Chances are the cell phone that’s burning a hole in your pocket at this very moment is a smartphone. If that’s the case, you’re one of the growing number of people worldwide who own a Blackberry, iPhone, HTC or Droid. In fact, according to data from analytics firm Gartner, smartphone sales are on fire, with a more than 50 percent year over year increase last quarter for a total of 61.6 million units sold.
As smartphones continue to grow in popularity, more people will experiment with mobile app downloads. Gartner predicts that worldwide downloads in mobile app stores will surpass 21.6 billion by 2013. This represents a huge opportunity for you to connect with your consumer on a whole new level. But, as always, it’s not totally cut and dried.
Some things to consider:
Like any other marketing tool, don’t develop an app simply for the sake of doing it. Determine your marketing goals and strategies and then decide if a mobile app would help you meet those objectives. If it does, a mobile app that provides true value to your customers could result in huge payoffs.
Think of mobile apps as a completely new opportunity to connect with your customers. It’s a chance to light some brand new marketing fires that are totally different than your print campaigns, direct mail pieces or newsletters. Plus, it’s an excellent opportunity to provide something smokin' hot that delivers real, personal value to your customers and prospects.
Make it a goal to sit down at least once a year to brainstorm mobile app opportunities for your business. While it may not fit in with your business plan one year, marketing goals and strategies change. Don’t write it off and never visit it as a marketing tactic again.
When someone downloads an app to their phone they’re forging a very personal connection with your brand. As a result, it can’t all be about you and your product. If you develop an app, make sure you provide true value. For example, Virgin Atlantic recently released an iPhone app for people afraid of flying.
Don’t automatically assume you can charge for your app. That would be like lighting a cracklin' campfire and then dumping a bucket of water on it right after. According to Gartner, free downloads will account for 82 percent of all downloads in 2010, and 87 percent of downloads in 2013. Think of apps as a branding campaign that will increase loyalty, awareness and brand association.
The user experience is the most important thing. The most successful mobile applications are invariably those that are easiest for subscribers to use. This Pay Pal app, for example, helps people transfer money by simply bumping their phones together.
It’s not just about the app – it’s also about how you market it. As apps continue to flood into the marketplace, the marketing muscle supporting these apps will become increasingly important.
As with anything else in marketing, it ultimately comes down to the goals and objectives you are trying to achieve. Our goals are simple: light some ragin’ marketing fires. As a result, our favorite apps all have one thing in common: Fire HD, Virtual Zippo Lighter and Flame Thrower.
Inga Rundquist is a Public Relations Arsonist and Co-Owner at MindFire. When she’s not dreaming up ideas that will generate publicity, you can find her knee deep in the social media world, also known as the next PR frontier.