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Win Customers and App Downloads with App Clips

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If you work in online retail, you’re likely aware of an inconvenient paradox:

  1. App users are more valuable than non-app customers
  2. Forcing app downloads when a user is trying to complete a transaction kills the conversion rates of those transactions

It’s like explaining nap time to a three-year-old: Everybody knows that nap will make everyone’s life easier — including the toddler — and yet, here we are, no nap at 4 p.m. on a Sunday in the midst of a stage five meltdown…

It’s a harsh reality for marketers, managers and developers alike. And parents, in this analogy.

But what if there was a way to ease into a new app download while still providing a frictionless transaction?

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Enter App Clips on iOS14.

With App Clips, retailers are able to provide a taste of their app’s functionality (usually just enough in order to allow somebody to complete a transaction) without forcing a user to interrupt their transaction with a trip to the App Store.

Anecdotally, everyone reading this has likely canceled a transaction on account of this somewhat jarring experience. But we wanted more than just anecdotes: we wanted to see the data on how users react when required to install an app in order to complete a transaction.

So we ran our own study

I’ll share some key findings from that study and explain how App Clips might help solve the paradox of app downloads for your brand.

First, let’s review some key takeaways from the study.

Key Findings

1. Users abandon transactions that require app installation

Overwhelmingly, the majority of respondents claimed they had abandoned a transaction when required to download an app. The younger the respondent, the more likely this is to be true; an important consideration when planning for the future.

2. Requiring app downloads causes frustration

No marketer or developer sets out to anger their potential customers, however, that’s exactly what’s happening when we try to force an app download on a user. Nearly half (!) of the respondents claimed it was “highly frustrating” when asked to install an app to complete their transaction.

3. Users delete apps regularly

If you’re willing to risk having a shopper abandon their transaction or cause them frustration with a required app download, at least you have a new app installation, right? Not quite.

What we found is that 78.9% say they delete apps at least once per month, with 26.2% deleting apps at least once per week. This means your newly acquired app users may be very short-lived, throwing off your LTV calculations.

These are just a few key findings detailing how app downloads affect transactions. For the full list of insights, check out our post: Market Study: Mobile Customer Experience Issues Highlight Use Cases for iOS App Clips.

This is where App Clips (new in iOS 14) present an incredible opportunity to solve for both issues — seamless transactions and interest in your app.

App Clips are the Biggest Opportunity in Ecommerce

As I mentioned earlier, an App Clip allows users to experience a specific piece of functionality of your app without having to download or install it.

But just so there’s no confusion, I want to be really clear on one point:

App Clips do not replace apps.

In fact, you need an app to create an App Clip. Therefore, this is not a case against apps. Rather, what follows is an explanation of how to take advantage of a new opportunity in digital retail.

We cover several recent examples of App Clips on our blog, but here’s another quick one.

When using Apple Maps, do a search for Panera Bread. Upon reviewing your results and selecting a location, you’ll notice there’s an option to Order Food.

The Order Food button actually opens the Panera Bread App Clip, allowing you to complete your transaction without downloading the full mobile app.

App Clips also come built-in with an eight-hour window to send notifications with ephemeral permission, meaning you’ll have the ability to send timely and important communications via push notifications to help them complete their transaction. This helps both the user and the restaurant.

App Clips is a thoughtful, complete offering by Apple and also very handy for the user. They give users a chance to experience the benefits of using your app without being force-fed a download. If the App Clip worked so great, the user can start to imagine all of the other benefits that are included in the full app. You can help your brand by gently guiding the user toward a full app download with message prompts and marketing. If the transaction was so satisfying, imagine adding a loyalty program into the mix.

Another significant opportunity is that App Clips are very new, so your competition likely isn’t using them yet. This means you have a chance to be a first-mover and capture some market share from other retailers offering a sub-par transaction experience.

Best of all — App Clips are extremely low risk and potentially high reward.

The development effort to create one is very low, as they operate off snippets of your existing iOS app codebase. We all know app development is an expensive and laborious process, and while App Clips don’t replace that, they do allow you to get more out of your app development investment.

As an added bonus, if you launch one soon, your marketing team can run public relations campaigns around your innovative use of a brand new technology. So in addition to serving your customers better, gaining market share from your competition, growing your app user base without annoying your new customers…you’re also going to get some great media mentions.

If you’re keeping track, that’s actually four wins in one!

To put it plainly, App Clips can:

  • Provide seamless transactions for non-app customers
  • Showcase a portion of your app functionality in a positive light
  • Encourage users to download your full app of their own accord
  • Gain more value out of your app development investment
  • Earn your company valuable public relations

All in all, App Clips present a significant opportunity for savvy retailers that are willing to move quickly.

So what do you think — can your brand take advantage of App Clips?


Rahul Khosla is the Founder and CEO of Heady. He leads the company’s overall strategy and growth initiatives and believes that growing a company steadily, brick-by-brick, is the key to building a company that lasts. After receiving his MS in computer science from the University of Pennsylvania, Khosla landed on the trading floor at Deutsche Bank as a software engineer, where he built rapid response applications for traders. He then went on to work at Amazon, where he worked on the engineering team that developed and launched Amazon Marketing Services — the company’s core advertising platform for brands that sell on Amazon. Looking to bring his tech expertise together with his long-standing entrepreneurial streak, he started Heady in 2016 to help companies build digital products that both serve clients’ business needs and provide thoughtful, engaging experiences to their end-users.

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