Solving the Web-to-Mobile Conversion Problem: Show, Don’t Tell

One of the most difficult user acquisition problems in mobile is finding ways to take advantage of traditional user acquisition channels. Web services have long used Facebook, email, SEO, AdWords, etc., to drive growth, but the problem for mobile apps is that most people still spend a lot of time browsing the web on their laptop or desktop. Getting a potential user to make the jump web to mobile is a significant hurdle; they have to pull out their phone, find the app in the app store, wait 60 seconds to download it, and then finally remember to open the app. The secret to maximizing conversion from web acquisition channels is to never send someone directly to an app’s app store page. App store pages is that they have a terrible conversion rate because communicating the value of an app is very difficult to do within the constraints of Apple or Google’s app store. The key to web-to-mobile conversion is to show, don’t tell. Communicate the value of the app before ever sending someone to the app store.

 Stitcher’s App Store Page

One app that does this web-to-mobile conversion well is Stitcher Radio. Stitcher provides an on-demand radio service and the company is primarily focused on mobile. Their primary growth channel so far has been Facebook invites and Facebook Timeline posts. To solve the web-to-mobile conversion problem they built out a Facebook canvas app that contains most of the basic functionality of the Stitcher mobile app. When a web user hits the canvas app, they can start listening to podcasts and start to get a feel of what Stitcher provides. As the user continues to engage with the canvas app, Stitcher actively tries to convert them to the mobile app with several strategically placed download prompts. What is effective about this approach is that giving the user an interactive experience that really shows them what the app is all about is much more convincing than the static description in the app store. By providing a lightweight interactive website that sucks them in and communicates the value of the app to the user, Stitcher is able to greatly improve their web-to-mobile conversion.

 Stitcher’s Facebook Canvas App

There is still one improvement however that Stitcher could make to improve their download conversion. Stitcher shows several download prompts, but when someone clicks on one, the person is still just sent to the app store website. What Stitcher really wants is to send the person to the app store on their mobile device. Flipboard has found a nice solution to this problem by giving the user the option to enter an email or phone number and then emailing/SMSing the app store link on their phone. Once a user wants your app, the easier the download process, the better the conversion.

Flipboard Download Prompt

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