Appily ever after

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Ebiquity Client Relations Director, Andrew Challier, talks to mobile industry expert, Sandeep Raithatha, former Global Commercial Director, Strategy and Insight, at Sony Mobile.

Andrew: What’s the next ‘big thing’ in mobile?

Sandeep: To be frank, we need to look at some basics that many are currently missing.

Mobile app marketing suffers from continued underinvestment, despite the significant role apps play in people’s lives.

Smartphone users spend a quarter of total media time on their mobiles, and this is increasing. Brands, meanwhile, invest less than 10 percent of advertising budgets and even less time and resource into mobile. Those that are smart with mobile strategy will stay relevant and, ultimately, win.

Andrew: Why do some advertisers still talk about apps as if they’re exotic?

Sandeep: Bill Shankly, legendary Liverpool FC manager, said: “Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I don’t like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that.” I think the same applies to mobile apps.

Apps have definitely become the norm. They’ve transformed our lives, influencing how we organize, educate, and entertain ourselves. ‘To app or not?’ is no longer the question. Brands need their own apps to ensure more immersive relationships with customers. They also dictate how successful businesses actively transform markets – delivering value direct to consumers, developing propositions based on direct feedback, and driving profitability through new business models.

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Andrew: What are the barriers to success?

Sandeep: The facts don’t lie. A quarter of apps are opened once only, with half used four times or fewer; 58 percent of app users churn in the first month – 75 percent within the first three.

Brands must consider the role apps play in users’ lives. How do they enhance brand experience? Do they make brands more immersive or entertaining, make processes simpler or more efficient, or make buying cheaper? What’s the everyday utility of the app?

Thereafter the barriers to success could be a lack of awareness or education, or simply that the app doesn’t deliver against its promise. Awareness can be solved by clearer communication – from driving awareness of the app to onboarding, from functionality updates to exclusive content and offers that drive continuing engagement. But if it doesn’t work, it’s back to the drawing board.

Information should be simple. I often see apps that are too clever or obscure. It’s only through jargon free, plain speaking which explains the app’s functionality and benefits that you can truly accelerate demand and payback.

Andrew: On the subject of comms, what’s your take on mobile advertising?

Sandeep: There’s a lot of excitement and talk about increasing budgets, but a constant stream of mobile display ads is not the answer. We need to think carefully about the trade-offs consumers are prepared to make between being made aware of stuff and having their life companion – which is what the phone has now become – used as a platform for paid messaging.

I’d encourage brands to think of mobile apps as the best, most personalized communications medium, because they’re always on, relevant, personalized, timely, and measurable. Too good to be true? Used right, with everyday utility for the user in mind, it doesn’t have to be.

Andrew: You talk about relevance and utility. Do you have examples?

Sandeep: Uber is the story told most often. On the one hand, there’s nothing new about using a phone to order a cab. But many commentators miss the fact that the big thing isn’t convenience; it’s also simplicity of use – control given back to the user with maps confirming driver location, automated payment, and driver reviews. Not to mention dramatically lower cost. I’m a strong believer in the ‘value equals satisfaction minus price’ equation, so increase the first and reduce the second and you’re on to a winning solution.

Andrew: How would you sum it up? What are your top tips?

Sandeep: Getting apps right is not a luxury – it’s a necessity. Your logo on people’s devices helps keep you top of mind. But it must be useful and work properly.

Brands need to focus on four elements:

  1. Strategy: Where does the mobile app fit in the customer experience/journey? What role does it play in delivering the brand story/proposition? What is the business model applied?
  2. Communication: How do you communicate in a simple, direct way, focusing on the experience enhancement rather than tech?
  3. Implementation: Ensure your app delivers on your promise. Simplify how to support on launch, download, getting started, ongoing engagement, and new functionality releases. Respond to issues and development needs.
  4. Analytics and measurement: Identify and track the vital signs of app performance. Understand how apps cannibalize or cultivate web traffic. And understand the impact of user engagement on brand metrics, loyalty, advocacy, and, ultimately, profitability.

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 The growing role of mobiles and mobile apps in our lives

Consumers have a growing dependence on their mobiles and spend more and more time online using mobile apps.

Almost half (46 percent) of smartphone owners say a smartphone is something ‘they cannot live without,’1  and 68 percent of millennials consider their smartphone to be a ‘personal device’.2 Mobile digital media time in the US is already significantly higher at 51 percent compared to desktop (42 percent).2

Mobile app usage continues to soar, with mobile apps generating the most revenue in Japan, South Korea, and the United States in 2014.2 Mobile app store revenues worldwide are projected to exceed $76bn by 2017.2 And by that time, mobile programmatic advertising will top $20bn.3

Facts taken from Mobile Effectiveness: Building a Best-in-Class Mobile Experience by Stratigent, an Ebiquity company. The full paper and references can be downloaded here.

1 Source: Pew Center Research
2 Source: CMO Council
3 Source: eMarketer

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About Author

Chief Client Officer

Andrew joined the group in 2007. He previously held director level positions at Marks & Spencer, Verdict Research and Ninah Consulting. With a pedigree encompassing both client-side and consultancy experience, and having spent many years advising clients on Marketing Effectiveness issues, Andrew brings a results-orientated and client-focused perspective to the challenge of helping businesses make better marketing decisions.

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