Planning a Small Business Mobile App
Once you’ve decided an app is the right step for your business, it’s time to get down to the nuts and bolts of planning your app. Depending on the size of your organization, the usual first step is to appoint an app team—a group of stakeholders that represents the major business functions in your organization. For most, this means a representative from the C-suite, your marketing department head, and someone from IT who understands the development and support process.
Your app team’s first step is to make a list of what you want your app to accomplish. These usually fall into one of three categories: Acquisition, engagement, and conversion. Once you’ve defined your objectives, consider the features your app needs to achieve them.
Some of the most popular app features today include:
- Push Notifications
This is one of the most valuable app features since it enables timely, relevant, on-demand communication (that won’t get caught in a SPAM filter). Combined with location-based messaging, push notifications can provide a uniquely personalized experience.
- Geolocation and Map Integration
Know exactly where your customers are and give them detailed directions on how to find you. Take advantage of location-based coupons or incentives or notify staff when a VIP customer enters your store.
- Mobile Shopping/Mobile Payments
This is a must-have feature for most mobile apps—make it as easy as possible for your customers to shop for and purchase your products and services.
- Integrated Loyalty Program
Manage your loyalty program through your mobile app so customers can easily acquire, monitor, and redeem their points using the mobile device.
- Social Integration
Integrate all your social media platforms and make it easy for your customers to connect and engage with you on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.
- One-Touch Contact
This should be obvious, but remember to include all your contact information: one-click calling, emailing, and social connect. Why not add step-by-step directions with a single tap?
- Virtual Reality
Ever wanted to show a client how she’d look in a new hairstyle? Or maybe convince a customer that black leather sofa would look great in his living room? For certain businesses, these interactive features are a huge marketing tool and way to build engagement.
- Smart Sync and Smart Updates
Automatically push updates and sync content across all your digital channels with your mobile app.
After you’ve mapped out what you want your app to do and the features you want to include, it’s time to answer key questions, such as:
- What platform will you use for your app? Google Analytics will give you insight into what devices your customers use.
- What is your timeline for launch? Are there special events, such as the opening of a new branch or introduction of a new product or service, that would dovetail with the app launch?
- What is your app budget? Include both development, support, and marketing costs in your planning.
- How will you build and support your app? Most small businesses can build full-featured, attractive apps using a platform like App4Member, but some prefer to hire out app development.
The answers to these questions will guide your app development roadmap and decision-making going forward.