With the exponential growth of mobile comes the wealth of opportunity for brands to enhance consumers’ lives by providing useful or relevant information, entertainment, or simply enabling them to complete concurrent tasks more seamlessly. This is where apps come in.
But with over 700,000 apps in Apple’s app store alone, and apps to inform, educate and entertain, it can be difficult for brands to understand how to implement an effective app strategy. Here, The Drum speaks to individuals from the app development sector to determine their top tips for applying apps successfully.
KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER
At the heart of an app is its user, therefore it is crucial for brands to understand their customers. “As with all marketing, it’s essential that the consumer is always at the heart of the creative idea,” says Mark Hadfield, senior planner, Weapon7. “This ensures relevancy and gives the app a real role in their lives.”
Kevin Galway, business development manager, bss digital, stresses the importance of understanding customers. “What do your customers want and what technologies do they use? Will they be prepared to pay for the app or do you need to deliver a native app and a web app to reach more users? Ultimately an app needs to be useful, enjoyable and informative to the customer – this is paramount to keep them coming back for more.”
Grapple CSO Adam Levene also emphasises the importance of harnessing the potential of mobile to make their lives easier. “It’s all too easy to borrow from what a brand is doing online. The smartphone is the most personal device in the world, always with customers and always on. As such, brands must get into the mindset of providing a first-class experience that provides ongoing value, solves customers’ pain points and makes their lives easier. More than any other channel, mobile has the potential to build deeper connections between a brand and consumers.”
PROVIDE A CONSISTENT BRAND EXPERIENCE
Putting the app into brand context is one of the key elements of a successful app strategy. Mark Hadfield suggests having a clear idea of “how the app will integrate with and augment existing communications.” “The app must also be joined up with other channels used to communicate with your customers,” says Kevin Galway. “The brand experience must be consistent and seamless. Does the app have a continued road map for continual improvement and change, helping build up brand loyalty over time?”
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE PRODUCT
Whilst an app can add value, it’s unlikely to do so if it’s poorly designed or fails to meet the needs of consumers. Mark-Anthony Baker, director and head of strategy at Fetch, says “If you make a bad product, it will be doomed from day one. Understand what your consumers want: if you can make concurrent tasks more convenient via mobile and add value to them, your product will succeed.”
RELEASE EARLY, RELEASE OFTEN
It can be easy to fall into the trap of taking too long to develop an app and then realising that the moment has passed. Adam Levene explains: “In an industry that is always evolving, it’s crucial to not spend months perfecting a final product only to find out that it’s now outdated or has been built for the wrong operating system. Brands must get into the beta mindset of releasing a ‘minimum viable product’ and evolving the product over time.”
DON’T BE A TECH SHEEP
A successful strategy will take into account consumer trends and not just technology trends, advises Mark- Anthony Baker. “Many people run to create the next big thing, but if the need isn’t there it could be a very costly exercise. Watch out for the crowd and be strong; let data advise you, not just the next trend.”
LISTEN AND LEARN
With consumers expecting apps to evolve over time, Kevin Galway suggests that brands need to utilise analytics from the earliest stages in order to understand how features are being used and inform what comes next. “What’s more,” says Galway, “the app stores essentially play host to the world’s largest open focus group. It provides an invaluable platform to capture customers’ honest feedback.”
APPS CHANGING THE FACE OF MARKETING
Image-recognition app Blippar uses augmented reality to bring print media and products to life, changing the way consumers interact with advertising.
Buffer allows social media scheduling across networks providing analytics on the reach of posts. Its uncomplicated functionality shows likes, retweets and shares generated.
The photo-sharing app has 100m users worldwide. It’s personal, emotive and has the social factor – brands and consumers can share pictures across the social networks.
Hailo enables consumers to hail a London cab with two taps to their phone, improving the customer experience of booking a taxi, spelling an end to radio controlled TOAs.
Centralising data storage in the cloud, Box enables file storage, management and sharing, which works well for a distributed company with a network of partners.
The music-recognition app is changing the world of marketing as it now connects TV advertising with smartphone content.
This feature is published in an apps supplement in the 28 September issue of The Drum. Subscribers can download a PDF of the magazine free here.