In the battle for mobile engagement, branded apps hold untapped value
Consumers spend an overwhelming majority of their mobile internet time within apps. Recognizing this trend, the world’s biggest brands have developed apps as tools for providing services (like checking a bank balance) or making a purchase (through an e-commerce store). But many of these apps have untapped potential. Beyond basic transactions, branded apps can be used as powerful video delivery mechanisms that increase engagement and brand loyalty.
Especially as email open rates decline, apps can serve as a new way to connect with consumers with greater efficiency. Customers who have taken the time to download a brand’s app onto their device are some of the most loyal customers a brand has. This advocacy is ripe for brands to mine.
When a brand has an app and separately has video content, produced either for TV spots, social media or their website, there’s no reason these ingredients can’t be combined. The result is a powerful in-app content marketing hub that keeps the best customers engaged and keeps the brand top-of-mind. Some companies, like Nike and Red Bull, are already doing this well. To effectively market in a mobile world, brands need to think of their apps as mobile video mailboxes.
The fight for user attention
To better understand the underutilized value of branded apps, it helps first to recognize just how hard it is to reach consumers through more traditional TV and video channels. TV still comes first for so many marketers, and they invest their budget in a series of spots that will run for 30 or 60 seconds on the air. But with cord-cutting on the rise, it’s harder and harder to achieve the level of penetration TV advertisers achieved in the past. While audiences have switched to digital video, reaching them isn’t necessarily easier in that channel: 65% of consumers skip pre-roll video adswhen given the option. With mobile viewership on the rise, brands must find new ways to keep their loyal customers truly engaged.
The efficiency imperative is front and center for most brands, and leveraging apps as another way to promote already-created video content delivers on that. By using their apps, marketers don’t have to buy media to retarget the consumers who love their brand. Instead, they can recycle content that they already have and hand it directly to the consumers who will be most receptive to its messaging.
The biggest obstacle is that the app developers and media teams are very likely working toward separate goals, and in many organizations, they may not be communicating regularly if they communicate at all. But investing time into connecting these disparate departments can yield great results for the company as a whole.
Constructing a content hub
Apps are purpose built. Airline apps are for purchasing tickets and checking in. Consumers download the AmEx app to access their credit card accounts. If the app development team is focused solely on that goal, there’s no reason to include a video player within the app, and no reason to consider content. No one explicitly downloads a banking app because they want to watch a three-minute video on smart investing tactics. But that doesn’t mean that customers aren’t interested in such content. A recent study from Hubspot found that 68% of consumers say video is their favorite way to learn about new products and services. Brands with a narrow focus can easily miss opportunities to increase spend and grow brand loyalty.
Brand’s don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but they can add functionality to make their apps something better. Users already love the AmEx app – it has a 4.9-star rating in the Apple App Store, based on 910,000 ratings. What if the app included video to promote different rewards packages and destinations that are available to cardholders? Or videos about their card features, to inspire consumers to spend a bit more? Heck, it could even host a library of the brand’s famous Jerry Seinfeld TV ads from years past, which have tens of thousands of views online, thanks to user uploads.
Pushing these videos directly to a user’s device and sending them screen notifications to tell them there’s something new for them to watch in the app is an easy, effective and innovative way to engage users. They can now watch these short videos during downtime: on a commute, standing in line at the store, waiting at the doctor’s office and other moments when they’re looking for content to entertain them.
Brands that relied so heavily on TV advertising in the past are still learning how to market appropriately in a mobile world. The video they’re producing to recruit new customers can live in the branded apps, doing double duty to re-engage loyal customers. Rather than have app and ad teams live in silos, brands need to think about how they can best combine resources to efficiently and nimbly engage with consumers in the modern, mobile-first world.
This article first appeared in www.marketingland.com
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