If you are involved in branded online sales and do not already have a mobile app, then it is fair to say that you are already behind the curve. You cannot head back in time to get your app out there in the early boom, so there is no time like the present to introduce just what new and existing customers are seeking with a dedicated mobile sales channel. Competition is stiff, but we hope, in the context of this feature, that you already have a brand that sells itself. You do not need to stand out on the App Store as users will already know of you – now it is time to ensure that they find you when they search your name on their device.
A bad app can be terrible for business – if users cannot find what they want to buy or struggle to place an order, then you may do more harm than good. If your strategy has determined that now is the time to deploy native mobile content, then the following tips will ensure that you pull it off the right way.
1. Start with a Strategy
The native nature of mobile apps ensures that full control is in your hands, and the potential is there to take your app in any direction you choose. While this flexibility is always welcome, it is essential to avoid a scattergun approach. The first question to ask before even getting into the development is why this app is being made. You may want to satisfy tangible demand from customers or would like to focus on acquiring new customers through mobile channels. The answer to this question will drive your mobile strategy going forward, and there should always be a solid business case for making any modifications.
2. Be Focused when Choosing Features
There is plenty that a mobile app can do, but the nuance in design comes not only from choosing which features to include but also the features that are not relevant. A mobile store does not need to turn on a torch or link random YouTube videos, even if it is possible. The strategy should drive your choices – if selling products, then the ability to zoom in, compare and watch videos are all crucial, together with a robust checkout process. If you are seeking to gain new customers and subscribers, the app should have a facility for joining a mailing list while showcasing your products in the best light.
3. Leverage Improvements in Speed
Modern society wants everything right away. Mobile apps allow businesses to deliver at lightning speed as the native nature of the apps means that they will outdo websites and other applications. It is essential not to sacrifice this speed, so ensure that your app is created to the latest coding standards and avoid unnecessary bloat.
4. Identify the Ideal Customer
If you are already successfully selling through other channels, you have likely been through the process of identifying your target audience. However, the same strategy may not apply to mobile users, and you should take a separate app profile into account in the design. These users will likely trend younger and potentially be more familiar with different social channels than your core customer base. It is always worth tweaking your efforts to maximise your reach to this specific audience.
5. Stick with the Latest Technologies
New coding technologies and app design options catch on because they are superior to the previous generation. Whether coding the app yourself or bringing in outside assistance, it is vital to make the backend of the app as modern as possible. This will enable it to be as fast and reliable as possible, while also potentially opening up new features and extras to make it even more impressive.
6. Keep it Simple
This phrase applies to so much in daily life but keeping an app simple is always a good idea. Returning to the first tip, we mentioned having a strategy, and the design and deployment need to be laser-focused on achieving this. There will be some creative types around you that will come up with ideas and ‘improvements’, but it is crucial that everything supports your message and there are no distractions from growing your audience or making a sale.
7. Build Relationships
Desktop computers can be seen as windows to the world in the context of online transactions. Mobile devices differ in that they have more personal use. Your app customers use this device to speak to family and update their friends, and the phone or tablet comes with a more relationship-focused feel. This is the wrong time to be a big, faceless corporation, and capitalising on the personal touch in your app will build goodwill and encourage repeat business.
8. Don’t Aim for an Instant Home Run
You might be overflowing with ideas, and they may all be good ones. However, your very first release does not need to be the most fabulous app ever made. It should be functional and follow the tips above, but there are good reasons for holding features back. Releasing them before they are ready may have a negative impact, while a new update can encourage lapsed users to see what has changed.
9. Remember that it is an App
The creation of a mobile app represents an opportunity, and you should grab it with both hands. If all your app ends up doing is replicating your mobile site, it is a waste of time and money. Take advantage of what apps can do that mobile browsers cannot and leverage it towards your strategy.
10. Never Lose Sight of the Big Picture
The design and deployment of a mobile app can take up plenty of energy, and it is easy to lose sight of the fact that it is just one part of your business. Always consider how the app fits into your overall product offering and make decisions while taking the needs of the entire company into account.