The success of Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch mobile devices has already enabled marketers to extend the reach of their brands to the fingertips of over 40 million people. With Apple’s increased focus on bringing iPhone to the enterprise, B-to-B marketers finally have the ability to engage users without the obstacles that have traditionally stood in the way of mobile development.
The right look
Apple has created a device that feels good in your hand, is extremely easy to use and has a large 3.5-inch 160-ppi screen. Brands look really good on the iPhone. Everything looks good on the iPhone.
A single development platform
All iPhone and iPod touch devices have the same form factor, screen resolution and capabilities. Other mobile devices, such as RIM’s BlackBerry require applications to be written that work across their many models featuring various screen sizes and resolutions as well as multiple input devices including touch screens, thumbwheels and trackballs. On the iPhone OS platform, we can create our apps with a single purposeful intent, as opposed to diluting brand experience by developing for the least common denominator.
Deep insight into users’ environments
Instead of simply displaying content on a mobile device, the iPhone OS platform lets us learn about the audience and their environment (they are mobile, after all) and weave that information into the experience. We can determine their physical location via GPS and see their surroundings via the camera. We can communicate with other people and systems through available Internet connections. For brands and marketers, this is the tech holy grail of connecting people, their passions and desires.
Simplified distribution channel
Apple’s App Store gives iPhone OS device users a one-stop shop when installing new applications. Your brand gets into users’ hands safely and securely.
Three steps to leveraging the power of branded apps
Deliver user value, utility and brand awareness
Applications that provide utility, productivity or entertainment have better chances for ultimate success. Your application must be useful to your customer. The fact that a helpful utility has your logo hanging above it is all the better. One way to determine what you can offer mobile users is to look at how they are currently interacting with your Web site. Are they searching for physical locations? Are they requesting service or support for products? Are they visiting for fun brand interactions?
Take advantage of available information
The iPhone’s ability to know where your users are, capture images and communicate can spawn a multitude of good ideas. There are many great examples of apps that exploit these capabilities. The AAA (American Automobile Association) Discounts app, for example, pinpoints a user’s location and then displays all merchants in that area who offer a discount to AAA members. The Amazon.com app enables users to take a picture of a product on a store shelf, and then instantly see Amazon’s price for that product, read customer reviews and ultimately purchase the item right from their iPhone.
Market, measure, update
Once a user base has been established for your application, the pervasive Internet connection on the iPhone makes your job simple of seeing how your app is being used. You can collect data on who’s using it, where and when they’re using it and what they’re doing with it. The most successful branded apps are regularly updated based on user trends. Updating your app is also a sign of good faith that you are actually there to provide a valuable service to your users.
The ability to extend your brand through applications lets you take your mobile engagement initiatives to places e-mail or Web browsing could only dream of. By offering a service to your customers that is available within arm’s reach anytime, anywhere, you are not only strengthening your brand, but you are also differentiating yourself from your competition.
For companies that can take advantage of this platform, it’s an amazing opportunity.
Frank Garamy, Director of Digital Technology at b2b agency, gyro