Mobile App Development 101

Want to grow your business and reach out to new customers? Build an app. More than 80 percent of customers now prefer mobile apps over traditional mobile websites. In 2014, apps accounted for 86 percent of mobile usage, dominating the mobile web. That number will grow in 2015 and beyond.

The rich and interactive experiences we have come to expect on mobile apps have created new standards and expectations for all digital media including the web. The result is websites are evolving to become more app-like in their rich functionality” says Raj Aggarwal, CEO of Localytics

Thus, creating a mobile app for your business is no longer a luxury, but a necessity.  With that being said, here’s some advice to help you with your mobile app development.

Research The Needs Of Your Customers

Before you start designing your app identify and assess the needs of your customers. This means doing thorough research to determine what kind of app your customers want. Most customers want apps that increase their daily efficiency and provide a solution to a problem they have.

Consider this: there are millions of apps in the market. In order to stand out from the crown your app needs to provide value to consumers. If your app fails to do so, you waste time and money.

For market research you can use Google’s Keywords Tools and Google Trends. There’s also App Annie which provides app raking, analytics and market intelligence and Distimo for download estimations and insights.

Saul Gurdus, the VP of Insights & Enablement at Citrix, says ““In 2015 and beyond, you will see an increase in the number of vendors that decide to take responsibility for more and more of the users’ end-to-end experience rather than simply focusing on what has traditionally been “in their control”

The industry agrees with him. By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator according to the Customers 2020 Report.

Pick Your Platform

Two platform giants dominate the app world – Android and iOS. Combined, they make up over 90 percent of the mobile market. You must choose either one or the other. The rest of the app world is fragmented and any cross-platform apps require extra work to ensure flawless transition between platforms.

There are a number of factors to consider before choosing the appropriate platform for your app. If you did your homework on your audience, you should already know their needs. Next, find out the platform your audience uses because if your app works with that platform, they’ll most likely use it. Also, design your app with features they want and put user experience first. If your app is difficult to use or full of clutter, you’ll drive users away.

Remember ease increases use. The more your customers use and rely on your app to solve their problems, the more loyal they’ll be to your brand.

Work Closely With an App Developer

Once you have a general understanding of what you want your app to do and the audience it will serve, the next step is to reach out to a mobile app developer. Working closely with a professional a mobile app developer will help you create the best looking and working app possible, while ensuring your app is technically sound.

However, there are places to create prototypes or “mock-ups” of your app to give you a better idea of its functionality and design.

Fluid UI offers mobile prototypes for iOS, Android and Windows Apps, and SketchMirror lets you preview your mobile app directly on your devices. There’s also Framer to make prototypes for animation and app interaction.

Depending on the complexity of the app, it’s generally recommended to seek out a professional.

Market and Test Your App

By now your app should be completed, so it’s time to start marketing it to users and let them test your app. Try focusing on smaller markets to gain traction before launching your app to a larger audience.

For pre-launch platforms, there is PreApps  for pre-release buzz and exposure, and Prefundia – a “coming soon” platform. Having a test market also helps you find any kinks to work out before your app’s big launch day. Here are 4 more places to test your mobile app:

  1. TestFlight – quick iOS Beta Testing on the fly
  2. HockeyApp –gather crash reports, get feedback and distribute your betas
  3. StartUpLift – Get feedback from mobile app users
  4. AppThwack – Test your app on hundreds of devices

You also want to track the entire journey of building and marketing an app to identify what’s working, what isn’t, and what’s lacking. For instance, tracking tools measure who is downloading their app and how they are using it.

Yozio is a great place for campaign tracking for mobile apps. There’s also Tapstream, which provides marketing analytics, and Distimo’s AppLink – a cross-platform app distribution and conversion tracking channel.

Understanding not only the tracking sources will help you identify the best places to market the app, but also knowing how your app is or isn’t being used will help you improve its functionality and design.

App development isn’t easy, but it’s easier than marketing your app.  However, marketing is crucial to your app’s success. Ask yourself if the best app in the world is one nobody has ever heard of, is it really the best app in the world?

Mobile Users Irritated by Automatic Redirects to App Store

At first blush, it might seem to be a good marketing strategy: automatically redirect mobile customers who click on your ad to the app store to purchase your products. However, according to a recent article from TechCrunch, the same strategy that went overboard years ago with pop-up ads on the PC is now becoming a hassle for mobile web surfers who click a link and either unintentionally wind up in the app store or even have a mobile app launch itself on their device.

Redirects Caused by Third-Party Advertisers

Last year, a number of mobile users complained about being automatically redirected to the iTunes App Store or Google Play when they clicked a link for a news article or tried to launch an app they already had on their phone. Often, the redirect completely prevented individuals from accessing the content they were intending to access.

The problem was found to be caused by third-party advertisers who produced ads whose properties were hard to detect or changed the ads after they’d been approved.

Apple addressed the issue with the beta release of iOS 8. However, the situation has cropped up again, indicating that Apple’s attempt to correct is either failed or wasn’t on the full iOS 8 release.

The newly discovered redirect is from Zynga, which redirects users to its apps via online ads. A number of news publishers’ mobile sites were found to be impacted.

Additional info: Ara Labs has conducted extensive research on the redirect problem and writes about that, as well as sharing the components of the Zynga redirect and its delivery chain.

Redirects From Businesses Themselves

Redirects from advertisers aren’t the only problem, however. Some businesses themselves are using the technology to redirect users from their webpage to their own app.

One example of a redirect from a business is Pandora, who last year was found to have abused Android’s “intents” and sent users who visited its website to its app instead.

Google has been working to solve that particular issue by disallowing deeplinks on its new Chrome browser to be triggered unless there is some user interaction first.

In the meantime, Google said that links which go to mobile applications have been highlighted in its mobile search.

Chrome developer advocate Paul Kinlan stated that Google’s philosophy on the matter is that if a user clicks on a link for a webpage, then their intention is to access the content on that webpage. Their intent is not to download an application.

Kinlan further explained that the ability to circumvent a user’s intentions with redirection to an app was a bug that needed to be fixed.

The bottom line with deep app linking, Kinlan explained, is don’t do it without a gesture from the user that the app is what they’re trying to access.

Additional Info: Check out Paul Kinlan’s blog for a number of developer tips on dealing with deep apps, injected content from third parties, and other topics.

What About Interstitials?

According to an article from WebProNews, Google has also been warning businesses not to interstitials for promoting a mobile app as it disrupts a visitor’s usage of the site. Instead, Google is encouraging the use of banner ads within the webpage’s content to promote the app.

Additional Info: For more information about creating interstitial ads that don’t disrupt the Android user’s browsing experience, check out the Google Developers’ page on the matter.

Redirects Caused by Hackers

Not all redirects are caused by third-party advertisers or the businesses themselves. In July of last year, as reported by the Sucuri Blog, there was discussion of a redirect that sent users of certain sites to either a pornographic website or an app for pornographic content. This redirect was caused by malware. The malware code was well hidden so that users wouldn’t immediately think there was something wrong with the website, but rather they accidentally clicked on an ad or typed the website wrong.

While the malware injection initially was submitted via javascript when the page loaded, the newer incarnation used javascript to force a redirection to a secondary landing page, the blog post explained. Businesses were encouraged to check their websites to ensure that they hadn’t been hacked.

Additional Info: eVuln Labs offers instructions on how to fix websites that have been hit with a malicious redirect. Stackoverflow also offers a question and answer board with topics pertaining to malicious code.

In Closing…

As consumers rely more and more on the use of their mobile devices, apps are increasing in their value to a business looking to market its products. However, when it comes to redirecting device users to your app, you must ask the important questions: Does this person want to see the app? Do they want to download the app? Were these questions asked before they were redirected? If the answer is no or you’re not sure, then your app link needs more work.

6 No-Cost Marketing Tips To Get Users For Your Android App

Without the appropriate marketing and promotion efforts, the best apps may lie dormant and unheard of – a single icon amongst a sea of competing applications.

You might have created the next big Android app that will entertain users for a millennium. But there is no applause without a crowd. Without users, your app will never get noticed in the sea of competition.

Arthur Iinuma – the Co-Founder and COO of ISBX, says “Simply creating the next brilliant and disruptive app may not be enough.  Without the appropriate marketing and promotion efforts, the best apps may lie dormant and unheard of – a single icon amongst a sea of competing applications.  Too many app developers live by the motto  ‘If we build it, they will come.’”

Here are 6 helpful tips to market your app for little or no cost.

Use afiliates or aid referrals.

Instead of only marketing the app yourself, offer incentives and rewards to users who find prospects for you. Akin to affiliate marketing, aid referrals cost you nothing unless they’re successful. For instance, Dropbox used an intensive campaign with the help of aid referrals to share their service on Twitter and Facebook, which boosted signups by 60 percent.

When a user refers someone else to Dropbox, both received a 500 mb enlargement after the prospect signed up. In return, Dropbox built a $10 billion empire.

Aid referrals are a great way to motivate users to market your app and start spreading the word faster. Even Google Apps has a referral program, promising $15 for every user that signs up based on your recommendation.

Take-aways that drive marketing for better product experience.

“Like us with Facebook” or “Follow along on Twitter” are no longer effective ways to drive marketing. Instead, offer direct incentives or key take-aways that offer better product experience. This will give people an extra reason to download your app. You can even use a‘click for charity‘ tactic to make users feel they are giving something back in return.

Allow users to broadcast their data

High scores and progress shares are effective ways to market your app. Depending on your app and its relevant market, let users broadcast their stats via social networking. For example,Runkeeper tracks and scores your running stats every day on your iPhone. The app provides data on miles ran, calories consumed, and other metabolic information. Every day a user runs, or doesn’t run, their data is shared on Facebook and Twitter, effectively marketing the app for free.

Create a landing page

A capture page or landing site is a way to gather email subscribers to pitch new products and enhance customer loyalty. Start a landing site for your app and collect emails of your customers and potential leads. Offer premium apps or services not available to the general public to bait them into purchasing your app.

For this to be successful though, the content you’re pitching needs to be compelling enough so that your clients share your content with their friends and family.

Here are 20 gorgeous mobile app landing pages to give you inspiration.

Immaculate customer service

It is impossible to make every customer happy. But make it your goal anyways. Businesses of every affinity talk about customer contentment, but fail to comprehend its importance or even the proper way to go about it. According to HelpScout, 80 percent of companies said they believed they delivered stellar customer service, but only 8 percent of their customers agreed.

Think of your customers and users as an extension of your sales staff, but better. They work for free and will share your app with their friends and family, assuming they like your app and your customer service.

How to market your App Google Play

One of the greatest features we have on Play is the ability for developers to iterate quickly and publish quickly.

The Google Play App Store is the best place to submit your Android app. Unlike the Apple store, Google Play’s approval time is quick and there is less scrutiny on what you can submit.

One of the greatest features we have on Play is the ability for developers to iterate quickly and publish quickly. Developers say that is something they truly value,” says Purnima Kochikar, director of apps and games for Google Play.

However, once you get your Android app approved, you need to know how to market it. Google Play is all about organic discovery. Users search and seek your app on their own. Although app rankings are determined in different ways, marketers have a lot of tools at their disposal to influence the process.

Google Play determines rank with two primary algorithms: search and browse. The most important factor that impacts your app’s search ranking is the title keyword.  The right title keyword can boost your app’s rank position by100 spots.

Here are a few tips to make sure you’re optimizing Google Play’s organic search algorithm:

  • Use appropriate keywords in the app title
  • Use keywords in the app description and in the promo text
  • Conduct long-term ad campaigns
  • Target loyal users for retention

Head over to Apptamin to get more Google Play marketing advice for your app.

Conclusion

No matter how great your app is, without a sound marketing strategy, it will never be a success. Follow these no-cost tips to market your app and get it on the phones of millions.

Marketing Your Mobile App Doesn’t Have To Be Hard. Read These 7 Tips

marketing mobile apps

Designing a mobile application to accompany the traffic on your website can give you a huge advantage over your competitors, but engaging your audience to encourage people to use it or attracting a new audience takes quite a bit of work.

There are a number of variables involved in effectively marketing a mobile app.

Here are a few suggestions.

1. Define Your Audience

Who did you develop your app for, and why do they matter? Define the audience that will appreciate the transition to a mobile app and use it as a start for your campaign.

2. Have a Plan

Every marketing strategy has a plan. Be specific in what you want to achieve with your application, the resources that are available to you, and the target audience. This will help you streamline your efforts and focus on concrete goals and objectives to get the results you want.

3. Do the Research

Before you build your app, you need to know what customers want. By tailoring your app to customer demand, you will be able to tailor your campaigns to those components. This also helps in developing visuals and content that will engage and interest.

4. Be Unique and Useful

Your mobile app should have one thing that makes it stand out from other applications. If you are the first in your field to have an app, that’s a perfect platform to market. You also need to understand how your app fulfills a need. Once you have determined what that need and unique attribute is, use those features to formulate your sales pitch and get people interested.

5. Get Your App Reviewed by a Major Online Resource

Anything you want to find out about an application or tech gadget, you can find online. There are blogs and magazines that are certified “go-to” resources, such as Appdevelopermagazine, Presspad and Appdevroom. Getting a positive review from one of these publications is a sure way to attract attention and get people talking.

6. Use Twitter

Getting social thought leaders or well-known industry people in app development to create a buzz about your app is a good marketing strategy that will quickly generate interest. Providing cool talking points or features of your app for them to tweet about can make a difference in how many people download your app and how quickly.

7. Use a Mobile App Marketing Agency

There are a number of companies that specialize in marketing to your target audience. They may include other perks for you, as well, such as branding, metrics management, paid advertisement and more. Some of these agencies are Appspire.me, Appular and Appency. Dreamstime, one of the largest stock photo agencies, has been using Appular with huge success while Appency’s clients include Citibank and Butterball.

When formulating your app marketing strategy, there are also some things you should avoid.

According to Techsling, these are major mistakes when developing an app:

  • Not differentiating your experience from the desktop to the app. It should be a new, engaging experience and should be treated as such. When using an app, the customer wants it to be less cumbersome while providing powerful functionality, and the visual design should be aesthetically pleasing. There should be a developmental blueprint in place based on market research to accomplish this.
  • Skimping on privacy and security features. Privacy and security features are very important in the development of an app, as users value their privacy and will only use apps that offer high levels of security. Additionally, if your app does not implement updates in a timely manner or meet the needs of your customers, your app usage will quickly diminish.
  • Not having a true app. Many companies that have mobile-responsive websites often try to use them as their mobile apps. An app should be a completely different experience that is user-friendly while making tasks simple and efficient. Current customers should fuel the design of the mobile app. Listening to what your customers have to say and communicating with them to find out their needs is key. The expectations for mobile apps are high, and not being in tune with your customer base could be detrimental to its success. Your app should have an open forum where your customers can tell you what they like, don’t like and would like to see. This will help you tailor your updates to meet customer demand.
  • Not testing the app for glitches and bugs. Every app should be fully tested in a number of scenarios to find any glitches or bugs prior to its release. Tests should be conducted from a number of sources and on different web platforms and devices to make sure the app is ready to be used by the general public.
  • Not offering a trial copy. When introducing a new app, a free trial app should always be offered to determine what areas need improvement and how it will be received on a larger scale. If the users enjoy the trial features, they will have no problems purchasing the real version.

These tips will help you develop an effective marketing campaign that will cater to your existing customers while broadening your audience. Understanding how to market your app to the right audience will make a huge difference in the way you position your app and are viewed by the public. When implemented correctly, you’ll have huge results.

The Top Mobile Advertising and Marketing Trends in 2015

app development

In 2014, mobile apps became the next big thing. Overall app use skyrocketed 76 percent. Investors flooded money into any app that hinted towards traction, new service providers multiplied like rabbits and most importantly, app developers started earning some big-time profits. “The trend has been mobile was winning. It’s now won”, says Eric Schmidt of Google. While forecasts and predictions on such a young and rapidly developing sector aren’t easy, a number of industry heavyweights have given us a few clues as to what to expect in the year to come. Without further ado, here are the top mobile app marketing trends in 2015.

Unbundling Apps

Apps will unbundle and run on your mobile device as software you open. From widgets to notifications and API integrations, to extensions on iOS, and very soon apps on the iWatch, developers’ work will increase in complexity as they rethink how to design a service through multiple interaction points. According to Ouriel Ohayon, co-founder and CEO, Appsfire there will be a bigger gap between good and bad developers as the ‘era of a simple app to download… will be something of the past”.

More Direct Deals

Users are demanding a better experience. Dale Carr, founder and CEO of Leadbolt, says this will force the industry to open the marketplace, where direct deals between developers and advertisers can happen. This closer interaction will bring more transparency, control over the results, and optimized partner matches that yield better outcomes.

User Quality and Engagement

Ron Brightman, the CEO of Performance Revenues says the biggest issue for advertisers and publishers is of user’s quality. The main focus of most marketers and publishers will be on the emphasis on acquiring good users. What is a good user? People who will actually use the app, come back to use it again, and when relevant – hopefully pay. “Have you noticed that apps are getting more… playful? It’s as though devs are rebelling against the conservative nature of flat-design with brighter colours, springy panels and – crucially – jocular copy. Dialogue boxes that make you chuckle to yourself, little Easter eggs in update notes and so on“, says Karl Hodge, a lecturer in digital journalism at Leeds Beckett University. Apps will no longer be technical servants, but instead, they’ll be full of personality.

Customization and Apps as Content

The average American spends roughly 177 minutes per day looking at their smartphone or tablet compared to the average 168 minutes watching TV. As mobile has won the battle for screen dominance, expect content to become more relevant in app development and marketing. CEO and founder of Appnext, Elad Natanson, says mobile apps – from games to utilities – can deliver 2.5-4% percent CTR on average, while increasing user engagement and diversifying revenue streams, only if the apps are relevant in terms of content. This will also change how apps are marketed. Even though more and more publishers are relying on automated ad solutions, current UX and monetization trends have created a need for providing simple and seamless user experience. As a result, publishers will demand customizable units that bring the ad as close as possible to the app’s design and interface. Changing unit colors, messages, and other advertisement features will become easier and automatically optimized.

OTT Messaging Apps

Last year, Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion, Snapchat partnered with Square for payment services, andanonymous messaging app Yik Yak was valued at $400 million. To put it in another way, the messaging app market expanded by 148 percent and added 900 million users according to Esha Shah, mobile strategy and innovation manager of Fetch. Users want easy communication within their preferred groups to organize and share socially. In 2015, messaging apps will be leveraged as lifestyle tools so expect deeper functionality in terms of users to more conveniently plan and share within their networks. From email to OTT messaging, users will flood these platforms and turn them into prime location for mobile advertising.

Wrapping Up

As smartphone and mobile devices further penetrate into our daily lives, each and every one of us is spending more time using apps. These trends are changing what works, and developers need to adapt in order to keep pace with the competition. However, with there being enough trends on the menu, app developers have plenty to chew on in the upcoming year.