Remember when the idea of a mobile app was shiny and new? Everyone wanted one, and not having one seemed reason enough to get one. Since then, this must-have technology has started to see waning use in some markets, though. But why? Are mobile apps just not as great as they were once thought to be? Are users bored with the technology?
The culprit is not a flaw in the concept of mobile apps, but rather a missing piece of strategy to make them valuable and sustainable. While there are downward trends in some places, there are positive trends in others. The difference comes down to purpose.
Below I dive into the pitfalls and opportunities of mobile apps including examples of great and not-so-great app experiences. Where does your organization land? It might be time to explore a new mobile app or updates to the one you already have.
3 Common Pitfalls of Mobile Apps
1. Replica of website content
Circling back to the rationale I already mentioned, if you get an app just because everyone’s doing it, you’ll likely struggle to find meaningful content and end up copying a lot of content that’s on your website. Users see right through this. And when their phone storage alerts them again that they’re running low, your app will be the first to go. After all, they can read the same stuff on your website.
Example: Museum apps that share hours of operation, exhibit details, and not much else.
2. No incentive
People are creatures of habit, and to be honest, we can be pretty lazy, too. Without an incentive or perception of true value, users may be more likely to keep clicking through the web pages that they’re used to rather than take the time to download and learn something new.
Example: A park app that contains mostly just trail maps. Repeat visitors learn their favorite trail and have no reason to open the app again.
3. Underutilized features
In addition to the ability to open a native platform with content, mobile apps also open up doors for more opportunities for engagement. Just like other aspects of digital strategy, they require some setup and maintenance. The payoff is worth it. Increasing interactions and enhancing user experience results in users who are more engaged and more likely to buy products, attend events, or support your cause.
Example: A zoo app is used by some park visitors to navigate the exhibits, but push notifications are not being used to engage them during and between visits.
On the flip side, incorporate these factors into your app strategy for higher adoption and usage. Your uses will notice more value and your organization will see ROI and valuable data insights.
4 Advantages of Mobile Apps
This is one of the top drivers of mobile app adoption. A great example is mobile ticketing. Remember the days of having to wait for your tickets to arrive by snail mail, or stand in a long line at the box office? If you planned to sell your tickets and had to show proof of identity to first collect them, this meant an extra trip downtown just for the handoff. Now you can buy, sell, and scan tickets by opening an app. In addition to time saved for all parties involved, ticket vendors also save on costs to produce and distribute physical tickets. Think about the different aspects of your customer experiences. Is there an opportunity to make part of the process more convenient such as way-finding or mobile tickets?
Examples: geo-accurate maps for GPS/way-finding, mobile ticketing, mobile sermon notes, quick access to calendar/registration
2. Unique Content and Enhanced Experiences
You are able to provide additional content and functionality that lives better on a mobile app. When there is exclusive content that enhances your users' experience with your brand, they will be much more compelled to download and explore it.
Examples: audio tours, scavenger hunts, and custom, branded photo frames.
3. Push Your Communication Further
With mobile apps, users are literally carrying your brand around in the palm of their hands. Why not leverage that with relevant, targeted communication? With push notifications, you can send messages that are timely, relevant, and targeted. Segment your audience and send a reminder, or use beacons to have a message appear based on the user’s physical location.
Examples: Notify users of change of event location at a church or share a 10% gift shop discount code when visitors pass through the park entrance.
4. Data Insights
All of these features and possibilities are great, but how do we know what’s working and if it’s worth the investment? The technology used with mobile apps comes with various ways to track users and their interactions. Beacons, for example, operate with a signal that is recognized when a user’s mobile device is within close proximity. In addition to using this to send timely communication, it also populates heat maps that show concentrated traffic, which can be helpful for understanding foot traffic, promoting less visited areas of a park, and more.
Examples: Foot traffic heat maps, response/use of information shared through push notifications only
In summary, mobile apps with a purpose are very much a worthwhile investment for any organizations that have an experiential element to their business. Below are a few common organization types that benefit from mobile apps, but there are many more.
- Aquariums and Zoos
- Shopping Districts
Don’t see your industry or wonder how you could benefit from a mobile app? We'd love to connect.
Now that you know how powerful an app that knows its purpose can be, you’re ready to execute. Well, you’re in luck because executing is what we do best. Let’s explore your goals and begin creating an app experience your audience will love.
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