In a world more and more dominated by mobile phones, marketers are currently obsessed with apps, which are soon becoming what websites were 10 years ago. At the moment, it seems that every brand has come to the conclusion that it needs an app. The average annual investment in apps is now $5,5 million , and we can understand why, when every study is showing that consumers are spending more time on their apps than ever before. However, as my colleague pointed out in this very interesting article on the Adobe blog, US consumers might spend 86% of their mobile time on apps, but once we remove gaming, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, news and utilities apps, a brand app is competing only for a share of 11% at the very best! So the question remains: does every brand really need an app?
In my opinion, this isn’t the question that you need to ask yourself. What you should rather ask is What is the best mobile channel for my brand, my company and my audience? Apps can provide a new and exciting opportunity for brands to communicate with consumers, but this does not mean that your brand needs one. For some companies, having a fully optimised mobile website will prove to be more cost-efficient and overall better than investing time and energy in the creation of an app which would not serve a special utility. For some others, a responsive website will be enough to insure than the brand is easily and quickly accessible whenever a client needs to search on the go.
Take out your mobile phone, and have a look at your apps. Now, tell me: which of you ever downloaded and kept an app that did not provide a really useful service? This question raises the crucial point of the Why? behind the app. A brand app needs to add value, to solve problems, and to provide something really useful and unique. If it doesn’t, it is very likely to fall short and to end up being a waste of money and resources.
Brands need to be consumer-centric, and to really think about how the app will meet a customer need and help drive engagement with them. Let’s look at an example: when L’Oréal developed the app “Make Up Genius”, a virtual makeup tester allowing customers to try products on themselves and see them move in real time, it was a real success because it provided them with a real unique service, and was much more than a simple catalogue of cosmetics. Simply having an app presence is definitely not enough.
Developing an app costs money and time, and is a real investment. A recent announcement from Gartner, the technology research company, pointed out that 0.01% of consumer mobile apps will be considered a financial success by their developers through 2018. As discussed in this article, the competition in the app is really fierce, and 60% of apps are deleted only one month after being downloaded. This shows that to have a chance to succeed, a brand app needs to be part of a well-thought mobile strategy that works seamlessly. It is also essential to keep in mind the necessity to get a fully responsive and mobile optimized brand website.
To summarize, an app can be extremely beneficial to your business and your mobile strategy, but for it to be a success, a brand app needs to provide a unique & non-deceptive service, and to help your brand differentiate itself from its competitors.
What about you, what is your opinion regarding brands apps? And if you’ve already got one out there, how useful has it proven to be? Do not hesitate to share your experiences in the comments!