Did you know that mobile apps are expected to generate over $935 billion in revenue in 2023?
For many businesses today, a mobile app is no longer a luxury – it’s a necessity. Not only do consumers expect businesses to have an app, but studies show that businesses with an app see significant revenue increases. So how do you create mobile app development strategies that will enable your business to thrive?
At CyberMedics, we know a thing or two about mobile app development. There are several key steps involved in developing the right app development strategy. And in this article, we'll go through everything you need to know.
Ready? Let’s go.
What is a mobile app development strategy?
A mobile app development strategy is a roadmap that outlines the steps necessary to create and deploy an app. It should include objectives, features, timeline, budget, platforms, user experience (UX) goals, resources needed, and more.
By having a well-thought-out plan in place before you even begin developing your app can save you time and money – and ultimately, it can help you create a successful app that responds to your users’ needs.
Why is a mobile app development strategy important?
“What happens if I don't implement a mobile development strategy?”
If you decide to skip the step of creating a mobile app development strategy, it could have several negative consequences for your project.
For starters, you may end up wasting time and resources due to a lack of planning. Without a plan, it can be difficult to determine what features are most important or ensure all stakeholders understand their roles and responsibilities.
Additionally, without a strategy, it can be difficult to determine the timeline, budget, and other key components of the project.
You may find that the app doesn’t even meet the needs of your users. Without a mobile app development strategy in place, it can be all too easy to develop an app with features that aren’t actually useful.
The bottom line is that a mobile app development strategy is key to the success of your project, so it’s important to take the time to create one!
Do the market research & conduct a SWOT Analysis
Yes, we're giving it to you straight and telling you to do what 99% of developers don't want to do. Market research and a SWOT analysis are two of the most important steps in developing a winning mobile application development strategy.
For example, identifying the target market, validating assumptions, and thorough planning was foundational for us at CyberMedics to establish a Minimum Viable Product for Thumbs Up, an Organic Marketing Platform that allows users to share their new car purchase with their social network.
Market research involves researching your target market to better understand their needs, behaviors, and preferences. This information can be used to develop features that appeal to them and create an engaging user experience (UX). You can do things like:
Surveys (pro tip: give participants an incentive like discounts, coupons or even a free product)
Listen to what they're saying on social media (reddit, quora, & twitter are great platforms to connect and engage with relevant communities for some raw, no-BS opinions and insights)
Collect and study data on your market, consumer base, or product from trustworthy sources (e.g., Statista, Data.ai, Google Trends)
Analyze your competitors (see what they're doing right, what their weaknesses are and how you can make your app better than theirs)
On the other hand, a SWOT analysis is a tool that helps mobile app developers identify and understand the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats during the mobile application development process. This will give you an indication of what users want and need, what you should include or exclude from your app, where your competitive advantage lies, and what potential pitfalls you may face.
Here's what each of the letters in SWOT mean:
Strengths: What are the advantages you have over your competitors? Define the key benefits that your app will deliver to its ideal users.
Weaknesses: What software challenges, limitations, or hurdles do you face in building this app? What problems or drawbacks exist in your app, business model, or market share that limit your ability to succeed? These could be areas that your competitors may have an advantage in, or areas where you may be lacking.
Opportunities: Look at the external trends and market needs that your app can satisfy. Are there any current issues that can be addressed with a mobile solution? Are there any untapped markets, partnerships, technologies, or other opportunities that can be leveraged for success?
Threats: What are the risks that could hurt your project? Are there any competitors or other market forces that may challenge you in terms of pricing, product innovation, or customer service?
Understanding where you stand and what your objectives are will help shape the design and development of your app. Once you’ve identified the user problems you want to solve and the value props you want to offer, it’s time to start developing your app!
Ask: What are my main value props?
Identifying your main value props and market research go hand-in-hand. Before you begin developing your app, it’s important to take the time to understand what sets your app apart from other apps. What value will it provide to users? Why should they download and use your app?
First, you want to determine the primary goal. At its core, users should think: "I go to this app for one reason." Plain and simple. No ambiguity. You go to Amazon to shop. Uber to get a ride. TikTok for a break. But they all have many features and benefits that contribute to that sole purpose.
In the case of the Starbucks app, its goal is to drive foot traffic to their locations and increase orders. They do this by:
Making it easier for customers to browse menus
Letting people place orders ahead of time with a few clicks (so the order is ready when they arrive to pick it up)
Automating payments (skip sifting for cash or credit cards)
Integrating a rewards program for frequent customers to monitor and redeem
Enabling notifications of sweet deals and discounts
All through individual smartphones. A very minimal effort experience.
Like Starbucks, once you have a clear understanding of what your app should do, you can begin to brainstorm the primary app use cases that will help achieve your primary goal – these should be very customer-centric and SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound), making it great for user engagement and usability.
What will your one-liner be? And what are the features that support it?
Map out your user journey and define how you'll measure success
Before cracking your knuckles and starting to code, it's important to think through the user journey – so you know what to implement and where. What are the steps users will take on their way to achieving your primary goal?
Map out every stage of your app’s evolution – from onboarding and sign-up (or authentication), navigating through content, taking an action, and ultimately achieving success (which can mean different things for different apps – from making a purchase, completing a task, or returning to the app a set number of times). Put it all on a drawing board, plan, and test in order to optimize user experience.
Additionally, you'll need to establish the metrics and indicators that will prove success (or failure) for the app. We call them key performance indicators (KPIs). By establishing KPIs, you will be able to measure progress and make informed decisions about how your app's design and development should move forward.
Some general KPIs to think about include downloads, active users, session lengths, user retention rates and user engagement. But you can get more specific and ask:
How often is my app used (times per day, times per week)?
What's the rate of people downloading but not registering?
What's the average number of app visits before, say, a purchase?
When do people abandon my app?
How much churn does my app have (people who don't use it for a long time)?
For example, the Starbucks app has a primary goal of driving foot traffic to their locations and increasing orders. Their KPIs are things like customer retention rate, average order value, and number of visits per user - all of which can be tracked in-app or via analytics platforms such as Google Analytics or Mixpanel.
Now that you have a better understanding of the external environment surrounding your app, the value props you'll offer, the user journey, and KPIs for measuring success – it is time to start designing and developing your mobile app. After all, the best plans are rendered useless if they don't get executed properly.
Decide how your mobile app will be developed: Native, Cross-platform, or Web?
Choosing the right mobile app development approach can provide clarity on the development process (e.g., budget, timeline, resources), shorten your app development time, potentially reduce the cost of app development, and make your app more secure.
We’ve outlined your options below with some pros and cons so you can make a decision that’s right for your company.
Native apps are developed for a specific OS platform, either Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android. They're the most secure, deliver a high level of performance, and are typically more interactive and intuitive, since they are designed to work with the underlying OS.
But, they are specific to the OS they’re built for, and thus require separate versions of the same app to be developed for each platform (more time-consuming and resource-intensive).
Programming languages you'll likely be working with:
Examples of native apps: Twitter, Instagram, Google Maps
Cross-platform apps are ones that are compatible with multiple platforms and mobile devices, such as iOS, Android, and Windows. Cross-platform apps offer higher demographic coverage and are usually cheaper and faster to develop (and easier to maintain), since there's one source code to work with.
Programming languages and frameworks you'll likely be working with:
Examples of cross-platform apps: Uber, Instagram
Web apps are browser-based apps that don’t require a download. They are typically simpler and even cheaper to develop and manage than native or cross-platform apps and are usually accessible on any device.
Programming languages you'll likely be working with:
Examples of web apps: Airbnb, Slack, Netflix, Google docs
Anticipating your budget & timeline
Once you’ve done all the market research, defined your unique value proposition, mapped out the user journey, and created a system to track usage, it’s time to start thinking about your app development budget and timeline.
The good news is since you've got all the research out of the way, it's easier to anticipate how much money and time you'll need to bring your app idea to life.
The cost of developing a mobile app will depend on:
The type of apps you are creating, the complexity of features, design elements, and the platform you are choosing.
The length of the development process: The longer it takes to develop your app, the more it will cost. This includes factors such as the length of the development process, any delays or setbacks, and the need for additional development or testing.
The number of people involved in the development: including developers, designers, UX/UI experts, and QA testers. You could also opt to hire an experienced team of developers who already have frameworks and professionals in place.
When it comes to timeline, here’s a rough estimate of how long different stages of the mobile app development process take:
Idea and concept development – The market research and detailed project planning can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the complexity of the app and the amount of research and planning involved (e.g., interviews and focus groups may take longer than, say, surveys and secondary data collection).
Designing & Developing – Creating wireframes, mockups, and prototypes to visualize the look and feel of your app could take another 1-2 months. And then writing the code and implementing the various features and functions could take another few months to a year, depending on the complexity of the app and the size of your team.
Testing & Quality Assurance – Testing the app to ensure that it functions properly and meets the required standards for quality can take anywhere between 2-3 weeks.
Launching & Maintenance – This stage can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the app store's review process and any issues that may arise during the launch process.
As you can imagine, the budget and timeline is a very case-dependent thing based on complexity and the size of your team. But now you're aware of what to consider and have a rough ballpark in mind.
Start thinking about how you will monetize the app
The last step in creating the right app development strategy is to figure out how you will monetize the app. How you do this will mostly depend on your company and the app itself. But here are some monetization models that you may want to consider:
Pay per download – Users pay for your app before downloading it. This is the simplest way to monetize and offers a low barrier to entry, but make sure your benefits and incentives are strong – because that's all users have to convince them to purchase.
Ad revenue – You can also monetize your app by incorporating ads into the user experience, as long as you don’t disrupt their journey.
In-app purchases – In-app purchases that are related to the app’s features can help bring in revenue. This could include anything from additional levels in a game to virtual goods or membership subscriptions.
Freemium features (use to upsell) – You can offer basic features for free and then offer premium features that users need to pay for.
Subscriptions – This is similar to in-app purchases but with a recurring element. Offer users the option to pay for access to specific features on a monthly or yearly basis.
Remember these pro tips for your mobile app strategy
When you've been in the game for as long as we have at CyberMedics, you start picking up pro tips and tricks. Here are some of our most important mobile app strategy tips that we want you to walk away with.
Bear these in mind as you develop your mobile app strategy:
Always create an MVP and test: Don't try to build a fully functional and feature-rich app at once. Start with an MVP (minimum viable product) and test it out on a small group of users to get feedback. Once you know what works and what doesn’t, you can iterate and improve your mobile app design based on user feedback.
Always be ready for a pivot: While a mobile app strategy is critical to your success, the surefire way to have it all crash and burn is to stick to it blindly. Be ready and willing to pivot if things don’t go according to plan (e.g., you didn't receive the feedback you were expecting from the MVP) or if market conditions change.
Choose a development framework: Make sure to pick an appropriate development framework that is well-suited for your particular mobile app strategy to save time. You don't want to use a cross-platform framework for a native app and vice-versa.
Leverage cloud technology: Compared to traditional desktop-based tools, cloud-based development platforms offer better scalability, faster updates, and reduced maintenance costs.
Don't sleep on data security: This will partly depend on how you decide to build your app (native, cross, or web), but data security is still a major concern for mobile app users everywhere, so make sure you build your app with robust data encryption and authentication measures. We recommend using token-based authentication and SSL encryption.
Don't forget a marketing strategy: A great mobile app strategy is nothing without a solid marketing plan. Make sure to think through and define the channels you’ll use to get your app in front of users. From branding & PR to pre-launch promotions, outreach, and post-launch campaigns, create a comprehensive plan for getting your users excited about your app.
Need help with your mobile app development strategy?
Building a mobile app development strategy can seem daunting, but if you follow the tips and advice in this article, you'll be on your way to creating a successful app.
Keep in mind that having a great product is only part of the equation – you also need to have a well-thought-out marketing plan to get your app in front of users.
If you're stuck or need help getting started, our team at CyberMedics can help you strategize, craft, and implement mobile application development strategies that give you an edge in the market.