The mobile audience is a huge potential for enterprises given that 86 percent of mobile users’ time is dedicated to app usage. Creating an app to expand to this marketing channel helps you capture this audience, but only if you avoid the pitfalls associated with branded mobile apps. Many users simply can’t find the value in branded mobile apps to justify having it take up space on their devices’ home screen.
Furthermore, as many as 38 percent of branded app users are dissatisfied with their branded app experience, which can lead to a generally negative impression of the brand. If you want to avoid having your mobile marketing plans backfire on you, your branded mobile apps need to create actual value for your users. Here are some tips on how to do it right.
Assess Your Audience’s Needs
Mobile users have a lot of apps but not a lot of time. If your branded mobile apps don’t have a niche on their phone, they’re going to get uninstalled the next time they come across it. Your marketing and sales department should have significant data on customer needs, pain points and interests. Outside of basic functions, such as a store locator or catalog, consider functions that add value to the customer’s experience.
Colorsmart by BEHR Mobile is a perfect example of how branded mobile apps can create value by showing users how they can use a product for actual needs. The app by the paint manufacturer uses the phone’s camera to color match its products to the pictures taken, shows related colors and color spectrums, and also provides room mock ups showing how the paint looks in real world situations to aid customers in selection. Such features are actually very useful for people who are in the process of renovating their homes or interior designers.
Google found “near me” search volume on the rise, with 34 times more mobile search queries looking for “near me” results compared to 2011 search volume. Make it easy for your audience to find the hyper local content they need. Think beyond store locations and hours, although these are essential data points to include in your branded mobile apps. Based on data about your users, figure out what extra features they might be looking for. These little bonuses could wind up giving your branded mobile apps the extra edge over other apps.
For example, look at W Hotel’s branded app. The app goes beyond basic location and booking functionality by allowing guests to order room service online without having to call the front desk. It also provides custom content on local destinations based on the user’s hotel, and also offers custom music mixes that showcase local talent and the general atmosphere W Hotel wants to project.
Source: Stephen Gates
Test Your App Before Deployment
We’ve emphasized over and over again the importance of QA and testing. It’s the same case for branded mobile apps. Coming up with a prospective feature list that caters to your audience’s needs is an important step in creating a valuable branded app. But features that sound good on paper don’t always end up being properly functional in the real world. And when they fail to work, you can’t hope that the hype of a brand name will make up for what’s lacking in performance.
Prototyping your branded mobile apps as part of the design and development process lets you discover potential issues that can be fixed and re-tested until it has reached near perfection. Of course, a completely bug-free app is the holy grail for app developers and therefore, pretty much impossible. More issues are bound to appear after releasing the app to the public. But with prototyping and thorough testing, you can at least ensure that the users will not encounter major issues that would’ve been missed if you’d skim on the testing.
Branded mobile apps can bring significant value to your company, but you have to do it right to avoid being slapped with the “just another marketing ploy” label. Offer your users interesting and varied content that is tailored to the interests of your community of users or based on local events. Make use of mobile functionality such as push notifications and messages to send gentle reminders to use the app again.
Remember: it’s not just about selling, it’s about engaging the user. Capture your mobile audience with branded mobile apps that truly add value to their lives.
[Proto.io is a mobile app prototyping tool used by entrepreneurs and startups to create fully-interactive realistic prototypes that look and feel like real apps.]