Using Mobile Apps for Life Sciences Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is one of the most popular marketing tactics among Life Science marketers. In general, researchers respond positively to useful content like calculation tools, handbooks, protocols and other scientific resources. For that reason, forcing these researchers – and other users – to download these resources from a website or landing page has proven to be an extremely effective means of capturing their information and generating quality leads. That said, landing pages are not the only way to get this information: as mobile apps continue to become an integral part of the product research and purchase processes, it has become increasingly clear that well-designed apps can also become an effective source of quality leads.
Overall, a well-crafted mobile experience can engage customers at the right time and convert them into high-quality leads. And while creating such an app for marketing purposes is not that difficult, there are a number of factors that one must consider before diving into the venture. Following the basic guidelines outlined below can help you create an app that generates leads for you and becomes a go-to resource for researchers.

Educational vs. Promotional content

No one is fooled by a wolf in sheep’s clothing - customers can easily spot promotional material dressed up as “educational content”, and they rarely have patience for such things. To avoid deterring potential customers, then, it is important that the content included in your app is truly educational and, if possible, vendor agnostic. Focus on the core technology and/or best practices rather than your product features. If you are unsure about where to begin, a good way to go about generating useful content/resources is to take an already popular resource and turn it into a captivating mobile experience. For example, a PDF handbook can be converted into an easy-to-read, searchable resource on mobile.

Mobile Experience

Many of the apps that are available today simply wrap web content in an app format. While this can be an easy way to get the app out on a low budget, this approach compromises user experience. For an app to be effective as a lead generation tool, it must provide great experience, allowing its users to consume the content or use the tools and resources included in the app. For example, you could present a mobile-optimized version of a web calculation tool in a mobile app. Or you could re-design the calculator for an optimal mobile experience. NEB’s Tm calculator demonstrates this point well:
Mobile version of New England BioLabs’ Melting Temp Calculator
Mobile version of New England BioLabs’ Melting Temp Calculator
Web version of New England BioLabs’ Melting Temp  Calculator
Web version of New England BioLabs’ Melting Temp Calculator

User Engagement through Personalization

Unfortunately, most educational apps fail when it comes to user engagement. Why? Content in reference apps tends to be static, and this usually results in a drop in user interest after a few days or weeks. To overcome this inertia, apps need to deliver dynamic content such as:
  • Interesting news articles
  • Publications
  • Photos
  • Videos
While the inclusion of such content could potentially increases the complexity of the app thereby increasing the development and maintenance costs -the extra effort is justified, as these elements tend to create more engaged leads that are receptive to relationship nurturing.
To achieve maximum user engagement, apps can also personalize content based on various factors, including:
  • User’s location
  • Time of the day
  • Role
  • Experience level
  • Etc.
For example, a researcher getting started with a specific technology or area of research can be presented with “Getting Started” videos rather than a complex reference guides. This kind of personalization ensures that the user is getting the right content in the right place at the right time, thereby increasing engagement, reducing bounce rates and improving ROI.

Lead Capturing and Tracking

It is important that lead information is captured without being too intrusive and without negatively affecting user experience. This can be accomplished by providing the user with gentle reminders along the way. Some good examples of lead-generating mobile apps include Real-time PCR by Thermo Fisher Scientific and labFAQs by Roche Molecular Diagnostics. Real-time PCR, specifically, is an excellent resource for researchers using qPCR technology in their research, providing them with a handbook, useful calculators and a troubleshooting guide.
The app can also gather user information and preferences in small chunks and utilize the information to personalize content and optimize the user experience. Once basic information is captured, leads can be nurtured with existing marketing automation processes or by using specialized processes designed for the mobile experience.

App Development and Maintenance

One of the most common mistakes that companies make when developing marketing apps is not having a long-term plan for keeping the app up-to-date with fresh content and latest design practices. Instead, marketing teams often ignore the need for continually monitoring app performance and simply optimize the user experience for current and potential new users.
Assigning an app owner/manager and a planning a maintenance budget upfront - at least for a few years - will ensure that the app performs well and keep users engaged. A little bit of upfront planning can go a long way in ensure project success and a great ROI.