You don't need an app, really, you don't

Many of us download apps. But the minute our phones start running out of space, the apps are also mostly the first to go.

In fact, a recent survey by eMarketer found that folks in the US today are spending less time on browsers and more time on apps. But the number of apps being used on a regular basis is also dropping. The study said that among mobile internet users, mobile apps will account for 84.9% of total mobile time spent.

But despite the importance of apps, it is not always necessary to have your own designated app, said experts on panel at Digital Marketing Malaysia 2017.

Nicco Tan, VP relationship marketing and social media, Genting Malaysia said, having a mobile optimised site is more vital than creating an app.

“You don’t necessarily need to build an app, but you need to build a mobile optimised website because every mobile phone has a browser,” Tan said.

Agreeing with him was Edward Ling, country lead of Waze Malaysia, who said it is not just about launching an app.

“We once had a client who had their own app and so they didn’t want to partner up with us. But one year down the line, they realised they needed to be on an app people used every day. So they decided to work with us,” he said. He added that it is important to work with apps that already had a strong presence instead of building an app.

“People use about 10 to 20 apps. So think of using with an existing app people already use,” he said, adding:

Apps are not for everyone. Integrate with popular apps.

What makes an app stick?

According to Tan, utility is a big factor. But of course, there are seasonal apps that go viral at certain periods. Pokemon, he says was one such app.

“For Genting, we know we are not the most popular app out there, but we also have that viral factor when we have the free rooms on promotion. So the important factor for an app is to be useful for everyday life. It has to help users stay active and have space in their everyday life,” he said.

Raj Chaudhuri, director of customer fulfilment and global services network,Japan and APAC, said brands need to think in the shoes of the consumer when creating an app to know what they are thinking and experiencing.

“As a consumer, when I use an app, I think, “Does it add something to my life. Is it easy for me to use? Does it give me what I want and value?” That’s a measure of success for me as a consumer,” he said adding, that he doesn’t want to spend extensive amount of time on an app looking for what he needs.

Ling also added that brands need to stop thinking of just monetising and rather think from the user perspective.

“When I think of it from user perspective rather than my business, the app becomes more useful. Think of yourself as a user. And think of the user first,” he said.

But these factors aside, Ling also admits that sometimes its just about being first in the market. He said:

“Sometimes, we just don’t know why some apps are popular in certain countries. Whatsapp might be popular here and in SG but in Japan it might be Line, they are all messaging apps but what makes them popular in certain markets?"

It could just be because they were in the market first.