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December 7, 2015 at 6:00 AM
2015 was one hell of a year for marketers. Across the board, we saw the value of content reinforced, as companies invested more heavily in the practice and brands from every industry came to play. Most notably, we saw this shift in the mobile content space. For starters, we know that mobile usage has surpassed desktop, and that 85% of consumers prefer mobile native apps to desktop websites.
So, what should brands do to be successful as we move into 2016? Quite simply, your mobile website is no longer cutting it - you need to develop an app. This is because while mobile websites are functional, they offer the same experience as traditional websites and users are demanding more. Mobile users seek a simplified, streamlined experience to interact with your brand and accomplish what they set out to do efficiently. This is precisely why apps were created, and why they continue to gain value as we look toward the future - they offer an entirely different experience than any other marketing channel.
In case you still need some persuading, below are three key reasons why it’s essential to develop a mobile app in 2016:
1. User Experience is King
Think of the last time you used your mobile browser. I’m guessing it was fine and functional enough, but that you don’t remember much else about it. And why would you? The experience wasn’t unique. This is precisely what marketers don’t want. It defeats the very purpose of everything we strive for, which is to improve brand loyalty by creating great experiences.
Let’s use the above logic in a real-life example with Uber. Before Uber, taking a cab was nothing special. I’m sure we can all recall a time where we almost died in a yellow cab, but for the most part, our experiences with taxi services were average. Nothing special, but good enough. The taxi industry was coasting along, increasing revenue with minimal innovation. Then, along came Uber, and the rest is history. In a few short years, Uber has managed to capture almost 50% of the taxi and transportation industry and there’s no question that their app is the backbone of their success.
The elite experience Uber’s app provides users revolutionized the taxi industry, and made us all realize just how powerful apps can be. Much like Uber provided disruptive innovation in the stagnant taxi industry, apps have done the same for the mobile user experience. For every major industry, there’s a corresponding app that’s been disruptive in the space. Retail? Amazon. Music? Spotify. Social? Instagram. I could go on, but I think you see my point. Apps are so disruptive because they provide a far superior user experience that is unmatched by anything else in mobile. If you’re relying on tools of the past such as mobile websites to carry your brand forward, you’re the taxi industry in the above scenario and putting yourself at risk to be overtaken. In order to win over your target audience, you need to play in their space, which is mobile apps. You want and need to be the Uber of your industry.
2. You’re Only as Good as Your DataBecause apps have disrupted the way customers want to interact with brands, you've now got a data integrity issue: if you don't have an app, you aren't capturing or understanding this customer use case. You don't know how mobile customers actually want to interact with you - and it's skewing your data. Mobile behavior spans far beyond mobile websites, and by not having an app you are missing out on key insights into that behavior.
For starters, having an app (with an app analytics and marketing platform) gives you insight into each individual user’s session so that you have a holistic understanding of how different groups of users like to engage with you. From these insights, you can start to understand your app’s successes and shortcomings, and how to optimize accordingly to drive brand engagement. Understanding the way users like to interact with you via mobile is data you can only get through your app, and is for driving engagement.
Beyond engagement, another compelling benefit of app analytics is the ability to develop strategies to drive retention and conversion using customized marketing campaigns. Through app analytics, you’ll have a deep understanding of your users’ actions and can provide a stronger, more personalized mobile experience which will minimize churn. In short, having an app allows you to use platforms and tools to connect with your audience on a highly personal level, something that can’t be accomplished with your mobile website.
3. Customization: Your Audience Expects to be Catered toPiggybacking off this notion of connecting with your audience: the more customized, the better. Thanks to Apple, the modern user is spoiled and has extremely high expectations you need to meet if you want to retain them. Having an app allows you to personalize the user experience and run segment-based campaigns to ensure each interaction is relevant and enjoyable, something that’s not possible on mobile websites. As Raj, our CEO, puts it, “[Users] don’t want the same, generic experience as the next person. App users of the future are demanding more personalized app content and marketing messages, tailored to their specific behavior, location and intentions.”
Knowing your audience gives you the ability to speak their language. Having an app allows you to understand the demographics of your users like age and location, as well as behaviors taken in the app. You can then segment these audiences and create custom experiences tailored to them. Below are a few examples how app personalization improves your user’s experience:
The above examples alone show just how powerful apps can be for marketers. Your mobile website provides no added value for personalized consumer interaction and engagement.
So there you have it - three solid reasons why having a mobile app is essential as we move into 2016. As mobile usage continues to grow at a rapid rate, having an app is almost an expectation from your consumers. My advice to you if you don’t currently have an app? Get one. Make sure developing an app is in your marketing plan for 2016 or risk getting devoured.