You’ve probably witnessed this yourself: Men and women clutching their mobile phones, staring at their screens, and walking the aisles of a local store or the paths of a nearby park with a look of total determination on their faces.
You know the mobile app that causes this kind of behavior: PokemonGo.
I’m certain that small business owners everywhere are envious of the level of dedication this mobile game app is achieving among its users. “If only the app for my business got this kind of use,” they are probably muttering to themselves.
Honestly, phenomena like PokemonGo don’t happen very often, so it’s not reasonable to expect that kind of usage for your small business app. However, the astute observer will have noticed that the worlds of mobile gaming and mobile marketing increasingly share objectives and strategies, so smart small business owners will keep an eye on mobile gaming developments and adopt them for their own benefit.
- Gamification. Here’s the most obvious crossover between your desire to promote your small business via an app and the mobile gaming industry. The owner of a restaurant specializing in exotically flavored and seasoned French Fries, for example, created a game app where players mix and match ingredients to (hopefully) unlock 50 different characters. Players can earn free fries and t-shirts. And this brings us to one of the basic concepts where your mobile marketing can leverage the same human factors as mobile games do.
- Rewards. Ultimately, people play games on their mobile devices to experience the fulfillment of receiving some kind of reward or prize. This is the same human factor built into reward programs. Some companies are powerfully leveraging this to increase sales and customer loyalty. Starbucks, to name one major player, has enjoyed tremendous success with its app.
- Countdown clock. Mobile gaming apps often use the element of time to increase enthusiasm. When users see the time ticking down, their intensity heightens. While your mobile app won’t have a timer counting down the seconds to your customer’s next reward, you should have a system that alerts them when they are getting close to a milestone. (How close are you to Gold Status in your Starbucks app?) You can build this feature into the app itself and also use it in your email marketing. Do some A/B testing to determine the best timing for your alerts.
- Media exposure. Despite what you read, straight mobile marketing does have some limitations…and no one would understand this better than experienced developers of mobile gaming apps, like LeoVegas Mobile Gaming Group. The company specializes in casino-based games and has received a number of awards, including the 2016 EGR award for its mobile marketing campaign.
But to fuel the company’s growth, LeoVegas has ventured beyond all the familiar online marketing and advertising strategies and created a clever television commercial that ran on both satellite and terrestrial television in the United Kingdom. This strategy recognizes the fact that if you want to grow your “pool” of users, sometimes you have to venture outside of the “pool” to reach prospects who would be otherwise unaware that you even exist.
- Ease of use. If a mobile game isn’t intuitive and easy to use, it has no chance of making it in the marketplace. Game playing needs to be easy even for the average klutz. And if you look at the popular game apps, you’ll see that their graphics are big enough that despite the small screen size of most mobile phones, players don’t have any trouble “seeing what they are doing.”
If you try to do too much with your small business app, you’re likely to create more mobile confusion than mobile marketing and your app will soon be either ignored or uninstalled. If you hire a developer to create your app, when you’re going through design review ask yourself, “Would this screen and navigation be simple and clean enough for a mobile game?”
Finally, if you’re too unfamiliar with mobile gaming to answer that question, I have a homework assignment for you: Install PokemonGo and a few other mobile games on your smartphone and get a good feel for them. However, remember that you’re doing this strictly as research to help you with your own mobile app and mobile marketing…