If you've walked into a Dunkin; Donuts recently, you've probably seen the Men In Black-themed straws, cups, and donuts. And if you're not in a hurry, you've probably seen a poster that tempts you to buy the new MIB-inspired donut and download an app that lets you capture your own alien. But how many of us going for a Dunkin' run actually want to stop and capture our own alien?
Branded apps are a great way for brands to communicate directly with their consumers and maintain their presence on their phones and minds. However, many of these apps created and fueled by advertising campaigns do not make it on the consumer's radar. A survey by Deloitte says that less than 1% of these apps have been downloaded more than one million times and 80% of these branded apps were downloaded less than a thousand times (Guardian, 2011). While the download statistics are a good measure of the initial attraction of an app, many of these apps end up getting deleted or are never used again.
The biggest mistake a brand can make when developing an app is to think of it as a self-serving tool. An app is not a tool to serve up the brand's marketing and advertising to the user. It's a tool for the brand to provide a solution for their consumers. If an app doesn't provide a user with with some functional value, then it probably won't be invited into their phones and their lives. Think of a branded app as an extension of the brand's product rather than an extension of its advertising.
Take the eBay Mobile app, for instance; it integrated a barcode scanner into its app that allows allows users to scan products in a store for price comparisons while shopping or even scan products that they plan to sell. In both cases, the app pulls up all relevant products and lets the user go from there (Forbes, 2011).
Another reason branded apps fail is because they are trying to solve a problem that's already been solved by a better app. If you've just made another app that tells the weather forecast, then you're not doing anything new or value added. But if that app told the weather and recommended an outfit for you for that weather, then you're really getting into your customer's head. A great app idea often comes from understanding your consumer, your product, and their daily lives. Once you've done that, even the simplest solution to a problem can be the basis for a successful app.
If a branded app is created to facilitate the user rather than the brand, it will ultimately serve the brand well. A study titled, “Mobile Shopping and the Mobile Wallet“ by ABI research found that more than 45% of smartphone users downloaded a branded app, and that of those who downloaded them, over 40% were more likely revisit the site and buy more products (WebProNews, 2012). That means that almost 25% of American mobile users are persuaded to buy more branded products because of a branded app. And when a brand can get so much out of an app, it only makes sense to give something back to the user.
So when you're thinking up an app, you should ask yourself, "Would I stop and download this app next time I'm making a coffee run?"