It really does seem like there is an app for everything. They have become ubiquitous, and everyone is getting into the game: consumer packaged goods, film studios, retailers, media companies, banks, and more. With all those apps, you’d think that knowing what mistakes to avoid would be common knowledge.
Based on my experience and what I’ve seen of many publishers with names you’ve heard of, I can say that you’d be wrong.
Here are five mistakes that I’ve seen publishers make. Each represents a significant barrier to achieving mobile success.
- Poor app quality: Companies big and small by now know they should test websites thoroughly before going live. Why, then, do some apps routinely fall short in their design or functionality? It is true that the explosion of operating systems and device specifications often means they have to build, test, and maintain many unique versions of the same app. That’s difficult and occasionally expense work. Still, it’s hard to overstate the importance of app quality. App stores rely in part on user ratings to determine which apps to merchandise. In a world of millions of mobile apps all working to be discovered on 4″ touch screens, a few negative user reviews can crush an app’s chance of being found.
- Discovery failure: I once evaluated a well known e-commerce company’s website to try to determine how easy it was for consumers to discover its mobile app. With the help of an agency, I looked how the company exposed this app to search engines. I learned that the company had done the equivalent of building a document in Photoshop that contained all the information about its app, which it then “pasted” onto a web page. While the page looked fantastic, this approach neglected the coding that exposes content to search engines. From a search engine’s perspective, therefore, the web page was harder to see. This represented a huge gap in the company’s app marketing strategy.
- Mobile is absent from company marketing: Most publishers have muptiple channels with which they engage customers, including retail, radio, TV, digital/fixed web, social, traditional corporate communications, and more, yet they don’t always use them to market their mobile offering. Taking an “if we build it, they will come” marketing strategy is perilous. Why, then, don’t more companies do more to leverage these marketing channels to raise awareness about their apps?
- Published for mobile, but designed for computers: Have you ever downloaded an app you later realized had too much information and too many buttons or navigation choices crammed into a small screen? It can render an app nearly unusable. Mobile apps and websites need to be conceived from the end user’s perspective. If that user has only five minutes to engage your company’s brand, what information, features, and content will ensure that the customer comes back to the app a second and third time and, hopefully, recommends you to a friend?
- ROI problems: Not every company has a success metric for its mobile efforts, though every company should have a way to justify these investments. One of the easiest ways to do that is to make mobile transactional, enabling an app or mobile website to collect money and/or user information. New user acquisition, existing customer retention, and revenue via virtual or actual sales of goods represent metrics that can be easier to defend because they often help align an app or mobile website with a company’s core business..
While there are many examples of apps that are fraught with one or more of these problems, the good news is that you can avoid each of them and thus create a foundation for mobile success.