It seems like only yesterday you were launching your first full-blown website, bursting into a toothy smile when you ranked on Google, and glowing with pride as you turned your site into the heart of your digital marketing efforts.
Now, as you look ahead to 2015, it’s time to put on a new hat: app marketer.
The New Year is only a few days away and the online world is buzzing with predictions – some based on facts and others based on fluff. Here at Localytics, we don’t look into any crystal balls to spot trends; we go straight to our trove of data. And the biggest, overarching trend we see is an “app-driven” future.
What Do You Mean “App-Driven?”
Let’s start with what “app-driven” does not mean. It does not mean that 2015 will be a year when app stores will burgeon with apps. That has already happened (Apple’s App Store has already seen 60 billion downloads!). It also does not mean that people will spend most of their time using apps (in 2014, time spent with mobile apps exceeded desktop web access). Been there, done that.
So, what does “app-driven” mean? It means that the rich and interactive experiences we have come to expect on mobile apps will create new standards for all digital media.
In other words, just as websites were once anchors for online marketing, apps will become the focal point of all marketing. And as web marketers increasingly adopt an app-first approach, keep in mind that traditional online metrics don’t apply here (you’ll need strong app analytics instead).
In the future, app marketing will become cross-channel, personal, and much more powerful.
5 Leaders Who Are Already Ahead of the Pack (and What They Can Teach You!)
Are you ready for this exciting future? Or not sure how to sync your app marketing with everything else? Whatever the case, here are five lessons from leading brands who have seen the opportunity for cohesive, integrated app marketing and jumped on it.
How to Integrate Apps + Websites
Lesson: Apps can seamlessly embed complementary websites into their native interface.
Remember, apps are task-oriented and websites are information-oriented. However, apps don’t always need to navigate people to a mobile browser/website when they require additional details.
For example, TripAdvisor does an exceptional job of seamlessly integrating their app with third-party websites. You can use TripAdivsor’s mobile app to browse hotels, but when you need to book a room, the webpage actually opens up within the app! The whole transition from app to website was so smooth, we had to double-check that we were in fact viewing a website within an app.
As the screenshots below show, TripAdvisor’s app essentially opens up a window to a website (like an iframe) instead of pushing people out of the app and into a mobile browser.
In the app-driven future, we expect to see more apps embrace this unified and unbroken mobile app to mobile website experience.
How to Integrate Apps + Email
Lesson: In-app actions drive more targeted, relevant, and timely email marketing (as compared to websites).
A few days ago, I was watching TV and browsing hairstyles for the holidays on my iPhone. I decided to make a new Pinterest board to keep track of images I liked. For reference, my hair is brown and I was specifically looking up highlights for brunettes.
The next day, I got the below email from Pinterest. And it was spot on.
In-app actions give brands much more insight into how someone is engaging with your brand – what they’re searching for, what steps they recently took, and what they’d want from you. This is something that’s just not easily available through your website. Therefore, forward-thinking brands have begun to craft their email marketing strategy around apps.
In 2015, apps will be the primary drivers of personalized content in your inbox.
How to Integrate Apps + Social Media
Lesson: Apps can kick-start social content creation.
Historically, people have thought that linking their mobile apps with social media simply meant adding “Share this” or “Tweet it” or “Like this” buttons. Yes, a lot of content consumption happens on the go. But, apps can additionally be a catalyst for social content creation.
For example, RunKeeper launched an in-app social feed to encourage people to share what they were doing with their app. Why is this more effective than running the same campaign online? For starters, your app users are more engaged than your website visitors (they’re taking some action versus just casually browsing). Second, apps can deep-link directly into social apps and make this process easier (and more efficient).
Next year, we expect to see more apps make social activity a native part of their app experience.
How to Integrate Apps + Brick-and-Mortar Locations
Lesson: It is possible (and valuable) to connect your app to physical locations (even if you don’t have stores!).
The old way of integrating your app with your brick-and-mortar presence was to just have a “Store locater” feature. This works well if you indeed have retail locations. In the future, apps will connect themselves to points-of-interest in the real world to provide more extrinsic value.
Check out how Facebook used in-app information from users to help them find the closest voting station during the last election. This is an example of an app going above and beyond with its geo-targeting capabilities because Facebook cleverly uses location data as a way to elicit an in-app conversion (share that you’re voting).
The apps of 2015 will replace the annoying process of going to websites, clicking on the “Locations” menu tab, and scrolling mindlessly until you see nearest address with innovative solutions.
How to Integrate Apps + Analytics
Lesson: Web metrics cannot provide accurate insight on app marketing effectiveness (you need to understand app analytics).
As we move into the app-driven era, brands will realize that web metrics do not provide an accurate assessment of mobile performance or ROI. Apps do not have visitors (they have users) and they do not have pageviews (they have sessions).
For example, TaxiForSure quickly realized their need for app specific metrics and embraced funnel analysis, conversions, and event tracking. This helped them optimize their in-app booking process because they could see how people were flowing through each step.
In 2015, we predict that more web marketers will embrace a mobile-first mindset and look to translate their skills from sites to apps.
Preparing for the “App-Driven” Future: We answer your questions in our upcoming webinar
Apps are fast becoming the dominant way people interact with brands. Their stellar growth and expanding potential make them poised to become the anchor of all future marketing campaigns.
We’re here to help you embrace the coming winds of change. And the best part is that you don’t need to un-learn your online marketing skills or forget your web jargon – we’ll show you how to apply all of that to the app-driven future during our webinar.
Join us and get first-hand lessons from a leader who’s made the move from the web to a world of apps.