As a brand, the first questions that I believe you should ask before getting involved in the exciting world of app development are as follows. You need to be really hard on yourself, and really try to take off your rose-tinted brand spectacles before answering these questions as well …
1. Why would anybody download this app in the first place?
2. Once downloaded, why would they use it regularly?
With hype, competitions, or good promotions I believe that you can get people to download an app if it sounds interesting, useful or fun. I think in the main that brands are quite good at this first step, but it is when you need those consumers that downloaded the app to continue to interact that it becomes more difficult. So many apps are downloaded and hardly ever used again because once you’ve seen the content there is no real reason to go back.
The Telegraph News app for instance answers those two questions as follows. Why would people download this app in the first place? Answer, because it offers quality Telegraph content with a superior user-interface, and it’s free.
Once downloaded, why would anybody use it regularly? Answer, because Telegraph.co.uk has something updated on their site every two minutes. The Telegraph app is constantly updated with the very latest news, sport, business, technology, fashion etc. There is always a real reason for consumers to come back, which is why we are growing our base of active unique users by about 20,000 people a month. It is consistently useful and interesting.
If you feel as a brand that you can produce a great app, with some cool content in it, you will probably do a good job at getting over the first hurdle of getting it downloaded. It that app isn’t updated, or consistently useful like the Google app or the National Rail app, you are likely to find that at best it will sit unused on people’s phones or at worst will be deleted.
That is why sponsorship of an existing app, with an existing audience, may well be the best way to go. It takes the risk out of the project. You can buy a high level of exposure, which gets in front of a proven audience, and it is a fair bit cheaper than creating a new app from scratch.
If you have any views, thoughts or case studies please join the conversation by leaving a comment below.