The rise of “mobile first” companies has changed the way people watch, listen, play, and buy. Companies like Uber, Instagram, Tinder, and HotelTonight — companies born in a mobile era — disrupted business models and dominated the mobile experience.
However, the halcyon days of app discovery is ending, driven by app store saturation and the accompanying cost barrier associated with convincing audiences to download more apps. Not all is lost, a new opportunity to capture attention, streamline engagement, and build life-long brand loyalty exists.
It’s not just mobile first marketers who have noticed that app downloads are slowing. Long standing brands are feeling the app download pinch too and are searching for mobile marketing best practices and new ad partners in hopes of jumpstarting downloads. The real question they are trying to uncover though is this: are the rumors of the death-of-the-app true?
Sound shocking? It shouldn’t be, we live in times of increasing marketing complexity and noise. Once, digital meant desktop. Now, digital means mobile. But just like radio still matters, desktop still matters. Other channels matter too, and new tools and technologies such as smartwatches, smart TVs and over-the-top add-ons to TVs, wearable tech, and voice-first smart digital agents reinforce this point.
Cutting through the noise
In all the noise, brands need to keep one simple rule in mind: What’s best for your customer is what’s best for your brand. That’s the essence behind a new concept — MobileBest — the ability to engage with customers in the most impactful way, be it on the web, mobile web, in-app or on other emerging channels. Being Mobilebest brings the best of all channels together while keeping the most ubiquitous and personal computing platform ever created, mobile, at the core of every marketing program.
TUNE is on a mission to help brands become MobileBest. We see ‘’mobile’’ as web and app, not just app. Apps deliver customer insights, customer engagement, and customer share-of-wallet in a direct and powerful way. They also provide instant and real-time updates to your customers on a one-to-one basis. But apps alone do not make for successful marketing.
As the top mobile marketer at GameSpot told us, his mobile-app customers are more valuable than top level customers in the company’s loyalty program. Savvy brands, like GameSpot, see the app as a retention tool (i.e. new customers migrating to the app from the initial web experience) and use the web and mobile web as a discovery and new customer acquisition channel.
The MobileBest reality: apps + web + mobile web = discovery and loyalty
Because we’re nearing peak app, it’s’ not realistic to expect that everyone is going to install an app for every brand they do business with. In fact, very few will. So your mobile web experience needs to be top-notch. In a MobileBest world, the mobile web is for prospects, casual customers and some loyalists while the app is for loyalty, engagement and retention.
When melded into one cohesive strategy, mobile web and apps cater to different customers needs. This is especially true when trying to capitalize on new technology coming our way like voice search devices like Google Home or Amazon Alexa, connected TV’s and chat bots.
In a recent TUNE report of Fortune 1,000’s companies who are mobile leaders improve valuations by 8-15% more than mobile laggards. We also saw that companies who prioritize mobile are almost twice as likely to be extremely successful financially as well, while the worst have only a 20% chance.
Many FTSE 100 companies have been around the block. They make actual, real, physical products. Their products are industrial, B2B, or resource-based. And yet, these companies have a modern mindset. They think deeply about technology. They build and deliver modern mobile apps. They ensure their websites work great on mobile devices. In short, they understand MobileBest, even though they are not mobile first.
From acquisition to engagement, three tips to be MobileBest
The average UK mobile users spend 66 hours per month browsing the web via mobile device, yet despite the time spent on mobile, competition to get that same mobile user to download an app is fierce. There are an estimated 5M mobile apps to choose from and with only 10-15 cm’s to play with, it’s really difficult to pack amazing purchasing or ad moments into such a small bit of digital real estate.
This is where app search, app store analytics and optimization play a vital role in winning and keeping mobile users. To win mobile users you have to win in search first. To crack the top 150 apps in the Google Play store, app marketers need to use 15-25 different search terms to grab enough users. For the iOS store it’s more like 25+ terms to crack the top 150 apps in a given category. Savvy app marketers use app store optimization software to do keyword analysis to figure out what people are searching for and then optimize accordingly.
Organic traffic is the most valuable traffic as intent is high, conversions in-app will be high as well.
There are tools you can use to optimise your titles, keywords and description. You can run experiments using Google or TUNE to optimise your design assets. The app store listing should be optimised as much as your web homepage to maximise conversion.
2. Marketing acquisition
Make sure you have an attribution tool to measure quality and effectiveness of the various channels you use. Make the most of your own assets (website, customer support, social communities, and shops) this will give you loyal customer at very low cost. Paid acquisition should look at quality of traffic beyond the install. Did you acquire a potential customer or a pool of dead downloads? There are a lot of partners out there ready to sell you installs at good CPI, but quality isn’t always there so be clear about your KPI and optimise, optimise, optimise.
3. Marketing retention
Don’t be fooled, a download does not represent a user or a customer. Engagement and retention is the key to success, especially when you consider that two thirds of a potential users cohort doesn’t come back to the app a week after the downloads. App onboarding requires a product tutorial, CRM push and paid advertising. The goal is to build engagement until the magic moment where customers “can’t live without” your app takes place.
The app marketer’s mission
Our advice to app developers is to make a great app that makes customer’s lives better. If you haven’t done that, then don’t bother marketing it. Once you’ve built something that’s truly great, take a MobileBest approach to marketing it — configure your marketing efforts to catch people in app, in others apps that use deep links or on the mobile web. The goal is to build a connected set of touchpoints with your mobile customers that reinforce how great the app is, and keep them coming back for more.
Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After living nearly a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned to her home of Charleston, SC, where you can find her enjoying the sun and salt water with her family.