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Apps, marketing, Photography

Mobile App Development Trends in 2019

When the first smartphone was launched for the general public in 1994, nobody could have predicted how integral a part of our life it will become. Currently we have 2.1 billion mobile users and in 2019, the number is expected to cross the 5 billion mark according to a report by Statista.

Smartphones combined with fast Internet access means that people are spending more time online as compared to say 5 to 10 years ago. Many studies have been undertaken to understand the way people use the smartphone and how much. Studies have revealed that an average Briton checks his/her mobile phone every 12 minutes and an average American adult spends almost 2.5 hours a day on smartphones.

Another statistic to be noted before moving ahead is that according to comScore Future Digital Report 2018, 80-90% of mobile time is spent on mobile apps rather than websites. This leads us to believe that mobiles, or rather smartphones have an ecosystem of their own, separate from computers and laptops. So, mobile app development has become an effective way of reaching uses/ target audience.

With the year coming to an end, mobile app developers are racking their brains to identify the trends in mobile app development that they must stay abreast of to maximize their output in the next year. Here we will look at some mobile app development trends 2019 that we can expect to dominate:

1) Customized mobile apps

Even though websites are designed to be responsive and mobile friendly, apps provide a more intuitive way of browsing. This means that not just the services companies but those involved in sharing of information are also developing, or getting developed, mobile apps to provide a better user experience. Customized mobile apps have been gaining traction in the past few years. In 2019 the trend is going to be stronger.

It is not just the biggies like Amazon, Alibaba and Flipkart who want to increase user experience and hence sales through their own mobile applications. Now even the smaller players including the local businesses want to have their own apps created according to their requirement. So, besides the traditional industries like healthcare, insurance, fitness,e-commerce and fintech, businesses as varied as food delivery, organic products, laundry services, plumbing, bespoke tailoring, handbags and accessories designing, etc. will want their own mobile apps suited specially to their niche customers.

As someone interested in developing mobile apps, you must be prepared to come up with customised on-demand mobile applications. In fact, this could be an easy way to generate revenue as you tap newer markets.

2) M-commerce

It is said that money makes the world go around.  If you are a mobile app developer, you must take this saying to your heart and focus on apps around m-commerce. According to 451 research, the number of m-commerce transactions will surpass the number of E-Commerce transactions in 2019. Also, online payments through mobile contactless methods is increasing at a CAGR of 30%, where the leading players are Google pay and Apple pay apps.

These facts and figures show that m-commerce is going to be a guiding force in both Android app development and Apple app development environments.

3) Mobile payment methods

Mobile Payment Methods

When you talk about M commerce, in a payment cannot be far behind. as people get more comfortable and confident in making online payment, mobile application must integrate multiple payment gateways. Any successful mobile app must have at least three or four methods of making payment like credit or debit cards, mobile wallets, gift cards, etc. with many European countries set to regulate cryptocurrencies by 2020, you could even look at including cryptocurrency payments methods as well. After all, with so many players in the mobile industry, this could make you stand out easily.

4) Wearable Apps

Wearable Mobile Apps

According to CCS Insights latest forecast, the number of wearable devices is set to triple from from 84 million units in 2015 to 245 million units in 2019. In monetary terms, the wearable industry will be worth USD33 billion by the end of 2019. With so much demand of wearable gadgets, be it smart watches, fitness trackers or wearable headsets, the wearable apps industry is set to boom as well.

Currently, all wearable gadgets are synchronized to the smartphones. So, the two must have apps that are paired with each other. With the number of players in mobile development industry growing by the minute, wearable apps provide a new market. Although currently smartwatches and fitness gadgets are the most popular ones in wearables, other devices are predicted to catch up soon.

5) AR and VR

Over the past few years Augmented reality has revolutionized app development in entertainment and gaming industry. In 2019 AR is expected to transform app development trends in various fields like health, engineering, real estate, retail, etc.   For example, an Interior Designer can launch her own mobile application that asks the potential customer only to upload images or videos of property they want to upgrade. Using augmented reality, the app can then give the customer a preview of the property based on their specifications. This is win situation for both the designer and customer. the designer is saved the headache of convincing the customer about the appropriateness of their selection.  At the same time the customer can see whether their choices actually translate into what they had Wanted to start with.

Like AR, virtual reality is another mobile application trend that will be hot in 2019. Traditionally, virtual reality has been used for simulation of scenarios that are difficult as well as expensive to create. for example, human body simulation for medical students, space simulation for astronauts, etc.  however, VR has caught the fancy of businesses, as it can help them to recreate how a certain product would look on their customers. So, you have applications that can show how a dress or jewelleries or spectacles would look on you before you actually purchase them. Of course, as people prefer being online through their mobiles, businesses need to have their own mobile applications to provide this experience to their customers.

6) Artificial Intelligence

According to Gartner, artificial intelligence will not attract more investment as compared to 2018 but its usage across platforms will increase drastically. What is common between Siri, Cortana, Alexa and Google assistant? They are applications that make our life much easier by taking over everyday tasks like reading, writing and sending messages, switching camera and microphone on and off, searching internet for information, setting reminders, etc. through their artificial intelligence capabilities.

As businesses see the popularity of these virtual assistants, they want similar mobile applications in the form of chatbots and personal assistant. As a developer you cannot ignore this latest app trend and hence you must gear up to develop such applications in the coming year.

7) Cloud integration

Every professional is using or has used Dropbox, Evernote, Google notes at some point of time. These applications hosted on cloud enable them to access their personal as well as professional data anytime from anywhere. When these apps were launched there were many issues around their security and privacy. One cannot claim that these issues has been resolved completely but they are much more in control. So, their use has increased manifold. These changes have had an impact on mobile industry as well.

One of the hottest trends in mobile application development in 2019 is going to be cloud integration for mobile applications. This will ensure a seamless experience for the users. It makes even more sense for organisations involved in training people as the trainees can access material from anywhere in their own time. With more and more businesses struggling to engage people, cloud integration of mobile applications will take a jump in 2019.

8) App security

Some thoughts that cross the users’ mind while installing Apps on their smartphones include:

  • Does the app Keep my private data secure?
  • Is it possible that someone can hack into my data stored in the app?
  • How much data does the app need?
  • Is the app a resource hog, which will slow down my phone?
  • Can my data be misused?

Mobile app development companies need to address these concerns if they wish to succeed.  As the Gartner report points, the discussion on security has moved from being compliant to doing the right thing in 2019. mobile apps that convince the users that you have taken care of their security can only succeed.

9) Internet of Things

Internet of Things App Trends

As you probably know, a network of interconnected smart devices is known as Internet of Things (IoT). We have just now discussed how smartphones need to be connected to wearable devices. However, IoT involves lots of other smart devices that have special circuits, sensors and software built into them. These software are nothing but apps that can be developed by any mobile app developer.

Global IoT market has been growing at a CAGR of 28.5% since 2016 and will reach USD457 billion by 2020, as per GrowthEnabler IoT report. Real time supply chain, smart homes and smart healthcare are no more stuff of science fiction but reality. With increase in IoT devices and networks, the demand for feature rich apps is also bound to increase.

Conclusion

As we get ready to welcome the new year, mobile application development industry can look forward to really exciting times, as evident from the trends list that we have discussed just now. Whether you are a single person or an organization developing mobile applications, you need to be ready to embrace these trends wholeheartedly if you have already not started on that path. Mobile applications that imbibe one or more of these trends will taste success. Get in contact with us today to turn your ideas into 

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Apps

At Abovav, we ring in each new year with predictions. Whether we hit or miss, we have a lot of fun thinking through challenges and opportunities that platforms face. 2019 is shaping up to be an interesting year (or distressing, depending on your point of view) in terms of politics and economics – a year which defies prediction. That only made this exercise all the more fun. Here’s our 5 platform predictions for 2019.

Lots of Really Big IPOs

In December both Uber and Lyft raced to file paperwork, within days of each other, for IPOs in 2019. Remarkably, they’re not the only household name platforms eyeing IPOs in 2019. AirBNB, Pinterest, Slack, and Postmates are also preparing for 2019 IPOs. We don’t expect that to be the final list either. Rumor has it that InstaCart and big data platform Palantir are weighing their IPO options as well.

If market analysts are right about a looming multi-year recession, then it would make sense for big platform companies to get ahead of the slump. Any platforms who were eyeing IPOs in 2020 may speed up their timeline and go public in 2019 before the recession has really depressed the stock market.

Bonus prediction: Your word-of-the-year will be decacorn: a unicorn that reaches a $10bn valuation.

Still no mainstream application of blockchain

Last year, we predicted there would be no mainstream application of blockchain in 2018. We expect this non-trend to continue in 2019. Like we said last year, blockchain technology’s applications are over hyped. It’s a promising technology that’s still working through its challenges.

However, blockchain’s best known application, Bitcoin, is poised to have a strong comeback in 2019 after an abysmal 2018. Bitcoin ended the year at less than half the price it held in January. However, the cryptocurrency made important strides throughout the year, such as lowering its high transaction fees and improving its public profile.

In November, Ohio became the first state to allow residents to pay taxes in bitcoin. While the SEC rejected proposals for Bitcoin ETFs, two US lawmakers have proposed to exempt cryptocurrencies from US securities laws (politically controversial, but uncontroversially good news for Bitcoin). NASDAQ is also planning to list Bitcoin futures in 2019. Thus, we expect Bitcoin to have a good year, even if blockchain technology as a whole doesn’t expand to any other part of our lives.

Platform regulation will become a major electoral issue

Google, Amazon, and, of course, Facebook have been embroiled in scandals and controversy this year. While the scandals range from sexual harassment (Google) to employee maltreatment (Amazon) to covering up election meddling by a foreign power (Facebook), one type of scandal was common to all three platform companies: data security and misuse.

Security breaches have exposed sensitive user data to would-be thieves. Often modern monopolies are slow to report the breaches in an effort to avoid a PR firestorm. As we wrote in October, in hiding security breaches, companies like Google make the need for platform regulation clear. Exacerbating the issue, big tech does a poor job of highlighting which measures have been taken to bolster data security. We expect the issue to be relevant as 2020 electoral candidates begin to jockey for position.

However, even more salient is the issue of fake news. In 2018, content platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and search engine monopoly Google were called before the US Congress to answer questions centered around the issue of misinformation and propaganda. Across the pond, the EU Parliament also grilled Mark Zuckerberg about Facebook’s role in selling user data to political advertisers and propagandists. We would be shocked if platform-spread fake news did not become a heated political issue during the 2020 campaign, with the rhetoric taking shape in 2019.

Netflix is going to get beat up

Although Netflix beat earnings expectations in 2018, the year was a bad one for the company. In July, Disney bought 21st Century Fox, thereby expanding its rights to major TV shows like American Horror Story and The Simpsons, and completing its Marvel collection with X-Men and Deadpool – oh, and it now also owns the Star Wars franchise. And it also now owns Netflix-competitor Hulu, which it can pump with all this new Disney content. Or perhaps all that content will go to Disney’s own subscription streaming service, Disney+, set to launch in 2019. This short list of Disney’s gains is only the tip of the iceberg.

And Netflix’s nightmare doesn’t end there.  The month before, in June, AT&T bought Time Warner.  Time Warner owns popular content brands including TBS, CNN, and HBO, as well as Warner Bros. After the acquisition AT&T could market Time Warner’s content either through cable companies, or, more lucratively, directly to consumers through its own streaming service, also set to launch in 2019. AT&T would also be able to collect viewer data and build a digital advertising arm to compete with major rivals like Facebook and Google. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, Netflix began to, controversially, test ads in 2018.)

In 2018, Netflix responded to the coming storm by pumping out more and more original content, hoping that some of it will reach the cultural significance of Star Wars, Marvel, or HBO shows like Game of Thrones. If it can’t (and it likely won’t in 2019 despite some excellent shows and successes), expect consumers to switch from Netflix to Disney+ or AT&T.

One caveat, on the AT&T/Time Warner acquisition: the Justice Department has since appealed the acquisition, but the appeal is unlikely to reverse the acquisition.  

2019 will be the year of the B2B platform

The majority of platform companies focus on B2C services and products such as product marketplaces, ride-sharing apps, financial service apps, and more. While many B2B marketplaces and service platforms exist, few have reached the status of modern monopoly. In terms of big name brands, Salesforce is the best known B2B platform.

We expect that to change in 2019. While Salesforce will continue to grow its suite of products and services (a combination of linear and platform) for business, other players will emerge in B2B as well. For example, we expect Palantir, a data analytics platform founded by Paypal founder Peter Thiel, and Convoy, a logistics platform (and potential IPO darling in 2019 or 2020) to have a strong 2019s and further B2B platform services.  

But it isn’t just tech companies that will push the platform business model on B2B. We expect traditional B2B distributors to launch a B2B marketplace of their own. At private dinners and meetings, the industry-backed marketplace has been discussed, and we expect B2B distributors to at least test the marketplace in 2019 – and hopefully, launch it.

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Apps, video

Retail is a multi-trillion-dollar industry that can bring businesses huge profits. The competition, however, is fierce, so retailers all over the world are straining every nerve to attract buyers and increase sales.

To stay afloat and grow, modern retail businesses launch stellar marketing campaigns, use deep data analysis to better reach out to audiences, and provide helpful customer support. All of these methods are crucial, but there’s one more thing retailers need to succeed − technological innovations.

In this article, we draw your attention to augmented reality (AR) − an innovative technology that’s taken the world by storm in the past few years. Let’s find out how AR can help your retail business and why using AR gives you a competitive advantage you shouldn’t miss out on.

How augmented reality can drive your retail business

What’s the biggest challenge for both traditional and online retailers? Making sure customers are happy.

This seemingly simple recipe for success is hard to cook, though. You need to not only excite your customers but also provide a pleasant customer experience in every interaction. It can be hard to do this without using modern technologies such as augmented reality.

With all the buzz around augmented reality, you’re probably familiar with it. If you aren’t, though, let’s define what it is: AR is a reality technology that overlays virtual objects on a user’s view of the real world. Users can experience AR with their smartphones or tablets, so this technology is easily accessible to hundreds of millions of potential customers worldwide.

Infographic AR in Retail

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a conventional or online retailer – there are plenty of ways augmented reality can help you enhance the customer experience to boost sales and increase profits. We’ve made a list of the most promising real-life applications of augmented reality in retail:

#1 Provide try-and-buy experiences

The core of AR technology is merging virtual objects with the real world, which means you can provide try-and-buy experiences for your shoppers. Customers can virtually try on clothing and footwear, preview products they want to buy (such as furniture and electronics), and so forth.

Moreover, AR allows your customers not only to try on products but to personalize them as well − they can configure items to match their preferences and make better purchasing decisions. This not only enhances the shopping experience but also minimizes the risk of returns (which are unpleasant for any retailer). This is particularly valuable for ecommerce, as online shoppers can’t try products but can only check out images and videos.

You can use advanced analytical tools to monitor your customers’ preferences and provide personalized product offers, thus increasing the probability of purchases. According to recent research by computer vision and machine learning company DigitalBridge, for 64% of consumers an ideal shopping assistant should combine augmented reality and artificial intelligence.

Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, has implemented an AR View feature in its mobile application. AR View allows customers to check whether products fit in their homes with the help of augmented reality. Users simply select a product and it’s overlaid on the camera view.

Thanks to this feature, online shoppers can better understand what a product looks like and decide whether to buy it.

Amazon’s official video introducing AR View (Source: YouTube)

L’Oréal, a renowned manufacturer of personal care products, has launched Makeup Genius, a makeup simulator based on augmented reality. Makeup Genius allows customers to select makeup products and create (and save) personalized ready-to-wear looks.

Makeup Genius turns a smartphone into a magic mirror that helps customers try on different looks without leaving home or going to a makeup artist. All they need to do is look in the front-facing smartphone camera; the app automatically scans faces and applies makeup effects with AR.

L’Oréal’s official video introducing Makeup Genius AR app (Source: YouTube)

#2 Deliver product information instantly

A modern consumer is a digital consumer: according to 2017 researchby Salsify, 77% of shoppers are using mobile devices even when shopping in traditional brick-and-mortar stores. Buyers not only chat with their friends on social networks but also use their smartphones to find product information, compare prices, and read product reviews.

Augmented reality allows you to enhance your buyers’ journey by providing instant product information. Customers can use their smartphones to scan products on shelves and receive valuable information about them instantly.

IBM, a prominent technology company with solid experience in image recognition and object detection, has developed a mobile AR application that scans shelves and delivers instant information about products. The app can filter products by ingredients, price, and so forth.

Video of IBM’s mobile AR app for delivering product information (Source: YouTube)

#3 Provide interactive entertainment

Entertainment is one of the best ways for retailers to engage with potential customers, particularly with young people. Augmented reality technology opens up incredible opportunities for retailers to increase sales through interactive experiences.

Thanks to AR, selling commonplace products becomes much easier as people get entertaining experiences along with their purchases. For example, augmented reality can turn conventional paper books into immersive and interactive AR books that are interesting to read and interact with. Augmented reality can help instill a love of reading in children and therefore enhance their academic performance.

Live Animations, an IT company that develops AR products for children, created Wonderland − an augmented reality mobile application (for both iOS and Android) for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the famous book by Lewis Carroll. After downloading and installing the AR mobile app, readers simply direct their smartphone cameras to special icons in the book and their favorite characters come to life.

Official video of the Wonderland AR application (Source: YouTube)

#4 Enhance in-store product positioning

Traditional retailers know how important product placement is. Placing the right products on the right shelves can increase purchases. Retail businesses take product placement seriously and create detailed planograms to plan in-store space. However, products are often misplaced (particularly in large department stores), resulting in financial losses for retailers.

Augmented reality provides an easy way to ensure that products are positioned on shelves in accordance with planograms. Employees can use portable devices to scan shelves and instantly check for misplaced products. Tesco, one of the world’s leading retailers, teamed up with IBM to develop an augmented reality mobile application for in-store product placement.

IBM & Tesco testing an AR mobile app (Source: YouTube)

#5 Ensure stress-free try-on experiences

Shopping for clothes can be really exhausting, as customers visit multiple stores and try on lots of items. Also, some shoppers might have privacy concerns, making trying on clothes really stressful.

As a retailer, you can benefit from augmented reality to solve these problems and provide a positive customer experience to all audiences. AR enables virtual try-ons, while modern advancements in artificial intelligence ensure that virtual clothes perfectly fit your customer’s body. Shoppers can simply select clothes they want and look at a large screen (that serves as a mirror) to see themselves wearing them. This way, augmented reality helps you provide an engaging and pleasant in-store customer experience to encourage purchases.

Cisco developed a technology that brings AR-enabled stress-free try-ons to conventional brick-and-mortar outlets. Customers can virtually try on whatever clothes they want and even customize them, selecting colors and accessories. Probably most people will still go to a changing room, but this way they can narrow down their selection first.

AR-enabled in-store try-ons by Cisco (Source: YouTube)

#6 Stimulate purchases

Being immersive and interactive, augmented reality technology helps customers create emotional connections with products. You shouldn’t underestimate the importance of emotions − according to research by consultancy Capgemini, emotionally engaged consumers are likely to spend twice as much on purchases. Augmented reality helps retailers stimulate purchase decisions and drive sales.

LEGO, a popular toy manufacturer, also uses augmented reality technology to build emotional connections with their audiences and market toys as efficiently as possible. The company created a LEGO® 3D Catalogue mobile AR application to be used in combination with the company’s paper catalog: kids can scan pages of the catalog that have a special mark to bring augmented reality experiences to life. The app allows children and parents to preview LEGO toys in 3D and decide what to buy.

Video showing how the LEGO® 3D Catalogue mobile AR app works (Source: YouTube)

#7 Facilitate in-store navigation

If you frequently shop at large department stores, you know that finding the product you want can be difficult amid dozens of similar aisles and shelves. Needless to say, brick-and-mortar retailers should make it easy for customers to find products they need so that they don’t waste time wandering around the whole store.

Augmented reality is an innovative way to provide simple and accurate in-store navigation and guide your customers. It works like this: a customer launches a mobile AR app on their smartphone or tablet, select the products they want, and the app directs them by showing digital directions on the screen. AR helps your customers save time and have a better shopping experience.

Lowe’s, a large retailer that operates lots of home improvement and appliance stores, decided to improve the shopping experience by developing a mobile AR application for in-store navigation. The app uses computer vision to detect a consumer’s position in real time and provide the shortest path to the items they’re looking for.

In-store navigation AR app developed by Lowe’s (Source: YouTube)

#8 Increase brand awareness

Brand awareness is essential for businesses: a customer’s journey down the conversion funnel starts with awareness, when they find out about your company. If potential customers can’t recognize your brand, they’ll never become loyal buyers. Businesses use a lot of different techniques to increase brand awareness, from TV commercials to podcasts to online marketing campaigns.

In the digital age, however, AR is another effective tool for enhancing brand recognition. Augmented reality helps retailers increase brand awareness and attract more potential customers. Interacting with immersive AR applications, your audiences become emotionally connected to your brand and more likely to make purchases.

LEGO uses augmented reality as an innovative and immersive way to market toys as well as a great solution to increase brand awareness. The company developed the LEGO® In-Store Action photo application to attract buyers to physical stores and promote the brand. Unlike LEGO’s AR app for the catalog, In-Store Action allows shoppers to take pictures with virtual LEGO heroes.

AR for In-Store Entertainment
LEGO® In-Store Action photo app in action (Source: Google Play)

Key benefits of augmented reality for retailers

Now that you know how augmented reality can help your retail business, be it ecommerce or traditional retail, let’s highlight the biggest benefits this technology brings.

Spanning the imagination gap

Despite the continuing rise of the global ecommerce market, online retailers face a so-called imagination gap, meaning a situation when many potential buyers don’t make purchases because they can’t visualize products. Images and videos aren’t enough; consumers want to fully understand what they’re paying for.

Augmented reality is a technological innovation that solves this problem and helps online retailers span the imagination gap. Thanks to AR, customers can have a look at products and try them on without actually seeing them. Customers are more likely to buy goods online when they know that they’re getting.

Increasing sales

To grow and gain ground, retailers need to increase sales. To meet this challenge, they use a variety of techniques such as launching marketing campaigns and offering the most competitive prices. Augmented reality is a secret weapon that can help retailers drive sales and outperform competitors. Research by DigitalBridge reveals that one in three consumers would make a purchase after previewing a product in augmented reality.

Therefore, AR technology isn’t just a hyped buzzword but an essential tool for online retailers and their brick-and-mortar counterparts.

Building a loyal customer base

What is the success of a retail business based on? A loyal customer base. And building this customer base is one of the most challenging tasks for any business.

Augmented reality enhances the customer experience and also helps retailers increase the number of loyal customers. A whopping 69% of customers aged 18 to 24 claim they would be loyal to a brand that provides augmented reality experiences, and 59% millennials expressed the same opinion (as per DigitalBridge).

Ready to revolutionize your retail business with augmented reality?

Augmented reality has huge potential in the retail industry, and if you’ve read this far, you probably have an idea for a top-notch AR app for your own business. It’s time to implement AR. The examples above show that some of the world’s largest online and offline retailers have already jumped on the AR bandwagon, and more companies are likely to follow.

Developing a helpful and engaging AR application, however, is a challenge, particularly if you have no experience in mobile and web development. If you need assistance with your mobile AR app for retail, share your idea with our team and we’ll help you get your project off the ground.

CLICK HERE TO CONTACT ONE OF OUR CONSULTANTS

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Apps, marketing, Photography, Uncategorized, video

When we think about the social media landscape, the major networks and messaging apps, where monthly active users total up in millions and billions come to mind: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat and WeChat.

The industry immediately feels out of reach for newcomers looking to break in. After all, with existing platforms offering features that address a wide-ranging array of needs, is there anything new that can be launched to entice users?

But perhaps, the opportunities now lie in niche markets.

Take Strava as an example – created as a social network for athletes, the app has garnered tens of millions of users. There’s also Swipe Labs, a social app studio that has been acqui-hired by Uber in a bid to make its app feel more human.

These startups are showing that even in the crowded social media space, it’s possible to grab a slice of the market pie.

In this article, I’ll touch on the core features that define social media apps, and share tips that have proven to be successful for startups and entrepreneurs we work with at Abovav.

Core features of social media apps:

1. Profiles

Personal profiles are a key feature for social networking apps; as seen from a 2017 study by Statistia, apps that enable users to actively promote their own accounts garner the highest popularity among users.

Therefore, app makers need to focus on developing features that enable users to set up and personalize their profiles – such as uploading a picture, adding personal details and inserting links to blogs and personal websites – quickly and effortlessly.

social media profiles

One way to do is to allow users to set up profiles through linking up with social apps that they’re currently using, so their profile information may be automatically retrieved.

Profiles are a primary means for self-expression, so it needs to feature tools that allow for personalization. These tools may range from filters and frames for profile pictures, to background pictures and colors, as well as different themes for the content or layout of the profile.

2. Feed

Memes, animated GIFs, eye-catching pictures, news updates – a constant stream of content that shows up on a newsfeed is what keeps users engaged on social media. These content typically fall into three categories:

  1. Updates: Updates are posts where users share about where they are or what they’re up to, such as including their location on an Instagram post, or checking in to Facebook Places.
  2. Expression: Popular social media apps cater to their users’ need for self-expression through the following ways: implementing features that enhance or make the user-generated content appear unique, making the process of posting up content as easy as possible and enabling users to target their posts at different audiences.
  3. Esteem: These types of content bolster the self-esteem of users and make them look good. These could be posts that show them in flattering situations – like vacation photos in an exotic destination – or content that enables users to gain rewards for their activities. For example, LinkedIn users are awarded the All-Star profile status for making improvements to their profiles, while Swarm unlocks access to stickers for users who increase their number of check-ins on the app.

3. Connection

Apart from communicating with other users, app makers need to put in place mechanisms that enable users to connect with one another. Here are five ways in which new connections can be formed:

  1. Search: The search mechanism needs to be carefully designed so as to allow users to look up real-life friends and acquaintances, as well as individuals they’re keen to connect with online. Beyond full names or usernames, parameters and filters should also be added so that users can sieve out results that are relevant to their needs.
  2. Groups: Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, Twitter lists – these are communities curated or formed to gather users with common interests and values. Creating groups can be an extra feature or the key focus of an app, as in the case of social platforms like MeetUp and Citysocializer. These group-oriented networks connect users to social groups and events within their city.
  3. Social networks: With approval from your users, connections may be obtained from other existing social networks.
  4. Suggestions: Based on information that the app has access to, recommendations can be made to connect users with similar interests, personal profiles or locations.
  5. Content: Connections are established when users interact and share content with one another. Yet, different types of users engage with content in unique ways. App makers need to understand how each type of users engage with content, so that they’ll be in a better place to design feeds that foster interaction among a diversity of users.

The following show examples of different user types, and common ways in which they interact with content:

  • Discoverers:  These users enjoy seeking out new content constantly, so multiple social media feeds that showcase a variety of content – from user-generated content, to trending news – would appeal to them.
  • Seekers: While discoverers are happy to browse through new content without any particular objective in mind, seekers are on the lookout for specific types of content. Hashtags, filters and search parameters are mechanisms that essential for these users.
  • Commentors: These individuals enjoy sharing their views, so features like status updates and comment sections are key for letting them kickstart conversations and discussions.
  • Supporters: Liking a Facebook post, favouriting a tweet, clapping for a Medium story – these individuals are keen to show their support for content that resonates with them.

4 Tips for creating a successful social media app:

1. Recognise changes in the competitive landscape, and adapt quickly

Steve Jobs’ statement, “Picasso had a saying – ‘good artists copy; great artists steal’” is one that rings true in a competitive mobile landscape.

App makers need to keep a close eye on and adapt to strategies and features implemented by key competitors.

It’s how platforms like Facebook have thrived, while other sites which once enjoyed greater popularity, such as Myspace or Friendster faded into obscurity over time.

More recently, Facebook has been duplicating popular Snapchat features through the launch of Stories and selfie filters on Instagram.

In a TechCrunch interview, Kevin Weil, VP of Product at Instagram states:

“This is the way the tech industry works, and frankly it’s how all industries work. Good ideas start in one place, and they spread across the entire industry. Kudos to Snapchat for being the first to Stories, but it’s a format and it’s going to be adopted widely across a lot of different platforms.”

2. Understand your audience, and meet them where they are at

Social media apps and sites that have failed often committed one of the following mistakes: they changed something that was already working well, or made users perform additional actions to engage with their site when there was a simpler alternative.

social media feed

MySpace’s customised profiles created an exasperating user experience – they were often slow to load, difficult to read and had tacky designs. And Ping had made it mandatory for users to recreate social networks on its site, instead of integration with existing networks.

The key lies in making it effortless and convenient for users to use your app.

It’s one of the reasons why Facebook has retained its popularity – the app has created a framework where users can perform a variety of actions without closing the app. For example, its adoption of widely used features on Snapchat means that users will have little reason to switch between different social media apps.

3. Cater to a specific niche

While networks like Facebook offer myriad features and ways to connect, its wide-ranging appeal can make users feel a little lost.

Here’s where niche social apps can step in by offering users to connect with a smaller, select group of individuals who share similar interests, professions, and aspirations.

An example is Infield Chatter, a social media app launched this year by the Major League Baseball (MLB).

Although baseball fans may easily connect through Facebook groups or pages, the app fills in the gaps in areas where platforms like Twitter or Facebook don’t: it offers an alternative for individuals who gather online just to talk about baseball, and creates a safe space for MLB players and fans to interact with having a team in place that browses and regulates the site.

4. Stay ahead of social media trends

When conceptualizing your app, it pays to stay ahead of emerging trends and to understand how individual users, as well as brands and marketers, are impacted by these trends.

“What are features and trends are popular among users today? How are brands utilizing these features? How will these trends impact upon the broader social media landscape?” are examples of key questions that you’ll need to consider.

I’ve outlined three prevalent social media trends below:

Messaging is transforming social media

In an article on the Buffer Blog, content crafter Ash Read points out that the rising popularity of messaging apps and bots are creating fundamental changes in the way we use social media.

A quick overview of user statistics supports this point: according to The Economist, many teenagers now spend more time on smartphones sending out instant messages rather than browsing social networks, and WhatsApp users spend about 200 minutes weekly on the app.

A RadiumOne study indicates that 70 percent of all online referrals come from dark social – a term that refers to social sharing that can’t be accurately measured, such as when individuals share content through private channels like email, private groups messaging apps.

how to build a social media app

As social activity increasingly takes place in these channels, users may shy away from making public posts to news feeds – which has traditionally been the focal point for interaction and discovery among users.

This poses an important question for social media app makers: What will social media mean, and will it someday refer to a completely different form of interaction altogether?

Rising popularity of ephemeral content

First popularised by Snapchat, ephemeral content refers to impermanent content or messaging that lasts for a limited period of time.

Its surge in popularity has given brands and marketers cause to implement strategies for ephemeral content marketing, and come up with new content ideas. These may range from behind-the-scenes features, to how-to videos and contests or giveaways.

Live video streaming is trending

live streaming

The live streaming landscape may be young, but it has already seen a surge in live streaming apps and usage.

In 2016, live video streaming app Periscope reported that its users made over 200 million broadcasts, and watched more than 110 years of live video daily.

And on New Year’s Eve, Facebook Live saw record-breaking numbers of users who broadcasted videos of their new year celebrations all across the world.

Increasingly, brands and marketers are incorporating live streaming as a key part of their social media marketing strategies.

It’s often used to share events with followers who weren’t able to attend, conduct product demonstrations, broadcast panel discussions or interviews and offer behind-the-scenes looks.

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Apps, marketing, Photography, Uncategorized, video

As Peter Drucker, “the founder of modern management”, once famously said, “what gets measured gets improved”. It’s very easy for startups creating, marketing, and selling digital apps to confuse essential metrics—i.e., those that are evidence-based and actionable—from erroneous stats—i.e., “vanity metrics” that do little other than boost ego. Why does this matter? Because measuring the right mobile app metrics is crucial to understanding not only what your company is doing well but also what you need to change; collecting the wrong data (or the right data in the wrong way) can mean the death of your startup. In this article I’ll discuss 5 app marketing metrics that all startups operating in the mobile space should track.

Before we begin discussing mobile-specific metrics, it’s important to note that there are a number of financial metrics that all startups should measure, regardless of whether they create apps or not.

These core mobile metrics include:

  • Fixed vs. variable costs;
  • Cash balance;
  • Burn rate;
  • Breakeven analysis and breakeven point;
  • Profit; and
  • Cash flow and cash flow forecasting.


1. ARPU and LTV 

mobile marketing metrics

Building on Steve Blank’s definition of a startup, when organizations implement “repeatable and scalable business model[s]” they gain the capacity to market and sell with efficiency, which promotes growth.

The Lifetime Value of a Customer (LTV) is one of the key metrics according to which this efficiency is measured.

In a very broad way, the LTV represents the financial value of your app insofar as it signifies how much each app user (i.e., customer) is worth to your company across the span of his or her lifetime usage.

Josiah Humphrey at Appster recently provided a more specific description of LTV:

 “[LTV is the] projected revenue that a customer is expected to generate during his/her lifetime. In the simplest of cases, [it’s] calculated by multiplying the yearly cost of your service by the number of years for which a person is expected to remain a customer of your company. Example: if your service costs $100 per year and your average customer stays 5 years then your LTV is $500”.

Early-Stage startups might have difficulty trying to estimate their LTVs if they lack concrete data. 

In that case, one way to roughly gauge LTV would be to locate similar companies in your industry for an idea of what a comparable LTV might look like.

The general consensus amongst many venture capitalists and entrepreneurs is that profitable businesses operate with LTVs that are at least 3x higher than their customer acquisition costs (CACs): 

mobile metrics

The Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) is a slightly different metric, one that correlates to the purchases and overall spending habits of your customers.

Investopedia defines ARPU as:

 “[A] measure of the revenue generated per user or unit. Average revenue per unit allows for the analysis of a company’s revenue generation and growth at the per-unit level, which can help investors to identify which products are high or low revenue-generators. … Companies may also use this information to determine which product lines are lagging”.

In general, you want to drive both LTV and ARPU as high as possible whilst growing your user base. 

2. CPI and CPLU

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Cost Per Install (CPI), as the name suggests, is a measure of the amount of money your company spends in order to acquire one user who installs your app.

 Tubemogul.com describes CPI from the perspective of digital ads:

“CPI (Cost Per Install) campaigns are specific to mobile applications. In a cost-per-install campaign, publishers place digital ads across a range of media in an effort to drive installation of the advertised application. The brand is charged a fixed or bid rate only when the application is installed”.

CPI, thus, tracks paid installs rather than “organic” installs (source ).

As Alberto Furlan points out, CPI is calculated according to the following formula:

Expenditure on ads ÷ total installs = cost per install

Example: $5,000 (ads) ÷ 1500 (installs) = $3 CPI

Cost Per Loyal User (CPLU) is a measure of the cost of acquiring a “loyal” or “active” user, typically defined as somebody who opens an app at least 3 times within a specified timeframe (12).

Arguably, CPLU is the more meaningful of the two metrics because it reflects how much money your startup must spend in order to acquire a customer who actually uses your app versus one who merely installs your app.

When analyzed in conjunction with your ARPU, your CPLU can help you to calculate:

  1. The return on investment (ROI) for your marketing efforts; and
  2. Your breakeven point, i.e., is the point at which your revenues (the amount of money you’re bringing in from sales) exactly match your expenses (the amounts of your fixed and variable costs). This is important because the point beyond your breakeven point is where you begin to accumulate profits (see here). 

The most recent data from Fiksu DSP, a mobile marketing technology company, show that:

  • The global CPLU average in the mobile space is $2.51 (April 2016);
  • The global CPI average for iOS is $1.88 (January 2016)
  • The global CPI average for Android is $2.42 (January 2016)

Screen Shot 2017-08-16 at 11.24.35 AM

(image source)

3. User Retention

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Today, 5 million apps are available for download on Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store.

However, nearly 85% of all smartphone usage is dedicated to 5 apps or fewer; and almost 4 out 5 users never use an app again 72 hours after first installing it.

In other words, most people use only a few apps consistently and abandon all other apps for good.

User retention, therefore, is clearly a significant problem with which all app-centred startups must deal.

Some estimates, like those discussed by Apptentive, suggest that only 4% of iOS and Android users continue using an app 12 months after first downloading it:

Retention-Problem

As my partner at Appster, Josiah Humphrey, recently noted, “the moment you successfully acquire a new customer you must start doing everything you can to retain that customer for as long into the future as possible”.

Inc.com and Molly Galetto both provide helpful definitions of customer retention:

“Customer retention refers to the percentage of customer relationships that, once established, a business is able to maintain on a long-term basis”.

“The goal of customer retention programs is to help companies retain as many customers as possible … begin[ning] with the first contact a customer has with a company and continu[ing] throughout the entire lifetime of th[at] relationship”.

Why is measuring retention important when it comes to your mobile app metrics?

Because, as Alex Walz points out:

“Knowing your retention gives you a much better indication of your app’s success and current customer-base [than do certain other metrics]. Your app might have 100,000 downloads, but how many of these people are actually active? [Retention data make it possible to answer this important question]”.

Retention, thus, allows you to refine and more specifically target your marketing efforts due to its ability to reveal your best (i.e., most engaged and long-lasting) customers.

Improving your user retention rates is one of the greatest ways to effectively boost you LTV numbers and increase your overall revenue.

4. Engagement

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Engagement as such is not a singular, specific metric. Rather, it can be measured by tracking and compiling the data from various other metrics, including session length and interval, app interactions, user opt-ins, and app screens per session (source).

Engagement is important because it gives a sense of the quality of the use of your app over and above a purely quantitative assessment.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest mobile apps generate the most impressive engagement data.

The following graph, which compares 90-day retention rates with frequency of use per week for a variety of app categories, gives some insight into how it’s possible for massive high growth startups like Facebook to receive a $200 billion valuation.

QuadrantChart_EngagementRetentionStats_ByCategory-resized-600_0

A highly engaged customer base not only drives retention and LTV numbers but also promotes positive network effects built on virality and social shares.

Engagement, thus, is crucial for startups to assess.

5. NPS

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One of the top metrics of customer satisfaction and app virality is known as the Net Promoter Score (NPS).

It’s measured by asking your users the following key question: “On a scale of zero to ten, how likely are you to recommend our app to a friend, family member, or colleague?”

net-promoter-score

Netpromoter.com outlines the differences between the various kinds of respondents:

  • Promoters (score 9-10) are loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and refer others, fueling growth.
  • Passives (score 7-8) are satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who are vulnerable to competitive offerings.
  • Detractors (score 0-6) are unhappy customers who can damage your brand and impede growth through negative word-of-mouth”.

The total NPS is calculated by subtracting the total number of detractors from the total number of promoters.

It’s important to follow-up the main NPS question with “Why?” questions as to figure out the reasons behind your users’ answers.

Regardless of whether your NPS is very high, very low, or somewhere in between, you still need to determine your users feel as they do.

This mobile marketing metric is extremely useful because: 

  • It helps give an indication of whether your company is on track in terms of finding product/market fit;
  • It measures the value and viral potential of your app; and
  • It signals the extent to which your users are likely to share your app with others and inadvertently create new customers for you (i.e., a high score suggests that your users are likely to favorably rate and spread the word about your product).
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Apps, marketing, Photography, Uncategorized, video

What makes a great app?” It’s a question I’m often asked when working with startups and entrepreneurs at Abovav.

While there are numerous elements that define a great app – from its UX and UI design, to how addictive or user-friendly it is – we’ve gathered insights from mobile experts, and distilled it down to a select few factors below:

1. Provide a user-friendly experience

The mobile app landscape is a space that undergoes changes at a rapid pace – new apps are launched daily, and new technologies are revolutionizing consumer experiences. To stand out and boost customer loyalty, app makers need to focus on getting the basics right.

survey by app market and data insights company App Annie indicates that a user-friendly experience has been voted the top factor (59 percent) for driving user retention, above other factors such as value-added features (35 percent) or targeted relevant content (29 percent).

Below, I’ll share a few tips for creating a user-friendly experience:

Convey value proposition early and quickly

google store optimization

With countless apps available on the App Store and Google Play, it’s critical that users understand the value of using your mobile app right from the very start – and within a short span of time.

According to a survey by research firm Clutch, 72 percent of respondents said completing all onboarding processes is less than a minute is a key factor in their decision to continue using the app.

Keep the onboarding process short and sweet

A Clutch survey showed that the longer the time it takes for users to provide information, the more frustrated they became. 28 percent of respondents were frustrated by a one to two-minute onboarding process, but when onboarding took longer than two minutes, the number increased to 33 percent.

While these timeframes may serve as a guideline, keep in mind that there are exceptions to the norm. A banking app will require more personal information and a longer time to onboard users compared to a note taking or fitness tracking app, for instance.

Regardless of the recommended timeframe (less than a minute), the main objective is to align your onboarding processes to the purpose of your users, as well as the functions and needs of your mobile app.

Don’t force a single app to serve multiple goals

Add too many features to your app, and it runs the risk of becoming a Swiss Army knife – a tool that performs myriad functions, but inevitably winds up confusing users.

Robbie Abed, formerly Director of Marketing at Y Media Labs advises:

“Apps aren’t websites, and need to have a laser focus to succeed.”

He shares that at Y Media Labs, the design, development and strategy teams start off projects by defining just two core use cases for building a mobile app.

Cut out the clutter

how to become an appreneur

The three-click rule may have been busted as a UX design myth, but it’s a rule that’s still worth considering when designing your mobile app, as it makes you rethink the necessity of all the screens and steps you’ve included.

I’ve included a couple of tips below to guide you towards creating a simple, easy-to-navigate design:

  • Test it out: Test out your product with friends and family in the early stages of design. Pay attention to the areas where they get stuck when using your app, and make corrections to remedy these points.
  • Two-tap rule: In a Fast Co. article, former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer elaborates on her two-tap rule for app design. Says Mayer: “Once you’re in the app, is it two taps to do anything you want to do?” If no, time to redesign the app.” The Yahoo Flickr app illustrates this rule – from the main screen, users can browse through groups, set up alerts, take a picture and perform additional functions easily in just two taps.

2. Be adaptable in a competitive landscape

Apps that have continued to achieve user growth and revenue over time are adaptable to changes in a highly competitive landscape. Here are steps you can take to set your product up for long-term success:

Pivot quickly to cater to user demand

“Stay flexible” – that’s a key lesson that Rahul Varshneya, founder of Appreneurship Academy, an online workshop for aspiring app entrepreneurs has learned from working with businesses across diverse industries.

He elaborates in an Influencive article:

“There are no bad ideas, just bad entrepreneurs – those who can’t learn from their mistakes and pivot. You can always start with a product that doesn’t work, but you can always turn it around.”

Take Instagram as an example. Originally created as a check-in app called Burbn, founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger saw that the app wasn’t getting much traction and that most users were using the app to snap photos.

Noticing the user behavior, Krieger and Systrom decided to focus on a single aspect – mobile photos – and worked to pare down Burbn to a few core features, such as photo-taking, liking and commenting.

Pivoting swiftly was a move that paid off for Instagram – on the day of its launch, the app garnered 25,000 users and quickly rose to become the top free photo-sharing app.

Pay attention to new developments in your industry

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App makers need to keep a close eye on changes occurring within their industry – or run the risk of becoming obsolete as new trends and competitors emerge.

Pandora is a case in point: while it was once a pioneer in the internet radio space, it now lags behind competitors like Spotify and Apple Music in more ways than one.

For example, its subscription-based premium service, which allows for on-demand music streaming was launched only in March this year – way behind other providers like Google Play and Amazon Prime Music.

3. Provide stellar customer support

A great app doesn’t just stop at providing a user-friendly and engaging experience; it also needs to deliver stellar customer support – and continue to do so long after the app development is complete.

Unfortunately, this is one of the most overlooked aspects of mobile apps.

Gartner report on mobile customer service indicated that:

“There is an immense gap between mobile adoption and successful customer service and support on the mobile device, which undermines enterprise strategies for mobile…Through 2017, 80% of enterprises will not achieve competitive advantage through their mobile strategies due to poor customer service.”

Mobile app makers are forgetting that when it comes to customer loyalty, it’s about getting the fundamentals – like treating your customers well – right.

Here are some tips to help improve your app’s customer support experience:

Be where your users are

Make it easy for your users to get in touch with you through implementing an in-app solution for communication, such as a tap-to-call button or a live chat function.

Make it personal

Personalising communication with your users helps create greater engagement, makes your them feel valued and fosters a sense of connection.

While brands like Zappos go as far as reaching out with a homemade card or gift for special occasions or providing personalised mobile shopping experiences, simple steps – such as signing off responses with a personal name, as opposed to a “no-reply” address or a company name – are just as effective in conveying the message that your app is a human brand that engages in real conversations, and provides reliable support when needed.

Actively seek out and respond to customer feedback

study conducted by mobile customer engagement software Apptentive and Survey Monkey showed that customers expect companies to be more communicative on mobile than on other channels, and to ask users for feedback.

Among customers who preferred to leave their feedback through in-app channels, 64 percent expected companies to seek out their feedback directly.

Yet, asking for feedback is just one part of the equation. 55 percent of respondents who leave feedback through in-app channels indicated that they aren’t likely to remain as customers if their feedback is seemingly ignored.

This shows that it’s equally important for app makers to acknowledge, and provide a timely response to feedback from users.

4. Stay ahead of rising trends

Successful apps stay relevant to shifts in the demands of their users and an ever-changing mobile landscape. App makers need to be aware of emerging trends and understand how these trends are changing the way individuals utilize mobile apps when conceptualizing their apps.

Here are two key trends you need to know:

Augmented reality apps are set to be a game changer in the mobile space

In a CNBC interview, Bertrand Schmitt, CEO of App Annie shared that AR looks set to create a relatively huge shift in the industry.

With the launch of Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore, users can expect “better, higher quality experience, as well as many more apps leveraging AR”. Schmitt further elaborates on AR’s wide-ranging impact, which will span across “gaming to non-gaming…social, and even some utility apps”.

Bots are the new apps

In a Forbes article, contributor Elad Natansan explains the rising importance of bots in the future of mobile.

The benefits are clear: within the context of messaging platforms, bots allow for easy engagement (there’s no need for users to leave a chat app), effortless installation (no app downloads or account registration are needed) and are never “shut off” (as bots continue to run in the background and are able to identify keywords, they are thus able to respond to a user’s intent).

While search requires user intent, bots are able to push the content that we require.

Over time, they can learn about the types of content we seek and engage with, and deliver content that increasingly meets our needs. For example, you might be chatting about your travel itinerary in a chat group. A bot identifies travel-related keywords in your conversation, and recommends tours and activities accordingly.

This creates a new dynamic and changes the way we browse and interact with apps altogether.

As we’re increasingly able to complete these actions, and more without leaving a messaging platform, users will eventually have little need for a separate native mobile app or to conduct manual searches in browsers.

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