3 Ways to Survive App Fatigue

August 12, 2011

1:00 pm

Just like many of you, I have lots of apps on my phone (and even more that I’ve installed and deleted).  The latest one I’ve been using is Summify.  For now, I’m simply trying them out to see what type of innovation they’re bringing to discovering news stories.  As a writer for Tech Cocktail, these types of news discovery tools can certainly help keep me informed of what my own personal network is finding interesting.

At this stage, it’s hard to tell how long I’ll actually use Summify on a regular basis.  Not because it’s not a great app, but with all the other news aggregation sites I use, as well as new ones launching every week, I’m going to have to pick and choose where I get my news content.  Currently, my favorite digital newspaper is Zite, but a few months ago, it was Flipboard.

From a PR perspective, many interesting startups have initial traction and a cool concept that get them a story on major tech blogs and publications.  But the next day, those same publications are featuring 10+ new startups.  By the end of the week, I’ve read about 50+ startups and have probably been intrigued enough to try out 5-10 of them.

AllThingsD recently reported that the average iPhone user will download 83 apps in a year.  83!  How many of those apps do you think will get launched more than 3 times in a year?  With all these new services flying into the market, people quickly grow tired of their old apps and gravitate toward these new shiny ones.  According to Localytics, 46% of apps get launched less than 3 times, and only 26% get launched more than 10 times – i.e. a regular customer.  So how does a startup keep people engaged and avoid app fatigue?

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Make Customers Your Partners – I always find it interesting to hear how companies incorporate initial user feedback into future iterations of their product.  I recently received an update from Summify about enhancements they’ve made to their app, as well as a request for feedback.  It also gave me a reason to go back to their app and see how they’ve improved it.  By incorporating your customer’s voice, you are more apt to create a longer-lasting customer relationship.
  • Make Interacting With The App Easy – With our attention spans shrinking by the day, you need to allow customers to find and use your app as quickly as possible.  The new HTC Status incorporates a physical Facebook button that can be utilized anytime a customer is on a page where a Facebook action is possible.  One-click access.  Easy.  The reason I have grown fond of Summify is their basic premise of presenting only 5 stories per day.  Since I have a tendency to want to finish things, I often feel overwhelmed when I need to go through RSS feeds to make sure I’m not missing anything.  Summify makes it nice and easy for me to digest their content.
  • Target A Niche – Targeting a problem that the masses have is great in theory, since it expands your addressable market.  The problem is that many companies are targeting the mass market, so there are constantly new alternatives to explore.  It’s difficult to build a relationship with your customer that leads to long-term loyalty.  Summify is great.  But it’s turning out to be another news aggregator/filter and thus, they are sharing my attention with my other news apps and RSS feeds. I use them now, but what happens when the next news app is launched?  Unless you have a strong established brand and can target everyone, scale down your target market to hone in on a specific customer segment and limit the noise of other competitors.

It’s certainly not easy for companies to break onto the scene with their app, and even for those that do, to stay on the scene.  The key is differentiating yourself through rigourous customer feedback and an intense focus on ease of use.  And be sure to find a niche and make that niche so happy that they’d be crazy to leave.

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Anuj Agrawal (@anujagra) is a digital media enthusiast in the DC area, with a passion for understanding what makes consumers tick. From the fundamentals of designing products that are engaging to understanding the psychology of the buying process, he has helped companies develop innovative consumer experiences.

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