How Smart Home Devices Are Impacting Mobile App Engagement

According to a new survey we conducted, 24% of smartphone users in the US own a smart home device like an Amazon Echo or Google Home. And with the top publicly traded companies delivering these types of devices — most recently Apple with the HomePod, set for release on February 9 — consumers can buy them from the tech brand they’re loyal to.

Smart home devices are just one element of the voice-enabled revolution though. The technology behind the devices is more ubiquitous. Voice assistants like Siri and Cortana, and even innovative alternatives like Hound by Soundhound, are changing the way people buy using smart devices on the go and, more recently, at home.

With these changes and the growing supply of smart home devices, brands need to consider how they can leverage them as a channel for engagement. And brands with mobile apps need to consider how integrating with them could impact existing mobile app campaigns.

Smart home devices preferred for music listening and "information grabs"

Urgency to investigate potential integration with smart home devices isn’t as pressing for some brands as it is for others. According to our survey, brands with news and music apps should be more focused on integration than, say, brands with ticket ordering and food delivery apps.

Survey Question: To what degree has using your smart home device replaced using your smartphone for the following activities while at home?

  A great deal Somewhat Not at all
Listen to music 58% 36% 6%
Check the weather 50% 44% 6%
Listen to the radio 46% 41% 14%
Add an item to a shopping list 37% 40% 23%
Find out when a TV show or movie is playing 36% 43% 20%
Listen to a short news bulletin 34% 45% 22%
Make a purchase 32% 35% 33%
Order food for delivery or takeout 30% 30% 40%
Listen to an audiobook 28% 40% 32%
Listen to a podcast 26% 41% 34%
Book tickets to a show, movie, or event 25% 33% 42%
Hail a taxi 16% 25% 59%

In many cases, smart home devices are replacing smartphones at least a little for everyday actions. And while it’s easy for brands to say — let’s integrate! — it’s important to consider how integration might impact other engagement channels.

Is integrating with smart home devices good for business?

Brands with mobile apps currently have the ability to initiate engagement with users while they’re at home. For instance, they can send users a push notification to inform them about a news update or promotion. Smart home devices, on the other hand, can only react to users. Also, no visual elements are part of the user experience. These differences create challenges for brands currently monetizing mobile apps with eyeballs instead of ears.

Consider a retailer using a mobile app to drive ecommerce sales. Instead of upselling additional products visually, the retailer would have to upsell audibly if it integrated with a smart home device. After a user added an item to a cart — Alexa, add X to cart — the retailer would have to audibly respond with: Item added to cart. Users who purchased X also purchased Y. Do you want to learn more about Y?

But still, would this audio-based approach generate as much revenue in upsells as a mobile app? Whether it would or not, retailers need to consider how they’ll integrate with smart home devices. After all, according to our survey, 49% of people have used their smart home device for online shopping anywhere from two to ten times.

Question: How many times did you use your smart home device to make a purchase or add an item to your shopping cart?

smart-home-devices-times-used-for-shopping-1.png

While this graph only represents the 25% of people who own smart home devices, these devices are expected to reach 55% of US households by 2022. Which means other industries that use mobile apps to engage users should start thinking about how they’ll approach integration.

Lastly, consider a news organization that publishes content on an owned mobile app. Instead of serving up visual ads throughout an article, the publisher would have to audibly plug their advertisers without disrupting the user experience. They’d also need to generate as much ad revenue from listeners as they do from readers and watchers.

The point is: Smart home devices are a relatively new technology, but they’re already starting to impact how people consume information and purchase products in the comfort of their homes.

As a mobile marketer, will this disrupt how you currently engage with users or complement it?

Methodology

This post is based on a survey that was conducted by Qualtrics on behalf of Localytics in November 2017. The survey collected responses from 1,000 smartphone users based in the United States. There was a fairly even split in women and men, and also a fairly even split in age range.

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