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Mobile apps in the small to midsize business’ marketing mixBy
By Angelo Biasi
Mobile is quickly earning its place in the integrated marketing mix of brand marketers of all sizes. In fact, total United States mobile and social media revenue including consumer and business access, content, advertising and marketing is expected to grow 30.8 percent year over year in 2012.
Now, with efficiently priced, easy-to-use do-it-yourself application creation tools, the heightened ROI available with this new marketing medium is hard to ignore, especially for small to midsized businesses (SMBs) who are just getting into the game.
However, as most have just figured out social media including how to implement, track and satisfy a return, the thought of a new marketing tactic that is constantly evolving can be quite overwhelming.
Here are some suggestions for SMBs looking to take hold of their integrated marketing mix with mobile apps as a potential emerging centerpiece:
1. Make your mobile app strategy a part of your overall brand strategy
It is imperative that marketers consider mobile another marketing tactic while respecting its potential to reach, engage and convert prospects like no other tool in the kit.
Mobile apps, specifically, can serve various corporate brand strategy objectives such as acquisition, retention and profitable customer growth.
Planning and executing mobile app content is vital.
Smart marketers use emerging social media sites such as Pinterest to enhance their overall brand by posting useful and relevant images and information as opposed to using the site as a virtual billboard to overtly sell product.
Marketers need to think of mobile in the same way.
Though creating a mobile app that serves solely as a brochure for your business may seem a logical idea, how can you use an app to enhance your overall brand?
A wedding planner might create an app that provides brides with a directory and interactive maps to local boutiques as well as a checklist, tips and weekly deals. Incorporating surveys and feedback forms can generate a dialogue with customers on-the-go.
Transferring VIP and loyalty club memberships to mobile is another way to reinforce your brand with customers.
In-app push notifications every few weeks with exclusive discounts and invitations to members-only shopping events can further keep customers frequently engaged and your brand top-of-mind.
2. Leverage mobile direct response tactics to add value to other integrated marketing initiatives
The intimacy and immediacy of mobile apps allow prospects to engage with your brand wherever they may be. QR codes are increasingly used to turn static print advertising into an interactive experience for users, with one in five U.S. smartphone owners scanning them in the three-month period ending December 2011.
Be careful to avoid all-too-common pitfalls of directing prospects into a black hole from which they will never return.
Linking a QR code from your display ad to your latest promotional video may seem like a great idea until you realize you missed out on a valuable opportunity to capture valuable prospect data and continue the relationship.
Instead, direct them to a content-rich app whereby prospects can redeem a time-sensitive offer by entering their mobile number.
Many low-cost DIY mobile app creation tools feature the ability to add feedback forms, which is a great way to start an opt-in dialogue with customers.
By leveraging the value of a mobile app’s location-based capability, you stand the chance of triggering a more immediate response and higher value-per-mobile-touch.
The mobile phone still serves a useful purpose for its calling function, lest we forget. In-app click-to-call often goes underserved by mobile marketers. This one-click easy access to your brand – albeit service or sales center, for example – could be the winning touch that achieves a specific marketing objective.
3. Focus on mobile content discoverability beyond the app store
The conversation has now shifted from “We need an iPhone app” to “What’s our ‘app-ortunity’?” App stores remain the perfect distribution channel for your favorite mobile game but do little to promote discoverability for the Small Town Flower Shop.
Furthermore, unless you have the budget for marketing and a mobile developer, the cost and complexity of posting your app into the abyss makes some app stores ineffective for the majority of businesses.
SMBs are beginning to realize that they do not need the middleman that is the app store and can go direct to consumers with mobile apps ranging from product promotions to conference agendas and more.
Once again, QR codes allow instant app access with a simple scan.
In addition, links to your apps can be promoted via social media including Facebook, Twitter as well as sent via text message and email.
4. Do not forget Marketing 101
We are starting to see signs of integrated DIY marketing services moving towards one total integrated marketing dashboard including mobile.
Email, event and social marketing service Constant Contact has announced a number of mobile initiatives.
For example, via its marketplace the company provides customers access to a DIY mobile app creation tool that integrates with their email marketing platform for fast cross-promotion of mobile content to existing email lists.
Until such time as mobile is completely integrated into the marketing mix, as with any marketing strategy, the ability to track campaign success is a must.
Ensure that you are able to track key success metrics from QR code scans to landing page hits, downloads and user responses and ultimately, any sales that result directly from mobile efforts.
It is critical that sound strategic planning, tracking and management of services be accounted for and leveraged for marketing success.
Angelo Biasi is an adjunct professor for mobile marketing at New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies and vice president of business development for Didmo, Naples, FL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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