Like peanut butter and jelly, and Ernie and Bert, beacons and apps are better together.
Beacons need apps to recognize their unique identifiers and facilitate their associated interactions.
Apps need beacons for real world context; to deliver the transformative mobile experiences at the intersection of time and place the hardware enables.
Together, beacons and apps are unstoppable: the Beyoncé and Jay-Z of the location-sensing industry.
Because of this interdependence, consumer adoption and sustained use of beacon-enabled mobile apps is critical to beacons’ success. Some even see crossing this mobile app-gateway as the industry’s biggest challenge.
But there’s good news.
A batch of recent studies provide encouraging stats on the rise in our use of apps, and big changes made by the mobile app gatekeepers – Apple and Google – are making app discovery and search easier than ever before.
So this week’s post is all about apps. Let’s break it down.
– The use of mobile apps when shopping has doubled in the past year → 41% of consumers actively use mobile apps while shopping. 67% of the coveted millennial demographic use mobile apps in store.
– App affinity isn’t restricted to 18-34 year-olds . Consumers of all ages indicate they have 2-4 shopping apps installed on their phone (i.e. mobile isn’t a generational-only trend, and retailers’ digital and marketing efforts should reflect this).
– 51% of users indicate they’d be very likely to use mobile apps to speed up the mobile checkout process when they become available (beacons and mobile payment integration is the industry’s holy grail).
– Almost half of participants report they’d favor a store with advanced mobile capabilities: they’d be encouraged to visit the retailer more frequently, buy more per visit, and even pay slightly more. (This is good news for retailers looking for digital upgrades: beacon initiatives and other in store tech will pay for themselves quickly).
Terry Redding, VP of Sales & Marketing at CFI Group summarizes his company’s findings:
“Mobile applications allow an opportunity for retailers to engage with customers whenever and wherever they are. Customers want to receive tailored communications, not only to see that retailers are showing an interest in them, but for quick accessibility and convenience.” He goes on, “It is crucial for retailers to keep up with advanced mobile capabilities to maintain high customer satisfaction. With consumers’ demands to use mobile devices as a shopping tool, retailers must know how to connect with them digitally.”
Tailored communication? Accessibility and convenience? These are features of a retailer’s digital arsenal afforded by beacons and beacon-enabled apps. Apps, which the CFI study shows, are becoming a brand’s key consumer facing tool.
Another set of recent studies, meanwhile, quantify the ever-increasing amount of time we’re spending in apps. While the share of time on mobile devices now accounts for 60% of our digital media time overall (per a May study from digital metrics firm comScore), our time in apps now represents 51% of all digital media time, up from 38% just over a year ago. Competing studies place that number even higher – at 83% and 90% of mobile time respectively. Recently reported data from Nielsen shows Americans’ time spent with retail and shopping apps grew 12% from Q4 2012 to to Q4 2013, up from 6% growth the year before.
While it’s clear there’s still room for improvement when it comes to time spent on retailers’ apps – Marketing Land breaks down the share of time spent by platform among selected leading content categories in the chart below – recent updates to Apple’s iOS bode well for the discoverability of retailers’ apps and consumers’ interactions with them. New features of the forthcoming iOS8 include location-aware app access to lock screen and interactive notifications and actionable notifications, which allow users to complete small tasks – within the notification itself – or get app benefits, without actually launching the app. Apple has also recently started promoting retailers’ apps through trending searches, and video previews and a new app-bundling feature that offers brands with multiple apps the ability to offer them together for promotional pricing, provide users with convenience and utility.
All told, Apple’s changes are a boon to retailers looking to increase the reach of their apps and deploy beacon technology in store. A predominant fear of marketers and retailers interested in, and using, beacon technology is that of being too interruptive with their messaging, lest users delete their apps and disavow their brands. These new notification features all serve content – ambiently via beacons – that users can easily interact with or ignore. So too, the ability of apps to now offer greater contextual utility to their users, and thus greater potential for engagement, gives iOS8 apps more of a fighting chance of being used (it’s estimated that 70% of users don’t use a retailer’s mobile app 3 months after downloading it). Greater app traction widens the reach of beacon technology, improves users’ interactions with brands, and increases the beacon deployer’s return on investment.
Meanwhile, over at Google, the search giant is also making improvements in how apps and their contents are presented in mobile searches. Building on features rolled out at the end of last year, the search engine has recently started indexing much more app content, and is changing how results are displayed. Now, for app links delivered via search, simply clicking on a title link will take you directly to an app’s content. By using specifically colored text and icons, users will know prior to clicking, if they will be directly linked to an app, or, if the text is a URL, a webpage.
Google is also allowing app developers to index their content using “app deep links.” These will help users find searched content more easily, and also re-engage with an app once they’re done.
And, once consumers have these apps on their phones, there’s good indication that beacons will help these apps stay there. Data released last month by the ad platform inMarket shows that consumers who receive beacon notifications are 6.4 times more likely to keep an app on their phone – proof customers are finding beacon engagements desirable in store. The company’s study also reveals beacon-enabled apps drive value for the retailer in spades: inMarket found beacons result in an 16.5x increase in app usage in store, resulting in a 19x increase in interactions with advertised products. Data from other beacon pilots support the efficacy of tailored segmentation and push notifications in increasing users’ time in-app. In their beacon pilot last season, the National Hockey League, for example, found the average app session length when someone had push notifications enabled was 36% higher than when someone had them disabled. More time in-app is only a good thing for retailers and venue hosts; resulting in more consumer face-time with the brand, more opportunities to build brand loyalty through beacon-enabled conveniences and efficiencies, and more time to upsell the customer or convert them to purchase.
Have an app waiting to powered by beacons? Test the technology in your own stores or venues to see these results for yourself. Get in touch with us to play with our demo apps, our beacons, and/or our powerful analytics. Who knows, you might find yourself “Crazy in Love.”