Smartphone Apps – More Than a Game

B2B Marcom Insider

A recent Forrester report reveals that 48 percent of information workers use smartphones for work at least weekly. And, the number of information workers using smartphones is predicted to grow to 34 percent by the end of 2012. Based on the adoption rate, some believe smartphones will reach relatively widespread adoption over the next three-plus years.

This leads us to the growing B2B marketing communications tactic: smartphone applications or, apps. B2B marketers are recognizing mobile apps as a relevant way to grow brand awareness and regular customer engagement. As people are becoming more reliant on the power and flexibility of mobile phones, they look for mobile apps to help them in personal and professional situations.

What are the opportunities for B2B marketers in this growing trend? Three areas: entertainers, butlers and workers.

Entertainers

It’s pure brand engagement: just fun and games. Customers play the branded game app to achieve higher scores between players, win prizes, earn discounts, etc. The game can be developed to communicate subtitle-marketing messages about products and services. Of course, the entertainer app solicits the player email address for follow up.

Butlers

You can merchandise these branded apps to customers to help them perform day-to-day tasks. If your customers are reliant on the weather, a weather app is available. There are many standard conversion apps for various industries such as electrical, plumbing, heating, banking and much more.

Workers

These utility apps help internal audiences or customers do their jobs more efficiently and effectively. According to a recent Nielsen Pew survey, 26 percent of mobile app users are using apps for productivity purposes. These convenient, mobile, 24/7 useful tools are gaining ground as a next generation marketing communications tactic. Some of the way companies use these apps are:

  • Model number, pricing and product information.
  • Custom product configuration.
  • Service and installation information.
  • Calculating custom values such as horsepower/torque, wire size/voltage, etc.
  • Gather and track client information before and after a sales visit.

Smartphone App Caveats

As you are probably aware, there isn’t an inclusive operating system for smartphones. In North America, the most important smartphone platforms right now are iOS, Android, and BlackBerry (Windows is ramping up). How many mobile users are on each? According to Nielsen Mobile Insights, at the end of Q4 2011, 46% of US mobile consumers had smartphones. Here are the ratios by OS market share:

  • iPhone: 30%
  • Android: 46.3%
  • RIM Blackberry: 14.9%
  • Microsoft: 4.6%

In other words, if you decide to only make an iPhone app, only 30% of smartphone users will be able to use it. With custom apps costing from $10,000 to $150,000 per operating system, the costs add up and you really need to focus on the demographics of the systems.

A survey of mobile users in the United States by Nielsen in 2011, reports that the vast majority of users under the age of 44 own a smartphone. In the 25-34 age group, smartphone ownership is reported to be at 62%. NPD Group reports that the share of new handset sales that were smartphones in 2011 reached 59% for consumers 18 and over in the U.S.

Yes, apps are rapidly growing in popularity as smartphones flourish. Sometime in the near future, a mash-up will occur to bridge the operating system gaps and lower development costs. For marketers, this shift will open new opportunities to interact with customers regularly and at a lower cost.

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