Why marketers need to be closer to branded mobile initiatives
There is no longer any doubt that mobile apps and websites ‘done right’ (to borrow one of Steve Jobs’ favourite phrases) are extremely powerful marketing assets. That’s reflected in a report released by app store-focused analyst house Distimo in Q4 2011 that revealed that 91% of global brands have a presence in at least one of the major app stores, and in a study by eConsultancy that found that 74% of brands have (or claim to have) deployed a mobile-optimised site.
Earlier this year, we conducted our own research into brands’ mobile initiatives by commissioning Vanson Bourne to poll 1000 CIOs and business unit leaders on their plans for the next 12-18 months. One of the major findings from the resulting whitepaper was that marketers are planning to spend an average of £340,000 on their customer-facing mobile apps, websites and mobile web-shops in the next year/year and a half.
However, the same research project also revealed that only 1 in 5 UK and US business and IT decision-makers have seen their mobile initiatives taken up by ‘the majority’ of the people they were developed for.
This relatively disappointing statistic supports the findings of analysts at Canalys, who recently revealed that up to two-thirds of the apps in leading consumer app stores receive fewer than 1,000 downloads in their first year (including a significant proportion that get none at all).
So why are brands’ mobile initiatives failing the adoption test so frequently? Although the blame is frequently placed on over-crowding on the web and in the major app stores—and although over-crowding definitely makes it harder for brands to get their mobile undertakings noticed—I have a hunch brands are making some more fundamental mistakes.
For a start, it’s all too apparent that a lot of them are creating mobile assets that do not meet the demands or the needs of consumers. Those same consumers prefer mobile websites and apps with a single, clear purpose, so those which offer an overcomplicated feature-set or a poor user journey are also more prone to failure.
Of course, one way of working out why mobile initiatives are failing is studying the mobile usage analytics which detail how and when the apps are being used – unfortunately, it seems that few marketers are able to do this directly.
What I’d like to propose here is that the issues described above can be overcome if marketers get much ‘closer’ to the mobile initiatives they’re overseeing. That means being able to view and engage with the analytics relating to those initiatives quickly, and easily (e.g. via a live web location rather than via an emailed report).
It also means being able to make changes to the content and layout (e.g. adding text to a new page of the mobile website or app) without having to go back to the agency or department who created the original mobile asset (which is always time-consuming and often expensive).
Finally it means taking control of the promotion of the app or website in question – ideally, by publishing it themselves; according to our research into brands’ mobile initiatives, 14% of brands are now working on opening their own mobile content shops, and that proportion is certain to rise in the months ahead.
This new model for managing branded mobile projects demands that marketers take the initiative when it comes to their mobile initiatives. The reward for doing so will be the ability to justify an average planned 12/18-month expenditure of £340,000, but in many cases it will also be the satisfaction that comes with seeing a marketing undertaking ‘done right’ and adopted by a wide, vibrant, and talkative audience.