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There are more than five million mobile apps, yet consumers only download a tiny fraction of them, and regularly use no more than 20 or 30 a month. Mobile users favor them over websites and expect them to be fast, comprehensive, and easy to use.

How big is the mobile app retail market?

According to Forrester Analytics, U.S. shoppers are expected to make $118 billion in retail purchases through their smartphones in 2018, up from $13 billion in 2013. Deloitte says “Brands view apps as a golden opportunity to communicate directly with consumers and in a more meaningful, long term manner. When brands get it right, the returns can be huge.” Getting it right means the apps are built with the user’s needs in mind – they have real functionality, they solve a problem, and they provide features that are genuinely meaningful. 

But most are getting it wrong.

An online survey of 1,000 brand app users by WillowTree generated these key findings:

  • Users say only half of brand apps turn out to be useful because most did not address their needs.
  • Half of users delete the app after just one use because say the experience was such a poor one.
  • Negative brand app experiences lead people to make fewer purchases.

The big problem for businesses is most consumers avoid brand apps because they have learned to see them as nothing more than a one-way marketing tool.

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