10 reasons to launch a mobile app

by

iMedia Connection

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Adding value

Give mobile consumers a break, if not another reason to own a mobile phone.

Jupiter Research reports that the user experience must improve beyond today’s mobile WAP sites for consumer adoption to increase substantially. The good news is that it’s now within your company’s power to deliver a downloadable mobile phone resident application that provides consumers with not only superior navigation but also a free utility, entertainment and social media feature that they actually want — content and function that they can’t get anywhere else. And this application is wrapped around your brand.

“Downloadable applications add value that consumers can’t easily find elsewhere,” explains John Hadl, a mobile consultant for Proctor & Gamble. These applications “tie to a brand benefit, tapping into why you own the phone.”

A downloadable handset application places a client (user interface) on the mobile phone itself and accesses a remote server over the air when a consumer requests non-buffered content, including frequently updated video.

Here are 10 compelling reasons to launch your own mobile application:

Reasons 1-2

Build long-term customer relationships
Only a downloadable handset-resident application attains a truly direct and ongoing interactive relationship with targeted mobile consumers. Downloaded free to subscribers, a handset application provides an entertainment and social-media destination dedicated exclusively to your brand. To be successful, the mobile application must contain utility and compelling content sought by subscribers. For example, a beverage manufacturer is launching an application that delivers ever-changing photo galleries of action sports personalities; video highlights of prominent athletes, sponsored events and NASCAR motor races. And participants can upload and share their own content, encouraging every day use.

“Placing banner ads on mobile sites is just a media placement compared to downloading applications that consumers want, and allow them to interact with the brand on the go,” says Doug Levy, CEO of interactive agency IMC2.

Track and measure
Web-like tracking cookies do not exist on mobile networks, making it difficult to gather consumer behavior for analysis and segmentation. Your branded application comes to the rescue, essentially serving as that tracking “cookie.” Within the application, brands can follow consumers’ activity — where they visit and what content they view. Marketers can also ask profiling and survey questions over time in order to gain information for segmentation and targeting. All the while, your ongoing dialogue with consumers serves to strengthen the relationship.

Reasons 3-4
Avoid annoying ads
Consumers today are wary of ad overload on their mobile phones. Consumers who opt-in for a brand’s handset application access it on demand, avoiding disruptive advertising from text messages. In addition, applications themselves might contain few or no ads, if a brand’s primary aim is to build brand exposure and gain direct and persistent relationships with consumers through “content and community.”  Nevertheless, a brand might experiment with the consumers’ tolerance for advertising by showing, for example, a short pre-roll ad prior to the consumer’s viewing of a high-interest video clip.

Escape shortcomings of text messaging and WAP
A handset-resident application overcomes the limitations of text-message marketing campaigns and mobile WAP websites. SMS text message marketing — although it reaches the broadest set of mobile phones — remains expensive to execute, has a limit of 160 characters per message and is devoid of rich media content. A text message might contain a link to a downloadable ringtone or wallpaper image, a photograph or short video, a mobile WAP site, or even a downloadable application. However, once the download is fulfilled, the text message, in and of itself, cannot establish a persistent relationship between a company and consumers. Therefore, text messaging is best used as a one-time discovery for content and rich-media mobile applications.

WAP sites extend a brand’s presence to the mobile channel. However, WAP is frustratingly slow and cumbersome to navigate via drill-down menus.

Reasons 5-6
Provide a better user experience
In contrast to mobile WAP, a handset application significantly enhances the user experience and navigation. By placing the user interface on the mobile phone memory itself, the application performs akin to a traditional website. (For example, Cielo’s relational user interface has been specifically designed for the small screen, dramatically reducing the number of clicks to navigate to categories and content. This same interface technology accelerates porting across disparate handsets with varying screen sizes to support wide reach.)

Gain prime real estate
A handset application carves out valuable “real estate” directly on consumers’ mobile phones for easy, on-demand access. Rather than being listed within a phone’s “bookmarks,” your brand gains prime exposure via an application icon that exists visibly on the phone’s main menu screen.

Reasons 7-8
Reach a wide audience
Your mobile application will access a mass market through discovery and distribution techniques that utilize your traditional media. By incorporating short codes and key words within print ads, broadcast and out-of-home advertising, consumers can simply send a text message to access your application directly, or access a mobile WAP site that contains an option to download the application. Since mobile phones are always with consumers, viewers of traditional media react to an advertisement when their interest is at its peak.

By activating traditional media through mobile — the ideal direct response mechanism — the consumer brand makes otherwise static ads interactive and measurable, injecting new value into this sagging media that is now losing dollars to digital advertising. Yet, even with the  dollar shift toward digital, traditional media still remains vastly larger and able to reach many more eyeballs than, say, mobile banner ads on a carrier’s deck.

Deliver immediate ROI
While mobile marketing budgets are growing, they remain a tiny slice of the near $300 billion pie spent annually on U.S. advertising. However, by using traditional advertising to promote your mobile application, your company can fund its mobile initiative from traditional media budgets — not just smaller “test-and-learn” mobile budgets. Because mobile delivers immediate ROI by making traditional both interactive and measurable, your mobile app breaths new life into print ads and the like.

Reasons 9-10
Have something for everyone
Mobile technology can detect the carrier and phone of each consumer requesting the application. By doing so, your mobile application provider can deliver a version of the software suited for the capabilities of each particular handset. For example, if a phone only supports the display of still images, the application downloaded will not contain a menu option for video.

Gain brand favor from free utility:
Attract the attention and favor of consumers by delivering usefulness in your application, either tightly or loosely associated with your brand. Utility might include: financial and market data, sports highlights, traffic reports, weather updates, video within a particular genre, diet, health and fitness motivation, location-based services, etc. For example, a high-end spirits maker offers an application with golf tips and two daily ESPN video clips.

Navigate the mobile obstacles
Because carriers can be a roadblock to applications that reside off their own decks (portals), a consumer brand or agency should align itself with a mobile technology company already white-listed to stream video on carriers’ networks and that has experience negotiating approval (formal application certification). This will provide needed access to essential API interfaces that a carrier would otherwise block.

In addition, the mobile technology provider should provide:

  • A server that automatically ingests, transforms and manages rich media content in both real-time and a completely lights-out manner.
  • A mobile messaging platform that supports the distribution of downloadable applications through short codes and 2D-bar codes that appear in traditional advertising.
  • Automatic detection of the handset model and carrier and the ability to deliver on the fly a version of the application that matches the functions of that phone.

Finally, choose a vendor that can move you quickly from the experimental phase in mobile marketing to delivery of real value. Make your brand another reason that a consumer carries a mobile phone.

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