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The fatal flaw of mobile apps in the ski resort marketing landscape.

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If I was ever bullish on resort apps, that optimism has long since disappeared.

The reasons why are many and varied, but at the core of my consternation with the world of apps is one simple word.


Eggs, Baskets
A mobile app without users is like a website without visitors: worthless. So let me start by identifying a pattern behind websites.

When you build a website, there are lots of ways people can enter your website.

  • From an email
  • From social media.
  • From a search engine result.
  • From press coverage.
  • From a banner ad.

The list goes on. But the fact that the list could go on tells us three things about websites.

First, even if your website doesn’t gain traction in one channel, you have dozens of others to work with. You can have, in effect, many eggs in many baskets. Rarely do you have to rely solely on your own marketing reach to drive the majority of traffic to your website.

Second, it’s extremely shareable. It’s part of the web, meaning that if someone likes some part of my site, they can quickly share it in a way that gives people one-click access to that exact same bit of content.

This means that a good website with shareworthy content can actually create more traffic for itself.

Third, if we lose one of those visitors, any of those channels can bring them back.

Now Apps
Apps, on the other hand, have a fence around their use in the form of a download. Until that starting point is satisfied, they can’t use your app.

Which means that all distribution and entrance to the app begin at one two points limited to the operating system itself.

  • App stores.
  • Home screens.

And, so being, this tells us three things about apps.

First, if your app doesn’t gain traction in the app store or doesn’t have the volume or broad appeal to do so, you’re up the creek without a paddle. You have all your eggs in one basket. Your only option is to now rely solely on your own marketing reach to drive downloads.

Second, the content is locked away in the app. Remember, an app is NOT part of the web. It’s much more like Microsoft Word than a mobile website. If I like some part of an app, there is no easy way to share it that gives people one-click access to that exact same bit content.

And even if I could, it would only be useful if that person trying to access it was both on a mobile device AND had previously downloaded the app. Otherwise, the friction – switching devices and/or downloading & installing – is going to kill the efficacy of that share.

Third, bringing back lost users becomes problematic. If they delete the app, you have to start from scratch. If they just leave and forget about it, you’re main hope is that they enabled notifications and you have something to notify them about.

But even more, I think some of us get into backwards mindset with apps.

We start with wanting build an app FIRST and then find something to do with it SECOND instead of finding something you want to do FIRST and realizing only an app can do it SECOND.

That’s why EpicMix makes sense as an app. That’s why Sherpa makes sense as an app.

Resort app distribution makes this issue even worse. Because not only do you have a leaky bucket of a marketing channel, you often end up diverting valuable resources away from other, more reliable channels to dump more and more water into it.

If I had extra budget and time this spring, apps are about the last place I’d turn.

About Gregg & SlopeFillers
I've had more first-time visitors lately, so adding a quick "about" section. I started SlopeFillers in 2010 with the simple goal of sharing great resort marketing strategies. Today I run marketing for resort ecommerce and CRM provider Inntopia, my home mountain is the lovely Nordic Valley, and my favorite marketing campaign remains the Ski Utah TV show that sold me on skiing as a kid in the 90s.

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