Fuel Digital Transformation Through Mobile App Growth

Digital transformation is a term on nearly every brand’s mind since 2020 ushered in a new era of consumer needs and digital innovation. Across industries, brands are focused on reimagining their operations, workforces, products, services, and customer experiences to thrive in today’s digital age. According to Gartner, 91% of businesses are now engaged in some form of digital initiative, and 87% of senior business leaders say digitalization is a top priority. 

A core tenet of digital transformation is rethinking customer journeys around “digital.” Consumers now engage with brands via digital touchpoints at every stage of the customer lifecycle — whether it’s doing product research before making a purchase, processing a return, or reaching out to support for help. To meet customer expectations, brands need to deliver seamless, convenient digital experiences. That’s where mobile apps come in. 

How mobile fits into digital transformation initiatives

Mobile devices have become more than just tools; they’re part of our daily lives. Considering that over six billion people worldwide own a mobile phone, it’s obvious that mobile’s ubiquity has completely transformed not just our buying habits but also how we engage with brands. When a user downloads a mobile app, they’re agreeing to carry that brand around with them in their pocket — all day, every day. Mobile apps have become the “digital face” of brands and made it so users are never more than one tap away from engaging or converting. This has opened massive opportunities for brands to build stronger relationships with customers and has accelerated  brands’ urgency in embracing a mobile-first approach.

As brands look to grow profitability through digital transformation, mobile apps are a no-brainer. Branch data shows that app users are over three times more valuable than non-app users; on average, they spend $3.30 for every $1 a non-app user spends. Apps also typically have richer features and functionality, offering a better user experience than the mobile web. Plus, mobile apps provide a deep well of data that can further fuel digital transformation efforts, including user engagement data, user preferences, location data, and more. So what’s holding brands back? 

Barriers to mobile app growth

There’s no shortage of reasons why brands should have mobile apps. Many brands have already embraced them, as evidenced by the 5.7+ million mobile apps available to consumers, but app growth isn’t always straightforward. In fact, it’s getting more complicated every year thanks to: 

  • App visibility and discoverability. With so many apps available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, getting users to know your app exists is a challenge in and of itself. Getting your app on the map now requires a robust, multi-channel app marketing strategy.
  • Engagement and retention challenges. Acquiring app users is hard, but getting them to stick around is even harder. On average, shopping apps have a 5% retention rate 30 days after install, and entertainment apps have an even lower retention rate of 3%.
  • Privacy and security regulations. Industry shifts like Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) and Google’s Privacy Sandbox have had major impacts on how brands collect and use user data in their mobile apps. Consumers are also demanding more transparency and control over how their data is shared, urging brands to embrace privacy-centric approaches.
  • Fierce competition. Mobile apps are all vying for the same screen time — and users don’t want multiple apps on their phones that do the same thing. Standing out from the competition now requires a more strategic approach that focuses on delivering value to users. 

Becoming mobile-first: The role of deep linking and measurement

For brands looking to put mobile — and more specifically, mobile apps — at the center of their digital strategies, getting deep linking and attribution right is critical. 

Deep links improve user experiences and facilitate app growth

Deep links bridge the gap between mobile apps and other digital channels by seamlessly directing users to app content, unlocking limitless ways for brands to grow and promote their apps. For example, a Branch deep link can take a user from a Facebook ad to a specific page within an app in a single tap. Without a deep link, the user might otherwise get stuck inside Facebook’s in-app browser and never make it to the app. The same is true for every other marketing channel. By implementing deep links into existing marketing channels, brands build connected digital experiences and unlock new ways to grow their mobile apps, including email, SMS, and search engine results pages

Just as important, deep links remove the frustration of fragmented user experiences — a critical component of any digital transformation journey. For instance, a user can select a deep link in an email promotion and be immediately directed to a personalized app experience. Because deep links preserve user context through the app install process, users can pick up wherever they left off without navigating through menus or manually searching for content. This continuity enhances user satisfaction, reduces friction, and drives higher engagement and retention rates. 

Branch customer Etsy boosted app downloads and conversion rates by implementing Branch deep links in its email marketing campaigns. With Branch’s email-to-app experience, users are seamlessly directed to the mobile app after they click a Branch link in an email. If users don’t have the app already downloaded, a deferred deep link takes them to the app store to download it, then to their in-app order confirmation. 

Screenshots of a phone screen showing the user flow from email to app. When a user clicks on the "track package" link in an email, they are deep linked to the order confirmation page in the Etsy app.

Accurate attribution data helps brands become insights-driven

Undergoing a digital transformation means making better use of data to become insights-driven — in other words, using (accurate) data rather than instincts or opinions to make business decisions. 

In the world of mobile apps, brands need insights to understand (1) which channels or methods are effective in acquiring new users and (2) how users behave and engage with an app. Brands use this information to optimize experiences, add new features, build engagement and retention strategies, etc. But the reality is that many brands have massive blind spots when it comes to their mobile apps. Without a dedicated attribution or mobile analytics tool, it’s nearly impossible to know which campaigns are really driving app installs and conversions. Marketers are left to allocate their budgets based on what they think is working. 

Mobile attribution tools like Branch remove the guesswork by unifying measurement across all marketing channels, helping marketers understand which activities drive app growth and engagement. By attributing each install and in-app event to a specific source, brands gain valuable insights into the effectiveness of their marketing efforts so they can better invest resources. 

Branch customer Shake Shack increased app downloads and click-to-install rates thanks to attribution data. By connecting Branch to its performance marketing tools, the brand analyzes its marketing spend and optimizes campaigns based on real performance data.   

“By using Branch as a mobile measurement partner and linking platform, we can better understand which sources are driving the highest return and most efficient cost per install while simultaneously removing friction from our digital guest experience.”
Shannon Reilly, Senior Manager, Lifecycle Marketing, Shake Shack 

Make the most of mobile for digital transformation success 

With 70% of “digital time” happening on mobile devices and 92% of that time spent in mobile apps, it’s clear that mobile will continue to be a focal point of brands’ digital transformation journeys. To transform and succeed in today’s competitive landscape, brands need the tools to build better digital experiences and make data-driven decisions. Learn more about how Branch can help you on your digital journey by reaching out to our team.