Mobile apps have entered their second decade and are showing no signs of slowing down. Recent statistics suggest that the market is growing at a pace exceeding all previous expectations with app store spend surpassing the $100 billion mark in 2018 and a year-on-year growth rate of 30%. In addition, in-app mobile time is on the rise while mobile web usage has remained stagnant.
Both iOS and Android have introduced measures in the past few years to improve the quantity and - more importantly - the quality of apps available on the App Store and Google Play. Purges have removed a host of apps that are incompatible with newer versions of iOS, copycat apps and redundant apps, but the number of apps available and their popularity continues to rise.
Evidence suggests that users overwhelmingly prefer online engagement via smartphones to using their PCs, laptops or even tablets, and that native apps are preferred over web applications. In developed countries, daily app use tops 2 hours per user compared to just half an hour on the mobile web.
Even with this compelling case for mobile app development, the business decision to move into app development requires careful consideration. With over 1 million apps in the App Store and over 3 million apps on Google Play, you need to have a clear idea of what your app will be offering your target market and how it will help in meeting your marketing goals.
Developing for mobile is an essential part of any digital marketing strategy, but whether that means developing a mobile web application or a native app depends on your product, what you want to achieve in relation to your target market and how much you can spend on it.
At the most basic level, your website simply must be mobile-friendly. Responsive design on a new build ensures mobile optimisation across most platforms and browsers, but for older websites, an update needs to include a redesign that is responsive and optimised for both iOS and Android. While iOS and Android aren't all there is, they do account for about 98% of smartphones in use today.
While the stats suggest a solid business case for developing your own app, there are some important questions you need to ask yourself before launching into the process. The first step is to get your focus group together to ask and answer these crucial ten questions:
- How does your mobile app fit into your digital marketing strategy?
- What are your competitors doing in the mobile sphere?
- Who exactly is the target audience for your app?
- What problems will your app solve for your target market?
- What features and benefits will your app include and what is its core appeal?
- Who will develop your app?
- Will it be a paid app, a free app, and will it include in-app purchases or advertising?
- What is your timeline and your budget?
- How will you launch your app?
- How you market and promote your app?
The key to successful development is to thrash out the details at the beginning, so that you and your development team have a clear idea of what they want to achieve and a plan for how it will be achieved. Getting your team together to ask the hard questions and compile a clear brief will go a long way towards a smoother and more successful development process.
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