Word-of-mouth is a key driver of smartphone application discovery and a leading reason why users download apps, details Google [pdf] in a study conducted with Ipsos MediaCT. But downloads don’t necessarily equate to usage, as 1 in 4 installed smartphone apps are never used, according to the research.
The survey was conducted in September 2014 among 8,470 respondents aged 18-64 who met the following criteria:
- Smartphone users;
- Have used any smartphone app in the past 7 days;
- Have used one of the following types of apps on their smartphone in the prior 30 days: retail; travel; social; finance; gaming; entertainment; local; or technology.
According to the study’s findings, respondents have an average of 36 apps installed on their devices, although only 26% of those apps on average are used daily.
Where do they learn about smartphone apps? The most common way in through friends, family, and colleagues (52%), followed by browsing the app store (40%). Interestingly, search (27%), company websites (24%) and TV (22%) are each sources of smartphone app awareness for at least one-fifth of respondents.
When browsing an app store, price is the most important factor in the download decision, with more than 8 in 10 respondents considering this an important factor. The app’s description (62%), reviews (60%) and ratings (60%) are all equally important, with free trials (43%) less impactful, likely due to 3 in 4 respondents expecting apps to be free.
When it comes to influencing the downloads, word-of-mouth is again a top factor, supporting its broad influence on consumers. One-third of respondents said they have downloaded an app in the past due to a recommendation from others, compared to 31% who have done so because it sounded interesting or fun and 24% due to a familiarity with the company or brand. Word-of-mouth influence is particularly important given recent research from Fiksu indicating that the cost to acquire a mobile app user through advertising rose to a new high of $3.09.
Meanwhile, fewer (18%) respondents to the Google study cited access to exclusive discounts or rewards as a reason for having downloaded an app. But while discounts may not be a reason to download, they do offer a reason for re-engagement. Three in 10 respondents who had stopped using or uninstalled apps said they would be more likely to start using the app again if they were offered a discount or coupon towards their next purchase, with this incentive particularly influential for retail (47%) and travel (40%) apps.
By comparison, exclusive or bonus content (24%) or notifications of new features (16%) appear less likely to re-engage users. And this time the respondents’ social network isn’t a key driver: only 21% said they would be more likely to start using an app again if their family, friends and colleagues started using it.
Finally, the study notes that the attributes most highly associated with frequently used apps are: making lives easier; clear instructions for using the app; appealing design and aesthetic; and consistent experience on multiple devices.