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November 19, 2016
November 19, 2016

So you want to build an app? My first response would likely be, “Why an App?” Apps come with barriers. Users always need to download and install the app before any engagement can begin—a particularly non-user-friendly start for a world obsessed with the “easy button.” Even after installation, it’s never smooth sailing. Research indicates that the average app loses 77% of its users within the first 3 days after the install. By the time 90 days rolls around, over 95% of users never return, staggering figures when you consider the substantial investment of time and capital it takes to build an app.

“Why not create a mobile-centric, mobile-first approach into your website?” would be the next words out of my mouth. Here you can kill two birds with one stone. You can include all the engagement features anticipated for the app with the added benefit of users being able to find out more about your brand, shop products, etc.—all in one location.

I’ve advised clients for years on the pros and cons of building an app. I’ve maintained a long-standing position that the only reason to build an app separate from your website is if you intend to use some of the phone’s unique operating system functionality. I am referring to features such as geo-location, the camera, gestures, the accelerometer, notifications, etc.

I’ve been pretty unwavering in my opinion on this topic, until a few weeks ago when I finally found “my app” and became part of the dedicated, remaining 5% who keep using an app after 90 days. The app that changed my perspective is Sailing Challenge, by the American Sailing Association (ASA). Designed by Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, this app embodies the perfect balance of brand education, target audience engagement, and entertainment. It’s a game, an educational tool, and “gamification” all in one.

The app comes with six modules: Learn Points of Sail, Apparent Wind, Sail Trim, Tacking and Jibing, Rules of the Road, and Docking. Each module focuses on a different task and skill common to the real-world challenges a sailor might face out on the open seas. But here’s the kicker: none of the modules require any unique mobile phone functionality. The entire experience could have been created on and for a desktop; it’s just more accessible on your phone.

Quick access to content and education is the key here. It’s all the joys and experience of real-life sailing without the hassle of the boat. It’s with you wherever you go, even when you can’t be out on the water. It’s with you on the bus, while you wait for your 2 pm meeting to begin, or in the doctor’s waiting room. It’s the tool that will keep your mind sharp and your head engaged in sailing so you can continue to learn and be a part of the ASA lifestyle 365 days a year.

Now of course I’m a sailor, so this app just happened to speak to me personally.

However, beauty mavens aren’t any different from sailors. You can be a veteran sailor practicing your sail trim or a beauty maven perfecting the perfect stroke to line a brow.

Customers could watch a video on how to line a brow a million times, but there’s no substitute for doing it. And if you want customers to do more of it, there’s no better time to give them the opportunity to try than right now – while they are waiting for the doctor.

The true essence of great beauty content is distilling your brand and the unique insights only you as an expert can provide into engaging education. When you have that refined into something you know users are ready to experiment with digitally, then you might be ready to create a stellar app.


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