Native App or Browser, you ask? Oh, we answer. - Social Media Explorer
Native App or Browser, you ask? Oh, we answer.
Native App or Browser, you ask? Oh, we answer.

With more and more people interacting with the world and brands using their device, many advertisers have been trying to find their way onto the phone. I have been asked countless times by countless brands, both large and small, “Should we have an app?”

Seems like a simple question but to many it is not. So many brands want to be on that phone in a coveted square, preferably on the first screen. Lofty goals but what I always advocate clients to look at: What is the function or value of your “app”. Sometimes it is hard for brands to think about the end user’s goals and try to find ways that the brand’s goals can align with the consumer’s goals. And when a brand comes from a place where both parties’ objectives can be met, they create engagement for their brand with the consumer. Which always begs the question: what does your customer want?

Whats on your phone?

Before we get there, take a minute and look at your phone. What’s on the first screen? Well, here’s a screen shot of mine:

T Parsons Phone Capture

The ones I use most are on the bottom two rows, mostly because I cannot move the ones at the top. Dear Apple, can you help a sister out…please let me move these icons so I can customize my own phone the way I want it…Oh, sorry, I digress…

And my second screen is a compilation of three more folders: Tools, Travel & Food and finally Games. My phone is not packed with apps. I would guess I am in the minority here, however, when you look at your phone, you will see that your applications probably fall into one of three categories: Required Information, Entertainment, or Transactions.

Breaking it down

Required Information

Required information is content that you need to access all the time. It is news, weather, maps, status updates and the like. It’s the stuff you want to keep on top of every day. If you wake up, you will check these apps first. What’s the temperature outside? (WeatherBug, Weather Channel), Who already beat me to a workout? (Facebook, Twitter), Where’s the nearest shot of espresso? (Maps, Waze) And what’s happening in the world? (USA Today, HuffPo, Twitter) You will check these “required information” applications several times a day, sometimes obsessively. Now, I know most brands would like to think that their branded content is “required information”, but 9.99 times out of 10, it is not.


Then, the most written about apps are entertainment based. Angry Birds, Netflix, Hulu, things that can occupy that painful 25 minutes in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. Entertainment on the phone gets a lot of use and coverage. Recently, Oreo developed a branded game with some level of success. The application is fun to play and is implemented within the Kiip Rewards system. If you don’t know about Kiip, you should. They are awesome! Entertainment applications are great for consumers but hard to quantify for most brands. We at SME believe that the marketing function should produce a measurable ROI, so, branded games can be a stretch, but not impossible in terms of implementation.


Finally, there are transactions. Transactions can be anything from logging a workout to depositing a check. Transactions are very focused activities that people will do and enjoy doing on their phone. Transactions are the area of innovation right now. Transactions are not daily things, however, they get on the phone because of their ease factor. I love transaction apps because they have managed to make things so easy for me. Deposit a check with a picture, um, ok! Transactions can be the sweet spot. For example, if you have a loyalty program, you should be allowing your most loyal customers to bank points and redeem on their phone.

Unless you can deliver one of these three types of mobile application experiences, I always recommend that you develop your site to be responsive to be viewed on a mobile browser. Because without these three features, you’re likelihood of getting your icon on any page of someone’s phone is highly diminished. It’s all about knowing what value your brand can deliver to your customer when they are looking at their pocket BFF.

About the Author

Tracey Parsons
Since 1995, Tracey has been developing digital solutions. Currently SME Digital’s lead strategist, she continues to be dedicated to bringing cutting edge, thoughtful and measurable solutions to marketers. With more than 15 years in digital, Tracey not only brings vision, but the tools and strategies to execute against complex next generation concepts. She has worked with some of the world’s most recognized brands to develop and devise cutting-edge social, mobile and digital marketing practices.

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