Corporate Eye

How to Build a Successful Branded Mobile App

There are a lot of mobile apps available to consumers, but only a small percentage of those apps become highly popular. However, apps are extremely important to companies and brands because consumers spend a lot of time using them. Research by Nielsen breaks down the average daily mobile activity on Android smartphones as follows:

  • Apps = 56%
  • Emailing and Messaging = 19%
  • Phone = 15%
  • Web browser = 9%
  • Camera = 1%

Now, consider how many people are purchasing new tablet devices such as the iPad. You can bet these consumers are spending even more time using Apps than Android users. Bottom-line, mobile apps are important, but you need to plan ahead to build an app that has a chance for success.

In its recent Consumer 360 Conference, Jonathan Carson (CEO of Telecom at Nielsen) and Heidi Browning of Pandora offered the following tips to help businesses create the types of mobile apps that consumers want and need. Some of those tips include the following:

  • Apps that “give back” are more popular than other types of apps. For example, rewards apps are very popular.
  • The app must be extremely easy to use.
  • The branded experience should be seamless across all devices.
  • The app should be personalized.
  • Provide something useful such as price comparisons or helpful tips.
  • Make sure the app works perfectly.

Once you develop your app, you need to promote it so consumers can find it. If they don’t know it exists, it won’t do them or your company any good. Nielsen’s research states that consumers find branded mobile apps most frequently through:

  • A friend or family member = 28%
  • Searching the app store on their phones = 21%
  • Third party website = 17%
  • Television advertisement = 15%
  • Newspaper, magazine or radio = 13%
  • Apps promoting other apps = 9%
  • Email tips from mobile carrier = 6%
  • Device home page = 5%
  • Carrier home page = 5%
  • Sync software (e.g., iTunes, etc.) = 4%

It’s important to note that the ways that people find branded apps differ significantly from the ways people find non-branded mobile apps. Advertising plays a much larger role in spreading the word about branded mobile apps. For non-branded mobile apps, 45% of people claim to find them through a friend or family member and 58% claim to find them by searching the app store on their phones. Advertising plays a much smaller role in spreading the word about non-branded apps.

Before you develop and launch a mobile app, consider the tips and research provided above and be prepared to create a useful app and to promote it as part of your overall marketing and branding strategy.

Image: Flickr

The following two tabs change content below.
Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.