Are apps really the future of mobile marketing?

In Silicon Valley and other venture capital hotbeds around the world, investors are pouring money into apps. Meanwhile, the volume of mobile app installs has increased 196% since Q4 of 2014 according to a report by Kenshoo, as more people turn to their phones and tablets for their computing needs.

For mobile marketers and app developers, however, the market is highly competitive and fraught with risks. Apps are not cheap to develop, requiring large investments of time and resources, and with an extremely competitive market, extracting revenue can be challenging.

Additionally, obtaining loyal customers, or those who open the app at least three times, is no easy proposition. Users are faced with a deluge of well-developed and highly competitive apps and ultimately, choosing from the masses is no easy task. Only a few winners can emerge.

What does this mean for marketers? Mobile apps certainly present an opportunity but before diving in, it’s important to make sure a sound strategy is in place. Here are a few tips to consider:

1. Think Freemium

Highly competitive markets have led to the development of the “freemium” model, where mobile marketers give basic versions of apps to users for free. The freemium model can include a wide range of approaches.

For example, a freemium gaming app might encourage downloads by offering access to a basic version of the game, but charging for add-ons, extra levels, and other in-app purchases (IAPs). The whole purpose of the freemium model is to move people toward the premium model, where they start paying for features.

Also, many apps that charge an initial download fee will also offer value-added features at a cost. This hybrid model still relies on getting users deeply involved in the app as quickly as possible (some may say “hooked!”), and then selling them on premium features.

2. Utilize “Push” and “Pull” to Sell Premium

Many apps are essentially sales tools. They offer mobile marketers a way to communicate with users and customers, and to sell products, content, experience, value-added features, etc. For example, a marketer might require email to sign up, creating an easy contact channel, but unfortunately email open rates can be low.

Marketers can now use a variety of “push” and “pull” methods to reach out directly to users on mobile devices. With “pull,” a user will actually request information, perhaps details on new premium add-ons or how to download extra content.

With “push” methods, the mobile marketer will send a message to the user through the app. This might appear as an icon on the app home menu, an overlay when a user logs into an app, or a simple pop up.

A well-honed push campaign can greatly increase app usage as well as revenue. The challenge is messaging your users at the right time, when they’re most willing to listen. Simply bombarding them with constant messages can result in increased defection rates as users abandon, and potentially uninstall, the app.

3. Stay Balanced

As you develop your mobile app strategy, it is important to keep a balance. While that may sound like a lofty concept, excitement and buzz over the latest mobile trend can lead to major investments with short-term returns.

Find the balance between the exploration of emerging mobile strategies, and tactics that augment what already makes your business successful. In a way, it’s this push and pull between the buzz and your business that will lead to a sophisticated strategy that keeps mobile users engaged.

Final Thoughts

The future of mobile may indeed be apps but like any other marketing program, take the time to evaluate your options and identify what will work best for your business. Just remember, driving revenue is a must and without a sound strategy in place, marketers risk losing time and money.

Learn how Emarsys can help you put mobile first and connect with customers on their most personal and trusted device.

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