The paradigm of thought leadership is changing for both – marketers as well as content consumers. The emerging realities pose new challenges as well as opportunities for brands to effectively connect with their customers. In this entire shift, mobile apps are becoming a great tool for marketers to meet their objectives as well as help customers in achieving their goals.
Through this blog, I wish to highlight the entire journey that has been a part of this move and help you understand how mobile apps come to marketers’ rescue.
For marketers, the objectives of thought leadership are shifting. Marketers are not anymore tracking the direct leads generated from their thought leadership initiatives. Rather, their objective now is to build long term relationships, establish their brand as a trusted source of information and opinion in the industry, and help customers in achieving their career goals.
For customers, on the other hand, the shift is in the way they demand to remain connected while on the go. Research has shown some drastic changes on how content is consumed today. Some of these include:
- When it comes to consuming content, there’s been a decline in the brand loyalty for customers.
- Customers use their smartphones and tablets more than their desktops to search and consume relevant content
- A preferred choice of content channel is video.
How can mobile apps help connect customers with your thought leadership content?
Mobile apps can act as a great tool for you to build a long-term relationship with your customers and confirm you as a thought leader. Some of the reasons why you and your customers will love your thought leadership app are:
- Your app will essentially help your customers address their “I need to know…” moments. This is when your audience, who could be a customer; prospect; employee; industry veteran; investor; or anyone with interest in your industry, is looking for just-in-time information. She is probably on the go and is in a lean forward or attentive state of mind. She needs quick results. In most cases, she will rely on her mobile browser-based search engines, which fetch her multiple sources to look for information. Your app can effectively fulfill this moment by helping her get what she needs – in the easiest possible manner. Your brand, relevant content, easy discovery, and appropriate categorization will together make your customer return to your app for their ‘I need to know…’ moments.
- Your thought leadership app will fulfill your customer’s need to stay ahead of the curve. This is the need for which your audience typically relies on previously subscribed content sources. She is probably in a lean backward or relaxed state of time to consume long form content. Use your app to recommend the content based on her reading history and preferences. Use the app messaging to inform her when there is a new artifact available that she might be interested in. Your app will provide a regular and personalized dose of content that your customers need to stay ahead of the curve.
- Your thought leadership app can help reduce the dependence on search engines for your customer. As you will provide relevant and updated content via your app, it can act as the single place for all relevant content discovery. Mobile apps offer convenience – using custom tools, you can allow them to find content easily and share it too for better collaboration. Text, videos, and image-based content – there’s a plethora of content choices that you can offer.
- Research shows that out of the total time spent on smartphones, an average user spends 89% of the time on mobile apps and about 11% on mobile websites. Clearly, the app user’s loyalty to the brand is much higher. Also, visitors on your mobile website may not necessarily be your customers – they may have arrived there via the search function. However, users that have downloaded your app are essentially customers that have previously interacted with your brand and would want to continue this relationship. This in itself puts them in a better position as compared to random visitors. Your thought leadership app can nurture this relationship further.
Effective engagement strategies for deriving the best of your thought leadership app
To ensure that your thought leadership app can generate the desired results, you’ve got to deploy efficient strategies. Just like all marketing channels require proficient tactics, content marketing via thought leadership too needs competent approaches to get it going for you.
Below are a few of the handy ones to set the tone:
Recommendations and in-app messaging: Use your app to recommend the content based on your customer’s reading history and preference. Use the in-app messaging feature to keep her updated on all latest additions.
Social media – Social platforms help promote content in real time. Make the most of these channels to announce the recent publications from your thought leadership repertoire, and keep your customers informed even when they least expect. Social platforms can act as direct channels connecting you and your customers.
Intuitive Content discovery: Your app should make the content discovery process easy and intuitive for your audience; Search is one of the most widely used features in thought leadership apps. Design the entire search workflow in a way that a user can easily find the relevant artifacts. Further, to enable her to effortlessly use the search function, incorporate features such as auto complete. In addition, you can make the journey comfortable by allowing her to find ‘Recently Viewed’ content, and even let her ‘Bookmark’ or set specific content as her ‘Favorite’.
Reward your customers for using your app: Everyone loves rewards – no matter in what form they come, rewards are always appreciated. Your offerings may include access to premium content, discounts to recent events, entry to restricted events, and so on. This will ensure your customers have more reasons to use your app and stay connected.
Promote your events through your app: Events are an excellent way to engage your customers. Use your mobile app to publish and promote your events. This will be a very effective way for you to gather nominations for your events. Your app can help in acquiring registrations, sending reminders, and sharing communication around an event. Many enterprises are using mobile apps to live stream their events – a great way to engage people who could not physically attend the event.
Video content for your audience:Research reveals that 59% executives prefer to watch videos than reading content. And, mobile is the preferred channel to consume video content. Therefore, include video playback capabilities in your app. You should consider possibilities of including VOD (video on demand) as well as live streaming features in your mobile app.
Important Tips for marketers to build effective thought leadership apps
While you decide to go for mobile apps to establish yourself as a thought leader in the industry, do keep in mind the following:
- Make use of existing tech ecosystem rather than creating silos for the mobile solution. Leverage your existing content management systems to fetch data into your mobile apps. Most evolved CMS environments allow integration with mobile apps, thus ensuring a single source of content for all your channels – web and mobile.
- Invest in creating apps that offer good user experience. Design an immersive and intuitive user experience for your mobile apps. Follow a user-centric design approach and ensure that all design and flow decisions are guided by keeping the user in mind. In case, you also have a web application serving the same content, ensure your consumers have a seamless and continued experience when they move from one channel to the other. Remember, the user experience can alone decide the fate of a mobile app.
- Don’t leave tech stack decisions for the end. Choose the right technology stack for building your mobile apps upfront. You can decide between native, cross-platform, and hybrid development approaches. You can take an appropriate decision keeping in mind several factors such as technical expertise of your team, cost, design, app performance, device specific features, and others. Also, identify the third party libraries and SDKs that you can leverage to achieve features like Push Notifications, Analytics, Recommendations, Payments, Chat, Video streaming, etc. It is important to take these decisions right at the beginning of the app development process. If you don’t have in-house resources, consult a partner that can guide you.
- Don’t rely on monkey testing. Make sure you have defined the entire test strategy for testing your mobile app. Mobile, unlike the Web, has many edge cases that should be identified and tested before it goes live. Identify and document all test cases, and run testing cycles on multiple pre-defined devices across multiple platforms to provide maximum coverage.
- Don’t leave App downloads to chance: Rather, come up with a plan for promoting your mobile app. Endorse it in all of your marketing collaterals and ensure that it is optimized in the app stores. You can also think of paid search ads and in-store advertising.
- Choose the right partner. Choose the right team with skills in mobile app user experience, mobile technologies, third party mobile ecosystem and mobile testing. If you don’t have the skills in-house go for a partner that can help you define, design, and develop your thought leadership mobile app solution.
By avoiding the challenges and effectively using the above-mentioned engagement strategies, you can create thought leadership apps that will help establish you as an industry leader. To summarize, mobile is changing the way you can connect with your customers, and apps simply reiterate this. By providing your customers with relevant, personalized, and just-in-time content, you can connect with them like never before. Your brand’s thought leadership mobile app can go a long way in establishing the brand as a trusted partner for your customers.