mobile content

The Hype Behind Apps

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Smartphones and tablets have become the device of choice for many professionals, which have led to the dominance of apps (short for application).  Apple’s popular slogan for their App Store “There’s an app for that” has instilled the idea that people need to use apps on their phones rather than go to a website – even websites that are optimized for mobile. In fact, a recent Pollara survey on app use in Canada revealed that we now have an average of 14 apps on our smart devices and use them on a weekly or daily basis.

Large companies such as Best Buy and Pizza Pizza have branded apps that provide the customer with a shopping experience that is unique to their smart device. It lets customers accomplish what they can do on a full website in just a few finger swipes, such as ordering a pizza or even purchasing a new 50-inch television! Not all apps are used for e-commerce, as some apps just deliver information.

All of this talk about apps might cause you to wonder if you too should consider getting one for your business. But before you go down what can be a lengthy process, I’ve outlined below four key areas you should consider before you decide whether an app is right for your business.

1)     Customer Demand: Have you had customers approach you asking for an app? Will there be a fan base waiting once your app is available? Just because you are excited to release an app doesn’t mean that your target audience feels the same way. If the demand isn’t there, your app will simply become another of thousands of failed apps that are never downloaded.

2)     Competition: Do your key competitors have an app? What services do they offer on it? You will need to closely monitor what your competitors are doing and try to improve on it, while being careful not to simply imitate it.

3)     Development: How are you going to develop your app? What functionality will it have, and what platforms will it be released on (Apple, Android, etc.)? Do you have someone who will develop the app in house or will you hire an external company? Developing an app can be very expensive, depending on what functionality you want to include in it.

4)     Maintenance: How do you plan to maintain your app once it is released? How will you update the content and test for bugs? An app is never just a simple release into the wild. You will not only need to update content regularly, but also update the app for new software releases for phones and tablets.

You must make sure that your investment in an app is worth it in the long-term. Don’t rush into the flooded app market without a plan, or your app will simply go unnoticed.

Does your SMB currently have an app? Do you think an app would benefit your business? Have your customers mentioned an app to you before? I look forward to reading your opinions on this topic in the comments below.

Should You Use Video in Your Marketing?

Video is one of the most powerful tools we have in our marketing arsenal today to effectively engage and communicate with our targeted audiences.  In fact, according to recent studies, online video is growing exponentially.

With demand growing, so too does your opportunity to reach this audience.

Here are some stats on that growth:

  • 144.1 million viewers watched 14.6 billion videos on YouTube.com (101.2 videos per viewer) in May 2010.
  • According to a comScore study released in February 2011, 82.5% of the U.S. Internet audience viewed a video online.
  • Viewers watched 75% more videos online in December 2010 than December 2008.
  • In a 2010 report from Cisco, 30% of Internet traffic is currently video. By 2013, 90% of Internet traffic will be video.
  • In the same time frame, online video ad spending will swell from $1.97 billion to $5.71 billion.
  • According to comScore Video Metrix, in February 2011 the total U.S. unique video viewers on the Internet was 169,646 with an average of 816.4 minutes per viewer.
  • Roughly 66% of the world’s mobile data traffic will be video by 2014.

With 13 international video awards to our name, I’d like to share with you a few tips on what you might want to consider before deciding if this medium is right for your business.  If you do decide to create a video or video series, that is fantastic, but I can’t express to you how important it is to make sure you hire a professional to work with you.  In addition to first impressions are lasting ones – there are now literally billions of videos on the Internet, a professional video company knows how to make yours stand out from the rest:

  1. Outline your aims and objectives for the video e.g. you hope to introduce your company to potential consumers in Toronto and have them call your office for more information.  Don’t use video for the sake of it.  Always ask ‘why use video?‘ and whether your aims will be better met with other formats.
  2. What type of video will this be?  Do you want to shoot a testimonial video, or will you have the owner or CEO of the company speaking?  Do you want to show your office, staff, interaction, etc.?  Do you want to use a video animation (motion graphics with a voiceover and soundtrack) instead of traditional video?
  3. Make all content relevant. No one will click on a video and watch it unless there’s something important in it that they will gain from watching it. It doesn’t matter how well it’s filmed, scripted or delivered, if it hasn’t got relevant content it won’t get watched. Always put your audience needs first. In fact, according to a study by Visible Measures, 20% of online video viewers click away from a video in the first 10 seconds or less.  So make it relevant quickly.
  4. When you launch the video, engage known clients and then use targeted messaging or pull technology such as RSS.  I’ll say it again, always put your audience needs first. According to recent research, video email messages generate 2-3 times higher click-through rates compared to static emails.
  5. Decide upon the frequency and make sure content is up-to-date. If it is time- sensitive information, make sure you create a critical path, so your video is ready for distribution in time.  Decide on a maximum frequency for sending out videos and stick to it. If you have lots of videos, consider sending them out on a regular basis.
  6. Keep your video short.  All the evidence suggests that the online attention span is short, especially for video.  If people get bored, they will switch it off. We found that between 1 and 2 minutes is best.  If you have a longer video think about breaking it up into bite-sized chunks.
    1. According to a study by Visible Measures, 20% of online video viewers click away from a video in the first 10 seconds or less.
    2. By 30 seconds into an online video, up to 33% of viewers have moved on; after 1 minute, 44% have left (regardless of the clip’s length) and almost 60% have abandoned it by the 2-minute mark.
  7. Script it/structure it. Even if the video is informal and very short, have a script if at all possible. A speaker may be very good delivering live ad hoc talks, but that isn’t necessarily going to work on an online video.  Scripts will keep both the presenter and your video relevant and focused on your stated aims and objectives.
  8. Add tangible pointers to next steps – links to your site, email addresses, and phone numbers of how to get in touch with you.  Always provide easy feedback links!
  9. Measure it. See how many people watched the video. Ask people what they thought of the video.  Ask them via feedback rating stars, online polls or simply by asking them. Look at what works and what doesn’t. Look at what your audience decides to watch rather than what you send them.
  10. Compare your results to your aims and objectives (#1) and adjust your message; don’t rest on your laurels and keep it fresh by trying new approaches and ways of delivering it.

Do you have any video questions I can help you with?  Please share your video questions or share some of your stories of how this medium is working for you.