No matter if you work for a mobile app startup or an established mobile organization, you probably already realized that people can be pretty tricky to deal with. But, once you conduct user research, create user personas, and interact with your target audience for a long enough amount of time, an epiphany suddenly hits. It’s today’s app users in particular who are some of the most complicated people of all. Complicated, because they are heavily-guarded, challenging to retain, and demanding of near-perfect UX’s.
And it would be a big mistake to assume that today’s app users are anything like they were eight, or even five, years ago. Because back when mobile apps were still a relatively new concept, users actually expected somewhat rough and inconsistent UX’s. Now, in 2018, app users want a mobile app to be flawless, or they want you to pay the consequences.
To prove my point, I’ve put together 14 tough, but valuable, truths about today’s mobile app users that will help you understand the realities of catering to our present digital audience. Best of all, if you embrace the following truths in your own business’ strategy, you will be able to form authentic bonds with users and increase your customer LTV– regardless of how complicated they may seem.
User Truth #1. They Don’t Trust You
By default, most users assume that your app may not have all their best interests in mind. This is unfortunately due to the fact that many people have had negative experiences with apps that request questionable in-app permissions, encourage the sharing of private information, or flat-out don’t deliver on promises. On top of that, the slightest negative experience with an app is typically way more memorable than a good, or even decent experience. Not being trusted by your own customers is obviously a big problem. But, if you can approach mobile app users from the position of having to earn their trust, they will sense that your brand is different (in a good way) and love you for it.
For example, telling users the reason why you’re requesting a particular in-app permission is a small change that will make your brand appear significantly more transparent and trustworthy. To attract even more trust, you can also tell users how you plan on using their information, and regularly remind them of their social media sharing settings.
User Truth #2. They Expect You to Communicate
With millions of marketers, brands, and mobile apps competing for users’ attention every day, communication is no longer an option. You have to communicate with app users not only because they expect it, but also because your brand won’t survive unless you act on your audience’s authentic desires. In fact, in a recent survey by Apptentive, 51% of consumers expect companies to ask them for feedback directly. This could explain why companies who don’t take the time to ask, end up having a low quantity of feedback. What does this demonstrate? That app users have a deep-rooted desire to be heard. Implement quality user feedback, and your rate of retention will skyrocket.
User Truth #3. They’re Smarter Than You Think
It’s no secret that app industry professionals feel almost like wizards at work. You get to create borderline mystical products for a living. But, while industry pros often like to take credit for being smart and opportunistic, it’s truly the users who receive the best deal of all. This is because users can use your app if they want to, but they normally don’t need to. App users are much more capable and resourceful than most people think. Today’s users, especially those from Generation Z (who have grown up with mobile technology), have more than enough utilities, entertainment, and product options to handle just about every aspect of life. This makes stagnant mobile app brands a major liability. So, be sure to make your product compelling, or your users could move on without you!
User Truth #4. They’re Busy
It’s a common misconception that the goal of a mobile app user is to spend substantial time using your mobile app. For the most part, mobile app users just want to extract your app’s greatest benefits and emotional triggers, and move on with their day. So, it’s your job to build a UX that acts as an escape from your user’s busy life. Building a product that encourages this to happen naturally is the best way to capture a busy audience’s attention, while also giving them tons of value in return. It’s also important to keep in mind that your new users will want to know exactly what they will get from your app as soon as they open it. And because they’re busy, you only get one chance to make a great impression. Using the best onboarding tactic for your audience and app vertical is a great way to attract high-quality attention from busy users and keep them engaged.
User Truth #5. They Have Many “Moods” and “Modes”
“Moods” and “modes” are two massive variables that play into the success of every mobile app business. It’s for this reason that you won’t see many apps sending push notifications on Mondays at 6:30 a.m. At this time in the morning, most people aren’t ready to engage with mobile apps (drowsy mood) and they’re also preoccupied with starting the workweek (“work mode”). Remaining aware of what “mood” and “mode” app users are in plays a huge role in user acquisition, in-app purchases, and app store reviews and ratings.
User Truth #6. They Do Just Enough to Get By
In today’s competitive mobile app economy, having at least a basic understanding of cognitive psychology is more of a requirement rather than an option. And, while psychology has been a tool leveraged mostly by mobile app marketers in the past, it’s becoming increasingly important for developers, designers, product managers, and entire mobile app teams to understand what exactly influences app user behavior. For example, understanding the principle of least effort, which means that all humans are naturally wired to do the bare minimum amount of work required in order to get by, is fundamental to your brand’s success. You were probably taught to fight against this urge as a child, but Mother Nature does a great job of ensuring that most app users skim through content, skip past registration, and try to find whatever benefit they’re searching for as fast as possible. Knowing that users “satisfice” like this is crucial, as it will probably influence you to design a simplified UX that allows users to receive maximum value as quickly as possible.
User Truth #7. They Don’t Use Your App As Intended
Predicting user behavior is hard. But, this is why it’s so important to release a Minimum Viable Product for your app and have the right type of analytics in your arsenal. It’s always a good idea to take your app to market as soon as you can (within reason), because users simply aren’t going to use your app as intended. Instead, you will have to observe how users are actually using your product and constantly “reinvent” your app to meet your users’ desires. This Lean startup methodology has worked for virtually all of the best mobile apps.
User Truth #8. They Like Familiarity
You already know how easy it is for you to fall into the same routines, habits, and activities that you always have. It takes time and energy to fight against these familiarities. And, most app users are no different. They love it when they can jump right into a UX and immediately know which buttons to tap, gestures to make, and screens to visit. While it’s great to have a unique value proposition for your mobile app, it usually isn’t in your best interest to fight against users’ natural desires for the familiar. Try and find the smart balance between the two.
User Truth #9. They Will Love Your App If It’s “Serialized”
There’s something extremely comforting about being “guided” through a UX without having to do much thinking. That’s what serialization is all about. Making your UX happen effortlessly, one screen at a time, without your users having to contemplate what to do or where to go next. Experienced app users and new users prefer serialized UX because it feels more natural and requires less mental effort. Amazon is perhaps the biggest purveyor of this truth, after having proven that clear calls to action, simplified explanations, and general feelings of “being taken care of” lead users through every single step of their $300 billion sales funnel. To serialize your app, remember that users respond best to small and visual chunks of information that guide them through a clear process.
User Truth #10. They Don’t Sympathize With Communication Gaps
It’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that your users will automatically “get” a certain screen in your app, or understand a particular sentence that you write. Communication gaps like these can be especially destructive when you’re trying to make a strong first impression on new users, or connect with audiences that are foreign to you. This is why it’s always best to pre-test your app’s new push notifications, CTA’s, copywriting, and marketing efforts with controlled test groups before making big changes.
User Truth #11. They Don’t Realize That They Sometimes Provide Misinformation
While it’s always important to listen to what your users are saying, it’s also important to remember that humans are irrational by nature. Surveys, interviews, and polls always have the potential to be influenced by “moods” and “modes” (see User Truth #5), so this has to be taken into consideration when the information that you’re collecting from users will be used to make lasting business decisions. One “fix” for this problem is to analyze user behavior on a qualitative level and actually see what your users are doing inside of your app. This will help you avoid user bias and obtain actionable behavior insights. Having great analytics is gold, because it will show you if users like or dislike each aspect of your mobile app. Data speaks the truth, and won’t lead you astray.
User Truth #12. They Love It When You Give Them Value
Giving app users unbelievable amounts of value is the single biggest motivator for them to continue using your app. Just think of all the reasons that you use certain mobile apps. Great mobile apps always influence emotions, provide benefits, or solve specific pain points better than the competition. Users respond passionately to brands that appear to give value selflessly, so it’s in your own best interest to start giving users much more of what they actually want.
User Truth #13. They Have Questions
App users are only human, so they naturally want to “figure out” new mobile apps as soon as they find them. It’s your job to make your app’s value proposition transparent wherever new users may interact with your brand. For example, users will have questions when they land on your App Store and Play Store description pages, social media profiles, website, and inside of your mobile app itself. Making your brand easy to understand is crucial for all of your assets, as you should assume that new users will arrive with many questions. To comfort your users and make it clear that you value their presence, you should consider making your brand’s help center or user support team as accessible as possible so no questions go unanswered. Having a strong support system in place is almost always worth the costs you may incur to keep your users happy.
User Truth #14. They Just Want The Experience
The best part of the mobile app economy is that it’s a lot like real life in many ways. People want to have great experiences in life, and so do mobile app users. Except, in the app world, this is what’s called a User Experience. Providing app users with a powerful UX is the highest goal that you can set for your brand, because it’s truly difficult to achieve, but also extremely rewarding for everyone involved. Users respond very well to experiencing emotions, benefits, design, gestures, brand messaging, habituation, and so many other minuscule details that make a massive impact on their everyday lives. The UX is a culmination of everything that your brand offers every time users interact with it, and it’s by far the most important truth about users to keep in mind.
Hopefully my 14 truths about today’s mobile app users have cleared up any uncertainties that you had about them. While today’s mobile app users are certainly complicated, the rewards of meeting their needs can be truly colossal.
Here at Appsee app analytics, my team and I have assessed a lot of interesting app user behaviors and we firmly stand by the above assessment, and what app users are seeking.
If you can learn to accept the truths about mobile app users, regardless of how complicated they may be, you will put yourself in a position to start building mobile apps around these realities. And solving real-life problems is exactly where most of us want to be.