App development for businesses and brands is on the rise. Many companies are waking up to the benefits offered by business applications and are now working to design and build their own.
When in the process of building an app, there are so many variables and so many things to think about. If you are not careful — or if you lack experience — you might just miss a trick or two.
To make sure you get the most out of your app, here are five questions you have to ask during design and development.
1How Can Your App Add Real Value?
Apps provide an opportunity that no other form of media can.
Instantly accessible through anyone’s smartphone, they offer a real chance to give users a bit of added value — value they couldn’t get connecting to your business through other platforms.
When you’re developing an app, you have to think about the value added. Ultimately, if you don’t give users a solid reason to download your app, they won’t. Even if they do, it will be uninstalled shortly afterwards!
Options to consider are exclusive deals and vouchers, unique methods for connectivity — such as a live chat service — and the ordering of goods or services.
In addition to these, there are three very popular value-adding features regularly utilized within business apps:
Push notifications can be hugely beneficial for both you and the consumer. They allow you to send direct messages to users on their phone via the app. Similar to text alerts, the great thing about a push notification is that it isn’t easily buried and will almost always be seen by the user.
In essence, this means that mobile apps are not only a powerful marketing tool for sending users info about deals, new products or to engage previous customers. You can also let your consumers receive added value through the apps.
One way is to keep them aware of updates that may be of interest or useful to them.
Loyalty bonuses, for example, allow users to gain rewards via the app, track purchases, engagement or other variables that help them gain points. Once they have accumulated enough of those points, customers can exchange them for goods or services from your company.
Loyalty bonuses are a great method of adding value to the consumer experience. Doing so through an app means such rewards are easy to earn, track and spend.
Online mobile payments, bookings and reservations can provide enormous convenience when conducted within a mobile app. If your business is not taking mobile online payments, you’ll be missing out on 51% of all UK eCommerce sales.
Some business owners are reluctant to take online payments. And if users really want it, they will ultimately go with another company that provides this type of functionality.
Even if you don’t want to initially take an online payment, consider allowing users to book their own appointments or make booking inquiries online as a method of lead generation.
2What Platform Should You Build it On?
Brand and business mobile apps should be built on all major phone operating systems: iOS, Android and HTML5 (Windows devices).
Developing three separate apps can be very expensive. With this in mind, try to look for a company that can deliver them all, ideally in a single project. Building all three at once allows for reuse of design and development concepts, minimizing development overheads.
Beware of companies offering just an HTML5 solution or a “web app”. These apps are just websites that have been optimized for a smaller screen. They do not provide the same benefits as native mobile apps.
A few of the major differences are:
- Native apps can access the phone’s other built-in technology; not just it’s screen. A native app will have full access to features such as swipe gestures, accelerometer, the phone’s microphone, camera, GPS and much more. Simply put, they offer a much tighter and feature-rich experience.
- One the main benefits of having an app is the ability to send free, unlimited push notifications. Unfortunately, web apps just can’t provide this same level of functionality and an app without push notifications is a bit like a pencil without its lead: pointless!
- If an app has native support, it will also work like people expect it to. The feature will it much more intuitive and user-friendly.
3How Will You Update Your New App?
An app is not just a one-off investment. Over time, you’ll need to perform maintenance and introduce updates. For example, if you launch a new service or product, change prices, menus or opening times.
You need to make sure that your app development platform or Content Management System (CMS) offers some kind of flexibility with regards to making changes and additions. The last thing you want to do is build a very self-contained app that is almost impossible to adapt to new business circumstances.
As part of your design process, ensure you have functionality built in that allows you to make changes and access code easily. You don’t want to be stuck building an entirely new app if you decide to change your business direction.
For this reason, think of your app as an evolving, dynamic marketing tool that represents not only your business today, but what it might be in the future.
4How Will You Market This App?
“If you build it, they will come” is not a phrase that should be too closely associated with a business app. Sure, loyal and regular customers will likely jump on board. However, it is unlikely that anyone else is going to go searching for it.
When building an app, it’s important to start thinking about how you are going to market it. Once complete, you don’t want to be then left with an app with just a handful of downloads, as you slowly work through the marketing process. You want to get your money’s worth and bring in downloads straight out of the gate.
Consider your marketing options prior to the app’s release and run your campaign to it going live on app stores and marketplaces.
Press, blogs and ads are all ways you can promote your app as soon as it is released. Promote it everywhere. Add the app’s quick response (QR) download code to all advertising, along with the familiar Google and Apple store logos. This can help with association.
5Is There Functionality To Track And Measure User Engagement?
Apps provide a powerful marketing tool that should never go under-utilized.
By recording user input variables, you can gain valuable insight to your customers that is unattainable through other means. This includes data on how frequent the app is visited, what tools within the app are most popular or where your users are geographically.
However, you can only record and measure these data if you have the codes to track them. When designing and developing your app, be sure to include methods that can track user inputs and measure your success.
Remember: if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Launching an app needs to be managed with insight from adopted usage.