Everyone agrees that we are in the early days of the “mobile revolution.” To quote Winston Churchill, who, on November 9, 1942, said “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
What have we learned so far?
- Mobile Apps are a uniquely effective way to engage employees and customers;
- Mobile Apps are not a very effective tool for engaging prospects – getting someone to download an app before they purchase is extremely difficult;
- Mobile Apps work well when they create a recurring engagement dialogue – maintaining a communication beyond the initial use;
- Mobile Apps work best when they are part of an ecosystem of engagement – that is, “mobile only” is usually not a good strategy;
- Mobile Apps take between 4 and 8 months to build, on average;
- Mobile Apps cost an average of $250,000 to build;
Let’s look at some of these lessons in a little more detail:
WHO? – Mobile Apps are great for helping to provide useful information to people who are already engaged with the company and products. Customers use these apps to continue to broaden their knowledge of the company’s solutions, and to obtain consistent information about value propositions and even some technical features and functions. Employees use these apps for the same reasons. Apps are generally not effective for lead generation.
WHAT? – Mobile Apps are excellent at providing information about products and solutions that quickly answer questions about which products solve which customer problems, or what a company’s solutions can do to help address a specific customer challenge. They are not the best venue for lengthy, detailed, technical information that requires a great deal of depth or volume of information.
HOW? – Mobile Apps work best when they are entirely interactive, – that is, the user decides how to navigate through the information, what sections to look at, in which order, and to whatever degree of detail is relevant to them. They are most effective when this interactivity combines visual cues (such as images, or animations)together with pithy, succinct text content (short bullet items, or phrases, but not long sentences or paragraphs.) Long videos are not effective inside mobile apps, and neither are pre-sequenced presentations.
WHEN? – Mobile Apps are most effective when they are updated frequently with new information and, sometimes, even new functionality. The level of engagementwith mobile apps increases dramatically if they are kept up to date on a regular basis, and when these updates do NOT require a trip to the App Store – the information in the app can be updated automatically (e.g. via a cloud update) without the user having to re-install an app.
WHERE? – Everywhere – not just on mobile devices. That is the answer to the question of how to get apps to be used by everyone in the target audience demographic. We all know that BYOD is becoming the most common trend in mobile app proliferation, but did you know that many of these applications need to be accessed by people on their laptops too? And, in order to get prospects to use apps, they need to be available online via a web browser, not just as a native app. That way, the prospect doesn’t have to download anything in order to receive the benefits of the information and the interactivity in the app. The apps that are available across platforms (tablets, smartphones, laptops, desktops, browsers, iOS, Android, Kindle) are the ones that have the highest levels of sustained engagement.
The value that an effectively developed, distributed, and maintained app can provide to a company is manifold – helping customers to understand the breadth and depth of a company’s solutions, and their applicability to the customers’ specific problems; helping sales and marketing people to articulate and demonstrate the company’s unique differentiated value; helping employees to understand the unique value that the company delivers in all product areas and vertical markets.
Companies are already realizing unheard of returns-on-investment in these kinds of cross-platform apps, by shortening sales cycles, increasing conversion ratios, and reducing sales and marketing expenses.
And yes, we’ve only just begun….