In July 2008, Apple introduced the App Store, and the popularity of the native mobile app development quickly skyrocketed from there. The idea of customizing an application that would sit on user’s home screens was attractive for businesses who wanted to find new ways to connect with their customers and developers who were looking to build the next big thing in technology.
There are many reasons why you’d want to consider building a mobile app today. It’s often more intuitive and engaging for a mobile audience, which in theory should escalate the user experience and increase sales. With everyone being constantly active on their smartphones all day every day, it seems like a no-brainer.
However, while developing a shiny new app may seem like the best way to attract new customers and encourage returning users, it may not be doing as much for your business as you would hope.
In fact, it may be costing you when you consider the following:
1. Decreasing Downloads
Smartphone apps dominate digital media time, but most users aren’t downloading new apps. In fact, the comScore 2017 US Mobile App Report showed that the majority of users responded as downloading zero apps on a monthly basis. No one can argue that people don’t use mobile apps — in fact, it’s quite the opposite. However, it is fair to say that consumers have a low interest in seeking out new apps and adding them to their current collection.
Additionally, while the average user does spend more time on top apps than top mobile websites, the mobile web captures larger audience, which means that a mobile website actually draws more than two times as many unique monthly visits. While native app users seem able to retain a group of loyal users, it’s more likely new users will come across your site on the mobile web.
If you’re looking to build a native mobile app in hopes of increased brand awareness, you might want to consider that today’s users probably won’t discover it through the App Store, and probably won’t be interested in downloading it on the off chance they do.
2. High Barrier to Entry
So, why aren’t people downloading your app? If it’s well designed and serves a crucial purpose, they might consider using it, right? Unfortunately, unless your app is one of the top ten most downloaded and used apps, it probably won’t be getting much attention.
Looking at this top ten list of most downloaded and used apps is where you find most mobile user activity, and it’s saturated in the hands of the largest tech companies with Facebook and Google owning 8 out of 10. Mobile apps apparently have a really high barrier to entry just for downloads, not to mention consistent activity, retention, and ROI.
Smartphone users spend half their time on their #1 most used app, and their top 10 most used apps account for 96 percent of the time they spend on their mobile devices, leaving little room for activity on your app unless it’s something they need or want to use every day. Or, unless you get bought out by a tech giant.
It seems that most people use their phone space for social media, messaging, and entertainment. Unless your company operates in these categories, it’ll be hard to break through.
3. App Retention
Speaking of space, phone storage and memory space create another obstacle for developers. It will probably just as hard to convince users to keep your app on their home screen as it is to convince them to download it in the first place. In fact, every step you make someone perform before they get value out of your app will cost you 1/5 users. This means that from first viewing the page on the app store, installing, and opening the app, you lose an average of 20 percent of users at each of those steps. By the time they’re to the point of signing up and sharing content, only about 20 to 30 percent remain.
Someone deleting your app cancels out the success of a download. Even if you can make your app stand out enough to have someone use it, if you can’t continuously provide value through it, they are likely to delete it in order to clear up space on their phone. According to the comScore report, users will delete an app from their home screen just because they don’t like the look of the logo, so be prepared to meet the expectations of some very picky prospects if you do build a native mobile app.
There are many reasons a native mobile app can be valuable for businesses who want to provide a platform for their users to engage on a daily basis. If you have the time and resources to develop an app and feel you have the right audience where it would be lucrative, then it has the potential to bring in new users and impact business goals. However, it’s getting harder and harder to create an app that impresses users. Instead, they’re more likely to stay loyal to a few favorites that operate under the names of major brands.
So, what’s the best option to reach your mobile users in 2017? Responsive web design ensures that no matter what device a user is on, your website loads quickly, functions efficiently, and looks good. This way, you can maintain one website that performs well for every user without wasting time or money on a product that few will make the effort to download or keep. Additionally, progressive web apps are an increasingly popular way to merge the best aspects of web applications and native apps.
Or, you just need to come up with the next Uber or Snapchat, since they seem to be doing pretty well.