By Mudra Rao
Ever since the commercial availability of the Internet, then called the World Wide Web, in around 1995, it has completely and irreversibly changed the way we live, think, and communicate. Things inconceivable to be connected with technology, such as finding a life partner, or shopping for groceries, have been revolutionized by the use of internet technology, apart from the completely different way in which we communicate and access information. The integration of mobile phones with internet technologies have made the internet available to a lot more people all over the world, than the ones served by the computer based internet connectivity.
The smartphones as the mobile devices with the facility to access the internet is known commonly as, has changed our daily lives. Be it booking tickets, paying bills or even ordering food, we are using it for everything. The mobile interact with which we access these businesses for information gathering or shopping is commonly known as a Mobile Application, or simply an ‘App’. These mobile apps have taken the buyer seller interaction to an entirely new, highly personalized and customer centric level, which is dynamic and highly focussed. If the huge increase in the number of these apps is anything to go by, it can be conveniently argued, that in the days to come, mobile applications will be the most preferred way of brand communication, promotion, and sales.
How Much Time Do We Spend On Smartphone
So how much time do we really spend on our smart phones these days? The answer, according to many studies is really surprising. According to a report by mobilestastistics.com, an average person spends approximately 90 minutes per day on the phone. The figure may sound reasonable, perhaps, but it roughly translates to 23 days in a year and 3.9 Years of an average person’s lifetime! This figure puts things into perspective somewhat, although this figure varies dramatically with some other websites quoting reports that claim that we spend closer to 4 hours on the mobile smart phone each day!
According to another research, an average smart phone user picks a phone 1500 times in a week, with the smart phone becoming the number one ‘go-to’ gadget replacing the computer by a wide margin. On an average, a person does 140 tasks on the mobile smart phone in a typical day. Calling or receiving calls, actually, is only the 6th most common task of which. Accessing the internet through the browser or the app is the most preferred activity of the smart phone users, with apps being used an overwhelmingly 90% of the time.
How Important Is the Smartphone
With the above statistics, it can be conclusively proven rather, that the smart phone is among the most important gadgets in-use today, if not the most important. With the multifaceted usability of the smart phone, it has virtually made the lives of people more and more efficient, although some argue with an extreme level of reliance on technology and seamless virtual connectivity. Be as it may, there is no taking away from the fact that the mobile phone of today is a much more versatile instrument than any other known to mankind. Apart from the well known uses of calling and connecting through the social media, a smart phone is a virtual assistant reminding you of pending meetings, grocery lists, schedules, appointments, tasks, you name it! It is the most preferred mode to use and store music on the go, to watch and download videos, to count calories and to order goods and services. Nowadays with the increasing screen sizes and much longer battery lives of the smart phones, it is also doubling up as a mobile book reader and as a GPS device to find directions. All in all, the mobile phone, with the use of the internet has touched our lives and transformed it in many ways and continues to do so.
Why Does an App Need to Be a Part of the Brand Strategy
With the reach and usage of the smart phone continuously increasing and people now preferring the mobile phone over the computer for accessing and consuming information and even making shopping decisions, the brands have now understood that the mobile app development is their best bet in reaching out to the customers and to engage them with the products and services.
Hotel booking website hotels.com reports that almost 42% of all hotel bookings are carried out using a mobile app! IDC (International Data Corporation), on the other hand has found that the mobile users installed 156 billion mobile apps globally last year, which was worth a staggering 34.2 Billion USD in non advertising, direct revenue. According to the same data, this figure is on course to reach 210 billion installs and USD 57 Billion in revenue by 2020.
With more than 1.6 Million unique apps available for download on the Google Play store alone, it is a fact beyond argument that the mobile apps are driving the brand building strategy and customer acquisition dynamics of most.
There are many reasons why businesses are finding it more and more prudent economically to focus on a great mobile app interface.
With a huge customer base that are using mobile phones for reaching out to brands, and this number increasing at a real rapid pace , it makes a lot of sense for the brand to invest wisely in a mobile app, or miss out on the huge opportunity of reaching out to its projected customers. Since all apps are a call to action based, it provides valuable data on customer behavior and brand engagement. The feedback is also quick and accurate allowing modifying strategies efficiently.
One of the most major advantages of a mobile app in reaching out to the customer is that it is heavily customizable and personalized, resulting in much better conversion rates for the business and much more increased options for the customer. Through the use of the push notifications, the customer engagement has reached a whole new level with the customer now being possible to be reached and engaged in real time.
Ease of Use
With the ever increasing competition, brands understand that they are vying for the customer engagement and a little distraction can take the customer away and onto considering other available options, of which there are a plenty. With that consideration, the brands are continuously trying to develop interactive instruments that drive customer engagement and loyalty. Towards that objective, a mobile app is one of the best suited products to create awareness, interest and probable sales from the perspective of a business.
Ease of Promotion and Advertising
The apps make it much easier to get eyeballs. With the print and electronic media, the advert or the promotional message has to be reached to the customer, whereas with an app, it has just to be sent to a platform which is always there with the customer. This has made it far easier for brands to send promotional matter, such as an upcoming sale or promotion directly to the customer with convenient links that connect directly to the promotion page.
Ease of Payment
One of the most advantageous things for the business about having mobile app is the ease , swiftness and versatility of the payment options it can offer, thus making the whole process of completing the sale seamless and quick, and helping the customer to stay on the app and not scout for competing sites and products. Most business apps have called to action tabs designed in the interface itself to facilitate quick decision making, checkout and payment by the customer, and providing immediate confirmation of the payment and the order status. This is quite beneficial and transparent on the parts of the customer and also the business.
With the above pointers, it is not difficult to see that the mobile app will be one of the most focussed areas for the branding strategies of many businesses in time to come, specially the businesses that need the customer to be continuously connected. With extensive researches now proving beyond doubt that mobile apps have a positive impact on brand favorability and purchase intent, it is easily understandable that almost all big brands have dedicated mobile apps and are paying a great deal of attention to the marketing and availability of apps and their role in customer acquisition, engagement and increased brand loyalty.