Are you wondering how apps fit in to your mobile advertising strategy? Apps can be enormously powerful for building brand recognition and user engagement. Flurry Analytics reports that the average US mobile consumer spends almost 90% of their time using apps (via Smart Insights). If you aren't yet considering adding apps to your mobile advertising strategy, it's time to jump on board. So how do you get started, and what matters when creating and marketing an app?
First of all, go back to the basics
Too often marketers get caught up in discussing theory that we forget to go back to the basics: remembering that user experience is what matters most. When brainstorming what type of app to create, it's important to identify how you can give your users unique value they can't get by using your service on the web. The most successful apps also understand how mobile users work. Often, when on a mobile device, users want quick services they can utilize on the go. Make sure your app targets this by focusing first on creating a simple, intuitive service that gives your users real value.
How to track the effectiveness of your mobile app
After launching a mobile app, it's important to study how users are responding and retaining it. You should know where new users are finding your app and where loyal customers are finding your app so you can see what channels have been the most successful in gaining app conversions. Additionally, learning this data can add to your overall mobile strategy because it helps you see where users are connecting most with your company. For example, there is a big difference if most of your users are finding your app via your website or via an outside channel.
If you're stuck, implement a mobile app tracking platform such as AppsFlyer, Using a clean and easy to use interface you're able to clearly see all of the steps of the user acquisition process. This allows you to attribute certain events to specific channels to increase the effectiveness of your mobile app efforts.
Understanding user engagement
App effectiveness isn't just measured by downloads. What happens after users download is just as important if not more so. Mixpanel claims that user actions are more valuable than page views. So instead of focusing on your average click metrics they gain analytics to find out how much time users are spending on your app, which audiences connect with which features, and get feedback to find out how you can improve it. Too many apps are downloaded simply to never be touched again by users. In order to have a successful app, you need to know how you can adjust your app to retain the largest amount of engagement. Feedback from your users matters just as much as app design and initial UX does.
Incentivize to see results
It's not enough to just sit back and hope that customers will like you on Facebook, follow you on Twitter, share the news about your awesome app with everyone they know, or even download it! You need to create tangible incentives - such as promotions only available through the app or bonuses for inviting friends. For example, when Dropbox offered extra storage space if you shared their service on Facebook and Twitter, referrals increased 60% (via Entrepreneur). But simply creating the incentive is only half the battle: you must also ensure it's easy for users to sign up and share. The registration and log-in forms on your app are extremely important for gaining participation. Complicated starts are a huge reason why users are dissuaded from using apps.
How to fit an app into your overall marketing strategy
Make the app part of a cross-media marketing strategy that encourages users to connect with your company in new ways. For example, creating an app that scans QR codes from print advertisements so users can save the item for easy reference later is a valuable service that combines two marketing forms. Another great example is airlines who have made apps that allow check-in and flight tracking straight from a mobile device. These sort of services create a need for an app feature that users can't otherwise. Think about how your app will benefit your other marketing efforts for the best results.
Calculating app ROI
Today, apps are relatively low-cost to create, but simply getting app users isn't an accurate measure of ROI. Your app returns when it gives you added conversions that you wouldn't get without it. In other words, track how promotion offers made by the app lead to extra purchases or boosts in new users coming to your company. Apps absolutely must have a tangible benefit to your conversions, or users won't continue to need it or use it. Don't look at apps as another channel to do what you're already doing, attack apps from the angle of giving an innovative feature so that you will see real ROI.
Google, constantly trying to make our lives easier came up with Full Value of Mobile, a calculator that allows you to enter your values (or import them from AdWords) and does the computations for you.
These are some of the basics for getting started with apps in your mobile marketing strategy. Creating an app is only half the battle: the marathon is understanding how it can be built into your long-term advertising goals and tweaking your app so it achieves this most effectively. What do you think? What are some of the things you wish you knew before launching your company app?