Mobile Apps: The Evolution of a Mobile App
Much of Curls on the Go's content is created by the 1 million unique visitors to the network's websites every month, including "thousands of user-generated reviews on products, salons and textured hair-care regimens created over the past 14 years at NaturallyCurly.com," Bailey says.
The Curls on the Go app takes users' favorite features and functionalities from the NaturallyCurly websites and makes them available to them on the go. The website has a Salon Finder tool, for example, while the Curls on the Go Salon Finder tool locks in a user's GPS coordinates and displays the curl salon closest to them via Google Maps. The app allows users to post a review of their experience with a stylist as well as read reviews of other users' experiences.
Another popular feature of Curls on the Go is its Frizz Forecast, which provides the weather forecast based on how frizzy a subscriber's hair may be on a given day. Subscribers can also purchase certain products via the app, although this isn't currently a mobile-optimized experience. Subscribers who are browsing the more than 5,000 product reviews on the app can click through to TextureMedia's e-commerce site to make a purchase.
Building the App
To help build Curls on the Go, TextureMedia turned to BestFit Mobile, also of Austin, Tex. BestFit Mobile is a mobile app development firm specializing in mobile strategy, design and development.
"During March we started mapping out the scope of the app, and in April we began designing it," recalls Bailey. "Then during May and June we developed the app, and on July 1 it launched."
Curls on the Go was made available on the iPhone first (based on customer survey data), but later in the summer it was made available on Android mobile devices. To help spread the word of the app's launch, TextureMedia promoted it in iTunes' App Store on July 1.
"We actually got prominent placement on iTunes — it was featured by Apple as 'New & Notable' and in the 'Great Free Apps' tab, which helped get the word out about it," Bailey says. TextureMedia also sent an email out to its members so they could be in on the launch as well.
Hair-care brand L'Oréal Paris signed on as the launch sponsor of Curls on the Go. Its ads appeared on the app from July through September. TextureMedia plans to add other national advertisers for future sponsorship opportunities.
TextureMedia is an attractive media outlet to hair-care brand advertisers. On average, people with curls buy three hair-care products per month compared to just one product per month for people with straight hair, according to TextureMedia's 2011 Texture Trends Survey that was answered by 4,000 of its community members. What's more, nearly 50 percent of respondents said that even when they're satisfied with their hair regimens that they will buy and try other products.