This is a guest post by Michelle Deery. Michelle is a copywriter and editor for Heroic Search, a SEO agency based in Tulsa. Her content has been featured in Entrepreneur magazine. She focuses on growth and is passionate about marketing and technology. You can find her on Twitter.


Downloaded an app last week? Bet you can’t even remember what it was now. It happens to many of us – especially since 80-90% of our time on mobile is spent in apps.

Sure, many of us are total suckers for things that look pretty, but simply being pretty doesn’t keep customers at your side over the long term. The competition is fierce, with over 258.2 billion app downloads projected to occur worldwide in 2022.

This is why you need to start thinking about the in-app experience.

In-app experience is a bit of a broad term, but it refers to every way in which the user interacts with your app. For a user to engage and turn into a loyal customer, they must be able to see the value that your app offers them regularly.

This article will walk you through the challenges of mobile engagement, why the in-app experience is so important – and what you can do to improve it.

The Problem With Mobile Engagement

Houston, we have a problem. Not a download problem, but an engagement and retention one.

The purpose of a mobile app is not simply to raise awareness of our brand. Instead, it’s to promote engagement and retention.

Many small businesses now use mobile apps to turn customers into loyal ones but there’s still a major engagement problem. Less than 1 in 4 of us will return to an app after we first download it.

This is hardly helped by the fact that there are well over 2.2 million mobile apps on the market, with more being created all the time.

The truth is that the market is saturated with apps. So what do we do to stand out?

Why The In-App Experience Is So Important

The user experience needs to be at the forefront of your strategy from now on because aesthetics alone don’t cut it with the 2018 mobile user. In 2018, the mobile user wants a fast, convenient and value-driven experience that actually adds something to their life.

Starbucks led the way with this, and it’s estimated that 1 in 3 of their customers are engaged with their mobile ecosystem, which is the biggest in the world. They also have eight million mobile paying customers worldwide.

Starbucks shifted focus to the in-app experience, adding a forward-thinking conversational ordering system to their app. Called My Starbucks Barista, the feature uses AI to allow customers the chance to use voice command to place an order.

Marriot International Inc is another company that has shifted focus to the in-app experience, adding a feature to their app that lets hotel guests use their mobile device as a room key!

The ultimate point is that, if a customer can’t see that your app adds any value to their daily life, they will disengage with it almost instantly and you won’t achieve your objectives.

How To Improve the In-App Experience

The good news is that you don’t have to go overboard with new features in the same way that Starbucks and Marriot International Inc did.

Of course, not all of us have that kind of budget. Instead, to improve your in-app experience, you can focus on a few little things that you’ve missed so far.

Make your in-app permissions less scary

Our apps need permissions if the user is going to get as much out of it as possible. But how many of us are guilty of making our permissions a bit, well, scary?

Remember that users don’t hand over their personal information lightly, which means that you need to explain all your permission requests. Explain exactly why the app needs specific info. This will increase the likelihood of a user accepting.

It’s also a good idea to reward users for accepting your permission and also build trust during your onboarding process.

Add some personality to your micro-interactions

Micro-interactions are happening all the time. Each time we set an alarm, we’re carrying out a micro-interaction. When we change our settings, we’re executing another micro-interaction.

The problem is that many – if not all – of these micro-interactions are mundane. They hardly make an app interesting!

If you’re not spicing up your micro-interactions, you’re missing a huge trick. Making them more personal and involving is a great way to build a connection between the customer and your brand. This can boost engagement and long-term retention.

Provide in-app assistance

One major thing that customers want us to do better is customer support.

Customer support is so important to your success. According to research, customers are willing to wait up to an hour for a response on desktop. After that, frustration will set in and they might try an alternative business.

78% of mobile users report using apps for customer service reasons. Mobile users are notoriously more impatient than desktop users and they want fast answers.

If you can offer assistance within your app, you’re onto a winner. In-app assistance keeps people engaging with your app, and prevents them from leaving the app to find a solution.

To improve your in-app assistance, all you need to do is add a live chat feature. This allows the customer to chat to your support team and ask questions whenever they need to.

Increase payment options

Customers in 2018 want to be able to buy when they want, where they want. They’ve grown used to an omnichannel shopping experience, and they have no aversion with starting their buying journey on one device before ending it on another.

This is all about ease of use, and it’s something that you need to satisfy with your in-app experience.

For example, perhaps your customer started browsing on your app but wanted to purchase the item in person. You could add a point of sales card reader to your online store to make the payment process super efficient for the customer, allowing them to buy wherever they are.

The card reader also stores each customer’s data so that you understand their buying habits better. This ultimately means that you can use the data to personalize their experience more in the future, which can further boost engagement and retention.

Conclusion

All in all, improving the user experience is about listening to the needs of your customers and giving them what they want. Keep things simple, make things convenient, add value and you can grow your audience.