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Consumers spend over half of their digital media time with mobile apps. Though customers appear to shop for and buy phones based more on price and brand, that doesn’t mean OEMs should exclude apps from their device marketing.

In this blog post and companion podcast, Matt Collins, Global Director of Applications and Partner Marketing at MEF Member Microsoft, explains how handset manufacturers and retailers can leverage apps to sell more phones and tablets.

Less than a year ago, I gave a “Mobile Marketing 101” speech to a hotel ballroom full of partner marketers. At that time, I wondered aloud if the mobile web or mobile apps would win the competition for on-the-go consumers.

In a matter of months, apps have surged to the lead. According to comScore, we spend 51 percent of our time with digital media in apps. Not just in smartphones, but in apps. Considering the built-in discoverability and cross-device functionality advantages that mobile websites enjoy over apps, that’s a stunning outcome.


[soundcloud url=”” params=”color=00aabb&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]Listen to a more detailed Q&A with Matt in the MEF Minute Podcast

Yet, a funny thing happens when evaluating the purchase drivers that motivate consumers to buy their phones. Microsoft research suggests that when asked “Why did you buy your smartphone?” customers say that apps are a relatively weak reason to buy any smartphone. Instead, they tend to say things like price and brand make the difference. A good, old-fashioned product demo in-store, done well, remains a key element to closing a sale.

We believe that buyers do not talk about apps as a purchase motivator for the same reason they wouldn’t talk about a “sturdy steering wheel” or “four working tires” as driver to buy a new car. Customers have come to expect these things.

Does that mean that retailers and operators should subordinate apps in favor of a price and brand story?

“Weaving apps into your sales and marketing mix is an opportunity to engage consumers on the very element of smartphone ownership that occupies more of their time than anything else.”

Absolutely not. Weaving apps into your sales and marketing mix is an opportunity to engage consumers on the very element of smartphone ownership that occupies more of their time than anything else.

For example, at Microsoft we know that many Lumia customers are drawn to the phone’s world class camera. They like the idea of creating photos and videos they’ll proudly share with their family and friends.

This gives retail sales professionals a golden chance to talk about the end-to-end experience of taking jaw-dropping pictures and movies with a Lumia. That narrative includes the megapixels of the camera, but also the ability to upload quietly in the background to their OneDrive accounts, and editing and sharing them on their phones, tablets or PCs via powerful, easy to use apps. The suite of imaging apps for Windows Phone includes first party selections such as Nokia Pro Camera, but also third party dynamos such as Adobe PhotoShop Express, PicsArt, Hipstamatic OGGL, Instagram, and a host of others that are capable of helping amateurs turn out the best photos they’ve ever taken.

Matt Collins headshotMatt Collins

Global Director of Applications and Partner Marketing


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Similarly, when selling to a road warrior we have the Office suite of apps: PowerPoint, Excel, Word and One Note. When paired with a larger screen format, you’ve got tools that ensure you never have to know a thing called “down time.”

Retail sales associates know how to size up their customers in a matter of seconds. That’s important, because they may not have more than 30 seconds to grab and hold a customer’s interest. The best sales pros know how to demonstrate the magic that happens when hardware and software combine to deliver on a shopper’s passion points. So make every precious moment count, whether in the store or via advertising, and make apps a part of your story.

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  • Matt Collins says:

    Reblogged this on Matt Collins' Blog and commented:
    I wrote this blog post and recorded a companion podcast for the MEF last week and thought I’d link to it here for my own blog.
    For those who don’t know it, the MEF, as its website describes, “is the global trade association for companies wishing to monetize their products and services via mobile.” That makes it an important advocate for the industry.
    As for the blog post, it starts with what may seem like a contrarian observation: apps do not register very powerfully as a driver of smartphone sales in formal research settings. Given how much time consumers spend with them, however, apps give device manufacturers and retailers all sorts of ways to market and sell phones. This post explores that logic and how Microsoft has approached the opportunity.