Why Your Marketing App Will Fail

I’m giving a talk at Where 2.0 tomorrow entitled Why your marketing app will fail which highlights some of the key issues we’re seeing in mobile today.

We have been hearing from many companies, “we need a location based social app for our brand”.  When we hear these words we try to pause the conversation and find out if this app is going to solve a problem for consumers or if it’s simply a mobile marketing brochure.  Although social, local, and mobile are the hottest buzz-words in marketing, they are not stand alone strategies.  We have found that pretty marketing apps just don’t work.

To be successful in mobile it is important to remember that this platform is not for brochure-ware.  Mobile is, by its very nature, an intent-driven platform. To succeed, you have to think about the ways to drive engagement and create a conversation with your users. So often we see customers that are building “marketing” apps that are one-time use or have little on-going value. The question becomes how much marketing do you want to spend on your marketing app? Mobile devices are personal devices and stand-alone marketing messages alienate customers, inserting your brand into a customer solution, makes you a hero.  What problems do your products help to solve?

Working with our customers here at Urban Airship we’ve come up with what we call the “7 Levers of Engagement” on mobile:

  1.     App Updates – Updating your app keeps you top-of-mind (old school push)
  2.     Push Notifications – Literally create a conversation even when the app is not open
  3.     In app purchase – New features drive revenue and usage
  4.     Focus – Do one thing really well, don’t try to replicate your website
  5.     Content, content, content – Think “Angry Birds” and constant free content upgrades.
  6.     Coax quality feedback – Get reviews by asking after the conversation is started. If the user gets to Level 4 in your game, then you can ask for a review.
  7.     Start a conversation – Mobile != marketing. Blasting marketing messages at users will only make them turn of you off.

Think hard about your mobile app strategy and remember that sometimes just having a mobile version of your website is enough. If you don’t solve a specific problem for users with your app, it might not be worth the effort and could have a negative impact on your brand.