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.
While Malaysia's tech services market is mature compared with other fast growing ASEAN markets like Indonesia, it remains very fragmented. Some vendors also tout capabilities in technology services that fall outside of their core competencies and for which they have not yet developed a strong track record. The fast-rising digital expectations of business stakeholders are making it increasingly difficult for client organizations to find the right partner for their requirements. In a new report, my colleague Zhi Ying Ng and I provide a detailed analysis of the leading consulting and technology service providers in Malaysia. Here are a few high-level recommendations when choosing a service provider in Malaysia:
Reset your expectations when engaging with local service providers. Organizations looking to expand in Malaysia will find it beneficial to tap into these providers' local knowledge and experience. However, companies looking for sophisticated skills — like those related to enterprise applications — should be aware that providers might lack experience even though they claim otherwise. As such, it is crucial that enterprises set a clear strategy based on the goals and objectives that they want to achieve, together with a road map that aligns services sourcing with internal capabilities before beginning such engagements.
Mobile reached a tipping point in 2014 as it solidified its position as one of the most disruptive technologies for businesses in decades. Not since the advent of the Internet, has a technology forced businesses to rethink completely how they win, serve and retain customers. Mobile has completely shifted consumer expectations. Today, consumers expect to get anything they need immediately, in context. Forrester refers to this as the mobile mind shift.
Forrester believes that, in 2015, the gap will increase between leaders and laggards. Leaders will use mobile to transform both their customer experience and their business. They will anticipate the needs of their customers and engage them at exactly the right moment with the right content and services. Forrester refers to these moments as mobile moments. Doing so will require massive spending in the tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars to put the infrastructure, technology, processes and organization in place to engage consumers in their mobile moments.
Most companies will fall short. They have a myopic view of mobile. Why?
Treat mobile has a squeezed down version of a PC experience or a portion of their digital strategy. Why? That is how they are organized and goaled. As a result, they fail to optimize the use of mobile for their overall business. Second, they fail to serve the needs of customers.
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.
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.
Ok, well, some of them will. Those customers who are mobile-savvy enough (they are the shifted as part of what we call The Mobile Mind Shift) and engage with your brand frequently will. You own those mobile moments with your customers. They reach for their phones to engage with your brand. You will still need to work hard to keep them engaged, but it's a good start that they downloaded your app. It's even better if they allow you to send push notifications - that gives you the opportunity to create mobile moments with them.
If they don't download your app, borrow moments.
Let's face it. Lots of your customers won't download your app. They won't invest the time or energy. With these customers, you must borrow mobile moments - that is, you must engage with your customers on third party apps (really platforms).
We see more and more brands embracing this strategy. What is your strategy to engage with your customers through borrowed moments?
Google Maps released a new app version this week. Uber is integrated into the Map app if you are already signed up for Uber (and in this implementation have the Uber app on your phone.) Uber already owns mobile moments with thousands if not more consumers. Exposure through Google Maps gives them more upside. First, it will help them to acquire customers through exposure. Second, it puts Uber in the mix of transportation options I have as I evaluate how to get from point A to point B within my Map app that also shows me traffic and parking availability. Highly contextual.
If they do download your app, don't assume they will actually open it - kind of a hassle for quick tasks, right?
When March comes to a close, the madness in the US picks up: March Madness, the national college basketball championship, gives sports fanatics the chance to rally around their alma maters, while sports novices get to observe college basketball culture at its best. Personally, I tend to lean to the latter end of the spectrum — but this year, thanks to a redesigned mobile app and enhanced social engagement strategy, I find myself moving away from observer status toward that of participant.
My story isn’t unique: The features and functions of sports-related mobile apps allow fans of any knowledge level to receive immediate updates, learn more about players and teams, and connect with fellow spectators across the region — and globe. From reviews of the recent winter Olympic Games to preparations for the upcoming FIFA World Cup, “sports fever” is universal. Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data shows that while the impulse to engage with sports-related apps on portable devices is evident around the world, it is most noteworthy among consumers in Metro China and Metro Brazil:
Organizations in Asia Pacific (AP) have become cognizant of the fact that they have entered the age of the customer — an era in which they must systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers. In the past two years, most AP firms have primarily focused on using mobile apps to connect their organizations with internal employees. However, in the age of the customer, this trend will reverse. Results from Forrester’s Forrsights Budgets and Priorities Survey, Q4 2013 show that 44% of AP technology decision-makers will prioritize building a mobile strategy for customers or partners, while only 39% will prioritize it for employees. Firms in Australia, Indonesia, India, and China will lead the region.
In order to compete and win in the age of the customer, organizations cannot be simply “customer-centric” anymore — they must become “customer-obsessed.” To do so, firms must embrace the mobile mindshift and build mobile systems of engagement. This can be done by leveraging social, cloud, and predictive analytics to deliver context-rich mobile applications and smart products that help users decide and act immediately in their moments of need. Such systems will focus on people and their immediate needs in context rather than processes, as is the case with traditional systems of record.
Building mobile systems of engagements is even more critical for firms in AP, because:
The findings presented in an article by German magazine Computerwoche published on Feb 11, 2014, are a forceful reminder that messages about excessive data capture via mobile apps seem to have gone unheeded so far. As reported, tests by TÜV Trust IT established that “almost one in two mobile apps suck up data unnecessarily”.
What’s “unnecessary” of course depends on your viewpoint: it may seem unnecessary to me if my mobile email app captures my location; the provider of the app, on the other hand, could be capturing the information to provide me with a better service and/or to make money from selling such data to a third party. The trouble is that I don’t know, and I don’t have a choice if I want to use the app. From a consumer perspective, this is not a satisfactory situation; I’d even go as far as calling it unacceptable. Not that it matters what I feel; but privacy advocates and regulators are increasingly taking notice. Unless app providers take voluntary measures, they may see their data capture habits curtailed by regulation to a greater degree than would otherwise be the case.
Let’s step back a moment and consider why so many mobile apps capture more data than is strictly speaking necessary for the functioning of the app: