Every few weeks we are presented with updated market research showing that mobile technologies are steadily taking over the computing world. In fact, in terms of technology adoption, mobile is moving faster than any technology before it. This mobile growth statistics infographic from 2013 is very telling and shows some staggering numbers.

The chart showing the time it took to reach 50m users is quite telling: the Internet boom of the late 90’s and early 2000’s took 4 years to reach 50m users, the “Draw Something” app took 50 days. That’s the same number of users is less than 5% of the time. Obviously, not all apps have that kind of success. But, the potential is certainly there so it becomes a matter of how to tap into it.

What does this really mean for businesses? It means a mobile strategy. This large and expanding environment is ripe with opportunity and without a strategy your business is missing out. Broadly, the obvious strategy items to tackle are:

  1. A mobile website. All businesses need one.
  2. A mobile presence, more than just the website.

While the mobile website is important, other stats show user’s preference toward mobile apps rather than mobile websites. Obvious, you could choose to up your business’ mobile presence by spending your marketing budget on mobile ads as well as using social media. However, that’s not really what your business is after: your business needs a custom app. But throwing any old app up with your business name on it is not likely to make a huge impact by itself. This type of custom app can lead to some initial interest but very quickly get poor reviews or no adoption. ¬†We’ve seen this in the mobile marketplaces with retail store and food chain custom apps which don’t drive the overall brand or mission and provide no value add for the end user. That’s not going to help business; in fact, it’s likely to have a negative impact on business.

Generally speaking, there are several key things any custom app for a business should have:

  1. Your brand, very clearly defined and present throughout the app. This can mean language, imagry, colors and logos.
  2. A solid, easy to use user experience. The “recommended” UX/UI approach tends to shift over time, so be aware of the platform and the current trend. For example, Google recently announced the Material Design guide for Android apps targeted at the upcoming Android L release. Similarly, iOS 7 shifted to a more “flat” approach for UX/UI design.
  3. Know your customers and what they expect (or more!) As an example, a retail store should always provide location details and possibly a map with location(s); or, go a step further and provide the address/details and give the user the ability to navigate directly to you.
  4. Something unique users cannot get or is more difficult to get somewhere else. People love feeling special, make sure they feel that way.
  5. Mobile specific contact and support information. People have problems and questions. Make it easy for them to provide feedback. It’s an opportunity for customer engagement and any sales person will tell you that is a Good Thing.
  6. Usage statistics are invaluable, they tell you how your app is being used and opportunities for it to grow, but are often skipped. It is extra work to put into the app correctly then analyze the data, so is one of the first things on the chopping block. Don’t make this mistake.
  7. Use a framework to help provide crash details and reports. There are a number of free and paid tools available, such as Crashlytics and Crittercism. They are easy to incorporate into your code and help when that one pesky device you didn’t test encounters a problem.

Of course, there are many other options to consider depending on your business and the market. What features have you included in your apps which have helped it promote your brand and help your business to be successful?