The mobile revolution isn’t coming—it’s already happened. If the early bird gets the worm, then those with early-adopter advantage will be quick to disrupt, steal market share and monetize mobile.
Many brands have already invested to bolster their mobile presence. Coca-Cola invested $10M in Spotify and Starbucks $25M in Square. Aetna bought iTriage, and Nordstrom and Priceline acquired Hautelook and Kayak respectively.
There’s no time to waste. Mobile apps are already part of our cultural fabric, the go-to source for news and entertainment replacing radio, TV, and the “traditional” Web. In fact, 82% of smartphone users say they couldn’t go a day without their apps, according to Apigee.
Mobile apps must become central to your business strategy—they need to be more than just a “hey, we’ve-got-one” check box in your marketing plan. Put simply, without a strategic, organizational commitment to mobile marketing, brands risk losing competitive edge.
“With more than 360 billion downloads between 2008-2017, apps cannot be ignored as an important channel to reaching customers,” says Josh Martin, director, apps research at Strategy Analytics. “Big brands have recognized this trend and have begun making apps an essential component of their strategy. As the market continues to evolve so must the marketing, capability and functionality of apps to continue to drive downloads and user engagement.”
Sizing the potential
Researchers project enormous revenue growth from mobile apps and advertising. In fact, businesses like Groupon, Zillow, and Yelp that started on the Web are already driving more revenue from mobile. Facebook has more mobile than desktop users. Pandora reports 75% of listener hours via mobile. And it’s not just digital businesses—Walgreens, for example, reports 40% of all digital prescriptions come through mobile.
The mobile app marketing opportunity
Apps are a lifestyle mainstay. Ahead of the 2012 U.S. presidential election, five of the top 10 apps in the Apple’s App Store were election-specific or news-related. During Hurricane Sandy, news and weather apps skyrocketed. Right now, two of the top 10 apps are NCAA tournament-focused.
Brand marketers are rapidly realizing that mobile apps provide an incredible canvas because the connection they build is fundamentally different than other channels. Mobile delivers richness and reach—plus targeting and pervasiveness—at a significantly lower cost.
Two household names, Coke and Disney, recognized this early on. Tom Daly, Coca-Cola group director of mobile and search, told me recently: “Establishing a ‘mobile community’ within The Coca-Cola Company represented an opportunity to focus the best marketing minds within the system to collaborate and create best-in-class mobile marketing programs, share and learn best practices, and evolve our strategic approach to mobile. This approach plays an important role in accelerating the pace at which are can capture the value of mobile.”
Similarly, Disney is leveraging hundreds of apps spanning multiple lines of business to globally promote brand engagement. Case in point: Disney’s Where’s My Valentine app reached No. 1 in games in 69 countries, No. 1 overall in six countries, and is in the top 10 overall in almost 100 countries.
So it costs a lot of money, right?
Not so. Mobile app marketing is actually cheaper than other marketing options. According to the Fiksu Index, the average cost to acquire a loyal user (someone who opens an app 3 times) ranges from $1.20 to $1.50. That’s equivalent to the cost of a Google AdWord click, which drives a one-time Web page visit, compared to a downloaded and repeatedly used app on your customer’s device.
It’s this incredible cost-efficiency, combined with the size, immediacy, reach, and targeting of mobile app marketing, that makes it so attractive to brand marketers.
Profit from opportunism
Opportunity lies in leveraging technology advancements or timely cultural or news-driven events.
For example, Walgreens leapt on Apple’s Passbook and catapulted its app into the top 10 on September 9, 2012, driving more than one million downloads. ABC’s Oscars app reached No. 12, securing more than 100,000 downloads. Similarly, Coke and Samsung had great success with Olympics apps last year.
Bottom line: your audiences are already on mobile, and it’s where they prefer to engage. Brands must go big with mobile app marketing in 2013, or play catch-up.