Mobile Search Apps & Opportunities

October 5, 2009
By Lisa Barone in Internet Marketing Conferences

Aannd we’re back.  I hope you’re good. I just ran into the local search gods. It was pretty exciting. They’re kind of a big deal. Now I’m giddy.

Okay, it’s time to get all mobile-friendly and mobile-app’d.   Here with us we have moderator Greg Sterling and speakers Scott Dunlap, Michael Martin, Rachel Pasqua and Matt Siltala. I’m all out of apple juice which means my conference cough is back. It also means I’m officially threatening speakers.  The people sitting next to me adore me. I assure you.

Up first is Rachel Pasqua.

For many brands, apps are becoming indispensable to their digital strategy.  If you take a stroll through the app store, you’ll see apps from all your favorites. Digital marketers are even getting into the mix — iCrossing has their own search app for free in the app store.  /plug

A findable, sticky app can create considerable traffic.  Zagat is the 77th most downloaded app out of 75,00o.  MLB has 400k users at $9.99 download (not to mention an extra $99 per game download).   She notes that most free apps have a shelf life of about 30 days. After which, they’re either deleted or just not used.  According to Rachel, it costs $50-$150K to build an iPhone app (for serious or did I hear that wrong? Let me know.). Yowza.

We’re going to look at one user’s behavior with apps: Rachel’s.  Rachel’s iPhone goes everywhere with her. It’s her calender, her video camera, her browser, her mic, her map, and her phone.  She makes all purchase decisions for her family (she’s a wife and mommy). Basically, if you’re a marketer, you probably want to reach her.  Her iPhone is a great place to start but most branded apps she’s tried are disappointing.  She has about 10 apps that she uses on a regular basis.

Apps she deleted quickly:

  • Target Gift Finder: Lacked the essential functionality she needed. She couldn’t search by keyword. Couldn’t check local availability. Wasn’t offered deals or coupons. Couldn’t save to wishlist. Click “buy” took her to the desktop site.
  • Taco Bell: She used it once and then deleted it.  There was no option to place order. No special offers. No link to the GPS store locator app they already have.
  • LL Bean Moosentration: No strong connection to the LL Bean brand beyond logo. No links to or awareness of LL Bean merchandise whatsoever. A game that has no strong connection to the brand is a missed opportunity.

Apps she kept:

  • Uses it several times a week. Intuitive design, easy to access search, easy to access wishlists, very easy to personalize, tied to her online account.
  • Zyrtec: Uses daily in allergy season (the app detects pollen counts in your area). Offers quick and easy access to important, geotargeted into. High level of customization. Subtly introduced special offers for Zytrec products.
  • Whole Foods: Drives her to purchase.

Some nonbranded Apps

  • iDomain: Free. Enables users to check domain names for availability, get whois info.
  • Colorado Parks: You can use your GPS or compass to record your hikes to use them later or share with others.
  • Car Car: Allows drivers to track mileage and receive maintenance reminders for multiple vehicles.  It concentrates on usability and provides a reason for people to keep it on their desktop and open it on a regular basis.

Three Tips for Creating Sticky Apps

  • Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses: Don’t assume that you need an app just because your competitor has one. Make sure you have a smartphone audience. Carefully examine your demographic and site analytics.
  • If you’re thinking “how can I use the GPS AND the accelerometer” – STOP. Put users experience and strategy first. Technology last.
  • Do learn from the apps you yourself enjoy.

Up next is Michael Martin. He’s going to talk about the Google Android.  Ew.

He starts off talking about the NY sports teams. He doesn’t like them, but he respect them. He feels the same way about Apple and the iPhone. He doesn’t like them but respects them. He doesn’t like the walled garden, which is why he’s talking about the Android.  I can get behind that.

Android is a software stack for mobile devices that includes an operating system, middleware and key applications.  It’s openly and freely distributed.  It can be programmed in Java AND C/C++ components. It can be coded on Windows, Mac & Linux Operating Systems.  You can run Flash on updated versions, multiple applications, onscreen widgets, etc.

Why should you think about Android?

The new Android apps are accelerating by more than 50 percent month over month. There are approximately 15,000 apps in the Android market and 64 percent of them are free. By 2010, an Android phone will be on every US carrier and most globally. The Android phone goes better with the Donut. Mmm, donuts. Where are there donuts?

Michael’s showing slides of the Googleplex with a giant donut, cupcake and an Android sitting in front of it. Is there really a giant donut in front of the Googleplex right now? Because…I will so storm that building.

Benefits of the Android Market

  • There’s only a $25 one-time registration fee to submit unlimited applications.
  • There’s no submission process.
  • There’s a 24 Hour Buy & Try Return Policy
  • Donut puts the Android marketing interface on pair with the App store
  • Paid Apps put on the forefront and sectionalized
  • Soon to add PayPal, Credit Cards and direct carrier billing with Google Checkout
  • Listed in order of User Rating
  • Users regulate apps NOT Google
  • Google Voice: There’s an app for that!

There are Android applications for Facebook, Pandora, Skype, Qik, Ustream, MTA, Twidroid.

Aw, Michael ends his presentation by thanking the livebloggers. You’re welcome, Michael.

Next up is Scott Dunlap.

The Android is the better programming platform, but there’s very little point of addressing anything but the iPhone market today.  NearbyNow focuses on helping you find products “near” you. [GET IT?!]  They’re about measuring conversion.  They want to help you find the products you like in magazines and show you where they’re located near you.

  • 17 Magazine App: You can find a pair of jeans and then email them to a friend, Find it Online or Find it Near Me.
  • Runner’s World app: The videos they put out get watched by 75 percent of the audience. Runner’s World put out videos on how to tie your show, how do you run, etc? People go through every single one and can’t get enough of the video content.
  • Lucky Magazine: Shows the Deal of the Day. People can take products from the magazine and categorize them or search by color/brand/etc.   They’re also putting in sponsored channels.  Lucky Magazine has one for Target.

The magazine is the original mobile media.  You took it with you and found things you wanted.  Being able to take magazines onto mobile is pretty cool.  Every iPhone app they’ve launched has found its way into monetization.  If you can help people find what they want, you convert the purchase.

Awesome presentation. These folks are rocking it.

Next up is Matt Siltala.

There is a way for small business owners to make money through the Yelp app.  Why? Because Yelp is growing at about 80 percent a year, with 25 million visitors in August.  They offer a bunch of analytics tools and they’re talking to business owners.  Yelp rocks.

Yelp is much more than just food reviews.  He asked Yelpers how often they look up info that  WASN’T food related and they said they “all the time!”. They use it for traveling. They have the mobile app.  They use it for pet stores, hotels, nail salons, etc.

Matt takes us on his trip to Ventura Beach using Yelp.

Matt lives in Arizona, but you can search wherever you want on Yelp via the search bar at the bottom. Once you’re there, just put in the location you’re headed and what you want.  He types in Ventura, CA (w00t, I spent 2 years there) and pulls up a listing for Just BBQ.  You get images. The number of reviews.  It pulls up all the information recorded for that listing. Matt smartly notes that this is why YOU should be creating your profiles yourself, even if you personally don’t use iPhone apps.  Your customers do. If you let someone else put the wrong address or phone number into your listing, then someone won’t be able to find you when they search for you.  Make sure you’re completing your listings.  There. Rant finished.

The iPhone makes it super easy to add pictures and help share the “real” experience that you had. More people need to take advantage of pictures because they help sell the place.    Many of the local citations your business will get will come from places like Yelp.  They allow you to dominate local through citations.

You can’t just get a Google Local listing any more and call it good for local search marketing.  You need to get out there.  You can also use Yelp for reputation and branding.  You get to pick your favorite review to show up top under a Sponsored Section.  He’s seen the search engines rank the first review in the SERPs.

Monitor Your Brand

You can now post responses to negative reviews on Yelp. If you are worried about negative reviews, you need to learn to take the good with the bad. Take negative reviews as learning tools. How can I make things better? Monitor to offer second chances and make things better.  Engage with your customers and let them know you are listening. This is not going away. Act, don’t react.

He’s even see Yelp listings ranking higher than a business owner’s actual Web site.

How Do You Do This?

  • Unlock your listing on Yelp: Unlocking your listing ensures that it shows up in the results when people use their iPhone’s browser.
  • Optimize your page: Add your own photos, include business information, etc
  • Don’t get Addicted: Don’t make people take photos of their food before they eat it. Heh.

[Our post on Why Yelp Is Awesome may also be of interest after all Matt’s gushing.]

Final Words:

  • Scott: Apps is a grand place to experiment but track conversions or you’ll lose money.
  • Rachel: Don’t be seduced into doing an app just because one of your competitors is doing one. Think about your users first and their goals
  • Michael: Getting pizza is the best app right now. It converts the best.
  • Matt: Make it as simple as possible.

And it’s time for lunch.  This session rocked.

Content Strategy
Content Strategy

What Do You Love About Your Favorite Bloggers?

on Jul 26 by Lisa Barone

As I’ve alluded to in the past, I get a lot of email. With my email address located directly on…


Getting to Know Your Bots: Robots.txt 101

on Apr 23 by Rhea Drysdale

It’s Monday and that means it’s time to get fired up about the week. What better way to kick things…

Online Marketing
Online Marketing

10 Books To Read (or Re-Read) This Summer

on Jun 8 by Lisa Barone

The crappy thing about being laid up is that you miss awesome search conferences. The silver lining is that you…

^Back to Top