Building a mobile app for your company can be an effective and engaging tool for your target users. Whether you need one for your in-house team to use, or for your customers, a mobile app can be advantageous for business. As of now, if you’re providing information to your employees or customers via web browsers, building a mobile app to engage them easier is a smart strategy to consider. First, you should note a few things before investing in any development costs:
Define your goal and objectives.
Whether you’re building a mobile app or a new website, it’s always important to have goals and objectives in mind. Is your goal to have customers come back and use your service on a regular basis? Is it for your employees in the field to more efficiently provide a service to your clients? Know your end goal so you can plan accordingly and make your investment in design and function worthwhile.
Draw what you envision.
Grab a pen and a paper and simply draw what you would like to see in the mobile app. This is your initial blueprint for your app. Maybe you can draw some interfaces. If you haven’t used many apps before, go and download some free ones to see how they work and get ideas. Search for some that may be relevant to your business. Discover what you like and don’t like about those samples.
List the functions you want.
What are the functions you must have in your app? Oftentimes, apps are not the only means to access the information, and many people will use PCs for more intense input and usability. So, how will the app help complement your website or PC software and make it mobile-friendly? Don’t forget - users will access the app via phones, tablet, or both depending on how you define the program. Be careful not to clutter the app screen or make it too complicated.
Research the cost.
After you design the blueprint and define the functions of your app, seek out a few vendors who can build it for you. You also need to specify what platform (i.e. iPhone or Android, or both; smart phones, tablets, or both) you want to target when you present your idea. See if you can obtain 3 quotes for the app buildout. And always remember, when it comes to development costs, cheaper is not always better. Be sure you get references from past customers. Finally, make sure the vendor you choose to build your app can help you sustain the development because operating systems and devices may change the specs and you may have to update your app at some point.
Ask the end users.
It’s a good idea to get some feedback from your end users about the app to see if your idea makes sense and will be helpful. After all, without users engaging it, your app is wasted. Before you build it, you can describe the functions and show your initial drawings to a focus group and get some feedback. Maybe you’ll hear a good idea you never considered. Hopefully, this activity will help solidify a great app and ensure you get a return on your investment.
If it makes sense for your company to build an app, try it! But remember, much like your website, having a mobile app is only the beginning of your journey. You will want to track its downloads and usage and get customer feedback periodically.
Whether for business or pleasure, when you’re traveling you’ll no doubt need information on where to eat, what to do for fun, how the public transit works, and where to go during that 2-hour window of time you have in-between meetings…
You’ve probably heard of the more popular travel apps like Google Maps, TripAdvisor and Uber, but there are many other free apps to make planning for your trip a breeze, including apps that can help you in the moment when you’re in an unfamiliar city.
Google Trips will help you explore your destination. It can be a bit intimidating when traveling to a new area, but Google can organize your trip info into the app from your Gmail account and be your personal travel guide. You can find things to do, places to eat and drink, and sightsee like a pro. You can save the points of interest from your browser after you’ve logged in with your Gmail account, then pull it up later in the app to find directions easily, even without wifi if necessary.
Figuring out when to leave for the airport before a flight can be tricky these days, especially due to the unpredictably long lines to get through the security checkpoint. The MyTSA app will show you the checkpoint wait time and TSA pre-checkpoint availability, so you can plan your departure accordingly.
If you like to walk instead of ride, the best trip planner for you is Sidekix, an urban route planner with walkers in mind. It will find the best routes for you to stroll to your next destination in most major cities. Sidekix can help you plan your trip taking into account your interests as well as distance.
Want to keep track of your travel expenses and easily submit them to your accounting team? It’s easy with the Expensify app. You take a photo of your receipt and submit your expenses to your accounting team through the app. You can also generate expense reports very easily so you can come back to the office, worry free.
Mile Log + offers a mileage tracking program, so you can easily submit your miles for reimbursement. Instead of writing it all down and potentially losing the data somewhere, this app logs it for you so you can quickly generate a report for a tax deduction or reimbursement.
To find the best apps, do a web search online or within the app store (marketplace). Many of them can be installed for free so you can try it out risk free and delete it later if it doesn’t work for you.
If you’re wondering where to start when it comes to downloading mobile apps for your business, the following list of categories might be useful:
Accounting and Expenses
Check with your accounting software company to see if they offer a mobile app. Most major accounting and ERP software solutions include mobile capabilities through their own app. You may not get the full functionality of the software system via the app, but it may come in handy to be able to pull high-level information while you’re away from your office.
Online storage and file managers are useful apps to consider. Remember, these apps run in the cloud and can provide remote access to your files. It allows you to manage your files and data remotely much easier than trying to use the small web browser on your phone or tablet. Apps such as Dropbox give you the option to login to your files from the app or on your PC's browser.
If business requires you to travel a lot, you will find several apps to make life easier. You can download airline or hotel apps to help book your stay. You can download Uber or Lyft apps to get transportation in a new city. You can also find several apps to help you do anything from manage travel expenses to locate a place to eat when you’re in unfamiliar territory.
Some recruitment services offer mobile apps so you can continue your efforts to hire someone while you are away from your office. Other features may include tracking time sheets or managing payroll and a variety of other HR functions.
Many phone systems now have correlating mobile apps that allow you take calls to your office line, even if you’re working remotely. If your office has an IP based PBX, you should check to see if they can provide you with an app for that. If you do not own a PBX, look for an IP based telephone service that offers this mobile feature. With the mobile app, you no longer need to be tied to your office location. You can check your messages, answer your calls, participate in a conference call, and work from home seamlessly.
Finally, when choosing an app within the app store (or marketplace), be sure to see the reviews and comments from other users. Those will help you determine the quality of the app. Also, apps with a higher volume of reviews means more people are using them, which is a good indicator of their popularity.
Besides the fact that you install apps on your mobile devices (such as iPhone, Android, iPad, and Microsoft Surface), have you thought about how they actually work?
Unlike downloading software via your web browser, you access and download mobile apps from your mobile device’s store (or marketplace). The app store is the distribution center that gives you access to the correct versions of each app as well as tracks your purchases. It also empowers Google, Apple and other distributors to collect the usage fees accordingly. For example, if you want to distribute a mobile app over iPhones, you have to register for the Apple Developer Program
to do so. Apple controls the applications that can be distributed and they can monitor your app distribution as well.
Some apps can be downloaded free of charge because they may charge you a subscription for the service the app provides, or charge you later to upgrade to the “full” version of the app, or they advertise within the app. Other apps are extensions of your PC software that allow you to go mobile, such as your online banking apps.
Many of these apps communicate with servers in the cloud each time you load them. They communicate with servers for several possible reasons: to sync content, to grab data from the server, to upload data from the mobile device to the server, to stream video or music to the mobile device, to backup data, etc.
If you do not kill the app when you’re done working or playing in it, you should expect that it’s still running behind the scenes (even if you’ve switched to a new app) and could be using up the data on your cellular plan.
Learn how to shut down your apps:
On the iPhone:
Double-click the home button to see your most recently used apps. Swipe right or left to see all open apps. Find your app to close and swipe up on the preview of it to close it down.
On the Android:
Open the settings app and choose apps. Touch the running tab to see what’s open. Tap the app you want to close and tap “stop” or “force stop.”
Keep tabs on your data usage -- if you have limited data coverage on your device, you may be shocked to receive the extra data usage fee.
You guessed it – “app” is the abbreviation for “applications,” and nowadays, you’ll also hear it referred to as “mobile apps.” When you combine the multi-function use of apps with the smart and powerful technology of our modern cell phones, it’s almost like working on our desktop or laptop computers. We generally have all the same features in hand that we do at our desk.
To show just how far we’ve come with our phones, the original iPhone had a 3.5 inch display with 320 x 480 resolution, and today the smaller iPhone 7 has a 4.7 inch display with 1334 x 750 resolution, making the visual much clearer. Now, the iPhone 7 can process information at 50 times the speed of the original iPhone. In every single way, including display, camera quality, speed, storage and battery life, the original iPhone, which was once seen as revolutionary, almost appears archaic next to the advanced technology of the newest model only 10 years later.
Because of such advancements in phone technology, it has allowed us to be mobile and figuratively carry our PCs in hand. But where phones fall short is when it comes to working in the cloud. Since 1993, web browsers have evolved to the point where they support HTML5, the latest technology for creating web pages, user interfaces and web/mobile applications. Because of this new technology, our interaction with software programs in the cloud has improved significantly. But when it comes to the browsers on your phone or tablet, the cloud technology is still limited. Companies like Microsoft with Windows, Apple for Mac OS and iOS, and Google Android, are still trying to get their mobile and PC platforms to function the same.
For now, with the help of more powerful mobile devices, mobile apps have grown to be the platform for doing business in the cloud from your smartphone. With mobile apps, software developers can design user-friendly screens, more interactive responses, and better security enhancements than what you'll find in a mobile browser.
This month I’ll cover more about mobile apps, giving you reviews and insights that could benefit your business.
As part of our continuing efforts to diversify our culture here at Pacific Software Publishing, Inc. we have a big announcement concerning our next office expansion. Our CEO, Mayumi Nakamura, recently spent some time in South America visiting the indigenous Amazon Nanao tribe. She met with tribal leaders and soon felt the immense need to bring the wonders of the 21st century to the tribe.
After long talks and hours of planning, we can finally announce our newest office expansion in the Nanao tribe of South America. Bringing technology and the internet to this tribe will help PSPinc expand past our borders and into the hearts and minds of the Nanao people. The expansion is expected to take place within the calendar year, stay tuned for more updates.
Mall Scene from "Minority Report"
All of the online media giants are working hard to profile consumers
through our mobile devices and our web browsers because they know we do not wish to be the recipients of just another meaningless ad. Today’s consumers are much more active in product searches and product reviews. We’re inundated with information in front of our screens, so if ads are going to get through to us, they have to be relevant to our interests, searches, or browsing history.
Think of the scene in the movie, “Minority Report”
where Tom Cruise is walking through the mall while personalized ads are literally speaking to him about products he should try. In the movie, when customers walk into the Gap store, a virtual greeter identifies them and makes reference to something they bought previously.
“Minority Report” is a futuristic version of what we are already seeing with “remarketing ads"
on our own browsers. Because of profiling, the media giants like Google and Facebook know a lot about us, our interests, and where we have been online. They know what we’re viewing, searching, buying, and that allows them to help companies like yours place ads in front of the right audience.
For example, if you are a Google Android user, Google not only knows what is in your Gmail account, but the GPS app also logs where (or to which store) you might be going. With mobile wallet, they will soon know your purchases and therefore your interests, preferences, and even make assumptions about your personality.
The future of advertising is all about customizing the message. It is all about identifying each one of us as a consumer - a potential customer - and showing us products or services at the right time.
Regardless of your company size, you can take advantage of these smart digital marketing tools to get your message in front of the right people. This is the future of advertising, and it’s an opportunity to take advantage of a technology in advertising that provides quality lead generation.
Over 124 million people watched the U.S. presidential debate on YouTube last November in comparison to only 63 million viewers on TV. YouTube enabled people around the World to watch that historic debate.
While there are many ad-free video streaming services like Netflix and HBO, they require you to pay for the membership. YouTube does not require a paid subscription, but you will have to watch some commercial clips. People who have “channels” on YouTube (think web television station) make money by signing up for Google AdSense, a program that allows them to sell ad space on their site.
Quite a few people make money from this program. Some of the ads on AdSense sites are video ads. On YouTube, you’ve probably watched a short commercial clip before your intended video plays, as an example. Some research suggests the video ad market has become a $5 billion industry, and video streaming now accounts for 2/3 of our internet traffic.
Video messages can be very powerful if done right. Much of the younger generation does not tolerate long video ads - they are more likely to focus in on shorter clips, probably 15 seconds or less. So, if you have the right message in a short video ad, your message will come through loud and clear.
You can hire someone to create professional video ads, or if you’re savvy enough with your phone, you can record your own video ad. Whatever the means you choose to get your message out there, make sure it is consistent with what your brand represents.
In AdWords, Google charges you a cost-per-view (CPV) bid price for video ads. Then Google rates your ad’s “quality score,” how relevant your ad is to its intended audience, to figure out the “ad rank.” Your ad rank is how often your ad will show next to your competitor ads. Sounds complicated, right? Basically, it’s Google’s algorithm which determines the most quality, relevant ads that will get viewed or clicked on the most.
If you aren’t ready to commit to paid video ads, you can take baby steps into video marketing by making short video clips for your Facebook page, recording short Live feed videos, or uploading clips to YouTube. That’s a good way to get a feel for what kind of videos attract more attention than others. After all, even if you win a good video ad spot on Google AdWords, if your video is not appealing to the masses, your money is wasted.
Photo Credit: consumerist.com
I assume you have a smart phone with some mobile apps installed on it. If you have not yet made the leap to smart phone technology such as the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, I suggest you start there before trying to understand this next bit of information.
Many apps you can download are free. So how do they make money? The answer is simple: by selling ad space. If you’ve ever downloaded a free game or photo editing app onto your phone, you’ve probably had to watch pop up ads between games or before saving a photo. You might have seen small banner ads at the bottom of your screen inside the app. These are called “mobile ads.”
There are over 2.1 billion people globally using smart phones today, and around 200 million in the U.S. alone. According to wikipedia.org, it is “estimated that mobile app install ads accounted for 30% of all mobile advertising revenue in 2014, and will top $4.6 billion in 2015, and over $6.8 billion by the end of 2019.”
With mobile apps becoming more and more prevalent in our daily lives, allowing us to get news, watch videos, play games and even work on the go, often people don’t have a need to open their computer browsers at all. These apps then become more crucial touch points with consumers.
When you’re setting up a promotion on Facebook, you can view how your mobile ad will look compared to your desktop ad. Make sure you do so in order to see how your graphic and text will look when it’s condensed for mobile viewing. Google has a very specific category for mobile ads as well as specific search results pages within smart phone browsers. These ads will appear on Google search, Google Play, YouTube, Google’s display network of mobile sites, and within other mobile apps.
Mobile ads offer another great option for promoting your business as more people go mobile and engage in mobile apps all day long. But don’t get involved in mobile advertising just because it’s cool. Do it if it fits well within your strategy to meet your online advertising goals and you know it will help you reach your target audience.
According to research, 1.86 billion active users are on Facebook. In other words, 1 out of 4 people on the planet has a Facebook account! On average, people spend 20 minutes a day on Facebook. No wonder Facebook is gaining ground as a platform for online advertising. Its ad revenue must be growing at a soaring rate.
I have to be honest, by the time this blog post is published, Facebook may have a totally different interface. They are constantly putting energy into building a very competitive and effective advertising platform for business. They update and upgrade their system frequently, so I will simply cover some basics instead of giving step-by-step instruction on how to set up your ad campaign.
Here are some ad promotions you can set up on Facebook:
1) Promote your Call Now button
2) Get more Website Visitors
3) Promote your Business
4) Promote your Page
5) Boost your Timeline Post
With each promotion, you can choose your “call to action” button such as book now, sign up, send message, learn more, call now and so on. This is a great opportunity for you to set goals and measure the success of your ad using Facebook “insights” on your business page to help you track the data.
Once you decide on your promotion type, you can also choose your audience. Unlike Google AdWords, Facebook, thru profiling
, can provide you with very targeted audience options. The possible demographics you can customize include:
Facebook allows you to target people with specific business, hobby or lifestyle "interests" based on keywords or phrases you choose. Again by profiling, Facebook will place your ad in front of people who have clicked ads, or liked posts and pages that are relevant to the interests you chose for your ad. For example, PSPINC might run an ad on Facebook and choose keywords like "small business," "web development," and "websites" to target potential clients with these interests.
After customizing the target audience for your ad, you will set your daily budget and the duration of your campaign. When you choose the daily budget, it will also show you an estimated ad reach of how many people will see it.
Regardless of the media and method you choose, you must have goals in place and a strategy for your campaigns. Determine how you can tweak the next campaign if the last one didn’t give you the results you want. Try a new age range, new keywords, limited or broader location targeting, a more appealing graphic, or a different call to action. Test different campaigns on social media as you would on a search engine. Without being actively involved in your campaigns, tracking and adjusting as you go, you will not likely get a satisfactory return on your investment.
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