All great mobile apps start with a clear strategy that guides them towards success. If you have a game-changing idea for an app, this article will show you step by step how to define your mobile app strategy to ensure that your app is designed, developed and launched with maximum effectiveness.
So you have an innovative app idea that you believe will attract users and generate revenue. To do that, you need to create a mobile app strategy that puts your app concept on the right path towards startup success.
A clear mobile app strategy is a key ingredient to successful app startups that attract loyal user bases and generate ongoing revenue.
With many considerations to take into account, this may seem like a daunting task. But worry not, because this step-by-step guide will show you how to create the most effective mobile app strategy to give your innovative idea the execution it deserves.
Step 1 – Understand your key business objectives and the market you’re entering
Your key business objectives will drive the overall strategy for your mobile app. In order to gather the essential information required for the best possible mobile app strategy, you need to understand and note where your startup is, the app store marketplace it will operate in and the user personas of your target audience.
The significance of this initial stage in the overall mobile app strategy cannot be underestimated. The business goals you want to achieve with your app are the foundational base to startup success.
To best understand the objectives you want to reach with your overall strategy, these are the main areas you need to focus on (starting from the highest priority):
- Key Performance Indicators & Targets
Don’t think just mobile app – think big about your mobile app startup company! What exactly does your startup want to achieve in the next five years?
You should understand your company’s yearly Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), how it will generate revenue when launched and through what channels. What’s your revenue target for the first year? For example, your revenue target may be a 50% Return on Investment generated via a freemium monetisation model.
This ensures that the mobile app strategy you create is aligned with your startup company’s KPIs and targets as a complementary tool. In short, you want to define what ‘success’ means for your mobile app through measurable desired results.
- Target Audience – Mobile as a touch point
Mobile is not a channel. It is a touch point where users can quickly interact with apps in a convenient and seamless manner. This is how your potential users think when interacting with their smartphones and, therefore, how your startup should think.
The best way to provide a valuable touch point to your app’s target audience is by understanding how users will actually interact with your app. Once you know that, you can capture the sweet spot where your mobile app will provide the maximum amount of value for both existing and potential users.
So when you’re creating your overall strategy you must understand how the touch points on your mobile app can satisfy user needs. Mobile is an enabler for your app to help users get the value they want as efficiently, smoothly and quickly as possible.
- Competitor Analysis & SWOT Analysis
Analysing what your competitors do will more than likely reveal a shared set of best practices that will make it to your features list. However, you will also inadvertently discover things that competing apps do poorly or don’t do at all. Note these as a competitive advantage to gain a superior market position.
This competitor analysis activity was essential to the success of the world’s biggest disruptive app startups – they studied their market, identified something that competitors were missing but consumers really needed, and then built their successful app startup from there.
The last step before you start defining your mobile app strategy is the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis. The SWOT analytical framework helps you discover and overcome the biggest problems your app startup would face, while also raising awareness to external threats and opportunities that can influence your potential market position.
The main benefit of a SWOT analysis is that it makes you self-aware of all the internal and external factors that could impact not only on your whole mobile strategy, but ultimately the success of your app startup.
Step 2 – Define your Mobile App Strategy
After you have clarified your business objectives and the market you’re entering, you are now in an ideal position to think about your overall Mobile App Strategy. A high-level strategy will include user stories for your mobile app, the resources needed for product execution and the technology stack required for a successful app startup launch.
- Start building the Mobile App Roadmap
What is your vision for what the mobile app should be in order to be a success? Your entire mobile app strategy will hinge on getting this right. Consider this is a two-fold question:
- What’s the idea?
- How will the mobile user benefit from the idea?
Once you have your overall app idea clearly identified, you need to plan all the components that need to be implemented in order to execute your mobile app strategy. At Launchpad App Development, we refer to this as the roadmap.
A roadmap provides a visual representation of all the work our strategists, designers and developers will do to create an app that delivers real value.
Sample Mobile Application Project Roadmap. Source: ProductPlan
A roadmap provides a visual timeline for our team and our clients to communicate project milestones that align the business objectives with an app concept’s set product deliverables.
Considering how a roadmap simply represents X amount of time for any given deliverable, it may periodically change if there is a shift in priorities or because a project task has taken longer than initially anticipated. However, for a professional app development agency, you should expect 80% of the roadmap to more or less remain the same throughout the app development process.
- Determine the Technical Feasibility
When we run Rocketfuel Workshops with our clients to help them build best-in-class apps, it’s at this stage where we do a technical review of the app’s functionality to plan the optimum technical implementation method. We do this to ensure that the underlying technology of the mobile application is aligned with the client’s defined business goals.
We refer to the technical aspects that need to be established as ‘non-functional requirements’. You may not consider these requirements when you’re using mobile apps, but they are critical to an app’s success in the market.
The bottom line is that you need to have the foresight to make informed business decisions with technical certainty. Establishing this internal alignment will ensure that your app will not only look and feel great to use, but also perform seamlessly when launched.
- Choose Agile Development as a core component of your Strategy
The main reason to apply agile development methods is because app requirements and business needs ultimately evolve over time based on user feedback, industry shifts and other insights.
Because these needs and requirements change constantly, the best way to develop your mobile app is with an iterative approach: adaptive planning, innovative development, rapid delivery, and constant improvement to produce what your app’s target audience wants.
At Launchpad, we apply a powerful agile framework so that our developers can use their extensive coding experience to deliver iterations as often as possible, while being adaptive and flexible to change.
Again and again, the agile development framework has proven to be significantly more productive and efficient than any other development methodology. Providing a target audience with easy solutions to their problems and adapting to their regularly changing needs should be a key element to your mobile app strategy and entrepreneurial mindset.
Step 3 – Determine your App’s Product Strategy
- Create your Product Strategy by defining clear user stories
You know what the end goal is and who your users are. So what would it take to deliver on your app idea? Now that you’ve documented everything you can think of to make the final mobile app, you need to outline the specific user stories you want your app to excel at.
The number one secret I can provide here is to focus on one or two main user stories. Rather than overwhelm the user, focus on doing a couple of user stories really well.
This is the secret behind most successful apps. For instance, I use Uber when I want a quick ride, Instagram to share photos and Shazam to identify a song. That’s what makes these apps great – when I want or need something, I go to them.
If you nail down primary and secondary uses of your app in a way that the customer’s mindset is to always open your app to accomplish a task, you’re setting yourself up for success.
- Define your target audience – who will use your app and why?
Knowing the types of users that you should build your app for will help you more accurately determine the most valuable functions and features required. This is where user persona modelling comes into play. Personas are an effective tool to create the right product for the app’s intended target market. This helps you understand the motivation of your app’s target users and, in turn, define the product features that satisfy the market.
This exercise is essential to defining requirements and creating user experiences that cater to as many user types as possible and, in turn, increasing the user adoption and long-term viability of your app. It also leads you towards the right mindset of building the app for your most common denominator. As a rule of thumb, you should aim to design your app for 80% of all its potential user types.
An example User Persona, including the intended user’s bio, goals, motivations and personality. Source: Xtensio
- Define your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
All app entrepreneurs should clearly outline not only the strategy for measuring the effectiveness of their app, but also set specific periodic targets to make sure what is achieved matches their original targets.
The metrics you should track to clearly measure the effectiveness of your mobile app strategy are as follows:
- Startup/Business Metrics – Revenue, Market Share, and Increase Customer Satisfaction (NPS Score).
- App Metrics – New Users, Active News, App Rating and Retention Rate.
Tracking insightful data has never been easier with so many tools now readily available. The secret is knowing what to track and doing it well from the beginning.
Step 4 – Assemble your Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
Finally, you’ll need to know how to implement your strategy. You need to define the MVP and processes that the developers need to deliver the project on budget and on time.
- Define your Minimum Viable Product
Depending on the complexity of your app concept, you may have identified more than 100 potential features that can be included. The next step is to take all of these features and rank them very simply as ‘must’, ‘should’ or ‘nice’ to have features.
With the features you have ranked as ‘must haves’ for the initial launch, you are now left with your MVP. This is the leanest version of your app with only the most valuable features that address the problem the product solves and demonstrates the core value of your app offering.
As previously mentioned in our ‘3 Steps To Validating Your App Idea’ post, the MVP is not the same as the best app offering. Your app is not yet at the ‘sweet spot’ where the maximum number of users are satisfied by the minimum number of features.
The minimum viable product has fewer features than an app at the sweet spot.
The MVP is a much earlier iteration than this ‘sweet spot’. It’s the leanest app you can launch to attract users while providing additional time to start developing non-MVP features.
These non-MVP features can be based on your prioritised list of ‘should have’ and ‘nice to have’ features for future updates, as well as insightful data you have gathered from users that have interacted with your MVP app.
There’s a lot to be said about developing a successful app. It gives our team a great sense of empowerment and creates real value for clients and their app users.
A strategy for developing a mobile app is simple: think big, act small, launch, test and improve. However, an effective mobile app strategy requires thought, flexibility and an alignment across your business objectives and app goals.
By following this guide, you will be well positioned to successfully build, launch and manage your app.
Are there any resources you would recommend for an effective mobile app strategy? Let us know in the comments section below.