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How To Build A Mobile App For Your Business

Mobile applications are no longer an option for businesses – they’re a necessity.

Jason Ankeny

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The fundamental appeal of branded, business-centric mobile applications is clear: Whatever your company does online can also be done on smartphones, which adds portability, location targeting and other cutting-edge technological enhancements to the mix.

The potential of mobile apps extends far beyond marketing. Sure, companies can leverage applications to promote their products and services, reaching on-the-go consumers looking for compelling places to shop or grab lunch.

But mobile apps can also support online purchase transactions, customer loyalty programmes, turn-by-turn directions and social media interactions.

Before you develop your own app, consider these four points:

  1. Know what message you want to send. Before you start working on your app, make sure you know what you’re selling, what you’re about and the look and feel you want, like your logo colours and font. You also need to know what content you want to put in. You can integrate your app with your blog or your YouTube channel, but that only works if you have existing content.
  2. Understand your audience. Mobile applications are where people are going to interact with their favourite brands, but you have to know what your customers are interested in. Apps allow for new kinds of user experiences and a different community feel than the web, which results in real engagement and commerce opportunities. Fans and users spend more money in apps than websites, and they come back more. But you have to drive loyalty by pushing messages or with visual content.
  3. Clarify what you want your app to achieve. Whether or not an app is successful depends on the goal. Is it the total number of downloads, or how often people are coming back? How responsive are customers when offers are pushed out? How viral is your content? Or is it how many people are opting in and giving you their email address?
  4. Fasten your seat belt. Businesses can really take advantage of the perception that apps are only for large companies. People don’t expect Joe’s Hardware to have an app. It’s an impressive thing for any business to have, just as a website was 20 years ago. It sets your company apart, and puts you on the same playing field as the big boys.

Number 1

Build your own mobile app

As a business owner, if you decide there’s good reason to develop your own mobile app, there are several ways to do it.

The platforms

Android: You can create apps using Java for Android by downloading its free software development kit. The kit comes with samples, source code, developer tools and emulators for testing your app. Android even provides how-to videos, technical articles and instructions on how to develop apps, just in case you’re feeling overwhelmed. A one-time $25 developer registration fee is needed to distribute apps in the Android marketplace, now known as Google Play.

Apple iOS: If you want to create an iPhone app using the iOS platform, you’ll need to shell out about $99, which isn’t much considering the elegance and functionality of the programme. The iOS Developer Centre has a wide selection of tools, tips, debugging tests and guides for creating apps for just about any purpose.

BlackBerry: The BlackBerry platform supports several ways to develop applications, mobile websites, themes and even widgets. To distribute apps on BlackBerry’s App World, you have to pay a fee for every ten apps you submit for approval. BlackBerry often offers promotions to waive this fee.

Windows: The Windows platform may not be the world’s largest, but its user interface is easy to use. The Windows Phone development programme provides valuable documentation on the best practices for marketing your app. Plus, you don’t have to worry about your app or game idea getting rejected after you’ve spent time creating it. Windows provides clear documentation on what will fly and what won’t with its approval process.

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Here’s What Not to Do When Creating an App

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The tools

Not a programming junkie? Don’t like (or know how) to speak in code? There is good news: There are plenty of app development tools for ordinary humans, too.

Here’s a look at nine that you might find useful:

1. AppMakr

This is a browser-based platform designed to make creating your own iPhone app quick and easy. You can use existing content and social networking feeds to produce a variety of different approaches for your app. It includes features such as push notifications, location-aware GeoRSS, custom CSS and JavaScript capabilities.

The tool is free to use, but a $79 monthly fee per app subscription gets you access to more advanced features. AppMakr works on the iOS, Android and Windows operating systems.

2. GENWI

This tablet and smartphone publishing platform allows you to create and manage your presence on all popular mobile devices, including iPad, iPhone, Android and HTML5 apps. It delivers rich graphics, photos, video, audio and other forms of interactivity.

GENWI also enables you to revise your apps as often as you like. What’s more, apps can include various revenue-generating capabilities for businesses, like ads, coupons and in-app subscriptions. After a three-month trial, pricing varies by features included.

3. Mippin

One of the greatest strengths of the London-based Mippin platform is its ease of use. It allows you to create apps for Android, iOS and Windows, and provides flexibility in designing the app. You can even have Mippin distribute your app for you to the iTunes, Android, Windows and Amazon stores. Native apps can cost as much as $999 per year.

4. MobBase

Are you a singer or in a band? If so, then MobBase is for you. This app builder allows you to use an RSS feed to keep your fans up to date on band news and events, lets you upload tracks for fans to listen to while browsing the apps and makes it easy for fans to find information on upcoming shows, buy tickets and get directions.

Activation of an iOS app requires a one-time fee of $250 (includes $99 to set up an iOS developer account). Android activations are $20. Hosting fees range from $15 to $65 a month. Additional fees for support services are not included.

5. MobiCart

Do you have an e-commerce store that you’d like to take into the mobile sphere? Then MobiCart might be what you’re looking for. It links up with PayPal to allow any business or consumer with an email address to securely, conveniently and cost-effectively send and receive payments online.

Basic plans cost $15 per month. ‘Pro’ plans will cost $49 per month. 

6. MyAppBuilder

For just $29 a month, MyAppBuilder will create an iPhone or Android app for you. All you have to do is provide content (videos, books, etc.) and their pros will take it from there. You don’t need a technical background to develop an app with MyAppBuilder. They’ll even take care of the hassle of uploading it to the app store for you.

MyAppBuilder says you can create two apps per month once you register and pay a $29 monthly membership fee.

 7. RunRev

You can use RunRev’s LiveCode to develop your app. It‘s an English-like language for developing iPhone and Android apps.

With this cross-device platform, you can build live prototypes that use the full capabilities of iOS and Android devices and deploy to whatever platform your customers need. The site is also packed with plenty of tutorials to help you along the way.

Pricing for RunRev’s commercial-level LiveCode packages range from $299 to $1 499.

 8. ShoutEm

Another easy-to-use platform is available via ShoutEm, which is set up for bloggers, students, sports fans, news portals and local publishers. You don’t have to have knowledge of coding to set up your app, and ShoutEm will even take care of the iTunes and Android Marketplace submission process.

ShoutEm offers basic, advanced, pro and enterprise-level packages that start at about $30 per month.

 9. SwebApps

Here’s a simple, inexpensive way to build, track and update a native mobile app for your business. You create your iPhone and/or Android app online. Once it’s available for download via the iTunes Store or Android Marketplace you can update content in real time through SwebApps.

The basic package, which includes one app for one platform, requires a one-time $399 development fee. Hosting costs an extra $29 per month.

Number 2

Hire a mobile app developer

If you’d like a mobile app that lets customers buy your products — or simply access products reviews, videos or coupons — you’ll more than likely need to hire an experienced developer you trust to custom build it.

Here are ten key questions to ask mobile app developers to help you choose the right one for the job:

 1. Where can I find examples of mobile apps you’ve developed?

Qualified candidates should be eager to provide you with a list of apps they are personally responsible for creating – or at least played a major role in developing — complete with links to each in Apple’s iOS App Store, BlackBerry App World or Google Play, Google’s Android app store. It’s an essential first step to gauge whether or not they have the skills, experience and vision to produce the type of mobile app you’re looking for.

 2. May I have a list of your current and past clients?

Unlike reading movie credits, there’s typically no way to tell who actually developed an app. This is why speaking directly with candidates’ current and former clients can be essential to verifying that the developers actually created the apps they claim to have worked on.

Checking references also gives you an opportunity to ask how reliable, responsive and results-oriented candidates are. For example, you might ask whether they delivered on deadline and within budget, and how well they work under pressure.

 3. What kind of smartphone do you use?

This question can provide insight into how passionate and knowledgeable a candidate is about specific mobile platforms. If they can build an app for an iPhone, then they should have an iPhone. They should be playing with the apps that they are building and also playing with other people’s apps on a very regular basis. The same goes for Android and BlackBerry.

 4. How can my app make money?

If your primary goal is to generate revenue with your app, the developer needs to know exactly how to build in features that will allow you to make money. If you opt for a free app, be sure the candidate is well versed in how to integrate mobile display ads, in-app purchases or paid subscription services.

 5. How will we communicate during the development process?

The quality of your app often depends on how clearly and often you communicate your app design and functionality requirements throughout the development process. Does your app developer prefer to chat in person or via phone, Skype, instant message or email — and how often? How often will he or she provide you with status updates?

 6. What kind of special features can you create?

Apps rarely grab consumers’ attention without truly innovative and useful features. Figure out the bells and whistles you’d like and then assess your developer’s capabilities. For example, can your candidate add 3D gaming, social media sharing, GPS check-ins or product coupon elements to your app?

 7. Who will own the mobile app?

Typically the individual or company paying for a mobile app will own the finished product. To be sure you own all the rights to the app you commissioned, you and the app developer should sign a written ‘copyright assignment’ or ‘work made for hire’ contract. The document should establish confidentiality and state that you own the app’s design, source code and all of its content.

 8. How will you test my app?

Generally, the best way to test an app is simply to run it on the smartphone it will be used on. The candidate should provide a thorough explanation of how he or she conducts an extensive beta test to weed out any glitches. If bugs are found, how will the candidate fix them – and how quickly?

 9. Will you submit my mobile app to app stores?

After you’ve approved the beta-tested version of your app, the last step is for the developer to submit it to an app store for approval to be sold there. App submission is often a long, multi-step process that your developer should already know how to successfully navigate.

 10. What are your fees and payment terms?

Draft a written agreement specifying that you will pay the developer by the hour or with a flat fee. Most developers ask for a one-time fee upfront. Others require a deposit at the beginning of a project, often for up to half of the estimated total cost, with the balance due when the app is completed.

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Thinking About Putting Your Business on YouTube? Here’s How to Get Video Ideas

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Chicago-based writer Jason Ankeny is the executive editor of Fiercemobile content, a daily electronic newsletter dedicated to mobile media, applications and marketing.

How to Guides

Henrico Hanekom – Discover Your Inner Marketing Genius

Like most Leaders whom firmly believe in positive transformation, Henrico Hanekom has created “new blue waters” in the form of a niche service which he calls “Neuro-marketing”.

Dirk Coetsee

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Henrico Hanekom describes himself as a “street wise marketer”. After attending to hundreds of clients’ individual marketing needs he has defined an unique approach that veers away from the traditional marketing agency methodology.

Like most Leaders whom firmly believe in positive transformation he has created “new blue waters” in the form of a niche service which he calls “Neuro-marketing”. Initially Henrico honed his skills as a founder and CEO of Megaphone Media, a company whom has served companies such as ABSA, Toyota McCarthy, AGSA (Auditor General of South-Africa), NRF (National Research Foundation)” by getting their message across utilising mainly digital visual media.

Related: Brand And Marketing: Finding The Balance For SMEs

Roughly five years ago Henrico became a qualified Neuro-coach to empower him to answer a critical question: What can we learn from Neuroscience to improve marketing strategies in general? Henrico explained to me that normally all marketing campaigns aim to create a strong perception that will drive the consumers’ behaviour in a way that justifies the campaign spend, therefore at the root of an increased understanding of perpetual marketing principles lies behavioural sciences.

It is common knowledge that the average consumer faces severe cognitive overload considering the overwhelming amount of information available to us and the staggering amount of advertisements and marketing delivery mechanisms that people are exposed to in the modern world.

Increasingly marketing agencies are scratching their heads considering the complex question of: How do I make my clients stand out? A past reliable staple to secure results was to ensure high quality ad design underpinned by a very good offer to the public. That however might have worked occasionally during times when the market was not as saturated as it currently is.

henrico-hanekom-neuro-marketingHenrico passionately elaborated on his well-tested strategy to ensure that his clients are not only standing out but elevate their status to a market leader. He starts with a clean slate and encourages his clients to stop considering the competition. He refrains from giving advice and instead coaches within an environment where his clients can “discover their own genius”.

Through experience Henrico has discovered that it is common for companies to struggle with firstly defining their message clearly and secondly to clearly communicate their message to their audience. In general, a clearly communicated message that resonates with prospective client’s emotions and their personal values multiplies positive results, he shared.

Related: Why Your Business’ Social Media Marketing Strategy Is Probably Wrong

Henrico further shared his experience to say that marketing and sales must be in alignment and that marketing is the DNA of the business, or put in another way, “Marketing is the communication of what is already within”. He has further found a general phenomenon amongst his clients in that their aspirations do not usually match their faith in their abilities to achieve. As a Neuro- coach Henrico then utilises Neuroscience and Neuro Linguistic Programming techniques to align his clients’ aspirations and belief in their abilities to powerful effect.

As a “Neuro- marketer” he assists his clients to rise to a high level of awareness so eloquently encapsulated by Albert Einsteins’ words of: “We cannot find a solution to a problem with the same level of awareness that created the problem. “

Henrico firmly believes in the Leadership principle of Authenticity and coaches his clients to authentically advertise the truth. Through all his expert efforts he aims to position each company that he works with as a “magnet” that strongly attracts clients as opposed to “pushing” and aggressively acquire each client.

The author ended this inspiring interview by asking Henrico what he is passionate about in life. Henricos’ sincere intent was tangible as his lips formed a smile from which his answer emenated: “Life was meant to be lived abundantly.” He also added that because life was meant to be lived without limits he is driven towards helping people to “get unstuck”. This man invests heavily into his own personal growth knowing that this long-term investment constantly empowers him to give the highest of himself to his clients.

Practical proof of Henricos’ commitment to personal growth was abundantly clear during and after the interview. The interview was done directly after Henricos’ workout and we drank (I will admit it was delicious) organic smoothies during it, and after the interview, we had a long and interesting discussion on personal development and servant leadership.

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4 Ways To Reach A New Target Audience Without Abandoning Your Old One

Four strategies to reach a new demographic without changing what current customers already love about your company.

Dale McIntyre

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mooncake-of-haagendazs

For 56 years, Häagen-Dazs had a consistent message: high-quality, old-fashioned ice cream for sale. But that’s changed: Thanks largely to millennials, the company recently refreshed its brand with a revised logo, more vibrant packaging, new flavors and a global advertising campaign.

This younger generation of consumers is continuing to cause a massive shift in the market across all industries and sectors. That’s why this ice cream company wanted to cast off its stuffy, traditional image and connect with millennials over craftsmanship and storytelling.

There’s a lesson to be learned here: To stay competitive, any entrepreneur or business leader has to consider the many challenges of a constantly evolving business landscape, including his or her company’s demographics and consumer trends.

If you wait to consider how your audiences have changed and will continue to change, you’ll risk far more than will your competitors already investing in brand analysis and audience outreach.

Related: How You Should Market Your Business Online

Expanding your tent

Business leaders may be aware of the changing marketplace, but that doesn’t mean they’re eager to change. For many companies, a major brand overhaul often meets with internal resistance; and to be fair, such an overhaul is not always the right answer. For some companies, it’s better to maintain a consistent brand message amidst rapid change. It’s the discovery that’s important, the self-assessment, the long view.

Because we live in an experience-based economy, whether you’re designing your customer experience intentionally or not doesn’t matter: You’re still delivering one. Messaging plays a major role in reinforcing or diluting that experience.

Here are four steps you can take to help your business appeal to new demographics.

1. Develop robust personas

pharos-print-management-systems

Every landing page, blog post or article you put out there should align with a distinct persona to effectively connect with a desired target audience. A CEO, a parent and a college student all require different messaging to inspire a response.

A seemingly obvious but often overlooked way to gain a better understanding of your current or potential customers’ needs is to ask them directly. Surveys can be effective, but personal, one-on-one interviews are better, even if you can only conduct a handful. Offer a small incentive to gather eager participants, and ask questions designed to reveal what motivates them and why they chose your product or service.

At Pharos, we need to shift our messaging to highlight the parts of our business that are relevant to each specific persona we target. We use three aspects of our value proposition to position ourselves in a way that aligns with what our audience cares about most. Print management solutions lower expenses (business owners love that), improve security (CIOs and IT directors love that) and boost sustainability (which should resonate with everyone). All three messages mutually reinforce one other and are consistent across experiences.

For example, we worked with one university’s leadership who wanted to reduce and manage back-office printing costs. To help get employees on board with secure print workflows, its leaders promoted the sustainability aspect of print management’s value proposition and subsequently were able to save $3,000 a month while significantly reducing the university’s carbon footprint.

Related: How Do I Create A Content Strategy?

2. Ask what your CRM data is trying to tell you

If your data collection process includes a wide range of questions to qualify leads, you should be able to find customer information such as company type and size, contact job titles and the types of content most often consumed.

Your sales team should then be able to help translate those numbers into concrete characteristics and create a more complete understanding of your customers. As you find common trends, you can combine those tendencies into a general view of each customer type, and use it to fill out your personas. This will help diversify your buyer personas and, consequently, your brand’s ability to connect with an expanding range of consumers.

Evaluating your data can also help you recognise surprising audiences that like your brand. When the small business software company Hatchbuck was launched, its founders tried to reach as many segments as possible, from salespeople to business owners, to pitch its platform.

To zero in on its ideal customer, Hatchbuck gathered survey responses, crunched the numbers and conducted customer interviews, seeking to define its buyers’ behaviours and beliefs.

The company was surprised to learn that, even though it had been attracting larger companies looking for an affordable software with lots of features, smaller companies were its biggest supporters. Hatchbuck decided to focus its efforts on these small business owners – its ideal customer. Discoveries like this can be enlightening and critical to success.

3. Showcase how your brand delivers what people want

Vera Bradley bag charger

Proving your product’s relevance to a different demographic doesn’t mean abandoning the things that make it valuable to current buyers. It means adjusting your messaging to highlight the benefits that are more aligned with the new audience.

For example, Vera Bradley bags and luggage have been a popular choice for baby boomer women since the 1980s. When the brand decided to expand its target audience and appeal to younger women, it tapped into social media to gain insights into the demographic and observed a trend of complaints among millennials about the shortcomings of smartphone battery life and the annoyance of awkward battery cases.

So Vera Bradley created a bag with a built-in smartphone charger. This helped to improve its offerings and reach a new audience without introducing change that might alienate its faithful, long-time customers.

Related: Your 2018 Marketing Trend Forecast: Tap In Or Tap Out

4. Leverage the granularity of marketing automation

Many businesses see demographics as an aggregate average, but this perspective can destroy any chance of recognising the need to change. You don’t target youth through the same channels used to reach company decision-makers.

Approaching demographics using too broad of a viewpoint ignores the micro-targeting capability afforded by many marketing-automation systems today. Granular, personalised messaging is becoming the norm, not the exception.

To reach younger demographics with precision, take advantage of automation tools such as HubSpot, Marketo or Hatchbuck, proven technologies that can drastically improve the reach of your digital marketing ads and provide you with valuable analytics on your consumers.

These automation technologies have a long track record of producing a positive return on your investment. They can also help to improve various aspects of your digital marketing strategy. According to research by Regalix, 64 percent of marketers surveyed said they saw benefits within six months by using automation software.

The millennials in today’s workforce will be the decision-makers of tomorrow – and I mean tomorrow, not five years from now.

Organisations that fail to recognise this shift, or delay the process of discovering how best to change along with new demographic opportunities, can end up fueling internal resistance to such change and, ultimately, lose their opportunity to stay relevant.

Don’t be one of them.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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6 Reasons Why Influencer Marketing Really Works

Stand out. Get noticed. Six reasons why influencer marketing really works.

Greg Tinkler

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In today’s day and age you need to ensure your marketing spend is going to the right places and most importantly, that you’re getting the best bang for your buck.

Influencer marketing is a strategy that offers one of the highest returns on investment. Basically, influencer marketing is the process of identifying strategic individuals within your target market, and partnering with them to create advertising that is genuine and more palatable to the audience.

Google Trends show that the interest in influencer marketing is at an all-time high, and further studies demonstrate that personalised, word-of-mouth marketing is more than twice as effective as the alternatives.

Good customer reviews make the best marketing

The idea is pretty simple — instead of a brand telling you why their new product is so amazing, the good review comes from a popular and trusted individual. When an influencer or thought leader promotes your product or service to their audience, they’re essentially telling their audience “You trust me, and I trust this company.”

This form of advertising is becoming increasingly popular since audiences have already opted to receive this particular person’s opinions. It also puts a human touch to your marketing effort. Partnering with influencers makes your service more trustworthy and allows you to effortlessly reach a wider audience.

Related: The Ins And Outs Of Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing has been identified as the most effective method of customer acquisition in 2016 and 2017, ahead of the likes of display advertising, email marketing, paid social media and traditional media.

92% of consumers turn to people they know for referrals above any other source.

marketing-techniques

Here are six reasons why influencer marketing works:

1It really does work

There are few things that drive a sale more effectively than word-of-mouth recommendations.

Studies show  that trusted word-of-mouth recommendations generate more than twice the sales of paid advertising, and those that were acquired through word-of-mouth had a 37% higher retention rate.

2It’s social media friendly

The world and marketing have shifted to social media. 70% of brands are increasing their social media marketing spend in 2017.

Today, it’s easier to connect with other consumers via social media and make better purchasing decisions by learning about their experiences with a product or service.

Influencers are a force to be reckoned with; brands can strategically partner with the right personalities to spark organic conversations and seduce their followers.

Related: 5 Ways To Improve Your Millennial Marketing Strategy

3Cut through the clutter

According to research, the average social media user is exposed to 5 000 advertisements a day. Whether or not that number is scientifically proven, it gets the point across: We are exposed to a lot of ads.

Influencers are able to cut your brand through the clutter and get it straight to your target market’s eyes.

4It’s native advertising

Traditional advertising interrupts the consumer experience (think TV commercials during your favourite series).

Native advertising places brands and products within the organic content, creating a more pleasurable experience for consumers and a more powerful marketing solution for brands.

5Your SEO will strengthen

On top of building your brand and improving your sales numbers, influencer marketing also helps your search engine ranking.

User-generated social posts account for 25% of search results for the world’s top 20 brands. The more people mention your brand on social media, the more popular and relevant you will be on Google.

Related: Basics Of SEO For Businesses And Brands

6It’s measurable

Probably the most important thing of all is that marketers and brand owners can actually track the success of their influencer marketing campaigns, unlike expensive TV, print and radio campaigns.

The digital world is different. Every website visit, social like, and picture posted online can be stored and analysed, giving you tons of data that turns into valuable insights about your target market and your advertising performance.

Influencer marketing presents a massive opportunity for brands to leverage the power of word-of-mouth at scale through personalities that consumers already follow and admire. The possibilities are endless, you’ll actually save marketing spend and guess what…? You can finally measure your results.

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