With the explosion of the mobile app marketplace in the last decade, it’s not enough to just create an addictive app. You’ve got to make people want to download it as well.
We spend an average of two hours on our phones each day, checking them every six minutes, according to Marketing magazine. More importantly, we devote 80% of this precious screen time not to mobile web browsers, but to apps we’ve cherry-picked from a store of over one million selections, according to the New York Times.
But if your app is just one of over a million, how do you get the one download over all the others in the app store? Just as important as app development is the story you tell to make people understand and download your creation. In the following article, we take a look at some of the most successful app marketing campaigns and what we can learn from them.
Marketing for Mobile
What successful campaigns all have in common is a strong understanding of the mobile platform, what Marketing Magazine calls “mobile-centric, strategic thinking”. In other words, what are the particular strengths of the mobile channel, and can you use them to your advantage?
Marketing Magazine identifies these key features of the mobile platform:
Frequent but Brief Usage: Mobile users access apps more frequently, but for shorter periods of time than web users. Moreover, users are usually multitasking as they’re on their phones, requiring a simple design for limited attention spans.
“Reality-Based Conditions”: Mobile users are always “out and about,” and GPS features on smart phones open up a whole new world of location-based possibilities. Check in to a certain place at a certain time, for example, to receive special offers.
Interactivity: Using real-time information about mobile users allows apps to send them spontaneous notifications.
These five campaigns both understood and capitalized on mobile’s capabilities.
Starbucks Mobile Payment
In January 2011, Starbucks unveiled a mobile version of its beloved Starbucks card that allows customers to pay, tip, track and earn rewards, and reload cards—all from their phones. By July 2014, the company had received 15% of its yearly sales volume through mobile payments, with 12 million customers using the app.
Why the explosive popularity?
Starbucks already had a strong customer base with its My Starbucks rewards card. The app simply enhances the program’s experience, taking advantage of the fact that people are more likely to remember their phones than their wallets.
But beyond that, Starbucks’ campaign uses a number of Localytics’ effective app marketing techniques to maximize user engagement, including personalization and the “do this to earn rewards” strategy with its rewards program.
Juniper Research has found that shoppers are ten times more likely to use mobile coupons than print coupons. This makes sense, as they’re much easier to store. But if convenience isn’t enough of an incentive, app users can also earn rewards not just for drinks or food, but free music and other apps through the Starbucks' Pick of the Week program.
These perks not only keep users coming back on a weekly basis—and for many, a daily basis—but attract the occasional coffee drinker who may download the app for the musical offerings.
Snack! In the Face
Released in 2013 KFC Australia’s branded mobile app sought to boost its off-peak sales and engage the 15 to 24-year-old demographic. Players must navigate through levels as popcorn chicken characters, dodging obstacles in order to reach Colonel Sanders’ mouth and win real-life coupons for KFC snack items.
The results far exceeded expectations; in just one month, the app triggered a 20% increase in sales and saw 385,000 downloads in eight weeks, according to Ogilvy Australia.
Perhaps the app’s enormous popularity isn’t so surprising given its utilization of the mobile platform. Like the Starbucks app, Snack! In the Face’s mobile coupons proved extremely effective in encouraging downloads and store visits.
KFC’s app also took advantage of mobile’s real-time capabilities by demanding that users complete challenges within a certain time frame (2-5pm—snack time!) to redeem mobile coupons.
Diesel QR Codes
Successful app marketing, as Apptamin suggests, utilizes users as your marketers. Diesel not only took advantage of mobile’s social capabilities, but also tapped into a pool of 200 million ready-made advertisers on Facebook with its QR Codes campaign.
By scanning product-specific QR codes in Diesel stores, shoppers could “like” items of clothing and post their approval to social media. This creative strategy linked the power of mobile with the power of word of mouth.
Game of Phones
As Campaign Brief reports, when Virgin Mobile’s “Game of Phones” sent almost 40,000 users running after each other for over $200,000 in prizes in 2013, it had created the world’s largest location-based mobile app competition.
The line between real life and game life blurred, and the app took advantage of mobile’s “reality-based conditions”—namely, GPS—and in-app messaging (via push notifications that alerted users when other players had stolen their prize) to keep users playing.
Conveniently, players could protect their prizes for up to an hour by entering a “safe house” (aka Virgin Mobile store). These strategies propelled Game of Phones to over 2.5 million screen views in three weeks, as Marketing Magazine reports.
IKEA took shopping to a whole other level in 2012 with the release of its catalogue app. Billed as “a new kind of catalogue,” the mobile app offers a creative twist on the paper version. Perhaps the most unique feature is the app’s use of augmented reality to project images of furniture into your own house to test its size and aesthetic.
6.2 million users installed the app in 2012, and spent a reported average of eight minutes browsing compared to three minutes reading only the catalogue. The figure jumped to 10 million in 2013, according to ETRetail, as word spread via social media and news outlets.
Cutting-edge technology aside, the app doesn’t just digitize the catalogue; it reinvents it with some app-only features that, like Starbucks’ app, make the shopping experience better.
Even without a million-dollar budget, marketing success is still attainable—it isn’t just money behind these wildly innovative campaigns. What matters is an understanding of story, audience, and how the mobile platform can be leveraged to deliver one to the other.
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