#Asia 6 ways to ensure your app stays on your users’ smartphone home screens

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Try these unique approaches to capturing market share in an overly saturated market

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On the smartphone Monopoly board, app real estate used to be like Baltic Avenue. But with the massive number of available apps and the finite amount of storage space on smartphones, it’s now become more like Park Place and is quickly approaching Boardwalk status.

The beauty of app creation is that almost anyone can do it. But that increased competition has created a saturated market — especially for gaming, education, and business apps.

How we approach the competition challenge

The reality is that all apps are competing on two levels to gain a spot on a user’s phone. They’re competing for downloads against other apps in their category with similar features, and they’re competing with apps in every other category.

That means that your app needs distinguishing features to make users adopt it over others. For example, one of our partners is Rent the Runway, a service that enables women to rent designer clothing at substantially lower prices. The company approached our team because it had a problem: Its catalog of dresses was so large that customers felt overwhelmed by it. So we developed a quiz within our Rent the Runway app that provided users with curated dress recommendations based on their personal style, preferences, and anticipated event. In addition, customers could save lists of favourites for later, personalising the experience and cutting the time spent browsing.

Though these fixes were simple, they went a long way with Rent the Runway’s user base. The app became a popular and highly rated app, enabling it to stand out in the saturated women’s retail market. Since its app debut, Rent the Runway has opened brick-and-mortar locations and integrated its mobile and online experiences with its offline shopping experience.

Also Read: 3 ways to bounce back from negative app reviews

This underlines the most important quality of a successful app, which is that you need to offer users an experience they can’t get anywhere else. Use these tips to stand out in the App Store and secure a prime spot on users’ home screens:

  1. Do your research to tap into users’ needs. The most successful app creators understand their users’ wants and needs and provide them specific, targeted solutions. Gilt and Rue La La, for example, updated their apps in 2015 to satisfy shoppers who have become more comfortable with mobile spending and expect even greater shopping convenience. Talk to your ideal users to learn what they want to see in your app.
  2. Identify problems with other apps on the market. When you’re replacing a native utility or trying to upset a popular application, your app’s experience must trump the existing one. Sunrise Calendar stands out because it’s meant to replace a native smartphone app. Sunrise identified the problems with other calendar apps and set out to offer something better.
  3. Offer a personalised experience. User reviews can tell you a lot about what makes apps successful or unsuccessful. Apps tend to do well when they offer high levels of personalisation and interactive features that users can’t get anywhere else. The David’s Bridal app, for example, includes a comprehensive quiz that helps a bride find dress options that fit her personality, wedding theme, and preferences.
  4. Differentiate through simplicity. While you want your app to stand out, the common misconception is that differentiation must come from vastly different features and a lot of innovation. In reality, fringe features that are too different or “out there” are unnecessary and may actually turn the user off. Instead, work on making your app simple and easy to use.
  5. Focus on creating a frictionless user experience. According to Yankee Group research director Sheryl Kingstone, “mobile is all about frictionless commerce.” One app that embodies this idea is the Zappos app, with its clean design and thoughtful, simple user interface. Most social apps also find success in simplicity; they have an easy flow and make it fun and enjoyable to send and receive content. Snapchat, for example, made it incredibly simple and fun to share pictures and videos with friends with its new Stories feature.
  6. Reward loyalty. Zappos understands that its mobile users are its most loyal customers, which is why the app is designed to offer a VIP experience. Because every app purchase comes with free overnight shipping, conversion rates are between two and five times higher than the mobile site, and order values are in line with desktop transactions. Although the shipping bonus means a slightly lower profit margin, Zappos knows its app users are more loyal and will make repeat purchases.

Also Read: Singapore tops mobile app economy, but for how long?

In today’s crowded app marketplace, getting users’ attention is hard, and keeping it is even more difficult. Users eventually delete 80 to 90 per cent of apps, and about a fifth of apps are opened just once. To captivate users and stay on their home screens, focus on providing the best solution to their needs and building a beautiful app that’s fun and simple to use.

Bobby Emamian is the co-founder and CEO of Prolific Interactive, a strategy-led mobile agency headquartered in Brooklyn, New York, with offices in San Francisco as well.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organisation comprising the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship programme that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

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