One of the most powerful forms of marketing today involves building and distributing a mobile app. In most cases, the app is provided as a free service. However, once used, users essentially provide their own contact information as well as increasing amounts of customer profile data that can be used for service or product enhancement going forward.
Because people want to use the app, they are willing to share their personal information, which becomes an open channel for additional information requests. In other cases, by gamifying the app, companies are able to obtain even more information from users, enhancing their marketing data collection in ways well beyond what was ever possible with traditional marketing methods decades earlier. This is the power of mobile app development.
The Marketing Benefits of a Mobile App Strategy
Mobile apps respond to where consumers are today. Two-thirds of Internet activity and searching are happening with mobile devices, not regular computers, and definitely not traditional business search tools like newspapers and phone books. In fact, a good number of today’s consumers have never even seen paper periodicals for business information, except maybe in a library.
Secondly, a mobile app opens the door to putting a company brand, information, and digital product right in the hands of consumers via their own devices. This not only provides a gateway to contact information; it also gives a volume of data regarding their geographic information, particularly where they cluster for business needs, activity, and where they travel. All of this can be collected from app programs, providing critical detail as to both what customers are looking for and where they are looking for it.
Mobile App Creation Isn’t Easy
Today’s mobile app development operates on one of two main platforms: iOS, provided by Apple, or Android, provided by Google. While there are other possibilities for app distribution, phone programs really won’t reach the masses unless the given app is distributed through one of these two big app stores and companies.
Despite there now being a number of online platforms offering “no-code” templates for easy app building, a robust platform is not possible without serious coding skills involved. The first aspect of this involves the actual app built to work on one of the language platforms noted above.
However, it’s not enough to have a running program; the app needs to talk to something as well to make it useful. As a result, an app needs a home base to communicate with that collects the various client-side buckets of information, draws them back, and makes it useful for the app operator, as well as providing a means for the operator to push attractive value out to consumers and their mobile devices.
Like any program, the code needs to be vetted, tested, revised, tested again, and then tried out with select users to confirm it meets expectations and how it can be improved even further. A good example would be a recent grocery store app release. Grocery Store A copied Grocery Store B’s app to generate a similar tool.
However, because Grocery Store A didn’t have all of Grocery Store B’s code, they only deconstructed part of the program. No surprise, they left out a key easy aspect of the program, the food product search feature. As a result, Grocery Store A’s customers found the app frustrating and a waste of time, having to type in every food product to find out its price and discount.
In the meantime, Grocery Store B’s app was pointed to in the complaints as to what should have been built as a better design. Unfortunately, Grocery Store A was in such a hurry; it had already built the app and released it in production too fast. That mistake has now cost millions of dollars in missed design work and lost consumer purchases.
An App Pushes Brand Visibility
An app build also needs to be consistent with the business offering it. The mobile program becomes the face of the business in the digital world and is what is most remembered. That can be an advantage, or it can be an albatross that a company can never get rid of after things go wrong. This is why the design and user experience of an app are so critical to its release and impact. Without knowing how the code works, a business or app owner has no idea how to control the effect of the app on the public.
Along with the technical code involved, for both the app itself as well as the architecture it works within the background, the business purpose of the app matters tremendously. As mentioned earlier, a good number of apps are provided at no cost. If there is a price to anything, it is added to the cost of services within the app once a user starts engaging. However, the most effective distribution happens with a free program.
Where Is the Gain With a Mobile App?
So, how, then, does a business gain anything from the time, work, and cost invested in creating an app? Mobile apps deliver value by providing access to useful information. Finding the right balance between free information provided and follow-through is key.
For example, Amazon’s bar code app provides market pricing for a product bar code scanned in a store, but it also highlights Amazon’s price for the product as the most competitive versus other choices. While a consumer could buy the product they are physically scanning in a retail store, Amazon’s free app triggers a sense of savings. So, the Amazon app makes it easy for a consumer to follow through and buy the same product from Amazon through the app electronically while the consumer is still in a competitor’s physical store. Genius. Not only does this example of a well-designed app add free value for the consumer, but it boosts sales for Amazon itself as well.
If your business is thinking about generating a mobile app for its service or product or just connecting better with customers, then it’s time to have a serious talk with a team that can produce not just the code but also the business and marketing strategy for a successful application. Don’t be another statistic about a company distributing an app without a real purpose behind it. To find out more about a comprehensive, successful mobile app development path, click here.