As ubiquitous as the “there’s an app for that” cliché, mobile applications are a rich area for marketers to tap into. Naturally, there is in-app advertising that puts you in front of users within another party’s application, but that’s just a sliver of the marketing potential this new medium offers. Many companies have found success in creating their own mobile applications. And, if done right, your organization could realize similar benefits.
Before diving head first into development, assess what you can offer through a mobile application. As with other forms of content marketing, the goal is to deliver a useful tool that benefits your audience. Creating a self-serving application will be a waste of time and resources. Your organization will only reap benefits from an application if you’re serving your users first. If you engage your audience with an effective, well-designed application, it will provide you the opportunity to interact with them on a regular basis.
This useful tool may take on a number of different forms that ultimately serve at least one of three marketing objectives:
These applications are often designed to serve up data or provide entertainment in the form of games, news aggregates, productivity tools, etc. The Star Tribune effectively executed an application of this nature with their MN High School Football Scoreboard. The application offers a service to prep sports fans and gives the Star Tribune the opportunity to target future messaging to this niche audience.
Amazon, REI and thousands of other retailers have created additional touch points with their consumers through e-commerce applications. This application approach gives users additional ways to purchase while offering marketers another avenue to reach their customers. Additionally, push notifications can drive consumers back to their shopping carts or present them with special offers.
It’s possible that mobile applications may serve as the product itself. Concur leveraged this method with Tripit. The base app itself is free, providing a way to deepen their brand recognition, but in-app purchases have created an entirely new way for Concur to generate revenue with their travel services.
Your mobile application isn’t going to do your organization much good if it flies under the radar and no one bothers to download it. You’ll need to market your application before you can market with your application. MarketWatch effectively launched their application by running a series of online ads within the Dow Jones network. You may also choose repurpose the channels you already have to publicize your application for minimal cost: e-Newsletters, social media, company website, etc.
Once you’re in the hands of your audience, don’t waste the opportunity to reach your audience. Leverage push notifications and in-app ads to send specific messages out to your users. They’ve already invited you in and trust your organization, it’s up to you to capitalize on this and demonstrate how you can further benefit your users with your product or service.
Mobile applications aren’t right for every organization, but with a little creative thinking and determination, you may find a new and effective way to interact with your target audience. Just make sure to evaluate your motivation and design your application around serving your users in a way that will open up new opportunities to target your messaging.
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