Mike Herrick
Nov 14, 2015 · 3 min read

Alex Austin wrote an excellent post on the adoption barriers to mobile apps in Mobile App Developers are Suffering and as a result, some are focusing on the mobile web instead.

In addition to the adoption problems Alex points out, there’s more … consumers don’t want your app. Large swaths of them. Think about it with your consumer hat on: of the organizations in your life, do you want to interact with all of them through an app? Of course not. Would you like to keep in touch with them on their phone in a lightweight way directly? Get reminders? The latest info on them? Special treatment? Start there and maybe download the app later if there was a compelling reason? Of course you would! That solution is hiding in plain sight … it’s the Wallet on your phone.

Your organization should be in your customer’s wallet. You’re most likely in one of these two groups:

  1. Nobody wants your app
    but they want to stay in touch with you through their phone.
  2. Your most loyal customers want your app
    but a large and very valuable segment don’t — but they want to stay in touch with you through their phone.
Native mobile owned media is most valuable.

App Adoption Barriers

Alex pointed out a number of app adoption barriers. To be clear, these are real and the app ecosystem needs help and Alex’s suggestions are good. But Wallets offer compelling alternatives for a number of them:

  1. Discovery
    You can host a wallet item on your website, post it to social media or send it through whatever digital distribution channels you use (email, SMS, etc.).
  2. Paid Promotion
    App install advertising is indeed very expensive. Other forms of advertising are more affordable and can include a wallet item, could dynamically generate one from a landing page, etc. With one ad, you now own a spot in your customers Wallet! Owned media FTW!
  3. Ratings
    Wallet items don’t have ratings to manage.
  4. Space
    Wallet items in Wallets are way smaller than apps.

Wallet App Lifecycle

There are countless ways to distribute wallet items. Once they are on the phone, they can be sent notifications, updated, and read by your app.

Wallets are a great way to get on your customer’s phone, stay there, and keep in touch. Once you are there, you can push messages and updates to the wallet item. You can send special offers, update points, update product information, change venue info, show up on the lock screen on certain dates and places. There are many examples of why for many use cases in mobile, you don’t need an app.

If you do have an app, you can interact with the wallet items on the phone that you own, get a list of them, read fields on them, attribute app acquisition to them (wallet items are linked to your app), give discounts and apply them seamlessly to in-app payments, etc.

The back of a wallet item is linked to your app.

Conclusion: Know your audience and serve your segments

There is no question about it, as Benedict Evans says, Mobile is Eating the World. Your organization needs to have a presence on the phone because that’s where consumers are. Apps are great for serving the most loyal customers for many organizations, but for some, they just don’t make sense at all. If an app does make sense for your organization, a large segment of your audience just isn’t going to use it, but do want to keep in touch with your through their phones. The Wallet is there to help serve both groups of organizations well and doesn’t have the adoption barriers that apps do.

Get inspired!

Did I pique your interest? We wrote an awesome Mobile Wallet Inspiration Guide that will give you even more ideas.

An example of a wallet item getting updated. The user is notified and the contents of the wallet item is changed.

Mobile Engagement

Observations and ideas to unlock the full potential of mobile-led engagement

Mike Herrick

Written by

SVP of Product & Engineering @ Urban Airship; Lean fan; Erin's husband; Lauren's dad.

Mobile Engagement

Observations and ideas to unlock the full potential of mobile-led engagement

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