A brand is a collection of thoughts and images in a consumer’s mind. These are driven largely by product usage, communication experience and word of mouth. Brands are also businesses for brand owners – they need to deliver ROI in terms of profitability, consumer loyalty and a strong equity. So whether you are an established consumer or enterprise brand or a startup hoping to make it big, the rules of the game are the same.
In today’s context, the cluttered media environment and the mind-boggling choice of content across screens offers unique challenges to brand owners. Brands can choose to create television commercials, mobile apps, web-only videos, mobile ads and more. Within these media options, there is choice to create content using new technologies like augmented reality, chatbots and more. Undoubtedly, today’s consumers spend a lot of their time consuming content on the mobile screen. Apps account for a dominant share of the time spent on digital.
Consider these facts:
- Users downloaded 60% more apps in 2017 than in 2015
- Mobile now represents almost 2 out of 3 digital media minutes
- Mobile apps are approaching 60% of total digital time spent
- The average smartphone user uses close to 40 apps each month
So a brand owner might be tempted to make the most of these new developments and ‘go mobile’. Many may face challenges on deciding the right strategy and make the most of mobile. So herewith a few aspects brand owners should think about before formulating a plan to reach out to the new mobile-focused consumer.
Think brand strategy and not ‘mobile strategy’
It would be wrong to assume that today’s brands need a separate ‘mobile strategy’. The right way to think about it is to plan a brand strategy and see how various media platforms, including the mobile fits into that strategy. Mass media like broadcast television may be the right strategy for a consumer goods brand with reach as its objective. The brand’s need for mobile maybe restricted to display ads on websites and a mobile-friendly site. A native mobile app may not be a crying need for such a brand.
However, retail, banking, utility services, healthcare and a few other categories may have to seriously think of a native mobile app or a digital expression which is closely linked to the brand strategy. Most brands in categories where a digital expression is needed, go beyond just reach or providing brand experience but to actually complete a business transaction or help accomplish a task. In such cases, mobile apps are proven to be more effective than simply creating a mobile-friendly website (for every one minute of time spent on mobile web, consumers spend seven minutes on a mobile app). According to a research by Clutch, 42% of small businesses in the US have built a mobile app and the number is expected to increase in 2018.
Some of the use cases for digital assets linked to business typically are:
- a mobile app to complete the shopping experience for a retail brand
- a wearable app for a bank to help customers provide relevant information or complete a transaction
- a digital brochure on an iPad to help close the sale for the car showroom salesperson
As you can see, the use cases are hardwired to a business need. At Robosoft, we provide digital consulting and design strategy as a service to our customers, helping business to craft relevant digital experiences which are linked to business outcomes.
Be of value to the consumer using the strength of a media environment
‘Integrated marketing communications’ is no longer about delivering the same message across all channels but delivering the experience across every touch point, which a brand promises in its messaging. So a luxury brand must convey the same cues and have the same tone of voice – both in its audiovisual film and a native mobile app. The overarching mantra should be to provide value to the user in the media environment he or she is on. In that context, defining the intent behind the usage of an app or a website helps us arrive at the most optimal features.
With native mobile apps, as against a web app, access to the device’s hardware and native features, such as accelerometer, camera and so on are available. This lends itself to a lot more possibilities in terms of things which can be accomplished through it. It needs to be noted here that the development process is a lot more expensive and time consuming in the case of native apps. In either case, helping the end users accomplish something and simplify their lives should be the end goal. For a mobile game, it could mean entertainment which helps to kill time and provide a sense of achievement or gratification during moments of waiting – at the doctors clinic or at an airport. The same yardstick of providing value would apply if the brand chose to create a YouTube video.
Think investment and digital experiences, not just apps and cost
An app is just one of the many touch points a consumer interacts with. There could be several other cogs in the wheel, some in the offline world, which need to sync with the app and work in a seamless manner. A bank’s user interface on a mobile app maybe gorgeous but the joy will only be temporary for the end user if it is not integrated well with the back end of the bank. Similarly, systems need to be integrated with the front end user interface of say, an airline or a hotel in order to provide a delightful user experience.
In today’s world, simply partnering with coders who can create a design, put together a wireframe and code the app is only half the job done. The critical aspect is to focus on delivering a seamless digital experience across screens and devices. For example, the McDelivery online and in-app ordering platform that we delivered for McDonald’s India was a complete rethinking of their app and website from scratch to make ordering a seamless and delightful experience for their customers.
When it comes to app development, it is important to set realistic expectations. Most enterprises want their apps to be best-in-class or at par with the likes of Uber. However, very few understand the time, research and investment that go into building such an app. The reality is great apps don’t come cheap. Of course, each app is different, but in general, businesses should expect to pay $50,000 as the threshold level investment to build an MVP. The cost will go higher (even running into millions of dollars) depending on the complexity of the project.
Choose the right digital partner
Contrary to popular belief, trying to save money by going with the most economical choice is never the best path to developing a seamless digital experience. Likewise, a digital partner has to be so much more than merely proficient from a technical point of view. They also have to insightfully understand the client’s business and the problem the digital solution is going to solve or an opportunity it is going to fulfil. A one-stop shop which can provide Digital advisory, Design strategy, UX/ UI, Mobile app development and has expertise in Emerging technologies should be the ideal partner.
As with life, change is the only constant in the world of technology too. New developments in software, technologies and tools make life simpler or enhance the digital experience for all. Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Chatbots, Artificial Intelligence are some of the technologies which can enhance the customer experience. However, just because a tool is available it does not mean it is relevant for every brand. A chatbot maybe useful for service brand like airline or a B2B tech company to address customer support queries or business enquiries. It is essential that the digital agency stay on top of such technologies and provide the right solution relevant for a business.
Decide on metrics to measure ROI
It is natural that businesses expect a return on their investments in brand building, digital experiences or new technologies. Needless to say, the ROI will vary for each business depending on the category, life stage of the business and more. In the case of McDonald’s, our efforts saw a 103% jump in orders from the mobile app. Which in turn means tremendous cost savings for the brand which otherwise would have had to invest in call centres and training.
The fundamentals of digital analytics apply when it comes to measuring the ROI of a digital investment. As Google outlines:
- Document your business objectives.
- Identify the strategies and tactics to support the objectives.
- Choose the metrics that will be the KPIs.
- Decide how you’ll need to segment your data.
- Choose your targets for your KPIs.
The digital strategy team needs to partner with each business to identify measurement metrics relevant to that business. For example, in a large enterprise an internal app which is part of employee appraisal could have measurement metrics like ease of completing self appraisal, the likability of the experience and so on. In a taxi aggregator app the time taken to book a ride could be a measure. Such measurements can be linked to a business impact which can then help in arriving at an ROI for the investments which went behind developing the digital solution.
Businesses know that it is a fast-paced world where technologies and platforms are rapidly evolving. The consumer too is keeping pace, getting more demanding. It is critical for businesses to choose the right digital agency that can provide Integrated Services, has expertise across platforms & devices and proven success across domains.