How Brands Can Outsmart the Mobile-App Rush

Building a Long-Term Strategy for Mobile

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The mobile ecosystem has given rise to some of the most innovative companies that the tech sector has ever seen. These platforms -- Uber, Flipboard, RunKeeper and Square to name a few -- touch every aspect of our lives from healthcare to transportation, entertainment and productivity at the office. It's hard to imagine that Apple's app store launched just six years ago. In such a short timeframe, some mobile apps have become a cornerstone of all of our lives. In fact, half of you are likely to be reading this article from a smartphone or tablet.

To build a successful app, you need to evolve your strategy past the "build it and they will come" mindset, and "growth hacking" will only take you so far. Instead, you need to develop a sustainable long-term strategy. Here are some things to consider:

Rising competition
With more people accessing the web through smartphones and tablets than PCs, mobile will be the first tech trend to reach billions of people -- which is why so many companies are venturing into app stores with new products and services. Many companies will use what they already know about their web and mobile web visitors to drive traffic to their mobile app in an effective and tailored way.

Often, brands rely on app store optimization to drive awareness when launching new platforms. The problem with this approach, however, is that the app store doesn't make it easy for users to discover all but a few of the most popular or successful apps.

Figure out what problem you're solving
How does your app change your customer's life? This key question applies to both business- and consumer-facing organizations. You need to focus on a very specific pain point -- there may be other solutions on the market, but yours needs to be the best.

This "solutions" mindset will be your demand-generation engine, and even more importantly, it will serve as a foundation for a high-performing, cross-platform marketing strategy.

Uber is a company that exemplifies this concept. The app has exploded in popularity because it focuses on one clear pain point -- the fact that it's tough to find a ride in a big city (or anywhere else for that matter). It's this laser focus that has transformed Uber's primary growth driver from app store popularity to word-of-mouth -- a marketing force of nature that transcends any optimization tactics.

Stop dwelling on the competition
App developers have a bad habit of fixating on what everyone else is doing -- for the purpose of outranking them. The fact is that you need to focus on your own product, user-acquisition strategy and customers.

Competition will always be there, but ultimately markets are often big enough to support multiple layers of competition. Just look at Coke and Pepsi.

Think of all the scenarios that may or may not be central to your business. What can you do that's better than what anyone else can do? What's your superpower -- and what's everything else?

Focus on your own brand and your own customers. From the rest of the world's perspective, your competitors won't matter.

The moment for innovation is now
If you don't think about your competitive edge, someone else will beat you to it. Act quickly -- the golden age of mobile is now. The tech industry is experiencing a major inflection point, and if you don't commit to being part of this ecosystem now, you may be left out. Mobile innovation is turning the tech industry on its head. If you don't think about your future in mobile, someone else will.

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