Remember the last time someone asked you about your mobile app? What was your first thought? Perhaps you thought about the fact that you hadn’t thought about your app since the last time someone asked you about it. Perhaps you couldn’t even think of which person or department was responsible for the app. Or maybe you thought about how you have been thinking for quite some time that your company really should do something about the app.
Where do you go from here? Should you throw in the towel and start over? Or is there a way to take your existing app and breathe new life into it to make it a meaningful part of your revenue generation strategy moving forward?
Whether your app’s been out for a while with no recent updates or improvements, has loads of users but is not generating revenue or regular activity, or has been steadily declining in the app store accompanied by more and more poor reviews, ongoing maintenance and incremental improvements are key to seeing improved acquisition and retention numbers, a higher ranking in the app store, and having your app play an important role in generating revenue for your business.
In this blog, we’ll be talking about the three key results you can influence and improve by investing more time, energy (and dollars) into your mobile app – surpassing your competitors, delighting your customers, and increasing your bottom line.
Why Improve Your Mobile App
There are a lot of reasons you might want to improve your mobile app.
- You’re Not Seeing the Retention You Expected: If your user retention rates are not meeting your expectations, it’s time to reevaluate your app’s user experience.
- You’re Getting Bad Reviews on the App Store: Negative reviews can harm your app’s reputation and deter potential users. Improving your app can help address these issues.
- Your Competitors Are Launching Exciting New Features: The app landscape is constantly evolving. Keeping up with your competitors by introducing innovative features is essential.
Regardless of how recently you launched your app, or how large its feature set might be, there’s always an opportunity to make things better and delight your users.
The nice thing about digital products is that they aren’t static and can be updated or improved over time. No matter how many features you planned in your initial scope, you (or your users) are going to be asking for more in short order. Deliberately planning maintenance and updates offers you the opportunity to measure, look at KPIs, add new features and technology as it becomes available, and improve functionality based on user feedback – all leading to an impact on the bottom line.
By planning for the future and defining success from the start, you can go beyond paying down technical debt, look at the essentials of app degradation, fix what’s existing, and make enhancements to improve user experience and hit overall business goals.
Improve What You Have, or Start from Scratch?
Sometimes it’s tempting to start from scratch. But don’t let this distract you from the critical work that needs to be done. You’ll need to take a high-level, strategic view of your app and where you want it to go.
There are three main pitfalls you can fall into when considering the different ways to improve your app.
- Do Nothing: If you take this route, your app will only get worse. Reviews will plummet as the technology degrades. This can also happen by accident when you get stuck in a decision loop of whether to refactor the existing app or rewrite it from scratch.
- Replace It Completely: There are many inherent risks to this, including the large upfront investment, finding the right partner, and building new to wind up with the same outcome.
- Incremental Enhancements: You can work to make small improvements over time. This is, of course, a positive for general maintenance, but if you focus only on fire features or problems, you’ll miss the opportunity for a strategic investment in your platform as part of a larger plan.
We always advise our clients to take the future into account when they embark on a new app project. But we quite often meet new clients who have an existing app and are struggling to improve it on their own. When this happens, we walk them through the decision-making process of whether to build upon their existing platform or start from scratch. Either way, we rely on the app’s existing success and barriers to success, as well as user reviews and technical advancement, to determine the right path forward.
Whether you decide to simply improve your app or build a whole new one, you’ll want to aim for these key outcomes to influence your features and improvements.
1. Catch Up to or Surpass Competitors
Since you and your mobile app development company developed your app, there have likely been considerable improvements in technology. With over 100,000 apps launched in the Google Play Store every month, you can bet competitors are coming out with new, show-stopping features or apps.
Incorporating emerging technologies like virtual or augmented reality can create opportunities to engage with customers in ways you’ve never been able to before. As we’ve seen through the pandemic, it’s also opened up the doors to apps that customers are dying to see, like virtually trying on shoes through their phone.
Instead of going after boundary-pushing technology, sometimes simply being responsive to bad reviews or user feedback is the best way to fend off the competition. Customers are constantly comparing and contrasting services and experiences. That’s where strategic updates come into play.
Update the overall user experience – take all of the data you have available and leverage this to make your app more seamless, intuitive, and easy to use. All customers are looking for is the quickest path to information or purchase, so making improvements to remove even one click from their experience can give you the edge over the competition.
2. Delight Your Existing Customers by Evolving Your Product or Service with New Features or Functionality
Customers’ needs change over time. The most in-demand features you launched your app with are likely no longer enough.
Incorporating customer feedback will allow you to both improve existing functionality and add desired new functionality to your app. The pandemic has been a great example of this, as some of the most popular features we’ve seen arise this year have to do with order delivery, tracking, and curbside pickup scheduling. Keeping up with customers’ evolving needs – and being the first to respond to them – often means you can outperform competitors and see revenue gains.
You can also look at targeting underserved customers and increase your market share in those areas. Improving overall accessibility for customers with disabilities or limitations opens your app up not just to more customers but happier existing customers who will also see the benefit from these changes.
3. Increase Your Bottom Line Through User Retention
Meet customers where they’re at. 73% of customers will abandon a brand after three bad experiences – or less. This means that any small or large improvements to your app’s user experience will help you retain and grow your user base.
Returning customers pay for themselves over and over – in fact, it costs 5x more to attract a new customer than to retain an existing one. According to a study by Bain & Company, increasing customer retention by only 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.
Spending more time and effort catering to existing customers and app users certainly pays off. But where should you start?
There are a number of areas to look at when making technical improvements, so be sure to consider all of them and how they can potentially impact your business in the short and long term.
- Restructure your existing functionality: This will allow you to make future updates more feasible and frequent based on emerging user needs.
- Improve your overall rollout speed: Pay down some technical debt in your code base to expedite future updates.
- Implement newer versions of third-party libraries: Lower your overall code complexity to facilitate adding new features and functionality.
- Eliminate bugs or instability in your code: Frustrations caused by bugs can impact customer loyalty.
- Improve your code: Update to new or modern standards and fix non-functioning or poorly-functioning code.
- Focus on reducing load times: Streamline the path to cart to positively impact overall functionality.
- Ensure you’ve kept up with new devices and device requirements: Technology evolves, so stay current with increased processing speed or lower latency networks.
Ongoing improvements to your mobile app experience should always be a priority once it’s launched in the market. Ensuring that these maintenance improvements and costs are factored from the outset will make sure you have budgeted for consistent, incremental updates to serve your existing user base. Customers will notice and reward you for ease of use and improved functionality with frequent visits and purchases, and recommendations to friends and family.
But even if you are considering these changes well after your app has launched, you’ll do well to not just fix the on-fire issues but create an overarching plan to make sure you are making the best possible ongoing investment.
If you’re not sure what to do next, send us a message and we’ll be happy to help. We can guide you through the right questions to find out whether improving your existing app or starting fresh is the best way forward.