However you choose to look at it, the app market is growing. In 2012, Google Play only had 600,000 apps available. Today, the number of apps is close to 3 million. Global gross app revenue is also expected to reach $102 billion by 2020, according to recent projections by App Annie. But despite this, many app developers across the world, including China, are in a precarious position and are not reaping the full benefits of the ongoing growth. User engagement is narrowing and revenues are low, especially for low-to-mid tier app owners – more than 50 per cent of app developers are operating under a ‘poverty threshold’ of $500 per month in revenues.
With Android apps, for example, the average app loses 77% of its daily active users (DAUs) within the first three days after the install, and 90% within the first 30 days. In China specifically, most mobile apps do not engage users for more than a week and users seem to be installing fewer apps than ever. According to data from Umeng about activity tracked on its platform, no mobile app category in China retained even a quarter of its users after the first week.
The app market might be growing but it is also increasing difficult.
Localisation is key
China is the only market where localised apps are downloaded more than English version. And this is not just about language translation. Localisation in a Chinese context included graphics, layout and app UX. It goes without saying that Chinese culture is unlike any other and any app owner looking to do business in China must make sure that their app has been developed with the local market in mind.
Improve the onboarding process
Perhaps the first thing app owners can do is to make the onboarding process easier. It is easier to keep a user that is already on board than to win over new ones. The fewer questions they need to answer and information they need to provide, the better the chances of seeing them complete the onboarding process. Make sure you don’t lose them before they’ve even used the app. Effective onboarding has also been shown to increase user lifetime value by 500 per cent. The more value users get from using an app, the more likely that they will continue to use it.
Add secondary functionality to improve engagement
App owners can also enable a secondary functionality in their apps to improve engagement. Secondary functionality can be added to apps via SDKs, enabling new ways to engage with the app without interfering with anything else app users want to do. For example, a caller ID SDK could include a re-engagement link on the call summary page, leading users to where they left off the last time they used the app. The re-engagement functionality will in no way interfere with the calling experience and the original intentions of the user. Apps like Simple Notepad and Mega Voice Charger, for example, use Caller ID as a secondary functionality to increase engagement. Simple Notepad more than doubled its active users (14 per cent to 33 per cent) as a result. Ads can also be served on the call summary page, unlocking additional revenue for the app owner.
Use personalisation to draw users’ attention
Highly personalised push notification can also be useful. Features like including the user’s name in messages and providing deep linking (direct access to specific pages within an app) will go a long way to ensure that users feel more likely to come back to the app. And just in case you needed another statistic to convince you – According to Localytics, personalised push messages have a 54 per cent conversion rate, compared to 15 per cent from generic broadcast messages. Specifically to China, apps that use push notification retain more users in China – push notification results in 35 per cent retention and app abandonment drops to just 20 per cent.
If you are not based in China, it is essential to strike up partnerships with local carriers and channels to gain insider knowledge on how the market works. Without this knowledge, developers will be giving themselves a bigger mountain to climb than the one that already exists.
The competition is stiff and app owners must be ready on all fronts. Users are exposed to a variety of options and have no obligation to be loyal to any app if it doesn’t provide the experience they want or doesn’t work hard to keep them coming back. And with the expected growth in revenue, it would be a shame to have an app and not see a good slice of that cake.
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