This article originally appeared in the October 2010 edition on the Marketing GPS Newsletter.
Just back from my latest visit to DC Trade Associations—thanks to everyone who hosted me!—I’ve been asked what I think was the biggest buzz of the trip. The answer: Mobile, particularly Mobile Apps. Only eight months ago, the buzz was all about leveraging social media (and the blizzard). Now, it’s mobile technologies.
Mobile is Getting Around
Social media, and new ways to harness it, continue to be huge topics. But mobile has eclipsed it at the organizations I visited, for several reasons: it’s a new and trendy topic; it’s now the single most common way to get online ; and it’s a very promising gateway to customers and desirable prospects.
Consider these points:
smartphones are expected to exceed PC sales in a matter of months ;
mobile users now exceed one billion worldwide;
by June 2010 mobile app downloads, as well as revenue of all major app stores, surpassedcumulative totals achieved during all the twelve months of 2009 ; and
mobile app revenue for 2010, is set to reach almost US $5 billion  (nearly triple the 2009 figure).
Mobile Apps Rule?
Though mobile marketing includes great ideas such as mobile-optimized websites, barcode and SMS-text marketing, the topic of greatest interest is app development. While other mobile-marketing strategies extend existing technologies onto mobile platforms, apps open up a new frontier: self-contained, branded experiences on handheld computers. A growing number of iPhone and Droid users spend much of their online time using apps. In response, more and more organizations—including a rapidly growing percentage of Fortune 500 companies—are branding this new territory, repackaging their logos into the growing number of mobile marketplaces as if setting up trading posts during an 1800s land rush.
Deploying a mobile app isn’t like setting up a brochureware website in the 1990s. Touchscreens add a new dimension to marketing by enabling users to interact directly with whatever is displayed. And with the subtle barriers of keyboard, mouse and stylus removed, apps can be more effective than other media in conveying a message. Why?
Apps can easily qualify the user, without asking for keystrokes or voice recognition, and then adapt sales pitches accordingly.
Apps can be located in places that facilitate calls to action, e.g., the point of sale.
Apps can easily tie into parallel marketing efforts such as printed coupons, social properties, loyalty programs and anything else that accepts digital data.
Apps can collect prospect data and provide detailed reports.
Apps tend to be more engaging than other channels due to up-to-date, value-added content and a wide variety of formats.
Apps can facilitate referrals—an engaged user can instantly tweet your message point to all her followers.
Apps provide highly quantifiable result data. 
Mobile apps are really a marketer’s dream: a self-contained, branded experience that is sought-out by consumers and provides interaction as well as personalization. And as Bob Musa, President of Computer Presentation Systems, Inc. asks, “in what other media does the ad itself survey its own effectiveness?” That’s one of many good points to ponder, as we examine the potential of new mobile technologies.
Frommer, Dan, “Chart of the Day: Smartphone Sales to Beat PC Sales By 2011”, Business Insider, August 21, 2009 as quoted by Jeremy Lockhorn, “Seven Signs of the Desktop Web Apocalypse” ClickZ, February 9, 2010, http://www.clickz.com/clickz/column/1704687/seven-signs-desktop-web-apocalypse
Jahns, Ralf Gordon, “Six Major Trends Shaping the Smartphone App Ecosystem in 2010, Research2Guidance, October 4, 2010 http://www.research2guidance.com/6-major-trends-shaping-the-smartphone-app-ecosystem-in-2010/
Michael is responsible for client SEO work, reporting, FB ads, and web hosting. Prior to joining NSI Partners, Michael received his Bachelor of Science in Business Management Information Systems from Liberty University, and worked at the school’s Network Operations Center. Michael resides in Lynchburg, VA, with his wife, Megan. His hobbies include gaming, watching Atlanta Falcons football, and reading.
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