Android instant apps: they're a thing now. The latest step forward in app evolution for mobile devices, they represent a real paradigm shift towards how mobile marketing is done. But what, exactly, are Android instant apps? How do they work? What do they look like? And, finally, how can savvy mobile marketers use them to improve the reach and impact of their business?
Don't worry -- we've got all the answers you're looking for and then some when it comes to Android instant apps. Here are five things you, as a mobile marketer, need to know about this new and innovative approach to mobile apps.
1. Android Instant Apps Are Just That -- Instant
Instant Apps are revolutionary because they offer lightweight Android apps that can be started in a snap -- and that means without having to visit the Play Store and install the app beforehand. Instead, users can launch an instant app simply by visiting a URL. The app is then loaded dynamically, providing users with targeted functionality, sending them exactly what's needed to accomplish the specific task without providing extraneous features.
This offers obvious advantages to consumers, but instant apps are also great for developers. With instant apps being stripped-down versions of native apps that can be opened up on the fly without a user downloading the full app, to begin with, developers are freed to focus exclusively on user retention improvement and user experience (UX) enhancements. This offers any number of lessons for mobile marketers to learn!
2. Instant Apps Make Install Friction and Drop-Off a Thing of the Past
Some mobile marketing approaches focus on driving installation figures. They do so, for example, as requiring users to download an app to access exclusive pricing or discounts. Unfortunately, this can act as a barrier for entry, as many users don't want to have to take the extra step to install a new app on their device for a one-time purchase -- or they'll just use it once and then delete the app, never to return.
Using instant Android apps, meanwhile, prevents the friction that installing mobile apps can cause. It also obviates the need to delete the app, as there's nothing to delete. Without having to subject shoppers to the rigamarole in the first place, they'll be much more willing to become return customers in the future.
3. Instant Apps Look Better -- and Perform Better -- than Mobile Pages
More and more consumers conduct business on their mobile devices. Yet the limitations of mobile browsers mean that e-commerce sites often need to create fully-featured mobile apps to provide the functionality these consumers need. Still, getting users to adopt a mobile app, even in the face of a mediocre mobile browsing experience, can be difficult. The delays caused by having to find an app in the Play Store and then wait for it to download and install may be less than a minute, but in a fast-paced world like ours, even that can be too long for some consumers to wait.
This is where instant apps are so advantageous. Instant apps provide the functionality and aesthetics of an app with the ease of access to a simple mobile web page. Removing the requirement to download a standalone app to experience better shopping performance -- and better aesthetics -- means you can serve customers better without having them exert any effort on their part. The lack of any discernible delay besides what a user would already encounter from a page loading in their mobile browser is much more tolerable than spending a minute or maybe more going through the app download and installation process.
4. A UX Focus Means Opportunities to Promote User Centric Solutions
With instant apps paving the way for developers to not have to focus on things like download and installation, they can instead concentrate their efforts on user experience and retention. This leads to the creation of opportunities to promote the user-centric solutions that these developers provide to users. With so many mobile device users placing a premium on convenience, speed of access, agility, and responsiveness, marketing a new service provided through an instant app meets those needs in ways that a native app can't.
Additionally, it's much easier for consumers to discover your content, as it's no longer locked away in your native mobile app that requires downloading to access. The ability to have your instant app discoverable in web searches is just one example of how Android instant apps can drive discoverability and increase your reach. This makes these apps a powerful tool in the hands of a savvy marketer.
5. Despite Their Advantages, They're Not Perfect
There's so much to recommend the use of Android instant apps that it's often all too easy to overlook the fact that there are some inherent disadvantages as well. Yet there are some rather glaring problems with these types of apps that arise as a result of their design limitations. The biggest, of course, is that these apps are platform-specific. For now, there is no equivalent when it comes to instant app design and implementation on the iOS side of things. While there's no dearth of Android shoppers out there, Apple devices still represent a large proportion of mobile market share, so this means you're still stuck with developing and marketing full iOS apps for iPhone users.
There are other drawbacks you need to keep in mind when dealing with instant apps as well. From a technical point of view, instant apps don't have a large memory allowance per page or feature within an app, and that means you won't be able to provide multimedia content as rich as a standalone app. Also, as instant apps by definition don't stay installed, you lose the opportunity to market through push notifications to the consumer.
Yet don't let this dissuade you from using Android instant apps to your own advantage. Knowing the platform's limitations is just part of the process. Combine this knowledge with the other tips prevented above and you'll soon have your own marketing strategy well up and running in no time!