Successful Mobile Apps that Keep You Coming Back for More

Becky Doles

In order to attract an audience, successful mobile apps start out by addressing a fundamental customer need or desire.

Ported Post: This entry was originally published in the Artisan Mobile blog. Artisan was rebranded as In-App Marketing after being acquired by TUNE in July of 2015. 

We spend a lot of time with companies working to perfect their mobile strategies and create successful mobile apps. And while our focus is on the ongoing process of mobile experience management, we’ve also learned very clearly that for an app to be successful, it has to start out by addressing a fundamental customer need or desire.

In other words, you can have the prettiest app on the planet, but if there’s not a reason for customers to care in the first place, that app isn’t going to attract an audience.

We’ve separated successful mobile apps into a few different categories. It doesn’t matter whether the app developer is a large retail brand, a small publishing business, or the regional branch of a banking institution; these categories cut neatly across every industry vertical.

The first class of successful mobile apps includes those companies that use the mobile environment to offer a useful service in a new way. Banks, for example, are using apps to enable mobile check cashing. Instead of taking a trip to the ATM, customers can scan a check with a mobile device for automatic deposit. Restaurant reservation apps like OpenTable are another good example of companies using the mobile app channel to promote convenience, as are applications like Yelp or Shopkick that take advantage of location awareness.

The second class of successful mobile apps includes those that give access to existing compelling content to consumers who aren’t near a computer. The best apps in this category – whether we’re talking about eBay or a widely read news source – present content in a format that lends itself to casual browsing. Users want to be able to catch up or check in on content while standing in line, lying in bed, or waiting for a meeting to start.

Finally, the third class of successful mobile apps includes those that deliver features designed to complement an offline experience. Some offer entertainment in the form of a contest, game, or photo gimmick – like the Smithsonian app that morphs your photo into the likeness of an early Neanderthal human. Others inject social engagement into an experience, like the photo-sharing app Instagram, or retail apps that let users share wish lists and favorite products with friends.

Of course there are apps that cross multiple categories, like the Dominos mobile app which, when it launched, offered pizza delivery and a slot machine game for users to play with and discover new pizza toppings to try. Dominos has been remarkably successful with its mobile strategy. The company is a case in point for the types of mobile apps that keep consumers coming back for more.

Becky Doles

Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After living nearly a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned to her home of Charleston, SC, where you can find her enjoying the sun and salt water with her family.

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