Know your market
Your mobile strategy must be linked cohesively to any other marketing activities you have. An app that’s merely an afterthought doesn’t fool anyone. Usage statistics for branded apps are damning; according to Deloitte, 80% of branded apps are downloaded less than 1,000 times, so you need to ensure that your app is genuinely useful to your target market. Study their existing behaviours and aim to enhance or simplify them.
Use a proven formula
Understanding your competition within and outside your sector is essential. There’s no point diving in if you don’t have a handle on your marketplace or its users. Take the time to look at features and functions that might be appropriate for your audience. And if you have the luxury, try and find a proven agency to conduct the work for you.
Identify your users’ behaviour
Never try to force your users to perform an action they have no experience of or desire to follow. Making your users do too much work will only alienate them from your product and the brand you’re representing. Try as far as you’re able to smooth out any user effort – and start with minimal functionality, that way you can build a product around user feedback.
Does it need to be social?
Not everything needs to Tweet or post to Facebook; most of the time your users are astute enough to know how to do these things themselves. If it’s absolutely necessary, then build this functionality in, otherwise leave it out. No one wants a bloated app or a product that forces social integration.
Make it about them
You have mere seconds to engage with your users and retain them. If you don’t understand your audience, you’re sunk. Why should they listen to you if your tone of voice is at odds with their perception of your brand across other channels, or if you require them to perform actions that are totally alien? Learn about your users and involve them in the design and validation of your product. They’ll thank you for it and can even become evangelists for your app.
A mobile app is not like most forms of marketing – you can’t just put it out there and wait for it to do its job. You need to continually iterate and evolve it to meet people’s needs. Integrate analytics so you can study people’s path through your app and understand which parts of it are a success and which are not. Armed with these insights, find some real users to talk to and find out exactly why some aspects work and others don’t. User feedback is your app’s lifeblood, create channels specifically for capturing it and keep iterating.
Good apps cost money
Altogether, the planning, design and development of a mobile app is going to take quite a long time for a number of different people. Be realistic in putting the costs together and make sure to leave budget for the iterations after launch.