For the better part of ten years, we’ve watched as mobile shifted the business paradigm and brands struggled to keep pace. With so many legacy processes and systems demanding complex integrations, mobile has either been cast aside as too complicated to integrate or approached with a “set-and-forget” mindset. These strategies are doomed for failure as they leave branded apps buried in app stores, unopened, or worse, deleted.
With more organisations now focused on digital transformation as a way to tear down legacy technology approaches, drive efficiencies and build additional revenue streams, the opportunity has never been greater to leverage mobile as a deeply integrated part of business strategy.
>See also: The digital transformation of things
While there are challenges that come with fully incorporating mobile, the winners will take advantage of this inflection point and put mobile where it belongs: first.
The process shift
Going mobile-first is not the path of least resistance. Adapting an organisational structure to take full advantage of mobile’s transformative business power is an enormous challenge and requires a business-wide strategic shift.
As mobile users continue to demand authentically mobile experiences—those that are context- and location-aware, personalised and engaging, apps without a certain level of functionality and authenticity will not be used.
So, how do you achieve authenticity?
First, take time to refresh your knowledge of the four stages of the mobile application lifecycle: strategise, create, launch and engage / monetise. Understanding and planning for all four—instead of taking a shortsighted view and only planning for, say, the app creation phase—helps brands establish a mobile presence that serves users well and provides long-term return on investment.
The first stage, strategise, is where brands define the type of mobile experience they plan to deliver. This includes understanding the teams, infrastructure, time and budget to get there, along with determining the feature sets, platforms and operating systems the app will use. Establishing clear business goals and KPIs will make the mobile application journey far more effective from the beginning.
The second stage, create, is where the app is brought to life. At this stage, it’s crucial to determine what makes the most sense for the outlined strategy and budget. In most cases, there are three options an organisation will have: build the app in-house, license a pre-built, brand-able application, or work with a custom app developer. While choosing the right option will vary, a good place to start is by looking at the capabilities of creative and IT teams, assessing your budget constraints, and creating a realistic delivery timeline.
The third stage, launch, is where app discovery and audience building occur. With thousands of applications for users to choose from, a data-backed strategy will help narrow an organisation’s efforts to focus on acquiring high-value app users.
App store optimisation is one of the best ways to boost app visibility and involves keyword and asset strategies, in addition to spreading the word through channels such as branded websites, social channels, and brick-and-mortar stores. Another common option is paid performance marketing, which helps provide a performance-based path to conversion from targeted audience segments.
The technology shift
The final stage of the mobile application lifecycle, engage and monetise, is what separates the winners from the rest. In this stage, brands use data to keep users actively engaged, generate revenue and continually optimise and iterate on their application portfolio.
By understanding where and how to utilise the billions of actionable data points mobile users leave behind—from where they spend the most time in-app to purchase history and even geolocation—brands can get a complete view of who their users are and essentially future-proof their mobile strategies by better targeting, engaging and ultimately monetising users.
Brands can drive engagement in a number of ways and, like the create step, engage and monetise will vary based on business goals. For example, brands can send promotions and special offers via push notification, provide engaging content based on in-app behaviour and send personalised messages when users walk into a brick-and-mortar store.
The unprecedented amount of insights available through mobile is what truly helps brands create authentically mobile experiences, enabling them to understand, predict and meet the needs of consumers anytime and anywhere.
From creating smarter campaigns tailored to each user’s engagement preference to identifying hidden audience segments and user patterns, data from mobile users’ daily digital trails help drive conversions online and off.
Brands that embrace the lifecycle approach to mobile are best equipped to drive digital transformation through the enterprise. The billions of actionable data points that mobile users leave behind create valuable insights that can and should be used to impact more than an organisation’s marketing plan.
In fact, mobile data can inform media investment, operations and planning for inventory control and even real estate decisions. Using mobile insights, brands can fill gaps in business strategies and gain visibility to optimise and obtain stronger returns on investment.
The culture shift
Mobile app lifecycle management involves a complex interplay of mobile technology, media strategy and data science. Since these three touch nearly every line of business, it’s crucial to understand not only which teams to involve in the mobile lifecycle, but also when to involve them. The mobile or digital team defines the brand value that will be delivered through the mobile portfolio and how that value will be delivered.
The media team ensures that the appropriate strategy is in place to build, engage and monetise the app’s audience. Finally, the data science team plans what data will be collected via app and how it can be utilised to optimise future versions of the app and other aspects of business.
While going mobile-first requires a strategic business shift that affects several (if not all) departments, involving all teams ensures every mobile app can deliver the right experience for engagement, monetisation and ROI. Creating a collaborative feedback loop reduces silos between teams so everyone can work towards the same goal.
Brands have long understood the importance of mobile, but many organisations still aren’t making mobile a priority. There’s still time—but not much—for brands to adopt a mobile-first approach to digital transformation and be on their way to delivering more authentically mobile experiences that build new revenue streams and create loyal brand advocates.
Sourced by Alan Knitowski, CEO and co-founder at Phunware