Developing Apps for Your Corporate Brand

Aron Ezra

It’s hard to go anywhere these days without catching someone flicking their fingers across a smartphone screen. The Pew Internet Project estimates that one in four U.S. adults now uses mobile apps, and of those, nearly two in three people use their apps every day. To date, more than 6.5 billion apps have been downloaded just by Apple users.

As apps have gone mainstream, we’re now seeing businesses and institutions creating enterprise-level apps and mobile sites to represent their brands. And while there have been quite a few blockbusters that have produced great revenue and publicity, many of these new enterprise apps are not downloaded very often, get poor reviews, and fall short of their goals.

So how do you build a successful app for your brand? What do the winners do differently?

We’ve built dozens of the most popular enterprise apps in their respective categories. Here are 10 of the most common mistakes to avoid:

  1. Don't charge for the app. It makes sense for independent developers and game developers to charge for apps, but if you’re trying to sell non-digital content, make it free. Most of our clients can earn far more money through a free app that promotes their products and services than they can by charging consumers an initial fee. For instance, if you’re a hotel, you can create an app that allows guests to upgrade to a suite, order room service, make restaurant reservations, book massages, see sponsored content, and much more. Need another reason? Pinch Media has found that free apps are used 6.6 times more often than paid apps.
  2. Don't make it too overtly focused on sales. This tends to be one of the top reasons people hesitate to recommend an app to a friend. When downloading an app, customers want a useful tool or something fun -- they don't want to just be pitched. Too many enterprise apps are basically sales brochures, and brochures get thrown away. Give your customers something valuable that they will enjoy using, and you’ll earn more revenue and more respect.
  3. Don't make it too complicated. Consumers generally evaluate an app in under 10 seconds. That means it needs to be intuitive and easy to figure out. With roughly 300,000 apps in the Apple App Store and 100,000 Android apps, there’s a heck of a lot of choice out there. If people can’t figure out how to use the app almost instantly, most of them will delete it before giving it a chance.
  4. Don't only measure success by downloads. We work hard to provide very detailed analytics to help our customers understand the nuances of their mobile users. Look at questions such as: How many people actually use the app after downloading it? How much time do they spend on different pages? What are they sharing with friends? What tends to inspire purchases? Are they filling out feedback surveys in the app, and if so, what are they saying? How are you able to use the data to improve quality and efficiency throughout your company?
  5. Think about how people will use the software. Remember to consider where people will be when they use the app. For example, if you want people using your app inside a huge cement and steel building with terrible cell phone reception, don't create an app that is dependent on strong cell tower reception to function; you’ll need a solution that has offline capabilities.
  6. Don't decide your app is complete. We believe a good app must be flexible, and should continue to evolve over time. Mobile moves very fast, and that means you’ll need to keep adding new features, integrating new technologies, and raising the bar to stay relevant. We improve our clients’ apps every day.
  7. Don't just duplicate your website. Part of the reason that apps are cool is because they can do things that websites cannot do. Location-aware apps can tell you what is around you at that moment, whether you’re looking for a good restaurant or a specific product. Integrate your apps with the phone’s accelerometer, multi-touch, camera and other features to give users the best experience.
  8. Be respectful to your target audience. It may seem like a good idea to gather as much information as you can about users for marketing purposes, but privacy concerns are real. According to cyber security firm Webroot, 55% of social networking users are concerned about their privacy. Make sure you design apps that are respectful of your users’ desires to keep certain information private.
  9. Don't annoy your users. This may seem obvious, but it’s often cited as the top reason for deleting an app. Far too many apps use inconsistent tools, lead to dead ends, aren't targeted to the right demographic, crash, look ugly, or require too many steps to do even basic tasks. You’ll never make everyone happy, but make sure to do some real world testing to identify and fix as many of these issues as possible.
  10. Don't limit yourself to what has been done before. We're still in the very early stages of apps and the mobile revolution, so don’t limit yourselves by what has already been done. Be creative! 57% of organizations either don’t have a mobile strategy or are just beginning to work on their mobile strategy, so there's still much more to discover.

Good luck!

Aron Ezra is CEO of MacroView Labs, a top mobile developer and digital agency that helps its clients to educate, entertain, and interact with their audiences using innovative mobile technologies. Its award-winning mobile websites and apps are downloaded thousands of times each day and generate significant revenue for its clients. The company is based in San Francisco. For more information, visit www.macroviewlabs.comor call 415-255-5727.