In our increasingly mobile-first world, brands already know how important it is to build an app and offer a fantastic user experience. A great app should encourage brand interaction and keep customers coming back. But... what if they stop coming back?

Published
March 2015
Topics

Google and Ipsos conducted research exploring the common phenomenon of downloaded apps simply being forgotten by people. The study looked at how frequently people forget about the apps they've installed, how keen people are to re-engage with forgotten apps and how brands can achieve re-engagement.

The survey included 1,200 consumers and apps spanning three categories — shopping, restaurants and takeaways, and travel and holidays. The research offers valuable insights for mobile marketers hoping to successfully produce ongoing app engagement.

The diagnosis: we're a nation of 'app-nesia' sufferers.

One in five apps are installed and then forgotten by users. Of the three sectors analysed, the apps that are most likely to be forgotten are those relating to travel and holidays.

However, the vital signs are still good.

Apps remain an important part of our digital existence, with 47% of people preferring to use an app when they want information quickly, compared to 17% who prefer a mobile site. In contrast to an m-site, an app is perceived as simpler, quicker and more personalised. It is also seen to be useful for fast transactional tasks. Key findings include:

  • For simplicity of navigation, 50% prefer an app but 31% prefer a mobile website
  • In terms of speed of loading, 46% believe an app is quicker while 29% say an m-site would win
  • When it comes to ease of use, 51% prefer installed apps because logins are pre-entered, but 15% would rather use an m-site based on concerns they'd have to re-enter login details in the app

During category-specific search behaviours, nearly half of participants said that they would prefer to link to an app, while only a bit more than a third said they would prefer a link to a mobile website. Of course an app is a complement to and not a substitute for an optimised mobile site. When users want to compare options, gather information or go into greater depth, a mobile website comes into its own and is a top priority.

It pays to give apps a healthy start in life.

Motivations for downloading apps differ according to category. For restaurant apps, the motivation tends to be around receiving discounts and rewards. The leading reason that people download travel apps is because they've been recommended. As for shopping apps, consumers tend to download these when they regularly use or interact with the company or brand.

Never fear, a cure is here.

The research shows the apps that people remember and those that they forget were initially downloaded for similar reasons. So if the forgotten app is already a good one, brands have an opportunity to remind people about their relevance.

The apps that people remember and those that they forget were initially downloaded for similar reasons. So if the forgotten app is a good one, brands have an opportunity to remind people about their relevance.

For example, nine in ten of those who have forgotten travel and holiday and shopping apps would be open to using them again.

The most common driver for people to take up a forgotten app again is talking to friends or families about the apps they use. Beyond that, businesses can take advantage of techniques to give consumers timely reminders. Push notifications are one such common technique but the big opportunities are for marketers to ensure apps appear in organic search results, and linking search ads and results to relevant pages in apps is another terrific and under-used option available to marketers.

In fact, the research also showed there's strong interest in being directed to a pre-installed app in mobile search results — especially among those who've forgotten they have apps installed.

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