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

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?

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.

The Highly Targeted Mobile App

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Mobile apps have mass appeal. Regardless of business type or size, a mobile app can also have an incredible ROI. The key word there of course, is can. While the marketing aficionados and business book gurus out there preach a certain lesson all the time, it is difficult to apply it to your own business when, quite frankly, you want all the customers you can get.

As it stands, the gurus and aficionados are right. The best way generate a positive ROI for your app is focus.

Now, there is obviously some built-in targeting for your app. The individuals most likely to download a mobile app are tech savvy. They are likely on Twitter and Facebook. They play Angry Birds and have a positive attitude towards businesses that go mobile. You can definitely cater to that audience.

But even then, the focus is not tight enough. Putting aside the fact that all of the above behaviors can be just as easily applied to both a hip college kid and his parents, the fact is that the “tech nerd” is dying. We are all tech nerds now to some extent, and so the term is increasingly ineffective as a differentiator.

So how do you focus your mobile app? Get ready for a frustrating answer.

It really depends on you.

Truthfully, mobile apps provide a framework for you to pursue your existing targeted marketing efforts (and you do have a target consumer, right?). Certain modules work well for certain businesses, but the effectiveness of those modules relies on the power of the business itself to identify and speak to a certain audience.

Identify your target audience, demonstrate the fact that you know what they want and are able to give it to them, and your mobile app will let you cut through the clutter of a customer’s inbox and Facebook feed. Mobile apps are highly flexible. They are as remarkable as you.

Core Mobile for Small Business

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The necessity of keen mobile strategy becomes more evident every day. As smartphone ownership and app usage continue to climb dramatically, businesses realize that mobile represents one of the few marketing platforms that presents the opportunity for both micro-targeted efforts and nearly universal appeal. All that being said, many businesses still have only a token presence on mobile, often represented by social interaction or a mobile-optimized website. These are great supplementary marketing avenues, but they are not enough. To become truly successful in the current climate, it is necessary to treat mobile as a primary marketing channel.

Of course, some companies have staked their reputation on mobile marketing. However, these are primarily enterprise-level businesses or tech companies. The reason for this is simple: small businesses treat any new potential investment with suspicion, particularly when it is as modern as the recent trend towards mobile engagement. Somewhat ironically, small businesses have the most to benefit from adopting a core mobile strategy.

Where big-brands can afford to increase top of mind awareness through traditional marketing efforts, they struggle to establish unique and personalized customer interactions. This key differentiator has always existed as a benefit for small business, but for the first time it is possible to furnish those personal relationships on a massive scale.

A mobile-first marketing approach gives small businesses the power to directly approach their customer base and thereby increase top-of-mind awareness without investing a ton of money. Rather, the mobile approach is one that allows the personality of the business to shine through the marketing clutter that consumers regularly encounter. A push notification coming through an app you have specifically downloaded to your device from a company you trust is always more effective than a spammy email.

Generalizations are dangerous, yet it is safe to say that the majority of small businesses would be wise to consider adopting mobile as their primary outreach method. Due to the mass numbers of customers with smartphones, the opportunity to create brand loyalty and mutually beneficial interactions through a mobile device, and the cost-effective nature of mobile marketing efforts businesses can greatly benefit from establishing a mobile presence.

 

Fostering a Mobile Community

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Mobile strategies are highly valuable because of their ability to directly reach customers. It is tempting, then to make the majority of your messages direct-sales focused. Unfortunately, there is almost no better way to have your mobile message undermined and eventually ignored.

A far better strategy for most businesses is to create a mobile community. Imagine the value for you brand if customers actually look forward to receiving direct messages from you on their mobile devices? Fortunately, this goal is not out of reach, and a few simple steps can help you create a thriving mobile fan base.

1. Focus on Human Contact

Do you like being talked to by a robot? Loooove getting an automated message instead of a real human on the phone? Neither do your customers, and the feeling translates even more so to the direct messaging capabilities of a mobile offering. Messages without human elements come across as annoying and eventually downright obtrusive. On the other hand, messages and offers that read like they’re coming from a human being with a personality will foster real connections with your customers. Don’t be afraid to toss in some humor, opinions or excitement in your mobile messaging. Your customers will thank you for it.

2. Reduce Frequency, Increase Value

Unlike a presence on a social network, mobile communities do not thrive on constant interaction. Rather, they appreciate the knowledge that whenever they receive a message it will include some particularly exciting or valuable piece of information. How much is too much? That depends on how much real value your business has to offer. For “promotion” type deals that generally amounts to just a few messages per week. However, if you regularly feature events, contests, or other interactive types of engagement then you should definitely update your mobile audience as often as needed!

3. Capitalize on Real Time

It is tricky to layout a blueprint for a real-time engagement strategy, primarily because the very nature of real-time is ever-changing! Still, it is important to remember this: you have a direct line to your customers that will let you reach them in real time. Use that to your advantage whenever possible. Obviously, great times to do this are when you have a festival or other major event that lends itself to time-based promotion. However, that is just the tip of the iceberg. The more creative your real-time engagement, the more excited your customers will be, and the more value you can derive from your direct messaging and promos.

These steps will help you to begin down the journey of creating a community that will exponentially increase the value of your mobile strategy. These tips are fairly general, so we would love to hear your comments about some of your specific strategies that you’ve used to connect with your customers!

Think Mobile, Act Local

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The term “mobile strategy” instantly brings to mind the jetset traveler, suitcase in hand, ready to embark upon some great adventure armed with a repertoire of tablets, smartphones and laptops. So, when you discuss a “local mobile” strategy, it almost sounds like an oxymoron. However, most interactions with small business comes from local customers, and your greatest chance of long term success revolves around creating a tribe of loyal local customers.

But how does this ultimately affect your mobile strategy, and how should you structure your app interactions to engage with a local audience? The answer can be broken down into two primary goals, consistency and value. In the same way that businesses want consistent revenue from customer, so too do customers want consistent experiences with a business (note that consistent does not mean boring, it means being consistently remarkable).

The good news is that many small businesses already meet that criteria in their personal interactions with customers. You likely see some familiar faces who frequently visit your business, and have built a rapport with them. The trick is to build the same kind of rapport through your mobile strategy. This sounds easy, but there are a few common areas where small businesses tend to fail.

For one thing, mobile strategies for small businesses are a relatively new development. Only recently have apps and other mobile engagement tools become affordable and functional enough for them. In one sense this is excellent, because companies who act quickly will have a serious advantage over competitors while the strategy is not yet commonplace. The flip side of this, though, is that many small businesses have only been exposed to mobile messaging from large corporate and tech-focused apps. Because of that, businesses sometimes feel that their app messaging and interactions needs to be somewhat detached in order to lend validity. Nothing could be further from the truth. Customers will always gravitate towards technology that reflects a businesses personal, human elements.

Small businesses also encounter difficulty determining the types of deals and advertisements to run. Often they turn to simple, low-cost deals that they believe will draw in more customers due to the immediate value and ease of redemption. However, while someone may very well redeem a deal for a “free soft drink with any purchase” if they are already in the restaurant, such basic offerings are not powerful enough to pull customers in. Offering real value, even if the redemption process is more involved (“Bring in a friend and get two free desserts,” etc.) will intrigue local customers and give them a reason to check out your business.

There are many other local mobile strategies we could discuss, but we’d like to hear from you! How do you generate interest locally, how can you/would you translate that to a mobile strategy? Sound off in the comments!

 

The Other End of the Funnel

Tornado in the late evening sky

Businesses often refer to their customer acquisition activities as taking place through a marketing and sales “funnel”. Most of these activities take place at the top of the funnel, with awareness and promotional materials leading to various forms of communication and engagement. After all of this activity, the customer is hopefully hooked, resulting in a sale.

The question, then, is where does a mobile app fit in the the funnel? Due to the inherently versatile nature of a mobile app, the truth is it can actually fit anywhere in the process. Speaking from the perspective of apps created through Apptive, our modules allow for everything from social communications to one-click sales. However, mobile apps may actually have the most benefit from a company a the other end of the funnel, that is to say, once a customer has already been acquired.

Mobile apps provide a direct link between a customer and a business that is unmatched by any other engagement stream. Once a customer indicates trust in your business by both purchasing a product and actually downloading your mobile app, you have the opportunity to reach out and facilitate a long-term relationship that will create a strong sense of brand loyalty. It is common knowledge that it is far easier to sell to existing customers. By approaching your customer base through an app that lives directly on their smartphone you position yourself to take full advantage of this reality in an increasingly mobile society.

Second Screens for Small Business

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While traditional television advertising methods remain effective for many small businesses, they only represent a surface-level exposure to customers. According to a number of worldwide studies 75%-85% of people use their mobile devices while watching their favorite shows. In what is perhaps an even more telling set of statistics, between 27% and 44% use their devices to explore products or services they have seen advertised on TV. This trend demonstrates two key points: that viewers seek a greater depth of information than that provided by commercials, and that they are turning to their smartphones immediately upon viewing those commercials to conduct product research.

Businesses can capitalize on these trends by ensuring an established presence in the mobile ecosystem. Though mobile-optimized websites and third party information outlets are beneficial for this purpose, a dedicated application offers the opportunity to extend front-of-mind awareness for potential customers. For instance, someone may have looked up dozens of products as a result of advertisements set during a major broadcast. However, they are unlikely to forget the business that offers them a push-notification with a great deal a few days later.

Fortunately, EasyApp allows small businesses to develop an application extremely quickly (and often for a fraction of the cost of a mobile-site). These applications allow for effective targeted engagement that will stretch your advertising dollar. As smartphone adoption rates continue to climb more users will conduct product research via the “second screen.” Build an app in minutes and increase profits by allowing customers to interact with your business on their terms.