5 strategic reasons why brands need a mobile app

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Many companies ask themselves whether it makes sense to set up a mobile app. Now, often customers may ask themselves if their needs or the business interest of the company is the main driver for this decision. One thing is for sure: Mobile Apps and the mobile web, not just because of the iPad hype, are getting more and more attention from a business perspective – from companies and brands as well as from prosumers.

But apps are not completely undisputable as a verhicle for company content. Some people are already talking about an apps economy and argue apps are „valled gardens“, going against the ideology of the web 2.0 and provide content censorship. Others appreciate the user-friendly approach they offer. App developers -according to a study by Appcelerator– are more and more interested in Android then in iPhone or iPad development. And another study shows that the user adoption of apps is comparable for both systems.

The discussion about the relevance, necessity and sustainability of mobile apps will continue. The hype is there and cannot be mistaken. This is the main reason why companies think about setting up an app. But before companies start to set up an app, they should be thinking about the customers intention to use such apps. In the end, apps serve the brands interest to keep customers and make them happy with their products.

In the last days, I have set up 5 reasons why companies should produce an app for their brand, product or service as an important tactic for customer engagement.

1. Trendsetter
Innovation is the quicksand for the future of a brand. Is a company’s strategic orientating going in the direction of an outstanding position for market development, the mobile app is expected internal and external. If the external perception by customers is similar, no company will miss the permanent access opportunity to talk communicate with their customers. Especially when the brand can offer all news to the customer any time, any place, anywhere in short and essential information flow – without any possibility of distraction that the web 2.0 offers. And, only customers that see themselves as trendsetters follow the news of a brand in real-time.

2. Brandsetter
Being the first and best brand is and was always a competitive advantage – not only in the real-time web (see Starbucks, Dell, Amazon, Spreadshirt, etc.). It generates powerful PR and the wonderful buzz effect of the social web community. In a competitive market landscape brands need to have a closer look at their presence and sustainability. The omni-presence and power of a brand can be optimized with as mobile app. Especially, in a consumer engagment driven economy marketers often asked: „What’s the latest cool app?“ As soon as you show it to them, the app is being downloaded, tested and gets (in most cases) feedback by reviews. It climbs up in the app ranking and gets the desired brand attention from the app economy.

3. Fansetter
As brands are becoming more and more exchangable, the prosumer is more likely to swap from brand to brand. What Facebook offers with their Facebook ad strategy (including fan pages), is the app for the mobile user. It is a closed surrounding for interaction between customers and brands, in which brands can concentrate in the customer dialogue. Customers who „like“ their brands will take time for it (even flyers and catalogues are used as cross-selling products and get their awareness) and want to be the first to know. In the past, Nokia and the symbian system owned the market. The iPhone has revolutionized this market. Android followed and offers some good alternative for the future. The choice for a mobile is changing quickly. Brands who want to keep their fans need to offer an app for all systems.

4. Standardsetter
Brands that want to keep their market leading position should set a standard. They can set up „rules“ (standards) for industry sector processes, or may be offer those to the market. Often these lead to common sense standards which supports convergent markets and boost the brand. This applies for communication, product development and customer service. And although companies might learn from the mistakes of the competitors, the question is: Why not setting the standard for the competition? This is the idea of the web 2.0 ideology. Nothing is perfect from the beginning. if something is missing, it can be optimized, adjusted or set up anew – from the brand itself or from the community of the prosumer.

5. Servicesetter
24/7 service and support is a set standard for the modern customer. The more mobile the humen being becomes -not only in terms of web usage- the more it is awaiting the ‚always-on’acces to brand service. And the quicker the prosumer finds relevant data like hotlines, the happier he/she will be. An example? OK. This week, my wife called meand said: „Hey, you have the Nespresso app. Can you tell me their service hotline? The mashine is broken…“ – „Sorry Darling, I can see their latest commercial, can buy tabs, etc. – but the hotline number is nowhere here…!“. Interested to see if Nestle understands what I mean (I doubt they will reply. On XING there was no feedback for weeks when I send them a message).

Spot On!
37% of smartphone user have bought with their mobile in 2009 according to a Compete study. And 91% of the Americans use mobile devices for social networking. if this is not enough to see where the trend is heading to, then I maybe misunderstanding the future and necessity for apps there.

BTW: The Strategy Web also has mobile apps which were nicely produiced by Motherapp – one for Android and one for the iPhone. THX, guys – you are doing a great job!

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