Every app-maker seeks to understand the mobile user. App usage data is an excellent insight on what exactly customers want from their apps. But this provides only a glimpse into the user’s engagement with the app. For the fuller picture, begin with app usage data, then construct a usability test.
Let’s start with an example. Consider this statement: “We can’t live without our mobile devices.” We can begin to determine how true this is by looking at app usage data, like that provided by a Salesforce 2014 Mobile Behavior Report. 85% of smartphone owners consider their mobile devices a central part of their lives--of that portion, 89% cited the ability to stay socially connected as the reason.
Understanding app usage begins with data like this, but usability testing allows us to dig deeper. This goes beyond user-reported motivation, which can be unreliable, and observes the user’s habits and relationship with the app more directly.
Usage + Usability = Better Marketing
We begin with the the app usage data, then hypothesize about why the behavior exists. Once we’ve formed this hypothesis, we can construct user-tests around it, giving us insight on how best to correct or augment a user’s experience with the app. When considered together, usability testing and usage data yield better apps and better app marketing.
Let’s look at the Salesforce study again, as the results provide important data about push notifications and location services opt-ins that will help any app maker improve the user experience.
Push Notification Opt-Ins
When looking globally at opt-ins--from email to apps--Salesforce found that users are more likely to opt-in if they’ve been provided with worthy content in the past in another channel. They also expect transparency, like an explanation of how a user will benefit from opting-in. Digging into push notification opt-ins specifically, we learn even more about app user behavior:
- Salesforce, Localytics, and UrbanAirship agree: 50%-52% of users opt-in to push notifications.
- 52% of opt-ins are looking for coupons and deals (Salesforce).
- Only 8% of users claim to ignore push notifications (Salesforce).
- Localytics finds that open rates double for a segmented push notification as compared to UrbanAirship’s finding of a 4-7x improvement with targeting.
This behavior tells us that what’s important is transparency, content, and targeting:
- Transparency: Ensure value of opt-in is clearly described to user.
- Content: Push relevant offers and deal content as part of a push marketing plan.
- Targeting: Segment push notifications as often as possible to improve open rates. To put this another way: Reduce the number of mass push notifications sent (sometimes called “broadcast notifications”).
53% of users opt in to location sharing, Salesforce finds. UrbanAirship data disagrees, finding an 62% of users on average sharing their location with an app. 63% of those who opted out don’t like the idea of sharing their location. UrbanAirship’s “Good Push Index” notes the invasive nature of the request turning users off.
But we don’t really know why users won’t opt in. So we hypothesize that we should improve the reputation of location-based services. Usability testing will help us test our hypothesis and understand why.
What is Usability Testing?
Some users are able to articulate what they like and don’t like, but not why. Others try to respond with what they imagine to be the “correct” answer. Getting to the actual motivations behind their engagements with mobile apps is challenging. This is where usability testing comes in.
Usability testing asks target users to complete a specific set of tasks using an app. The more specific the prompt, the better. For example: If the app helps users find flights, don’t ask them to try to book a flight. Ask the users instead to book a three-leg journey from New York City to London to Hong Kong in mid-March with the fewest layovers and lowest ticket price.
You can conduct usability tests in person or as a remote, unmoderated test through companies like usertesting.com and Loop11. In-person usability testing can consist of focus group testing and one-on-one observation and interview.
Usability Testing to Improve Opt-Ins
Location and push notification opt-ins open the door to regular engagement with your app audience. Given the above data, app-marketers eager to increase opt-ins should design usability tests, which can help encourage and increase user opt-ins.
Try, for example, testing the multiple ways of communicating opt-in benefits to a user to examine if this increases willingness to opt-in. Test push notification segmentation to discover what kind of segmented content the user base will open and engage with.
Even if you don’t have app usage data of your own, keeping an eye on industry benchmarking reports, like the ones mentioned here, will help many app-makers improve their marketing and user experience. If you still plan on building your app, try an intuitive platform like AppMakr, which can get you started designing, optimizing, and marketing your app without a background in coding or developing.
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