3 Mistakes Enterprises Make While Building For Mobile

Mobile is all the rage for the enterprise. And why not, that’s where your customers are today. But, the surprising thing is how few enterprises are able to effectively leverage mobile in acquiring or engaging their customers.

If your business naturally lends itself to the mobile ecosystem such as an e-commerce business or a Software as a Service (SaaS), it’s far simpler for you to tap into your audience as your mobile app becomes an extension of your website, essentially a value add to lend mobility to your existing and new customers.

The real challenge lies with organizations that don’t have a web-based business and interact or transact with customers in the offline world. The customers here are already tuned into the mobile ecosystem with the penetration of smartphones, but not so much is the organization.

While many are trying, a lot many enterprises are failing to properly harness the power of mobile. The mistakes are usually common among the failed ones and below are some of the most common, yet unpardonable ones.

#1 Multi-platform strategy

While it’s tempting to reach out to every single potential customer on day one, the reality is that it’s just not possible. If you’ve got a few million people as your target audience, do you think you will be able to reach out to them at the same time early on?

Not without spending a fortune on marketing. And that definitely doesn’t guarantee that those people who come across your messaging, will download and continue to use your mobile app.

That is where building on one platform is the prudent way to go. You make your mistakes with a smaller subset of existing or potential customers and learn from your mistakes to get your mobile app right through iterations. By doing this on only one platform, you get to market quicker to receive faster feedback and at a much lesser expense, as compared to iterating on the product on two or more platforms at the same time.

Of course, building an app that no one wants on both platforms would just waste a lot of time and money.

#2 Cross-platform technology

I’ve known many enterprises that want to take the short cut in building an app using cross-platform tools. While there is nothing wrong in using these, putting things in perspective, there’s not a single successful application in the market that uses these technologies.

While it may help you to build for multiple platforms at the same time, what you will compromise on is user experience. There is a significant difference in building for a particular platform ground up using the tools offered by the platform owners than using third-party tools as a shortcut. And you’d also be dependent on them to update their tools to keep up with operating system upgrades.

LinkedIn, Facebook and Southwest Airlines, all learnt it the hard way. In fact, Southwest’s app was referred to as one of the worst apps in the Apple App Store in terms of functionality, performance and user interface.

All of these companies and many more like them realized that HTML5, hybrid applications and cross-platform toolkits don’t work well enough to build the high-end mobile experiences that users expect.

While in the near term, these enterprises saved costs by developing once for all platforms, in the long run though, they incurred far more expenses in redeveloping as a native application. And not to forget the impact on their credibility.

To start with, pick a platform that resonates with your customers the most, as mentioned in the above point. Once that begins to work, you’ve established a product/market fit and can then invest in developing native apps across other platforms once you’ve gained traction or start to build revenues.

#3 Ignoring the customer

You don’t even know that you’re ignoring the customer while building your mobile app. Most enterprises building an app for their customer keep their own interests primary, which often results in getting lost over what’s valuable to the customer.

I will highlight this with an example. An insurance company that wants to promote its products, builds an app that users can download to go over that company’s products and generate a personalized quote for themselves. If interested, they can then get in touch with the company to buy or proceed to buy online.

From the company’s perspective, they’re building an app for their potential customer in making their life easier. And this is where they are wrong. What they fail to understand is how a typical customer buys insurance. The above product assumes that customers are already interested in only their company’s product and want to buy instantly.

However, when customers want to buy insurance, they will look at number of options and alternatives and price comparisons before taking the decision. They are highly unlikely to download multiple apps to help them do so.

So what would you do as a company then? Assuming you want to sell a child plan to the parents, you should build an app that engages the parents and possibly the children. You can go a step further and build an app for women during their pregnancy time.

The idea is to capture their attention and keep them engaged until they’re ready to buy. And when they are ready to buy, your company or brand will be at the top of their mind as they’re already engaged. At those points, make it easier for the customer to get in touch with your company.

Rahul Varshneya

Rahul is the co-founder of Arkenea, a mobile app consultancy building experience rich apps for startups and businesses, and author of The Appreneurship Guide