Author: Rob@Kumulos

How to Maximise Boom-time for Fitness Mobile Apps.

Jogging with mobile phone

We’ve seen an explosion in the use of digital fitness apps over the last year, largely due to COVID-19. Gyms being closed, exercise classes cancelled and team sports a no-no, fitness fans or just those who have binge watched Netflix have been downloading home fitness mobile apps like never before. We have seen a year on year increase of more than 60% in fitness app downloads, with Europeans spending 70.2% more in health and fitness apps in 2020 according to new data from SensorTower.

It’s not just all about downloads, we have also seen interesting shifts in exercise habits. With working from home being the new norm, time-habits have shifted, we’ve seen how daily exercise habits have changed.

 

We talk to a lot of mobile app publishers in the Fitness Space. Some of the world’s largest and most successful fitness, health and wellness apps are on the Kumulos platform.

Many mobile apps have found it straightforward to ride this wave of demand and collect new users, but the big challenge is understanding how to capitalise on this change to mobile fitness and turn COVID-casual users into long term super-users. Like pretty much any good habit in life, it has to be worked on. Mobile app publishers have to work hard to keep this surge of new users on habit, engaged and maximise the commercial success.

Data from Appsflyer found that in 2020, apps lost on average $57,000 per month because of uninstalls, marking a 70% increase over uninstall rates in 2019. Apps that don’t invest enough time in an engagement strategy will not retain users long term but focus needs to be applied at every stage of the customer acquisition cycle.

Exercise notification on iphoneAcquisition is an essential stage in growing revenue, attracting the right kind of user will see loyalty build and revenue increase. Retaining those users for longer and turning a higher percentage into highly engaged super-users will also have a huge impact on your bottom line.  Just a 1% reduction in churn can deliver a 10-17% increase in profitability for the app, especially if this is amongst your high value highly engaged app user cohort.

When it comes to health and fitness apps, it’s clear to see that now is the time to capitalize on current user behaviour and keep these users engaged and retain them through-out the lifecycle of the app.

So here are our top 7 ways to drive up user retention in fitness and health apps. 

 

1. Get a Holistic View of App Users

expanded message on iphoneYou can’t fix what you can’t see. 

Effective Retention is all about the technology stack that you have in place. Knowing what’s happening and acting on those insights with highly relevant and targeted messages separates the successful fitness apps from the also-rans. Making sure that there aren’t blind spots in your data and that you stay in touch regularly with users is important. Having this in one place, with a single-source-of-truth, so you aren’t flip flopping between different systems is crucial. 

What we often see is apps with decent visibility over user behaviour like download volumes, DAU/MAU ratios, engagement and retention statistics. Which is great. But the thing about behaviour analytics is it’s after the fact. It’s viewing your app through a rear view mirror. Changing what’s gone is much harder than predicting what’s going to happen and preventing it. 

So, what we see successful fitness apps doing is making sure they have a holistic view of their app users, across the entire life-cycle of the user in a unified platform so everyone across their team is judging success based on the same data set.

2. Focus on User Experience

Knowing how well the app is performing in the hands of the user and proactively communicating any problems will keep users interested. For example, knowing that a large number of your users in-app experience has got worse recently (which was a common issue after the sudden release of iOS14 last year), means you can predict churn and act. Seeing and acting on app crash increases early, before too many users are impacted can stop a glitch turning into a rout of users on that operating system. All too often this crash data is only accessible by the developer, not the product owner and as such is a blind spot. Often the first thing Product Owners see if they are watching carefully and if their analytics package gives them this granular visibility, is an up-tick in churn for Apple device users. For bigger apps, this trend can often be lost in the overall noise of the app, so they don’t see the root cause until it’s a rout and too late. Users are gone. This is a common problem when apps scale rapidly, as many fitness apps will have done in recent months.

3. Understand User Sentiment

Another common blind spot is Customer Sentiment and what users are saying about the app in public places where potential new users hang out. App listing in the app store or Google PlayStore for example. To continue the example of iOS 14, being able to easily see how a technical glitch with users of that OS version is causing a rise in poor app store reviews, then with your behavioural analytics seeing a fall in new downloads on that platform and an increase in existing iOS customer churn means you can see the impact on both new user acquisition and user retention. Seeing the cause and effect means you see both sides of the equation, are on the front foot, alerted early and have a chance to stem the churn.

And what about when things go well? User churn is a fact of life. 

4. Predictive Churn

To really boss at managing-up user retention you need to be thinking proactively and catch users before they think of churning. World-leading Fitness Apps use automatic predictive messaging to contact users when their behaviour change could signal churn.  Fitness, wellness, mindfulness, diet and many health apps have a huge advantage here as routine is important. So, understanding user cadence and knowing early when user behaviour patterns change means you can be proactive and catch wavering users before they churn. A platform that watches usage patterns and when they change sends a series of  situational messages to engage users, drives up retention. This catches users as they wobble, before they fall out of the habit of using your app. 

5. Perfecting Situational Messaging

So what do we mean by situational Messaging? For users, not all contact is good contact. We often get asked about best practice around frequency of contact. In fact this is the wrong question. Its not about frequency, its about relevance. Relevance to the situation of the user at that specific moment in time.  I would be happy to get 4+ messages a day from one app but from another app, one message a week would annoy me. If the message is relevant to my here-and-now and is information I want, then I am happy to get the message. If it’s noise, messages trying to sell me stuff, upgrade to this, pay extra for that, special offer for you only today… then that’s noise I’ll simply screen out, or worse, your attempts to stop me churning may actually encourage me to uninstall the app.  Especially true for Fitness Apps, content needs to support my goals (the reason I downloaded the app in the first place) for it to be valuable to me. 

That doesn’t mean messages can’t sell. You are a business after all. To receive a message that’s personalised and specific. 

in-app message on android“{{insert percentage}} % of users with goals like you to {{insert goal}}  get {{insert percentage}}%  better results by using  this feature. Try it now.”

A message like this is more compelling than 15% discount today only. First, you don’t need to cut your price and second you are making it clear that your app will deliver the results they want, if the user maximises its potential.

 

 

 

6. Content is King

Rich media content messages drives substantially better results. Up to 43% greater message interaction from rich media messages compared to text only. All forms of fitness, wellness, mindfulness and health apps are perfect for highly visual,  rich media messaging. Here you can embed video into your messages to promote new content or just coach users on better techniques. Send out a series of messages on Technique Optimization to maximise users results. Good for your highly engaged “super-users” as well as capturing those at risk of churn. 

7. Intelligent Timing

Lastly, time of day. Like the bubble chart above shows, not everyone exercises at the same time of day. So, don’t send me messages at 8am if my routine is to exercise weekday evenings after work. Apps that know my routine and send me encouraging prompts to use the app at the time of day that I am most receptive has a huge impact on results. We see interaction rates rise by more than 38% when messages are intelligently delivered at the time of day that fits the individuals exercise patterns. 

Final Thoughts

Big successful apps lose fewer users. They have simple but effective ways to capture users attention with contextual and situational rich media messages that keep super-users engaged. They know when user cadence has changed, spot the signals of churn early and re-engage users before they have even considered deleting their app. Lastly they understand what each individual user is trying to achieve and communicate with them in language that supports their goals.

If you’d like to find out more about how Kumulos can help your fitness app engage users and retain them longer, please sign up for your free no obligation demo of our platform and find out how we can help your app.

Mobile is the answer to COVID-19 safe travel

Mobile the answer to COVID-19 Safe travel

With so much disruption to our daily routines, travelling safely on public transport has been one of the biggest challenges facing societies as they try to get back to some form of normal. During times of social change, it’s incredible to see the level of innovation that occurs. None more so than with technology. It’s now increasingly clear that Mobile is the answer to COVID-19 safe travel. And once established it will become the way travellers will expect things to work from this point forward. In this blog, we look at some of the mobile innovations that are helping us all travel more safely.

Remote working, suspended travel, groceries by delivery only, family catch-ups by Skype … there aren’t too many aspects to our lives that haven’t been touched (and will continue to be so) by COVID-19. And as with our personal lives, so with business. As we digest the non-stop flow of pandemic news, we surely can’t help but look on with concern – no sector is managing to avoid the impact of COVID-19:

Hospitality: Hotel bookings falling by over 20% worldwide
Retail: Across Europe, retailers are expected to face a loss of nearly €4bn due to disruptions caused by the current outbreak.
Air travel: Passenger numbers down over 80% in some countries,
Cross-industry: In the UK, almost 25% of all businesses have temporarily closed or paused trading due to the pandemic as of April 2020, with over 80% of arts, entertainment, and recreation sector businesses currently closed. The result? The loss of almost 400,000 jobs in April – a 12-year low.

And with millions of us forced indoors and unable to travel beyond our four walls, the transport industry, in particular, has felt the crushing weight of a radically redefined future bare down upon it and forcing a reimagining of what the next ‘normal’ will look like. Long periods of “Lock-down” has also had a fundamental change to our day to day habits. Transport providers will have to think carefully about whether these habit shifts are temporary or whether this signals a fundamental and permanent change to how we behave and how we travel from now on.

We’re already starting to get a taste of that ‘normal’ across the aviation sector with airports scrambling to encourage the travelling public back through an endless cornucopia of safety-focused measures powered by technology. Dallas Forth-Worth International Airport – the world’s busiest airport – has already begun rolling out entirely touchless restrooms, complete with “hands-free sinks, soap, flushing toilets, and paper towel dispensers” complete with sensors that will alert staff when supplies get low. The same airport is also been looking at touchless technology for staff temperature checks … doubtless this is the tip of the coming iceberg of technology focused on helping the public to stay safe and healthy.

Public transport – where are we now?

Along with aviation, over the past 4 months local bus, train, subway and tram systems have witnessed an unprecedented decline in passenger numbers – in many cases, literally overnight. And whilst the global impact of lockdown on public transport has yet to make official statistics, data from other sources tell us that it’s been considerable. In some cases, passenger numbers are – unsurprisingly – almost 95% down on the same period last year.
What’s more, there are very real risks to the industry from declining numbers as we walk into the next normal. Public perceptions around their safety mean they’re cautious about using public transport, with indications that significant numbers of travellers plan to work from home more and change how they travel, with many saying they’ll be walking, cycling and driving more.
Particularly concerning for operators are murmurings that less than a quarter of us will be ‘happy’ to travel on public transport when restrictions start to ease. We can concur that resuming ‘business-as-usual’ will take some time – but it’s not all bad news …
Although many operators find themselves being forced to drastically reduce services, and in some instances shut their doors completely, public transport operators around the globe are turning to technology to help pull them out of the hole they’ve found themselves in.

Whilst in the short-term the landscape ahead will be challenging, revisiting enterprise digital strategies to map out the new terrain might just be the ticket needed to take charge of that new normal and boldly advance towards a more safe, innovative and bright future – one that puts the customer at it’s beating heart and future-proofs its existence in our brave new world.

Digital transformation and innovation aren’t new to the transport sector – the savvy enterprise, whatever sector they’re operating in, knows that every successful business is a digital business. From public/private digital collaborations to exuberant MaaS adoption, public transport operators could never be accused of dragging their wheels when it comes to innovation. The challenges of the world in 2020 only means this innovation has to happen faster.
So how will technology help public transport back onto its feet? How can operators use it to keep passengers safe, instil confidence and encourage them back to our roads and railways? To get our societies moving again in a way that makes PT travel a viable, trustworthy option as we ease out of lockdown. How will a robust digital strategy that’s focused on the future support the longevity of our transport ecosystem and the reopening of our cities, towns and rural communities —a process that has already begun across Europe and beyond? So many questions – but there’s one word that keeps popping up time and again to offer the answer – ‘mobile’!

Mobile and the new customer experience

Mobile technology today has come a long long way since Motorola’s first hand-held device in 1973, an (cough) ‘impressive’ piece of kit coming in at a worrying 2 kg and a 10-hour charge time. Today, well, you’ve only got to count the number of times we look at – and use – our smartphone on a daily basis to get a feel for just how much we rely on mobile technology to do even the most basic of daily tasks. Shopping, meetings, exercise, music, chat, photography, food orders, taxi-rides, sleep monitoring, morning alarm, payments, e-tickets … we could go on, but you get the idea …

With a staggering 3bn smartphone users worldwide, mobile has already profoundly changed public transport, both for operators and customers:

Mobile & Big Data

Big data insights are at the heart of innovation across healthcare, finance, renewables, retail, and just about any industry you care to think of. The power of these insights – driven by smartphone use – can’t be understated. How do your customers prefer to travel? When do they travel? What are they looking for when they log on to your app? What can’t they find? What brings them back for more?
Big data helps public transport planners and operators enhance (and keep enhancing) the efficacy of their transport ecosystems, services and customer relationships and is critical for any and every organisation looking to secure its future.

Mobile & The Digital Customer

Armed with those big data insights, true innovation becomes a real possibility. With real-time data at their fingertips, public transport operators are now simply expected to deliver on the needs of the new digital customer – everything from the timely provision of travel information through push notifications directly to their mobile phone to visibility of the cheapest travel options to straight forward journey planning and sharing.
The bottom line? Public transport isn’t just about getting from A-B anymore … it’s about every element that makes up the customer journey – long before these customers are near that bus stop or train platform, and long after they’ve arrived at their destination.

Mobile & Social media

More than simply scrolling through our feeds on the bus ride to work, social media on our smartphones has created yet another way for customers to share information in real-time. If you’re a business, you really really want that information to be positive when it’s about your service or product. A late train 5 days in a row? Your customers will share that information with often hundreds of others. That cranky ticket collector? For better or worse, ditto!
Thing is, social media has redefined our relationships not just with friends and colleagues, but with the businesses we interact with, buy from and travel with. But it’s not all bad news by any stretch of the imagination. With the right strategy, social media has a myriad of benefits to offer the public transport operator, from visibility of what customers are saying about the services they’re using to invaluable insights around what matters most to customers on their daily commute, to the opportunities to put wrongs right again

Mobile and the COVID-proof transport ecosystem

Public transport could and should be a safe, reliable, efficient and attractive way to travel – the transport of choice across our cities and towns. Today, with a laser-focus on personal safety, a very real reluctance to share spaces with strangers and a strong instinct to avoid touching the surfaces that hundreds – if not thousands – of others have touched, how can we encourage travellers to ditch their bicycles, cars and running shoes and re-embrace our public transport infrastructure? It’s here that mobile really starts to deliver, offering glimmers of hope and increasingly loud whispers of recovery:

Mobile ticketing apps

As more and more of us are encouraged to use contactless payments in our supermarkets and stores, it’s the logical next step to embrace contactless technology across public transport networks too. Before mobile, purchasing a ticket to travel meant handing over cash, getting the ticket handed back – followed by your change, or in the case of ticket machines, pressing lots of buttons that millions have pressed before you. No one wants to do that post-COVID. By giving travellers a quick and easy way to buy and validate tickets on their smartphones without the need for any kind of cash or touch transactions, operators can ensure the safety and protection of their passengers and drivers.

Cross-sector partnership apps

Vital in the months ahead, cross-sector collaborations that look to capitalise on shared capabilities and expertise are likely to deliver tangible, valuable benefits across our transport infrastructures – and mobile will be their great enabler. Instead of transport providers encouraging travellers to use their services exclusively to travel, the more savvy approach post-COVID will be to partner with a range of travel service providers and reimagine the entire passenger journey as they travel from A to B. Think a journey-planning app that provides information on the fastest routes and most effective way of completing a journey – one which might look like e-bike hire from home to transport hub, then bus travel to the edge of town, followed by a ride-share to complete. The app to deliver these efficiencies might include a journey planner, a payment portal, ticketing and booking system for entire journeys – no contact, no touch required!

Advice and information provision

As we’re released from lockdown and make our way out into public spaces, travellers must be able to plan their journeys and undertake travel with the confidence that their health is a priority to the companies that they choose to travel with. Changes to services, travel restrictions, healthcare advice – transport operators have a lot of information to impart to travellers that will meet their new requirements. What better way to deliver that information than mobile and push notifications, ensuring travellers are fully informed about their journey (location of the vehicle, restrictions in place such as face-masks) what to expect (real-time passenger numbers on vehicles, availability of wheelchair space, service limitations), and the safety precautions in place (sanitisers, mobile ticketing and the rest).

Powered by mobile, we’ve seen the transport ecosystem metamorphose into an ever-changing entity that’s so much more than simply hopping on a bus or train to get to work and back. Car-sharing, e-bikes, Uber … all made possible by our smartphones and the apps on them.
This information-driven culture has given us a plethora of options when it comes to travel, and prepared the industry well to deal with the COVID crisis:
Real-time vehicle tracking: Transport operators the world over have been quick to adopt IoT, and for good reason. It’s got a lot to offer! IoT empowers the transport ecosystem and those that travel on it. By relaying real-time tracking data to central command centres, transport operators can provide customers -and drivers – with relevant, timely information that delivers all kinds of benefits – from improved traffic flows to enhanced service provision, more efficient journey planning to cost and resource savings.
Private/public partnerships: The decision to help people navigate the city using a variety of public transit options is part of Uber’s mission to reduce reliance on car ownership, the company said. It puts the Uber app in direct competition with apps such as Google Maps and Citymapper.
MAAS – or mobile as a service: Relatively new to public transport, local authorities around the world are currently supporting and promoting the use of MaaS platforms across their respective transport infrastructures – part of which includes the creation of mobile apps that integrate public transport information with other services to enable a more seamless, efficient travel experience. We talk about this further on in this article so keep an eye out!
Transport events management: Accidents, roadworks, bad (or occasionally good!) weather … there are a ton of things that can impact public transport. The IoT alongside mobile technology allows operators to divert vehicles as needed, and to update passengers accordingly, again in real-time via their smartphones.
Mobile ticketing: Where the smartphone becomes the ticket and the ticket machine – and at the same time helps to reduce an operator’s infrastructure and sales costs by removing the need for third-party vendors. Mobile ticketing offers a myriad benefits, but where it really delivers is in providing real value to customers (no queues, no cash, no hassle) and at the same time boosting that bottom line for operators.

The Result- Mobile is the Answer to COVID-19 Safe Travel

Travellers are more informed with real-time information at their fingertips – meaning they can plan the where, when and how, far more efficiently – and safely – than they ever could. This is a big step on the road to encouraging travellers back to public transport because it’s the preferable way to travel – and not just because, as in days of yore, there’s no other option.
Public transport operators themselves have invaluable data at their fingertips to better plan and route their services according to real traveller needs (these data insights, remember?!) and (thanks to IoT) real-time traffic and transport conditions. This unprecedented access to data and its resulting insights will be critical to support both operators and travellers during the pandemic.
And local authorities are at last able to make decisions based on facts – where should new roads be prioritised? What about curb management strategies? And their own digital transformation priorities? With insights from the public and from transport operators, planning for a smarter, better, more efficient transport infrastructure in the time of COVID becomes very achievable.
In short? The public transport industry is ready to meet the COVID challenge head-on – and here’s what it looks like:

  • Transdev has been collaborating with technology provider Passenger to offer a new feature across its mobile app and websites which aims to encourage customer confidence as lockdown starts to ease. The new feature provides bus travellers with details on how many people are already on board the vehicle they plan to board. Interestingly, the information is driven by travellers themselves who provide the information and help other travellers to make informed decisions on their travel plans. Those already travelling on vehicles can use the feature to let others know whether the bus wheelchair bay is free – a huge boost for wheelchair users and accessibility.
  • In the not so distant past, Uber, Lyft et al have gone head-to-head for travellers custom with public transport services, but that’s all changed. Built on the foundations of Uber’s SaaS offering, Marin Transit has partnered with the innovator to provide travellers with a way to travel affordably and more flexibly using a ‘ride-sharing’ service.
    Fares are set at $4 per mile and are offered 6am – 7pm weekdays, with limited passenger numbers while the COVID crisis continues. The benefits for everyone are clear – for passengers, flexibility and affordability, and the reassurance they’re travelling safely. And for the operator, cost-savings and greater efficiencies.
  • In the US, Miami-Dade county has replaced their night bus service with subsidised ride-and-hail journeys during the pandemic (when passenger numbers fell almost 80%). Travellers can now purchase journey tickets via Uber’s mobile app, with the county planning to continue rolling out the initiative as a permanent service. It’s not just a one-off – Uber now collaborates with over 30 global transit operators, connecting passengers to a huge network of journey options, replacing low-use bus services and at the same time cutting costs and much-needed resources for the operators.
  • Like many other public transport operators, the UK’s National Rail has launched an app to help travellers by advising whether a train or station they’re planning to travel from will be busy. When searching for specific journeys, travellers are presented with red or yellow information triangles which when clicked on provide additional travel details aimed at enabling users to make more informed decisions regarding travel plans.

Go-Ahead in the UK has launched its innovative ‘When2Travel’ mobile app for bus travellers. Built-in collaboration with CitySwift, the app provides travellers with timetables using colour-coded bus capacity predictions. Using algorithms and AI technology which ‘learns’ from these big data insights we talked about earlier, the app updates itself in real-time to provide accurate travel information aimed at helping passengers to plan safe travel with all the right information to hand.

Northern Rail COVID Safe Travel

In Wales, a new bus service has been introduced which enables travellers to request a bus for pickup near their home or work. A dedicated mobile app – fflecsi – allows essential-travel passengers to select their preferred pick up and drop off points – then matches and books a seat on the bus that best meets their travel requirements and adhering to local authority guidelines for social distancing.

Fflecsi COVID Safe Travel

Still in Wales, Cardiff Bus has partnered with bike-sharing enterprise NextBike, to enable its customers to switch seamlessly between bus and bike while travelling. The collaboration sees NextBike cycles included in Cardiff Bus’s mobile app so that travellers can see how many bikes are available along their bus route and empowering that important informed decision-making.

Google has introduced several COVID-related features on its Maps platform, delivering information and real-time alerts related to travel restrictions for people travelling by car and public transport.
The latest app provides public transport information alerts when users search for directions, with the goal of avoiding overcrowding on trains and buses. What’s more, travellers can also be notified if their planned journey is likely to be affected by restrictions related to COVID such as suspended services – with information on safety precautions required of travellers such as face masks etc.

First Bus in the UK recently launched a new feature – again to help its passengers adhere to social distancing guidelines. Before travellers board their bus, the app lets them know in real-time the number of vacant seats which are available. Travellers can also use the app to purchase their journey ticket – and scan it when they board.

Mobile Safe COVID-19 Travel

Where to next?

Public transport won’t be the same again once we emerge from the COVID crisis – but it will be better. Despite the challenges facing the industry, with every crisis comes opportunity and this still rings true in 2020. As we’ve seen, innovation hasn’t been slow at showing its hand over the last few months – and in many cases, we have mobile technology to thank.

To survive, to be truly transformational, digital change and strategies will be driven forward, underpinned by many technologies, but with mobile grabbing a large share of the spotlight. Mobile apps to help travellers plan their journeys, mobile technology to allow mobile ticketing, and smart cross-sector collaborations to build the mobile apps of a safer, cleaner, greener future.

There’s no time like the present to reimagine the industry as more customer-focused, more efficient, and as such, robustly future-proofed to meet the inevitable challenges ahead. As an industry of innovators, we need to get good at mobile apps, delivering exceptional customer experiences, and delivering that always-on safe service this new world customer is waiting for.

How Kumulos can help Public Transport Innovation

Kumulos has been the power behind mobile-led digital transformation for most of the last decade. As more and more public transit organizations wrestle with how they need to change, Kumulos can help. We provide a fully integrated mobile app communications platform, so you can quickly, easily and reliably communicate time-critical and COVID-19 safe information directly to travellers at the precise time and place that they need it most. Our advanced location targeting features in particular, which include industry-leading Geofence and Beacon triggered notifications means that we ensure travellers get relevant timely information in the palm on their hand. This not only improves the travel experience but instils the essential trust that everyone will expect from service providers and demonstrate that passenger safety is the primary priority.  You can take Kumulos for a spin free of charge. Either set up a trial account today or contact us to discuss how Kumulos can help your business thrive and make sure that Mobile is the answer to COVID-19 safe travel.

COVID-19 impact on Customer Engagement & Loyalty Programs

No “Easy like Sunday Morning” any more thanks to COVID-19. Let’s face it, customer behavior has changed and in many cases changed for good. Businesses need to be thinking about how this impacts on how they interact with customers and build strategies that reset the habit of using their products and services where trading has been heavily disrupted. Other businesses, that have been huge beneficiaries of the disruption the pandemic has brought, have another problem. How to reinforce this new behavior and keep customers when some sort of normality returns to people’s lives. This blog explores this and argues that there are two distinct strategies. Businesses need to be thinking about Re-setting habits or Reinforcing new behavior if they are to emerge strongly from this crisis and mobile technology will be central to this.

How life has changed

We all know the huge disruption to our lives that the Pandemic has caused. It’s here for the long term, so this isn’t something that’s just a short term disruption, but something that will mean fundamental changes to routines and habits.

  • Homeworking is now more accepted, and likely to stay permanently for many, at least for part of their working week,
  • Video calls for things like medical consultations, team meetings, sales interactions, and customer account meetings are now acceptable across the board,
  • How we buy our groceries and internet shopping for electronics and durable goods is now safer, but also maybe more importantly easier, largely because we are at home when the delivery arrives.

Science says that it takes about 2 months for new things to become habit-forming.66 days to be exact according to James Clear in his book Atomic Habits a New York Times Bestseller. Given the impact that the virus has had on many of our lives for way more than 66 days, it is clear that many will find significant permanent changes to their daily routines and habits.

Indeed we can see how dramatic the shift has been from our own data. As examples, habits have changed around how and when we exercise and even when we kick back and have a coffee. Gone, it seems, are the lazy Sunday morning coffee meetups with friends and family.

COVID-19 change to coffee drinking habits

The diagram shows the time and day distribution of when users foreground their Coffee Retailer’s Loyalty app. The bigger the bubble the more users active at that time. Source: Kumulos Analytics

Also, the change in work/home routine means the early morning workout, lunchtime crunch, and after work sweat-out are replaced by exercise distributed more evenly across the day, as our data shows. OK, when gyms start to open again, the habit of home exercise may change. But don’t think that means that everything reverts to as it was before. For example, the location will more likely be close to home, rather than close to the office in the new normal.

COVID-19 changes to exercise habits

The diagram shows the time and day distribution of when users foreground their Exercise Apps. The bigger the bubble the more users active at that time. Source: Kumulos Analytics

Also gone seems to be the Monday evening guilt sessions working off the excess from the weekend. Presumably, excess now isn’t isolated to just weekends. Morning sessions start later, with no morning commute to accommodate. And much less evening exercise, replaced by box-set binges on Netflix. (or is that just me?)

What’s the business impact

So what does this all mean for business? Well if your business has been operating differently during the COVID-19 Pandemic, on the simplest level it could mean that your customers just get out of the habit of using you. Their habits have changed and you don’t figure in their new routine. Re-engaging customers and encouraging them back to their Pre-COVID-19 habits will be important, will take effort, and will take time. So the sooner you start the better, even if you are not back to full operation.

Getting customers to pick up their coffee on the (less frequent) visits to the office and doing it in such a way that is convenient and they feel safe, is going to be essential. Also adapting to the new ways that customers want to interact will be important. Order ahead and pay on the app will be expected as will curbside pick-up. The lunchtime sandwich habit will also change. Food from home or prepacked food will be more prevalent over the build your own lunch that was the habit before.

Customers will expect menus on their phone and simple order ahead and office/home office delivery. If you don’t have it, they’ll go to someone who has. You see in this we have the biggest shift. Things that businesses considered as ancillary services, like order ahead/don’t wait in line, are now quite literally hygiene factors for any business. And making them accessible through a mobile app will be mandatory.

Customers won’t trust your technology anymore. Order at table or large form factor touch screens will be a put off for clients. They want to manage all of this on their own device. This is echoed by a recent blog post from our friends at Tacit Corporation on fast casual restaurant dining and the important changes restaurants will have to make to successfully bring customers back.

So, to summarize this, there are in essence two main challenges facing businesses in the new COVID-19 world.

1. Re-set the habit and re-established the Pre-COVID-19 routine you want them to have.
2. Reinforce the habit. Hold onto the surge in customers that some businesses have enjoyed – like home fitness apps, and reinforce this new home exercise habit.

And one other thought, if the chance to reset the routine is gone, then how do you keep the customer close and still give them your brand experience. One example, from one of our North American Coffee shop retailers, is they bring the physical store experience to the home. Home delivery may be an option, but more practical is to let them buy that special coffee bean blend themselves, so they can have that premium artisan coffee experience in their own home. They retain that brand attachment, so next time they are downtown, near a store, they’ll automatically come to that store, to get that experience for real.

What can you do

Well here are a few suggestions that hopefully will spark ideas that can apply to your own business.

Reset

Catch people when they are interested and ready to interact. Understand how habits have changed and then go with it, rather than fight against it. By that I mean, if Sunday isn’t a big thing for Coffee any more, then engage your customers when they are now ready to buy. Through your loyalty app trigger, messages that prompt coffee drinkers when they are near your store or better still your competitor’s stores will remind them you are still around and draw them back. Reassuring them that you have their safety and convenience in mind with the changes you have made, will give them the confidence to buy from you again.

Put loyalty programs on steroids, double the points, increase the giveaways. This may be hated by your Franchisees as it can cut into their margins, but investing is going to be critical to get habit-reset happening. Geofence triggered messaging, be that push notifications, in-app messages or SMS can be very effective here.  With these, you can plot locations on a map, your stores, or your competitors, and when someone with your app is close-by, trigger contextual, personalized, and helpful information, direct to their phone, even if the app isn’t open.

Reinforce

For the businesses that have benefited from the COVID-19 disruption, customer retention and habit-reinforcement are key. Keeping them motivated to “stay with the program” as elements of their life drift back to “normal” is important. For this, it’s important to adjust your strategy so it stays relevant to how they now feel. You don’t want them to associate your brand with the negativity of crisis, but make them understand that you are the silver lining. The thing they wouldn’t have got if the Lockdown hadn’t happened. That way you’ll convert them into long term loyal customers.

With fitness in particular there’s a seasonal fad phenomenon. COVID-19 created a second January Guilt Spike for a lot of the home & self-fitness apps. Looking across our customers this spike has been 2 to 3 times as large in terms of new app user acquisition than an average new year resolution. And the hope for these businesses is that the 66-day rule holds true and the habit sticks. But my guess is that apps will have to work hard to keep customers engaged. The good news is that a small percentage increase in user retention can have a dramatic impact on the bottom line with repeat purchases and app license upgrades to premium services. And we have a great series of articles that offer real practical tips on how to keep customers coming back.

And if you are a Quick Serve Restaurant, Casual Diner or Fast Casual Eatery then we have an in-depth blog series that has never been more topical than it is today at tackling the challenges of re-establishing customer loyalty.

In Conclusion

So to wrap up, COVID-19 is going to introduce some fundamental changes to our habits and routines. For many, these will remain, even when things start to turn to a form of normal. There will be winners, businesses that have had a real windfall of customers. Their challenge is how to reinforce the new habit and keep customers engaged. For others, it’s about kick-starting their business and either adjusting to their customer’s changes in habits (go with the new flow) or re-setting the new habit replacing it with a close version of what they did before.
And of course, we are here to help. We have a range of technologies that can help you with the challenges that have emerged from this pandemic. Give us a try, we just may make the brave, post-COVID-19, new world easier to navigate.

5 reasons why apps don’t work

why apps dont work

On the face of it a very controversial statement for a mobile first company, isn’t it? So, let’s first explain what we mean. It’s not a blanket statement that all apps don’t work. Of course, many many apps DO work and work very well. But, it’s also the case that many apps just disappoint.

In a flurry of enthusiasm an app is created, but users don’t come, or those that do, don’t stick around for very long. The publisher gets disillusioned and assumes that “Apps just don’t work for our business”.  It’s the disillusioned we are talking to here and how they can learn from others to do the right things, often the simple things well, to greatly increase the chances of app success. 

Why apps don’t work

Before we get started, it’s important to set a bit of context here around why we think we are qualified to comment. We currently work across more than 24 countries, spanning 7 continents. This encompasses more than 17 industry verticals including Retail, Financial Services, Fan Engagement, Customer Loyalty, Fitness and Wellbeing, Logistics, Retail and a host of others.  Apps that serve a whole range of purposes. Internally facing apps for employee engagement and workforce efficiency. Apps that are a digital channel delivering incremental revenue for businesses or apps that ARE the business. We work closely with apps designed to deliver fan or investor engagement or loyalty apps designed to drive footfall to physical locations like high street retail outlets.  So lots of apps for lots of reasons, but all of them have common threads running through them – secrets for success if you like.

Kumulos isn’t an app developer or an app publisher. We sit in this unique position between the two, providing technology that’s used by some of the biggest and brightest brands in the world. So, we’ve seen a lot of apps in our time. Some good, some quite frankly great. Some that weren’t great to start with, but got there in the end.  This privileged position lets us see mobile apps, built for a host of different reasons and a view of the data and metrics that sit within them. When you look at the analytics data, it throws up some really interesting trends. Something we just had to share with you. So, we have pulled together this quick read that looks at the common mistakes we see being made by app publishers and their developers.

The result is this blog – 5 reasons why apps don’t work. We hope it gives you some ideas on how you can think differently about how you approach mobile in your business, so you deliver better results.

#1 – Wrong tool for the job

wrong tool

Really understanding why you need an app is a good place to start. We often hear, We need an app“… why do you need an app? “Well because everyone else has an app, we don’t want to be left behind.”

Or worse App Washing. That’s where businesses have apps, so they can say to their bosses that we are with it and digital. 

No matter how good your app is put together, if the underlying reason for having an app isn’t sound then chances of success are slim. It’s also not just whether you need an app at all – it’s about thinking carefully around what type of app you need. 

Wrong type of app is as bad as trying to use the wrong tool for the job.  You may get the job done, like hammering a nail into a board with a spanner, but the results will be rough and ready. Not optimal. 

So think carefully about the technology behind your app. 

  • Native
  • Hybrid
  • PWA
  • Responsive Website
  • Wallet app

It’s important to approach this first from what exactly you NEED the app do to, what simple processes and flows you need your app to do before you head down the road of building your app. That way you won’t find yourself up a blind alley 9 months down the line, expecting your app to have a function that the platform you’ve chosen can’t support. 

For example, if it’s important to be able to track the location of your users to send them information based on their proximity. Or if push notifications are a critical function to send important information to users, or as a tool to ensure regular use of the app. Not all these functions are available across all mobile app development platforms. So, choose your platform wisely. 

It’s important to take good independent advice to make sure you take the right approach. If you work with internal development teams, they could be guiding you down the path that best suits them to make their life easier. So, talk to experts with no axe to grind, so you work with the best platform, the best tool for the job, from the start. 

#2 – Wrong Audience

wrong audience

Building the wrong audience for your app is a sure-fire way of hard-won users not hanging around after the download. Also, alongside this, we’d sometimes question whether the app has the right organizational structure built around it, but I’ll come back to that in a moment.

Over promising and under delivering is what we are talking about here. Making bold claims around Mixed Reality or Alexa Voice that deliver little value to the app for example. Or the compelling App/Play store description that will spark interest and get the download, but when they first open the app it simply doesn’t do what they expect it to do. 

App publishers work hard and spend hard to attract new downloads. There are lots, and lots and lots of people that will help apps acquire downloads. The fraud element of this aside, if it’s the wrong person then they will never be a valuable user. We have seen some apps celebrate how awesome their app is with thousands of downloads a day. But then suffer an average 3-day churn of 97% of daily downloads. Does that make the app bad, maybe, but also is the app just not setting the right expectations for users, or chasing downloads from any source, just to make daily downloads “vanity” stat impressive. 

So you have to ask are they attracting the right audience? Were the users that downloaded your app the people that will get the most value out of the app. There’s a lot of focus on cost of acquisition, lots of attribution analysis on where the best yielding media sources are to drive downloads, but we see lots of very smart people that then don’t (or don’t want to) (or can’t) extrapolate that into customer value. 

So it’s obviously important to make sure you get THE RIGHT people to download the app. But we see so many people latching onto big stats that make them feel good. Our recommendation is ignore (completely ignore) downloads as a meaningful stat. They may be top of funnel stat that sounds most impressive, but they overshadow the real success measures. Engaged users is what really counts.  Focus on DAU/MAU trends over time. That’s what’s important. Of course, we’re making a general point. All apps are different, so different measures are important. But if downloaders don’t then go on to use your app, then surely there’s something wrong somewhere. 

Engaged users are what count. For success, it’s essential to understand what your “Model” customer looks like. How you expect them to use your app, now often and for how long. For example, are there seasonal variations you need to consider in different countries. 

That brings me onto what I said a moment ago about wrong structure. 

It’s common place for larger mobile apps to have a clear split in responsibilities when it comes to the acquisition funnel. Top of funnel it’s all about acquiring new customers. Bottom of funnel it’s all about engagement and retention. All very sensible. Often that maps onto different teams. An acquisition team 100% focused on driving downloads and CRM team 100% focused on retention and monetization. That’s OK if they work closely as a collaborative team, but often we find Key Performance Indicators (KPI’’) poorly aligned. The Acquisition team pouring poor downloads into the funnel, the poor Acquisition team “failing” as they try to manage 97% 3-day churn. Sound familiar?

3# Too many (unseen)  bleed points

bleed points

Everybody has analytics running on their mobile apps. Right. Lots of charts, lots and lots and lots of data. The bigger apps will have dedicated teams of Big-Data Scientists pouring over every aspect of their app to understand what’s happening. What are users doing, and who aren’t doing what you’d expect. For apps without that luxury of such resource, I expect that’s mainly businesses that the app is a digital channel, rather their entire business, it’s tougher to get real insight into what’s happening. 

  • How many users are you losing in the onboarding process? 
  • Where are they getting stuck and abandoning? 
  • What’s your conversion from Freemium to paid in different user cohorts? 
  • Where are freemium customers abandoning the upgrade and not converting? 
  • How much are you losing from not marketing to unserved points of interest (someone visited a page of your app x times in the last y days but haven’t bought?) 

If the app’s a task completion app, how many successfully complete the tasks, what’s the average time to complete and what can you do to ensure that this average is reduced over time. 

AND REALLY IMPORTANTLY – churn – everyone has churn. For some apps we’ve seen (and the customer seems to accept) 97% of users abandoning the app after just 3 days. That’s painful. But where churn REALLY hurts is with your super-users those that have been highly engaged, those model customers that you’d like all your customers to be like. When they churn then that really hurts. If the inflow is greater than the outflow, then some apps see that as a success. But with just a small percentage reduction in churn this can have a dramatically positive impact on the success of the app. We’ll cover much more about Churn in a few paragraphs time, so read on. 

Why do so many apps not have greater visibility of these vital signs of success? What we see is a combination of factors. The numbers are just too difficult to get in an understandable, easy to digest format. Google Analytics is a great tool, but in a lot of cases it’s just the wrong tool for the job. It’s a web tool trying to serve mobile apps. Firebase Analytics at least is focused on mobile, but it’s very immature and not intuitive and easy to set up. So everyone ticks the box when you ask, “Do you have Analytics on your app?” but lots and lots can’t answer some basic fundamental questions on how their app’s performing and most essentially gain insight into what you need to improve to stem the bleed points in the app keep users engaged with the app and coming back for more. 

Which leads me onto the next point.

# 4 Being Unclear what Good looks like

good

Starting a journey without a clear understanding of where you want to end up, leads to an inevitable result. Without a clear end goal, you can’t take the corrective action you need to adjust your course to where you want to go. We see this with mobile apps. To be fair, apps are usually launched with an objective in mind – increase worker efficiency, reduce task processing costs, increase brand engagement, or generate incremental revenue. All worthy and sensible objectives and things that mobile apps can definitely help businesses deliver.  But how many start out with a very specific objective in mind. To generate 25% reduction in processing costs across 95% of transactions in the next 6 months. SMART objectives Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. 

That way you have a much clearer view of the levers you can pull to drive success and meeting your objective. 

We see a very strong correlation between apps that are failing and those that don’t break the main objective into clear measurable meaningful digestible chunks – Key Performance Indicators. A lot pick the measures that are easy (and to be honest superficial), like Star Ratings in the App/Play Store and Daily Downloads rather than those that are true lead indicators for success, like Onboarding Ratio (Active Users/Total Downloads), Stickiness Ratio (DAU/MAU), Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC), Customer Life-time Value (LTV) or arguably the most important measure Churn Ratio.

Churn Ratio

churn ratio

Churn is a fact of life. Every app will have churn. And where churn hurts most is with your Engaged “Model” users. Churn with those engaged with your app are the customers you most want to retain. 

It can be tough to get accurate churn measures for apps. You don’t know if the app has been completely deleted from the phone, or whether its just been temporarily off-loaded (particularly if it’s a seasonal app, with a long cadence). But one very good measure of engagement is looking at the churn in your reachable audience.  Those that have opted into receive notifications. 

audience churn ratio

And importantly tracking that measure over time to see if the trend is increasing or reducing is important. 

In that same vein, looking at the ratio of users that sign up and then also opt into receive notifications. It can of course depend a lot on the type of app in question, how important notifications or in app messaging is, but it’s still a good measure and early indicator of audience engagement looking at the proportion of new downloads that sign up to receive notifications. 

addressable audience ratio

Knowing whether you are growing your addressable audience over time shows you whether you are either better at selling the benefits to the user or you are more successful at acquiring the right audience, keen to hear from you regularly. And notice that the measure is Active Users Acquired and not total downloads. That bit’s important. 

Knowing if your addressable audience is growing or shrinking could be one of the most important performance indicators. Which takes us on nicely to the last point. 

#5 Apps that are too Shouty

shout

The cardinal sin here is telling people what you want to tell them and not being aware enough of what they want to hear from you. Quite simply this is the best way to destroy your high value, hard won engaged users is to hack them off with spam messaging. 

It’s not necessarily about volume here. Although frequency can be a problem, obviously. What it’s really about is relevance and personalization. Making it strongly permission based by giving users control over what you send them. And legislation comes into play here. Getting it wrong isn’t just about reputation risk and hacking of your users, it could cost you hard cash in fines. 

GDPR legislation in Europe and the new California Privacy Laws (California Consumer Privacy Act , CCPA 2020), make it even more important that users are opting in to receive information from you. That should be for both Push Notifications AND In App messaging. But personalization doesn’t stop there. Knowing what type of content they want to receive and giving it to them in the format they want is just as important. And personalization isn’t just the superficial greeting “Hi Jon”. It’s about language, time of day, rich media like video or pictures, proximity based and relevance to what they are doing in your app and what they are interested in. 

So, understanding how users want to be communicated with is essential. 

How To Make Mobile Apps work

Of course, a successful app must start with a sound idea, something that enough customers will value to make it viable. An understanding of how large your addressable market is, is also important. If there are billions of people who could use what your app does, then you’ll be onto a winner (maybe) even if you have a 95% churn rate every 3 days. OK, so you may not be fully exploiting the opportunity with such high bleed, but you’ll probably still make it a success. But in the “real world” its all about doing the following things well to increase the chances of success. 

Strong & experienced development partner – experience in your sector may be useful, but better is a company that works across a broad range of industry sectors – this will give you the benefit of cross pollination. Taking one idea from a different sector and understanding how to adapt that for your industry.  At Kumulos, we don’t build apps, but we can introduce you to our highly talented partners. Just get in touch. Also, back to #1 the right tools for the job. Picking a developer that has strong skills with the technology behind your app (native, hybrid Xamarin, React Native, Unity) or PWA’s could be more important than a strong understanding of your particular industry. So, choose your partner carefully. 

Value based KPIs – don’t just pick the ones easy to measure, but those based on the objective of the app, eyeballs (ad revenue), # reduction in manual processes, % reduction in call center calls. Study the obvious bleed points (but start simple – 2 or 3 main ones 20-30 events) so you don’t get blinded by data and have an achievable actional plan to move the numbers in the direction you need to bring success. 

No software is 100% perfect ever – let alone when you launch. We see successful apps adopt an MVP approach, minimum viable product. Then in each development iteration, study how your app’s being used, map this against your key objective and your core KPI’s (that directly drive towards that Key Objective) and make incremental improvements to your app based on what the data is telling you.  (analyze, learn, change). It’s important to use use real customer data to tell you what you need to do – not manager’s hunches. 

Be smart about how you communicate and engage with your users – Segment on interest and relevance, micro-strategies automated is better than blanket communication. Understand the usage patterns of your super users then use intelligent engagement strategies to get more of your users behaving that way. 

Why do we care?

mobile user engagement

So why do we care and why do we have so much to say on the subject. Well because it’s our thing. We understand Intelligent Engagement. We know it’s not just limited to things like Push Notifications, it’s about taking a holistic approach, understanding the user experience as well as attracting and retaining the right types of users. That’s what the world’s biggest apps do, with an army of analysts, data scientists and the rest. 

We are on a mission to stop mediocrity and bring a powerful technology stack and 360 view of user behavior and user experience into the reach every app, and not just those blessed with 7 figure staff budgets. By doing the simple things well, understanding the 3-5 levers that will steer your app to success and then using technology like Kumulos to guide you and we can all deliver incredible app results. 

So, I hope this blog has been able to make you think a little and suggest a few things you can try to help mobile apps work for you. Good luck and contact us with your thoughts! 

5 Tips for effective mobile messaging

mobile messaging

Engaging your app’s users with mobile messaging is one of the most powerful forms of direct marketing in the app industry today. Mobile message marketing can reach your entire user base, even when accounting for different time zones, in different countries.

However, with any form of mass marketing campaign, there comes the difficulty of crafting a message that feels personal. Our mobile devices are an intimate part of our lives. While spammy or un-targeted marketing tactics can work on social platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn, the messages users receive on their phone need to meet the user’s expectations. They need to both be of beneficial to their lives, and come across as unobtrusive.

Mobile Messaging – How to make campaigns more effective

There are many options available to app publishers as to how to reach and engage an audience of users – and with the integration of an app analytics service you can ensure your mobile messaging campaigns provide a substantial ROI.

First, your message obviously needs to target specific users – by studying your app’s analytics, you’ll be able to notice patterns amongst your app’s user base, such as what time of day users engage with your app, their frequency of opening your app, what type of devices they are using, and even which app screens they spend the most time. By using these metrics, you can create segments of users that can be loosely (or even tightly) grouped together.

And by creating specific messages to these segmented user profiles, you can increase your messages open rates by 20% or more. It’s not just about sending target messages to your users. Like most aspects of life, there is a time and place for everything. Let’s go over the options available to you:

1. Push Notifications

Perhaps the most well known of all forms of mobile messaging, push notifications are perfect for providing your users with timely information. They should always come with some sort of immediate benefit. Perhaps the most ubiquitous push notification mobile users receive is “Your ride is on its way.”

Despite being called “push” notifications, they aren’t named as such because they are supposed to be pushy about selling a product or service. The word “push” is actually used in reference to the way the messages appear on a mobile devices’ screen – they are “pushed” into the screen as they display their message.

It’s important to note that push notifications aren’t intended to be used as a sales pitch – they are used to provide your users with pertinent, time sensitive information. Because of this, the title of a push notification is limited to 48 characters in length, and the message itself is limited to 100 characters. Keep in mind, however, that when it comes to push notifications, less is definitely more.

Referred to sometimes as “billboard rules,” push notifications receive a quick glance from users, and within the first few words, are deemed useful, or as an interruption. Think of driving down a highway and seeing a billboard on the side of the road. How much time does a driver actually have to read the billboard? Especially when half of their attention is still focused on the road and cars around them?

Mobile users exist in much the same space as drivers. There’s a lot going on when they receive a push notification on their device. Depending on the nature of the push notification you have sent, you could be interrupting their usage of another app, so you must make sure your push notifications come with inherent, obvious value.

Push notifications are the perfect call to action when used in conjunction with geofencing and proximity marketing campaigns. For instance, if a user enters a geofence tagged with special offers for users of your app, a quick message announcing the benefits near your user’s proximity can help to increase your overall ROI – when users know a benefit is literally right around the corner, they’re much more likely to take advantage of the opportunity given to them.

2. In-App Messaging

Like many names in the field of tech, “in-app messaging” is indeed aptly named. Similar in format to push notifications, these messages only appear when the user is currently engaging with your app.

In-app messages are a fantastic method of introducing your users to newly added features, upcoming in-app events, or even asking for permission to enable push notifications (something only iOS apps need to consider, as Android users are automatically sent push notifications unless otherwise requested).

Many apps use in-app messages to ask users to review and rate their app – and while the potential for a flood of positive reviews might be too tempting to pass up in an attempt to increase your ASO rankings on the App Store or Google Play, it’s incredibly important to make this request as gracefully as possible.

By utilizing your app analytics platform, you can determine who your “power users” are – those being the users who engage most frequently and most positively with your app. If you have received a crash report from a specific user, it’s probably not the best time to ask for a review – but it is the perfect time to send an in-app message the next time they engage with your app apologizing for the inconvenience, and giving them the option of submitting their observations before the crash occurred in their session.

3. App Inbox / Newsfeed

Another great method for spreading information your users can engage with is by including a screen in your app that acts as an inbox or newsfeed. This can house all of your past notifications, announcements, and promotions.

By utilizing a simple call to action, such as displaying how many new messages are in their app inbox, users are most likely to head over to that particular screen. Most will then immediately back out to other screens in the app, merely viewing the page to get rid of the notification counter. If your mobile messages provide them with enough value, however, they might just stick around to see what has been going on.

The power of an app inbox comes with the fact that no matter what, your users are bound to see these messages. Since they are stored in the app itself, they are permanent, and lack the time sensitive nature of most other forms of mobile messaging.

4. Updates

Many app publishers underestimate the power of using updates as a way to communicate with your users. Not only are users more likely to view the contents of your app’s update, they are usually in a much more receptive mood, as they know with an app update comes increased value.

Updates will always show up on your users’ devices, and they are the most free form of communication between your app and your users – update descriptions aren’t limited to an amount of characters, and as such, you are able to include as much information as possible about the added value this update will bring to your users.

Updates come with another form of added value for your app – a significant portion of your users will immediately engage with your app after updating, as they will be curious to see what new features your app includes, and will more often than not at least try out the new feature, or features, provided to them. This is the perfect opportunity to keep track of user behavior by closely analyzing the ways users interact with these new features – pay attention to which new features are popular, and which aren’t.

Conversely, compare the usage of these new features to those of your core features – if a new feature is barely ever used in comparison to your core feature set, it might be worth scrapping it; and if one of your core features sees a steady or immediate drop in its engagement rates, it might be worth considering how you can go about either improving that feature, or figuring out a method for integrating it within a more widely-used feature. Sometimes, even a feature that used to be integral to the usage of your app might lose its appeal amongst your user base – and if that happens, you should consider removing it altogether.

5. Email

Like it or not, email is still a powerful tool for disseminating a message to app’s users. This engagement channel is the perfect medium for re-engaging with users who have gone dormant, or who have opted out of push notifications.

Emails needn’t use a direct sales approach – often you can speak to many different aspects of your app. Topics such as future plans for your app, current code iterations, or even an introduction of the team behind the app can be used to revitalize a relationship with a dormant user.

Emails can also be used to drive traffic back to your app’s website (which every app should have) – this will increase your website’s SEO rankings, and therefore increase the chances of someone finding your app through Google or other search engines. Apps shouldn’t just rely on ASO for customer acquisition – SEO can provide yet another channel to funnel customers onto your app’s page on the App Store or Google Play.

Use segments to your advantage

No matter what form of mobile messaging tool you make use of, it’s important to make sure your message targets your specific segment. This can be achieved simply by making use of a segmentation feature in an app analytics platform. Why not check out how easy this is using Kumulos? Start your free trial today and see how Kumulos gives you everything you need in one platform with push notifications, in app messaging, crash reporting, ASO, analytics and more.

Mobile App KPI’s – 10 app performance questions you need to answer

mobile app KPIs

Mobile App KPIs are so important and yet often they are not defined clearly.  At Kumulos, we talk to A LOT of mobile app developers and app publishers and the topic often turns to “What are the most important things to know about how your apps are performing?” To help, we’ve pulled together the 10 questions you have to answer in order to know how your app is performing. Think of these as your Mobile App KPIs – the most important things you need to regularly track to make sure you drive mobile app success.

mobile app KPIs

To an extent, what you measure depends on the objectives of the app and the context of the user. E.g. is it a business to consumer app that most users will find through the Apple or Google Playstore? Is it focused on business users, as an extension of your business service, or are the app users mainly your own employees? Regardless, you need to have mobile app KPIs but some will be more relevant than others.

10 questions you need to answer

In this blog, we suggest the 10 questions you MUST have answers to, if you are to be truly on top of the performance of your mobile app.

Knowing exactly what questions to ask yourself (or your mobile app development partner who is helping you) is sometimes the hardest thing to do. Getting data out of your app is easy, but organizing it around a set of questions you need to know the answer to will make sure that your data gives you meaningful insights. Insights that you can then set as benchmarks and mobile app KPIs to make sure what you do drives the right outcome for your app.

So, get ready with your answers…

1. How well are you driving new app downloads – volume AND relevance?

How well is your app performing in the app store? Could you improve the discoverability of the app? Could you promote the app better to drive more downloads?

Is the description driving the right types of downloads? Is it setting the right expectation for what the user can expect when they first use the app?

Where are your most valuable downloads coming from? What acquisition source is performing best?

Are you analyzing download fraud to make sure the downloads are legit?

Knowing as much as you can about where your downloads are coming from is essential. And when people visit your download page in the Apple or Google App Stores, you need to make sure that you set clear expectations on what the app will do. You need good screenshots and a short explainer video to help drive more downloads and more importantly the right types of downloads. After all, you want downloaders that will value your app and remain active users for longer and be more valuable retained users.

Regularly analyzing the performance of your app in the App Store or Play Store will also give you valuable insights into any problems your user has with your app.  Also, in addition to analysing the right metrics for mobile app KPIs you’ll often get good suggestions on new features you could add to your app.

2. How are your users using your app?

What time during the day are app users most active? Find out and you’ll know when is a good time to reach them with push notifications.

How many times a day do they use your app and for how long each time?
Is average session length rising or falling?

Depending on the context of your app, a rising session length could in fact be a bad indicator. If the purpose of the app is to provide small amounts of information quickly – e.g. is my train on time? In that case, users want to be in and out of the app fast. However, if it’s a social media app, you obviously want the session lengths (and session frequency) to be rising to show that user engagement is increasing.

And what about the macro-trends across your entire user base? Are number of sessions per day increasing (your users are becoming more engaged) or falling (you are losing the attention of your users)?

Modelling your apps “ideal” user and then benchmarking all your users against that profile is a great way to model the desired behavior with your app and then try to understand why all your users aren’t behaving that way.

Using this as a mobile app KPI and measuring the trend over time will help you to see if more of your users are conforming to your “ideal” user will let you see if you are increasing user engagement.

3. What do you know about your app users?

Where are app users located? Are you seeing growth in unexpected countries that you could capitalize on?

Kumulos App User Locations Example

What language do they speak? Is it worth launching a new version of your app in another language to customize the experience for those users?

What’s the ratio of Daily Active Users vs Monthly Active users? DAU/MAU ratio is an important measure of engagement – a rising DAU/MAU over time means more of your users are using the app more often. It’s also important to know what good looks like, so comparing your apps DAU/MAU ratio against others with similar usage patterns can be a useful mobile app KPI.

4. How are users accessing your app?

What devices are people using to access your app?
Is your app optimized for the majority of your users?
What phone operating system are they using?

It’s important to know all of these things so you can focus development effort in optimizing the experience for the devices most accessing your app – e.g. screen dimensions.

What’s the split of users by operating systems Android or iOS (Apple) and which versions of that operating system are most users using? Again, these metrics are important for regression testing future releases of the app in addition to having mobile app KPIs.

Kumulos OS and App Versions Example

5. Which users are still on old versions of your app?

It’s essential to know the distribution across the versions of your app.  Those stuck on earlier app versions are most likely to churn. This is because they will not be getting the best in app experience. They won’t be able to enjoy any of the new features you’ve added to the app over the last few months. Planning push campaigns to encourage users to update to the latest version will increase user stickiness and user retention.

6. How well are you retaining users after they have downloaded?

What are your user retention rates for the app?
How many days after they first downloaded the app, are they still using the app?

If you know this, you can put strategies in place to target users X numbers of days after they first download the app. Showing users the value they will get from continuing to use the app, via push notifications, will have a big impact on driving up retention. In addition, you need to be on top of the technical performance of the app. For example, if the user experience is poor, or, the app is loading slowly, then no matter how good your notification retention campaign is, users will still leave. So, you must be on top of the complete picture and not just snapshots.

7. How is the app performing technically?

How is the technical performance impacting users?
What are the number of crash free sessions?
How many users experience crashes?  What is the percentage of up time of the app and the services it relies on to work properly?

Example of Kumulos Diagnostics

If you don’t know, then you are not on top of the user experience. A bad experience ( such as the app is slow or the app crashes) means you will get bad reviews in the app store (choking the new flow of downloads). And of course, users, especially new users will simply abandon your app, uninstall it, and find another way to give them what they want. So, your user retention rates fall.

Example of Kumulos Endpoint Monitoring

It’s also important to see the trend over time. Is this getting worse or better and are there more problems with Android than iOS or more problems with apps running on specific devices or app versions. Is the app struggling because it relies on unstable API’s or increases in service latency? Crash reporting is vital in order to assess how the technical performance of the app will be impacting users.

8. How successful are you at encouraging users to opt in to receive notifications?

This is an important step in the onboarding process. It may sound obvious, but it’s important not just to ask for their permission to accept notifications but make sure you sell the value of receiving regular messages from the app.

Not only is the interaction with notifications a powerful indicator of user engagement and stickiness, but it’s an essential tool (used wisely) to extend the life of the users and drive up retention.

But this can cut both ways. Over sending information that’s not highly relevant, targeted and customized to the user will have the opposite effect. Poorly thought out campaigns can drive users away from your app and not into your app. So it’s important that you use a system that lets you target notifications at users most receptive to the message.

Location-based targeting or proximity marketing is one of the most powerful ways to send highly relevant location specific content to users. Whether that is targeting users based on where they are located right now – throwing a virtual fishing net over an area – and sending them a message. Or subscribing users to specific groups or channels because you know they have been in a specific place so you can target them later. Or triggering a message as they enter an area, possibly followed up with hyper-local messages as they pass a specific location (like your store front) are all ways to deliver highly relevant, timely notifications that will help the user. Using a solution like Beaconstac along with Kumulos is an easy way to get started with proximity marketing.

It’s also important to see the trend over time. Is this getting worse or better and are there more problems with Android than iOS or more problems with apps running on specific devices or app versions. Is the app struggling because it relies on unstable API’s or increases in service latency? Crash reporting is vital in order to assess how the technical performance of the app will be impacting users.

example of Kumulos Geo Location Push

Are you able to see how successful notifications are at engaging with users? Do you have notifications set to automatically trigger when certain events happen within the app (or don’t happen within the app) to encourage users back to the app, or to complete goal-based tasks within the app.

So, the key here is to really understand how to target users effectively with notifications. Make sure you are only sending them information that’s relevant to them, so they see value, are encouraged back into your app and complete whatever goal that’s relevant to them.

9. How well are your push notification campaigns performing?

It’s good you are using push notifications to encourage and engage your users. But do you know what the unsubscribe rates are like?  Are you over communicating?

Could you be under-communicating and missing a trick to drive up the performance of your app?
What’s the delivery rate of your notifications (are all the notifications you send actually getting to your users)?
What’s the tap through rate?
Are users engaging with the messages you are sending?

These are all very important indications on how well you are interacting with your users, encouraging active users, who will stay engaged and be retained for longer, making your app more successful.

Example Push Notifications Subcribers Kumulos

Make sure that you continually monitor notification subscription rates and have that as a mobile app KPI. Also tracking unsubscribe rates as well as notification open rates will give you a good understanding of how well you are engaging with users.

10. How well is the app converting users?

Even for apps that aren’t designed for users to make purchases, understanding, in detail, user journeys and conversion funnels is essential to continually optimize and improve the user flow.

Example Conversion Funnel Kumulos

Studying simple flows like first onboarding will uncover huge insights into how users experience the first touch of the app. Small increases in the numbers of new users that fully onboard the app, will have a big impact on results from the app. Looking at how long it takes to go from the start of a process to the end, how long each step takes and then targeting long stage delays with improvements in the app will mean that the user flow will be improved. Setting up push notification automations, to target stages with big drop offs (people who get to one stage but don’t complete the next step) and after a short time delay send a message to encourage the next step completion is proven to increase conversion by as much as 70%.

Use these mobile app KPIs to build meaningful insights to optimize your app

So, we have covered the 10 most important questions you need to know about how your app is performing. Covering all of these will ensure you have complete visibility and deep understanding of how your app is performing. It will also let you build meaningful insights into how you can optimize the apps performance and drive even better results.

And if you are looking for a system that can help draw all this together and give you a single pane of glass to manage both the technical AND the commercial performance of your app, then we can help.

Contact us today for a no-obligation demo of Kumulos. Or take us for a spin yourself and sign up for a free trial.

Industrial Augmented Reality Comes of Age

Industrial Augmented Reality

Industrial Augmented Reality has finally come of age. It’s no surprise – for years there’s been much hype around Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality. AR used to be the domain of the Glass-hole or the Pokémon gamer. But no longer.

Industrial Augmented Reality (IAR) Objectives

In a recent report by PTC, the $1.6bn Industrial IoT and Augmented Reality specialist, it says they are expecting 86% of industrial enterprises to launch customer focused AR projects in the next 12 months.

At the moment, there’s a lot of talk about enterprises going through “digital transformation” programs. In fact, they seem to be turning to Industrial Augmented Reality as a way to differentiate their goods and services (50%) and offer more value to their customers, generate higher revenues (28%) and create new business models and revenue streams (17%).

Interestingly, internal projects get a look in too. There is expected to be a significant increase in investment in Business to Employee (B2E) projects. Organizations are waking up to the potential of IAR to increase operational efficiency (44%), support training and skills transfer (39%), lower costs by harnessing AR (33%) as well as increasing manufacturing quality control (28%) and reducing development life-cycles (28%).

In fact, AR technology is reaching a tipping point. It’s moving from the early adopters and lab experiments into the mainstream. Market forecasts estimate that the market is now annually worth $11.14bn rising to over $60bn annually by 2023.

Strongest AR growth is in Industrial Sectors

It’s looking like the strongest growth will be in industrial sectors. Firstly, these organizations have the wallets to invest. Moreover, hardware has matured to the point where the AR technology can be deployed safely and reliably in industrial environments. Gone are the days of the google glass “Glass-holes”. This is now becoming mainstream and cool. The speed at which this market is maturing is impressive. A survey in 2016 showed that just 67% of companies were considering Augmented Reality roll outs – compared to the 86% in 2019.

Top Use Case of Industrial Augmented Reality

Always on top of emerging technology trends and Industry 4.0, Kumulos previously updated our platform to be feature complete with Unity 3D. This means Kumulos supports the full features set within Unity 3D. This allows mobile app owners to manage the content of their mobile app, manage push notifications, view analytics, generate monthly reports and manage & report on crashes. Also, if it calls for it, they can manage app store optimization (ASO) – all within one single pane of glass.

Oil & Gas Sector Use Case

IAR is already being used in a broad range of industries including Industrial AR in the Oil & Gas sector. For example, Mozenix works with some of the world’s top companies to develop high performance mobile apps for Apple ARKit and Google ARCore across many industry sectors. In particular, they have been developing a new application called R2S AR for the oil and gas industry. This use of AR is reducing costs and enhancing operational efficiency.

Watch the video. See R2S Technical Director explore their AR application to gain an insight into this latest use of AR.  It extends the value proposition of their software to include both remote and on-site users.

As you can see, all project data held by clients in R2S is now accessible through intrinsically safe mobile devices. Users can simply point the device at the equipment on-site and R2S AR will provide detailed information on, for example, but not limited to; maintenance history, asset registers and live data feeds.

Add Augmented Reality to your Mobile App Development Services

If you want to find out how you too could offer Augmented Reality services, contact us and arrange a demo today.  Or, sign up for a free trial of Kumulos and get started with the platform which gives you all the tools for mobile app development in one place.

Otherwise, if you are about to embark on an Augmented Reality journey yourself and looking for AR experts to help you, we’ve done some of the leg-work for you. We recently summarized who we see as the leading Augmented Reality Development Companies. Good Luck.

Smart Geo-fencing! What a Whopper from Burger King

Burger King’s “Whopper Detour” stunt targets McDonald’s by placing a Geo-fence with a 600 feet radius around each one of their 14,000 outlets. Then when someone with the Burger King mobile app on their phone crosses the Geo-fence, it triggers a special offer letting them order a Burger King for a penny. They are using this guerrilla marketing stunt to promote their refreshed app and the new advance order function, while at the same time catching customers that may otherwise be tempted to buy a McDonald’s instead. A smart way to target folks may be ready to buy a burger and increase the catchment area for restaurant footfall.

Retailers have been geo-targeting each other’s outlets this way for a while. For example, Dunkin Donuts back in 2014 delivered discount coupons to folks near Starbucks coffee shops. They achieved substantially higher coupon redemption rates than other promotions, showing the power of proximity-based mobile promotions.

This latest initiative from Burger King is a great example of how to use the power of relevance and immediacy by offering customers something highly relevant and timely. Their proximity promotion is designed to retain customers that may be tempted to a competitor and promote a cool new feature in their app. An app, by the way, that’s been desperately needing a major revamp for a while.

A few thoughts on this

A one hit wonder?

They just let you redeem the Penny Burger once. You can understand the economics here. Users could easily gamify the offer and live on Penny Burgers for the duration of the offer. But I wonder if Burger King are losing an opportunity here. Rather than offering more burgers at 1 cent. They could still offer incentives (like Go-Large or fries free) that would still draw their customers back to Burger King and away from McDonald’s longer term. The penny offer only lasts for a few weeks.

Works only where restaurants are close

When you place your order, the mobile app will guide you to the nearest Burger King to go collect their pre-ordered meal. It also lets the person easily see how much of a detour they’d have to make for the Penny Offer. So with that it’s only really going to work if their outlets are close by. It would be really interesting to know how “elastic” the offer is in terms of the distance customers are willing to travel to save themselves a few dollars. Not 30 miles, according to this review on the app store. And it appears a good revenue booster for McDonald’s.

Beacons + Geo-fences = even smarter

They could go one step further and integrate beacons with geo-fences. So, when someone has the promotion triggered on their phone and then approach the Burger King outlet the beacon recognizes them and loads their pre-order confirmation on their device.

It’s simple to set some basic automation rules that chain-links geo-fences and beacon triggers together to give a much rich user experience. We can show you how if you are interested.

Unintended consequences

We understand the original plan was to catch Burger King customers with wavering loyalty and navigate them away from McDonald’s to their nearest Burger King to pick up food. An unintended consequence of the offer is to incentivize Burger King customers to seek out their local McDonald’s to trigger the offer. So in effect promoting the location of their competitor, which is an interesting approach. It would be fascinating to see how that plays out in the long term. Or are Burger King just assuming that if you eat burgers you’ll already know where the local McDonald’s is anyway. But that’s a BIG assumption.

Did Burger King miss the Technical Black-spots?

No matter how clever the marketing campaign, if it doesn’t work technically it risks more harm than good. From the comments in the app store following the release of their revamped app pre-ordering risks being an own goal for Burger King.

Their app users have been waiting a looooong time for a decent app and Burger King have fallen badly behind McDonald’s here. According to this comment on the app store the app they were having some technical issues. From the app store review below, I wonder what this this person did next. My bet is they bought a Big Mac. Doh!

Was Burger King on top of the technical performance of their app and closely monitoring the app and managing the app’s API dependencies? I hope so.

At Kumulos, we see this way too often. No-one having the joined up view. By that I mean the marketing guys focus on app store reviews, downloads and order completions, but have no sight of the technical issues. The IT operations people don’t know what’s happening on the commercial side of the app, so things end up in the cracks.

It looks like even the big app brands get this wrong, but it doesn’t need to be this way for apps of any shape or size. Simply run your app on Unified Mobile App Management Platform and you get the full picture – technical and commercial. A single pane of glass that means you have the complete picture of how well your app is performing and are able to catch problems early.

Understand the User Journey

Unless the Burger King Restaurant is very very close the One Penny offer will most likely appeal to customers in cars.

Here’s the most likely user journey.

They park up at McDonald’s.

They get the One Penny offer.

They place their order.

They use the app to navigate to the Burger King restaurant to pick up their order.

They, of course, take the Drive-Thru.

This is where for Burger King things unravel. Ironically something designed to make the order easier seems to take longer.

For some reason, probably only known to Burger King, it seems you can’t pick up orders made on the mobile through the drive through. A bit of flawed thinking here I think.

As the App Store review says, “A system that is supposed to make things a lot easier, instead made it 1000 times more difficult.”

I guess the lesson from this is pilot first, iron out the crinkles and then go national. Oh and make sure you take your franchise owners with you.

Faster fast food

The order ahead feature in the app, is designed to turbo-charge the fast in their fast food (unless you take the drive through of course, because your order is waiting for you when you arrive. No waiting in line. It’s also a way to drive more value from their mobile app increasing the recency and frequency of mobile app users, giving you a good reason to use the app regularly. In addition, it’s a way for them to compete with delivery services that McDonald’s has recently introduced as well as the other food delivery services like Uber Eats, Deliveroo, GrubHub and DoorDash.

Want to know how geo-gencing is done and whether its right for you?

The retail industry is fiercely competitive, and mobile is the latest battle ground. Get it right, and the results you can get from proximity marketing can be incredible. Get it wrong and it can hurt.

If you are looking to harness the huge potential of mobile location-based targeting then get in touch and we’ll be glad to show you how the big brands do it.

 

How (Not) To Drive Up Mobile App Engagement

Push Notification User Engagement

Something interesting happened to me yesterday. LinkedIn did something very smart. I know, how amazing is that? But, then almost immediately, true to form, they followed it with something equally stupid with Push Notification User Engagement in their mobile app.

It got me thinking though.

There are mobile marketing lessons here around how to cleverly engage with mobile app users. Something that will drive up user engagement and ensure that push notifications are enabled AND stay enabled within your app.

Here’s what happened to me to illustrate this.

I use the LinkedIn mobile app most days, like a lot of people. It’s not great, but it does the job. A while ago, I switched off Notifications. I doubt I am the only one that has done this. It was just too noisy and interrupting me by firing numerous low value notifications throughout the day.

Lesson 1 – Think carefully about how you communicate with users. Over communication or low value communication can be more damaging than no communication at all.

So here comes the good bit.

Yesterday I was using the message feature in LinkedIn. Just as I was closing the app it prompted me with a message that asked if I wanted to be notified if “John” replied to my message. It was a good conversation. So, of course, I wanted to know as soon as he replied. So I responded yes. Genius move from LinkedIn. They are encouraging me to opt into Notifications by showing the value of me doing it with a highly targeted, highly relevant message. It’s not the bland request you often get, “Do you want to receive Push Notifications”. Very smart.

But then it all goes wrong. Instead of allowing me to subscribe just for notifications from Messages in my Inbox, they turned the fire-hose on me, bombarding me with general notifications AGAIN. LinkedIn – I don’t really want to know someone’s birthday or whether they have changed job. That’s why I opted out in the first place. So what do I do. You guessed it. Notifications are off.

Lesson 2 – If you offer something of value, then deliver on the promise.

What LinkedIn should have done is what they promised and only subscribed me for notifications from messages. That’s what was value to me. The funny thing is it’s easy to do. All their mobile marketers needed to do is have a Channel in the push notification service that’s dedicated to Notifications triggered from new messages or replies in my Inbox. Kumulos (named a top push notifications service by Business of Apps and The Tool) allows you to do that and I am sure that other services would also. With a little more thought from LinkedIn they could have easily given me what I want. Instead they were lazy and opened the notification flood gate on me.

Within LinkedIn someone somewhere came up with the genius idea of using highly relevant, timely and highly targeted notification to increase the recency and frequency of their app users. EXACTLY what they and every other serious mobile app owner should be doing. This would have encouraged me to use the app more often during the day and be able to respond quickly to a message while someone was logged into their LinkedIn account.

Lesson 3 – Relevance is key with Push Notifications. Uses Channels to give the user what they want, not what your KPI’s say you should achieve.

Someone, no doubt had an objective to improve engagement and drive up the ratio of users opting in for Push Notifications. Again a sensible objective to have. But they didn’t think it through. With a little more effort they could have increased the value of the app for me and secure me as a highly engaged user. I am guessing I’m not alone here.

So in summary, Push Notification user engagement is important. When done correctly, you can increase retention with push notifications.  If you want users to be engaged with your app and be in your app frequently Push Notifications are one of the most effective weapons in your armoury. They can add huge value to your app itself by in this case allowing the user to respond quickly to messages. On the flip side of the coin they can equally as easily destroy value if they are used crudely. Encourage users to enable Notifications by showing them the value it will create for them. Don’t then use this as an excuse to then bombard them with unwanted interruptions. Think through what users want from the Notification Service and give them the ability to subscribe for what’s relevant to them, especially if the smart opt in message sets that expectation with them.

About Kumulos Push Notifications

The Kumulos Push Notification platform lets you offer a push notifications service to your clients to increase engagement in their app. Alternatively, give your clients control with an easy-to-use, branded Push Notifications Mobile Marketing Automation Portal where they can create campaigns and view results. Either way, Kumulos lets you offer more. So you stand out from the crowd and win more projects. What’s more we help you maximize the life-time value of your clients by keeping your customers close, so it’s you they come to for follow on projects. Take a 30-day free trial today and see how easy it is to drive up mobile app user engagement using push notifications.

Best Northern Powerhouse, UK, Mobile App Developers

Best Northern Powerhouse, UK, Mobile App Developers

In the UK, the north, that’s anything north of Watford for those based in London, used to be thought of as a technology hinterland. Not anymore. The Northern Powerhouse is now firmly established as a hot-bed for mobile app innovation, so this is why in this article we showcase this talent and show the Best Northern Powerhouse, UK, Mobile App Developers. Major enterprises are increasingly looking to businesses based in and around Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Liverpool, Sheffield and the rest to deliver creative solutions to their business problems. Be that Mobile Apps, Internet of Things Apps – IoT, Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality – AR/VR or Artificial Intelligence.

top mobile app developers northern powerhouseIn this latest Kumulos blog, we look at some of the talent based there and review the Best Midlands and Northern Powerhouse Mobile App Developers.

Best Northern Powerhouse, UK, Mobile App Developers

Apadmi

Apadmi could be described as one of the gorillas of the Northern Powerhouse. Founded 9 years ago by Garry Partington, Nick Black, Adam Fleming and Howard Simms, along with their 70-strong team, their clients include some of the most impressive businesses across the UK and Europe. They work across a wide range of industries, but over the years have built up expertise in Healthcare, Travel and Retail. Their clients include Argos, Lexus, the NHS, Range Rover, EE, SkyScanner, and the BBC.

They describe themselves as a mobile technology company that works with clients of all sizes to understand how and where to use mobile in their organization, to improve their operations and deliver the complete solutions needed to make it happen. They are experts across the entire mobile journey – from interface to server to data. As you’d expect from an organization like Apadmi they cover the entire development lifecycle and are a team of thinkers, developers, designers, UX-ers and inventors, who see it as their role to continuously look for ways that technology can improve things for their clients.

Their development approach is customer-centric. They don’t focus on any one technology, but can operate across platforms delivering apps on native, hybrid, web portals and voice apps on Alexa. They understand the customers’ needs and then apply the best technology solution.
This video is a good showreel of their work.

Apadmi also have an investment arm Apadmi Ventures. Led by Howard Simms they seek out and invest in early-stage, highly-scalable technology companies. They offer much more than investment capital too, giving advice and technology expertise to help nurture and grow ideas, turning them into a successful venture.

Follow: Apadmi on Twitter

Codevate

Codevate has been in business for over 5 years. Strictly speaking they are too far south to be included in the Northern Powerhouse blog as they are based in Birmingham. But what they do and how they do it meant we just had to include them. Formed and run by Sam Jones and David Bennett their mission is to close the Technology Gap to create a competitive advantage for their clients. They describe themselves as a Software Development Consultancy, rather than a Mobile App Development Company, as they combine mobile technology with cloud-based systems to produce digital ecosystems that enhance their clients’ business processes. They work with native & web apps as well as cross-platform solutions in particular React Native.

They follow their own internally developed, tried and tested multistage process which takes inspiration from Lean and Agile development. More Kanban feel than pure SCRUM.  This ensures the development process has clear multistage goals and short-term ROI based deliverables, so their clients can see the value at every stage. They focus on building a Minimum Viable Product and then build on that initial value with subsequent phases. This way their clients see value early and the course can be adjusted as the project takes shape.

They don’t have any particular industry bias. They say, quite rightly, that every industry has problems that can be solved by digital and mobile technology. That said they have a lot of experience with Remote/Field workers, Social Media and Dating as well as Manufacturing, especially around IoT.

Codevate see their particular strengths as being able to quickly extract and distill domain knowledge from their clients. Together with this business knowledge and Codevate’s technical know-how they are able to build workflows that optimize processes that can then be enhanced through technology.

Follow: Codevate on Twitter

Corporation Pop

Corporation Pop is one of the longest established Mobile App developers in our Northern Powerhouse blog having been around in various forms since 1991. Innovation and exploring new technologies flows through their veins. Run by Dom Raban and Dan Taylor along with their 20 strong team, they have a strong culture that focuses on innovation and continually pushing the possible to deliver the best outcomes for their clients.

Corporation Pop is all about innovation, good design and effective use of technology and it’s the smart use of all three that really make them different. They operate across many different industries but have built particular expertize in Entertainment, Health and Education. Proof of this comes through in the impressive clients they work for, which include the BBC, Channel 4, the British Council,  Unilad and the NHS. They are also developing their own IP with an innovative app that uses AR, artificial intelligence and gameplay to help children going into hospital.
They work across all technologies and describe themselves as platform agnostic, so can handle Native, Hybrid or responsive web apps. Given their heritage in entertainment they have particular expertise with Unity 3D

This video shows you the award-winning work they do.

Follow: Corporation Pop on Twitter

Dreamr

Dreamr started in Manchester back in 2104 by Jack Mason CEO and Mylo Kaye Strategic Director. They have a team of 20 based from their central Manchester office. Working with Dreamr you’ll get a good understanding of what makes them different; they are huge believers in giving back. So much so that they donate 10% of their time every month to help worthwhile causes in the Greater Manchester area.

They work across a broad range of clients and industries, but what really gets them excited are projects that make a difference to people’s lives, such as social good & assisted living projects, or projects that use technology to help bridge the generational gap and unify different demographics.

There are two arms to the Dreamr business. The traditional mobile app development business and the investment arm, Dreamr Ventures. Here they work with their entrepreneurial clients to harness that entrepreneurial spirit, shape the idea, prototype and bring it to market. They are proud of the fact that they don’t just develop software but develop their clients thinking to make sure what they produce meets the needs of the end customer.

Where their customers need it, Dreamr can offer the full mix of services, from product proposition development, design/prototyping, full stack development through to app marketing. They even help with investment pitches and securing funding for their idea.

Here is a couple of customers they work with to get a feel for the work they do.
Go-Local – helping local businesses get app technology so they can compete better with national chains

Corner – a wearable digital fitness trainer app for boxing, that was showcased at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and features on Dragons Den.

Follow: Dreamr on Twitter

Desap

Roger Martin Kadama launched Desap in Manchester, England back in 2014. They now have 40+ staff working at their HQ near the vibrant Media City in Salford.
Their wraparound approach is to work as an extension to their clients own in-house teams. They work closely, collaborating with their clients at every stage of the design, development and testing process; from defining the strategy, to UX design, build, test and release phase. They also offer an ongoing service to ensure that the initial investment in the app continues to deliver value as business and customer needs evolve.

Their core skills are in native app development where they help a broad range of clients to embrace mobile technology to improve their business performance. They work at the bleeding edge of innovation, with organizations like Manchester University and the National Graphene Institute which is looking to exploit the commercial potential of Graphene.

A few other examples of Desap’s work include;

Loadie is a specialist mobile application and customer management system that allows customers to match their unfulfilled loads with drivers and logistics companies who have excess capacity. With state of the are tracking and payment technology Loadie is set to become the Uber of logistics.

Eras+ is a revolutionary app and web function to supports patients in the preparation for, during and after major surgery. Its core aims are to ensure enhanced recovery, reduced post-surgical complications and a better overall patient journey through the health economy.

Respassist is a mobile solution to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of respiratory problems in patients. This app helps GPs and Practice Nurses access resources and patient statistics to improve treatment protocols.

Here’s a link to Desap Instagram page to get an insight into what they’re about.

hedgehog lab

hedgehog lab are one of the most established businesses in our Northern Powerhouse blog. Founded in Newcastle 11 years ago by Sarat Pediredla, CEO & Mark Foster Chief Innovation Officer, they currently have more than 130 staff across their offices in the UK, North America and their development center in India.

They describe themselves as a Global Digital Product Consultancy helping their clients get the best out of both Mobile and broader digital technology, but with a firm emphasis on Mobile-First. What makes hedgehog lab special is their heavy focus on design coupled with an Agile Delivery process. This lets them innovate faster and learn along with their clients. This is reinforced by their Innovation Lab which epitomises their unique culture. It stretches the possible, both technically and commercially with their clients, to help businesses look beyond just apps to the benefits that can be delivered from wider avenues of digital transformation.

They don’t specialise in any one industry vertical, but have built up particular expertise in Healthcare, Retail, Utilities, Education, Travel and Fintech. They boast a very impressive client list that includes AkzoNobel, Home Group, Leisure Pass Group, Northumbrian Water and Thales.

They can handle projects across a broad range of technologies that include Javascript, Swift, Java, Kotlin and Python and have in-depth experience building mobile applications around AI, XR, as well as Native and Responsive Web Apps.

Follow: hedgehog Lab on Twitter

Huddled

Huddled is a Manchester based bespoke software and mobile app development company. In their current form, they have been around since 2017, but their history and track record in web and mobile technology goes back 10+ years. Huddled is run by the Yates brothers, Paul and Justin, along with Martin Vernon as Development Director. They lead a team of 15 made up of a mix of developers, digital marketing experts and business development.

They describe themselves as a Software Boutique that can go beyond just development. They focus hard on how technology will help solve specific business problems and then offer a solution that is often a mix of web and mobile software. What makes them different is their abilities to then help their customer market their Mobile Apps and drive demand, so they can stay with their clients, after the mobile app goes live.

They operate across a broad range of industries with a slight leaning towards property management. They have helped many organizations, large and small grapple with digitizing analog processes to make their businesses more efficient. HAYS Recruitment and Residential Management Group are good examples of the businesses they work with.
They mainly work with hybrid apps, preferring Ionic/Cordova and Laravel PHP frameworks to give the maximum flexibility and interoperability with their customers’ existing web technologies. They have a pretty unique way of working that is their cut on Agile development & Scrum that they call Huddle!

Check out an example of their recent work in this short video.

Pocketworks

Pocketworks has been based in central Leeds since it was founded in 2012. It’s run by its founder Tobin Harris, Head of Technology Tim Medcalf and Lee Sommerville, Head of Production who manages a team of 14. Put simply they see it as their mission to “Develop mobile apps that help businesses grow.”  They stand firmly behind that statement. All of the apps they build have clear KPI’s so the performance of the app can be easily tracked against the business results their clients expect from their App Investment. Their expertise covers a broad range of industries, but over the last few years have built a strong reputation in customer loyalty apps and apps for electronics manufacturers around smart homes, smart energy and Internet of Things (IoT). They boast an impressive client list that includes:

ASDA where they developed the first app for this major UK retailer, their Price Guarantee app that allowed their customers to check their prices against the competition.

Energenie manufactures devices that turn homes into smart homes where devices can be monitored and controlled remotely. Pocketworks created a suite of apps for their product range to let their customers control devices remotely.

Veezu is a major taxi operator with over 4,000 drivers covering 5 UK cities. For this app, think Uber (only better). Specifically focused at students this app lets their customers book a taxi in less than 5 seconds.

Follow: Pocketworks on Twitter

Tyrell Digital

Tyrell can be found just outside of Leeds city centre not far from the historic Armley Mills. The firm was started a few years back in 2012 by Duncan Scobie who is the Managing Director and still gets his hands dirty as their lead developer. So, when you work with Tyrell you know you are getting their A-Team.

The company works across the full digital spectrum delivering mobile apps, mobile responsive websites and has built a specific expertise in IoT around Bluetooth, NFC and RFID communication protocols. As such they have worked extensively across manufacturing, electronics and healthcare sectors delivering a range of bleeding edge wireless interface projects.

They prefer to deal with interesting projects that push the boundaries of mobile technology, especially in IoT, than chase the big brands. That said, they do have an impressive portfolio of work on show, for clients including The Guardian, Pitman Training and the Medical Protection Society.

 

Best Northern Powerhouse, UK, Mobile App Developers

So there you have it. Our Best Northern Powerhouse, UK, Mobile App Developers. Of course, the best fit for you depends entirely on your specific needs. But we reckon that with the huge talent, and down to earth approach from Northern Powerhouse Mobile App Developers that you will find an ideal partner for your next mobile app project.