Isabella Leland is head of copywriting at GoodBarber, a DIY tool to create beautiful iOS and Android apps. She’s also the country manager for the US and French markets. You can keep up with her advice, product related news and more insight from the GoodBarber crew in general at blog.goodbarber.com. She also manages the community of GoodBarbers, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus, Linkedin and Pinterest.
Dr Rodrigo Perez-Vega (@rpvega) is a Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Henley Business School. His research focuses on how to make branded social media presence more engaging for customers. He has consulted companies on digital marketing and social media strategy in the UK, France, Spain and the Middle East.

With a significantly higher penetration of smartphones than other countries, added to reduced organic reach in social media channels, revamping your mobile marketing strategy with a mobile app can be the way forward for many SMEs in the UAE. Isabella Leland and Dr Rodrigo Perez-Vega discuss key elements you should consider before investing on a mobile application.

Having a mobile app can be part of your mobile marketing strategy, and offers a direct mean of communication with your consumers. This has become particularly relevant when organic reach in other channels commonly used by SMEs to stay in touch with their customers (e.g. social media) has dramatically fallen in the last couple of years. In addition, the UAE offers some exciting opportunities for companies that use digital technologies, especially since the penetration and use of these technologies is one of the highest in the world (78% in April 2016).

However, developing your own mobile application can be a rather costly endeavour, especially a couple of years ago when it represented a significant investment ranging from the tens of thousands of Dirhams at the lower end to hundreds of thousands Dirhams for more sophisticated apps with advanced functionalities. Nowadays, the costs have gone down, and mobile app builders now allow users to develop their own apps without the need to code. This is indeed a game changer and is making many SMEs to join other larger organisations in developing mobile applications.

There are several advantages of using a mobile apps but two things are particularly relevant for SMEs thinking of developing a mobile app: loyalty programs and location-based marketing.

Mobile apps are well suitable to run and communicate creative loyalty programs to keep nurturing the relationship with your customers. Shifting from a one-off transaction mind-set to a long-term relationship underpinned by new technologies can be very attractive. Mobile apps can super-charge your loyalty program allowing you to identify and target your most valuable customers. Another interesting element is location-based marketing. This would allow you to run promotional activities based on the location of your users, as well as implementation gamification elements to your promotional activities, which can make them more engaging and successful.

There is a lot to consider when creating a mobile app and it’s hard to isolate only a few words of advice, however, if there’s one thing we really want potential users to take away is the notion that developing and publishing an app is great, but promoting the app beyond its publication and making sure it meets its intended audience’s expectations is an even greater and more challenging job. With that in mind here are 4 points not to overlook…


Before publication

Think mobile first

The phrase has never been more true, whether you are creating an app from scratch or transitioning a desktop product to mobile, a mobile app cannot be the mere continuation of a desktop version, it needs to be a standalone product. Besides, apps are fast becoming the new norm, cross-devices, with the rise of progressive apps.

Have your developer accounts ready

Whether you are using an app builder or coding your app from the ground up, you will have to go through the submission process to the stores. Both the App Store and Google Play require that you register as a developer (for iOS) / publisher (for Android). If you want to publish your app in your own name, be equipped and consider this in your budget, the $99 yearly fee for Apple, and $25 for Android.

and beyond publication
Targeting is key

Just because your mobile app is in your user’s pocket now doesn’t mean you can get away with not targeting. On the contrary, a mobile audience needs to be engaged in a hyper targeted way. To make sure your push notifications are on point, get to know your users, create user groups, target messages according to app usage, location and more.

App updates are the best

Just like with targeting push notifications, maintaining an app and making sure it stays at the top of its game requires continuous efforts and attention. However, when you see the wonders an app update can work, to surprise users and keep them coming, you’ll be quick to adopt this strategy. And we don’t just mean publishing new and fresh content on a regular basis, updates should include more structural changes, such as shaking up your app design, introducing new features, and of course, making sure your app complies with the latest devices and OS out there!