Why Does My Business Need an App?

Whether you are walking down the street or sitting in a restaurant or coffee shop, if you look around you, you will see that most people are staring at their phones. And what are they doing? Surprisingly, many of them are making purchases, right on the spot. No more waiting to get to the office or back home. If they want a pair of sneakers, boom, they buy them on Amazon, via the Amazon app.

Mobile marketing may be the business game to play right now but apps are really where it’s at. If you are not selling or offering high level value from a mobile app, you are driving business elsewhere. According to Entrepreneur magazine, the mobile app market will be a $77 billion industry by 2017. Now is the time to start riding that wave.

Mobile commerce, or mcommerce, grew in 2015 to 33% in the U.S. and 40% globally. And 56% of those sales came from smartphones, which, by the way, are the currently lead device over tablets. And here is what is really interesting: while we are spending most of our digital time on our mobile device, the time we do spend is spent in our apps – a whopping 80% of the time! The other 20% is spent in browsers.

According to Google, apps have now become part of our daily “micro movements” where we are spending on an average of 30 hours per month in Appland. This essentially means the relevance of your website is spiraling downward, right now, as you read this.

Even with this knowledge, Forrester Research says most brands will underspend on a mobile marketing plan in 2016. Is this you? You might want to reconsider.

Here are some really cool examples of effective mobile app marketing that might even inspire you to build your very own app:

Case Study #1: S Health & Nike

Thinking Beyond Your Phone

Nike is always on the forefront of digital design and user experience. Their target audience is what they call the “connected runner.” They want to appeal to both the elite runner and the beginner who just wants to get better at running. While the smartphone is useful to track miles and time, it is also cumbersome. So they took their already developed Nike + Running app a step further and partnered with Samsung’s S Health, their “personal fitness coach” app that tracks your everyday activities so you can continue to set new goals. This wrist-based device gives the advanced runners all the information they need at a glance while helping the new runner to track and share their activities. A great example of a mutually beneficial partnership.

Case Study #2: The Font Game – I Love Typography

Focus on Fun and Ease of Use

Ok, so stop trying to squeeze your website into your app. Instead, make your app stand out by offering something different, something that isn’t available on your website. This is not a mobile website. This is a product that engages your target market in a new way and keeps them coming back for more. Especially if you make it fun. “The font game” mobile app from I Love Typography does just that. It was designed in a way to be visually appealing to people and to have big fat buttons that are easy to click on, and with very little options to choose from, it is easy to navigate and gets to the heart of the user experience right away. And as a fast and quick way to identify font types, it also incorporates fun colors like fluorescent green into the user experience to make it more eye-appealing.

Case Study #3: Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans

Fitting Huge Financial Transactions Into An App

The Detroit-based retail home mortgage lender, Quicken Loans, likes to brag that they have turned the most complex, financial transaction of a consumer’s life into an a 8 minute interactive mobile experience, within the time it takes for a space shuttle to reach orbit. This mobile app will compare your mortgage term, interest rate using REAL TIME DATA, provide digestible credit report analysis, verify assets and property information and confirm approval within minutes on conventional, FHA or VA mortgage products. An offer appears and if it is acceptable all it takes is a push of a button to see if the loan will be approved. The consumer will have the answer in 30 seconds. The most amazing thing is that your mortgage can be approved without even speaking with a human being and the client does not need to provide any further documentation (with the exception of a possible appraisal.) The loan can close as early as within a week. Whether the consumer goes through with the loan or not, Quicken Loans has just gained an incredible amount of knowledge about its customer. Rocket Mortgage began as a responsive desktop design but an app became the goal and now people are obtaining mortgages right there on their phone. No doubt it is a turning point in the home financial industry although, ahem, it did create an explosion of controversy upon the airing of their Superbowl ad.

Case Study #4:  iHeart Local

Where Social Venture Meets Local Business

If you missed the recent Mobile App Showdown, hosted by David Pogue, founder of Yahoo Tech, then you might have missed out on hearing about iHeart Local, a cutting edge kind of app that mixes local business with social venture and global change. The Mobile App Showdown is an online contest, now in its 2nd year, that ends with a panel of live judges who decide on which app is most likely to succeed. The judges decided this year that the social business venture, iHeart Local, was the app to beat. The folks at iHeart Local refer to themselves as “a social movement that provides small local businesses tools to help them succeed.” A lofty goal perhaps but they are becoming extremely popular and many local businesses are on board with their mission. Their focus is on getting folks to know you, the business owner and they offer feature articles about you and your store on their blog. They also offer tips on how to succeed at business, focusing on first impressions, how to use social media, and hire the right team. Their goal is to get the consumer to know as much as possible about the people behind the counter so bonds of know, like and trust can be established. The idea is for the consumer to sign up through Facebook or email, create a customer profile, follow friends to find the places you like, and get on the band wagon with exclusive helpful offers and reviews. It’s the personal approach to making the world a better place to live, one local business at a time.

Case Study #5 Sunport

Renewable energy goes mobile

Following along the heels of iHeart Local at the Mobile Apps Showdown last month is Sunport, a renewable energy app that came in as a finalist. As their website says, Sunport is a “smart grid solar delivery device” which means you can take the sun with you and use solar power anywhere you want, just plug it in. Pretty cool, right? Well they also created an app that is “easy, fun, social and empowering.” It’s useful in that it lets you check your daily and weekly solar usage, known as SunJoules, so you can feel good about all that natural energy you are using! But wait, there’s more. As this one minute video explains, you can also connect with other SunJoulers around the country and view the community useage so you see your efforts as part of a greater whole. You can actually see the location where your solar power is coming from and you can hook up your at home energy suckers like refrigerators and washing machines. And by using this app you are supporting solar installations by non-profits around the globe. As an interesting side note, they had a very successful Kickstarter campaign that you can read about here and they also have a very interesting story to tell about how they had to overcome the rejection notice from Apple and find a new way to get indexed on Apple’s iTunes catalog.