Skip to main content
It’s been interesting to watch different marketing platforms/arenas follow the same evolutionary path as websites have over the past 14 years or so. Remember the scramble just to get your company’s website up – and the folks who were sure it was just a fad? Back in the day, a lot of organizations developed corporate sites with a, “build it and they will come” mentality. Of course, we soon learned that wasn’t the case. And if there were inherent advantages to an organization moving elements of its commerce and/or customer service online – they had to allow consumer to share in that benefit in order to be successful. Now we see a similar trend in mobile applications. Larger companies continue to scramble to develop an “iPhone app” (in many cases, w/out regard to whether their particular demographic uses an iPhone or if a different Smartphone platform would be more appropriate), just so they can check the box and demo it at their next senior management meeting. Don’t get me wrong, when iPhone apps were brand spanking new, organizations could benefit from them – even if they didn’t get a lot of actual downloads – thanks to the PR value. Companies that were first to market and measured their success by the number of media impressions that their app generated (rather than the number of active users), were able to pull together a reasonable ROI. But it seems that those days are over. And before a company decides to invest in an application that they’re HOPEFUL people will use – they really need to take a hard look at the actual value that it provides the end user. Just like the websites of the mid-1990s, a “build it and they will come” philosophy just isn’t realistic. Instead, organizations should look for opportunities to solve real problems for their consumers (and prospects!), and prove that they’re able to add value at every touch point. This will ensure that people actually use your mobile app, continue to use it, and actually recommend it to their friends and family. And guess what? Each and every time they do, they’ll see your brand and associate it with a positive/relevant experience. For example, an auto insurance carrier may choose to develop (or white label) an application that helps users locate the most affordable gas prices within a ten-mile radius (like GasBuddy). People will use it b/c it’s helpful and it’s free – and they’ll know that it’s brought to them by a certain insurance company that they’ll now consider the next time they’re shopping for auto insurance. This should be particularly appealing to organizations who don’t have the kind of multi-million dollar media budget that it takes to establish a brand via more traditional tactics. It’s all about evolving your brand over time, and allowing your consumers to be part of the process – and the most effective path to success includes interacting with your consumers frequently, embracing transparency, and adding value at every touch point. Your mobile app should reflect that. Good luck!   crk  : )