why 80 percent of enterprise apps fail to engage users

Why 80% of Enterprise Apps Fail To Engage Consumers

Enterprises have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on mobile app development.

They have won app design awards, surveyed thousands of people, and have pushed their apps out to millions of consumers. BUT…no one is using their apps.

Why do they consistently fail to engage the consumer?

In this article I’ll share my findings from the research I have conducted over the last 2 and a half years on mobile consumer engagement. My research pin points exactly how enterprise apps fail, and how to truly engage users in a long lasting, profitable relationship.

Let’s take a look at some of the world’s most successful enterprise applications to find out what they did and why they have been successful.

Baffling stats you should read, and share:

mobile app time vs desktop time

Where do enterprises go wrong?

The problem with marketers of today is that they think in the ways of ‘campaigns’ rather than connectivity. They’re constantly building campaigns designed to engage the consumer with the company. And it works…for a while anyway. But after a while the hype wears off.

These campaigns don’t build any loyalty. They’re designed to convert, not to engage and retain.

With the introduction of new technology such as Facebook, mobile and other digital mediums consumer behaviour is changing quickly. Today consumers crave to build a relationship with their favourite brands. They want to get to know the company, intimately.

Here’s where most enterprises go wrong and what to do about it to stay ahead of the curve:

1) Short term thinking

Marketing people tend to think short term, with campaigns no longer than 3-12 months. By applying this same mentality to app development we simply don’t have enough time to (a) learn about our users, and (b) iteratively improve the application over time.

Begin to think in terms of years, not months, or weeks.

Let’s look at the Starbucks app for example.

It was designed to simplify the process of buying coffee for their customers and reward them for their actions through the use of gamification.

The Starbucks application was launched back in December 2011 and now accounts for 15% of all transactions made at the U.S Starbucks operated stores. That’s a mind blowing number.


This didn’t happen immediately of course. Starbucks launched a relatively simple app into the market and have expanded on it over time with the use of customer feedback.

The Starbucks app is on track to process over $US1.5 billion in payments by the end of 2014.

2) Not useful enough

I see a lot of enterprise apps that offer ‘purchasing options’ as the primary hook to keep users engaged. Sure, that might work for some companies but it won’t work for most.

Mobile apps are the most useful when they help the customer solve a problem.

Can you pin-point the problems you’re customers are facing and build a mobile app that will help to solve it?

Commbank (Commonwealth Bank of Australia) was the first bank in the southern hemisphere to launch an application that interfaces into your personal bank accounts (Kaching app).

Commbank customers can check account balances, transfer money between accounts, pay-wave from their phone and much more, from their smartphone.


Every year Commbank releases new features that keeps its competitors awake at night, and their customers happy.

A useful application is dynamic that solves a real problem and keeps its users coming back regularly.

3) Same old, same old

Most enterprise applications that I have reviewed have very little wow-factor. People don’t engage with a QR codes and store-locators the way they use to. And they don’t necessarily want a tool that helps them buy more or engage with your business.

Today’s consumers want to be moved. Make use of the latest technology to build a useful tool that impresses your customers.

SpaNet are a leading spa-parts provider in Australia and ships over 10,000 spa units every year.

We built a home automation mobile application called SpaLink that their customers can use to control their Spa from anywhere in the world. So now a happy SpaNet customer can preheat their spa and turn the bubbles on as they drive to their holiday house in Mt Bulla.


The SpaLink app doesn’t include any purchasing options or any kind. It doesn’t link the user back to the SpaNet company website/Facebook page or tell them anything about SpaNet at all. It’s just a useful tool that helps the customer operate their spa unit.

But guess what: Who do you think that the customer is going to recommend to their friends and family if they ever need a spa?

What cutting-edge convenience can you offer to your customers?


The most important conclusion we can make about mobile is that it’s not just an advertising medium. It’s an engagement tool. Enterprises of today can’t justify spending $50,000-$250,000 on short lived mobile campaigns with little or no ROI.

As marketers we need to focus on build long term relationships with the mobile consumer that keeps them engaged with the brand. We need to build app marketing strategies with a life cycle of 3-5 years and iteratively improve the product with new features, improved UX design and wow-factor.

This will offer up buying opportunities throughout the lifetime of the app. And if the consumer is engaged with your app then it’s your company that they will buy from, not the competition.

Mobile continues to deliver the greatest ROI hands down for the few companies that have taken the time to get to know this medium.

Want to learn how the pros are achieving mobile ROI within 1 year? Download our enterprise mobility report below…

enterprise mobile strategy report

The following two tabs change content below.
Logan Merrick is the co-founder and Director of Buzinga, as well as one of Australia's most recognised entrepreneurs, keynote speakers, investors and mentors. His writing on startups, technology and mobile marketing has been featured in The Australian, Business Insider, Startup Smart, Smart Company, and more.
  • Fantastic article, thanks

    Why would you say that apps need a longer campaign cycle? The way I’m reading it is because the app as a marketing platform is probably more than just one campaign – its like a series of campaigns. And each of those campaigns could be very short – just a few weeks. But the app is more of a marketing platform than a campaign itself.

    I also really like your comments about ‘more of the same’. We actually find that a lot of companies just want an app because it seems like the right thing to do, rather than actually thinking about the unique benefits the platform can deliver.

    Once again, thanks for the article – it really is one of the best on the subject I’ve read in a while


    • Logan Merrick

      Hi Matt,

      That’s exactly right – took the words out of my mouth. Typically a mobile app would represent 1-3 month campaigns over a 3-5 year period. The campaign itself uses traditional methods (target audience, offer, etc.) however the app is a way of connecting to the target audience and delivering the whole or part of the experience/service.

      You’re right, most companies look at apps as a must, and therefore squeeze ideas out that are poorly thought through. Most apps we get asked to build are of low value to customers (hence we reject them).

      If you’re going to build something, build it well and build it for the long term gain. Similar to a blog.