These days, if you have a business, you undoubtedly have a website. But what is becoming more and more ubiquitous these days is having your own app. Because people have smartphones in their pockets practically 24/7, it makes a lot of sense to have an app to connect with your customers, both current and potential. But there are right ways and wrong ways to have an app for your business, and unfortunately, there are more wrong ways than right ways to get that done.
This ultimate guide will provide you with some significant points that you should look at when you are going to have an app designed for your business. Gone are the days of a basic container app delivering your web experience ‘natively’. To get lots of downloads and, more importantly, engagement, you have to create an experience designed exclusively for the mobile phone, and one that takes advantage of the powerful hardware that we all have in the palms of our hands.
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Conduct Market Research
There are millions of apps in the Apple and Google app stores today - more likely than not, your app idea has already been done in some form. Start with a competitive review on both app stores to see what others have tried and succeeded or failed at. Use them as they are intended and see if the promise delivers. Learn where they are strong and where they are weak. This research will help you determine which features to include and which can be left out from your MVP. It will also show you various ways to, for example, move a user through onboarding or deal with profile management. Better yet, ask others to use some of these apps and ask for their feedback. You’ll see what pops out from a UX perspective and what gets lost in complexity.
Related: How to Budget For a Mobile App
Define Your Goals
Defining goals is notoriously difficult - set them too low and you underachieve; set them too high and you demoralize the team. While you might think that just having an app is enough of a goal, in reality, that is just the start of things. You need a set of key performance indicators that you can align your efforts against. One of our favorite metrics to watch for is the active install rate. It shows you the number of people who install your app but do NOT uninstall it; basically, your app's retention rate. You should also look at the number of ratings that you receive for the app and the average rating in the app marketplace. You may want to work to keep your average rating at or above a certain figure for long-term success. 30-day retention is another powerful indicator of stickiness. Once you get to the monetization stage, then your metrics likely shift to revenue generated from sales and/or in-app purchases. You’ll want to figure out your Lifetime Revenue per User so you can budget enough for ads.
There’s nothing wrong with being a diehard Apple fan, but you have to consider what your customers use to understand if you can get by on one platform or if you need to go cross-platform. It’s a tricky balance - If you only focus on one of the major app stores, you are missing a large chunk of potential customers. But building for both app stores doubles the effort (and thus budget). Generally speaking, if you are still looking for product market fit, stick to one platform while you learn. Once you get positive ROI, get onto the second platform and incorporate all of the lessons learned already.
Just like with a website domain, you should go and claim the major social media accounts for your app as soon as possible. You don't have to do anything with them at first, but just claiming them allows you the opportunity later to start using them to generate interest and share content and more with those who are interested. Also, knowing whether your name is available can help you re-brand before you’ve invested too much into the name. It also helps you build buzz before launch. You can have the social media accounts allow people to sign up to get notifications before the app launches, and even use it as a way to attract beta users. Once you launch your app, the social media accounts can be used to help with your launch efforts, and to share periodic updates, tips and tricks, screenshots, videos, and more. And be sure to link your social media accounts to your website or webpage that is dedicated to your app.
Create Content To Educate
You are not the right person to judge the simplicity of your app. Why? Because you've been around the app since it was merely an idea, and you know all the ins and outs of the app. Instead, your customers, current and potential, are the ones that you need to keep in mind. Knowing this, you should consider making some educational content about your app. Write blog posts, press releases, social media content, website copy, and email marketing copy that address problems that your app hopes to solve. Get specific - when you show how your app can solve a problem, and detail how someone can use your app to do it, you not only make your app easier to use, but you attract more people to check out your app than otherwise might not have. Some of these can be used pre-launch for marketing, while the rest will be helpful on launch day to have ready answers for users who have questions (and they will have questions).
Wondering how you should be optimizing your app for the app store? Get yourself an easy checklist to help maximize your app’s impact.
Record A Demo For Publicity
If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words is a five-minute video worth? Many times what you can say in many words is much more easily conveyed by a quick video. Consider recording a video where you showcase the operation of your app. You can easily do a voiceover to highlight functionality. Your PC will likely have a default video editing software, but we also think Camtasia is a great video editing software that is easy to use if you want to try something different. Because there are so many apps out there, and plenty of them will be similar to yours in some ways, having a clear video will make your app stand out, and people will enjoy having access to easy ways to understand your app.
Create A Website Or Page
We mentioned earlier that you should link your social media accounts for your app to your website or webpage. This is when you should create that website or webpage. If your app is essentially your business, then your website will be totally focused on the app and support the app. However, many businesses already have a website, so instead they will have a webpage or landing page dedicated to the app and customer support. On this website or webpage, offer a way for people to sign up to be notified when the app launches. Make it very easy to contact you, in case users have problems or questions, or if they want to help beta test new features and versions. Some people love to be part of how things are created, so give them a chance to participate in the feedback and ongoing improvement of your app.
Launching An Invite-Only Beta Test
When you feel that your app is ready to launch, it is a good idea to start with a beta testing launch with a small set of users. Perhaps you have a list of people who have indicated that they would be willing to beta-test your app, or you might advertise that your app is now open for beta testing. Either way, it creates some buzz and gives you a direct line of feedback from actual customers. What you receive back from the beta testers is invaluable insight that you can use to tweak your app before releasing it to the general public. As many different ideas you might have had about how people would use your app, you are still bound to get some new perspectives that you hadn't considered.
Advertising, Influencers & Other Marketing
When you get close to the actual launch of your app (after the beta testing, of course), you will want to start to implement your marketing plans. This might include advertising on various social media platforms, or even advertising your app within other apps. Don't overlook trying to utilize influencers for your app as well. You will have to do some research to find the right influencers that you can reach out to and try to build a relationship with. Coupled with the influencers is the possibility of implementing an affiliate program for your app. Give your influencers their own custom link to track downloads and/or purchases, and they will get rewarded when their followers take the desired action. Also, look to your partners as well to see if there are marketing synergies. The goal is to blanket all of the digital areas where your customers hang out to raise awareness of your app and, hopefully, to motivate them to download or buy it.
Launch Your App
Today is the day! You've worked hard to get to this point, refining your idea with your app developers and incorporating feedback from your beta testers into the app. You've developed the content for the website, email marketing, paid advertising, and social media, and more. Now you are launching the app and you need to tell the world that it's live. Everywhere that you can, provide links to your app on one or both of the major app stores: website, email, social media, and more. Get on Facebook Live and start talking about your launch. You might offer a special discount code for people to use in your app as well. And of course, remind everyone to not only download the app but also to ask them to tell their friends about the app and to leave a review in the app store.
Let's face it, launching an app these days is more like launching a new business or a new product. In order to really get your app to have noticeable movement, you need to put in the time before the launch to get things right and to set yourself up for success. You are building an app to make it easier for your customer to interact with you and to use your services or to buy your products, so be sure to listen to your customers and beta testers when they point out pinch points in your app design. When you follow these steps while building your app, you will help ensure that your app is one that is used and loved by your customers rather than quickly forgotten.
Is your business ready to build an app? Reach out to the experts at SF AppWorks today to get things rolling!