Floosy (hereafter interchangeably referred to as the Company) is a mobile app development firm that targets high school and university students as the main end users or subscribers. The Company has developed and released Floosy – a mobile app that allows students to lock their smart phones while on campus and when unlocking the phone, the program starts collecting points that may be redeemed with the firm’s main partners as promotions or discounts. For instance, students may redeem the points at Starbucks and get free coffee or a 25% discount on a muffin. To support these functions, the app is linked to universities and students’ schedules, and can only be used within campuses.
Floosy’s key partners are drawn from diverse sectors, including the following:
- Clothing: H&M, Forever21, and Converse,
- Beauty: Wojooh, Sephora and Tips & Toes,
- Food and beverages: Subway, Starbucks, and Five Guys,
- Transport: Uber,
- Entertainment: Reel Cinemas, IMG world of Adventures, and Wild Wadi,
- Grocery: Zoom Market, and
- Services: Enoc.
The Company generates its revenue through exposure of brand awareness for its key partners. This work investigates the e-marketing project for “Floosy” mobile app towards presenting recommendations for improving the Company’s e-marketing program.
Table 1 shows the SWOT analysis for the Company
|Floosy has a wealth of household brands as key partners, for example, H&M, Converse, Starbucks, Uber, and Wojooh. This may influence a considerable number of students to become subscribers. The Company has a collection of key resources (like IT experts, software to develop the app, and Floosy – the mobile app) to help it realize its objectives.||The Company has a single major revenue stream – brand awareness for its key partners. The Company has not optimized its online/Web presence as it has not adopted social media among other e-marketing channels.|
|There is a significant number of high school and university students who own and use smart phones, thus there is a ready market for the app. For example, 94.4% of Saudi Arabia’s Najran University students owned smart phones according to a study conducted by Alfawareh and Jusoh (2014). There is a large pool of mobile operating systems (OSs) and app stores that constitute environments or platforms on which the Floosy app may be developed and distributed. Some of these include Google’s Android and Play Store, Bada, Microsoft Windows Phone OS and Store, Apple iOS and App Store, Nokia’s Symbian and Ovi Store, BlackBerry OS, and Kindle (Margaret, 2011; Microsoft, 2011; Protalinski, 2016; Unhelkar, 2008).Android is an open platform, which makes it easy and cost-effective for app developers to create and distribute their mobile programs for download and installation by smart phone owners (in this case students) across the world. The growing global mobile and internet use trends may help enter into new geographical marketplaces.||Despite the presence of a considerable number of mobile OSs and app stores to consider, most vendors have adopted a proprietary or closed platform strategy regarding app development, customization and distribution. As such, Floosy may not find its way into all the app stores available in the market.Some app store vendors (notably Apple and Microsoft Windows Phone) have set their quality and security requirements so high that they are overly restrictive when in relation to app scrutiny prior to acceptance into their stores. Developers may be challenged to overcome the constraints of the vast diversity of mobile OSs, screen sizes, and layouts that comes with smart phones. High school and university students may not be willing to lock their phones for a prolonged period of time. Floosy may face stiff competition from other advertisement channels, for example, street signboards, in-store ads, and e-commerce platforms that may be more appealing to the Company’s partners than the phone locking app.|
Floosy leverages a number of e-marketing channels. To start with, the Company uses e-mails. E-mail marketing entails sending commercial messages associated with advertisements, sales solicitation, loyalty and trust building among others to various customer segments using e-mail. Generally, all e-mails sent to previous, existing or prospect customer could be regarded as e-mail marketing. The approach drives several advantages, including cost-effectiveness, enhanced delivery speed, greater customer behavior analysis opportunity, greater reach, and increasingly high response rate (Dennis & Harris, 2003).
Secondly, the Company markets itself though the Floosy app. Students may be targeted with relevant pop-up messages once they launch the app. For example, marketing content may include offers and deals with Floosy’s partners in order to motivate them to keep the phone locking/unlocking app installed and to continue using it.
Thirdly, Floosy leverages high school and university websites for e-marketing purposes. Students tend to rely on high school/university websites to access diverse information about these educational institutions, for example, facilities and fees. As such, Floosy places marketing content on these websites from where students can learn about the app development firm and the app itself.
Lastly, the Company markets its app through SMS. The mobile platform is a major marketing channel that may handle the targeting and delivery of text messages for effective marketing campaigns. SMS marketing solutions is a lucrative channel for Floosy to use mobile communications and increase customer acquisition and brand loyalty performances. Meng (2010) argues that SMS marketing is typically used to send messages related to reminders, notifications, competitions, and surveys.
Floosy mobile app development firm allowing high school and university students access to lock their phones and earn points while enabling key partners advertise their brands.
- Both men and women.
- Aged 14 years and above.
- Either high school or university students.
- Low or limited income.
- Enthusiastic shoppers with Floosy’s key partners – online or in-store. These can be previous, existing or prospect customers.
- Technology savvy.
- Establishing and maintaining strong partnerships with household brands like H&M, Converse and Starbucks may make the app attractive to a significant number of students.
- Floosy has a set of key resources to accomplish its objectives. These range from IT expertise to software needed to develop the mobile app, and others.
- Depending on a single revenue stream, namely brand awareness for its key partners.
- The Company has not optimized its online presence by failing to adopt e-marketing channels such as social media.
- The Company has a variety of electronic marketing tools to choose from, including e-mails, through the app, social media, TV, online events or forums, e-publications, high school and university websites, corporate website, and SMS.
- Smart phone adoption and usage is on the rise among students, thus there is a readily available market for the app.
- There is a large collection mobile OSs and app stores to choose from.
- Some platforms, notably Android adopt an open architecture, which implies greater development and customization efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and flexibility.
- The global mobile and Internet reach signals potential entry into new cross-border markets.
- Since exposure of partners’ brand awareness is the main revenue generation stream of the Company, Floosy stand to face stiff competition from other advertisement channels. Some of these include social media, street signboards, in-store ads, and e-commerce platforms and corporate websites operated by the Company’s partners.
- Generally, the number and diversity of mobile apps are on the rise.
- Most mobile platforms are proprietary and some are highly restrictive with respect to app quality and security requirements, which often inhibit app development, customization and portability performances.
- Increase consumer (in this case students) adoption/usage of and loyalty to Floosy’s app, and promote brand awareness in relation to the Company’s key partners.
- Increase student adoption and usage of the mobile app.
- Increase app satisfaction, preference and loyalty among students.
- Promote key partners’ brand awareness and sales.
Target stakeholders and value proposition:
- Students: accumulate points for later conversion to free products or discounts, link to attendance and schedule, improved cost savings on Floosy key partners’ products/services, enhanced classroom productivity, better engagement, positive behavioral change, and app customization to meet specific students’ needs and expectations.
- Partners: leverage the app as a digital channel or platform for brand and sales promotion.
Marketing mix strategies and key tactics needed to implement them:
- Product – fundamental customer needs in relation to the app:
- The mobile app is the product in this case, and it is expected to be a compelling item for high school and university students who are the primary consumers of the venture.
- In addition, the app should be compelling to the Company’s key partners as a platform for advertising their brands.
- Price – matching pricing with actual value of the app and countering competition:
- The app is offered for free to students, but it delivers tangible value to students and its key partners.
- Place – distribution or placement of the app according to consumers’ expectations and preferences:
- The actual app distribution strategy adopted by the Company is not specified.
- However, the app is intended to be used on students’ smart phones.
- Promotion – stimulation of demand for the app:
- Keep students eager by updating and adding the list of the Company’s key partners in the mobile app.
- Enhanced levels of awareness of key partners among students, thus increasing the likelihood of retaining existing partners and winning new ones.
- Technical support team to help consumers optimize all the features and benefits of the app.
- Implement the “Help I’m in class” button.
- Deliver enhanced customer service for stronger long-term relationships and beating potential competition. Excellence in customer service may also increase the chances of referrals – advertising at almost zero cost to the Company.
- Implement accumulation of points and linking to students’ smart attendance and schedule.
- Build better interaction and enhanced app customization, which makes the app stand out for an enhanced Company’s brand. Releasing a bad app and putting it in an app store for so that it can be readily downloaded and installed by students could actually damage the brand.
- Promote the app through e-marketing channels such as e-mails, through the app, high school and university websites, and SMS.
Table 2 shows the budgeting plan for the Company.
|Strategy||Implementation tactics||Cost Factors||Cost (in $ and for the first year)|
|Product development||Design and develop the “Floosy” app||Technical assessment, design, development, testing and deployment||50,000|
|Technology platform – Appypie.com||600|
|Human resourcing||Recruit 3 IT specialists||IT specialists’ salaries||135,000 (3 employees each earning 45,000 p.a)|
|Marketing communications||Implement SMS marketing and a website||Outsource keyword and shortcode SMS marketing||15,000|
|Website development, domain name and hosting||7,000|
Table 3 shows the implementation plan in form of a balanced score card.
|Balanced Scorecard Perspective||Objectives||Key performance metrics|
|Online/Web marketing processes||To promote brand and product (app) awareness and drive traffic||Click through from advertising|
|Number of comments posted on Floosy blog|
|Number of fans on the Company’s Facebook page|
|To accelerate the process of inquiries/leads to actual sales||Sale conversion rates|
The existing e-marketing plan adopted by Floosy suffers from a number of inefficiencies, and this chapter seeks to unearth what the Company is doing wrong in its plan.
It is worth noting that the company relies on a single revenue stream – exposure of brand awareness for its key partners. As a result, the management appears to have failed to wire the Company for maximized profits. This is a weakness that may exaggerate the threat of experiencing stiff competition from already existing advertisement channels. For example, businesses in the clothing, beauty, food and beverage, grocery and entertainment, from which key Floosy partners are drawn from, often own some form of corporate or e-commerce site from where they execute their advertisements. Therefore, some partners may not be willing to invest in another advertisement channel (in this case the Floosy app), which amounts to decreased number and frequency of partnerships and inhibited revenue generation.
5.2 Poor e-marketing strategies and incomplete action plans regarding product, promotion and distribution
Floosy only relies on e-mails, the app, university websites, and SMS as its e-marketing channels – promotion strategy. The Company has therefore ignored a couple of other e-marketing channels, including social media and its corporate website among others. Other than exaggerating the threat of stiff competition from other electronic advertisement options available to key partners, the Company may fail to take maximum advantage the global mobile and Internet reach due to its limited Web/online presence. It has failed to leverage social media among other electronic channels that are critical to acquisition and retention of a significant number of customers.
The actual product (app) distribution strategy has not been specified in the e-marketing plan. The Company has also omitted tactics it plans to rely on in the implementation of place/distribution strategy. For example, it has not mentioned any particular mobile app store or Web platform on which Floosy is set to be distributed through. Therefore, it is unclear how the Company intended to enable students download and install the app on their phones.
Evidently, there is some missing information related to product, promotion and place strategies and action plans. Therefore, it may be difficult to come up with an effective e-marketing plan to help the Company establish a truly strategic direction.
An e-marketing plan is targeted to several stakeholders, which a company would intend to build and maintain relationships with. In situations where multiple target stakeholders are involved, they ought to be identified, profiled and ranked in the order of most-least important in order to allocate resources based on priorities (Strauss & Frost, 2001). However, Floosy targets high schools and universities, yet it has failed to define the actual value proposition these institutions stand to derive from the phone locking app. Poor identification and prioritization may influence some school boards/leaders to oppose the introduction of Floosy into their organizations’ smart attendance and schedule systems. After all the leadership may not understand the value proposition associated with the app. Other than high schools and universities, it is important to identify the mobile platform vendors that the Company will engage in the course of app distribution.
6.0 Recommendations for improving their e-marketing program
Developing a sound e-marketing plan requires a company to create a blueprint or roadmap intended to guide its strategic direction. This entails informed decisions regarding desired e-marketing strategies and implementation tactics, resource allocation, and e-marketing performance evaluation to ensure the plan meets its aims and objectives (Dennis & Harris, 2003). When this process is compromised, ad hoc strategies may be formulated and implemented. Consequently, companies are highly likely to fail, mainly due to e-marketing planning flaws (Strauss & Frost, 2001). As such, effective planning is critical to sustained success of e-marketing strategies and the e-businesses implementing them. The case studied in this work also showed some weaknesses regarding its e-marketing plan as demonstrated in the previous chapter. In this regard, this chapter presents a number of recommendations for improving the Company’s e-marketing program.
Strauss and Frost (2001) argue that companies committed to e-business should wire themselves for profit. This requires implementing a comprehensive e-business strategy that fosters sustained customer loyalty and competitiveness, which are critical enablers of e-business profitability. According to Rodgers, Yen, and Chou (2002), companies that operate without a physical presence need to come up with ways through which they can take existing and potential customers away from competing brick-and-mortar businesses. Therefore, as a pure dot-com or e-trader, the Company should be highly committed to competitive e-business and e-marketing strategies compared to businesses that rely on electronic tools for mere operational and tactical processes like order processing, customer relationship management, cost reduction, and others. Successful e-businesses are the ones that have managed to redefine their specific industries through new business models and greater value propositions to customers among other stakeholders.
Maybe the Company should expand its offers to students and provide additional incentives for locking their phones as a strategy to amass a larger Floosy user community. This may help attract more key partners and maintain existing ones, and increase the chances of sustaining its profitability. Moreover, the Company should consider increasing its revenue streams to tackle the threat of competition from other advertisement platforms such as social media, partners’ e-commerce sites, online forums, and others.
Typically, development options include a fully native, a Web, or a hybrid app in addition to target devices.
Native apps are developed based on a specific platform (like Android, Windows Phone OS, or iOS) and supported development languages and tools (like Java or Objective-C). A fully native app comes with the advantages of running fast and best optimization of device hardware. However, it requires significant time and cost resources to deliver and update. Moreover, adding another mobile platform implies creating a new code (Heller, 2017; Korf & Oksman, 2016).
Lastly, the hybrid app option leverages both native and Web capabilities. Here, a native container/wrapper is built for every supported device. Then, the Web app runs in a native shell to provide access to underlying native platform capabilities. Introduction of a native wrapper means installation and modification challenges, but the hybrid approach promotes speed and hardware optimization at a cost- and time-efficient way. In addition, the resultant hybrid app emulates a native look and feel when effectively implemented (Heller, 2017; Korf & Oksman, 2016).
The Company may develop Floosy as a Web app and embed it inside a native container provided by different mobile OS vendors. Floosy may consider adopting using containers related to the following platforms:
- Android: it assures developers a free and open source development and licensing framework, which implies considerable cost savings. The platform also easily integrates different apps.
- Other candidate platforms include iOS and Windows Phone.
The global “mobile internet user” adoption exceeds 50% of the world’s population. As a result, there is an increase in the average time spent online per day among smart phone, tablet and wearable users (Statista, 2017b). As seen from the case study, the Company leverages only a few e-marketing channels. Notably, it has not adopted social media platforms and its corporate website as e-marketing channels. In order to better promote its brand and beat potential competition, the Company needs to leverage an additional collection of e-marketing tools/channels towards establishing a strong Web/online presence.
Social media networks represent a powerful e-marketing channel because they have a considerably high subscriber base. For example, Facebook, WhatsApp, and YouTube have active subscribers in the excess of 1 billion globally each as of April 2017. Moreover, there are other social media tools that may be used by companies for e-marketing, including Twitter, Facebook Messenger, Flickr, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Tumbrl, and yy among others (Statistica, 2017a). When combined with existing e-marketing channels, social media may place the Company in a better position to reach a larger student population without geographical limits. Consequently, there will be enhanced customer (app user) engagement and service for greater customer acquisition and retention performance.
When you develop a hybrid app, it is important to build a website that provides crucial details about your mobile app. Users will visit the site when they want further information about the app or if they come across problems (Bristowe, 2015). Therefore, the Company should consider developing a website that will help students gain access to information of interest regarding the Floosy app. Alternatively, it may establish a corporate blog to provide such information.
It is unclear how the Company intends to implement the place/distribution strategy for the Floosy app. The only applicable distribution strategy for the app is publishing it to one or more app stores. For example, the app may be published to Google’s Play Store, Apple’s App Store, or Windows Phone’s Store. The three app stores happen to be the most popular according to a survey carried out in March 2017 (Statista, 2017b). Students would then visit the app store(s) and download the Floosy app for installation on their phones.
The e-marketing plan for Floosy ought to identify and prioritize high schools/universities and mobile OS vendors as their key stakeholders. The value propositions applicable to these stakeholders should be well defined to ensure that their needs and expectations are met. For example, Floosy stands to drive enhanced classroom productivity and positive change in behavior among students. These may be achieved through creation of links to students’ smart attendance and schedule. Consequently, the learning institutions could improve their educational quality assurance performance in the process. On the other hand, some vendors are overly restrictive in relation to allowing access to their platforms due to quality and security reasons. Therefore, it could have been important to identify the vendors that may allow the Company to develop and distribute Floosy app using their mobile platforms and technologies.
6.6 Evaluate the e-marketing strategies – returns against costs
Grzywaczewski, Iqbal, Shah, and James (2010) claim that it is important to determine whether or not an e-marketing initiative is worthwhile, which requires the expected costs and benefits or ROI related to each e-marketing strategy to be assessed. Other than the e-marketing strategies already adopted by the Company, this chapter proposes use of social media and corporate website/blog as additional tools. In this regard, the Company should examine each e-marketing strategy to determine the costs and returns involved. For example, social media could be adopted to increase the level of awareness of the Floosy business or app among students. However, an appropriate brand-mention tracker (like Hootsite that attract an additional cost factor) is required to help monitor social media conversations. In addition, an experienced social media marketer may be required. So, the Company ought to determine whether it is worth investing in social media marketing since the costs involved may water down the expected benefits.
This paper has investigated the e-marketing project for “Floosy” mobile app, and provided recommendations for improving the Company’s e-marketing program. The SWOT analysis for the Company shows that it has three major strengths, namely partnerships with a good number of household brands and possession of critical resources. There are opportunities that the Company may take advantage of, including widespread ownership and usage of smart phones among students, vast mobile OS and app store diversity, presence of Android as an open platform for easier and cost-effective app development, and increasingly growing global mobile and internet use trends. However, the Company faces two key weaknesses – operating with a single major revenue stream and poor online/Web presence. From the perspective of threats, most mobile OS vendors have adopted a closed platform strategy, which inhibits app development, updating, distribution and cross-platform support. The following are other threats: platform and screen size/layout diversity, potential unwillingness to lock phones for a prolonged duration, and competition from other advertisement channels.
Currently, the Company leverages the following e-marketing channels: e-mails, though the Floosy app, high school/ university websites, and SMS. An analysis of the Floosy’s e-marketing plan has indicated a number of things that they are doing wrong, namely relying on a single revenue generation stream, poor and incomplete product, promotion and distribution strategies and implementation tactics, inefficient target identification, and poor cost-benefit/ ROI evaluation planning.
The following recommendations are made for improving their e-marketing program:
- Wiring the Company for maximized profit by increasing the customer base and revenue streams.
- Develop Floosy as a hybrid app using typical Web development tools (like HTML5) and embed it into a native container across platforms such as Android, iOS, or Windows Phone.
- Adopt social media and corporate website/blog as additional e-marketing channels.
- Publish the app to Play Store, App Store, or Windows Store from where students can download the it for installation on their phones.
- Consider the value propositions of all its stakeholders and meet their desires.
- Establish a comprehensive cost-benefit or ROI assessment plan.
- Continuously evaluate the e-marketing program against its key objectives.
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