Using mobile apps to build your business

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1 Using mobile apps to build your business Most of us know by now what an app is; but just to clarify mobile applications (apps) are software programs for hand-held communication devices such as mobile phones, tablet computers, personal digital assistants (PDAs) or gaming consoles. The growth in use of mobile devices has led to an explosion in the development of mobile apps. More than a million apps are available for sale or download through mobile software distribution platforms such as the Apple App Store, Google Play, Windows Phone Marketplace and BlackBerry App World. So why would do business use apps? provide customer service (e.g. banking or transaction apps) to add value (e.g. apps that enhance customer relationships or experiences) to make money (e.g. selling apps based on the business' intellectual property) to do their business (e.g. tools for frontline or remote workers to access customer databases, fill in timesheets or manage inventory). A mobile app should solve a problem for a business or a customer. Ideally it will allow them to do something on the move rather than on their computer or in person. An example is a sales rep using an app on their smartphone to submit orders or perform stocktakes in-store, or a tourist using an app to book the closest hotel room. Developing mobile apps To date, most business development of mobile apps has been by larger firms like banks. However, smaller enterprises are starting to see the potential and to generate apps for sale or distribution.

2 How can Businesses make money from apps? By selling the app selling a premium version to people who want to upgrade from a limited free version of the app selling advertising or listings on an app for example, an event planning app might include supplier listings who pay to be included. Some apps never generate a direct financial return but bring other benefits such as increased loyalty or better customer service. How do customers use mobile apps? Customers are using mobile apps to do banking on their phones, find local businesses, find information, search for a new house or shop online. Consumers are using their phones to compare products and prices while they are shopping. How can your business use a mobile app to gain a competitive advantage? Developing an app - or using someone else's app - can allow your business to offer deals, provide updates, provide a service or connect with customers. The tips below will help you make the most of mobile apps for your business. Plan your approach Like any other business strategy, using mobile apps is best planned. Think through: what you want to achieve who you are targeting what you want your target audience to do who is going to do what to make it happen how you will know it is working.

3 Developing a simple action plan is a good way to be clear about why and how you would use a mobile app. In the process of answering these questions, you might decide using mobile apps is not for you and your business. Integrate apps with your other marketing Mobile apps work best when they're used with other marketing and business tools, including other social media. An app is unlikely to be a marketing strategy on its own - it's more likely to be a component of a campaign or strategy. Remember that your app will require a marketing campaign to bring it to the attention of the marketplace. Remember the limitations An app can only reach people with a mobile device. So what about the 40-50% of most western countries populations who don't use them? You need to consider whether your target market's profile fits with the smartphone or tablet user profile. Then you need to consider which platform they use (iphone, Android, BlackBerry etc). It might be that it is not worth doing if it does not reach a large enough proportion of your target market. Attract downloaders to your app An app doesn't sell itself. You need to employ a number of marketing tools to encourage people to download your app. promote your app widely to all your marketing and customer contacts consider online advertising for your app. Consider the alternatives Is an app the best way to share this information or experience? Would a website application be just as good, especially if it was optimised for use on mobile devices? A

4 website that works well on mobile devices will apply across all the smartphone platforms, so this maybe a better, more cost-effective first step. Use your IP Have you got existing material or expertise that you could use as the basis for an app? For example, have you written programs for your customers or staff; or content for your website that you could easily convert into app form? Don t reinvent the wheel! Think about what you know or do that could work as an app. For example, a consultant or trainer with expertise in a particular field might develop an app as an alternative or complement face-to-face work with clients. Use apps to do your business Apps aren't just for customers. Many businesses are using apps to harness the power of smartphones as a business tool. Are there ways a mobile app could make your work or your employees' work more time efficient or time effective? For example, could your employees benefit from mobile access to your business data? Could the software applications you use be made mobile to improve productivity and efficiency? Track your mobile app results It's worthwhile to monitor the impact of your mobile apps on your business, so you know what works and what doesn't You can evaluate success by seeing how many people download your app, but it's much more meaningful to track outcomes like impact on sales. Attaching a coupon or promotional code to an app may help you track sales generated from it. You can also

5 measure visits to your website that are generated by an app, using website analytics tools. How your business can avoid mobile app pitfalls Here are some common mistakes business make using mobile apps and tips on avoiding them. Getting lost in the crowd While some apps take off in a big way, the vast majority will never achieve more than 1000 downloads. With increasing competition in the app marketplace, it can be hard to get your app to stand out. Costs exceeding returns Developing an app can be a very expensive undertaking. An app can easily cost from 5,000 to 100,000 to develop unless you have strong technical skills and can develop it yourself. If you are developing it yourself, ensure that you do not undervalue your own time, as this is one sure way to kid yourself that the development is not costing you much. Forgetting about the on-goings Good mobile apps attract repeat usage by customers, so they need to be constantly refreshed and renewed. This means that developing an app carries on-going costs as well as the up-front development cost.

6 Jumping on the bandwagon 'Everyone else is doing it' may not be a good enough reason to invest in developing an app. If it doesn't make life easier for your customer or your staff; then why do it? Ask yourself whether developing an app will attract customers to your business, improve your operations or expand your products and services. Then ask yourself whether it will do these better than a cheaper alternative like improving your website or using Facebook or Twitter. Lastly, consider whether an app is the most important improvement your customers want from you or whether you should be investing in your systems or staff instead. Backing the wrong horse Depending on the complexity of the App, it may need to be developed separately for each of the mobile platforms such as iphones, Android or Windows. You need to carefully consider which device or devices fit the profile of your target market so that your customers can use your app. Getting started with mobile apps Once your decision is made and you feel confident that the use of mobile apps will enhance your business, and which technical platform your users are most likely to use, you can get started on the design and development. Development options The quality and usability of your app in the eyes of the users is paramount and therefore the development process is crucial. working with a technical development partner employing or contracting an app developer doing it yourself from scratch

7 adapting an established framework sharing existing apps advertising on other apps. Research is essential in this process; if you are using an app development company or individual then ensure that you are comfortable communicating with them. Do they understand your business and the goals you are trying to achieve in developing the app? The key is to work with developers that you can trust to deliver the app that will help your business become more efficient and profitable. I hope this document has been helpful and educational in sharing some of the important things to consider when looking at using an app within your business. Richard Brash Managing Director Brash Solutions Limited PS Check out our regular blog on the website for more useful ideas and latest technology news; or give us a call in the office on: if you want to talk about your own IT needs.

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