With Mobile Apps, If You’re Not First You’re Last


We’ve spoken before about the fact that mobile apps are quickly catching on for businesses of all types, but we’ve also relayed the fact that you can get in on the front end of the M-commerce trend. Now we can see that moving quickly to establish a mobile presence quickly is paramount if you want to yield maximum results from your mobile apps.

A recent study reported that, while users are eager to use app functionality, they rarely allow existing apps to be displaced by newer ones regardless of marketing. In layman’s terms, it means that if you do not deliver what a customer is seeking first, they are not particularly likely to download your app later.

Of course, much of this is dependent upon your business. If you are an E-commerce store then obviously there is not going to be an app exactly like yours. However, do consider that if a customer does find a similar app they are not going to have much of an incentive to try something new. That applies equally well to tacos or shoes.

One more thing to consider. Once you have your app, you should do a good job engaging with your customers with regular content, messages, etc. Particularly if you manage to take over a certain niche first, you can quickly build up a powerful connection and keep them from straying over to a competitor once they inevitably go mobile!

Plus, with great power comes great responsibility and all that.

Announcing the App Analytics Center

We’re proud to announce the release of our analytics center! Now Apptive customers can get valuable insight into the performance of their apps right from the management console.

Infographic: M-Commerce & You!

There has been a lot of buzz about m-commerce (or “mobile ecommerce”) lately, so we’ve put together an infographic that will let you know a little bit more about this developing trend as well as some strategies you can use to include m-commerce in your business!

M-Commerce & You!

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M-Commerce & You!

A Close Look at the Three Types of Mobile Presence


Businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the need to establish a mobile presence. In fact, the statistics indicate that taking a business mobile may be one of the most profitable methods of customer engagement possible in the near future. But what does going mobile entail, and more basically, what does it look like? It turns out there are numerous methods to take a business mobile. In fact, most businesses have (perhaps inadvertently) baked in some elements of a mobile presence through their activities on popular social sites or other forms of customer communication.

Still, when we refer to a true mobile presence, we are implying a direct link to your business itself, not a page on Facebook or a Twitter profile. With those constraints in mind, there are really three forms of a mobile presence: A full website accessed through a mobile browser, a mobile-optimized website, and a mobile app. As you might expect, there are varying levels of value and functionality for each.

A little over a year ago we discussed three ways to establish a mobile presence. This is a closer look at each of the options, so you can get a better understanding of the differences.

The Full Website Through a Mobile Browser

This is absolutely the most basic form of a mobile presence. Essentially, this is just the same version of your website that people would access from their desktop. It is also the most “convenient” form of web presence, in the sense that you don’t have to actually do anything. Further, it would be wrong to imply that such a presence is useless. People can still access your pages and even interact with your site in basic ways.

Still, the drawbacks are present and in some cases severe. First, traditional web design is meant to be viewed on a relatively large monitor, meaning that something that looks great at full-size may look crowded, confusing or difficult to decipher on a small smartphone screen. Further, there are numerous elements regularly used in websites that just won’t work on certain mobile devices *cough* Flash on iPhones and iPads *cough*. Finally, this type of presence does not capitalize on any of the unique capabilities of smartphones. You can not send or receive direct notifications, detect motion, or leverage location-aware capabilities. Therefore, while a full website through a mobile browser is not a death sentence for your business by any stretch of the imagination, it is not a particularly effective mobile engagement tool.

The Mobile-Optimized Website

A mobile-optimized website addresses several of the user interface issues of the full-website viewed through a web browser. Most importantly, it detects when users are trying to access a website with a mobile device and automatically shifts the design to one formatted for mobile. This helps to clear up confusion and often increases both ease of navigation and aesthetic quality. Finally, the mobile-optimized website is relatively easy to “build.” Some services will even automatically render an existing website into a mobile-optimized version for a small fee.

However, a mobile-optimized site is ultimately a layer placed over an existing website to mask interface problems. This is definitely a step in the right direction, but doesn’t address a fundamental problem of relying on a browser to deliver a mobile experience: it doesn’t take full advantage of smartphone capabilities. Ultimately, a mobile-optimized website serves its purpose as a front-facing customer information channel. However, if you really want to engage with customers you are going to need more functionality.

The Mobile App

Mobile apps might appear very similar to mobile optimized websites at first glance, because they often share similar navigation and design elements. Static content, such as lists of menu items and “About Us” pages will also be almost identical. The major difference comes in the interactive elements a mobile app can afford. If you want to be able to send messages directly to customers smartphones through push notification (thus avoiding email clutter and SMS fees), facilitate the purchase of products and services right from a customer’s smartphone, and integrate with smartphone hardware such as a camera, then the mobile app is the way to go.

Of course, there are some downsides to the mobile app as well. In terms of cost and development time, apps have traditionally been much more expensive compared to mobile-optimized websites. They also require more attention from a business, as stagnant apps are likely to be deleted from customer phones. However, recent developments in software that allow you to build an app yourself do alleviate these issues a great deal, making development time and cost very competitive with the mobile-website optimization.

These are the three ways to establish a mobile presence on a customer’s phone. Clearly, the mobile app offers the greatest customer engagement and direct-sales potential, but the mobile-optimized site does offer some advantages.

Which of these options have you explored for your own business? Have you been engaging in a mobile strategy or have you been holding back?

What Functionality Should I Include in My App?


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


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


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


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

Creative App

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?