by Christopher Kane
Just like the eternally rising price of the land in and around New York City, the price of space on your phone’s screen is rising as well, and quickly.
However, the price to hold a coveted space on your phone’s screen is measured in the value that the app provides you, not in dollars. When an app is placed prominently on the first screen of someone’s phone, it communicates that app has enriched that person’s life to such an extent that access to it couldn’t be more than 3 clicks away.
Take a look at your phone, which apps are most important to you and where are they positioned? It’s only logical to position your apps so that the ones you use the most are easiest to get to, and what Millennial would have Snapchat or Instagram on the third page on his or her iPhone?
Inhabiting the second page and, especially, the third page are the apps that you don’t ever use, forgot about or are too lazy to delete. For any brand trying to reach you through their app, being placed there is a slow purgatory before a swift death. Brands are after the marketing and analytical gold mine that stems from being an app that is often engaged with on the first page of your phone. It gives them a clear picture of their customer and their behavior. Unfortunately, ending up in purgatory is what many brands do when they create a white-label app. White label apps are, more or less, plug-and-play templates with analytics attached. This looks great on the surface but what companies fail to realize is that nobody really cares about their app, especially when it doesn’t provide enough value to users.
Take the restaurant industry for example: If someone frequents 20 different restaurants a year (non-wait service included), will they actually download, keep and actively use 20 different apps? These apps are full of points, stars, or punch loyalty programs that all work on different metrics. Nowadays, with so much media competing for our attention, people tend to have more important things to focus on rather than getting more points. Furthermore, in the early days of smartphones, having an app for your business was a novel thing to do. That novelty was initially attractive enough to generate downloads but as time has passed it has worn off and users are now expecting programs to directly meet their current needs. Because of this, many of these apps ultimately fail to achieve their objective to encourage people to return to the restaurant.
Apps like the type discussed above have began taking the first step in meeting the modern user’s needs by attempting to implement a mobile payment interface. However, what is being ignored is since these apps still don’t provide “first page” value, will someone take the time to search the back pages of their phone to open an app and pay with it to earn points/punches that aren’t valuable to them? Moreover, even keeping these apps on your phone requires effort to update information, and presents concerns over security regarding credit card information. With all this, it seems unlikely people are going to use these apps at the required scale to make the analytics worth it.
It’s not just about the “what” but also the “how”
The Millennial generation is becoming the prevailing target demo for many industries and these white-label apps are bound to experience even fewer downloads because of it. None have yet provided millennials the value they want and when/how they want it. The stats show it all. Here are some of the biggest complaints for the reward program industry that illustrates the disparity:
Disparities like this play out constantly and leave an elephant graveyard hidden within the app store. Getting your app downloaded is hard enough, but to continuously escape deletion in one of the most rapidly rising real estate markets, is a continuous effort to meet users’ needs. Our phones are always connected to us and because of this, it is vital for brands to effectively reach us through them. The only way to do this is by valuing a user’s attention appropriately and delivering “first page” value.