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Direct Response Marketing

The iPhone/Android Debate Hits the DR Market

1 Sep, 2012 By: Kirsten Saladow Response

As mobile sales become harder to ignore, DR marketers are taking a closer look at the capabilities of the two biggest smartphones.

iPhonesUnless you’ve been living under a rock, it should be no surprise that mobile devices are not going anywhere. In fact, according to a March 2012 Nielsen survey, more than 50 percent of Americans own smartphones. The two major players in the smartphone market are Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android. Chances are if you own a smartphone, you own one of these devices.

In all circles, there is much debate about which of these devices is better than the other. Just by doing a simple Google search, you’ll get thousands of articles debating the merits of iPhones vs. Androids — and all of them have different opinions. Even within the direct response industry, there are many different ideas about which mobile platform is superior. The bottom line, though, is that both the iPhone and the Android are major players in the mobile market and neither is going anywhere. However, the strengths and weaknesses of each smartphone might surprise you.

Mobile Sales Growing Rapidly

“The growth of mobile is pretty amazing. In going over E+M Advertising’s statistics, since the beginning of the year, 5-to-7 percent of Web visits came from mobile devices,” says Anthony Medico, president of E+M Advertising in New York. “From May to August, that number has at least doubled, and on some products the percentage of responses has even done more than double. Our mobile statistics have definitely doubled in size in six months. The way consumers are buying things is changing so rapidly — everybody always has their mobile device — people can get to it whenever they want. Whatever sparks their interest, they can be on their phone looking up your product. Consumers no longer have to remember a URL address or a phone number, all they have to do is do a quick Google search on their phone and they get to your mobile website. It’s remarkable.”

Medico and E+M Advertising have been in business for more than 30 years. Twelve years ago, the company formed an Internet division. “It’s so important to not look at media in silos anymore, as things are trending towards television, print, Internet and mobile. It’s imperative to work with all mediums and to make sure all of them are able to work together,” says Medico.

Medico notes that even within the past six weeks, his mobile numbers are aggressively trending upwards.

HTC“Mobile is absolutely the next big thing,” he says. “We generally use mobile as a transactional tool, whether in sales or leads. Assuming most traffic is from commercials, what mobile sites do for us is clearly lay out features and benefits and allow the consumer to react as quickly as possible. Mobile makes the transaction process easy and simple, but you have to accommodate for the consumer. You can’t assume the process on a smartphone will be the same as the experience on a desktop.”

Carrie Chitsey is the founder and CEO of Austin, Texas-based 3Seventy, an agency that develops industry-leading SMS platforms as well as mobile websites, mobile engagement strategies built upon unique platforms, and mobile strategies for large brands.

“We really like to develop strategy for our clients so they know what they should be building for the future,” she says. “We are the mobile agency of record for brands and we know all the mobile technology — we are able to give clients one company to work with vs. four or five different vendors.”

Chitsey contends avoiding mobile is no longer an option. “Brands have to do mobile. It’s a must,” she says. “The number of times people check their phones throughout the day is tremendously greater than the amount of times they check their computer. Mobile is changing, literally, on a daily basis. You can spend a lot of money and time on bad campaigns and bad advice. You can’t just throw an app in the mobile store and have a million downloads — it doesn’t work like that anymore. Brands need to be more strategic and they need to consider their strategy before jumping into mobile.”

Peter Koeppel is founder and president of Koeppel Direct in Dallas, a leader in DRTV, online print and radio media buying, direct marketing and campaign management. Koeppel looks to Amazon to demonstrate how mobile platforms can be very beneficial to your company’s bottom line. “An Amazon Payments executive said that mobile commerce is expected to grow from $2.4 billion this year to $23.4 billion by 2015, an 875-percent increase,” says Koeppel, a Response Advisory Board member.

Mac App StoreThe Brand Battle

“There isn’t a huge difference between the two platforms if you are talking about driving purchases,” Chitsey says. “However, the days of just focusing on an iPhone as your main mobile device are over. Androids have been having a huge increase in the market and are really attracting the younger, hipster and male demographic. If you are a gamer and highly visual, you’re likely to be more attracted to the Android. If you are a businessperson, you are more likely to be drawn to the iPhone. You have to prepare mobile strategies for both devices now, but their functionality is nearly identical.”

Koeppel believes that iPhones are stronger when it comes to apps. He remarks that, typically, apps go to iPhones first and then to Androids.“ For example, just look at Instagram,” he says.

Chitsey, though, says the Android is going through a huge growth phase. “Androids are growing much, much faster by far,” she contends. “Androids have all the carriers, multiple manufacturers and have created a shotgun approach to get their phones into the hands of consumers. However, the new iPhone teaser looks really promising — Passport could be an absolute game changer. In my opinion, Siri didn’t do anything to elevate the iPhone or make it better.”

The upcoming release of Passport could be the edge that Apple needs to trump the Android. The biggest news for loyalty and payments industries has to be Apple Passport: not only will consumers will have the ease and utility of having boarding passes, coupons, movie tickets and loyalty cards at their fingertips, the brands that will have their apps folded into Passport suddenly have a lot to consider.

According to information from Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference, the details on how Passport will work are not yet clear. But, Passport is time and location enabled, so passes and tickets will appear on the iPhone’s lock screen at just the time when they can be used. For example, if you are at the airport and approaching security, your digital boarding pass will appear. If you are walking into a retailer where you have a coupon good for that day, the QR code giving access to the coupon would appear. In addition, if you’ve loaded loyalty apps from your favorite companies, you would be reminded that you have points to redeem a special offer.

What Passport could mean for brands is that instead of developing standalone apps, developers would shift to building apps that live and breathe within Passport. In short, this means that everything might change again and experts from CNET, Wired and other technology sites are predicting that Passport will make the consumer come out a winner. But brands building mobile apps have a bit of a challenge ahead of them.

Medico, though, still thinks the growth of the Android platform is hard to ignore. “Androids are the next big thing to focus on — just by looking at the numbers alone. This doesn’t mean to completely ignore iPhones, but Androids are growing so rapidly — they have different carriers, different devices and the user interface is so easy to use and is much more intuitive and quicker than an iPhone,” he says. “The Jelly Bean software is simply better than Apple’s right now. I love my iPhone and can’t imagine not having it, but if Apple doesn’t step it up, I would consider switching. It would be a really hard thing to do, but Android is the superior device right now.”

JellybeanJelly Bean, otherwise known as Android 4.1, is the fastest and smoothest version of Android yet. According to Android’s website, Jelly Bean improves upon the simplicity and beauty of Android 4.0 and introduces a new Google search experience.

In addition to features that make sharing experiences seamless on social networks, Jelly Bean allows personalization for Android users’ home screens — allowing users to decide which apps they want to be able to access faster. Launching apps and returning back to your home screen is now a faster and smoother process than it has been in the past.

Another huge improvement that Jelly Bean has made for Android users is a redesigned Google search experience. With Jelly Bean’s technology, users are able to receive more precise answers to search queries and explore and browse search results. Google search can also be opened directly from the lock screen by swiping up, making it easy for consumers to look something up instantly.

Jelly Bean also introduces consumers to Google Play, which is very interesting and worthwhile to brands. Google Play gives Android users a new set of recommendations based on content that people with similar tastes have purchased, stuff that’s popular around where you live, content people in your Google+ circles have “+1-ed,” and more — to recommend new content like apps, games, music and movies. Essentially, Google Play advertises for you by recommending similar products, experiences and popular items to Android consumers.

The Mobile Web/App Debate Continues

“You have to think about your consumer and functionality. You shouldn’t be rolling out an app if you don’t have a mobile website. You get the most reach with a mobile website,” says Chitsey.

Medico agrees with Chitsey, preferring a mobile website to an app.

“Apps are a good way to continuously market to a consumer. We stay away from them only because they are an extra step. Consumers have to download the app, and that might deter them from responding to a lead or purchase. Getting somebody to download an app can be more difficult than getting a consumer to your mobile site,” says Medico.

Koeppel agrees with Medico’s and Chitsey’s assessment, however he notes that both applications and mobile websites have their strengths and weaknesses.

“Mobile websites are device agnostic — they work across all platforms from iPhones to Androids to Blackberry. They are easier to search and the cost is lower than building an app. The weakness of a mobile website is the user interface is not as strong as a native app, they require a data network, and it’s difficult or not possible to access phone features, like SMS or your address book,” he says. “The strengths of apps are they integrate very well into the smartphone user interface, consumers can use phone features while using an app, they can be much faster than a mobile site and in general, you don’t need a data connection to use an app. The weaknesses of an app are they are more difficult and expensive to develop, they aren’t mobile search friendly, they only work on specific devices and they require more tech support than a mobile site as operating systems get updated.”

Medico, though, thinks the mobile Web will eventually take over most of the transactional space. “The only issue I see with creating a mobile site is to make sure it works across browsers,” he says. “Just like creating a website, you are going to want to make sure your mobile site can run effectively on every browser available. As more platforms go on the market, it’s imperative to make sure your site works on everything from tablets to iPhones to Androids. It’s a lot more work, but you have to do it.” 

About the Author: Kirsten Saladow

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