Trends in User Adoption Rates for Mobile Apps

More and more people are browsing, checking Facebook, and reading their email on smartphones.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll adopt your new app there, too.

Just because you build a mobile app doesn’t mean customers will automatically use it. If it’s easier for them to wait and perform those tasks on a desktop or laptop, that’s exactly what they’re going to do.

Many companies fail to meet their mobile expectations because they neglect one simple yet critical rule: your mobile app must improve the user experience somehow. If it doesn’t – if it’s just a lite version of your website, for example – then your customers won’t see the value in it and won’t adopt it into their everyday use.

That’s important, because at the very least, your customers need to see enough value in your app to justify the space it takes up on their phone.

For those who do it right, the growth of mobile usage offers compelling new opportunities to drive business and improve productivity. But only if you bridge the gap between traditional computing and smartphones in a way that makes the user experience easier.

Mobile App Growth and Opportunity

According to Statista, the number of mobile app downloads has increased by 62% in the past two years.

  • Smartphone usage is expected to grow from 1.57 billion users in 2014 to 2.1 billion users by the end of 2016, according to Statista. That’s an increase of 34%, which tells us that the increase in apps being downloaded is almost double what can be explained by new smartphones.
  • Users are now spending more time viewing digital media on smartphones (2.8 hours per day) than on desktops and laptops combined (2.4 hours per day), according to KPCB mobile technology trends.
  • Users now spend 90% of their mobile time in apps, versus just 10% in mobile web browsing, according to Yahoo Flurry analytics.

What You Should Know About Mobile App Growth

The statistics above show that mobile users are spending more time than ever using mobile apps. They’re also downloading more apps because they’re looking for the right apps to use on their mobile devices.

But be warned: the following statistics provide a cautionary tale when viewing the mobile app market.

  • Mobile users spend 70% of their time spent in their 3 most frequently used apps (i.e. Facebook).
  • 52% of mobile apps lose half their peak users after 3 months.

These figures are not meant to discourage. Rather, they show you why your app needs to be one of those 3 most useful apps on each user’s mobile device.

As for which apps are losing half their users within three months, consider these:

  • Games, which people tire of after a while and stop playing.
  • Personal productivity apps (like fitness and exercise) which people want to use but rarely form the habits to maintain over time.
  • Business productivity apps which do not deliver enough value for users to continue using them, as mentioned above.

The good news? A well designed B2B app that delivers real value for your customers and succeeds in making their jobs easier will enjoy a much higher mobile app adoption rate than the norm.

Develop Functionality Geared to Specific Users

One way to improve your mobile app adoption rate is to gear your functionality to specific users.

Instead of releasing a huge app with a wide array of features appealing to a broad audience, focus on producing the minimum viable product (MVP) for a very specific audience. Wow that audience and make those early adopters the advocates for your brand. Then grow from there.

Learn from Categories with the Highest Mobile App Adoption Rates

Categories with the highest mobile adoption rates include: social networking, retail, gaming, and messaging.

It shouldn’t matter, however, if your mobile app doesn’t fall into any of these categories. You can (and should) learn important lessons from studying them.

What appeals to users in these categories? And how can you harness that appeal in your app? For example, most B2B apps are not social networking apps… but many successful B2B apps willinclude social networking elements to boost their engagement.

Show Users What to Expect

While 300-page user guides have gone the way of the dinosaur (along with users willing to read them), you can’t just assume users will figure things out on their own.

Most users will muddle through the basic functionality of an app and learn how to use it at its most basic level. But often they’ll miss advanced features that could truly make a difference – the features that would create real value for them and make their jobs (or lives) easier. When that happens, your mobile adoption rate will suffer.

So how can you make sure users will discover the best ways your app can benefit them? Short videos sent by email and through social media can highlight the advantages of your app while showing potential users exactly what to expect.

Familiarity with your app will greatly improve your chances of potential users finding and downloading it. Highlighting benefits that might not be obvious can give your mobile app’s adoption and retention a significant boost as well.

Building a Mobile App Users Will Adopt

The key lesson here is simple: while the mobile app industry may be growing by leaps and bounds, getting users to adopt your app is never a given.

You need to provide real business value to your customers. You need to make their jobs or lives easier when they use your mobile app. And you need to make sure they know what your app can do to help them.

If you design your app with mobile adoption rates and research in mind, you can build the sort of app that users want. And if you can do that, huge opportunities for mobile growth are waiting.