Lin Pophal

As people go into self-quarantine, they're often turning to their phones as entertainment and as a connection to the outside world. It’s a time when all small business owners are having to be creative and innovative about how they connect with existing and potential new subscribers. How can app publishers engage, and re-engage users—without feeling pushy or exploitive--at a time when so many eyes are on their smartphones?

App Demand is on the Rise

Research from App Annie shows the quick growth in app adoption and use as COVID-19 has spread around the world. For instance: “Daily time spent in mobile in China jumped to 5 hours per day on average, an increase of 30% compared to the average for 2019. Italy, the country with the second-highest concentration of confirmed cases as of March 15, saw the second-highest jump at 11%.”

App Best Practices in the Best of Times

Vaughan Hunt is a marketing strategist with MotionMobs a custom software development company. He says, “In our experience building apps for our clients we’ve found sending push notifications that are reflective of user behavior instead of general, mass-released notifications perform better in getting attention.” If these messages aren’t tailored, he says, “users are uninterested in engaging and are more likely to turn them off, effectively ending communication.”

Hunt adds that it’s important for marketers to recognize the value of pushing messages to specific groups using audience segmentation. “You can achieve this by assessing how they are already engaging on your platform,” he says. “Similarly, sending time-based notifications when groups of users are most active or based on events you wish to inform them of, is another way to get attention.” Combining these tactics, he says, “increases the likelihood of engagement and makes the audience feel like the app is more personalized.”

These same tactics can work for marketers now as well, with one important caveat: avoid blatant, self-serving marketing appeals.

An Altruistic Approach

Some app developers making their apps available at no cost. This is a great way to introduce people to your app while establishing goodwill. It will be most effective if delivered absent any request to become a subscriber at some future date. Dim the direct marketing pitches for now in favor of offering solutions to the problems and issues your audience may be facing.

Here’s an example from an email that Zello, a push-to-talk app that connects frontline workers, sent out: “Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, beginning today we are making the premium version of Zello available at no cost to first responders, police, fire, EMS personnel, and 911 dispatchers, anywhere in the world.”

That’s a great move that will have an impact not only on the first responders who may accept this offer but to many, many others who learn about Zello’s act of goodwill.

App developers can help significantly during this health crisis. It’s a good time to get in front of your existing, as well as new, audiences.