Technology

Report: Mobile app updates take longer than marketers expect

More than 90% of developers and marketers say waiting to get app enhancements to market significantly impacts their business, and 96% of marketers are reliant on developer resources and app updates to improve user experiences.

A new Airship study found many companies still struggle to optimize mobile app experiences, failing to achieve the exponential value regularly cited in industry research* and quarterly earnings reports. 

*eMarketer found app users produce 3.5x more revenue and are 3x more likely to make a repeat purchase (“Frictionless Commerce,” May 21, 2020)

Mobile app development slower than perceived

A survey of technical (developers) and non-technical (marketing/product owners) teams identified gaps in seven key operational areas spanning the entire mobile app experience (MAX) lifecycle. Enterprise companies, in particular, seem to be at a time-to-value disadvantage, moving more slowly due to complexity, organizational layers and longer approval cycles.

Time is of essence when it comes to improving app user experiences. More than 90% of developers and marketers agree that waiting to get app enhancements to market significantly impacts their business. Virtually all marketers — 96% overall, 98% at enterprises —  are reliant on developers to make app improvements happen.

App improvements happening quarterly or less often

Nearly three-quarters of marketers and mobile product owners think about app enhancements at least weekly, and all (97%) agree experiences like feature walkthroughs and permission soft-prompts have a significant impact on user behaviors. Despite that, more than a third of companies (and nearly half of enterprise companies) only improve these critical onboarding experiences quarterly or less often. 

Surprisingly, marketers believe their requests to enhance app onboarding, feature adoption, opt-in and data collection happen faster than developers do. Nearly twice as many enterprise marketers as developers say these requests are implemented immediately, while developers were more than twice as likely to say it takes a month or multiple months.

​​Despite virtually all marketers and mobile product owners being dependent on developers to improve app user experiences, they view their app enhancement requests happening faster than those implementing them. Image source: Airship.

Why the disconnect? Developers at all sizes of companies say “major new features” are the primary driver of their app release cadence — market differentiation is job 1. “Marketing or product team requests” come in third behind “bug fixes.” In addition, developers say “QA testing” and “internal approvals” impact the predictability and speed of app releases most.

Developers and marketers — a ‘contentious’ relationship

A decade of apps, and their growing importance, has improved relationships across diverse teams. Not a single respondent described relationships across technical and non-technical teams as “difficult” or “uncooperative,” however “contentious discussions” was more common among SMBs and enterprises.

Looking ahead, companies will opt to use no-code platforms to create and optimize native app experiences much more quickly and effectively. 

The survey was conducted among 100 app developers and 102 app marketers and product owners with active involvement or responsibility for customer-facing mobile apps from companies with at least $2 million in annual revenue.

Read the full report from Airship.

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