From time spent in mobile apps to revenues generated by in-app purchases and subscriptions, metrics for mobile apps broke the records in 2020. Downloads reached 130 billion as consumers flocked to apps to improve their physical, mental and financial well-being in self-isolation, and consumer spending across the two app stores grew to $112 billion by year end.

Clearly, mobile apps have become an integral part of daily life, and consumers can’t imagine doing without them. Attractive acquisition costs and robust conversion rates for purchases and subscriptions (both at 4%) combined last year to create a perfect storm of conditions for app marketers, according to the 2020 Mobile App Trends Report published by mobile app marketing and retargeting platform Liftoff. Alongside a detailed analysis of user engagement and retention metrics across a variety of app categories and regions for the period from September 2019 to August 2020, the report also surveyed app marketers about the impact on their bottom line. It discovered the majority (64%) recorded an increase in revenues. Moreover, nearly 35% increased their marketing budget in 2020 to capitalize on the opportunity.

However, Liftoff data indicates marketers will need to invest more than money to sustain current growth and engagement levels. Most markets are saturated, and many consumers are taking longer to convert, the report says. “Longer time-to-action rates suggest marketers have to do more to drive habitual usage and deliver value.”

In 2021, a year that will undoubtedly see global events and a worldwide economic recession dampen app spend, marketers will struggle to win consumers’ heart share and wallet share. Marketing in these challenging times means taking the lessons we learned in a year like no other to develop a new playbook. To provide inspiration and direction as you write the next chapter in marketing, I draw from recent episodes of my weekly podcast with five remarkable mobile marketers whose expertise has earned them the title Mobile Heroes. (Disclosure: Liftoff retains my services as an online talent and content consultant.)

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