How to achieve branded app success

When marketing managers and channel specialists talk about mobile there still remains a tendency to get caught up in the weeds — distracted by operational preoccupations of defining channel based KPIs, click-through rates, and sales lead generation. This was reinforced several times at the Mobile Marketing Interactive 2013 conference in Singapore.

While I certainly do not deny the importance of being able to monitor data-driven performance, it is imperative for marketers, across all channels, to recognise the role brand plays in not only inspiring creativity, but in helping mobile to play its part within the holistic customer brand experience.

During the conference, my team facilitated a number of roundtable-discussions, asking delegates to deconstruct an app belonging to a very well known, household brand. Through the eyes of the target user and context of the brand value proposition, participants were asked to ignore the technical and aesthetic delivery of the experience, but interrogate the intentions of the app through their perceptions of the intended brand strategy. This was no easy task, considering we were deconstructing Pamper’s Hello Baby real-time pregnancy tracking iPad app.

Intent on capturing valuable insights with only 40 minutes per discussion meant we had to disrupt the typical roundtable-discussion format — maximising our time together by turning sessions into mini-collaborative workshops. By immersing delegates in the branded app, we were able to collaboratively uncover relevant insights, benchmark success criteria and, in many cases, ideate future opportunities for the brand.

By facilitating the session with a successful and well-constructed branded app, conference delegates were able to focus on exploring, interrogating and brainstorming. From participants’ observations on criteria to achieving branded mobile app success, we pulled out three key themes:

Helping customers to solve everyday problems creates brand value:

Firstly, a successful branded app provides value by helping to solve simple everyday problems. By first understanding customer needs, successful apps are able to provide the right amount of intimacy, ease of use, and interactivity — breaking from being just another platform to sell products and services, to becoming a necessary daily accompaniment. And by embedding interaction hooks, successful apps push positive affirmation of your customers’ brand experience outward onto their own networks too.

Drive brand relevance and design mobility into the solutions you provide:

Secondly, your app should drive brand relevance by clearly evoking the characteristics and associations of your brand. By demonstrating attentiveness to resolving the tension between today’s wants and tomorrow’s needs, well-considered apps are able to reinforce your brand’s role and purpose, i.e. why you exist. And, in providing ubiquitous access to your brand, this means that whenever customers think about doing something, your brand shifts closer to being top-of-mind in helping users achieve their goal — right there, in the moment.

Embed mobile marketing into the brand experience:

Thirdly, as proven, recognising mobile as being one of the many ways to proactively improve people’s lives increases success of uptake, but brands still need to think less of mobile in isolation and instead align its role within the delivery of a fully connected brand experience. Think of your app as a complementary touchpoint within a wider range of branded information and services; but always aligned with your mission.

Having the opportunity to test our thinking with peers and conference delegates reinforced the value and importance for effectively utilising mobile within the full marketing mix.

It is imperative for mobile marketers to use brand as the lens from which to ideate and qualify ideas for interaction — allowing mobile marketing to work in unison and become an even more powerful tool to connect with the customer.