How to set your app apart

Before consumers can evaluate the worth of a branded app, they first need to know it exists. With so many apps available and so few ways to promote them within app stores themselves, this is a challenge in itself – regardless of the quality of content.

Oh, yes!: One churchil-branded app uses the canine character’s catchprhase

Richard Diskin, marketing director of Ghost Telecom – the company behind the FooCall app that offers low-rate international phone calls – explains: “There are so many apps that, unless you are in the top 20 of your category, you cannot expect too many users to stumble upon you. Your activities therefore need to be focused on driving users directly to your app store presence.”

One method marketers can use is to place mobile ads within other apps and on mobile websites, which Ghost Telecom does through the Adfonics network. But different marketing strategies are required for different app platforms. In the Android Market, for example, apps are not vetted in advance in the same way as Apple’s App Store, meaning competitors are of varying number and quality.

“Android is open and has no approval process. That leads to vast numbers of applications on the market that, in our opinion, users really should not be subjected to. That is not to say that there isn’t some rubbish on Apple’s App Store too,” he says.

Once users have found the app, brands then need to give consumers a reason to use it. RBS Insurance head of digital operations Colin Madders says that despite an increase in the number of customers purchasing insurance on mobile devices in the past year, the company has not raced headlong into providing transactional apps. He argues that this is better done on websites where detailed information about insurance cover can be consumed more easily, without having to download it to the device and update it regularly.

RBS Insurance’s brands use a mixture of utility and brand awareness for its app offerings. The apps for its Direct Line insurance and Green Flag breakdown cover brands are designed to help motorists call for recovery and pinpoint their location when stuck on the roadside. Churchill branded apps have taken the alternative approach of encouraging consumers to engage with the insurance brand. In one, users can take photos with the iPhone camera that place Churchill’s dog mascot in the picture with them. In another, users ask the dog questions to which it responds with its catchphrases “Oh, no!” and “Oh, yes!”

Madders advises: “Before you go down the app or mobile website development road, work out the purpose you are trying to serve. It is possible that you might have more than one goal, so you might be able to have a bit of fun and also buy a product through the same medium. But make sure you are going to get the best customer journey.”

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