An App with No WAP Is Crap

last updated 9/9/14 – It’s true.  If your long awaited App for iOS, Android, Blackberry or W7 doesn’t have an associated WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) enabled mobile website, then you more than likely just blew a large chunk of your marketing budget like a freshman at a Jack Daniels chug fest.  Just hope you didn’t get it all over your shoes.

Mobile device applications are creative to say the least, from farts to fantasy girlfriends, to kissing lessons and Trekky tricorders.  There’s an app for that, but for most companies, there’s no WAP for that (brand).

It’s sad really, when you think of all the effort that goes into creating an app that the marketing team would miss the entire point of the execution.  The reason companies build apps for themselves is to increase customer retention and brand awareness and in some weird extended metaphysical blended with mobile technology way, endear the brand to their customer.  That’s a lot to ask a few lines of code to do.

A brands app, or apps, need to be first and foremost relevant to the user as they relate to the brand.  The brand messaging needs to scream from the app but not through branding.  The sheer usability should prove its necessity.  And most important, the customer has to want to raise their hand and ask for more.  But when they do, developers rarely think about extending the hand back to grab it, and the customer slips away into the unknown abyss.  And you as the marketer, will never to have had the fleeting moment of joy capitalized on.

Thus I have coined the equation:

App + (WAP) = Crap

There are already something like 4 times the amount of mobile phones in the world compared to laptops and PC’s.  If this fact alone doesn’t make you respect the smaller screen, think about this.  In many parts of the world, the mobile phone is ones only connection to the world.  It IS their PC.  And if you think this is only for 3rd worlders, think again.  A good proportion of those under the age of 30 use their phones for more web tasks such as banking and checking email.  If that weren’t enough, by the end of this year, mobile wallets will be widely in use making the phone now a pocket sized ATM.  Everyone has one, so why are you forgetting about it?

OK, so what of it.  I have an app and if they want to connect with me they will simply use the app.  Touch©.  But what if the app doesn’t have the information they are looking for?  Where are they going to go?  I would think they would turn to their old friend the mobile browser.  What’s that, you don’t have a mobile version of your website?  And this is what leads me to the (WAP) part of the equation.  If you are not accessible on all screens today, you simply don’t exist to a growing part of your customer base.

If you spent all that money on an app and you didn’t collect a single piece of information about the user, what have you gained?  Actually, the better question is, what measurable gain have you achieved?  Anyone can spend  their ad budget to get their app in the top rank in iTunes or Android Store for a few days using AdMob or inMobi.  But it is the true marketer that can actually prove that the app did more than satisfy the boss’s ego because his other CEO buddies have apps and he didn’t.

This is where having a mobile enabled website comes in.  From the moment someone downloads your app and engages with your brand, you should be thinking what can I do to extend this relationship.   How can I better serve and delight my customer.  I am willing to bet you could do sell more (of anything) if you knew more about your precious customer.  Once they have engaged, and I mean almost immediately, ask them for their help in serving you better.  Ask them to fill out a short survey and leave their information so you can send them a terrific gift.  That can be in the form of a coupon, a free sample or some other promotional item that once again reinforces that your brand is relevant to them.  Heck, give them a choice of what they want from you (works for Kiehl’s).

In this way you are giving your customer a benefit, meanwhile you can also show that your hard work actually did something other than get downloads.  In using your WAP mobile website as your always on, always in your pocket go to site for what they need (assuming you have made it easy to navigate and useful to the customer), your customer will reward you with giving you the feedback to know how to better serve their needs.  Okay say it with me they’ll buy more.

If you still need convincing on why a WAP site is a must, take a look at your server logs.  Chances are good, mobile visits to your website total 3% to 12% of total traffic.  That’s 3% to 12% of the people to your site you are simply driving away because you have neglected the one piece of machinery you yourself cannot live without.  A mobile site is not always as complicated as you might think, in fact most can be done for less than $5,000.00 for a well functioning cross platform compatible site that can mimic the most important customer facing elements of your desktop site.  If you need the mobile redirect code, I will even give it to you here.

The point is, if you are proud of your app, then you should go the full monty and get your WAP in order as well.  While an app is technically always with the user, so is your mobile website.  In fact, most users while they are surfing the web on a mobile browser will rarely stop to open an app, preferring to go to your mobile website instead.  In addition, you can effect changes to your mobile website much easier and faster than you can to an app.  And as if you needed one last push over the proverbial edge, the this one goes to “11” nudge, here it is: your WAP mobile site works on all phones.  Apps only work on some phones.

Please don’t build a crappy app, because that’s just wrong.  And don’t compound your miserable slide into marketing mediocrity by neglecting the unwired.  Apps and WAPs should live in complimentary harmony, not in a struggle for resources.  Collecting and using information users are willing to give you, from any interface, is important to the survival of any company in todays have to be everywhere at all times digital environment.

So here’s an example of an excellent execution of integrating a mobile website and a mobile app.

Build a scaled down version of your website and install mobile redirect script. Chase Banking has a great mobile site (mobilebanking.chase.com) simple and only has navigation that is relevant to a mobile user such as Log On, Branch Finder, FAQ’s and Contact.

Encourage users to engage with you by giving up email or phone and then send relevant messages via email and text. (90%+ of texts get read).  Chase sends out text message alerts and emails simultaneously when my balance drops below a certain amount, or if I get a deposit.  I always read these texts.  They could even put a marketing message or a click to call for an offer in them and I would click on it.

Build an app that users cannot live without.  Once again, the Chase Mobile Banking App gives users the ability to manage their account right from the app on the go.  Check balances, transfer money, make deposits (using my phones camera), and make payments all from the convenience of wherever I am.

Wasting your ad budget is a terrible thing. Don’t forget to chime in at your next what are we going to do in mobile meeting with the formula, an app with no WAP is crap and BE the hero for your customer (and your career).

 

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