10 Things You're Doing Wrong in Your App, and How to Fix Them for the New Year

 

Note: This post was originally published in January of 2016, but has been updated to include new information and best practices.

 

Figuring out all the moving pieces of having a killer app can be difficult. There are so many options to consider when it comes to workflow and UX that it’s easy to forget about all the other elements that play into success. If you find yourself struggling to figure out why your app is under performing, or just looking for direction on how to improve, read on to find key mistakes you may be making in your app:

1. You Don’t Have an Onboarding Process (or at Least Not a Good One):

Having a solid app onboarding process is critical for promoting a strong relationship with users from the get go. When a user launches your app for the first time, there should be clear cut instructions on how to use it through visual, creative screenshots that highlight key features and benefits of your app. If done impactfully, the onboarding process is also a perfect opportunity to convince users to opt in for push messaging and begin customizing the user experience based on their actions. Onboarding is your chance to prove your value to the user, and set the tone for your relationship moving forward. Without one, you risk them never learning how to use your app properly, having a bad experience, or simply exiting the app and never returning again. 

Onboarding Done Right: Duolingo, the language learning app, does a great job at onboarding new users by asking how advanced they are in the particular language. By acquiring this information, they’re then able to customize the language learning experience based on the individual’s needs.

 

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2. Your App is Not Part of a Cross-Channel Strategy:

We live in an increasingly connected world, seamlessly moving between different platforms and devices without missing a beat. It’s become almost second nature to us, which is why your app needs to facilitate this process if you want users to remain engaged. How do you do this? By implementing a cross-channel strategy. Any actions taken in one channel should appear across all others to create a seamless transition and more personalized interaction. For example, when users move between your website or brick-and-mortar store to your app, their consumed content and purchase history be used to personalize their mobile experience. In addition, as users interact with you across several devices (iPad, Xbox, smartphone), their experience should not waiver.

Cross-Channel Done Right: Amazon does a fantastic job at allowing you to toggle between their website and app with all your relative data intact. Any behaviors taken in one channel will appear across the others to create one consistent experience.  

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3. Your App Has a Laborious Registration Process:

App users crave simplicity, which is why more often than not they’ll opt to sign-in via their Facebook account than be forced to fill out a lengthy sign-up form. It’s easy and eliminates extra steps. Apps that recognize this and minimize the barriers to signing up by incorporating social sign-ons can become very sticky.

Registration process done right: Kayak integrates with both Facebook and Google for easy login at the click of a button.

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4. Your App Doesn’t Easily Connect to Other Apps:

Another way to boost the stickiness of your app is by building integrations with other complementary apps. While you don’t need to connect your app to everything, there are many other apps that could nicely supplement your brand’s mobile experience. Much like how SnapChat connects with your contacts to find friends, or ClassPass connects to Google Calendar to add classes you’ve signed up for, best-in-class apps try and connect to as many applicable platforms as possible to promote uninterrupted integration with your daily life. 

App Connectivity Done Right: SnapChat’s ability to pull in your smartphone’s contacts so that you’re easily able to add them as friends on the social platform.

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5. Your App Doesn’t Provide a Individualized Experience:

Apps that cater to their users needs and preferences keep people coming back for more. While points three and four touch on the importance of integrating with your users’ lives, personalization spans even further to create a fully customizable experience for each user. Much like Uber’s ability to know your location upon launch of the app, your app should capture key information about each user and use it to tailor their experience accordingly. So, make sure you’re monitoring in-app behavior closely, and feeding users with content that’s relevant  to them. 

Personalization Done Right: Google Maps pulls in information about your destination that impacts you. In the below example, they were able to warn me that my desired destination won’t be open when I’m set to arrive, allowing me to change my plans and saving me a lot of headache.

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6. You’re not tapping into location-based marketing

Location-based marketing is so hot right now, and rightfully so. Mobile has become the first-screen preference for a growing number of people, and they’re demanding information in real-time, based off where they are.

Thanks to geofences, mobile apps are able to take advantage of location marketing in many ways. Geofences allow apps to collect valuable information about users who frequent or have visited a particular location. This key information can help guide your mobile marketing campaigns. Below are a few examples:

  • A retail store can send a geo push notification with an exclusive offer to customers who pass by their store
  • A sports team can customize their app interface for any users who are at the stadium for the game
  • A airline app can send users a push notification with check-in and boarding pass information when they arrive at the airport

Here’s more information about Places and geo-push best practices.

Geopush done right: Sephora reminded me of a gift card I had yet to use right as I passed by their store. Needless to say, I went in and spent well beyond the gift card amount.

 

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7. You haven’t started using rich push

With the launch of iOs 10 last fall, the ability to send rich push to iPhone users became widely available. What is rich push? A push notification that includes rich media such as an image, gif, or video. It grants mobile app marketers the ability to engage with their audience in a much more meaningful way beyond boring text.

I predict a rich push takeover in 2017. Over the next couple of months, more and more apps will adopt and start utilizing rich push. And why wouldn’t they, when we as marketers know that images and videos are much more engaging than standard text. My advice? Start using the technology now. Not only will it give you a leg up on the competition, but it will allow you to figure out your strategy and be smooth sailing before your competitors come around.

Rich push done right: Bands In Town lets fans of The Biebs know that he's coming back to town so they can snag tickets before it sells out. 

 

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8. Your App Is a Replica of Your Website:

Arguably the most detrimental mistake you can make with your app is creating it based off of a website design. This is because apps are distinctly different than websites, and should be designed with this notion in mind. When a user launches an app, they’re expecting a sleek UI that’s both straight-forward,task oriented,and intuitive. Don’t try and squeeze your website into an app! Instead, make them complement each other

 

9. Your App Has Poor Functionality:

Users expect a lot from apps, and this undoubtedly includes the functionality. If your app is slow, glitchy, or confusing, don’t expect to retain users. Additionally, the display of your app is extremely important. There are many considerations when it comes to screen orientation, data flow, and using media such as video to give your users the experience they desire. Lastly, if you’re bombarding users with intrusive ads or untargeted messaging that disrupt their experience, don’t expect them to return. Instead, focus on fixing the bugs and fine tuning the experience you’re providing users. 

 

10. You Have No Marketing Strategy for Your App:

In addition to having a go-to-market strategy, you need to have a full blown marketing strategy on how you’re going to acquire, engage, and retain users. Since your app is already live, chances are you’ve run some acquisition campaigns. For the purpose of this blog we’re going to focus on the engagement and retention aspects of your app marketing strategy.  

Since about 25% of users abandon an app after only using it once, figuring out how to retain users is crucial to your app’s survival. Having an app marketing strategy that centers around personalized push and in-app messaging is a surefire way to combat this. You do this by paying close attention to user data, and tailoring messages to them based on past actions taken in the app (e.g. content consumed, purchases made). Push messaging is extremely impactful when done right, boosting retention over 3x and conversions over 54%. It also does a great job of drawing users back to the app. To become a pro at push messaging, here’s everything you need to know on the subject.

 

Roadmap Moving Forward: Building a Framework to Address The Issues

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed after reading the above, don’t worry - now that you know which pitfalls to avoid, you can prioritize your app optimizations accordingly. Begin by addressing issues you can tackle immediately, versus those that will take more time and effort. For example, are there small fixes you can make to the workflow and overall functionality? Do you have access to the data you need to optimize accordingly or do you need to invest in a mobile engagement platform? There are always things both big and small you can do to better your app, so pay attention to the data and industry trends for your next move.

What are some things you’ve fixed with your app?

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