Mobile apps are the new rage in media right now, but – be advised – this shiny, new tool might quickly become more than you bargained for…
The key challenges for apps are time and money. The article titled, “Insight: Marketers forum – App effectiveness – Apps still have room for improvement” (2011) notes that despite their broad penetration, the majority of branded applications are ultimately deemed unsuccessful and are merely extensions of current communication resources with little differentiation from the website (p.22). This discussion will be based from a marketer’s prospective of health promotion – since health promotion is basically the integration health promotion approaches with social marketing methods.
FYI – A mobile website is different from a desktop website. The mobile version obviously has a smaller screen and therefore should be basic for quick navigation while the desktop can provide the niceties for more in-depth explorations. If the public does not consider the desktop site, the mobile site, or an app as user friendly, there is a high probability that they will never revisit it and/or will not recommend it to their friends or family. Each should load quickly, look legit, and provide the user with some kind of benefit.
From the technology standpoint, mobile apps require software that has to be installed on a user’s mobile device. With each phone platform, there is a different operating system, therefore a different variation of the app must be developed for each (e.g., Apple, Google, RIM, Microsoft) which can include fees.
In addition, just developing the app does not mean it will reach your target audience. Promotional materials must be disseminated so consumers understand the benefits of the app and why they should consider downloaded it onto their personal device. Note the word personal.
Any chief marketing officer or a public health practitioner must first have a solid goal in mind before weighing the pros and cons of each. Then, they can make the scholarly decision of whether to incorporate it into your plan or not.
In conclusion, if you are considering a mobile app because everyone else is doing it, please stop! You may have your heart in the right place, but your objectives will not be reached if your audience is not interested. Bottom line – apps are an investment – and shouldn’t be taken lightly.