Mobile apps have evolved radically over the last several years, rising from simple software programs designed to deliver basic information like sports and weather on the first smartphones and PDAs to fundamental occupational tools expected of every company doing business today. If your organization doesn’t have a mobile app, then you’ve got bigger problems than can be addressed here.
But simply having a mobile app isn’t enough to guarantee a return on investment. Many businesses think a simple website replication compounded with a couple of tweaks and adjustments for mobile devices is all they need to consider themselves members of the mobile app community. But with the ubiquity of mobile apps today, businesses must strive to stand out in the crowd.
The number of mobile apps available for download has spread like wildfire since the first ones hit the market in the summer of 2008. According to statista.com, mobile apps available on the Apple App Store alone have grown from just 800 in July 2008 to 1.5 million in June 2015. So what–or who–exactly doused kerosene all over these promising beacons of light some seven years ago?
Consumers. Consumer demand for mobile apps has skyrocketed upward for years now, yet many organizations have failed to keep up. The mobile app world turns fast, and if you don’t stay on top of the latest problems that are bound to arise with bourgeoning technology, then your company is going to fall behind the competition. So what is the real problem with today’s mobile apps, and what can your business do to get more eyes on its latest software?
The first mobile app problem: needing an app
Imagine your company is evaluating new technology that could potentially disrupt the way you currently do business. This technology is groundbreaking and timesaving, and it has the potential to create additional revenue for your organization. So what is the first problem with such a valuable piece of technology?
You don’t have it. Acquiring a mobile app was the primary focus of businesses jumping on the mobile bandwagon beginning in 2008, and it’s also worth pointing out that building these apps was the only goal of these businesses in regard to mobile app development at the time. They didn’t care how well the mobile app performed; these businesses just knew they needed one. This caused many organizations to do whatever it took to get these one-off mobile apps up and available on stores like Google Play and the Apple App Store.
Many of these apps were simple knock-offs of company websites, providing little for mobile users in terms of functionality, utility, and value. Of course, these types of apps did little for companies in terms of actual ROI, so it wasn’t long before savvy marketers addressed the next problem: understanding the app.
What are people doing with our mobile app?
Sometimes businesses are reluctant to take mobile marketing to the next level because of inherent challenges that exist when changing up digital marketing tactics. I touched on this very topic in an earlier blog post and pointed out how the reluctance to embrace the potential of mobile technology for businesses can lead to falling behind competitors in similar industries.
Naturally, the next problem to arise out of mobile apps was the one that asked, “What exactly are people doing with our mobile app?” It’s one thing to have an app live on the Google Play store simply for the sake of letting the world know your company is (on the surface) contemporary and technologically driven, but it’s quite another to understand how a company’s mobile app is being used by customers.
This is exactly where companies have put their energies in recent years. Most businesses realized shortly after the progressing ubiquity of mobile apps that if they were going to stand out in a sea of seemingly infinite mobile app options, then they were going to have to offer the customer more–much more.
Businesses began working toward understanding their apps and discovering what users were doing with them before finally regarding mobile apps as the valuable marketing tools they are today. Organizations also realized the importance of driving customers to use their mobile apps; not only could they gather focused information and user data based on mobile interactions, but they could also deliver services through mobile that were normally reserved for call centers, customer service reps, and point of sale, thereby providing valuable services to mobile users while cutting costs.
Today’s mobile app problem: how do we get customers to download the app?
So two problems have already been addressed and solved by most companies fluent in the mobile app industry: these companies have built apps that represent their brands, and they have honed such apps to provide valuable data while delivering experiences that help both customer and company.
Now comes the real mobile app issue facing marketers today: how do we drive people to download these apps? We’ve already figured out what customers want and how we can deliver, but none of that matters if we can’t convince our customers to click the download button.
This is where taking a cross-channel approach comes into play. There isn’t one simple solution that is going to drive customers toward your app and increase acquisitions in the process. Just as the customer journey is no longer a linear path, neither is customer acquisition through mobile apps.
To do this, you are going to have to evaluate the performance of every digital channel. Are you using social networking in an effective manner? Does a social networking strategy even have a part in your digital marketing playbook? What about display ads? How can your customers find your app if you are never investing in some form of online advertising? Organic lead generation is great, but successful businesses are also aware that real investments have to be made before expecting a serious ROI through a mobile app.
What about gaining mobile app marketplace recognition outside digital channels? Consider including QR codes on anything within camera shot, including print ads, product packaging, direct mail, billboards, and flyers. These codes can take users directly to the app store, where they can easily download your app within seconds of scanning the code.
Solving the real mobile app issues of today means thinking outside the box to consistently come up with new ways to drive consumers toward your brand. Find new ways to inform customers of the utility, value, and timesaving service your mobile app provides, and you’ll be one step closer to the prize: your app on every one of your customers’ mobile devices.