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Leveraging the mobile app explosion

| Updated on: Jun 10, 2014
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Shopping on-the-go is redefining marketing. Brands need to recognise and react to this

The rapidly growing world of mobile applications has today made access to services just a simple ‘click’ away on the smartphone screen. The last couple of years have witnessed a proliferation of apps across the world, re-defining and dominating the way users consume content and transact on their mobiles.

Now, marketers are looking at working towards creating a 360-degree marketing plan which comprises all the relevant touch points for consumers. Given the vast uptake of mobile applications and the increased consumer dependency, marketers are turning to mobile applications to increase their consumer outreach programme.

Established global brands such as Burberry, and Marks & Spencer, as well as local brands such as Shoppers Stop and Hypercity, have reached out to customers through apps across platforms. As smartphone and tablet sales overtake PCs, there is a huge opportunity for the marketers to reach out to consumers using mobile applications.

According to a Harvard Business Review report, an individual spends approximately 82 per cent of mobile minutes using apps and just 18 per cent using Web browsers. Established e-commerce brands such as Flipkart, Quikr, Snapdeal and Amazon have extended their presence by creating a new sales channel through apps.

Apart from being a virtual market space, Apps are also a vital source of information. With innovative technologies such as push notifications and geo-targeting, apps such as Zomato and FourSquare are enabling marketers to reach out at the right time and place with relevant information, and at the same time helping consumers make the right choices.

Getting your apps right The Harvard Business Review report says an average consumer downloads approximately 40 apps on his smartphone, out of the millions available, and regularly uses just about 15. Thus, it is extremely important for marketers to create the right app, keeping in mind the target audience. Three key factors ensure a marketer’s app is relevant and engaging, otherwise users are likely to delete it or, worse, not download it at all.

Understanding the consumer: Envisioning your App involves having a clear definition of your target audience, and adding some detail and diligence while creating the same. It is the demographics that affect the size of the app audience; in India, consumers as young as 14 years to 40 years engage with brands using apps. Thus, an app developer must keep in mind the special characteristics of his target audience, including language, culture, age (whether kids, adults, or the elderly), the user’s Web ability, and several other criteria.

Right UX: The ultimate success of a mobile app depends on the user experience. Your ability to deliver the right experience depends on your understanding of the consumer, on the one hand, and of what technology can deliver, on the other. Choosing the right platform (native, HTML5, etc.) and the right technologies (near-field communication, Bluetooth, augmented reality or browser-based) are important choices that determine the ‘cool factor’ of user experience.

There are several alternative ways of presenting information to the consumer (ranging from drop-down lists and tables, to panning the camera around to find what you want — as in the AR view — and tap and get an action done using NFC), and several aspects need to be factored in, while deciding the right approach for the new application.

Marketing the App: Given the huge number of apps available, businesses must ensure they create awareness of the app, rather than just rely on consumers finding it. Apps need a marketing plan to ensure they are visible through many channels, including featuring in the app store, direct communications, review site recommendations etc., so it gets downloaded in larger numbers in the first week. Using means such as the BBM channel, which provides the brand a seat at the consumer’s inner circle, is powerful in establishing a unique connect with the consumer.

Looking ahead

Keeping all this in mind, brands feel there is sufficient motivation to dedicate more time and resources to app development. Mobile apps are helping businesses increase revenue, largely by increasing efficiency. Users can be narrowly targeted. Customers can shop during small pockets of time that would have previously been wasted. Additionally, apps are also providing marketers valuable insights in the form of data. This helps them build a deeper connect with the target audience and enables sharing of relevant brand information, resulting in more revenue for businesses while enhancing the overall user experience.

(The writer is Director-Alliance, BlackBerry India)

Published on June 10, 2014

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