At TMW we’ve just finished developing a new iPhone app for my client Infiniti Europe called Infiniti in Motion. I’m genuinely excited about this app as it’s quite different to a lot of the branded free apps you see on itunes these days.
A popular approach (particularly within the automotive market) is to design an app around an advergame and hope this has sufficient appeal to generate awareness and engagement with your brand or product. For example, Nissan CubeParty, Audi A4 driving game, Mercedes E Coupe memory game, VW New Polo and VW Golf GTi (another driving game) have all adopted this approach in some shape or form. There’s no denying there’s merit in this approach particularly if it reaches the top of the app charts.
But the slight problem I have with this approach is that it tends to appeal to casual gamers rather than perhaps your core target audience. Admittedly, if it gains enough popularity you will reach some of your audience by default but it does seem a fairly scattergun approach. For the VW Golf GTi launch this wasn’t a problem as they identified their target audience over-indexed heavily with online gaming but for most brands this isn’t the case.
The other challenge with these types of branded apps is that they’re rarely used more than once. According to a Pinch Media Survey which analysed 30 million downloads, only 30% of people who buy from Apple’s App Store use the application the day after downloading it. With free applications it’s even worse, with 95% of people using it no more than once. Hardly a decent return on your investment!
Applying CRM principles
This got me thinking. If we want an app which has a shelf life longer than a day, then we really need to find a way to engage them on an ongoing basis. It also occured to me that the great thing about mobile apps is that they allow consumers to proactively engage with branded content without any personal data ever needing to change hands. That puts mobile apps in a unique position as you can essentially acquire handraisers and build prospect relationships over time to complement your database marketing efforts.
So for Infiniti, the strategic rationale behind this particular app was to extend the prospect nurture programme we already have in place so that enthusiasts, prospects and handraisers could keep in touch with the brand via their handsets. So in the same way one can keep up to date with news and current affairs via the wonderful Guardian app you can do the same with Infiniti in Motion.
Interactive product demonstrations and shopping tools
As well as receiving regular updates the app showcases the entire range, allowing prospects to fully explore each model, from photography, 360° spins and colour selections to in-depth films, interviews and listening to the sound of their V6 engines.
Having explored the range, they have the option of requesting a brochure or test drive, or finding their nearest Infiniti Centre using the iPhone’s GPS technology. All enquiries are fully integrated with Infiniti’s lead management and prospect database.
As I see it, it’s all about giving prospects a choice in the way they wish to interact with the brand. Whereas some prospects may be prepared to hand over their contact details to receive online or offline communications, others may prefer the anonymity and convenience of keeping up-to-date via their iPhone.
If you wish to download it for yourself please do – here is the link on itunes. For the best user experience make sure you have wifi enabled. If you’re aware of other brands which are using mobile apps as a CRM tool to foster closer relationships with prospects or customers, let us know.