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Six Features Marketers Should Consider When Evaluating a Mobile App

by Gregory Kennedy  |  
July 18, 2013

Every marketer tries to take a data-driven approach to his or her marketing efforts. To do this effectively, a significant investment must be made in tools and platforms that provide fast access to the right business data.

In 2013, many CMOs are in the process of selecting a platform for their mobile app marketing. Recent research shows that more than 57% of marketers say they plan to invest in mobile apps this year.†That decision is a critical one because the platforms adopted in this early stage can make or break a business. The ideal platform will provide a solid foundation and scale as your business scales.

Why Is This Decision Critical for Apps?

Most digital marketers are very familiar with PC Web development. HTML browsers provided an easy-to-adjust, open development environment. JavaScript tags can be swapped in and out with ease. Once a change is made to your website, it is live. Itís a forgiving, low-risk environment where the testing of new ideas and platforms is relatively easy.

The app space is very different because the app development cycle requires a disciplined software development approach. All changes to an app, even small ones, need to be included in the standard product release cycle. You canít easily swap tags in and out. On iOS, the app needs to be resubmitted to the app store for approval with each new version. That creates significant friction to making changes, and testing new platforms and ideas suddenly becomes high risk. One mistake or bug can tank the entire app.

In addition to paying extra attention to design and the app update cycle, a CMOs decision in the right app marketing platform is critical. Once the platform is established, it will be difficult to move that data to a new system. This means app marketing platforms need to be massively scalable, flexible and future proof.

Beyond Analytics

Traditionally, marketers used an analytics platform to view overall trends to understand if their PC marketing efforts were having an impact. Some systems measured more deeply than others, but overall, it was an imperfect science at best. Web browser cookies are inaccurate and CTR (click-through rate) is easily manipulated and a poor proxy for measuring marketing ROI.

In the app environment, marketing measurement is already very sophisticated and highly accurate. It is possible to go beyond CTR and measure campaign performance down to each individual purchase. For app marketers, this means that with the right technology in place, you can measure and optimize campaigns directly to ROI.

A Vertically Integrated Solution That Meets Your Needs

The current landscape is complex, confusing, and fragmented. That is normal for early stage technology. Lots of small vendors crop up, each offering solutions that solve one or two challenges. Some gain traction and get adoption, but over time significant consolidation will occur.

In the e-commerce space, this process took almost 10 years. In the early days of ecommerce, a new e-tailer had to evaluate and buy hardware, an operating system for the hardware, a data center to host the equipment, a middleware layer, and a variety of other services. Today, almost no one assembles their own core infrastructure system. Platforms like Amazon Web Services have completely commoditized that piece. Companies can get up and running with a basic e-commerce system in a matter of days or, in some cases, hours.

CMOs should look for an app marketing platform that provides some level of vertical integration. The more holistic and integrated the offering, the better. For example, retailers can use just one vendor who offers conversion tracking, analytics, retargeting, and the ability to pass data to any other third party. The alternative approach is putting together various pieces of technology in an ad-hoc fashion. While itís possible to get this to work, it means your solution will be non-standard and expensive to maintain and upgrade. You will also need an internal resource with the expertise required to make all of the various technologies work together.

6 Features to Consider When Evaluation a Mobile App

The different features to consider are...

1. Full app ecosystem support
Look for platforms that provide support for major mobile publishers, conversion tracking systems, and other third-party applications.

2. Multichannel mobile app measurement and analytics
Look for a conversion-tracking and measurement system that can support use cases beyond paid channels, such as email, mobile Web and social.

3. Sophisticated campaign management tools
Tools to manage campaigns and understand ROI by channel, creative, country, and platform are a key differentiator from traditional analytics.

4. Mobile app marketing automation
Seek out a platform that focuses on automation and simplicity. Avoid systems that require you to manage a complicated group of settings.

5. Easy integration with existing business intelligence systems
Plugins or APIs that help facilitate integration with other key systems will increase efficiency.

6. Secure customer data organization and storage
Be sure to have confidence in the SaaS platform providerís ability to manage a secure and scalable data storage facility.

As the complexity of marketing increases, the CMOs who make the right investments in scalable platforms early will have a significant advantage over competitors who donít. Putting the right system in place, that not only collects and stores data but makes it actionable for your team, is the key to success.

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Gregory Kennedy is the vice president of marketing at TapSense. He has over a decade of experience in digital media as a former UI designer and creative director.

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