The question requires the same assessment process as building a website, print campaign, e-marketing planning, social effort or any other channel communications. The desire to have a branded app doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right solution for your brand, company or customer base. Asking the question “What problem are we trying to help solve?” can help to direct efforts down the right path.
The purpose needs to be clarified before a proper solution can be established. Our digital marketing group has developed several mobile apps over the past year and will continue to focus and expand in this area. However, an agency shouldn’t push mobile apps without understanding the objectives that are at play for your brand.
Mobile Web has come a long way. Responsive Web designs and focus on the mobile experience can be a very effective strategy that may provide a deeper, richer experience for a fraction of the cost of a standalone application. Additionally, with the prevalence of smartphones, our access to the Web through cell providers is a simple click away and requires no downloading, which can be a customer benefit.
Don’t get me wrong … we believe in mobile apps and feel they have an important role in marketing and sales support. For our B2B clients these apps tend to serve as a utility that can be used by the sales organization and/or the end customers. Customers typically don’t look to B2B companies or manufacturers for mobile entertainment purposes (i.e., games) but they certainly will appreciate an application technology that helps make their job easier and solves a specific problem. Mobile applications that provide a value to the end user are a great way to provide a service to customers while bolstering the brand at the same time.
One common assumption that we often encounter is the thought that a mobile app needs to be focused for the end-user to download and use. Certainly in some cases that makes sense, but there is a huge opportunity for enterprise sales applications. In other words, mobile apps that are privately distributed within the company to salesperson iPads and other tablets to provide a dynamic, engaging sales tool to leverage when meeting with customers. Mobile sales apps can be utilized by field sales people in any location and environment and do not rely on Web connectivity. The strategy of using sales apps has many benefits including things such as the ability to present something the prospective customer can interact with, deliver consistent messaging across the sales organization, deploy automatic update notifications to keep everyone’s material accurate, and distribute privately, which allows for secure and selective availability within the company. And of course, without the need for Web connectivity, apps can be used anywhere.
So the next time you’re in a meeting and someone across the table says “We need an app!” make sure to take a breath, ask the question “What problem are we trying to solve?” and let your creative, yet practical, thinking go to work for the right solution. Good luck.