likely it is that it will be discovered by your audience. Also worth keeping in mind – Apple and Google Play have slightly different rules, so make sure you know what’s needed on both.
  • Establish the key metrics by which you’ll measure your app’s success. You can’t know how well you’re doing without measuring a few key metrics post-launch, so you’ll want to establish what these are way in advance of d-day so that you can start measuring your app’s performance straight away. Here’s where that competitor and industry research you did earlier starts to pay off. How many downloads do you realistically expect within the first month? What about paid subscriptions (if relevant), and reviews? Establish your benchmarks and be prepared to adjust as you go …

What you need to think about when it comes to outlining the growth strategy for your mobile app

Once you’ve launched your app, it’s time for the hard work. Research tells us that over 21% of new app users will abandon an app after just one use, so while acquiring new users is critical to your app’s success, it’s retaining those new users is more important than ever; it’s essential that you’re focused on highlighting your value proposition and optimizing the onboarding process – if you can’t capture the attention of your audience quickly, you will lose them:

  • Measure, measure, measure! After launch, you want to look at how you performed against these original success metrics you outlined prior to shipping. By utilizing the data you’re gleaning via a robust analytics platform, tracking user behavior, and listening to feedback, you’ll be able to establish exactly what it is that your users want from your app alongside which features are driving engagement. These insights will help you to outline a robust product road map and ensure that how you grow your app remains valuable to your audience. You can discover more about measurement in a blog we wrote here.
  • Stay on top of reviews and feedback – they’ll provide you with invaluable insights into what you should be thinking about next in order to maximize and maintain growth. Your audience, it goes without saying, will help you to establish what the strengths and weaknesses of your app are so that you can include these in your product roadmap. Pay particular attention to feedback like feature requests, app performance, any bugs that users are encountering, and recurring issues that users might be experiencing. 
  • Look beyond the initial indicators of success such as downloads Although the primary goal for the launch of your app will be downloads, you’ll also want to keep track of the key metrics like session duration, retention rates, features use etc. And don’t neglect to review these metrics against your competitors so that you’ve got a clear view of how you’re measuring up.
  • Develop a solid SEO strategy. Whilst paid channels are essential when it comes to marketing your app, many of the most successful apps – and businesses! – leverage their blog content to stimulate organic traffic, which in turn should help convert visitors to downloads. SEO is a bit of a science into which you’ll want to take a deeper dive, but in the first instance, mapping out the different stages of your users’ funnel then creating valuable content which addresses the questions your users might be asking is a strong starting point. Your keyword strategy will come into play here, so revisit it often, and don’t neglect to capitalize on traffic once on your site (also a fine art!) – think data capture, CTAs, etc … and make a plan to continuously test, test, test!
  • Regularly update your app to fix bugs, address user feedback and encourage downloads. Both your audience and the app stores look for apps that take advantage of the latest functionalities, so most of the leading mobile apps have a roadmap for updates. Whilst there are no clear-cut rules on how often you should update your app, regular updates based on user feedback and industry trends will help to improve your chances of remaining competitive in the app stores. 
  • Continually review your app store optimization (ASO) strategy to maximize your app’s visibility and downloads. According to a survey by Google, 48 per cent of us rely on the app stores for discovering new apps, so it follows that optimizing your app in the stores is the single most effective marketing activity you can deploy to drive new users. It’s not enough to simply be discovered;  your app must be found by the right users to be successful. Regularly review your keywords and update your app store entry accordingly – your analytics platform will tell you all you need to know.
  • Encourage user engagement!  We’ve written a lot about engagement over the years – there are many, many methods you can use to capture the attention of your audience and motivate them to engage with your app in ways that provide value. From rewards to special offers, exclusive content to community building, give your audience a reason to choose your app over your competition’s and you’ll have the strong foundation needed to grow your app way into the future. Learn more about engagement here.

The importance of analytics

Ultimately, the key to growing a successful mobile app is the data you glean from your user base, enabling you to find the most optimum ways to streamline your funnel, optimize app performance, and in turn power growth by enhancing acquisition and engagement performance.  There are a ton of metrics you can focus on to improve your app’s performance, but apps come in many shapes and sizes so you’ll want to establish your KPIs in the first instance, then use them as the foundations from which to identify which metrics which your app growth should be focused on:

  • Identify the user journey. The user journey details how a user travels from the install to the purchase – you need visibility of these steps in order to track key events and uncover where (and why!) users churn. The insights you’ll discover are the first step towards optimizing the user funnel and ensuring that your audience finds value, sticks around and generates revenue. 
  • Prioritize the onboarding experience! It doesn’t matter how good your app is, if your users have a lousy onboarding experience and fail to grasp the value that your app can bring to their lives, they’re not going to stick around.  Identify what a successfully “activated” account looks like, establish all of the actions a user will need to take to get there, and go forth and implement! Effective onboarding can increase retention rates by up to 50% so it pays to get this part right.
  • Measure the analytics that align with your business goals. Don’t waste time – and money – looking at metrics that don’t tie in with getting your app to where you want it to be. Identify the questions that you must have the answers to – session duration? churn rates? user groups? – and outline a robust strategy that will ensure you’re tracking the right events and getting the insights you need to constantly improve your app and marketing activities and ultimately reach your goals.
  • Test! Test! Test! Along with measure, measure, measure!, A/B testing should be embedded in your strategy so that you can continually test the impact across your user base of any changes you make to your app – is that new feature working for you? Are conversions up after that tweak to the onboarding experience? Did the recent update cause that fall in retention rates? If you don’t regularly test what you’re doing, you’ll never understand your audience and be armed with the insights to provide them with what they want – value.  
  • And finally, utilize analytics to drive innovation. In addition to improving upon key metrics, you’ll also want to use app analytics to uncover new ways in which your app can grow. For example, the slow uptake of a new feature can indicate a change in audience preferences or needs, or a lack of understanding of the value the new feature offers. Similarly, feedback gleaned from, say, the search function in your app could help you identify something your users are looking for but which your app doesn’t offer. Having access to these insights within your analytics platform can help you gauge the potential of new features that you simply overlooked. Bottom line? Future-proofing your enterprise with app analytics is achievable when you know what you’re looking for.

Launching your mobile app isn’t the end of your efforts – it’s the beginning of a long and challenging journey, at the end of which, if all the pieces are in place, you may find success. Your app should be continually improved to attract new users, keep existing ones and provide a tool that your audience finds valuable, with your analytics platform providing the insights you need to be able to take your idea from launch to world domination. Only then can you hope to maintain growth. If you’re planning to launch your mobile app in the near future, talk to us about building an optimum strategy – we’ve got form in helping some of the biggest brands connect with their audience and reach their goals.

Push notifications and iOS 15 – our recommendations for best practice

ios 15

Businesses tend to work pretty hard these days to ensure that the data of their customers is robustly protected, and the endless data regulations that appear on a regular basis are testament to the importance of ensuring they keep in line.  Most companies understand that we – the consumer – value our privacy, and to this end, many have begun making the necessary moves to demonstrate their commitment to our needs. It was only a matter of time before the mighty push notification came under scrutiny – and with Apple’s iOS15 landing today, things are about to change if you’re a business using push messaging to drive growth. 

iOS15 – a quick overview

In Apple’s own words, iOS 15 is “packed with new features that help you connect with others, be more present and in the moment, explore the world, and use powerful intelligence to do more with iPhone than ever before”. So far, so great – for users! But spot the copy aimed at mobile marketers, ‘more present and in the moment’ . In marketing speak, that means, ‘you won’t be interrupted every 2 minutes with a push notification’. For those already in the know (and if you’re not, this piece is unequivocally for you) it’s not these great new features, but the changes that iOS 15 brings to the sending and delivery of push notifications that are causing lengthy watercooler discussions. 

Most of us love the fact that there are some pretty impressive improvements to the look and feel of notifications on iOS 15. But as many again are concerned that the changes around push are going to result in some pretty embarrassing Monday morning meetings as we run through what we imagine is going to be engagement and retention metrics sorely lacking in clout. At least that’s how it feels. Truth is, all we really need are a few best practices to keep our stats looking healthy ….

Over the last few years, push notifications have become one of mobile marketing’s key strategies to drive engagement, boost retention and increase sales. When deployed optimally as part of a robust push strategy, push notifications can be extremely effective – but when they’re mismanaged, they can have devastating effects on the success of an app. It’s figures like the ones in this graph below that highlight the long-overdue need for someone, somewhere to come up with a way to put the power back into the hands of users:

push notifications irritation… and of course, it had to be Apple. Their answer? The Focus feature on iOS 15:

  • ‘Focus’ allows users to control which apps & contacts can alert them with notifications.
  • Users can apply ‘relevance scores’ to different apps …
  • … and define multiple Focuses – so if they find value in the notifications from one app and not another, they can adjust their settings to reflect their preferences.
  • Focus can be applied based on time intervals, location triggers – or on-demand
  • … or they can simply turn notifications off for good. 

… but let’s not forget, users have always had the freedom to say no to push notifications, so this isn’t the death knell that many think it is. The fundamental aim of iOS 15 when it comes to push is to make the whole process less intrusive and more helpful – and to give users more control over how they receive notifications. iOS 15 gives users the option to receive push notification summaries at scheduled times throughout the day. This means that instead of being pinged at 3 am with a book recommendation, or at 11 am when you’re in the middle of an important call, or at any other disruptive time, users can opt to receive a ‘notifications summary’ at a convenient time so they can browse the full list of notifications in one go and read the ones that they’re interested in. Significantly, the order in which notifications are seen by the user is determined by how often they interact with the app (hopefully they’ve already got a good relationship with you. No? Then now’s the time to nurture it!), and notifications with media attached will push them higher up the list. Notifications can also be sent with a ‘relevancy score’ tag – Active; Passive; Time Sensitive and Critical. 

Sounds complicated? It’s not, it’s just new. Below are the K-Team’s recommendations for best practice.

Best practice with push notifications in iOS 15

  1. Really get to know your users. Not really best practice per se, more plain common sense,  and key to every marketer’s push strategy.. iOS 15 gives users more options to customize their notification preferences using 3 modes: Work; Sleep, and Personal. Essentially, this means that users can now select the apps they’d like to receive notifications from according to these modes. If I want to receive Personal notifications only, anything I’ve tagged as Work or Sleep will have to wait. Take heed, however – users can also select the apps and app features to block, either temporarily or permanently. What’s more, users can now configure their device home screen to align with these preferences … so if a user has their home screen configured for Personal mode, they’ll only see the apps they’ve tagged as Personal, such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. For Work, it might be LinkedIn, Trello, Drive, etc. The takeaway here is that if a user is at work, and you’re sending them notifications that probably belong in their Personal category, is your strategy really working as hard as it could? Get to know your users and when they’re interacting with your app. If you’re shipping notifications that you know they’re probably going to look at later, make them relevant to stand a better chance of engagement.
  2. Let users choose the notifications they’re happy to receive. Again, this really is mobile marketing 101 – if you’re not paying attention to what your users want from you at this stage in the game, it’s not a good sign.  Users download your app for a reason, so let them opt-in for the content that’s going to meet their interests, make them happy, and encourage engagement. 
  3. Master your users’ Notification Schedules and establish the best time of day to send notifications (see above re notification preferences). Although you won’t have direct access to your users’ Notification Schedules, you can set up and run a series of A/B tests that focus on sending push notifications during different time periods and assess how users are engaging with notifications at different times. You’ll find this a lot easier to do if you’re already segmenting your audience (and if you’re not, now’s a very good time to start).
  4. Segment Your Audience! Your goal is to deliver notifications that are going to stand out amongst the other 41 push messages that the average app user receives every day (though likely to drop when they’re introduced to iOS 15). This means making notifications relevant and personal, and the only way you can do that is through laser-focused audience segmentation. This part is more science than guesswork, and there’s plenty of guidance out there to keep you on track (or talk to one of our team). In the first instance, you’ll want to track users in-app and purchasing behavior, establish audience segments by interests and preferences, attribute Tags, and ensure that they’re updated in real-time. When you’re got your segmentation in shape, you’ll be able to reach your customers with content that they want to engage with – and the rest, rumor has it, will follow. 
  5. Become an expert on the Notification Summary. With your push notifications heading for what could be a long list in a user’s Notification Summary, sending out a dozen messages a day (or more, as many companies for some reason are wont to do!) frequency may prove a fruitless pursuit if these notification aren’t going to reach your intended user. In fact, such high-frequency delivery could work against you because iOS 15 means that your messages will be lumped together in the Notification Summary – if you’re sending 20 messages a day, and users are made aware of this in their Notification Summary, they may well exclude you entirely. Our advice? A/B test to ascertain user behavior sending the normal number of push notifications to one group of users and a reduced number to another group to establish engagement. Take a deep dive into the results and identify any patterns – are users engaging more on fewer notifications, or is there little or no difference? Whatever you discover, use it to fine-tune your push strategy.
  6. Use Time-Sensitive notifications responsibly. Remember Active; Passive; Time Sensitive and Critical? As a marketer, you’ll never need to send a Critical notification – Critical – this particular interruption level is restricted for special security, health, and government-related apps and requires special approval from Apple. Your time-sensitive pizza offer doesn’t count. You want to avoid shipping all of your push notifications as Time-Sensitive too – not only would you be likely to alienate 90% of your audience, but you’re unlikely to be able to even if you wanted to. The first time a user receives a Time-Sensitive notification from you, they’re required to confirm your right to send that notification. If they don’t? It’s all over – you’ll never get to send a Time-Sensitive notification to that user again – you have been warned! Of course, there will be instances when users need and expect Time-Sensitive notifications. If you’re Uber and you’re sending a push notification to let a customer know that their cab’s waiting outside, using a Time-Sensitive notification is clearly OK. As you learn more about your user behavior and the intricacies of Focus, you’ll have more clarity around which levels are appropriate for different audiences.

The key takeaway here is that users can now choose to place non-critical push messages into a group to review at a time that suits them. If there are multiple messages within a group, it’s highly likely that a user will focus on those at the top of the list so make ‘em relevant and only send what you really need to. Less is more!

  1. Fine-tune message personalization. Your audience will share their data with you – if you can demonstrate what’s in it for them. No value, no personal details. How will your audience benefit by sharing their location with you? What value are you bringing to the table when you ask users to participate in a survey? What’s in it for me if I spend time reviewing your products? By ensuring your relationship with your audience is a two-way street, you’ll stand way more chance of engaging them with personal, relevant, valuable content. Once they’re happy they’re in a mutually beneficial relationship, you won’t have to bombard them with a spray and pray push approach. 
  2. Include rich media with your push notifications. In iOS 15, push icons and images are larger than in previous versions. Rich media is generally considered to be a good way to engage users, and when it comes to iOS 15, including such content with your push notifications will bump them further up the aforementioned Notifications Summary. As is always the case with push, relevancy is key – don’t go adding rich media purely for the sake of ensuring you’re at the top of a summary. Your audience will catch on as they too get the hang of the new iOS 15 and the techniques marketers are using to make it work for them.

Conclusion

Apple’s intent with the iOS 15 is clear and your goal must be to focus on the needs of your audience in order to fine-tune your push notification strategy and give your app the best chance of continued, long-term success. If your focus has always been on the delivery of relevant, personalized notifications with valuable rich media content – sent at the right time in the right place – then iOS 15 is going to be a breeze! If you’d like to find out more about how you can engage your Apple users with push notifications after the launch of iOS 15, get in touch and we’d love to help you.

Buy vs Build – making the right decision for your push notification system

push notifications

Last year, mobile app users grew a massive 31% year-over-year, with verticals such as entertainment, fitness, gaming, and eCommerce seeing especially impressive growth, in large part due to the radically altered needs of consumers. The message to mobile marketers is clear – as more of us incorporate apps into our daily lives, the greater the need to engage the new consumer … and the greater the need to quickly outrun the intensifying competition that’s creeping up behind you.

During the next 5-10 years, the most successful businesses will be laser-focused on nurturing customer loyalty and retention to pave the way to greater sustainability, profitability and long-term success. Every savvy marketer understands the value of both web and mobile push notifications and to maximize that critical loyalty and retention; executed well, CTRs on push notifications can be as high as 40%, the tiny tip of the proverbial huge iceberg when it comes to the advantages of a great push strategy:

  • When used as part of a data-driven campaign, push notifications can deliver an ROI that can reach 3500%. 
  • Push notifications in some verticals are starting to overtake the use of email marketing. Comparisons have seen push campaign engagement rates come in at 50% higher than their email counterparts. 
  • A single push notification to new users during the first week of app installation can boost retention rates by up to 71%.
  • Targeted push campaigns can enjoy CTRs as high as 30%
  • … and those unassuming cart abandonment push notifications enjoy CTRs of up to 16%

…. but you don’t need convincing – there are statistics galore out there that will tell you more of the same and reassure you that you’re doing the right thing by focusing on push to engage and retain. But what about how you do push? As consumers grow more sophisticated in their needs, and you scramble to keep up, the inevitable question rears its head – “Shouldn’t we be building our own push system?”.

For the companies who simply don’t have the resources – financial or human – or would simply prefer to have the heavy-lifting done by a messaging provider, buying will be the obvious route, not least because you get more bandwidth to focus on the important stuff like reducing time to market and growing your user base. But for those whose mobile marketing needs are highly sophisticated or unique, building your own messaging platform will be the option that many will consider because either

  • your existing messaging provider can’t meet these increasingly sophisticated needs
  • or you’d like a greater level of control in order to be able to deliver on your push strategy now and into the future.

… more often than not, these needs will be those of a larger enterprise that has the money, time, and people to commit to the long-term investment this route requires, but even then, there will be challenges to overcome that won’t be an issue if you opt to buy.

So which path is best for your business? Let’s take a closer look at each solution.

Build

User Opinion MonitoringAt its core, building your own custom messaging platform usually means that you’ve got unique business requirements that require a unique solution to fulfil them – but of course, it’s there’s a lot more to consider before you pass Go – here’s what you’ll need to consider, and the questions you need ask:

  • Building your own service will usually take months, and whilst time is a cost that larger businesses can swallow, for smaller enterprises, sparing six months or longer to focus on such a resource-intensive project is going to impact other areas of business. 
  • Can your marketing activities afford to do without a push strategy while you build this out? You can always buy in whilst you’re building – but you’ll need to budget for it.
  • Do your research early – if you’re building your own push notification platform, you’ll need to budget for the necessary equipment. Establish what that’s likely to be, and how that will impact your budget.
  • Does your purse have the bandwidth for the development resources that you’ll need to allocate to the build? Plan for at least 2 developers working full-time on the project, as well as someone to manage it.
  • Don’t forget to factor in project delays, alongside the financial impact if the project drags on longer than you anticipate.
  • … and source your developers early! The team working on your project will need to have specialist knowledge, so establish early on the key skills that your project needs, then make inroads to source these skills as soon as you can – experienced, knowledgable developers are like gold dust and may time to find. Key skills your team will need:
  • A robust knowledge of native iOS and Android APIs and Rest API calls
  • C#, Javascript, Java, Objective-C, Dart, TypeScript, C/C++ (and others)
  • Robust experience with building systems, unit testing, and code reusability, alongside optimization skills
  • Don’t neglect to consider the process of developing, adding, and testing the required security features that will prevent security vulnerabilities against threats such as unauthorized access and modification.
  • And factor in the cost for the hardware the system will require to maximize performance, speed, and delivery.
  • Plan for ongoing maintenance – bugs will occur, code changes will be needed, upgrades will be required, and system management will be part of daily life – your platform will need to scale as your business grows, so considering how you’ll manage this side of things needs to be done before the fact. Will you need additional team members to manage the workload, or can you manage long-term with your existing team? You’ll also want to consider the 24/7/365 support that you’ll need when something (inevitably!) goes wrong. Establish who will manage – and perform – manual tasks like segmentation and A/B testing – elements which can be exceptionally difficult (though not impossible with the right skills!) to automate.
  • And don’t forget ongoing hosting costs!

Buy

It goes without saying that in general, buying a push notification platform is the less complex, more affordable option for most businesses – the time and resources required for building your own system will always need more planning, more money, and more manpower purely because of all the challenges you’re likely to encounter pre, during and post-build. Here’s what most – though by no means every business, can expect when they buy in:

  • What are your business goals? Are they unique enough to warrant a system build, or can a bought system accommodate your needs? Don’t write off buying before you’ve researched a range of push notification systems – most vendors now offer far more sophisticated system capabilities than they could even dream of a short time ago, so establish exactly what it is you think you need and talk to the experts to establish whether you really need to build your own, or whether your requirements can be met by partnering with a vendor.
  • How well will a paid solution integrate with your existing technology stack? Will you need to replace or upgrade existing solutions in order to accommodate  – and are you willing to do so?  Either way, integration is going to be less expensive than building your own system.
  • Push notification providers will have the skills needed to manage most business requirements, so you don’t have to worry about committing to what can often amount to months sourcing the right talent for your project.
  • Most providers can get you up and running quickly with push notifications – when you partner with a push notification provider, your marketing activities can continue apace with little or no interruption to your push strategy efforts; you’ll be able to instantly capitalize on the tools provided by a push notification vendor, something that building your own cannot promise. 
  • … along the same lines, building your own system tends to put the brakes on a lot of other activities you’re used to undertaking to grow your business. Buying in means you can start focusing on driving new subscribers to your app straight away instead of waiting until your system is built.
  • Buying means you can focus on bringing your app to market far quicker than building your own system will. 
  • Functionality and features such as segmentation, localization, automation, and A/B testing, to name just a few, are usually yours to deploy immediately – no developers, no over-time, no manual labor required.
  • Push notification providers tend to offer a vast range of features that you can take advantage of straight away in order to drive subscriptions, engagement and retention – think rich media messaging, intelligent delivery, advanced analytics, and localization. These features can, and often do, take months to build out in an own-build system.
  • When you buy, security is par for the course – in our experience, this is a biggie. You’ll almost certainly be working with mountains of personal data every second of every minute of every day. The reassurance that someone else is taking care of this non-negotiable side of app management can be a huge factor in deciding whether to build or buy, especially in the current hack-a-day climate.
  • Whilst building, managing, and maintaining your own system is costly and requires long-term commitment, resources, and people, buying guarantees far greater reliability – you won’t need to worry about software (and hardware!) upgrades, 24/7/365 support and availability, nor scalability as your business grows – and what can be the mounting costs of hiring skilled developers to maintain your system into the future.
  • It’s not unusual for businesses that build their own push systems to encounter problems with messaging, particularly when it comes to user segmentation. It’s these issues – subscribers getting irrelevant messages, or worse, receiving messages when they’ve unsubscribed – which can cause endless issues for the developers (and marketers!) of own-build systems and will often be what brings them to Kumulos. When a business buys, these issues simply don’t occur, so they can get on with focusing resources on the things that matter.

Conclusion

With the right strategy in place, push notifications can engage your audience in ways that provide real value, elevate loyalty, and boost retention. For those businesses where messaging is the key element driving growth, opting to build could well be the preferred route, provided the finances and resources are in place to bring the project to a successful conclusion, and beyond.  Our advice? Don’t write off push providers before you’ve established whether or not they can provide what you need! Push providers are often working at the forefront of innovation and can offer a veritable cornucopia of capabilities, so figure out exactly what you need, and do some thorough research to find out if a third party can deliver. 

For everyone else, the key aim is to focus on growing your business without worrying about the cost and complexities that building and managing your own push system inevitably brings.  The same caveat applies – establish what you need from a vendor, then set about finding the team that best fits your requirements. If you’re still unsure about which direction to take, talk to us we can even give you a free demonstration of our platform to make it easier to decide which path is the right one for you – we’ve got form in helping growing businesses to make better decisions around their push strategy.  Get it right, and both you and your customers can look forward to a long and happy relationship.

Why feature adoption is important for app growth – and how you can start to improve it

What exactly is feature adoption?

In a nutshell, feature adoption is the act of adopting an app’s feature(s) into use. It’s what you get when you create an app feature, and the audience you created it for actually uses it, preferably on a regular basis. When a new app feature is introduced to its intended audience in the right way, it’s easy to understand its value, and easy to use as intended – meaning happy users, and an app with the potential for long-term growth and success. 

But regardless of how successful – or otherwise – an app’s features are, one thing we’re all agreed on is that feature adoption is important. The more features your audience uses, the more value they’re getting from the app; the fewer they use,  the less value you’re delivering, and the more likely they are to churn.

Why feature adoption is important for the success of your mobile app

Rolling out new app features is critical in the race to stay ahead of competitors – but when current estimates tell us that only 20% of app users engage with apps comprehensively, you’d wonder why you’d bother adding new features at all. However, if you can increase feature adoption, you’ve got an opportunity to capture this 80% of users not getting optimum value out of your app, and one has to assume, at risk of churning at some point in the not too distant future. And it’s not just about your audience – if new features aren’t being adopted, it could impact heavily on your app development cycle. 

Bottom line? It pays to get new features in front of your users as quickly as possible, because –

1. You’ll increase activation rates

Delivering a personalized and contextual onboarding experience can set the tone for your users’ introduction to your app. In much the same way, introducing users to the app’s features  – the elements that are going to add value to your audience – gives them the opportunity to experience the all-important  ‘a-ha!’ moment, ensuring they stick around for longer than 5 minutes. 

2. You’ll see an increase in user engagement

Nudging users to adopt a new feature in the right way means your users will discover the feature in the right context and return to use it regularly (at least, that’s the hope!).  And once your audience is clear about the value that a certain feature delivers, you’ll improve your app’s stickiness and start to see an increase in engagement.

3. And you’ll retain more users 

Improving feature adoption drives retention. App users will stick with an app that solves their problem and adds value to their life in some way –  but they’ll be as quick to uninstall if they perceive that there’s little to be gained by hanging around. Increased feature adoption means regular, repeat use,  which in turn creates more value for your audience, and lower churn rates. Once you’ve nailed your strategy, and users start using new features out of habit, you’re on the way to creating long-term loyal fans.

How to improve feature adoption

Each new app feature you create presents the opportunity to add value to your users’ experience. Features that never see the light of day – the ones your users are unaware of, or worse, that they know about but have remained unconvinced to embrace – can have the opposite effect … if a user can’t see the value in your app, why on earth would they spend time using it? This is exactly why mobile product managers and marketers are so laser-focused on driving, tracking, and measuring feature adoption.

There are loads of strategies to help drive feature adoption, but the most obvious method is to introduce techniques that draw attention to, and educate users on, these new features. Here’s our take on where you need to focus:

1. Deliver a great onboarding experience

The ability to drive feature adoption consistently is non-negotiable when it comes to user retention. Your audience will only stick around if your mobile app delivers real value to them – one that sits idly on a home screen, or that’s not being used to its full potential will never deliver the kind of tangible value that drives long-term customer loyalty.  

Slack’s onboarding process

 

A great way to help users discover the full glory of your mobile app and the value that you can add to their lives is the humble onboarding process, the perfect opportunity to discover the app features that are going to deliver the greatest value, walking them to that notorious ‘aha’ moment when a new user experiences your app’s value in a way that – most of the time – ensures they’ll be back for more. But great onboarding isn’t a case of throwing every feature at your user and hoping that one of them fires the flames of curiosity … there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind:

  • Make sure you understand your users’ goals – sounds simple, but it’s often anything but. What are they looking to achieve when they first open your app? Where do they want to get to over time? Why have they downloaded your app and not one of your competitors? Taking the time to understand what your users want means you can shape your onboarding process around these needs and showcase the features that are going to help them achieve their goals. 
  • Stick to showcasing your app’s key features. It’s tempting to highlight every feature but too much too soon can be overwhelming, particularly when our attention spans are at an all-time low. Where possible, make the process interactive so that you’re keeping users engaged – but not confused.
  • Keep it simple! If your app has a lot of features and capabilities, like many of the apps in the finance space for example, then you’ll want to break the onboarding process down into manageable chunks of information and avoid overwhelming new users.

2. Use Tooltips

A seemingly small 5% improvement in your retention rates can translate into a massive 25 to 95% increase in profits, while a seemingly trivial 3% monthly churn rate will result in a rather more alarming 31% churn across the year. Bottom line? It pays to make sure your audience knows about new features, and better still, uses them. 

Tooltips might not be the most progressive method for driving interest and engagement in new features, but they’re one of the most effective! These small in-app messages attached to a specific UI element or location on the screen, are usually text-based – but not exclusively – and are used to provide contextual guidance, highlight new and key features, or alert users about new updates. Use them to capture audience attention and tell them about new or unused features:

  • Focus the content of your tooltips around user goals – not the features themselves.
  • If you’re using them in a series to walk users through a new feature, keep the information brief to avoid users zoning out.
  • Make sure your tooltips stand out – the last thing you want when introducing a new feature is for your prompt to be invisible. ‍‍
  • Keep the copy short and sweet – you’re working with limited real-estate, so make what you say count, make it relevant, and where possible, personal.
  • Pique curiosity to encourage users to explore new features.
  • And we can’t say this often enough – keep it contextual. Serve up tooltips when a user clicks on a certain page, or uses a specific feature … delivering them at the perfect moment to drive interest and engagement.

3. Tutorials & Walkthroughs

A healthy retention metric is a key indicator of your app’s sustainability and longevity – other metrics can be massaged to put a positive spin on your marketing narratives, but retention doesn’t lie!  A feature tutorial – or in-app tutorial – when implemented right (ie, contextual, relevant, personal)  has the potential to increase feature adoption by up to ten-fold, helping you hang on to these users that are in danger of churning … 

It probably doesn’t require much in the way of explanation, but to retain your audience, they need to be getting some kind of value from your app, and the only way they can do this is if they’re aware of its range of features, and how to use them. That’s where in-app tutorials come in.

Clear’s task management app tutorial

 

As will all the activities you’re exploring to boost feature adoption, the critical consideration is when to deliver the information; rather than dumping your tutorial at the start of a user session, make sure you’re delivering it once your audience has had the opportunity to settle into the app – users will digest the feature information more easily once they’ve got a concrete frame of reference, and you stand less chance of putting them off, permanently. Front-loading information in a mobile app is one of the worst offenders when it comes to the reasons why users hit the uninstall button after downloading an app. What’s more, immediately funneling users into a tutorial is likely to frustrate them, so it’s worth keeping in mind that feature tutorials should always be voluntary. Our advice if you’re thinking of the tutorial route?

  • Again, make sure they’re optional – absolutely no one enjoys being forced to consume information they didn’t ask for.
  • Try to limit the amount of copy you use, opting for images instead where possible. You’ve got a small amount of space to work with – having to wade through text-heavy tutorials is a chore, so make ‘em fun, fast and nice to look at.
  • Where possible, make feature tutorials interactive – if you can engage users, they’ll be far more likely to remember the feature you’re showcasing.
  • Present feature information in a way that’s both engaging and easy to consume. Elements like gamification and video and animation are super-effective ways of making the tutorial experience enjoyable, and increasing the likelihood of boosting feature adoption and retention.

4. In-app messaging

Once a user progresses from beginner to regular user of your app, you need to focus on showcasing “deeper” features that they either don’t know about or just haven’t cared enough about to start using regularly (aka ‘feature blindness’). The more features your customers use, the more value they’ll get, and the more value they get, the more engaged they’ll be. In-app messages are a great way to expose new app features to your audience, regularly informing them what’s new in your app, and how it adds value to their app experience. 

Well-timed, contextual in-app messages can boost new feature adoption

 

Well-timed messages can encourage your regular users to use neglected or long forgotten-about features, particularly if the feature is a key part of your app’s core functionality – it’s one thing for a user to dismiss a nice-to-have feature, but if they stop or never start using a key feature that has the potential to deliver real value, it rather undermines the reason your app exists in the first place.

As always, the golden rule is ‘be mindful of your users’ – 

  • No one wants their app experience interrupted with an irrelevant notification, so make in-app messages contextual, segmenting users to ensure you’re only delivering feature information to the users it’s most relevant to.
  • When possible, keep in-app messages on point, telling your intended audience only what they need to know to get value from the feature you’re promoting. And when an app feature is a little more complex? Ditch the in-app message and go the tutorial or feature-tour route, a far more efficient method to deliver the necessary information and keep users engaged. 
  • When it comes to user experience, it’s the little things that often have the biggest impact. Too much or something, or not enough, can be off-putting and frustrating, and ne’er more so for in-app messages. Keep your copy short, but succinct so that users quickly grasp what the value of your feature is –  and why it’s relevant!

Brands can spend a lot of time and money developing new app features, but then fail to bring them to their audience in a way that engages and encourages repeat use. By shaping a feature adoption strategy that utlizes the methods outlined above, you should start to see adoption rates rise, engagement rates follow suit, and a growing cohort of loyal users that understand the value your app offers. If you’d like to find out more about how Kumulos can help drive feature adoption, talk to us

 

What to look for when switching messaging provider

It’s vital to know what tools are at your disposal that can benefit the way in which we send messages, so you can establish which of these would be beneficial to your business and be sure to find a provider who can offer the services you need. Here are the key features to look for in Mobile Messaging Platforms when switching your provider.

Rich, Interactive Messages

Adding rich images or interactive buttons increase the likelihood of a user engaging with your message. The message contained within a notification is equally as important but when paired with branding, imagery, and the ability to interact with the message this turns notifications into a far more effective marketing tool.

Comprehensive messaging providers can offer not only Mobile Push Notifications and In-App Messaging but also push notifications for your website. This allows one tool that can manage messaging on both the app and website/ PWA.

Segmentation & Channels

Not all your messaging is going to be relevant to all of your users. Segment your audience in ways that make it easier to send certain messages to a certain group of users. This allows you to retarget users with promotions. Create more relevant audiences to fit each type of message you send.

Good systems will allow you to use Analytics events within the app to understand what the user is doing and then send messages based on this behavior or lack of behavior that may indicate they are losing interest in the app and could be about to delete your app.

 Automation

This lets you build a set of rules that when met will automatically trigger messages to be sent to the user. The messaging provider you pick should let you easily set and edit these rules within a web portal, to save the cost and time delay of having these manually programmed each time.

They will let you watch for certain activities, or lack of activities of the user and then trigger one or ideally a series of messages. Typical usage is when someone first downloads the app and is going through the onboarding process, then send a series of notifications designed to encourage them to complete. And if the user stalls through onboarding send notifications to get them back on track.

 Another common usage is when someone hasn’t been in your app for a time, send a series of time-delayed notifications to re-engage the user.

Integrations with Rich Analytics Data

Top messaging platforms will come with rich, highly visual and easy to use analytics. It’s important when selecting a messaging platform to equally consider the power of analytics that comes pre-integrated. This is important as it allows you to use these events tracked by the analytics service to trigger messages. This means you can easily action the insights that your analytics service tells you to provide timely, informed and relevant messages based on the actual behavior and interest cues from the user.

For example, if they have looked at one of the items in your product catalog but not made a purchase, you can then trigger a series of re-marketing messages to that user reminding them of your product and reinforce their purchase interest.

 Geolocation Targeting

Targeting users with geofencing and beacons allow you to only target users that enter a physical location you have defined. This is done through either GPS of the smartphone in the case of Geofences or Bluetooth in the case of beacons.

beacon technology illustration It allows you to send messages to the user based on their physical location i.e. restaurants and clothes stores. This allows you to know that your messages are being sent in the exact place and moment your users could be most receptive to hearing from you.

Confirmed Delivery

Confirmed delivery is a feature that should be available from all good messaging platforms. They enable you to better evaluate the effectiveness of the campaign. Using services that don’t have this feature means you aren’t seeing the whole story. If only 30% of your users opened the message you could be disappointed by the results. But if not all who you intended to receive the message actually received it, then this could be masking the actual effectiveness of the message.

Intelligent Delivery

Intelligent delivery can be used to perfect the timing of notification based on the historic usage patterns of the user. This means that the message is delivered at the time of day that they are most likely to be using your app. It’s possible for app marketing platforms to intelligently work out when is the best time to target each individual user that is most likely to lead to an interaction.

Users also have the power in their hands by being able to inform you of their preferred delivery options and specify when they want to hear from you.

Deep Linking and Deferred Deep Links

To make actions from your messages really effective you need a messaging platform that will let you link directly to the relevant page in your mobile app. When used through a push notification, (so you can ensure the user already has the app installed) this is called Deep Links.

 Deferred Deep Links allow you to engage users using external digital sources such as SMS and email. If the person receiving the link doesn’t have the app on their smartphone, then the smart link will detect this and redirect the person to the app store to download the app. Once the app download is complete it will remember the section of the app that the original link was taking you to in the mobile app, and take the user there when launched.

Sandals DDL email flow

Deferred Deep Links flow from email

 

Ability to contain external links to web content

For some apps it’s important to be able to direct the user to content hosted on a mobile responsive web page rather than having to have all your content stored in the app itself. This gives you much greater flexibility. For example you can easily change the content on the web page, avoiding having to post an update to the app to change the information. So it’s important that you pick a Messaging Provider that allows you to easily embed URL web links for the user to click on.

Payment Options

Not all messaging platforms offer the fairest pricing structure, some will charge based on total number of app downloads or by number of subscribed devices. This can lead to paying over-inflated rates for a number of users that you won’t be able to reach with your messaging. Other providers can offer payment methods involving paying by MAU (monthly active users), that can keep your expenses down.

When searching for a new provider it’s always important not to get roped into extended contracts or up-front payments that have you tied down to a certain provider that might not be right for you. Look for companies that will offer a free trial period, a demonstration of the platform and allow you to pay on a rolling contract so you never have to worry about being tied to a company that isn’t right for you.

5 Simple Steps to Hiring the Right Mobile App Developers

Following the events of the last 18 months, the stay-at-home economy has, perhaps unsurprisingly, experienced explosive growth. We work from our bedrooms, work out in our front rooms, shop through Amazon, dine via Uber Eats, stream our movies through Netflix and get together with our mates over Zoom – all helping to drive a 23.3% increase in app downloads since the start of the pandemic. 

These unprecedented shifts across our daily lives have massively increased the time we spend using our mobile devices. They’ve also radically impacted our needs, and our expectations, which in turn is nudging businesses to meet these new demands through apps that excel. 

More companies than ever are now looking to ship apps that help their customers navigate this new landscape – but how do you select the right mobile app development team for your needs? What should you be looking for in the team that’s going to help you ship the mobile app that your business, and your customers, deserve? In a world full of app development companies vying for your business, we recommend following 5 key steps to ensure you find a team that’s going to build you the app you need …

1. Review their portfolio and customer feedback

First things first, you need to be confident that your chosen provider is capable of producing the kind of app that you’re looking for, and there’s is no better way to rate potential candidates than their past work. The best way to do this is by reviewing their portfolio and talking to past clients. Don’t be afraid to ask for past client contacts and reach out to them directly. 

Find out if the vendors you’re looking at have developed apps in your particular industry, or with a comparable feature set. Dig deeper into the business problems past clients were looking to solve, and how successful the apps were at addressing these. Take a look at app store downloads and reviews – how are these apps doing today? Download and use a couple of these apps – how easy are they to use? What about features and functionality, look and feel? What do you like about them – and what are you less impressed with?

You’ll also want to explore vendors on platforms like Clutch where you can find honest feedback from businesses that have collaborated with the companies you’re interested in working with. You’ll also find ballpark costs, project feedback, and any negatives that clients may have encountered during the process, making it an invaluable resource. 

Use review sites to find customer experiences with the company.

 

 

2. Ensure they have the right expertise to meet your needs

User Opinion MonitoringOnce you’re satisfied that a vendor can produce the kind of app you’re looking for, you’ll want to ensure they’ve got the right expertise in place to deliver on your needs. Is your project complex, requiring a number of hard-to-find skills? Do you need a quick turnaround, or is the project likely to run over many months?

You’ll also want to explore developer expertise – does your app include emerging technologies like AI or AR? Do the developers have all the required skills in-house, or will they need to outsource, and if so, to whom? If it’s a freelancer, what happens if that one freelancer falls ill, or finds something better to do? What’s their preferred project methodology – Agile? Waterfall? And what about your data and its security – which policies and processes do they have in place to ensure that the data you’ll be working with throughout the app’s lifecycle is robustly protected?

The key thing to remember here is that it’s easy to be enthusiastic and over-state experience, so when it comes to sussing out credentials, the more corroboration and verification you can get eyes on, the better, so do your homework.

3. Determine whether or not they’re a good fit for your company culture

The app development process can be long, complex and involve a lot of moving parts that require harmonious coordination across teams. So whilst your chosen app development team doesn’t have to like the same death metal bands that you do, they do have to be able to sync with your own team in ways that encourage open, authentic communication and collaboration. 

Look for signs that your partner-in-development fosters a healthy working environment not just amongst its teams, but between management and employees. Make sure your team is also welcome to be involved in the decision-making aspects of your project rather than merely being the last port of call once the important stuff’s already been decided, or key milestones met. Ultimately, developing an app needs a lot of time, investment and energy so you need to make sure you’re working with people who want the app – and your business – to succeed as badly as you do.  

4. Look for a company that’s in it for the long haul

It’s not unusual for app development companies to be so focused on building apps that they lose sight of what comes after an app has been shipped. Thing is, mobile app development is never finished once you’re app’s in the app store – it’s an ongoing process that involves upgrades, bug fixes and various refinements and enhancements throughout the lifecycle of the app, and beyond … That means you’ll want clarity around who’s going to manage these required post-release activities – as well as which activities are covered, and how they’re priced. What’s their process for managing fixes and upgrades? Will you be in a long and static queue, waiting days or even weeks to fix issues or ship upgrades, or will you be a priority? How many revisions will you be entitled to over certain periods of time, and what happens if you need more?

And beyond the standard fixes and enhancements, is your chosen team still in touch with past clients? Can they talk confidently about the current status of apps they’ve shipped in the past? Do they take an active interest in apps they’ve worked on, and the businesses they’ve worked with? The power of long-term business collaborations can’t be overstated – if your app development vendor doesn’t take a vested interest in clients beyond the final invoice, you might want to reconsider.

5. And ask the right questions!

Once you’ve got the above nailed, it’s time to ask the right questions. And whilst you’ll have many more of these as your project progresses, there are a few key ones that should help you make your final decision.:

  • What are their key methods for communicating, and who’s the main point of contact? Ideally, you want ONE experienced point of contact to avoid emails and messages sitting in various inboxes whilst each team member believes someone else is dealing with it.
  • Is their team a band of in-house employees or do you outsource? What happens when a key team member leaves?
  • Where are they located? If there’s a significant time difference, this can greatly impact how well – or otherwise – your project will run.
  • How often will there be check-ins? Ideally, you want these scheduled every day to avoid the potential of your project veering off in a direction you have no visibility of.
  • What kind of project management software, or other system tool are they using? How long have they been managing projects this way, and why?

The process of finding the right app development team might seem daunting, but if you follow these five first-base steps, then you will discover the best team to take your project to a successful conclusion – and beyond. And if you’re still not sure how to get your project off the ground? Talk to us! No fluff, no bulls**t, just a wealth of knowledge and experience in mobile development and marketing which will help steer you in the right direction. 

Mobile Trends 2022

For business leaders and marketers, accurately predicting mobile trends in 2022 in an increasingly uncertain world has become immensely challenging and isn’t going to make these predictions any easier. Over the last 18 months, we’ve seen mobile trends emerge faster and bigger than any of us could have imagined. From the exponential growth of eCommerce and on-demand services to the sharp drop in smartphone sales, our brave new world is making the art of being radically agile a key element of the successful marketing strategy.

As businesses continue to navigate a rapidly and constantly shifting landscape, and attempt to navigate the impact of the continuing pandemic, cautious planning and nimble responsiveness will be critical in building stability and minimizing uncertainty. Planning ahead efficiently, enterprise needs to understand both how the mobile development space is shifting, and how consumers needs are evolving. Here’s our take on what we’re seeing for the mobile trends in 2022.

The continuing rise of 5G

From helping reduce the number of road traffic accidents to predicting the needs of production lines, the lag-free connectivity offered by 5G is set to deliver a cornucopia of benefits that are hard for most of us to envisage right now, particularly at the consumer level. Up to 100 times faster than 4G and allowing an enriching mobile experience, enterprise has the opportunity of a lifetime to engage with their audience in ways that will benefit everyone.

5G will boost app monetization opportunities as users download more apps, spend more time in them, and, by default, spend more. It’s also being widely tipped to power a new wave in video advertising as enterprise looks to leverage 5Gs rapid streaming capabilities. 

Video ads will be able to shift their storylines mid-flow in response to users reactions, making the experience utterly personal. Kind of goes without saying that both engagement and retention rates should see increases as the CX becomes more relevant, valuable and personalized than it’s ever been. 

How will your business adapt to the emerging opportunities offered by 5G? In what ways would you be modifying your mobile strategy if your users were already enjoying super-fast download speeds and ultra-low latency? How would you integrate AR/VR into your marketing strategies? In what ways would you leverage user data to deliver the optimum 5G user experience? These are just a few of the questions you’ll need to be thinking about right now as 5G makes its long-awaited move into all of our lives …

A rise in wearable devices

Wearables didn’t experience much of anything last year –  hardly surprising given most of us were indoors doing as little exercise as possible. But this year, and over the coming months, we can expect to see this change with the market starting to pick up again as we emerge from indoors, hungry to get moving and ready to boost our fitness to pre-pandemic levels.

Wearables with features designed to help us ‘stay safe’ and monitor our health are likely to remain a top priority throughout 2022. Many smartwatch makers are already adding blood oxygen sensors to their devices as standard, with features like ECG monitors providing users with early warnings around the state of our health alongside the ability to analyze our data and make useful suggestions about how we might look to improve our health, like Fitbit’s Sense Advanced smartwatch and  Koogeek’ Smart Watch Fitness Tracker Body Temperature Monitor – gaining in the popularity stakes because even slight fluctuations in our temperature can indicate infection. 

We could also start to see the rise of the ‘smart mask’ – LG first unveiled its new smart mask last year, with interest growing as we continue to figure out how best to live with the pandemic going forward.  Their PuriCare is essentially a personal air purifier fitted using two HEPA filters built into the mask, which, LG says, captures 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns in size … it’s also rechargeable for up to eight hours use and even comes with a smart case that uses UV light to sanitize the mask. Expect more of these to appear during the next 24 months – and beyond – as we start mixing again, and look to protect our health whilst we do so.

The LG PuriCare

But it’s not all about health when it comes to wearables. A surprise driver of the increased interest in wearables is remote working, likely to continue for many of us regardless of the big ‘opening up’. Ear-worn devices and smartwatches have seen particularly strong growth over the last 18 months as we rely on them to help us work better and smarter. Spending on ear-worn devices rose an impressive 124% last year to total $32.7 billion – and it’s forecast to reach $39.2 billion by the close of this year. 

Bottom line? Wearables will continue their market growth into 2022 and beyond as our habits change, we adapt to new ways of living and working, and looking after our health. We think there’s a lot more to say on the matter, particularly with the advance of 5G and IoT – so watch this space for a more detailed dive into the future of wearables! 

AI continues its bid for world domination

The use of AI in the world of mobile isn’t by any stretch of the imagination a new or emerging trend, but as the technology develops and its uses become ever more sophisticated, we’re likely to see AI appearing in every yearly trends list for a long time yet. 

And as we continue to ride the ‘pandemic years’, AI deserves a special mention – smart machines and their self-learning algorithms will likely play a big part in the ongoing fight against COVID, as well as any other health threats that might – though hopefully not – rear their heads.

But the reason we’re particularly interested in AI at KHQ is the part it plays in mobile data analytics, and what this means for enterprise – as well as their audience – well into the future.  With new AI tools emerging on a staggeringly regular basis, we’re seeing more and more this technology being used to turbocharge data analysis and identify new – and previously hidden – insights amongst the increasingly vast amounts of data that mobile marketing teams are working with. 

Businesses that keep their focus on their customers can expect gains ranging from 20 to 50 per cent – which kind of makes this customer-centric approach a no-brainer. The road to that success is paved with data – and the last 18 months, in particular, have seen the use of AI accelerate as ever more businesses recognise this fact and explore ever more innovative and profitable ways to deliver the optimum customer experience via their mobile apps. 

AI and big data will continue to help enterprise deliver the optimum CX

And it’s not just the data newbies – even those businesses that have been working with data for years to streamline their products and services understand the potential of AI-powered knowledge and how it can deliver what their customers are really looking for, and helping nudge them ahead of their competition.

Data combined with AI is the fuel that drives better, faster decisions: successful businesses are three times more likely than their less profitable competition to say their data and analytics initiatives have boosted revenues by at least 20%. The companies you’re going to see ‘nail it’ in the mobile space over the coming years are already a good way down the road of adopting and deploying AI within their business, and at the heart of their mobile strategy. Leveraging AI and predictive analytics to reveal smarter and more sustainable ways to connect with their audience is the future – and present – of the successful marketing team.

With Low-code app development seeing increasing interest

The term ‘low-code’, used to describe development platforms that focus on ease of use and development simplicity, was coined back in 2014 by analyst group Forrester. Since then, we know the adoption of low-code development has been on the increase, it’s just that it’s not really been ‘visible’ to the rest of us until the pandemic hit. When it did, companies everywhere found themselves having to react very quickly to rapidly changing circumstances – and all these new services, products, and apps that were in the pipeline? They were shelved while businesses focused on survival. It’s in these unprecedented circumstances that low-code development started to flourish … and it remains on a strong growth trajectory as we head into 2022.

So what gives, and why would you want to consider low-code development? In short, low-code app builds help developers by enabling the re-use of existing components and templates to speed up app delivery, negating the need for the standard ultra labor-intensive method of having to write every line of code needed for their app. And whilst that might sound fairly innocuous, the benefits that a low-code approach can deliver means that developers are turning to it in droves.

For starters, low-code means more apps can be developed in less time, which means increased productivity, and decreased development costs. It also means that enterprise can be far more agile, reacting quickly to new and emerging customer needs, driving innovation and adapting to market changes. So as new business practices and strategies evolve ‘post’-pandemic, it’ll be increasingly important for marketers to understand these soon-to-be essential capabilities that will speed up app build and allow far greater agility around responding to user – and business – needs.

… and the rise of Progressive Web Apps

A hybrid between web pages and apps, PWAs may be about to enjoy their moment in the spotlight after a very sluggish start. Progressive web applications – or software that’s delivered via a website but which works as a native app – offers businesses a ton of advantages, but have seen slow uptake since their appearance in 2019, mostly due to the preference for native apps. But whilst we continue to languish in COVID territory and business uncertainty drives the need for faster, more affordable ways to gain traction online, word is that they’re about to take off:

  • PWAs are, generally speaking, easier and faster to develop – which means they cost less to build and ship.  
  • They’re ‘progressive’ – meaning they work on every browser, for every user, every time.
  • And they use just a small percentage of memory space across supported devices and web browsers.
  • They’re fast; they fit every screen size, and they’re super-secure.
  • They can be easily shared/linked to via social, marketing campaigns etc.
  • They are, to a greater extent, far more responsive than their native app counterparts – they’re simple, lightweight, and can be accessed easily on both mobile and desktop
  • They work even when your smartphone or computer is offline.
  • And updates are instant. Because PWAs are served through a web browser, there’s no requirement from the user to update manually through the app store so enhancements to the UX are quick.
  • They’re also indexed by search engines, so they’re easily discoverable.
  • And they’re immersive, just like a native app: once a user adds a PWA to their home screen, they’re indistinguishable from a native app.

Convinced yet? There’s more – businesses using PWAs have seen up to a 36% increase in conversion rates and up to a 50% increase in user engagement. Users get an optimum app experience with reduced data usage and shorter loading times, and brands get to deliver a superior UX- keeping customers close and cementing loyalty. Starbucks, Twitter and Uber are just a very few of the brands using PWAs to optimize their customer experience, and as more businesses continue to explore ways to increase visibility and reach a wider audience, in our opinion they’re going to dominate the app space in 2022.

Conclusion

The costs facing businesses as they adapt to COVID-19 and the extensive changes impacting all our lives have been extensive, but this new landscape has also accelerated innovations that were already starting to make waves. There are many unknowns in the months ahead, but the mobile marketplace has shown its ability to adapt quickly and meet new consumer needs, even in highly uncertain times. If you’d like to find out more about where to focus your mobile marketing efforts in the coming months, and how Kumulos can help get you there, talk to us!

A Guide to Selecting Your Mobile App Development Framework

iphone homescreen

In-house or agency expertise, whichever route you take for your next mobile app development project, there’s one thing crucial to a successful outcome – the mobile app development framework you choose to build the app. 

Like a framework for pretty much anything, the mobile app development framework is the foundation on which you’ll build your code – but different frameworks offer different benefits. Some do really well at helping developers to build super-fast, high-performance health apps for example, while others do better at delivering apps that require exceptional security, such as those you see in the Finance space. Others yet may support the delivery of a highly frictionless user experience, the kind that users demand in gaming apps. So the big question is, with so much choice out there, which framework is best suited to the app you’re planning to build?  The good news? We’ve put a guide together to help you figure out what to look for when deciding on the best option for your project. There are a ton of questions you’ll want to know the answers to so you can pick the optimum framework for your app build … 

  1. Which platform are you building for – iOS, Android or Hybrid? Different frameworks are used for different platforms, and each comes with its own set of benefits. Be clear at the outset about which platform – or platforms – you’re planning to run with.
  2. Who is your target audience? Creating the optimum CX for E-Commerce will differ from that of Finance, for example – and different frameworks will ensure you deliver it.
  3. What are the app’s key features? Will users regularly need a lot of storage space, for example, or perhaps an in-app chat feature will be a big selling point … or maybe there will be a lot of financial transactions that require robust security. You’ll need to identify these early to ensure your chosen framework can manage the important stuff.
  4. How much does speed matter? Certain app development frameworks provide developers with the opportunity to build for optimum speed, an essential factor when it comes to the ultimate app experience – and you’ll need a little extra of the stuff if you’re going for a gaming app.  
  5. What’s your budget? The million-dollar question for every app project, but not all frameworks are created equally, and some are going to eat into your budget quicker than others.

So which mobile app development framework is best for my app?

There are a ton of frameworks out there right now, but the top three – React, Ionic and Flutter – are pretty much unchallenged because they’re so damned good at doing what they set out to do. If we’re honest, there’s little between them, but we’ve put our heads together to determine the advantages – and disadvantages – that each of these frameworks offers.

React Native

react native sdkIf your app needs exceptional performance, lots of features and a bells-and-whistles interface, then the React framework might be the one to deliver – Facebook, Instagram and Airbnb can’t be wrong. One of the most popular frameworks, React Native for both Android and iOS provides developers with the tools to create high-performance apps in shorter development cycles and quicker deployment times. It also has the added benefit of having one of the largest communities of developers which means that if – or when – you run into issues, you’ve got the expertise of thousands of experienced React developers at your fingertips to help resolve them. So why so popular?

  • It’s easy to learn
  • It enables faster, more efficient mobile app development.
  • … and helps deliver optimal app performance
  • Offers hot reloading
  • Needs smaller teams
  • It loves simple, responsive UI design
  • and support for 3rd party plug-ins
  • … all making it pretty cost-effective

Not bad, right? But you’ll also need to consider the downsides:

  • There can often be compatibility & debugging issues
  • Custom modules can be limited
  • And it needs more native developers for some platform-specific modules

Apps built on React Native:

  • Facebook
  • Walmart
  • Instagram

Flutterflutter logo

Currently, the most popular cross-platform alternative to React, Flutter is Google’s dalliance into cross-platform app development. But it’s much more than just another framework – Flutter has a lot going for it. Its main draw is that developers don’t need to write any platform-specific code because there’s a lot of shared code between the platforms – which in our books is a BIG uptick:

  • It also delivers great app performance – perfect for gaming apps and those using animation
  • It’s also known to easily adapt to different screen types – so flip, fold or bend (ok, we’re kidding about that last one … for now), your app will look fabulous whatever it’s wearing  …
  • And it offers hot reloading – so any changes you need to make can be quickly applied. We know this matters.
  • Which in turn, of course,  means a faster development time – also critical 
  • It’s really easy to learn, even for folks without much coding experience
  • The framework preserves platform-specific behaviour so apps look and work like native ones
  • And being a Google product, it has great support

That’s quite the list … but like all good things, there are (we think very minimal) downsides:

  • The Flutter community is pretty small compared to its main competition React. Flutter developers are catching up and creating new libraries and plugins, but they still have some way to go.
  • Despite the fact that it delivers a platform-specific look and feel, for the purists, it might not be as great as it could be.
  • It’s a young technology, so there’s always the possibility that it could evolve in ways that we might not be on board with – but this is how it’s always been, and for us, it’s almost not worth mentioning …

As you’d expect with the new kid on the block, everyone’s scrambling to develop on Flutter right now … here’s our pick of the pops:

  • Alibaba
  • Stadia
  • BMW
  • Groupon

Ionicionic logo

With more than five million apps, a large community of developers and a pretty solid reputation, Ionic  has a lot to offer. Open-source and featuring an abundant library of front-end building blocks and UI components, it’s being able to ship very good-looking, high-performance apps that keep developers coming back for more. Here are a few other advantages it’s got going for it:

  • It comes with a cornucopia of default CSS and JavaScript components which do very well at covering most of the key elements you’d want to build into your mobile app … so features like navigation, form Inputs, tabs and sliding boxes. What’s more, its themes and components are customizable, so you can be as creative as you like. 
  • It’s frontend agnostic, which means developers get to use any (or no) JS frameworks such as React or Vue.
  • It’s one codebase’ makes it developer-friendly
  • And it comes with a fabulous selection of UI elements
  • A lot of the big names use it – from IBM to NASA to Target … but it’s also a favourite of small businesses 
  • It’s got a great community, which matters a lot to developers who value sharing ideas and solving problems together.

Disadvantages:

  • Performance. An app built with Ionic can perform less optimally – and though this is unlikely to be picked up by most, on gaming or 3D heavy apps, it’s a distinct possibility. 
  • Hot reloading is, in general, more difficult to set up on Ionic. 
  • Builds have been known to randomly crash on the Ionic framework – but we suspect this is the case across all frameworks so we wouldn’t let that put you off.
  • It’s harder to set up hot reloading on Ionic, and this could bump up dev time.

There are a ton of great apps out there that use the Ionic framework, but our favourites have to be:

  • Diesel
  • MacLaren
  • Nationwide

Choosing your mobile app development framework in a nutshell

There’s no golden formula when it comes to choosing the right framework for your app development – your business requirements, your audience requirements and your app requirements will all impact the choice you make. Ultimately, a framework that fulfils as many of your specific needs, including those of your developers – will win out. A framework that has a robust developer community, addresses the challenges that you’ll face and which has the flexibility to meet your app’s future requirements will win – if you’re unsure and would like to explore your options, talk to us

Travel app engagement & retention – what you need to know

Increasing competition, declining confidence, and an industry on the cusp of a new golden age, keeping customers close to your travel app in 2021 is about to become the holy grail for travel marketers literally the world over. 

Long gone are the days of infatuation with quick wins and endless growth hacking to overcome challenges. During the next 5-10 years, the most successful travel apps will be heavily focused on user loyalty and retention rather than seeking out new audiences,  paving the way to sustainability, profitability, and long-term success. 

Travel apps – where we’re at and what’s next

We love our travel apps –  they boast some of the app industry’s lowest churn rates, with an impressive 47% of users returning to their travel apps, and just 53% churning one month after their first session (the average being 80%) – that’s good enough for me, But why so popular? 

Like any app, for a whole host of reasons, but it’s the sheer numbers of travelers driving these impressive rates. Pre-pandemic, around 1.3 million of us in the US traveled for business every day, with non-business travel reaching a stratospheric 1.4 billion international tourist arrivals, both fueling an industry worth almost $1.7 trillion. And whilst we need to approach future predictions around travel with a healthy dose of uncertainty at this stage, there’s little doubt that we can expect travel – for whatever reason – to enter a golden age once the world gets back on its feet.

How travel apps can successfully engage and retain

More than 80% of new users stop using travel apps within 90 days. It makes sense – travel isn’t something we do every day, so once we’re back on terra firma, the apps are put into hibernation, sometimes permanently. But hibernation or not, letting your travel app languish post-trip, never to be used again is a wasted opportunity. Let’s take a quick recap on why engagement and retention are so darned important:

  • Selling to an existing user has a success rate of around 60-70%, compared with a measly 5-20% success rate of selling to a new customer
  • Increasing customer retention by just 5% can boost profits by between 25% and 95% 
  • And companies that put customer experience at the heart of their growth strategy enjoy engagement and retention revenues 4-8% higher than those who don’t

Bottom line – travel apps need to provide an experience that’s so engaging, and so valuable that when users are ready to travel again, they pick up their phone and log back into your app, however long you’ve been apart. Here are our top tips on how to do it:

1. Make onboarding flawless

Onboarding is the art of delivering the optimum ‘a-ha!’ moment to new users … the point at which they understand the value of your travel product or service and are convinced enough to let your app live on their phone.  Think of onboarding like a first date. The first time your user meets you, it pays to make an impression – a flawless onboarding experience has the potential to increase your travel app engagement figures by up to 400%. 

Must-do’s when it comes to onboarding? 

  • Don’t force sign-up
  • Minimize effort and friction – make it as easy as you can
  • Help new users to understand quickly what your travel app’s about. Being able to quickly demonstrate your product or service in ways that engage from first touch-down will pay dividends
  • And highlight your travel app’s best features and showcase how they should be used – video is particularly good for this.

Hotel bookings giant HotelTonight are particularly good at this. Their app gives users brilliant last-minute hotel deals based on their location and does it quickly and easily – “three taps, one swipe, and you’re booked!” 

  • No sign-up required – bonus!
  • The app simply asks for the user’s location and delivers the relevant content immediately
  • If users do decide to sign-up, it’s the super-simple Google account or Facebook sign-in – no endless keyboard tapping required.
  • New users can invite friends, giving them £20 off of their first booking – and bagging £20 off for themselves, and can earn extra discounts and credits as they level up. 
Retention rates increase by up to 50% with effective app onboarding.

2. Tell a great story

Being able to tell a great story is critical, whatever industry you’re in. Stories engage us, connect us with each other, and allow us to dream of futures as yet unrealised. 

Destination storytelling gives users reasons to open an app rather than just searching or booking a trip. And one travel brand that consistently nails destination storytelling, captivating their audience way beyond the mere act of booking, is Airbnb. Engaging users with enchanting stories and postcard-perfect images of breathtaking locations for each of their offerings, the Airbnb app gives users the perfect excuse to dream of far off adventures – and to keep coming back for more … stories like this one:

Join me on a virtual interactive South African safari experience that is great for groups and corporate team building events We will take a look at the beautiful world of some of the most amazing animals on earth by exploring footage of the great savannas, grasslands, and wetlands of Southern Africa and virtually encounter my favorite animals that we would normally encounter on an outdoor Safari. I will guide you, as if on safari, and discuss the animal’s behaviors, habitats, and appearances to learn why they are so special and essential pieces to the ecosystem.

I don’t know about you, but I’m sold – and there’s plenty more to whet the curious travellers appetite, ensuring they return to the app time and again. 

Takeaway? Create a powerful story around travel deals – one that fires the imagination and gives users a reason to book other than cost. Make the effort to really understand who your users are and what inspires them to seek out new places and experiences – then find creative ways to show them that your destination has what they’re looking for (and more!). 

3. Enrich the travel experience

From nailing the competitive advantage to enjoying higher return rates, travel brands with digitally engaged users mean happier, more loyal users – and the smart travel brands are smashing it, ready to make 2021 a year to remember and elevating retention rates at the same time.

Delivering the enriching, valuable travel experience is a big part of engaging and retaining users – but what does that look like? For some, it’s delivering a straightforward stand-alone experience that can make or break a great trip, like LoungeBuddy. If like me you travel a lot, you’ll spend a significant amount of time pacing about in airports, sometimes for way longer than expected. LoungeBuddy has come to the rescue, giving users the facility to purchase lounge time at almost any airport in the world, and enabling holidaymakers to skip the crowds, and relax and recharge in an oasis of calm before jetting off.

Or how about HotelTonight, which allows users wherever they are to book hotel rooms at the very last minute. If you’re out exploring for the day and are having way too much fun to even think about getting on the train home, you can book a hotel room at a heavily discounted rate and party into the night.

But when it comes to enriching the traveller’s experience through mobile, it’s the big hotel brands that smash it. Kumulos favorite, the World of Hyatt app, provides a guest experience that truly excels, making it super-easy for travellers to get the most out of their vacation with one of the world’s most distinguished travel brands:: 

  • View room charges during your stay so guests can keep on top of spending
  • Back in your room after a day out and missing something? Request fresh towels, the all-important hairdryer, room service, and more, direct via the app.
  • Get access to your room without fumbling around in your bag on pockets with your phone as a room key.
  • Or how about the ability to stream your favorite movies direct via the Chromecast feature?  
  • Use the app to ask the concierge anything, doing away with the need to trek all the way down to the lobby

… lots of small, but highly-valuable features that keep loyal guests happy during their stay, and returning year after year. 

4. Reward users

Loyalty and rewards in the travel industry – indeed any industry –  are about so much more than points for purchases. With 90% of travelers expect a personalized digital experience when they book their travel, any savvy travel marketing knows the benefits of nurturing a two-way relationship with their users:

  • Loyal customers convert more (and more often) with brands they like rather than the brands they’re impartial about 
  • They also spend more than those of us who aren’t particularly loyal to any brand
  • And perhaps best of all, they’ll tell anyone and everyone about their positive – and especially negative – experiences with the brands they interact with.

The best of the travel brands out there mix a rich understanding of user behavior, a seamless brand experience, and relevant, tangible rewards that give travelers a reason to resist the uninstall.  

4 out of 5 people are more likely to engage with a brand that offers incentives (Loyalty360)

One of the most popular rewards programs in travel comes from Hotels.com – and with over 10 million downloads, they might just be on to something …

For starters, when a customer books 10 nights with Hotels.com, they’ll get one night free – and if you’re a regular traveler, these free nights soon add up. But of course, there’s way more to the success of their program than free nights:

Customers can bag plenty of these a-ha moments – like free breakfast or spa vouchers, and even more  at VIP Access properties

  • They get complimentary room upgrades 
  • And enjoy early check-in and late check-out at their super-popular VIP Access properties – ideal for guests who tend to arrive early to get the most out of the day – and leave late to savor the experience! 

Rewarding customers pays off. Once users are actually on board with their preferred brand, and that brand is providing real, tangible value, then the sporadic, passive decision-making that’s so prevalent in the travel industry eventually makes way for loyalty – and long-term advocates are born.

5. And ask for feedback!

The best way for an app to succeed – heck, the best way for any business to succeed is by listening to customers. Feedback will help steer your roadmap, underpin your marketing and sales strategies, help you shape your value proposition and most importantly, ensure you’re delivering what they’re really looking for. 

By using audience segmentation and pinpointing specific user pain points around your app, service or product, you’ll have valuable insights that will help you to enhance the user experience in ways that provide the most value to them — and thereby boost your retention rates.

There are loads of ways to get user feedback for your travel app:

  • In-app messages are a great way for users to engage with you in real-time quickly and directly – with the added advantage of catching any negative feedback before it hits the app stores. These two-way conversations are also the perfect way to build relationships with your audience while they’re using your app, negating the need for these awkward emails and irritating phone calls.
  • Social media is perfect for travel brands, engaging travelers through storytelling, trip-sharing, and rewards incentives and competitions. It’s also the place where travelers love to leave feedback – like this one for luxury hoteliers, Four Seasons. 
  • Not only is this kind of feedback the holy grail for every travel brand, posts like these have the potential to be seen by thousands. The key to success? Being present to respond quickly and engage with customers who have taken the time to feed back. 
  • Surveys are one of the most effective ways to get customer feedback on your app, providing the opportunity to drill down and ask the questions that are going to deliver the most value to you – and eventually your users. Who are they, what were they looking for today when they opened your app, did they find what they came for, and what could you have done better? By drilling down with short, easy questions, you’ll have nuggets of gold at your fingertips that will help you deliver the app your customers really want.
  • User Data. How users interact with your app is often the most effective way to glean insights on what they really think of it. How often are they using the app? How long does a typical session last? What are they doing in-app? Once you’ve got a handle on how your app is being used, you can deliver the optimum experience – one that engages and retains your audience and builds loyalty over the long term.

At the end of the day, gathering user feedback is about gaining a deeper understanding of why and how your audience uses your app. With these insights, you’ll be able to exceed expectations and turn casual users into loyal customers and brand advocates.

Conclusion

Driving engagement through an exceptional app experience is – and will continue to be – the key element of every successful app, regardless of what industry you’re in. Building meaningful, valuable connections through easy onboarding, storytelling, rewards programs, and more, means that you’ll be in a really strong position to nurture loyalty in a space where everyone is about to start vying for your users’ attention. To find out more about how Kumulos can help your travel app outrun the competition and stay relevant, talk to us!

Deferred Deep Linking – what it is and why you need it

Thinking about where your focus should be when it comes to increasing sales across your digital estate? Then it’s worth remembering that the gap between mobile app usage and mobile website usage continues to widen … A significant number of us “went digital” over the last 18 months, and as we did, we powered a new wave of in-app shopping resulting in global consumer spending in mobile apps tipping an eye-watering record of $111 billion – a massive 30% on the previous year. 

While mobile sites account for almost 50% of global web traffic, research shows us that 90% of our time spent on mobile is spent in mobile apps, with only 10% on websites. But here’s an even more compelling fact – mobile app users spend an average of just over 200 minutes per month shopping (generating around $50 billion), compared to a teeny tiny 10.9 minutes a month for mobile website users. The message is clear – spending increases significantly in-app, and for good reason! Competing successfully and increasing spend in a burgeoning sector where everyone is vying for your audience’s attention means delivering a seamless, friction-free CX; being on the channels your customers prefer, personalizing the CX at each touchpoint, and using big data insights to deliver value – all the things which apps do far better than a mobile site ever could … But how do you nudge users from your site – or your ads – straight to your app, especially when they don’t have your app installed? Step up to the plate, Deep Linking!

A bit about regular deep linking

In the olden days, links from one app or mobile website would only send users to the home screen of a different app. Once there, the hassle of searching, scrolling, and eventually landing on the page they were originally looking for was the user’s responsibility.  So when deep links came along, marketers everywhere breathed a deep (no pun intended) sigh of relief. 

Regular deep links send users straight to an app instead of to a website – and more often than not, to a specific location in the app. By default, this saves time, energy, and frustration for users – they land on the screen that has the item they want to purchase (or the subscription they want to sign up for, or the product they’d like to trial, and they get a great user experience until, that is, users are deep-linked to an app they haven’t installed. Why? Default deep links are only capable of directing users to an app if they’ve already installed it. If that’s not the case then the link won’t reach the intended endpoint and the dreaded error message will be presented. No one wants that.

So why use ‘em? Generally speaking, default deep links are really really useful for deploying as part of retargeting campaigns where a business is only interested in users that already have their app installed. They’re also used when targeting users who have a severe case of cart abandonment (a condition that costs businesses  $18bn in lost sales each year), encouraging them back to the app to complete their purchase … but there’s more:

  • Deep linking boosts conversions – for every extra step your users have to take to do what they want to do will lower your conversion rates.  Deep linking allows you to point your users straight to the point-of-sale in-app, even after the install.
  • Deep linking increase retention rates. Why? Because deep links contain contextual information so that your app can deliver a personalized experience before, during and after the onboarding process … and we all know how critical a smooth and frictionless onboarding experience is when it comes to retention.
  • Deep linking increases sales. Your users are twice as likely to spend money in-app as they are on your mobile site – and they’ll also spend more. Over 2.5 times more. Not to be scoffed at!

… OK, and Deferred Deep Linking?

55% of consumers say that a poor mobile experience makes them less likely to engage with a company, so it’s critical to provide the optimum customer experience, and that’s where deferred deep linking comes in.

Imagine you have a fashion retail app with various clothing types –  tops; shoes; outerwear etc … you get the idea – and you want to kick off a marketing campaign via SMS, Google or banner ads, or Emails, and which will include sharing links to these items. Wherever the recipient clicks on the link in your campaigns, the app will open and the user will land on the relevant item in-app if they have the app installed.

 

If the user clicks on a deep link and doesn’t have the app installed, rather than the error-message experience, they’ll be deferred to the relevant App Store where they can download the app. But that’s not where the cleverness lies … the brilliance of deferred deep linking is that when the user installs and opens the app, they’ll still be sent to the location of the link they originally clicked on, minimizing friction and increasing the likelihood of a successful sale. 

Yes – the additional ‘default’ deep link step of asking users to navigate the app to find what they were originally looking for might seem trivial or inconsequential, but the actual experience of these two routes to conversion – being directed straight to the required screen vs. searching for the app, browsing menus, scrolling through lots of different products etc – are markedly different and often the difference between a sale or a fast sprint elsewhere.

A few examples of how deferred deep links are being used

Finance: A trading app might want to run a referral program campaign. Using deferred deep links,  it could send a push notification containing a link to an existing app user. The user could forward the link to a friend via email or SMS, and when that friend clicks the link, the deferred deep link would take them to the app store, and then directly to a personalized screen deep within the app with the specific offer, for example, “Hi Kate! Jack has referred you to Free Trade. Sign up for free and you’ll both receive a FREE $25 share”.

Sandals DDL email flow

Travel: An app offering flight deals might run a paid search campaign. When a user searches for “flights to Boston” they’ll see an ad for the flight app. After clicking on the CTA the deferred deep link directs the user to the relevant app store. Once the user has installed the app, they’re then automatically sent deep within the app to the specific screen that features flight deals to Boston.

Sports: A sports app might run an ad on Facebook for tickets to a big summer game. When the user clicks on the link and installs the app, the deferred deep link sends them directly to the screen in the app where they can book seats and purchase tickets. 

The benefits of deferred deep linking

  • Minimizes friction. Creating a smooth, fuss-free path to conversion is every marketer’s goal. Deferred deep linking does this by minimizing user friction. By taking first-time users directly to the relevant screen within an app and enabling them to quickly and easily do what they came to do – purchase an item, sign up for a subscription, set up a free trial etc – they get an optimum user experience, and the app marketers boost their conversion rates.
  • Improving the user’s first-time experience: A favorable first-time app experience often influences the likelihood of a user returning to your app a second time or engaging with future campaigns. 
  • Increases the likelihood of conversion: With friction removed and a faster, easier, more streamlined app experience, users are far more likely to convert.

How can I use deferred deep links?

  • Links on your website and on banner ads that bring users to your mobile app
  • You can also send deferred deep links by email and take users directly into your app
  • You can engage users by sending links by SMS or Push Notifications
  • And acquire new users via social media and create incentivized referral programs.

Conclusion

A seamless, valuable customer experience is the key to success in any business. Today, with e-commerce sales at an all-time high, your business might well be struggling to deliver an optimum CX, increase engagement and boost those retention figures.  Deferred deep linking allows you to deliver a superb user experience – one that can create loyal, life-long customers. If you’d like to find out how Kumulos can support you to reach these goals, talk to us!