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5 Things You Absolutely Need to Build a Mobile App

If you’re here, you’ve probably already gone through the 6 questions you need to ask before getting a mobile app and decided to join the mobile revolution. It’s an enormous task for both technical and non-technical people alike but don’t worry, you’re on the right track and your business will “app”reciate you for it later.

It’s time to think about exactly what is going into your mobile app. This is perhaps the most important part of the app building process as by the end of it, you’ll be connecting with your users for the first time via mobile. Here’s what you HAVE to have down before you start developing.

1. PURPOSE

This is the easiest and hardest item on the list. Easy because it should already reflect everything your business or brand has already done to get here. The devil, however, is in the details and that means that the purpose of your app should somewhat be different from what your website is already doing. Ask yourself:

  1. What problem does your app solve and how are you solving it differently?
  2. If your app doesn’t solve a problem (think games or Spotify), what value does it add to your user’s life whether as a service or entertainment?
  3. What conveniences do you want to offer with your app that can’t be addressed on a PC?
  4. What in your strategy and delivery sets you apart from everyone with this app?

The success of the rest of the items on your list are contingent upon your app’s purpose so this is usually the longest step to get right and often needs to be revisited throughout the process. Aim to make your app describable in a 1-2 sentence snippet. After all, you can use the description when you submit it to the App or Play store later.

2. CONTENT

Websites are great at delivering a lot of content. Apps are better at delivering accessible, need-to-know-now content. That means that the amount of information that you put in an app should not be overwhelming and certainly should not be a translation of your website. Things like a subscription page or a “meet the team” page can be scrapped for the sake of simplicity and efficiency. Your app should serve as a corner store in your user’s phone so making services and support accessible with “one tap” is crucial.

There’s a positive correlation with good content and amount of “time spent in app”. Since content is king, it’s important to make sure of the following things:

  • Make your content relevant. That means putting scores up on the homepage of your sports app or making an interactive venue map accessible in “two taps” if you’re a conference organizer.
  • Put pertinent information at the top. Readers have a shorter attention span when they’re in need of critical information. This is doubly true when you they’re on-the-go reading from their smartphones. Make sure you answer or provide relevant information within the first paragraph or two of each page.
  • Short and concise. When your screen is 5 inches tall and 2 inches wide, it’s difficult to read blocks of texts. Tighten your writing and deliver short, powerful messages in 2-3 sentences at a time.
  • Images > text. Studies show that mobile users stare longer at images and videos than text itself. This doesn’t mean you can’t have written content but you should be using visuals either as a background for your text, a break from it, or a way to explain to the user what they’re reading.

3. DESIGN

Your app should an extension of your brand. Everything your design team implements, from your logo to the placement of each feature,  should account for user experience. Here are some design tips that Mobile Roadie uses to ensure the best UX experience possible:

  • Understand the capabilities and limitations of the hand. We optimize tab navigation so that it’s one-hand and thumb-friendly.
  • Use the “3 tap rule”. Some complex apps have a lot of content but Mobile Roadie adheres to the belief that every piece of content should be accessible in 3 taps. From the home screen, we ensure that each section has a maximum of 3 tiers of categories so that users can intuitively navigate through the app.
  • Utilize obvious call-to-actions. All of our apps use an attractive navigation bar at the bottom of the screen that’s thumb-friendly and directs users to the features of an app like an activity feed, interactive map, search bar, or support page. It ensures that your users are getting the most out of the app by calling their attention to navigation buttons.
  • Map out everything manually. Create wireframes, layout user stories, and chart experience maps to understand the motivations and feelings of users when they see a screen or interact with a certain feature.

4. TARGET AUDIENCE

Knowing off the bat who your users are (age, gender, location, demographics) will allow you to design and create content appropriately. If you own a single-purpose app (think of when Facebook made Messenger a stand-alone app), your audience might be those who need to access it quickly and often so cluttering it with excessive content or a complex design won’t work.

You can get a better grasp of your audience by creating personas (imaginary characters made up by the expected interactions with your app) and user scenarios (imaginary situations and what people would do step-by-step to solve them).

Sometimes, you might have two different audiences. Take for example, an app created for a school and meant to be used by both students and parents. The former might need a map of the school, schedule of classes, and sports schedule while the latter might need access to report cards, school forms, and parent-teacher conferences. In that case, Mobile Roadie ensures that both parents and students receive group-specific information and have access to shared news by creating accounts for every user. This way when each user logs in, the app will populate content specific to the student or parent.

5. MVP

No, we’re not talking about the most valuable player although you’re pretty awesome. The minimum viable product is the absolute bare bones release of your app limited to only its basic features. It is one of the most valuable (see what I did there?) tools to receive the initial round of reviews and comments so you know what direction to improve in before continuing with development. Mobile Roadie actually developed an app that allows you to preview what your app looks like in real time and experience the features for yourself. Called Mobile Roadie Connect, our version of an MVP “app previewer” also helps you figure out:

  1. How easy is it to use your app?
  2. What fixes do you need to make to bugs found in the MVP?
  3. Does your app still align with business and customer values?
  4. Is your app ready for the app store?

The best way to ensure that your app will continue to get downloads once in an app store is to revisit your purpose. After you’ve reached the end of this article, go back and make sure that your content, features, design, and product all fit with the problems you want to fix or the services you want to provide in people’s lives.

If you’re ready to build an app or have a question about anything you’ve read above, Mobile Roadie has a budget-friendly, low-code app approach that could power your new mobile app. Our new Client Services division is dedicated to helping prospective clients get their app off the ground and into the app stores so contact us when you’re ready!

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Does Your Business Really Benefit From Mobile Presence? 6 Questions to Ask Before You Get a Mobile App

Read this already? Click here to continue on to learn what 5 things you need to start building your app!

Websites, storefronts, and phone lines have one thing in common: they are no longer enough to keep up with your customers’ needs. So, what do you need to make your business stand out and succeed?

You’ve probably felt the push for businesses and brands in 2016 to develop a mobile presence. After all, with the average person spending nearly three hours on their phones a day, getting some mobile screen time has proven to be a profitable and powerful investment. As a result, 42% of companies have increased their spending on mobile development. What questions should you be asking yourself before taking the leap to build a mobile app?

Do your customers need your product/service to be available anytime, anywhere?

As phone technology becomes more powerful, the advantages of personal computers over mobile devices are rapidly disappearing. Google puts a map of the entire world in your pocket, while Uber gets you almost anywhere in the world. But even if you’re not a mobile-first business, you can benefit from placing your business into the hands of your users in the same way. The ability to access the apps we want and services we need any time of the day has quickly grown into an expectation. A mobile app allows you to be there for your customers when they need you.

Do your competitors have a mobile app?

Yes? Then they may be onto something you’re not. Don’t worry though. Just as every business has its niches, your app can have features that deliver a distinct interface and user experience to your customers and give you plenty of opportunities to make your business stand out.

No? Then you already have a head start just by running through these questions. This is your chance to distinguish yourself in a climate where customers are spoiled by choice. You can be sure that customers are going to take notice of the ease of access and in-depth support you’re providing them with. A mobile app is a surefire way to give you an edge over your competitors.

Is it expensive to build a mobile app?

Running a business keeps you busy and learning to code or hiring coders to develop your app can be time-consuming, frustrating, and expensive. Luckily, the surge in mobile app development has pushed companies like Mobile Roadie to create an “app building platform for everyone.” What does that mean? Mobile Roadie has developed a system that requires little coding but packs a punch with a plethora of features like push notifications, geofencing, community boards, photo galleries, and e-commerce interfaces. You can get a high quality app at a fraction of the price which companies were paying when mobile apps first broke onto the scene.

Do you need to reach a wider audience and generate more customer loyalty?

When you have your own mobile app, you appeal to more users. Of course, your users will mainly consist of those who are constantly on the move and require portable access but you also open the door to a new user segment, those more comfortable using their PCs. Problems arise at different intersections of life (often away from a computer) so having a mobile app better anticipates your customers needs. Being able to connect to reliable customer support with the tap of a mobile app is something your customers will thank you for.

How will push notifications help deliver your product/service?

Okay, so your brand isn’t trying to “sell” anything. The good news is the potential of a mobile app extends far beyond e-commerce. Push notifications, or messages that you can send to all of your users that deliver pertinent information and bypass their lock screen, has over a 50% open rate when compared to emails. These messages can be anything from a timed contest announcement, nudging users to reach the optimal amount of daily exercise, displaying emergency information, or just to letting your customers know when their driver has arrived. These notifications provide engagement with your users and let them know that you’re thinking about their convenience even when they forget.

Could your business and employees benefit from automating daily processes?

Mobile enterprise apps can address your side of the business too. Employee productivity has been proven to improve by 30% when previously complex/tedious functions are automated with an app. This frees up time for your business to focus on other tasks which ultimately means your team will have more time for your customers. Companies have reported an:

  • Increase in sales/revenue
  • Improvement in customer service
  • Better access to internal databases
  • Reduction of other operational expenses (paperwork, manpower)

More and more businesses are recognizing that having an accessible port of call for new and existing customers means creating a mobile app. There are 258 million people with smartphones in the U.S. alone and having your business only a few finger taps away could make a world of difference for your product.

If you asked yourself if you need an app and the answer is yes, it’s time to begin thinking about what goes in the app. Read the next article in our “How-To” series and make sure you have these 5 things to start building your app.

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High Tech, Low Code: How Businesses Are Tapping Into The Power Of Mobile Apps

Join us as Mobile Roadie and Forrester team up to deliver insights on the “mobile app builder for everyone” platform at 11 a.m. PT / 2 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Aug. 23

WHO: Mobile Roadie CEO Gino Padua & Forrester Vice President/Principal Analyst Jeffrey Hammond

WHAT: FREE Webinar – High Tech, Low Code: How Businesses Are Tapping Into The Power Of Mobile Apps

WHEN: 11 a.m. PT / 2 p.m. ET, Tuesday, Aug. 23

WHERE: Register here!

If you own a business in 2016, having a website, storefront, and phone line just doesn’t cut it anymore. The idea of having your services be available “anytime, anywhere” is the driving principle of mobile engagement as users crave access 24/7.

There’s a demand on all sides of a business, from customers, partners, and employees, to have an app that increases your brand’s visibility and allows them to reach your services when they need it the most. Considering that the average American spends at least two hours on his/her phone every day and 89% of that time is in an app, those are missed opportunities for any small business or enterprises without one. Okay, we convinced you, right? How, then, do you build a mobile app? How long until it’s up and running and is building a mobile app expensive?

Well, you don’t have to rush to hire expensive developers or even sign yourself up for a coding class. Or pay an arm and a leg to get some screen time on your customers’ smartphones. Lean-code, high-tech platforms are making it easier and cheaper to develop a high-quality app with all the right features for your business.

In a free webinar at 11 a.m. PT (2 p.m. ET) on Tuesday, Aug. 23, Mobile Roadie and Forrester will examine how mobile apps open up a completely new portal allowing brands to more fully interact with their customers, partners, and employees. Any business, no matter how big or small, and no matter the area of specialty, can use an app effectively. For example:

 The Dallas Mavericks use their Mobile Roadie app to:

  • Encourage fan participation by incentivizing users to comment and post photos to accumulate points that show who the most diehard Mavs fans are.
  • Curate a newsfeed that doubles as a way to live stream Mavs games during the season.
  • Sell merchandise and tickets through the app dashboard and provide live traffic updates around the American Airlines Center.

CrossPointe Church uses their app to unite their community by:

  • Offering notes that explore a particular sermon and allowing users to search Biblical parables.
  • Providing video and audio of sermons to community members that couldn’t make it to Mass that day.
  • Keeping the entire community in the loop with a calendar and Twitter feed of what’s going on at CrossPointe.

These two brands show the versatility of an app platform with a low-barrier-to-entry, catered specifically to each respective business. Whether you’re an enterprise, small to medium business, or even a leader in a community, the people who love your brand will fall in love with your app. Tune in and let’s get you started on building your own app.

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KCRW Mobile App Connects You to Local SoCal Deals With so You Can Cruise to Savings

KCRW, a Santa Monica-based radio station, not only dominates the airwaves in SoCal but provides the entire region with local deals and offers through its Fringe Benefits app. The station taps into a sea of opportunities available when you cater a mobile app to a hyperlocal community.

You can hear KCRW, the radio giant with humble post wartime beginnings, as you cruise down the SoCal coast but did you know the station could also get you the best discounts in the area? That’s because aside from airing the leading cultural/music programs in California and being a member of NPR, it promotes the biggest network of local business partnerships in Santa Monica, L.A., Orange County, and San Diego.

The KCRW Fringe Benefits app, built by Mobile Roadie, provides over 550,000 weekly listeners and anyone who owns a smartphone (yes, beach hermits have iPhones) with deals and discounts from over 1,000 local businesses. From yoga to comedy, restaurants to spas, and concerts to museums, you can find hundreds of daily offers often with a steep 15-30% discount off goods and services. The app also gives you a chance to find venues where KCRW will host performing artists and connect with other “friends with Fringe Benefits.”

A Golden (Coast of) Opportunity

While tapping into hyperlocal local businesses and communities isn’t a novel marketing tactic by any means, using a mobile app that reaches half a million dedicated listeners provides a golden opportunity. KCRW takes full advantages of not only partnerships with local businesses but also sponsorships to promote them on air. The reason? It drives more vendors and user traffic towards the Fringe Benefits app.

The app allows you to browse a vast directory of services all at the touch of your fingers. Don’t know what do or eat? Switch on your phone’s GPS and the app will show you a list of participants within a 1, 2, and 5-mile radius. As of this month, the Fringe Benefits app boasts close to 18,800 iOS downloads.

Making Waves in the Mobile App x Radio Industry

What KCRW has done already opens up possibilities for other radio stations to select a target audience or dedicated fan base and incentivize them with local deals. While many might think that KCRW took a risk by opting for a standalone travel/retail app, in reality all the radio station did was use its branding to unite businesses and customers under a user-friendly interface powered by Mobile Roadie.

That’s not all the future has in store for mobile apps and radio stations though. Beacon technology can make it possible for the station’s app to recognize a partner’s restaurant and send a push notification about drink specials when the user walks by. Geofencing can make it possible for the radio station to beam a notification to concert attendees and let them know that a golden ticket is hidden in a particular row (and that finding it means getting a chance meet the performer backstage). During tax season, a radio station can promote tax filing tips via push notifications on the app, reminding users that its sponsor and local accounting firm is available to help. The station can rull polls on the app asking which song listeners would like to hear next. The possibilities are endless!

Are you a radio station or business that could use a mobile app to find partnerships and create opportunities like KCRW did? How do you think an app could help you connect with fans? Let us know in the comments below!

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Gotta Caché Them All: Pokémon GO Proves That You Don’t Need a New Idea; Just Synergy and Timing

Pokémon GO shows that synergy between branding, social trends, and game experimentation matters more in 2016 than ever before.

Just What is Pokemon GO?

Many of you have heard of Pokémon GO by this point and are probably trying to crack how to evolve your Pokémon or beat your local Pokémon gym as we speak. But in case you missed out on the hype here’s a quick primer (also which rock were you living under and did you check it for Poliwags?)

Pokémon GO is an augmented reality (AR) game developed by Nintendo and Niantic. It reinvents geocaching by making you go out into the real world to catch the original cast of 145 Pokémon (you can’t catch the three legendary birds, Mewtwo, Mew, or Ditto.) The game uses your phone’s GPS locator and camera lens to deftly integrate Pokémon animations onto your phone screen. Your phone will regularly alert you, as you travel in the real world, whenever an opportunity to toss a Pokéball at a sought-after Pokémon presents itself. As you level up, you’ll be able to conquer gyms, hatch Pokémon eggs, and evolve your beloved pocket monsters. Players also have the option to accelerate their progress by purchasing in-game items and services from Niantic but Pokemon GO is primarily free-to-play.

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Geocaching, AR, RPGs, CCGs — none of these elements alone are revelatory and all have been around for over a decade. Together, though, they are revolutionizing mobile gaming and are altering the way we interact with the physical environment.

This isn’t hyperbole either. Barely a week has passed since Pokémon GO’s limited release and the game is already well on its way to claim a spot as one of the Elite Four mobile games in mobile application history. And that in a year full of grim projections for the mobile gaming market. Since July 5th, Nintendo’s market value has increased by 25% and here’s how the game ranks already:

 

Know Your Brand and Tap into Social Trends

So, how does a brand that’s been around since 1995 combine augmented reality (the first instance of an AR video game debuted for Androids in 2008) and geocaching (2000) absolutely crush mobile app records in 2016? The key is “timing.”

Nintendo is a gaming powerhouse and certainly no stranger to game iterations (with a whoppin’ 24 gaming adaptations of the original Red, Blue, and Green versions.) In fact, they’re so good at branding, that Pokémon holds the title of the second highest-selling game franchise in history (Mario still clings to the top spot) and they’ve been able to generate frenzied interest for every Pokémon game release over the last 20 years.

Why launch yet another Pokémon game now?

It’s about analyzing social trends and realizing that now, more than ever, people are likely to view both hype and nostalgia with equal excitement. Let’s take a peek into the mind of Nintendo:

From this, it makes sense why Nintendo would launch Pokémon GO now and as its first mobile game ever. The game is filled with enough nuances for the 10-year-old, who just wants to play with his friends, as it is for a 25-year-old, who hunted for Pokémon in the wee hours of the night by the glow of his hand-held Gameboy. Nintendo synergized a formula equally potent in FOMO hype as it was in heartfelt nostalgia and everyone has fallen in love with the game, whether it be again or at first sight.

But Don’t Be Scared to Experiment!

People use mobile apps on the move but how do you get someone up and moving to use an app?

Player 2 has just joined the game: Niantec, a software development company known for their work on Google Maps, is responsible for developing the world’s biggest AR/geocaching success story prior to Pokémon GO.

Before Pokémon GO, Niantic found that success with Ingress, another AR-enhanced location-based mobile game that focuses on two factions claiming respective territories. There is considerable overlap between the games, including Pokéstops (called portals in Ingress) at prominent landmarks, so it’s safe to conclude that Niantic was simply leveraging existing game mechanics while raising the incentive with the irresistible appeal of Pokémon.

Again, neither AR or geocaching are new elements but individually they just hadn’t caught on with current audiences until now. The winning formula is in introducing emerging technology (AR) to a wide audience in a friendly manner (Pokémon) and tie it to a wholesome, IRL form of social activity (geocaching). Simple, right? More like researched. Pokémon GO proves that you don’t need a revolutionary idea, just a synergetic formula that’s been tested through experimentation and executed with perfect, social timing.

Cachin’ In

Nintendo and Niantic have already created a game as addictive as it is historic and many would do well to study their method. Aside from its marketing success and continuing growth potential (yes, there are still features such as trading and the other 577 Pokémon that Nintendo hasn’t released that are likely to drive demand to new and more frenzied levels), Pokémon GO has had a tremendous effect on how we view the social terrain, both physical and augmented.

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Pokémon trainers are from all paths of life

Pokémon has always been innately communal, from trading cards to trading in-game, and that persists through this game as players meet up to train together and live out their childhood dreams. Now this communal aspect has spilled into the “real world”. Public spaces previously left deserted are now filled with kids and adults walking around while playing the game. Although it’s too early to say, we have already seen hints Pokemon GO redefining urban planning; views of what constitutes a place as shared, safe, and fun are already being augmented.

Last year, the question of mobile app performance left the industry uncertain of its future. Today, Pokemon GO’s virality reinvigorated interest in the mobile market and did so by formulating a product in light of current social trends and emerging technologies.

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The Red Hot Chili Peppers Rocked Their Album Sales to Earn a Spot as App of the Week; Here’s How They Did it!

The American rock band, whose sounds have filled the cassettes and ears of listeners for over two decades, updated their app for fans to connect to their recently released album, The Getaway.

Once their guitar riffs and bass-slapping hits your ears, the Red Hot Chili Peppers is a rock band that requires no introduction. The characteristic oscillation between funk rap and melodic choruses in their songs continue to pervade car stereos across the world and some songs have become synonymous with roadtrippin’ itself.

The success of their globally-acclaimed album Californication (1999) revolves around many factors including the return of lead guitarist John Frusciante, the explicit commentary on “manufactured” Hollywood, and the turn of audio technology as cassettes were swapped with CDs and headphones. The switch to CDs allowed for better sound stability and noise reduction which suited the funky interweaving guitar and bass notes for which RHCP is best known. The Chili Peppers wanted to capitalize on tech trends in the same revolutionary way as they dropped their album The Getaway and an update to their mobile app couldn’t have been better timed. The app allows fans to listen to and download live shows, check tour dates, connect with other users geographically, relive throwback photo albums, and buy RHCP merchandise. Hey if it worked once, you can’t stop right?

21st Century (Stadium Arcadium, 2006)

A lot has changed since the release of their self-titled album in 1984 and though the Chili Peppers continue to deliver the funky breakdowns and rock solos of old that fans love, don’t say that they haven’t adapted with the times. The Red Hot Chili Peppers app, powered by Mobile Roadie, is all about using tech and music to connect like-minded fans. It hosts easy to navigate links (think: no drop down menus) to news, tour dates, videos, throwback and show photos, merchandise, and tickets.

One of the best utilizations of the RHCP app is its geofencing feature. When users walk into a declared geographic area, the app notifies them with a push notification about events like a new album sale or an upcoming signing.  If there’s one thing that RHCP fans have in common, it’s that they hate pushy things. Mobile Roadie developed geofencing as a passive feature that runs in the background and you can choose whether to get an alert when you’re near the designated location. It’s the perfect way for people who love a random dose of the Chili Peppers to reconnect with the band’s music.

When RHCP came to Mobile Roadie in May to update their app, it was natural to want to promote The Getaway simultaneously. Mobile Roadie assigned a dedicated development team to monitor a push queue so that on June 17th, the album’s release date,  600,000 push notifications were sent to fans all over the world. The long-time partnership between the two entities paid off dividends as the album debuted at No. 1 on the Top Selling Albums chart and the RHCP app officially records 252,475 downloads on iOs and 66,333 on Android.

Encore (The Getaway, 2016)

The RHCP app highlights how a good mobile artist application can complement something such as an upcoming show or a new album. It’s a collaborative effort between the band and Mobile Roadie to not only execute a well-timed delivery of services but also schedule continuous maintenance for their increasing fan base. A concerted effort with effective communications should leave you, your audience, and their ears happy.

What’s your favorite feature of the RHCP app? Should they add a lyrics section? Did you love the new album? Leave a comment to let us know how diehard of a Chili Peppers fan you are!

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I Got an App in Ibiza: Pacha Goes Mobile

 

I Got an App in Ibiza: Pacha Goes Mobile

About 90 miles off of Spain’s Eastern coast, in the Mediterranean Sea, lies a beautiful up-cropping of land about ten times the size of Manhattan. The island is Ibiza, and to most of the world, its name is synonymous with partying. Though the total population of the island is only around 140,000, it draws nearly 14 million visitors a year.

Revelers who come to Ibiza are nearly unanimously wowed by their experience. The summer party season, which runs from May to September, draws the biggest DJs and clubbers from around the world. For those who run in certain social circles, partying in Ibiza is a lifestyle statement.

But everyone who participates in the Ibiza party experience agrees: there is something uniquely beautiful about the connection, sense of community, and openness that graces the island. Ibiza brings together people from around the globe just looking to cut loose and have fun.  

 

Club Pacha

Naturally, the island is host to a number of legendary clubs, each with its own niche. Perhaps none is more legendary than Pacha, a place where patrons can experience a “summer of love” vibe with an updated soundtrack. The club’s resident DJs include David Guetta and Martin Solveig, and Diplo and Mark Ronson will be among the guest performers this summer.

In addition to a nightclub, Pacha has two hotels and shops on the Island, making it possible for vacationers to experience their entire trip through the group. As Pacha’s website attests, those who party at Pacha love to document and share their experience. After all, for most visitors, their trip to Ibiza is a rare thing.

With this in mind, Pacha was faced with a dilemma: how could it bring together patrons whose club experience may only be as short as a night?

 

From Ibiza to iTunes

By designing a mobile app, Pacha effectively solves this dilemma by bringing its presence out of Ibiza Town and into our pockets. Fans of the venue can stay connected to it even once they get back to their cubicles and living rooms. After all, the Pacha experience is supposed to be more than a night of partying.

By connecting these bon vivants through a mobile app, Pacha allows itself the opportunity to grow beyond just a nightclub. Instead, they create an interactive community. Mobile users can connect, share their experiences, and submit photos and videos. In strengthening these bonds, Pacha itself builds a more dedicated and active community.

 

Feeling the Beat Beyond the Dancefloor

Pacha’s attractive new mobile app, powered by Mobile Roadie, offers club-patrons (and aspiring patrons) a place to come together. With a fan wall, a magazine, and a chance for users to create personalized profiles, the app is both a way to stay up to date on happenings and socialize with others. Throw in an “Events & Tickets” link, and users needn’t even leave their application if they’re suddenly inspired to buy entry to one of the club’s many events.

Here are a few of the ways the app brings users together while promoting Pacha:

  • The fan wall has a section for comments, a map so that users can see where other fans are posting from, and a photo section for user submissions. On a recent weekday, Pacha diehards from Buenos Aires to Brussels excitedly shared about upcoming trips, guest-lists they would like be on, and DJs they couldn’t wait to see.
  • It encourages interactive participation by having users create a profile and accumulate points to become a Top User by offering top-rated comments, posting photos , and participating in discussion forums. A leaderboard shows how many “points” top users have accumulated. Peer-to-peer messaging allows for the app to function as a social network as well, with club-goers linking up on their phones.
  • User-generated content also gives the app a community-driven feel. Users submit photos (at an increasing rate as the #pachalove promotion draws to a close) of themselves living it up at Pacha. Photocards are a fun chance for mobile users to photoshop themselves into various Pacha themed pictures and post them to the gallery.
  • The newsfeed offers not only updates, promotions, and new line-ups, but also interviews with resident DJs. Subscribers to the newsfeed can receive push notifications and updates. During the summer party season, when new DJs are constantly being added to the events calendar, this feature is particularly useful.
  • Draw competitions and surprise promotions, both available only to the app’s users, gives fans a chance to make it onto exclusive guest-lists or into impromptu parties. Using geotargeting, the app knows when a user is on Ibiza, and will offer him tips for his trip. For those involved in the club scene, entry to these exclusive parties is a huge bonus of downloading the app.

 

What’s Next

Mega-clubs, both in Ibiza and elsewhere, would be wise to follow Pacha’s lead and consider making the leap from party-venue to lifestyle brand. What Pacha has done not only ensures continued interest in its club events, but also increased awareness. Promotions such as the photo submission contests give it a strong presence on other social media platforms as well.

What do you think? Is Pacha leading the way in what’s soon to become a bigger trend? Where else do clubs and other venues have room to grow online? Let us know what you think of Pacha’s app in the comments!

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Church Isn’t Just For Sundays: CrossPointe’s Mobile Presence

Sundays have different meanings for all of us. Football, family, time and a half at work. One or all of these things might sound familiar to you. But for fifty million Americans, Sunday is still the day of worship, and you’ll find these folks spending the morning of the seventh day in church.

 

Church is where we connect with one another, get to know our community, and come to feel like a part of something larger than ourselves. It’s a place we can get to know our neighbors, coworkers, and ourselves.

Though church attendance has declined somewhat over the past century, it remains a core tenet in the lives of many of us. It’s still a part of our national fabric.

Apps Can Divide Us…Or Unite Us

So naturally, the question is, how can church compete with our new favorite means of connecting – via social networks and mobile apps? More than a few churches have had to contend with over-eager smartphone users in the congregation. After all, we are constantly on our phones: one recent study shows that we spend an average of three hours a day on our mobile apps. The problem here is larger than sneaking a game of Candy Crush from the pew. The way the we connect is changing, and it’s moving away from the highly personal style that is inherent to church.

That’s where mobile church applications come in. We already enjoy the information, connection, and entertainment that smartphones offer. Working off the assumption that this will not change, the only variable is how we spend our time on the small screen. Ironically, the same medium that causes us to socially isolate ourselves, can also be used to draw us together.

Because churches and mobile applications are actually a near-perfect match with community-building lying at the heart of both. The difference is, that although churches create a sense of community, most members of the congregation will only interact with their church once a week. By utilizing mobile applications, a church can build resilient bonds between its members.

The CrossPointe Way

CrossePointe Church, located in Valdosta, GA and Quitman, GA recognized this opportunity early on. Headed by Pastor David Rogers, CrossPointe Church emphasizes the importance of connection, both with God and with other church members. Since 2005, the congregation has grown from twelve worshippers meeting in Pastor David’s home to thousands of worshippers gathering every Sunday at two churches.

The CrossPointe church uses tailored events and programs to reach out to children, college- aged young adults, men, women, and people recovering from substance abuse. In July alone, CrossPointe is offering a student conference, a weeklong bible camp, and a grocery drive, not to mention the church’s other weekly events. With so many unique groups coming together, congregants need a way to keep up with events.

Another reason CrossPointe is the perfect fit for a mobile app is due to the service being spread out over multiple locations. Without the app, church members are unable to hear both sermons, or know the stories of all of their fellow worshippers. By using its mobile app to connect with its congregants, CrossPointe is truly living up to its promise spread the Word.

Great features of the app

CrossPointe’s new app offers church-goers the opportunity to take their involvement with the faith community on the go. With a sleek design and user-friendly dashboard, CrossPointe’s app has users church needs covered. Scrolling through motivational articles, members’ stories, and a packed calendar, it’s clear that the church has successfully built a mobile community that mirrors its real-life counterpart.

A few of the app’s highlights include:

    • To enhance members’ churchgoing experience, the app offers notes, a more in-depth exploration of each Sunday’s sermon. Users can look at recent topics – for example, “Greater Than: My Worry and Anxiety” – and follow along with supporting parables and verses from scripture.
    • The app also offers congregants a calendar and Twitter feed so that they can stay up to date with goings on. The Twitter feed is full of short motivational message from pastors and other members of the CrossPointe family. The “Full Church Calendar” is so packed that it’s quite clear why the ability to access it from an app is a must for active church members.
    • For those who can’t make it on Sundays, or are curious about their sister congregation at CrossPointe’s other location, video and audio of sermons is available to the app’s users. Also available are personal stories and videos in which CrossPointe members testify to how their involvement with the church impacted their lives.
    • Links to Christian music, which automatically connect to iTunes, give app users the chance to get into the spirit while working out or in the car. And if they should happen to be driving to church, they need not worry about getting lost, as the app offers a map with both locations, as well as the ability to “check in” on Foursquare.

What’s next

Churches with congregations numbering in the thousands should take after CrossPointe’s example and consider a mobile application of their own. The faith families built at church usually only gather once a week. By connecting its members through an app, a church not only continues to spread its message, but also builds bonds among its members. It’s a perfect chance for users to carry their faith in their pockets.

So, how about it? Do you think others will follow CrossPointe’s example? How might churches add a social-networking aspect to their online presence? Give us your thoughts in the comments!

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Mobile Apps in Education: Past the Tipping Point

“There’s an app for that.”

We’ve all heard the phrase at one point or another, and for good reason. Today there’s an app for nearly everything (ok, literally…everything). The on-the-go applications have permeated every industry imaginable in one way or another, and higher education is no exception.

The Mobile Tipping Point

In 2014, the number of mobile internet users surpassed the number of desktop internet users worldwide.
graph01_education

That same year, a survey conducted by Campus Computing found that 84% of colleges had activated mobile apps by the beginning of the Fall semester, or planned to do so in the twelve months following. In 2013, that number was only 78%. The year before that? Only 60%.

The number of colleges with their own mobile apps has been rising year-over -year since 2010, when only 23% reported having one active.

“Colleges and universities are clearly playing catch-up with the consumer experience. Students come to campus with their smartphones and tablets expecting to use mobile apps to navigate campus resources and use campus services,” said Kenneth C. Green, founder of The Campus Computing Project.

Mobile apps are no longer a good-to-have, college-aged students expect a personalized mobile experience more than any other group. According to Statista, in June of 2015, the age group among which mobile apps proved most popular was with young adults between 18 and 24.

graph02_education

Yes, you read that graph correctly. In June of 2015, young adults ages 18-24 spent 125 hours – a total of over five days out of the month – using mobile apps.

Today, more and more universities are jumping at the opportunity to offer the personalized experience their students crave. Let’s look at how one institution in particular, Cal State LA, uses a mobile app to engage the student body.

Cal State LA

With their own mobile app, Cal State LA has made campus life infinitely easier for all its students. Here’s what you can do with their easy-to-use system:

  • Find local transportation
    With Cal State La’s “Transport Center” feature, students no longer have to carry a campus map with them wherever they go, or Google “public transportation LA” to find out how to get from place to place. Information about where to catch the nearest bus or train is already sitting in their pocket.
    Additionally, they can find available parking areas with an interactive campus map, or get general information about bus routes, transportation costs, and emergency rides.
  • Get a live feed to the campus Starbucks
    The caffeine junkies who can’t make it to class without their morning java will love this one. Cal State LA students can now actually see, via a live feed from their mobile phone, what the wait at Starbucks looks like.
  • Quick link directory
    This mobile directory allows students to contact different departments like admissions, career development, enrollment services, and more, all from their mobile phone.
  • Be social
    Here students can do exactly what it sounds like: be social. The campus app’s wall is filled with comments like “Excited but nervous to start summer classes!” and questions like “Who else is excited about tomorrow’s convention?!”
    Students can also sort by comments made near them, as well as view others’ & post their own photos.
  • Events
    What’s that big gathering in the quad outside your dorm? Now all students have to do is head to the “Events” section of the app to see past, present, and future happenings on campus.
  • Campus Map
    This interactive map not only identifies every campus building, but uses icons to pinpoint ATMs, dining halls, phones, and handicap entrances.
  • Other great features
    Students can also buy parking permits directly from their mobile phones; check leaderboards to find the most active students on the app; take photos of themselves with Cal State filters; and even connect with Cal State on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Other ways apps can be used in higher education

While Cal State’s is a great model of what a mobile application can be, there are still so many other ways they can be used in higher ed. Here are a few:

  • Dining
    Have multiple dining halls? Let students know what’s on the menu, and show them live feeds to help them determine which cafeteria to chow down at.
  • Computer labs
    Not every student has a printer. Computer labs are often highly trafficked destinations for those needing to print large quantities of documents. Help students find available spaces in your on-campus labs.
  • Meeting rooms
    If your campus offers bookable conference rooms, allow students to reserve them for group projects or meetings with faculty.
  • Laundry
    Live feeds to laundry rooms are nothing new. Now, instead of simply showing students which washers and dryers are open, why not allow them to connect a credit or debit card with which they can pay for wash/dry cycles right from their mobile phone?
  • Registrar
    Requiring students to be at a computer exactly when they’re slated to pick classes is an inconvenience at best. At worst, it can pressure them to skip class to do so. So why not let students for classes via their mobile phones?

Your turn

In a mobile world it is crucial to have your own application to give your customers a personalized experienced and engage them on their home turf  (especially when those customers use their mobile devices for 125 hours out of the month).

What would you use mobile for in higher ed? What did we miss? Let us know in the comments!

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App Store Optimization: Take Your Game to the Next Level

If you’re a software or mobile app developer with some experience in the industry you’re probably familiar with the acronym SEO, or “search engine optimization.” But for those dedicated to taking custom mobile app development to the next level, there’s a new three letter word that may prove more valuable: ASO – “app store optimization.”

More than ever, consumers are discovering new apps by browsing and searching within the app store. It’s by far the most popular discovery method, accounting for 63 percent of app discovery among iOS users and 58 percent among Android users.

In app store searches are twice as popular a discovery method as the ubiquitous “most popular” lists. This means new kids on the block have a chance at competing with recognized players…if they understand and utilize ASO.

But no matter how genius and groundbreaking your app, without ASO utilization there’s a chance it will go completely overlooked. It’s a lesson that every successful mobile app development company has already learned: it’s absolutely critical to ensure that your creation is tailored to the medium it will be sold through before it hits the marketplace.

On paper, the process is simple: (1) get discovered, and (2) capture consumer interest. Once you do these two steps right you’ll be 90 percent of the way there. In practice it gets a bit trickier. But if you can successfully incorporate the following fundamentals into your app design, you’ll already be beating the competition at ASO.

  • Keywords. Use these in the title of your app in order to cast the widest net and catch the most search traffic. According to a study of the top 25 most popular apps for sale, including a keyword in the name of an app increased its ranking by an average of 10.3 percent.
  • 25 characters or less. Any longer than this will no longer be viewable on the preview in the app store. Having your title chopped off is unattractive and will make a consumer – especially one with a short attention span – move on.
  • If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If you’re reading this once your app has already gone to market and feeling inspired to change the title of you app…don’t. Once you’ve already gained traction, it’s best to stay the course in order to create name recognition and word-of-mouth buzz.
  • Understand long-tail. Long-tail keywords, which appear in your app’s description, offer another great opportunity for discovery. If you want create a communal carpooling app, you probably shouldn’t call it “carpooling.” But by including that phrase in your description, you’ll capture all app store users who search that term.
  • Be a genre trailblazer – More often than not, app store users don’t search for a specific title, but instead a genre – e.g., “maps” or “music.” In fact, searches by genre account for 80 percent of all searches. By getting out ahead of the curve and anticipating a genre that will be popular but is not yet oversaturated, your software development company can vault its app to the top.
  • Appeal visually – Your icon should have visual appeal and somehow describe what your app does. Snapchat’s playful ghost speaks to its ephemeral photos while Tinder’s red flame suggests a spicy fling. Once you’ve put your idea into words, create a descriptive visual as well.

If you can effectively apply these tips to your own app, there’s a bonus on the back end: the more downloads your app achieves, the higher it will rank. It’s a classic case of success breeding success – app store algorithms recognize what consumers react positively towards and attempt to give them more. A great app development company is one that recognizes the importance of beating the algorithms.

So keep plugging away with your app, but make sure that you don’t sell yourself short during the final step of the process. Don’t forget to do your ASO!

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The Final Step: These Three Techniques Will Elevate Your App Above the Competition

If you’re part of a mobile app development company with a new release – or even just a recent app creator – you’re probably riding pretty high. After all, you’ve just invented what is undoubtedly the best thing since sliced bread (or at least Flappy Bird). Your app should fly off the virtual shelves.

But there’s one problem. Since the inception of the Apple App Store in 2008, the number of apps offered has grown from 800 to 1.5 million. With this oversaturation of the app market, there’s a good chance that your invention might get lost in the crowd.

With this in mind, app developers need to understand that creating and bringing products to market are only half the battle. As any Clash of Clans player knows, there’s no point to building a mega-village if your army isn’t strong enough to defend it. Without an effective way to interest and retain customers, your creation is similarly vulnerable.

These three methods are all easy and incredibly effective ways to increase visibility, profits, and total sales.

 

BE INTERACTIVE

According to a recent study by Media Dynamics, Inc. the average consumer is exposed to 362 advertisements per day. Of these advertisements, an average of 12 will make an impression and trigger a conscious response. So how do you create advertising that’s memorable? Move away from flashing banners and towards an immersive, engaging advertising experience. Mobile app development is a cutting edge field – there’s no reason its ads shouldn’t be the same.

The ability to have a conversation with a consumer is extremely powerful. It allows you interact with him or her on a level that would be impossible with a simple sidebar or banner advertisement. In our age of increasingly short attention spans actively engaging consumers is an absolute must. Facebook’s Canvas ads, which allow consumers to experience a sort of mini-site within the advertisement, have been shown to drastically increase ROI compared to conventional advertisements.

 

THINK BIG

If you want your app to start turning some serious profits, it only makes sense to seek out the deepest pockets. By targeting your app towards larger entities and businesses instead of consumers, you significantly raise your potential for sales. According to a 2015 report, 43% of apps developed for enterprises pulled in $10,000 or more per month. Only 19% of apps targeted towards consumers met this standard.

If you’re at an app or software development company that’s already created a consumer-targeted app, don’t despair quite yet. As it turns out, there’s a significant amount of overlap between apps targeted towards enterprises and those aimed at consumers.

Specifically, the top five categories in both consumer and enterprise apps include those focused on utilities, education and reference, and business and productivity tools. If you’re not already targeting the biggest players, it might be worth your while to brainstorm on how to adjust or scale your product in order to meet their needs.

 

GIVE ‘EM A FREE TASTE 

Unless you’ve created something truly revolutionary, chances are that a free alternative to your app exists. No need to feel bad; before Facebook there was Myspace and before Googling on Chrome the original Internet Explorers Asked Jeeves. Some of the greatest breakthroughs in technology come from improving on an existing model. But with so much competition, sometimes being the best simply isn’t enough. Even if you’re a great app development company or developer, you’ve got to get recognized.

One easy way to gain recognition is offer your app free for a limited trial period. The boost in installs and – knock on wood – positive reviews will show consumers that you’re the real deal. With this proof on your side, customers will be more willing to drop a few bucks on what you’re offering. Alternatively, a more basic free edition of your app, with teasers compelling users to upgrade to the pay version is another route to profitability.

Now that you’ve got some tools at your disposal, go ahead and show the world what they’ve been missing in the world of mobile app development. After all, there’s nothing worse than unrecognized genius.

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Mobile User Acquisition on a Budget: Reviews and Referrals

The following is an excerpt from chapter three of Intellectsoft’s upcoming, comprehensive guide: “User Acquisition Explained: A Cost-Effective Strategy for Finding the Audience Your App Deserves”.

The effective use of reviews and referrals can be a remarkably cost-effective way to draw in new users for your app.

 

MAKE REFERRALS EASY

When people say that an app “went viral,” what they really mean is that an app “experienced rapid user growth as a result of word-of-mouth marketing.”        

Two-word explanations are better than 12-word explanations, so it’s understandable why the first phrase took off. But it’s important to acknowledge what the second phrase is saying:

Virality is not a random, mysterious occurrence. In reality, it’s as quantifiable as any other marketing attribute.

The most obvious viral metric to start with is referrals. According to Facebook, referrals from friends or family are responsible for 36% of all app discoveries. As a developer, there are several reliable ways to get your users in a giving mood:   

Social Sign-In. App activity can be shared in social media feeds, raising your brand awareness within your user’s networks.

Social Sharing Icons. Less intrusive than social sign-in, but also a great way for users to selectively share their app accomplishments and activities with friends and family.  

Direct Invites. Messages received via text or email from a close contact tend to have higher authority and are often more convincing.

Incentivized Referrals. Discount codes or similar freebies provide users with a clear and immediate value in exchange for their app advocacy.

 

By baking these mechanisms into the fabric of app functionality you can effectively recruit an army of marketers with little to no monetary investment. Just make sure users actually have a chance to explore and enjoy your app first. Otherwise, greedy referral requests could send users running in the opposite direction.

 

DON’T BE SHY ABOUT REVIEWS

Ratings are a primary variable in app store ranking algorithms, and they also happen to be where most users first look when scanning their search results. This can be great news for underdog developers.

No matter how much name recognition or financial resources your competition has working in their favor, they still need to put out a quality product. If they don’t, they’ll risk drowning in a flood of one- and two-star reviews.

The sentiment of app user reviews isn’t the only factor here, however. In fact, growing evidence suggests that the volume of reviews may ultimately be more important. But regardless of whether ranking algorithms can ever be fully understood, a healthy number of positive reviews can only be good for business.

The trouble is, the average app user has little interest in submitting any app reviews. In fact, approximately two-thirds of apps sitting in the iTunes Store have failed to attract a single one. So consider it your responsibility to start the conversation.

There are plenty of options out there for how to style your message, but how you prompt users is far more important. A few of the golden rules for in-app pop-ups include:

DO let users explore the app before requesting any favors (> 5 sessions)

DON’T interrupt users in the middle of an activity

DO capitalize on satisfying moments like task completion

DON’T talk like a robot or badger like a spammer

DO provide clear and simple options for users to select

 

Among a certain portion of mobile app users, however, anything resembling a traditional rating request will automatically be dismissed. As a result, more publishers are prioritizing user feedback loops instead.

Media app Circa News, for example, seeks reviews by initially asking users if they are enjoying their experience. If the user replies positively, only then are they asked to rate the app. If the user replies negatively, they are asked whether they would be willing to submit feedback to Circa instead.

This is brilliant in two ways. First, the decision flow makes it easy for happy users to write app store reviews and harder for disappointed users to do the same. Second, it gives Circa an opportunity to rescue bad experiences while simultaneously gaining perspective that will help prevent future disappointments.  

 

This is just a taste of our upcoming user acquisition ebook for anyone diving into app development. Whether you’re with a cash-strapped startup or a well-funded venture exploring the most strategic investment choices for user acquisition, make sure to follow Intellectsoft for information on how to get your free copy of User Acquisition Explained

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Millennials Make Mobile A Must For Hotel Marketers

Personally entitled, professionally lazy, technically gifted, and socially progressive are just a few of the labels applied to Americans born in the final 20 years of the 20th Century.

Volumes of market research have been devoted to determining exactly how true those descriptions are, but there’s at least but there are at least two attributes that aren’t up for debate:

1) Millennials embrace mobile devices and engage with them more than any other group

2) Millennials are now the largest generational segment in the U.S., representing more than a quarter of the total population.

As a result, catering to this pivotal customer segment has become a business priority for modern marketers. And for those stationed in the hospitality industry, smartphones open up a crucial line of communication.

TECH GUIDES TRAVEL EXPERIENCES

As anyone with an Instagram account can attest to, smartphones play a major role in how Millennials discover, coordinate, experience, and share their travel adventures. It’s no surprise, then, to see recent research from Oracle confirming hotels as a hub of mobile interaction.

Prior to arrival, 55% of Millennials have browsed a hotel website via smartphone while 45% have directly reserved a room using a smartphone.
Once at their destination, 24% check-in via mobile while 84% connect their device to the hotel’s WiFi during their stay.

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT REMAINS

The hospitality industry at large deserves credit for embracing mobility faster than most, but there is still plenty of work left to be done.   

One of the more interesting findings from the Oracle survey revealed that just 12% of Millennials had ordered hotel room service via mobile device.
Initially, it might be tempting to explain that statistic as more a matter of luxury than technology – that Millennials balk at the cost of room service. But when framed against the fact that 39% of Millennials have ordered food delivery via smartphone in other contexts, it seems to suggest hotels may be fumbling an important opportunity.

That suspicion was confirmed by Millennial hotel workers themselves, one-third of which felt their employers “made bad use” of technology. Perhaps worse, only 15% indicated that their employers were receptive to staff feedback on technology issues.

WHERE DO APPS FIT IN?

The sum of those survey findings could feel discouraging to some, but for hotel marketers ready to embrace change, it has all the makings of an attractive opportunity for revenue growth..

The most powerful way to turn mobile into a competitive advantage is through the development of a dedicated app. When everything from booking rooms and massages to discovering attractions and directions can be accomplished from a single, portable interface, guests can’t help but be converted by the convenience. Every time they open a device with the hotel’s app installed, they will be greeted with the hotel logo introducing them to services they may not even have been aware of. And by integrating smart social media features, you’ll give loyal guests a stage to sing your praises and convince prospective customers. Thereby a mobile app becomes a way to engage customers prior to arrival, upsell them on services during their stay, and gives them an opportunity to advocate for the hotel brand following departure.

But hotel app development cannot be approached with a “build it and they will come” mindset. Considering that just 13% of the surveyed Millennials have used a hotel app to facilitate a trip, promotional efforts may still be the weak link in app strategy. As a result, hotels need to make sure any app they do create becomes the focal point of mobile marketing efforts moving forward.

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Mobile Deep Linking and What It Means for Small App Owners

The mobile app ecosystem is still new – a fact that’s easy to forget until you remember that there are things that we take for granted on desktop that just don’t exist in apps.

Deep linking is one of these things. Its spread and adoption is one of the factors involved in the app becoming more like the rest of the internet.

WHAT IS DEEP LINKING, ANYWAY?

Deep linking is a link to a part of a site or app that is somewhere on the inside – if we think of the main page or launch screen as the front door, then this is a link to the living room. It’s a simple concept and one that we are so accustomed to on the internet that we may not know what it’s called.

A link to this article is a deep link, while a link to mobileroadie.com isn’t.

Nothing special, right?

Most links you see are deep links, but that’s usually on desktop. Web pages have the advantage of all being written in the same language – HTML. That means that links everywhere have the same format and are easily standardized. In apps there are different operating systems and programming languages at play.

Overcoming this problem means an incredible amount of functionality is opened to the app ecosystem.

WHY IS DEEP LINKING IMPORTANT FOR MOBILE?

As with most things we take for granted, we may not realize what deep linking enables.

Social sharing relies on deep linking. Imagine if you couldn’t share a specific article on Facebook – you’d share the site and a detailed set of instructions on how to navigate to the article that you wanted to let people know about. That’s annoying even if there are only three pages on the site, but what if there are 300?

Search engines also rely on deep links. They go through websites and deliver relevant pieces of content – specific answers to search queries, not websites that might have content that might interest the searcher.

Deep links create a system of apps that works like the desktop web. An app is no longer an isolated program. Instead, there’s an environment of programs that talk to each other, broadening the utility of the entire network.

HOW IS DEEP LINKING USED NOW?

Mobile deep linking is mostly used for marketing. If you have a mobile store, it’s valuable to be able to bring a potential customer to a transactional page where they can buy rather than a storefront.

Ease of use is central to a good user experience, which leads to better results. People who have an easy time buying things tend to buy more things and be happier once they do. If you see an ad with a pair of shoes that you want, clicking it should get you to a page where you can buy that pair of shoes. For e-commerce, the utility is clear. But what about other apps?

Deep linking simplifies promotions across the board. Taking new users directly to a particular screen can make their experience more relevant and interesting. From sharing (via text message or email) to paid promotions, you have a greater variety of screens that they can land on.

If you plan events, spread information about your company’s promotions, or just want to share one piece of news, a deep link is the simplest way to do it from an app.

The largest marketing platforms (Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) were among the first to adopt deep linking. 2012 marked the Google+ app adopting deep links to content. Other marketers were quick to follow, and for good reason.

If you have direct transactions in your app, then deep linking is a boon. However, regular links to download your app are still useful. Getting people to become regular users is invaluable. After downloads, you can make use of push notifications to drive use as part of a broad strategy for engagement.

WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF DEEP LINKING?

If you remember what the early internet was like, you may understand what deep linking can do for mobile.

The web was dominated by large sites that tried to be universal – Yahoo may be the only (barely) surviving one. They gathered an audience and then tended to stagnate, resting on their laurels because users couldn’t find alternatives. The current app market is similar.

Once deep linking on apps becomes as easy as it is on the desktop internet, this will change. With stable ways of finding content, you’ll be able to search apps and find specific functions or pieces of content. It will make it easier to find and be found.
What do you think mobile deep linking will lead to? Let us know in the comments.

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Beyond The Download: Using Push Notifications To Boost Retention

If 1,000 new users downloaded your app today, you’d probably be pretty excited.
If 770 of them were no longer active three days later, you’d probably be a little confused.
And if 900 of the original 1,000 were inactive 30 days in, how do you think you’d feel then?

Discouraged? Disappointed? Downright distraught?

Well, statistically speaking, this nightmare scenario should actually make you feel remarkably average.

The good news is, there’s no need to become a statistic. You just need to start thinking about user retention as strategically as most people think about user acquisition. And one of the most versatile weapons in your user retention arsenal could be the push notification.

Push Notifications Produce Results
The mobile push notification is a relatively new tactic that has only recently attracted serious research attention. But from the data that’s emerged so far, we see plenty of reasons for optimism.

Across devices and industries, the average mobile app has permission to send push notifications to 63% of users.

By comparison, most online marketers would be ecstatic if they had the ability and permission to send emails to just 10% of their website visitors. And if 30% of emails they delivered were even opened, they’d probably throw a pizza party.

This unparalleled access to something as intimate as a smartphone home screen means push notifications don’t have to battle for attention in the way traditional marketing tactics do. And when this privilege is put to good use, the results can be quite impressive.

In fact, apps that employ push notifications are twice as likely to retain users 90 days after download than those that don’t.

When Should Retention Strategies Start?
As the advertising agency adage goes, the day you sign a client is the day you start losing them. But by starting push notifications soon after user onboarding, you can stifle the symptoms of churn before it starts and spark some early engagement instead.

The key phrase above is “after user onboarding.” While most app publishers are eager to initiate conversation as early as possible, overwhelming users with push notifications on Day 1 is often the fastest route to app abandonment and uninstallation.

Additionally, observing user behavior over the course of several days or several sessions gives you the context necessary to send more personalized messages. So don’t be afraid to press pause and let users get acclimated to your app for a bit.

Aim For User Registration
The value of registration is obvious to any app publisher. Signing up for an account is one of the strongest predictors of long-term loyalty — and user profiles volunteer the kind of data mobile marketers dream about.

To the users themselves, however, the value is not necessarily so clear. As a result, increasing your registration rate often requires offering an incentive. The good news is, push notifications are a perfect vehicle for delivering these gifts.

Discount codes and limited-time offers tend to be most effective — and a user’s lifetime value can significantly outweigh what may initially feel like a painful financial sacrifice. But not every perk needs a price tag. Ticket presales and access to exclusive media content can inspire solid conversion rates as well.

Amplify Early Success
Considering the average app user retention rates we discussed in the introduction, publishers may be tempted to fix their focus on the app’s unengaged majority.

It’s only natural, of course, to wonder why so many seem to be missing a value proposition they can see so clearly. But while curiosity and continuous improvement certainly have their place, the tiny percentage of users who are engrossed in the app should not be lost in the shuffle.

Mobile app affection can quickly turn to obsession if developers know what buttons (or notifications) to push, and this transformation typically happens in the first month of the relationship. As a result, you should keep a special reserve of messages ready for users that show early signs of infatuation.

Badges, for example, are a nominal reward that cost you nothing to give but mean a lot for certain users to receive. If your app contains any community features, the bragging rights associated with these digital status symbols can be priceless. And even if the acknowledgment is only seen by the original recipient, it still lets them know their engagement is appreciated.

But let’s not be naive. Some users do put a price on their loyalty. Competition in the mobile app marketplace is as fierce as ever — and it’s a buyer’s market. As a result, push notifications offering power users tangible perks like exclusive access and premium upgrades should also be part of your communications plan.

Don’t Dismiss The Long Game
User behavior is rarely as rational or predictable as any of us would like to think. As a result, you shouldn’t necessarily assume that inactive users are lost for good. Sometimes they just need a push in the right direction.

If inactive users left some clues in their previous app behaviors, push notifications personalized to their historical interests are the perfect fuel for re-engagement campaigns. If you can remind them of the value they initially saw in your app, you can create late-blooming loyalty. And if inactive users aren’t motivated by your message, nothing was lost in the venture.

Low-effort, low-risk, and (potentially) high-reward.
Is that a recipe any of you marketers might be interested in?

Let us know in the comments below :)

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Segmentation: The Secret to Smarter Push Notifications

Getting a user to opt into your push notifications is the mobile app equivalent of securing a second date. You clearly made a good first impression, and now they’re feeling optimistic about where things may lead.

At this pivotal point in the relationship, your next few moves could be the difference between a brisk breakup and a lengthy love affair. If you bombard the user with a steady stream of irrelevant interruptions, don’t be surprised to find yourself in the first scenario. But if you can manage to send a smaller set of messages that consistently hit the mark, the two of you may soon be inseparable.

Perfecting those initial push notifications is easier said than done, of course, but every user drops hints about what they want to hear. This process of gathering, recording, and leveraging those clues is more commonly known as segmentation.

A Quick Explanation of Segmentation
Segmentation is one of marketing’s most fundamental tactics. It divides a single market into several subgroups of customers who are defined by their common characteristics and behaviors. This allows marketers to speak more specifically to the interests of each group.

By segmenting your app users, even at the simplest levels, you acknowledge their individualism in a way most businesses sadly don’t. And with every new detail you associate to a segment, you’ll be able to add another layer of personalization to each push notification.

Given all the available criteria you can use to create customer segments, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Beginning at the broadest level, though, is often the best place to start.

Focus On Demographics First
Initial segmentation can begin even before users take their first actions inside your app. The user acquisition and registration processes create all kinds of clues about who your users are and what messages they’re inclined to embrace. Simple demographics like age, gender, and location are small-but-valuable seeds for a savvy mobile marketer.

Segmenting users by location, for example, is an easy way to ensure you are sending push notifications at a time of day when the audience is actually awake to read it. (Sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many well-meaning marketers overlook this!) Location segmentation has the added bonus of helping you develop hyper-relevant geofencing campaigns as well.

You can even get users to layer on additional details themselves by crafting an app onboarding process that encourages them to create rich profiles. If you’re running an event app, for example, getting attendees to volunteer their job titles and interests allows you to proactively recommend scheduled activities that may be a match.

Lastly, one subtle advantage of user demographic data is that it rarely changes. As a result, the segmentation effort spent at this early stage of the relationship can continue to reap rewards for both sides well into the future.

Build Up to Behavior
Once you’ve seen some initial movement in your engagement rates and are feeling more confident in your segmentation skills, you can consider raising the stakes with some more proactive moves.

The longer your user relationship continues, the more behavioral footprints they’ll leave behind in your analytics. The exact behaviors you choose to monitor will vary based on your unique goals, but some of the more common candidates include:

  • Links Clicked

  • Pages Viewed

  • Audio/Video Files Streamed

  • Comments Submitted

  • Content Shared

The segment of users who left comments on an artist video, for example, may be the most receptive to a push notification announcing the debut of the artist’s new album. Similarly, the segment of guests who recently researched fitness facilities within a hotel’s app may be more receptive to a push notification advertising one of the properties more health-conscious dining options.

At this level of segmentation, the user groups and messages you create are limited only by your creativity. But you still need to remember the golden rules of marketing with push notifications. Novelty and surprise are always encouraged, but never at the expense of common sense and courtesy.  

Now that you know the essentials, comment below and let us know how YOU could use segmentation to spark deeper connections!

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Developing a content strategy for your mobile app

Any marriage counselor will tell you that the best relationships have real substance behind them, and that same advice is quite applicable to mobile apps and their users. If a company’s mobile app attracts users, the company has direct access to an audience already familiar with their brand with whom they can build a lasting relationship. This works, however, only if their app offers something that audience values. In fact, according to a Harris Interactive study from October of 2010, “69% of people agree that if a brand name’s mobile app is not useful, helpful, or easy to use it results in a negative perception about the brand.” Because of this, mobile app developers need to focus design around their target demographic and curate the experience deliberately to them.

The most fundamental piece of the design lies in the content that the app will deliver to its users. Content is defined in this context as whatever you are using to engage the user; whether it is by providing information, a service, or entertainment.

One of the biggest challenges is not just choosing which content to offer, but ensuring that it will remain engaging over time. One good practice is diversifying which content is offered to continually engage app users in different ways. By focusing on content foremost, developers can be confident they have a strong foundation to build a compelling app around. First time app developers often struggle with generating successful content on their own, but if they utilize Mobile Roadie’s development platform it can actually be quite simple to continually deliver quality content.

 

Finding Success With Mobile Roadie’s Content Management System

Dynamic, fresh content is one of the most compelling drivers for app use, but continuously updating an app’s information can be taxing on developers. Mobile Roadie’s Content Management System makes it much simpler by allowing developers to provide users with real time updates that are synced across iPhone, Android, and the mobile web. By making it possible for developers to update their apps through their web browser and see results immediately, Mobile Roadie makes it simple to keep apps fresh and engaging.

Mobile Roadie’s CMS also integrates social media directly into the app, allowing developers to tie all of a company’s social channels and news together so users have a one stop source for all the latest information. The CMS directly connects to the accounts and automates the content delivery, furnishing the app with fresh content continually with no work from the developer.

Finally, detailed analytics are provided within the CMS that outline how users are interacting with your app. By providing information that includes statistics outlining the most popular content, browsing time, and frequency of use, Mobile Roadie makes it easy for developers to analyze their mobile strategy and adjust it to maximize their user engagement.

 

Guiding Users to Good Content

No matter how great the content within your app, sometimes users still need an extra nudge every now and then to encourage them to return to your app. That’s where Mobile Roadie’s push messaging is effective. Push messaging allows developers to send a message to everyone with the app and can be effective at generating app traffic. Often used for special deals or time sensitive content, push messaging is extremely effective as long as developers are considerate of their audience. Send too many messages, or irrelevant ones and users can be annoyed or frustrated enough to remove the app, but if the content of the message is relevant  or timely it can effectively encourage your audience to check out what’s new. By using these messages to promote good content, developers have seen an 80% higher retention rate just over the first month. By the second month, effective push messaging is responsible for generating 74% of all app use, and by month three 81% of all app visits are inspired by push messages.

 

Proximity Marketing

Geofencing is another tool offered by Mobile Roadie that is extremely effective at increasing traffic within your app. Developers can compose a message that users receive automatically when entering a certain area. Often used to provide users with information or coupons upon arriving at an event or venue, it engages users with relevant, timely content that they’ll appreciate. Easy to implement and maintain within the CMS, geofencing offers developers another effective avenue to deliver quality content with little hassle.

 

The Bottom Line

Apps only retain users for as long as they can provide them value. The companies that develop apps but ignore their maintenance struggle to hold onto their users and find very limited success. Those companies who remain dedicated to their app beyond it’s original development retain their users and can greatly benefit from the relationships a great app forms with their consumers. Mobile Roadie’s CMS is a powerful, one stop destination for creating and delivering quality content that helps developers with any level of experience successfully execute their mobile strategy.

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App of the Week: Matchbox Twenty

Matchbox Twenty has been on the music scene for nearly two decades with smash hits like “Unwell,” “Push,” “3AM,” and of course, “Smooth” (feat. Rob Thomas).

Last fall, we featured this band as our App of the Week to celebrate the release of their 4th studio album North and the start of their tour. In addition to AR technology (which we mentioned in the first App of the Week post), Matchbox Twenty has added another cool feature to their app that’s getting quite the buzz – geo-fencing, which is the “ability to sense where concert-goers are within the venue.” Geo-fencing is one of the newest and most exciting features we offer to our customers.

VP of Lippman Entertainment Nick Lippman said, “We can talk to fans as they come in and out of the venue, welcome them to the show, give them a hashtag to participate. It’s a great way to get information to people without being uber-intrusive but also remind people what they can do to be an interactive part of the show. We’ve had killer fan engagement.”

If you’re catching a Matchbox Twenty show in the upcoming future, don’t forget to enable notifications on your Matchbox Twenty app to receive geo-targeted messages. To read more about Matchbox Twenty’s foray into geo-fencing, check out the coverage on Billboard.com. And to download the app, visit Mobile Roadie site.