With the smartphone increasingly becoming the tool of choice for many shoppers, businesses with their own mobile apps are quickly learning this is an excellent way to get a leg up on the competition.
Branded apps, which give retailers a direct link to their consumers’smartphones, are gaining in popularity among shoppers. Recent studies show that consumers spent six times as much time using retailers’ apps this winter than they did a year ago, while more than 60 percent of affluent shoppers view brands with mobile apps more favorably.
Despite this opportunity to connect with consumers, many businesses are missing the mark due to a poorly conceived and developed apps. Ed LaFoy, a mobile developer for digital consulting firm Table XI, warns of five mistakes businesses should avoid when creating their own branded app:
- Recreating the Web experience: Developing an app that simply recreates a business's website is probably a waste of money. It’s important that the business determine what will provide value to on-the-go users, and that it use responsive design to make its website accessible on multiple devices. Take advantage of mobile-only functionality, like bar-code scanning and location-based recommendations, to enhance the user experience.
- Ignoring the rules: Apple has lots of rules, and it's easy for a business to find itself on the wrong side of them. Read the Apple guidelines to ensure the app is viable before investing time and money developing it.
- Throwing branding out the window: An app should be an extension of the brand, but don't lose site of the brand identity. Maintain visual consistency with the business's other touch points and experiences (mobile, app, Web, print and real world) through the use of color, typography and personality.
- Overlooking privacy: Apps provide tremendous marketing insight, but don't collect or use personal information, such as locations and contact lists, from mobile devices without both the explicit permission of the user and disclosure of data use.
- Assuming there's an audience: This one cannot be overstated. As is the key with starting just about any marketing effort, know the target audience and how to measure success. Without a plan, a branded app is likely to be one of the 400,000 “zombie apps” that are never even downloaded from the App Store. Businesses should study their audience and identify the unmet need, and then use their app to solve that problem.
Author: Chad Brooks
Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.