Given how often the saying, “there’s an app for that” comes into conversation, it’s understandable that brands might start to wonder:
Is it necessary that they have a mobile app in order to better reach their audience and support mobile marketing strategies?
The Benefits to Having a Custom-Built Mobile App
Certainly, many brands would benefit from having an app. They allow for a controlled brand experience, can increase loyalty, and can boost sales. And having real estate on a mobile user’s phone screen? Invaluable.
A mobile app can provide a hub for a customer to interact with your brand, whether that’s to check out your latest mobile coupons, find the closest store, or order a product. And because people spend 87 hours a month browsing on their phones, having an app gives you significant opportunity to be where your audience is.
On the other side, it can be supremely challenging to attract app downloads, let alone get people to keep and frequently use your app. Mobile users aged 25 to 34 keep 6-15 downloaded apps on their phone. You can be sure the applications that make the cut are of the utmost use to them.
Another drawback is that you’ve got to constantly keep the app updated with new features and bug fixes, which can be an ongoing budget drain. Add to that the struggle to get people to open the app through push notifications or other means, and you’ve got your work cut out for you.
Often, brands build mobile apps without any real strategy or purpose. If you’ve ever seen an app that does nothing more than help a user find a store location (when their map app would do the job just as well), you’ve seen money thrown down the drain. Knowing your audience — and whether a mobile app would actually provide any value to them — is imperative before you go down this path.
But Is It Necessary for Mobile Marketing?
Yes, having a mobile app certainly can help you connect with consumers in innovative ways, but it’s not the only way to effectively connect with your audience through mobile.
Mobile wallet is proving to be a noteworthy alternative to the mobile app. Because the platform already exists through Apple Pay and Android Pay, you have access to an established user base that you don’t have to convince to download yet another app. Users can input their loyalty cards to connect with the promotions and rewards that you offer members, right from within the wallet.
You can take that one step further with push notifications. Imagine being able to convince a shopper who’s out running errands to visit your store in order to redeem a 30% off coupon you pushed to her as soon as she was within one mile of your retail location. Or reminding a loyalty member that her mobile wallet offer will expire in five hours. Both are effective push notification tactics designed to increase conversion.
And finally, SMS and MMS provide yet another way to market to your mobile audience without investing in a mobile app. By creating special offers for those who opt in (and paying attention to redemption rates to better tweak your promotion strategy), you can reach even those who don’t have smartphones with your text message marketing.
You can connect the dots through other channels like email, where you can drive subscribers to sign up for loyalty offers via mobile wallet or text message notifications.
Are mobile apps useful? At times, and for certain brands. But they’re not necessary for a well-rounded mobile marketing campaign.