What Functionality Should I Include in My App?

fashion

Within any mobile app, there are effectively two different kinds of features: passive  and active.

Passive features are those that simply relay information to an audience, and though not flashy, are essential. There are some universal passive features that every small business should include, such as location/contact information and an “About Us” section. From there, it really depends on the business. Restaurants will want to include a menu along with prices and pictures of food (images are a big deal in mobile apps). You may also want to list products, services etc.

Active features are those that encourage interactive engagement with a user. At this point it becomes difficult to make sweeping statements, as businesses will need to evaluate their own customer base to determine what kinds of actions they want to provoke. Popular options are “Daily Deals” that can be sent via push notification and redeemed by a customer, or even the option to order food or products from directly within an app. These are the features that give an app its “wow” factor, and really set it apart from static content such as web-pages. Be sure to include targeted interactive elements in your app and manage them carefully to cultivate a value-driven experience for app users.

Mobile Content Marketing

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The days of the sale circular, inbox flooding and even purely SEO-focused marketing are over. Content marketing reigns supreme. And, honestly, aren’t we all collectively breathing a sigh of relief? How many times did we stumble on a page that was just blatantly loaded with keywords? How many thousands of pointless messages have we had to delete from our inboxes, throw away when they were delivered to our door, or exasperatedly decline when the telemarketer refused to remove you from the call list?

Ant it isn’t just good for us as a collective customer base. Businesses also gain so much from the transition. The soul-crushing tedium of mindless keyword stuffing, of email after email and call after call getting rejected was loathed by many. Of course, this hasn’t ended completely, but for the first time in recent memory there is a shining alternative that actually works so much better. We can be rewarded for having interesting ideas and a fascinating company culture.

It is important to embrace this new trend, and to embrace it intelligently. Crafting excellent content is significantly more challenging (and more interesting/more rewarding) than phoning it in. However, it is just as important to present your content where people are most likely to engage with it. For many businesses, that means taking it mobile.

The fact is, people are engaging more with mobile devices than ever before, and in fact the chosen engagement medium is expected to shift from PCs to tablets in the next four years. They spend more time on mobile apps than they do the desktop and mobile web. You can read many more facts in this excellent post.

The world is moving much faster, and people’s lives are becoming far more dynamic. They crave genuine interaction, and they demand it immediately. Take your content marketing mobile and you will capture imagination, interest and ultimately, sales.

Mobile App as Testing Ground

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Mobile apps give you a direct line to your customers, meaning they can serve as an excellent ground for testing innovative new ideas when you want an immediate response. We’ve put together a list of several ideas for tests you can perform with your mobile app to get immediate feedback for new products, business strategies, and beyond!

1. Branding – Because you can always edit the design of your mobile app it is possible to introduce new branding elements to a mobile audience first to gauge reaction and easily tweak before making them wide-scale.

2. Product Interest – Send a direct message to your fans with some basic info on a new product and link them to the pre-order or info page. You can get immediate feedback on the interest level your product generates.

3. Audience – As we’ve mentioned, a mobile audience is incredibly diverse. So, if you want to determine the type of services or products that appeal to your audience, or even if you want to get an idea of what percentage of your audience has an interest in a new direction your business is taking, a mobile app gives numerous direct opportunities for discovering that info.

4. Limited Release – Setting up a deal for a “limited time offer” of a new product and service on a recurring basis can let you know what customers are excited about. based on redemption, you can then turn a limited release into a full-fledged offering with the knowledge that there is significant demand for it!

5. Messaging – Some of the previous suggestions here involve sending a message to an audience, but what about testing alterations to the messaging itself? Trying out new communication styles, talking points, and focus can lead to fascinating new discoveries about your mobile customers.

We hope you find these suggestions useful. Try them out, and let us know what they reveal about your customers. Also, be sure to let us know any creative ways you’ve tested things through your mobile presence!

Mobile Apps for Ecommerce

 

Apptive CEO Chris Belew discusses the rise in mobile Ecommerce and how store owners can take advantage with a mobile app!

Mobile Writing Tips

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We’ve discussed in depth how a mobile app is a great way to reach your customers and how it is not a bad idea for some businesses to opt for a mobile-first policy. So let’s say you do decide to take the plunge and gear your business primarily for a mobile audience. How does that significantly alter your content? If you want to have all of your material (including your blog and social channels) piped in to your app, then there are steps you can take to optimize it for a mobile crowd. We are going to tell you about three of them.

1. Use Text to Accent Function

People love mobile apps because of what they can do. While some people may use them primarily to get more information, the name of the game in general is interactivity. So, make sure that your text accentuates the features of your phone rather than serving as the primary focus. A few words about a product or service will often suffice, augmented by photos and a direct path to purchase. A person should be able to complete just about any action they want in in your app 30 seconds.

2. No Robot Text

Just because text isn’t the focus doesn’t mean it should be an afterthought. On the contrary, your text should fun/quirky/elegant/insert whatever adjective best describes your business. When people read it they should be able to hear it in your company’s voice, and people should look forward to reading your material. If your text is informative without being fun people will lose interest in your app.

3. Keep it Snack Size

Mobile users tend to have a short attention span, so keeping text short and to the point should be common sense. Still, it is possible to keep interest for longer form content if you play on the idea of easily digestible content. Consider making each paragraph around the same length as a tweet, and making each idea concise enough to fit in that space. That way, people will read much more quickly, and gain much more information, than they could staring at the dreaded “wall of text.”

Hopefully these tips are useful to you when writing for a mobile audience. Like I said, these are only three tips. How do you change your writing when creating content for mobile fans?

 

Three Creative Uses for a Mobile App

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Mobile apps are a versatile platform to interact with your customers. Indeed, one of the most common uses for a mobile app is that of a “mobile hub,” which collects and redistributes all of a company’s information and features through a mobile platform. This general usage is very effective (it’s common for a reason), but it is not the only way to use your mobile app. The following are three suggestions for alternative ways to use your app.

1. Mobile App as Business Card

Even as we abandon paper products in almost every area of our business lives, the business card remains a common way to organize and remember contacts. As a result of their ubiquitous nature, people continue to try more and more intriguing ways to make them stand out. Enter the mobile app. Apps can be used either in lieu of a business card (if you are in a particularly high-tech field) or to supplement one. By structuring the app to include significant amounts of information about your company, your team, and your product, colleagues will be able to get much more information from you than on a card. A simple QR code printed on a standard card will allow you to share your app easily.

2. Mobile App as Event Organizer

Large events such as conferences or trade shows can be confusing for attendees. With so much to see and do, they may miss out on important panels that may be of interest to them, or might have trouble knowing what’s going on in the first place. A mobile app structured around a specific event can alleviate many of these issues entirely. Attendees can view up to date schedules (particularly handy if you have flakey or sick speakers at the last minute). In addition, push notifications are a great way to update a large crowd of upcoming activities.

3. Mobile App as Hype Generator

First, what the heck do I mean by “hype generator”? If you want to drum up excitement about an upcoming product, event, or service, you’ll need to generate content that gets people pumped. A “hype generator” is the platform that users check to, you guessed it, generate hype. Most people like to give bite size tidbits, alluring one-off photos, or brief messages about their upcoming big thing. Mobile apps are perfectly geared to showcase exactly this kind of short-form content, and allows a mass audience to all be kept on the same page so when your release date arrives you’ll have a legion of fans ready.

We’d love to hear what you think of these uses for an app, as well as your own! What are some creative ways you would use an app?

Small Messages, Big Ideas

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In one of our recent video blog posts Apptive co-founder Jason Jaynes discussed some push notification strategies. One of his main points was keeping the message concise so customers could receive a great amount of value from a small amount of data. It occurred to me that some people might struggle with the idea of creating incredibly dense messages. Any career writer will tell you that writing short, value-laden material is often much more challenging than writing lengthy or even technical documents. Therefore, I propose that often the most effective use of direct messages is as a supplement within a larger context of understanding, rather than as a standalone piece of material.

Context is, of course, everything when it comes to using a push notification as a “seed” message. However, the good news is that most all businesses already have excellent context in place. Remember, a mobile app is often best used to reach loyal customers who likely already have some idea of what you’re about. Therefore, they likely have a good idea of your other products, services or outreach channels that you can leverage to maximize the value of short messages.

For example, if you are a venue that commonly features bands from a specific genre, you can use a message to alert members of a specific upcoming group that caters to that genre’s specific fanbase. Since they already have a good idea of the genre and your location, you don’t have to explain the band’s background, the type of music they play, or even the specifics of your location. Just a short message triggers all of the knowledge that your customers have about your venue and the music they are interested in hearing.

That example is pretty direct, but there are lots of ways to send messages that don’t require extensive word-smithing to generate interest and thus profits and an excited mobile community for you.

 

How Should You Use Push Notifications?

Watch as Apptive Co-founder Jason Jaynes answers a customer question about best practices for push notifications.

Three Ways to Increase Customer Use of Your Mobile App

Subway Station in Munich

Mobile apps are one of the most effective drivers for success in the modern business climate. Some have gone so far as to say that many companies would do better to have an app than a website. We are inclined to agree. Still, simply having a mobile app is not enough. The companies who experience the most success with their mobile app usage rates have implemented creative strategies that both hook users and keep them coming back for more.

Make Your App Immediately Useful

Business owners can include an incredible variety of functionality into their apps. For many businesses, this includes passive content such as a product showcase or menu. This type of content is engaging and informative, but it does not necessarily provide an immediate benefit for the app user. Coupling passive content with value-laden interactive elements will encourage people to download and use your app regularly. For instance, a pizza delivery place that lets users view a menu through their app can capitalize on the interest that generates by also giving them the ability to order directly from the app. In this scenario, your app has proven mutually and immediately beneficial to both the customer and your business: you have made it easier to quickly order your product, meaning the customer is more likely to do so.

Keep Them Coming Back

The ease with which people can download mobile apps to their device is a bit of a double edged sword. If an app does not regularly prove its worth, your customer can just as easily delete it. Therefore, you should provide tangible benefits to your app users on a regular basis. There are a number of ways to do this, but the most effective do not put the impetus on your customer to uncover the value of your app. One of the best ways to effect a continuous relationship with a customer is through the use of a smartphone’s push notification system. Whether you are sending daily deals to customers or simply reminding them of exciting new releases, fans of your business will appreciate the heads up. If your product and messaging are suitably engaging then you can increase sales through front-of-mind awareness fairly frequently. Similarly, rewarding customers with a loyalty program integrated into your app will encourage users to both keep the app on their phone and keep shopping at your business to rack up free goodies or discounts.

Design, Design, Design

It seems obvious, but app users love their sleek smartphones. If your app doesn’t look and “feel” awesome then customers won’t keep it on their phone for long. We make it incredibly easy to design a beautiful app in minutes, but that doesn’t mean you should rush through the creation process without thinking about quality design. Creating a great app icon, splash screen and color scheme will help a lot, but you also need to do a good job of showcasing your products or services. We have found that the creative use of attractive images in apps is one of the best ways to achieve this end. Descriptions are great, but if your catalog features a big block of text rather than showing off pictures of your awesome products then customers will frankly not be that interested.

And Beyond…

These are just a few ways to get customers interested in your app. Because businesses in all industries can derive value from apps, there are truly unlimited opportunities to maximize engagement. Still, these tips provide a solid foundation that you can build on to make a great app experience. Focus on design, functionality and value and you will excite your customers while generating an impressive ROI from your app investment.

Do I Need a Mobile App if I Already Have a Mobile Site?

In our first video blog post, Apptive CEO Chris Belew discusses the benefits of a mobile app and a mobile website.