So you are considering creating a mobile application for your organization. An important question faces you: Why are you considering going mobile now?
In my opinion, the best way to answer this question is with another question: when was the last time you saw a C-level executive, business manager, or someone in a market segment you are trying to reach without a mobile device?
The escalation of mobile devices is nothing short of mind-blowing. Consider for a moment that there are over 5 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide, with over 86% of the workforce in the United States already mobile. Over 75% of decision-makers read their email regularly on their mobile devices. In today’s business climate, cell phones (and associated apps that can be loaded onto them) aren’t merely convenient communications devices; they are must-have business tools that affect efficiency and productivity.
In today’s world, mobile marketing and application development is a good strategic move for many organizations who want to be where their audiences
are . . . online.
Where to begin
You’ve made your mind up. An app is a good thing. What now?
You should begin with the end (user) in mind. Ask yourself: Why would my target audience want to download my application?
As you consider this, your answer may perhaps include one or more of the following considerations:
Make a task easier (e.g., buying clothes, finding a good restaurant, watching a movie, etc.)
Provide information (e.g., sports scores, bus schedules, weather conditions, phone numbers and addresses, etc.)
Entertain (e.g., games, location-based services, augmented reality, etc.)
Enhance a product/service you offer (i.e., extend the reach into mobile to reinforce and enhance branding)
Save money (e.g., provide coupons, special deals, or notice of special sales)
Follow this maxim: Make a useful app.
In the end, you want to create an app with high download rates and/or high repeat usage. To have success, the app must first be useful.
Optimizing the mobile experience
Now you have decided on moving forward with creating a useful app. The next questions staring at you are: How do I optimize the mobile experience for users? How can I make what they see and interact with as aesthetically appealing, simple, and intuitive as possible?
You might think that applications that are easy to use must be easy to develop. Not the case. Designing for simplicity is anything but easy.
Coding is becoming more of a commodity (look at the proliferation of coders in China, India, and the Philippines and the rates they charge); good creative is a premium. That is why UI (User Interface) and UX (User Experience) are so important. If the app is functional but not easy to navigate or enjoyable to interact with, it will not be used. Phones and mobile devices have limited user input capabilities and screen real estate, so designers must make hard choices about what is essential in creating a good application and what would be nice to have (but can be deep six’d if push comes to shove).
KISS comes to mind (not the heavy metal band of 80s fame, but rather the acronym: Keep It Simple Stupid).
Again, you need to always begin with the end (user) in mind. What will make the application functional and enjoyable for them?
Determine your path to monetization
The major motivating factor that influenced you to originally create an app will heavily influence how you plan to monetize it.
Will you give it away for free to support or supplement another product or service that you offer (and can monetize)? Will you display ads? Will you give it away for free but charge for extended functionality (“freemium” model)? Will it be a subscription service? Will there be a one-time cost for the application?
Whatever you decide, make sure your strategy includes a component for how the app can be monetized.
The above steps may seem simple and succinct, but it can’t be stressed enough that having a partner that can assist you with UI, UX, and coding is a way to make the process much more streamlined and enjoyable. The amount you spend will be well worth the time you will save.
Once you have your app defined, designed, coded, and created, you are now ready to hit the market. This is where a good application marketing plan provides invaluable assistance. That topic alone is deserving of its own full-length article. In a nutshell, know that a combination of online and offline marketing tactics can raise awareness of your app and help it achieve superstar app status.
A final case for going mobile
As an organization that strives to remain relevant, it is important to evolve with continuing trends and be seen as an industry leader and trendsetter. Mobile marketing adds a unique dimension to your marketing strategy and can be cost-effective for organizations who want to reach out to specific target markets. These applications provide the much-coveted “personal connection” between businesses and consumers, and can create the missing link that helps cement your target markets to your brand.
So what are you waiting for? Be a trendsetter. Lead the pack. Go mobile.