Giving instant gratification to increase your user-base

2017-01-13


If you’re thinking of taking a mobile app to market, one essential thing to consider is this: how quickly does your app give value back to your end user? By that I mean, do people get something out of the app quickly? And by quickly, I’m thinking within seconds or minutes of use, not hours or days.

Giving value early leads to more users

The quicker your app gives some value, the more likely your users are to remain engaged. The more engaged they are, the more likely they’ll return to your app. In turn, fewer users will give up on your app, and so you’ll see a faster-growing user base because existing users stick around. Financially, you’ll get more bang for each buck spent advertising. In other words, your acquisition costs will be lower.

Note: for those making enterprise apps for company employees, you’re probably more interested in helping them be more efficient. In this case, giving value to them quickly will translate to people using the app more, which in turn will help you get the efficiency savings you set out to achieve. At the same time, you’ll spend less time having to “encourage” teams to adopt the app, which is a common management challenge that can also lead to hindered progress.

Four apps that give instant value

As an example, here are some examples of apps that give value in seconds

  • Instagram - As soon as you apply a filter to your first photo, you’ve got a nicer looking photo.
  • RunKeeper - As soon as you start your run, you know your pace and distance covered
  • Spotify - You can find and listen to almost any song in the world as soon as you’ve opened the app
  • Energenie - You can turn your living room lights on with the app, and it happens instantly

As this sketch shows, for apps such as Instagram there are several places where value is felt by the user in a short timeframe.

Showing perceived value of app over time for Instagram

What if my app has delayed value

It may sound dramatic, but if your app idea doesn’t give some instant gratification, you should consider it a potential warning sign. Of course, not all apps are geared up for instant gratification. Instead, your app might need people to wait a little time before they get something from it. Uber and Deliveroo have this problem, and there are ways around it.

If your app is more of a “slow burn” when it comes to giving value to users, it’s worth exploring how to inject a little instant gratification in there. This will help keep users engaged and encourage them to come back repeatedly.

Three apps that should have delayed value

Here are some apps that give instant gratification, even though the real value is delayed

  • Uber - As soon as you book a taxi, you can immediately see it coming to pick you up.
  • Dominos Pizza - Building and ordering a pizza is very easy and fast
  • DropBox - Lets you preview files even before they are downloaded to your phone

Some of these techniques might seem obvious, but I’d bet 50p that the teams designing these apps made conscious decisions to invest in app features that keep users engaged and happy whilst the true value was “in the post”.

Ways to inject instant gratification and increase engagement

If you’re looking for inspiration, here are some ways you could consider giving instant gratification.

Invent new forms of value

Sometimes it’s possible to give secondary forms of value to keep people engaged. This is what Uber, Dominos and DropBox do when they’re showing you a car on the map, or a preview of a document.

Re-engage people outside the app

Sometimes you can’t avoid making people wait. For example, it would be silly for Uber to try and keep cusotmers in the app whilst the cab is on its way. So instead they send emails and push notifications to draw them back in. RunKeeper sends weekly reports to remind runners of their goals and progress. So, if your users must wait, consider similar approaches to out-of-app engagement.

Keep users motivated

Encourage users not to give up whilst they wait to receive value from your app. You could show a progress indicator so they know they are getting there. Or use gamification to give them “points” that reward positive behaviours.

Keep users entertained

The worst case scenario is that you simply need to entertain people whilst they’re waiting. You could consider giving them some hints and tips so they’re learning whilst they’re waiting. Some apps give people a quick game to play whilst people wait (not a fan of this). You can also offer more moments of delight where the app surprises the user with something interesting and fun.

In summary, it’s worth considering how to give some instant gratification. If it doesn’t suit your product, consider finding ways to show progress or delight the user to keep them entertained and engaged.

Saving money by retaining users

User retention in apps is hugely important. Acquiring users can be expensive, so losing them is wasting that investment. And, there’s more to it than acquisition costs. You’re also significantly lowering the lifetime value of users, which means you’re missing out on increased revenues or efficiency savings.

Virtuous cycle between app value, engagement and retention

Ideas for your industry

Internet of Things

If you’re creating smart hardware solutions with sensors and gateways, it’s possible that the data you collect is where the value is; giving people data to better manage something. Be it their blood sugar levels, their warehouse safety or their heating efficiency. For applications like these, sometimes the value is realised over hours, days or months. Not seconds or minutes. For example, a smart-meter that takes an hour to give any useful data about your energy consumption. If this sounds like your app, consider using out-of-app engagement to remind users of the value they’re getting from your app. In the case of a smart energy app, it could notify the user saying “We’ve collected an hours worth of data, tap to see how efficient your home is.”

Transactional Apps

If you’re building an app to facilitate a transaction, such as a taxi booking app, consider finding intermediate forms of value around the transaction. This might be showing progress, or allowing users to get the job done more quickly.

Enterprise Apps

If you’re building an app to increase staff efficiency, consider finding other forms of value. For example, consider an app that helps the sales team present current and consistent sales information to clients. This could also give sales staff an insight into new and popular materials for their division, so it becomes and educational tool that helps them do their job better.

Talk to us about engagement and retention

Pocketworks exists to help businesses build modern digital solutions that actually work; which bring long term success and help them achieve business growth. Our expertise spans mobile apps, cloud solutions, IoT, enterprise apps, big data and chat bots. Engagement and retention are one crucial component of your app’s success. Each day, we’re helping startups and established businesses take ideas to market safely. We help businesses solve many types of problem relating to manufacturing, enterprise efficiency, mobile booking, delivery and retail.