Remember the Alamo… app

Introduction:

Alamo Drafthouse began with a search for the ultimate movie lover’s movie viewing experience, and that search is what drives it still today. The founders wanted to create the ultimate movie going experience and share it with those who appreciate film as much as they do. In a way, they are the best people to run such a business, because they are their own clientele, and know exactly what their customers want better than anyone.

Content Analysis:

The Alamo Drafthouse Ticketing App only has a few calls to action.

  • Pre-order tickets
  • Order tickets online
  • Create/use a Victory account

When it comes to content opportunities on the app, the most impactful is the description of films currently showing. Alamo takes full advantage of this content field, using every sentence of film descriptions to convey their brand personality. The descriptions reflect the passion for film that Alamo has, and wants to instill in its audience. The app also has a feature that allows users to locate nearby locations, and to see show times based on those locations.Image 1Image 2

As far as encouraging loyalty, the app allows for users to utilize, or create their Alamo Drafthouse Victory account. This account helps track purchases, eases the electronic checkout process, and implements a rewards system based on customer interactions with the brand. By allowing for these accounts in the app Alamo ensures that customers have a seamless experience across all of the brand’s digital interfaces, and provides an incentive for repeat business.

When looking at their website and social media feeds there is no mention of the app. The only push to promote the app is found on their mobile site. The calls to action on the other platforms focus on the following.Image 4Image

  • Purchase tickets online
  • See new releases
  • See special screenings
  • Attend special events and presentations

Alamo’s mobile website utilizes responsive design to great effect. The interface on mobile contains all the content of the native site, while presenting it in a way that lends itself well to mobile layouts. The website and mobile site offer information on promotional events and stories providing content which stimulates audience engagement while also offering the service of online ticket purchases. While the app offers the service of electronic ticket purchases and store location finders, it looks and feels completely different from the brand’s other digital interfaces, and offers nothing new to the user. This does little to add value to the engagement between the brand and its audience aside from simply offering a convenient location to purchase tickets from.

The physical location’s efforts to promote the app were on par with its digital media. There were no signs promoting the app. When asked, employees seemed to assume that there was an app, and what its purpose was, but they did not go out of their way to push for its use. While this is troubling if you invested greatly in the app, with this brand it may be more beneficial since there is a well-established mobile site that already renders the services that the app offers.

Recommendations/Conclusion:

If it is the brand’s goal to connect its audience with the app, then there are several things to do. First and foremost there needs to be visible promotion of the app both in store, and online.

In Store

  • Signs at the ticket counter encouraging customers to download the app highlighting the benefits of Victory membership, and informing them that it would allow them to skip the lines during future visits.
  • Promotional clips could be played during the previews of films showcasing the apps uses, and perhaps connecting them with a new function on the app that provides a “theater mode” setting, meant to be used when viewing films at Alamo Drafthouse, that offers rewards to customers while also encouraging them to adhere to the theaters zero tolerance policy for mobile devices during showings.
  • Employees need to be encouraged to promote the app, and to help connect customers to the services that it provides. Not harassing patrons with constant requests to download the app, but informing them of the benefit that using the app will have on their experience at Alamo Drafthouse.

Online

  • On the native site there should be a promotion for the app by the ticket purchasing tab, as well as in the process to purchase tickets, informing users of their purchasing options for when they are on the go.
  • Promotional posts via social media that individually showcase the app’s functions, and the benefits that the app could bring users. These posts would be part of a campaign to not only encourage use of the app, but to bring in more patrons to the theater. The campaign would be called “To the Alamo”, and utilize the hashtag #ToTheAlamo. Posts would be made once a week on Friday afternoons to encourage the audience to go to the Alamo for their weekend fun, while offering a service to make the process easier.
  • Collecting user testimonies about their experience on the app. Offer incentives for users to share their stories, the winners get the incentives and their content gets featured on the brands social platforms.

The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is doing next to nothing to capitalize on the investment made in their app, implementing any of these initiatives would go far to help create audience engagement on their mobile platform.

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Your watch just tells time???

Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams cam out in 2002, and a little over a decade later consumer technology is starting to reflect movie spy gadgets. With devices like Nike+, the Apple Watch, Android Wear, Google Glass and many more, walking into your local tech shop is starting to resemble a trip to Q’s lab in the James Bond films. Wearables seem to be the technological frontier of the 20-teens, much like the cell-phone was in the 2000’s.

Before we continue, you need to know what wearbles are. There are many definitions, but the consensus is that they are a technological devise worn on the users body with several functions that enhance the users experience. Your watch doesn’t count, unless it tracks your location via GPS, or monitors your vital signs, or makes txts and phone calls, or allows you to access the internet, or any combination of the above and more. In this age of wearbles your average wristwatch has the same technological value as a rock.

So why is there such a craze for this wearable tech? There are two reasons that I can see. The first being the innovative applications that these devices run, and the specialized services that they offer to their users. There are watches that can monitor your vitals, metabolism, calories burned, and breathing during a work out. For athletes these services is extremely valuable, and helps them to do what they do better. There are also wearables created for infants that allow you to monitor sound, as well as vitals, sleep cycle information, and more.

The second reason is that our society craves convenience and novelty. This is more a cometary on society, but if we don’t take into account this very legitimate driving force behind the integration of wearable technology  into popular culture, then how will we know how to best use it for business purposes? Things like the apple watch are banking on the popularity of their brand, and the fact that their loyal customers will buy most anything with their logo on it. When I talk to people about the apple watch the only function that people talk about wanting is the ease of access to their phone’s functions. Other than that, they are just talking about who they know that is getting one.

Based on these observations, wearables offer access to very specific demographics. The first being highly targeted demographics for the users of  wearables that fit a specific purpose (i.e. workout monitoring devices, and baby monitors). The other being the early adopters and trend followers, capitalizing on the desire of the novelty and a desire to fit in with the “trendy”. FullSizeRender(1)

As a consumer, I do not like wearable devices. I feel like the direction they are currently taking, away from specific purposes and towards general all purpose devices, is nothing but a ploy to get more money from consumers. Call me old fashioned, but I like my watch to be just a watch.

You can go with this, or you can go with that.

We live in a very interesting time. The speed and access to information is almost unfathomable, and yet somehow is constantly being improved upon. When I was growing up, going to a website required your phone to be cut off and could take several minutes. Now you can look up a website while talking on the phone, and you can do it all on the same device! While my generation has taken little notice of the amazing feat, content marketers have been pushed to the limits keeping up with the breakneck speed of the advances.

The current question facing content marketers is what to do about their mobile presence. There are currently two courses of action; a brand can create a mobile friendly version of their website (Responsive Design), or they can create a mobile app. Both of these options offer benefits and drawbacks.

Responsive design is by far the cheapest option. The concept is simply to take a site that already exists and create an edited version that allows for ease of access and use on mobile devices. In my opinion (as a college student) this step towards integrating your brand into the mobile platform is mandatory. If your site is clunkFullSizeRendery, tiny, and hard to navigate on mobile platforms chances are no one will want to visit it on those devises, and rightful so.

Speaking for the current generation 9/10 times when looking something up I am doing it on my phone. If I happen to come across your site and it is unusable on mobile than you just lost a potential customer. If this happens all the time than you’re in major trouble. You have to be able to communicate to your audience where they are, not where you want to be.

Mobile apps are the most interactive medium for mobile devises. The major benefit of an app is the freedom to create whatever form of interaction you feel your audience needs. Offer a rewards program, membership benefits, games, community platforms, easy payment options, the possibilities currently seem endless. The ease of access that users have to their apps increase the likely hood that they will interact with your brand on a daily basis.

However, don’t jump the gun and begin developing an app because some 21 year old told you they were good. Apps are only effective when they offer something to the user. The purpose of an app is to raise the level of interactivity beyond that of a website, if you can’t do that than why bother wasting the time and effort?

In my “expert” opinion, all brands need to incorporate responsive design into their websites, it’s a requirement of the times we live in. However, whether or not your brand needs an app is dependent solely on it’s purpose, and it’s audience. In the end you are the best judge what your brand and audience are capable of, plan accordingly. But do it quick before the next “innovation” hits.

Gamifying the Content World

So you create content, whatever that may be. Cool. But how do you convince your audience to engage in that content? Is there a sure fire way that your audience is actually engaging with your brand aside form just logging into your website, or following you on social media? A lot of content these days are blog posts, and script. How do you break past that common place content and ensure that your audience is actively participating in your content? You turn it into a game!

Gamification, despite the absurdity of the word, is a growing tactic within content developers and marketers. Give your audience something to do, or a way to engage/compete with other members. People love to play games, it’s like it’s hard wired into our brains. The are countless examples of gamification in content. Pac-Man

The most recent that I am aware of is Google Maps’ Pac-Man feature. Just search for an area that you would like to play the game in and turn your chosen location into the classic arcade game. It drew quite a lot of attention from people due to the games launch proximity to April Fools Day, and the nostalgia associated with playing Pac-Man on the street you grew up on, or your college campus. By using this game Google was not only to engage their audience in a new and creative way, they were also able to draw in users who do not normally frequent the maps application.

By offering a game, you are in some ways challenging your audience. Whether it is self satisfaction at completing a level, or getting a free item with their next purchase, people love to be offered the chance for a reward. Companies like McDonald’s realized this years ago with their Monopoly game, and that set the precedent for an entire industry. Now companies like Starbucks have taken the frequent-user-punch-card, and created a new and more interactive system that enables customers to feel a sense of accomplishment when they reach a new level. All the while driving sales, and increasing brand engagement.

While gamification of content isn’t always practical or useful, it is definitely an innovative way to engage your audience. The real skill is determining what to gamify, and what to let lie.