Download my APP? But we just met

Download my APP? But we just met

Setting the scene

Nowadays, most major companies and sites have an app. For the majority of them, the app is a well thought through investment that supports their overall product and plays an important role in their value proposition. Then there are the companies for whom the app is the only asset as their product offering is for a new generation of consumers born holding a smart phone. And finally, there are the companies with more money than sense who simply decided to hop onto the app wagon and produce an app without any thought. These are the companies who asked “do we need an app download strategy?” before asking “do we need an app?”

For the remainder of this article I will steer clear of app first companies like Instagram, Tinder, Whatsapp and Snapchat who have relied on innovation, quality of product and word of mouth to go viral. As always, I’ll also refrain from overused examples such as Facebook and Twitter. They don’t need advice!

My focus will be on the aforementioned first group of companies who have transitioned into the app world.


App Statistics

If the following statics are what drove you (or is driving you) to create an app, then shame on you! Yes app usage is higher but no, chances are there isn’t a piece of the pie that you can have.

Mobile app vs site usage

source: nielson


These are the statistics you should have been looking at. Unless you are a Facebook, social, entertainment or gaming company, it probably was/is not even worthwhile spending the money on an app. By looking at the chart below, you can see how small the piece of pie that you have access to actually is. Now ask yourself, should you develop an app?


So you created an app

If you’re good at your job, you should know that none of the above was of any value, it was all waffle and regurgitation. The reason I took the time to write it was so that I could demonstrate that if you are going to invest your time in an app, you better maximise the amount of people who download it.

Use the data


The below screenshots show four different companies with two things in common. The first one is fairly obvious, they all have an app. The second thing is less obvious… they all showed me the banner to download their app in my first session. It’s very common practise to see these banners and actually it’s a widely accepted strategy. However we haven’t stopped to think about this from a customer’s point of view.

As a customer, even if I have heard of your brand, it’s very presumptuous to assume that I want to download your app even before I’ve decided if I want to stay with you. In a world where 16gb is not enough space, you’re asking from me, something more precious than my money, you’re asking for space on my phone!



I’m not saying “don’t ask customers to download your app”, I’m just saying that getting customers to download your app should be less like fishing with dynamite and more like spearfishing. Jump into the ocean, swim around, follow the fish until you see a good one and when the time is right, take your shot. You may miss, but if you don’t you’ll catch a good fish.

In that analogy, dynamite fishing implies that you may get some good fish, you may get some bad fish and you may get no fish. The bad fish are those customers who download your app, never use it and then delete it. There is no point measuring your download rate if you don’t consider your uninstall rate.

To truly increase your app download rates, get to know your customers, follow the ones that survived the blast, look for behaviour that suggests that these customers may benefit in having your app and then when the time is right, take your shot and remind them that you have an app.


I recently ran a test where my hypothesis was  “I can increase app download rates by targeting customers who are more engaged”. Once a customer met a given criteria, I showed them the app download banner again. (Engagement can be a number of things, from repeat visits to the site, registration, multiple purchases, community interaction, creating an account etc…) The test was fairly simplistic, I could have used sophisticated models, personalised messaging or other reminders, but I wanted to prove my hypothesis first.

Below are the results. I’ve anonymised the actual results and the criteria to protect the data but you can see that in both of my variations I saw a significant uplift in my download rate. The second variation increased by 31%!

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