How Customers Are Changing the App World

How Customers are Changing the App World (and How You Can Keep Them Engaged)


“There’s an app for that.” That phrase has become shorthand for our current reality. These days, consumers depend on their mobile devices for everything from reviews to price comparisons. And this trend is growing: according to Pew Research, 74% of adult smartphone owners use their phone to get directions or other information based on their current location, a boon for savvy retailers who are finding an effective app is the best way to engage with customers and prospects.

At my company, Yeti, we work with a variety of companies looking to engage customers and prospects with apps, and in doing so, we’ve learned a lot about what’s working now (and what isn’t). For example, we worked with a health-focused consumer product company focused on selling fresh food to their customers. After testing, we discovered that enabling users to track their produce and measure both their own and their family members’ consumption were added benefits–things that users really enjoyed and that brought them back into the app again and again.

This experience and others I’ve had point to some critical trends converging to fuel the demand for apps that increase customer engagement:

  • Consumers’ demand for immediate gratification is growing. Successful apps streamline the buying process. For instance, smartphone users can “push for pizza” to order directly from the nearest pizzeria, instantly summon an Uber car, or use Zeel to book a same-day in-home massage. The trend is towards eliminating all possible sources of friction between the consumer and what he or she wants (hence, the rise of wearables and smart watches, which help people connect with technology and get that immediate gratification without even using a device).
  • Bluetooth low energy (BLE) technology is becoming more popular and affordable. BI Intelligence estimates that 570 million Android and Apple phones, roughly one-third, are compatible with BLE, the signal emitted by beacons to ping smartphone apps. In the same report, BI Intelligence found that these devices are the fastest-growing in-store technology since mobile credit card readers—and growth is projected to be huge. They predict the beacon-installed base will see triple-digit growth rates over the next few years. This technology makes it possible for phones to connect with nearby devices without draining their batteries, allowing the phones’ tracking technology to be used to trigger actions based on the user’s proximity to a certain device or location.

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Tony Scherba is the President and Founder of Yeti, a product focused development and design studio in San Francisco. Yeti works with companies from large enterprises to startups on building innovative products that blend the physical and digital world.

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