What is the secret recipe for creating an app that users open day after day? We used our Technographics® 360 methodology, which combines data sourced from the same group of individuals via behavioral tracking, online surveys, and our market research online community to answer this frequently asked question.
What did we do?
First, we asked participants questions about a randomly selected app they use, including how they discovered the app and how strongly they agreed with statements regarding specific app attributes, such as whether it was easy to navigate. Next, we took the responses for each participant and merged them with their behavior on that particular app. Finally, we engaged our participants in a qualitative project to expose the reasons behind our results.
This powerful approach allowed us to align a single participant’s behavior, personal characteristics, and attitudes to uncover the key attributes that lead to increased app usage. Perhaps not surprisingly, we found that apps generate varying levels of engagement simply due to the type of app they are: Consumers access gaming apps more frequently than they access travel apps, for example. So we quantified and removed the effects of app type and other static characteristics that influence usage. This allowed us to isolate the relationship between users’ opinions of app features and their engagement with that app.
Do you measure the success of your app? And if so, how do you define success?
App success depends on both the type of app and the purpose of an app; in general, we can't measure success just by counting the number of downloads or looking at the time spent with the app. But for certain apps, such as communication, dating, games, movies, music, news/media, social networking, and sports, it's easier to define success: The more engaged a user is, the better.
To help marketing leaders and app providers evaluate and benchmark these apps as consumers embrace the mobile mind shift, Forrester has created the App Engagement Index. We use actual smartphone behavior collected from more than 3,000 US and UK smartphone owners who have agreed to supply their data — permitting precise usage analysis at a detailed level.* The Index analyzes every app used by more than 2% of the panelists and rates its user engagement and relative performance across four metrics:
The Index combines these metrics, scores each app from zero (not engaging at all) to 1,000 (the maximum possible engagement), and places it on a spectrum of four segments: addicting, engaging, enticing, and intriguing.
Behavior tracking data is the new black. It is a type of big data that can help you better understand your target consumers — everything from the amount of time they spend on each social media outlet to their most popular time of day to visit shopping websites. Compared with other data sources, it allows you to capture actions at a very detailed level with precision, eliminating measurement errors by analyzing usage of what consumers do, not what they say they do.
In our recent publication, Mobile Behavioral Data: UK, we analyzed Forrester's UK Consumer Technographics® Behavioral Study, November 2013 to March 2014, and found that:
WhatsAppkeeps UK smartphone owners engaged the longest. Forty-one percent of UK adults use the app for just over 8 hours per month (or about 2 hours per week). That is longer user engagement than for any of the other top 10 most popular apps that UK consumers use on their smartphone; this includes Facebook, the most popular app, which keeps smartphone users engaged for a little over 90 minutes per week.
Young UK smartphone owners are most likely to use finance/banking apps. More than half of 18- to 24-year-old UK smartphone owners use finance/banking apps, like the Lloyds Bank app and the NatWest app. These youngsters show the highest adoption of finance/banking apps in the UK, and rates decline with age; about 40% of 25- to 44-year-olds and 34% of 45- to 54-year-olds use finance/banking apps.
More than two years ago, Westpac – a bank in New Zealand – rolled out its “Cash Tank” feature for mobile bankers. Suddenly, customers could view key information like account balances without needing to log in (needless to say, it was and is opt-in-only). This new mobile banking feature immediately made a splash and was hailed as a small-but-impressive innovation. Other banks – such as Société Générale in France and Bank of the West in the US – offer similar pre-login information features.
This led folks like me to wonder: How might digital teams at banks take pre-login information further or make it even better?
Great digital strategy is often about pushing the limits – and not just in big ways. So Citi’s recent update to its smartphone apps is noteworthy for the bank’s decision to push the idea of pre-login information even further with Citi Mobile Snapshot. Citi customers who bank via their mobile phones can view not only balances but recent transactions without the hassle of logging in.
We spoke with Andres Wolberg-Stok, Global Head of Emerging Platforms and Services who shared with us a diagram that demonstrates the evolution of its mobile banking effort before and after Citi Mobile Snapshot (see below).
I recently “overheard” a member of our market research online community (MROC) say, “I treat my smartphone like my child and carry it everywhere I go.” It’s official: Smartphones have replaced children. Not really, but the statement speaks to the way that consumers have changed their thinking and behavior because of mobile devices. The rapid adoption and dominant presence of mobile devices speaks to their importance in consumers' daily lives.
As part of our effort to develop forward-thinking research using innovative approaches, Forrester is collecting behavioral data by tracking consumers' activities on smartphones and tablets. By using a passive tracking technology, we now have a detailed, inside look into what consumers are doing on their smartphones and tablets and when they're doing it. Preliminary results have shown some surprising (and not so surprising) data insights.