The mobile app market is big business and it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The ecosystem surrounding mobile devices is surging. Tablets and smartphones are outselling computers three-to-one and the youngest among us are getting acquainted with the Internet through mobile devices in lieu of desktop or laptop computers.
As Mashable reports, “Apple, Google and Microsoft dominate the global app market, with Apple accounting for the largest portion of app downloads in 2012.” With every new successful mobile app that hits the marketplace, it seems another need or opportunity for further innovation is created.
So, let’s say you’ve identified a viable niche in the marketplace and you either are, or have hired, an excellent mobile app developer with all the technical know-how in the world. Your company’s new mobile app is sure to be a great success, right? Not necessarily.
The development of the mobile app itself is, of course, critical. The app must be easy to use, devoid of clutter, and visually appealing to the user. In the development stage, it is critical that focus is kept on the problem that the app is intended to solve and the audience it is intended for. However, it is not all about the development.
It’s easy to get caught up in the development, allowing the programmer to take charge, but don’t forget about mobile app marketing. Here are four things that every company should keep in mind to ensure a successful mobile app launch:
Differentiate, but keep it simple.
One of the most important elements in the process of making your mobile app a commercial success is uniqueness. Does your app solve a previously unsolved problem? If not, does it offer a game-changing piece of functionality that prior mobile apps lacked? Assuming your solution is better, more fun, faster, more powerful or otherwise distinguished from others in the marketplace, it is also vital that this difference and added value is clearly understood by consumers. Don’t try to be a solution to every problem, for every person. Pick something to excel at and excel at it. Less is more.
Raise awareness, pre-launch.
You can create the most incredible mobile app the world will ever see, but it is never going to be successful if your prospective customers don’t know about it. Before your mobile app launches, get in touch with influencers in your space. Receiving some press coverage during your beta phase can go a long way as an army of beta users will then spread the word about the great mobile app you’ve created. It is essential to test metrics and learn as much as possible about the true value of your app before investing heavily in bigger, more targeted campaigns.
Social media, social media, social media.
Create social media profiles on all social networks relevant to your audience. Update them often with information, not only about your new mobile app but also about the space in which you operate. Establish a brand identity through social media that you are thought leaders in the space and engage in the dialogue surrounding your app. This also creates an opportunity to learn where to spend additional marketing dollars whether it be in a geographic area or particular channel (i.e., online startup blogs, or gaming blogs, etc.) depending on who is following and participating in the discourse related to your app.
Consider your pricing strategy.
Unless you are in a very unique niche in the marketplace and anticipate finding success with a low-volume of users and a high profit per user, the general best practice is to either make your app free or at least offer a free version. When potential users come across your app in the app store, the difference in their initial reaction to $0.00 versus $0.99 is astounding. For most apps it makes sense to create add-ons that a user can purchase after downloading the app (whether in the form of an upgrade to a ‘premium’ version or additional credits to be used within the app) — as commonly practiced the gaming space. The key is to get your audience using the app first so you have a chance to demonstrate its value. A user is much more likely to invest after they are satisfied with the experience versus needing to decide up-front.
The mobile app developer or firm you hire remains an essential component to the success of a mobile app, but it would be unwise to invest all the time and money into that side of the business without considering these additional factors for commercial success.
Arturo Galván is the Founder and CEO of Naranya and General Partner at naranya*LABS. He has spent his entire career establishing and cultivating the online industry in Latin America, working in corporate environments and being a serial entrepreneur. Arturo was named “Apostle of the Internet” in 2000 by the Wall Street Journal and Bill Gates twice awarded him the Microsoft Award of Excellence in 95-96.