What Makes Smartphone Owners Download an App? - eMarketer

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What Makes Smartphone Owners Download an App?

13.0% of smartphone owners downloaded an app because it was featured by Apple or Google

September 15, 2016

Getting smartphone owners to download an app is still somewhat of a challenge for a number of marketers. According to research, there are a variety of reasons why smartphone owners install a mobile app, and one of the main motivations is simple: They had a specific task, and they thought the app would help.

Reasons that US Smartphone Owners Install Mobile Apps, Summer 2016 (% of respondents)

Tune, which provides software for mobile marketing management and measurement, surveyed 3,005 US smartphone owners during early summer 2016. Overall, the reasons why smartphone owners install a mobile app are pretty straightforward. For example, 31.0% of respondents said they downloaded an app because a friend recommended it, and nearly a quarter saw an ad for an app and found it to be interesting.

Search was another key driver of app downloads. Some 13.5% of smartphone owners said they Googled something and the app looked like a good answer. Furthermore, 13.0% saw an app featured by Apple or Google and assumed that it must be good.

App retention is an ongoing challenge for mobile app marketers. A survey from Appboy found that less than a quarter of mobile app users worldwide will return to an app the day after they first use it. The data, which represents activity on Appboy’s platform, looked at average app retention rates over the first 90 days of use. As the 90 days progressed, fewer and fewer mobile app users returned to a given app.

Average App Retention Rates over the First 90 Days of Use Among Mobile App Users Worldwide, by OS, Nov 2015-March 2016

Smartphone owners will delete an app if they seldom interact with it. In fact, a study from Millward Brown Digital indicated that roughly three-quarters of smartphone owners deleted an app because they rarely used it. That same study also found that 43% of respondents used four to six apps on an average day. Compared to the number of apps they have installed—about 40 to 70—active app usage is fairly small.

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