Sherwin-Williams drives iPhone app downloads with mobile ads

For Sherwin-Williams, introducing an iPhone app was a natural extension of its online and in-store efforts. The “Color Snap” app is designed to help customers match paint colors through photos they take on their mobile phones, letting consumers match paint shades to pieces of furniture or curtains, for instance. It stems from an online effort that Sherwin-Williams did this spring.

“The mobile effort is a genesis from the Web experience that we created last year,” said Pam Gillikin, director of interactive sales and marketing at Sherwin-Williams. “We already had those back-end technologies built and we thought it would serve us well to develop it into an iPhone app.”

Although an iPhone app is a way to engage consumers on the go, a challenge is getting new ones to stand out in the iTunes Store’s sea of apps. Sherwin-Williams launched the app in May, but didn’t see a lot of downloads at first. To optimize the app’s effectiveness and build brand awareness, the paint retailer decided to run a mobile ad campaign.

For two days in early August, the company ran a mobile ad campaign on the AdMob publisher network, raising awareness of the app. In doing so, Sherwin-Williams was able to increase its ranking from number 70 in the utility section of the iPhone store to number 18. The app also saw a 500% increase in daily downloads due to this increased position.

“Being a paint manufacturer and a retailer, it comes down to keeping everything relevant and accessible and trying to connect with consumers in whatever phase they might be in during a potential project, wherever they are,” said Gillikin.

Johanna Werther, product marketing manager at AdMob, said that the ads improved the app’s ranking in the iTunes store. The higher ranking then did its part to increase the popularity of the app.

“The second most popular way for people to discover apps is searching in the top 25 apps in the Apps Store,” said Werther. “If they weren’t there, then people probably wouldn’t have known a paint-matching app existed.”

Gillikin also attributed the app’s growth to the effort’s integration across channels, as well as the mobile ads used to build awareness.

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