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Multi-app strategy refers to segmenting a range of focused apps that belong to a single brand to achieve a specific set of functionality. This can be done for internal business applications and consumer products.
This guide identifies and provides evidence into how businesses that have implemented a customer-led multi-app approach have benefited from an increase in sales, boost in customer engagement, and greater retention.
People change, their expectations change, their lifestyles change and so do their preferences. So how do you tackle that and how do you keep up to date with an evolving technological product?
Do you take a single application approach by packing an app with lots of functionality and features that allows users to do many things from one product? Or do you implement a multi-app strategy to deliver a better experience based on an individual’s specific wants and needs instead?
With the advent of smartphones, the first generation of apps was feature-light and very specific. But as the marketplace began to develop, businesses wanted their apps to contain the same feature set as their websites. However, mobile with its limited screen real estate, doesn’t lend itself to this. Overloading an app can have a detrimental effect on the user experience, and ultimately overshadow the core purpose of the app.
Therefore, it is important to identify what the key function of an app is. Then, when you decide to add a new feature, ask if it’s likely to overpower its initial purpose. If the answer is yes, then we recommend that you should consider a multi-app strategy.
Facebook is a great example of adapting products to the multi-app strategy. Initially, it was launched with an inclusive messaging feature, which allowed users to share links and content within their Facebook network. This was also included in the first incarnations of the Facebook mobile app.
Over time, Facebook changed its strategy, realising that it was losing users from their messaging service to more feature rich offerings, such as WhatsApp at the time (which it later acquired in 2014).
Removing the private messaging capability from the primary Facebook app meant that the social media giant could create a standalone messaging brand, Facebook Messenger. This mobile app provides users with simple messaging features, such as instant messaging, the ability to make phone calls, create and send videos, share rich media like GIFs and images, as well as creating groups. All very similar, to WhatsApp’s functionalities.
As social media started to grow in popularity, Facebook started seeing more competitors in other areas, including image and video sharing networks like Instagram. It soon acquired it in 2012 to diversify its portfolio, but continued to service Instagram's growing audience which is different to Facebook's core userbase. Although accounts may overlap, the activity and user interaction on both networks is different.
After the acquisition, Facebook decided to manage all its apps as standalone products to retain their individual branding and features without disrupting the customer base. This was also a good move so as not to upset any users or make them use additional Facebook products if they didn't want to.
To introduce Facebook's freshly acquired services into the already feature rich Facebook app would have posed various implications from both a user experience and technical perspective.
By separating the messaging functionality from the main Facebook app, users benefit from a more focused UX, clearer user journeys, increased engagement and fewer distractions. In short, Facebook Messenger simply allows users to communicate with their contacts withouth being distracted by posts or adverts on their feed. It's more straight-forward and much simpler.
From a technical perspective, the individual applications are lighter, with less individual functionality, and therefore require less complex development.
For future updates and upgrades, businesses will enjoy reduced development time and lower costs. Developing in an overly complex and feature heavy application could prove costly, as well as time consuming due to the intricate nature of adding in new functions to the existing app.
Facebook’s product portfolio diversification has a number of long term benefits, but a key advantage is that the Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram have easily built their own brands to compete with other instant messaging service providers in the market. In 2020, Facebook increased its users across its apps 14% to 3.14 billion. As its main revenue is advertising, the company generated over $18 billion thanks to its network and engaged user base across all platforms.
A key example of a brand that has adopted the multi-app strategy and implemented it exceptionally well is Sky (British Sky Broadcasting Group plc). They initially started out as a British Satellite Broadcasting Company, but now provide on-demand internet streaming media, broadband, telephone services and much more.
In a fast changing market, Sky saw the need to embrace a multi-app strategy. Imagine all of the above services packed into a single mobile application… it has already taken your attention away from the single purpose.
This approach makes their apps very focused on what each app does rather than having a single app doing everything. Sky have firmly identified the complexity of their brand and understand that not all of their services appeal to all of their users.
The multi-app strategic approach gives the user more control when it comes to the type of service they want from Sky. This is achieved by the delivery of specific content, design, functionality and branding through individual apps, whilst still maintaining Sky’s overarching parent branding.
Ultimately, this creates an enhanced user experience and the segmentation means that the user acquires what they want from a particular app.
Our work with Betfred and its mobile sportsbook app has shown that segmenting online gambling products can also work really well. We established the multi-app strategy early on, and today, Betfred has six different mobile apps. Each app has its own focused purpose and brand.
This includes sports betting, games, lotto, live casino, casino and bingo. Each app facilitates a wide range of features specific to the its genre. Would it be right to combine all of these to cut down on the cost? Or is it more important to give users a better experience by allowing them to buy into the right service? This, as well as other key factors, discussed in the benefits of a multi-app strategy, outlines why we believe this was the ideal solution for Betfred.
As with anything, there are upfront costs associated with adopting a multi-app strategy. However, with many years’ experience in mobile app development, we have seen that this approach has had a significant advantage over managing a single app.
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