When both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store (formerly known as Android Market) launched in 2008, it was hard to imagine the potential these distribution systems had to revolutionize the entire digital ecosystem. With so few apps in existence, there was once a huge opportunity for screen time for the app developers who jumped in early. But now, there are more than 3 million apps deployed in both stores combined. While this number is massive, a frightening majority of these apps are not functional, have terrible user experiences (UX) and were not built with a strong foundation to withstand an increasing user base or feature set.
Apple is fed up with this growing mass of crap apps and is removing “problematic and abandoned apps” to preserve its platform and empower developers to build high-quality products. With Apple’s iOS 11 update coming soon, almost 200,000 apps could be gone forever. Similarly, Google is enforcing quality control and warning mobile product owners if your Android app hasn’t been updated with new Google APIs, it will be considered insecure and unstable.
Gone are the days when almost any app is accepted to the app store. If you do not comply with Apple and Google’s best practices for both UX design and code development, your app is in danger of being a security threat and potentially on the chopping block and gone forever. Also, if your brand’s current app is a hybrid platform built with 3rd-party frameworks that are not officially supported by Apple, there is no guarantee your app will be supported in the future.
What does this mean for brands?
To the brand that threw together a poorly-built app years ago because you “urgently needed an app,” take a look at your reviews in the App Store or Google Play and see if any of these comments ring a bell:
- “Not functional or easy for consumers to use.” - Your disappointed consumer
- “It’s obvious [the brand] doesn’t care about the mobile experience.” - Your most loyal customer
- “None of these features are what users actually want.” - Your frustrated user
- “APPS ARE NOT WEBSITES.” - Your angry advocate
When a user opens your app that doesn’t work or the features are clearly outdated, do you know what a user does next? Holds down your app’s icon, taps the X and moves on to your competitor’s app. It’s a harsh reality, but our modern users are more selective than ever. They demand a personalized experience that brings value to their lives, not a frustrating app that wastes storage space and time.
Related: Why UX Is More Important Than Ever
In our mobile-first world, a poor digital experience directly affects the brand’s overall image to consumers. You can’t afford to miss the opportunity to use mobile to provide the most unique, personalized customer experiences. Now more than ever is the time to deeply invest in rebuilding your app with a strong software foundation and mobile strategy.
To the brand who has yet to invest in a strategic, beautiful app:
The app competition just got more serious. Now that Apple is doing some spring cleaning, your competitors with beautiful apps reap rewards for investing in a strong mobile strategy that delights users every day. Brands with apps that create constant value achieve what every marketer strives for: getting in front of customers in a personal, strategic way every hour of every day. But, there’s good news: it’s not too late for you.
Here are a few examples of brands who invested in a strong mobile strategy and are dominating the casual dining industry: Chick-fil-A, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, to name a few. These brands aren’t leading in fast food because of their food, but because of their seamless mobile ordering and customer loyalty programs that delight users so much, it keeps them craving more. With fully-integrated features and push notifications of deals, these brands make it too easy for customers to keep spending more money within their mobile apps.
These brands’ investment in a strong mobile strategy is working, and they are receiving national recognition for their innovations. On average, orders via mobile were 30 percent greater than in-store orders. This is an incredible example of mobile’s power to turn the normal customer into a loyal brand advocate who’s willing to keep spending money because the experience brings so much value.
“The way to a customer’s heart is much more than a loyalty program. Making customer evangelists is about creating experiences worth talking about.” – Valeria Maltoni, global brand strategy expert and writer for Fast Company
It’s time for brands to go beyond the minimum: a well-built, beautiful mobile app that provides immense value to your users and empowers them to solve problems is your recipe for success.
The 90 percent of consumers who spend their smartphone time in branded mobile apps are using mobile apps to be empowered to make smart, easy decisions. And brands that use apps to empower their users see more success and a larger ROI. Let’s take a look at Walmart’s approach. Back in 2015, the most valuable company on the planet struggled to convince consumers that its retail marketing app was valuable enough for precious home screen real estate. Instead of wasting time, resources and money building an app “just because everyone else was doing it,” Walmart’s team of innovative marketers invested in uncovering its customers pain points, understanding the kind of content and features they want and then using technology to put it all together.
“Customers would come to the stores with the 15 flyers they look through every week to find the best prices on toilet paper,” Helen Vaid, vice president of customer experience at Walmart.com, told Quartz. “We thought, what if Walmart could take away that need to scour the market every time you walked into a store?”
By focusing on a key customer shopping habit, Walmart created a valuable solution for its shoppers. But it doesn’t just end with one successful push; marketers must continuously monitor consumer habits and adapt.
A truly intuitive, successful mobile strategy doesn’t last a month, 6 months or even a year. Technology is constantly becoming more innovative, more secure, more stable while developers are becoming smarter and more efficient. We see it every year at Apple’s annual WWDC conference and Google’s I/O conference. A brand needs a strategic mobile roadmap to truly have a successful, long-term product, and they need expert iOS and Android developers who understand the platform on an extremely technical level to help them build it out.
Related: Developing a Mobile App Roadmap
Walmart has become a mobile powerhouse in the retail industry because of its dedication to developing a strategic roadmap that delights users and empowers customers to solve a pain point. The brand continues to innovate, boasting more than 22 million users of its Savings Catcher app, Walmart Pay and free grocery pickup service, all which generate more than $14 billion in increased revenue from digital alone.
Want to achieve Walmart-level mobile success? Consider partnering with an app development consultancy. A team of expert developers and designers, who are the driving forces the tech industry, can turn a forgotten brand into a mobile industry leader.
Though brands have different reasons for developing a mobile app based on its business, a successful app is the perfect amalgamation of consumer need, business objectives and technological solutions. For a truly successful mobile app, do not waste valuable budget and time finding an offshore team to build a weak product for a cheap price. The dangers of outsourcing your project are so misunderstood that even executives of outsourcing companies are urging brands to stop outsourcing software development projects.
An investment in a mobile marketing tool is for a lifetime. Your brand deserves so much more than a company that will develop an app and say good luck. So whether your brand needs to reconsider its mobile strategy, develop a new mobile app or needs a code audit to uncover why your current app isn’t working, the time is now. Because the longer you wait to invest in a functioning, beautiful, valuable mobile app, the sooner your competitors are becoming mobile leaders.
For more best practices in navigating the mobile app ecosystem, click below!