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How to navigate the web app spiral

Andreas Hassellöf, Ombori Group CEO, explains how to deliver a seamless experience your customers will love.

We’re all probably getting sick of this year’s top marketing buzzword – omnichannel.

It’s clear to anyone in online retail that mobile and Web are equally important. It’s also clear that customers want to be able to use whatever device is most convenient at the time, and that within the course of a single purchase, they may use multiple devices to fulfil different functions. It’s no longer even worth discussing whether brands should have an app or mobile Web – you need both.

Web attracts casual customers; apps are for your loyal customers. We’re all probably getting sick of this year’s top marketing buzzword – omnichannel. It’s clear to anyone in online retail that mobile and Web are equally important. It’s also clear that customers want to be able to use whatever device is most convenient at the time, and that within the course of a single purchase, they may use multiple devices to fulfil different functions. It’s no longer even worth discussing whether brands should have an app or mobile Web – you need both. Web attracts casual customers; apps are for your loyal customers.

But it’s not enough simply to have a separate app and Web site that simply replicate each other. If you design them properly, you can use your app and Web site to build upon each other. Each acts to promote and enhance the other, eventually creating a powerful spiral of growth.

The secret is universal links, deep linking and app indexing. These aren’t new techniques, but many app developers still don’t use them. It’s essential to ensure that your app team and your Web team are working together to add the necessary code to link the two together. Without that level of collaboration between teams, you’re missing out on an essential aspect of providing a unified service.Proper use of these techniques allows you to easily drive traffic seamlessly between your Web site and your app, depending on which is most appropriate for the user’s current needs and device. For example, a user can click on a deep link in a Web page and go straight to a product page within your app. In addition, your app now becomes fully searchable. Users will see links to both your app and your Web site in search results. Your app is now much more accessible and you will have created a proper omnichannel service.

This increases the functionality available for the users and improves UX, but also has several other important side effects.

App engagement rises. By making it easier for users to find content in your app directly from your Web site or from searches, you increase overall app usage.

Your search rankings improve.  Merely having a properly linked app and Web site will give you a significant boost to both your PageRank and your app store ranking. However, the benefit doesn’t stop there. Google and Apple both like to promote apps and sites that are actively used, so increasing click-through from search and increasing app engagement will also increase your search rankings for both your app and your site.

App and Web discovery both rise. As your search rankings rise, you inevitably attract more customers to your Web site and more app downloads. This in turn boosts engagement, which starts the growth cycle all over again. Your Web site captures new and casual users, and your app encourages them to become valuable long-term repeat customers.

You can amplify this effect with a variety of techniques to increase both app downloads and engagement.

● Ombori’s free App Banner is a simple open source tool that encourages your Web users to download your app. It’s more versatile than the proprietary smart app banners, it takes just a few minutes to add to your site and has been proven to be over 10 times more effective than a simple link. Driving app installs directly from your site not only creates more app users, but also gives you a boost in your app store ranking.

● Well-designed push notifications, especially as part of an on-boarding experience or built into a purchase and delivery process, will encourage customers to get used to using your app in preference to mobile Web or email.

● Provide valuable benefits for your app users. These could be specific app-only deals, or additional functionality that takes advantage of the capability of their mobile device. Give them a reason to choose your app over the Web site.

● Maximising dwell time on your Web site is important, but you should be trying to minimise it on your app. In order encourage customers to use your app for simple but critical engagement. Streamline your app around the ability to fulfil short, simple tasks fast. Most importantly, make it as easy as possible to make payments via your app. Mobile abandonment rates are high, partly because entering credit card and billing details is unnecessarily complex. Incorporate payment methods such as PayPal, Android Pay or Apple Pay so that users can complete purchases quickly and easily.

By adopting this approach, both your app and your Web site will benefit. But most importantly, you’ll be delivering a seamless experience your customers will love.

Ombori Group is a user experience design and development team, creating cross-platform apps and omnichannel retail experiences.

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