Sarah Woodward

9 Things Every Marketer Should Know About Mobile Apps

October 6, 2015

Did you know there are 3.65 billion unique global mobile users? Currently, 1.9 billion mobile users are on smartphones with 184.2 million of these smartphone users in the U.S. Fourteen percent of our time spent on smartphones is on social media.

 Even though we are eight years in with smartphone technology, many companies still don’t understand how mobile apps fit in with their overall marketing strategy. Applications don’t just live within marketing; they serve as sales tools for large enterprises, safety compliance software tools on assembly lines, doctor-patient communication portals, consumer-facing product extensions for hardware….the possibilities for mobile application implementation are extensive.

When thinking about marketing, it’s good to keep in mind the many ways other business units use mobile apps as tools and not just communication vehicles. So how do we use mobile apps to create value while also delivering brand messages?

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Here are nine topics to discuss with your client or your executives about mobile:

  1. Mobile apps or mobile web – Before we dive into apps, we need to first address whether we want to start with a mobile app or a mobile-responsive website. Every company that has a website should make sure it is first optimized for mobile devices – phones, tablets, TV, etc. If the brand doesn’t have a responsive site, don’t worry about apps yet. Your website can reach 100 percent of Internet users – let’s make sure we are offering them a premium experience in a browser first.

  2. User context – Once you are ready to plan for an app, thinking about user context is a great place to start. How does a user want to interact with your or your client’s brand on-the-go? What can you offer them in a mobile environment that will keep them coming back to and enjoying your application? Are you offering them information or a place to conduct transactions? What devices do they use? Android? iPhone? Study your online analytics to learn more about your user’s preferences.

  3. Competitive audits – The next important step is to look how competitors approach mobile. Download and use the apps. What are they doing well? Where are they coming up short? Read customer reviews. This will help you see how customers want to use apps. Once you’ve determined what competitors are doing, you’ll know what’s needed to offer a better experience.

  4. Develop a roadmap – Software development generally requires a phased approach. Build a strong foundation. Determine what core features are necessary to achieve the app’s objectives. Decide over time what elements can be added later. Maybe start with one platform and include additional platforms as part of future phases.  (Not sure how to start? Download our free guide on “Developing a Mobile App Roadmap.”)

  5. User Experience – Understand that graphic design is not the same thing as user experience (UX). Marketing agencies and in-house marketing departments have access to talented creatives. Despite their mastery of design and branding, UX requires additional skills. A UX designer understands how users move through the mobile environment and has experience designing within the preferred guidelines set by Apple and Google.

  6. Leverage mobile technologies – Users love bells and whistles! Location services offer many opportunities to brands wanting to reach consumers in unique ways. Technologies like geofencing, beacons and augmented reality provide personalized ways of delivering specific messages relevant to a user in-the-moment.

  7. App monetization – If an app is intended for the enterprise, monetization may not be a concern. If monetization is an important part of your app’s objectives, you may want to consider in-app advertising, especially if it fits within your brand.

  8. Marketing your app – The App Store is a crowded place. If consumers are the intended users for your app, you’ll need to understand App Store optimization (ASO). Keywords, titles, descriptions and screenshots are all useful tools in helping users discover your app. Make the most of every distribution point possible to generate awareness and trial of the app. Leveraging social advertising is a cost-effective way to quickly build buzz for the app. Promote your app via all of your owned channels. Get your app in front of online app reviewers. Beta test your app with existing brand fans, employees, friends and family. Not only will they appreciate the VIP treatment, they will offer suggestions on how to improve the app before its official launch.

  9. Privacy – Keep in mind, mobile offers a personal experience. Users want to customize the way they communicate with each other and manage how much access they give brands to their personal information. As exciting as technologies like beacons are, we should be cautious about how much we choose to invade a user’s space. Even if a customer has given us permission to reach out to them, be sure you understand the context in which they wish to receive brand messages.

There are a lot of variables to think through when planning for software development. Put a roadmap in place to make sure everyone involved knows the app’s purpose and works together to see it come alive. When done well, mobile gives brands the ability to touch millions of consumers from anywhere at any given point of time.

Published October 6, 2015

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