People are spending more and more time with mobile apps, and that includes those that let them buy things. The problem for businesses hoping to break into that increasing app usage is that the number of apps people are using isn't really growing along with the time they're spending using apps.
New changes Google has been making could (and should) mean increased discovery for new and existing apps, and could just lead to that number of apps metric increasing as time goes on. It's going to be challenging to make your business' app stand out in the crowd, so you should know what kind of app content users are gravitating towards. We'll look at that in this article.
Are you getting a significant amount of business through mobile apps so far? If not, what do you think needs to change to make it happen? If so, what are the main ways people are discovering your app and/or the content within? Discuss in the comments.
Nielsen released some research showing significant growth trajectory for the time consumers are spending using apps.
"Over the span of just a few years, the concept of app usage has transformed from a novelty to an essential part of the mobile user experience," the firm says. "With millions of apps now available and more being rolled out every day, there is an app for everyone, regardless of age, race or interest."
"But while marketers and app developers continue to add functionality and robustness to apps, they also must effectively position them to stand out in an increasingly competitive marketplace," it adds. "Despite the increase in choices, the number of apps used is staying the same."
As you may know, Google is now indexing app content in search results. Businesses who follow Google's protocol for app indexing even get the benefit of a ranking signal. It's in your best interest to have an app and to have it indexed. At first, Google was only offering this on Android, but has recently started to index content on iOS, though it's still early days on that. Currently, on Android, anyone can take advantage of app indexing. On iOS, Google is only working with a handful of partners so far, but that will likely open up to everyone else eventually. Luckily, Android has a much bigger piece of the mobile operating system market share since it's on so many different devices from various manufacturers.
With Google's changes, users can also discover your app even if they haven't installed it yet, which is key. They (and others) of course offer app install ads to help you convince more people to get your app on their phone to begin with.
RELATED READING: HOW TO SET UP APP INDEXING FOR RANKING IN GOOGLE
You might want to give this presentation from Google I/O a watch. It's a session called “Smarter user acquisition with App Indexing, AdWords and Google Analytics”.
Here's how Google describes it: "Content discovery on mobile isn’t easy. Luckily, this is a familiar problem to Google. With App Indexing on both iOS and Android, you can engage users organically by surfacing app content in the search results page. And on Android specifically, you can even drive app installs for users who don’t have your app. Google’s smart mobile ads platform gives you access to AdWords, the world’s largest network, to find the right users who will install and engage with your app, plus you can gain insights through Google Analytics install attribution to know where your users came from. Discover Google’s variety of approaches to driving app discovery, growth and engagement in this session."
Even if you can get people to install your app, you face the challenge of getting them to open it and interact with it regularly. Google has been working on some things that can help with that as well.
For one, it now offers app deep linking with Goo.gl. This was announced less than a month ago.
“Once you’ve taken the necessary steps to set up App Indexing for Android and iOS, goo.gl URLs will send users straight to the right page in your app if they have it installed, and everyone else to your website. This will provide additional opportunities for your app users to re-engage with your app,” explained Google software engineer Fabian Schlup. “This feature works for both new short URLs and retroactively, so any existing goo.gl short links to your content will now also direct users to your app.”
You can drive traffic to in-app content through your marketing efforts using such links.
Potentially even more helpful for driving re-engagement from users who have installed your app, is Google Now on Tap. Google announced this at Google I/O. With this feature, users can get to useful content from other apps regardless of what app they're currently using. It's driven by context.
An example of how it works would be pulling a movie review from IMDb if the user is looking at movie content from another app or reservations on OpenTable if they're viewing a restaurant in a different app.
Google says Now on Tap another way to get apps in front of users at the right moment. If you have an app with content that people need to see, well, that applies to you. Luckily, beyond app indexing, there’s nothing else you really have to do to be integrated with Now on Tap. Just have your app indexed by Google.
These are really just potential bonuses of app indexing, but the question remains: what do you need to offer in your app to actually get people to use it and buy from you?
comScore and UPS recently conducted a study looking at what kind of content shoppers find important. The content types are product reviews, Q&A, product and brand videos, and photos submitted of consumers using products. These are good places to start.
Other types of app content shoppers find useful include communities and forums, "trending now" products, the seller's blog content, and podcasts. You might want to think about using some or all of these things in your app. Luckily, most of this stuff is excellent for appearing in search results.
MarketingCharts put together this graph based on the findings.
That study also concluded that 55% of shoppers value consumer and peer reviews when they're searching and selecting products to buy. Detailed product information is the most important fact in the search and selection process it found. Other important components cited include the seller's reputation, return policy, and the use of multiple images or the ability to zoom in on products.
While the above lists what content people value from websites, MarketingCharts notes, "Similar factors are important when shopping via mobile applications. Indeed, product images (54%) and product reviews (53%) are considered the most important retail app features among users, with these followed by relevant search results (50%) and mobile coupons (50%). While the study cautions that 'apps… aren’t a must for every retailer,' 4 in 5 mobile shoppers surveyed reported having used a retailer’s app rather than a browser to access a retailer at some point."
This is all very helpful to know, and can help you make your app more useful to consumers.
Do you expect maintaining a mobile app to have a significant impact on your business? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Images via Nielsen, MarketingCharts