Making The Most Of Mobile Apps

Here’s a sobering thought for anyone in the entertainment industry. In a recent survey conducted by Weve, 46% of all 18-34 year olds considered their mobile device to be their primary screen. Just 27% said that TV was actually their screen of choice. And if you think that trend is going to do anything other than accelerate in the coming years, you obviously don’t have much exposure to the younger end of that demographic.

Most teenagers these days barely know what a television set is. But trying to get them off a mobile phone screen takes a herculean effort. And they aren’t on there browsing the Internet either — recent research suggests that the mobile app outperforms the Internet browser by a ratio of 4 to 1 when it comes to time spent by users. The mobile app is the winner when it comes to the emerging mobile audience.

So in an industry so geared towards technologies that are beginning to look a little 20th century — what’s the right strategy for making the most of mobile, and apps in particular? 



Here’s three suggestions that can help you succeed in the mobile environment.

1. Remember, it’s not a competition.

Mobile doesn’t necessarily compete with other screens — in many cases it complements them. TV retains a central role in originating and growing entertainment franchises, and mobile can (and should) work with rather than against that reality. The phenomenon of the second screen is well known, and will be familiar to anyone who has watched a sporting event unfold while keeping on eye on their Twitter stream. Businesses such as Beamly are successfully supporting exactly that type of behavior today.

So the challenge isn’t necessarily to move entertainment to mobile, but to make mobile a compelling part of the mix. Part of that is operating within existing apps (YouTube, Facebook and other social apps being very obvious examples), but another is development of standalone apps. 

This approach builds on a trend seen in multiple verticals in which mobile apps provide additional or complementary material to the core product, appropriate to the mobile context. Examples would include travel companion apps for airways or safe driving apps from insurance companies. In each case, the intention is to keep the brand and product front of mind and deliver positive mobile experiences.

2. Focus on ease of use.

The mobile audience is a fickle one. Users typically have 60 to 80 apps on their phone at any one time. They churn through others at an alarming rate (around 20% of all apps are opened precisely once). So it is imperative that whatever you do produce on mobile, the user immediately understands what it is for, how it benefits them, and how to use it. That may seem obvious, until you try using some of the mobile apps that hit the market these days.

One way to ensure at least some measure of usability is a comprehensive A/B testing program. Nothing can tell you what works (and what doesn’t) more than real user data, and that data can help identify the right information architecture, the correct day one experience, and even what language, look and feel work best for retaining your audience.

3. Work towards business goals.

Don’t let the app become a vanity project. Make sure to identify objectives, link them to business performance, and then do everything possible to achieve them. In the entertainment space, that might be views (and ad views as a result) or merchandise sales, etc. There are many possibilities, but it is vital to understand that these things do not just happen.

Installs are, of course, necessary for a successful mobile app but they really are not enough. When you have an audience, it is necessary to both learn from the behavior of each individual and deliver targeted campaigns and messages (whether in the app or outside it via push notifications) that move them towards meeting your business objectives by making a purchase, for example.

When you take this approach, the mobile app becomes a powerful way of strengthening the relationship between your entertainment product and the consumer, and becoming ever-present in their life. It’s worth the effort.

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