How To Manage Your Company’s Multi-App Strategy

This blog has focused primarily on issues related to designing and implementing a mobile strategy. What if your company already has a mobile business? In particular, how should you handle a proliferation of apps among your firm’s various brands?

A couple of weeks ago, I spoke at the LA Office Brand Partnership Forum about the opportunities and challenges facing anyone trying to succeed in mobile. During a break, a woman asked me for advice regarding her company’s mobile approach. She told me that her employer has many valuable brands that either already have apps or would like to create them. She wondered if there might be room for making the creation, distribution and marketing of all these apps more efficient.

In particular, she wanted my opinion on the following:

  • Should her company look for development savings by requiring that apps be built using common technologies?
  • Could new apps be delivered as an updates to existing apps, or would they have to be published completely separately?

These are terrific foundational questions. If your company already has published a mobile app or a mobile-optimized website, chances are pretty good that you’ll need to manage a proliferation of other mobile offerings at some point. That makes the issues she’s confronting relevant to many of us.

In many ways, the best way to manage a preexisting mobile strategy is to adopt some of the same strategies that work best at the onset. For example, even if your company already has a mobile business, that should not give your colleagues a green light to publish new mobile content whatever and whenever they wish. The first question to ask remains, “What are we trying to achieve with the business, and how can a mobile plan help?” If any lines of business can’t answer that question, complete with metrics that define success, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

If the business has a valid reason to pursue its mobile ambitions, a company may be tempted to reuse existing technology to bring that ambition to life. While that may lead to cost savings, it shouldn’t be the guiding force that drives implementation. Better to ask, “What requirements must our mobile presence fulfill?” and then determine if any existing technology can do the trick. If not, I would be cautious about sacrificing functionality merely to recycle previous work. Cutting might result in compromising the plan’s reason for being in the first place.

Inducing a sizable audience to download any app is really challenging, which is why the woman I met at the conference wanted to know if new apps could be delivered as an update to her company’s existing catalog of apps. If so, it would result in a much easier path to mass adoption. That’s because many of her company’s apps already had over 1 million downloads.

I told her to check with her legal team and review the incumbent apps’ terms and conditions. As users, we’ve learned to tune out legalese that accompanies websites and other digital products. In this case, though, the Ts & Cs might contain information needed to answer her question.

If you determine that your company needs multiple apps, here are some tips on how to make them work together more effectively.

  1. Plan up front to use content or inventory within your apps to cross promote one another.
  2. Make sure you are capturing consistent data to enable apples-to-apples comparisons and optimization.
  3. Ensure you market your mobile presence in your company’s marketing campaigns, if only to remind your customers that you can meet their mobile needs.

With so much well-deserved buzz about the mass digital migration to mobile taking place, it’s tempting for business decision makers to embrace a “Do something!” strategy just to check mobile off a list. Don’t fall victim to that impulse. You are more likely to build a successful mobile presence by employing the same techniques that made the rest of the company successful: by asking who your customer is, whether a mobile presence matters to her, what requirements she might have of your mobile offering, a blue sky approach to meeting those requirements, and an integrated plan to go to market.

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