These days, marketers can’t really survive without a smartphone, and a smartphone can’t survive without apps. So love ‘em or snub ‘em, apps are the present and foreseeable future of mobile communications.
The challenge is to find the apps that actually are useful for your marketing tasks and for organizing your business life. Many apps are one-trick ponies that don’t solve more than one problem, causing you to thumb through multiple apps to meet your needs. Others may simply be a distraction during your business day, interrupting you with messages, social updates or even well-intentioned but jarring Amber alerts.
As long as an app helps you or your customers work or collaborate more easily and speedily, you should consider it for your phone. Here at Thomson Reuters, for example, we offer a number of apps that support our Tax & Accounting business. They let business executives access accounting data to help them make decisions on-the-go, review client interactions before a meeting, check staff availability remotely, access financial statements and tax returns, carry out payroll activities, and participate in forums, all from a smartphone.
More broadly applicable for marketers are apps that capture interactions at trade shows, using gamification techniques, or those that allow you to survey small groups in real time during a presentation.
In an article last year, Forbes recommended 33 apps and tools for marketing professionals alone, with apps for client relations; brainstorming; website optimization; search engine optimization; audio, video, text and design; social media management; analytics; and office tasks incorporating collaboration, calendars and email.
A few of the favorite apps that I’ve seen catch on in recent years include:
- Dropbox mobile app and Sugarsync: Each of these lets you store, access and share documents, images and videos in the cloud using your smartphone.
- Surveyor: Questionnaires can be created and managed online. Then you can use an iPhone to collect responses. It’s a good tool for use at trade shows and inside retail outlets.
- Analytics Pro: An app that serves up more than 60 different types of reports from your Google Analytics account, with graphs and dashboards.
- Encamp: A tool providing access to your Basecamp project management system through a mobile device, this app enables you to create client accounts, assign projects and manage them via the mobile Web.
Several of these and other apps were summarized in the daily e-newsletter “feed growth!”
A final word of caution: apps are great, but very often—especially among tax and accounting professionals—a laptop is still the most effective way to go. Apps are frequently very helpful on-the-go, but the larger screen, flexibility and power of a laptop computer often are the most important factors in communicating internally or with client. That’s why sales people who are constantly on the run in the field are drawn to apps, while marketers use fewer apps and rely primarily on their computers.
My best advice to marketers is to use apps to simplify your path to an objective, but don’t get caught up in the glitz of having your iPhone screen jammed with apps. If you need a pocketful of apps to achieve what you want to accomplish, you may be complicating your life, rather than simplifying it.