It used to be the case that the “mobile web” was almost entirely separate from the “main” part of the Internet.
This was back when you might try to get online from a Motorola flip phone, entering a web address that started with WAP. The Wireless Application Protocol resulted in “web pages” that were really just strings of text you could navigate through for basic information like weather and sports scores.
The “mobile web” of today, of course, is a far cry from those early days, which makes it even more surprising why so many companies haven’t learned to fully embrace (and capitalize on) the mobile experience.
Mobile App vs. Mobile Web
The truth of the matter is that more people are spending time going online via their smartphones and tablets than they are through their laptops and desktop computers.
Given this, many brands assume that they have their bases covered if they offer a mobile-friendly website… but, that’s just part of the equation.
Even when you look at giants in the industry like YouTube and Amazon, actually using their mobile websites isn’t really the best possible user experience. And, because these experiences aren’t ideal, it is likely that they are missing out on valuable user interactions (including product purchases, in the case of an eCommerce portal like Amazon) because people on their phones just don’t want to bother.
You’ve likely noticed, either consciously or unconsciously, that there are several areas where mobile apps are preferable over the equivalent mobile web experience. Of course, as a business, you really should be offering both, and the overall mobile strategy for your brand should encompass both points of contact.
Think about the last time you opened up the Amazon shopping app on your iPhone or Android phone. If you’re a frequent shopper of the site, you’ve likely at least perused through the vast catalog on your mobile device. Now, think about the last time you actually tapped in “amazon.com” in your mobile web browser and looked around the site that way. It’s probably a remarkably rare occurrence, if it has ever happened at all.
A mobile-optimized website – which should really be offering a perfectly responsive design that loads quickly and features “thumb-friendly” navigation – is essential, but it is not sufficient on its own.
In order to succeed as a business, in order to capitalize on greater opportunity, your brand needs to have a mobile app. And it needs to be a good one.
Absolutely, there are simple tools out there that can effectively translate a mobile website into a simple mobile app, but that’s also not enough. This is especially true when it comes to opportunities to leverage mobile-specific features, like instances where the user may benefit from being able to use their device’s camera or location tagging or integration with other mobile apps.
Once an app is installed on a mobile device, it is much more likely that a user will choose to interact with that app than they are to open up their mobile web browser and seek out your website through their bookmarks (if they chose to bookmark your site at all). The app icon is there, clearly visible, so even if the user doesn’t choose to interact with your app daily, the branding is always there and this helps tremendously with brand recognition and retention. The app icon serves as a reminder of who you are and what you offer.
Once you have a mobile app, here are a few things you need to be doing to optimize it for user experience and business outcomes.
Tracking app ratings and reviews
How do you convince users to download and install your mobile app in the first place? Just as with so many other aspects of your business, your decisions here need to be data-driven. With a comprehensive suite like AppFollow, you get an all-one-one management service that can handle everything to do with driving growth and monitoring your app.
This involves keeping tabs on all the most important metrics, in one place, including reviews and ratings, as well as downloads and revenue.
When you monitor those ratings and reviews, you can be much more effective at responding in as timely a fashion as possible. Customer service is critically important, and these early reviews can also reveal potential pain points within your app that you can address in your next release or update.
As its name implies, AppFollow also allows you to follow and compare your app against competitors. Particularly when you take advantage of consolidated competitor insights, you gain the ability to tap into potential areas for growth in ways you may have overlooked. This lets you discover worldwide trends, for example, and track the apps that are being featured in the respective app stores. You can even get notified up to 24 hours before your app gets featured, in case you want to make any of the necessary arrangements to fully capitalize on such a huge opportunity. This, in turn, can lead to even greater app visibility and higher conversion rates.
Mobile app optimization also means streamlining your workflow. The whole point of having a comprehensive solution is that it saves you the time of having to bounce between different applications in service of maximizing your app’s reach and impact.
AppFollow can integrate with several services you may already be using, making it easier to deal with user issues and track your app performance. You can respond to app reviews with Slack or Zendesk, for instance, or receive game sales reports delivered to your Discord account. You can even have Trello cards created automatically for each app review, ensuring they receive the attention and go through the process they deserve.
App store optimization
It’s important to recognize that while some app store optimization (ASO) techniques and best practices are generally applicable across the board, it’s equally important to recognize that each niche or target market may require slightly different tactics as well.
If you’re in the business of publishing mobile games, for instance, then tapping into something like Lab Cave by Fibonad might make a lot of sense. The more gaming-centric company has iterated over 300 games, working hard on improving app visibility and conversion rates in such a competitive space.
The focus here isn’t necessarily on being as responsive as possible to ratings and reviews, or with monitoring keywords for optimization purposes. Not completely. Instead, a big part of this process has to do with the actual launch and publishing of mobile games in the first place.
A game development studio may know how to create a great game, but it takes a great publisher to ensure the game gets into the right hands (and as many hands as possible). This expands into monetization and marketing, which lend themselves to even further analytics, particularly as they relate to ad mediation for ad-supported mobile games. This is one of the most effective ways of growing your bottom line given your existing user base.
Driving downloads through search ads
The other side of the ad equation involves running ads of your own to drive downloads and installs of your mobile app. Again, optimization goes a very long way here and your decisions need to be data-driven.
SearchAdsHQ is an Apple Search Ads Partner, giving you access to new features and improving your overall experience so that you can manage your search ads campaign as quickly, as easily, and as efficiently as possible.
Data is inherently dynamic and bridging the gap between the two sides is really how you’ll best be able to grow your business. You need to optimize for keywords, impressions and taps, but you also need to ensure that those taps lead directly to the ROI as measured through paid subscriptions, purchases, registrations, and other actions that feed directly into your bottom line.
As these two sides can be suitably integrated and connected through SearchAdsHQ, you can trace a user’s path from the banner tap through to the desired in-app action, not one that leads to app abandonment.
A complete process requires a complete solution
To fully take advantage of the huge upside of mobile apps, you really need to look at every step along the process. It starts with recognizing the power and influence that a mobile app can have, particularly in regards to the benefits a mobile app can have over an equivalent mobile web experience. A mobile app provides a much more direct line of communication with the end user, one that leads to greater and more frequent engagement, as well as a better user experience overall.
At the same time, a terrific mobile app in isolation isn’t going to do you much good. By leveraging app store optimization (ASO) tools like AppFollow and Lab Cave, you stand to improve your app’s discoverability in the respective app stores. By keeping a close eye on user reviews and ratings and by monitoring the featured apps for your chosen category or niche, you can propel your app to the top of the charts and skyrocket your weekly install numbers. You should increase user engagement and track the ideal conversion paths for your search ad campaigns, too. It really is a comprehensive process, end to end.
Guest author: Zac Johnson is a world-renowned blogger and entrepreneur with nearly 20 years of experience in the online marketing space and has helped his readers generate millions of dollars online. He shares his story and guidance at ZacJohnson.com