By Christine Dunn published March 12, 2012

Mobile App Content Standards on Rise with Smartphone Adoption

The adoption of smartphones continues to accelerate, with more than 100 million Americans currently using the mobile devices, a recent survey by comScore Inc. found. While many marketers already accept that mobile applications need to be part of an integrated content marketing strategy, they may not realize consumers are raising the bar, expecting a higher level of engagement and a richer experience from brands leveraging mobile apps.

“In the United States at this time, more than 40 percent of all existing mobile phones in use are smartphones, and over 50 percent of all recently acquired mobile phones are smartphones, moving towards the eventual majority,” according to Eli Goodman, a spokesman for comScore. “Mobile internet usage is directly correlated to smartphone adoption, so a mobile specific strategy is a must as a function of your broader marketing mix.”

Mobile apps are one of the first lines of engagement for marketers looking to interact with consumers. The comScore survey of more than 30,000 U.S. mobile subscribers found that almost half of respondents used downloaded applications and accessed browsers from their phones during the three months ended in January, an increase of about 5 percentage points compared with the three-month period ended in October 2011. Accessing of social networking sites or blogs increased by 3.4 percentage points to 35.7 percent of mobile subscribers, comScore said.

Google Android ranked as the top smartphone platform with 48.6 percent of the market. Apple held 29.5 percent market share and RIM ranked third with 15.2 percent share, comScore said.

Elements of a Mobile Strategy

To meet demand for mobile engagement, comScore’s Goodman said companies should consider the following strategies:

1.  Create a Mobile Optimized site. While there is significant growth in mobile app usage, a significant amount of mobile internet browsing is still being done via the mobile browser, and nothing will cause greater mobile visitor consternation than being presented with the standard website when navigating with a mobile phone.

2.  Determine if creating a mobile app is right for your business at this time, and if so, choose the platform carefully.  Mobile app development requires serious investment and support, so it isn’t as easy as just throwing together some programming hours to make it happen.  Furthermore, iPhone and Android phones make up more than 75 percent of the smartphone market, so focus app development efforts on the platforms with the greatest reach if time and money are a concern.

3.  Develop mobile-specific search and display strategies to maximize any mobile advertising campaigns.  If you are working on search campaigns, anything lower than the top 2 positions is not worth your time.  Display ads must be geared towards a mobile audience with appropriate copy and optimization (for example, HTML5 offers programmers a variety of options as it relates to creating more effective mobile display ads).

4.  Remember that smartphones and tablets are not created equal.  Both devices are increasingly being used for browsing on-the-go, but can differ greatly in both demographics and actual usage behaviors.  The website delivered to a smartphone user (mobile optimized) should be different than the one provided to an iPad user (standard web) since the user experience and purpose for surfing the web on an iPad is much more similar to that of a desktop surfer than it is a smartphone surfer.

Don’t Forget the Traditional Website

Importantly, companies should remember that the implementation of mobile apps should not preclude them from continuing to invest in their traditional websites.

In fact, companies should continue to invest resources in their standard websites because demand for them is not slowing, Goodman said.

Mobile internet usage only makes up about 8 percent of all time spent online in the U.S. at this time. And while that percentage is rising, “the entire internet usage pie is growing, Goodman said.

“So even though more internet usage will increasingly come from mobile devices, the ceiling of how much time we spend online, especially with the tablet/desktop internet user experience being so related, will not cause a diminishing need for classic websites,” he said.

Image via Shutterstock.

Author: Christine Dunn

Christine Dunn has almost two decades of experience writing about finance and business issues. As founder and president of Savoir Media, she works with companies and executives on developing strategic, integrated media and marketing programs. Prior to starting her award-winning company, she worked at Bloomberg News, where she served as Boston Bureau Chief and ran industry coverage for several national teams of reporters, including consumer/retail, mutual funds and education. She also authors "Dollar for Dollar," the personal finance blog on The Boston Globe's website. Follow her on Facebook or on Twitter @ChristineODunn.

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