Posted on October 31, 2017 in Best Practices

15 Key Ingredients for a Successful Mobile App

15 Key Ingredients for a Successful Mobile App

With well over 1 million apps in the major app stores, businesses all over the world have recognised the importance of mobile apps. As a result, the app market has become increasingly competitive and businesses are finding it challenging to be discovered in a sea of competition. In order to compete, it is imperative to understand what really makes a successful mobile app.

Due to its intrinsic nature, mobile is one of the most powerful tools at our disposal and plays a pivotal role in society. It has become the place where consumers frequent most, in fact, consumers spend 90% of their time on mobile apps compared to mobile websites (Flurry). Consequently, businesses are now having to strategise around the mobile experience in order to create something that truly meets the needs of their consumers.

Related Why Do Businesses Need a Mobile App?

Unsurprisingly, the majority of app installs are generated by the top apps alone and the chances of app discovery are growing increasingly slim. According to Nielsen, the average smartphone user has roughly 25-30 apps on their phone at a given time. However, studies have found that the number of apps that are frequently used hovers around just 3.


So what makes an app successful?

The answer to this can appear rather simple: A successful mobile app is one that fully satisfies the end user’s needs and does so quickly and effectively. An app might do just one thing, but it does it exceptionally well.

Mobile app success is a journey, not a one-step process. In most cases, businesses strive over time to refine their mobile app to better meet the needs of their users and accomplish success. Here are 15 key ingredients that will help determine the success of your mobile app.


#1 Solve a problem

Every successful product solves a problem and satisfies a consumer need. When it comes to mobile strategy, it is best to think big. Ask yourself what problem your app will solve for users and how it can help simplify their lives. It is important to ensure that your app is either original or improves on the concept of a competitor app.

Your app needs to have a sense of purpose and meet the needs of your consumers. Don’t waste money building blind imitations that fail to achieve success. Instead, aim to have a clear vision of what you intend to achieve with your app. If the app does not have a specific use or purpose, it will end up being irrelevant to users. Conduct research to identify your customer’s potential pain points or barriers to purchase. This will help provide insights on the types of problems your mobile app could be designed to resolve.


#2 Focus on a core feature

The best apps generally only do one thing, but they do it very well. Simple, focused apps work well because users don’t want unnecessary features cluttering their experience. Apps developed with a specific focus can maximise resources to flawlessly deliver the one thing your users need most.

Focus on what’s driving you to create an app in the first place. How is this idea unique from other apps? It starts with identifying and understanding what value your app has to offer, creating a core action, and making it compelling enough to complete and repeat.

The most successful apps are the ones that perform their purpose better or differently from competition. If users require more features, these can be added to the app as updates in later versions. This strategy allows you to roll out a great app faster and demonstrates that you are dedicated to continually improving your app.


#3 Deliver real value

It is important to look at your app as a way of creating unique value. Users are time poor, all they want is speed and convenience. As a result, your app must deliver real customer value at every step to drive and encourage loyalty. This value can come in utility, entertainment, convenience, or a range of other areas. An app that can be easily used in a variety of situations with seamless features is generally most appealing. It is important to validate your app idea with research to ensure that it is successfully delivering the value you intend.


#4 Keep it simple

The user experience plays a pivotal role when it comes to the success of your app.Apps are innately task-oriented in nature and are used to declutter processes. Therefore, in the case of mobile apps, less is more. Users crave efficiency, it is important to make your core action second nature and easy to duplicate. An app that isn’t easy to use will often result in users abandoning it.

Providing users with a path to follow and an action to repeat will help app success. Develop a convenient user interface with simple navigation based on design guidelines. Whatever the functionality, the simpler it’s delivered, the better and more successful your app will be. Consider questions like:

  • Are you making life simpler for your user?
  • Is the flow of the app intuitive?
  • Can users figure out how to use your app easily without any guidance?
  • Will these features be used? Are they relevant?
  • Are these features making your app easier to use or more complex?

Ultimately, the app must be user-friendly, easy to navigate as well as visually appealing. If users must spend a lot of time learning how to use your app before they draw value from it they will often be lost. If your app embraces simplicity, users will have no reason to go looking for a similar competitor app.


#5 Develop for iOS and Android

It is extremely important for app success that your strategy encompasses the 2 most popular platforms, iOS and Android. One effective way to do this is to implement a cross-platform app development framework. Cross-platform app development tools can reduce the time and costs associated with developing apps separately on both platforms.


#6 Provide offline functionality  

Naturally, the majority of apps rely on the availability of an Internet connection. Even though the Internet is nearly accessible everywhere, it is still important that your app can function well offline. Access to features and content offline provides a significant advantage and allows you to continue fostering a positive user experience which is essential for app success.


#7 Maintain high performance

Performance is one of the biggest predictors of mobile app success. Poor app performance can lead to a negative user experience costing you downloads, revenue and brand perception. Dimensional Research found that 80% of app users will only attempt to use a problematic, poor functioning app, 3 times or less.  For this reason, it is crucial that your app works flawlessly.

An app must consistently perform well in order to maintain, or improve, the user experience. Your mobile app must launch quickly the first time and not keep users waiting for long. It is also important to stay on top of and fix any bugs, crashes or slow performance. Optimise your app for high performance and continually test and retest your app to ensure it is performing well.


#8 Test your app

Testing your app on real users before launch is vital. Users might not use your app the same way you intended. For this reason, it is critical to undergo user testing in order to understand exactly how users are using your app.

During a later stage of development, you can share your app with a larger group of users for testing. Gaining a deep understanding of your customers’ needs, the context of using the app, and the pain points, is key to developing a successful app. Gathering these insights can also help ensure you have the most effective user interface for your app.


#9 Offer it free

To increase the odds of consumers downloading your app, make it free. Everyone likes to download apps for free; it gives them a chance to test out what you have to offer without any risk. Nearly all apps allow users to download for free at first. While simply making your app free won’t guarantee success, it can certainly increase the number of people who will give your app a try. Thus, increasing the chances for your app to become successful.

That’s not to say that you can’t make money off of your app or are forced to use ads. Offering a free basic app is key to hook in users and increase traction. If users enjoy your app and feel it offers them value, many will be happy to pay for in-app purchases to unlock content, premium features or even purchase an ad-free version.


#10 Plan a marketing strategy

No matter how groundbreaking, streamlined, or flawless your app is – if no one uses it, it won’t be successful. Don’t make the mistake of starting your marketing plan once your app is developed. A solid marketing plan will help drive app new installs and re-engage target users. It is important to plan on getting the word out early to build anticipation for your app, then do a big push right before launch.

Successful apps are promoted well before they hit the app store. It is recommended to divide your marketing plan into 3 campaign phases: pre-launch, launch and post-launch. Marketing your app requires planning and leveraging a range of marketing mediums and techniques. For example, App Store Optimisation is just one way to ensure your apps discovery among your target audience.


#11 Personalise the experience

Personalisation helps humanise the mobile experience, providing the opportunity to create uniquely personal app experiences that drive brand engagement and conversion. According to AgilOne, more than 70% of users expect personalised experiences with brands they interact with. App users crave personalisation; where interactions are tailored to their preferences, location and usage behaviour. It is important to leverage profile information insights from user history to segment and deliver personalised content to the user. This, in turn, will increase the user experience, engagement and success of your app.


#12 Plan ongoing engagement

Once your mobile app has launched it is important to plan how you will continue to engage users. Consider how you will build user engagement with techniques like push notifications or in-app messaging. These notifications can be used to easily remind customers about your products and services at the optimal time.

In the mobile age, consumers expect businesses to understand their preferences with targeted ads and content. It is essential for app success that your messaging is relevant and personalised to your users. Leverage app analytics to identify what content is engaging users most and use this to form your messaging strategy. Take advantage of geolocation tools on mobile devices that allow you to deliver personalised and relevant messages to users based on their location.


#13 Provide a feedback channel

In-app communication systems are a common feature in top ranking apps. A readily accessible and intuitive customer service channel can significantly improve the user experience. It is important to create a channel for communication, feedback, ratings and reviews. By allowing users to connect or get help, you can decrease the chances of a negative user experience and significantly boost app retention. Not only this, creating an easy to use feedback channel within the app encourages communication with the user and helps prevent public negative reviews. For real success, make the process as quick and seamless as possible with a minimum number of steps and text input.


#14 Track in-app analytics

Tracking mobile app analytics allows you to understand user behaviour. This data can be leveraged to measure the success of your app, provide insights, and identify where you can improve your app. More specifically, inbuilt app analytics allow you to track downloads, user engagement and retention… Which app features are drawing users in? Are users dropping off in any particular section? How often do they use your app? Tracking this usage behaviour can provide insights into how to enhance the user experience and optimise your marketing strategy, safeguarding your apps future success.


#15 Create regular updates

In such a fast-changing and evolving landscape, being able to iterate, learn, measure and react quickly to your user’s needs is critical for app success. To provide a mobile app with lasting popularity, it needs to maintain ongoing development and updates. In order to succeed, you will need to commit to releasing continuous app updates in order to fix bugs and keep users coming back for more. It is important to ensure that app features and content always stays up-to-date and relevant.

The flow users go through when using your app will provide you with insights on not only what to fix in your software, but it will also tell you what features are most popular; what should be improved? Leverage feedback to develop new features that are important to your users and their app experience.


Related How to get Executive Buy-In for your Mobile App Idea

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It is important to remember that app success requires strategy, insight and ongoing dedication. Ultimately, success is often found by delivering value to your users and focusing on building an excellent user experience.

Have you found the right app development platform to execute your mobile strategy?

At Liquid State, we understand the importance of implementing enterprise app software as a part of corporate strategy. Our platform empowers businesses to build native code-free apps for a variety of business functions. To find out what Liquid State can do for your business, get in touch with us today.