Tips for business use of mobile apps

Developing an app - or using someone else's app - can allow your business to offer deals, provide updates, provide a service or connect with customers. The tips below will help you make the most of mobile apps for your business.

Plan your approach

Like any other business strategy, using mobile apps is best planned. Think through:

  • what you want to achieve
  • who you are targeting
  • what you want your target audience to do
  • who is going to do what to make it happen
  • how you will know it's working.

Developing a simple action plan is a good way to be clear about why and how you would use mobile apps. In the process of answering these questions, you might decide using mobile apps is not for you. If you decide to proceed, you are much more likely to succeed once you are clear about your approach.

Integrate apps with your other marketing

Mobile apps work best when they're used with other marketing and business tools, including other social media. An app is unlikely to be a marketing strategy in its own right - it's more likely to be a component of a campaign or strategy. Remember that your app will require a marketing campaign to bring it to the attention of the marketplace.

Learn about other social media strategies including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, location-based marketing and online coupons.

Remember the limitations

An app can only reach people with a mobile device. So what about the 10% of Australians who don't use them? You need to consider whether your target market's profile fits with the smartphone or tablet user profile. Then you need to consider which platform they use (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry etc). It might be that this is such a small part of your market or potential market that it's not worth doing.

Attract downloaders to your app

An app doesn't sell itself. You will need a plan to get your app to its target audience. Suggestions include:

  • making sure all your other marketing tools, including your website and social media presence, invite people to download your app
  • promote your app widely in all your marketing and customer contacts
  • consider online advertising for your app.

Consider the alternatives

Is an app the best way to share this information or experience? Would a website application be just as good, especially if it was optimised for use on mobile devices? A website that works well on mobile devices will apply across all the smartphone platforms, so this may be a better, more cost-effective first step.

Use your IP

Have you got existing material or expertise that you could use as the basis for an app? For example, have you written programs for your customers or staff, or content for your website that you could easily convert into app form?

Think about what you know or do that could work as an app. For example, a consultant or trainer with expertise in a particular field might develop an app as an alternative or complement to face-to-face work with clients.

Use apps to do your business

Apps aren't just for customers. Many businesses are using apps to harness the power of smartphones as a business tool. Are there ways a mobile app could make your work or your employees' work more efficient or more effective? For example, could your employees benefit from mobile access to your business data? Could the software applications you use be made mobile to improve productivity and efficiency?

Track your mobile app results

It's worthwhile to monitor the impact of your mobile apps on your business, so you know what works and what doesn't.

You can evaluate success by seeing how many people download your app, but it's much more meaningful to track outcomes like impact on sales. Attaching a coupon or promotion code to an app may help you track sales generated from it. You may be able to measure visits to your website that are generated by an app, using a website analytics tool.

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