The window for mobile applications to prove value is brief, and users are quick to delete apps they will not use. That’s the latest from a new survey of more than 1000 US-based mobile users, who say they are more likely to use apps that consider their needs, interests and location, and proactively offer solutions or relevant information to create meaningful mobile experiences. The survey shows most apps are getting this wrong, with 60% blaming lack of relevance or inaccurate location as the most annoying traits of mobile notifications. Users also have high expectations for privacy. More than 70% think applications should never share data with third parties.
By Paul-Emile Saab, Vice President of Partnerships & Marketing, Connecthings
It’s undeniable: Americans live on their phones. According to the Connecthings “State of Mobile Application Usage” Survey of more than 1,000 US-based mobile users, less than 4% said they don’t need a mobile phone. Alternately, a whopping 77% said that – at minimum – they rely on this technology for essential, everyday tasks and 22% even self-report as “addicted.”
But in spite of Americans’ love for all things mobile, survey results show that users are actually very selective with the apps they retain. Mobile storage capacity has climbed to a whopping 256 gigabytes – ample room for storing a multitude of apps. Still, as many as half of respondents report they only have about 25 apps installed on their phone and more than 80% use less than 10 of those on a daily basis.
It is also important to note that the window for mobile applications to prove their value is brief. Nearly 70% of respondents “clean up” their smartphones on a monthly basis – organizing apps and deleting those they won’t use. More than 30% do this weekly. So, what is the make or break consideration for app stickiness?
The more these devices become integrated with daily life the more people demand from mobile experiences. Users want “smarter” applications that anticipate their needs and deliver information and notifications that are practical and relevant to them in the moment. 60% of survey respondents said they want mobile experiences that are customized to their wants, needs and location, and more than 40% believe applications should be able to anticipate needs and wants based on their location and behavioral patterns, and then offer solutions. This can be as practical as offering alternate commuting options during severe weather before leaving for work or as intuitive as recommending a new smoothie shop near your gym right around the time you typically finish your workout (after all, you do love smoothies).
Of course, this information is typically delivered in the form of notifications, which seem to have earned an unnecessarily poor reputation. A quick internet search will return a multitude of how-to articles offering instructions for disabling pesky notifications, but the fact is that users don’t actually mind them when they offer value. Nearly half of the Connecthings survey respondents said they believe notifications can be useful; 30% have neutral feelings. When asked what makes notifications annoying, it wasn’t volume that ranked highest. The majority of users (60%) blamed lack of relevance, poor timing or location data that was inaccurate or inconvenient within context.
So, although mobile users are open to having applications deliver relevant and timely information, it seems the vast majority of mobile apps are dropping the ball. Respondents reported that notifications are providing relevant content only about half of the time and they are getting location wrong as many as four out of 10 times. How often do you get game reminders in the middle of an important work meeting or train delay notifications when you’re actually in a different time zone? This is why users (58%) open only about 25% or less of their mobile notifications.
Applications are getting it wrong when it comes to privacy too. Outside of family and friends, users are hesitant to share location data. Only 19% are willing to share data with their favorite application and even fewer are willing to share with brands or services they buy (13%) or are interested in buying (six percent). 72% believe that when they do opt-into location services for specific applications, this data should NOT be shared with or sold to third parties.
There is a huge opportunity for application developers and marketers who meet user demands for richer user experiences. These companies can take advantage of emerging technologies, such as augmented location, which integrates precise location data, real-time behavior and user context to draw conclusions about user wants and needs then offer valuable information and experiences. Applications that deliver experiences and enhance services based on user context will have an increasingly competitive edge, ultimately improving engagement, strengthening the brand and retain users long-term.