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Apps 2.0: Can Brands Lead the Mobile App Evolution?

Apps 2.0: Can Brands Lead the Mobile App Evolution?

History inevitably repeats itself. When the World Wide Web was first introduced, brands of all sizes felt a strong sense of urgency to create a web presence regardless of its partial functionality, modest quality or limited scalability. Over time, as web marketers and developers became more savvy, the features and performance of webpages became personalized, continually setting new standards for acceptable website.

Fast forward to today. A similar trajectory is happening with the rise of mobile apps. The release of the first generation iPhone in June of 2007 sparked the origin of the app ecosystem where companies scrambled to quickly create an app just to say they had a mobile presence. During this first phase of mobile app creation, most were buggy and functionality was scarce. In many cases, apps were static versions of a brand’s website that were not optimized for the smaller screen and had little, if any, personalization. Breakthroughs were made when consumers could actually login and access personal information but for many the app crashed in the process.

Today, the mobile app landscape has dramatically matured as we enter the second phase of building brand engagement. As marketers, we must think about crafting consumer experiences that drive ongoing brand communication ensuring users will remain engaged and regularly return. While app functionality has significantly improved, so has the ability to deliver relevant branded content to targeted consumers via in-app communication.

For example, the same airline app that once only served a singular function of viewing to see if your flight was on time can now leverage many unique mobile features like the ability to book travel and check in to your flight, while also providing associated branded content and information relevant to the user. Everything from partner hotel and car offers to features on your travel destination like “the best kid-friendly restaurants in Kaui.” This enables the airline to promote new products or services and leverage data to drive deeper communication and loyalty with their consumers. In fact, according to a recent study from Forbes Insight and Adobe, marketing executives state that the most common use of corporate mobile apps is to communicate with customers at 83%.

This is especially important as Flurry, comScore and NetMarktShare report that consumers are spending 80% of their time in mobile apps unveiling an unlimited opportunity for marketers to continually engage with consumers. This research supports that we’ve breached the era of App 2.0 where brands can lead the way.

App 2.0 sets the stage for brands to connect with consumers in an exciting new manner that is beneficial for both parties. For example, by downloading a branded automotive app a consumer has expressed interest in the brand and are probably more inclined to welcome associated content - not just car ads, but branded mobile experiences related to the automotive industry like automotive news, informative videos, entertainment, and more. Brands can also offer their partners opportunities to promote relevant products and services to reach this key engaged audience. To further improve customer loyalty, brands can provide customized PUSH notifications to users that have registered their app. With a users permission, brands can send them reminders for things like a 10,000 mile service or when new content has been published in the app that they have shown interest in.

The ability to reach the consumer in new and helpful ways is unprecedented. Someday, in the not so distant future, I predict that apps will have the capability to inform us when, for example, our tire pressure is low or if we need to get an oil change. Apps might even be able to tell us when we need to fill up our tank with gas and, in-real time, point us in the direction of the nearest gas station. They might even include interesting articles about our favorite automobiles and the latest accessories. By delivering content that is highly relevant to consumer’s expressed interests, brands are able to communicate with consumers on an ongoing basis. With this, App 2.0 moves into the next generation of mobile app monetization and delivery strategies for brands in what has, until now, been a virtually untapped platform.

Catch the full article authored by Marla Schimke, VP of Marketing at Zumobi, here on WIRED.

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