15 Tips for Ensuring Top-Quality Mobile Apps

15 Tips for Ensuring Top-Quality Mobile Apps by John Barnett.  Available from <http://www.business.com/mobile-apps-and-tools/john-barnett-app-making-tips/> [December 30, 2016]

When developing an app for your business, one of the top priorities is creating one that people actually want to use. Unfortunately, there is often a significant disconnect between what a target audience needs and what a mobile app offers. Keep the following mobile app development tips in mind to ensure the utmost quality.

Be Proficient with All Target Platforms

All too often, developers favor one mobile app platform over another, and it shows in the quality of their work. Ideally, mobile apps should be developed by professionals who understand the unique aspects of all of the platforms that they are targeting. Read user interface guidelines carefully to understand the available features for each platform. Being familiar with the visual and behavioral differences and similarities of various platforms allows you to put them to use more effectively.

Don’t Be Biased

Make an effort to learn to appreciate all of the most popular mobile app platforms. Sure, you probably prefer one or two over others, but all platforms have their strengths. By embracing differences between app platforms, you will get enthusiastic about designing for each. This enthusiasm will result in products that are truly out of this world.

Don’t Sacrifice Performance for Analytics

For many businesses, mobile apps are more about collecting useful information than about providing services to customers. Still, resist the temptation to bog down your app with too many SDKs (software development kits). Apps that are bloated with excessive SDKs tend to run slowly, crash often and drain battery life at a remarkable speed. No one likes apps like these.

Keep Scale in Mind

There is no telling how popular any given app will be. It pays to design apps with the assumption that they will go viral. That way, there’s a minimal risk that your app will fail due to thousands of concurrent users. Always develop apps with a huge scale data distribution in mind.

Build Native User Interfaces Last for Cross-Platform Apps

The vast majority of apps are cross-platform ones, which makes sense if you want yours to be accessible to the largest number of people. Save yourself time and effort by modeling the programming logic off as local web services and building native user interfaces last.

Avoid Redundant Tracking

Going overboard with tracking can be highly problematic. Repetitive, redundant tracking makes it more difficult to maintain the underlying code as your company expands and evolves and as developers update their APIs.

Use It Yourself

If you’re not already comfortable with all of the platforms that you are targeting, try your hand at all of them to get a feel for how they work. The same applies to your app. Try to put yourself in users’ shoes. Would this app address your needs? Would you keep it on your smartphone and use it, or is it a waste of time?

Enable Easy App Integration

Don’t assume that users won’t be interested in sharing information from your app through other apps like Facebook or Gmail. Make it easy for users to do this by enabling app integration in your mobile app. A little extra work is involved, but it will make your app more useful and help you avoid going back and doing it later.

Accommodate for Different Design Styles Across Platforms

What looks amazing on an iOS device may look anything but that on an Android or Windows OS device. Different platforms have different aesthetic qualities, and it pays to understand these parameters before developing a cross-platform app. Carefully consider how your branding will translate across platforms and design your app accordingly.

Make it Simple

The best apps are easy for just about anyone to use. It’s easy to lose sight of how people with varying degrees of technical prowess will interact with an app, so make sure to include non-tech-savvy people during the testing phase. Is the design intuitive enough for newbies? Is the written content easy to understand? Where do users seem to get stuck?

Take Advantage of the Latest Features

Your new app shouldn’t be outdated. Avoid this issue by always using the latest client device SDKs. It also pays to stay up to date regarding the latest changes and advances in various platforms. By including cutting-edge features in your app, you’re more likely to attract a wider audience.

Test Often

Apps are often rushed, and testing is the step that developers are most likely to speed through. What’s worse is they complete a single round of tests and call it good. It pays to test early and often — especially when it comes to cross-platform apps, which can quickly cause issues.

Plan for Offline Use

A mobile app isn’t truly “mobile” if it ceases to function when the device is offline. The best apps boast a decent offline functionality, so be sure to include it in yours. Data should be saved to local storage so that it can be restored when the app is opened again. Any changes can then be synced, for the user to have a seamless online/offline experience.

Have One Purpose

As tempting as it may be to cram a ton of features into your app, it’s far better to focus on one and to really make it shine. Make it something that you’re truly good at and that users will actually benefit from. That way, they are less likely to get tripped up on unhelpful, confusing features that never belonged there in the first place.

Embrace Analytics

While you shouldn’t overdo it with the analytics, you should monitor them regularly to see how people are faring with your app. How are they using it? Which devices are they accessing it from? Are there features that seem to trip users up and make them abandon the app? By keeping an eye on your analytics, you can respond swiftly when issues arise.

If you find yourself going for custom app development versus out-of-the-box one, keep these tips in mind to create a product that your audience will rely on and become loyal to.

15 Tips for Ensuring Top-Quality Mobile Apps by John Barnett.  Available from <http://www.business.com/mobile-apps-and-tools/john-barnett-app-making-tips/> [December 30, 2016]

Safety Tips For Online Shopping

Safety Tips For Online Shopping.  Available from <http://asianetindia.com/safety-tips-for-online-shopping/> [December 07, 2016]

E-commerce or shopping online provides a exit. Given the near universal accessibility to Internet connectivity, consumers save your time and efforts by internet shopping. More and more merchants are realising the enormous potential from the medium of Internet and therefore are gearing up to present products and services.As the potential of internet shopping is being grasped, the potential for loss are going up too, particularly for consumers. Sadly, many online shoppers disregard the pitfalls , nor follow even minimum risk protection norms. If anything, buying online frauds tend to be more dangerous, because in the event the security is breached, fraudsters can siphon off a lot of cash without the victim realising it.Here are some safety tips for online shopping.

Safety tips for online shopping are:

1.Link Of A Website: Avoid gonna an shopping online site by having a link or pop-ups, howsoever interesting the offers are. Always type the web page address into your address bar. Be wary of tempting offers, because they may be from fraudsters who’ve created a fake site.

2. Look For The Image Of A Lock At The Bottom Right Corner: To make sure your site is safe, search for the image of the closed now you should the browser window. Click on the icon and be sure the security certification is displayed. You are prone to identity theft when you’re entering your details on a spoofed site.

3.Check Privacy Policy: Are you sure the seller of your website the place you have given personal details isn’t sharing them others for cash? Check the Privacy Policy on the website to ensure that what the property owner will and won’t do with specifics about you.

4.Be Wary Of e-mails: You may get an e-mail that looks like it is from the vendor that you have shopped online. You could be asked for your very own information to “verify” the accounts or “clear-up” errors which may have occurred. Before responding, reconfirm with the vendor. Call up and ensure if necessary, or send a mail and act only as soon as you get a response.

5.Secured Programs: If the purchases are by having a debit or debit card, then make certain that you sign-up for that “verified by VISA” and/or “Master secured code program(s)”. Each transaction will be authorised only by you.

6.Anti-Spyware/Trojan Software: Make without doubt the latest version of antivirus, anti-spyware or anti-Trojan programs were installed on your PC or laptop and they are regularly updated.

These are the safety tips for online shopping.

Safety Tips For Online Shopping.  Available from <http://asianetindia.com/safety-tips-for-online-shopping/> [December 07, 2016]

How brands can leverage the mobile shift

How brands can leverage the mobile shift by .  Available from <http://www.marketingtechnews.net/news/2016/nov/15/how-brands-can-leverage-mobile-shift/> [15 November 2016, 10:10 a.m.]

Today, smartphones are more like an extra limb than a device for most people. Consumers take their phones with them everywhere they go, and each time they unlock their home screens is a chance for brands to become a part of their digital lives.

With 85.7% of smartphone internet time spent in apps versus mobile web, more consumers are opting for the seamless experiences that apps offer.

By keeping a few key tips in mind, brands can make the most of this mobile shift, using apps to drive awareness, engagement and conversions—both online and off—and give consumers the optimised, personalised and engaging experience that they have come to expect in the digital world.

Set goals

It’s a mistake to launch an application for the sake of having one. A successful app begins with planning and setting goals.

These goals will help to target the right audience, measure success and, if needed, adjust strategies. Goals should also be specific. Are you looking to drive more traffic? Increase conversions? Raise awareness?

Clear and defined goals will help deliver an experience that will benefit both brands and consumers.

Offer value

Providing consumers with a 1:1 branded application experience starts with understanding why your application deserves to be included on users’ valuable home screen.

Mobile real estate is a hot commodity, and when consumers run out of mobile storage space, what’s going to compel them to keep your app?

Offering users value, whether it’s through promotions, immersive entertainment or exclusive content, will drive consumers to use your app and engage actively with your brand.

Mobile functionality can also turn a standard branded opportunity to a one-of-a-kind, engaging experience

For example, Phunware teamed up with international media agency MEC and Paramount Pictures International to promote last year’s summer blockbuster, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.

The campaign used branded content within two popular mobile games, creating custom levels that let users experience the thrilling life of an Impossible Missions Force agent.

By offering players unique content not available elsewhere, we were able to drive results, including 13 million overall gameplays, an 87% video ad completion rate and a 6.65% click-through rate.

Understand your audience

As consumers spend more time in apps, brands gain access to an unprecedented amount of user data.

With each interaction, consumers leave behind a digital data trail, giving brands valuable insight into who their users are, when and where to engage and how to hold their attention.

From time spent in app to content and ad engagement to mobile purchasing behavior, mobile app data enables more comprehensive customer profiling and the ability to better segment and target customers.

Consumers also have a lot to gain from the data they leave behind.

The more a brand knows about them, the more personal and relevant content can be. For example, by paying attention to the playlists most frequently used—like Running or Dance—brands like Pandora can learn a lot about who their users are and deliver relevant ads for a more personalsed, less disruptive listening experience.

For retailers, frequent shoppers may receive special offers or rewards upon entering a store, generating quick sales and ultimately, happy shoppers. What’s more, with a deeper understanding of the traits of power users, brands can more easily find lookalike targets to grow their audience even more.

Leverage mobile functionality

Coupled with the first-party data brands get from their own applications, mobile allows for unique experiences users can’t get from a laptop. Bluetooth, GPS and Wi-Fi technology give brands valuable information about users based on where they engage the most.

For instance, those who engage most in airports or hotels during the week are likely to be business travelers. But these functions also enable more ways to reach on-the-go users, including the ability to send contextually-triggered messages and promotions.

Mobile functionality can also turn a standard branded opportunity to a one-of-a-kind, engaging experience.

For example, game immersion experiences that turn a smartphone into a wand or a steering wheel yield a level of consumer engagement that can’t be replicated through traditional channels like websites and subscription-based newsletters, and help garner brand loyalty and customer satisfaction.

One-to-one indoor and outdoor contextual targeting will be critical for brands as consumers continue to spend their time in-app.

According to comScore, with mobile now representing more than 65% of digital media time, mobile applications are a must for brands that haven’t incorporated them yet, and optimisation should be the next step for those that have.

With clear goals in mind, brands that offer valuable content and engaging experiences and utilise the wealth of available mobile data will be on their way to mobile success.

How brands can leverage the mobile shift by .  Available from <http://www.marketingtechnews.net/news/2016/nov/15/how-brands-can-leverage-mobile-shift/> [15 November 2016, 10:10 a.m.]

Why mobile marketing is harder than ever — and what you can do about it

Why mobile marketing is harder than ever — and what you can do about it by Chantal Tode.  Available from <http://www.retaildive.com/news/why-mobile-marketing-is-harder-than-ever-and-what-you-can-do-about-it/429592/> [November 02, 2016]

rom slowing sales and exploding phones to the rapid advances of chatbots, digital assistants and virtual reality, it has been a tumultuous year for mobile. For marketers, the upshot is that reaching smartphone users has never been more complex.

With mobile’s unique and personal use case as well as a fragmented landscape, connecting with users has always been a challenge. Early on, the consensus was that — beyond ads — an iPhone app was the best jumping off point for building relationships on mobile.

But this thinking is changing as apps prove beneficial for only some brands. More importantly, a new integrated vision of the computing experience is emerging that seeks to connect users to relevant online information more seamlessly than opening and close multiple apps.

It all sounds pretty cool, but marketers still have practical concerns: Should they be thinking about developing apps? Or chatbots? Or is it better to take a wait-and-see approach?

“Apps are still the gold standard and most easily understood by users,” Tobias Dengel, CEO of mobile app developer WillowTree, told Marketing Dive. “However, we see a distributed universe emerging where users expect to engage with their chosen brands and services via apps, but also chatbots, digital assistants and integrations into other apps.”

The app conundrum

The need to reach mobile users is more important than ever. Mobile commerce is expected to account for 32 % of online sales this year, up from 26% last year, according to eMarketer. And more than half of consumers’ time spent online is now coming from mobile apps, per a recent report form comScore.

Despite these figures, many marketers are still trying to figure out a mobile strategy.

While apps are popular, Forrester’s research revealed that a significant majority of time is spent with just five apps — typically, popular social media and messaging apps. That means that brands can invest millions of dollars and create a fantastic app but still may have a hard time breaking through and getting used.

“Already today not all brands need an app — not all have the loyalty and offer the utility to justify the investment when consumers won’t download it, or will and then not come back,” Jenny Wise, a senior analyst at Forrester Research, told Marketing Dive.

There are exceptions, of course: The Nike+ app is successful, for example, and apps are a must-have for airlines and banks. Apps can also work well for brands around big events like the Olympics, ski season or home buying.

But mobile is not all about apps anymore.

The chatbot opportunity

The inherent challenges with apps are the reason why a number of brands have jumped on the opportunity to build chatbots on Facebook Messenger and other messaging apps. The thinking is that with a much smaller investment, marketers can engage users where they are spending much of their time.

So far, chatbots appear to work best for quick interactions where opening an app to execute a task would introduce too much friction. But it is still early days for these experiences and they may not be a good fit for everyone.

“Many of these are still evolving and don’t offer the best user experiences,” Forrester’s Wise said. “For example, ordering flowers through 1-800-Flowers on Facebook Messenger can only be done in a linear fashion — the consumer can’t go back and change the date once they are on the next step. That’s not a great experience. So right now, these are tactics available to early adopters who have a test-and-learn objective.”

Will digital assistants dominate?

Digital assistants have also caught the attention of marketers, with many building skills — mini apps that execute tasks — for the Amazon Echo while others are looking forward to the opportunity to build similar interfaces for Google’s new Home hub, powered by its digital assistant.

Opportunities on digital assistants could be more significant than chatbots and may replace the need for an app for some marketers because adoption levels are expected to be strong, with consumers leveraging these interfaces throughout the day for numerous activities.

As consumers spend more time with voice-controlled digital assistants, they are likely to begin to expect these kinds of interactions from brands, particularly if these platforms are able to build a one-stop shop that keeps consumers engaged.

“Digital assistants won’t replace apps for all brands — namely, those that have the brand loyalty that drives app users in the first place — and the digital commitment and data maturity to offer high-quality experiences that can compete with this digital assistants,” Forrester’s Wise said. “But for those brands who don’t have a captive audience or deliver high-value experiences, digital assistants will offer stiff competition for consumers’ attention in mobile moments.”

For brands interested in taking advantage of chatbots and digital assistants, Wise recommends trying to deliver shortcuts for consumers to relevant information, thinking in terms of conversational interfaces and leveraging artificial intelligence to increase consumer insights and build better, more proactive experiences.

Hybrid solutions

Chatbots and digital assistants may also exist in tandem with apps for some marketers. But no matter which combination of chatbots, digital assistants and apps marketers choose to leverage, one important difference in how they develop mobile engagements going forward will be the need to focus on voice-driven experiences.

“We see more of a hybrid solution where the user moves between voice and visual communications,” WillowTree’s Dengel said. “The fastest way to send information is through voice, but the fastest way to receive info is visual.

“Speak your request and then see the answer in the app — and your starting point for speaking could be anywhere — within an app, or within the Messenger app or Siri, or within a 3rd party app,” he said.

It will also be important for marketers to have strong mobile Web content as mobile’s next generation evolves. Already, more searches are completed on mobile than desktop and the shift will only continue as digital assistants gain steam. This is one reason Google is developing a mobile-first strategy for its search index.

“Before apps or chatbots, job one should be ensuring they have a mobile-optimized — or in Google’s terminology, a ‘mobile friendly’ — site,” said Gartner‘s Michael McGuire.

The options don’t stop there for compelling ways in which to engage mobile users. Savvy marketers are also exploring virtual reality as a way to immerse mobile users in engaging content while resourceful brands such as Taco Bell and Hershey’s are teaming up with popular apps like Airbnb and Uber, respectively, for promotions to engage their users.

The good news is that investing a couple of million dollars in a quality app is no longer a necessity. The bad news is that with so many different ways to build relationships on mobile, marketers have their work cut out for them when it comes to picking the one tactic — or a combination of them — that fits best for their brand and goals.

“There is no one silver bullet,” said Julie Ask, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester. “Marketers need a portfolio of experiences on mobile.”

Why mobile marketing is harder than ever — and what you can do about it by Chantal Tode.  Available from <http://www.retaildive.com/news/why-mobile-marketing-is-harder-than-ever-and-what-you-can-do-about-it/429592/> [November 02, 2016]

8 Mobile Marketing Tips for Small Business

8 Mobile Marketing Tips for Small Business by Megan Totka.  Available from <http://www.business.com/marketing/megan-totka-mobile-marketing/>. [October 26, 2016]

Mobile marketing is constantly moving forward and evolving, stay on top of the trends

Mobile marketing is different than other methods of marketing because it lets businesses get directly in front of customers on devices they use all the time – tablets and smartphones. From mobile check-ins to text messages, to emails and social media, mobile marketing may help small businesses boost sales when they send coupons or offer discounts, sales, or promotions to customers.  It’s smart to reach out to customers on the devices they constantly have in their hand – this is why mobile marketing can impact both online shoppers and walk-in customers, too.

Luckily, more and more companies and individuals realize the benefits of mobile and want to lead the way into the mobile future – and the first stop is adopting mobile marketing solutions for your small business. Take a look at these 8 mobile marketing tips that can help your small business.

Text marketing

The professional side of texting is something to embrace. SMS is for more than casual conversation – even financial institutions now send sensitive data via SMS and it’s pretty powerful. Now that more than three-quarters of the world’s smartphones are SMS-enabled, it’s time to make sure your small business is, too.

Create opt-in campaigns that allow customers to sign up and receive alerts and rewards for joining the campaign. The platform is a great way to encourage customers to take specific action in exchange for a reward, such as a discount on a purchase. There is a greater chance that people will open their texts than read emails, and texts are opened more rapidly than emails, too.

Transition to a mobile-ready website

Responsive design is crucial – if you don’t have it, you risk text that doesn’t fit on the page and may notice that your customers come up missing, supporting a competitor who can offer a site that is mobile-ready. Make sure your website reads beautifully whether it is accessed on a laptop, desktop, mobile phone, or tablet.

Create a mobile app

Mobile apps aren’t inexpensive to build – they can easily cost a pretty penny if you’re willing to pay. Like anything, though, with some time and effort, you can make sure the process is affordable. Your app doesn’t have to be super fancy, and you don’t have to join forces with a well-known firm that will charge you a lot of cash. Find new creators who are eager to get business and showcase their talents. Pay them reasonably and offer referrals and site recognition, too.

No matter how you do it, make sure you get an app built, around 80 percent of smartphone users use apps every day. You can’t let your business miss this simple way of making sure your brand is in front of all of those people.

Incorporate mobile payments

Small businesses have either a product or a service to offer consumers. As a result, your strategy should include acceptance of mobile payments – know what to look for in a payment processor before you rush to make a decision. Payment processors offer various benefits when it comes to service, security, ease of use, and cost efficiency. Make it easier for customers to pay you with modern payment options.

Have meaningful social presence

Facebook isn’t all about fun and games, and while it is a lot of fun, it’s also a great way to gain new customers. Marketing is about first giving to your customers. This means you should give your audience on social media what you would want yourself. Share posts and start meaningful conversations. Leave comments and ask and answer questions. Work to make sure your brand is where people see it and appreciate it; it doesn’t take much time out of your day.

Offer up deals

Your business can continue to make money while sending out digital deals. Send messages straight to your consumer’s smartphones, SMS coupons have redemption rates 10 times higher than print coupons like the ones we see in the Sunday paper. The other good news: it’s nearly impossible to lose the smartphone version of a coupon.

Consider mobile customer service

More businesses are jumping on the mobile customer service bandwagon to track orders, take payments, share shipping details, and respond quickly to questions via smartphone. This is easy and convenient for both the small business owner and customers. Plus, customers really enjoy the quick response time mobile customer service offers.

Register with mobile directories

The days of thick phone books with yellow pages are just about history. Instead, the majority of people now turn to mobile directories. To ensure your small business is found, register with various mobile directories. Think along the lines of YP, Yelp and Google+Local.  Remember to include the details of your business such as its name, the products and services offered, business hours, a contact phone number, a link to your site, and your physical address.

Mobile marketing is constantly moving forward and evolving. Stay on top of the trends and times and make sure you know what your competitors are doing in the mobile marketing arena. Try not to fear the cost or changes that accompany mobile technology — Smartphones and small businesses are a perfect match.

In addition, realize that mobile marketing isn’t going away – it’s actually our future — so now is the time to get on board and don’t look back. While some small business owners shy away from mobile because they perceive it to be complex or time-consuming, many realize it’s simply another way to market a small business. After all, small business owners are in a better position to utilize mobile for customer engagement. It’s all about connecting with customers, and mobile allows that to happen.

Photo credit: GaudiLab/Shutterstock

8 Mobile Marketing Tips for Small Business by Megan Totka.  Available from <http://www.business.com/marketing/megan-totka-mobile-marketing/>. [October 26, 2016]