Having a mobile app makes it easier for customers to engage with your brand, but it’s not as simple as most people think. Simply making an app for your company won’t guarantee its success. You’ll also need to make sure your app has what it takes to beat the competition—and that your customers know it exists.

Fortunately, it’s easy to start off on the right foot when you take a few simple pointers from us on app development and marketing. Below, you’ll find our guide to the most important ingredients for any successful mobile app.

We’ve split our advice into two sections: building your app and marketing it effectively. Try as many ideas from each section as you can, and see the difference they make for yourself.

Critical Steps to Build a Successful App

When you’re creating your app, focus on the following points:

  • Build it for a specific purpose. Avoid what developers refer to as feature creep—a phenomenon that occurs when your app offers the user too many things to do. You might assume that adding more features gives the user more value, but in most cases people feel paralyzed by the number of options at their disposal and end up using none of them. Instead, choose a single thing you want your app to accomplish, and build it to do that one thing really well.
  • Try to make the purpose of your app a unique one—but if you can’t, then at least focus on creating a flexible and intuitive user experience. UX needs to be a priority for developers, because more than half of all users say bad user experience can turn them off of using an app. You might even consider linear UX, which is a big trend this year—essentially, it just means setting up your app so that it guides the user through a single pathway in order to perform its main function.
  • Pay attention to small details. It’s the little things that can make or break an app: redundant buttons, screen clutter, etc. Test extensively before you release to make sure you’re not leaving anything unaccounted for. Also, make sure that any updates you plan on releasing in the future will take all the functions and features of your app into account—not just the most noticeable ones.

Essential Steps for Marketing Your App

Once you have an attractive, flexible app that performs its core function well and is as bug free as can be, you need to make sure people know about it. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Create a microsite. This should be about two or three pages that tell visitors about how your app is going to improve their lives. Hook them with a punchy message the moment they hit your landing page, and make sure it comes with a prompt to sign up for your newsletter—so you can let them know the moment the app is available for download.
  • Sustain interest with offers and unique content. Once you start to build up your email list, offer progress updates to keep people excited about your app launch. Don’t stop there, though. Make sure to include the occasional contest or discount code so that your future users will feel compelled to use the app when it comes out.
  • Go after tech blogs. Once you’ve set the date for your launch, try to whip up some hype. Email tech bloggers and ask them to cover your launch—or to review the app once it’s been released.
  • Encourage feedback from customers. Positive ratings earn you more downloads, and even negative feedback can be useful. Once you fix the problem an unhappy user is having, they’ll be likely to change their review to a positive one (and your product will be stronger as the result of your work).

The future of mobile app development will hold many twists and turns, but the fundamentals—strong design and savvy marketing—are likely to remain the same. Learn to focus on the strategies listed above, and you should be able to look forward to designing much more competitive apps for your business.

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Nick Rojas
Nick Rojas is a self-taught, serial entrepreneur who’s enjoyed success working with and consulting for startups. He concentrates on teaching small and medium sized enterprises how best to manage their social media marketing and define their branding objectives. Follow him @NickARojas.

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