Why Do Most Mobile Apps Fail in 2021?

13.09.2021 | 7 min read

Why Do Most Mobile Apps Fail in 2021?

App Annie’s State of Mobile Report 2021 has revealed that the mobile industry is continuing to boom. Time spent in shopping apps went up by a colossal 49% in the past year, while App Store spend grew by 20% YoY. The daily time spent by users on their mobile devices also increased by 20% since the previous year (both on Android and iPhone), and mobile ad spend reached an incredible $73B. The latest research from Statista (Q1 2021) showed that Android users can now choose from almost 3.5million apps, while the Apple App Store offers 2.11 million apps. So with all these eye-watering figures, why are so many apps still failing in 2021? Data from Business of Apps shows that as many as 77% of mobile apps are abandoned within 3 days of download. Where is it all going wrong? We investigate.

An insufficient discovery phase can cause mobile apps to fail

According to Business of Apps, as many as 42% of mobile app failures are the result of inadequate user and market research. When put like that, it seems obvious, doesn’t it? If you fail to understand the demands of your target demographic, or produce a product that fulfils a genuine market need, you don’t stand a chance of succeeding in a highly competitive market. So as a prospective product owner, what should you do to ensure that you don’t fall into this trap?

Test your hypotheses using an MVP

A good idea is to start with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). It’s essentially a version of your product that delivers your core functionalities to market early to test your business idea. By offering this simplified version instead of a full-blown product, you can test your hypotheses, gather user feedback, get your product to market fast, and keep the costs down.

The additional benefits of creating your MVP is that you go to market with just the basic product, and you build a user base early on. These early users will give you exactly the information that you need to understand what’s working, what isn’t, and what additional features (if any), you should be focusing on. Ultimately, this process can save you a great deal of time and money.

“Cutting the scope to the bone and providing users with the core business value is the most important aspect of an MVP project. We always put aside those elements not directly related to the core user value. This might mean that the MVP lacks a user account, has no shiny animations, and might not even have a backend. None of this matters - what matters is that you can test whether your overall concept works.” Krzysztof Bogacz, Head of Mobile Development at 10Clouds.

A poor user experience can make or break an app

There are so many different elements to a great user experience, but at its core, it’s all about clarity, ease of use and aesthetics. There’s no point creating a visually outstanding product when your calls to action are missing and you fail to onboard your users properly. Here’s where the role of a UX Designer really comes into its own, as they can help you to shape the user journeys around your product and ensure that your customers can intuitively find exactly what they are looking for.

Make sure that you do your usability testing

Early usability testing is essential to understanding how users move around your product and whether they take the actions that you’ve set out for them. But make sure that you prepare your test materials well in advance, that you recruit participants from your test demographic and that you enjoy the silence - the key to such testing is that you don’t interfere or ask questions. The goal is to merely understand how your users interact with this early version of your product and to learn from it.

Content is King, but Context is the God of UX

Great UX should be the basis of any service or product sold or used online. It’s particularly important in mobile app design, as designers must also take into account the context of use.

“A mobile app can be used in different situations or places and UX designers cannot control where users are doing so. Therefore, the best user experience should be designed in a way that it not only provides value but also enables intuitive use of the app, product or service in various situations.

Building mobile apps following lean UX and MVP principles is the easiest way to verify hypotheses regarding users' needs and test them with real customers in various contexts of use.” Stanisław Nowogrodzki, UX Designer at 10Clouds.

Inadequate marketing may mean your mobile app never reaches the right audience

It’s another statement that seems relatively obvious, but it’s surprising how many mobile app product owners haven’t paid enough attention to marketing. As Neil Patel points out, there are some very strong apps such as that of Nordstrom, that do almost nothing to publicise their existence.

Use all the channels at your disposal to market your mobile app

As a start, make sure that you have a great product name and a sufficient description in the App store. There’s a separate area of App Store Optimization (ASO) that you should be familiar with to make sure you’re getting the most from organic positioning within Apple App Store or Google Play. Once somebody finds your app, the first thing that they’re likely to look at is the reviews. That’s why it’s worth spending some time asking your early users to leave you a review and a rating - it will pay dividends further down the line.

“The companies I've worked with usually had a problem with managing bad reviews, users spotting problems, bugs, expressing their wishes in a non-constructive way. This is something that needs to be planned in advance: who is responsible for answering to the users in the app stores, what is the tone of voice, what is the time-to-respond and the time and process for managing the requests and fixes,” adds Marta Klepka, Head of Growth at 10Clouds.

“Even when that part was managed well, companies lacked good reviews which featured praise from their most satisfied customers. We know that expressing dissatisfaction usually comes easier to us than praise, so there's a real need to focus on gathering positive feedback. But how? For example by identifying your most satisfied users and approaching them in their natural habitat.

It is also important how you ask. Including a warm-up question before asking directly for the in-store rating is one way to prepare the ground for a good review.”

Source: TMS Brokers - trading mobile application is a good example of a creative way to gather user feedback.

To reach wider audiences tap up any contacts with large follower groups or networks and ask them directly if they would be willing to try your app and review it online. Another idea might be to host an open request for feedback on Twitter or Facebook asking for reviews of your product post launch. You could even do this in the form of a competition in which you offer a randomly selected responder the chance to win a prize.

Use your existing social media channels to promote your product. It goes without saying that you should ensure that any paid campaigns should be targeted towards your target audience. If you’re working with a larger marketing budget, you might look to employ an integrated agency that will cover everything from billboard to digital advertising. But note that it’s rarely worth investing a large budget when you’ve only just released the first version of your app.In-app advertising and optimization of campaigns towards the events will improve your active users base.

The moral? Learn from your users

Your user should always be king. They’re the person who will be engaging with your product and will ultimately guarantee its success or lead it down the road to failure. And this is why an MVP is so handy - it enables you to build your core offer, test it with the right users and learn from their interactions. At 10Clouds, it’s almost always what we advise start-ups and scale ups to begin with. The process is fascinating, enjoyable and considerably increases the chances of your app’s success in the market. What’s not to like?

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