Best Practice Guide Mobile Apps - Marketing Overview
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Best-Practice Guide on
November 8th, 2010...................................................................................................................1
PART 1 – UNDERSTANDING THE MOBILE MARKET.......................................................4
PART 2 – STRATEGY AND PLANNING................................................................................8
Who is this guide for?
This guide is designed for companies or individuals who are interested on
understanding more about the mobile applications and how to get in this market.
Why a best practice guide on Mobile Applications?
The mobile market has been growing in fast speed. Mobiles that are web-enabled
are becoming more accessible each day. This is very powerful for marketing since
mobile provides “powerful demographic and psychographic signals about the owner”
(Krum 2010, p.7), which means the information can be targeted in a higher level. The
message can be more interactive and actionable, and the response can be
immediate since everyone is checking their phones often during the day.
There is a lot of information online that discuss this topic but most of the
times, in a more technical way. The main goal of this guide is to give you an insight
on the mobile market as a whole and the importance of mobile applications. After
reading this guide you should be able to know how your company can take
advantage of the mobile application, and everything you should consider before
PART 1 – UNDERSTANDING THE MOBILE MARKET
Statistics about growth, cost and operating systems share
The mobile market has been growing in fast speed all across the world. According to
comScore (2010) web-enabled smartphones already make up 20% of the 3 billion
mobile devices worldwide, with predictions of heading towards 50% in the next 3-5
years. Some impressive statistics from Gartner (cited in Econsultancy 2010, p.15)
say that mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common web-access devices
worldwide by 2013.
The mobile web market is currently valued at $5 billion and it will reach
approximately $19 billion by 2014, says Juniper Research (2010). According to
Econsultancy (2010) 56% of companies are planning to increase their budget for
The graphic below shows that mobile traffic from each region has increased at
least 4x in the last two years. The biggest growth was in Latin America and Oceania
where an increase of 11x was experienced.
Figure 1 - Monthly growth in traffic [Source: Mobile Metrics Report, Admob, May 2010]
The applications are starting to be a big part of the mobile market, in the first
semester of 2010 “application download numbers reached a total of 3.8 billion in
only 6 months, compared to 3.1 in 2009” (Research2guide 2010, p.1). Consequently
there was a big improvement in the market revenue as well, increasing from U$1.7
billion in 2009 to U$2.2 billion in 2010.
As we all know the mobile market offers thousands of brands' options. Each
brand produces its smartphones with different operating systems (OS), which can be
close-source or open-source. The top two mobile OS in the market are Android from
Google (open-source) and iOS from Apple (closed-source). Android can be found in
different brands such as Sony Erricson, HTC, Nokia, Samsug, Motorola, etc., while
the iOS can only be found in iPhones. Below there's a graphic showing the operating
systems share in the mobile market.
Figure 2 – Operating system share [Source: Mobile Metrics Report, Admob, May 2010]
Five types of mobile consumers
Krum (2010) identified 5 types of mobile consumers. These characteristics can be
mixed in one individual, but usually one type will stand out more than the other. This
segmentation helps while targeting your application to a specific audience, so before
you look at this, it's important to know which type you want to target.
• Up-to-date: these people use their phones to stay connect to real-time
• Social and curious: also known as connectors, the ones who bring friends
together, love to network, plan events and are interested to know what's going
on their friends lives.
• Busy and productive: people concerned mainly with all the information related
to their personal efficiency. This type would be considered the professionals,
where their “phone has become their all-in-one device for all communication
and information needs”, the features are important and used (Experian 2010).
• Latest and greatest: These people want to be the first to try a product, even if
there is no guarantee that they will be satisfied with it.They always want to
use the newest technologies and applications, and to be a part of the newest
social networks and communities. Friends look to them for reviews and
recommendations of new technologies.
• Just the basics: they are interested on anything that makes their lives easier
Figure 3 – Mobile Content Usage in the US [Source: Mobile Content Usage, comScore MobiLens,
Is it right for you?
It's important to understand that it's not necessary to have a mobile application in
order to be present in the mobile market. Good mobile applications cost a lot of
money to be built. It's necessary to offer the right product or service and have
enough resources to get it right. The key is to understand “your audience know your
objectives and be prepared to fail” (Krum 2010, p.12).
PART 2 – STRATEGY AND PLANNING
Types of applications
“Mobile applications can offer brands tremendous value in building customer
interaction, brand loyalty and general product or service awareness” says Matt
Goddard (2010, p.1). Consumers have the option to choose from a big variety of
applications to make their phones more personal and to customize it to their needs.
According to a research done by Nielsen (2010) games are the most popular
category of application, 65% of smartphone’s owners who have downloaded at least
one application in the last month have downloaded a game. Followed by
News/Weather (56%), Maps/Navigation/Search (55%), Social Networking (54%) and
Music (46%). (Dredge 2010).
Below there's a graph which represents the percentage of different types of
applications downloaded in May of 2010. It's divided in feature phone and
smartphone, which have a slightly difference (smartphones are usually more
complex and expensive than feature phones), but both give the option to download
applications (Lee 2010).
Figure 4 – Categories of Applications Used in the Past 30 Days [Source: The state of mobile
Apps, Nielsen, June 2010]
After analyzing all types of applications, it's possible to divide them in two big
groups: entertainment and utility.
There are different types of entertainment applications. Some of them can be built
only to "support short-term campaigns or events, but often become forgotten when
the campaigns ends” (Goddard, 2010). Others are built planning to keep the user
engaged and entertained for a long-term period (launching upgrades, paid versions,
According to Krum (2010, p.134), “one-third of the downloadable mobile
applications available are games, and more are being developed every day. Mobile
games provide marketers a unique opportunity for branded game development,
product placement, and game sponsorship”.
Branded game development
Before creating a branded game application is important to know who your audience
is. The game has to be engaging to those people and it can't be too pushy on the
advertisement. People will download your application either because they love your
brand or because your game is fun. Never rely only on the first option, that won't
keep them interested on the application for too long.
Some things to consider before you start building you application (Krum 2010):
• Make sure your game has something different and more valuable compared
to the competition
• Find the balance between marketing and creating a fun gaming experience
• Think of mobile gaming applications as a brand awareness and reinforcement
• Always provide clear instructions and help options. Playing games on mobile
phones might still be a new experience for many people, so they might need
• Consider providing upgrades or additional levels as separate downloads for
users who have mastered the game.
Most download branded game applications are: A4 Driving Challenge by Audi
(3,000,000 downloads), Waterslide by Barclaycard (9,800,000 downloads), Magic
Bottle by Cocacola (500,000 downloads). (Mobile Statistics International,
This can be tricky. It is necessary to really understand the game and its audience
well before you make any agreements. The message, as in any other channel, has
to be relevant to the audience. Otherwise your brand might be related to a bad
message from the game, or the users won't welcome you there because they are not
the audience your brand attracts. But if the product placement is done in the right
way, everybody wins. Krum (2010) mentions that:
• The product placement creates more realism in the game for the user.
• It increases the margin on the game for the publisher.
• There is an increase in brand awareness and affinity for the marketer.
According to Krum (2010) a game sponsorship happens when “a product or brand
pays for the right to run short advertisements or promotions before or after the game
is played”. These ads are called pre-roll or post-roll promotions, and the advertisers
choose whether to sponsor an entire game or to share sponsorship with other
advertisers. These ads can either be static or animated, it depends on the game, and
they usually last between 10 and 30 seconds. Mobile game applications with
sponsorship are most of the times offered as a free download, since the game
development costs are partially or entire paid by the advertising.
These ads are interesting not only to generate brand awareness, but to get
immediate response from the users. If the “gamers are interested or want to find out
more information about your product, they can click on the ad to visit your website,
register for emails or purchase the product without having to go to the computer”
You shouldn't be worried about upsetting the users. Most of them understand
that the ads are necessary to reduce the price of the game, which means that they
are also ready to ignore your add, “unless it is particularly engaging, funny, or
compelling” (Krum 2010, pg.138).
Mobile Utility Applications
Most of the times when we think about building an application to help promote a
brand, we end up thinking about games. But that's not the only option. It's possible to
create applications that provide a valuable service and that engage the customer
without providing them entertainment. As mentioned earlier, 56% of smartphone
owners who have download at least one application in the last month downloaded a
news or weather application, followed by 55% for maps, navigation and search.
Examples by topics: phone utilities, educational, financial, news, weather,
navigation and travel, business productivity, shopping, multimedia, lifestyle, social
networking (Krum 2010)
Where to get them?
To decide where to go to find an application it's necessary to know which operating
system the smartphone owns. Nowadays there are several application stores, but
according to ReadWriteWeb (2010) these are the biggest: iTunes App Store,
BlackBerry App World, Google Android Market, Nokia Ovi Store, Palm App Catalog
and Windows Marketplace for Mobile. If you want to promote your application, it is
very important to distribute it in as many stores as you can, otherwise some users
might feel left out when they can't find it for their phones. But that isn't so simple
giving the fact that each OS has different development requirements.
According the graph below, Apple is still the biggest application store by far.
The second place goes to Android Market, with 130 thousand difference on number
of applications available. But it's important to keep an eye on the second graph,
Android is growing fast. They added 15% of their applications in only one month
Figure 5 – Application store sizes [Source: Distimo Mobile World Congress 2010 Presentation,
Distimo, January 2010]
Figure 6 – Application store growth [Source: Distimo Mobile World Congress 2010 Presentation,
Distimo, January 2010]
Promoting Your App
There are almost 15 thousand new applications being uploaded per month on Apple
App Store (Figure 4). It doesn't matter how good your application is, simply adding it
to the store is not enough. It's necessary to have an strategic plan to make it
successful. Krum (2010) gives some tips about how to promote applications.
Make it Viral
You need to start promoting the application before it has even launched. You can
create teaser campaigns and generate buzz (DCI 2010). Krum (2010) suggests to
create interaction between users as part of the application. In case that isn't possible
for technical or creative limitations, the application should at least have integration
with existing networks or applications (Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, etc).
Example: Google Voice Application - 250 thousand downloads in Android Market,
and more than 500 reviews. There is a free and an advanced paid version.
Create something new
Once you have an initial draft of the application's concept it's important to start the
benchmarking. Analyzing the strengths and weakness of the competition will make
you “figure out key elements that could make the application more functional, more
interactive, or more fun.” (Krum 2010, p. 144)
Example: Ikea Augmented Reality – this generated a lot of buzz since it’s launched.
The customer can get the application in the store through bluetooth or SMS, or they
can go in Ikea's website to download it.
Get rated and reviewed in the store
Applications that are not rated or reviewed by users are easily forgotten. Not only it
can convince users about how good the application is, but it also puts the application
in a better ranking position in the app store. It's important to have at least two
reviews right after the application has launched, people tend to hesitate to rate or
review an application if nothing has been added there yet.
Example: Angry Birds – more than 300 thousand ratings for all versions in Apple
Store, with a five star average. When the app was released for Android,GetJar
servers went down because of the amount of downloads (90 thousand in seconds).
Have a good name, icon and logo
The logo and the icon can't be too creative, neither too abstract. There has to be a
balance and keep in mind the screen sizes. The application has to be described “in
as clear and compelling terms as possible” (Krum 2010, p. 145) and the title of the
application has to contain the most important keywords. These two elements
combined will help the application get a better ranking in the store search results.
Example: Flixster – when searched for movies in an Android, it shows up as the first
result. Name of the application is Movies by Flixster, “The #1 app for movie reviews,
trailers and showtimes”. In August it hit 20 million downloads. (TechCrunch 2010)
Price it right
Users don't tend to pay for applications, specially the entertainment ones. But in
case you can't offer the application for free, it would be smart to at least have a light
version available for no price. Users will have the opportunity to understand how it
works, and if they think it's worthy, they will download the paid version.
Below there's a graph (Figure 7) on the percentage of free versus paid
applications available in the stores. It's no surprise that the Android is the store with a
larger number of free applications, since “the nature of the open-source operating
system from Google attracts the sort of developers that enjoy giving away their
works and the open nature of the application” (ReadWriteWeb 2010). The other
graph (Figure 8) shows the average price in each of the six biggest app stores where
Apple, Android and Nokia are in a very similar range (from U$3.27 to U$3.62).
Blackberry and Microsoft were more than twice higher (U$8.26 and U$6.99). That
doesn't mean certain stores offer more expensive types of applications, sometimes
the exact same application is charged more in different stores (ReadWriteWeb
Figure 7 – Free VS Paid [Source: Distimo Mobile World Congress 2010 Presentation, Distimo,
Figure 8 – Price Comparison [Source: Distimo Mobile World Congress 2010 Presentation, Distimo,
What to do next?
Many people think the work is done after the application has launched and been
download by a group of users, but that is wrong. It's necessary to keep upgrading
and improving the application, otherwise there is no chance to keep competitive
Before considering building a mobile application it's important to really understand
what is the goal behind it. Which audience you want to target is one of the most
powerful information, since you will need to build an application that is valuable to
them. This doesn't affect only the application type and design, it also effects the
development since different users own different operating systems on their phones.
You need to understand what's going on in the market. Since mobile apps are still
very new, trends and statistics change quickly. You need to be updated.
Remember: you can have the best application in the market, but if no one knows
about it, it's like it doesn't exist. So you need to spend as much time as you did
planning the application, thinking how you will promote it.
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