Daily App Habit Formation

Habit Formation: The Routine of Daily App Use

According to a scientific study, it can take about 18 days before people can form a new habit. And it takes 66 more days for this habit to become a reflex action. If you take this in the context of mobile app use, you can say that it’s quite easy since daily app use is about 56% of smartphone owners and 26% of tablet owners.  With an average usage time of 30 hours a month, you can say that app use is already habitual.


That is good, right? A majority of smartphone users basically have a daily app habit. There’s a “but” though: are these users returning to the same app day in and day out? This is actually an important question. As an app publisher, you want your app to be sticky – to be addictive. So you want your app to be the app that users return to every day.


There’s a science to how apps become addictive. It basically boils down to “triggers”, actions and cues that can get an app user hooked to the app. But triggers are useless if there are any positive reinforcement in the form of rewards. It’s a cycle of trigger, hook, and reward. But how can an app effectively execute this cycle to the point where triggers are no longer necessary, where app use basically becomes as natural as brushing one’s teeth?


Some of the Ways Apps Use to Hook Users

  1. Personalization options don’t just give users a sense of ownership but also a sense of control. They can decide to some extent what content they want to access, how and when to access it. The more the app is aligned with their goals, needs, and schedule, the easier it is for them fit the app into their daily routine.
  2. Provide entertainment value. Humor is one way to deliver an engaging content, but it isn’t always applicable especially with content like news.
  3. Repetition of simple actions. The less effort the brain exerts on thinking about trivial things, the more efficient it is on solving complicated things. And since routine tasks take little to no mental effort, the brain’s reward receptors activate every time we perform these tasks, conditioning us into performing it often.
  4. Replacement of an existing habit. It is easier to replace an existing habit or behavior than creating one. With the advent of technology, especially of apps, a lot of habits like note-taking had been digitized.
  5. Constant reminders. Most successful apps utilize simple but effective re-engagement strategies. One of these strategies is the use of push notifications. This regular stream of updates gives the illusion of new information, reigniting the user’s interest in the app.


Brands that are Part of Users’ Daily App Habits

There are apps that are designed to cultivate new, good habits in users. But there are also apps you least expect to stick on you. These are apps that somehow have a straightforward function and features, yet you find yourself developing a habit of daily app use. Soon, you notice that the app itself had become a part of a daily app habit you can’t just shake off.


Let’s take a look at how these three apps became so addicting:

  1. Poncho Weather App

Fun is a word you won’t normally associate with a weather app. But Poncho somehow pulled it off. This weather app delivers daily weather and traffic alerts through text, in-app messaging, email, and more. Aside from the ease of its multi-channel and multi-platform integration, Poncho gives a personalized, witty, and somehow cute updates. The app’s eponymous mascot, Poncho the cat gives the app a cute touch without crossing the line and appearing girly. The various pop culture references and puns also give an upbeat and current feel. Aside from the entertainment value it provides, the Poncho app is also big on personalization. It asks users for information that is relevant to how they want to use the app and how the app can help in their daily lives. Users can also schedule updates around their daily routine.

  1. Starbucks App

Many experts consider the Starbucks apps as the pioneer in the implementation of mobile payments for retail outlets. Who knew that something as innocuous as ordering a cup of coffee can evolve into a profitable digital venture? Transactions on the Starbucks app account for over 50% of all company-owned store transactions in the U.S. What it basically did was replace one part of a lot of American’s routine: waiting in line at cafés.

  1. Snapchat

The people behind Snapchat revealed that their main user demographic of 18-34 years old are “…more likely to follow trends.” This may mean that they are basically teetering on uncertainty, that their users may leave them any moment because they are, by nature fickle-minded. But here they are, with 161 million daily active users by the fourth quarter of 2016. Even if that number steeply declines by the first quarter of 2017, it’s still undeniable that Snapchat has staying power – it’s the daily app of choice for its target demographic. Not just that, but the app’s users are so into it that they open the app more than 18 times a day. All sessions last from 25 to 30 minutes.


The app has a very effective “hook sequence” that its targeted users find very rewarding. It has a certain novelty that other messaging apps cannot provide. The reward of just seeing random “Snaps” is enough for its users to actually replace other modes of communication. A 2014 data on college-age Snapchat users reveal that 37% use the app for “creativity” purposes. About 27% use it to keep in touch and 23% said that it is “easier than texting”.

Productivity Apps for Small Business

App Development Ideas: Productivity Apps for Small Business

Apps that solve specific problems fill a need that target audiences may not know they have. Mobile apps, in general, has a lot of benefits for businesses, especially the apps for small business enterprises. But aside from the apps that are tailor-made for a specific company, there are also apps that can help businesses accomplish day-to-day tasks. This is where productivity apps come to the rescue.


Let’s take a look on what services, tools and types of small business one can target for a productivity app.


Productivity Apps for Small Business

Is still there an app that hasn’t been made? It seems like every other app is just an iteration of an existing app concept. Thankfully, there are still app niches to explore and develop. Businesses, even the brick, and mortar ones are now facing an ever-changing business environment. They need specific tools in order to make business processes more efficient.


A lot of productivity apps target a broad audience, therefore offering general features that almost everyone can use. Productivity apps for small business, on the other hand, often offer specific solutions for problems that large businesses solve with the use of expensive systems. But what problems are we talking about here?


Problems that Apps for Small Business Can Solve

  1. The hassle of business taxes. According to data from the NFIB, taxes consistently rank as first of second most important problem for small owners since 2008. There are actually several small business tax apps out in the app stores. Most of these apps are geared for the US, though. A small business tax tool especially targeted for a specific region can help a lot.
  2. Business expense management. This can include keeping track of any bills, receipts, mileage, etc. An app called Mint not only track your personal financial data but also the state of your investments, especially your business. An app like this can also help in sorting out taxes by expediting the auditing process.
  3. Task management. There are lots of task and project management apps out there. One of the main problems with these apps is that they are designed with large and/or remote teams in mind. Sometimes, you just need a tool to organize, schedule, and remind employees of assigned tasks. A tool like this is especially handy when you are on trips. Though there are apps that already offer solid small business task management, a new take on the problem is always welcome.
  4. Business networking. Being a small business doesn’t mean that your world should also be limited to your establishment’s four walls. That said, business networking apps can be helpful especially for budding entrepreneurs.
  5. Lead management. There are apps that specifically track sales leads. This is dead useful especially for small businesses that don’t have the resources for CRM software or just want to focus on leads.


Industries to Tap

These are just five of the productivity solutions apps can offer to small businesses. But in order to narrow down the app’s audience and features, these specific industries/niches can benefit from apps for small business:

  • Farming/Agriculture Industry in general
  • Delivery Services
  • Home Services (plumbing, cleaning, etc.)
  • Childcare Services (daycare, babysitters, etc.)
  • Event Organizer

If you’re thinking of creating a unique solution for small businesses but don’t know where to start, just select a specific industry to tap and then search for sources of innovative mobile app ideas within the industry. You’ll be surprised on the potential that even simple solutions can have.

Can ASO Propel an App to the Top of the App Store ChartsCan ASO Propel an App to the Top of the App Store Charts

Can ASO Propel an App to the Top of the App Store Charts?

It’s the moment of truth. The burning question is this: does ASO really works? Can it really propel your app to the coveted number 1 spot in the app store charts? Is there even a direct correlation between ASO and app success?


We’ll analyze the impact of app store optimization to apps by answering questions that may bother the newbie and pro app marketer alike.


What’s really the goal of app store optimization?

App store optimization or ASO is generally considered as the app stores’ answer to SEO. From that comparison alone, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that ASO is used so that an app can rank high in app store searches. The main goal is to increase the app’s visibility within the app stores and discoverability both inside and outside the said stores. ASO increases traffic but the end goal is still the glimmering downloads.


But does ASO directly correlate with an app’s ranks in the app store charts?


Can ASO bring an app to the top of the app store charts?

On a post from about two years ago, common ASO mistakes are enumerated. The last in the list is ‘being unrealistic about the app’s ROI’. Several app marketers have had used (or considered) ASO as a marketing strategy with a solid return.


Just like with SEO, the “optimization” part isn’t a guarantee of topping any search results page or app store charts. But optimization is important. Without SEO, a web page won’t even have a chance on being in the first several pages of the SERPs. Without ASO, an app won’t even be visible in the app store search results. Therefore, ASO is that important in app discoverability. ASO is basically an extension of market research. It’s the part where you target your audience and adjust according to competition.


But to answer the question, yes, ASO can bring an app to the top of the app store charts. App metadata (title and description) is the top ranking factor for both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. According to an October 2016 survey, 48% of users discover apps by browsing the app stores. Another 21% discover apps through search engines. One of the top motivators for installing is the description (71%).  Though video previews only account for 20%, it’s still a significant number.


The effectiveness of the app’s ASO strategy doesn’t necessarily correlate with a top ranking the app store charts, though. This is the same with how downloads don’t necessarily translate to revenue. There are also secondary factors that can actually increase or mute an ASO strategy’s effectiveness – factors like downloads and ratings/reviews. The effect of the secondary factors sometimes blurs the cause/effect relationship between ASO and app store search rankings.


For example, ASO is necessary in order to rank higher in search results. Ranking higher means visibility and eventually downloads. But it’s also proven that in order to rank higher in the app store search results, an app should also have high downloads and high ratings. So, which comes first? This is actually a case of ASO continually giving. The app continues to gain more downloads after optimization. It also gains a lot of 5-star ratings and good reviews. The app stores saw these as positive ranking signals so the app bumped up in the search results. This then results to more downloads, so on and so forth.


Do the top apps even use ASO?

Is it effective? If ASO really works, then apps that implement it are surely in the top charts, right?


To see the direct impact of ASO to apps, let’s check the numbers. Top apps that use keywords on their titles experience a 10.3% increase in ranking in comparison to other apps within the app store chart’s top 25.


To learn more about how the top apps implement ASO strategies, read one of my articles, App Store Optimization: How the Top Apps Do It



ASO is not a one-time thing or a quick fix. It takes time and constant tweaking. But when it works, it sticks. Ian Sefferman, the CEO of MobileDevHQ has this to say about ASO, “ASO is having dramatic effects on our client apps. For those who put the time in to understand, iterate, and test, we’ve seen many apps increase their downloads by a factor of 2x-10x, and an increase of revenue by a similar, or bigger, rate due to the increase in engagement of users earned by ASO. ASO is not a simple process, and you might not see the impact overnight, but if you’re willing to invest in it, the outcome can be incredibly worthwhile.”

Reviews Opinion Mining

Opinion Mining: Digging Deep Into App Store Reviews

A Treasure Trove of Data

Amidst the all-caps rants and troll infested app store reviews is a mine full of market research data. A lot of app publishers and marketers actually know about the potential of app reviews. It is not only important in the context of the app the reviews are for, but also for future app development endeavors. But in order to harness the potential of app store reviews, a process called opinion mining or sentiment analysis is necessary.


The terms opinion mining and sentiment analysis are often used in different contexts. But they both used to describe a process of systematically extracting subjective information from a body of text. Nowadays, there’s a niche for opinion mining in social media networks. Twitter, for example, uses opinion mining to determine people’s reactions on a trending topic. These reactions can be classified into three polarity aspect: positive, negative, and neutral.


In the context of an app store review, opinion mining seems the straightforward analysis of users’ satisfaction. If a majority of the reviews is positive, then great, right? If it’s negative, what else can we do about it? But most of the time, these users actually want to tell you what they want, not only with your app but also in apps with the same functionality in general.


Why Bother with Opinion Mining?

Aside from the aggregation of important feedback, opinion mining can also benefit marketers in different ways:

  1. Opinion mining is helpful in the early stages of app development, especially as you are building the app’s concept. It can give you insights on the market or niche of your app.
  2. Digging deeper, you can find information on specific features or functionality that don’t work for your target audience. That is even before you get into the beta-testing phase!
  3. You can evaluate the cause of both your success and failure. You can actually use app store reviews as some sort of benchmark that can give a picture of how a successful app should look like in the perspective of users. For example, app store reviews and ratings are important considerations in downloading an app. For every negative review, the app’s chances of download decrease. Also, a game app with a lot of downloads doesn’t necessarily have satisfied users. This can result in poor retention and therefore, low revenue in the long run.
  4. You can generate previously overlooked keywords using app store reviews. You can find targeted keywords well-hidden within positive reviews. There’s also the added bonus of these keywords having less competition.


Tools for Opinion Mining

One basic strategy in opinion mining is to group app store reviews according to sentiments. These sentiments are basically keywords that fall under the category “unambiguous affect words”. Words like “happy”, “sad”, and “bored” fall under this category. This approach to opinion mining or sentiment analysis is called a “knowledge-based technique”.


More advanced knowledge-based techniques are not easy to perform and evaluate, though. You can trawl for these keywords manually with the use of filters. This technique can take some time and effort so it’s not practical to use in analyzing real-time sentiment.


There is also a statistical technique that uses machine learning, specifically deep parsing of texts. Automated tools offer more accurate results and more versatile processes. You can create your own tool which can cost a lot of time and money. There’s also App Annie where you can export a spreadsheet of reviews from a specific date range, app version, and country. There are also opinion mining tools for a fee. Most of these tools are geared towards social marketing, though.


You can, of course, use a hybrid technique that combines both the knowledge-based and statistical techniques.

App Push Notifications Deep Linking

App Push Notifications Best Practices: Deep Linking

Optimize App Push Notifications with Deep Linking

In a previous article about the significance of mobile search in an app’s visibility. Indexed app content can appear as “app packs” or individual search results. This is made possible by enabling deep linking capabilities within an app. Aside from the benefit of added visibility, did you know that deep links can also optimize mobile app push notifications? And that effective app notifications increase user retention?


Since its nascent years, users expressed contradictory opinions about app push notifications. They love it, yet hate it at the same time. Disrupting and annoying are just two of the words that a lot of users use to describe notifications that suddenly pop-up on their mobile screens several times a day. Still, a lot of users are quick to tap on a notification about a new offer, sale or trending news. But then, the tap only rewards the users with disappointment. Instead of bringing them to that 110% off-on-everything screen, the link dumped them to the home screen, leaving them utterly baffled and lost.


This type of experience can compromise the effectiveness of any promotional app push notifications. No matter how great of an effort you make into crafting these app push notifications, it will be all for naught if you don’t give your users the content they want. This is where app deep linking steps in to save the day.


How to Use Deep Linking

Deep linking capabilities are not limited to app push notifications. Deep links are useful in reaching out to users with the use of different message types. This includes in-app messaging and mobile emails which are often the methods of choice in multichannel promotional outreach. You can also link from your app’s website for a web push notification that can personalize the onboarding process.


But focusing on app push notifications, you can direct users to both static and temporary content within your app. The types of content obviously vary according to your app’s functionality. Always make sure that all app push notifications are in context with the content you are linking. SoundCloud, for example, uses push notifications that tease users about trending songs. Each notification has a deep link to a specific song track within the app.


You can set up deep linking capability for app push notifications yourself. There are, of course, companies that offer deep linking and related services. The additional services they offer often centers around analytics, especially the tracking of traffic and conversion from deep links.