The rising importance of smartphones has been nothing short of revolutionary for digital marketing. As more and more people use their mobiles and tablets to access the internet, businesses need to adjust their online efforts to the specifics of mobile browsing. From decreasing loading speeds to making websites mobile-friendly, taking into account the experience of mobile users is a must these days. But responsiveness alone is no longer enough. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, you need to consider the possibility of using mobile apps in digital marketing. But what makes apps so great? How can you develop one? And will it be worth the effort?
The importance of optimizing for mobile
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Between phones, tablets, and gaming consoles, roughly half of all internet traffic comes from mobile devices today. For some actions that people are more likely to take on the go (like looking up routes on Google maps, finding local businesses, or accessing certain social media), the number is even higher. This percentage has been steadily rising and doesn’t appear to be stopping.
Within a few years, we may see mobile traffic overtake desktop traffic by a significant margin. In addition to this, Google implements mobile-first indexing in its searches. This means that, even when someone is using a desktop browser, Google looks at the mobile version of the website to estimate rankings.
With all this in mind, it should be reasonably obvious that optimizing for mobile is not optional. You have to be available for your users with mobile devices. The only question is how you will achieve that. It all comes down to one choice: do you want to turn your website into an app, or do you want to make your website more mobile-friendly?
Mobile apps vs. mobile pages
For years, people have been using responsive web design to appeal to mobile users. A website with this type of design will show different versions of the pages depending on which device it is being accessed from. Mobile devices will get a simplified version, adjusted for smaller screen sizes, with a larger font and smaller pictures, and often changes in menu types. But this is no longer enough.
Mobile users prefer apps explicitly developed to make the mobile experience better. Because apps don’t just adjust to mobile devices but are rather custom software intended specifically for a mobile device, their main goal is always to satisfy the needs of a mobile user. Usually, this means they’re easier to navigate, designed for small screens specifically, and have better performance than responsive pages.
The Benefits of using mobile Apps for Marketing
It sounds like mobile apps are the obvious choice. But app development costs money, making it an additional expense on top of designing and maintaining a website. So you may be wondering whether having an app is a worthy investment. The truth is that it depends on multiple factors, including how much mobile traffic your specific website gets and how satisfied your users are with the mobile version of your pages. But there are some benefits you only get from having an app, and they might tip the scales for you.
Gain a direct marketing channel
One of the main reasons businesses use mobile apps in digital marketing is the fact that apps give you direct access to users all the time. Most of us have our phones on us all the time. The same cannot be said for our computers and laptops. So if you only have a website, you have to wait for your users to come to you. When you add an app to your repertoire, you can reach out to your users first. With in-app notifications and personalization features, you can target individual customers any time, anywhere.
Provide a unique and personalized experience
Not all apps require the user to log in. But almost all apps make it easier for mobile users to log in, making it more likely that users will log in even when the app doesn’t require it. This allows you to adjust the content you’re showing to the individual user’s preferences, either by allowing them to change some settings themselves or by using the data you collect about them to make educated guesses as to what they want to see. A personalized experience like that is almost guaranteed to improve user satisfaction.
Be more responsive
Mobile apps are a great way to increase the amount of interaction you have with your users. Not only will they make it easier for mobile users to contact you but they’ll also make it easier for you to respond as the contact will be going through the app rather than ending up in your probably already full email inbox. Your users will certainly appreciate your improved response times.
Mobile apps help you retain users for longer. A part of the reason is simply the fact that they enjoy using the app, so they keep coming back. A part of it is also the possibility of personalization through logging in – they’ll be able to keep track of their contact with you, their purchases, reviews they’ve left, and other interactions with your business. But a part of it is simply having an app: users are less likely to delete an app of their device than leave your website behind and never return.
Improve user experience
The most obvious reason to use mobile apps in digital marketing is simply user experience. The whole point of having an app is providing the best possible experience on mobile. And this goes a long way to making users happy and keeping them coming back. Given that a good user experience is one of the most important yet most difficult things to achieve, anything that helps you improve it is a must.
What can mobile apps do for a digital marketing strategy?
You can use mobile apps for all kinds of things, from improving interactivity to driving sales. But marketing experts like Digital Dot primarily use them to improve digital marketing strategies. Here are just some of the ways in which your marketing can also benefit from mobile apps:
Expand your audience
Some people simply do not use computers – they prefer to always be on a mobile device. This is especially true of the younger generations, starting with millennials. If you want to attract these users, you must do it with an app. Once they have the app, you can market to them directly and convert them. In this way, even free apps can make you money. And by covering all your bases, you can expand your reach to audiences you were previously unable to attract.
Collect customer data
Apps are a great way to learn more about your users. You can use them to mine data about everything from location to purchase history to online behavior. You can then use this data to inform your future decisions and strategies because the more you know about your users, the better you’ll be able to satisfy their needs. This, in turn, leads to developing better products, improving your services, and getting better at marketing to your target audience.
Become more visible
With so many things happening in their daily lives, your users are likely to forget about you the moment they’re not actively using your products or services. Whether they remember you again and when is a gamble, so it’s essential to stay in the mind of your users instead. This is much easier to do with an app than a website, no matter how responsive. The moment your users leave your website, they are no longer thinking about you. But if they have an app, they’ll see it daily; they’ll receive notifications; they will be aware of it. Simply exposing your users to your app can make a huge difference in your visibility and memorability.
Use push notifications
Push notifications are a staple in app development. They are one of the things that make mobile apps great for digital marketing. Overusing them can backfire (nobody wants to be harassed by their phone constantly pinging), so you need to use them wisely. But if you can strike a good balance, push notifications are a great way to easily connect with your users directly.
You can give them important updates about your products, remind them of unfinished purchases, respond to their messages, or just give them the latest news from your industry. Even if you don’t have much important to say, the occasional push notification will remind the user of you and your business. This makes it a lot more likely for the user to turn to you when they do need your services.
Integrate with other software
One of the best things about mobile apps is that they can interact with other mobile apps. This has multiple benefits for both you and your users. To start with, integration with other apps can provide you with additional data. You can find out where your users are located, what they look like, what their preferred method of payment is, their contact information, their social media profiles, and more. Then, you can use these data to improve the users’ experience with the app.
Adjust the content you show them based on the location or include them in your social media marketing campaigns. Finally, integrating with other apps can improve your own app. It will add functions that you otherwise didn’t have. This is rarely possible with websites, at least to such a high degree.
Developing mobile apps for digital marketing
If you’ve decided to use mobile apps in digital marketing, then it’s time to start actually developing the app itself. It is incredibly important to do this step right. Simply having an app is in and of itself not going to do much. People need to actually download your app and use it. This means that you don’t just need an app – you need a good app. So how do you develop an app that your users will love?
Make it simple
Simplicity is the key when it comes to designing mobile devices. Because mobile screens are smaller than computer screens and most mobile users rely on their fingers rather than styluses, crowding too many things can make an app challenging to use. You want to streamline your design. If this means dividing different functions between screens or adding a few extra menus, then do so. But keep in mind that the navigation should be intuitive. Your users won’t like it if they can’t find things in the app.
To get a better idea of what an app should look like, try downloading a few apps from your competitors or other businesses in the same niche. Take a look at the design logic they’ve chosen to follow. Odds are that you’ll notice some similarities you can apply to your own design.
Let users personalize their experience
Apps can make it much easier to offer users a unique and personalized experience. But that’s only if the app is designed to do that. So think about ways in which users can make the app their own from the start. One of the more basic things you can do is to encourage (or even require) users to create accounts and log into them when using the app. This gives them access to settings that they can adjust to their liking. You can also offer multiple different themes for the app, letting users choose between multiple color schemes, fonts, image sizes, and more.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you may even consider allowing for custom settings. Users will be able to upload their own profile pictures, set their own backgrounds, and create their own content. This doesn’t work for every app or every business so it might not be the best choice for you. But it can drastically increase interactivity and make the app much more interesting for users. So it’s worth considering!
Develop for multiple platforms
If you’re used to using a specific platform, brand, or operating system, it can be easy to forget that not everyone uses the same things. While Android is currently dominating the market when it comes to mobile operating systems worldwide, iOS is a strong competitor in North America, and these are not even the only operating systems out there. Furthermore, new versions of operating systems are coming out all the time.
So it’s highly likely your users will have a wide variety of different phones, operating systems, and platforms. You need to make sure that everyone can download and use your app with ease. This is why it’s important to develop apps that work across different device specifications. Then, get your app in as many different app stores as you can too. That way, you’ll cast the widest net and attract the most users.
Update your app regularly
Technology, and especially mobile technology, is evolving all the time. New and better phones with new and better-operating systems require new and better apps. This is why developing mobile apps for digital marketing is always a work in progress. You cannot just leave your app on its first version – you need to improve upon it with time. Regular updates are practically a requirement to ensure that your app is always functioning as well as it can be.
To ensure that you’re providing only the best for your users, start by gathering their opinions. Take a look at the ratings and reviews of your app – what are your users saying? If you’ve received any feedback directly from them, remember to consider that as well. Then, work with professional developers to make sure the improvements you make are actually functional across multiple platforms. You don’t want to give up old users for the sake of attracting new ones.
Remember to test all your efforts before launching an update too. Comparing an older version of the app with the new one through the process of A/B testing will show you exactly which areas you’ve improved and how. Repeat these steps every time you’re updating – you need to make sure your users are satisfied with the upgrades.
Using mobile apps in digital marketing
If you’re planning on capitalizing on the role of mobile apps in digital marketing, it’s crucial to understand how to best use the app you’ve developed. Start by promoting it; if someone accesses your website from a mobile device, show them a pop-up that suggests the app instead. Post about the app on your website and social media and encourage people to try it out. Make sure to add features and improve the app as time goes on – an app that stagnates will not keep its users interested for very long. Remember: don’t overdo it.
You’ll want to make the most of your app by trying to engage users constantly, but this can have the opposite effect. Moderate notifications will achieve better results. Finally, keep your app in mind when developing your marketing strategy. It’s a tool at your disposal, so use it well!
Satyam Chaturvedi is a Digital Marketing Strategist at Arka Softwares, a leading mobile app development company dealing in modern and futuristic web and mobile app solutions. He loves to spend his time in studying the market trends and helping startups and enterprises in achieving their business goals.