Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Make the Most of Mobile: There’s an App for That

Want to find a date? Rank a restaurant? Know the daily US consumption of Nutella? (Hey it’s awesome.) Odds are there’s an app for that. And odds are you’re using them at some level in your personal life, but are you leveraging them for business? Do you have a custom app that keeps bringing customers back? Never thought of that? It’s time to start.

Mobile apps are on a continuously upward trajectory for popularity, and their potential closely parallels it. Users of all ages are growing increasingly social in their app selection, but a quick look at some of the most coveted demographic groups gives us an interesting window into where mobile is going.

For example, did you know Facebook use is dropping off among trendsetters (age 14-34)? That’s right, adoption of the global uber-social app is growing fastest among (gasp!) the over-50 crowd. Yet interestingly, Facebook is still the platform mainstream users prefer for hearing from their brands.

That’s not to say you should make Facebook the be-all end-all of your mobile marketing segment. Quite the contrary. Rather, keep a finger (or maybe two) on the pulse of the app world, and watch what’s got users’ heart rates up. As apps get savvier in growing their user bases, they’re honing in on leveraging their audiences for advertising impact. And smart brands are, in turn, counter-leveraging the crowds, whether the apps offer formal advertising or not. The apps and their numbers are worth considering as a smart marketing plant component.

What are some of the hottest apps?

Tinder, a dating and messenger app now up to 6.5 million users. The feed shows you potential singles (including TV show The Mindy Project at one time); you swipe left or right to like or dislike. When two people like each other, they have the option to text each other.

Messaging apps like WhatsApp (400 million users) and Kik (100 million users). Essentially this is texting without SMS (which is automatically installed on most smartphones). But it’s free and offers more features, like the ability to block someone, plus extended cross-functional capability like chat+music+gaming on Kik in some cases. So far, WhatsApp remains stubbornly advertising free, but Sony and teen music sensation One Direction have effectively leveraged Kik for mobile web.

Social sharing apps continue to pop up, and a few have burst onto the scene with surprising growth. Snapchat boasts 50 million users just since 2012, sharing a reported 400 million photos a day to rival Facebook totals. The appeal? Photos appear and disappear in seconds, a “snap” of interest. Similarly, Whisper, which lets users combine image and text to anonymously share secrets with strangers, reportedly built an audience of over 2 million in its first six months. (Since its user numbers are closely guarded, we don’t know their current totals.) And look for Jelly to get some attention. Launched just this year by Twitter’s founder, Jelly features a quirky premise of posting pictures to query the crowd for opinions. Travelocity and General Electric are already experimenting with its promotional potential.

What’s the app for YOU?

It’s true there’s an app for virtually anything, but what about for your business? Leveraging critical thinking relative to your industry and its needs can drive business and dollars. Consider your audience, then consider what they need and what to design for them. How about an app that helps people know what type of health screenings they need and classes to take compared to their health risk data? Or maybe an app that helps customers find product dealers, service centers and solutions faster and easier? Or your best bet may be a rewards or club accrual-type app that helps customers connect and remain loyal.

Bottom line: The key is to develop an app that people find so useful they can’t help but use it again and again. If you want to make it in the mobile world (and you should), you’d better be always thinking… of the next big thing, that is. Because you can bet that, for converting clicks to business, there’s an app for that.

Not sure where to point your mouse first? We can help create an app for that, from conception to development and launch. Contact Cheryl Neumann, [email protected] or
(309) 346-2512.