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6 common reasons apps fail, and how to make yours successful

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Brant Williams

VP Americas

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Like most brands, you’ve probably developed, or are planning to develop a mobile app to promote your business and improve your customer experience.

You’re probably also wondering how to make your app stand out in a crowded marketplace, when we know that users drop as many as 24% of apps after just one use, and a typical Android app can lose 75% of its users within three days.

Last week I talked about the reasons for investing in a company app, and the challenges developers are facing. Let’s take a closer look now at why your app might not be getting the cut through you need, and practical solutions for building a successful mobile engagement strategy.

Six common reasons apps fail

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Developing an app is a sizeable investment of company time and resources - learning from the mistakes of others can be paramount to success. The reasons apps fail are numerous, but these six key causes tend to be most common:

  1. No Unique Selling Point (USP)In a crowded market, an app must stand out and be exemplary in some way. If it isn’t, then it’s the same as dozens of others. Customers often download and try many, only to delete them until they find one they like.

  2. Poor User Experience (UX)Hard-to-use menus, poor app onboarding, slow load times, and irrelevant registration questions are a few of the UX problems that people complain about constantly yet manage to crop up time and again.

  3. Technical FlawsToo often, apps are poorly tested before release, with over 44 per cent of errors reported by users, instead of the development team. And those users blame the brand for shoddy work.

  4. Battery DrainA third of users dropped an app because of excess battery drain.

  5. Too Many Messages52 percent of users complain that in-app messages are annoying. And 32 percent said they would delete the app if they received more than six notifications in a week. Paradoxically, the correct use of push notifications is heavily linked to user retention. Messaging can be a great asset or a serious risk if used unwisely.

  6. Privacy and Security ConcernsThis is an increasingly sore subject and poorly addressed by too many apps. When users are asked to share their locations or unnecessary social media details, they will often delete the app without even trying it.

These pain points are a big part of the app fatigue that many smartphone users are suffering from today.

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Why continue to invest in app development?

After failing to see a return on their marketing dollars, many organizations have simply abandoned their app strategies, with Gartner predicting that 20 per cent of brands will abandon their apps by 2019.

There are compelling reasons to continue to build out a build focussed strategy. Last year was the first time mobile was used more than desktop to view the web, and it’s forecast there’ll be more than 6 billion smartphone users by 2020, more than 75% of the world’s population. Apps will continue to grow in popularity, and the successful ones will generate substantial revenue. The goals of brand loyalty and monetization will draw many to continue to pour money into app development.

What makes an application successful?

Despite its vast size, just a few brands dominate the app market. These giants in social media, entertainment, and communication include Facebook, YouTube, and Google.

In a recent survey of mobile users, most were found to have spent 85 percent of their time using only five apps.

Uber has become a household name even to those who don’t use it. The speed of its success is based on its well-designed and simple-to-use app, which now sits on an estimated 20 percent of all US Android phones.

Demonstrating that a well-built app can succeed even in a narrow interest group, Guitar Tuna has been downloaded over 20 million times. It has become the most popular guitar-tuning app available. It’s easy to use, has exciting visuals and does what it claims, without fuss or errors.

United Airlines has developed an app that users like for its practical value. Passengers are notified of any changes to flight times or departure gates. Simple but effective.

If your app doesn’t constantly engage (e.g. Facebook, Instagram), deliver useful content (e.g. YouTube, Netflix), or provide constant utility (e.g. Uber, Online banking apps), chances are that users may download it out of curiosity but use it only once.

Outwardly, designing a successful app or fixing an existing one might appear straightforward. Unfortunately, a lot more is involved than avoiding common pitfalls. Marketing, ongoing research, and product evolution are just a few of the essential ingredients. You also need to be completely user-focussed and understand the broader value your app can deliver.

Does an alternative exist?

Three graphics of phones with apps

Mobile apps as an end point are a great channel for business development and improved customer service. As a standalone tool, though, it’s difficult to justify the development cost of an enterprise mobile application without taking a broader view of the communication ecosystem they’re enabling.

The real value of a mobile app is the seamless connection it can create between your internal systems of record (ERP, CRM, accounting, etc) and your target audience – customers, staff and other stakeholders.

Next week I’ll give you a deeper explanation of the full value of your communications ecosystems, what it means to directly interface your app with your systems of record, and how you can use these to immediately inspire action. Stay tuned!

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