This guest post was contributed by Clutch.
For many small business owners and entrepreneurs, popular apps like Uber and Snapchat are sources of inspiration. It’s easy to see the appeal of mobile apps: they can provide a direct connection between businesses and their customers, encouraging engagement by providing new services and perks.
But even as mobile apps become more mainstream — as many as 67% of small businesses have or plan to launch a mobile app by the end of 2017 — the process can still feel intimidating or confusing. Fortunately, the availability of app building software means that anyone can build an app without coding experience.
The report yielded 6 surprising insights into how small businesses and entrepreneurs should approach mobile app development:
1. Make Time for Internal Discussions and Research
App development experts agree that the first step to building a successful app is investing time in internal planning. By spending some time reflecting on goals and opportunities, companies can enter the app development process with clear priorities, even if the specifics of the app change over time.
In these planning conversations, the old “keep it simple” adage holds true. Suggested topics for internal conversations include:
- A list of apps you admire
- A clear sense of how the app will support existing business goals
- A sketch of what you would like the app to look like
Thinking through core goals at the beginning of the app development process will save you time later, when you will need to rally your staff behind your new app (more on the later). You’ll already have all the answers in place and the confidence that comes from focus and simplicity.
2. Determine a Realistic Short- and Long-Term Budget
Just like any investment, you’ll want to begin the app development process with a realistic sense of what your company can afford to spend on the project. Your budget should take the discovery phase, features, development costs, and marketing into account. Don’t forget to factor in a long-term budget for maintenance, too; you will need to periodically update your security measures and design to keep up with changes in the marketplace.
These costs can be notoriously difficult to predict with precision, but with the help of online guides to how much it costs to build an app and analysis of what apps with similar features cost, you can begin to determine an estimate.
When it comes to budget, app builder software offers a distinct advantage over other options (which can cost as much as $500,000 for large enterprise companies). “We’re able to offer typical mobile app development at almost one-fiftieth of the price of a custom developed app without losing any quality,” said Ed Harris, CEO of BizAPPBiz.
How does app builder software manage to offer affordable app development solutions? Instead of building everything from scratch, BizAPPBiz offers templates with a simple drag-and-drop interface, empowering small businesses to transform their mobile app ideas into a reality. This also allows for more concrete cost predicting and budgeting, as you will know exactly how much the app and it’s maintenance will cost.
3. Let Your Monetization Strategy Guide Design
A survey of 100+ mobile app developers found that the “freemium” approach to monetization was most highly recommended. In the freemium model, users are able to download an app for free, with later options to upgrade for additional features or complete in-app purchases.
A popular example of a freemium app is Spotify, which offers some access to music in an unpaid version of the app and compelling features such as the ability to listen to music offline in the paid version.
Users tend to prefer the freemium option to paid downloads, as the former allows them to test drive an app to see if they like it before committing to payment. With compelling paid features (like food ordering and merchandise), freemium apps can win conversions for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Although it might be tempting to sprinkle paid advertisements throughout your app, in-app advertising is becoming less popular among app developers, with only 8% of app developers recommending it. Over time, users have grown to find advertisements spammy or annoying, limiting the usefulness of this option.
Ultimately, BizAPPBiz has found that increased engagement through an app is the biggest driver of revenue for their clients. By designing an app that makes it easier for customers to make purchases or schedule appointments, small businesses can experience a bump in revenue.
4. Pick the Right App Development Partner
With your goals, budget, and monetization strategy in mind, it’s time to choose an app development partner who can deliver all three.
To determine if app builder software will work for your business, research case studies that can provide insight into how other businesses have used the software in the past. For example, if you manage a restaurant, you can explore how other restaurants have overhauled their online ordering process or reservations by launching a mobile app. Viewing examples of app development firms’ past projects will give you a clear sense of whether they will be able to deliver the results you will need to meet your goals for the app.
Overall, app builder software can provide powerful mobile solutions for a wide range of small businesses, while ensuring that budgets stay manageable and without requiring advanced technical know-how. Still, it’s important to have realistic expectations; if your app will require heavy customization, you might end up needing to employ an app developer.
5. Market Your Mobile App
According to Harris, the saying of ‘if you build it, they will come’ could not be further from the truth” when it comes to apps. Apps require sustained marketing efforts to become and remain successful. BizAPPBiz provides marketing resources, including templates for physical marketing materials, to help small businesses and entrepreneurs get their mobile app off the ground.
Additionally, an often-overlooked aspect of marketing is internal training. “If you do not let your employees know about your mobile app they won’t know how to utilize it with their customers nor will they help advertise it for downloads,” says Harris.
Encouraging your employees to get excited about your new mobile app will make it easier for them to spread the word to customers. Your employees will likely be responsible for letting customers know how to use the app and what benefits the app offers. Investing the time in training them can go a long way toward driving an app’s success.
6. Invest in Maintaining Your Mobile App
Finally, as we’ve mentioned above, companies are sometimes surprised to learn that they will need to issue regular updates to their apps. App updates are necessary due to:
- Changing security requirements
- Updates to operating systems
- Evolving user preferences
With apps powered by app builders, companies don’t have to worry about their technology being outdated. BizAPPBiz manages all necessary technological updates, at the company’s request, and builds out new features as consumer preferences and expectations change over time.
Focus on the Big Picture
Although it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of app creation, mobile apps require both plannings before the development process begins and attention after the day they are launched. By offering tools to help businesses achieve their mobile app goals, BizAPPBiz offers an affordable solution without sacrificing the power of compelling design.
Michelle Delgado is a marketer and content developer at Clutch, a B2B research firm in the heart of Washington, DC. Her research focuses on website builders, web design, and app development.