By Nick Keating, vice-president EMEA of Maxymiser
Recent research from comScore has revealed that apps' internet traffic (47%) overtook desktop usage (45%) in the US for the first time, while Gartner predicts that worldwide revenues from in-app purchases will grow from $4,589m in 2013 to $36,881m by 2017, an increase of over 700%. This underlines the massive importance of Apps to online businesses.
However, there is currently a disconnect between app development and where apps fit into the overall strategy for customer engagement.
To date it has been difficult to truly assess the value of the app to business. Most organisations have developed just one customer-facing app and, if they are measuring at all, are concentrating on download volumes.
App creation is also often siloed - sometimes the responsibility of IT rather than a core marketing role - and rarely part of the strategic, multi-channel customer experience.
The app, however, is fast becoming an essential component of the overall customer experience. And with apps fast emerging as a clear, distinct tool for marketers to engage with and target customers, it is time to take a far more strategic approach.
Organisations need to be able to assess and refine the usability of the app; to determine why high volumes of app downloads are not converting into customer registrations or conversions; and understand the impact of the app experience on the customer’s overall brand perception.
Moving forward, as organisations increase app sophistication it will be essential to test different versions of new content and functionality before launch to understand the customer response and impact on the customer experience.
Apps no longer simply replicate website content; they form a critical element of key business processes such as booking and payment and can hold exclusive content to drive brand loyalty.
As such, understanding of app performance must improve: analytics and reporting should be far more sophisticated and tie into a business's overall strategic goals.
And this is key: the app is fast becoming a critical component of the marketing mix but it is just one more channel.
Organisations need a clear business-led optimisation strategy across all aspects of the customer experience, including mobile and apps, to drive improved business performance and deliver a consistently strong customer experience.
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