Just 22% of the top 50 retailers in the country have an iPad app. Yet the iPad is the fastest-growing consumer computing device on the planet. Why haven’t brands embraced it as quickly as they have the iPhone?
Clearly, brands have been slow to launch apps for this device – and other tablets – for a combination of reasons. Many marketers have already sunk millions into creating iPhone apps and assume these apps will works just fine on the iPad. Sometimes, this strategy works. After all, some apps offer an almost identical experience on the iPhone as the iPad. But to really get maximum marketing impact, brands do need to create iPad-specific apps that take advantage of the tablet’s larger screen and tap into the unique frame of mind of an iPad user.
There are some hurdles to overcome, like where to start, and whether a brand should go with a native app, a web-based app, or a hybrid app? The short answer is that a lot of this depends on the company. But there are some basic best practices to keep in mind when coming up with how to market your business on the iPad. Here are five tips.
1. Content is King, Context is Queen
People are only interested in the things they are interested in. This means marketers should use the iPad to reach target audiences based on their specific interests. The first step is to not create a one-size-fits-all app and then flood app users with tons of irrelevant content. Instead, plan for user segmentation so the content you deliver to individual users appeals to their interests, needs, and wants. It’s the same segmentation methodology brands are using for email marketing, just applied into the iTunes distribution model. Aside from letting users choose what type of content they want to view, always give them ways to revise their selections.
2. Invest in the Right User Experience
You can create fantastic content, but if users have a bad app experience, they won’t continue to launch the app. That’s why it’s critical to invest in UX testing as you develop iPad apps. Take a look at how Flipboard created a great user experience for content aggregation, or how an iPad app like Collarbone displays content and photography.
3. Focus on the Long Term
An iPad app is like a baby: It needs constant care and feeding. You can’t launch it and forget it. Invest in maintenance, content updates, testing, and optimization. The best way to ensure your iPad publishing app gains and maintain users is to create an editorial team much like magazines do. Hire writers, photographers, videographers, editors, and other creative types to constantly focus on it. They can be freelancers or contractors, or in-house, but everyone must meet regular deadlines. And there will always be iOS updates, so ensure you continue to optimize your app in that way as well.
4. Open the Door to Adjacency
Consumers may love your brand, but they also love other brands. Think about other, non-competitive companies also in your category. These partners can help enlarge the audience for your app if you keep them close. iPad publishing apps are a great potential advertising platform for partner brands. For example, if you develop a monthly iPad magazine full of branded content, let adjacent brands advertise within your iPad magazine to generate increased partnerships and/or ad revenue.
5. Get Your App Found
Consumers don’t just stumble upon apps. You know you’ll have to promote your iPad app. The question is how best to do it among your target audience. One of the best ways to promote apps is through links in paid advertising. For example, tag or promote the brand’s iPad app in print, TV, and display ads. But brands can also gain an audience for their app by promoting it through in-store signage and kiosks, search engine marketing, and social media. The North Face experiences a spike in downloads for their Snow Report and Trailhead apps each time they are featured in a print ad.
The iPad may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for marketers. Brands that can win hearts and minds on the tablet will be ready for the major shift away from the laptop and PC that’s sure to happen in the next decade.