How to Turn Your Mobile App Into a Successful Business
In the world of hundreds of thousands of applications and startups popping up, if not every hour than every couple of hours for sure, it is way too hard to have a competitive advantage and take its place in the market under the sun. Still, nothing is impossible if only you have a great product, business model, and strategies to promote the idea on the market. Want to know how to develop a mobile app worth your investment? This guide has been prepared for those ambitious minds interested in mobile app development and a flourishing digital business in 2022.
Statistically, there are 1,5 million abandoned apps in Google Play and App Store for Q1 2022. This is sad news to hear. On the contrary, the market is huge and expected to reach 935B by 2023.
Luckily, with this article at hand, you can take your piece of a pie and be able to:
- increases the chances of your mobile app success
- avoid the major pitfalls during the mobile app development
- create a mobile app with a growing user base and high user retention.
Once read, you will find all ins-and-outs of generating app ideas and the process of mobile app development.
CHARACTERISTICS OF A GREAT MOBILE APPLICATION
For starters, let’s clarify what actually makes a good mobile app. What are those aspects and metrics you should pay attention to the most? Definitely, a good app is the one that solves some pain points as well as provides a flawless user experience and top performance.
Thus, take a quick glance at the following points that most top-performing digital products have in common. All of them:
- provide a specific solution
- does one thing but really, really well
- deliver high value for its target user
- are simple in their functioning
- maintain high performance and security
- have regular updates and bug-fixing
- offer a personalized experience
- some even provide offline functionality
- many are offered for free, at least in the early stages.
Thus, to create a great digital business, you need to create a top and qualitative product at its core. Secondly, to increase your chances of a successful app launch, it is necessary to incorporate well-prepared mobile app development and marketing strategies.
Keep these aspects in mind since all the next sections of the guide elaborate on each step you need to complete to develop app ideas that would win users’ hearts.
DEVELOP A MOBILE APP THAT SOLVES A PROBLEM
Many beginning entrepreneurs, including those creating mobile apps, underestimate the necessity of the research. They genuinely believe in their app ideas. However, this is similar to the bullet shot in the void without any feedback from the market, selection of the niche, and a clear vision.
The next three steps can be united into well-thought-out research that is necessary to complete to develop a mobile app that will bring you profit.
MARKET RESEARCH FOR A MOBILE APP DEVELOPMENT
Exclusion of market demand is the number one reason startups fail, making up 42% of cases. Thus, the initial objective is to understand the market need, fulfill it with your offering, and choose the right market and target audience.
You may already have some experience and distinct knowledge in some spheres. Alternatively, you can find a partner who has the necessary expertise and knows the potential problems people face in a particular area.
1st – if you have some app ideas – test your hypothesis for its market potential.
In this case, you can use SWOT analysis [Strength-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats] to identify the market strategy. Basically, the startupper can evaluate current advantages to reach the wanted objective while minimizing risks and overcoming challenges on the market.
The PEST scheme complements this research by investigating the external environment (political, economic, social, and legal factors) and better assessing the risks each industry/ market possesses.
Porter’s 5 Forces model may also be applied to understand the rivalry level in the sector you plan to launch your project in.
This way, you can select your niche and define your target customer portrait. For example, you can focus on a niche audience like scuba divers, professional photographers, or pregnant women where the number of potential clients is lower. This way, you do not face high competition in contrast to a more general app concept.
2nd – if you don’t have any app ideas – conduct market research to identify a problem that currently exists, and then evaluate your direct and indirect competitors.
This way, you will understand the current state of the market – its propositions and how people cope with their problems, and finally, understand what could be your best offering.
HOW TO DEVELOP A MOBILE APP THAT ADDS VALUE
For starters, concentrate on bringing value, not money. Most of the app projects that have reached tremendous success were developed to solve an issue, which got traction from the audience, and only then could the app receive a million earnings.
Following is the list of advice that will help you to finalize your app concept:
- Start with the basics – ask people what apps they like and don’t like and how they use their connected devices (smartphones, home assistants, tablets, etc.).
- Try to use your mobile device and note your experience – you may be surprised about how many things still need to be adapted to perform personal or professional tasks easier.
Search for gaps and blank spaces – check out forums, blogs of interest, and social media to study what people talk about and what pains they experience.
- Check out software development meetups and hackathons to understand the industry trends.
- Collect information about what app ideas get funded the most.
- Browse app stores – you can study existing projects; you can’t clone an existing app, but you can still offer a similar app with improved performance and new features.
- Enhance the app experience – learn the most-frequently-used functionality and think about how it can be improved or search for the ways users can utilize their mobile device in a new way (e.g., a scanner, compass, flashlight, etc.).
- Learn outside of app stores – go to the market and conduct polls and questionnaires among a selected group of people.
- Dream bigger and imagine wider – great app concepts are innovative, with a trajectory to the future. You may start simple, yet you can predict and set the grounds for the innovation for the upcoming years (e.g., AR & VR, Machine Learning, AI).
- Draw and write down all your ideas (even the most stupid ones) – keep these records and put them on the paper right away so you won’t forget them later.
To sum things up, by combining your knowledge, analysis from online research, and market analysis results, you will undoubtedly come up with a unique app idea that stands out.
PLAN YOUR STRATEGY FOR MOBILE APP DEVELOPMENT
Once you have defined the major problem your app will solve, the next thing to do is to summarize your digital business strategy.
Plan your app earnings
Also, it is necessary to define your monetization strategy. In the beginning, it is wise to offer your product for free, at least partly to gain the initial base of users. Then, you can decide how to earn revenue by selecting one or a few options, namely:
- Ads – showing advertisement
- Paid download – e.g., $0.99 to install the app
- In-app purchase – freemium model with an opportunity to advance app functionality, sell virtual or physical items, bonuses, ad blocking
- Subscription – weekly, monthly, or annual fee
- Merchandise & eCommerce – sale of goods via an app
- Affiliate & sponsorship – referral marketing option to assist other businesses in reaching out to the client
The Business Model Canvas tool is the best to use for this step and summarize the points mentioned earlier. The model has 9 areas you need to fill out with the strategic plans, namely:
- Key partners – people and stakeholders who assist in your app startup
- Key activities – processes to run your digital business daily
- Key resources – knowledge, means, people, money, etc. to develop a mobile app and support business activities
- Value proposition – unique selling points of an app, key solution it provides
- Customer relations – use cases and ways of first user contact with an app and create loyalty
- Customer segments – portrait(s) of a buyer persona
- Channels – ways to deliver your mobile app solution to the end-user
- Cost structure – key cost components based on key activities and resources
- Revenue streams – monetization strategy
Once you dwell on these points, you are ready to go with a real mobile app development process.
FIND & HIRE THE RIGHT VENDOR TO DEVELOP A MOBILE APP
The selection of the software development agency is another critical decision to make. Searching for a local provider, outsourcing your mobile app development activities, or hiring a freelancer is possible.
Here are a few aspects to bring up for each variant:
- local firms – provide good-quality development services, but the hourly rates on the local market are significantly higher (e.g., in the USA)
- offshore agency – have lower rates while sustaining good service quality (e.g., region of Asia or Eastern Europe)
- developers on freelance – have an affordable price level on a freelance platform like UpWork or Freelancer.com. However, it is hard to define a good programmer and illuminate the risks of undelivered quality, information leaks, delays, and so on.
Generally speaking, IT outsourcing is the most cost-efficient way to develop a mobile app since it has minimum risks of delivering a bad-quality app. It helps you save up to 50% of your budget. It is only necessary to find a reliable and capable vendor.
So, what do you need to consider when choosing a software company and creating a mobile app? Here is a list of matters that are necessary to evaluate the mobile app development vendor:
CREATING A MOBILE APP PROTOTYPE & UX/UI DESIGN
The first real phase of developing a mobile app is a UX/UI design. It should be simple, intuitive, and appealing to your target audience. The app design creation may also consist of the following sub-stages:
- app prototype – represents a high-level form of the product, can have a few variants to conduct beta testings on the end-user and define the best one
- app wireframes – defines the user experience that forms the app’s skeleton, maps out its functionality and includes a specific number of screens, position of elements, buttons, and defines the navigation through the app
- app interface – represents the chosen stylistics, color patterns, and visual elements of an app
- branding – dedicates to the app logo creation and supplementary material like a brand book
Investing in app design is worthy since it sets the basis for the further mobile app development stage. It is important to follow the platform guidelines (e.g., iOS, Android), focus on intuitive gestures, and emphasize app appearance. To raise the chances of creating a mobile app with great design, it is necessary:
- Use professional tools like Figma, Sketch, InDesign, Fluid UI, Balsamiq Mockups, Gliffy, Mockflow
- Define all the possible use cases of in-app flow and the processes behind them
- Create a few screen flows and figure out which works the best
- Apply 2-tap and 5-point rules, which means once you open the app, it should have 2 taps to get the required result and up to 5 different elements in its design (fonts, sizes, colors)
- Revise the screens number and their order
The UX/UI design process may take a considerable amount of time, but this helps figure out the best app layout and navigation that showcases the solution provided by the app from the first use. The wise approach is to test the app’s usability and interface among the defined target audience. For instance, if the app is planned to be used among the older generation in clinics, its design (clickable prototype) should be examined for its clearness, user-friendliness, and appearance by these users precisely.
Besides, a well-defined and created app design saves thousands of dollars during the development phase. The cost of a mistake is far less during this mobile app development phase.
Once the app UX/UI design is approved, the actual app coding phase starts. There are multiple ways to develop a mobile app, including a native or cross-platform approaches.
Here we list the pros and cons of each of the named options:
- Native app development
If utilizing this approach, an app is fully compliant with an operating system (iOS or Android). This way, apps are created for each OS separately and use corresponding programming languages (Objective-C or Swift for iOS, Java or Kotlin for Android).
Apps created natively are characterized by complete unity with a device, the ability to use the device’s tools like camera, contacts, GPS, memory, etc. Also, custom apps usually work faster, more secure, and easier to scale, and it is possible to add complex and unique features.
- Hybrid app development
Logically, this app type is quicker to develop, also meaning it costs less. On the contrary, these apps may concede in appearance, and performance, and it is harder to implement complex functionality and support the project easily.
To sum things up, it highly depends on the app concept and planned functionality and what approach to use. In general, it is recommended to develop a mobile app natively since it grants more benefits. However, in some cases, hybrid app development could be a great way to proceed, especially when testing your app idea.
Besides, before the mobile app development stage begins, together with the chosen development vendor, you should evaluate 3rd party services and analytics for integration (e.g., Google Analytics, Flurry, Mixpanel, etc.) These tools are used for collecting app performance metrics and data for app improvement and ongoing development. These aspects can also influence the way you develop a mobile app.
LAUNCH YOUR APP IN THE APP STORE
Into the point: It is a good strategy to develop a mobile app prototype first and test it among the real-user before launching it to the app store. This way, you avoid making bigger mistakes, collect user feedback, and make necessary adjustments.
The app launch is a big step into the real world, and you need to make sure that every single detail is in accordance with your plan. Here is a checklist of the things you should pay attention to:
- Evaluate whether an app has well-tested and is bug-free
- Double-check the app security for good server protection and data storage
- Check app compliance with the Apple Store and/or Google Play guidelines
The mobile app deployment process needs a solid plan, schedule, and control during the app release to the live environment. The protection and integrity of the core system component is a cornerstone of the phase that your software development vendor needs to cover.
START WITH APP PROMOTION IN ADVANCE
The second you launch your app to the store, the moment your marketing efforts take the leading role. Along with creating a mobile app for 3-6 months, it is necessary to plan and schedule its promotion. If you are not well-prepared, your app gets lost among hundreds of applications within the app store.
The process may include, but is not limited to:
- ASO (app store optimization) to ensure that target user finds your application based on propers positioning, keyword targeting, app description
- Publications of the app in alternative app stores (SlideMe, AppsLib, AppBrain, etc.)
- Building an email list of interested users via a subscription button on your landing page, created earlier
- Paid app advertising
- Work on different distribution channels on social networks and SMM strategy
- Work with the press to spread the word about the value your app provides
- Contacts with industry influencers and bloggers so that they share their positive feedback on the application with their audience
- App listing on PreApps, a community that consists of early adopters of new applications
- SEO strategies, if you decide to have a website and have a corporate blog
- App listing on the mobile app reviews platforms
- Consultations with Advertising and PR agencies
MOBILE APP METRICS & ONGOING PROJECT SUPPORT
You have launched your app and market your app successfully. What’s next? It is vital to progress and improve your mobile application. That’s why it is crucial to integrate analytics during mobile app development. Making updates, innovating with features, and personalizing the app experience will provide the user retention and increase app loyalty.
THE KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS (KPIS) YOU SHOULD TRACK
- Mobile downloads & installations – a general indicator of the app’s popularity
- Retention rate – one of the key metrics that shows the number of users that return to the app after the first use
- Daily active users – showcase the number of app users daily; the same parameter can be checked every month
- Churn rate – opposite metric to retention that tracks how many users abandoned the app once used
- The average revenue per user – measure the app earnings from each user
- User lifetime value (LTV) – tracks the revenue per user, including the future earnings
- Cost per acquisition (CPA) – shows what is the cost to get one new app user
Keeping track of the market, and its trends and analyzing your product’s performance helps you make the right decisions to further develop a mobile app. Extending functionality, improving app design, enhancing quality, reducing bugs and errors – are the ongoing activities for mobile app development and its support.
FINAL IDEAS FOR MOBILE APP DEVELOPMENT
All in all, a successful app provides a single service, yet it is unique, well-designed, and has great performance.
To wrap things up, here is a list of key ideas covered:
- Identify your strengths and expertise to base your app idea
- Evaluate the market and TA (models like SWOT, Porter’s 5 Forces, and PEST can help)
- Set your digital business direction and strategy clearly (utilize Business Model Canvas)
- Hire a software development team with the right capabilities and expertise (consider IT outsourcing to Eastern Europe or Asia due to the best price-quality ratio)
- Invest in creating proper UX/UI design and test it among TA
- Implement the application with the most suitable tech stack and tools
- Start marketing campaigns during the early stages (ASO, paid ads, SEO, SMM strategies, etc.)
- Evaluate your app performance and update the app regularly.
Thus, to generate app ideas and create a mobile app that wins the users’ hearts, it is necessary to understand the issues they encounter each day and seamlessly solve them. Aside, the continuous app improvement and innovation will make users stay loyal to your digital product.
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