Last week, a client who was developing his mobile marketing strategy asked us what was better to focus on: developing an app for your business or investing in advertising on mobile networks. And since the discussion was rather valuable to him we decided to share it with you in this week’s post.
I think that we can skip the usual opening question “Does your business need a mobile marketing strategy?” After all, it’s 2012 and mobile marketing is not the new kid on the block anymore (it’s actually more likely to be taking the lead soon), but if some of you are still not sure just take a look at some stats from the reports:
The question is not whether you can afford developing a mobile marketing strategy, but whether you can afford not to have one.
Ok, let’s now start with the interesting part – how to decide whether to invest your money into your business mobile app or into advertising on mobile advertising networks.
Setting mobile marketing strategy goals
The first question you need to ask yourself is
What do you want to achieve with mobile?
Be very specific when answering this question. Some useful sub-questions that can help you with this are:
Do you want
In other words, do you want
Your answer will probably be a combination of all these aspects. Generally, if you answered ‘Yes’ more for the questions on the left than on the right, buying ads should be a good start for you. Yet, if you have more than two positive answers for the questions on the right don’t give up on the app just yet – it might be the best thing that happened to your business in a long time.
If only it was as simple as that. :(
Figuring out what you want to achieve is just a starting point. To reach the decision you’ll have to ask – and who is better to tell you what to do than your customers themselves.
Find out how your target group uses mobile devices
If you are reading whether to focus or app or ads in your mobile marketing strategy I guess you already did your homework about your target group. That’s great – you know their demographic data, such as age, income or geographical location and you probably already have a couple of ’typical customer’ profiles you use to plan your marketing activities.
Now, you need to make them come alive.
The truth is – mobile users are almost always multitasking. If they are using their smartphone or tablet they are probably doing at least one thing more – watching TV, riding on a train back home, shopping, exercising, exploring new city, etc. And to really take the most mobile technology can give, you need to add another dimension to your profiles and create several interaction scenarios, such as ’we want to target 25-35 college-educated professionals while they are getting news updates on their way to work, or we want to target 16-22 girls while they are shopping for fashion items.
To help you get started, answer these questions:
- Where are they?
- What are they doing?
- Are they focused or not?
- How much time do they have to interact?
- Do they know anything about you? If they do, what do they think about you?
People prefer using apps for things they do everyday so if you can break into their routine with an useful (or entertaining) app, definitely make one. If, on the other hand, you want users who do something for the first time a well-targeted advertising campaign will probably be much more efficient.
And yes, don’t worry if some answers are nothing more than educated guesses – this is a good start which will help you answer the following question.
What can I offer to the customer in order to break through the mobile clutter?
First of all, repeat the following sentence three times:
No one wants to download an ad!
No one wants to download an ad!
No one wants to download an ad!
Got it? Great, just please don’t forget it or you’ll just end up wasting your mobile marketing budget.
Now, think about the following:
- An average person sees over 1000 ads in a single day.
- There are over half a million apps in the Store (and counting).
- Mobile screen is way smaller than computer screen – people don’t want to share that space with anything that distracts them from what they are currently doing.
So, if your app looks like an ad no one will want to install it. In other words, you have something to brag about at parties, but although saying “we’ve just made an iPhone app“ sounds so cool, in effect you’ll just be wasting your money for an app you didn’t really need.
Similarly, if your mobile ad is too ‘product-centric’ it will have ten times less chance to catch user’s attention than on desktop, because as I said above, small screen makes people focus and therefore they prefer clean interfaces and block anything not relevant to what they are currently doing.
This is where many mobile marketing strategies go wrong – marketers want to create an app and focus on what they have to say, not on what consumers want to hear, and mobile users are not really known for paying any attention to anything that is not relevant to them, their problems and their needs.
So, the only way to break to the clutter and get to all those affluent mobile users is to be relevant and find what you can offer to those users. Solve their problem if they have one, give them entertainment if they are bored (and many people do use smartphones to cure boredom- why do you think all those 2D games are so popular), give them more efficient way to do what they are doing (they’ll just love it),give them information they search for and (especially in ad campaigns) be extra short.
To sum up – if your target group has a problem you can solve or you can help them be more efficient – develop an app and they will love you and your product. If you can’t do it don’t just make an app and fill it with photos of your products (at least if you are not a famous fashion brand). In that case, go with the ads, but make them relevant to the situation in which your target customers are likely to be. Offer very short, compelling content and you’ll have a much higher chance of being noticed and getting your conversion rates up. It has been shown that users prefer apps for frequent engagement (such as social networks) with a brand they know, while they are more likely to respond to well-targeted ads by a less-known brand than to install their app.
Whatever you chose in the end, app or ads – make sure that the experience you are offering them is optimized and not just fitting the old marketing practices into smaller screens. If you are publishing an app make sure your interface provides great user experiences. If you are using ads, make sure that your landing page is optimized for mobile devices because there is no bigger turn off for mobile users than coming to a page which looks crappy.
The final piece of advice: this is not an ‘either or’ choice. You should integrate both mobile app and advertising into your mobile marketing strategy (after all, if you develop an app, you’ll need some advertising for it, right?) and the best results are achieved when these two are combined. These four steps above should serve you just as a guideline how to decide what you should focus on in your mobile marketing strategy: app or ads.
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