Recent data from Adobe/eConsultancy shows that nearly 2/3rds of companies surveyed stated that they planned on increasing their mobile investments in 2015. And it’s easy to understand why – just about everyone has a smart phone and enjoys using mobile apps. Plus, developing an app can help you generate extra revenue, gain a competitive advantage, and boost customer engagement.
But not just any app will bring you those benefits – you have to strategize and plan ahead to set your app up for success. Otherwise, your efforts in the app creation process will be ineffective. Start thinking about what you need to do to create a successful app by asking yourself these 4 questions:
Will my app provide an attractive solution to my target audience?
Too many business owners believe that simply building an attractive app will draw in more customers and help improve sales. However, that’s only the case when the app solves a specific problem that the target audience is facing.
Let’s look at an example of a good app that does this: Charmin’s SitOrSquat app. Instead of creating an app that was merely a mobile version of their site, they sought to meet a need of their target audience by creating an app that helps women find clean public restrooms.
Pretty clever, right?
Tide also made an app that’s both connected to their product and useful to their target audience. It’s called Tide Stain Brain, and it helps people learn how to eliminate a wide variety of stains from their clothing by providing specific, step-by-step washing instructions.
See how these apps relate to the product that the companies are selling but focus more heavily on providing value to the audience? That’s what your app should do too.
So, think about what your target audience needs the most in relation to your business, and use that information to drive the direction of your app. Keep in mind that everything from the idea behind the app to the app’s copy/design should cater to that audience.
How will I market my app to set it up for success?
Apps have become increasingly popular as smart phones have become more of a necessity than a luxury. Take a look at this graph showing how the number of available apps has increased over the past several years:
As you can see, data from June 2015 shows that there are over 1.5 million apps currently available in the App Store. Of course, not all of those apps are your competitors, but some of them will be.
So, what’s going to make your app desirable among a sea of similar ones?
Simple: your marketing. Here are a few things you’ll want to do as part of your app marketing strategy:
- Optimize your app name and description for the App store. When naming your app, use key words based on what your target audience is looking for. Also, make sure the name stands out enough to get them interested.
- Write about the app development process on your company blog. Doing this will build anticipation and keep your customers informed about the release date so they’ll know when the app is available for download.
- Make sure the app helps you build your brand. Scroll back up and look at the Charmin and Tide apps I mentioned earlier. See how they both use their brand logo and colors within the app? You should do the same to keep your brand in the forefront of the customer’s mind. That way, you build customer loyalty and they’ll be more likely to pick your product next time the need arises.
Let’s be honest – marketing your app the right way is going to take some time and effort. However, it’s critical to your app’s success, so you need to set aside the resources to build an effective app marketing strategy that aligns with your business goals.
Tip: For ideas on how to promote your mobile app, check out this blog post.
Should my app be available to download for free?
You might think that charging for your app is a no-brainer. But before you make a decision, let’s compare the pros and cons of free and paid apps.
More people will typically download your app if you offer it for free. From there, you can offer in-app purchases to help you drive revenue. If the thought of offering your app for free makes your uneasy, consider that data from 2013 shows 76% of all revenue from the App store comes from in-app purchases, and apps that include in-app purchases generate the greatest amount of revenue.
In other words, if your app is engaging and offers options that are sure to entice your target audience, you will likely see financial benefits from releasing it for free. And by doing so, you won’t have to spend as much time convincing people to pay to download your app initially – you can simply let the free app speak for itself and your customers will gladly pay for in-app purchases.
Another benefit of releasing your app for free is that doing so lowers the expectations of your customers. After all, they didn’t pay anything for it, so they’re far less likely to be disappointed if it doesn’t meet their standards.
Of course, the downfall of releasing your app for free is that you can’t be certain whether or not it will generate revenue. It must be highly engaging to do so – otherwise, you’ll have spent all that time and money developing an app for nothing. Of course, you can always use advertisements within your app to generate revenue if you don’t want to include in-app purchases.
Because of the upfront cost, paid apps sometimes result in fewer downloads. So, you’ve got to be pretty confident in your audience’s willingness to purchase if you’re going to release a paid app.
However, the obvious benefit is that every download earns money for your business. Plus, you can still use in-app purchases to generate even more revenue. Here are a few other benefits of releasing a paid app:
- No need to use ads. This typically results in a cleaner look and feel, which your customers will definitely appreciate.
- User loyalty. If someone pays for an app, they probably really wanted it. Therefore, they’re likely going to stick with your app longer and stay engaged with your brand.
- Perceived value is higher. When customers download an app that they have to pay for, they expect it to be good and are more likely to recognize its value.
Use the information here and the data you gather while performing your own research to determine whether or not you should charge customers to download your app.
Should I outsource app development or handle it in house?
Often, businesses choose to handle app development in house because it allows them to feel like they have greater control over the process. However, this can backfire because:
- In-house developers may not have the specific skill set necessary to create a user-friendly app that will resonate with the target audience.
- Project scope and budget may be difficult to manage properly if you haven’t taken on a similar project in the past.
- You may need to hire additional employees to help build the app, which can be a costly and time-consuming process.
On the other hand, when you outsource your app creation needs, you can feel confident knowing that the people developing it have the expertise necessary to build a high-quality app within your time and budget constraints. Plus, you won’t have to worry about your employees spending time creating an app that they could instead spend on projects more well-suited to their skill sets.
The main drawback to outsourcing app creation is the cost. Employees at app development companies often possess specific expertise that allows them to charge quite a bit for their services.
What many don’t realize is that there is a third option: using an online app-building and management system. This is a great choice for businesses looking to maintain control over their project and produce a high-quality product while keeping costs low. Plus, no coding is required, so you can easily build a user-friendly, attractive app without any prior development experience.
The questions I’ve mentioned so far aren’t the only ones you’ll want to ask yourself. Of course, you’ll also need to clear up some concerns on the technical side of the app too by asking yourself:
- Which devices will my app support?
- How will I make sure my app is easy to use?
- Does my app need to work offline?
- Am I prepared to test the app and make necessary changes?
And remember, developing an app is not something you can approach with zero vision or strategy – you have to take it seriously. Just because it’s a new medium for strengthening your brand does not mean you can just start throwing things together randomly and expect easy success. Be strategic, and think about what you can do to engage your target audience for the best results.