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4 tips for entrepreneurs to get mobile right

Posted by Hugh Reynolds on April 23rd, 2014 at 12:20 pm

For nearly all entrepreneurs today, some form of mobile app strategy is essential, whether it's B2C, B2B, mobile-first, or otherwise. The reason for this is that mobile is now the go-to screen for many, and when they're on that screen, 80 percent of their time is spent in applications.

In other words, people will want to interact with your business via your mobile app and you need to make sure they can do just that. Already, thanks to this shift in consumer behavior, mobile’s share of commerce continues to grow each year. According to Forrester, total mobile sales are expected to grow 33% a year, to $31 billion by 2017.

So, you need a great mobile app because consumers are consuming more on mobile? Well, yes. Sort of. Mobile sales are growing, but for they still represent a small portion of overall sales. For most U.S. retailers, mobile only represents 1.5% of online sales today and will only reach 9% of online sales in 2017. But this isn’t a reason not to get serious about your mobile approach. Quite the opposite, as Forrester faults the retailers for low total transaction rates and claims retailers have “made it difficult for customers to check out and pay on smartphones.”

This brings the bigger picture into sharper focus. Consumers’ preferred method of transaction is increasingly mobile. In fact, mobile may be an innately better environment for interactions and transactions than the web. Mobile devices are constantly present, and provide a deeper feedback loop about customer behavior (think contextual information like location) than the web. But mobile’s potential can be held back by tedious apps that fail to get it right. On the other hand, companies that create outstanding mobile experiences have a unique opportunity to unlock unprecedented mobile revenues.

And with that in mind, here are four tips for a winning mobile strategy.

1. Optimize Initial User Experience

The smartphone screen is a tough environment. Around a quarter of apps are used a grand total of once. The minority are still used a month beyond initial install. So it pays to make every effort to ensure that your initial experience is understandable, communicates the value of your service, and helps guide the user rather than frustrating them. That means an ongoing optimization process, involving A/B testing of every aspect of the user experience until your retention rates are as good as they can possibly be

2. Treat Users As Individuals

“One size fits all” has been the motto of the mobile app industry for too long. But it’s no longer good enough to show the same experience to all. It wouldn’t happen in any other platform, and it’s time to start thinking of the mobile app as a dynamic framework within a responsive, personalized experience is delivered that speaks to the user as an individual. We are fortunate enough to have huge amounts of data relating to our users - right down to every aspect of how they have behaved in our app. We would be foolish indeed not to use it.

3. Actively Market To Your User Base

In many cases simply installing the app is merely the first chapter. Either the business depends on driving these installs onto revenue ‘events’ (think free to play games, or subscription model apps), or it is essential to keep users engaged and retained. In both cases, through the delivery of targeted, relevant communications (either as in-app messages, or push notifications) you can help deliver on those objectives. Think like a marketer and understand that your audience is only as valuable as the behaviors you can encourage!

4. Complement Your Offering
Even if you don’t transact on mobile, it is possible (indeed necessary) to build loyalty through the mobile app. The smartphone offers an opportunity to build value around the key service or product you deliver, and render your organization first choice in category. To give a couple of obvious examples - the airline app that handles every aspect of travel becomes an ever-present advertisement for your services. The banking app that helps customers manage their finances (as opposed to just their bank accounts) gives your customers one less reason to look elsewhere. Ask yourself the question “if I could be with my customer all the time, what would I help them with?” - and put the answer in your app.

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