Marketers often struggle with deciding where to place their bets on mobile. Optimizing websites for different device sizes and deciding to invest in mobile applications is a daunting and expensive decision.  New data from Adobe Digital Index that measures engagement on apps versus web for more than 600 brands should give marketers some comfort. According to the data, building a mobile app is a worthy investment as users of mobile apps are more loyal to the brand versus those who just visit the website from their mobile device.

Apps used for longer and more frequently

Tablet users spend the better part of a half hour (24 minutes) in an app session, while smartphone sessions are much shorter at nearly 13 minutes.  Compared to those browsing websites, however, the app sessions are 3-4x longer.  Consumers use the average smartphone apps more than twice as often as they visit the typical mobile website. All combined, the app usage outpaces mobile web visits by an average of 100 minutes per month. Despite the vastly better engagement mobile websites serve many useful functions. In fact, typical mobile website visits, which include checking locations, looking up business phone numbers and clicking on an e-mail offer, tend to receive lower engagement, but still offer marketers and businesses valuable sales opportunities.

TimeSpentbyPlatform

FrequencybyPlatform

Apps used most frequently: Financial; Apps used the longest: Travel

Mobile financial apps take the top spot for the one consumers open most frequently. New banking and investment apps are more secure and make logging in and use much easier than the website. Consumers use these apps 30% more frequently than any other app type. Travel apps are a huge hit for mobile users as road worriers and vacationers are frequently on the run and are more willing to download and use hotel, airline and car rental applications, but tend to use them less frequently than any other category. On average, travel enthusiasts use an app more than 20 minutes per app session. Media applications also have longer sessions and digital magazines, in particular, have grown dramatically in popularity. The best magazine apps are seeing 3x readership growth over the last year.

FrequencybyAppType

TimeSpentbyAppType

DigitalReadership

Android vs iOS

Disorganized app stores and constant invitations to “download the app” from mobile websites lead to many single use downloads. On average, Android apps are used 40% more often, but iOS apps still get twice as much time spent per month. Android users seem to be downloading more apps, but discard them after they open them the first time. Hourly usage patterns show Windows phone users have much more evening app usage versus other platforms.  Perhaps this is due to a younger demographic skew on Windows devices.

TimeSpentbyOS

LaunchTimebyOS

Websites and apps cannot be an “either or” proposition

Although the data makes a compelling case for marketers to focus on apps, mobile optimized websites still play a vital role. Before throwing resources at mobile apps, marketers need to think carefully about the uses for each. Loyal users prefer apps, but repeatedly using mobile browsing sessions to try and get a visitor to download the mobile app will annoy those who only need some quick information. Conversely, consumers who consistently return to a website requiring a log in with a more complex use case will demand a well-designed mobile app. Ultimately, marketers need to continue to invest in both sites and apps and, more importantly, measure and analyze usage patterns to improve the overall mobile experience.

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