How to Build a Consumer App Your Customers Will Want to Download
Businesses have heard about the benefits of a mobile app for reaching customers. Rather than relying on customers to find them online, businesses with an app can earn a presence on a consumer's smartphone or tablet. To be successful, however, a business's app must offer something a consumer finds useful (and easy) enough to download it. This means it should do more than simply provide one-time-use information that could easily be accessed on a website.
If your business is considering moving into app territory, here are a few things you should first consider. By carefully strategizing your app and using the right resources, you'll be able to ensure the highest number of downloads possible.
1. Make it useful.
The best apps are useful to a customer's daily life. A restaurant might not have luck with an app that merely offers up its menu and operating hours, but an app that allows customers to place a delivery order or add their names to a wait list would be a big draw for regular customers. Starbucks' app allows customers to pay directly from their smartphones, earning points for every dollar spent. Because of the company's existing loyal customer base, the app has seen a great deal of downloads by customers who purchase coffee regularly.
2. Build it well.
There are many do-it-yourself tools that can walk businesses through building a basic app. But to really make it functional, you may need to invest in a custom-built app. Several app development firms specialize in helping small businesses at affordable rates. You could also try this list of DIY app tools, some of which offer integration and complex building options that might provide the complexity your app needs.
3. Test, test, test.
Having a bug-filled, frustrating app is far worse than having no app at all. At each phase of the process, conduct user experience testing to make sure your app does everything it's supposed to do. If possible, bring in objective testers to try it out before launch day. Often you will find a new pair of eyes can catch things that no one else has.
4. Optimize your description.
If you want customers to find you in the app store, you'll need a searchable description. When a customer searches for your business, what terms will that customer use? Those terms need to be incorporated into your app description when you upload it to the iOS App Store or to Google Play. If you're a local business, you'll want to make sure when customers search for identifying features of your business and the area, your app shows up. (Example: Italian restaurant in Brooklyn.)
5. Prepare a marketing strategy.
You don't have to wait for launch day to start marketing it. The days immediately preceding your release should be spent testing it in your stores and online. Once it's available in app stores, ask your most loyal customers, friends, and family members to try it out and leave reviews. If your app has a widespread appeal, reach out to bloggers who might consider covering your app in their blogs and posts in exchange for free access or a free product.
An app can be a great way to increase brand awareness through a platform your business controls. When done correctly, a business of any size can create an app that is both useful to customers and beneficial to building its brand.
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