September 18, 2013

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The App Fantasy Apps hold out the possibility of fulfilling marketers’ persistent fantasy -- that consumers will record daily, personal activity and that this data will fuel on-going relationship marketing programs. This belief is especially strong among pharmaceutical marketers who dream of patient diaries and yearn for patient data as a door opener for the patient-doctor conversation, widely acknowledged to be the single biggest hurdle in the DTC. Depending on how you count, there are as many as 97,000 existing mHealth apps ranging from broad-based health and wellness tools to single brand, single action apps. Three out of four are paid apps. Fifty seven percent are aimed at consumers and most are either dosing calculators or reference materials. In real life, less than 1000 of these apps have more than 500 downloads. Pinch Media reports that just 30% of apps are used the day after they are downloaded. And twenty days later the number drops to 5 percent. Americans have an average of 41 apps on their but actually use just eight or 1 out of every 5 apps they download. There are dozens of apps for chronic disease states like diabetes, asthma and depression that record incidents and data points or track adherence to dosing. The Pew Internet Project reported in January 2013, that 69 percent of Americans track some kind of health data and one in five of them use some form of technology. All apps live or die by providing either utility or diversion. Apps could give us 24/7 medical monitoring with the potential to better understand how people respond to conditions and the opportunity for heath care pros and brands to be in regular conversation with people about their particular heath issues. Apps have the potential to marry data flows and body mechanics to Marcus Welby, MD. But this won’t happen automatically. Marketers need to do much more ethnographic research about patients, better understand the practical behaviors and day-to-day attitudes of people suffering from diseases and think carefully about the interplay of 3 or more devices with each other and the real world in order to develop apps that real people will actually want and use.
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Gmail Tabs Don't Hurt In July, Google unilaterally decided to sort and filter Gmail users mailboxes for them. By introducing Tabs, Google proactively directed each inbound email to one of five tabs; primary, promotions, social, updates and forums. Commercial emailers went nuts. Assuming they were being unfairly ghettoized, they said Google was out to screw them. As it turns out, you get what you need and expect. A new study of early responses to Gmail Tabs by Return Path shows that people who frequently engage with commercial email aren’t deterred or bothered by the tabs. Medium users are still medium users and the unresponsive are still unresponsive. Tabs have been a convenience for the 11% of Gmail users who love commercial email. They are reading roughly 60% of the emails they’ve opted into. The promotion tab is an easy access door to the shopping information they desire. These people love the idea that deals come directly to them. They want to know what’s going on and what’s on sale. They were never going to be put off by a sorting solution because the content is anticipated and important to them. The bulk of Gmail users (88%) are moderately engaged with email. Most have opted in for lots of stuff some of which is no longer relevant and some is top of mind. They are reading email at about the same rate with fewer commercial emails ending up in their SPAM boxes. These guys pick and choose based on From lines, SUBJ lines and offers. Not surprising, the people who don’t open, don’t open using Tabs. For them the promotion tab removes email that was going to be ignored anyway. They read less but are less annoyed by irrelevant messages. The goods news for merchants is that they represent just 1% of Gmail users. Some vertical merchants, notably airlines, credit cards and daily deals, have seen significant increases in engagement post Tabs. Social networking and dating senders saw a dip which tracks with downward trending engagement rates. Gmail Tabs hasn’t hurt retailers or consumers. And since Tabs don’t apply to mobile usage, now approaching 50% of all email opens, any future negative impact can be mitigated. It’s one less thing to worry about during the highest email volume season. Related articles The new Gmail tabs: What conclusions can we draw? Gmail Tabs: What They Mean for Email Marketing Getting Rid of the Inbox Tabs

Danny Flamberg

I am a veteran marketing consultant working with leading and emerging brands

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