Last updated: 8 April 2020

Coming up with a mobile strategy can be a daunting task. 

There are so many considerations to take into account, so many people that need to be involved, and so much complexity. 

If you want to develop a mobile strategy that not only works, but drives impact, this article will show you how to do it, step by step.

Let’s do it!

Table of contents

Step 1: Understand the overall company strategy, dependencies and competitors before creating a mobile strategy

The company strategy will drive your overall mobile strategy. 

At this phase, it is critical that you engage stakeholders from various parts of the organization to get the best understanding of the current processes and priorities of your company. 

Start by engaging stakeholders from several departments to map out touchpoints, strategies, and mandates.

These are the key elements you need to focus on:

1.1. Always start at the highest level

Document your company’s strategy, key performance indicators and target goals for the next five years.

Don’t think mobile or online, but think as big as you can. What exactly is your company trying to achieve?

If your company is led by experienced leaders, you should be able to get answers to the key questions that will be driving your mobile strategy: 

  1. What is the mission of the company?
  2. What do you believe in?
  3. What is your objective? That is, what is the final outcome your company’s strategy wants to achieve?
  4. What is the scope of your strategy?
  5. What’s your competitive advantage?

Your goal is to understand your company’s overall strategy and its annual key performance indicators. 

This is in order to ensure that the mobile strategy you develop will be in step with your company’s overall strategy as a complementary tool.

1.2. Mobile strategy is not an extension of the online strategy

Focus on your customer’s journey to understand where mobile can become a useful tool for your customers as they interact with your company.

Typically, executives hired to drive the mobile strategy only look at the digital team’s strategy. 

However, this is not right because the mobile strategy is not simply an extension of your online channel. 

Customers expect a mobile app to be more than a website. 

The best way to be valuable is by understanding how the customer actually interacts with your company today. Once you know that, you can 'intercept' the sweet spot where the mobile application can sit to provide the ultimate amount of value to your existing and prospective customers.

A customer journey exercise is a fantastic way to educate your team about all the steps a customer goes through in their relationship with your company.

This is great not only because your mobile team will understand the end-to-end flow and how your business operates but also because in doing this exercise you actually put the customer first. 

Let’s look at this example:

Source

When done right you get to understand the various gaps between channels, departments, and business processes. 

As you can see in the above example, the sales cycle worked, but the fulfillment of the order was delayed only to be saved by an in-store experience and great customer service.

When engaging in this process you will already be able to start thinking about:

A) the touchpoints in this end-to-end process that can be added to your mobile app;

B) how and which of these touchpoints can be better served.

The app must offer the user everything the web does and more so that users have an incentive to download the app onto their personal devices. 

1.3. Mobile is not a channel

It’s a touchpoint through which customers can quickly interact with your company in a convenient and seamless way.

Perhaps the biggest disconnect between customers and businesses is that a company looks at mobile as a channel, but customers don’t think about it that way. 

We just think in terms of wanting or not wanting to interact with a business wherein mobile is only one of the touchpoints and, increasingly so, the most convenient and natural touchpoints of all.

To that end, mobile becomes an enabler for your company – a way to wow your customers by helping them get whatever they want from you as quickly, efficiently and smoothly as possible.

As such, when you’re drafting your overall strategy you must understand how all other touchpoints fulfill the customers’ needs and internalize the reality that your mobile strategy will be just another touchpoint - but preferably one that is slightly faster than the rest.

Source

1.4. Understand who you’re competing with.

Document and analyze what your competitors do well and what they do less well, so that you can define the market baseline before your team creates a great app.

Why should you look at your competitors strategies before building your own strategy?

  1. It will most likely reveal a common set of best practices that will make it to the list of features and functionalities of your app. 
  2. You will inadvertently discover things your competitors do poorly. Jot those down as ways you can surpass the competition.
  3. You will also discover things your competitors don’t do at all. Make note of them too as they may very well help you differentiate yourself from your competition as soon as you launch your application. 

Once this analysis is done, you should have something like this before you draft your own strategy:

At Y Media Labs, we call this the experience brief.

In doing this exercise before outlining your strategy, you should be able to highlight and consider:

  1. What your competitors are offering through their mobile channel
  2. What you’re going to offer
  3. What you’re NOT going to offer
  4. How what you’re offering will be different and, yes, preferably better than your competitors

1.5. Define the Strengths and Weaknesses as well as the Opportunities and Threats that can help/prevent your product from being successful.

A SWOT analysis can really help you define and overcome the biggest challenges your company is facing and be aware of all the forces that can influence your success – or failure.

You need to look at internal factors that will impact your mobile development. 

This is an example of a SWOT analysis done for Microsoft.

Source 

What’s great about this exercise is that it makes you self-aware of all the different factors that can impact not only your mobile strategy as a whole, but ultimately the success of your company. 

And most importantly, your mobile strategy will be directly impacted by this analysis. 

Step 2: Define your Enterprise Mobile App Strategy

Once you've clarified the overall company strategy and dependencies, you are in a position to think about the overall Mobile Strategy for your team.

At the highest level you will need to focus on the use case(s) for your mobile application, the resources needed to execute your idea, and the technology stack needed to ensure the program is a success.

2.1. Define the elevator pitch idea that will drive your mobile strategy

Before you launch your mobile product, you’re already dealing with stark competition, limited resources, and an increasingly demanding mobile user base. 

So the more you’re trying to do, the less likely it is that you'll do all those things in the right way.

Your entire mobile strategy will focus on getting this right:

  1. What’s the idea?
  2. How will this idea benefit the mobile user?

The best format for your strategy is this: we will build this so our customers can do that. 

It is the big 'what' followed by the big 'why do I care.' It is preferable that this idea is long-term, yet realistic. 

Additional critical components of a great mobile strategy:

  1. Your idea must tie in nicely with your company’s overall strategy for the next few years.
  2. It must be delivered within the budget and timeframe you commit to.
  3. You must account for contingency plans (what if things don’t go as expected, and what’s plan B?)

2.2. Work on building the mobile roadmap

Now that you have your overall idea clearly defined, create a roadmap to break down the idea into all the components that need to be executed to deliver on your mobile strategy.

You can also see this as a project plan where projects are spread out based on the expected velocity of a team over sprints or months.

This is what a typical roadmap looks like:

Source

It’s basically a visual timeline for your team that can be used to communicate milestones to stakeholders outside of the development team, but also to ensure there is alignment between your company’s overall strategy. 

2.3. Document the resources and budget needed to execute your mobile strategy

Once you've identified the elevator pitch idea, you need to understand what it will take to deliver it. 

You typically have two types of expenses: capital expenses (headcount) and operating expenses. 

Your biggest investment will be in people, and one reasonably expects the costs to be higher for the first year when trying to deliver the first version of the app, and then to decrease over time as work is more focused on optimization and adding other functionalities. 

A multi-year budget plan is probably the best way to go about this. 

Of course, the budget will influence how quickly you can deliver the MVP as well. 

For example, if you need 20 developers to deliver MVP in 6 months but you only get funding for 10 then your revised estimate would be that MVP won’t be delivered for one year. 

Additionally, once the budget situation is resolved, you can focus on the actual roadmap, to which we turn next.

2.4. Define the technology stack

Work with the IT team to ensure that the underlying technology is in line with the business goals of the mobile app. Most of the things you need to settle are:

  1. Network readiness;
  2. Data access points;
  3. Overall security solution;
  4. Management of the bandwidth extended to mobile users;
  5. Support and maintenance costs;
  6. Performance monitoring tools;
  7. Network load balancer;
  8. Define clear SLAs for the overall performance of the app;
  9. Content Delivery Network.

You may not think of these issues as you’re using apps but the reality is that these are critical to the success of the app. 

In addition, never take for granted that the IT organization will do the due diligence and proactively define the standards.

This is a great example of a typical mobile enterprise technology stack:

Source: Mentor Europe Blog

The bottom line is that nobody will care about the app as much as you do, and therefore you need to clearly document and establish internal alignment to ensure that the app actually performs seamlessly.

2.5. Choose agile development over waterfall development as a core component of your mobile app strategy

With the waterfall software development approach you determine what you want to build, then you build it with the understanding that any changes after the original design phase will be cost-prohibitive and avoided as far as possible. 

In this methodology, everything is rigid and only what was agreed to upfront will be executed. 

Additionally, projects get delivered in large chunks:

Often multiple projects touching the same flows come together and they all get delivered usually months away from when requirements were first discussed.

On the other hand, with an agile methodology, the requirements and business needs evolve over time.

Because requirements change all the time, the best way to develop software is through an iterative approach.

You define the quickest way to deliver what the customer wants, and then you develop it as soon as possible (MVP), launch it, test it, and if need be, make subsequent iterations. 

The goal for teams following the agile methodology is to deliver as often as possible, even as often as every two weeks. 

In following these principles, agile teams are more likely to adapt to changes quickly and embrace new challenges without being constricted to the predefined timeline that the waterfall methodology adheres to.

At the highest level this is how the two methodologies are different:

Source

The agile methodology has proven significantly more efficient and productive than the waterfall methodology. 

Reacting to customers’ constantly changing needs and providing easy solutions to their problems is always better served by a methodology that embraces change instead of fearing it.

In addition, agile teams usually adopt a 'can do' attitude versus following rigid processes that have been defined in a vacuum.

We suggest that adopting an agile methodology should be one of the core components of your app strategy and mindset!

Step 3: Define the Single Product/App Strategy

3.1. Create your product strategy by defining clear use cases based on the customer journey

You know what the end goal is now. You know who your users are. 

The next big question is, what would it take to deliver on your idea?

Once you’ve outlined the overall mobile strategy and rallied internal stakeholders, you need to clearly lay out the process/plan through which you will deliver on your strategy.

The first thing you should do is define all the pieces that will make the final product. Come up with a complete feature set for your application.

Now that you’ve documented everything you can think of, you need to ask yourself what the specific use cases you want your app to excel at are.

If you nail down your app’s primary and secondary uses in such a way that the customer’s mindset is to always go to your app when accomplishing a task, you’re setting yourself up for success.

3.2. Define your target audience – who is going to use your app and why?

It’s natural for everyone working in software development to simply think of its customer base as a potential user of the application. 

But the reality is that there is no such thing as 'one user'. 

The real problem is that you’re building your app for a variety of user types. Knowing what these user types are in advance will help you more accurately define the functionalities your app should build for.

This is where personas come into play. 

Use them to understand the various users that could be exposed to your application. 

This exercise is critical because it will help you and the team define requirements and create user experiences that will cater to as many user types as possible, thus increasing the likelihood of your app adoption and long-term success.

It also forces you to be in the right mindset when you actually end up writing the requirements, which is to build for your most common denominator.

3.3. Define your data points & Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

If done right, this step will clearly measure the effectiveness of your strategy against your Key Performance Indicators, thus proving the value of your program to the company. 

If done incorrectly, you risk either not delivering on your strategy or not being able to prove that certain metrics (sales, adoption, etc.) were the result of your mobile strategy. 

As a general rule you should try to align your metrics along the following lines:

Company metrics:

  • Revenue
  • Market share
  • Increase customer satisfaction
  • Reduction in cost to serve

App metrics:

  • New users
  • Increased usage
  • App rating
  • Lifetime value
  • Retention rate
  • Session Length
  • Active users

Tracking data is easy with so many tools out there. The secret is to know what to track and to do it well from the beginning. 

This table shows you just how robust tracking can become for mature applications:

Do it well and everyone will thank you for it.

3.4. Determine if you need a hybrid or a native application

Source

Once you have defined your target audience and your KPIs, you need to decide if you’re going to build a native or a hybrid application. 

We wrote a comprehensive article on this topic, but in short we always recommend native applications because they're more secure, allow you to provide the best-in-class user experience, have the best performance, and allow for an offline mode. 

In addition, it's easier to be found in the app store and you can access the device-specific hardware/software (GPS, location, Shake, Calendar). 

That being said, if you’re in a hurry to go to market you may consider the less optimal approach and build a hybrid application. 

It has lower origination costs, a faster (initial) speed to market, and you can use one source to deploy the app across platforms (Android and iOS at the same time).

3.5. Determine the first platform you want to build the app on - iOS or Android

Generally, we think you should first build your app on iOS because iOS users are more likely to spend money on apps and on in-app purchases, the iOS platform is easier to work on, and overall it takes less time for developers to deliver the final application. 

In addition, there are only three versions you need to account for and a more limited amount of screen sizes. 

On the other hand, Android is the dominant platform with the majority of the smartphone users in the world. 

Moreover, Google’s app release policy to Google Play is a breeze by comparison to Apple’s stringent and bureaucratic app release policy.

In general, we do not recommend companies build their app on both iOS and Android at the same time. 

Instead, we believe you should build your app first on iOS, then use customers’ feedback and in-app engagement to improve the app, and only then start work on your Android native application.

3.6. Decide whether you want to build your app in-house or if you’re going to use an external agency

Should you outsource the development of your application or should you hire more people? 

This is a decision your company needs to make, and there is no simple answer to the question. 

In general, if you do not already have a mobile strategy, you should consider outsourcing the first version of your application to an external agency. 

This is advisable because companies like Y Media Labs already have a set methodology in place and the resources needed to expertly deliver the app on time and on budget. 

In parallel, you can begin the process of hiring full-time resources. 

But since finding the right talent takes time, as does bringing people up to speed, leaving the first iteration of your app to professionals will give you the results you need in a pre-agreed time frame.

3.7. Start your marketing strategy now, before you build your app!

In general, companies wait until an application is already built before starting their marketing strategy. 

This will not produce the same results as starting to market your application as it's being built. 

If you start early, you can engage current and prospective customers in the early stage of the app development process and get their input into what you're building and whether it will suit their needs. 

Starting the marketing campaign early will allow you to engage with various influencers who can promote your application by word of mouth or through their digital channels even before the app is ready to launch. 

Finally, we always recommend getting the press kit ready well before the app is live so that you can engage the press and provide great content to generate excitement. 

Another strategy we recommend is starting a blog around your app and soliciting input around key functionalities and flows through the blog and your marketing social channels.

No matter what marketing strategy you employ, you are always in a better position if you start your marketing activities early and continue the conversation with your current and potential customers along the way.

Step 4: Define the Product Management Implementation Strategy

Once you have successfully defined the what and the how much, the last step in the process is your Implementation Strategy. 

In short, you will need to define your overall Minimum Viable Product, the overall project plan, and the standards and processes that the development team will need to follow in order to deliver the project on time and according to your strategy.

4.1. Define your Minimum Viable Product

Now you have everything clearly documented or at least outlined when it comes to the ideal state. 

Depending on the complexity of your business model, you may have close to or more than 100 features and functionalities identified. 

The next step is to take each and every one of these features and rank them based on a very simple algorithm: 'must', 'should' and 'nice' to have features. 

In other words, out of the 100 features identified you can certainly launch the app with a subset of features and have other features prioritized after the first launch, with more to come later down the road. 

A different way to look at it is simply based on priority. 

At the end of this exercise you should get something like this:

The goal of prioritization is to define the minimum viable product

That is the leanest application you can build which would allow customers to successfully use the app based on your business goals while allowing you time to start developing non-MVP features. 

4.2. Define and enforce your non-functional requirements

Just as you need to define best non-functional SLAs, you need to ensure that you have great coding practices clearly defined.

Make sure your developers do a good job building the software. For example, run the HTML pages they build through PageSpeed Insights from Google

What this tool will give you is a score for each page as well as optimization strategies that many developers disregard and in doing so cause additive problems to their mobile apps. 

It is also a simple and very useful way that teaches you to write page-level non-functional requirements and to enforce them with your developers.

Some of the common coding practices often not followed by developers include leveraging browser caching, compressing files and images for mobile views, minifying HTMLs, eliminating render-blocking JavaScript and CSS for above-the-fold content.

4.3. Define your Testing Strategy

If you work in software development you know this: some bugs will get to production.

In order to minimize this issue, you need to have a very clear testing plan defined even before your developers write the first line of code. 

Typically, your test plan should include:

  • Feature to be tested
  • What’s in scope
  • What’s out of scope
  • Test case
  • Expected outcome
  • iOS/Android OST version for which this is tested and passed/failed

Additionally, from a strategic point of view, you should decide early on if your company will invest in any testing automation tools that will run in both your QA and production environments. 

Defining this early on makes the testers’ jobs a lot easier and more streamlined.

4.4. Define the tools you will need to manage your application successfully

As you’re implementing your mobile strategy there are so many tools you need to adopt and implement. 

For example, most companies nowadays use JIRA to document requirements and track time and progress for the software they build. In addition, once the app goes live you may choose JIRA or TicketNow to document and track any production issues discovered now or in the future.

What about tracking the overall business performance of your application? Will you use Google Analytics? Or do you want a more robust tool such as Omniture/SiteCatalyst?

Another critical consideration you need to account for is the overall performance of your application. 

How you’re going to monitor, what automatic alerts you want to get, and the overall performance SLA. There are many great options out there such as Dynatrace, Splunk, AppDynamics, and FogLight, to name just a few.

Another area you may consider investing in is the testing automation tools. 

At the beginning, you may rely exclusively on actual QA Analysts/testers and stakeholders to do all the testing. However, as your app’s usage grows, so will your roadmap. Investing in QA testing tools would go a long way to ensure the application is bug-free when it hits production, and they will also reduce your overhead cost for the QA team.

4.5. Production-ready and post-production support

The glorious day has arrived. 

After months of hard work, your application is about to go live. 

You’ve done all the testing and all scenarios passed. 

You’ve also gone through the tedious process of submitting your app for release...

But before you actually pull the trigger and launch your application, you need to make sure you actually have a clearly defined strategy for the following:

  1. How will the app be tested once in production?
  2. How will any issues/defects be logged, tracked, and fixed?
  3. Do you have a roll-back plan in case all hell breaks loose and the app needs to be reverted?
  4. Do you have version control of the app?

There are lots of details that go into production support and overall support ownership. 

All this needs to be clearly called out and documented well before the day comes when you can say hello to the world.

In conclusion

There’s a lot to be said about building a great app. 

It gives the team a great sense of empowerment, and, when tracked correctly, it produces great value to the organization. 

At the highest level a strategy for building an app is very simple: think big, act small, release, test, and improve. 

But as we've seen in this article, a good mobile strategy requires a lot of thought, managing many moving pieces, getting alignment across the organization, and coming up with the right budget, resources, methodology, processes and contingency plans. 

We are confident that if you follow the process above you will be well positioned to successfully build, release and manage your app.

In a rather surprising move, during the 2015 Thanksgiving shopping week retail giant Amazon.com offered mobile app only deals. If you wanted a 50" HDTV for only $150 (wow!), you simply had to download the app on your smart device - accessing the web from your mobile device didn’t count, you had to have the app downloaded. Amazon was not alone in this move. Target offered 10% off simply by creating a wish list on the Target Kids App. Other retail giants offered deals first on their app and then online. Shifting the focus entirely from desktop to mobile app engagement is certainly a bold move. At the same time, with 1.2 billion smart phones in the world, and 25% of the US population accessing the internet primarily through their phones, with 10% exclusively through their phones, maybe this mobile app development strategy is not without merit.

Eight years after the launch of the first generation iPhone, arguably the biggest game changer in customers’ behavior towards their phones, there are still many companies across the US who have not fully embraced the world of mobile consumers. In 2014, 45% of all US businesses didn’t have a mobile app or responsive website. Things have certainly improved since 2014 when 28% of US companies admitted to not having a mobile app development strategy. By 2015, only ~11% of US companies did not invest in mobile app development.  Despite all this progress, when Google changed their algorithm for search in April of 2015 basically de-prioritizing search results from companies that were not “mobile-friendly”, a staggering 40% of the Fortune 500 companies were negatively impacted by the change since their websites were not mobile friendly.

What all this data shows is that many companies continue to operate in the mindset where the desktop/laptop experience takes priority over mobile. For those businesses that have a mobile app development strategy, new features and functionalities are still internally conceived with the web being the priority and mobile being an extension of the web.

Companies across the board continue to struggle to define the optimal mobile strategy for their business. In this article we explore the top ten reasons why you should make mobile strategy  a priority in 2016. The benefits of a “mobile first” strategy speak for themselves from both a customer and a business perspective.

  1. With 51% of total web viewing occuring on mobile, you need a mobile app development strategy.

Customers literally carry their phones with them everywhere. They wake up in the morning shutting down the alarm and checking the weather on their smartphone. They spend their time in transit to work looking the entire time at their 4-6” screens. They take breaks during the day and they carry their phones with them. They leave work and still their eyes are on their phones. They go out to dinner or to meet with a friend and even then they sporadically glance at their phones. I have even heard of people checking their phone during face-to-face job interview. The point is, the smartphone is with us all the time. I have forgotten my keys at home, my lunch, even my work laptop, but never, ever have I forgotten my smartphone when walking out the door.  The smartphone is the technology I spend most of my time on each day, every day. And I’m not alone. According to Internet Trends 2015 Annual report, people spend more time on their phones than on any other device.

2015 Internet usage by channel (mobile/web/tablet)

Of the approximate 6 hours spent by customers each day on various digital channels, 51% of the time is spent on mobile, 42% on desktop/laptops and 7% on tablets.

Source: http://www.kpcb.com/internet-trends

If people spend so much time on their smartphones these days, your business strategy must account for that.

2. Customers want to find what they need, fast, and based on their location.


The Uber app is a prime example of a company offering customers a service based on location and need

The Uber app is a prime example of a company offering customers a service, based on location and need.

Turning on your location on your phone, you can catch an Uber or a Lyft. Or, on a road trip, you pull up your Orbitz app to find available hotels nearby. Perhaps you go to your Yelp app to search for nearby restaurants. Sure, many websites offer location-based services that let you enter your zip code to find results but smartphones eliminate the need for customers to manually enter any information and instead provide the instant gratification of finding what they're looking for based on their location. Location based services have become so second-nature to most customers that in 2015, a staggering 75% of all US customers looked for offline, location-based services on their smart phones.

3. Notifications allow you to get to your customers in real time.

The old algorithm of engaging with customers only when they reach your website is gone. Push notifications have made it easier for any business to get in touch with their customers by sending critical information (your order has shipped) or marketing offers (check our sales on the app) directly to the user.  In the past, the most effective method of pushing content, products, and offers to a user was via email. Even in today’s world, emails remain a very effective method of engaging with customers with the average click-through rate hovering around 3%. However, in a surprising turn of events, push notifications are far more powerful mediums of communicating and engaging with your customers than emails ever were. Accengage, a company that specializes in push notification technology for mobile apps, analyzed five billion push notifications sent to 150 million app users. The findings? A phenomenal 6% of all customers clicked on a notification across all industries and OS types. That makes in-app push notifications 100% more effective than your email marketing campaigns. What this means for a company is that they are 100% more likely to convey a message to a user through push notification than through email. This is what makes push notifications so powerful.

 

Push Notification open rate

Source

39% of Americans check their email 1-3 times a day with only 34% of them regularly checking their email throughout the day. In contrast, customers check their phones 46 times a day. This has redefined not only how people interact with the digital space but also how companies relate to their customers.

We check our phones so many times a day that companies can get to us “in the moment”. For a short 2-3 seconds you get my attention and if you know what you're doing you can convince me to act based on the information you provide me with. And that’s what a micro-moment is: in a few seconds, companies with mobile apps can deliver quick information, based on which I can either act (buy this!) or consume (your pizza is on the way).

Google time/ location notification
Google Calendar time/location notification makes customer's lives easier by reminding them of upcoming appointments.

And your opportunity is huge: not only do you reach me through a push notification but you also provide me with the relevant information and options inside the app enabling me to act in the spur of the moment or return at a later stage. With so many opportunities to engage with me during the day, your likelihood of being effective is much higher when you have a mobile app then through any other means.

  1. Personalization is King on mobile.

Groupon's personalization in-app strategy
Groupon's app excels at personalizing the experience by providing contextually relevant information based on the user's in-app experience.

Here’s the greatest thing about a mobile app: once authenticated, a user need never log in again. In contrast, on a website you can only keep the user online for a limited amount of time either because of online legal regulations or because a user will clear their cache, making you lose the connection with that customer. On mobile this is not an issue. When a customer taps on an app the opportunities are endless. You can show him personalized deals and recommendations. You can take him straight to your homepage or to any other page that you think will convert him. You can show him his previous activity on the app or suggest something new. There are no limits to how well you can personalize a user’s in-app experience.

Consider the page I see when tapping on the Groupon app. This app has completely personalized user experience based on what they thought was relevant for me: informing me of an existing deal, reminding me of deals I previously looked at, and trying to sell me on a new type of service they’re offering which I've never tried before. That shows just how powerful a mobile app can be based on the data points they've collected about me in the past. Don’t miss out – personalization is key on mobile!

  1. Get honest unbiased feedback through the app store ratings and reviews.

As many companies have realized over time, true unbiased feedback is hard to get. Any business that tries to be customer focused will have strategies for engaging users and getting their honest opinion. In a website setting, that is more difficult to achieve. Typically, it’s done through a pop-up which most users will almost automatically, without reading, dismiss. In the app world the conversation is different because the user has a clear way of communicating their point of view. In a website setting if a user doesn’t like what they see they simply abandon it. On an app, especially if they don’t like it, they will leave comments. And though a company might take a hit in download rate if their feedback is too negative, they can easily gauge customer interest, likes, and dislikes, and that way they can easily adapt their mobile strategy. More importantly, when pushing down an update, the company can clearly and concisely call out what's been fixed based on user feedback, as in the examples below:

 


[su_row][su_column size="1/2"]app updates based on users' feedback[/su_column] [su_column size="1/2"]companies acting on users' feedback for app changes[/su_column][/su_row]
Companies who act on users' feedback get more engagement and loyalty over time.

As we can see from the weather app, the developer is very quick to thank users for their feedback and call out what changes they've made based on user input. The Google app also calls out what is clearly a set of optimizations made based on customer input (improved navigation and load time improvements). Not only is this feedback mechanism good for the business, it’s also good for the customers; it shows that companies listened to them, and that as a user they have a voice in this interaction.

  1. Collect critical information from your customers in a convenient way or allow for easy alternatives on a smartphone.

in app credit card scanner

Companies offering a credit card scanner make it easier for users to enter their billing information

We’ve all been there. You get to the point where you want to make a purchase and now you need to pull the credit card out of your wallet, enter the 16 digit number, the expiration date, the first and last name and the CVC code. When we're really determined to buy a product we begrudgingly do all that. But with a smartphone the process is much easier. With software like card.io any app can simply use the option to allow the customer to simply position their credit card in front of the phone’s camera where all but the CVC code is “read” by the app on your behalf. This advancement not only makes the collection of billing information easier and more convenient to the user but it also eliminates the potential for failure (not entering informational correctly) for the user, something your traditional desktop cannot do.

  1. With an app, you have the customer’s full attention.

Firstly, if you think smartphone users spend their time on their phones surfing the web, you are mistaken. 80% of the time spent by a user on their smart phone is inside an app with only 20% of the time being spent on websites.  Secondly, by the very definition of an app, once you've captured the customer’s attention they will spend more time on your app than engaged in other activities or using other apps/websites. In the traditional desktop world, the user can simply open new tabs and move away from your website. On a smart device, from a user’s point of view, it is very inconvenient to abandon the app, go to another app or website for comparison shopping, and then return. What that means in the mobile world is that if you can attract the customer to your app then your chances of providing relevant content that will result in a conversion are much higher.

  1. Improve overall engagementwith your customers.

If you played all your cards right and ended up with a user downloading your app then you’re in a good position to engage with that customer. Firstly, the user took the trouble of downloading the app instead of cruising in and out of your website. Secondly, your app is now taking up top real estate on a user’s screen. That puts you in a great position to engage with that person. For example, users are more likely to tap on an app if they see a notification count next to it because they see it almost as an unopened email that they need to look at.

  1. Offline mode allows for uninterrupted engagement.


Shazam's offline mode

Shazam's offline mode makes users' experience enjoyable even when mobile data is off.

People find themselves in offline mode all the time. Your office might have poor reception. Perhaps you're on a plane. Or at a cinema, waiting for a movie to start. The point is this happens to all smartphone users. All the time! And when that happens, companies with native applications that support an offline mode are in a great position to delight and engage their users. When your app is loaded on the customer’s phone you’re not so reliant on network or Wi-Fi connectivity which allows you to continue engaging with your users. Some companies that are dependent on the cloud to function properly will even go the extra mile and save the user’s input for later when the user’s phone regains network access.

Frankly, I’m surprised mobile app developers have not yet found a way to trigger notifications to smartphone users with spotty internet connectivity in an attempt to differentiate themselves as an app a customer can use during the internet down times. Give it time!

As we can see, in the world of mobile app development there are 9 strategies not present in the desktop/laptop space which allow for meaningful conversations and relevant product/service targeting campaigns. Most importantly, these 9 strategies are effective and useful for a business because they focus on making the experience convenient to the user. From Shazam’s ability to save a song tag for when I regain phone reception, to Uber’s capacity to match me with a driver based on my location, to Google’s tools that remind me when to head out the door based on an upcoming appointment, to the companies that allow me to scan my credit card and save me the hassle of manually enter the information, these mobile app enabled abilities focus on the customer.

As we all know, the most successful companies are those who make customers’ lives just a little bit easier and help customers fulfill tasks in a faster and more efficient manner. Is your company positioned tactically through a mobile strategy to help your customers get what they need?

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