Remember Apple’s “there’s an app for that” iPhone 3 commercial? It may seem like ancient history now but, in fact, the viral and eventually trademarked phrase was thrust into the public’s collective consciousness just six years ago. Since that time, mobile app development has grown increasingly popular. As a matter of fact, recent research from Forrester found that 80 percent of consumers now use mobile brand apps.
But the branded mobile app picture is not completely rosy. Some brands still haven’t even considered mobile app development while many others have had difficulty sustaining engagement and retention. A recently released Business Insider study, for example, noted that 52 percent of all apps lose at least half of their peak users after just three months.
Mobile app development requires a significant investment of both time and money, so when they underperform, the repercussions are not just “water under the bridge” for these brands. How can businesses ensure that they reap robust ROI from their app projects?
Consumer preferences vary from industry to industry, so in much the same way marketing and sales campaigns must be tailored to specific audiences, an app should also be developed specifically for the kind of consumers that a business wants to reach.
We know what your next question will be before you even think of it! How does a company avoid simply guessing what its customers and prospects want in an app and instead, ensure that the final product is a smashing success? Here are a few suggestions:
- Quantitative User Research: Advanced analytics are all the rage in the business world today and employing it for your mobile app development project should be no exception. You need to understand how consumers are currently interacting with your brand before you develop a new app, or completely overhaul an existing one. If research indicates that shopping cart abandonment is a significant problem for a business’s existing app, for example, that organization knows that functionality must be upgraded in the future.
- Qualitative User Research: Numbers are important, but they often tell only part of the story. Customer surveys or focus groups can help companies get a more in-depth look at exactly what features, functionality and experience consumers desire. Qualitative research is also an effective way to gauge the popularity of a feature before actually spending time and money building it into the app. If consumers are ambivalent about a potential upgrade listed in the questionnaire, you can simply scrap the idea.
- Analyze the Competition: At its core, success in any business endeavor often comes down to a company’s ability to offer a product or service that competitors can’t match. For organizations building branded apps, it is crucial to identify areas of opportunity where a competitor’s app may not be delivering. In blunt terms, companies have to attack the opposition where it is weakest, which means carefully studying the competition’s product before building an alternative. As Michael Corleone famously said, “It’s not personal. It’s strictly business.”
- Don’t Rest After the Launch: It’s tempting to throw a party the day a new app launches and check the task off your to-do list. But remember the aforementioned stat about apps losing peak users within three months? Oftentimes that abandonment occurs because companies do not continue to reach out to consumers for feedback on the product and don’t continue to enhance the app post-launch. Don’t let your app become a victim to this stat.
Armed with this knowledge, your organization now has a road map for mobile app development and ongoing maintenance that will ensure your app stays popular with its users.
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