Here at Dialect we’re seeing the need for companion apps grow massively. There’s a good reason for this.

Businesses all over the world are producing content. A lot of it!

Blogs, videos, podcasts, infographics, whitepapers, slideshows, and just about anything else you can think of.

This content is being shared across a multitude of channels including Facebook, email, Twitter, company websites, LinkedIn, press releases, Pinterest, and a huge number of other platforms and mediums.

The trouble is, the vast majority of your target audience will never see it.

The web is a noisy place and even if people are following you on your social channels and subscribed to your newsletter, the chances of them engaging with your content are still pretty slim.

This is why companion apps are an amazing way to help your brand retain it’s customers.

In this article I’ll go through some of the reasons why companion apps are so effective and I’ll also look at some of the results we’re seeing with our clients.

Why are companion apps so effective?

Smartphones and tablets are now where your audience are spending their time, therefore, you need to be providing them with highly optimised mobile content experiences.

Whilst a mobile responsive website is great, you need more than that, you need to be present in your audience’s mobile environment. This is why companion apps can be so effective.

Companion apps can be used in a huge variety of ways. For example, a brand may use a companion app to enhance the customer experience around a product they sell, they may use a companion app to deliver monthly digital magazines, or they may simply use a companion app to centralise all of their content so their customers can easily access everything they produce.

These are just some instances of what companion apps are used for.

Some of the best examples are in the video game industry where game developers incorporate your smartphone into the gaming experience. An interesting example is how Rockstar incorporated an app into Grand Theft Auto that allows you to interact with the game away from your console or computer.

By utilising companion apps in an interesting way, businesses are able to take full control over what content is delivered to their audience and how it’s presented.

Companion apps allow your audience to interact with your brand in a way that other channels simply don’t and can massively boost a customer’s experience with your products and your brand.

Another reason why brands are seeing so much success with companion apps is because they’re able to send notifications directly to the smartphones of their customers.

In today’s world, smartphones are sacred to their owners. These devices allow their users access to the whole world, wherever they may be, and allows them to connect with almost anyone anywhere.

When people receive notifications, they take notice.

When you have some important information, special promotions or a spectacular piece of new content you’re eager to share with your audience, there’s no better way to reach them than through a notification on their smartphones.

This is obviously something that should never be abused, but if you have something you’re confident your audience will love, and want as many of them as possible to see it, push notifications are amazingly effective at gaining the exposure you need.

The results we’re seeing with companion apps

To give you an example of just how effective companion apps are, I’ll go through the results we’ve seen with one of our clients.

A couple of years ago we were approached by EA to build a companion app for the hugely popular game, The Sims.

This app brings together latest news, features and a downloadable bi-monthly digital magazine that is fully searchable and shareable across all devices.

This app was created to further engage players of the game and to boost in-game purchases.

Companion AppsThe app was downloaded over 5 million times by players of the game, with more than 50% of users opting to turn on push notifications, and 32% of readers of the digital magazines made in-game purchases.

When 1/3 of your audience are making additional purchases, you know you’re doing something right.

Results like that are simply incredible.

When you have an audience that actively wants to engage with your brand but struggles to through the traditional methods, a companion app can be the perfect solution for you.

How you should approach designing, building and managing a companion app

You may be reading this article and thinking that a companion app sounds like a good idea and something you could use to better engage your customers.

If that’s what you’re thinking, great!

There are some things to bear in mind though that will help ensure your companion app gets downloaded and used regularly by your audience.

Have a goal in mind

It’s important to know why you’re building this app.

Are you building it to promote new products to your customers? Are you building it to obtain user feedback? Are you building it to help boost sales of additional products and services?
With a clear goal in mind, this will help steer the decision making in the design, development and management of the app.

Focus on quality

The key to a successful companion app is focusing on quality.

That may sound obvious, but it’s amazing how many organisations build an app and post thin content through it. If you do that you’re unlikely to engage your audience and your app will land itself in the app reject pile.

Here at Dialect, we employ teams who create world class content experiences through articles, design, video and photography.

The content we post to these apps is of the highest quality, and it’s this commitment to quality that ensures we post amazing results for our clients.

So remember, a commitment to quality needs to be at the heart of your approach to companion apps.

Be consistent

If you want your audience to engage with your app, you need to make sure you’re publishing regular content or providing a service through your app that your audience will want to use time and time again.

The most successful way we’ve kept our audiences hungry for more is by producing bi-monthly digital magazines.

These magazines are filled with extremely high quality feature content produced by our content experts.

This not only helps us with our retention marketing efforts for our clients, because the content gets shared and ranked in the search engines, it also acts as a great way to build awareness around the products and brands we’re marketing.

Make content visual

The brain processes visual content 60,000 times faster than text.

So ensure your companion app takes full advantage of strong design, photography and video to compliment the news stories and feature articles you may publish through your app.

By doing this you’ll almost certainly see much better engagement rates, social sharing and search engine rankings.

Ensure your app provides a great user experience

If your app is clunky, poorly designed and difficult for your customers to use, they won’t use it.

It’s as simple as that.

When building your companion app make sure your users are at the heart of the decisions you make. Put yourself in their shoes, what makes sense from their perspective? How should the content be displayed? How are you going to test this?

Continuous improvement

As soon as your companion app goes live I strongly advise you to track as much user data as you can.

This data is a goldmine of information that will help you to improve the experience of using the app going forward and make it more likely that your audience will keep on using your app.
As technology in mobile devices continues to improve, you may also want to enhance the app’s functionality over time, keeping it fresh and new for your customer base.

Want help with your companion app?

Here at Dialect, we’re leaders in delivering exceptional companion app experiences to audiences of some of the biggest brands in the world.

We not only build apps for our clients, we create world class content to publish on those apps to ensure your users are fully engaged and your ROI is maximised.

If you’d like to discuss companion apps with us and how they could further the reach of your brand, get in touch with us, we’d love to have a chat.

Thanks for reading.

About Josh Hunt

I'm the Director of Marketing and Media Strategy at Dialect and have over 10 years experience in digital marketing. I love tech, I love video games and I love Bristol, my home town

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