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The Mobile and App Debate: Where do you apply your strategic energy?

The chase for the shiny new thing….

Digital has continued to create great value and many new opportunities for organizations to consider as they embrace their customers and the use new ways to interact. Organizations want to create a loyal word of mouth constituency.

Ultimately, every organization is in business to grow, represent and generate revenue, authority and credibility.

Most feel the tension to evolve their organizations to match the digital opportunities. Many consultants and companies will advise their clients or those within their network to move forward and do it quickly.

You need an App to survive.

Create an App immediately to encase your customers in all that you offer.

If you don’t some else will.

You need to maximize for mobile, launch an App and focus the remainder of your efforts on moving to all video.

Have you heard one or all of these statements? Most of us have. Hype is interesting and can be very impactful in driving decisions and actions. Generalities can be any organization’s worst nightmare. What works for one doesn’t often work for another. Everything is situational. Something I often talk about in the subject of customer journeys, active listening and audience segmentation.

App VS Mobile Web Credit: Morgan Stanley
App VS Mobile Web
Credit: Morgan Stanley

We all lean towards the shiny new thing whether that be a new model of the car we drive, new clothes that look fresher and more current than the ones we have or a new smart phone even if you don’t ever use the new features offered.

The “need and impulse” to have an App for your organization has become the shiny new thing in the last five years.


A publisher believes it is a live or die proposition to keep their readers within a contained experience.

 A retailer believes its customers will check their store app daily to see new offerings, sales or the like.

 A public organization or cultural institution creates an App and believes its constituencies want to interact in that way and come back often.

In reality most Apps can be considered “open once”. The “open once” occurs when, via marketing and buzz, an organization has enticed its customers to download and install the app on their device. They open and they explore. More likely than not, they don’t open the App again. It remains on their device, they may catch a push notification or two but it remains closed.


AM Mobile and App Traffic
AM Mobile and App Traffic

Hey, we are all busy people who are living in snippets and sound bites and we are become highly task driven to knock items off our to do list as quickly as possible.

How often are you texting opposed to picking up the phone to talk? Texting is quick, puts out a question or comment that you need without the commitment. A phone call is a contained experience where perhaps these days you feel trapped by the conversational ice breaking, discussion about the weather and families all before you get to the short and targeted exchange you need to have. You like to talk to people but you simply don’t have that kind of time anymore.

As such, contained experiences are losing most of their allure and mobile is taking over.

PM Mobile and App Traffic
PM Mobile and App Traffic

I have always promoted an assessment and discovery phase to understand the target audiences, how and why they want to consume content, services or products from a particular organization.

This exercise is important to understand real need and desire for certain types of experiences (contained or otherwise), engagement and interaction. Understanding leads to clear and well formed decision making as to whether an App, video or some other “screen” or “content form” is appropriate and can produce the desired results.

Creating Relevance?

All organizations need to create relevance and resonate with their current or prospective customers.

All that said, it was refreshing this week to see the just released Morgan Stanley Report that demonstrated that mobile traffic in the US market is two times larger than traffic to and within Apps. Morgan Stanley measured by unique visitors.  There are contradictory studies out there that show different results, however,  I believe the Morgan Stanley Report demystifies and brings a reality check to the hype.

Less Time with Mobile Devices
EMarketer Research Results: Less Time with Mobile

Apps are still being used, of course. Does the results say you shouldn’t do an App? No, mobile apps are still an opportunity to create a container and immerse a user in the experience. A game app or similar as an example.

What it does prove is that you need to focus on your mobile experience and understand who you are and what you offer in the customer’s opinion. The mass adoption of smart phones with all information available at a few swipes or keystokes while in an elevator, secretly in a meeting, or walking to a store is becoming critical to time strapped people. Convenience is king.

An article on Venture Beat does a terrific job of bringing forth the Morgan Stanley Report contrasted with ComScore findings and others. Take a few moments to read if you have the time.


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