Even though the mobile landscape is already crowded with millions of apps, companies are forced to join in the fray or risk being obsolete. Financial research firm Morningstar tackled the mobile challenge by streamlining the content provided on its print and digital products and upgrading its features.
Two years ago, Morningstar launched its first digital app called Morningstar StockInvestor for the iPad, which complements the firm's PDF offerings and print newsletter of the same name. The app was designed by Morningstar's product and design team, and although it was well-received by users, the company struggled to develop a template for the app that could be used across its other newsletters.
"We wanted scalability, but designing a customized app for each newsletter was taking too long so we looked for other options," explains Peggy Seemann, senior product manager of publications at Morningstar. The company chose Adobe's Digital Publishing Suite, which enabled the company to design standardized apps for its other newsletters that included features like videos and live data feeds.
Another plus, according to Seemann, was that the firm's newsletter design team was able to create the apps alongside the company's print and Web products as part of a more efficient workflow. When an editor completes the print version of the StockInvestor newsletter, for example, the design team can insert the content and imagery into the app via templates, in addition to other features like the video and live data offerings.
Access to real-time stock information is one of the most popular features of the StockInvestor app. After implementing real-time data capabilities to the app, viewership shot up from about 40 views per month to more than 600 monthly views. In addition, more readers are watching videos created by analysts on the app instead of on the website, the company noted.
Seemann also attributes the smoother workflow to high download rates of the app. While Seemann declined to say how many users had downloaded the original StockInvestor app, she noted that approximately 99 percent of the company's subscribers who own iPads have downloaded the app since the new features were included in May this year. The company also launched a DividendInvestor app for the iPad in April and has seen a 32 percent adoption rate. The company is working on creating tablet editions for two other newsletters, Morningstar FundInvestor and Morningstar ETFInvestor.
The company has only begun to take advantage of the capabilities that Adobe's platform offers, Seemann notes. "Our apps don't have ads and we're not cross-selling products on them; we're just trying to drive adoption rates for now," she says. "But apps are an important avenue for talking to the customer and the flexibility that we have to add features and customize our monthly issues will go a long way to increase customer engagement."