Welcome to the Future of Apps - It’s About to Get Personal

How well do you think you know your app users?

We recently asked this question to companies for whom mobile is a critical part of their business. A resounding 94 percent told us they are confident that they know their users.

But, it turns out that your app users want you to get to know them a whole lot more.

In fact, they want you to get personal, and they don’t mind exchanging data with you about who they are, where they are and what they want to do if it means they get a richer, more functional app experience in return. Which, for you, equates to great app engagement and retention throughout the user lifecycle.

Before I get into the specifics of what your users really want from apps in the future (and by the way, they fully expect apps to play a growing and central role in their digitally-connected lives), I want to first share some facts we recently learned by commissioning an independent research firm to study the behaviors and desires of 1,000 app users.

What we learned is that mobile users have limited attention spans, often jumping from app to app. It’s no wonder since there are literally millions of apps out there vying for their attention. This jives with our own data, which found that 25 percent of apps are only used one time and that 58 percent of users will churn in the first 30 days of using an app, and 75 percent will leave within the first three months.)


Today’s Attention-Challenged Mobile Users

Let’s take a look at the most common characteristics of today’s app users:

Impulsive: The most prolific behavior observed was “app snacking,” where people log several short sessions within several apps in one day. This behavior lends itself to a wide variety of app categories. For instance, 66 percent of respondents “snack” on social networking apps rather than spend longer sessions in them during concentrated parts of the day.

Mobile Users Snack More Often


Fickle: Mobile users said they will try a new app on average 4.5 times before deciding to stop using it.

Number of Times People Try New Apps Before Stopping

The top two reasons why people stop using apps are because they became bored with the app or they simply didn’t need it any more. In other words, apps stop providing value or entertainment, and people stop paying attention to them.

Top 5 Reasons People Stop Using Apps

Hyperactive: The average user is regularly active across a range of apps, launching them on average 15 times a day and consistently using an average of 18 apps per month.

Number of App Used Regularly


What Mobile Users Want In The Future

Apps are most definitely here to stay. In fact, 92 percent of respondents told us they plan to use apps more or the same than they do today. The driving force behind this is they believe apps will help them manage and connect all the digital elements in their lives - from their homes and workplaces to their cars, travel and entertainment needs.

Do People Foresee Using Apps More or Less?

But there’s a very clear thread through the study that tells us users want a lot more from their apps. In short, they don’t want the same, generic experience as the next person. App users of the future are demanding more personalized app content and marketing messages, tailored to their specific behavior, location and intentions.

What People Want from Apps in the Future

Let’s take a closer look at the specific elements of personalization users want most:

Most Requested Forms of Personalization

The foundation for this journey to app personalization is having sufficient rich data and insights to apply to marketing campaigns, so you can deliver compelling content and experiences that keep giving your users reasons to launch and engage with your apps time and again.

The second part requires making app content more fluidly dynamic so that each and every user is served only the information that’s most relevant to his or her specific behaviors, interests, location and intentions at their specific stage in the user lifecycle.

The final and most powerful part will be tying this all together seamlessly and automatically across all channels so that, whether we are online, on-the-go, or in-store, the app plays a pivotal role in enriching the whole brand experience.


Let’s Get Personal

I’ve been convinced for a long time that the future of apps is personalized, and I’m excited that our new research firmly corroborates this point of view.

Returning to the question that I started with, how well do you really know your users? Do you know them well enough to deliver on their resounding requests for personalization? Here are some questions to ask yourself to help gauge your level of knowledge:

  • Are you able to meet users’ expectations for seamless cross-channel experiences?
  • Are you sending personalized push notifications to individuals based on their behaviors or preferences
  • Are you leveraging machine learning to help make sense of the massive amount of data you can collect about your users?

If you’ve answered no to any of these questions, then there’s work to be done - but it’s necessary to not only combat the attention-challenged behaviors of today’s mobile users but also to confidently secure the hearts and minds of tomorrow’s.

Bottom line: if apps are central to your business’ growth plans, now’s the time to figure out how to get a whole lot more personal with your users.