By Chris Lee
Applications (apps) are everywhere: apps for mobile phones, apps for Facebook, apps for websites and tablet computers, but are brands in danger of developing apps just for the sake of it? How many of the many thousands of apps available actually deliver tangible benefits to both the end user and the brand which created them?
New Media Knowledge met up with Kim de Ruiter of digital content developer Noise Inc to learn how brands can build the business case for apps development and how to make them as effective as possible.
Why do apps matter?
With so many brands developing apps, how do you make them relevant to users?
“Successful apps should creatively fulfill the basic consumer need to be entertained or to consume something that is wholly relevant and timely,” de Ruiter said. “It’s becoming impossible to ignore the daily avalanche of statistics on increasing levels of mobile and tablet adoption, and the question should no longer be ‘Why should I invest in mobile?’ but ‘How should I invest in mobile?’ It’s a mistake to consider standardised, templated mobile app solutions as the only way to go. They may be cheap, but they aren’t always the best way of achieving business goals or providing your consumers with something of value.”
Crafting your approach
According to de Ruiter, it’s essential that brands do not forget the fundamental principles of marketing.
“First of all, decide what your objectives are. What are you trying to achieve, what are the measurement objectives, what’s your return on investment and how much are you prepared to spend? Then review your insight and research materials, asking questions about what is the demographic and attitudinal profile of your prospects and your existing customers – where are they spending their time, what do they want from you, where and how are they spending their money? Make sure that the solution you offer fits the needs of your consumer as opposed to the template of your platform provider,” she advised.
Brands need to be creatively innovative, create engaging content, and ensure their user experience is smooth, slick and fast, de Ruiter added. She cited the example of British Airways, whose app allows users to carry a boarding pass on their smartphone.
“Streamlining this process both improves the customer experience and helps to simplify the process in the airport itself,” she said.
Engaging consumers in an ‘always-on’ 24-7 environment can be massively lucrative, de Ruiter argued, however the time brands have to convert a prospect from ‘Check-in’ to ‘Check-it-Out” to ‘Check-Out’ is scarily short.
Apps such as Halo, with which users can instantly both find and book a black taxi at their specific location without the need for cash payment, are perfect examples of a mobile solution that addresses an obvious consumer need with a simple and slick user experience, although de Ruiter is interested to see how this app copes during periods of peak traffic such as central London during the Olympics.
“The Smart Marketers Checklist”
According the Noise Inc, companies should make factor in the following before taking the decision to develop apps:
• Ensure your marketing team considers mobile alongside their other activities as part of the overall marketing mix, not as an afterthought
• Consider that management of your mobile social ecosystem may not be best placed with either your ad agency or your digital agency whose basis is wholly in tech development or website design
• Define your value proposition by determining what your consumer wants to do with your business in mobile
• Do you have a mobile-optimised website? According to a recent report from Google, if you don’t this should be your top priority for engaging mobile customers. 57 per cent of users said they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site and 40 per cent have turned to a competitor’s site after a bad mobile experience
• Consider building your mobile website first with an app designed for a specific segment of your audience or specific need
• Check out your competition. What are they doing in mobile, what works well, what doesn’t?
• Create an engaging experience appropriate for the mobile device?
• Don’t forget to promote the app, track performance and optimize based on usage
• Track your mobile search campaigns separately from other marketing programs so you can test, measure and develop messaging specific for mobile
“Integration is key, leverage all of the media and the entire medium available to you,” de Ruiter concluded. “Your creatives need to understand how to adapt and produce content suitable for a daytime TV ad through to a press, retail and digital. If they don’t – get an expert in to help. Trying to backfill a campaign after it’s already started is a mistake.”