Five great app ideas that could boost your business

The impact of BYOD on enterprise users is creating mass diversity in the devices and platforms used in business, but there’s a second opportunity switched-on entrepreneurs are grabbing for — apps for marketing. We’ve selected several apps we think show just some of the ways in which apps can help put your brand before your customers.

Sponsored synergy

Carling can’t possibly have known what it was going to achieve when it sponsored development of iPint, an entertaining iPhone app that simulates a virtual pint and which actually empties when you tip/drink it. Doesn’t sound much, right? You’d be wrong to think so — this simple app rapidly became the world’s most popular app and was downloaded 400,000 times in just two months in the UK and a relatively recent version grabbed 500,000 downloads in three months.

The effect? Carling won a lot of brand appeal, and eventually began to give iPint users discount deals they could redeem at any corner shop with a PayPoint sign.  BMBAgency estimates the app helped deliver “£250 worth of media per £1 spent”.

This is the power of twinning a great (and simple) app idea with brand sponsorship… the brand and the app can be completely in sync as with iPint and Carling, or can simply be sponsored, as in the next example.

Drinking games

Beach Volleyball turned out to be another clever brand sponsorship idea for a beverage company, this time for Corona who in October 2012 put its brand over an entertaining little Beach Volleyball app.

The company was trying to build its association with good times and sunshine because it felt that not “enough people in the grey UK” would spontaneously think of the drink when they were on a night out.

BMB worked on this and writes:

“We wanted to create a unique experience in which every single bottle of Corona brings people a little bit of that Corona world, wherever they are and whatever they might be doing. We created an augmented reality 3D beach volleyball game which didn’t need a special code to trigger it, or for someone to have to stand in exactly the right place at a certain time for it to be visible – all they need is a normal bottle of Corona and a smartphone or tablet and they’re good to go. Meaning that even if it’s dull, grey and horrible outside people can always have some Corona sunshine!”

The principle here was simple and applied two technologies, a QR code on the bottle customers used to enable the game, and an app on their iPad or smartphone — clever. You needed to have a bottle of Corona to access the game.  This was fun, but did leave some customers a little frustrated.  “Buy this product so we can advertise this product to you,” one frustrated commenter wrote.

The loyalty function

“Members-only” apps that provide true value to users is yet another way in which a brand can use the power of the app to hopefully create closer contact with customers. There’s a few examples of this, but perhaps the one closest to many people’s hearts comes from private health insurer, BUPA.

This app offers users all the health and wellness content you’ll find on Bupa’s website, including thousands of health factsheets. The app works on most platforms, including tablets, and also offers users a direct link to Bupa in the event they suffer medical emergency (including provision of a call back service).

Bupa’s app has inherent through the provision of all the service’s popular health-related information, but also acts as a reminder to those who might suddenly find themselves in hospital of their Bupa number so they can secure private medical treatment in the event they use it.

What’s key here is that Bupa is reaching out to customers, offering something of value and while that data is also made available on the company’s website, many customers will feel the insurer has taken an extra step toward them, boosting loyalty, feelings of inclusion and providing a more flexible service.

Screen Shot 2013-05-30 at 16.22.01Convenient checkout

Then there’s the link between apps and shopping. Asda this week introduced a new app that allows shoppers to self-scan their shopping as they shop and then check out online. That’s interesting for shoppers eager to avoid in-store checkout queues, though perhaps less interesting to jobseekers searching for a new opportunity in retail.

Asda isn’t just doing this out of kindness — the company also intends capturing valuable customer data with the move. That’s not new of course, supermarkets have been capturing people’s shopping preferences using loyalty cards for years.

Loyalty cards help supermarkets build a picture of what people want in particular stores, and enable them to tailor make offers of various kinds for customers they have some information about. Most people are already happy to use loyalty cards, so they are likely to be less resistant to sharing the same kind of data using an app.

The hidden point here is that Asda doesn’t currently offer a loyalty scheme, so the app constitutes the first time the company has begun collecting data of this kind.

“So the scanning and payment capability could help provide more data to feed its customer relationship management (CRM) intelligence,” remarks Internet Retailing.

It can go further: In South Korea, Tesco’s Home Plus grocery delivery business plastered subway stations with life-size, high-resolution photos of products on store shelves, complete with QR codes that can be scanned with a smartphone.

This allows consumers to shop and arrange for delivery while waiting for their trains.

The augmented reality

Nike+ (originally for iPods and now available for all smartphones) is a poster child for intelligent app/product marketing. The app works with a chip in your shoes which work to monitor speed, distance and calories burned. The app is free, but to use it you need those Nike+ shoes or sensors. What’s critical is that the app also offers real implicit value as it helps Nike-wearing sporty types track critical information about their level of exercise and general wellness.

What isn’t so obvious is that the app has had an impressive effect on Nike’s sales. The company says the app has helped it drive 30 percent growth in its running division in 2012, with the result that the firm has expanded the list of app functions to include basketball and time spent sleeping.

This is really key, of course: mobile users don’t want ads, they want functionality. They don’t want traditional marketing thrown at them when they use their device, but they will respond to apps that provide value, information or entertainment through the good graces of the brand.

We’re going to be exploring a range of topics as related to app-based marketing in future reports here at the Dreamtek blog, but hopefully we’ve whetted some appetites as to the potential value of mobile apps to any brand — and with video being perhaps the most popular of all available online content, we will in future pay particular attention to innovative ways brand marketers can combine moving images with mobile in order to reach customers effectively.

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