Mobile devices have shifted the marketing landscape dramatically within the last five years, creating a new effective channel for brands and businesses to deliver digital content.
According to a recent comScore report, most Internet users in the U.S. consume content predominantly on mobile devices, and Americans spend most of their online time consuming digital media through apps.
Smartphone usage has increased 394 percent, while tablet usage has seen a growth of around 1,721 percent.
Together, these two platforms account for almost 60 percent of the overall digital media consumed by devices.
Consumers prefer to read and share information they can view on tablets and smartphones.
Given the swift global shift to mobile browsing, it’s not surprising that brands are running to catch up and develop appropriate and effective content for mobile sharing. But there’s more to content marketing than simply tooling the content for readability on mobile devices; it involves integrating the content in a timely way that adds value or entertainment to the consumer.
When you start planning out an effective mobile strategy, it’s important to understand that content marketing for mobile devices is one of the most powerful tools in your digital marketing arsenal. Engaging and relevant content can be used for classic promotion and brand storytelling that helps customers relate to your product or service in a personal way. Content can also be used as a method to generate leads that can be converted into sales opportunities. How you choose to diversify and personalize your content will depend on the culture of your brand and target audience.
1. What Are Your Goals?
From a consumer perspective, apps are no longer novel or new. In fact, in 2015 the number of available apps for Android users topped 1.6 million, followed by iOS apps, which offered 1.5 million apps through the iTunes site. Brands that build apps simply because everyone else is fail to get the response or return on investment from them. An app should add value to consumers by solving a need that is informational, educational or entertaining.
This both attracts consumers to download the app, and creates a favorable impression; your brand is contributing something that makes their day better. The value perception and reward, combined with an enjoyable user experience (UX) are critical to designing a successful app. One they will actually use.
When deciding whether to integrate a mobile app into your digital strategy, you need to focus on your goals. What results do you wish to create with the mobile app? How can your business benefit from the use of an app by customers in terms of revenue, promotion or engagement? Integrating a brand app into other marketing channels and campaigns is essential.
Will the app send a personalized birthday greeting or offer coupons, contests or incentives? Mobile marketing through an iOS or Android app should be considered a valuable communication tool and integrated frequently in promotional campaigns to keep users engaged and participating actively.
Your concise mobile strategy begins with an outline of the desired performance, user experience and lead generation function and how it will integrate with other digital marketing channels, loyalty and retention programs and promotions.
2. What Is the Opportunity?
Do you already know your target market? That’s great (you should), but do you know how they prefer to use mobile apps or what time they are most likely to use your app? What is the problem your app is addressing for your target users? How is your approach differentiated from existing apps? Do you know whether your app will be used in cross-channel marketing, including social media contests and incentives?
The best place to start is to conduct a competitive analysis of similar apps which will provide valuable insight into what works, and what does not. There are a number of software programs that provide metrics and reporting on apps, including Mobile Action; software which allows you to visualize key performance indicators (KPI’s) for any app on the market.
User experience and navigation are key components that differentiate a popular app from one that sits vacant, like a digital ghost town. Appearance matters when it comes to app design, but it has to feature navigation that is tailored to mobile marketing. If your customer has to resize the screen, zoom or ‘pinch’ the display in order to view it properly, or if the buttons are too small, using the app becomes less viable and more of a chore.
Remember that the most successful apps on the market are simplified, visually engaging and extremely easy to use.
Apps that are linked to websites must be based on mobile friendly designs as well. Connecting an app to a website that has not been retooled for mobile browsing makes a poor impression and complicates the process for buyers. Your website should be designed with mobile browsing in mind, and be easy to navigate on any device, from smartphones to tablets.
3. How Will You Provide Value to Your Users?
Change and innovation drives the mobile landscape. Mobile apps are so common now (particularly free ones) that brand competition is steep, which is why designing an app that adds value to your customers’ shopping or daily life is a must-have outcome. If you can find a way to help make their lives easier using your app, you win.
E-commerce businesses are combining traditional shopper marketing to bolster their brands’ market share. Retail establishments are using geo-targeted advertising on free music sites like Pandora to influence visits and onsite sales traffic. Adopting the omni-channel model, you can translate your offline offerings and informative lifestyle or blog content not only through your website, but through an established mobile feed that keeps customers connected to your brand, whether they’re at their desk or on the go.
When it comes to marketing, the more integrated your brand becomes with your customers, the less “out of sight” you are. The best apps on the market foster an emotional connection and culture that consumers enjoy being part of; they seek to relate to the brand and use the app to stay connected. Design your app with community in mind (instead of crowdsourcing for leads) to create a platform that your customers will identify personally with, and stay connected to.
4. How Do You Get Users Coming Back Again and Again?
To make your app truly successful, it must become an essential part of a user’s life, solving a problem, making something that needs to be done on a routine basis easier, or providing such interesting and helpful content that users come back frequently. It’s one thing to get people to download your app, it’s another to get them to use it over and over again.
According to a study, 78 percent of apps that are downloaded are used only once and never used again. Mobile apps should be like personal assistants that help with shopping, saving money, entertainment, health and wellness, and time management.
For example, for people who like to use coupons and save money, RetailMeNot feeds consumers with discounts from local vendors, giving them easy-to-use smartphone coupons they can show to save money when they checkout. The app delivers a successful ROI because it benefits merchants by driving traffic to retail stores with incentives. From a consumer perspective, it is easy to use, convenient and provides measureable value; and they save money every time they use it.
Today’s consumers face more demands, shortened attention spans and high expectations for apps. They prefer apps that are easy and fun to use. Beyond looking great, they also need to function as expected, without any glitches. With limited cell phone storage, consumers simply uninstall apps that work poorly or offer little value to their lives. As the global culture of connectivity progresses, designing mobile apps that provide sales or marketing support for brands will become more challenging.
When it is done strategically however, a successful app connects consumers to the brand on a daily basis, building long term recognition, value and purchase loyalty. A successful app quickly evolves into a powerful communication tool that drives awareness, improves service and impacts sales.