In these tough economic times, the smartest companies are using everything–including sticks and rocks–to get the attention of prospects and customers. The most potent weapons in their marketing arsenals include Web 2.0 tools and services, social networking, mobile apps, desktop widgets and gadgets, based on a recent Forrester Research study. Their main objectives are to improve customer service (73 percent) and acquire new customers (71 percent).
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Sales of smartphone applications also are going gang busters. For example, Apple reported the other day that the number of iPhone and iPod touch apps sold by the App Store went from 10 million in July to 500 million in December. Most of the apps are free or $0.99. They cover everything from restaurant reservation systems to financial apps that put access to all a user’s accounts under a single interface.
“This is a clear indication that companies facing the current economic conditions are investing in engaging customers wherever they are already spending their time online,” says David Lavenda, VP marketing and product strategy at WorkLight, a developer that designs software to help businesses reach customers using Apple iPhone app, desktop widgets, iGoogle, Windows Live, RSS readers, Facebook and more.
Worklight released a report recently covering Internet usage trends and recommendations for companies considering using portable and desktop apps and social networks to get closer to customers:
–Identify business needs, such as customer service and new customer acquisition, to develop secure widgets that meet consumer needs
–Ensure security, scalability and multi-platform capabilities of secure gadgets and widgets deployments, allowing widgets to run on any major Web 2.0 platform including social networks, desktop and Web-based gadget frameworks, mobile web phones, RSS and more
–Track usage, engagement and reach of widget capabilities
–Ensure deployments meet regulatory compliance and corporate governance policies