An App Isn’t a Mobile Strategy

I don’t want to burst anybody’s bubble, but just because you’ve created an iphone app for your brand doesn’t mean you can tick off that box on your to do list which says ‘mobile strategy’.


Firstly, Apple’s iOS is just one platform for apps, albeit the dominant one at present in terms of volume of downloads. But Google’s Android platform powers a number of the top smartphones and is catching up fast.


Also, there are some rather sobering stats when it comes to apps that I’d like to share with you:


  • A recent study conducted by Deloitte found that 80% of apps created by brands had less than 1,000 downloads.


  • Of the 27% of mobile phone owners who own a smartphone in the UK (stats from Ofcom), just under 50% have downloaded an app (so far so good) but only 1 in 5 do so on a regular basis. So just over 5% of the mobile phone owning public are regular app downloaders, and they’re most likely to be young and male – not much use if your target market is older and female.


Now my point is not to say that creating an app is a waste of time – there are lots of brands that have created great apps that have enhanced their brand equity and helped them to build a highly involving one-to-one communication channel with their customers. But there are also plenty of poorly conceived, or poorly executed, or poorly promoted apps (or all 3) lying neglected in Apple’s AppStore. An app is a communication tool, not a strategy.


My advice is to work out what you’re trying to achieve first and then work out what tools you need to achieve it.  To use a DIY analogy, you wouldn’t pick up a hammer and say, ‘What can I build with this?’ You’d start off by saying, ‘ I need a cupboard, what do I need to build it?’


So start with a goal and an understanding of who your customers are and what they want from your brand and then work out how mobile can help you achieve it. That’s a mobile strategy.


For example:


How can mobile help me to increase the number of enquiries I get?


Have you looked into mobile display advertising?  Would this effectively reach your target audience? It’s new and novel, and formats are page dominant, so it’s impact is higher than traditional online display.


What about a mobile ‘offer’ site to support offline campaigns?  People often can’t be bothered to turn on their PC when they’re leafing through a newspaper or magazine or see an add on TV, but they could well check out your offers on their smartphone, which is likely to be on and to hand. A QR code will increase the chance of response.


How can mobile get more people to come to my shop(s)?

How about this rather neat way of turning your shop address on a website into a text (with a link to a map) that will help a consumer to find you?


What about using paid-for mobile search to create a highly relevant ad for people searching for your brand on the move, linked to a mobile optimised landing page with a location map for your nearest store and the latest offers available?


How can I use mobile to improve my customer service?


How about texting your customers with useful numbers (their hotel number, a number to call if they have any problems, their 24 medical assistance number etc) just before they leave the UK so they’ve got them conveniently stored it they need them when they’re away?


How about a courtesy ‘just wanted to see how your holiday was going’ text a few days into their break or a ‘welcome back, how did it go?’ text when they return?


What about a number people can text with any comments they might have about your hotel to help you improve your service in the future?


Or perhaps a mobile website which allows people to book hotel services such as restaurants, spas and room service from their mobile phone?


Wow – I don’t believe it, I’ve managed to come up with 8 mobile ideas and not mentioned the word ‘app’ once. And half of those ideas relate to text, a technology that virtually everyone uses and you don’t even need a smartphone for.


Mobile is an area you can’t afford to ignore – smartphones are being rapidly adopted and within a couple of years over half the population will own one.  And smartphone owners use their phones more often and to do more.


You need to formulate your strategy now, and that strategy may include a well-conceived, well-designed and well-promoted app. But make sure you look at all the benefits that mobile can bring to your business because if you competitors prove to be more ‘mobile’ than you, believe me you’ll regret it.

Six ‘Digital’ Resolutions for 2010

 Digital marketing is cost effective, measurable and the likelihood is you’re under-investing in it. Make sure you’re keeping an eye on what’s coming over the hill but don’t forget some of the more established digital disciplines.


You could argue that I’m writing this a little late in the year because, believe it or not, we’re already beyond the point when most people have lapsed in their commitment to a new lifestyle for a new year. I have to admit to having one foot in this camp myself as my resolution to blog once a week has already proved an abject failure.


Despite that, I did think it was still worth sharing a few ‘digital marketing’ resolutions for 2010 with you. Why only digital?  Well it’s where your customers are most likely to find you and engage with you, it’s highly cost effective and measureable and if you’re like most brands, it’s likely that you’re under-investing in this sector.  So here goes:


1. Invest in your Website, Invest in your Website, Invest in Your Website


Sorry to labour the point, but it makes sense that you’re going to get more ‘bang for your buck’ if you invest more in converting the people that are already coming to your site rather than trying to drive more of them to a site which isn’t working to the optimum.


Think long and hard about what purpose your site is there for and what sort of people are going to be using it.  With websites, less is often more and you need to resist the temptation to bombard users with navigation options and content that cater for their every possible need and whim but create a confusing experience for those trying to use the site for its primary purpose.


Pore over your analytics to see if your site isn’t performing as you envisaged – primary navigation not being used or pages featuring amongst the top exits when they shouldn’t, for example. Explore more rich media options such as larger images and video which can improve the ‘stickiness’ of your site. And continually gather feedback from all the company’s stakeholders, both internal and external.


2. Search is Still the Daddy


When was the last time you had a thorough review of your paid search campaign? When did you last review your keywords?  Do you have a least 3 creatives running at any one time on each ad group to continually test effectiveness? What about your natural search efforts?  Do you have a content strategy integrated with your search efforts?  Are you working on building your incoming links?


Digital Resolutions for 2010

Digital Resolutions for 2010

If you answer is ‘yes’ to all of those questions then my hat goes off to you, but the chances are that there are some ‘nos’ scattered in there. My point is that search is the ‘big daddy’ of online marketing and its still growing (UK searches in December ’09 were 35% up on December ’08).  So although you may have been distracted by the winsome looks of social media or mobile phone apps, you need to make sure you’re keeping on top of it. Or keeping on top of the agency that looks after it for you (time for a performance-based deal perhaps?)


3. Let’s Reverse Those Declining Open Rates


Do you actually know why your email subscribers have signed up for email?  And are you giving them what they want?  Are your email efforts one way style ‘broadcast’ communications or are you using them to engage with your customers? Are you treating your recent subscribers in a different way to your past subscribers?


Because email marketing is so cheap, the temptation is to blast everyone with everything, just in case. But you’ll achieve a much closer relationship with your customers if you ask them what they want and then deliver. Much like social media, email offers the opportunity to enter into conversations and you’ll get much better results if you take the time to engage with your audience.


4. It’s Social Media So Start Being Sociable


You wouldn’t have many friends left it you talked at them and never expressed an interest in them or listened to what they had so say, but a surprising number of brands take this approach to social media. One way  ‘brand to consumer’ communication is old fashioned marketing so start getting interactive. Search social media platforms to find out what people are saying and intervene if you can help. Get interactive with your followers, find out what they want from you, and then deliver. The time for ‘dabbling’ is over – set yourself clear goals for what you want to achieve and work out how you’re going to get there.


5. Keep an Eye on Mobile


Mobile is the new buzzword on the digital ‘fashion’ calendar following in the wake of social media in 2009 but just because its faddy doesn’t mean you should turn your nose up at it.  Smartphones and feature phones actually enjoy high levels of penetration – if you look at your own you’ve probably got internet access and even a couple of apps tucked away that you weren’t aware of – but the iPhone has changed the landscape simply because its users are just so active.


The main buzz revolves around apps and mobile advertising, with the former growing at an explosive pace and the latter being fuelled by high profile purchases of mobile ad networks by Apple and Google.  But don’t forget about mobile search, location-based services are offered on both Bing and Google, and whether having a website developed for mobile use (a bit of a nightmare given all those screen resolutions, operating systems and differing key functions) makes sense for your brand.


Don't Just Think iPhone

Don't Just Think iPhone

The question to ask yourself before you plunge in are are what are my target market using their mobile for, and what can I do for them that will be useful for them when they’re on the move?  For example, for city centre business hotels, a presence in mobile search and a mobile website could make sense – I could imagine a tech-savvy and PA-less businessman organising his hotel on the go between meetings. I could also imagine mobile websites for booking hotel facilities such as spas, room service and restaurant reservations when you’re there. By the same token, people on holiday might like to search for local attractions on their mobile device.


And don’t rule out mobile marketing if you target audience is not connecting to the internet on their mobile, which most aren’t. Old and enduring technologies, such as text, offer opportunities as well. Services such as TravelBuddy can add value to your clients when they’re away with you, and text based gaming can offer interaction at visitor sites and attraction for adults and children alike.


6. Keep on Top of Your Craft


I don’t care how you do it, twitter, RSS and/or email, but take the time to take in what’s happening in the world of digital. It’s moving so fast you need to keep on top of it. That’s not to say that you need to get carried away with it – your target audience’s attitudes, needs, motivations and behaviours should always be the filter you see these developments through – but unless you’re on top of what’s coming over the hill, you could miss a big opportunity that your competitors don’t.