There’s almost nothing hotter in the digital space than mobile applications. Accordingly, almost everyone in the agency world has had to answer the question of why or why not to create a mobile app for their clients.
Granted, there are plenty of reasons why spending the money to build a mobile app is indeed a good idea - but there are plenty of reasons why jumping on the mobile bandwagon aren’t a good idea as well.
1. It starts with demographics - who are the customers and what type of smart phone or tablet do they tend to use? While of course Android and iPhones are the most popular, understanding how both current and potential customers access the client’s website, contact info, and other social media can and should inform the applications and other digital platforms you eventually build.
2. What is the actual goal or reason why you decided to pitch the development of a mobile app? Is it sales, positive user sentiment, increased awareness, or another metric? Instead of merely creating an app because all of the competition is doing it (not that you would do that of course), establishing your goals before you create the app concept will likely lead to much greater success in the future, along with making better use of your client’s budget.
3. What are the key performance indicators? Knowing what metrics are important to the client - and therefore what is essential for you to track and report upon - will help you design a successful app, corresponding marketing plan, and follow-up monitoring efforts that will make your agency (and therefore your clients) look like heroes in the eyes of the higher-ups. And really, isn’t that the end game of most projects?
4. Do you have a marketing plan to ensure your app is listed prominently in the Apple store, Google Play, and any other outlet? Promotions within the app stores themselves are perhaps the most valuable method of encouraging and increasing downloads. Clear and compelling screenshots, a helpful and vivid description, and appropriate keyword rich titles and descriptions are all fundamental elements of ensuring that users can easily discover your app in the appropriate locations.
5. Pricing is key - most branded apps are free, but if you plan to charge for your app, there should be a very good reason why your target audience should spend their own money on your marketing efforts. In the vast majority of cases, brands are better off by offering free apps - they’ll get “paid” on the back end by being able to harvest customer data and market to those who have downloaded the app in the future.
6. Be careful with advertising. No one wants additional advertising on an already branded app, unless maybe you are working for one of those unicorn brands like Apple or Adidas that already has its own cool factor. As an agency representative working with B2B or B2C clients, you’ll want to avoid including any additional marketing or ads - users have already opted in just by downloading your app! Mobile app developers without outside obligations have a bit more freedom, but keeping the user experience the first and foremost priority is always important.
7. Social media integration is a buzzword for a reason. How is your app integrated into the rest of your clientele’s digital life? Are other apps and social media sites connected? How about email or texting? You’ll want to make it as simple as possible for them to share the app itself - and anything they may create with it - with their own networks.
8. Choose your partners wisely. Many agencies don’t have the facilities to develop mobile apps in-house, so therefore they work with partners dedicated to the process. However, not all mobile app developers are equally talented - so asking the right questions is essential (via Ideas To Appsters). In fact, it is perhaps most important to ensure who owns the final code - it should be your agency or the client depending on your agreement, not the developer.
There’s no denying the fact that mobile apps are hot right now - but at the end of the day, the success of an app, and therefore your client’s mobile campaign, depends on why users should care, and how you can get them to do so by downloading, interacting with, and sharing the applications that you pitch.
Originally published May 7, 2014 3:58:16 AM, updated July 28 2017