For brand owners and license holders, the global mobile markets are too big to ignore. More mobile phones are owned globally than toothbrushes. Apple celebrated its 50 billionth download in 2013 and Google Play is now beating Apple by over 500 million downloads per month.
As an app developer, FinBlade is approached by a wide range of companies looking for an 'app'. What the app does and its long-term future are secondary considerations to getting something - anything - out on the market.
Far too often, apps emerge only to be ignored, or prove irrelevant to their audience. Branded games are not fun, compelling content is a happy accident and user engagement is so short term it can be harmful to the brand.
The app stores are incredibly dynamic and evolve very quickly; the amount of competing content means that consumers' attention and loyalty are easily lost. So how can licence holders and brand owners make the most of the opportunities on offer?
Here are FinBlade's top five tips for successful branded apps:
The Launch Is Just The Beginning
Once an app has launched, many companies forget all about it. The reality is that launching is merely the first step. Only once the app is live does your engagement begin. You need a plan in place to find your audience, then encourage it to grow. You need to understand your audience through analytics, social media and direct contact. You need to remain engaged with them and respond to their needs. Releasing an app is a long-term project, be prepared.
Adapt, Adopt, Improve
Apps are not 'dead' products, but 'live' services. Successful apps evolve based on feedback from users, analytics and the brand itself. Apps should have new content or functionality added regularly. New business models can be introduced, the app monetised. Without a reason to come back regularly, users can vanish. Smart brand owners have an ongoing schedule of updates and additions to extend the app's reach to existing and new users.
Not all developers are created equal. Many studios can build apps quickly, cheaply and to specification. However, brand and license holders who plan long-term, will look beyond the initial creation process. A good development partner will deliver long-term flexibility within the design. They will provide ongoing support and will work with you to create an app of real value. Picking apart someone's code, seeking a new studio, or support from a long gone developer adds unnecessary time, resources and costs.
Mobile Is Not An Add On
Mobile content is a vital part of any digital strategy. The ongoing engagement and direct contact with users makes it incredibly valuable to brand and consumer. Yet some companies still treat their mobile presence as a stand-alone project. Apps are created and managed separately from the rest of the company's online, social and digital presence. This can lead to duplication of effort or missed opportunities for greater, longer-term engagement. Your mobile presence is a strategic, not a procurement matter. Take it seriously – find someone who can help in the long-term.
Rapid Evolution As Standard
One constant in the mobile market is change. New devices, capabilities, operating systems, business models and even new app store rules. Apps have been removed for breaching new policies or because they didn't support new operating system versions. If you have spent time and money planning your brand's presence in the app markets, then ensure you are agile enough and have support to guarantee your app conforms and takes advantage of new capabilities. Support for new updates should be a part of any development agreement – and your developer should be notifying YOU about forthcoming changes.
Apps are a huge and disruptive opportunity for companies and brands to find new ways of engaging with, interacting with and entertaining the public – and the market is getting bigger.
The number of dull, disinteresting and inappropriate apps is growing too. Too many companies are throwing money at an idea which is not integrated with their overall strategy, and which adds little to the consumer's experience with the brand.
If your company, or your brand, is serious about harnessing the incredible opportunities of the app stores, start planning now. The hundred billionth download could be yours...
FinBlade is an independent mobile developer located in the South of England with an extraordinary track record, beginning life as IOMO back in 2000 creating WAP games. With over a decade of experience, creating award-winning content for thousands of different handsets, across numerous languages and territories, FinBlade’s output is split between contract work for third parties, and original IP creation.Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.