Mobile Roadie's Co-Founder on What You Need to Know Now About the Future of Mobile Apps
Since launching in 2008, Mobile Roadie has created over 3,000 iPhone and Android apps for celebs and large organizations including Madonna, Taylor Swift, the Dallas Mavericks, Wynn Las Vegas, Harvard University and the World Economic Forum. With over 20 million downloads, Mobile Roadie recently launched a self-service mobile website and iPad option for businesses and brands to build their own custom apps. I spoke with co-founder Michael Schneider about the future of mobile apps and where Mobile Roadie is headed:
What makes Mobile Roadie apps stand out?
Schneider: A few things. Design, for one. Our apps look and feel custom, even though they are built using a common platform. Additionally, everything is social. And the social "buzz" that app users generate promotes the brand to Facebook and Twitter. There's also a focus on monetization. We allow our customers to sell digital and physical goods, as well as advertise to their audience. Lastly, there's a sophisticated dashboard and analytics platform on the back-end that brands can use to understand what their users are doing, where they are located, and reach them in real time where they are.
Why jump into the self-service game? How will it work with pricing and options?
Schneider: We've always been in the self-service game -- from day one. As of May 1, we now offer mobile websites -- making any website mobile friendly -- at $9 per month or $99 per year. There is also a free option. We also have added iPad on the high end and redesigned our system to take advantage of the iPad's large screen. Stats show that consumers spend more time and more money in iPad apps. So we're now empowering our customers to take advantage of that trend.
How can companies monetize their apps?
Schneider: There's a huge value in data collected in an app, including the ability to reach users where they are, in real time, down to a one-mile radius. Additionally, our customers can sell physical and digital merchandise inside their app, place ads, and sell their apps to brands.
Any advice to entrepreneurs on getting buzz and customers for their startups?
Schneider: Nothing speaks louder than an amazing product. Focus on that, and "buzz" usually takes care of itself. Also try and get one marquee client on board per vertical that you're going after. For example, after Madonna came on board in 2009, we had a much easier time selling in the music business. This was the same for sports after we began working with the Miami Dolphins.
Why is it important for a brand to have their own app?
Schneider: Right now, about 25% of traffic to any given website is from a smartphone. And yet brands still starts their marketing plan with a website first, and -- maybe -- optimizes it for mobile. Mobile is an afterthought right now. When you look at trends, it's clear that by the end of next year, more than 50% of traffic to any given website will be from a smartphone, meaning mobile, first, will be the most important part of a brand's outreach strategy. Native apps also provide distinct advantages compared to mobile websites in terms of ability to reach users -- push notifications -- as well as access to things like the phone's camera and calendar for additional functionality.
In short, the first screen is now the mobile phone, and brands everywhere have a huge opportunity to reach consumers in real-time, in context, where they are, in ways that were never possible before.