Mobile developers are facing some severe limitations when it comes to app distribution:
- App content is almost invisible to browser search
- App-to-app connections are scarce
- App discoveries #1 channel are marketplaces but search algorithms are still evolving and improving
- App updates need to go through a tedious resubmission process on the relevant marketplace
Let’s look at some technologies that can help us overcome these limitations.
Is Your App on the Index? Become Part of the Web of Apps
If you've built an Android app and it’s not on the App index yet, you're already losing potential re-engagement. Indexing your Android app means that your in-app content will become accessible through mobile search to users who have already installed your app. The little green text just below the title link informs users they are being sent to a mobile app. We all know how hard it is to get users to re-interact with your app after they’ve abandoned it, and the Google app indexing is a great step toward making this easier. Technically, it's pretty simple: follow this tutorial and get started. This feature is available for Android apps only, but it makes sense to expect it will work with other operating systems in the future.
Screenshot source: https://developers.google.com/app-indexing/webmasters/
Deep Link: Re-Engage Your Users
While Google app indexing is not available to non-Android apps, any app can take advantage of deep linking
, the core technology that Google app indexing uses. Deep linking is a powerful tool that increases user engagement, and it can be used in countless scenarios. You can increase ROI from advertising and email nurture campaigns, because users are sent to relevant content. You can even include a “Call Uber” button, if it makes sense in the context of your app. Check out Deep linking: The Foundation for a New Mobile Web
for a deep dive in deep linking.
Image source: http://www.engadget.com/2013/10/02/facebook-deep-link mobile-ads/
Tag Your Apps: Don’t Lose Time Re-Publishing Your App for Every Single Update
While the web allows for real-time updates of content and features, mobile apps are practically frozen once they are installed on the user device. From this point on, developers can push updates to their app user base only if the user agrees to it. The Google Tag Manager (GTM) for mobile apps provides an effective way to solve this challenge, to some extent. With GTM enabled in your apps, (and this is fairly simple), you can change configuration values in your apps though the GTM interface without having to rebuild and resubmit application binaries to app marketplaces. It works across devices and supports both mobile websites and native mobile apps. You have control over configurations such as various UI settings and display strings, sizes, locations and languages, as well as type of ads served in your app. This Getting Started guide walks you through the process in details for Android
The Web of Apps
The marketplaces are and most probably will stay the #1 place for users to search for apps, but there are so many untapped opportunities for mobile app owners to reach existing and potential customers. The web of apps will evolve with the willingness of mobile developers to become part of this transformation. Are you already using any of these technologies in your app? I’ll be very glad to hear how you solve these challenges.
If you are a mobile developer going the native way, check out Telerik UI for Android
and UI for iOS.