You probably heard the news: McDonald’s is offering free fries every Friday for the rest of the year...except there’s a catch. You have to download (and spend at least a dollar) on their mobile app. This isn’t the only case of native app bribery. Brands are constantly looking for ways to boost their app downloads with rewards, prizes, and referral incentives. But let’s back up and think about the reason why brands need to turn to incentives for app downloads. High Costs, Low Returns
Building an app is no cheap feat. The numbers for building an app run the gamut, but on average brands will spend upwards of $100,000. And those are just the dollars spent for the upfront build. Yearly maintenance and upkeep costs are around slated at 20 percent of whatever you spent to build the app in the first place. With a hefty initial investment and yearly upkeep on top, it’s safe to say that marketers feel the pressure to provide some ROI. But, unfortunately, those returns don’t typically come. Changes in Mobile User Behaviors
Here’s the tough pill the swallow: it’s not your fault your app isn’t being used. Smartphone users are downloading less and less apps each year, and quickly deleting apps they don’t see value in upon the first few uses. Consumer behaviors are changing, and unless the consumers sees your app as something they’ll turn to weekly, it doesn’t matter how great the app is–it’s not going to stay on their homescreen for long.Why Do We Bribe?
What’s the biggest point of friction when it comes to getting an app on your user’s homescreen? The download process. Think about it: we have no problem getting users to visit our mobile websites. All they have to do is search, click, and they’re there. But once they get there, engagement drops off because many “mobile-friendly” site really aren’t mobile-friendly at all. That’s why we’re tempted to bribe users in order to get that app on their homescreen–because we know we can provide a truly made-for-mobile experience with native apps. But unless we can get our users past that app store download, they’ll never know how great that native experience is.Ditch the Bribes for More Accessible Mobile
It’s time to reframe our mindset on mobile engagement. Although native apps have been our only option to connect with smartphone-obsessed customers for the past decade, there’s now a new alternative that won’t require any bribery because they don’t require a cumbersome download: Progressive Web Apps. They give users all of the amazing made-for-mobile functionality that comes with a native mobile app, but they’re accessed like a mobile webpage–with just a quick search. I’m not just saying this to give you a heads-up on a futuristic mobile engagement tool. Big-name brands are already utilizing PWAs today, and seeing amazing results like increased conversions, and decreased bounce rates. PWAs provide higher engagement, which means you could take the resources and marketing dollars you would typically spend on those quarterly app bribes, and re-allocate them for better, faster, mobile experiences–no bribery required.