Should Marketers Care About Mobile App Analytics?

brainMarketers, there’s a lot you can learn about your brand and audience from mobile app analytics. This is something we’ve been saying (and proving) for a while now, but the latest report from Plastic Mobile and True Impact Marketing – “The Science Behind Mobile Design” – drives this point home even further. Well, it should anyway.

In case you missed it, this 99-page report offers a detailed look into the emotional attachment users have towards specific apps and brands. But here’s the kicker: Instead of simply asking users to complete surveys (which they did), they also leveraged a combination of neuroscience (headset with transmitters) and eye-tracking technology to generate their key findings – 5 of which I wanted to share with you in this post.

Takeaway #1: App Loyalty Equals Brand Loyalty
“For better or worse, apps can influence overall brand perception.”

Quite true. As we learned in this study, many of the brands featured saw a tremendous increase in affiliation once the user experienced their mobile application. Granted, the study chose to focus on three apps that were already receiving high marks (Pizza Pizza, BestBuy and Hyatt), but the numbers speak for themselves:

  •  The Pizza Pizza app saw a 54% increase in participants who thought the brand was innovative.
  • The Best Buy app saw a 10% and 11% increase, respectively, in participants who trusted the brand and thought the brand offered superior quality.
  • Last, the Hyatt app saw a 24% increase in participants who thought the brand to be innovative and offering superior quality.

Of course, the opposite is true as well: An app that offers a poor user experience certainly damages the brand’s overall reputation. So marketers, if your brand is struggling with its reputation, it might not be your commercials, messaging or even its product. It might be you app.

Takeaway #2: Checked Out Users
“While users may say they like browsing more than checkout, our data suggests the opposite to be true.”

In an ideal world, your users would be spending endless amounts of time within your application and enjoying every minute of it. In the real world however, we must remember that many apps are transactional – i.e. they are meant to purchase goods, not to browse. The study concluded:

“Ultimately, we can determine that people don’t always say what they actually think or mean. While we know that the browsing is what most mobile users are doing on their devices, it may not be the thing that gets them the most excited…Conclusively, once you have something a consumer wants to purchase, it’s important to give it to them as quickly and easily as possible.”

Obviously, the three apps profiled here were transactional, so for those brands who have developed an app made for browsing, make sure that the experience is not cluttered or confusing. This leads us nicely into our next key takeaway.

Takeaway #3: Minimalistic Design Says More
“How we use the limited real estate of mobile screens makes a difference.”

Imagery is important. Not only must the images be relevant and well-placed within the apps, they must be of the highest quality possible. Imagine, for instance, a user finding a diamond necklace via a mobile app and having the image be blurry or pixelated. Or worse yet, imagine no picture at all. Not exactly the impression you’d want to leave.

By maximizing the browsing space with what users are most interested in, the content can capture the attention of the user and then allow for exploration of more in-depth information. Best Buy displayed an image with the corresponding price, and only a few participants looked to the product details. Alternatively, they could have prompted the user to tap through for more details in order to maximize the image size and quality on the screen, while showing the price in clear view.

The use of high-quality images and assets as standardized in brand’s other mediums, such as in-store visuals or printed materials, should be considered for mobile applications.

Takeaway #4: Don’t Leave Them Hanging
“Longer load times in mobile apps can cause frustration in users and risk app abandonment.”

It doesn’t require neuroscience to determine that users strongly dislike it when an app freezes, crashes or is simply slow to load. That said, it was extremely interesting to see what this did to the user’s emotional levels (check out the charts if you don’t believe me). The slower the load time, the more distressed the user became.

Don’t underestimate the value of a first impression. Ensure that the best effort is made to load the mobile app quickly so users, who tend to have less patience with mobile experiences than any other medium, aren’t kept waiting. Mobile smartphone users are likely on-the-go, with divided attention between various environmental stimuli, and probably performing a multitude of conscious tasks. Therefore, their ability to stay attentionally engaged while waiting for yet another task is greatly hindered.

This might not seem like much of a problem for marketers, but if it’s affecting the perception of your brand in a negative way, then perhaps it should be.

Takeaway #5: Liked the App, Told a Friend
“The brands that saw an increase in emotional engagement towards the brand logo were also the brands that users said they would recommend to others.”

By now you should know that users can be quite vocal about their app experiences – both good and bad – particularly in the app store review section. This study didn’t really offer any new insights in this regard, we just always like to remind marketers of this point. It’s for their own good.


Anyway, we hope you get a chance to read the study in its entirety. It was incredibly well done. And marketers, if you’re looking for actionable information about your brand via your mobile app (and don’t want to hook up your customers to machines), you know where to find us.

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