I've Stopped Opening My Favorite Mobile Apps

Mobile has transformed my expectations putting me on the bleeding edge of the mobile mind shift. I've had a smartphone in my hand since August 30th 2005 when a broken wrist forced me to be a one-handed typist - better done on a smartphone than a laptop. My Lark wearable wakes me each morning. My Nike Fuelband tracks my steps. I tweet and check Facebook on my phone. I deposit checks. Honestly, there are a handful of websites that I can no longer navigate because the complexity of the experience overwhelms me. It's simply easier to do stuff on my mobile phone. 

Today, I rolled into Starbucks a little after 7am to pick up an iced tea. I had to reload my stored value card within the app. (I don't use auto reload in case my phone is stolen. My bus card was autoload ... the last time it was stolen, the person must have handed off to six other people to travel before I could shut it down.) What was my reaction when I realized I would have to reload the card? "Sigh" ... well, really a "heavy sigh." The thought bubble over my head was: "Ugh, I now have to open this app, type in my password, etc." Usually I just open Passbook and do a quick scan. Please keep in mind that I think the Starbucks app rocks and reloading my card takes about 30 seconds. That said, I was annoyed that I had to go into the app. 

The best apps serve me in my simple mobile moments without the bother of opening the app. I use Life360 almost every day (see report), but I don't open the app. I use Starbucks 3-4 times each week, but seldom open the app. I expect my addresses and phone numbers for businesses to be stored in my Maps app. United Airlines pushes out notifications when my flight is delayed (and weirdly when I land). The apps I depend on most don't force me to open them to engage in my mobile moments

Implications? You will need to:

  1. Convince your customers to download an app they may only use to configure services. Why? You want to learn about their behavior, harvest contextual information to serve them proactively in their mobile moments and push out timely notifications. 
  2. Borrow mobile moments from third party platforms like maps, wallets and messaging platforms. (See research for details.)
  3. Change your KPI's. Too many companies track engagement by monthly active users. This is an interim step and at a minimum should not be the definition of your success. Your success should be defined by your ability to engage your customers in their mobile moments - or to win their mobile moments. (See this Life360 case study.) 

Apps are still a phenomenal way to engage your customers. Be sure you are thinking broadly, however, about your customers' mobile moments and how best to engage them. 


Right Article on right moment

This is the right article on right moment. Every company start publishing an app without planning a proper engagement strategy. Thats the reason,I presume lot of apps like Bump which were initially successfully later couldn't survive. Lot of Apps get carried away with their initial success/downloads and over a period of time, people slowly stops using it unless we engage them usefully. They also miss the moment, to create a personalized data around the customer,leveraging device features like geo-fence etc., and later use it to engage with him more relevantly. Some apps over enthusiastically send too many irrevalent push messages leading to user's frustration.
I see some pure content apps as well. They could have very well invested in a adaptive/responsive mweb page rather than investing in apps without engagement plan.
A proper engagement mechanism with an option for the user to opt out (in-app) must be planned even before releasing the app. With the advancement in push technologies it must be leveraged at its maximum. Gamification and personalized offers can also be thought of.
Your are right, people shouldn't use monthly active users alone for engagement metrics. Engagement must be defined by for each feature in the app differently based on the feature's rationale.

Thanks for sharing.