Last week, my team and I had the opportunity to join around 80 CMOs of Fortune 100 companies and other leading brands at the GBI CMO 100 event in the heart of NYC. The format of the event included collaborative presentations where members would join panels and discuss the issues facing CMOs today. Topics included digital transformation, customer experience and engagement management, change management, and data-driven marketing among others. While being the head of a much smaller marketing organization, I related very much to the topics at hand and enjoyed the discussion and perspective from other marketing leaders.

One of the things that surprised me however, was the number of times I heard, “We are not an app friendly company.” I heard this during the discussion around “connecting the customer experience with engagement,” and surprisingly from a panelist in the “future of mobile” session. While I didn’t have the opportunity to learn why these CMOs felt this way, given our experience here at MobileBridge, I can make an educated guess it’s one of the following reasons.

#1 They tried launching an app, and failed.

Way back when (you know, like 5-10 years ago), the mantra was “there’s an app for that” – it was said way more times than I care to remember. The nature of the statement predicted what we’ve seen; that mobile apps is where people are going on their smartphones. A recent Business Insider article just published that “mobile apps are now bigger than the web.” So of course every major company attempted to launch a mobile app to take advantage of this mobile revolution. The problem was – no one knew what they were doing or why.

Mobile apps were the unfulfilled promise of ten years ago. A promise of if you build it, they will come, that never came to fruition. Successful mobile apps were few and far between because it was the infancy of the movement and we just didn’t know any better. But we do now.

#2 They think a mobile app is just another version of their website.

One of the main reasons mobile apps fail is because they are really just an app version of the company website. This fails to meet the needs of mobile consumers. Research shows mobile app users are looking for specific information or want to take a specific action – not just browse your website to learn more. So creating a mobile app that curates content, has mobile friendly navigation and functionality to help the end user quickly achieve their specific goal is a must. To avoid the issue of just re-creating your website experience, make sure you are altering the navigations and possible user journeys. A good example is for airlines – there are sections of an airline website that someone with an app would never read or have interest. Instead they use the airlines mobile app, which has a common set of actions the use is going to perform (ex. check-in, view flight status, etc.).

#3 Or worse….they think responsive websites is enough.

While a company’s website may be considered the #1 marketing tool available, mobile apps reach people on a much more personal level through their smartphone. And going back to point #1, mobile apps are now bigger than the web. Mobile apps allow us to reach customers whenever, where ever they are in a contextual, personalized way. Correlating user data (ex. women ages 30-40) with behaviors and activities (ex. recent purchases), and location or time-based elements (ex. passed by downtown location) allows companies to engage with users with relevant messages or assets (SMS, push messages, coupons, games, etc.). It’s personalized engagement that a responsive website just can’t do.

Of course, to be successful, you must know your end users and know what kind of app experience they are looking for. Then you need to build targeted mobile journeys that lead your users to specific actions. Is this easy to do? Not always. But there are solutions to help make the process of creating and management of maintaining your mobile app as easy as possible.

Check out our “5 Myths About Mobile App Engagement” guide to get you started.