Adobe Exec: Quit Focusing on App Installs

opinionThe following is an exclusive guest contributed post from Matt Asay, vice president of mobile for Adobe Marketing Cloud.

In the early days of the mobile explosion, marketers rushed to launch their mobile apps. The result has been an app graveyard of epic proportions. Marketers cried, “I have subpar mobile apps — in fact, way too many subpar apps!” For those with marginally successful launches, it became a matter of, “I have a productive app, but I don’t have many users. How do I obtain more?”

While that focus on mobile apps was initially understandable, numerous studies as of late — including a study from Nomura — have prompted headlines boldly stating that the app boom has busted. With Facebook owning 62 percent of apps downloaded, what’s left for other brands?

To be frank, apps installs do not really matter. Brands must view mobile as a funnel. Achieving the top-five mobile app status should not be the goal. What matters most is how you strategically guide customers across mobile properties, to a point where a loyal base of users will help drive a disproportionate amount of revenue. What matters is delivering an experience that’s intuitive of how your audience engages across mobile.

Forget all the app hype; think web too

Adobe surveyed 1,000 U.S. consumers on their experience with mobile banking. When asked how important certain channels were, 50 percent of respondents stated that the app was key in selecting a new institution; however, 54% cited the mobile web experience. In retail, when consumers are ready to buy, 43% prefer mobile web while 57% gravitate towards the app.

What do these numbers show? It tells us that mobile web is not irrelevant; apps are simply the shiny object that gets an undue amount of mindshare.

Understand that mobile web will help you cast a wide net for initial engagement, and your app will help you nurture the most loyal users. The job of an app should be slated towards actual revenue generation, and when engaged properly, your most active customers will help drive significant mobile dollars. Brands just need to ensure that the two channels work together.

Focus on capturing moments, not volume

Unless you are in the business of social media or mobile messaging, your users aren’t going to spend a great deal of time on your mobile properties, and that’s okay.

Your challenge is to figure out how you strategically insert your brand (and the service being provided) into a devoted customer’s everyday life, during the moment of need.

Take the airline industry; fliers don’t spend hours on the app. Every so often, you might log on to look at your loyalty program balance or maybe even book a flight. In my own personal experience, several airlines have made the experience very clean; I’ve began to log onto the apps more regularly. I’m the perfect candidate for them to nurture more purchasing behavior; a good promotion or partner offer could easily nudge things in that direction.

Taking this a step further, the big opportunity for many mobile brands is in merging the physical and digital experience. Given that smartphones travel with the user, it’s the ideal platform for this.

During the last holiday shopping season, we saw app features that allow you to take a photo of any item (maybe it’s the shoes your friend has on), and the app recommends similar options for you to purchase online or in-store. Earlier when we talked about being there for your customers during the exact moment of need, this is one of the best ways to accomplish that. It creates a very engaging experience for your loyal base.

When it comes to mobile, it’s natural to be distracted by download metrics or the desire to crack a top apps list. However, that could ultimately distract from driving revenues – be it directly or indirectly. The experience brands deliver should definitely be stacked against the best-in-mobile (be it Instagram or Uber), but it serves no good purpose to compare user base numbers. When done correctly with the right strategy in place, less can really be more.