By Olga Orda
Branded mobile apps are becoming the most powerful forms of advertising yet. According to a study by Indiana University researchers, businesses who develop apps overcome the challenges of engagement and loyalty faced by the rapidly declining influence of mainstream media for brand advertisers. Using a branded and interactive app, consumers talk to the brand, not the other way around. In this way, apps can increase engagement, advocacy and purchase intentions.
But, designing an app that your target audience will actually love and find useful is not easy. How do you know what business model is right for your branded app? What key app methodologies can you learn from successful brands? What are the pitfalls to avoid when developing and releasing a new app?
You will notice that of the top ten apps in 2012 in the Apple store, typically only one in ten was developed by a consumer goods or services brand. Most free apps provide a mobile extension of an already popular social media site (e.g. Instagram, Skype, Facebook, etc.). So, where does your company fit in?
Not everyone is a multinational brand with a large distribution budget, but consider the following:
- Try to earn the ‘sweet spot’ of a high utility and high stickiness app. This is an excellent article that explains all about how to obtain this illusive and profitable sweet spot.
Second, in the mobile app world, distribution is as vital as the app itself. In other words, the app has to be extremely user friendly, or it is not worth to build the app in the first place.
Marketing Support: Every successful branded application has had strong marketing support in form of paid media, mobile ads and even online PR. This support gives the initial boost to the application but mostly focuses on generating enough downloads to have the application listed in Apple’s Top 100 applications. Applications featured in the list have a 40% higher chance of being downloaded by other users. Additionally, Star Ratings and Reviews also incredibly important tools towards increasing a brand’s chances towards making it into the Top 100 list. Although this is specifically for iTunes, it is fair to expect similar marketing levers to emerge for the Android Marketplace as well. (Consiering Android is now the number one Smartphone in the word)
Intuitive User Experience: If you are not going to invest the necessary time and resources into building an intuitive and highly capable user experience, you are better off not making a mobile application at all. In a recent study, 13% of users said that a bad experience with a branded application avoided them from downloading other applications from the brand. Also, users just expect an application to be fun and easy to use. Don’t just try to replicate an existing marketing promotion, elements of your website or an ad campaign on your mobile app. Build for its audience and its eco-system.
Social Sharing: Maximize the capabilities offered by a mobile application. Several applications can “speak” to each other. Also there is no point in reinventing the wheel. So where and when possible; make sure your application is connected to Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare or whatever eco-system your brand lives in.
Infinium Systems is an award-winning web and mobile app development company based in Vancouver, BC. We create high performance web and mobile apps for organizations that are making life better.