By: Vivian Pham, Director of Marketing & Client Services for Blue Calypso
Brands and retailers thinking about building a mobile app to engage with customers may want to reconsider. Although consumers are spending a majority of their digital media time on smartphone apps, they are downloading less new apps than before. According to the 2017 U.S Mobile Apps Report just released by comScore, 87% of time spent on mobile is spent on mobile apps compared to just 13% on mobile web. Yet the report shows that a majority of smartphone users download zero new apps in a month. Furthermore, app discovery is down across several channels including the app store, word-of-mouth and advertising.
ComScore found that half of all digital media time spent occurs in smartphone apps with the average user spending 2.3 hours a day using mobile apps. This may sound promising for anyone looking to release a new app, but it’s important to note that this activity is concentrated to only a handful of apps. Most app users across all age segments access 20 or fewer apps in a month with over half the overall time spent using apps being spent on their number one most used app and nearly all the overall time spent using apps being spent only in their top 10 most-used apps. What this indicates is that the app market is showing signs of saturation and it is only going to become harder and harder for new apps to penetrate this space and gain any adoption.
This begs the argument that brands and retailers looking to revolutionize their customer engagement via mobile should not be focusing on apps, but rather a mobile web experience where customers can get the same immersive mobile experience without actually having to download an app. A mobile microsite experience can offer nearly all the same features and functionality of a mobile app without the barriers to adoption that many apps now face. Customers can engage with things such as loyalty programs, reward points, mobile videos, mobile coupons, mobile surveys and more, as long as the proper amount of awareness is in place with a compelling enough call to action.
Many brands are already starting to figure this out and have seen success directing their customers to an interactive mobile microsite via an initial SMS engagement. Lowe’s, for example, offers their gardening customers a unique mobile “My Yard” experience anytime they text a plant code to their short code for plant specific details. The call-to-action can be found on the plant tag of any Lowes branded plant. Once a customer texts in they will receive a link to the plant details page for that specific plant and can save the plant into their “My Yard” for future reference. They’ll have the option to subscribe to SMS plant care updates on any plants they’ve saved and also have access to plenty of other features such as a picture gallery and a plant tag recognition search feature.
Brands and retailers should also keep in mind, that smartphone home screens aren’t just for apps anymore. Users can actually pin mobile microsites to their home screen for quick one-tap access. They simply need to select the option to “Add to Home Screen”, choose a name for the icon and then that icon will show up on the home screen alongside all their current apps from that point on.
Still not convinced? According to the report, most smartphone users not only have little interest in downloading new apps, but they are often deleting apps they already have on their devices with the main reasons being that they just weren’t using them, they wanted to declutter their phones and they needed more storage space. A lonely place referred to as the “App Graveyard”. This only further supports the suggestion that brands looking to provide a meaningful mobile engagement experience for their customers should seriously consider doing so through a mobile microsite rather than a mobile app that will take up storage on their customers’ mobile devices.
The full report is available from comScore’s website here.