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.

Fol­low @AdobeIndex on Twit­ter for the lat­est dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing trends and insights.

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