At the recent Mobile Media Summit in San Francisco, a panel of agency experts pretty much all declared that mobile apps had no value for advertisers. The reasons for that opinion may be varied, and in some ways valid, but they do not justify completing ignoring the value of an app.
Here are three of the most common reasons given why apps are not a good fit for marketers’ needs, and a reminder why one-size-doesn’t-fit-all, even with objections.
1. High Development Costs – Yes, apps can be expensive. Truth is, though, they can also be cost-effective, and even inexpensive. Like anything, cost is based on scope. Build an app that delivers utility relevant to your brand, and you’ll get only what you need, not unnecessary bells and whistles. It’s usually the superfluous stuff that causes development overruns, and app developers’ eyes to pop with visions of a waterfall of gold coins. At PMG, we’ve created apps for clients that were laser-focused on utility, and believe me when I say we delivered those apps in timelines and at costs that would make marketers’ drool.
2. Low Use & Reengagement – There are many statistics out there that say a minority of app users engage with the app more than twice. The average app sees less than half of users who are one-and-done users. The challenges in engaging app users really are nothing new – you could have made similar arguments about web sites back in the day. Effective reengagement campaigns and, most importantly, providing a useful function (whether it be for commerce, entertainment, or other purpose), will bring users back time and again.
3. High Uninstall Rates – This closely correlates to the reason above. If a user doesn’t see value in an app in the form of utility, then they are very likely to remove the app to create space on their phones for new apps. Think about that a bit – people are downloading apps because they seek utility. If you provide value to them, they will keep the app, and find something else to remove.
I love the FlightTrack app on my phone, which syncs with my TripIt account so that all flights in my itineraries are automatically tracked, without requiring me to input them individually. I don’t travel so much that I really need this app, but because FlightTrack makes it so easy for me to use when the time comes, I keep it around because of that utility. The OpenTable app also stays on my phone because it’s so easy for see available restaurants based on my location, and I love earning rewards, especially for things I’m going to do anyway.
Mobile web should be the primary focus for marketers that are starting to get serious about the channel. There’s no doubt about that. However, do not discount the value of a useful app. They can be great vehicles for brand engagement, customer retention and driving action.