Businesses across all domains and regions are experiencing the ill effects of the pandemic. COVID 19 impact on apps has been not been difficult to fathom. The pandemic has shown how vulnerable we humans are without technology and how significant apps have been in keeping us engaged, informed, and sane.
People spent 21% more time utilizing apps in the first quarter of 2020 compared to last year. Consumers spent over $24 billion in app stores in the first quarter this year, the largest spend recorded for a quarter.
Pandemic-induced physical distancing has changed the equation consumers have with apps. Now with the physical world hibernating, consumers are reliant on apps for communication, shopping, health, and entertainment.
Some industries like travel, hospitality, mobility, and real estate are facing the strain of the pandemic and others such as web conferencing, fitness, telemedicine are enjoying a well-deserved growth.
Consumers are looking at innovative ways to manage their daily routine while in lockdown and apps could provide a suitable answer.
COVID 19 impact on diverse domains
Fitness apps have observed high incidence of usage with a surge in daily and weekly active users. These apps now offer free lessons and is engaging users through their social media accounts to organize daily lessons and increase engagement.
There is a positive influence as users come to the app daily. Apps now focus more on providing quality content to the end-user so that they become loyal to the platform.
Fitness apps are tailoring their communication to help users to work out from home using mundane objects like chairs, water bottles, electric equipment, etc.
Spiritual apps have recorded a massive dose in user activity, installs, and other KPIs. These apps have espoused a holistic approach to CRM and user acquisition.
They rolled out crisis management content to help consumers unwind, relieve the stress, and deal with anxiety. Such content is being offered free and is accessible to all those who download these apps.
Brands have changed from a premium to a freemium model and introduced meditation programs for all age groups.
Gamification platform is offering customized solutions to businesses thereby reporting good acquisition while retaining existing users.
Most of the new users come from inbound efforts as more and more brands realize that the gamification app for learning is not just a bonus but an acceptable need.
Language learning apps observed a huge boost with an upswing in DAU and installs. They are now offering ad hoc personalizations without being too stingy and are focusing on providing a positive distraction in people’s lives.
The high-priced all-language package has seen more adoption. Not many people used to buy it because of the price and the proposition of learning multiple languages simultaneously. But change in this behavior can be attributed to the availability of solo-space.
Web Conferencing Apps
Given the sheer volume of people working remote – video chat and online conference apps are experiencing an explosive growth. In the US these apps witnessed a humongous 600% increase in downloads, and a 120% increase in daily users (DAUs).
Insurance apps noticed an initial dip as consumers went about securing food, shelter, and essentials, which has stabilized. Insurance providers are focusing on educating users about being insured during a crisis.
Working part-time would not consider them as full-time employees. Creating content that assists to comprehend policies is being looked into.
Delivery Apps have shifted focus and strategy from food & restaurants to grocery and essentials. On-demand courier service is working with charity organizations to deliver products free to senior citizens and helping the medical industry.
Social media usage soared from 20% of total mobile app usage in January, to 25% in mid-March. In fact, between January and March, daily active users on Instagram and Facebook climbed to 124 million and 196 million, respectively.
Steps to stay afloat
Businesses are concentrating on verticals such as Pharma and Retail. They have also changed their social media strategy by increasing their presence on LinkedIn. Brands have gone from publishing weekly to posting every day to show clients that they haven’t stopped working.
Brands have leveraged opportunities to enter other categories like grocery, which is experiencing a steep growth as people during a lockdown prefer ordering groceries online.
Brands are introducing personalization in their welcome flow, and point to offers such as podcasts, one-month free for students, and one week of free trial. They are also strategically modifying their user acquisition norms and engagement design to increase content frequency with engagement patterns in mind.
Most of the brands echoed the same sentiment of prioritizing users and helping them instead of aiming for profits even if it meant incurring short term losses.
Right now, it is about showing your app is a genuine need and can resolve pain points, and which can have a long term positive effect on the LTV.
Content assets i.e. copy and creative are focusing on stress reduction without talking about the COVID 19 impact. They noticed CPI/CPS has dropped considerably, making user acquisition cheaper.
Brands doing it right are already recording upswing in retention and session duration.
Measuring the COVID 19 Impact
Healthcare apps in South East Asia are categorized as emerging even though they have minimal active users. Although DAUs of healthcare apps are declining, there has been a 110% increase in spend on these apps during the pandemic
Real estate is seeing a coincidental increase and decrease worldwide. In Middle-East Asia these apps are exploding in popularity, but elsewhere it’s a slowdown. This could be due to restrictions being lifted in certain regions.
Apps have allowed us to remain connected in a time of crisis, and facilitate spread of reliable information during lockdown. Marketers usually prioritize ROI, but now isn’t the time to focus on profits, instead be an empathetic brand.
In conclusion, the essential learning across all verticals has been to empathize with the user during these tough times and focus on helping them solve pain points rather than hard selling.