A company’s mobile app strategy is not a separate entity from its organizational strategy. It’s actually an integral part of the business blueprint that should be incorporated into every aspect of operations.

The latest wave of digital technology has fostered a significant shift in how customers connect with businesses and vice versa. Devices today serve as phones, cameras, entertainment, wallets, health monitors, social enhancers and more. Online consumption is transitioning more and more to the mobile experience, with many consumers making mobile options their go-to methods of interaction. This trend holds for e-commerce and other online spending as these transactions become increasingly prevalent on digital devices.

Businesses have also been catching on, boosting investment in mobile strategy and infrastructure across all industries. Unfortunately, too many companies are working in the wrong direction, taking reactive approach instead of a proactive one. The result: Digital solutions that are always slightly outdated and quickly left behind.

At minimum, mobile technology, such as apps, requires more forward-thinking initiatives with clearly defined objectives and a “what’s next?” mindset. The most successful mobile app strategies, however, center around five additional elements.

Enterprise Planning Integration

A company’s mobile app strategy is not a separate entity from its organizational strategy. It’s actually an integral part of the business blueprint that should be incorporated into every aspect of operations. Why? Because the best customer experiences can only be created via effective collaboration between every department and team in the enterprise.

But before that can happen, decision-makers must have a solid understanding of the firm’s priorities, processes, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, as well as how these factors impact the mobile strategy. Companies can collect the information necessary to facilitate this level of insight by engaging staff and other stakeholders in business development, operations, accounting, marketing and IT. These conversations will reveal current and future revenue generation methods, key performance indicators, and details about the company’s products and services that can only come from people with their boots on the ground. This ensures that the resulting mobile app strategy is in line with the organization’s overall plan and will act as an asset as opposed to just a tactic.

Customer Journey Mapping

At their core, mobile applications are touch points that facilitate convenient, seamless interactions no matter where customers are. As such, creating a standout mobile application relies on being able to place the right content in the right context. In other words, who’s going to use the apps being developed, why and how?

Studying the different paths customers take throughout their interactions can answer these questions and allow companies to identify possible gaps in the customer experience. These may include inconsistencies between offline, online and mobile channels, as well as poor communications between sales, customer service and fulfillment. This information can be pulled from a variety of streams, including market reports, transaction histories, customer service records, reviews, clickstream data, social media and other sources within the Internet of Things. These insights are prerequisites for developing mobile app offerings that can predict and then exceed customer expectations.

Valuable Capabilities

Despite best efforts, many mobile apps simply do not deliver the benefits they intend to. A valuable mobile application makes each touch point in the purchasing process more simple and efficient, offering all of the features of web, phone and in-store interactions — and more. This means that beyond essentials such as omni-channel carts, order statuses and customer service, the app should also include mobile-specific features such as location-based ads, digital wallet options and data collection that can be used to provide more personalized interactions. It also helps to assess the competition’s app offerings to determine where they’re falling short. Businesses can then improve on those faults, increasing their chances of poaching clientele.

Above all, it’s essential that organizations are able to deliver a consistent mobile experience while simultaneously working to enhance those capabilities with continuous evaluation and regular updates.

Google Mobile Usability Scoring

Google is scoring mobile usability higher than ever before by prioritizing mobile-friendly sites in its search results. It’s imperative that companies are on point when it comes to their mobile UX, lest they find themselves at the bottom of the rankings. But what, exactly, is Google looking for? Although the exact criteria is kept secret, there are some general guidelines:

  • Loading speeds of less than three seconds
  • Responsiveness to various screen sizes
  • Limited scrolling and zooming
  • Short forms and simple data entry

Reaching and maintaining a high Google mobile usability rank means streamlining app features without reducing functionality, a tightrope walk for sure.

Back-end Readiness

Mobile apps are only as good as the infrastructure they’re built upon. The back-end systems that support the app must be able to handle the necessary account and payment security, bandwidth and other technological resources without a hitch. This means investing in the personnel and tools that can keep the application and all connected organizational functions up and running 24/7, 365. Consumers aren’t known to be very forgiving of poor performance when it comes to their mobile apps, and they’re not shy about letting their opinions be known through reviews, social media and word of mouth. Unfortunately, long loading times, bugs, subpar security and other inconsistencies can spell disaster for any app, regardless of how great its features are.