redbull.com mobile app
Why The Microsite Is An Excellent App Alternative
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Let's talk mobile apps. Now we know you are a savvy bunch, but to clear any potential confusion, let's quickly define the term. A mobile app, or native app, is an application that is downloaded and installed on a mobile device. To get a mobile app, users must go to an app store (e.g., iTunes, Google Play), search, and install.
 
You’ve probably done this dozens of times. But have you ever thought about how many apps you’ve uninstalled, because they fell short of expectations or for some other reason. Take a second to think about it.
 
You've probably uninstalled a good portion of them, maybe even the majority of them.
Nevertheless, there are many valuable apps out there that most of us couldn’t imagine living without, and some apps have proved to be incredible marketing tools that build deep connections between a company and its target audience. However, this can only occur when you have something practical to offer and something that provides a solution to a common problem. Here are some reasons why you would want to use an app:
  • Your clients have a regular need to interact with your services from a mobile device, as in the case of e-banking or other transactional apps.
  • You need to offer an extremely high level of interactivity. For example, you want to create a game with fast animation and detailed graphics.
  • You need to offer native functionality. If the success of your campaign hinges around the utilization of a feature that is not yet accessible from HTML, then an app is your only solution.
Apps built for marketing and promotion purposes rarely pan out well. More often than not, apps are uninstalled within a short period after installation. In fact, a 2013 study by Digital Trends found that only 16 percent of people will try out an app more than twice, and anywhere from 80 to 90 percent of all downloaded apps are used once and then eventually deleted by users (Digital Trends). It’s hard to find many cases that work for marketing and promotion purposes, although one case rings a bell. That’s Red Bull’s mobile app, which by the way, was introduced via a microsite.
Accessibility
In addition to low performing accessibility, your users also have to take action to maintain and upgrade your mobile app. Unless your app is a major hit (which is no guarantee), they aren’t likely to jump to take this step — or worse, they may delete your app to avoid it altogether. Not to mention, the process of getting your app approved at the app store can be a long and tiring one. Aside from user maintenance, your mobile app requires a higher development and maintenance cost on your end than a microsite would. A November 2014 Kinvey report based on a survey of CIOs and Mobile Leaders found that mobile app development is “costly, slow and frustrating.” According to this survey: 56 percent of mobile leaders surveyed say it takes from 7 months to more than one year to build one app, and 18 percent say they spend from $500,000 to over $1,000,000 per app, with an average of $270,000 per app (Kinvey).
 
In addition, users of different mobile devices may use different versions of the app, making it difficult to maintain and offer user support.
3815_Kinvey_app_cost
Image from Kinvey.com
For an estimate on how much your app might cost, use Kinvey’s app cost estimator: http://www.kinvey.com/app-cost-estimator
Here is a list of reasons why apps remain an attractive option but don’t normally work for marketing and promotion:
App pros
  • Potential to offer extremely high utility
  • Opportunity for high engagement
  • Possibility for high conversion (in case of freemium and paid apps)
App cons
  • User action needed to get app (go to store, download, install)
  • User action needed to maintain and upgrade
  • Higher development and maintenance cost
  • Mobile only
Maintenance and development
Before you set out to create your very own mobile app, consider the points covered in this chapter. Keep in mind that even the potential advantages are difficult to accomplish, and despite the lure and attraction of becoming an ever-present icon on your user’s mobile device, you should consider the pros and cons, as well as some app alternatives (like the microsite).
Conclusion
If your goal is to generate conversions and leads, an app can probably work for you. However, there are many roadblocks to consider when taking this route. For instance, the user has to go to an online store, search for the app, download it, and then install it. You are asking more of your user, whereas with a microsite, your content is accessible in a single click. Microsites can also be great lead generation and conversion tools, with the ability to embed subscription forms and fixed CTAs. The reason a mobile app works for Red Bull is because it has established itself as a media company, creating many, many ways for its fans to engage — a mobile app is just one of those ways. And if a mobile app does make sense for your business, make sure you have a presence in other areas as well.
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