Whether you are building a new mobile app for your business or want to improve your mobile website, having a mobile strategy in place is essential. After all, by 2020, there will be roughly six billion mobile users. A good strategy will create a memorable mobile experience for your customers and support your business’s goals at the same time.
While, in some ways, mobile is simply another channel to deploy on, it requires specialized knowledge to be successful and should add value to the rest of your digital strategy—not duplicate it. For instance, if users are going to go to the trouble of installing your app out of the more than five million apps out there, they will expect a seamless, intuitive experience. Likewise, a mobile website or progressive web app (PWA) should be easy and inviting to use.Developing a mobile strategy will also keep your business focused on essential functionality. One common pitfall of creating apps or mobile websites is thinking that more features or flashy content will save the day. One of the biggest reasons apps aren’t adopted is because they are confusing to use. By honing in on your customers’ needs, you can streamline functionality and create a sleek, user-friendly tool. But, before we dive in too deep, we need to ask an important question:
1. What are your company’s overall goals?
Before you can determine what type of mobile strategy would set your business apart, you need to understand your business’s goals. While that’s a little obvious, companies often rush to development before they have considered how mobile fits in to their business plan as a whole. Take some time to engage the proper stakeholders. By involving company leads at the outset, you will build something that meets your business’s needs and can also be built with the future in mind—enabling your company to anticipate functionality you might want later and design for that.
For this big picture assessment, gathering appropriate members of your team from Marketing, Business Development, Operations, and even your C-level can help save you time and money down the road. Make sure that you are on the same page about your one, three, and five year plans; that your mission and objectives are clear; and also, that you understand what benchmarks will be important to your business over the next period of time. How can mobile help you accomplish your goals? Will it drive leads, sales, or engagement? Is there a way you can serve your customers better through their mobile devices? Once all stakeholders have weighed in about your overall company’s plan for the next several years, you are ready to start thinking about what will set your mobile strategy apart. It’s time for the fun stuff:
2. Competitive Research
So, you know where your company is going and are getting excited to put your mobile strategy in place. But, how will you stand out? First, it’s important to take stock of where you anticipate your industry going. Imagine what will be happening in five or ten years down the line. Of course, you’re not going to be able to anticipate everything that will happen, but taking the time to think about the future will help you design an app that will last and will also distinguish your company, positioning you as a forward-thinking player in your industry. What kinds of features or functionality or platforms would you expect to see over the next few years?
Now, it’s time to assess what your competitors are doing. Take a list of the top five or ten competitors in your industry and look at what they’re doing. What do you like about their app? What is missing? Keep a list of features and functions you are interested in and also keep a list of the things you want to avoid. Pay attention to ease of user experience and load time, and think about whether, as a user, this would be an app you would want to use.
3. How will your strategy serve your customer?
When you’re creating your company’s mobile strategy, your customer should be at the center of your plan. Imagining what actions users will want to take on their mobile devices will help you build a successful app. Start by thinking about what your mobile experience will deliver that your website and other channels don’t. What can you streamline? How can you make taking action easy? Beyond easy, how could your company's mobile experience be fun? The more time people spend on your app or mobile website, the more potential action they can take.
Some ideas of how to enhance your customers’ experience and differentiate your app are:
- Make loyalty or other programs mobile-only to encourage participation
- Ensure purchasing is seamless through short forms that prefill and decreasing the number of screens to check out
- Reduce app adoption friction with progressive web apps (read our guide to PWAs here)
- Get customer feedback ASAP to prioritize future development
This last one is particularly important! The quicker you get feedback about how and when your customers use your app, the better. Building a minimum viable product is a great way to do this. And finally, it bears repeating that your mobile strategy should be part of a multi-channel strategy.
4. Does your business need a mobile app?
This may seem basic, but it’s an essential place to start. It often happens that someone in upper company management will think: “Everyone else has a mobile app. I want one.” But like any tech project, mobile apps demand time and money. Before your company invests in one, it is important to ask what role an app would serve in meeting your company’s goals. Yes, everyone is on their phone so it is important to provide connections to your company that are mobile-friendly. But not every company needs an app. Sometimes, optimizing your website for mobile is the best solution. Or, you could consider a progressive web app. It’s also important to think about how an app would serve your customers in a way that other channels you have established don’t.
While any industry can use mobile apps, the most conducive verticals are e-commerce, hospitality and food service, entertainment and media, healthcare, and finance. These industries benefit from customers being able to quickly and easily make decisions. Native apps are also good for companies where security is paramount. If you’re still not sure if your company needs an app, consider optimizing your mobile website or creating a progressive web app. We will talk about choosing your mobile stack in the next blog in this series.
5. Wishlist of Requirements
You are almost ready to implement your mobile strategy. You know your business’s goals and your customer’s needs and have a good idea how your mobile strategy will help you stand out from the crowd. Now, it’s time to make a list of your initial requirements. It’s good to begin with a clear, flexible list of requirements that can be updated and changed as needed.
Then, determine if you will do this in-house or outsource. If you outsource, one way to avoid compartmentalized mobile thinking and create a successful app is to make sure that you work with a company that has broad tech and business expertise and also has your business’s goals and entire stack in mind. This will reduce the amount of time you spend updating your app, keep functionality sleek and efficient, and connect your mobile app to the rest of your business’s goals.
Some of you won’t be starting from scratch. You might be considering taking a mobile app you already have and enhancing its performance or integrating with other systems more fluidly. If you want to run any ideas or questions by a Fairway mobile strategy expert, we are currently offering complimentary analyses to help determine what your best course of action is. Click here to get help solving your mobile tech challenges.