One of the newest advances in mobile device technology is the sophistication of apps. Increasingly creative and dynamic, these mobile applications continue to spring up. Last year alone, 50 billion apps were downloaded from Apple’s app store.
Authors Karen Kerrigan and Raymond Keating called it an “‘app’ortunity” in their 2011 study for the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council. Referring of course to the small business potential to save time and money with mobile apps, they noted that as the world continues to go mobile apps “on mobile devices are helping small business owners save time; reduce costs; increase revenue and productivity; work more effectively; and better serve customers.” In additions, mobile applications are also used as marketing strategies.
This has left many smaller businesses wondering how they can jump onto the app bandwagon and start reaping the benefits of offering a customized mobile app to their customers. But the technical development of an app has many business owners shaking their heads. So, here are some basic steps to testing the waters of app design.
Start with Questions
Before jumping into the colors, setup and features that your app should have, it is important to sit down and ask, “Why?”
•Why does my business need an app?
•What can my customers and my company gain from an app?
•What will be the purpose of this app?
•Will it make operating the company more efficient?
•Will it promote brand awareness?
It is important to remember that apps are another form of marketing, despite the current craze. If your company’s website and mobile website are already fulfilling all the needs of the business, then an app might be unnecessary, advises Scott Robinson. Make sure that an app is created to fulfill a specific purpose.
Design and Development
Once you have identified the reasons to have an app, the features and format should essentially create itself because your governing purpose will drive the final product.
After detailing what the eventual app should fulfill, it is time to search for a developer to make your ideas into a functional application. When approaching a development company such as Blue Rocket, come prepared with a list of good questions. Entrepreneur.com recommends the following list:
•Can I see examples of other apps you’ve developed?
•May I have a list of past clients?
•What types of special features can you create?
•Who will own the finished app?
•Will you test the app?
•Will you submit it to app stores for me?
Once you have walked through the processes of brainstorming and development, it is time to tell the world that you have an app. Utilize your social media channels to advertise the new app. Tell your customers how it can help them when you see them in your store or office. Perhaps, you should even film a short YouTube clip demonstrating how the app works.
There are over a million apps for sale, so it is easy for yours to become lost in the sea of similar products. This is why promotion on your part is a key to letting your followers and clients know about it and encouraging them to download it.
Perhaps you want to develop an ordering application like the Chipotle iPhone app. Or maybe you hope to invent a way to keep paperless inventory for your company. With these basic steps, your business can effectively navigate the waters of app creation to bring your mobile marketing idea to life.
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