CMOs and marketing leaders often see their campaign spending proposals float through budget meetings with little scrutiny, only to find much smaller requests for development attract painful and often irrational attention.

A big part of the problem is that marketers have become much better at describing and validating digital marketing which has a high degree of transparency. But they struggle to describe the ROI on technology investments where they are on less familiar ground.

This is a problem many encounter when they try to move their companies beyond mobile websites and into the world of mobile apps.

Partly that’s to be expected. The risk profile from an investment perspective is higher. Mobile websites are lowest common denominator. Anybody who has a smartphone can access them. Apps, however, face a higher barrier to entry as the users have to make the active decision – and effort to install meaning engagement is more uncertain.

And even once you have captured some real estate open the small screen, the attrition rates are high. Up to 20 percent of apps are uninstalled inside the first three months.

But there is a wider issue – marketers need to be able to demonstrate there is a clear strategy and purpose to app development and that is more than simply a clever version of the mobile site.

Mobile websites and apps are fit for different purposes and it is important that marketers can explain how and why to their management peers

The object of a mobile app for most brands is to create a particular utility for a customer so the first question you need to ask is, what value will it bring to that customer?

If the utility is based upon loyalty for instance, it might be as simple as providing a way for a customer to be able to interact with loyalty card scan in store.

Start with the customer

Customers also have much higher expectations from mobile apps than in traditional digital channels due to the nature of how they interact with their smartphone.

A rapidly evolving ecosystem of millions of apps and ever improving experiences means consumers have come to expect ease of use, instant gratification and a frictionless passage along the research and buying journey. And remember a consumer doesn’t think of a phone as a channel, for them it is just one more way to experience the brand.

All of which comes back to the ROI conversation.

If you don’t build your app with a lasting relationship in mind and understand what your customer is expecting from you, they will quickly start turning off.

That is a challenge for many traditional marketers – even traditional digital marketers. In the world of email for instance, relationships can last a long time with consumers jumping in and out of engagement with the emails you send them. They might click, they might now.

And it might be two years before you decide they have genuinely lapsed from the list.

When it comes to mobile apps, consumers make their decisions quickly. Once they scrape you from the screen, it is almost impossible to win them back. There are too many alternatives.

It is important to spend the time getting it right. The mobile question needs to be answered in the context of the wider customer experience conversation. Management peers need to be engaged, the strategy understood and the ROI both deliverable and measurable.

About the Author

Scott Mirabello is the Principal Mobile Consultant for Oracle Marketing Cloud in APAC which is a member of the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit. Members contribute their expertise and insights for the benefit of our readers. Membership fees apply.


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