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Building a Mobile App Is Not a Mobile Strategy

Written By: langdon on November 25, 2011 No Comment

Building a Mobile App Is Not a Mobile Strategy

Everyone wants their own mobile application. In the last year. In fact, mobile analytics firm Distimo claims 91 of the top 100 brands have their own mobile app (up from 51 just 18 months ago).

On the surface this sounds great, right? I can use my big brand name to get people to install my application, and then I can market to them via the palm of their hand whenever I want. If you’re a big brand, I have no doubt you will get a ton of downloads. But downloads are a vanity metric; they don’t measure success.

Most brands treat their mobile applications as an advertisement. No one wants to download an ad. No one will use or keep form-fitted cookie cutter application’s that do not provide any solution or bring value for users. Do not be tempted to just push  your brand and advertising, instead think about what problem you can solve; what value you can add or what solution that you can deliver.

Building a mobile strategy is more than just having your own application. It means working with third-party mobile apps, mobile ad networks, and using offline marketing to drive further use in mobile.

Here are four things to remember as you consider a mobile strategy — and some reasons why you should expand your mobile strategy past just your mobile app.

  1. You don’t launch a television station so you can market your brand on television. Imagine you’re Dr. Pepper. You want to make sure that everyone knows about your new Dr. Pepper 10 soda. Do you launch Dr. Pepper TV? No! You find television networks and more specifically programs that can reach your relevant consumers. Why? Because even if you did launch your own TV network, it doesn’t mean people are going to watch it. Don’t build an app just to get downloads; build something people will actually use.
  2. Building a mediocre app is just as bad as selling a mediocre product. The power of mobile is that you can interact with a consumer at any moment. However, would you want someone buying your new cereal if it tasted bad? No! They would never buy it again. So why would you want them to download a mediocre mobile app? It will not end in the desired result.
  3. In addition to development of your own mobile application, leverage 3rd party applications to expand your reach. For instance, P&G sponsored a third-party bathroom finder app called “Sit or Squat” to reach Charmin users. Can a toilet paper brand find anything more targeted than this? There are successful third-party mobile apps that can reach your users better than you can. Embrace them.
  4. Building your own app is not the only way to reach your consumers. Some people are going to use your app, and others are going to want to use third-party ones. It’s like having a website. Just because you have your own destination doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use other channels to build relationships with your customers. United allows Expedia to sell tickets, even though you can book on United.com.

My advice is this: It’s ok to have your own app, but your entire mobile marketing strategy should not stop at building one. But if you are going to invest in your own app, make it something that you would want to use. Remember No one wants to download an ad.

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