Imagine a world with no smartphones (or just think back thirty years). No instant gratification, one-touch results, or apps to spend endless hours scrolling. As a brand back then you had to rely on other marketing channels to connect with your audience. Now, app development advancements have made it simpler, faster, and cheaper for brands to reach people. And with an agency’s expertise in the app developing world, you can make interacting with your brand part of your ideal customer’s daily habit.
All about app development
Mobile app development includes two main types––native mobile apps and progressive web apps. For both types, a developer codes “a type of application software designed to run on a mobile device.” The idea being that customers can use the app instead of, or in conjunction with, the brand’s website.
Recent statistics show that smartphone users “spend about 90 percent of their mobile time on apps” and that 85 percent of consumers prefer using a mobile app versus a website. Between user convenience and brand revenue increasing, it’s easy to see why app development is an enticing piece of the marketing pie for brands.
Once you’ve decided to join the ranks of app-bearing brands, the first thing to do is find a professional. A solid choice would be an agency’s app development team, in part so you can seamlessly implement your other marketing goals while building your app. From there, you can figure out the first steps together.
Establish goals: As with any good project, it starts with research. You may have a vision of what your app should look and perform like, but do you know what your competitors are doing? Other things to decide include what platform you will use, who your target audience is, what the app should accomplish, and your budget and timeline. When you work together with your team and an agency, the development process is smooth.
Wireframe/storyboard: The UX-design part of app development involves wireframes, workflows, and click-through models. This step is crucial to test out your app and make sure it seamlessly integrates your brand goals.
Develop: The programming and coding process of development is usually left to the agency’s professionals. This step is where the goals you’ve communicated and trial-and-error workflows come together. It’s the final step before the beta (or testing) phase and then the ultimate launch.
What makes an app effective?
So you found a developer at a reputable agency and you’re on the way to creating an app. But do you know what makes an app effective? When you translate your brand onto an application, you want to make sure that it’s not just wasting space on your consumer’s phones. The ultimate goal is keeping them coming back to the app (and your brand) time and time again.
It solves a problem
Just like your product or service solves a problem for consumers, so should your app. The big idea here: “your app needs to have a sense of purpose and meet the needs of your consumers.” Don’t jump into app development because all your competitors are doing it. (Yes, all the old school rules from mom apply in life and business). Have a strategy, do your research, and go with it. For example, do you have a restaurant and find that most of your customers are booking on Open Table? Create an app that makes your menu, booking, and even ordering seamless.
It’s simple and intuitive
Remember when we talked about the UX-design part of the app development process? Simple is best. Intuitive is better. When you develop a simple UX/UI, it makes the app easier to use. Which ultimately leads to higher download numbers, new users, and “will help skyrocket conversion rates.” And if you’re an e-commerce brand, don’t you want in-app purchases to be second nature?
It’s personal and on-brand
There’s nothing more jarring than downloading a brand’s app and feeling like you just stepped into the wrong building. In the app development phase, make sure your team members understand the importance of complementary design. Keep colors, fonts, tone, and imagery the same or very similar. Make sure you also personalize the experience, which keeps users coming back. When “app interactions are tailored to suit personal preferences and location,” the experience feels one-of-a-kind.
It responds to user feedback
When your audience feels heard, they invest in your brand (emotionally and monetarily). Effective apps have areas that invite user feedback. Then, it’s up to your team to take stock of this feedback and use it to inform your app updates. And updates aren’t just for making your app prettier. Plus, statistics show that “37% of mobile app users indicated that they would stop using an app the moment they experience bugs.”
How can it help your brand?
Still need some convincing that an application helps your brand? Here are three more reasons.
With so many smartphone users (about 2.5 billion), apps can connect with your audience in ways other marketing avenues can’t. And you can use this connection in several ways, depending on your brand goals––to improve customer service, regularly update about new products, or extend your web experience.
It’s simple math: increased exposure plus increased usability equals higher conversions. And, “mobile devices now account for 52 percent of their online orders.”
Arguably the best benefit of an app is that you can “build an instantaneous and direct relationship with your customers and gain their loyalty.” The easier, more on-brand, and consistent the experience, the more loyal your users will be.
Case study: Pahlisch Homes
We admit that app development is an involved process. But often worth it with the potential benefits. Our recent work with Pahlisch Homes used dynamic coding and clean design to bring their Rosedale and Vendage communities to life. When the home development company came to us with their application idea, the main purpose was to showcase their new communities comprehensively and dynamically. The progressive web app needed to include dynamic plat maps of the lots, have comprehensive search tools, and a vicinity map. It also needed to work on a large screen for one of their showrooms.
Our development team rose to the challenge. The result is a dynamic, touch-friendly PWA that pulls data from the existing Pahlisch site and fits on a large screen. The touch system allows users to search for homes and lots in the Rosedale and Vendage communities––useful for both interested customers and agents who need to walk people through the available homes virtually. When used on the large screen, users can compare the two communities and customize their search.
Overall, the Pahlisch Homes case study showed how apps can be an effective marketing strategy when created as a seamless extension of a brand.
Put your brand on the map
Gone are the days when users had to rely on emails or flyers to update them about their favorite brand. With the right app development and the right team, brands can now interact with their customers every day––offering them an easy way to buy a product, book a service, or save their information for future purchasing. And with an agency’s expertise to back them up, brands can create apps that are too good not to use daily.