Lately, I find marketers “getting out of the app business,” saying some combination of the following: consumers have deleted their apps in the past; the effort to deliver valuable content is too difficult, and they would prefer to leverage the scale of someone else’s app.
This isn’t all that surprising. The initial app years were filled with one-dimensional apps that were “campaign focused,” not value focused. This taught consumers to download and delete apps in rapid-fire succession. That behavior has lingered, even as apps have evolved — almost one-third of all apps are deleted within one week of downloading.
However, there are many good reasons to create a branded app. And, as Joseph Jaffe said: “If someone doesn’t download your app — or they don’t use it regularly enough — it’s your fault for not giving them a compelling reason to do so.”
First, 90% of mobile online time is spent in-app. Thus, consumers have learned the mobile web feels like in-app use vs. mobile browser usage. In addition, research shows that apps can build not only revenue (app revenue is projected to be $75 billion by 2017), but also brand trust and long-term value.
Here are six key reasons brands should consider creating an app:
1. Create value beyond your product. An MIT study demonstrated the tangible brand value of “benevolent” branded apps. Beyond overt selling, there is an opportunity to stand for something bigger. For example, Kraft’s iFood Assistant provides easy recipes for busy moms that could include Kraft products or not. In addition, a mobile app can simplify your users’ lives in ways well beyond the product or service. For example, Nationwide’s app provides tools to file a claim in real time, Bank of America allows you to deposit a check with your phone, L’Oreal has AR tools to try on makeup virtually. These may not lead to a direct sale, but they create positive brand equity and sentiment that lead to loyalty and greater lifetime value.
2. A direct line to your consumer. Your app is your opportunity to communicate directly with your best customer. And that alone should encourage you – with the declining value of paid advertising and worries about viewability and ad fraud, connecting directly with your consumers is a huge opportunity. Your app customers are your most engaged customers –capable of engaging and buying more frequently and increasing lifetime value. That’s a direct conversation you want to have.
3. Deliver timely and relevant content. Apps give brands the opportunity to deliver content that is timely, relevant and personalized. What other communication channel can do that? Because the content — be it a push notification, geo-fenced notification, or in-app message — is delivered based on what an app owner has done or where they are, it is uniquely personalized and relevant. When used effectively, the ROI can be staggering — and the open rates, click rates and conversion rates are tens to hundreds to even thousands of times better than other vehicles.
4. Capture data about your consumers. Having an app enables brands to gain insights into their customers’ lives and journeys. Once opted into, location awareness in an app can generate buyer demographics, geographics, journey mapping, and insights into personas that can not only help you drive conversions, but also improve customer experience and personalize content.
5. Connect the digital world with the real world. As alluded to above, apps provide a connection point between the digital world and the real, brick-and-mortar world. This gives brands the opportunity to connect with people when they can provide specific and relevant real-world help, from store promotions and sales to directions to in-store guidance.
6. Focus on retention, loyalty and lifetime value. When you pick up your phone, you tend to be focused on doing something – answering a question, getting specific information or enjoying a specific entertainment. In this context, generalized interruption is not viewed positively. However, mobile is very good at lower-funnel tactics. An app fits into this approach perfectly – it’s a channel to connect with those who have already opted into your brand, are likely users, and are open to further engagement.
A branded app may not be the solution for all brands. And having one can be challenging and intensive. But, contrary to what many marketers are thinking of late, the benefits for a brand can be many.