If you’ve been focusing all of your efforts on creating an amazing e-commerce experience, and you’ve kinda, sorta been neglecting the app environment, listen up. Mobile users spend significantly more of their internet time using apps than they do browsing the mobile web, according to estimates released by eMarketer in September. Smartphone users spend 85.7% of their internet time using apps, and just 14.3% on the mobile web.
And that’s not all – consumers are getting a lot more comfortable making in-app purchases. I’m not just talking about extra lives to keep the action going on Candy Crush Saga. Some 45% of U.S. internet users reported that they use their favorite fashion retail apps to purchase products, according to a recent Market Force Information survey as reported by eMarketer.
So, if you’ve got a mobile app presence, the odds are ever in your favor. Your fans are likely to engage and actually shop on your platform. But, the onus is on you to create a great experience that will motivate them to download your app and actually use it. The process might be daunting, but it’s worth it. Here are a few ways you can avoid some of the common obstacles marketers face when it comes to mobile apps.
Problem: People won’t download your app in the first place
First things first – people need to download your app. The easiest way to entice people to do so? Give them rewards or coupons. A May 2016 Branding Brand survey found that 71% of iPhone users download retailers’ apps to earn extra loyalty points, while 67% will install an app to receive app-only coupons or discounts.
Take a note from CVS. The brand motivates consumers to download its app by offering $3 “ExtraBucks Rewards.” They even make it simple for people to download the app with direct links on the CVS site driving consumers directly to the download. For those who might need a bit more help, CVS shares a number consumers can text to get the process going.
Problem: Your app crashes and freezes
I’m no software developer, but if your app is constantly crashing and freezing, that’s a major issue. As a consumer, nothing turns me off faster than reading user reviews in the App Store about an unreliable platform. No one wants to waste their time trying to navigate a buggy app. Ask your customers for feedback, and make sure your platform is stable.
If you’re a small brand with limited resources to stabilize your app, you have other options: Let Instagram serve as your app environment in the meantime. Tons of retailers—Forever 21, for example—are using Instagram as a mobile sales tool. To drive purchase behavior, Forever 21 partnered with Curalate to create a Like2Buy link that directs consumers to specific product pages on your its website — connecting the moment of discovery with a moment of action.
Problem: In-app purchasing is too cumbersome
I’ll tell you right now – if a mobile transaction requires me to submit my credit card information and billing address, there’s a really good chance that I’m going to wait until I’m on my laptop, or that I’ll abandon the purchase altogether.
Make it easier on your customers by saving their payment information when they buy you from the first time (with their permission, of course).
Another option is to use an established payment system like PayPal, Apple Pay or Google Wallet. One of my favorite things about the Groupon app is that it allows me to make purchases via Apple Pay. So if I’m ever having a rough Tuesday and decide that I absolutely need a massage, I can score that deal instantly.
Problem: Consumers forget your app exists
According to research from Forrester, some 85% of the time consumers spend with apps is divided among just five apps. That means, there’s a pretty good chance that if you’re not engaging them effectively, your mobile users might just forget that your app exists.
Poshmark, for example, hosts “Posh Parties” in its mobile environment, where users can meet up in the app to shop, share, and sell clothing and accessories — but they only occur at varying and limited times. To inform users that a new Posh Party is occurring, the platform delivers push notifications to fans. It’s a great tactic to remind shoppers that you have a presence on their mobile device, especially because users who are open to receiving push notifications have specifically opted in to them.
Don’t be afraid to send push notifications about special offers and events, but be cautious about overdoing it. Bombarding them each day with content will result in indifference or annoyance.
Problem: Your app provides zero value to the user
If you want to keep consumers engaged with your app, your content has to be valuable. Inspire your fans. Educate them. Entertain them. Offer consumers content that they just can’t get anywhere else, like behind-the-scenes insights, styling how-to’s or editors’ picks.
Whatever you do, make sure your content is visually appealing. Consumers’ attention spans are shorter than ever, so let the photos and videos in your library speak for themselves.
Free People excels on its app. The brand has a section titled “FP Me” on the platform, which features a huge library of user-generated photos. Not only is it inspiring for potential buyers to see products featured in this editorial style, it also provides consumers with ideas on how to style their outfits.
It’s time to up the ante on mobile
According to a Curalate and Internet Marketing Association study conducted last year, approximately one-third of marketers are utilizing mobile to reach consumers with visual content. Yet, the majority of marketers reported that their visual content was least impactful within the mobile web and app environments. Given the amount of time and money consumers are willing to spend on apps, it’s imperative that retailers overcome their challenges. Download “The Complete Guide to Visual Commerce” to learn how you can start developing and sourcing effective content.