The growth of the mobile web has led many business owners to embrace mobile marketing by creating mobile websites and adapting their email marketing campaigns. The growth in mobile has continued for the past year as smartphones and wireless networks become more powerful. A recent study from Flurry Research shows that app usage has grown tremendously in 2014. This article will discuss the research and how small business owners can use it to their advantage.
The main takeaway from this study is that people are spending more and more of their mobile internet time on apps. According to the data from Flurry Research, overall app usage grew by 76 percent in 2014. The study measured the number of times users opened an app and used it long enough to trigger what the researchers considered to be a "session". The apps were divided by category, all of which showed improvement in the past year.
Retail apps were in the group that saw the largest increase. Flurry reported that sessions in shopping apps on iOS and Android increased by a 174 percent year-over-year. The researchers noted that for iOS, the "Lifestyle" category includes more than shopping. However, on Android devices, the shopping category increased by 220 percent.
"As our mobile devices become more and more a part of our everyday lives, we are increasingly using them for always-on shopping, working, and communication," wrote Simon Khalaf on the Flurry blog. "Where years past have seen massive growth in games and entertainment, 2014 was the year apps got down to serious business."
Flurry pointed to retail giant Target as an example of the power of mobile. Target stores have said it views "mobile as the new front door to Target", and that mobile front door is increasingly in-app. Citing research from comScore, they noted that in 2014, 68 percent of the time spent on Target mobile properties was in-app vs. web, up from 21 percent in 2013.
Mobile also makes it easier to reach consumers on the go and at home. The researchers used a sample of Android devices in the US to plot engagement with Shopping apps by zip code. They were able to estimate the zip code of "Home" versus "Away" by looking at the zip code where the most activity happened in the 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. time frames. Activity outside of this zip code we labeled "Away. Using this method, they saw that Shopping app usage spiked during the commute time of 9 a.m. and lunchtime at noon. Since people can't (or shouldn't) be shopping during work hours, mobile shopping app usage spikes again during prime time at 8 p.m.
What does this rise in mobile app means for small business owners. For one thing, it doesn't mean that mobile websites are unimportant or that every business should run out to have an app developed. When someone has a problem with an ecommerce website, it rarely matters what brand or model of computer they're using. On app, the make, model, operating system, and version of a phone play a huge role in app compatibility and that can make customer service issues involving the app hard to diagnose and fix. Maintaining an app is more challenging than maintaining a website, so a business shouldn't embark down that path unless they are truly up to the challenge.
Rather than develop a dedicated app for their business, small business owners should look for ways they can get their business, products or services listed on apps that people already used. The easiest way to do this is by using mobile ads on Facebook. Facebook is the most popular app on Android and iOS and most businesses are already set to use Facebook advertising. The same is true for Amazon or eBay. These selling platforms have popular apps that automatically work with products listed on the platforms' main sites.
Business owners should use the increase in mobile app usage to increase the reach of their marketing campaigns and find new ways to engage consumers. By getting products listed on retail apps, or developing an app on their own, marketers can take full advantage of the marketing revolution.
For more tools that can help mobile marketing efforts, read this article with three recent changes from Facebook that can help mobile marketers.