In the bustling digital age, almost every person on the planet is using a smartphone. People consume information and content on the go and interact with brands around the clock – and they seem to prefer spending their internet time using apps. For brands, the situation is clear: they can either adapt to these changes or face the likely prospect of going under. Apps are a great way to rise above the competition, connect with the audience, and drive loyalty.
The great surge
Nowadays, people spend more time using apps than ever before. It is estimated that they use more than 30 apps on a monthly basis and run nine apps every single day. That amounts to two and a half hours of daily app usage on average. The growth is expected to continue in 2017 and beyond, which is to say that we will not witness the end of the app age anytime soon.
TV ads, outdoor promotion, billboards and other traditional tools are still used, but mobile is the present and the future of marketing. More than 90 out of 100 top global brands make good use of at least one mobile app. Those who fail to harness the great power of this digital tool risk losing customers and lagging behind the competition.
Brands have no other option than to ride the wave of trends and align their marketing efforts with the shifting preferences of users. They simply must be where the audience is. This is a chance to reach new customers, boost the experience of existing ones, and improve the bottom line. Namely, studies have shown that 52% of those who use branded apps are more likely to purchase a product or service. Why is it so? Well, the apps have opened the doors to one incredible possibility – brands can finally assemble a framework for one-on-one interaction with the consumers. This kind of personalised service and experience is what makes apps so popular with the users. It goes without saying that any brand should make an effort to capitalise on this.
One of the amazing benefits comes in the form of spreading brand awareness. Among other things, apps allow companies to put brand centrepieces like logos in front of the eyes of consumers. This is something that enhances visibility in the mobile environment and helps them keep people aware of their brand.
Furthermore, apps enable marketers to collect a huge amount of consumer data. Basically, customers are more prepared to hand out personal information when they are treated to a useful app. There are various data-gathering techniques one can exploit, including onboarding, questionnaires for bonuses, and analysis of an in-app behaviour.
A positive app experience is also effective in nurturing the loyalty of the users. Starbucks is one great example of how a brand can engage a mobile audience, and many other businesses have followed suit. It pays off to learn from such paragons and use this knowledge to launch your own loyalty programs.
It’s also worth mentioning Tiger Beer, a company that managed to bypass the ban on alcohol advertising in Malaysia. It developed an app called Gameday, which paved the way for the brand to stay in touch with football fans who are quite fond of the beverage. There is hardly a better demonstration of how app technology transcends conventional borders and limitation.
What makes or breaks an app?
So, how does one come up with a killer app and maximise mobile app development? It is clear that the success does not come easy. According to Google, one in four apps never gets used after the initial launch. A cool name, description, and logo can capture attention, but they cannot retain it for long. Some of the main reasons why people abandon apps are poor design, user interface, and controls.
The first basic rule to keep in mind is that the purpose of an app is to solve a problem for the user. It must add value to the user’s daily life. People do not download apps to see your advertising, and they have grown weary of brands that are overly eager to sell and promote. User-friendliness is, hands down, the most important quality of a successful app.
Like it or not, the consumer is the king. Consequently, intuitive controls and seamless interface go a long way in improving the chances of your app being widely used. The functionality has to come first and the appealing visuals second. Once you sort that out, you can start infusing the app with your brand persona.
After all, your goal is to spread brand awareness, increase the sales, and amplify branding campaigns, right? To accomplish it, you must establish a clear relation between your brand and the app. See it as an extension of your visual identity, values, and mission.
Furthermore, note that the choice of the right platform is paramount. Most people would argue that Android is a no-brainer, but it is not always so. The best market is the one where most of the potential customers are, which means that there is no skipping the research. Making informed decisions in this department is the only way to get the most bang for your buck.
Finally, bear in mind that apps have to change in order to remain in the customers’ good favour. They reflect changes in overall branding strategies, marketing campaigns, and business expansions. So, test your apps periodically and soak in user feedback. Make sure you have enough funds to update the app on a regular basis.
Brave new marketing world
The apps have entered the spotlight and they have no intention of leaving it in the foreseeable future. As a platform, they hold immense potential for marketers who must use them to boost visibility and gain an edge in the market. In the process, they also have an opportunity to humanise the brand and deliver on their promises. Ultimately, this branding strategy should enable any business to turn prospects into customers and these into a loyal community.