Debunking 8 Persistent Mobile Myths

cobwebs on phone

This post is a deep-dive based on Localytics CEO Raj Aggarwal's article in MediaPost.

Mobile may not be new, but for many, it is still uncharted territory, overrun with misconceptions. Mobile behaviors are evolving, and what we once thought were certainties are now changing.

So which assumptions should you steer clear of when creating, launching and optimizing your mobile solution, be it an app, mobile-specific site or responsive site? In this post, we highlight eight common mobile myths that need to be retired in an effort to clear the way for what works.


1. App downloads are the best success metric

Nope. Let’s not get off on the wrong foot – app downloads are important, but around here, we often refer to them as an empty metric. Why? Because downloads signal one-time users, not repeat usage. Too often brands judge the effectiveness of an acquisition campaign on downloads alone, but not all downloads turn into users. Downloads don’t show the long-term value of mobile users to your business, and you need additional analytics to drive and measure engagement, like:

  • MAUs
  • Sessions
  • Session length
  • Retention


2. MAUs are a pointless metric

Regardless of your app type or your industry, no two users are going to have the same recurring usage pattern. MAUs are a necessary benchmark to understanding growth beyond just downloads and knowing if your users aren't coming back month over month.Having a metric on-hand that represents how many users you have and who your users are means you can then learn more about their in-app behavior and improve your app accordingly. Say in a given situation you're looking at four app screen views – is it better to have four users that each viewed one screen, or one user who viewed all four? You need this information to decide what behavior matters more to your brand in evaluating success.


3. The only way to see mobile revenue is to launch a paid-for app

Fewer and fewer brands are launching paid-for apps, because unless you already have extensive brand recognition and trust, launching a paid app probably won’t attract users. Today it's almost a guarantee that there are a multitude of unpaid alternatives to your app. And while these tend to be of lower quality and might not offer everything you do, when faced with the option, a user is more likely to choose a free model.

With the decline in revenue from paid-for models, there's been a rise in revenue from alternative methods like in-app purchasing, mCommerce, and proximity payments. In 2013, 71% of App Store revenue was from in-app purchases, and by 2016, mCommerce and proximity payments will be worth $160 billion combined, far surpassing paid-for generated revenue. So rethink your plan and decide which path will see a bigger return.


4. Apps = less

The myth that apps offer less than responsive or mobile-specific sites is based in the idea that all mobile solutions serve the same purpose and function the same way. An app is a piece of software designed to perform a task. At the heart of it, apps serve a different function than websites (at least for now – for more on the trend of “appification,” check out this piece from Raj Aggarwal). There’s no need to cut things from your mobile solution, but rather, think of it as a chance to add elements your users will love that could only work in an app. Since 80% of mobile time is spent in apps, there’s a real opportunity to add to and advance apps.


5. You should have a stand-alone strategy for mobile

Should your mobile strategy address what mobile users are demanding? Of course! Mobile users are looking for a streamlined and efficient experience that meets their expectations. But that doesn’t mean your mobile app or site should be built as a stand-alone channel. Mobile should work as part of your greater business plan. If a prospect visits your website, downloads your app, and visits your brick-and-mortar store, you want to make sure the mobile piece of that is in line with your other initiatives. By meeting mobile user expectations and optimizing your app to serve your brand’s ongoing goals, you can (and should) use your mobile channel as a piece of the larger strategy puzzle. We've written about this concept in detail here and here.


6. You don’t need a strong analytics foundation to run great app marketing

Running blind campaigns isn’t the way to advance your app, and is a disservice to the mobile investment your brand has made. Often times, businesses skip over the analytics portion in order to get to the action: the marketing. But in reality, tracking and analyzing key app engagement metrics is your absolute best bet in creating effective app marketing. Without that foundation, mobile marketing is done for the sake of keeping up with the crowd, not to serve a greater revenue purpose for your company.


7. Lifetime Value (LTV) can only be measured by revenue

Even if your business model doesn’t include in-app purchases, you can still attach quantifiable value to each user and define your own ROI.

  • Articles read
  • Social shares
  • Friends or followers
  • Or screens viewed

can all be non-monetary measures of LTV. Depending on your app type, you may even want to measure customer lifetime value in terms of pounds lost, concepts mastered or minutes in REM sleep.

The value you derive from your users should align with your mobile goals and your greater business plan: media publishers are going to have inherently different goals than eCommerce companies.


8. Web marketing tools are good enough for mobile marketing

Web analytics and marketing platforms are everywhere, and rightfully so; they fulfill a real need marketers have today. But they aren’t adequate solutions for mobile analytics, and they certainly don’t offer the necessary mobile marketing capabilities. However, there are mobile marketing tactics, techniques and tools available to optimize your efforts and grow long-term, it’s merely a matter of researching to find what suits you (of course, we’re partial to the Localytics marketing tools, which you can learn more about here).


The More You Know

Use this new knowledge to power your mobile efforts – once you’ve waded through the noise, know that you do have at your disposal the keys to success.

Have any other mobile myths we might have missed? What have you found to be true or untrue in your experience? Inquiring minds want to know!