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Mobile-Friendly vs. App Attack

October 17, 2012

There is no question that mobile needs to be part of your formula for delivering your content and marketing your publishing business – we are constantly reminded as apps like Pulse and Evernote hit the market and grow quickly. But, AdAge’s Melissa Parrish poses a good question: do you need to build your own app for mobile?

As an analyst for Forrester Research, Parrish points to some significant numbers that indicate how widespread the use of apps including, “About half of U.S. adults have a smartphone, and data show that 43% of those have apps on their phones.”

She also reminds us to determine if those numbers reflect who comprises our audience. Indeed, a look at your audience should be the first step to determining if you need to build an app for mobile. Do you see a familiar theme emerging here? Yes, context awareness is key in building the foundation for generating revenue online.

When thinking contextually about mobile apps, you should consider specifically:

Who is your audience (demographics)?

What are their interests?

How do they interact online, including what social sharing tools they use and what mobile platforms they use?

Is your audience inclined to use apps in general?

You also need to know if you have the framework and stamina to support a mobile app. Successful businesses use apps to increase audience engagement, which means that there is a marketing foundation to launch and promote it, as well as resources to keep it perpetually fresh. An app is a long-term investment.

A lot of folks don’t think it’s worth it unless you have a huge well of financial and creative resources to support it. Many build on this idea with the theory that if you are going to do it, you might as well do it in the best way possible, which often involves hiring a third-party provider and collaborating successfully with all of your stakeholders to develop, launch and maintain.

Think also about how an app would bring added value to your customer’s experience. You want it to do something that you can’t accomplish with other forms of online marketing. You want it to engage them in a unique way and bring another dimension to what you offer.

Before really investing time and energy into pursuing an app, you might want to consider whether your own website is mobile-friendly, to what extent your audience uses mobile devices to access your site and what mobile viewers are doing -- reading, searching, buying? Also, does the potential in your market warrant an investment in an app and how do you anticipate the best way to meet the growing demand for content, notifications, products and social interaction from mobile users. 


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