Why Mobile Apps Should be Seen as Products, Not One-Off Initiatives
Mobile apps are incredibly intentional media. Users must search the app store for your app, download it, open it and then return to it. If you’re asking a user to go through all that effort, there has to be a compelling reason for them to do so.
If your app doesn’t have a clear goal, isn’t maintained, or has a very limited window of usefulness, you’re going to have a serious uphill battle.
The first step is to determine if you need an app. If the answer is yes, commit to this app as an ongoing product. That means embracing the following rules:
A product does a job
Your app isn’t a like traditional TV or banner ads. Traditional advertising delivers brand impressions by gating high value content behind the ad.
This model is still relevant, and some of the best ads do succeed at entertaining while marketing. But that’s not always the case and the emergence of mobile apps has created an entirely new method of marketing.
Apps (especially marketing and brand apps) are not so much ads as they are products in and of themselves. Once brands embrace this very real distinction they will be on a path to a downloaded, used and highly successful app.
Products solve your users’ problems
All successful products must provide ongoing value to the user. In order to be relevant, your app must solve a real problem your customer faces.
Apps that simply market to a user are trying to solve the wrong problem: the brand’s marketing needs. But by not solving the problems your users hire your brand (and its app) to do, your app will fail.
In the end, both the brand’s marketing problems and the user needs go unresolved.
A product needs tools and a team
You need a team that’s dedicated to your newest product. Apps that are afterthoughts find themselves under-prioritized, under-resourced and under-performing. Your team must be robust enough to create a roadmap, maintain a vision, and manage the tools and technology.
A product must be polished
I remember when MTV first launched. Videos were amateurish and sometimes just strange. Then…Thriller hit. In the time it took one video to air, MTV and all of music marketing transformed and matured. Mobile’s “Thriller moment” has come and gone, and now your users expect sophisticated, elegant and highly polished apps.
A product needs a budget
Mobile app development takes a sufficient budget not only to create the app, but to ensure bugs are fixed quickly and the app remains relevant through platform changes and shifts in user needs. Updates are key to keeping your users interested and engaged.
A product needs internal support
Like any product, an app needs leadership support, so the project doesn’t wither on the vine. Apple and Google are constantly changing, and new apps are entering the market every second. Your app will go from “good” to “just OK” to “forgotten” if you don’t keep it reflective of the state of the mobile market.
A product requires robust marketing
With 1.5 million other apps vying for attention, you need a clear and targeted marketing strategy to put the right app in front of the right audience and drive downloads. Apps require effort and intention to find, download and use. Without a robust marketing plan your app can easily fall into obscurity.