Mobile Apps: Success Is In The Marketing

Mobile Apps: Success Is In The Marketing

By: Shelly Kramer
February 11, 2011

I Need An App Button

Mobile apps are all the rage. But marketing a mobile app is just as important as developing it. Statistics show that downloading an app and using an app repeatedly are two different things. Venture Beat reports that a whopping 26% of users download an app, then use it once. Yes, that’s right – once.

And that’s why having a plan to market your app is so critical. As is having a solid strategy for developing an app in the first place.

If we had a dollar for every client or prospective client who came to us convinced they needed an app, we’d be sitting on a beach somewhere sipping fruity drinks. Apps are great. Apps can be a terrific part of an integrated marketing strategy. But just like anything else, just because you build it, doesn’t mean they will come – and come back.

Ask What – And How!

The first things you should ask when contemplating an app is “What do I want people to do with this?” and “How does this add value – on a repeat basis?” And if your only answers are that you think it’ll be cool to have your own app or that people will think you’re cool because you have an app .. well, we’re probably not going to develop it for you. But you won’t have any trouble finding someone who will.

Don’t misunderstand – we like apps. We like them a lot. But to our way of thinking, they have to make sense in the big scheme of things if they’re a part of a client’s marketing strategy and budget. And there has to be a solid strategy in place to market the app once it’s launched for any chance of success.

For instance, in the Kansas City market, there are TV spots running advertising an app that tells you wait times in local emergency rooms. Super! Oh wait.

Maybe I’m just uber lucky, but I’ve got 4 active, athletic kids and an ex-jock of a husband who thinks he can do anything (shhhh). And in the course of the last 29 years, I’ve been to the emergency room exactly twice. Do I really need an app to tell me wait times at local ERs, ‘just in case’ … I’m thinking not so much.

Now, if I coached a little league team or a hockey team or was a Boy Scout den leader, well then, it might be something that I’d be interested in. So if the app was developed with those folks in mind, and if their marketing strategy involved targeting that audience and getting them to not only download the app, but regularly reminding them that it’s there, then it makes sense. But otherwise, what’s the point?

There’s Lots of Competition

A study done by Asymco, an app developer turned industry analyst, showed that on iDevices alone (iPhone, iPad, etc.) the average user downloaded 60 apps. So the competition for consumer attention comes not only from other apps in the marketplace, but also from all the other apps that very consumer has downloaded and may or may not ever return to use again. Equally as mind-boggling is the fact that there are upwards of 30 million apps downloaded every day.

Get it Right, Wow ‘Em, Tempt Them Back

Just like any new product launch, when you put your app out there, you’ve certainly got to wow people in order to get them to download. Don’t get in a hurry and launch it if it’s not right, if it’s buggy and/or if it’s just not something that people will either enjoy or have a concrete use for. Think about it – don’t develop an app just because it’s the latest bright, shiny thing. And, after you’ve gotten consumers past the initial download, think about how you get them back – and continuing to use your app.

Look At Your Stats

As always, pay attention to your analytics. After launch, instead of just focusing on the number of downloads that you get on a weekly basis, look at how many repeat users you have. That’ll speak volumes about the efficacy of your app – and its user appeal.

And, by the by, if you’re a marketer and it’s an app you’ve developed for a client — if you’ve not thought this all the way through, it’ll soon be apparent if people download once and don’t ever use it again. And everyone knows that bad marketing decisions are never the client’s fault. And if you’ve encouraged a client to spend money developing an app that brings no value, what does that say about you?

Stay tuned for next week’s follow up post: I’ve Got An App, Now What The Heck Do I Do?